Bret rides into Bent City with Waco Williams, and they note the signs up barring homesteaders and others barring cattlemen. One deputy notices them and points them out to fellow deputy Bernie. Bernie checks their horses and then goes into the hotel after them. He asks them if they've come far, and they talk about how Waco killed six Indians that attacked them. Waco takes offense at Bernie's questions, and Bernie tells them that if they're homesteaders then they're not welcome. Bret assures Bernie that they're not homesteading and he'll be moving along soon, and Bernie says that they've had a lot of problems recently.
That night, Bret goes to Waco's room and tells him that he might stay for a while and "educate" the local poker players. Waco prepares to go out and Bret reminds him not to get involved in local business. They go downstairs and Waco takes a seat outside. In the hotel, Bret writes a letter to Bart saying that he'll be late to Denver and has to stick close to Waco to net $2,500. He then sits down at a poker table with Karl Bent Jr., who cleans out one player.
Waco comes back in and drinks coffee at the bar, and Brett doesn't fall for Karl Jr.'s bluff. Another player, Jack Regan, accuses Bret of using a holdout clip. Regan wants to make sure, and Karl and the others agree. Bret refuses, and Karl insists. When Bret still refuses, Karl refuses to let Bret go with the pot. Bret agrees to take his coat off if they'll do the same, and Regan takes out a gun and tells Bret to do it. Waco comes over and tells Regan to put the gun away. Bret quickly removes his coat, and Waco glares at Regan and tells them to take their coats off. When Bret tells Waco to back down, Waco says that he's being as reasonable as the other players are, and coldcocks Regan to the floor. He tosses Regan's gun on the bar and walks away. Karl Jr. draws his gun and asks who Waco is, and tells someone to get the deputy.
Karl Jr. has Bret and Waco remove their gun belts and asks who hired them. Regan coldcocks Waco and says that makes them even. The deputies arrive and Karl Jr. tells them to lock them up until he finds out who they're working for. The sheriff takes their gun belts and leads them off to the jail, and Karl Jr. goes back to the poker table.
At the jail, the deputy tells Waco and Bret that they aren't going to get bail or a lawyer. He explains that there's a range war but things haven't settled down yet. Bret readily enters the cell, and Waco politely explains that he has to meet someone and can't be in a cell. The deputy orders him in anyway, and Waco punches him unconscious. Bret reluctantly helps Waco lock the unconscious deputy up in the cell, and Waco explains that he never wants to "eat dirt" again.
Waco goes back to the hotel, and the other poker players back away from Karl Jr. and Regan. Regan goes for his gun and Waco easily outdraws him but doesn't shoot. Bret arrives as Waco has the two men remove their gun belts. Once they do, Waco holsters his own gun and invites Regan to take a swing at him. When Regan comes at him, Waco decks him and shoves Karl Jr. out on the street. Bret arrives and looks on, dismayed, as Karl Jr. fights Waco. Karl Jr.'s sister, Kathy Bent, walks up and Bret notices her. She tells one man to let the fight continue Waco finally puts Karl Jr. down for good, and Kathy tells some of the townspeople to get her brother to the doctor. She then tells Waco that figures Karl Jr. had it coming, and advises Waco to get out of town while he's still alive.
The next day, Bret writes a letter to Bart saying that his business is taking a little longer than expected. He has to keep Waco alive to get the $25,000, and it isn't easy. Bret then joins Waco at breakfast and tries to tell him to listen to reason. Sheriff Boyd Tait joins them and takes a seat, and says that they were hard on his deputy. He wonders why they're siding with the rustlers, and Bret assures him that they're not siding with anyone. Waco notes that the "rustlers" sound more like farmers, and Tait says that the homesteaders have been stealing cattle and the two sides started fighting. The sheriff points out that if they get away with beating up Karl Jr. and the deputy, it'll see off everything again. He tells them to leave Bent City fast, Waco says that he'll ride out once his business is done later that day, and Tait makes it clear he'll shoot them dead if they don't leave immediately.
Unimpressed, Waco tells Tait that he'll leave if he's sure Tait can kill him. He picks up two bottles and invites Tait to step outside. Bret goes with them, and Waco sets up the bottles on a chair and puts a coin on top of each one. Waco then tells Tait that if Tait knocks the coin off his bottle first, he'll leave town immediately. Waco wins the draw and insists that no one hired him and he won't bother anyone if no one bothers him. Tait tells him that now Waco has to deal with Colonel Karl and Karl Sr. isn't polite like he is. Once Tait leaves, Bret tells Waco in a hurricane the big trees get uprooted first while the palm trees bend with the wind.
Later at the Bent ranch, Tait tells the Bents that Waco is the fastest gun he's ever seen. Kathy notes that Karl Jr. failed to beat up Waco, and figures that it's her business despite her father's objections. Karl Sr. tells Tait to enforce the law, and Tait says that Waco is going to have to be bushwhacked. They figure the homesteaders hired Waco, and Karl Sr. refuses to let the homesteaders start the range war again. Karl Sr. tells Tait to do his job and take care of Waco or he's through. Once Karl Sr. leaves, Tait tells Karl Jr. to learn how to fight on his own and leaves.
That night in town, Bret is playing poker and sees Waco going out. When he goes over, Waco takes a cigar from him and goes out. Bret follows Waco and sees him ask an elderly man, Perkins, if anyone has been asking for him. Perkins says that he'll remember what Waco told him. Waco settles down to wait, and a gunmen prepares to bushwhack him. When Waco hears the man, he calls to "Blackie". The gunman--Karl Jr.--shoots at him and Waco ducks. The shot hits a homesteader bystander, and Karl Jr. rides off.
Tait arrives and discovers the bystander is dead, and Bret says that someone tries to bushwhack Waco and hit the bystander. A witness confirms Bret's story, and Waco identifies Karl Jr. as the shooter. Tait claims that he doesn't believe Waco and there are no witnesses to back up Waco's identification. The sheriff tells Waco that the county would explode if he tried to arrest Karl Jr. for shooting a homesteader on Waco's accusation. Bret agrees with Tait, telling Waco that he can't make it stick. Waco tells Tait to pass on his message that if Karl. Jr. shows his face in Bent City, he'll beat him up or kill him.
Tait goes to the Bent ranch and gives Karl. Jr. Waco's message. Karl Jr. tells his father that it wasn't him and Karl Sr. believes him. Tait quits as sheriff, and Karl Sr. says that he won't let Waco tell his son to stay out of the town he met. He tells Karl Jr. to get Regan and some of the hands.
Bret continues following Waco around town and watches as he meets with another man, Menzies. Waco confirms that no one has been asking about him, and figures the man he's waiting for will show up. Karl Sr., Regan, and their men ride into town, and Waco goes to face them from behind when they call into the hotel. The colonel gives Waco until the count of ten to ride out of town. Waco refuses, saying that when Regan reaches ten then both Karls will be dead. Unimpressed, Karl Sr. tells Regan to keep counting. Bret steps out and reluctantly says that he's with Waco, and Waco and Bret both fire when Regan reaches ten. They shoot Regan and the Bents and the others ride off. Bret is wounded and confirms that Regan and Karl Jr. are dead, and Waco calls for a doctor for Karl Sr.
Later, Waco visits Bret in his hotel room as he tends to his wounded arm. Waco says that it's touch and go for Karl Sr., and Bret tells Waco that he's a lucky fool.
At the ranch, Tait tells the recuperating Karl that all of the rustlers are coming back because they think Karl is licked and Waco is the hero. The townspeople are talking about running Waco for sheriff, and Tait warns that Waco can win if the homesteaders vote for him. Karl tells Tait that Waco won't be around because he's going to get killed in a fight. He says that he hired a professional killer, Dave Hart. Kathy is shocked, and Karl tells her that he's doing it for her and won't stop fighting.
At the hotel, Bret tells Waco that he knows he's meeting Blackie Dolan. He's surprised that Waco is helping an outlaw with a $2,500 reward on his head, and Waco says that Blackie helped him once. Waco plans to talk Blackie into giving himself up. Kathy arrives at their door and explains that she came up the back way so no one knows she's there. Wade insists that he wasn't brought there to start up the range war again, and Kathy asks him to leave town because Hart is coming. Waco thanks her for the warning and says that now he'll know who he's fighting, and Kathy leaves.
That night, Hart arrives on the train and Bret watches him from the shadows. He gets the drop on Hart, ties him up, and leaves him in the train's luggage car. Bret returns to the hotel and joins Waco at breakfast. Waco says that Blackie has been caught according to the newspaper, and Blackie was the man getting off the train. Bret is shocked to read in the newspaper that the baggage clerk that found Blackie got the $2,500 reward, and tells Waco that he's leaving. He admits that he was following Waco to capture Blackie and get the reward, and suggests that Waco come with to Denver. A townsman come in and says that "Blackie" is outside with some hard-looking friends. Bret tells Waco that he shouldn't go out there but Waco refuses and goes out.
Hart is waiting for Waco, who figures that he's a bushwhacking skunk and a liar. He tells Waco to run or draw his gun, and Waco invites him to draw first since that's what he was hired to do. Hart goes for his gun but Waco outdraws and kills him. Kathy rides into town and tells Waco that Hart was the man Karl hired and that the colonel called him off. Now Karl wants to see Waco, and Waco goes with her. At the ranch, Karl asks Waco if he was hired to come there. When Waco says he wasn't, Karl tells him that he doesn't hold what happened against Waco. He also says that Waco is the first man he ever thought was good enough for Kathy, and tells him to get out so he can get some rest.
As Bret leaves, the townspeople tell him that Waco is marrying Kathy. Waco and Kathy ride into town and the townspeople greet their "hero". Bret rides out of town, forgotten, and wonders if his life philosophy is wrong.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 1, 2019