Aaron is leaving his barber shop when Dan Loring comes by to get his haircut. When Dan says that he's there to get his hair cut, Aaron asks him to wait while he goes over to the sheriff's office to ask Hoby something. Once inside, Aaron discovers that Hoby has stepped out… and prisoner Brock Childers has grabbed Ralph through the bars and is holding a knife to his throat. Brock tells Aaron to bring the keys to the cell door or he'll gut Ralph.
At the newspaper office, Henrietta points out to her janitor George that Ralph isn't there when he promised. George offers to go get Ralph and Henrietta agrees.
Penny drops in at the barber shop and Dan tells her that Aaron left a half-hour ago and never came back. They see George and call to him, just as a bullet goes through the sheriff's office wall.
Inside, Brock fires a warning shot past Aaron's head. Aaron agrees to cooperate and Brock orders him out, locking Ralph in the cell.
On the street, Henrietta and Penny tells Hoby that Aaron and Ralph both disappeared. He tells them that there are two prisoners in the office, Brock and drunk and disorderly Jace Diggs. Nobody came to get Brock and take him in for a trial in Austin. Penny figures that Brock got out and grabbed a gun, just as Aaron comes out and walks over to them. They go inside and Aaron says that Brock gave him five minutes to tell them what happened and go back. Brock isn't going to step out of the office until he has Hoby. He wants Hoby in the office by 9:30, and then he'll lock him up and ride out of town, taking the keys with him. If Hoby doesn't cooperate then Brock will kill one of his hostages and then another one every 15 minutes until Hoby comes in. Hoby tells Aaron to stall Brock, saying it will take a while for them to find Hoby.
Aaron goes back to the sheriff's office and jumps Brock. Brock easily subdues him and then has Ralph get Aaron into the cell. After Brock goes out to the front office, Jace complains that Brock might have shot them. Aaron points out that Brock may kill them all anyway.
At the newspaper office, Judge Henry joins Hoby and suggests that Brock is bluffing. Hoby figures that Brock has nothing to lose because he's going to be hung in Austin. Dan suggests that they rush the place, but Penny points out that Brock would shoot Ralph or her brother. He then suggests that Hoby let Brock lock him up, and they'll get the drop on him when he comes out. Hoby figures that Brock will take at least one hostage with him, and figures that someone will be hurt no matter what.
With seven minutes left until his deadline, Brock tells his hostages that he's tired of waiting. He lets Jace out and takes him to the front office, and then tells the man that he doesn't trust Aaron and Ralph. The prisoner tells Jace to convince Hoby that he's not bluffing, shoves him out the door, and then shoots him twice.
After the men take Jace to the doctor's office, Penny and Henrietta watch from the newspaper office. Penny worries about Aaron, and Henrietta assures her that Hoby will figure out something.
Brock goes back to the cells and chooses Aaron to go next. Ralph warns that Hoby won't make any deals after Brock shot Jace, but Brock figures that they'll take him seriously if he threatens Aaron. He goes to see if Hoby is coming, and Aaron and Ralph figure that Hoby will make a deal.
Henry leaves the doctor's office and heads past the newspaper office. Henrietta and Penny ask him what he's doing, and Henry says that he's going behind Hoby's back to talk to Brock on his own. He figures Brock has no reason to kill him, and maybe he can reason with him. Henrietta warns against it, but Henry figures that it's his town, too, and he's not endangering anyone but himself. Once he heads to the sheriff's office, Henrietta sends Penny to get Hoby.
As the judge walks toward the sheriff's office, Penny tells Hoby what Henry is doing. Brock orders Henry to stop, and offers to explain where Hoby is if Brock lets him in. Brock orders him inside and Henry says that Hoby won't accept Brock's terms even though the others agree. He's there to offer Brock a compromise, but Brock figures that it's a stall. The prisoner finds a derringer in Henry's pocket and takes it, and then locks him up with the others.
Brock then calls to Hoby, saying that he's got Henry and his gun. He tells Hoby to come in or Aaron is next. Hoby tells Dan to shoot Brock with his rifle as soon as he comes out, no matter who he's holding hostage. Brock lets Hoby in and unloads Hoby's gun, and Hoby tells Brock to get out of town while he can. The prisoner says that he's taking Hoby with him and has him switch jackets and hats. As they do, Hoby feels Henry's derringer in the jacket pocket where Brock left it. However, Brock takes it, hoslters his stolen revolver, and trains the derringer on Hoby.
The two men come out, Hoby first and Brock pretending that he's Hoby. Dan shoots Hoby and when Brock shoots at Dan, Dan shoos him dead. Everyone runs to Hoby and confirms that he's alive, and Dan admits that he isn't such a good shot on his first one.
Later, Aaron is sweeping out his shop and greets Hoby as he walks by. Dan comes over and jokingly says that Aaron might still be a bit shaky, and Aaron holds up his hands… shaking it for effect.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 5, 2017