The Writer's Corner
Murder attempt at Midnight
Forward: This story is based upon a real 1960's television show called
The show is about a New Mexico farmer in the late 1880's names Lucas McCain and his young son Mark. Time after time, Lucas must fire his rifle in order to assist Marshal, Micah Torrance in driving bandits and outlaws out of North Fork. Of course, most criminals who come into town are out to kill Lucas, but most times he fires first.
Mark's mother died when he was six years old, so it's just him and Pa. Time and again he is witness to the killing of someone who is out to get Lucas. At twelve, he's already learned to run a ranch, buy a fine horse, and shoot his dad's rifle. He and Lucas sometimes share emotional scenes when Mark fears that the shot that was just fired has taken his "Pa's" life.
The show lasted for only five seasons in reality, but in my imagination, it has lasted ten, with the first five as they were, and the last five written so Lucas remarries and Mark has a mother, and soon a young girl comes to town, who is adopted by the McCain's. This story, although considerably long, and maybe boring to some, is the fruit of nightmares and good dreams and daydreams, so please read it all.
Three figures, seated in a simple buckboard wagon, drove into the small town of North Fork, New Mexico. These three were Lucas, Mark, and Anna McCain. Pulling up in front of the Marshal's office, they dismounted, and Lucas picked a huge rifle up off the floor of the buckboard. "Hello Micah!" he called to the aging marshal. "Any news?" The marshal smiled and answered, "Nothing at all. Hattie's been worrying since the latest shipment of licorice is late." The big, brown eyes of the sixteen-year boy beside Lucas grew wide at the mention of licorice. He had always loved licorice; it was his favorite treat! His sister elbowed him as if to say, "Maybe Papa will give us each a penny and let us get some." It seemed as if Lucas could read his children's minds, for he reached into his pocket and pulled out two pennies. "Go buy some licorice. I'll be over at Hattie's in a minute." The two kids ran off to buy the licorice, and maybe get some extra, if Hattie was in a spoiling mood today. She usually was.
Before Lucas had married Milly Scott, the former General Store owner, and before Anna had come to town and been adopted by the McCain's, life was more than busy for Lucas and Mark. They had to run their 4,100 acre ranch all by themselves, with little or no help. But after Milly married Lucas, and Anna was adopted, life was different. For one thing there were more hands to do chores, and for another, every day there was a new pie or cake on the supper table. Lucas sometimes joked that the only reason Mark loved his new mother was because of her desserts. Mark did have a knack for treats and goodies. He was a growing boy, who could blame him?
A little while later, as Anna and Mark were sucking contentedly on their licorice sticks, four strangers rode into town. They wore black hats, and one of them wore a ten-gallon Stetson. The strangers dismounted in front of the General Store, and tied their horses to the hitching posts. The men entered the store, nodding hello to Mark, and tipping their hats to Anna. Anna's face turned bright red, almost the same color as her hair. "Nobody's ever tipped to me before, Mark!" she gushed. Mark just rolled his eyes and looked into the store to see who those men were. "Curiosity killed the cat." a moderately deep voice said. Both of the children turned to see the smiling face of their father, and laughed. Anna jokingly put her hands on her hips and retorted, "Well satisfaction brought it back!" Lucas chuckled. "Wondering who those men are?" He asked. The children nodded. "Well," said Lucas. "I could probably find out. I was just going to get that lace your mother wanted." With that, the tall, light-headed rancher stride into the building. A few minutes later, he came out with a parcel under his arm, evidently the lace. "Who are those gunslingers, Pa?" Mark asked curiously. Lucas turned to look back at them. They were mounting up now. "I didn't get a chance to ask." he said. Climbing into the buckboard, he clucked to Razor and Blue Boy and they drove out of town.
Back the ranch, Mrs. McCain had a warm meal of fresh bread and beef stew waiting for supper, with, Mark's favorite, apple pie for dessert. After supper, the family sat quietly around the fireplace, Lucas reading his Bible, Milly sewing, and Mark and
Abby playing a quick game of checkers. Suddenly, a horse whinnied outside. Lucas jumped up, and the rest of his family lifted their heads in worry. Grabbing his rifle, Lucas stepped out onto the porch. "Who's there?" he said. A deep husky voice spoke out of the darkness. "Don't make one move, McCain, or we'll shoot." Lucas looked around, wondering where that voice had come from, but could see nothing from the nighttime darkness. "Pa? Who's out there?" Mark said quietly from the threshold. Lucas shrugged. He tried to make his way to the barn, but the barrel of a rifle was stuck in his back. "I said don't move!" the same husky voice said. Looking out of the corner of his eye, Lucas saw four figures making their way out of the shadows. Anna and Mark, who were watching from the doorway, gasped when they saw who the figures were. They were the men who had been in town that day! The men surrounded Lucas, and the one with the Stetson snickered cruelly. "Well, McCain, your time has come," he said. Mark and Anna looked at each other frightened. Then Anna spoke up. "What is he talking about, Papa?" Lucas looked back at the porch. The man in the Stetson laughed before speaking. "So, you've never told them" Lucas sighed and turned to face his children. "A long time ago, before Mark was even born, I accidentally shot and killed one of their friends. There use to be five gang members, and they were know as La Cinco Amigos, The Five Friends. Of course, all they ever did was rob banks and general stores. One afternoon, I heard someone busting into the bank, so I went over and saw that it was them. So I fired some shots, and one hit their buddy." He glared at the gang and the other three men chuckled. "So now," said Stetson-man. "We're here to give him the treatment our pal got!' Laughing, he cocked his gun, and Anna turned and buried her head in her Milly's shoulder. Everyone had forgotten Mark's fifteenth birthday though. Lucas had given his son a rifle of his very own. Determined not to let his pa get shot and killed, he ran back into the house and picked his rifle up off his bed. Fingers shaking, he loaded it, cocked it, and returned to the porch. He had never shot a man before. Turkeys and deer, yes, but not a man. He resolved not to kill all four, but to shoot them all in the thigh. Two of the men tied Lucas' hands behind his back, and the Stetson-man aimed his gun, ready to fire. Anna was sobbing, Milly was trying not to cry, and Mark was praying. The man with the gun slowly pulled back on the trigger, making sure that Lucas' "last moments" were stressful. Suddenly, a shot rang out, and the murderer fell to the ground, clutching his leg. Anna ran down the front steps to release her father. "Don't any of you try to move!" Mark commanded. "Or you'll get shot in the leg too!" The three other men tried to make a run for it when Mark turned away, but Lucas was up and popped 'em all in the thigh too. Happily, father and children embraced, and tears of joy flowed from Milly's eyes. "That was a close one, Papa!" Anna said. Lucas nodded, and he stood and placed both hands on Mark's shoulders. "I'm proud of you Mark. And, I owe my life to you." The two hugged, and Mark grabbed his father's shirt, never wanting to let go. After about five minutes of breath-catching, the happy family went inside the small ranch house, to forever dwell in peace.
I would like to thank Abby for her story 'Murder Attempt at Midnight' picks up where the TV series stopped.
Abby was 12 years old when she wrote this story & drew this picture of Mark & Blueboy.
Thanks Abby, you did good!
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