"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Death Never Rides Alone
It was your typical day in North Fork. Nils and Sweeny were “discussing” the railroad’s coming into town. Nils was against it while Sweeny was for it. But while they were arguing, a stranger came into town. He asked for a whiskey. “Is this your first time in North Fo-“ Sweeny stopped when he looked at the face of the stranger.
The stranger realized Sweeny recognized him. “Have we met?” he asked as he leaned on the bar. Sweeny had seen him once in El Paso. He asked about hotel rooms. Then he asked a startling question. “Do you know a man, name of Lucas McCain?”
“Yes sir, he’s a friend of mine,” Sweeny answered with a smile
"You tell him I'm lookin' for him," the stranger ordered. Sweeny nodded. The stranger went to sit down at a table.
The stranger was known to the men at the bar. Sweeny informed Nils that it was Johnny Drako. "I know who it is! You tell me why he'd be gunning for Lucas?"
"Since when does Johnny Drako need a reason?" Sweeny hurried out to find me.
Micah and I were playing checkers when Sweeney walked in. "Lucas...something important comes up. Johnny Drako's in town. He's lookin' for you!” I was concentrating on my checker game and really didn't pay much attention to what Sweeney was saying until I heard him say Johnny Drako's name.
Micah was curious to why he would be looking for me. “I used to know him a long time ago,” I explained. Sweeny told me Drako took a room at Lou’s.
“Go tell him Lucas is in my office,” Micah told Sweeny.
Sweeny started to leave. I told him to wait a minute. “I haven’t seen him in fifteen years, but he hasn’t changed that much.” Micah wondered what I meant. As I stood up, I said, “Johnny Drako doesn’t take orders, Micah. He gives them!”
"Not in North Fork he doesn't!" Micah declared.
“Now look, last time I saw him there wasn’t a score between us. Maybe he’s just ridin’ through. I’ll go say hello.” With that, I hurried toward the hotel.
When I walked into the hotel Lou came over to me. "He's in the room at the head of the stairs," said Lou.
I approached the door and was getting ready to knock when I heard Johnny say "Come in!" "That second steps squeaks," said Johnny.
"So does the fourth, I didn't use it," I said.
"A man can't be too careful these days, can he? Can't always be sure who his friends are."
"It depends on the man and how he walks," I said. He took off his gun belt and threw it on the bed. He told me if I put my rifle down we could shake hands. I did as requested then walked over to the window.
“I guess I shook your town up a little,” Johnny declared. Yes he did! “Well, it’s just that I never know what kid in what town is going to try and take me or…who things they’ve got a bullet for me. And I don’t even remember why.”
“Well, we don’t have those kind here, Johnny, so you tell me what really brought you!” I demanded gently. He told me not to rush him. He’d been running for 15 years. He was tired.
He asked me if I remembered one night in Missouri after the war. “I remember what you were like, but I don’t like what you became,” I stated. Johnny told me my way was too slow.
“Lucas, I wanna settle in your town,” Johnny suddenly announced.
Now, maybe I’ll buy that. But why North Fork?" I asked.
"Because you helped make this town off limits to the gunmen," Said Drako. He was hoping that in six months, maybe a year people would forget.
“Now, Johnny, I don’t have the right to tell a man where he can or can’t live.” He said this was the most quiet he’d heard in 15 years and it sounded good. “And that’s the way we mean for it to stay,” I declared.
He liked the quietness of the town. That was the way we wanted it to stay and I left him know that. "If I walk soft; can I call Lucas McCain, my friend?" I told him that we could. "I'm gonna have to wear that gun, you know.”
"But you don't have to use it, do you?" I asked.
Lou and Micah were waiting for me when I walked out of the hotel. They wanted to know what he wanted. I told them he wanted to settle down. "In my hotel?" Asked Lou.
"In North Fork?" Asked Micah.
“Well, he thinks we have a pretty fair town,” I told Micah.
“Well, let him look it over on the way out.” I asked him why. “Because he’s Johnny Drako.” I tried to tell Micah I had his word. “You’ve got his word who he’s riding with? What gunhands are waitin’ for him to give the word?” He’s a loner.
“You didn’t tell him that it was alright to settle here?” Lou asked in that annoyed voice of hers.
“I told him it wasn’t up to me,” I answered her.
“You could’ve been stronger. You could’ve told him there is no room in North Fork for a gunslinger!” Neither Micah nor Lou were too happy with me.
I told them that during the war Johnny Drako crawled a half a mile through an artillery barrage, dragging me a foot at a time. “Did he ever ask you to pay him back?” Lou asked.
“He never mentioned it, maybe he doesn’t even remember it. But I do.” With that, I walked away.
Drako was the talk of the town! Sweeny was telling one of his customers about seeing Drako in El Paso. He gunned down a man with three bullets. Just then, Sweeny saw Drako walk in. He quickly changed the subject. Drako wanted another whisky. They watched Drako walk to a table by the window and sit down.
Suddenly, laugher was heard as a group of men walked in and sat down, but Drako paid no mind.
The next day Mark and I went into town. It seems that Mark had worn everything out at once. He needed a new pair of boots, shirt, pants and a belt. We ran into Micah and I asked him if Drako had given him any trouble. He said he hadn't. He went to bed early last night, paid his bill at Lou’s, walked nice and soft, rode to the country, and now he’s back at Sweeny’s.
“Pa, can I?” Mark suddenly asked excitedly.
“Can you what?” I asked.
“Take a look!”
“All right, stick your head in,” I permitted him. “But you meet me back at Lou’s.” Mark thanked me. He was happy! “Micah, they’re makin’ a sideshow out of him. How’s he taking that?” Micah said he doesn’t seem to care. The business folk are overjoyed about it though.
While he sat at his table in the saloon, Drako saw Mark looking in at him through the window. He wasn’t too happy about being gawked at. He motioned for Mark to come into the saloon. Mark slowly entered the saloon and walked up to Drako. "Have you ever been to the zoo boy?"
"No sir," Mark answered.
"Well they've got one in Kansas City. People come from miles around and they go straight to the monkey cage and they stand and they stare and they feed them peanuts,” Drako stated. "What's your name boy?"
"Lucas's boy?" Mark nodded. "I know your father, I call him my friend." said Drako. Drako took his gun out of his holster. "Touch it!" Mark just stood there looking at him. "Go on, pick it up!" Mark picked up the gun and looked at it; then laid it back down on the table. "You did right. Now remember, just because you can pick one up doesn't mean you have to marry it. Understand?"
Mark nodded and smiled. He still didn’t get his lesson. "Sure...but I've handled lots of guns before."
Drako nodded, then went on to explain. “From the first time, I’ve never been able to put it down.”
Proudly, Mark stated, “Well yeah, but you’re Johnny Drako. And nobody can make you put it down either!”
“Johnny Drako, fast gun,” Drako mumbled.
“Mark, do you know the name of the man that first had that honor?” Drako asked.
“Neither do I. But I know that the man that took it away from him buried him.” That made Mark stop and think. “Now, go home boy.” Mark turned and walked out. He stopped outside the window and peered in at Drako. Drako looked out at him. They just looked at each other. Mark understood.
Micah and I were standing outside his office when Lou walked up. Micah was saying that Drako was so popular, he could run for Mayor. “Like everyone else in town, you’re talking about Johnny Drako!” Lou declared.
“Now, how long do you think they can use Drako before he begins using them?” I wondered. Lou declared they were old enough to take care of themselves. Lou told me he was good for business. “Not the kind of business he attracts!” I declared.
My words and attitude got Lou all riled again. “Lucas, don’t you think it’s time that you came off the mountain? Who are you to pass judgment on who comes into town? Some are bad, and some are decent. And it’s a combination of both you gotta be expecting in any growing town!”
“You finished?” I asked suddenly.
“Just one more thing!” Lou declared. “As my dear departed father used to say, don’t judge people by holding a mirror to them, it’s what they do that shows their true image!”
Just then, I looked up to see three men ride into town. We didn’t recognize any of them, but they way they looked and acted, I could tell they were trouble. “How would your dear departed father judge those three men who just rode in?” I asked Lou. Then I turned and asked Micah if he recognized them. Micah said he’d go have a look.
“I’d better come along,” I said.
“I’ve been walking the law for a long time, Lucas. I can handle it alone,” Micah said. I reminded him that there wouldn’t be anything to handle if I had let him ride Drako out of town.
Micah reminded me that I wasn’t the only one who wanted him to stay. “But I was the one who opened the door for him.” I started to follow Micah, but stopped. Turning to Lou, I said, “I’ll think over what you said!”
We walked into the saloon. I walked up to Sweeney and asked him how things were going. He said his business couldn't be better. He said he'd be lucky if the building was here tomorrow. Micah went over to Drako and sat down at his table. “They uh…friends of yours too?”
“They don’t even like each other,” Drako answered. He knew them. “Billie Graves...Mac Jones...and Red Evans.” Micah wondered what they wanted. “The town,” Drako answered simply.
"What makes them so sure they can take it?"
“They’re not that sure. Not until they find out whether I’ve got Lucas’ gun or he’s got mine.” Micah wondered how they would find out. “Billie will push a little. Anybody stupid enough to draw on him, he’ll gun them down.”
“Then?” Micah asked.
“To see who comes after him.”
Micah and Johnny just looked at each other. "Keep it holstered Johnny," said Micah as he left the table.
Micah started for the door. I tried to follow him, but the one named Billie propped his legs up on the chair in front of him to block my way. I just glared at him. “Move ‘em!” I demanded.
Billie held his hands up in the air. “Walk around.”
I kicked his legs off the chair and he jumped to his feet. In one swift motion, I flipped my rifle and held it on him. I poked my rifle right in his chest. He slowly sat down. “You wanna stretch your legs, you get on your horse an’ ride!”
The next day, Mark and I rode into town together. As I came into Micah’s office, he said, “Ranchin’ must be an easy business. Nothing to do but ride into town every day!”
Micah informed me that Drako hardly leaves the saloon. Billie Graves had a run in with one of Benson’s riders that morning. “Gordon’s horse brushed Billie and Billie claimed he was trying to run him down. They had a few words and then Billie laid his gun over Gordon's head.”
We knew Billie was looking for trouble. I wondered who we would have to bury before the law would hang Billie Graves.
In the saloon, Billie was at the bar drinking while Drako was sitting at his table shuffling cards. He shuffled them over and over and over. Finally, Billie asked, “How long are you gonna keep that up?” Drako didn’t answer. He just kept shuffling. Finally, Billie walked over to Drako’s table. He put a foot up on the chair and just stared at Drako.
Drako smiled. “Well?”
“You’re runnin’ downhill, mister. Don’t you ever forget that,” Billie declared.
Drako just smiled. “Care to see how far I’ve gone?” Billie said he could take him. Drako continued smiling. “You know how many men I’ve stood over that said that?”
“But I won’t,” Billie stated. “Cuz that’s what wants – you and me to gun each other.” Billie said he just wanted the town, but not for long – just long enough to see me on my knees.
“Well, if you’re really smart, you’ll ride out of here and leave him alone!” Drako insisted.
“I’ll make him come to me,” Billie promised.
“He might just do that,” Drako warned.
Billie walked out of the saloon and over to the blacksmith’s. Nils was supposed tobe fixing his horse. Nils informed him that his horse had a pretty bad ankle and that he was done as a saddle horse and if he was lucky he could maybe get a year or so out of him as a plow horse. He told Nils he needed a new horse. Nils told him he had a couple out back he could look at.
But Billie was used to getting exactly what he wanted. He walked over to Mark’s horse. “How much for this one?” Nils told him that was Mark’s horse – he wouldn’t sell it. Billie ignored Nils and got the horse ready to ride. “Uh…mister? That horse isn’t for sale! Did you hear what I said?” Nils asked, grabbing Billie by the shoulder.
That was a mistake. Billie punched Nils hard. Nils grabbed a hammer and started to go after Billie, but Billie suddenly drew a gun. “Wanna go get a gun?” he asked. Billie untied Mark’s horse and started to leave.
Just then, Mark walked up to them. He told Billie that was his horse, but Billie threw a couple coins at him and said, “I just bought it!”
Mark had a hot temper like me sometimes and started after Billie. “Mark!” Nils stopped him. He grabbed Mark by the arm. “Come on, boy.” Then Nils led Mark to Micah's office.
They hurried in and told us what happened. Micah got up from his desk and grabbed his hat. “Good thing you didn't try to stop him; that’s my job,” Micah declared.
“Well, it’s only a horse, Micah,” Mark said. “Let him have it.”
“Do we throw in a few head of cattle too, Mark?” Micah asked. “Maybe a half interest in the ranch?”
Mark said he could catch another horse. I listened up to this point, but then spoke to my son. “Son, I know what you’re trying to say – that a man’s life is worth more than a horse. But what Micah means is what’s a man’s life really worth if he’s not willing to protect what’s his?”
“It’s my horse! I…I’ll say that I sold him.”
"I'll tell you what I'll do son. If Graves wants that horse to ride out of town and not come back I'll let him have him." Nils told Mark he'd give him the best horse in his stables.
But Micah declared, “Now, if he’s gonna keep on grabbing, we’ve gotta stop him right now!”
“But there’s three of them!” Mark argued. He was worried for us. “Maybe four if Johnny Drako decides that you’re not his friend anymore.”
“Mark, we’ll play it like a game of checkers,” Micah petitioned. “Now, Billie Graves took your horse – that was his first move. Next, we’ll move a couple of men where he thinks he can take ‘em. Then it’ll be his move again. Alright, Lucas boy?” I looked at Mark. He gave me a slight nod of agreement, so I agreed. Then got up and walked out the door with Micah.
Billie saw Micah and I walk out into the street. Drako teased Billie, saying, “It should be easy enough to pick ‘em off.” Billie turned to Sweeny and told him to get out. Sweeny ran out the doors. “Ours…all ours…only, what are we gonna do with it?” Drako kept teasing Billie.
Billie took out his gun and started shooting up the place.
Sweeney came running over to us. He told us Billie was running things and that he wanted me and whatever he can bleed from the town. I asked him what else. He said that Drako thought Billie was a fool for grabbing Mark's horse. Sweeney wanted to help but Micah told him to get off the streets.
Billie stood near the window looking out onto the street. “You figure out his play yet?” Drako asked as he sat playing cards at his table. Billie didn’t like Drako’s taunting. “He’s got a hole dug for you,” Drako declared.
“If I want out, I’ll move out!” Billie said.
“I guess they won’t stop any of us from riding.” Billie said Micah didn’t count much. I was the one that counted.
“Nice figurin’,” said Drako. Drako told Billie that the only way I was going to lay down my gun was by shooting me down. Billie wanted a nice, legal gunfight. “Good luck!” Drako declared with a smirk.
“We cut! All of us,” Billie said. Drako didn’t want any part of his town. “Either you cut, or you take on the three of us!” Billie warned him then.
Billie laughed. "Man that takes McCain takes half.”. Drako allowed the others to cut the deck first. Billie got a queen. Drako smiled up at him as he turned over the top card and sat it on top. Then, cool as a cucumber, Drako stood up, checked his gun, and walked out the doors.
Drako stood just outside the saloon and stared at us. Then he slowly walked over to us. When he was standing right in front of me, he spoke. “We cut for the privilege of gunning you. All nice and legal, you understand.”
"You win or loose," I asked.
"Well now that depends on which side you think I'm on," he answered.
"Well then you better turn around before they put a bullet in your back.” Drako smiled at me and turned around to stand next to me. Now there were three of us standing there – Micah, me, and Drako.
Billie and his men walked out of the saloon. They came to stand in front of us on the street. They faced us. We just stared at each other. “What do you think, Billie?” Evans asked in a low voice.
“I think the deck’s been stacked,” Billie answered.
“Mac…take the badge,” Evans said. Billie asked Evans if he could take Drako. Evans looked at Drako. “Do you think…McCain’s as good as his reputation?” Evans asked Billie
I watched the men. I told Drako they were thinking. “He’s done with thinking, Lucas. Now he’s measuring the odds.”
Suddenly, Billie turned and got on his horse. The others followed suit. They all rode away. Mark breathed a big sigh of relief.
Micah went to lock up and told us he'd meet us a Lou's. Drako and I just stood there. "Maybe they didn't figure this town was worth dying for," said Drako.
"Did you?" I asked.
"Not particularly, how about you?" Drako asked me.
"I wasn't thinking, Johnny, I was just hopin' they'd ride out." Drako and I just looked at each other and smiled.
Johnny paid his bill at the hotel and then came to say his good-byes to Mark and I. "Nobody's pushing you Johnny...you don't have to move on," I said.
"Those fifteen years just won't let a man sit," said Drako. I asked him where he was headed. "North maybe...or west. Or just keep on ridin'. You got a nice quiet town here...I'm gonna leave it just like I found it." He then shook Mark's hand and said good-bye to him.
I shook his hand then. “I hope you find a quiet place too Johnny."
"I will Lucas...same quiet place every gunfighter finds." Drako then mounted his horse and rode out of town.
"I wish him luck Pa," said Mark and I agreed.
**Thanks Andrew Simon for the best line in the whole episode—".....same quiet place every gunfighter finds."
*Great episode.....love that Drako.....I mean Lee Van Cleef. What is your favorite Lee Van Cleef episode? Mine is 'The Deadly Wait' as Dan Maury.
*Great episode.....love that Drako.....I mean Lee Van Cleef. What is your favorite Lee Van Cleef episode? Mine is The Deadly Wait as Dan Maury.
piddlin' stuff.....Lee Van Cleef has appeared in four episodes ― The Deadly Wait as Dan Maury, he's the bad dude who crippled Micah's arm ― The Prodigal as Stinger, he was one of the cowboys after Bill St. John ― The Clarence Bibs Story as Wicks, he was one of the cowboys edging Clarence on to kill Tanner ― Death Never Rides Alone as Johnny Drako, he was the cowboy who stood with Lucas and Micah against Billy Graves and his gang.
Rex Holman was in three episodes ― The Jealous Man as Simms, Travis' hired gun ― Death Never Rides Alone as Billy Graves, he is the one who took Mark's horse, Blueboy and Old Man Running (aka The Wanted Man) as Bob Sherman, the brother of Jeb and Little Boy Sherman, the Sherman gang who was looking for Mark's Grandpa.
Mel Carter appeared in eight episodes ― End of a Young Gun as an outlaw, he rode with Hank Fulton ― The Safe Guard as Walkerman, one of the guys who help rob the bank ― The Challenge as a cowhand in the saloon ― The Woman as Jed Healy, the one who shot his Pa ― The Journey Back as Arnie Grady as one of the brothers that Will Temple threw off his ranch ― Outlaw's Shoes as Jeems, he was George Vale's partner and the one who shot Lucas and grazed him in the head ― Lou Mallory as Bo Jackman ― Death Never Rides Alone as Mark Jones. Gee.....does this set any records?
John Rayborn played Red Evans, he was a member of the gang, the one who told Mac to take the badge.
Tom Kennedy ― Death Never Rides Alone as one of the townsmen at the saloon - The Assailants as one of the townsmen - Gun Shy as a the townsman/man getting off of the stage - The Decision as one of the townsmen - The Executioner as the man reading the newspaper - Day of Reckoning as a churchgoer - Guilty Conscience as one of the townsmen - Which Way'd They Go? as a barfly - Outlaw's Shoes as one of the townsmen - The Challenge as one of the townsmen - None So Blind as one of the townsmen - A Young Man's Fancy as one of the townsmen - End of the Hunt as one of the townsmen.
You can see Tom in The Rifleman many times, probably more times then listed. He always went unaccredited, but not here at the ranch.
Buddy Roosevelt appeared in four episodes ― Panic ― Two Ounces of Tin — Quiet Night, Deadly Night as one of the townsmen ― Death Never Rides Alone as a barfly.
Patricia Blair as Lou Mallory. Patricia was first introduced to The Rifleman in Lou Mallory. She played a hot-tempered Irish lass who was a razor-sharp businesswoman. She joined the cast in the fifth and final season and appeared in seventeen episodes. Patricia replaced Joan Taylor who played Milly Scott owner of The General Store.
Bill Quinn appeared in thirty-eight episodes as Sweeney the owner/bartender of The North Fork Saloon. Sweeney was first introduced to The Rifleman in The Marshal.
Joe Higgins played Nils Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson aka The Blacksmith? Joe Higgins holds the record for playing Nils or was it Niles or Nels? There were four episodes that Joe did not play Nils or was it Niles or Nels?
He played the bartender in Strange Town — Rafe the blacksmith in The Wyoming Story part 2 — Short Rope for a Tall Man as Henry Schneider the horse thief — Stopover as Scotty the Stagecoach Driver.
Stopover was the only episode to run one day over schedule.
Archie Butler — Stuntman — Stunt coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode then some of them. ~Arnold Laven
Remember him in The Sharpshooter? Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces? Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas. Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.
Joe E. Benson appeared in The Rifleman many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes credited & sometimes not.
*Please note: In Dark Day at North Fork he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen & the bartender.
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the house which was later called the den. (One of the several tree house pictures)
Bloopers - Death Never Rides Alone
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is that guy?
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
I Take This Woman
Quiet Night, Deadly Night
around The McCain Ranch