McCord's Way — episode #36
Jason rode into the town, there were all sorts of
commotion on the street. People gathered outside the
saloon and even children scurried around excitedly.
One little boy named Tommy Kendall wanted to see the
shootout that was evidently going on inside the
saloon, but his mother, Dora, ordered him to stay
away. She actually told him to go home, but instead
he went to hide behind a wagon.
Dora walked toward the saloon, then turned to hurry
away. Bang! Suddenly, that’s the noise she heard.
She froze in her steps, dread filling her body. She
was afraid of what the news would be. The sheriff
stumbled from the salon and fell over…DEAD!
Jason had dismounted his horse and stared in shock
as the events unfolded. The town’s sheriff was dead
– killed by some unknown gunfighter! Men gathered
around the body of the Sheriff. Even little boy came
to stand beside him. Dora ordered the boys to go
home then kneeled down beside the Sheriff’s body.
After one moment, she lifted her head. “He’s dead,”
she announced, grief lacing her words. She looked
around, desperately. “Well, aren’t any of you men
going to do anything?”
The men didn’t answer, but merely turned and walked
away. Dora grabbed the gun still in the Sheriff’s
hand and hurried to enter the saloon. Jason hurried
to check on the sheriff’s condition.
Inside the saloon, the deputy and some of the
townsmen stood watching the gunman as he re-filled
his gun. He was gloating. “Deputy, you wanta try
The men hurried away from the deputy to give him a
wide berth. But before the deputy could do anything,
the cocking of a gun could be heard. The gunman and
deputy turned to see Dora holding a gun on him. “You
know he hasn’t got a chance against you,” she
muttered. “But I have. Your kind always riding into
town killing one sheriff after the next…”
“Now look, lady…” the gunfighter laughed nervously.
“I don’t know who you are.”
“Well I know who you are. Joe Latigo. Your father
killed my husband.” Her words were spoken with much
“Now, I can draw and kill you before you pull that
trigger. Just because you’re a woman, don’t think I
Just then, Jason hurried into the saloon. He pushed
Dora’s gun to the side. “You’ve done enough damage
already,” Jason told Latigo. Leave it as it is.”
“So, we’ve got a hero in Silverton,” Latigo declared
softly. Jason pushed Dora out of the way and took
his position to fight Latigo. “Alright. You wanta
make it a double funeral?”
Jason drew his gun and shot Latigo before Latigo
could even move his hand. He fell to the ground
A man in a grey suit called out to Jason before he
could turn and leave. “We sure could use you around
here. The sheriff to keep Silverton safe for our
wives and children.” The other men agreed.
“Thanks. I’m just passing through,” Jason was quick
to answer. He explained that Sheriff Baker was a
friend of his He had written Jason to tell him the
mines needed an engineer – that’s where he was
“Well, if you’re a friend of Jedd Baker’s, that’s a
mighty good recommendation to be Sheriff here.”
“Hey, wait a minute, Mr. Trent.” Deputy Tomlin
stepped up. “I’m next in line for that job.”
“You stood in line when you were called out, Tomlin.
You missed your chance.” Trent turned back to Jason
and asked him again.
Jason was a bit surprised that he’d pin a badge on a
man he’d just met. How did he know Jason would be
any good. “You’re good alright. You beat him to the
draw. Joe Latigo is fast…real fast. No, you’ll do
just fine.” Jason thanked him, but told him he was
headed for the High Country. But that wasn’t good
enough for Trent. He assured Jason he’d make a lot
more money staying in Silverton. “As Chairman of the
Citizens Committee, I’m prepared to offer you twenty
dollars a day in gold if you’ll stay here and be our
sheriff.” Jason was a bit surprised at the steep
wages, and of course Mr. Trent was kind enough to
remind Jason just how much he would need to get way
up into the high country.
“Well uh…I’m still passing through. But if you like,
I’ll stay long enough to earn enough for that pack
mule and supplies.” They agreed he would stay two
Then he asked Jason his name. “McCord,” Jason
answered. Jason wasted no time giving orders. “Some
of you men get that man out of here. And Deputy, see
about Mr. Baker, huh?”
Deputy Tomlin walked up to Jason. “Yes sir,” the
deputy said a bit sarcastically.
Jason walked up to Dora and asked her if Sheriff
Baker was a relative. “No. The sheriff before him
was my husband. He was shot down the same way by
that man’s father.” Jason told her he was sorry.
“Why? This is not your town…not your problem. Why
did you take that job?”
“I need the money.” She thought he was crazy for him
to give up his life for the price of a mule and some
food. Jason didn’t see it that way.
“Well, you will. Dave Baker was the third sheriff to
be killed here in less than a year. They all thought
they were too fast to die. Even my husband. But they
did. And now Joe Latigo’s father and some of his
friends will be after you. And so will every other
gunman looking for a quick reputation. It’s one big
game…like a turkey shoot. That’s all a sheriff is
in this town…just target practice.”
One of the first things Jason did was put up a sign:
Notice: No guns will be worn in Silverton. Check all
guns at this office. They will be returned upon
After Jason went back into his office, men gathered
around the sign and laughed. “If he wants mine,
going to have to come and get it,” one man declared.
Another cowboy said, “That’s just how I feel. I
think I’ll go inside and tell the Sheriff he’s
starting off on the wrong foot.” He did. “Sheriff, I
read your sign. You print real good. But you went to
an awful lot of trouble just for a joke.”
“Just wear that gun in one hour, and you’ll find out
it’s no joke,” Jason retorted.
Muhler told him Bud Lee, the dealer at the saloon,
thought it was real funny as well. “He said if you
want his gun, you’ll have to come and get it. You
should know, Sheriff…Bud was a good friend of Joe
Latigo…The man you killed.”
“One hour, Mister.”
Jason went outside to make his point clear to the
men who were standing around. “If you want to stay
in town, you’ve got one hour to deliver your guns to
my office. Otherwise, they’ll be taken away.”
“Maybe you better take Bud’s first,” Muhler
suggested. “He asked you to. He’s fast, Sheriff.”
Jason was standing just outside the saloon. He gave
no warning, but slammed the doors open with his
shotgun. Lee stood up in surprise. “Alright, turn
around and put your hands on the bar!” Jason
demanded. Lee had no choice but to do as he was
told. Jason ordered the deputy to get his gun.
“Isn’t a man entitled to a fair draw in this town
“I drew against you before I came in,” Jason
muttered. Lee thought that was a cowardly way for
him to face the law. Jason was just about to leave,
but on those words, he turned and walked toward Lee.
He held the shotgun on Lee. “It kept you from making
a mistake, and saved the town the expense of burying
you. That’s my idea of law enforcement.”
Muhler told Jason he had expected some shooting. “It
takes two guns for that, Muhler. Let’s have yours.”
Muhler didn’t move. Jason walked up to him and took
his gun. “The rest of you still have an hour.”
“You ain’t gonna last as long as the others,
McCord,” Muhler threatened. “There’s more where that
Later, Jason came outside his office to find a note
tacked up on his notice. He took it down while
Muhler stared at him. “That a Di-rect challenge,
Sheriff. You think you can meet it?”
“I’ll meet it,” Jason declared before walking back
into the sheriff’s office. He handed Deputy Tomlin
the note. “Did Latigo tack that up there himself?”
Jason looked out the window,
at the crowd. He didn’t know there were that many
people in latigo. Tomlin explained that a lot of
them rode in after they heard Latigo had challenged
him. “Took the day off to see the fight. He’ll be
“Well you tell them to move down the street. It’ll
be safer there and they won’t miss a thing.” Tomlin
reminded Jason that Bill had a lot of notches to his
record – he was better than his son. He was probably
the fastest gun in the territory. “Aren’t the all?”
Deputy Tomlin went out to deliver the message. He
hardly got his words out when he saw Latigo coming
up the street. The men scurried away while Latigo
continued walking up the street. When Deputy Tomlin
went back inside, there was no sign of Jason.
“Sheriff, it’s me…Latigo.” Deputy Tomlin came out
the door. He told Latigo Jason had gone out the back
Sure enough, Jason was on top of the roof across the
street. He pulled a rifle on Latigo and told Tomlin
to get his gun. “You’ll probably find another one in
his saddlebag,” Jason announced.
“Sheriff, did anybody ever tell you you’re just
plain yeller?” Latigo questioned.
“Tomlin, get his gun,” Jason ordered again. Tomlin
just stood there, staring at the men on the street
and up at Jason. “I ain’t the first one to ever call
your Sheriff yella. You know who he is? You ever
seen that broken saber he carries? You know how he
got it? The army gave it to him when they kicked him
out for being a coward. He’s Jason McCord,
yellow-tailed from Bitter Creek.” Jason again told
the deputy to get his guns. But again, he stalled.
“That boy you killed…he was really fast. I taught
him all he knew. Is this the way you tricked him? My
son?” Latigo turned his head to look at the deputy
“You’re kind of chicken livered too, deputy. You
better pay a lot of attention to your boss. Maybe
you can stand up and become a gutless wonderer like
he is when he goes…because he’s going.”
Jason continued to hold the rifle on him. “Latigo,
drop your gun or ride out of town. One or the other
right now!” Latigo chose to ride out of town. They
watched him leave. Jason climbed down and came out
to talk to the people.
“Sheriff, your stinking reputation is giving this
town a stinking reputation! Now you get out, or we
throw you out!” Jason stepped into the street and
started across. “You’ve got my gun, but I don’t
figure I need one to take care of a yellow-tailed
like you. Muhler put a hand on Jason’s shoulder.
That was a mistake. Jason turned and belted him
right in the chin. Latigo’s words really got those
town men to thinking. Before it was over, they
started thinking Jason had cleared his holster
before Latigo had even started to draw. Maybe Jason
really WAS a coward.
The boy had been watching and listening attentively.
A boy pretended to shoot all the boys. One of the
boys told Tommy that he wasn’t playing fair because
he’d snuck up on him. “It’s McCord’s way.”
Jason heard and saw it all. “McCord, now that we
know about your army record, it’s abundantly clear
why you refused to face up to these gunmen that ride
into Silverton,” Trent declared.
“Have there been any killings since I put this badge
on?” Jason questioned. He said no. “Well, isn’t that
why you hired me?”
“We expected you to take a stand against these
killers…To deal them out some of their own medicine.
And now we know you’re just plain scared, it’s going
to be worse than ever for us. We do have our pride,
“Pride in what? Are you proud to lose more lawmen
than any town in the territory? Well if
that’s it, Trent, you can forget it. I plan to stay
alive.” Jason turned and walked away.
Trent called a meeting of the men in town so Deputy
Tomlin could explain the note. “From Latigo. He says
he’s coming to town tonight for a showdown with
McCord, and this time he wants a fair fight.” The
men all agreed.
“Gentlemen, if you back me up, I think we can assure
Latigo he’ll get what he’s looking for,” Trent
declared. “I’m fed up with McCord’s way.” Again, the
men mumbled their agreement. Trent took the note
over to Jason and threw the note in his lap.
“Another challenge, McCord. Are you going to answer
“I’ll answer it,” Jason answered.
Dora walked in, having just heard. Jason told her it
seemed everybody had. “Well, if you don’t fight,
I’ve been authorized by the Citizens Committee to
dismiss you without pay.” Jason reminded him of a
written contract signed by him. “Alright, then you
hire yourself a lawyer and take me to court. But I
want that badge. You’ve brought enough disgrace to
it, and to us.”
“You’re wrong, Mr. McCord. I don’t like to say it,
but…” Dora stopped.
“Well say what you don’t like to say, Mrs. Kendall!”
Jason prodded her.
“Well there’s some times when you have to face up to
“Why?” Jason questioned. “Does a killer deserve some
kind of special courtesy?”
“But the children…look what you’re teaching them…to
be sneaks and cowards!”
“I’m trying to teach them respect for the law,”
Jason argued. “The law says that before a man dies,
at least he gets a trial. These two-bit gunmen are
setting themselves up as judge and jury! Now look…if
that’s the way you want it, you can have this
badge.” Jason threw the badge on the desk. “And this
town.” He picked up his hat and walked out.
But before he could untie his horse, Latigo stepped
out of the shadows. “McCord…I’ve been waiting on
you, McCord!” Jason stepped out onto the street.
Latigo took a few steps toward him.
“Latigo, this way one of us has to die. Now that
doesn’t have to be. I’m leaving Silverton right now.
As far as I’m concerned, you can tell everybody you
ran me out.” The whole time, Latigo came closer and
“It’s you I’m wanting, McCord!” Latigo announced.
“You can’t talk yourself out of this one.” Latigo
started to draw his gun, but Jason was faster. He
drew his gun and shot twice. Latigo fell to the
Everyone came out of hiding.
had the gull to commend Jason from a job well done.
“What we said in there…let’s forget it,” Trent said.
“Forget a murder?” Jason asked.
“He drew first, that’s not murder,” Dora declared.
“Now that you’ve proven you can stand up to a man
like that, why don’t you stay on as sheriff?”
“No thank you. I’ll leave that to Tomlin. He can put
on your shows for you. As for your children,
Silverton can look forward to a fine crop of
quick-draw killers.” She told him that wasn’t true,
but Jason showed her what his boy was doing right
then. He was pretending to shoot the other boys.
“When he’s old enough for a real gun, maybe he’ll
kill most of those kids. Then he’ll wait around
until someone with a faster gun kills him.”
Jason turned to mount his horse. Again, Trent had
the gull to approach Jason. He wanted to give him
the money they owed him, and even said he deserved a
bonus for standing up to Latigo.
Jason’s answer? He turned and gave Wes Trent a big
punch in the nose. Trent, of course, was totally
shocked that Jason McCord did such a thing.
*Thanks to Michelle Palmer for writing this episode!
around The McCain Ranch