"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
This story starts outside town with a man named Stark and a man
named Spicer. There was about to be a forced gun duel between the
two of them – Spicer was the forcer. Stark was the unwilling dueler.
He tried to get Spicer to understand
he didn’t mean what he had said – he was only joking. But Spicer
didn’t agree. He didn’t like anyone saying they were better then
him. “Saying you was better then me…saying you could take me…that
wasn’t very funny.” Stark held the gun that Spicer loaded and gave
to him. He held it out, not wanting to use it. But he had indeed
messed with the wrong man!
Spicer shot Stark, knocking him to the ground, but not before a
bullet grazed Spicer’s cheek. He doubled over in pain, angrier then
he was before. “He done this to me! He marked me!” Spicer got up and
walked over to Stark with his gun drawn. Spicer’s friends thought
Stark was dead and stopped him from shooting again.
But the man wasn’t dead!
Mark and I found him on the range at sundown and hauled him into
town that night. I pulled the buckboard up to Micah’s office and ran
to get Micah. Ben Johnson was covering for him. Micah and doc were
with everyone else at a barn raising. I told Ben to go get Micah and
Doc Burrage – it’s an emergency. Ben warned me it would be an hour
out there, and I told him to just do the best he could.
One of Spicer’s friends was standing outside the saloon when he saw
Mark and I ride up hauling Stark’s body. He hurried back in and
announced it to his friends. Spicer wasn’t too concerned, but his
friend was. The deputy had ridden out burning leather. Spicer wasn’t
worried. He was more concerned with drinking.
I carried the unconscious man into Doc’s office and gently laid him
on the table. I told Mark to get the blanket from the wagon. But
when Mark went to get the blanket, he suddenly noticed a young lady
walk outside the hotel. She stood on the front porch. Mark was
suddenly at the age when he was noticing girls – and this particular
girl caught his eye! He finally peeled his eyes off of her and
started into the office, but she stopped him. “Is someone hurt?” She
asked. Mark told her yes then turned to leave. “How bad?” she asked
“I-I-I think he might be dying,” he answered then.
“Well, what’s the doctor say?”
“He’s not here!” Mark stated. Then he turned and started to head
back inside, banging into the door. He turned and looked at her
strangely. Then he hurried inside.
The young woman hurriedly walked into the hotel. She ran up to her
father who was reading a newspaper and told him about the hurt man
in the doctor’s office. When he found out the doctor was gone, he
went to have a look with his daughter. By the way, he was wearing a
After assessing the wounded man’s condition, I decided the bullet
was buried in him pretty deep. I turned to check on Mark and found
him staring out the window. “Mark, what are you looking at?” I
“Nothing,” he answered. But he had a strange look on his face. I
wondered what could be so interesting out the window! But when a
knock sounded at the door, Mark wasted no time to open it. The man
and his daughter stood there. The man claimed he was a doctor. Mark
invited them in. “I understand your doctor is-“ Suddenly, he quit
speaking when he saw me.
We knew each other. We stared at each other. “Simon Battle!” I spit
Battle continued staring at me. “Vicki, my bag’s in the hotel room.
Go get it, please?”
She turned and looked at her father, knowing there was something
wrong, but she obeyed him and went to get it. “Mark, you better go
help her,” I ordered. Mark also knew something was wrong. But he too
was smart enough to know that was an order for him to leave the two
of us alone to…talk.
The minute the door closed, I asked, "What are you doin' here?"
"I might ask you the same thing," he answered.
"I live here."
"I didn't know, we we're just stopping for the night," Battle
"I thought you were dead!"
"A lot of people thought that...you in particular," Battle stated.
He started to examine the cowboy. I asked him what he was doing, but
he didn’t answer.
I hurried up to him and grabbed him. “Get out of here, Battle!” I
ordered angrily. He told me the man was bleeding to death.
I shoved him angrily. "You’re no more a doctor then I am-“ I
started, but he suddenly punched me hard, sending me backwards. I
landed on the floor near my rifle, but when I went to grab it, he
started for his gun. "Be careful McCain, or it'll be just like it
was ten years ago...a fast gun against a fast rifle. Only I
guarantee the out come this time." he said.
I stood and told him he hadn’t changed. “Only I’m a doctor now. And
since you’re in no position to argue about it, I suggest you take me
at your word and do what you can to help.” Battle spoke very quiet,
very firmly, and very calmly.
He went back over to the patient and began throwing orders. I just
stood there, glaring at him. “You want this man to die?” He
questioned me. “Or don’t you care?” I still didn’t move, but stared
hard at him. He suddenly stopped what he was doing and stared back
at me just as hard. I finally did his bidding, but I certainly
wasn’t happy about it!
"You put a bullet in me once McCain. I've had ten years to think
about it. Ten years when you thought I was dead. I could have come
after you...but I didn't! I was too busy to waste my time. But I'll
tell you this...I wasn't afraid of you then and I'm not afraid of
you now." He kept working on the cowboy the whole time. I said
nothing. There was nothing I had to say. I just continued glaring at
him angrily! The mere sight of this man made my blood boil! But I
had no choice but to oblige him…for now! "I heard you settled down.
I didn't believe it...I still don't." He ordered me to look for
bandages in the cabinet.
Just then the kids came in. He told Vicki to go on back to the
hotel. She wanted to stay and help. “Not this time,” he told her.
I didn’t want the kids here. The man made my blood boil, and the
things I had to say didn’t need said in front of the kids. “Mark,” I
started as I took money out of my pocket. “Take the young lady to
supper.” I threw the money to my boy.
I didn’t have to tell my boy twice. He was more then happy to oblige
me. "Why sure." He turned and looked at Vicki. "They got real good
apple pie.” She agreed and they headed over for supper.
When Spicer’s men came out of the saloon, they saw my wagon still in
front of the doc’s office. Seeing it there made them nervous.
The one named Stacey walked over to doc’s office and peaked in the
window. That’s when he discovered the truth – Stark wasn’t dead. He
rushed over to the saloon to report this fact to Spicer. “He better
be dead. If he ain’t, I’ll fix him good and proper this time,”
Spicer declared. “Him and anybody that tries to save him!”
Battle and I worked quietly. There was great tension in the room as
he worked at digging the bullet out of the patient. “It always
surprises me that a little bullet can do so much. I’ve seen men
trampled by cattle, thrown, every bone in their body broken yet
live. But one lead slug barely an ounce…”
“You put enough slugs into people not to be surprised,” I answered.
He accused me of harping back to the past. I told him he was only
kidding himself if he thought it was forgotten. “Has your pass been
forgotten?” he asked as he continued working.
“I’ve lived it down.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do.” He looked up at me. “Only it’s not
“You expect it to be – the reputation you had? I see you still
wearing that gun.”
“And you still carry that rifle.”
“I use that rifle only when I have to. So when you’re finished here,
Battle, you get on your horse and ride and don’t ever come back.” I
said these words with just a hint of a threat in my voice.
But he knew I meant it. “This man’s life is still in danger, McCain.
I’ve got an obligation. When I’m through, you say that again.” We
stared at each other. I heard the challenge in his voice.
Suddenly, the door opened, we turned to see two men standing there.
“Is he alive?” Spicer asked.
turned back to the patient. Spicer knew he was alive. I asked him
what he wanted, but he wasn’t talking to me. "Doc you're makin' a
mistake! That man don't want to live!" Battle continued working.
"You didn't hear me Doc, I said let him die! No man's got a right to
live after doing this to me!” He had a nasty cut on his face...the
left cheek. I asked him if he shot Stark. "Maybe...maybe not!" He
asked the Doc what the answer was.
"If I can possibly save this man’s life, I’m gonna do it! Then if
you'd like...I'll take a look at your face,” Battle answered.
"You save him and you won't be lookin' at nothin' cause you'll be
dead!" Spicer declared He was gettin' ready to shoot the Doc when I
took my rifle and knocked his gun out of his hand.
"Now you said all you're gonna say mister...now back on out that
door, both of you!" I ordered. As they backed out the door Spicer
said he'd be out in the street waitin' on me. He started to get his
gun. “Leave it!”
"Remember what I said...You save him...I'll kill you Doc! Him, and
you, and you-" I kicked the door closed.
The Doc asked who they were. I told him they were ridin' the Lobo
brand. "Are they still killing their own?" Battle asked.
"Why not? I think about half of the two bit gunmen in the
territory...drunks...outlaws...thrown together on one ranch. What do
"Did you ever work for Lobo?" Battle turned to look at me.
"I thought about it once," I admitted truthfully.
"So did I," said Battle. We just looked at each other. He went back
to his patient. He didn’t know if he was going to live or not.
"I think there are four of 'em out there," I warned him. He asked
Mark and Vicki were having a nice supper. Vicki was telling Mark all
about her life, and a dazed-eyed Mark was hanging on her every word.
He thought she was pretty and could hardly take his eyes off of her.
She told him her father studied medicine in Chicago. “You ever been
to Chicago?” Mark just stared at her with a silly grin on his face.
“Huh?” the smitten Mark suddenly realized he was supposed to answer.
He told her we hadn’t been much of anyplace. He told her we were
from Enid, Oklahoma until Margaret died – then we came out here. She
started eating again while Mark simply stared at her. His staring
made her a bit uneasy. She decided to engage him in talking. “You
know there are half a million people in Chicago?” That got a
response – Mark figured her father would want to stay back there
with all those people. She explained that all the people made her
daddy nervous – he felt his services were needed more out here. She
explained that they were headed over to the Gila Mountains in
Arizona Territory. Except she pronounced it wrong – Mark laughed. I
think he thought her pronunciation was cute or something. He
But as they talked, she announced that they had lived out here ten
years ago when she was only six! That woke Mark up. "Only six!” Mark
exclaimed. Then…Then that means your sixteen years old now!"
“Next birthday,” she answered. "How old are you Mark?" That did it.
He started to shovel the food in his mouth as if it was his last
meal. "How old did you say?" She asked him again.
Mark definitely didn’t want to answer that question! He was
nowhere’s near that age! "Um...you want some pie...I'll order it?"
That took care of that! He never did have to answer the question
about his age. He was relieved. Now that she didn’t know his real
age, he went back to staring at her.
Meanwhile, back at doc’s office, Battle continued working on the
patient. He wondered if I had trouble raising Mark in this kind of
country. “No more then usual,” I answered. “Boys are boys you know.”
“Are they? What about his friends?”
“He’s got enough.” He wondered what they were like. I told him some
were rougher then others. “You worried about the girl?”
He didn’t want to talk about that. I supposed he figured we were getting
a bit too personal. He told me to hand them the scissors.
Spicer and his gang were hanging around outside as promised. The
boys wanted to leave, but Spicer stated he was going to get me, the
“big, ugly sodbuster,” before he was willing to leave. Just then
Stacey remembered something about the big silver B on the gun
holster that Battle was wearing. “I’ve seen it before a long time
ago. It was…Battle…Simon Battle!” He told them Battle was a
gunfighter who disappeared from the Oklahoma Territory about ten
Britt remembered him. “Yeah, I heard he was more then good!” Spicer
liked that – maybe killing a gunfighter like Battle would make up
for the scar across his face.
Stacy tried to stop him. “Spicer, listen to me. Battle was good!”
"Ten years you say? No man puts his gun down for ten years and comes
back good," Spicer declared. “I’m getting’ tired of waiting! Spicer
started back towards Doc’s office and the others followed. "Hey doc!
How you comin'? Keepin' him alive doc? You know something...I change
my mind! You hear me? You too sodbuster! I change my mind, I want
you to keep him alive. The boys here say that the doc's name is
Simon Battle. He’s a real good boy with a gun! Well you keep old
Stark alive so as I can find out. Yeah...I'm gonna stay here until
you come out and then I'm gonna kill you Simon Battle."
Mark and Vicki were headed out of the hotel when they heard Spicer
talking. They hurried down to doc’s office as I watched out the
window. I asked Battle what the patient looked like. He reported
that his pulse was better and his bleeding had stopped. When I
turned to look back out the window, I saw those kids coming. I
wasn’t too happy with them coming back when they knew danger was
lurking about. I quickly opened the door and grabbed Mark by the
arm, pulling him inside.
Vicki ran up to her father. “We heard them. He didn’t mean what he
said,” she asked hopefully.
"I'm afraid he did Vicki," her father answered.
"No!" She turned to me. "Can't you do something?"
"Vicki...listen to me. Do you remember when your mother passed away?
Do you remember?"
"Yes…I remember very well what you said, that you were gonna
change!" Vicki was upset as she stared at her father.
"I have, Vicki," Battle tried to assure his daughter.
"To this? I'm not gonna let you!" She angrily turned toward me
again. "You've got to stop them!" She yelled.
"Vicki listen," Battle started, but she interrupted him.
"No you listen!” She turned and walked towards us. “My father was in
a gunfight once. He was shot and he almost died. A lot of people
thought he had. But my mother nursed him day and night for weeks.
She wore herself out trying to keep him alive because there was no
doctor anywhere. He lived...but she was so tired and so weak...she
got the fever. We did what we could but there was nothing we could
do, because there was no doctor. So he promised her then...he
promised her...the very last thing she ever heard was," Vicki
couldn't finish, she was crying too much. She ran into her father's
Battle finished for his daughter while she clung to him, crying. "I
promised her I'd become a doctor. Start helping people...instead of
being what I was.”
"But you are a doctor now, and your gonna stay one! Don't go out
Suddenly, Spicer yelled from the street. "Come on doc, whatcha
waitin' for? Old Stark still alive? You afraid to come out? I'm
talking to you too, sodbuster!" I turned and looked at Battle. I
assured him the Marshal would be back soon.
But just then Spicer shot a flower pot that was hanging in the
window of the doc's office. I pushed Mark back and got in front of
him. Banner did the same with his daughter. "We're still waitin',"
yelled Spicer. Spicer then motioned for Stacey and Sag to go and
take cover where they wouldn't be seen. I went to look out the
window. "Come on doc.....you'll make us come in after ya'!”
I knew there was no choice. I turned and looked at Battle. “You got
a patient to take care of.” Then I started to walk out the door.
“Wait!” Battle stopped me. Then he turned to his daughter. He had to
make her understand. "Vicki...those men want to kill me because I
saved this man's life. If I don't stand up and defend what I
am...then it's all been in vain." Vicki turned to her father. She
knew he was right. He told her to watch Stark's pulse and
respiration and to keep him quiet.
He pulled out his gun as we leaned against the wall inside the door.
I opened the door a crack and peaked outside. “Can I buy you a steak
later on,” I asked. It was to let him know I was no longer angry
with him – I now understood that he was indeed a different person!
“I think I’d like that.” I walked out the door, Battle following
"He's alive," I said. Stacey was hidden on top of The Madera House,
behind the sign. Battle saw him before I did. Battle pushed me
aside. He saved my life. It took several bullets, but Battle managed
to shoot and kill Stacey and Sag.
I quickly fired my rifle and killed Britt.
But Spicer was still shooting. Unfortunately for him, he ran out of
ammo. I had him in my sights – it would be an easy kill. But Battle
stopped me. “Wait!” He holstered his gun. “He’s mine!” Battle then
went to face him. "Put it away, I'm gonna give you a chance to live
city boy!" As Battle spoke, he continued walking toward him. "Put it
away!" Battle ordered again. But Spicer didn’t listen. He drew on
Battle. Battle’s draw was faster and he managed to shoot Spicer's
gun right out of his hand.
"You satisfied?" Battle asked.
"Yeah," said Spicer.
Battle then walked up to Spicer and said..."Well I'm not!" Battle
reared back and gave Spicer a hard punch. Spicer fell to the ground.
It was over. Mark hurried out and threw his arms around me. I put an
arm around him to comfort him. These shootouts were always
on my boy.
Vicki came out also. She wanted to make sure her father was alright.
When she realized he was okay, she tearfully hurried back into the
doctor’s office. Battle hurried in after her to talk to her. He came
up behind her and looked down at her. Her back was turned to him.
She was crying. "His pulse is getting stronger, his breathing's
good. He's asleep now, I think." She then turned to her father with
tears in her eyes. "Oh Daddy!" She threw her arms around him and
He held his daughter, kissing her on top of her head. "It's alright
honey, it's all over.” Battle comforted his daughter.
Mark and I saw them off the next day. I told Vicki to write and let
us know how she and her father were getting along. She promised Mark
she’d write to him too. Then she turned and mounted her horse.
"Battle...I was wrong," I said.
"That makes two of us," said Battle.
"Good luck Doc!" We shook hands.
"Thank you Lucas.”
He mounted his horse. Mark and I watched them ride out of town,
wondering if we’d ever see them again.
"Kinda makes life seem worth while, doesn't it?" Mark said.
I simply agreed with him. "Yeah it sure does, son.” I started to
walk toward the horses. Mark crossed his arms and stared off after
them. I had to ask. “What's the matter?"
"That Vicki...why does she have to be almost sixteen?"
Oh Lord! "Well son now look..." I started to give him a fatherly
Mark held up a hand to stop me. He didn’t want to hear it. "Don't
say it Pa...I know." I scooted Mark’s hat over his eyes. My boy sure
was getting to big for his britches!
Carey played Simon Battle. He was the ex-gunslinger turned
Gigi Perreau appeared in two
Heller as Heller Chase, she almost killed her evil
Death Trap as Carrie (Vicki) Battle, she was the
daughter of an ex-gunslinger turned doctor.
James Drury appeared in two episodes ―
as Lloyd Carpenter, he's the cowboy who
shot & killed Marshal Thomlinson ― Death Trap as Spicer, the cowboy who
wanted Stark dead.
John Pickard played Stacey. He's
the one who peeked in the Doc's window to see if Stark was still
Larry Perron appeared in three
Blood Brother as Dan Cameron,
he was one of the men with the People's Committee,
(vigilante group) the with the light colored hat ―
as Eddie, he was one of the card players in the saloon and Hadley's partner in
crime and Sag in Death Trap as one of Spicer's gang.
Steve Pendleton played Deputy
Marshal Ben Johnson - he was covering for Micah.
Stohl appeared in two episodes ―
Ordeal as the cowboys
who went with Mark to get Lucas ―
Death Trap as Britt, one of Spicer's gang, the one
William Kendis as Stark, he was the
cowboy who was critically shot by Spicer, the gunslinger from the
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 &
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
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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