In Archer City, Texas, bounty hunter Josh Randall looks at a poster of Nate Phillips, then tears it down and throws it away. The sheriff is watching, and says that the poster was up for people to see and he doesn't have another copy. Josh says that Nate belongs to him and nobody else needs to see it. He tells the sheriff that it's best that he doesn't say what he'll do when he finds Nate, or the sheriff will run him out of town.
Later, Josh goes to the sheriff's office and finds Hoby there. Hoby says that he's minding the store and rides through twice a year. Josh introduces himself and Hoby has heard of him as a bounty hunter. The bounty hunter says that he's looking for Jannette York Josh shows Hoby the poster for Nate, and it says that Ira Black is offering the $500 reward for Nate, and he was last seen with Jannette. Hoby wonders how Josh knows Ira will pay, pointing out that it's not a law poster. He bets Josh the price of a hat that Josh will come up empty-handed, and Josh agrees. Josh wants to make sure that he's not interfering with the law, and Hoby tells him that there's nothing on the books against Nate. The bounty hunter invites Hoby to have a drink and compare notes, and Hoby says that the difference between them is that he doesn't enjoy bringing people in.
Josh finds Jannette at the first saloon and asks to see her. She tells Josh to beat it, and Jannette's companion objects. Josh easily knocks him out and Jannette agrees to talk. He asks where Nate is, explaining that there's a price on his head, and shows her the poster. Jannette says that she hasn't seen Nate in a couple of months, and has never heard of Ira. Nate said that he was going to take Jannette to New York and talk some people, and when she found out Nate treated his wife, she left him. The wife, Mrs. Phillips, leaves outside of town.
As Josh goes to his horse, Hoby comes out and Josh tells him that Nate's wife lives outside of town. Hoby warns him that he has to stay within the law, and Josh assures him that he will. Mrs. Phillips comes out and refuses to discuss Nate. Josh convinces her to talk, and she says that she hasn't seen Nate in over a year. He shows Mrs. Phillips the poster and she says that Nate couldn't do anything worth $500. She's never heard of Ira and says that she never heard from Nate when he was in Big Bend. Mrs. Phillips says that she wouldn't pay 20 cents for Nate, and Nate left her with a son and three dollars. She tells them that Nate was in Franklin with another woman, and asks the men to tell Nate that she still loves him.
Hoby and Josh ride to Franklin, and Hoby wonders if he was too fast to form an opinion about Josh. They check the hotels and find Nate registered at the second one. The clerk tells them that Nate was killed that morning. He takes them to Nate's room where the body is, which looks like someone tore the place up fighting. The woman Nate was seeing comes in and says that they were going to be married and she was going to set Nate up in business. Nate's roommate was Jack Brandes, and she figures that he killed Nate because the two men argued constantly. When the woman checks the body, she tells the men that it isn't Nate but Jack. Hoby says that now Texas wants Nate too for Jack's murder.
Josh and Hoby check with the blacksmith, who confirms that Nate bought a horse and rode to Houston. They ride there and separate to check the hotels. There's no sign of Nate, and none of the bartenders and restaurant keepers haven't seen Nate, either. On a side street bar, Josh finds an old friend, Felix. Felix is in town keeping a low profile, and he finally tells Josh that Nate has been around. However, he refuses to help Josh find Nate. Josh promises that Nate will never get to Felix, but Felix says that he has a life in Houston and doesn't want to lose it. Josh persists and Felix finally directs Josh to a saloon called the Stag. He warns that the bartender is on Nate's side, and Josh gets Hoby.
At the Stag, the two men tell the bartender that they're looking for Nate. The bartender claims that he hasn't seen Nate, and Josh grabs the man and repeats the question. The man says that Nate came in there that afternoon, got blind drunk, and the bartender took him up to his room. A woman came in looking for Nate, and the two of them walked out just before they came in.
Hoby and Josh go to the restaurant and see Nate and Jannette through the window. Josh insists on going in with Hoby, and when they walk up Nate knocks Hoby through the window and fights Josh. As Nate takes down Josh, Hoby runs back in and punches Nate unconscious. They take Nate and Jannette to jail, and Jannette admits that she came after Nate to get the reward. Nate initially claims that he doesn't know Jack, but finally admits that he killed him. Jack didn't think he was working fast enough, and they argued. When Hoby mentions Ira's name, Nate laughs and says that they'll soon find out what the joke is.
When Josh and Hoby get to San Antonio, the clerk in charge of general delivery gives them the Ira's address: a jail. Ira is a prisoner, and Josh says that Nate is in jail for murder. The bounty hunter admits that he put Nate away, and Ira is furious with him. He explains that he was going to go after Nate when he got out, but Josh took that away from him and put him in jail. Ira tells them that he wanted to kill Nate because three years ago, Nate met Ira's wife and she left Ira. A year and a half later, Ira decided to kill Nate. He apologizes to Josh for the trouble, and Hoby feels a little sad for Josh. Josh reminds Hoby of their bet and collects on their bet.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 13, 2017