Paladin is having dinner in the Carlton dining room and the waiters
and Chef Andre are doting on him. Hey Boy runs in and informs Paladin
that his guest, Charlie Blackburn, is sleeping on Paladin's couch with
his boots on. Paladin goes upstairs, followed by the restaurant staff,
and tries to wake his friend... and quickly realizes that he's dead.
After Paladin deals with the police, he buys a casket for Charlie and takes a wagon to the town of Alimo. Sheriff Stander confirms that the dead man is Charlie Blackburn and tells Paladin that Charlie didn't have any friends in town. Disgusted, Paladin takes the wagon out of town to the Loring Manor. Young Keith Loring comes out to greet him and wonders if his father Wynn ordered a casket. Paladin tells him that Charlie is dead and orders Keith to bury the body. Once he rides off, Keith's hired gunman, Hal Sims, comes over and watches with Keith.
In town, Paladin tells Stander about dropping the coffin off and confirms that Charlie did his business at the local saloon. Paladin goes inside and discovers that someone has torn the place up. Keith and Sims come in and Keith asks to hold Paladin's gun. As Paladin wonders what is going on, Sims draws his gun and tells Paladin to let go of it--slowly. When Paladin wonders if Sims is going to shoot him, Sims explains that he's there to protect other people from Keith. Wynn hired him to make sure that Keith doesn't kill anyone... including Sims himself.
Keith tells Paladin that timber pirates used the saloon as a base of operation, and Charlie was one of them. Paladin points out that according to the stories, everyone in town either works for the Lorings or they pirate timber. Keith explains that Charlie wouldn’t deal with them, and Paladin admits that he advised his friend to let the lawyers file suit to let him take timber across Loring land. Instead, Charlie threatened to shoot his way through. Keith admits that he knew what Charlie had in mind and planned accordingly, and then tells Paladin to have a good trip back to San Francisco.
Paladin walks out and Stander pointedly offers him a drink before he leaves town. Paladin refuses and the sheriff wonders what he's really up to. The gunfighter tells him to get to the point and Stander figures that Paladin plans to get revenge on Wynn for having Charlie killed. The sheriff insists that Wynn is a good man and that he has put up with a lot raising Keith despite his violent streak. Paladin tells Stander that he'll deal with Wynn in good time and rides off to the Loring estate, and Stander has several loggers go after him.
The loggers take a shortcut and intercept Paladin on the road. Their leader, Brogan, advises Paladin to head for San Francisco. When the gunfighter refuses, another logger knocks him out from behind and they drag him off his horse. Paladin wakes up and finds himself lying next to a sign pointing back to San Francisco. There's a note on his saddle from Brogan saying that they took the bullets from his gun and he should head to San Francisco. Fortunately, Paladin has spare bullets in his saddlebag and reloads.
Wynn returns from San Francisco and demands to know why there's a coffin out front. Keith tells him what happened and Wynn orders Sims to bury Charlie. His son objects, pointing out that it might make it look like Wynn responsible, and Wynn admits that he was responsible. He goes inside and Keith tells a surprised Sims that he'll help him move the coffin.
When Wynn goes to his study, he finds Paladin waiting for him, sampling his brandy and cigars. Paladin introduces himself and Wynn tells him that he's wasting his time. He explains that his wife furnished the house, but Paladin wants to know what happened at the saloon. Wynn refuses to answer him, but Keith comes in and tells him to answer. The logging magnate explains that there was a dispute between the loggers, and Keith fills in the details. Six men died, but only because he had six bullets. One of them was Sim's predecessor, and Keith explains that he shot the last bodyguard first trying to protect Keith from the loggers.
Wy nntells Paladin that in his position, a lot of people want him dead. One of them killed Wynn's wife by mistake. Paladin figures that Wynn is glad to have Keith despite his psychopathic tendencies, since he can use his son to give the townspeople someone else to focus their hate on. When Keith asks if his mother deserves to die, Paladin admits that she didn't but figures that Keith isn't any better. Keith is confident that his father won't try to commit him and Wynn forbids Paladin to do it. When Keith admits that Charlie was going to the authorities to have Keith committed, Paladin says that he plans to do it.
Wynn calls for Sims but Keith informs his father that his handler met with an unfortunate accident with the coffin. He tries to draw Sim's gun, but Paladin outdraws him and tells him to hand it over. Keith tells Paladin to shoot him because nothing else will stop him, and Paladin starts to do so. Wynn jumps him and knocks him to the floor. Keith prepares to shoot the gunfighter but Wynn tells him that he's had enough and won't protect his son anymore. He tells Keith to use the gun on him if he has to kill someone. Keith hesitates and then runs off rather than shoot his father. When Paladin tries to go after him, Wynn jumps him and by the time Paladin knocks the older man out, Keith has made good his escape.
Paladin rides into Alimo after Keith and finds a trail of corpses leading up to the saloon. Inside, Stander is trying to convince Keith to stand down, insisting that he's a friend and has been protecting him. Keith is more than happy to shoot him anyway, but Paladin comes in and shoots first, killing the young sociopath. Wynn arrives and admits that he ordered Charlie's death, guiltily tells Paladin, and begs Paladin to shoot him. Paladin refuses, telling Wynn that if he wants to pay for his actions then he can confess to the law, and leaves him with Stander.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 14, 2018