BRANDED
The First Kill episode #11

It had been a long journey for Jas. This time was different from his other journeys. This time he was on his way hoping to find someone he had been looking for, for years. It was late and Jas decided to bed down for the night. It didn't take him long to fall asleep, and it wasn't long until he started to dream. He dreamt of the Civil War and the battle of Fredericksburg and the first man he killed. He could hear the sounds of battle. The cannons going off, the explosions. He dreamt of how he took cover from an artillery blast in a shell hole. He heard a voice call out....."Hey Yankee!" There stood a confederate solider with his rifle and bayonet aimed right at Jas. He took a shot at Jas, but the rifle was empty. He then charged at Jas. Jas moved in time as confederate soldier stuck his bayonet into the ground. They were fighting for their lives. As Jas went to stick the confederate solider with his sword, he pushed Jas away. Again they fought fiercely. The soldier hit Jas in the stomach with the butt of his rifle; making Jas fall to the ground. The solider charged at Jas again. This time Jas had his sword ready and the soldier landed on Jas's sword, then fell to the ground. Jas crawled over to the soldier. The solider could see in Jas's face that this was his first kill. "Your first kill.....Yank?" Asked the solider as he struggled to talk. He then told Jas 'the first kill' was the hardest. Before he died he took something out of his pocket. It was his father's watch and his father's before him. "If you get through this.....you'd be doing me a kindness.....by seeing my family gets it." The solider died before being able to give Jas his name. Jas then woke up. He later found out the name of the soldier, and hoped that this journey would lead him to the soldier's father, Sam Manning.

He traveled into the town of Reading and stopped at the saloon before looking for Manning. There were several men playing poker. Rand won the pot, and told Adam Manning he owed him twenty dollars and wanted the money now. Adam told him he was good for it, but Rand didn't want to wait for his money. "You're good for it!" "You ain't good for nothing Manning!" "You play poker bad; you mouth off bad; you drink bad; I want my money and I want it now!" Adam stood up and went through his pockets only to confirm what he already had told Rand, he didn't have the money. Rand then grabbed Adam and shoved him right into the path of Jas. Jas grabbed a hold of Adam and turned him towards him. He couldn't believe the resemblance, he must be Tad's brother, the soldier he killed at Fredericksburg. Jas asked the bartender where Adam lived. Rand told him not to trouble himself, that he should just kick him out of the bar and leave him be. Jas asked the bartender again. "The first spread you come to.....about six miles south of town," said the bartender. Jas got Adam to his feet and started out the doors of the saloon when Rand said....."You tell him.....I'll be around to collect what he owes me."

Sam Manning welcomed Jas into his home. He was grateful for Jas helping his son. Jas saw a picture of Sam's son, Tad, the soldier he killed, and picked up the picture and looked at it. While he was looking at the picture and remembering back, Manning told him....."That was his oldest son, Tad." "He was killed at Fredericksburg." Jas told Adam they looked a lot alike, enough to be twins. Chad was bitter, he told Jas....."That's where the resemblance stops!" Manning was proud of his son Tad, too bad he didn't feel the Sam way about Adam. "He was a real man.....he had great ambitions.....he was going places." "Now he's just a picture!" "Not much to keep a memory alive.....but it's all I've got!" Said Manning. Adam heard enough as he had many of times before. He threw his drink into the fireplace and said he was turning in. Jas walked up to Manning and said....."I think you have a lot more then a picture and a few military mementos to keep that memory alive," said Jas. Manning looked at Jas and asked....."Adam?" Jas nodded. "Not one thing of that boy reminds me of Tad." "How do you explain the runt of the litter?" "It just happens!" Said Manning, the whole time Adam could hear what was said through his bedroom door. Adam knew how his father felt about him, and about Tad. It had tormented him for a long time. "Their Ma died a few years back.....it just left Adam and me." "I tried pushing him in the right direction.....he just won't see to measure up." "He just keeps going downhill and all I can do is sit and watch," said Manning. He told Jas he was going to bed and there was an extra room out by the barn, and if Jas needed anything else just holler.

The next morning Jas got up early and started to chop wood. Adam came out and started telling Jas how he could never live up to his brother's image. "I've headed roundup, ridden fence, branded, busted bronc's, that's not enough for the old man," said Adam. "So I put in a days work, but at night I gotta go into town, play a little poker, get a little drunk.....get him off my back," said Adam. Jas told Adam that it doesn't matter much what someone else thinks, as long as a man know what he is, inside, that's what matters. Jas went into the house to take the wood in that he just cut. Rand rode up and demanded his twenty dollars from Adam. Adam asked him to give him a couple of days; he would have his money then. Rand told him he came to get his money from Adam's father. Adam grabbed Rand by the arm to stop him. Rand told him he wanted his money.....now! Adam told Rand he didn't want him talking to his father. Rand pulled away from Adam and started towards the house. Adam went after Rand and grabbed a hold of him and a fight broke out. Rand got the best of Adam, but Adam sure did put up a good fight. When Jas saw what was going on he broke up the fight. Rand didn't like that. He grabbed the axe and started for Jas. Jas grabbed his broken saber and was ready for him. Rand changed his mind and put the axe down. Jas then took twenty dollars from his pocket and threw it on the ground in front of Rand and told him he was paid off. Rand picked up the money and left. Jas then walked over to Adam and helped him up. He thanked Jas and told him he owed him another favor. As Adam started into the house his father came out. "Well.....what is it this time Adam!" Adam told his father it was nothing. "It's always nothing," said Manning. "You come staggering home drunk and it's nothing.....you get beaten up in town.....it's nothing!" "You loose your money gambling.....it's nothing!" Adam told him it was his money and his life. "That's right, it's your life.....you can throw it away if you want." "But Tad didn't throw his life away.....while he was alive he made something of it.....not just a.....waste." "I'm not Tad Pa.....you hear me? I'm not Tad!" He started to cry....."I'm Adam!" "Look at me!" Adam got on his knees and yelled.....
"Look at me! I'm Adam!" Manning looked at Adam, then Jas, then he turned and went into the house.

That evening at supper, Chad wasn't hungry so Jas and Manning sat down to eat. Jas and Manning both didn't have much of an appetite. But Manning never would have expected to hear what Jas was about to tell him. Manning told Jas that his door would always be open to him. "Mr. Manning.....there's something I have to tell you, something I have carried with me for a lot of years." Jas told Manning that he fought in the war, for the Union at Fredericksburg. He told Manning that in his first battle he had his horse shot out from under him. Jas told him how he took cover from an artillery blast in a shell hole. He told him that there was a confederate soldier in that shell hole. They fought and Jas told him he killed the solider. "It was your son Tad Mr. Manning," said Jas. Chad was in his bedroom with the door open. He heard ever word Jas was saying. He slowly approached the doorway. Jas told Manning that before his son died they talked and Tad gave him the watch to give back to his father and that Tad wanted him to have it. Manning was stunned. At first he didn't say anything. Then he said....."You.....you sat here.....you ate my food and all the time you knew?"
"Well you told me.....now get out!" "Get out of my home before I kill ya'!" Jas got up from the table and left.

Adam then walked out into the kitchen. Manning asked Adam if he heard what Jas had said and asked Adam what was he going to do about it. Adam told him he was going to do what his father would do if he could. Manning told his son that Jas was too much for him and that he couldn't handle him. Adam looked at him and said....."Your wrong Pa.....I'm gonna measure up better then Tad. I'm going to do something even he couldn't do....." Tad then grabbed the rifle and started out for Jas. "McCord.....turn around," yelled Adam. "Why Adam?" Asked Jas. "You the man who killed my brother," said Adam. "A solider who killed another soldier because he had to," said Jas. "The business of war is to kill," said Jas. Adam told him he didn't care about that. Jas asked him if his father knew. Adam said he did. "The first kill.....your brother told me the first one was the hardest." "Go ahead Adam.....but you better check that hammer first," said Jas. As Adam looked down at the hammer to the rifle Jas threw his coat at Adam, distracting him. They started to fight. Jas got the best of Adam. Adam told him he better kill him, because if he didn't, he was going to kill him. Just then Manning came out onto the porch watching. Jas then told Adam he was going to give him another chance to kill him. Jas drug Adam over to his saddle bags and pulled out his broken saber. "You should use this," he said to Adam. He handed it to Adam and told him it was the one he used on his brother. Take it!" Yelled Jas. Adam grabbed the saber and held it to Jas, standing there just looking. "Now use it.....you live with the memory of it.....you let the nightmare of it tear you apart for the rest of your live." "You see if it sets things right for you!" "All your doing is letting your father make a murderer out of you," said Jas. Adam couldn't do it, he knew Jas was right. He handed the saber back to Jas and then turned to see his father standing there. "I'm not sorry Pa.....I'm not ashamed," said Adam. "I wanted you to love me.....that's all I ever wanted." "Now's the time to stop living up to Tad.....nobody could live up to the giant you made of him." Manning knew he had been wrong all along and told Jas that. "Tell him that," said Jas. "Thanks Jason.....thanks for giving me back my son," said Manning as he walked over to his son.

*This episode is something like the episode from The Rifleman - 'Face of Yesterday'


The First Kill ― Cast


Next ― The Very Few Heroes


Episode Guide 1 & 2


the saddlebag..... 1 & 2


Branded


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