The Rifleman
"Welcome to The McCain Ranch"

Sidewinder — The Alternate Ending
     by rooster davis

I thought that the Rifleman episode “Sidewinder” was one of the best I’d ever seen – most of the way through at least. While it started with a great premise and brought the tension levels up repeatedly, at one point the writer seemed to have lost his way. The main character, a pint-sized gunfighter, suddenly becomes a mischievous 13-year-old boy and all live happily ever after. I found this so disappointing, I went ahead and re-wrote the story with what I think is a much better ending. I start (below) with a plot summary of the first several scenes, then I change to a script format. I made just a few very small changes up until the scene in the jail cell, and during that scene I took the whole story away from the original and scripted it to the end. I hope you enjoy my take on “Sidewinder”.

13-year-old Gridley Maule has ridden a thousand miles to kill Lucas McCain, because several years earlier Lucas had killed his father. Grid doesn't care that his father had just robbed a bank and had fired on Lucas, who returned fire in self-defense, killing him. Grid wants revenge on the man who killed his Pa no matter how it happened. He’s dead serious, and dresses, acts, talks, and impressively handles a gun like someone twice his age, and he wants only one thing - to face Lucas in a gunfight and kill him.

First he goes to the McCain ranch but Lucas isn't there; he pulls a gun on Mark, and after asking ‘Are you McCain’s kid?’ he demands to know where Lucas is. Mark lies that his dad is in town at the hotel and asks Grid why he wants Lucas. “Murder,” says Grid, who does an impressive double forward – backward twirl of his revolver and drops it into his holster, and leaves the house.

 Mark races back on his horse to where his dad is working on the ranch and tells him he got a gun pulled on him at their house by a boy who wants Lucas for murder, and he had told the boy that Lucas was at the hotel in town. Lucas heads to North Fork where he learns from Lou Mallory at the hotel that this young man has registered there. When Lucas sees the name in the hotel register, he has a pretty good idea what it’s about. Lou said she thought Grid was just a boy and just acting tough, but she has misjudged him and Lucas is unprepared for his young adversary.

A moment later Grid comes down from his room to water his horse and Lou nods to Lucas that this is the person he’s looking for. Lucas confronts Grid about having pulled a gun on Mark earlier. Grid ignores that and demands that they go out in the street to shoot it out because he has come a thousand miles to get even with Lucas for killing his pa. Lucas advises him not to press his advantage just because he’s young; Grid responds ‘I’m not pressing it and don’t you mention it.’ Lucas wants to talk to Grid about how why he killed his pa but Grid comes up to him, says he’s not there to talk, and slaps Lucas’s face hard with a leather glove. At this point, Lou’s expression shows she realizes she’s underestimated Grid, and now Lucas has to do something. Grid holds the door and says ‘after you’.

Lucas goes out to the street with Grid but is still obviously unsure how to handle this. He would rather avoid the shootout than to have to kill Grid, which he apparently thinks is a sure thing because this gunman is a mere boy, barely even a teenager. How good could he be?  Lucas stalls for a moment, then tries to give Gridley second thoughts about a gunfight. He puts  six matches into a hitching post and then lights them with six fast shots from his rifle. Grid watches with some bewilderment. Lucas asks 'Are you ready to talk now?' Grid just pulls his revolver, fanning the trigger and banging out six quick shots, extinguishing the lit matches. Now Lucas and Micah are both visibly worried because this kid is dangerously good with a gun and not at all scared by Lucas's rifle exhibition. All Lucas can think to do is walk away and hope Grid will cool off. Grid is angry, yelling ‘You killed my pa and you won’t fight me. You’re scared of someone who can stand up to your rifle, you lousy coward! You haven’t seen the last of me. You’ll see, I’ll make you fight.’  Micah tells him ‘Get on your horse and ride out of here. Grid looks at Lucas a moment, then gets on his horse and races off without another word. In the hotel Micah says that might not be the last they see of Grid, and Lucas says that’s probably right but he doesn’t know what to do about him. While they talk, Lucas recalls Grid’s threat ‘I’ll make you fight’ before he left, and realizes that Grid is probably going back after Mark again. He runs for his horse and heads for his ranch, knowing that by now Grid has at least a few minutes’ head start.

(Mark is outside stacking wood off the wagon. He hears the sound of an approaching horse. Gridley Maule gallops up, back from his failed attempt to engage Lucas in a gunfight. He gets off the horse and ties it to the hitching post. Mark looks at Grid, alarmed. Grid is turned away from his horse and looking at Mark smugly as he steps to his saddlebag and withdraws a pistol.)

Mark (nervously): I - I thought you were in town. (Grid stands facing Mark, his left hand holding the pistol he retrieved.)

Grid: Now don’t tell me you’re scared too.

Mark: (trying to look less nervous) I don’t ‘spect so.

Grid: I slapped your pa’s face today boy. And in front of people too, but he wouldn’t shoot it out. He’s lily-livered, boy! Just plain lily-livered!

Mark: (angry) You don’t know what you’re talkin’-

Grid: (throws down the pistol from his left hand, interrupting Mark) Pick it up!

Mark: (shocked) What for?

Grid: I can get even with one McCain just as good as another. (Mark is starting to comprehend.) Pick it up.

Mark (stalling, trying to change the subject): Where’s my pa?

Grid (sarcastically): Drinkin’ coffee to settle his nerves…. Pick it up or I’ll kill you. (After a second, he whips his revolver out of his holster and points it at Mark, and orders him) Pick it up!

(Mark, out of options, keeps an eye on Grid and slowly bends to pick up the gun, by the barrel end. Grid regards Mark with satisfaction and puts his pistol back in the holster .)

Mark (now standing): I’m not allowed to use a handgun.

Grid: Well it’s about time, boy…. (dead serious now) Now when I say turn around, you turn around. I’ll count to ten and you take a step each time… and then turn and shoot. (His eyes narrow.) Now turn around.

Mark (hesitates, then tosses pistol onto the porch): I’m not gonna have a gunfight with you or anyone else!

Grid: Just like your pa, ain’t ya boy. And when he gets here I want you to tell him what happened. I’ll be waitin’ for him inside. (Walks up to the porch, picks up the gun Mark threw, and tucks it into the front of his gun belt, then goes into the house, closing the door, and immediately loads his gun, which was empty. He finds Lucas’s box of cigars and lights one up with a match from the table, then sits in a chair to wait. Mark, outside, looks half sick and half relieved.)

(Momentarily Lucas rides up quickly on his horse; Mark runs over to him.)

Lucas: Where is he?

Mark: Inside! He tried to make me have a shootout with him! (Lucas looks toward the house, thinking.) What are you gonna do, pa? (Lucas signals Mark to go stand on the left side of the door to the house.)

(Grid is in the house, calmly enjoying the cigar when he hears Lucas.)

Lucas (calls): Maule! Maule, do you hear me?

Grid (calls back, calm): Yeah, I hear ya.

Lucas: All right. I’m waiting for you outside.

Grid: That’s good enough for me. (Gets up and tosses the cigar into the fireplace): I’m comin’ out McCain! (Standing to one side he flips the door open, slowly steps out the doorway and looks to the left to see Lucas near the corner of the house. As he turns toward Lucas, Mark runs up from behind and grabs Grid by his upper arms, immobilizing them. Grid struggles as Lucas steps up and takes his gun away.)

Lucas: All right Mark, get some rope.

Grid (still struggling, sputters) What a lousy trick!

Lucas (shakes Grid once by his arms) Cool down now, just cool down Maule.

Grid (stops struggling and stares with hate at Lucas, bitterly angry at himself) I should’ve known.

(Back in town at the jail, Lucas and Grid ride up in the buckboard. Mark rides up on Grid’s horse, jumps down and ties it to the hitching post. Lucas reaches over and unties Grid’s ankles so he can walk.)

Lucas: All right, get down. (Grid jumps down from the wagon, his hands still tied behind him. Lucas jumps down next as Micah approaches them.) He started up again at the ranch.

Micah: What happened?

Lucas: He tried to force Mark into a shootout. (Lucas and Micah give Grid a gentle push to get him moving towards the door of the jail.)

Micah: A shootout, with Mark…? (Glances at Mark.) You okay boy?

Mark: (with a small sigh) Yeah, I’m okay Micah.

(Now they are in the marshal’s office) Micah (gesturing to Grid): Sit down over there, boy.

Grid: (pooh-poohs what Lucas said) I wasn’t gonna shoot him. (Sits down.) I just wanted to force his pa’s hand. (He looks away from everyone else. Lou Mallory has also come in and is standing near the door, watching.)

Lucas (puts a foot up on a chair and regards Grid from several feet away): I want him in jail, Micah. I’ll swear out a complaint right now.

Grid (sarcastically): For what, disturbing the peace?... (threateningly) I’ll be outta here in two days McCain and I’ll come for you again.

Micah (calmly): Settle down boy. Sounds like more than disturbing the peace to me.

Grid: (a little insistent) I told the truth, I wasn’t gonna shoot him.

Micah (glances at Lucas): I could write to Washington – they’ve got a corrective institution for boys there… Have to apply for a commitment, might take me three, four months.

Grid (swallows nervously as he listens to Micah, then says forcefully): I don’t lie! (Now sounds like he’s leveling.) Both the guns were empty…  (almost pleading) You gotta believe me I wouldn’t shoot a kid.

Lucas (noticing Grid starting to get emotional and senses an opening, he takes the chair he’s had a foot on, moves it closer to Grid, who seems to be fighting tears. Lucas straddles the chair, and leans up closer to Grid, who won’t look at him..) All this trouble you’re causing… you think I shot your pa purposely, don’t you?

Grid (quieter, starts to tell his story while still looking away from Lucas who watches him and listens intently): I was eight when they brought my father home. (bitterly) It took me more than a half a day to dig the grave. And when I got done the only thing I could to do to keep from bawling was all the time take his gun and learn how to use it. For a year I had to use two hands. And then another year until my thumb got big enough to cock it. I practiced night and day McCain for three years more. (emphatically) And I can shoot now, I can even shoot in the dark. (darkens again) And I mean to pay you back for what you did.

Lucas: Did you know your pa was in the act of robbing a bank?

Grid: (flares up) Yeah, I knew he was robbin’ a bank!

Lucas (Grid is at least paying attention to him now): He was running with the money. I just happened by between him and his horse. He took a shot at me. And he would have shot again, there was nothing I could do.

Grid (stubborn, his voice rising): It makes no difference…. When he was alive he was good to me. Maybe you don’t understand McCain but he was my pa! (getting a little emotional again)

Lucas (quietly): I understand… If I don’t swear out the charges, will you promise to go back home and forget about this revenge?

Grid (thinks a second then concludes firmly): No.

Lucas (giving up): All right Micah, I’ll swear out the complaint now. (Gets up and backs away.)

Micah (unflappable as always, while Grid sits emotionless, prepares to put him in a cell): You heard the man, boy. Come on, get up.

Grid (as Micah escorts him to a cell, Grid turns around to face Lucas): You keep me in jail, McCain! You go ahead and send me to Washington! (As Micah unties Grid’s hands, Grid’s teeth clench.) But I’ll come back and I’ll kill you.

Micah: Cool down boy, cool down. (Micah guides Grid into the cell and locks the door. Grid eases over to the cot and sits down, facing the cell door.)

(Lou has stopped just watching from the sidelines and approaches Micah; Lucas seems almost embarrassed by this.)

Lou (sounding hopeful): Micah, I - I’ve been thinking. Don’t you think a – a little kindness and some food might help?

(Lucas looks up at Lou but doesn’t seem too interested in her idea, and looks down again.Mark stands nearby watching but reactionless.)

Micah: Now Lou, let’s not get all tangled up in your apron strings.

Lou (to Lucas): Must you press the charges?

Lucas (resignedly): For the life of me Lou, I don’t know what else to do.

Lou (hopeful again): Let me have a word with him.

Micah (firmly): You’d be wasting your time.

Lou (giving a wide-eyed hopeful look): I don’t mind.

Micah (reluctantly): All right. (He walks over and unlocks the cell, letting Lou in and closing the door behind her. Lou walks quietly to the cot and sits a couple feet from Grid, who is downcast and kneading his gloved fingers. He only briefly turns to look at her as she sits.)

Lou: (gently) I uh, I understand how you must have felt losing your father. (Grid swallows but says nothing.) Was your mother alive during this time? (Grid stays quiet but appears to be thinking. Lou seems stymied by his silence.) What’s the matter, didn’t you like her?

Grid (somewhat emotional): I’d forgotten all about her.

Lou: Why?

Grid: (still emotional): I was three when she died.

Lou (sympathetic) : Then you never really had a mother.

Grid (looking straight ahead): My pa raised me all right.

Lou: My guess is he let you do whatever you wanted. And you been doing it ever since.

Grid (defensively): I learned fast. I learned fast how to take care of myself. I had to.

Lou: I’ll bet you were one of those unusual children, who learns how to take care of himself all alone. No help whatsoever.

Grid (not interested in discussing): That’s right lady, now will ya get out of here?

Lou (plunging ahead): Never told what time to go to bed. Never told what to wear, what to eat, what to learn…

Grid (losing patience) I said get outta here now will ya leave me be?

Lou: Do you like it here in jail Grid?

Grid (looks at her, snotty): Oh sure it’s just dandy. (As he finishes the realization seems to hit him again where he is and the emotions rise a bit.)

Lou: Suppose – (she stops, looks out of the cell, then lowers her voice) – suppose I asked the marshal to put you in my custody… would you behave?

Grid: (uninterested, staring ahead) In your custody for what?

Lou: Well, I… (not expecting the question, stumbles a moment then smiles) I thought, well maybe if you’d like -

Grid: (cuts her off sharply) I already know what you’re thinking. Forget it. My ma died ten years ago, I ain’t had a ma since and I don’t want one now. (Lou is flustered - Grid’s comment is painfully on target)).  I told you at the hotel I won’t be treated like a kid. If you wanna be somebody’s ma go find yourself somebody else.

Lou: But if you only let me I think I can help you to -

Grid: (cuts her off, his voice rising) There’s only one person here who can help me and it ain’t you! (angrily)  Hey marshal, do somethin’ about this will ya?

Micah: Lou, it’s probably best for you to go now.

Lou: (stands) I just thought… all right, as you wish. Goodbye Grid. And good luck to you. (She walks briskly to the cell door which Micah is holding open for her. Grid looks up for just a second as she exits.)

Micah: (consoling) That’s really about all I expected, Lou. (He locks the cell.)

(Lou walks past to leave, heading back to her hotel, too upset to respond.)

Lucas: (gently, as she passes him and exits the jail) You tried, Lou.  (turns back, pauses a moment) That was all I expected too, Micah (Micah nods)…. Let’s step outside a minute. I want to know a little more about that correctional school.

Micah (nods): Sure Lucas. (they step out the door and around to where they are visible through the window.)

(Mark has been standing quietly off to the side and nobody has really been noticing him. Now he’s alone in the marshal’s office, except for Grid. Mark wants to talk to him but he’s unsure. Grid gets off his cot and goes to the cell door and shakes it to make sure it’s not unlocked by some chance. Only then does he notice Mark. Gives him a cold look and goes back to sit on his cot. Mark goes quietly up to the cell. Grid is kneading his leather-gloved fingers and staring at the floor but knows Mark is there. He speaks softly, without looking up.)

Grid: Well boy. I bet you’re happy now. Tomorrow you be sure to tell your friends all about your big gunfight. (Mark doesn’t respond; after a few seconds Grid looks up at him again.) Somethin’ you want, boy? Maybe you just come to look at me.

Mark: No, I just - I wanted to ask you, what else happened… after your pa died?

Grid: (rueful) What do you care. You never had to shovel dirt on your pa in a hole in the ground without so much as a box to put him in. (Mark looks shaken by that.) You got it good. I bet you never had to live in a shack, did ya? … livin’ on odd jobs and chores to make a dollar or two here and there just to eat… freezin’ half the time in the winter, all by yourself with no one to talk to but your horse… nothin’ to do but practice shootin’ day after day, gettin’ better and faster than most anybody, just waitin’ for the day you can pay back the man who killed your pa and left you livin’ like this. I been waitin’ years boy and today was gonna be that day. (looks at Mark)  You got your pa, boy, you got a place to live. You don’t understand how it is for me. You don’t understand nothin’.

Mark: (pauses in thought, then with realization)) You’re right. (Grid looks up, a little surprised.) I don’t guess anybody could understand how it’s been for you, not less’n it happened to them too. And what you said about me havin’ it good, well you’re right about that, I got my pa and a place to live and all. But that day your pa died, it could’ve been my pa instead and I’d have ended up in your shoes.

Grid: (grudgingly)  I guess.

Mark: You know, I never knew who you were before today… I never knew you were anybody at all. But now I do and I feel bad for how hard it’s been for you…  and I’m sorry, for all of it. That day my pa shot your pa I don’t care how it happened or who shot first or who was right or who was wrong. I won’t apologize for my pa defending himself but that doesn’t matter either. The only thing that matters is that you lost your pa. And I want you to know… I’m sorry.

(Grid doesn’t say anything, he just swallows.)

Mark: I know you haven’t forgiven my pa, and I guess I can’t –

Grid: (interrupts him, quietly) Go get him.

Mark: What?

Grid: I said get your pa. And the marshal. Go on.

Mark: Okay…. (he hurries out the door of the office. Lucas and Micah are still talking.)

Lucas: That’s my biggest problem with those places Micah, I’ve heard that some of them do more harm than good and I’d be worried I was –

Mark: (impatient) Pa. Micah. ‘Scuse me for interrupting but he wants to talk to you.

Lucas: What, Maule asked you to come get us? What for?

Mark: We were just talking, I can’t tell you now, but please, come see what he wants.

Micah: Lucas, you don’t owe that boy the time of day.

Mark: Please, pa…

Lucas: (sighs) All right. Come on Micah, let’s see what this is about.

(They re-enter the jail, Micah staying a step back as Lucas approaches Grid, standing at the bars of his cell.)

Lucas: All right Maule, what’s on your mind?

Grid: (serious) McCain, I came to North Fork today lookin’ to make you face me, to even up with you for my pa. And I know I been some trouble to you and your boy today. You said if I’d forget about fightin’ you and just go home, you’d let it be. I can’t forget that you killed my pa but I’m willin’ to leave and leave things be as they are. You won’t have no more trouble with me. If you let me out of here I won’t ever bother you again.

Lucas: What brings this on?

Mark: (afraid to get off track) Pa, please. It’s okay.

Lucas: (looks at Mark then back to Grid) Maule, I don’t know whether to trust you or not. My better judgment says not to. You’ve had quite a day here and already bit me twice. But Mark seems to think you’ll keep your word, and about the only other thing we can do is to send you to that correction school. You might come out worse than you went in. (another glance at Mark) All right... I said earlier if you’d forget this revenge thing and go on home, I’d have the marshal let you go, and I’m going to. I want you to listen to me very carefully now Maule… you’ve used up all your chances with me. Every last one…. Okay Micah.

Micah: Lucas, I’ll let him go if you want me to. I just hope you know what you’re doing. (puts the key in the cell door and opens it). Out you go. (Grid steps out of the cell) I’ve got your guns and gunbelt over here; your guns are unloaded and that’s how I want them to stay till you’re out of North Fork. (Micah hands the gunbelt and extra revolver to Grid. He puts the belt on, and puts the second revolver in the front of his belt for the moment.  He mutters a quiet ‘thank you sir’ and walks out of the marshal’s office, unties his horse, climbs into the saddle, and rides off down the street. Lucas, Micah, and Mark go out to watch him as he leaves.

Micah: I hope you did the right thing, Lucas boy. I hope we both did.

Lucas: So do I Micah… Mark, let’s head home. I think we’ve got some talkin’ to do on the ride.

(Lucas and Mark get in the wagon and ride off)

(Back at the McCain ranch Mark is taking the dinner dishes from the table. Lucas is finishing his coffee.)

Mark: (picking up a couple of plates) Pa, it was the darndest thing. Gridley was just being like he had been – you know, not very friendly I guess – even when he was talking about how he had to live and all… I can’t imagine what it must be like, living in a shack… (shaking his head slowly) …all by himself most of the time.

Lucas: Doesn’t sound like a very satisfying way to live, does it. (take a sip of coffee) You know son, we’re both pretty lucky, we’ve both got someone we care about to talk to.

Mark: (by the kitchen sink, walks back to Lucas) But anyhow - there was a moment when it seemed like all at once he changed. And it was right after I said I was sorry.

Lucas: Sorry…? You know I shot his pa in self-defense, Mark. There was nothing for you to apologize for.

Mark: I know pa, and I told him that. I said I wasn’t apologizing for you shootin’ his pa, but I told him that no matter how it happened, the only thing that really mattered was that his pa was dead, and I was sorry for that. I was sorry for him losin’ his pa.

Lucas: Well then I’d say that was a charitable and Christian thing to do. Maybe that’s all he ever really wanted, to know that someone in the world cared. Maybe that’s all he really wanted only he didn’t know it himself. (something catches his attention) What’s that? Sounds like something outside. (It’s getting near dark but through the window Lucas can make out the shape of a horse, and by the rider’s hat, it’s apparently Gridley Maule.)

Mark: What is it pa?

Lucas: (reaching for his rifle) It’s Maule. Get away from the window.

Mark: (worried) What do you s’pose he wants pa?

Lucas: I don’t know but it can’t be good. I’m afraid you were wrong about your friend out there. Something you got to learn as you grow older, young folks are too eager to trust and too eager to betray trust. (Grid is climbing down off his horse, near the barn. Standing near the window, Lucas calls out to him.) Gridley Maule, I told you you used up all your chances with me. I’ve got my rifle aimed right at you. Get back on your horse and leave while you can.

Grid: McCain! I just want to talk to you a minute, you and your boy. That’s all, just talk. I’m not wearin’ my gun.

Lucas: (Calls out again warningly) Put your hands up and keep them where I can see them. (Grid complies.) Come on Mark, I think it’s safe enough. Let’s see what he wants. (Lucas opens the door of the house; he and Mark walk towards Grid, standing by his horse. Lucas sees Grid’s empty holster.) All right Maule, you can put your hands down but I don’t want any tricks.  What do you want?

Grid: McCain, I left North Fork in a hurry today and I left some unfinished business… it ain’t much but I got a few miles out of town and it was preyin’ on my mind so I had to come back and take care of it.

Lucas: (warily) What kind of unfinished business?

Grid: Some things don’t come easy for me, but I’m bound to say ‘em… Mark McCain, I’m obliged to you for today and I owed you to tell you. You take care, you and your pa… and don’t you worry none.

Mark: Thanks….

Lucas: Is that all of it Maule?

Grid: I’d be grateful, when you see that lady from the hotel, if you’d tell her I said ‘thank you’.

Lucas: I’ll tell her, and glad to do it… (smiles a bit) I expect she’ll be pleased.

Grid: Guess that’s all of it, so I’ll be goin’… I won’t trouble you again McCain. (Grid gives Mark that smug smile from earlier in the day and gives him a little slap on the shoulder.) So long, boy.

Mark: (As Grid swings into his saddle) ‘Bye Grid…. (Grid turns his horse around and rides off without a wave or a look back. Lucas and Mark watch him disappear into the fading light.)

Lucas: I expect that’s the last we’ll see of young Gridley Maule Junior.

Mark: I reckon you’re right, pa. When he told me not to worry he was lettin’ me know he wouldn’t do anything else to take away my pa.

Lucas: You know son, at the jail he said there was only one person there who could help him. He was talking about me but he was wrong. It was you.

Mark: (thoughtful) I don’t know pa but if I helped him, I’m glad… Pa, what do you thinks' gonna happen to him?

Lucas: It’s hard sayin’, Mark. There’s good and bad in that boy… I think when you go to bed, you might want to remember him in your prayers.

Mark: (softly) I already figured to do that.

Lucas: Good. (puts his hand on Mark’s shoulder) Come on son, let’s get back to those dishes. END

This is a story based on the TV series The RiflemanThe Sidewinder episode #158

Billy was in a total of three episodes of The Rifleman - do you know what they were?  ~Billy Hughes Jr.

I think rooster did a great job on this. I think he really capture the alternate ending quite well. Thanks rooster!

Grid Maule's biography by rooster davis
May you rest in peace Cowboy! ~Billy Hughes Jr.

Sadly Billy left us on December 20, 2005.  Here you will find a link to him and a later picture. Billy Hughes Jr. May you rest in peace Grid!

Rooster's page — Sidewinder Colt Single Action Revolver Finger pointin' page from The Sidewinder — Here you can see how Lucas setup the match sticks to demonstrate his shooting abilities for Grid. Cowgirl!

The Sidewinder episode #158 - When Lucas puts the six matches in the hitching post and shoots them to light them, and Gridley Maule (Billy Hughes Jr.) shoots them out, note that they are both shooting right towards the front of a building which is behind the hitching post - oops, hope nobody minded getting their store shot up, or got killed inside it.

According to Billy Hughes Jr. was probably not yet 14 when this episode was filmed - his gun handling, at least on film, was impressive for someone of any age and well worth re-watching to pay attention to. When he first confronts Mark McCain at the house, he does a pretty impressive twirl of his revolver and drops it right into the holster; later when he returns to try to force Mark into a duel, he throws a pistol on the ground and orders Mark to "Pick it up or I'll kill you - pick it up!" and as he does so he draws his own gun - if you watch, he's incredibly quick. In the match-shooting scene he also rips off six quick shots from a revolver. Of course they're blanks and aim meant nothing but a revolver is not the simplest gun to fire quickly and reliably. Hughes must have spent quite some time on his own learning gun handling because he didn't get that good just by rehearsing for TV shows.

I also got a kick out of the fact that he's smoking a cigar while waiting in the house for Lucas to return. I doubt they'd allow that these days even for filming just one scene of a TV show. Unfortunately, the last part of the episode kind of 'jumps the shark' when this young gunslinger suddenly changes from an intense hateful character into a polite young man. All through the episode this pint-sized gunslinger is a powder keg ready to kill people, and a few minutes later he's passing out exploding cigars (but agrees that he himself is too young to smoke now).
Thanks rooster davis!

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This is the weapon use in the Sidewinder by Grid Maule played by Billy Hughes Jr.

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