Coward Dies Many Times — episode #47

Jason was riding along one day when he came up on some men in trouble.  A man was trying to drive his wagon out of a mud hole while another man pushed.  Another man was trapped, his leg pinned under the wagon.  The horses weren’t moving at all.  Jason hurried forward to see if he could help.  The wagon was on a hill, and they were trying to push the wagon up. 


Jason told the man behind the wagon to take down the keg of nails and 2 X 4’s.  The man informed Jason he wasn’t paying his wages.  “What difference does that make?” Jason asked, surprised the man was behaving this way.


“You heard him, move!” the man trapped under the wagon declared.


The man and Jason started unloading the wagon.  Jason sat the keg behind the wagon, and then used the 2 X 4 as a lever.    He ordered the driver to get back to the horses, and lay off the whip. 


It worked.  Jason went to help the man up from the mud.  “Hope it isn’t broken.  I’ll have the doc check it,” the freed man declared.  “You run good and fast when you have to, which is more than I can say for myself.”


He asked Jason if he was going into Panamoth.  Jason said he was.  The man introduced himself as Ted Evers.  He owned the freight line in town.  “You looking for work, I can use you.”


Jason told him he already had a job, for the railroad.  He was going to be surveying the route for the railroad.  The men were not happy to hear Jason’s current job.


Jason made his way to the newspaper office.  Ann was inside laying type, her back to the door.  Jason silently sat on the banister and smiled at her.  “Well, if it isn’t my favorite lady editor.”


Ann knew exactly who it was without turning.  “Jase…” She turned and laughed.  “Oh, Jason!”  She threw her arms around Jason and laughed.  She made some comment about looking a mess, but Jason held her close and gave her a long, lingering kiss that left her breathless. 


“You look just fine,” Jason mumbled hungrily as he continued holding her in his arms.


“How long is it this time, Jason?  One day?  Two?  Maybe three?”


Jason gave a short laugh.  “Maybe longer if I can find what I’m after.”  The whole time they talked, their eyes never left each other. 


She left Jason’s arms and went back to setting type.  “And what might that be?”


“A railroad through Parnoment and on through Breedlough.”  Ann had her doubts about that.  She said they’d already decided it was too expensive to lay track along a mountain range.  “What about through them?” Jason asked.


“Through?  Jason…” After washing her hands, Ann lifted a compact mirror to look at her reflection.  Her words were cut off as Jason grabbed her arm and again pulled her to him.  Jason stared at her face, his arms once again around her.  “…building a town would cost us twice as much.”


“Not if one was already there,” Jason stated.  “And wasn’t there a Silver Strike around these mountains about fifteen years ago?” Jason asked as he wiped her face with the cloth for her.  She said they closed the vein.  The mine shaft was still open though.


Jason drew his arms around her and stared into her face.  He just couldn’t get enough of her…could hardly believe she was really in his arms after all this time! 


Jason had the idea of using the mine shaft for a tunnel.  Jason sure did hope it would work!  “Any special reason why?” Ann asked.


“Progress,” Jason said, smiling into her eyes. 


“Well, if there’s a way, you’ll find it.  I know that.”  They kissed briefly.  It was hard to concentrate…


Jason forced his arms to release her.  “Well, I’ve got to get to work.  First thing, I need to take a look at that mine shaft.”  Jason paused after picking up his hat.  “Hey uh….have dinner with me tonight?”


“At home?” Ann smiled.


Jason returned her smile.  “At home.”


Jason rode out to the old mine to check that shaft.  He walked inside to check the sturdiness of the shaft.  It looked pretty steady, he figured.


Ann got back to work on the printing press.  She was still hard at work when Jason returned later that afternoon.  He glanced at the newspaper and looked at the headline she printed.  “Railroad to be Built.”


“Aren’t you jumping the gun a little?” Jason asked as he picked up the newspaper.


“Why, you said the mine shaft could be converted into a railroad tunnel,” Ann explained innocently. 


Jason told her they still had tests to do.  There was two hundred feet of rock that still had to be tunneled through.  “And if that rock is solid core, there won’t be any railroad.”


Ann promised him she’d hold onto it.  Jason wondered what everyone in town was saying.  “That’s all their talking about.  Some are very pleased, and others are not so happy.” 


“Well, the railroad means growth…every town on the line.  Gains a lot of people.”


“And loses a lot of others,” Ted Evers stated from the door.  Evers asked Ann not to print what he was about to say.  He figured that if the railroad job didn’t pan out, Jason would be out of a job.  “Forget the mine.  Send a wire back saying it’s a bad idea, then come work for me.  I’ll pay you twice as much as you’re getting now.”  Jason asked why.  “Because I’m fighting for my life, that’s why!”  He hauls freight for everyone in town and even the army post nearby.  “But you send in your report saying they can lay track through here and I can take my wagons and chop them up and sell them for kindling!  You could ruin me!”


“Look, Mr. Evers, it’s progress that could ruin you if you don’t adjust to it.  More railroads are coming West, if not this year, then the following year or the foll…”


“Is that your answer?”


“Yes, that’s my answer,” Jason answered.


“I owed you a favor, McCord.  No more.”


Evers’ men came to pay Jason a visit.  They were going to do some busting up while he stood by and watched.  When he went to ax the water barrel, Jason warned him that there was nitro in it.  “One bump, and there won’t be enough left of you to scoop up with a shovel.”  Deke wanted what he meant, but Hogan knew exactly what he meant – that’s the way they hauled the stuff so it wouldn’t blow up. 


Deke sat down the ax, but walked up to Jason.  “Tomorrow, you be gone, McCord…and stay gone!  If you don’t…” Deke went to punch him, but Jason was ready.  He punched Deke.  He fought both Deke and Hogan, sending them to the ground.  Than he picked up a gun and held it on the two men while he gave the orders. 


“Alright, now go back and tell evers I’m still here…and I’m staying here!” 


Jason went back to work on the mine.  Evers came to visit him there.  “You about finished?”  Evers asked Jason.  “I should have known those two couldn’t handle you.  I should have done it myself.” 


“Is that why you came here?” Jason questioned.


Evers shook his head.  “I don’t want to go up against you, so I’m cutting you in for ten percent of my business.”


“I don’t want it,” Jason stated calmly.


“Well then what do you want, McCord?” Evers yelled.  “Thirty percent?  Fifty percent?  My right arm?  Or haven’t you got a price?” 


“Yes, Mr. Evers, I have got a price.  It’s my future,” Jason answered. 


“Your future…What about my future?  If this thing goes through, I have no future!  But I have a past.  It goes back to when I first started with one beat up wagon, one beat up mule and an ache in my guts to be somebody…hauling freight fifteen hours a day every day …I fought man, animal, weather, anything…everything that tried to pull me down!   And if your going to try to take away what I built up, you’re going to have to build more than a tunnel…”


Suddenly, Evers picked up an ax nearby and tried to swing it toward Jason.  Jason punched him.  Evers took another swing with it and Jason punched him again, this time sending Evers to the ground.  Before Evers could do anything else, Jason had his gun pulled and cocked.  Evers knew he was beat. 


Jason went back to work.  Evers walked out as dust fell around him.  He looked at the rifle on his horse, then pulled it out.  Going back to the mine, he fired some shots up into the shaft.  Jason pulled his gun and ran for the opening.


But he didn’t get out in time.  A cave in happened, blocking Jason inside.  Jason was TRAPPED!!!


The cave in was bad.  He didn’t see any way out.  Evers ran to the opening, realizing what his anger had done.  He called out to Jason.  Jason answered him.  “I didn’t know what I was doing!  I’ll try to get you out if I can,” Evers promised. 


“Well, you better hurry!” Jason yelled back. 


Ann had just arrived at the mine to see Jason.  She hurried to the opening that was now trapped with debris.  “What happened?”


But Jason was telling Evers about the nitro in the water barrel.  Ann and Evers turned and stared at the barrel.  “You set off nitro around here, and the whole mine is going to cave in!”


“Well that’s the only chance you left me!” Jason accused.  Evers had no choice.


Ann covered her face with her hands, afraid for the man she loved.


Evers carefully tied the nitro around his neck and climbed up the side of the mine.  He fell, but was thankful it didn’t blow.  Carefully, he put the nitro through some rocks deep into the cave.  Ann climbed up and gave Evers the rope for him to tie to the end.  He slowly continued lowering it down.  Jason told Evers to tie it off.  Evers slowly began climbing down, trying to find some place to tie it off.  He tied the end to another piece of rope and hurried away from the mine.  Ann went behind a rock to protect herself from the blow.  Jason told Evers to count to three slowly, then let go of the rope.


Evers got behind the rock with Ann, then counted to three.  He let go of the rope, but nothing happened.  The rope was hung up!  He tried again, but it was caught.  “Maybe I didn’t hang it right,” Evers said.


“Try it again,” Ann begged.


An explosion happened this time.  Ann watched the opening anxiously, waiting for her man to appear.   She heard coughing, then saw the most beautiful sight she’d ever seen…Jason slowly walked from the mine and sat down on a rock.  Ann smiled and ran to Jason.  She clung to him, Jason hugging her closer, and wept tears of joy that Jason was alright.


Jason gave Evers a cold stare.  Evers looked guilty.


Ann was in her office when Jason hurried inside, crying her name.  He held up two telegraphs and declared, “They are going to let me blast a tunnel right through the mountain!  Jason hugged her tightly as the rejoiced on the news.  The other telegraph was from Jason’s grandfather, The General.  He would be out in a couple weeks.  Ann figured The General must be quite a man, and Jason proudly declared he was! 


“McCord, you busy?” Evers asked as he walked into Ann’s office.


“Well…” Jason looked at Ann, a bit annoyed that they had been interrupted.  Ann motioned for him to go talk to Evers.  Jason walked up to him.  He figured Jason would still need wagons to freight in his supplies until the track was down.  “Well, I’m in the freighting business, you know.  I’ve got twenty wagons and teams; and I guarantee delivery.  You interested?”


“Yes.  I’m interested,” Jason answered.


Evers was happy.  He left Ann and Jason alone.  “Hey McCord, you busy?” Ann asked in a husky voice.


“Huh?” Jason asked, puzzled.


“Commere,” she ordered.


Jason walked up and bent down beside her as she turned around.  His face was close to the side of her face.  “You know, I’m a newspaper editor, right?”




“Well, I got a couple presses and a fair circulation…and a nice piece of land outside of town that might just be right for a small house.  You interested?”


“I’m interested,” Jason answered.  Then he looked at her.  Ann giggled as he gave her a big smile.  “I’m very interested!”  Then his lips claimed hers in yet another kiss.  They both laughed knowing they would be very happy as Mr. and Mrs. Jason McCord!

Coward Dies Many Times ― Cast

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*Thanks to Michelle Palmer for writing this episode!

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