A small-time thug, Fred Renard, is drinking at a bar when a street peddler, Pedott comes in. He offers his wares to the customers, including a young woman. She attracts Pedott's attention and he offers her a small bottle of cleaning fluid, insisting that it's exactly what he needs. Pedott then goes to the bar where a retired pitcher, Lefty, is drinking. The bartender gleefully explains that Lefty used to pitch for the Cubs but his arm went bad and now he comes in every night to drink. Pedott says that he knows what Lefty needs and offers him a bus ticket to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lefty has no idea what to do with the ticket or why he might need it.
As Pedott walks away, Lefty receives a call from his old manager. When he finishes the call, Lefty tells the bartender that his old manager has offered him a job as a coach with a minor league club... in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He asks Pedott how he knew, but the peddler says that it's just a coincidence. Lefty worries about how he'll look to the owner and points out the stain on his jacket. The woman comes over and offers him the cleaning fluid, and offers to accompany him. As Pedott watches the happy couple, he notices Renard looking at him suspiciously and quickly leaves.
Renard follows the peddler out into the street and demands to know what he needs that night. Pedott glances nervously at a pair of scissors among his wares and Renard grabs them. He has no idea why he might need them and threatens to beat the peddler, but Pedott tells him that they're exactly what he needs. Disgusted, Renard goes to his hotel room and takes the elevator up. His scarf catches in the door and starts to choke him as the cage rises upward. Renard manages to use the scissors to cut the scarf apart and free himself, and realizes that Pedott knew exactly what he needed.
Renard goes to Pedott's room and the peddler asks why he's bothering him. Renard realizes that Pedott can see the future and wonders how he can waste a million-dollar talent on selling cheap goods. He wants Pedott as his partner, but the peddler tells him that he has to use his ability sparingly. Renard refuses to take no for an answer and demands that Pedott tell him what he needs again. Pedott hands him a pen and Renard is disgusted to discover that it leaks. However, the pen leaks onto a newspaper and Renard realizes that it's landed next to the name of a horse in the next day's races.
The next day, Renard makes $240 betting on the horse and goes back to his hotel room to use the pen again. However, he discovers that it has run out of ink and he goes after Pedott. Renard confronts the peddler on a rainy street and demands more. Pedott tells him that whatever someone needs, they only need once. Renard insists that he's not going to give up his one chance at coming out ahead in life and demands to know what he needs. Pedott refuses, saying that it needs to stop. Renard doesn't understand, and the peddler explains that the things that Renard needs, thing like patience and humor and humility, he can't give him.
Enraged, Renard paws through Pedott's peddler's case and notices the old man glancing at a pair of shoes. Renard puts them on and complains that they're new shoes, too slippery and too tight. He wonders how they work but realizes that he has no idea what they do or how they work. Pedott says that they're what he needs, not what Renard needs, and starts to back away. Renard comes after him but his shoes slip on the wet street and a car runs him over before he can get out of the way. Pedott stares sadly down at the corpse and says that he knew Renard would kill him from the very first. As a crowd gathers, Pedott offers a comb to a man who has come out of his apartment to see what the commotion is. When a photographer takes the man's photo, the man realizes the comb is what he needs to put his hair back in place.