"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Day of Reckoning
It was a busy Sunday morning with all the citizens of North Fork getting ready for church. Mark and I rode in that morning from a trip and were all dressed up in our Sunday best. Micah was coming out of his office when we rode up, and he gave us a friendly greeting. "I see the two cattle barons are back from the big city!"
"We got eighteen dollars a head Micah!" Mark announced proudly.
Micah was sure impressed. "Well...that's a pretty good price for beef these days. Did you get all twenty head safe to market Lucas?"
"No trouble at all," I said. We had cut the trip short because I had told Micah I would cover for him so he could go to the Marshal's Convention. He said since we got back earlier than expected, he would leave right after church. I told him we were heading to church now. “Sit with us?”
As we walked, Micah started talking about the town preacher. “I hope you don’t mind the town council votin’ on a new preacher while you were gone. He an’ his son arrived sooner than expected.”
“That’s fine with me. I’ll always go along with the majori-“ I suddenly stopped when I saw our new preacher. I didn’t like what I was seeing!
“You uh…know Preacher Jaminson?” Micah asked.
I didn’t answer. I rushed toward the church, shoving people out of my way as I went. I hurried right up to the preacher. "Micah...did this man tell you anything about himself?"
"He did. We took into consideration that he was outside the law for a spell. But he served his time in prison and paid his debt to society."
I was so angry as I dished out my accusations. "Did he tell you how he rode the Oklahoma border? Burning out settlers...stealing their lands…dishing out misery for so many dollars he could spend in a saloon?"
Jamison spoke in his defense. "What I did in a wild youth was inexcusable. And all I can do is ask for forgiveness for those I hurt. Whatever may have been done to you...I ask your forgiveness.”
"Forgiveness!” I spat out. My voice grew angrier as I spoke. I was so mad I couldn’t see straight! “Did you tell them everything Jamison? How you were hunted like an animal after you grew too old and slow? After you lost your nerve with a gun! How you finally had no place to turn to or rocks to crawl under! Is that the only way you can get a peaceful nights sleep? Hiding behind that collar?!"
"Lucas!" Micah warned.
I then grabbed a hold of Jamison by his jacket. I felt rage boiling up inside me. "Jamison I swore I'd kill you if I ever-"
“Lucas!" Micah hurried forward and put a restraining hand on my shoulder. I was mad! I mean really mad! I stared silently as Jamison for several moments, then I turned and hurried away from the church. Mark ran after me, confused and worried for me. He’d never seen me act this way toward another person – especially a man of the cloth.
Micah stayed for the service regardless of how I felt. He waited until everyone left, then he complimented Jamison on the fine sermon. He announced that some of the town folk would be working on the rectory this afternoon. They wanted to hurry and get it finished for him.
I was over at Micah’s office, still very upset over what I had experienced. Mark was there with me, waiting for me to speak.
"Mark I'm sorry you had to witness what happened at the church."
"I understand Pa. You had a good reason to talk to Mr. Jamison like that." Mark was trying to be supportive and understanding.
I was glad, because I needed someone to talk to. "It must have been nearly twenty five years ago. Jamison rode the Oklahoma border country before there was any law. He'd do anything to force a farmer out. Anything short of killing them...he was to smart for that." Mark remembered me telling him how I watched my own Pa's farm burn. “The house an’ barns, and fields. A lifetime of my Pa's work. When he died, my Pa died he was an unhappy man. The army finally came in and put an end to Jamison's raids.”
"Pa...I'm not taking Mr. Jamison's part but maybe he's really sorry for what he had done!" I didn't like what I was hearing. I was too mad to think about it.
"Mark it's more then what he's done! It's the hypocrisy..." I heard Micah’s horse whinny outside the office. I rushed outside to confront my friend. “Micah, how could you an’ the Town Council be taken in by Jamison?”
Micah stayed firm in front of me. “It’s still a question of whether we were, I’d say.”
I put a hand on my hip and glared at him. “Well, there’s no question in my mind!” I declared. “Jamison is nothing but a coward hiding behind a cloth!”
Micah took a step towards me. "I was just telling him that when you cool down you would be the first to say a man has the right to another chance." Maybe this would be so if he had come into North Fork and opened up a General Store or to buy a piece of land to farm, I wouldn't be saying a word. Every man fresh out of prison has the right to a fresh start. But I felt he was just using the church. Micah stopped me from saying anymore. “Do you think your feelings about the preacher will have an effect on your work as a deputy while I’m gone?”
“Why would it?” I answered his question with one of my own. Micah reminded me Jamison was still a citizen and deserved my protection.
"Now look Micah. I despise the ground that Jamison walks on. From now on Mark and I will go to the Marionette Church. But I’ll treat Jamison just like anybody else as long as I’m wearing this badge, alright?” That was good enough for Micah. He hoped by the time he got back my opinion of Jamison would be changed. Micah said goodbye to Mark. “Stay away from that redeye at the convention,” I warned him in a softer voice. I reckon I was trying to make some sort of peace with my friend. Micah assured me three drinks was his limit, then he rode off.
The town folks were busy working on the rectory. Two men rode into town. They were the Breen brothers, Willie and Charley. They stopped in front of Jamison and laughed. The brothers joked about him running another church and wondering if he was wearing a gun yet. Jamison insisted that he no longer wore a gun. “Now, I wonder why that’d be. I hear a man has a…powerful likin’ for a gun. All of a sudden figurin’ he’s better off not wearing one!’ One of the brother joked. The other brother joked that Jamison felt a lot safer with a backwards collar.
Jamison wanted to know why the two brothers were following him. “Uh well, we got business here. Peaceful business. I guess you might call us uh…goodwill ambassadors. See, we come into town and sorta tell folks all about their new preacher.” They declared the church was going to be empty once they delivered their sermon.
“Can’t you leave my son an’ me live in peace?” Jamison cried. The brother assured him they would – all he had to do was strap on a gun once and they’d see the last of him.
“But he ain’t gonna be able to see much with a foot o’ turd over his eye!” The loud mouthed brother laughed evilly and assured him they’d be back after a few refreshments. They headed for the saloon. Everybody else went back to what they were doing.
I walked out of the Marshal’s office with Mark. I was sending him over to the restaurant to get something to eat and asked him to bring me a sandwich back. I noticed the visitors going into the saloon. Mark wondered who they were. “Uh…the Breen brothers. A couple o’ vultures. Tryin’ to build up a reputation of gun hands by being sure their man is either old or sick or has a bounty on ‘im so they can shoot him in the back.” I was talking to myself more than to Mark, but then I told Mark to run along.
I took out my rifle from it’s boot without taking my eyes off of the brothers. Then I started across the street. They saw me coming. I wanted to know why they were here. They told me they were only in town for the day – just going into the saloon to get a drink. “Well, I’m giving you two fair warning,” I said in my threatening voice. “Don’t try an’ notch your guns while you’re in North Fork.” They fed me some line about being peaceful men going their peaceful way.
“Your way better be peaceful. Right up until the time you ride out “ I could smell their stink. I couldn’t help asking, "Don't you two ever take a bath?" I looked at them for a moment longer, then turned and walked away.
"Seem like the kind of marshal that gets mad over nothing," said Willie.
"The way he's talkin' he'll be takin' the preacher's side," said Charley. Willie felt they wouldn't have any problems with me as long as they could get Jamison to put on his gun.
“Well, maybe we’ve been goin’ at it wrong,” Willie thought. “Maybe we oughta do something today to make the fur fly, ,huh?” They laughed as they went into the saloon.
Aaron, Jamison’s son, came into the Marshal’s office to talk to me. He stood in the doorway. “I hope you don’t mind me coming in like this, Mr. McCain.” I asked him what he wanted, but he wasn’t quite sure. “Maybe I do, but I just don’t know how to say it.”
I sighed wearily. “You were gonna talk to me about what happened this morning. I wanna say I’m sorry. The differences between your Pa and me shouldn’t have been said in front of other people.” I sat down at the desk as Aaron came further into the room.
“Well, that makes me feel better, Mr. McCain. I mean better a little.” I couldn’t look at him. I was still very upset. Aaron walked up to the desk and leaned over it. “Mr. McCain, I sure like this town, having a real house to live in. Since my Ma died, we haven’t been living in real houses.” I didn’t want to hear about this. I asked him if his Pa sent him over to talk to me. “Oh, no sir. I’m supposed to be on an errand to the livery stable.”
“Well, maybe you better get on with that errand, boy,” I said as I took a sip of coffee.
"Mr. McCain,” Aaron started. I lifted my eyes from my cup to look at him. “When I grow up and do something bad...I mean ...if I do something bad...will it always count against me?"
"No, of course not,” I breathed out.
"But it counts against my Pa? He's different?"
His question made me angry. I raised my voice to him as I spoke. "Now look here boy! I said I was sorry about what happened this morning! I am, it…It won't happen again. I won't say another word in this town about your father. Good or bad."
“But making believe he’s not even in town…well, that’s even worse than yelling things at him!” Aaron argued.
"Don't you think you better get on with that errand?" My voice upset him. He turned and walked out. I was so frustrated with myself! Never had I felt such turmoil!
Mark left the hotel and was on his way back to Micah’s office when he saw Aaron sitting along side the hotel alone and looking very upset. Mark being…Mark…sat down beside him and asked him what was wrong. “I don’t know why your Pa has to be so mean,” Aaron cried.
Mark naturally wanted to jump to my defense. He didn’t understand what my turnmoil was, but that didn’t stop him from defending me. “Well, you got my Pa all wrong. It’s not meanness.” Aaron didn’t know what else he’d call it. “My Pa wouldn’t hurt anyone!” Mark insisted. “Maybe it’s just because there are some things he can’t forget.”
Aaron wouldn’t buy that though. He said lots of things happened to his Pa and he forgot them. “Well, maybe they’re different things. Some things you forget easier, other things are kinda hard to forget,” Mark tried to explain.
As the boys sat there talking they noticed the Breen brothers approach Jamison. They made themselves right at home. They helped themselves to the food and just kept on heckling Jamison. “Me and my brother didn’t catch the sermon this mornin’, Preacher. What was it about?” Jamison told him he spoke on transgressions – how an evil deed affects the doer more than the victim. “Transgressions, huh? I guess you oughta know first hand about a thing like that.”
The Breen brothers walked over to the other side of the road. Mark and Aaron ran down the boardwalk to get a better listen at what was happening. One of the brothers stated that Jamison had a really good speaking voice. “Let’s see, the last time I heard it…uh…it must have been the time you and your boy run that shopkeeper out of town!”
Jamison walked toward them. “I based my last sermon on the transgressions of my former life. It served the dual purpose of telling the congregation all about me.”
The brothers kept hackling him. “I guess you told them about the time you burned down the land office and then showed up claiming people’s land with a lot of phony deeds.”
Jamison nodded. “I omitted nothing.”
The other brother started yelling then, so everyone would hear. “I wonder if he told you about how his boy stopped the stage out at Tucson and left two ladies for dead! And then him and his boy rode away. I wonder if he did that.” There were gasps from the crowd. Jamison denied the stage hold up.
“Driver said it was you personally who dragged those women out of the stage.”
“That’s a lie!” Jamison declared.
“Well, I guess he told you folks about the old man his boys hung from a barn rafter!” The ladies started gasping and murmuring.
“I wonder if he told you that the old man was still alive when they set fire to the barn.” Everyone started leaving. They didn’t want to hear anymore.
Jamison tried to stop them. He tried to assure them he’d never taken a human life, but it was too late – the damage had already been done.
“They told lies!” Aaron cried. “Those men told lies!” Mark believed me. They ran to tell me about it.
Jamison was hurt and upset. “You saw the truth couldn’t destroy me, so you lied!” The boys assured him that they would follow him wherever they went. They wanted a showdown here with him. Or would they have to chase him to another town? “There are no other towns!” Jamison declared as he ran off.
The brothers were sure he’d strap on a gun now. They had seen Mark and Aaron go over to the office. They figured they had the right to defend themselves with the preacher and me on the same side.
Mark came in to tell me what was going on. “…Awful things, Pa! They just kept on talkin’ and talking, and you could tell they were all lies, the way they said ‘em. But…but…everyone seemed to believe it.”
Just then, Jamison barged in. I turned and glared at him. Here we were – face to face. “Jamison, I’m sorry about the Breen's. I’ll run ‘em outa town.”
“No, let them be,” Jamison said. “They speak from ignorance. Their words can’t hurt me. Lies never can. But your words – your silence has destroyed me!”
I suddenly felt the anger well up inside me again. I wanted to say things – things that I didn’t want the boys to hear. I sternly sent them outside. I slammed the door shut behind them then pointed my finger right in Jamison’s face. “Jamison, there’s one thing standing between you and me. You’re a fraud. You’re a coward hiding behind that cloth!” I yelled.
“That’s not so,” he tried to argue.
But I wouldn’t let him get a word in edgewise. I wasn’t done yet. “You proved it too, the day that old man came after you with a gun. When you threw away your away your own gun and begged for your life!”
I was practically in his face now. “That’s not the whole story!” Jamison yelled.
“Can you deny it’s true?!” I asked.
“It’s true that I didn’t have-“
“You know it’s true!” I interrupted him in a loud voice.
“It’s true I didn’t have the strength to hold a gun because a strange thing happened! I saw an old man coming at me…an old man who couldn’t even handle a gun! An old man who was a moment away from death and then I saw myself.” He suddenly clamed and looked away from me. Quietly he said, “I saw myself, and from that day forward, I…I found myself becoming a part of every person I met…Feeling their hurt and their joy. If I said an unkind word, I felt the hurt of it – as thought the word was spoken to me. Right now I can feel the torture that’s going through your mind. Well, don’t judge me, please. Let God do that!”
My voice was calmer, but my mind was still filled with confusion. I stepped toward him. In a calm voice, I asked, “Jamison, can you look me in the eyes and tell me it wasn’t fear that made you into a preacher?” I desperately wanted the answer.
“I can’t do that, because I don’t know myself,” Jamison answered in a tormented voice.
That stirred up the anger in me all over again. I yelled my next words. “You don’t know whether you’re hiding behind that collar or not?”
He stuttered for an answer. “It’s possible that I might be motivated by cowardice. I pray each night that such is not the case!”
I let out an frustrated sigh and walked away from him. “Why did you come to this town? Why do you put me into conflict with myself?”
“Believe in me,” he begged. “Give me strength! Come to my church!”
He didn’t know how much I wanted to believe in him. My voice was shaking, I was so upset. There were a hundred emotions going through me all at the same time. It’s almost brought me to tears at this point. “But Jamison, you don’t even believe in yourself!”
“Believe in me,” he begged again. “For the love of God, believe in me!” He needed somebody’s faith to hold on to. “I’m wondering in darkness. Help me! I’ve got to have some time to prove myself. Please, give me a little time!”
I turned from him and slowly walked to the window. I crossed my arms as I looked out onto the street. With a sigh, I spoke. “Jamison, if you stay in North Fork, the people will come back to you. They’ll realize those men lied.” I turned from the window and walked back towards him. “But as for myself, I can never listen to a man I doubt preaching a sermon.”
He walked up to me. “Especially a man that doubts himself. I understand.” He watched me silently for a moment. “I…guess this is the end of the line for me.” He walked to the door and put his hand on it. Then he turned back to me. “Perhaps it wouldn’t matter so much if…only I knew the truth about myself.” Then he left.
He walked back over to his room at the hotel and stared into the mirror. Then he slowly removed his hat and his jacket. He walked over to the trunk and bent down in front of it. Opening it, he lifted out his gun belt. Then he took off his collar and walked out the door.
The torment going on inside me was ruff. After Jamison left, I did a lot of thinking. I had decided what to do when Mark and Aaron walked in. “Pa-“ Mark started, but I held up my hand to stop him.
I looked at Aaron, thinking on my words carefully. Then I stood up and again walked to the window. Looking out onto the street, I said, “Aaron, I’ve been doing a lot of thinkin’ about your father.” I turned back toward Aaron. “A coward would never wonder if he’s a coward. Takes a brave man to say he isn’t sure. Brave and honest man.”
“My Pa sure is honest, Mr. McCain. Everything he says, you just know it’s coming from way inside of him.”
I laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Son, I’m going over to talk to your father now. He’s a lot bigger a man than he thinks he is.”
I walked outside. That’s when I saw it. Jamison was wearing a gun. He was heading towards Charley. “There’s only one of them there, Pa!” Mark exclaimed.
I started looking around for the Willie. “You boys stay back,” I ordered. I motioned for another couple to get back. They moved out of my way as I made my way towards the church.
Charley teased Jamison. “See you kinda lost your collar there, Preacher!” He told Charley he’d no longer wear the collar. “Well, er, I reckon that’s enough for us…Just to see if you had nerve enough to wear a gun.”
“That’s all you wanted?” Jamison asked angrily. “You’ve got no intention of calling me?” Charlie backed up and said just seeing the collar off was enough.
Willie was on top of the roof. When I walked down, he cocked his gun and pointed it down onto the street. I continued making my way down the street, looking for Willie.
Just then, Mark spotted him. “Pa!” he warned. I looked up and saw Willie pointing the gun at me. I hid behind a post for cover. He shot at me and missed. I did my rolling thing out into the street, then I fired one shot. Willie fell off the roof. He was dead.
While Jamison had his back turned watching the action, Charley drew his gun. But I was ready and immediately turned and shot. Willie fell over dead.
I turned and looked at Jamison. I saw the torment in his own eyes. He turned from me and hurried back to his hotel room, unstrapping his gun belt as went. I hurried after him. I had to talk to him.
I walked into his room, setting my rifle down at the door. "Haven't you forgettin' something, Mr. Jamison?" I picked up his collar. "Your kinda undressed aren't cha'?” I gave him a small smile.
He was packing. "I broke my vow never to wear a gun. That collar belongs on a man with stronger faith then mine.”
"A little while ago you ask me not to judge you. That it should be left to God. Now you’re trying to judge yourself."
"I won't ask you to shake my hand Lucas...now. Sometime in the future I hope you'll do me the honor."
I smiled. "A few moments back I was on my way over here to ask you to do the same thing," I held out my hand to him. The boys walked into the room in time to see Jamison grasp my hand in a firm handshake. We gave each other a hearty smile.
"Pa, everybody's going back to work at the rectory and the ladies got some cake there. There won't be any left if we don't get on over," Mark announced.
"Well...let's get over there!" I said.
I watched Jamison put an arm around his boy. "It looks like we're finally home," he announced.
The boys ran out of the room, excited about the cake. “Well?” I held up the collar. He took it with a smile and put it on. Then we went to have some cake…together.
piddlin' stuff.....Royal Dano appeared in five episodes ― The Sheridan Story as the Confederate Soldier, Private Frank Blanden in ― A Matter of Faith as Jonas Epps the Rain Maker ― A Case of Identity as Aaron Wingate, he was the man who was searching for his long loss son, Robert ― Honest Abe as Able "Abe" Lincoln, Able suffered a mental shock during the civil war and as a result believes he is Abraham Lincoln ― Day of Reckoning as Reverend Jamison, he was the minister who was once a crooked outlaw.
Warren Oates appeared in five episodes ― The Marshal as Andrew Shelton, he is the brother who took off his hat and said..... "Why Florry, you ugly old devil. You went & got yourself kilt" ― Bloodlines as Jud Malackie, he's the brother Micah knocked the gun out of his hand ― The Prodigal as Santos ― Miss Milly as Marty Ryan, the heavy of the two ― Day of Reckoning as Will Breen, he's the one wearing the derby.
Warren Oates played a brother in three episodes ― Bloodlines ― The Marshal ― Day of Reckoning.
L.Q. Jones played Charley Breen, he was the brother of Will (Warren Oates), they were the ones picking on the Reveren.
Billy E. Hughes Jr. appeared in three episode ― Day of Reckoning as Aaron, Jamison's son Billy ― The Sidewinder as Gridley Maule, the boy who came to North Fork to seek revenge on Lucas ― Long Gun from Tucson as Jeffrey Waller, he was the son of the gunsmith and the boy that he and Mark sat on together in his bedroom crying.
Tom Kennedy ― Death Never Rides Alone as one of the townsmen at the saloon ― The Assailants as one of the townsmen - Gun Shy as a the townsman/man getting off of the stage ― The Decision as one of the townsmen ― The Executioner as the man reading the newspaper - Day of Reckoning as a churchgoer ― Guilty Conscience as one of the townsmen ― Which Way'd They Go? as a barfly - Outlaw's Shoes as one of the townsmen ― The Challenge as one of the townsmen ― None So Blind as one of the townsmen ― A Young Man's Fancy as one of the townsmen ― End of the Hunt as one of the townsmen.
You can see Tom in The Rifleman many times, probably more times then listed. He always went unaccredited, but not here at the ranch.
Al Haskell appeared as one of the townsmen in Vaqueros and Day of Reckoning.
Robert H. Robinson has appeared in thirteen episodes ― The Safe Guard ― Duel of Honor ― New Orleans Menace ― The Gaucho ― The Pet ― The Photographer ― The Mind Reader ― The Patsy ― Legacy ― Shotgun Man ― Day of Reckoning ― Suspicion ― Hostage to Fortune. He played a townsmen in all these episodes except one and that is Duel of Honor as as John Bradley, a passenger on the stage.
*Lawrence Dobkin directed Tinhorn ― Jealous Man ― Day of Reckoning ― The Executioner & Man from Salinas. He wrote the episode The Actress. He also directed some episodes of Branded. Besides doing this, he appeared in many other shows and films.
He appeared in four episodes of The Rifleman ― The Sheridan Story as General Phil Sheridan. Knight Errant as Don Chimera del Laredo, he was the guy with the sword. The Gaucho as Juan Argentez, the Gaucho's father. The Day a Town Slept as Ben Judson. He was the man who beat Micah in the election for Marshal of North Fork.
Did you know that Lawrence Dobkin played General Phil Sheridan in both The Rifleman and Cheyenne?
In Cheyenne he played General Phil Sheridan in Gold, Glory, and Custer. This time he is presiding officer at a court martial hearing involving Custer's Last Stand. Thanks PJH!
Bloopers - Day of Reckoning
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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