Night in Porter, and Meg Dooley comes out of the rain and breaks into the general store. She opens a case and takes out a derringer, and then starts as the owner Chad Winters comes in. Meg's sons Frank and Tom come in and tell Chad to get his hands off of their mother. When Chad goes for his gun, Tom guns him down. Meg drops the derringer and it goes off.
Later, Hoby, Ralph, and Doc Calhoun come over when they hear about the shooting. Hoby finds the discarded derringer on the floor, and Ralph says that Chad told him that he kept it loaded as a joke on Hoby. Calhoun finishes up and Hoby walks with him back to his office. The Ranger says that cheap items have been stolen from different places, and wonders why anyone would kill over it. Calhoun says that it could be some kind of senile dementia and Hoby goes to talk to Old Man Foster, who has been acting oddly for the last couple of years. Once Hoby leaves, Tom approaches Calhoun and says that Meg needs him.
Calhoun goes to Tom to the hotel room where the Dooleys are staying and the brothers tell him that Meg has been drifting off recently. The doctor says that he's been expecting it but is surprised that it happened without an emotional jolt. The Dooleys claim that nothing happened, and Calhoun deliberately drops the lift from a pillbox on the floor. He sees a pair of mud-covered shoes underneath the bed, picks up the lid, and tells them to leave him alone with Meg.
Once Tom and Frank leave, Calhoun checks the shoes again and then searches the room. He finally finds the stolen items that Hoby described earlier, picks up the shoes, and confronts the brothers. Calhoun asks why they lied, and shows them the stolen items. Tom says that they're going to take Meg to a doctor in Fort Worth. The doctor suggests that Meg may have killed Chad when he caught her. Tom insists that Meg wouldn't have killed anyone, and Calhoun figures that Meg found the loaded gun in the general store. When Chad found her, she shot him and went into shock. Calhoun tells them to fetch Hoby, and Tom insists that they'll figure Meg is crazy and lock her away. The brothers insist on taking care of Meg, and warns them that if one innocent person is involved then he'll tell Hoby. The Dooleys agree but Tom warns that he'll kill anyone that finds out about Meg's condition and Calhoun for telling them. Once Calhoun leaves, Tom and Frank start packing.
Calhoun is walking back to his office when Ralph says that Hoby wants him at the undertaker's. The doctor stops at his office first, unaware that Frank is watching him. He follows Calhoun to the undertaker's and confirms that Chad wasn't killed with a derringer slug. Hoby found the derringer slug in the counter, and Calhoun tells Hoby that he should talk to Tom and Frank. The doctor refuses to provide details, and the two men go to the Dooley room.
At the hotel, Frank intercepts Hoby and Calhoun in the hallway and holds the Ranger at gunpoint. He takes Hoby's gun Tom lets them in. He grabs Calhoun, but Frank tells him to stop. Hoby asks them which one shot Chad, and Tom says that Chad went for his gun first. The Ranger points out that they broke into Chad's store and that makes it murder, and Tom handcuffs him to the bed. Frank says that they're all going to leave Porter. He takes Calhoun to the livery stable to get a wagon while Tom watches Hoby.
As Frank and Calhoun walk down the street, Ralph comes over and asks Calhoun where Hoby is. He brought in Foster, who wants to go home and is raising a ruckus. Calhoun says that the Dooleys convinced Hoby that the Fosters are innocent, and Hoby is doing something with the Dooleys that Frank cooked up. Frank leads Calhoun away.
Once they get a wagon, Frank and Calhoun take it to the hotel and go up to the room. Hoby points out that the Dooleys will kill them anyway once they're out of Porter, and Frank insists that they're not killers. He frees Hoby from the bed and then handcuffs him to Calhoun. Tom checks on Meg and discovers that she's gone. Frank has Tom tear up the bedsheets and tie up Hoby and Calhoun, and they go to find Meg.
As the sun comes up, Hoby works his gag and bindings loose on the bedpost with Calhoun's help.
The brothers search all over town for Meg without success.
Hoby breaks the bed and frees himself and Calhoun, and they go to his office to get the extra keys for the handcuffs. The hallway door is locked and they go into Meg's room and down to the street. Tom and Frank see them, and Hoby runs into the rear of the saddle repair shop. The Dooleys don't fire for fear of waking up the town, and Hoby goes out the front to the general store. The Ranger grabs one of Chad's guns and loads it, while Meg comes out of the back room.
Tom and Frank run in and take cover, and watch as Meg steals a piece of jewelry. Her sons go over to her and Hoby orders them to surrender. They drop their guns rather than risk their mother being caught in the crossfire, and go to Meg. He tells them to go to his office and lets Meg keep the jewelry, and they go.
Once Hoby locks up the brothers, he asks Calhoun to find a woman who will take care of Meg until after the hearing. Ralph runs up and asks where Hoby has been, and tells him to go to bed nights and get some sleep. Calhoun agrees, and he and Hoby go to get some sleep.
Written by Gadfly on May 30, 2017