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A History of Violence begins with two hitch-hikers asking for a lift. The driver and his accompalice proceeds to shoot both of them, and steal their wallets. Both of the men arrive at Tom Mckenneys soda shop, and decide to rob it. During the course of their attemptd robbing, Tom shoots one of them with their own gun, and knocks the other out stone cold.

The domino effect of his vigilantism is a huge amount of media attention and being labelled as a hero, when all he wants is peace and quiet. The other effect of this is the public notoriety he gains. It draws the attention of an old mob boss (Torrino). Torrino begins to stalk him throughout the town with his large black car, and eventually comes inside the soda shop asking to speak with Tom. He does, and he implies that he knows something about Tom's past, to the annoyance of Tom's wife. He also brandishes toms missing finger, which he has kept in a small vial. He is kicked out of the shop by both Tom and his wife, all the while Tom insisting that he has never seen either of them in his life before.

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