At a Memorial Day celebration in the small town of Santa Lisa, California, contractor Frank R. Enley, a World War II Veteran, is honored for bringing a new housing project to the town. On the same day, Joe Parkson, a mysterious and disabled war veteran, arrives in Santa Lisa hoping to find Frank and kill him. Following the ceremony, Frank bids his wife Edith and young daughter Georgie farewell and goes on a fishing trip with his friend, Fred Finney. Only moments after he leaves, Edith receives a telephone call from Joe, who says nothing and hangs up. Joe later visits Edith looking for Frank, and when she tells him the he has gone fishing at the lake, he leaves without explaining himself. At the lake, Joe, carrying a loaded gun, rows out to where Frank is fishing, but is unable to fire a shot at him. When Bobby, the bartender at a shoreline bar, tells Frank that a stranger with a limp was looking for him, Frank immediately realizes who it is and rushes home in a panic. At home, Frank takes every precaution to secure his family's safety, and tells his wife that Joe is an old army pal whom he does not wish to see. Late that night, Frank admits to his wife that he moved the family away from Syracuse, New York, to get away from Joe. He also tells Edith that during the war he and Joe were imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp, and that Joe is mentally ill. One day, when Frank leaves town to go to a builders and contractors convention in Los Angeles, Joe forces his way into the house and tells Edith that her husband is responsible for his disability and the death of some of his army pals. Frightened by the visit, Edith leaves Georgie in the care of her neighbor, Martha, and rushes to Los Angeles. There, Frank admits that he revealed Joe's escape plans to the Nazis to win special treatment for himself. Meanwhile, back in Santa Lisa, Joe learns that Frank is in Los Angeles and decides to search for him there. After checking out of his Santa Lisa hotel room, Joe is surprised by the arrival of Ann Sturges, his girl friend, who has followed him in the hopes of preventing him from killing Frank. When Joe rejects Ann's pleas, Ann finds Edith and warns her about Joe's revenge plans. In Los Angeles, Joe finds Frank at the convention and the two scuffle. Frank manages to escape, and while taking refuge in a bar, meets a prostitute named Pat. Pat takes Frank to Johnny, a killer-for-hire, who uses force and alcohol to persuade Frank to hire him to kill Joe. The following day, Frank returns to Santa Lisa, and, regretting his decision to hire Johnny, tries to warn Joe about the impending attempt on his life. Frank warns Joe only seconds before Johnny fires his gun, and then steps forward to take the bullet himself. Though wounded by the gunshot Frank manages to grab Johnny as he speeds off in his car, causing it to crash into a lamppost. Both Johnny and Frank are killed in the crash, leaving Joe with the responsibility of telling Edith the tragic news.