"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
After a long, hard trip on the stage, solving North Fork’s problems was the last thing I wanted to do. Quite frankly, all Mark and I wanted was to go home and get into bed. But when I arrived into North Fork, there was something strange going on.
It being night, the streets weren’t quiet like Micah always made them. The piano in the saloon was playing very loudly. Men were hollering on the streets and shooting their guns. There were a lot of drunks hanging around, just enjoying the freedom of getting drunk and not being thrown into jail.
This was the scene that Mark and I rode into. I looked around, half expecting Micah to storm out of his office and demand peace, but Micah was no where around. As I stepped off the stage, I wondered out loud where he was. The stagecoach driver informed me that Micah had been gone for three days.
Ben Waller was filling in for Micah. “Ben Waller?” I was surprised. He was certainly not the type that Micah should leave in charge! I saw him down on the street holding his rifle and terrified…some marshal he was making!
Mark and I started toward Ben, but as we walked past the saloon, more gunshots were fired. I grabbed Mark by the arm protectively and pulled him onto the other side of me to keep him out of the path of any stray bullets. I asked Ben what the trouble was. I knew something was wrong because his face was filled with fear.
“Lucas, I’ve been standing out here all this live long day, and nobody…not a single person ever so much as offered to lend me a hand! He came in at sunup, Lucas, Just as easy as you please sitting on that big bay of his. And he went in there…”
He was so excited that he wasn’t making sense. I was confused, still trying to figure out the trouble. “Hold on now, Ben! Who came in?” I suddenly demanded to know.
“Al Walker, that’s who!” Ben finally answered, fear lying on his every word.
More shooting sounded as Ben started complaining. He said that Micah just asked him to keep the peace, but he never asked for this kind of trouble. “I guess you didn’t, Ben, but as far as I can see, you haven’t had any trouble yet. Just a few drunks.” I’m not sure that I was still understanding the whole problem here.
But Ben told me that Al Walker was buying drinks for every saddle bum who rode into town. Ben was scared…shaking with fear…more gunshots rang out through the night and he again complained. “Ben, how come you didn’t stop it before it got started?” I wondered.
“Stop it? Me face up to Al Walker and break up his party?” Apparently he didn’t understand the serious position his job required…Somehow I knew I was going to have to take care of this. But Ben wasn’t done talking yet. “No sir, not me. Look, I didn’t want this job Lucas. But, well, you were up in Santa Fe, and well, Micah asked me. Well, that’s only because you were out of town, mind ya. Now, if you want to take over-“
He really wanted out. I told him that Micah made him deputy. He had no authority to give me the job. But I knew that somehow, peace had to be restored in North Fork, and I knew that Ben wasn’t going to restore it. So you know who that left…me! I told Ben that I would go talk to Al and see what he was up to. Then I turned to Mark who had been standing there listening to the whole thing. Naturally, his being a boy, he was kind of nervous about the whole thing. “Look, I’ll only be a minute, son. You go on over to the café and order us a steak. It’s been a long ride, and you must be hungry.” I gave him a quick pat, hoping the physical contact would take some of that worry from his eyes.
It didn’t. “Pa,” he suddenly started. I turned to look at him, knowing what he wanted to say. He wanted to beg me to just take him home, not to get involved in this. He was afraid, as usual, that I was walking into a dangerous situation. The truth was that I was, but I had to try to restore peace. Mark and I simply looked at each other. Suddenly, more gunshots rang out into the night. Whatever he was going to say died in his throat as I looked toward the saloon, then back at him. He suddenly knew that I had to go. And my eyes told him I would come back. “How do you want your steak?”
“Rare,” I answered casually, somehow hoping that my casual answer would do something to calm him and cause less worry. Then we parted ways.
I walked into the saloon. Boy, was it ever a mad house in there! Men were standing all over the place, just hollering and drinking. I had to push my way through the crowd to get to Sweeny. “Big night, huh Sweeny?”
Sweeny said it was a big day too. Then he asked me if I knew who was buying. “He gave me $500.00 this morning and said when that was gone, there’d be more. Luke, I wish he would take it back! I don’t like things like this!”
Sweeny pointed him out to me. He was sitting at a table by himself playing solitaire. Sweeny said he wasn’t being socialable – he doesn’t talk to anyone, and no one talks to him. I walked up to him. “Red ten on the black Jack,” I told him. He wasn’t too happy with my being there, but I informed him we were going to have a little talk. “I see you’re beating the game,” I commented as I studied his cards.
He found this incredibly funny. “I want to show you something,” he stated. Then he messed the cards up. “There. I was winning. Now the game’s over. It’s finished. And I lost.” I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean. “Just proving a point. No matter how far you think you are, you never win. It’s not in the cards. It never has been, it never will be. There’s always some outside force, some unexpected…thing…that has you beaten before you even start.”
I wasn’t sure I followed that philosophy. Then he told me he’d explain it to me, and he called me “Mr. McCain.” I was surprised that he knew me, and I wanted to know why he knew me. It always concerned me when a person could figure out who I was so easily…This is what he told me.
“Some people say I live by my gun. Perhaps that’s true, but I’m also a lawyer. I always know my opposition. I know and I’ve also heard a lot of things about you and your gun. For example, I hear that a man carrying a side arm would be a fool to go up against you.”
I smiled. This hadn’t been the first time I had heard that, but I didn’t think it was all that drastic…”That’s a matter of opinion,” I stated.
The conversation suddenly took a totally new direction. He wanted to know about our doctor. I suddenly wondered if that was his reason for being here – to see the doc. He started talking about the doctor’s filling out a death certificate. “You ask me why I’m here. Well, I’ll tell you Lucas…You mind my calling you that?” I didn’t mind. “Well, I’m here for two reasons. One: A few years ago, the name Alvin Brisby Walker meant something besides…” He patted his gun. He told me that he had been an attorney. He had everything: money, position, health, women, etc. including his cough. The doctors wanted him to come out West and breathe our clean air. But he was a proud man, and he didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him, so when a man did one day, he hit him. The man got mad, so they drew and Al killed the man. He had killed twelve other men since then.
I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, but everyone has hard times. And it’s not right for that person to hurt others just because he’s hurt. He knew he was going to die a slow painful death, and he wanted to find an “easier” way to die. “I thought I found an easy way to go. I always thought I’d meet someone that was that split second faster and then it would all be over in minutes…maybe even a second. But it didn’t. And then I got to thinking that it wouldn’t be fitting for Alvin Brisby Walker to die in the dirt of some unknown town or to be thrown in the grave of some boot hill. For the first time in my life, I thought of someone other then myself…my family. And I knew that at least I owed it to them to know I died fittingly with a reputable doctor in attendance. That’s one of the reasons I’m here.
Lucas, I want your doctor to do it properly. I want a death certificate stating I died of natural causes. I owe it to my family – it would mean a lot to them…and what I once stood for…”
All this time, I sat quietly and listened to his spill. I wasn’t sure what to think about all this, but I wanted to hear the other reason he had for being here. “I thought maybe your doctor could make it easy for me.”
Easy for him…like he had made the deaths easy for those twelve people he killed while trying to die? He tried to assure me that they were all in self defense, but I was pretty sure he forced them into being in self defense. “I’m not a killer. Believe me, I’m not.”
I figured taking him to the doc’s would get it all over with quicker, so I started to take him over. But he wasn’t ready…not yet. I asked him about all the drunks and gun fighting, and he told me it would eventually stop. As I was walking out the door, Sweeny asked me if Al was going to quit. “He’ll quit,” I answered as I continued to think on Al’s speech. “In time.”
As soon as I walked out of the saloon, Ben ran up to me. He was still nervous and worried. “He came here to die, Ben. Not buy a gun, but in Doc Burrage’s office. Slow and painful.” Now that I had said it out loud, it was kind of sad. A great, powerful man with the reputation he had having to die like that. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
I walked over to the café to join my son who was anxiously waiting for me, I’m sure. After I walked in, three men rode in. One of them got off and walked over to the doors of the saloon. Come to find out, they were in town to kill him. The one called Kid wanted to do it right then, but the one named Jake Porter said that they had plenty of time.
“They got a marshal,” his brother Ross stated.
“All towns got marshals!” Jake answered. Then they went to find something to eat.
Ben came out of the marshal’s office and saw them going down the street to the café. He thought he recognized them, and running back in he looked at the wanted poster. He had recognized them. They were the Porter brothers. He was back to being terrified again. The town marshal closed the door and hid inside the marshal’s office.
As I sat in the café eating, three men came in and sat down at the bar to eat. I watched them with great interest and worry. Something about them didn’t feel right. At least, my gut didn’t like them. I was so involved in watching them that I wasn’t eating. Mark noticed and worried, asking me if my steak was alright. But I didn’t really hear him. “What’s the matter?” he asked me, but I absently told him nothing. “You know those three men?” He asked then. Those words kind of shook me out of my trance. I knew I was worrying Mark, and it may have been an unnecessary worry. I told him I didn’t know them and to hurry and finish eating so he could eat his pie.
But then they started talking. I knew right away that things were amiss. “That’s our money he’s spending! Our money!” one of the men stated. It became obvious pretty quickly exactly who they were talking about. Jake told him to shut up. “No, no I ain’t gonna shut up! We tracked Walker a long ways, Jake, and now we got him! Well, I’m gonna get him rather I have to kill half this town to do it!” He pulled the gun from his holster and started toward the door.
My ears had certainly perked up. It seemed that Al was going to cause some concern for this town after all!
Jake grabbed his gun in order to restrain his brother. The gun was pointed right toward us. I looked at Mark, not liking where that gun was pointing, but for the moment, there wasn’t much I could do. “You ain’t gonna kill nobody! Do you hear? Nobody! At least not until he comes out of there and we can get him all to ourselves.” Jake demanded.
The waiter brought our pie out to us. I absently took my pie and sat it down. Jake turned towards me. “Hey you, forget what you just heard,” he sneered at me. “You too,” he told the waiter who hurried off scared.
I had to get out of here so I could take care of business. Now wasn’t the time to be thinking about pie. “You through?” I asked Mark sternly, letting him know it was time to go no matter what.
Mark looked over at his pie, regretting that he had to leave without eating it. But he could tell by the tone of my voice that we had to leave immediately, so he answered, “Yes sir.”
We started to walk out, but they gave me one final warning to keep quiet. I didn’t let on that I was going to fight for my town, but just simply agreed with them as we walked out.
As soon as I walked out, Ross announced who the man was that just left. “That’s Lucas McCain. The Rifleman.” But Jake didn’t seem too worried. He vowed to kill me if I got in his way.
I walked out, knowing I had to warn Al and get him out of town before we had a shootout in the middle of town. “What do you think, pa?” Mark asked as I stared at the saloon.
“Well son, I think you should wait for me in the Marshal’s office,” I answered. I know that’s not what he wanted to do. Anytime there was danger and I was out of his sight, he did little more then worry. But he also knew that as his father, I had to keep him safe.
After Mark went into the Marshal’s office, Ben ran out all worried and scared. He asked me if I saw “them” in there. I acted calmly, telling him I had. Then he asked me if I knew who they were and I shrugged. I didn’t have time to keep up with every outlaw.
They were the Porter Brothers. I was shocked. Of course I had heard of them. They held up the Hobbs bank and killed three people doing it, and Micah had a wanted poster on them. Ben fretted, wanting to know what they were doing here. There was no way to sugar-coat this, so I just said it bluntly. “They came here to kill Al Walker.”
I was expecting his reaction, but when he panicked and started to take off the badge, I stopped him. I couldn’t believe Micah would leave such a frightful man in charge of a town! I can only imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t shown up when I did. I told Ben to calm down. Then I told him to keep his eye on the café. Even that seemed too scary for him. “From the office,” I said.
Ben knew I was giving him an easy out. I knew I would be playing marshal until this was all over. Ben walked back toward the office as I bravely walked into the saloon and up to Al Walker. “How come the Porter Brothers want you?” I demanded to know as I started putting my gloves on, readying myself for what came my way.
“Where are they?” Al asked without even looking up. He didn’t miss a beat, but kept playing with those cards. I told him there were three of them down the street. “I guess then he must have died.”
That word “died” got my attention really fast! I suddenly sat down and demanded he tell me who died. “I’m talking about the Porter Brothers. Hey, how about this Lucas? They’re gonna be talking about this blowout for some time. Don’t you think?
Any sympathy I had for him was going out the window really quick. He acted proud that this was happening. That made me angry. This town was full of innocent people, including my son! “How about those thirteen men you killed? They’ll be talking about that too, won’t they?”
“Now Lucas, don’t dwell on the morbid! Besides, it’s fourteen now. You see I was in Hobbs when the Porters hit the bank. For the first time in my life, I was temporally embarrassed. I needed some…well, anyhow, the Porters moved fast. The posse never came anywhere near them. But I did. And just like that, my financial situation changed…”
Now I was even more angry. He took the banks money and killed one of the Porter Brothers doing it. I kept my hand on my rifle the entire time as it sat on the table. But Al grabbed it and held his hands securely on the barrel as my hand sat on the trigger. I looked down, assessing the situation. I saw his handgun and knew what I had to do. “Besides, what difference does it make?”
I suddenly jumped up and grabbed his gun out of its holster. Then I stood and pointed it straight at him. “It makes this difference!” I answered him angrily. I told him he was spending the night in jail so the Porters couldn’t get to him. He said he wasn’t afraid to face to the Porters…alone or with company. Then he looked around to see if anyone would help him. He asked me. “You’re all alone, Walker!” I answered him.
He was still arguing. “Maybe you came here to die,” I stated. “But not in a gunfight where some of our citizens could get hurt! Now move!”
But he begged me to give him his gun. He didn’t want to die like this. I still had the Porters on my hands. I wasn’t going to give in, and told him to get to that jail. On my way out, I ordered the men to finish up their drinks, then told Sweeny to close up the bar. I was expecting trouble and I didn’t want anyone hurt.
I led him out, the whole time pointing my rifle at him. One wrong move and it would all be over! On his way out, he slammed the swinging door angrily, letting me know what he thought about what I was doing. But I had the rest of the town to think of…and my son.
As we got in front of the Marshal’s office, one of the Porters walked out of the café and saw us. He hollered for his other brothers to see what I was up to. Now I knew we were probably in for some trouble! Ben then asked me what I was doing as I ordered Al inside the Marshal’s office. I just ordered Ben to get inside. Then I slammed the door closed.
Kid Porter was upset, and none of the three were going to let it drop that easily. The waiter of the café could tell there was going to be trouble too, and he went to close the door. But Jake caught him and ordered him to get a broom, a tablecloth and some coal oil. “He’s gonna hear me now!” Jake assured his brothers.
I ordered Ben to lock Al up. Mark and Ben were asking me what we were going to do. I wasn’t sure, but I knew there was about to be big trouble, and I was the only one who could help! Ben asked me if I’d stay, and I said I would. There really was no other option – I knew Ben wasn’t emotionally able to handle such a big problem.
“Mark, you go over to the hotel,” I ordered. I could tell he didn’t want to, but he yes-sirred me, picked up our overnight bag, and started to leave. But suddenly, the Porters were calling me. I grabbed Mark roughly by the arm and pulled him back from the door, afraid that gunshots were going to be fired at any time.
Jake, the leader of the brothers, gave me an order. “You got ten minutes to send Walker out here. If you don’t, we’re gonna burn him out! The jail, the whole town, and you with it!”
Our problem had just increased considerably! I was busy trying to figure out what to do next. Ben reminded me what a fire could do to this town. “I know,” I shot at him. I was too busy to discuss worries. We had to get into action and fast! But the most pressing thing that was on my mind was Mark’s safety. “Mark, you go out the back door and go to the hotel and keep out of sight!” I ordered sternly, pointing my finger straight at him for emphasis. “You hear me?”
Mark did as I told. Now it was time to take care of the next matter. “Let Walker out of that cell,” I ordered Ben.
“You gonna turn him over to them?” Ben seemed hopeful or worried…Neither one was needed.
“No I’m not,” I answered in a tone that told him that was an inappropriate question. “But if they come gunning for him, he’s got a right to defend himself!” Ben started to argue, but I had no time! I was the unofficial Marshal tonight! I pushed him toward the cell and told him to do it.
I blew out the lantern to make it harder for them to see us. Suddenly, “McCain!” Jake Porter called me. I ran over to the window and peeked out of the curtain. “Your time’s running out!”
Jake lit a match. He had a tablecloth soaked in coal oil tied around a broom, and he was planning on using it as a torch. Suddenly, someone fired gunshots. A lot of gunshots were being fired. Two of the Porters lit a wagon filled with hay on fire and pushed it toward the Marshal’s office. It would be only moments before the fire would be big enough to set the jail on fire.
I suddenly broke a window out of the Marshal’s office and fired several shots. Ben was scared of the fire – afraid the town was going to burn. I had to act fast! There was no time to waste!
I opened the front door and Al went out. He started shooting. I suddenly jumped in the door way and purposely aimed my rifle. Bang! One of the Porter brothers fell down dead. Another Porter brother aimed his gun at me.
Bang! Two Porter brothers were dead. I had one more – I took care of him.
I thought they were all dead, so I went over to take care of Al who was desperately trying to put out the fire before it did some serious damage. He was standing near the front of the wagon. The excitement had really put a toll on his body and he was fading fast. I suddenly wanted to help him.
Ben stood in the doorway. He saw Jake Porter stand up. He wasn’t dead. He aimed his gun. “Boom!” I suddenly heard the shot from the shotgun Ben was holding. Jake fell down.
Al was struggling. He walked over into the street, and he was about to fall. This was a nightmare! We still had the fire to contend with, and now Al was about to die on the street without a doctor. I suddenly felt very sorry for him. Suddenly, another shot rang out. It hit Al and he fell to the ground. I fired my gun at the Porter brother who was still alive. They were finally all dead!
I ran to Al who was lying on the ground. He would die in only moments, and I suddenly felt very sorry for him. “I’ll go get the doc!” I suddenly said.
But he didn’t want me to leave him. He said it was too late. “No, no, no…I don’t need him now. Except for one thing.”
I knew what that one thing was. “Natural causes?” I asked tenderly as I stayed close to him while he died.
“Please? Have the doc write it that way?” Those were his last words. He held my hand until he died. In the end, it was tragic.
When it was over, I stood. No words could be said. I turned and saw Mark standing in front of the hotel. I walked towards him, but spoke no words as I put my arm securely around him and hugged him close to me as we walked away. I suddenly needed him near me, to know we were okay.
Mark and I were ready to go home. The town was quiet…peaceful…finally asleep. I asked Ben if he’d be able to keep it this way. “Yeah, I’m alright now Lucas.” Ben assured me. I knew he was.
Mark suddenly asked me one of his deep questions. “Pa, would you say Al Walker is a hero?”
“A hero…” I had to think about how to answer that question for my impressionable, young son. “Well, there’s nothing to recommend it in the way Al Walker lived.
But I’d say he died a hero.” I answered honestly. Then I turned and looked at Ben, knowing he was okay in more ways then one. “And some of it rubbed off.”
Then we headed for home. Boy, that bed was sure gonna look good tonight!
piddlin' stuff.....John Dehner appeared in four episodes ― The Money Gun as Tom King a hired gun ― The Blowout as Al Walker a gunslinger ― The Baby Sitter as Wood Bartell, a self-righteous, bigoted father. (He was Fancy's Father) ― The Prisoner ― as Major Aaron King, a ex-Confederate officer who seeks revenge on Lucas.
Hugh Sanders played Ben Waller, he was the cowboy who filled in for Micah.
John Milford appeared in eleven episodes ― (Hmmmmm.....does this set any record or maybe there's a tie or maybe someone did more then John? Who could the other Cowboy be?) ― The Blowout as Ross Porter, one of the Porter brothers who was after Al Walker ― The Coward as Dub, he was the one who was reading from George's Journal and making fun ― The Horse Traders as Jonah Winters, he was the dude with the knife ― A Time for Singing as Bro Hadley, he dude who was a bit slow ― Meeting at Midnight as Morgan ― The Pitchman as Marsh Watson, he was the one who tied Mark up ― Baranca as Hadley, he was the one who killed Sanchez ― Dark Day at North Fork as Jack Solby, he tried to kill Lucas when he was blind ― The Clarence Bibs Story as Reade, he was one of the cowboys edging Clarence on to kill Tanner ― The Journey Back as Jess Grady, as one of the squatters, he was the one who held the rifle on Will Temple ― The Assailants as Lt. Price, the soldier in charge.
Glenn Strange appeared in six episodes ― The Dead-eye Kid as shotgun guard on the stagecoach, he's the one that shoved Mahoney off of the back of the stage ― Duel of Honor as Cole, stagecoach driver he was the one who did the counting for the duel ― The Woman as Joey, stagecoach driver ― The Blowout as a stagecoach driver ― The Spiked Rifle as a stagecoach driver ― Miss Bertie as a stagecoach driver.
Bill Quinn appeared in thirty-eight episodes as Sweeney the owner/bartender of The North Fork Saloon. Sweeney was first introduced to The Rifleman in The Marshal.
Howard Ledig as Jake Porter. He was the cowboy who seemed to be in charge.
James Parnell as the drunk.
George Brenlin as The Kid, the youngest of the gang.
Archie Butler — Stuntman — Stunt coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode then some of them. ~Arnold Laven
Remember him in The Sharpshooter? Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces? Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas. Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.
Chet Brandenburg appeared in three episodes ― The Blowout as a barfly ― The Boarding House as one of the cowboys who ran Fallon and his gang out of town as a barfly ― Smoke Screen as one of the townsmen.
Michael Jeffers appeared in five episodes ― The Blowout as the diner proprietor ― The Coward as a barfly ― Mail Order Groom as the hotel clerk ― A Case of Identity as one of the townsmen ― Lou Mallory as one of the cowboys helping Lou get her hotel in order.
Bloopers - The Blowout
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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