The Rifleman
"Mark's Memories"
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's Story
written by Michelle Palmer

Death Trap Episode 109
Mark’s story

Pa walked in from hitching up the team and grabbed his Sunday jacket to put on. “Mark, come on, son! I don’t want to be late for church!”

I stood in the mirror trying to get my tie as straight as I could. I’d spent too long getting my hair to look just right. “I know, Pa. I’m trying to…Ohhhhhhh!”

Pa hurried into the bedroom and stopped when he saw me. He whistled. “Well, now I usually have to threaten extra chores on Sunday morning before you even think about getting cleaned up. I didn’t have to tell you to take a bath last night, or to brush your hair this morning. You put your tie on without my even forcing you to. What gives?”

I shrugged. “Well, it is Sunday morning, Pa. I always wear my tie to church.” I tried straightening the tie again, but groaned again when I failed.

Pa hurried over and turned me around. “Let me see.” He grinned at me as he got it straight. “Now, you want to tell me why all the primping?”

“No reason,” I lied as I grabbed my Bible and hurried out the door.

The truth was that I was looking forward to seeing Lucille at church today. I had known her ever since I moved to North Fork, but I never really noticed how pretty she was. Her golden hair was usually pulled back with a ribbon and flowed down her back in beautiful, golden locks. Her cheeks were pink and her long eyelashes were pretty when she blinked her beautiful green eyes.

The closer we got to North Fork, the more sweaty my palms got. I felt like my tie was choking me. I pulled at it. Pa and I rode all the way to town in silence.

We pulled up in front of the church. Milly smiled at Pa as she hurried up to us. I looked around, hoping I’d see Lucille, but there was no sign of her. “Hi, Mark!” Kevin called. I walked over to him. “Sit with me today?”

“No,” I answered. “I…I have to…” I stopped suddenly. My heart started beating fast and I suddenly had trouble breathing.

There she was. Her Pa helped her and her mother out of the wagon. I smiled as she turned and saw me. “Mark!” I barely heard my name, but I paid no attention to it. “Son!”

I suddenly turned and looked at Pa. “I said we best go on in and take a seat.”

“Oh, I’ll be there in a little-“ I started, but Pa suddenly grabbed me by the neck and pulled me inside. “Pa!” I suddenly moaned. I pulled away from him. “Don’t embarrass me!”

I turned around just inside the church and looked behind me. Lucille was hanging on her father’s arm, smiling at a couple other boys walking in. She finally turned her head toward me and batted her eyelashes. I smiled back.

Pa cleared his throat. “Oh, well I see what your trouble is now, son.” He grabbed my arm, but I didn’t turn around. I smiled as I stared. “Don’t stare, Mark!”

He turned my head around and took me to our pew. “Do I have to sit with you?” I asked.

“You know we always sit as a family, son.” I looked down our row. Micah and Milly also shared this pew with us. “Besides, church isn’t the time to look at pretty girls.”

I rolled my eyes. I supposed, though, that now wasn’t the time to remind Pa that I’ve watched him stare and pass little smiles at Milly during one of Reverend Jacob’s sermons. Of the two circuit riding preachers that passed through here, Reverend Jacob’s was my least favorite. His sermons were always dry.

I was a bit embarrassed to be sitting by my father. I turned around and saw Lucille sitting with another one of her school friends. They were whispering and talking. Suddenly, her father turned around and said something that got Lucille to sitting straight up in her chair and looking forward. I smiled. “Pa, could I sit with-“

“No.”

I didn’t have a chance to say anything else, because Reverend Jacob’s came in and told us to rise for the song.

After the Reverend’s last amen, I turned to dart right out of the church. We were having a picnic today and I wanted to walk over with the kids. Pa grabbed my arm. “Where you going, son?” he asked sternly.

“To the picnic,” I answered.

“Have any objections if we come along?” Pa asked as he took Milly’s arm and started out. “We have to stop by the store so Milly can pick up her chicken.”

“I thought I’d go ahead with the other kids.”

Pa turned and looked at Milly, as if to seek her advice. I saw Milly slightly nod her head. Pa turned and nodded. I wasted no time to leave the adults to talk about my sudden interest in the opposite sex.

In fact, I rushed out the door so fast that I slammed into the back of Lucille Banning! “Oh!” She cried and turned around. “Mark McCain!” She was annoyed.

I backed up and swallowed. “I..I…I’m sorry…Really sorry!” I stammered. I felt my face grow very hot. “I…I’m truly sorry!”

She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Uh…you bringing something to the picnic?” I asked suddenly.

“Why, I sure am, Mark.” She hurried to her wagon and got a box out. “It’s a pie!”

I smiled. “What kind?”

“Blackberry.” She started walking down the street as she spoke. “I…hope you’ll take a piece, Mark.”

I reached out and grabbed the box from her. I hated blackberry pie! Those little seeds always got in my teeth and I was picking them out for days! “Oh, of course I’ll have a piece.”

We were half-way there when we ran into Jeff. Jeff smiled at Lucille and offered his arm to her. Lucille batted her eyelashes. “I think I was escorting her!” I stated.

Jeff took her arm in his. “Well, you are a bit too young, kid!”

“I said I was-“ I started again. “Besides, you’re only six months older then me!”

Lucille suddenly rolled her eyes. “I’ll walk myself!” She grabbed the box I was carrying, shook off Jeff’s arm, and ran on ahead.

Jeff and I just stood there staring at each other. Jeff gave me a shove. “Now see what you did?”

I pushed him back. “You see what you did?” I asked.

“I was coming to walk her to the picnic!” Jeff declared.

“I was already walking her!” I snapped back.

“Well, I’m older!”

“Oh yeah?” I gave him a hard shove. He fell backwards. Unfortunately, it had rained yesterday and the dirt was pretty muddy. I put a hand to my mouth and backed up.

“That’s it!” He stood up and butted his head right into my stomach, pushing me back! I landed in the mud puddle. I rolled over and got on top of him, but he tacked me again right away. We threw a few punches and rolled around in the mud a bit more.

“Mark!” I heard. Suddenly, a big, strong hand reached down and pulled me up. “And in your good Sunday clothes too!”

Jeff stood up and glared at me. “He pushed me first!” Jeff declared.

“Well, you butted in where you didn’t belong!” I yelled back.

“I told ya – you’re too young to-“ Jeff shouted at me.

“I’m thirteen years old and she’s thirteen years old! Ain’t nothing wrong with-!”

“Mark!” Pa suddenly shouted. I continued glaring at Jeff. Jeff started forward, but Micah stepped forward and grabbed Jeff.

I tried to get out of Pa’s grip. I pulled forward with my fist up. “Just let me punch him one time, Pa! Just one time!” I begged.

I flinched as I suddenly felt Pa’s hand squeeze tightly on my arm. “You will be silent!” Pa ordered.

He turned to the road. “Milly, I’m afraid we won’t be able to join you today.” He turned and glared at me. “I have to deal with my BOY!”

I watched Jeff walk away. “This is all his fault!” I declared.

Jeff turned around. “You pushed me in the mud first!”

Pa glared at me through clinched teeth. “I demand silence, boy!”

“Yes sir,” I hung my head. I knew I was in trouble having gotten in a fight in the mud hole – especially in my Sunday clothes.

Pa held tight to my arm and turned me back towards town. He kept me away from him so I wouldn’t get any mud on him. When we were standing in front of Micah’s office, he let go and folded his arms. “My boy the lover!” He shook his head. “Look at you! Just look at you!”

I looked at myself for the first time. I was covered from head to toe in mud. Pa started across the street toward the hotel. But he suddenly turned around and pointed at me. “Don’t you move, boy!” He soon came out and told me to take off my jacket. I did so as he shook his head. He led me into the hotel and to a back room where Eddie provided baths.

Pa returned later with some dry clothes. He said he’d borrowed them from Mr. Connors. “You didn’t tell him what happened, did ya, Pa?” I asked.

“If you mean about you fighting over a girl, no. But I’m thinking it’ll be all over school tomorrow anyhow, son.” When I was dressed, Pa picked up my muddy clothes and rinsed them out in the bath water. “The bath’s coming out of your allowance.”

The ride home was one of complete silence. I could tell Pa wasn’t happy that I ruined his afternoon with Milly. When we got home, Pa ordered me to wash my clothes out the best I could, then to go to my room.

I wasn’t able to get all the mud from my white shirt. But I went to my room as told. I was in there for an hour before Pa finally came in. I suddenly sat up as he sat on the bed next to me. I stared down at the floor as he looked me up and down and shook his head. “Well now, you ARE a sight!” He declared. “My boy’s first fight over a girl. Mark, you’re barely thirteen years old and you’re already fighting over a girl!”

I continued staring down at the floor. I felt totally humiliated now. This wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have with Pa! “Alright, tell me what happened.”

“I’d rather not talk about it, if you don’t mind, Pa,” I answered quietly.

“Did you start the fight?”

“Not exactly.” I sighed.

“What’s that supposed to mean? And you look at me when you speak to me, boy!”

I lifted my head and looked into Pa’s angry eyes. “You angry cause I ruined your afternoon with Miss Milly?”

Pa nodded. “I’m also angry that my son got in a fight over a girl at the age of barely thirteen! I’m also angry that you did it in your Sunday best and in front of everybody! Now, did you start the fight?”

“Well, Jeff butted in to something that was none of his business!” I declared.

“Who started it, Mark?”

I lowered my head. “I shoved him into the mud, Pa,” I answered in a whisper.

Pa nodded. Then he stood up and walked across the room. He crossed his arms and stared out the window. I watched him look out over the land and shake his head. “You are growing up way too fast! I can’t believe I’m having to deal with my son’s learning about girls and relationships already! It came too fast.” He slowly turned around and rubbed the back of his neck. “Listen son, I know a boy your age…he…well, he feels a lot of different emotions – things he doesn’t understand. You see a girl as-“

“We already had this talk a week ago,” I reminded Pa.

“I’ll think you not to interrupt me, son,” Pa said quite sternly. “And I hate to be the one to tell you, but that was only the first of many, many talks.” Pa sighed. “Now, you’ve grown up with Lucille and you are now seeing her in a whole new light. You like her and I think that’s wonderful, but…” Pa shook his head. “You’re too young to be acting on those feelings, son. It’s okay to be her friend, but to get in a fight with someone else like that is…well, it’s uncalled for.”

He’s right, I was all confused. I didn’t know what I was feeling or why – I just knew she was pleasant to look at, and I was curious about her. “I guess I made an idiot of myself this afternoon,” I suddenly muttered.

Pa nodded. “I’d say you did, son.” He folded his arms. “I think an afternoon alone in your room will give you some time to think on what you did today – and maybe help you realize why it’s wrong. Girls need to be treated with respect. A thirteen year old girl isn’t one who should be surrounded by boys wanting to take her arm or sneak a kiss or –“

“A kiss?” I screwed up my face. “Now that IS disgusting!”

Pa stood and walked to the door. “I’ll come in and let you know when I’m ready to leave.”

“Leave? We’re going somewhere?”

Pa shook his head. “Yes, son. Remember? There were a couple cattle missing and we were going to go look for them this evening after supper?”

I had forgotten.

It was pretty boring in my bedroom. You see, Pa’s rule about sending me to my room is that I can’t “DO” anything unless I had sentences to write or homework or something. I was to sit on my bed the entire time and “reflect” on what I had done wrong. I didn’t rightly care to think on what I had done wrong today – I knew there was plenty.

I shook my head. How did I get myself into so much trouble anyhow? All I did was offer to carry Lucille’s pie to the picnic. The next think I knew, I was covered in mud and Lucille was gone! I’m sure everyone at school would hear about it. I figure I’d be the laughing stalk at school tomorrow!

It seemed like a long time before Pa finally came in and told me I could come out and eat my supper. After supper, I, of course, had to do dishes by myself while Pa did the evening chores and got our horses ready. Then we left for our adventure.

But as we rode along, I heard groaning. I suddenly stopped and looked around. Pa stopped when he realized I was no longer right behind him. He turned his horse around. “What’s wrong?”

“Shh,” I said. “Listen.” There it was again – a groaning!

I jumped off my horse and walked over to a small woodsy area on the side of the road. The moan was louder. I looked around. Then I saw him. A man was on the ground in a pool of blood. “Pa!” I screamed.

Pa was beside me in no time with his rifle in hand. “What happened to him?” I asked that question out of habit. It was obvious what had happened to him!

Pa started taking his gloves off. “Looks like he was shot, son.” He looked up at me after quickly examining him. “He’s bad off. Quick Mark, go hitch up the team to the buckboard and grab a blanket for him. We’ve got to get him to Doc’s.”

I nodded my head. “Yes sir.” I jumped on Blue Boy, grabbed Razor’s reins, and took off back to the ranch. In no time, I had the wagon hitched up. I drove the wagon up as close to the wounded man as I could. Together, Pa and I got him in the back of the wagon. Then we jumped in the wagon, Pa grabbed the reins, and we took off for town.

But when we got there, we quickly discovered that no one was there. Both Micah and the Doc were gone to a barn-raising. Pa had been told about it a few days ago, but he’d already decided there wasn’t time for that – not with the picnic after church and all.

We worked at getting the wounded man inside. I wondered to myself if Milly went with anyone. I looked at Pa as he started examining the man, but I dared not ask. I asked Pa if the man would be alright. He said he didn’t know. I went to get the blanket out of the buckboard.

But as I got it out, I looked up. There in front of me was a pretty, young lady. I couldn’t help but stare and smile at her for a few moments…at least I think I was smiling. I hope my mouth wasn’t just gaping open and I was slobbering like a mad dog! Anyhow, I grabbed the blanket and started back inside. Pa got mad enough while ago when I got into a fight over a girl. He’d get really mad if I didn’t bring in a blanket for a sick man because I couldn’t take my eyes off a girl!

But then she stopped me, wondering about the man we brought in. I just wanted out of there before I started staring at her again! I quickly told her I thought the man was dying, then I turned and ran back into Doc’s office. “He-here, Pa,” I said as I turned back around and looked towards the door.

“What took you so long, boy? The wagon was just outside the door,” Pa asked.

I didn’t hear him. I was wondering who the pretty lady was. “Mark?”

“Huh?” I turned back around.

Pa gave me a hard look. “Since when did you address me as ‘huh?’”

Pa turned back to work on the patient, but the tone of his voice told me I should change what I had said. “I mean, “Yes sir?”

“What took you so long?”

“Oh…um…I don’t-“ I walked back over to the window and looked outside. She stood in the doorway. I watched as she and her father walked outside and started over toward us. Pa was talking, but I had no idea what he was saying. I was way too interested in what was coming this way. My heart started beating faster. The pretty girl would soon be in this very room.

Pa asked me what I was looking at. There was no way I was going to answer that question – preoccupied or not, I somehow always got in trouble later for things I did. “Nothing.”

Suddenly, the knock sounded on the door and I rushed to answer it. The girl stood there with her Pa. But as I stared at her, the room grew icy cold. The man came in with a friendly smile. “I hear your doctor is-“. But suddenly, his smile disappeared. So did my Pa’s.

“Simon Battle!” Pa sneered. I didn’t like the way he said that name. Apparently he knew this man and it wasn’t good!

Mr. Battle turned to his daughter. “Vicki, my bag’s in the hotel room. Go get it, please?”

“Yes Daddy,” she answered. I could tell she was as concerned about her father as I was for mine.

I wanted to find out what was going on so I’d know how to help Pa through this. But suddenly, Pa spoke to me as he continued starring at Mr. Battle. “Mark, you better go help her.”

It took every ounce of strength in my body not to backtalk. From the look on his face and the sound in his voice, I knew that back talking would only yield regrets on my part. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew I had no choice. They wanted to be alone. “Yes Pa.”

We walked out the door. We walked down the steps then turned and stared. “I wonder what’s going on?” I asked.

Vicki stared at me. “You’ve…never heard of Simon Battle?” I shook my head and looked questionably at her. She sighed. “Well, I’m not proud of this, but my father used to be a gunfighter.”

I turned back and looked towards the door. “A gunfighter,” I muttered. This could mean trouble!

“Was your father ever a…”

“Of course not,” I answered quickly. Vickie suddenly turned and stared at me. I swallowed, aware that I had just judged her father. “I…I’m sorry.” I looked up at her. “The truth is that Pa has done some things in his life he ain’t proud of. He…hasn’t told me a whole lot, but he said my Ma tamed him down a lot when they married. He’s really good with a rifle. He’s known as “The Rifleman.”

Vickie suddenly looked up at me. At the mention of “The Rifleman,” she turned and hurried away. I hurried up to her “What’s wrong?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”

She shook her head violently from side to side. She started into the hotel but I reached out and grabbed her arm. She turned and looked at me. Tears were running down her cheeks. “I promised my mother before she died that I would never…ever…mention that name or what he did and I won’t!” She started to turn around, but I held tight to her arm. “But if your Pa is who I think he is, we both have great cause to worry!”

I let go of her arm and waited in the lobby for her to return. I turned and looked outside towards the doctor’s office. It took several minutes for Vicki to return and when she did, she had dry eyes. “I got it,” she announced as she started out the door.

“Listen Vicki, I don’t know what you know about my Pa, but he’s a good man. What ever mistakes he made in his past – he’s lived them down. He’d give his shirt off his back to an outlaw if he knew it would save his life and change his way of thinking.”

Vicki stopped suddenly and turned. “My father’s the same way. It’s just that…hate…Well…” She gave me a small smile. “Hate is something that doesn’t die easily,”

I nodded as we started back towards the doctor’s office. When we walked in, there was still that icy silence in the air. I was a little relieved. At least they weren’t fighting or yelling at each other. Maybe they were talking out their differences. Vicki gave her father his bag, then he told her to go back to the hotel. She didn’t want to leave him. She was worried what would happen and wanted to protect her father.

Pa threw me a coin and told me to take her to supper. “Why sure,” I stated excitedly even though I had supper at home already! It wasn’t very often that Pa allowed me to eat a second meal, so I was going to take it while I got it. Besides that, this would be my first dinner with a young lady as a young lady, if you know what I mean…

She hesitated. I understood what she was going through, because I had gone through the same thing many times. I assured her they had great apple pie. I was just trying to be the strong one and help her out. She left. Again, after we walked outside, she stopped and turned to look towards the door. “They’ll be fine,” I stated. “Maybe leaving them alone is best. Maybe they’ll work it out.”

“Your Pa looked awful mad, Mark.” Vicki shook her head. “And I suppose that…he had good reason.”

I remembered she had made a made a dying promise to her mother. Quickly, I changed the subject. “My name’s Mark McCain. I don’t reckon I’ve told you that yet. My ma died too when I was six, so it looks like we have a lot in common.”

She turned and looked at me. “Thank you, Mark.” She smiled. “Let’s go eat.”

I walked beside her and allowed her to walk first into the hotel. I remembered to take my hat off, and quickly pulled out her chair for her to sit down. It only took a few minutes for us to get into a light-hearted conversation. She told me her whole life story as we ate, but I didn’t care! I was hanging on her every word. I couldn’t help but stare at her. She was just so pretty!

I didn’t get to talk much, but that’s okay. She told me about all the places she’d been and all the adventures we had. Finally, she told me she had lived out West once before – but they had moved when she was only six. Her words didn’t register at first. But then, I did the math. “Only six?” I questioned suddenly. Then that mean’s you’re sixteen years old now!”

Boy oh boy! I was in love with an older woman! If she knew how old I was, she wouldn’t be giving me the time of day. She wasted no time either as she started to ask me how old I was. I wasn’t going to answer that question! I’d run to a hotel room and hide before I did that. I stuffed the rest of my food in my mouth, then asked her if she wanted some pie.

Whew, thank goodness that was over! I stayed pretty quiet as I continued eating. Finally, she stood, stating we should get going. I paid for our food and started out the door.

There were men yelling outside the doctor’s office. It didn’t take long for us to figure out they wanted to kill our Pa’s. Protectively, we hurried toward Doc’s office. Pa quickly opened the door and grabbed me by the arm as he yanked me inside. I knew that if Pa had the time, he’d give me what for!

Vicki ran up to her father. She was upset that those men wanted to kill her Pa. I knew the feeling, because even though my Pa’s life hadn’t been threatened, I knew he would die fighting for this man. It was his nature. They had come to terms with whatever the problem was and would now join together to fight evil.

Vicki started crying. I wanted to hug her or something. It made me so sad to hear about the reason her father became a doctor – because her mother had doctored him back to health after being severely wounded in a gunfight. Her mother was tied and had died from a fever – just like my Ma.

I wanted to beg Pa not to go out there, but I knew my breath would be wasted. Besides, Vicki needed me to be strong. I was the man. I didn’t want to upset her more then she already was.

Pa and Mr. Banner went out to face the men on the dark street. When the door closed, I walked toward the window, but I heard Vicki sobbing. I walked up behind her and reached my hand out to touch her, but I quickly drew back. “He’s gonna die! I just know…”

“Don’t talk like that!” I begged.

Suddenly gunfire broke out. Vicki closed her eyes and leaned her head against the wall. I hurried up to her and put an arm around her to comfort her. My own heart was pumping too. I had no idea what was going on out there, but I had to protect her. She draped an arm around my shoulders as she sobbed. “Oh Pa! Oh Pa!”

I wanted to cry out for my own father as well.

Suddenly, the gunfire stopped. Vicki lifted her head from my shoulder where it had just fallen. She looked at me, begging me to go look. I hurried to the door and pulled back the curtain. My eyes settled on my Pa walking back across the way. “They’re fine, Vicki!” I declared excitedly. They’re both fine!”

I opened the door and hurried up to my Pa. I threw my arms around him and hung on for dear life. Pa held me for a few moments, then looked down at me. “Everything’s fine, son,” he said with a smile. “Everything’s just fine!”

Vicki had walked out, but ran back in. She and her father stayed inside the office for a long time. Pa and I walked arm-in-arm towards Micah’s office. I stared at the dead men in the street and shook my head. It always saddened me to see men die for no reason. Pa grabbed one man who was still alive – he was the man who did all the yelling before. “Let’s take a walk!” He demanded gruffly.

I walked beside Pa. He locked the man up in jail and sat down at the desk. He got paper out of the drawer and brushed his hair back from his forehead. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“When Micah comes back, he’s gonna be awful sore that we killed two men, so I figured I’d help him out with the report. I’d have to give it to him anyhow.” I watched Pa write. “You go on over to the hotel and get a room.” I just stood and studied him. “Go on, son.”

But Micah walked in then. “Well,” Micah folded his arms. “I see you’ve managed to again take over my town. I can’t leave for two hours before you-“

“Believe me, Micah, after the day I’ve had, I’d just as soon not hear any complaints about my shooting outlaws! I did manage to save one for you – he’s in the cell over there.”

I shrugged at Micah and walked out the door. When I got to the hotel, Vicki and her Pa were walking in. My heart skipped a beat. I knew she was older then me – three years older – but I just wanted to live for the moment. “You’ll be leaving in the morning?” I asked.

She nodded. “Bright and early. We got quite a ways to go yet. Pa’s anxious to get there.”

I nodded. “Well, I…I mean it…it was nice meeting ya.”

I started up the stairs. “By the way Mark, you never did tell me how old you were.”

I turned to look at her from the stairs. “Oh,” I shrugged. “What’s the difference?” Then before she could say another word, I hurried up the stairs!

I was asleep by the time Pa got up there. The next morning, I woke up when Pa was shaking me. “Come on, we gotta get around so we can see Mr. Banner and Vicki off – then you have to go to school.

“Oh, about that…” I started.

Pa held up a hand. He knew exactly what I was going to say. “You have to face it sometime, Mark. Might as well get it over.”

We went down for breakfast. Vicki and her father were there and asked us to join them. Our conversation was light as Pa and Mr. Banner talked about how their lives changed and why. I just put my chin in my hand and stared at Vicki. Pa poked me in the ribs a few times, and I knew he thought I was being rude.

Then we walked outside and saw them off. Vicki told me she’d write me. I smiled as I watched her ride off. But then I shook my head as I just watched them ride away for ever. “What’s the matter?” Pa asked.

I crossed my arms and shook my head again. "That Vicki...why does she have to be almost sixteen?"

“Well son, now look-“ Pa started.

I held up a hand. I’d heard enough lectures for now! “Don’t say it Pa! I know!” Believe me, I knew I was too young for her and too young for all this mess! Pa pushed my hat down over my eyes and started walking away.

“Maybe I should just stick to fishing,” I declared.

Pa laughed as he put his arm around my shoulders. He told me to hurry along to school and he’d see that my school books got to me later in the day. I walked toward school as slowly as I could.

When I walked inside, Mr. Griswald was already teaching. I looked toward Lucille who only smiled at me before turning back to the front.

At lunch, I started towards town to get something to eat. Lucille suddenly stopped me. “Mark, can I talk to you?”

I smiled. I couldn’t help myself! “I didn’t see you at the picnic yesterday. What happened?”

“You mean…nobody told you?” I asked.

“Told me? Told me what?”

“Oh….” I shrugged my shoulders. “Nothing.”

I saw Jeff walking toward us. Lucille smiled at me then pulled a piece of blackberry pie out of her lunch pail. “Here, I brought this for you.”

I stared down at it. Jeff walked up and gave me a challenging look. I looked from him to Lucille, then back at him. “Well?” He asked as he planted a hand on his hip.

I handed him the piece of blackberry pie and shook my head. “Yep,” I said out loud. “I reckon I’ll stick to fishing!” Then I turned and hurried into town!

*A special thanks goes out to Michelle Palmer for her insight on how Mark had seen these episodes.

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