"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Day A Town Slept
Sometimes we take our Marshals for granted. I sure did! I left North Fork believing everything would be the same when I got back. Ha! Boy, was I wrong! Three weeks later when Mark and I returned, we discovered that our town was turned upside down by a new Marshal!
You see, we went away for a stock show. We had a fine time, but it sure was good to be back in our ol’ familiar town! I wanted to stop in and see my best friend, Micah, before heading back to the ranch. Boy, did I get a surprise when some strange man came out of Micah’s office wearing the Marshal’s badge!
"McCain, I take it? And that would be the young McCain I've heard so much about...hmmmm quite a big boy!" The man said. He introduced himself as Ben Judson. We shook hands. We couldn't help but notice he was wearing the North Fork Marshal's badge. I asked him if Micah was out of town on business. “No, he’s still in town I believe. Took the last of his personal belongings from the office less than an hour ago.”
That blew us away! “Micah moved?” Mark asked.
That wasn’t the worst part. “Well, yes. I defeated him in the election for town Marshal.”
Mark and I were both really surprised then! "Defeated him?" I practically squealed.
"But Micah's been town Marshal for the five years," Mark added.
"Evidently the town thought it was time for a change," said Judson. He then told me I had to check my rifle with him while I was in town.
You know me and my rifle! "Check the rifle?"
He stopped. With a smile, he announced, "Yes I've evoked the ordinance related to the carrying of firearms while in town," Judson explained. I told him that particular ordinance was meant to be used when the trail hands would come into town when their celebrating gets out of hand. As I glanced around the town I didn't see any trouble and told him so. “Enforcing that ordinance is at the discretion of the Marshal, Mr. McCain. Your rifle please."
"The rifle stays with me!" I informed him in an irate voice.
"You in the habit of disobeying the law, Mr. McCain?"
"Are you the law Mr. Judson?" I was sure getting angry!
"In this instance I am!" said Judson. This angered me but I reluctantly gave him my rifle.
Mark and I headed over to the livery stable to get the story from Nils. “Heh, that’s just about it, Lucas. Like you an’ Mark, a lot of folks were away for the stock show. Weren’t here to vote. Folks here in town, they didn’t seem to care about the election. Kinda figured Micah would win hands down.”
Mark voiced what I too was wondering. Where did the Judson fellow come from? We’d never seen him around before!
Nils reported that Judson showed up a couple weeks ago. He talked to all the men in the saloon and bought them drinks, walked up and down the street talking to the ladies, and let everyone know he was running for Marshal. “He’s got a smooth way about him, alright,” I stated. I wanted to go see Micah.
We found him at home. He was drinking. That’s when I knew he was in bad shape. “Micah, if I knew you weren’t gonna be supported in the election, Mark and I would have postponed our trip."
He said it was about time he retired. Now he could do some shooting and fishing and...I knew he wasn’t happy. I could hear it in his voice. "You know Lucas...I didn't even bother to campaign this time. I didn't even bother to let folks know I was happy being their Marshal.”
“I’m sorry, Micah. Real sorry,” Mark stated regretfully.
“Oh, that’s al-“ Micah started to turn and look at Mark, but he felt ashamed and quickly turned his head back around. “-right, Mark. It’s alright. I…I’m sorry you caught me without a shave. I…I’ve been sleeping most of the day an-“
My friend would ramble all day if I’d let him. But it was time to get down to business. I questioned him about Judson checking everyone’s gun. Micah told me he posted the notice this morning then went around collecting all the guns. He even took Micah’s. “You know Lucas, I’ve been dealing with men for a long time, an’ I kinda got a nose for knowing when a man is sayin’ one thing an’…an’ thinking another.”
I knew what he meant! “I wasn’t with Judson two minutes before I had the feelin’ that smooth front of his was rehearsed.” I stood up and walked to the door.
“When they pinned that badge on him, I could feel my temper goin’ up an’ up!” Micah declared angrily. “Oh, not because I lost the election…but because I saw a man wearing a badge who maybe shouldn’t be. You know, with me a badge is a more or less sacred thing. When I see it on a man and it don’t belong on him, it’s like waving a red flag in front of me.” As Micah talked I turned and looked at Mark. I knew Micah’s actions and talk was bothering him. I tried to give him a reassuring look.
Then I heard a horse whinny. I turned back to the window in time to see a very familiar face getting off his horse in front of the Marshal’s office. I called Micah over to the window. It was who I thought it was – Bob Barrett. We headed over there!”
Barrett stepped into the Marshal’s office and complimented Judson on the badge. “Just try to hold down that perverted sense o’ humor of yours when Torrance comes in here to face you with charges,” Judson replied. He told Barrett to give him his gun.
Micah and I hurried to the Marshal’s office to have a talk with Judson. “Judson,” I started as I walked into his office. “North Fork has a wanted poster on this man, dead or alive!”
Judson told me Barrett had just told him. He said Barrett was turning himself in. “He’s asked for an immediate hearing in the hope that the charges against him might be dismissed as unfounded.” That made Micah mad. I jumped in before Micah could get started, assuring the new marshal that Micah was a witness that Barrett and his brother held up the noon stage and killed the driver and the shotgun rider.
Barrett jumped in. “Well, like I was tellin’ the Marshal here…I can understand the mistake. Seeing as my brother an’ I were like two peas in a pod, as the sayin’ goes. So when I heard about North Fork wanting me, Bob Barrett, instead of Harry Barrett…I decided to come in an’ settle the problem.”
I reminded Barrett that his brother died in Tucson a month ago. He acted all broken up about it. I let him know he couldn’t throw the guilt on a dead man. “There’s no mistaking you for your brother!” Micah declared.
The new Marshal stopped us. He understood that the procedure in North Fork was to hold a preliminary hearing in the Marshal’s office before we called the judge. “We don’t bother Judge Evans until we’re sure of our ground!” Micah assured him.
Judson wanted to go ahead and hold the hearing now. Judson offered us seats, but Micah refused, stating it wouldn’t take long. I had something to say though. “Barrett was identified. There’s no question he should be held for trial and you know it!” But Judson fed me some bull about this man deserving some measure of justice. I could have said plenty more, but I kept my mouth shut after that.
Judson questioned Barrett, understanding that Barrett was claiming this charge as a simple case of mistaken identity. Barrett declared that he was 100 miles away in Santa Fe during the robbery. “That’s a bold faced lie!” Micah declared. Judson told him to address any comments to the official conducing the hearing, which would be him.
Judson did question Micah. Micah was there during the hold up. But Judson assumed both of the holdup men wore masks. “They were masked at first, yes. But after the shootin’ stopped, an’ I was on the ground lookin’ like I was dead…Barrett here…He figured he could pull his mask down – that it would be safe, and that’s when I got a good look at him.”
Judson questioned Micah on what he thought he saw. “You were wounded. Lyin’ face down on the road. But just how?”
Micah explained that he opened his eyes and sneaked a look at him. Suddenly, Micah stopped and said, “It’s true I was lyin’ face down, but how did you know that?” Judson gave a short laugh and explained that if he was face up, the sun would be blinding him.
“Now look, Judson.” I stood and walked towards him. I pointed a finger right at him. “This hearing was to establish whether or not there was reasonable cause to hold this man for the Circuit Judge. Micah Torrance was a witness to the killing, and that should be enough!”
Judson disagreed. “I’m declarin’ Bob Barrett not a wanted man. He’s free to come and go as he pleases.”
That made me mad! I grabbed him by the jacket and turned him toward me. “Now, I dunno who you are or where you come from, but we’ll see what the circuit judge has to say about this, and if I know Judge Evans, Barrett’s going to have to prove that he was somewhere else during that hold up!” Barrett was snickering. That made me even more mad. I turned my attention to him and sputtered, “And you can keep that silly smile on your face, Barrett! You’ll need it for a jury in a few days!”
I walked out before I got myself in trouble. Micah started to leave, but he had something to say before walking out. "Judson! I've always had a respect for the law but...the sight of that badge on you sickens me. If I was twenty years younger I'd rip it off of you and the devil take the consequences!”
I was waiting for Micah outside the office. I mentioned the slip of the tongue Judson had made about Micah laying face down in the dirt. “You know, I’m beginning to wonder if they don’t have a common cause.” All this could be prearranged. I wanted to get a wire off to Judge Evans. “When he gets here, he’ll have Barrett behind the bars in 3 minutes. Come on.”
Judson and Barrett knew we were on our way to wire the judge. They certainly didn’t want a trial! “Torrance testifies against you, Judge Evans will get you twisted up in your own lies. He’ll have you in a scaffold within 48 hours. They had expected Micah to be drunk by now. They knew I was keeping him on his feet.
Barrett came up with an idea. Judson could be his witness and say he was him in Santa Fe during the time of the stage holdup. Judson couldn’t place himself in Santa Fe. “That’s right,” Barrett said. “Cuz you was busy puttin’ a…bullet in that driver’s head same time I was blowin’ a hole in the shotgun rider.”
Judson decided Barrett needed to saddle up and ride horse, but Barrett told Judson he wasn’t going anywhere. “Now, I want some place to go where I can come and go like I want to, like you do. Now, what happens to me happens to you.”
Barrett strapped his gun back on. Judson came up with an idea. If they just got Micah out of the way, there would be no witnesses against him. “I’ll go to ol’ man Torrance an’ I…I’ll get him riled up, you know. Then we scuffle around an’ he’ll get himself shot up.”
Judson went along with the idea, but he went a step further. He pinned a deputy badge on Barrett. That way Micah would blow sky high and they Barrett can start riling him. But he warned Barrett to make sure Micah did the challenging so the gunfight would be legal.
Mark came up to Micah’s to visit him. I was waiting for a return wire from Judge Evans. Micah knew Judge Evans would set things straight. Micah was laying on his bed. He was having trouble talking. “You know Mark, I suddenly feel very old an’ tired. I guess it’s about time I quit trying to be a lawman.” Mark thought Micah was the best lawman ever. Micah laughed because he was the only North Fork marshal Mark ever knew.
Micah poured himself another cup of whisky as he started talking about not knowing a bad Marshal – just weak ones. He mentioned all his friends, and that made him sad. “All my friends…” He laughed. “It’s funny how alive they all seem now…How close. All dead, but close. I…I could reach out and touch ‘em. All my friends…real close.” Micah fell into a drunken sleep.
Mark loved Micah. It broke his heart to see Micah in such a state. He took the glass of whisky out of Micah’s hand and sat it down.
He started to leave to let Micah sleep, but then he looked down on the street and saw Barrett. He also saw the star pinned to his vest. Mark knew he couldn’t leave Micah now.
Micah started groaning. Mark hurried back over to the bed. His job was now to protect him from his own anger. He had to keep Micah from seeing what he had just seen. Micah started to get up and go get a breath of fresh air, but Mark put a hand on his chest and pushed him back down. “Oh no…uh…You didn’t finish telling me about Wyatt Earp!” Mark declared with a smile.
Micah was confused. He didn’t remember talking about Wyatt. Mark got him started on talking about the first time he had seen Wyatt.
When I walked across the street, I saw Barrett holding his gun in his hand. I asked him what he was doing with the gun. “Did you get the wire off to the Judge alright?” Barrett asked instead of answering my question.
I walked up to him. That’s when I saw that shining tin star on his vest. I was suddenly angry and grabbed him by his vest. I rushed toward the Marshal’s office to talk to Judson. Boy, but I was mad!
Meanwhile, Micah was telling Mark the long story about Wyatt while Mark stood at the door blocking the view as best he could. Micah got off the bed and started walking over toward the door. He stopped in midsentence when he suddenly looked past Mark onto the street. Mark was sorry Micah had seen it. Micah laid a hand on Mark’s shoulder and leaned in for a closer look. He could hardly believe what he was seeing! “He put a badge on him? A North Fork Marshal’s badge on Barrett?”
“Must be a mistake, Micah,” Mark commented.
“Yeah, a mistake.” Micah opened the door. “A mistake!” Then he hurried down the stairs.
I was in the Marshal’s office arguing with Judson. He told me Barrett was a good man with a gun and he could deputize him if he wanted. “I’m sure he is,” I declared. Judson said he’d run the Marshal’s office any way he saw fit. “What are you lookin’ for in this town, Judson? A chance to get your friend Barrett off the hook?”
Suddenly, Mark ran in. “Pa, Micah's getting himself into some trouble!" he cried.
Micah sure was getting himself into trouble! He was yelling at Barrett, telling him he wasn’t fit to wipe a Marshal’s boots. That kind of talk could certainly get him into trouble. “You better go back to that bottle, ol’ man!” Barrett was telling him when I walked up. “I think you’ll find it safer than…drinkin’ yourself to sleep.”
I approached him calmly and gently told him his time would come. But Barrett didn’t let up. “You got a big mouth an’ you do a lot o’ talkin’, but you’re not wearing a gun, so I guess you feel kinda safe, huh?”
Micah took that as a challenge. “Oh, I’ll face you any day, with or without a gun!” I warned him that Barrett wasn’t worth loosing his temper over. Barrett just kept egging him on as he smiled that cocky little smile!
“I’m asking if he’s throwin’ a challenge in my face or a bottle of red eye!” Barrett shot back.
“You can take it anyway you like-“ Micah started.
“Micah!” My voice was stern as I stopped him from shooting off his mouth.
“I wouldn’t be much of a man if I backed down from a challenge, would I?” Barrett asked. I assured him he wasn’t challenged. The this Barrett was unrelenting! “Well, Torrance here, now, he can back down if he wants to. I can understand that. So can everybody else.” Micah said there would be no backing down. I watched as a crowd started gathering. Barrett told Micah he’d give him a couple hours to sober up.
“Barrett, we don’t allow gunfights in North Fork!” I shouted.
But Judson came out just then. “We, Mr. McCain? Now, much as I dislike seeing a…a gun battle in the street, it’s been my experience that it gives each man a fair chance.” I couldn’t believe he was going to allow this! He said he wanted to happen right here instead of out of town where one man could take advantage of the other. I kept arguing, but Micah stopped me.
“Now, never mind! Never mind, Lucas! This is my fight. When…uh…first lights go on in town.
Judson and Barrett sat in the marshal’s office waiting for the time to come. Barrett had something to talk about. He told Judson to jump in with both feet if Micah didn’t die. “You figure these townspeople are gonna just stand by idly while I shoot Torrance down, huh?”
Barrett wanted Micah dead tonight, because he was finished if Micah was alive tomorrow.
Micah, Mark and I were at the livery with Nils. It was getting pretty dark. Nils lit a match to light the lantern, but then he stopped when he remembered what would happen when the first lantern was lit. Micah told him to go ahead and light it, but Nils could wait.
“All you have to do is walk out there an’ tell Barrett you don’t want to fight. That’s all it would take to stop it!” I declared.
Micah refused. “And after I do, in what town do I hold my head up?” I told him he would have no head if Barrett didn’t draw a gun on him. I was worried about his trick arm. I knew he wasn’t fast. “That’s why I have to go out there tonight. This trick arm of mine. You know, maybe this arm ain’t as disabled as I and some other folks think.” Micah was frustrated. “Go ahead and look at me. None of you ever had to wear a badge in a desert hoodlum-filled cow town. None of you ever had to wake up every day wondering what saddle tramp was coming to town, spoilin’ to match his draw against yours. Thirty years wearin’ the badge. Alright, call me a coward if you like, but maybe I needed somethin’ to stay alive and have those trigger filled boys play the games with somebody else!” Micah kept going on about his injured gun hand. He thought he was a coward because he used a shotgun – a sure way to keep people from gunning for him.
“Every Marshal has a lawful right to carry a shotgun, and you know it,” I reminded him.
“That may be true. But tonight I’ve got to prove something to myself, whether this arm is…as bad as I think it is. I’ve got to prove that I was using that shotgun to live like a lawman and not to live like a coward.”
"Micah! Everyone knows you're not a coward!" Mark argued.
"I don't know it, Mark," said Micah. “It’s been botherin’ me for a long time, an’ at my age I’d kinda like to know the truth about myself.”
The lights were starting to go on. Micah took a match from Nils and lit the lantern. "It takes a lot of man to walk away from a challenge," I said as Micah walked by me.
"Have you ever walked away from one Lucas?" I didn’t even answer that one. He knew better!
Micah walked out to face Barrett on the street. He stood in the street as Barrett stepped down and started toward him.
Mark was upset. He rushed up to me. "Pa Micah can't beat a gunfighter!"
"I know it son."
"Aren't you going to do something?"
"There’s nothing I can do. If I stood along side of him or interfered I'd only shame him.”
Nils came rushing in. "Lucas! Both those fellows out there are wearin' guns! Judson and Barrett!" I rushed out.
I went straight to the Marshal's office and got my rifle. When I walked out, Judson called to me. “You remember my instructions regarding guns.”
I didn’t say a word as I stood facing him. I cocked my rifle at my side and started walking backwards, never taking my eyes off of him.
"I see you brought some help Torrance!" Barrett yelled.
"Lucas McCain will not interfere," said Micah.
"You’re wearin' you're gun on your right side. I always heard you favored that.”
"I'm ready for you Barrett," said Micah. They stood facing each other in the street as I kept a close eye on the situation. Barrett and Micah drew their guns at the same time. “Bang!” Micah fell to the ground as Barrett fired. His bullet missed him. “Bang!” Only a millisecond later, Micah’s shot sounded. His shot hit Barrett. He fell to the ground.
Barrett was hurt. He started yelling. "Take him out Judson! Take him out!” Judson just stood there as Barrett begged him. Barrett turned toward Judson. “I warned you! If I'm going downhill I'm gonna take you with me! You wanna know who my partner was on that stage hold up? There he stands!"
I had my rifle ready. Sure enough, Judson drew his gun and shot Barrett. I shot Judson.
I walked over to Marshal Judson. As I stood over him, he spoke his last words. “Saddle yourself with a fool, you deserve whatever you get.”
I bent down next to him. “What makes you think you’re any less of a fool?” I flung his arm down to the ground and ripped the badge off his shirt. I turned and walked over to Micah. "Here Micah.” I pinned it on his shirt. “This belongs to you. I just voted you back into office." Micah smiled at me as he touched the badge.
The next day Mark and I were waiting for Micah to get back to his office. Micah walked in. He still had that gun strapped to his side. "Well, don't you think you better hang up that gun belt and go back to your shotgun?"
"Well...you saw me! I beat Barrett to the draw! You know this bad arm of mine was all in my head. A psychological thing like a doctor would say," said Micah.
"One...you didn't beat Barrett to the draw. Two...you were slower then a banker agreeing to a cash loan and three...the only thing you did beat him with old friend was a barrel of courage. Something you were born with...something you’re gonna die with."
"Well I...gotta admit...my arm...has been aching ever since I started yankin' this gun. You know...I guess maybe I will go back to my shotgun. I'll still be able to look people square in the eye."
I had Mark working on his homework while we were there. Suddenly, he spoke up. "Hey Pa...look at this! I got a real good paragraph for ending my essay with!”
"Well good, let's hear it.” I sat down on the edge of Micah’s desk.
"When people take the right to vote for granted, or when they leave it up to the other fellow to see that they get good government, their gonna get what they deserve! Maybe bad government!" Read Mark.
"Well that sounds fine son except how many times have I told you to say going to and not gonna?"
"Aw but Pa...it means the same thing,” Mark complained.
"Well I guess you’re right. I ain't gonna argue about it,” I replied
My boy suddenly looked at me. "Ain't?! Pa that's worse then gonna!” I looked at Micah.
That boy! I plopped his hat on his head as we all laughed.
piddlin' stuff.....Lawrence Dobkin appeared in four episodes ― The Gaucho as Juan Argentez, the Gaucho's father ― The Sheridan Story as General Phil Sheridan ― Knight Errant as Don Chimera del Laredo, he was the guy with the sword ― The Day a Town Slept as Ben Judson, the man who beat Micah in the election for Marshal of North Fork.
James Best played Bob Barrett. He was the guy who Judson deputized and also a wanted man.
John Harmon played Eddie Halstead owner/hotel clerk of the Hotel Madera. John Harmon appeared in 14 episodes as Eddie Halstead. Eddie Halstead was first introduced to The Rifleman in Duel of Honor.
Joe Higgins played Nils Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson aka The Blacksmith? Joe Higgins holds the record for playing Nils or was it Niles or Nels? There were four episodes that Joe did not play Nils or was it Niles or Nels?
He played the bartender in Strange Town — Rafe the blacksmith in The Wyoming Story part 2 — Short Rope for a Tall Man as Henry Schneider the horse thief — Stopover as Scotty the Stagecoach Driver.
Stopover was the only episode to run one day over schedule.
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.
Ethan Laidlaw appeared in The Rifleman quite a few times unaccredited ― The Indian as a townsfolk — The Mind Reader as a townsman in the audience — Legacy as the man at the funeral — The Coward as a Diner Patron — Heller as a townsfolk — The Grasshopper as a passenger on the train — Strange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town — The Silent Knife as a townsfolk — Short Rope for a Tall Man as one of Crown's Henchmen — Honest Abe as a townsman — Two Ounces of Tin as a townsfolk ― The Day the Town Slept as a townsman.
Bloopers - The Day a Town Slept
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