Al Denton, once a feared gunslinger, now the town drunk, is humiliated daily by Dan Hotaling - a local bully - who forces him to sing "How Dry I Am" for a drink as a source of amusement.
After one such incident, Denton finds a gun on the ground shortly after Henry J. Fate, a peddler, arrives in town. When Hotaling sees it, he forces Denton to draw against him over the other man's protests. To everyone's surprise, especially Denton's, he disarms Hotaling, not once, but twice. He is given a new lease on life and decides he's not going to drink anymore.
He explains to the local saloon girl that he used to be the best gunfighter in town. The problem was that his fame brought plenty of opponents determined to prove they were better. He once left a 16-year old lying dead in the street and began drinking to deal with the stress of constantly having to prove his skill. Eventually, the drinking overcame him.
He knows it will happen again and, this time, he will not be able to fight with the same skill. He decides to have a shave so he can look proper on the day of his death. As it happens, he is approached that very evening by representatives of Pete Grant. He tries to turn them down, but matters of honor were not handled so easily in those days. He finally agrees to meet Grant.
Determining that the shots he got off on Hotaling were flukes, he decides to leave town. Seeing Fate's wagon on the street, he goes down to see him. Fate claims to sells tonics and general merchandise, including potions. He offers Denton a potion that will allow him 10 seconds of deadly accuracy. Testing the potion, Denton takes it with no charge from Fate who wants him to take it and remember "the day Fate rode into town".
Meeting Grant at the saloon, he is surprised to see the very young man also taking the same potion. They both draw on each other at the same time, each sustaining an injury that will prevent them from gunfighting again.
Denton understands Fate's gift to him and tells Grant that, he may not see it now, but they've both been blessed.