"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
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
I told Micah we had our own problem. “A hundred miles on foot and no
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
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
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?” 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
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
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
“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.
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
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
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
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
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
“On your feet and keep going!”
He started to get up,
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
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,
“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,
“Like I said, Mr. McCain. I’m gonna be around to stomp on your
“No you’re not, Stanley.”
“I’m gonna be around to help you poke that water dirt down your
“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
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
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
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!
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.
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's