Fred Kettle arrives at the bank in Porter and notes that it's 10:30 in the morning, and then goes into the manager Blake's office carrying a small box. The clerk tries to stop Fred, but Fred brushes him off and tells Blake that he wants $10,000. When Blake tells the clerk to throw him out, Fred warns him that unless he gets the money within the hour then he'll blow the town off the face of the earth. With that, Fred takes a seat on the couch, smiles, and tips his hat.
Blake soon summons Hoby and Ralph to his office. Fred claims that his name is Bart, and asks for $10,000 in small bills. He warns Hoby not to take his threat lightly. As Hoby steps outside, Fred warns him that he has 48 minutes left. In the main room, Hoby sends Ralph to confirm if Fred is registered at the hotel. Blake plans to get the money, refusing to take the chance that Fred is bluffing. Hoby tells him to wait until he finds out if Fred is bluffing or not.
Back in the office, Hoby asks about the box Fred is carrying. Fred says that there are four bombs and they are much larger than the package. He cheerfully advises them to start counting out the money, and refuses to say specifically where the bombs are. Fred explains that he invented the bombs and explains that there are four sticks of dynamite in the box he has. He describes the fuses in great detail, and explains that the small bomb is to cover his escape once he tells them how to defuse the other bombs. Fred refuses to let Hoby see the bomb, and tells them that they have 45 minutes left.
Ralph comes in and motions Hoby out. Outside, Ralph tells the Ranger that Fred has been staying at the hotel for four days gave his hometown at St. Joseph, Missouri. He went through Fred's room and found an empty box of dynamite and a bottle of acid. Blake figures that they should give Fred the money, but Hoby warns that Fred may not give them the bomb location even if they pay the money.
Hoby goes back in and tells Fred that he's going to pull everyone out of town. Fred figures that he's bluffing, and admits that he prepared for Hoby not believing him. He tells them that an abandoned bar on the edge of Porter will blow up. Hoby sends Ralph to make sure the place is clear, and Fred warns that the fuse isn't precise.
Hoby, Fred, and Blake wait until 11 but the bomb doesn't go off. When the time comes and nothing happens, Hoby wrestles the bomb away from Fred and starts to take him to jail. The bomb goes off and Fred, satisfied, takes out a small package and goes back into Blake's office. Hoby carefully puts the box in a fire bucket of water to defuse the bomb.
Hoby orders the evacuation of all buildings in the vicinity of the bank, and a fire brigade organized. Tenner comes by and they go into Blake's office where Fred is enjoying a sandwich. Fred has anticipated Hoby's precautions, and Tenner asks why he needs the money. He explains that there was a girl, Vera, and she ran away with a button salesman who bought her gifts. Fred decided that he would bring real presents, and Tenner tells Hoby to give Fred the money he wants. As they step out, Tenner offers to buy Fred a brandy and Fred agrees.
Outside, Tenner says that Fred isn't as sure as himself as he'd like Hoby to believe. He figures that after two belts of the brandy, Fred will forget what time it is and then they set the clocks ahead. Tenner goes to get the brandy and Hoby starts changing the clocks. When Tenner comes back, Hoby secretly changes the desk clock and the saloon owner pours the brandy. Fred insists on him drinking first and Tenner obliges.
Fred and Tenner are soon drunk, and Tenner blurts out their plan as he spills brandy on Fred's jacket. Hoby refuses to hand over the money. Blake leads Hoby out and asks what's going on, and Hoby tells him their plan. He then goes back in and grabs Tenner, and tells Blake and Ralph that they're out of time. Blake starts counting out the money.
Hoby goes back in and Tenner points out that it's 11:30. He's show Fred the mis-set clock and says that they'll go together. Hoby asks where the bombs are, and Fred says that he doesn't want to die. He explains how to defuse the bombs, and Blake comes in with the $10,000. Fred realizes that they're bluffing and they mis-set the clocks, but then checks his pocket watch and discovers that it shows that it's five minutes after 11:30 as well. He tells Hoby where the bombs are, and Hoby runs out to defuse them. Once Fred goes back to the office, he grabs the $10,000 Blake left on the desk. However, a suddenly-sober Tenner tells him that he lost and takes the money. The bar saloon offers Fred a drink, but the man breaks into tears.
By noon, the three bombs are found and disarmed. Hoby locks Fred up, and Ralph wonders how Fred's watch got set ahead. Tenner spills coffee on him and then asks him for the time... and shows him Ralph's watch that he pickpocketed.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 9, 2017