"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Waste - part 1
It was one of those days. Micah, Mark and I were riding through the desert and it seemed we were the only three in this big, scary place. It was quiet as we travel. We were all anxious to get home. “Think we’ll make it to North Fork by nightfall, Lucas?” Micah asked me as we stopped to figure out where we were.
“No I don’t, Micah. We’re still a long ways out.” I looked around, and decided to just say what I was thinking. I don’t know where we are. Micah apologized for dragging us halfway across the territory, then taking two days longer than planned.
“Hey Lucas,” Micah stopped his horse. “Ya' know, I’ve got a feelin’ we’re heading south. We might be in Mexico by now.”
I told Micah to ride over the ridge and see what he could find and Mark and I would go further down the road and see what we could find out. As Mark and I rode on I had a strange feeling about this place. Something just didn’t feel right. There was nothing as far as the eye could see except more ridges, trees, and grass. “What are you thinkin’, Pa?” Mark asked.
“Just that I don’t like it,” I answered. I couldn’t put my finger on it. “Let’s go back, son.” We went back to where we left Micah but there was no sign of him. I called to him, but got no answer. Mark headed over the ridge to see if there was any sign of Micah. I started to look around. On the side of the road laid Micah's hat. It had blood on it. I could hear Mark on top of the ridge. He was coming back. I didn’t want to alarm him until I knew what was going on, so I stuffed Micah’s hat in my saddle bag.
We then road on looking for Micah. I didn’t know what else to do. We kept riding deeper and deeper into Mexico, when we came across what appeared to be a ghost town. Little did we know that it was occupied. I didn’t like the look of things. "Are we in New Mexico, Pa or Old Mexico?"
"Old Mexico Son." I was worried…very, very worried.
Micah looked sideways toward me, then back towards the ghost town. “Do you think Micah’s…” Mark couldn’t finish the thought. “Well, he wouldn’t come here, would he?”
I honestly didn’t know. “Let’s take a look.” We started down into the town. I was feeling very apprehensive. We rode down the street through all the old buildings. It was very quite and creepy. I didn’t feel right about being here and suddenly took out my rifle so I’d be ready for whatever…or whoever…was about to greet me in this town. I knew there was something, but I didn’t know what.
Suddenly, in the silence, Mark uttered one word. “Pa?” I looked at him. He was looking behind us. I turned to see an old woman standing in a doorway. I stared at her as she watch us. Quietly and calmly, I ordered, “Get down, son.”
We got down from our horses and started walking towards her. As we got closer to her, she began backing away into the building. When I tried talking to her she walked away. A pregnant woman then came to the doorway. She silently stared at me as she drank something from a cup. I asked her if she spoke Spanish in both English and Spanish, but she stayed silent. She looked at my rifle. I wondered if it frightened her. I handed Mark the rifle. “Here son, you hold this. No sense in scaring her to death.”
Again, I asked her if she spoke Spanish, and again she remained silent. I tried asking her a question. “My friend…mi amigo…my friend is lost. Mi amigo este perdido. My son…” I motioned toward Mark. “This is my son…mi hijo. Esta es mi hijo. We tried to find my friend. Buscamos mi amigo. Can you help me? Puede ayudarme?” The woman said nothing, but just took another drink. I was getting no where!
Just then, Mark pointed to the side of a building. I looked and saw a Mexican watching us. He had a rifle trained on both of us. As I looked around I saw another Mexican and then we heard someone yell out from behind us. As we turned around there were two more Mexicans. They were looking at our horses. “That’s a nice horse,” one of them stated. “Oh, this a nice horse, too.” He asked me if I was from the law. I told him no. “You look like a guy from the law. The other guy was from the law.”
"What other guy?" I asked, alarmed.
"Do you want to sell your horse?" Asked Alphonso, the leader of the bandits.
"What other guy?" I yelled. He asked if Mark was my kid. I didn't answer. He said hello to Mark, and Mark said hello back. He thought I had a nice kid, a nice horse and a nice gun. He told me he wanted to see my gun but we made no motion to give it to him. He asked again in a friendly voice, and again we refused. He wanted to buy it.
"It's not for sale!" Mark declared.
"Mark!" I tried to let Mark know to cool it.
But he didn’t listen. "It's my Pa's rifle, mister, and he won't sell it, so you just try and take it!" I couldn’t believe Mark!
He told us his woman was going to give him a good kid like mine. “I eh…I’ll pay you good price for the gun,” he announced as he sat down in the dirt. “See, we gotta have the gun. Eh, we only got one gun that shoots more than one bullet at a time. We need the gun. We are eh…revolucionarios.” He turned and asked his three friends a question, but they couldn’t give him the answer he was looking for. “We are fighting…a great cause!” he declared to me then. The men behind him laughed and he threw dirt at them and spoke rapid Spanish to them. He turned back to me. “I buy you gun...alright guy?"
I knew he wasn’t asking. I was worried for Mark, so I decided to cooperate. “Put it down, son.”
“On the dirt,” he argued.
“Put it down,” I ordered. I didn’t take my eyes off Alphonso. Mark laid it down reluctantly. Alphonso then crawled over to it and picked it up. He admired it. “The other guy you were talking about. The one with the law. Did he sell you his horse?” I had to play it cool if we were going to get out of this alive.
“Huh?” He looked up at me. “Oh, the guy from the law. Oh, you see, he had a very bad touble with the horse. See, the horse throw him off his back and ah…well, he get so mad at the horse, see, he uh…he give it to me.” He started admiring my boots then. He wanted to know what size they were.
“Where is he?” He told me Micah was in the house. He told me it was a good horse. “I’m not talking about the horse! I’m talking about the man who gave him to you.”
“Oh, the guy from the law.” He gave me a wicked smile. “He your friend?”
“Eh, you want to see him, no?” He agreed to take us to see Micah. He assured me our horses would go nowhere.
He got up and started walking down the street. I started following. The guys were laughing evilly. I grabbed Mark and kept him close beside me. They led us around the back of the buildings and up a hill as they laughed and laughed evilly. We got to the top of a hill where even the trees looked evil. I turned and looked at the men as they laughed harder. Suddenly, Mark cried, “Pa!”
I turned and looked in the direction Mark was looking. That’s when I saw my friend, Micah. He was buried in the hard desert sand up to his neck. He looked close to death. That’s when I knew we were REALLY in trouble! Mark walked over to Micah and bent down next to him. “Micah!” I just stared, not quite believing what I was seeing.
Alphonso reached behind himself and grabbed a shovel. “Gringo!” He threw a shovel at me. “Now, you’ll dig the hole.” I stared at him. “Dig.” I kept staring at him. “Dig!”
I had no choice. I was worried for Mark and Micah. Digging would give me a chance to come up with a plan – if there was one!
It got dark as I kept digging. Mark was very worried as he sat close to Micah. He didn’t know what was going to happen. The Mexican bandits sat drinking and playing cards while I dug. The two men playing cards started fighting. I watched as I dug. Apparently one of them was cheating. I stopped digging. Alphonso ordered me to dig faster. “I don’t want you to worry about the kid.” At the mention of Mark, I stopped digging and looked at him. That made me angry. “Don’t stop the show, old guy! Come on!” I started digging again as he talked. “He’s a good kid. I like him. I don’t let nothing happen to him. “ Then he started in on my boots again. He picked up a rock and started to hit me over the head with it.
“Alphonso!” The old lady started calling. He ran up to the top of the hill. “Alphonso! Viene el nino! Viene el nino!” He suddenly started hooting and hollering. All the men were excited for me. “We gotta go now, huh?” he told me. “My son is coming. Don’t work too hard. You take it easy!” He told me he’d bring me back some wine. He threw me the canteen of water than they took off.
There was only one bandit now. I stared at him as I stared talking softly to him. “He sure is a nice fella, isn’t he? You’re a nice fella, too. You know, I’ve got something for you. Yeah, I surely have got somethin’ for you. Nobody’s looked in my pockets yet. I guess they just clean forgot in all the excitement. But I’ve got 40 United States dollars in my right pocket and it’s all yours. But of course, you’ll have to come over here and get it. And when you do, I’m gonna kill you as dead as you’ll ever get!”
“Pa!” Mark warned. My speech surprised him.
I assured Mark he didn’t understand me. “As quick as anything happens, Mark, you hit the dirt face down, understand?” I asked him if he thought he could find his way home from here. He said he thought so. “North Star. You know how to find it?” As I talked, I never took my eyes off the bandit.
“Alright now, listen. just follow the North Star. By daylight you’ll see the mountains, just north of home. You’ll cross the trail to North Fork not far from the house. Don't go to the ranch...go right into town, and find Judge Hanavan, tell him what happened.” He was worried about Micah. “You let me worry about Micah.”
“When are you coming?”
“I’ll come later. We can't get to the horses right now, they’ll would see us. But Micah’s horse is in the building at the bottom of this hill. I’m gonna put you on it. You ride like the devil and don’t you look back.”
Mark didn’t like my orders. He decided to argue. “Pa, they’ll kill you! You come with me,” he begged.
“I can’t, son. I can’t ride one of their mules and pack Micah too.”
“They’ll do you like they did Micah,” Mark warned me.
I knew he didn’t like this. I had to be very stern with him I had to remind him that I was the father and he was the son. “Now Mark, you listen to me.”
Again, he argued. “We can take this fella, Pa. We can do it! Let me get around the other side of him…”
He started to move. “Mark, you sit still, you hear?” Mark froze. “Now you’ll do exactly as I tell you. We can take him, but you won’t argue with me.”
He did exactly the opposite. “But Pa-“
"Mark!” I stopped him in a harsh voice. “Exactly as I tell you! Do you understand?" He stopped arguing. “Now, no matter what happens, you stay out of it.” He had to know by now how important that was for me. “And don’t worry. I’ll get home. And I’ll bring Micah. You remember that.”
I picked up the canteen and started to step out of the hole, but the bandit stopped me. I tried to explain that I wanted to give Mark some water, but he ordered me to stay put. Mark knew we had to find some way over to him. Mark wanted to try, but there was NO way I would ever allow him to risk something like that! I’d just have to find some other way! I went back to digging. Suddenly, the bandit asked for my boots…actually, he ordered me to give them to him.
I took one boot off and threw it at him. “Pa, don’t give him your boots!” Mark complained, but I ignored him. I took off my other boot and threw it at the bandit. This distracted the bandit. I slowly and carefully stepped out of the hole while he was occupied with the boots. Holding the shovel, I slowly walked towards him. He didn’t realize I was there until it was too late. He looked up as he laughed. Suddenly, I smacked him over the head with the shovel. It killed him.
Alphonso and the other two bandits where celebrating. But the baby wasn't ready yet. So Alphonso and his men decided to come back on the hill. They we're surprised to see we were gone and their friend was lying on the ground, dead. Alphonso cocked my rifle. He was going on a hunt…for me!
We made it back to the abandoned saloon where Micah's horse was. Mark tended Micah while I got the horse ready for Mark's ride back to North Fork. “Come on, Mark.” I brought the horse in. Mark slowly stood up and came over to the horse. “Good luck, son.” I tried to keep my deep emotions hidden so it would make it easier for him. Mark just stood there staring at the horse. “Come on, up!” I ordered with a firm smack on the back side. Mark climbed up on the bare-backed horse.
I opened the doors and checked to make sure it was okay for Mark to leave. "Alright, get goin'.” But when I looked at Mark, he was laying on top of the horse, his head on the horse’s neck. "What's the matter Mark?"
I waited for him to speak. Mark looked terrified to say what he wanted to say, but he sat up straight on the horse and spoke. His voice was firm and determined. "Pa...I can't do it. I just can't go off and leave ya'. I ain't gonna do it and you can't make me!"
He looked me straight in the eye. We stood there staring at each other. I saw the determination and finality in his eyes. Then he looked away. I knew it scared him to talk to me that way, and I knew he was serious. I must admit that I was disappointed that he had spoken that way. I slowly turned and closed the doors. He would stay here with me – rather I liked it or not.
Waste ~ part 2
& piddlin' stuff.....
The Escape: Prequel to Waste
A Mark’s Memory Production
Bloopers - Waste
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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around The McCain Ranch