Paladin rides into Laredo in the middle of a storm and goes into a hotel. The room clerk doesn't respond, and Paladin goes over to the restaurant. The waiter, Logan, is serving a man, and says that the hotel is filled and the next hotel is 57 miles down the road. The man at the table, Sid Kovac, is eating and punches Paladin. Paladin fights back and Kovac says who he is. When he says his name, Paladin remembers that Kovac is a minor gunfighter and offers his card. He says that he knows that if he turned his back on Kovac, Kovac would shoot him. Paladin beats Kovac until he begs him to stop, and Logan says that he works for Sam Tuttle. Sam is on his way there, and Kovacs insists that he works for Sam. Unimpressed, Paladin tells him that he's leaving before Sam arrives and Kovac eagerly figures that they have nothing to fight about and tells Logan to give Paladin a room.
Logan gives Paladin a room key, and Kovacs offers to take care of Paladin's horse to make up for the trouble. Paladin agrees and starts to go upstairs, and Kovacs tries to backshoot him. Expecting trouble, Paladin shoots and kills Kovacs and goes on his way.
The next morning, Paladin goes to a table and a man tells him that it's his table. He introduces himself as Sam and explains that Logan sent word about Kovacs. Sam says that he doesn't blame Paladin for shooting Kovacs, but says that he has to kill Paladin. It's been three years since he could get back. He explains that Kovacs was promoting Sam as a famous gunfighter. Sam warns that Paladin can't outshoot him, and Paladin agrees. However, he warns that he could take Sam down with him. Sam asks him to show him a way out if he can, and points out the townspeople waiting on the street. He explains that they're waiting for one of them to kill the other. If he rides out then he'll lose his reputation and have to fight ten men by letting Paladin live. Paladin takes his gun out and says that he was considering knocking Sam out, and Sam says that if he did then he'd have to follow Paladin and kill him. He suggests that they sit down and talk, and Paladin invites him to have breakfast.
Logan serves a champagne breakfast while Paladin and Sam chat. Sam asks Logan what he thinks of the townspeople, and Sam says that it's a "nice" town. As for Paladin, he reluctantly says that Sam should be more careful and figures that Paladin is the sneaky sort. Sam asks what Logan thinks of him, and Logan says that he's a gentleman. Disgusted, Sam says that he's killed 31 men and angrily tells Logan to get out or he'll kill him. He admits to Paladin that the only thing he can think of is killing, and Paladin offers him a cigar and advises him not to ruin their breakfast with a speech.
Sam tells Paladin that the longer they take, the harder it is for him to kill him. Paladin says that he might know of a way, and invites Sam to go for it when he's ready. The two men face off but Paladin refuses to draw first. Sam starts to draw, but his wife Eileen comes in and says that she won't have time to come again. Feigning ignorance, Sam says that they were just talking and invites her to come in. Eileen calls their son Sam Junior in for a sarsaparilla, and Sam wonders if they were gunfighting. Sam says that he wouldn't fight with his friend and yells for Logan to serve his son. He then introduces Eileen to Paladin, and Eileen tells Sam that he has one hour. Paladin invites Eileen to sit down.
Sam joins Sam Jr. at the bar and pays for his son's drink. Sam Jr. says that he's nine that day, and Sam gives him a $20 "lucky" gold piece that he got from a gypsy. He says that the gypsy wants Sam Jr. to sit down and tell Sam all about himself and what he does all day. As they talk, Paladin suggests that Eileen might want a glass of sherry and she accepts.
Logan announce when the hour Sherry mentioned is up. Sam tells Sam Jr. that they had their talk and Eileen tells their son to wait in the buggy. As Sam Jr. goes, he asks his father to thank the gypsy for him. Once they're alone, Paladin says that he and Eileen had a talk. Eileen explains that Sam will find out who he is, and figures that Sam will kill every man in town who tries to tell Sam Jr. that his father is a gunfighter. She warns that it won't stop them, and Paladin says that he's advised Eileen to go to San Francisco without leaving a forwarding address. Sam snaps that he didn't tell Paladin to interfere, and Paladin says that he didn't ask to get involved.
Eileen figures that Sam won't live long enough to send her any money, and says that she'll find whatever man she can on whatever terms she can get. Paladin suggests that Sam go with her, and Eileen snaps at him that she didn't ask him to say that. Unimpressed, Paladin figures that she's still in love with Sam. Eileen tells Sam that he can go with her if he can be part of the family, and Sam tells her that there's nothing else he could do. Paladin asks if it matters, and Sam says that he's important and Eileen doesn't understand that. He admits that he likes being number one and there's nothing he wants bad enough to give that up. Eileen stares at him in shock and then says that she'll be going. Sam tells her that he hopes she finds a better man next time, and Eileen says that she couldn't do much worse.
Once Eileen leaves, Sam and Paladin prepare to face off. Sam asks him to look after Eileen if he lives, but Paladin says that he won't buy his life that way. After a moment, Sam tells Paladin to get out. Logan tells Sam that he can't let him go, and Sam tells him to shut up or he'll kill him. The clerk shoos Sam in the back, saying that people will ride to miles to see where Sam died. Paladin shoots Logan dead and looks down at Sam's corpse.
Later, Sam leaves the sheriff's office. A townsman asks what happened, and says that Eileen went home. Paladin rides there to talk to her.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 29, 2018