At the Buckhorn, Beamer Hooker shoots bottles behind the bar as his brothers Kelly, Garth, and Ambrose look on. And shout encouragement. Tenner tells Ambrose to clean it up, and Ambrose figures that Joe doesn't believe that Tenner is serious. He tells Joe to pick up a whiskey glass, and Joe reluctantly does so. When Tenner goes for his derringer, Ambrose tells him to leave it in his coat and Joe holds the glass up.
As Beamer prepares to shoot, Hoby comes in and draws on him, and Tenner draws his derringer. When the Ranger tells Beamer to give up his gun, Beamer looks to his older brother. Ambrose says that he figures Hoby figures Beamer isn't man enough to wear a gun, and tells Beamer to prove that he's a man. Hoby tells Beamer not to be a fool, but Beamer goes for his gun and Hoby kills him.
That night, the Hookers are out at their shack, drinking. Ambrose finally says that he's going to kill Hoby and insists that he'll do it. Kelly and Garth are ready to call Hoby out, but Ambrose says that everyone will figure that they did it. He works out that they'll deal with Hoby like they did the sheriff in Bracketville, and tells his brothers that without him they're nothing. When Kelly wonders when they should start, Ambrose says that they already have.
Tenner pours Hoby a drink and tells him that the Ranger's sullen mood is bringing down business. Hoby is none too thrilled about killing a boy, and asks Tenner what he knows about Ambrose. Tenner says that Ambrose was a dirt farmer that came up from Bracketville three years ago, and Hoby remembers a sheriff down there, Sam Wilson, that got drunk and shot an innocent man. The Hookers came to Porter and discovered that there was nothing but weeds on their land, and shook up Porter until Hoby arrived. Hoby wonders why Ambrose is going around terrifying people, and figures that there's something more than just Ambrose feeling like a big man. Tenner warns him that Ambrose will come after him, but Hoby leaves.
As Hoby walks home, he hears someone following him. The figure ducks back into an alley, but starts walking after Hoby when Hoby moves on. He calls to his follower, who ducks into a building. When Hoby arrives at his hotel room, he lights the lamp and hears someone approaching in the hallway. Hoby blows out the light and goes to the door, and the figure walks off. By the time the Ranger goes out, his follower is gone but Hoby hears a door close. He goes to it, opens the door, and goes in when no one responds. The hotel room is empty but the window is open. When he checks the closet, someone throws a knife through the window and hits the door frame. There's no one on the street below.
Hoby spends a sleepless night in his chair, and in the morning he sees the Hookers come out of the general store. He goes down and confronts the brothers, telling them to hold out their hands. The Hookers do so and Hoby confirms that Ambrose has a new knife. He says that he just bought it and that he lost his old one. Hoby shows him the knife that was thrown at him and Ambrose cheerfully admits that it's his and throws it into the post next to Hoby's head. Hoby punches him and Kelly yells at Ambrose to hit Hoby back. Ambrose refuses and when Hoby goes at him, Tenner holds him back. Hoby looks at the townspeople staring at him and gets control of himself, and goes back to his room.
Later, Tenner tells Hoby to arrest Ambrose for attempted murder. Hoby points out that no one saw Ambrose did it, and he'll be out on a writ in 24 hours. Tenner wonders what Hoby is going to do, and Hoby admits that when he's dealt with people like Ambrose before he had the law on his hand. Now he's jumping at shadows just like the sheriff in Bracketville, and remembers what Tenner said about Ambrose coming from Bracketville. Sam started to lose it and got jumpy, and finally shots a harmless trump who stumbles into his office. Two months later Sam hung for it, and figures that Ambrose is setting him up. Hoby prepares to ride out and refuses to let Tenner come with him, assuring him that he just wants to think things out.
At the Hooker shack, Ambrose tells his brothers that he wanted to hit Hoby but it wouldn't have mattered that Hoby hit him first when Hoby has a badge. He promises that he won't forget what Hoby did and tells them to go out and water the horses. As Garth goes out, he sees Kelly ride up and tells Ambrose. Ambrose is surprised that Hoby is there, and tells his brothers to go out. He goes with them and Hoby says that it's time to have it out. Ambrose points out that he's forcing a fight with no cause, but Hoby figures that at least he'll see it coming.
Ambrose tells Garth to draw, and Hoby tells him that he's talking to him, not Garth. Garth tells Ambrose to throw a punch, and Ambrose calls him a coward. He then tells Kelly to attack Hoby, and Hoby continues pushing him. Ambrose tells his brothers to remember their plan, but Kelly figures that they don't need a plan. Hoby tells Ambrose that all he needs is guts, and Ambrose tells him to meet him at the old creek bed that night. The Ranger says that he's calling him out now, and Kelly gives Ambrose his gun.
When Ambrose refuses, Kelly slaps him and puts the gun in his hand. Kelly and Garth back away, and Ambrose drops the gun. Kelly prepares to draw on his brother, and Hoby draws and tells him not to. Using his hands, Kelly grabs Ambrose and says that Ambrose was afraid all the years that they were tearing up towns, and letting his brothers do it. Ambrose insists that he did it all for Garth and Kelly, and Kelly reminds him of Beamer. Disgusted, Kelly throws Ambrose into the dirt and reaches for his gun. Hoby tells him to stop and orders Garth to get Ambrose's horse. Ambrose begs Kelly to go with him, but Hoby tells him that Kelly and Garth are staying there and Ambrose is going alone. When Ambrose asks what happens if he doesn't, Hoby points out his gun and Kelly kicks it over. Hoby dares Ambrose to pick it, and Ambrose mounts up and tells his brothers that they won't last without him. The Ranger says that it may take them a while but they'll last, and Ambrose rides off.
A few weeks later, Tenner shows Hoby an El Paso newspaper. There's a story about a drunken Ambrose drawing on a saloon patron and being killed in self-defense. Hoby says that Ambrose did it to Sam and then tried it with Hoby, and finally did it to himself. Satisfied, Hoby walks away.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 17, 2017