BRANDED

$10,000 for Durango — episode #28

Jason just finished a cattle drive. It was a good looking herd! Of course, Ed Duggan’s beef always brings top dollar and there was already a buyer waiting for Jason. He gave Jason a check for $10,000.00 and assured him he could cash it at the local bank.  Jason was on his way out, and wondered how long it would take the bank to raise that much money. Mr. Ross assured him it would only take a minute since $30,000 more was coming in as well. “The way the beef’s been coming through, you better get yours while it lasts.”
 
“I’m on my way,” Jason assured Mr. Ross. Jason assured him that that he’d ask Mr. Duggan to send more beef his way.
 
When Jason arrived in town, he was a bit leery at how quiet the town was. He watched a woman slowly leave a house and walk into the street. On the other side, a man left a building and started across the street. The man approached the woman and grabbed her. “Hey there, pretty lady…” She ordered the man to take his hands off her. Jason, being the wonderful protector he is, thought it was his duty to intervene in such a scene. He grabbed the man and gave him a hard shove in the water trough. Then he lifted him out and punched him before shoving him back into the building he had just exited. The lady thanked him and introduced herself as Callie Clay.
 
“I guess you were the only one who could help me,” Callie pointed out.
 
“Strange, isn’t it? An empty street and nobody around…”
 
“Sure is,” Callie commented. “It’s eerie.” She said she hated to go to the bank, but she had to make a deposit before noon.
 
Jason smiled. “Well, I’ll walk with you.” She hated to impose on him anymore, and tried to assure him she’d be alright. “You’re not imposing. I was headed for the bank myself,” Jason assured her with a smile.
 
As they started toward the bank, Jason noticed men hiding with guns trained on them. Callie sensed his hesitation and asked him what was wrong. “The street may be empty, but there’s plenty of men around…with guns pointed right at us.” Callie wondered what could be happening. “I don’t know.”
 
Suddenly, the Sheriff was standing in front of them with his gun drawn. “You! Over here,” he ordered. We approached cautiously. “What are you doing here?” I told him I was just going to the bank. “Why?”
 
“I just delivered a herd to the stock yard, Sheriff. What’s going on here?” I asked.
 
“That’s my question. Let’s hear your answer first,” the Sheriff ordered.
 
I took the check out of my pocket. “I just want to cash this draft, then head back to Durango to give it to the man I work for.”
 
“I just came in on the train this morning, and I have to make a deposit of over $500,” Callie explained.
 
The Sheriff read the bank draft. “You THE Jason McCord?”
 
“I’m Jason McCord,” I answered with an unsmiling nod.
 
“You mean that fella Duncan trusted you with ten thousand of his money?” Jason cast a sideways glance at Callie, then answered. “He knows me.”
 
“Alright,” the sheriff said. “I guess you wouldn’t have the nerve for it anyway.”
 
“The nerve for what?” Jason asked as he stepped forward.
 
“The bank’s going to be held up any minute.”
 
“This is the first time I’ve heard of bank robbers giving advanced noticed,” Jason commented. He said they received a letter. He had ever gun in this town deputized and more on the way from Pearl River.
 
“I uh…I wouldn’t deposit that right now, ma’am,” the sheriff advised Callie. “And you better pick your money up quick, McCord, and ride on out of here!”
 
“I’ll walk you back to the hotel after I cash my draft,” Jason assured Callie. She thanked me.
 
Jason went into the bank to cash it. Jason had his bag already for the money and a pair of handcuffs besides. The deputies kept a close eye out while Jason worked on cashing his draft. Four men wearing deputy badges rode into town. One of the deputies held a rifle on them. “We’re from Pearl River,” one of the incoming deputies assured him.
 
Jason was just putting the last of his money in the bag when the sheriff deputy came in with the four new deputies claiming to be from Pearl River. It didn’t take long to figure out that they weren’t from deputies from Pearl River. They drew their guns and held them on us. They had apparently met up with the deputies. “We needed their badges.” They ordered everyone’s gun belts. The leader ordered his men to start scooping the money up.
 
The banker was hit over the head. I just stood there holding my money bag. The Sheriff stepped forward. “You won’t pull this off. There’s fifty guns outside!”
 
That’s when things went from bad to worse. The one named Ross grabbed Callie. “I’ll blow up the little lady here!” he threatened.
 
Morgan pointed a gun at me. “Okay Mister, let’s have the money you have in that case.”
 
Jas snapped the handcuffs shut. “The case is locked.”
 
“Open it,” he ordered. Jason just looked at him. “I said open it!”
 
Jason held up his hand and let the case dangle from his wrist. “Sure,” Jason promised him. “If you’ll ride three hundred miles to Durango with me. That’s where the key is.”
 
“Shoot that thing off his wrist!” Ross ordered. Instead, Morgan hit Jason over the head with the gun. He collapsed on the floor. He shot the chain of the handcuffs and took the money bag. “Now Sheriff, you’re going to let those guns out there know the problem. If one of them so much as sneezes…she gets it. And nobody tries to follow us for twenty-four hours.”
 
The bank robbers made their way to the door. The sheriff hurried out with his hands up. Ross followed holding Callie in front of him with a gun trained on her. “Don’t anybody shoot!” The sheriff yelled out on the street. “They’re holding the girl a hostage. If you try anything, they’ll kill her!” Ross dragged Callie out onto the wagon. The men got on the wagon, and more followed behind. Then they rode out of town.
 
Jason came to after they rode out. He strapped on his gun belt and asked the banker to find somebody to cut the handcuffs off his wrist. “What are you going to do now?” The sheriff asked him.
 
“I’m going after ten thousand dollars.”
 
“You can’t! They’ll kill that girl!” The sheriff argued.
 
“They’ll kill her anyway when they’re through with her,” Jason stated. “Maybe I can stop that.”
 
“I gave my word nobody would follow for twenty-four hours!” The sheriff declared.
 
“They’ve got ten thousand dollars I’m responsible for, Sheriff. And I didn’t give them my word!” The sheriff nodded in agreement. I picked up my hat and took off.
 
As the robbers made their getaway, there were three men watching. One of the men was mad because he felt he was being cut out of a lot of money. He’d worked that bank job for Frank Ross a month ago. One of the men suggested they go after them now. “No no…I know we’re they’re going. They’re heading for that shack up the gully. We’ll just let them get settled, then we’ll pick them off like sitting ducks!”
 
When Jason showed up at the shack, one of the three men started to shoot him. Tiny stopped him. He decided that Jason could start the shooting. Maybe he’d end up helping them. Tiny told his other man to ride on up the hill and cover them in the back.
 
Jason drew his gun and ran toward the shack. He kicked in the door and ordered for the men to “Drop them.” They were all surprised. None of them had a chance to reach for their guns. He told Miss Clay to pick them up and step over there. Jason immediately went to collect the money.
 
Unbeknownst to him, however, Callie Clay was on the wrong side of the law. She pulled a gun on him. “Drop it, Mr. McCord!”
 
Jason was shocked. “McCord…Jason McCord…” Ross said then. “Old yellow tail? Well, you went through a lot of bother, mister. “She’s part of the plan. Part of a real good plan.” Callie walked up to Ross. He put his arm around her. “I sent a letter to the sheriff to make sure he’d be there to see Callie. You know, solid citizens like him go all soft and hollow when he says a frail little female in danger.”
 
“Why are you telling him everything?” Morgan asked angrily.
 
“Why not? He’s not going to spread it around,” Ross declared. “He’s in more trouble than anybody when he doesn’t show up with that money. Her folks may even think that he planned the whole thing.” Callie asked him what he was going to do with Jason. “What do you care what I do with a coward?”
 
“Oh, he’s not a coward!” Callie declared. “If he hadn’t saved me from that drunk, your well-though out hold up might have ended you up in a well-planned jail!”
 
“Alright, then he’s a hero,” Ross said. “What do you want me to do? Split the money with him?” She told him to show Jason a little gratitude. “Well, you’re the one he saved. Maybe you’ll want to show him a little gratitude,” Ross commented as he glared at her.
 
“Come on…Let me put a bullet in him!” Morgan begged. Ross told him to shut up. Ross told him to shut up.
 
Suddenly, bullets sounded from outside. The men immediately thought it was the law. Ross was a bit upset that his plan had backfired. “Maybe he figures we let Callie go.”
 
Ross grabbed Callie, “Well, we’ll show him different!” Ross realized it was Bradford out there. “Let’s make a deal!” he yelled. “We’ll give you half of what we got…Five thousand!”
 
“I got a better deal,” Bradford declared. “You give us half…and we’ll take the rest!” Bradford laughed.
 
Morgan grabbed the money off the table and ran out the door. “Bradford, don’t shoot! I’ve got the money!” Morgan ran out into the yard. “Don’t shoot! I’ve got the…”
BANG!
 
Ross shot him in the back. Morgan fell in the dirt, money flying all around him. Ross turned and looked at the rest of the men in the house. “Anybody else feeling generous?”
 
The men were beginning to panic. One of them commented that he just wanted to get out of there. They had the horses around back. Ross thought they should try to get Bradford the slip. “Bradford will shoot you down before you can get to the horses!” Callie declared.
 
“Well…” Ross said as he glared at Jason. “We’ve got nothing to lose if we let that hero try it.”
 
“If he makes it to those horses, he’ll hightail it out of here!”
 
“No he won’t,” Ross assured them. “Not if we promised him his ten thousand.” Ross ordered Jason to give him his gun belt. Jason just stared at him. “Come on!” Ross ordered.
 
“You know he hasn’t got a chance!” Callie argued.
 
“Now, you bring us all those horses…Maybe we’ll talk about giving you back your ten thousand.”
 
“It’s suicide!” Callie argued. “He hasn’t got a gun!”
 
“Yes he has.” Ross had thrown me three bullets, then threw the gun out the front door.  He told me to get out there. He shoved me out the door.
 
Of course, the minute Jason stepped out the door, the men started shooting. Jason dodged the bullets, grabbed the empty gun, and jumped behind the wagon. He loaded the gun behind the wagon.
 
“That’s not one of Frank’s regular gang,” Bradford commented. “We gotta get our hands on that money!” He ordered his man to go on top of the shed and take a shot at the big guy behind the wagon.
 
Ross sent Taylor out the door next. Taylor argued. He didn’t want to be shot. “Out you go!” Ross ordered. He didn’t get very far before they shot him dead.
 
“They got Taylor!”
 
“And McCord got one of them. The odds are getting better,” Ross stated.
 
Ross sent out another man. He died just as quickly. As for the man on top of the shed…well, he made a little noise, and Jason’s keen senses heard it. Jason shot him, and he fell dead.
 
Tiny Bradford was the only man left outside. But in another second, Jason shot him and he was dead. Ross was happy. “That’s it! That worked out just right!” Ross felt like he was on top of the world. “We got the money and no partners!” He started throwing the money in the bag. He opened the door, led Callie outside, and started across the yard, a happy smile on his face.
 
Apparently, he’d forgotten about dear ol’ Jason. Jason leapt out from behind the wagon. “Hold it, Ross.” He held the gun on Ross. “The three of us and that money are taking a little ride back to town.”
 
“You’re bluffing, McCord,” Ross declared. “I kept a close count. I gave you only three bullets and you fired them all.”
 
Jason looked down at the gun and knew he was beat. He grabbed the barrel of the pistol and acted like he was about to beat Ross with it. But Ross had his gun drawn and pointed it at Jason. “Drop it!” Jason obeyed. Ross cocked the pistol and started to pull the trigger.
 
But suddenly, Callie grabbed his gun. They started struggling with it. Jason sure wasn’t going to stand by and let him fight the girl, so he tacked Ross and they started fighting. The gun went off, but they still fought.
 
BANG!
 
Ross had been on top of Jason when the gun went off. Ross fell back onto the ground…dead.
 
Callie immediately threw her arms around Jason. “Oh Jason, I’m so glad you’re alright!” she declared breathlessly.
 
“Forgotten him already?” Jason asked softly as he pushed her away.
 
“I never really saw him for what he was until today. I’m sorry I got you mixed up in this, Jason.”
 
“You didn’t,” Jason assured her. “I would have walked into that bank anyway.” Jason picked up the case of money and asked her if that was all the money. Callie told him it was.
 
Jason went to pick up the rest of the money still laying on the ground. “It’s all ours now, Jason,” Callie said. “Enough to last for a lifetime. They’ll never suspect us. We were innocent victims. We can hide the money and…”
 
Jason interrupted her dreaming. “No. It all goes back except the ten thousand dollars that goes to the man I work for.”
 
“Alright, Jason. Whatever you say. Just let me…be the woman you work for.” She begged Jason, the kissed him.
 
I took the money back. The sheriff counted the money, and I assured him it was all there, except for the ten thousand dollars. “I would like to apologize to you, McCord. I was thinking you were part of the gang.”
 
“I can assure you he wasn’t, sheriff,” Callie smiled at Jason. “If it wasn’t for Mr. McCord, I wouldn’t be here now.” The sheriff told her word was good enough for him.
 
Jason looked straight at her. “It shouldn’t be. She wasn’t a hostage. She was part of the gang.”
 
“Oh no, Jason!” Callie begged.
 
“That’s why they wanted to make sure you’d be at the bank. She was their ticket to a safe ride out. But she did stand up for me against the gang and she kept Frank Ross from killing me.”
 
“And we did get all the money back,” the sheriff added. “I guess the law won’t be too hard on her, seeing as how she’s a woman and all…”
 
“She’s a woman alright.” Jason smiled at her. “And every man has a soft spot for a woman.” She knew Jason didn’t. She wished he did.
 
“Think what we could have had.”
 
“I did think about it, Callie,” Jason assured her. “Long and hard.” Jason shook his head as he watched Callie try to seduce the sheriff. Jason walked out and rode out of town.


$10,000 for Durango ― Cast


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*Thanks to Michelle Palmer for writing this episode!

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