A cowboy is cooking breakfast at a line camp when horsemen ride up. Their leader, Marshal Taggert, asks if the cowboy has seen anyone pass through in the last week. When the cowboy says that Casey stayed overnight with a monkey and was heading back to his circus, Taggert tells his men to burn down the cowboy's cabin. Once they do, Taggert leaves two of his men behind to watch the cowboy, with orders to shoot to kill, while he and the others ride on.
Outside of Prairie City, Taggert sends one of his men into town to see if anyone has noticed Casey and the chimp. Taggert says that they meet with Phillips in an hour and hopefully he has news for them. The two men ride on and Phillips tells them that the monkey spent the last night in a farmhouse seven miles east of them. They evacuated the farmer and his family and then burned the buildings to the ground. Casey told the farmer that he was joining his circus at the China River station, and he'll have to pass through the town of Pawnee Gun.
In Pawnee Gun, Shanghai comes out and talks with Logan, who confirms that he'll soon have Shanghai's bridal ready. Shanghai isn't heading back to his ranch until that night, and tells Logan to take his time. The rancher goes to the saloon and chats with the bartender, Frank Mitchell. Frank tells Shanghai that he now owns half the buildings in town. Shanghai points out that the town is all but abandoned, but Frank says that the railroad is coming through soon. When Shanghai says that the saloon across the street lowered the price of its whiskey, Frank figures that his competitor Al Buchanan plans to draw him out of business. The bartender agrees to lower his prices but warns that he'll shoot Al if he undercuts him again.
Casey arrives in town with the chimp, Pancho, and Logan notices them. The circus owner takes Pancho into Al's saloon to get a meal, and Al explains that Pawnee Gun was a boomtown until the copper mines dried up. Now most of their business comes from people going to China Station. Al says that the railroad is coming through, and Casey goes over to the table. The saloon girl, Mauvereen, comes over and Casey tells her that Pancho does an act as the fastest gun in the West. Casey orders a meal for himself and one for Pancho.
A young gun, "Sonny", rides into Pawnee Gun and goes into Al's saloon. Mauvereen explains that she ended up there when Al put an ad in a newspaper back east. Sonny demands service and complains about Pancho sitting at a table.
Taggert and his men ride into town and see Casey's wagon. They ask Logan if where Casey and Pancho is, and the man directs them to Al's saloon. Taggert buys 200' of rope from Logan, and they soon put up a rope barrier around the saloon. Shanghai comes over and Taggert's man Murdoch draws a gun on Shanghai and says that everyone in Al's saloon is marked for death.
Tony rides up and Taggert's men come out, guns drawn. He says that he's trying to find Casey, and the men ask if Tony was with Casey and Pancho. Tony says that Casey is overdue at the circus, and demands to know what's going on.
Casey and Pancho play cards while Al and Mauvereen look on. Sonny calls Mauvereen over and invites her to drink with him. When she refuses and slaps him, he grabs her and Al and Casey run over. Casey puts him in a bear hug and Sonny breaks loose and draws his gun. Shots go off outside and Taggert tells everyone in the saloon to come out. When they do, Taggert asks which of them is Casey. He tells him that Casey got Pancho from a ship in New Orleans. Right after Casey left the ship, four sailors died and the rest are either dead or dying by now. They died of bubonic plague--the Black Death--and Taggert is sure that Casey and everyone he came in contact with are infected. It takes 17 days for the symptoms to show up, and Casey met Pancho 14 days ago. Taggert tells them that they can take food and blankets with them out to the prairie, and Casey will have to kill Pancho. Casey refuses, figuring that killing Pancho won't change anything. Taggert agrees but tells him to put a leash on Pancho. He then tells Frank and Logan to get some water and blankets to put out any fires when they burn down the saloon.
Inside, Casey apologizes to the other three. Sonny complains that Casey infected them, and Casey sees Taggert and the others preparing to burn down the building. He tells the others that they had better get out, and Al tells them to go on ahead because he has his own ideas. Al takes out a rifle and goes to the window, breaks it, and yells that he'll shoot the first man who lights a torch. Casey tells him that Taggert is just doing what has to be done, but Al insists that he won't let everything he owns go up in smoke. The circus owner says that he can con them into a deal and goes out, and Mauvereen holds Pancho.
Outside, Casey asks why they can't spend the three days in the saloon. He warns that if they turn him out then Al will open fire. Shanghai and Logan don't want to get involved, and Taggert agrees to the deal. Once Casey goes back in, Frank wonders what will happen if they die. Taggert says that if they do, they'll burn down the building, cremate the bodies, and wipe out the disease. Frank offers them his saloon's hospitality and goes inside, while Logan worries to Shanghai that they might already have the disease.
Inside, Casey shares a drink with Mauvereen. Meanwhile, Al tells Sonny to pay. He drops a wad of bills on the floor, and Casey notices it. He figures that Sonny robbed a bank, and Mauvereen serves sandwiches. Nobody wants them, and Casey lays the shell game with Pancho. Sonny comes over and tries to play, and Casey tells him to put his money where his mouth is.
At Frank's saloon, Taggert says that he's left behind to guard everyone who might have come in contact with Pancho. Frank asks if there's a chance that Casey and the others don't have the plague, and Taggert says that they'll know for sure in a day and a half. The saloon owner take Shanghai outside and tells him and Logan that they should enforce Taggert's orders for the others to get out of the saloon. Shanghai wonders if Frank is promoting it to burn out his competition, and Frank angrily denies it.
Later, Frank goes over to Murdoch and tells him that he'll watch if Murdoch wants a drink on the house. Murdoch agrees and walks away.
Sonny loses and gets increasingly drunk. He bets all of his remaining money and loses, and figures that Casey was cheating. Depressed, he says that Casey could at least buy him a drink. Al sees Frank, Shanghai, and Logan preparing to burn them out and aims his gun at them. Frank calls out that they have one minute to leave, and Casey takes the rifle from Al and fires a warning shot. The townspeople take cover, and Taggert and Murdoch hear the shot and run over. Taggert punches Logan before he can shoot and takes their guns.
Pancho plays the piano while Mauvereen shows Casey a photo of her fiancé Jimmy. She took the job to save enough money to support them while he was building up a law practice. Mauvereen hasn't saved any money and figures that it doesn't matter now, and Casey tells her that the lawmen might have made a mistake. Sonny is passed out drunk at a table, and Al brings out some blankets and pillows because he only has two bedrooms. Before he lies down, Casey marks off the first of three days. Pancho takes his bedroll and a disgusted Casey lies down next to him.
The next morning, Sonny wakes up and goes to the saloon door. Murdoch is on guard but has dozed off, and Sonny gun tries to take his money back from Casey's coat pocket. Casey wakes up and Sonny says that he's going to leave because he has important business elsewhere. The older man says that he hoped to convince Sonny to give the money back once they got out, He figures that the youngster isn't as bad as he pretends to be, and Sonny pistol-whips him.
Sonny takes the money and goes out, but Casey yells to him and Murdoch wakes up. Sonny goes for his gun and Murdoch shoots him in the arm. Casey comes out and asks for the money, and Murdoch tells him to hand over the boy's gun and throw it up on the roof. When they go back in, Logan comes over and Murdoch tells him what happened.
Inside the saloon, Casey tells Al and Mauvereen what happened. Mauvereen tends to his wound, and Casey explains that Sonny figures some men will be coming after him to get the money back. He tells Sonny to think out what he wants to do with his life if he lives through it, and asks if Sonny is satisfied with what he is. Mauvereen warns that the bullet is still in deep, and Casey offers to remove it if Sonny trusts him. Sonny agrees and Casey gives him some alcohol for the pain. They get Sonny on the bar and hold him down, and Sonny tells Casey that he didn't rob anyone. He was paid $500 to do a job, and he was headed to China River Station to kill a man. Sonny has never killed anyone before, but he figures that he could have done it. As Casey removes the bullet, Sonny says that he doesn't want to kill anyone.
Tony rides toward Pawnee Gun.
Logan tells Shanghai and Frank about Sonny's escape attempt, and Frank wants to get rid of all of them. Shanghai finally gives in, and Frank shows them his holdout gun. They go out the back and circle around to Al's saloon, and come up behind Taggert and Murdoch. Frank draws on them and the townsmen take their guns. The trio locks the lawmen up in a storage room and they go to get Phillips.
Casey discovers that there are only two shells in Al's rifle, and has seen Frank and the others capture the lawmen. Frank and Logan open fire, and Casey gives the rifle to Al to shoot. He misses the first shot, and Casey asks if there's a way to get to the roof and get Sonny's revolver. Al says that there's a ladder and some boxes, but warns that the townsmen are watching. Casey goes to the back window, and Shanghai fires a shot at him but misses. The circus owner goes back to the others, sees Pancho, and gets an idea. He takes Pancho to the back room and tells the chimp to fetch the revolver. Pancho finally goes up, avoiding Shanghai's shot.
Frank and Logan see Pancho, and Frank prepares to shoot the chimp. Casey yells a warning, and Pancho fires two shots back. The circus owner realizes that Pancho is doing his act, and Frank and Pancho fire shots at each other. Pancho manages to pin them down, just as Tony arrives and yells at him to stop shooting at Pancho. When Frank tries to shoot him, Tony shoots first and wounds the saloon owner. Logan quickly surrenders, and Casey goes out and tells Tony to stay away. He tells Tony to release the lawmen and they'll explain further.
Once the three days are up, the lawmen wait a little longer. Casey and Pancho are still alive, and Casey gives Sonny his money back. Sonny figures that he'll give it back to his employer, just as Taggert fires two shots to get their attentions. He's satisfied that they're uninfected, but wonders where Pancho is. Casey figures that he hid somewhere, and Taggert says that he can't let the others go until they find the chimp. Pancho is up on the roof, and Casey calls him down. He comes to Casey, and Taggert and his men head out to turn loose all of the people they held in quarantine.
Tony goes into the saloon and tries to flirt with her. Casey says that they have to head back to their show, and Mauvereen regrets that she's not 20 years older. Casey gives her the money to go back home and get married, saying the gift is a wedding present. Mauvereen kisses him on the cheek, and Tony wonders about the fatal charm his boss has.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 28, 2017