In a small Illinois town in 1957 (based on the license plate on Walker's '48-'50 Ford pickup) the coal mine where Walker works is shutting down, putting him out of work. The reason is one that would not likely have existed in 1957--government regulations on coal sulfur content. Walker has two daughters Sarah and Beth who are being raised by Lou Ann, a waitress. Walker loves his kids and they love him, Lou Ann doesn't care how but she expects child support or Walker won't see his girls. Walker would make a better parent except for the fact he is a loser who drinks and has supposedly dated every woman in the county. First Walker goes to the bank where Audrey works and takes everything out. Including Audrey. They eventually move in together. But Lou Ann wants to better herself and she demands $5000 so she can go to nursing school. In 1957? Where's she going, Vassar? At a baseball game, Walker and his dog Brute meet Syrus, a charming and persuasive man who says Brute looks like an ideal fighting dog. Walker won't let Brute fight. And Walker's friend Chester, who takes in strays, agrees. But Lou Ann ups the ante and says Walker won't see his daughters until she gets the money. So Walker has no choice. The dog is actually pretty good, but how much punishment can Brute take? And this is an industry in which the owners shoot the losers. Plus the events have to be hidden from the cops. So what's going to happen? Will Walker get his kids? Will Brute make it?