Near Christmas, Jonah is riding through the snow, remembering his childhood, when Pappy Hex would get drunk and beat him. He's more pre-occupied with tracking down his latest bounty, the Boley Boys, a notorious gang of murderous thieves. The boys target Clarence Dooley, a wealthy, portly philanthropist preparing to play Santa Claus at the mission orphanage. The gang shoots and kills Dooley, and Jonah promises a nun that he'll catch the killers.
Jonah's travels take him to Willow Creek, which has become "Outlaw Town," a haven for criminals run by Jonah's own pappy, Woodson, who acts as sheriff, judge, mayor, clerk, and city council. After getting into a bar fight with the Boley Boys in the local tavern, Woodson has Hex thrown in jail.