A Christmas Story "Come on, Mark, time to go!"
Lucas McCain called to his son as he saddled up his horse Razor."Cominí, Pa!" Mark called back.
It was almost Christmas, and Lucas and Mark were on their way to the mountains to go hunting for their winter meat. A fresh snow had fallen, and Lucas had decided that now would be the perfect time to go hunting, since the animalís tracks would be more visible in the loose snow. Mark was as excited about the hunting trip and Christmas coming as any little boy would be, and both of them had been saving up to buy each other a small gift. Mark came running out of their small ranch house, his stuffed saddlebags slung over one shoulder. Lucas turned around and looked at Mark questioningly."What allís in those bags, Son?" he asked.
Mark took his saddlebags off his shoulder and looked at them quizzically. "These bags, Pa?" he asked hesitantly.
"Those bags." "Uh....." Mark looked up at the sky and down at his boots and handed them over to his father. Lucas opened them, and laughed. He pulled out three pairs of thick, woolen winter pants, and looked at Mark. Markís cheeks turned bright red.
"Mark, you havenít been able to wear these in three years. Whyíd you pack them?""I....uh...." Mark said softly.
Lucas looked back into the saddlebags, and found a large sack of chocolate chip cookies."Mark...." Lucas chuckled. "And here I was thinking Iíd eaten all of Hattieís cookies."
Mark blushed. "Sorry, Pa."
Lucas shook his head and grinned. "Come on boy, letís get mounted. All those animals will have disappeared by the time we get there."
Mark smiled and effortlessly swung himself into the saddle. In an instant, father and son were cantering through a foot of wet white stuff, leaving their ranch sitting lonesomely in the valley.Chapter Two
A shot echoed off the trees and rocks, and a large deer fell to the ground. Mark ran out from behind the bushes.
"Whoooo hoo! Got a big one, Pa!" he cried excitedly. Lucas smiled and loaded another bullet into his rifle.
"Load him into the meat sacks," he said, starting off through the woods. Mark obediently dragged the buck to where their horses were waiting patiently. It took the young boy several hours to tie the deerís legs and stuff him into a giant burlap sack. He stopped only to take a drink from the canteen slung over his saddle, then started back at it again. Finally, the hard work was finished, and the deer was loaded safely into storage. Mark sank back, exhausted, against a boulder. Just as he was starting to nod off into a deep sleep, a shot rang out, and was followed by a cry of pain. Mark jumped to his feet and looked around.
"Pa?" he called, his dark brown eyes searching the forest. "Where are ya, Pa?" His calls became more frantic when they were not answered.
"Pa? Can you hear me?" Mark took off running in the direction Lucas had gone. Every now and then, he stopped to listen and call for his father. When there was no answer, his heart pounded against his chest and he started running faster. He raced into a clearing, stumbling in the snow, and almost passed up a crumpled heap of flannel. Mark skidded to a stop, and bent down.
"Pa!!" he shouted, kneeling down beside his father. "What happened?" It took all of Markís strength to pull Lucasí head onto his lap, and the boy immediately began searching him for injuries. Markís knees were getting cold and wet from the snow, but he didnít care. He only cared about seeing if his father was all right.
"Yíall right, Pa?" he asked, but got no answer. Mark continued searching his unconscious father for injuries, and he found one. Lucasí right shoulder was bleeding, and Mark hastily pulled back the layers of warm clothing to reveal a gunshot wound. He gasped, and looked about for who could have done this. He saw no perpetrators, only a nick on a nearby boulder.
"Ricochet," he murmured to himself, and slowly got to his feet. He couldnít just leave Lucas lying in the snow to bleed to death while he went and got help. He sighed, indecision, fear, and worry clouding his mind. Mark pushed his hair back, and got down on his knees again.
He pulled off his scarf, and wrapped it around Lucasí shoulder to make a temporary bandage. A whole lot of good that did, though, because blood just seeped through it."Golly!" Mark said, pulling off his coat and wrapping it around his father.
Lucas moaned a little, and Mark jumped to his feet. He took a flying leap and jumped onto Lucasí patiently waiting horse."Hold on, Pa!" he cried. "Iíll be right back! Ya!"
He thrust his spurs into Razorís sides, and the horse, having never been treated like that before, took off like a scalded cat. The forest shot past Mark so fast that it was blurry when he looked at it. Suddenly, a rabbit scampered across the path, and Razor side-stepped. "Easy, boy," Mark soothed.
Razor did not calm down, he only started whinnying loudly and rearing. Mark gripped chunks of hair in his hands."Easy, buddy!"
Mark unknowingly had been loosening his grip on the horseís mane, and when he reared again, Mark was thrown from the saddle. Razor stopped rearing and pawed the snowy ground. Mark got to his feet, and rubbed his shoulder where heíd hit a rock."Nice going," he said, remounting the horse.
This time when Mark jabbed him with his spurs, Razor shot off like a racehorse, with Mark expertly guiding him down the forest path to Chapter Three
North Forkís aging marshal, Micah Torrance was sitting inside his office by the stove when the sound of hoofbeats on packed snow slowed to a stop outside his window. He got up, and the wooden floor creaked as he walked over to the window. Mark was jumping off Razorís back and racing towards the office. "Back a little early, arenít ya?" Micah asked laughingly when Mark burst through the door.
Mark shook his head fiercely."País hurt!" he announced breathlessly. "Not sure if itís bad or not, but heís bleeding pretty good."
Micah quickly set his cup of coffee down on his desk."Where is he?"
"Up in the middle of Brickwood Forest. We gotta go get him!" Mark rushed out the door as quickly as he had come in, and Micah followed him down to the livery stable. There, they rented a buckboard from Nils, and raced to the hills to bring Lucas to the doctor.
Twenty minutes later, Micah and Mark arrived at Lucasí side. Mark jumped from the wagon, and rushed over to his fatherís side. "Itís okay, Pa," he said. "Iíve got Micah here. Weíre going to get ya home."
Together, the boy and the marshal hoisted Lucas into the back of the wagon, and Mark climbed in to sit with him. With a snap of the lines on the backs of the horses, the buckboard lurched forward to return to North Fork. Upon arrival to the sleepy little town, Doc Burrage, the townís physician, greeted Mark and Micah at his front door.
"What happened here?" he asked, looking Lucas over."We were out hunting, and he accidentally shot a rock," Mark explained.
"Ricochet, huh?" Mark nodded.
"Letís see what we can do. Bring him on in." Micah helped Lucas into the office, and no sooner then his head touched the doctorís table, the doctor was working on him. Mark sat down in a chair over in a corner, and soon was fast asleep.
Chapter Four A week later, it was Christmas morning at the McCain ranch. A gentle snow was silently drifting to blanket the bleak brown grass. In the center of a sprawling winter wonderland sat Mark and Lucasí slightly small, cozy house and barn. Four horses, furry with their winter coats, stood inside the wooden corral, their heads lowered together as if engaging in private gossip, and their breath blew from their nostrils in puffs of vapor. Smoke was rising from the stone chimney, indicating Christmas cheer inside. It was most certainly a peaceful scene. A person could be inclined to whisper upon witnessing the
Christmas card-perfect scene, afraid to ruin the serene spectacle.
Mark and Lucas sat beside their hearth, delighting in steamy cups of hot chocolate. Their little Christmas tree stood by the door, proudly bearing a few simple ornaments. Mark looked at the tree, if you can even call it a tree, for it was scrawny and scraggly, priding himself on the fact that he himself had chopped it down. Lucas looked at his son, the firelight dancing in his eyes. Father and son had exchanged a couple of lowly presents, but they were heartfelt. From son to father, a pocketknife to replace a worn-out one. And from father to son, a box of little wooden soldiers that were already marching across the kitchen table. As the two sat together by the fire, enjoying each otherís company, Mark looked over Lucas."Merry Christmas, Pa," he said, smiling.
"Merry Christmas, Son," Lucas replied, smiling back.The End ~Abby
I would like to thank Abby for all of her stories ~ "Murder Attempt at Midnight" & " No Greater Love." Her stories picks up where the TV series stopped.
Abby was 12 years old when she wrote both of these stories & drew her picture of Mark & Blueboy. Today 2008, Abby is 16.
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"Merry Christmas from the McCain Ranch"