"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Long Trek
Sometimes, we take it for granted that our daily needs are fulfilled. I have air in my lungs, plenty of food on my table, a shelter from the cold and heat, and plenty of water in my well.
But one day, I found myself in need. I had to make some tough decisions, and I must admit that there was a couple times when I wondered if I’d ever get to see my son again.
It all started when I chose to do Micah a favor and help him transport a prisoner to Santa Fe. We had to travel through a hot, dry desert. We reached the basin of the desert at the hottest point of the day, it was like a furnace. We decided to camp now and cross the basin about midnight.
Stanley, the prisoner started laughing. We hardly ever understood what he found so funny. Money climbed off his horse. "Ill be glad when we get laughing boy off our hands," he muttered.
“Every time I look at him, I feel like scratching myself.” I grabbed my rifle and turned toward Stanley. "Alright Stanley, get off that horse and make up your bedding," I ordered as I climbed off my horse.
He rode over to us laughing. "I sure wish you fellows would think twice about keeping these here irons on me," said Stanley. "You ain't givin' me a sportin' chance Mr. McCain.”
"More of a sporting chance then you and your drunken Indian friends gave that rancher and his family."
He laughed again. He was purely evil! "Well, you wouldn't want us to lift hair pieces off of live folks Mr. McCain."
"Stanley, get your bedding down before I shove you under a rock where you belong." This guy gave even me the creeps!
He was such an evil man, in fact, that he got it in his head to chase away our horses. All our water was on those horses and we had a lot of desert to cross. He slapped one of the horses and began yelling at them so they would run away.
I was getting my bed roll ready when I heard some commotion. I dropped my bedroll and jumped up and ran after Stanley. He thought this was funny. I was so mad at him that. I grabbed him by his shirt. Micah came running over to us. "Who's gonna die first, huh marshal, you? You Mr. McCain? Or maybe me?" Stanley asked. "Maybe I have nothing to loose, seeing they're gonna hang me. Half way across, no water.”
“If we don’t round up those horses, Stanley, you’re gonna be needing water just as bad as we do!” I then ran off after the horses.
Stanley hollered at me as I ran, stating he had nothing to loose. “Go ahead! Run! Run!” Stanley shouted. “And I’m bettin’ I’ll be on my feet at the end! I’m bettin’ old Stanley here will live to stomp on your grave by sundown tomorrow!” Then he began his evil, hysterical laugh. The man was the devil’s own delight, that was for sure! He was loco!
I returned without the horses. I told Micah my blackie would keep going until he found water. He’d probably lead the other two into the foothills. Stanley commented how dumb the animals were. Micah had had enough of his mouth and told him to go start collecting firewood. As he got up, he commented that we shouldn’t make him do all the work – politeness was the way he was brought up. I couldn’t quite believe it. Neither could Micah. He shook his head. “Every time I open my mouth I feel lost. Like I was playing checkers blind folded.”
I told Micah we had our own problem. “A hundred miles on foot and no water.”
Micah suddenly bent towards me and laid a hand on my shoulder. “Lucas?” I turned to look at him. “I’m not gonna let this become your problem. You made this trip as a favor to me. I uh…well, as of now I’m releasing you from your role as deputy.”
I stared at him, not quite sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing. “Don’t get your meaning, Micah.”
He made his meaning clear as a bell alright! “My meaning is that you’re a husky young fellow capable of getting to Santa Fe if you don’t have someone like me slowing your steps.” He walked away from me.
I just stared at him as he walked away. “If you think I’m gonna leave you alone with Stanley, you’re even more loco then he is!”
Micah whirled around and shouted, “I’m just being practical! The Indians haven’t called this stretch Devil’s Crossing for nothing. You get to Santa Fe and get water and horses and come back for us.”
I suddenly stood up and shouted at my friend. “Come back to do what? Bury you?” I cried bitterly.
But Micah was a stubborn old man. “Lucas, I’m thinking the worse here. You’ve got a son to go back to. I know you can make it alone.” I just stared at him. He should know there was nothing he could say to get me to abandon him.
Stanley was back with the firewood. He stated he could make it alone if we were thinking about splitting up. “What makes you think we won’t make sure you dying first?” Micah asked Stanley.
Stanley didn’t figure we’d ever shoot a man down who didn’t have a gun. He told Micah he was going to stomp on his grave.
It was dark now and we had a campfire built. Stanley asked me if I’d ever seen a man sweating out his life. “We’ll be moving out when the moon is up, Stanley so save your breath.” But he kept on talking about it.
We traveled for a long time. It had been about five hours and Micah was slowing down. Stanley was way ahead and started funning that we may get to Santa Fe in a hundred hours. I knew this traveling without water was really wearing Micah down fast. I stayed beside him and asked him how he was doing ever so often. He was being a trooper, but he wasn’t fooling me any. I knew it was harder on him then any of us.!
He finally gave out and sat down on a rock. I walked back to him. Stanley made fun of him, stating it wasn’t even near noon yet. "There's nothing like takin' a little walk in the sun to bring out the age in a man Lucas," said Micah.
"Another hour Micah, we'll make camp. We can rest by day and travel by night," I assured him. I hated pushing him, but we had to get him to water quickly.
While Micah and I were talking, Stanley came up to us. "I was thinkin' about now, I could do you fellows a favor. Sorta ease a poor situation, like they say.” I told him to get movin'. “Oh, well I just figured that uh…you might like to uh…know where there’s some water.”
“Water?” Micah suddenly asked. We were both interested to hear what he had to say about water.
“I figured about now, you might be in the mood for swapping. You know, water for the keys to these here irons.” I asked him where he’d get water. “Well now, when the Marshal here shows his key, we’ll talk about the where.” But his ploy didn’t work. Micah told him the irons were staying on him until he got back behind bars.
He walked away. I turned to Micah. “You don’t believe him, do ya'?” I asked. He said he ordinarily wouldn’t, but he remembered how the band of Indians Stanley took up with used to cross this basin without finding any water at all – they had found a hidden spring somewhere. “Kept it covered it just to make sure nobody else used it.”
That got me to thinking. “He wants his freedom.” I looked at Micah. “He wouldn’t promise water if he couldn’t deliver it.” I figured Stanley would tell us where that water is with or without the chains if he got thirsty enough.
I started moving and told Micah to come on. But Micah looked up at the bluffs. I realized he wasn’t coming and turned around to see where he was. He was climbing the bluffs. He figure that if there was a mud hole he could spot it from up there. Stanley laughed, but not as wildly as before. I turned to him. “What’s the matter, Stanley?” I asked. “You afraid he’ll see that secret water hole of yours?”
He laughed again. “I could stick your nose two inches from that water, Mr. McCain, and you wouldn’t see it.”
Micah was standing on a high rock scanning the land. He saw nothing, which Stanley found unnecessarily funny. He began laughing uncontrollably at Micah because he couldn’t find water.
But then something happened. With the heat and the glare from the sun, Micah lost his balance and tumbled down over several rocks. I hurried toward him crying his name when I saw that he was about to fall. But there was nothing I could do to keep him from falling. He was hurt. I ran to him and helped him up. “Are you alright?” I asked as he stood to his feet.
“A fool thing to do!” he declared. I helped him to the shade, but I noticed he was really hurting. I asked him what was wrong. “Well, I…off hand, Lucas boy, I’d say I have a cracked rib or two.”
I unbuttoned his shirt and felt his ribs. He was pretty hurt. I suggested we stay here and rest a couple hours until he got his wind back.
“You can say it right out, Lucas. It’s more then wind I’ll be needing,” Micah answered me right off. I knew he was right.
Suddenly, Stanley was speaking again. “Seems to me all we seem to do is stop and rest. You don’t take to me, do you Mr. McCain?”
Micah spoke to me softly then. I was bent down in front of him and we talked eye-to-eye. "Lucas, lets not mince words. Something's happened to me." "I'm drying out a lot faster then I thought I would.”
My friend needed help bad. “I’m beginning to think we should agree with Stanley’s terms, Micah.”
“You think I could ever face the people of North Fork knowing that Stanley might be with some outlaw band torturing and
ing again?” Micah was practically in tears at that prospect.
But my thoughts were on my friend. “Look, I’ll hunt him down, I promise you. The important thing now is for you to get water.”
But Micah didn’t agree with me. We were both thinking on the other person instead of ourselves. He thought I could still get to Santa Fe. He wanted me to go on with Stanley. “When he drops, you just go right on walking.”
But I wasn’t going to fight with him on this anymore. “By tonight Stanley should be thirsty enough to say where that water is. A man out here could last a whole day…maybe even two if he took it easy.” I had no other choice and I knew it.” I looked toward Stanley. “Or he could burn himself out in an hour.” I was talking about Stanley. “If I could burn him out, get him to where he’d sell what’s left of his soul for water, then you got a chance.”
Micah agreed to let me go on with it. But he warned me not to overplay my hand. “To drive him, you’ll have to drive yourself.”
I didn’t know what else to say. I didn’t want to leave him, but I had to get water for him. I knew this was the only way. “I’ll be back, Micah,” I promised him.
I went over to Stanley and ordered him on his feet
But as we started to leave, we saw buzzards circling in the sky. I must admit that did frighten me – they were waiting for something to die. “You better not fall asleep there, Marshal! Them buzzard’s been known to peck a man’s eye when he’s still breathing!”
I was getting quite sick of this man’s mouth and ordered him to get to walking. He sure didn’t know when to shut up! I gave him a hard shove and told him to start walking. “It’s going to be a walk you’ll never forget!”
I looked to Micah before walking off. He gave me an encouraging nod, and I prayed in my heart that he would still be alive when I got back.
Of course, Stanley never knew when to shut up. He yapped the whole way! “Mr. McCain, you don’t know this country like I know it. You keep going in this sun, the first thing you know, you’ll just stop breathing. Your throat gets so dry it just sticks together.”
Again, I gave him a hard shove forward, telling him to get moving over those rocks. He made some snide remark about the rocks not leading anywhere but to the other side. It was easier to go around them. I gave him a stern look. “Up, Stanley.” But he continued arguing with me, stating we were going places even a mule isn’t dumb enough to go to.
“You go up, I’ll go around. I’ll meet you.” He started to leave.
I wasn’t in any mood to play his stupid game. I fired to fast shots at his feet. He turned and looked at me. I jabbed a thumb over my shoulder and pointed. "Over the rocks Stanley."
Nothing got to him. “Oh, we’re playing a game. Is that it, Mr. McCain? You should have told me we were playing a game! You or me – who drops first?” He hurried back over to me. “You wanta run? Is that it? Well, maybe we can play the game together, Mr. McCain. See if you can…uh…keep up with me!” He took off running around the rocks. I walked behind him. He dropped to the ground, to exhausted and weak to run, but he wasn’t too tired to laugh. He knew we’d been going around in circles and figured I was ready to strike up a bargain with him: water for turning my back and letting him keep going.
“On your feet and keep going!”
He started to get up, but he was really tired. “Ain’t anybody gonna know except us, Mr. McCain. Marshal be dead. Don’t have to say that you gave in – just say that I sneaked off while your back was turned.” I answered by cocking my rifle. He nodded, understanding my meaning and got to his feet.
Stanley started walking, but I suddenly felt weak and fell to the ground myself. I tried to shake it off, but when I opened my eyes everything was blurry. Stanley saw that my condition was bad so he walked over to me. “I just came over to see if I could be of any help, Mr. McCain.”
“Stanley, I’m warning you.” I dropped to my knees.
“You know, I’ve seen men walk in this desert sun till they thought every sand hill was a cool pool of water.” I sat down on the ground then. He began circling me as he continued talking. “It’s funny, Mr. McCain. It not only looks like water, it tastes like water.” I suddenly turned and looked at Stanley. “I seen a man once…he started poking that dirt down his throat and he didn’t even know it was dirt! They start strangling him” He started that laugh again. “It’s gonna happen to you, Mr. McCain. And I’m gonna be around to lend a helping hand. Old Stanley’s gonna be right here helping poke that nice water dirt down your throat!”
Somewhere, I don’t know where, I suddenly got a burst of energy. I grabbed that idiot by the shirt and threw him to the ground. I jabbed the barrel of my rifle into his chest. “You can’t do it, McCain!”
“Oh yes I can!” I sneered angrily. “All I have to do is think about that burning wagon and that rancher and his family. All I have to do is think that it’ll happen again if you stay alive and go free, Stanley.”
“Like I said, Mr. McCain. I’m gonna be around to stomp on your grave!”
“No you’re not, Stanley.”
“I’m gonna be around to help you poke that water dirt down your throat.”
“No you’re not!”
But as I sat there holding that rifle to his nose, Micah suddenly called my name, begging me not to do it. At the sound of my friend’s voice, I ran over to him. He was growing weaker and I helped him sit back down. “I’m alright, Lucas.”
Stanley got back to his feet and started toward us. He began laughing hysterically again. He began yelling. “Traveling around and getting no where, that's what we've been doin."
I was angry at Stanley and started toward him to put a permanent end to that sickening mouth of his. But Micah grabbed my arm to stop me. "Lucas, your too strong a man to let this desert beat you," said Micah. "You go on and leave Stanley. The desert will do I for him what the law wanted to do. You can come beck for me"
I turned and looked at Stanley. He was loosing his mind. “Stanley got beg things to do! Big!” I removed Micah's hands from me and hurried over to this mad man. My best friend was slowly dying, and I wasn’t going to leave him! But I may kill Stanley with my bare hands before it was all over with!
I shoved him to the ground, pinned his wrists down with my hands, and crawled on top of him. The hot, bright sun was beating down on his face. “You lived among the Indians, Stanley! You seen men go blind being held down in the sun like this!” He turned his face away, but I shoved it back up towards the sun. I began yelling. “Now you tell me where that water is, Stanley or so help me, I’ll stick you out to dry like a steer hide!” I don’t know if I was more angry at Stanley or desperate to help Micah get water. I grabbed his laughing face with my hands and began squeezing. "Stanley, where's the water?" But that just caused him to laugh more. “That water Stanley!”
Micah called out to me again. I hesitated, needing him to tell me where the water was. But Micah called to me again. He wasn’t going to tell me where the water was. My friend needed me. Slowly, I pushed myself off from on top of Stanley and made my way back to Micah. He patted my leg, silently letting me know I’d given it my best shot.
We watched him laugh hysterically. He rolled around the dirt just laughing and laughing. Then he got up and pointed to us. "It was there all the time. Right on top of you! You fools! Look!" He fell to the ground.
“What’s he up to now, Micah?” I asked him as we stared at Stanley.
“He’s loosing what little mind we have left,” Micah answered. We couldn’t even hardly understand what he was saying anymore. He was still laughing, saying something was coming to “old Stanley.” He was on his hands and knees belly crawling now. He crawled forward. “Here it is. Old Stanley doesn’t have to eat these here rocks! No, Old Stanley…Please call me Stanley!”
He suddenly put his face to the ground. He was lying flat on his face. I tried to figure out what he was doing. “Lucas, he’s swallowing dirt!” Micah announced.
I stood up. “Stanley!” I screamed. No one should have to die this way! But there was nothing that could be done. He spit the dirt out of his mouth and crawled a couple more times. Then he collapsed.
I slowly walked over to him and listened to his heart. He was dead. “That’s the end he predicted to me,” I said. “Stuffing dirt in his mouth believing it was water.” I stood and walked over to the rocks. I was sad – not necessarily because Stanley was dead, but because we had lost any chance we had of finding out where that secret water hole was.
But suddenly, I heard a noise. I looked up to see three horses running back to us. “Micah! It’s the horses, Micah!” It was a miracle they were alive! I couldn’t hardly believe this! I took one of the canteens from the horses and brought it to Micah. He grabbed it and took a long drink. They were standing by a pile of rocks and I suddenly became curious. I began pushing the rocks away. I put my ear down to the ground and listened. “It’s water, Micah! An underground spring!” Joy filled my very being. Joyfully, I exclaimed, “That’s why the horses came back – they smelled water!”
Micah smiled, knowing we were both going to make it after all. I picked up a handful of mud and looked over toward Stanley’s body. “This is what Stanley was pointing to. He couldn’t crawl here, so he imagined the water was flowing out to meet him.” I took a shovel off of my horse. I grabbed his reins and declared, “Don’t worry fella. In a minute you’ll be able to have all the water you’ll want!”
I dug the mud away and let the water flow freely. I began giving water to my horses, silently rejoicing that my best friend was going to be okay!
Mark sure was happy to have me back home! But when he found off how bad off we were, he decided I needed a few days to recover and happily offered to do my chores. I wasn’t going to argue with him on that – Mark’s free offers of doing chores came rarely, so I was going to grab every chance I got! He declared that for the rest of the week, he’d do both the washing and drying both. He tried to put the dishtowel on it’s hook, but he was a little too short so I came and did it for me. “Thanks again, Mark.” I smiled and sat down on the counter to talk to him. “You know, by next week I oughta be well enough to keep that squirrel hunting day with Micah!”
“That’s what I had in my mind,” Mark said. I laughed. That figured!
Mark began pumping the water to fill up a cup with water. He let the cup overflow and run over. I grabbed the pump. “Mark!”
My actions startled him. “What’s the matter?” he asked.
I stared at the pump, then at Mark. I had been through a terrible ordeal. I gave Mark a small smile. "Nothing's a matter son. We've got plenty of water on the ranch. It's funny how you take the good things for granted. Go ahead." Mark began pumping the water again. I stood up and grabbed the pump from him. "Let me help you as a matter of fact." I began pumping as hard as I could. Water gushed out of the faucet, but I just kept pumping.
"That's enough. Pa, what are you doing? That’s enough." I gave him a great big, loving smile. Mark looked at me and started laughing.
It was sure good to be home with my son again!
piddlin' stuff.....Lonny Chapman appeared in two episodes ― The Long Trek as Stanley, the prisoner Micah was transporting to Santa Fe ― And the Devil Makes Five as Scully Potter, Michael was taking him back to North Fork to stand trial before the circuit judge, he shot and killed Ted Bennett, the sheriff of Marietta.
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
Flowers By the Door
around The McCain Ranch