"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
It seems like Mark and I are always facing trials. The older he gets, the harder his trials get. Well, I can’t imagine the feelings he felt this time!
You see, Mark and I were traveling across the desert alone. It was hot and dry. At the moment, we were walking our horses. Mark complained about it being so hot and dry. He wondered how far we’d come from the Rio Grande. I told him about 150 miles. “That’s a long way to come just for a seed bull,” Mark commented.
I smiled. Silly me, I thought he wanted to see Mexico! At least, that’s what he had told me. “I do,” Mark answered. “When it stops looking like New Mexico!” I turned and smiled at him. That’s my boy!
Suddenly, I heard another voice. "Señor!” I looked up to see a Mexican standing in front of me. “Buenos Dias, Señor!"
He startled us. Who'd ever expect to come across anyone in the middle of nowhere! "Buenos Dias," I said.
He looked at Mark and nodded. "Leetle one." Mark nodded. "Welcome to Chihuahua!"
I asked him what he wanted. I didn’t ask it nicely either. My gut feeling told me this wasn’t a friendly greeting. “Want?” he asked. “Only to pass the time of day and to collect the taxes for…uh…how do you say? Trespassing!”
I flipped my rifle. He didn't back off or even blink an eye. "This is free land mister," I stated.
"You would shoot Miguel? Miguel is your friend. You do not put such a high value on your life.....huh amigo? It's such a beautiful gun," said Miguel. He laughed. "More beautiful then the three that are pointing to your back, amigo."
I suddenly turned to see three men surrounding us from behind. I asked him what he wanted. He said he only wanted to do his job – “I am patron of this land!” He announced proudly. “You wish to cross this land, you must pay!” I told him no one opened this land – it was open Mexican land. "Si, but still you must pay.....just a little for your safety." Mark didn’t understand – but I did! He was being sarcastic that I figured he was a bandit – I had no doubt in my mind! That’s exactly what they all were! I asked him if he had a better name for it. He said he preferred the term patron. “It is much more…dignified!”
Miguel grabbed my rifle, but I kept my hand on it. We stood there staring at each other for a few seconds before I finally released it. I had Mark to think about – no matter what I did, I had to keep my son safe! The men were proud of the rifle they now had. They were glad to have our horses too. I told him we needed the horses. I reached into my pocket to take out my money. I wanted to get rid of them – I had to protect my boy!
He said he’d take my money – and everything else. “You gonna leave us out here?” Miguel laughed at my question. Those were my last words.
Suddenly, Miguel took the butt of my rifle. He called to me. When I turned toward him, he slapped the rifle at me, hitting my squarely in the throat. I fell to the ground, suddenly overcome in pain. Only a grunt came out.
“Pa!” Mark rushed over to me. Miguel grabbed Mark and lifted him up. Mark continued crying my name as he struggled in Miguel’s arms. Miguel was happy Mark was strong, but he suddenly made a demand. “Hey stop it! Stop it or I will kill him right now!”
"No.....please," Mark begged. Miguel pushed the boy toward one of his pals and told him to take him to camp. Mark called out to me as they dragged him away.
I heard my boy crying, but I could do nothing. The hit in the throat had left me unable to get up. I had to just lay there, listening to my boy crying out to me and knowing I could do nothing to stop them from taking my boy away from me.
The next thing I knew, they had taken my hat and shirt off of me and tied me from a tall limb on a tree. The sun burned down on me and in no time I had sweat pouring off of me. I was hopeless. They had stripped me of everything – including my power and my son.
The men were dividing up my clothes among them – one took my hat, one my boots, and the other my shirt. The fourth man had ridden back to camp with the only possession I cared anything about – my son.
They laughed about using my money to buy drinks. Miguel walked up to me and laughed in my face about drinking on me. “Thank you very much.” He slapped my arms playfully as he put his lips right up to my ear and spoke. “Hey, don’t you worry about your boy.” He gently slapped my cheek. His words made me angry and I jumped at him. But I could do nothing. “We’ll treat him like he’s one of us now! Oh, and we’ll put him to work, maybe. Fix the fire and take care of the horses and cook the food…” He went on. They were planning on making my boy a slave. He promised he would not harm him.
I was so angry! My blood was boiling! I wasn’t only angry because they were leaving me out here to die slowly under the hot son – but I was angry because they had my boy! I couldn’t act on my anger and that tormented me even more!
Miguel kept talking. “And as for you…well, if you die, it’s your own fault!” He pointed in one direction. “You see, your country is that way many miles.” They weren’t going to kill me – they were going to just leave me here to die!
I watched them leave, barely aware of their leaving. I was panting, parched from thirst. The hot son was burning down on me. I knew I didn’t have long to live. But determination and love for my son made me work. I began swinging my hands back and fourth to rub the rope against the limb. I don’t know how long I worked at wearing that rope down, but finally…after a lot of patience on my part…my hands were loose. I could now begin my long track to find my boy. I would live until Mark was safe.
Lazaro had Mark at the camp. He was busy telling Mark a story when Miguel and the others made it back to the camp. Mark jumped up and hurried over to Miguel. He grabbed him. "Please.,” Mark begged. He was very worried. “Where's my Pa? Please!"
Just then Ramos yelled to Lazaro that he brought him the gringo's shirt. Mark heard him and ran to him, yelling. "Give me that! That's my Pa's!" He tried taking it from them but to no avail. They laughed about it. Mark was so worried about me. He then ran back to Miguel and begged him to tell him where I was. He told Mark he would take care of him now.
Those words frightened Mark. Miguel put an arm around him and hugged him. Mark cried. "You killed him!" "You killed him!" Mark cried at the realization.
"Be brave leetle one" Suddenly, Miguel pushed Mark away. “Now we eat. Fix the fire.”
Mark went to do what he had to do, but his heart wasn’t it in. He felt completely lost and alone without me. He sobbed as he worked on his chore that was being forced upon him while the men joked about my things and what they planned to do with them.
After I got myself loose, I fell to the ground. I was hot, sweating, and half dead. I immediately got up and started walking in the direction the bandits had left in. I bit at the ropes, trying to get them off my hands. I stopped and gasped for breath as I grasped my throat. It was so sore – crushed by the rifle’s blow. But I had to keep going for Mark’s sake. If it wasn’t for my son, I probably would have laid down and died. But my boy was out there and I had to find him!
I didn’t walk – I ran at first. I had to hurry before it was too late. But the sand was hot, and my fee were bare. As I crossed the hot desert sand, my feet were becoming scorched like the rest of me. I walked the rest of the day and all night. Mark was the only thing that kept me going – I had to stay alive for my boy.
Mark was miserable, thinking I was dead. The men sat around the campfire joking about going into town to drink and watch the pretty girls dance. But Mark wasn’t listening. His heart was broken and there was simply nothing to be happy about. Without me, he was lost. Suddenly, he was ordered to go get some more firewood. Mark slowly got up and went to do their bidding, but he couldn’t handle the loss he was feeling. He finally leaned against a tree and wept bitterly.
The next morning, I was still walking – I was still on my feet by barely. The sun was once again climbing into the sky. Cold at night – hot during the day – it was more then one body could stand. Mark kept me going. I fell to my knees several times, but I got up and began walking again. Just in time, I wondered into a small village. I entered it, then collapsed. I could go no further.
The town folks just stood there. They stared at me as I walked into their village, and watched as I collapsed – almost at their feet. When I was out cold, they continued staring at me. No one dared come near me. They didn’t know who I was or why I was here.
Lucky for me, a very nice, pretty girl named Maria came outside to see what was going on. She saw me lying there in the dirt and hurried up to me. She bent down beside me. “Who is he? How did he get here?” But only one person answered, and her answer was that they didn’t know. “Well just don’t stand there! Come help me! We’ll take him to my grandfather’s house.”
It took four men to carry me in. Maria helped her grandfather from the chair. He came over to look at me. He touched my throat – it hurt so bad! I didn’t want him to touch it! Maria asked her grandfather what he thought. He motioned that my throat had been hurt.
I was pretty out of it. In fact, when Maria brought me water, I didn’t even realize until I felt the cool water fall onto my face. My instincts immediately told me that was water to drink and because I was literally dying of thirst, I began drinking it. I grabbed the cup wanting to gulp the water down, but Maria gently reminded me not to drink too fast. I felt much better now that I had water in me!
But I still just laid there. I hurt all over from the scorching sun! Her grandfather was mute and again motioned for her to ask me something. “He wants to know who you are.” I tried to answer her question, but I could make no noise. My throat was sore and dry. I grabbed the water and took another long drink of water. She then moved out of the way so her grandfather could rub some balm on my throat.
That night, I awoke. Maria was right there at my bedside. She was a nice, gentle woman. I had so much to say, but I still couldn’t speak. I motioned with my hands, trying to communicate the best I could. I motioned about my throat and the man that scarred me. She figured out that he had an earring. "Miguel...the patrõn," she guessed. I nodded. "The beast!" My feeling was mutual, but that beast had my son! She explained to me just how evil he was. “He was here two years ago. He told the village they had to pay if they wanted to live in peace. My grandfather said no. So he…cut his tongue out.”
That hit me hard. That same man had my son! “He took everything we had. He comes here very often…always looking for Maria.” She slapped her chest, upset. “Maria, that’s me! He call me his woman. My people…they uh…they do not like me. But what can I do?”
I motioned again. I made motions of holding a rifle. "You want to kill him to?" Maria asked. I nodded. She smiled a sad smile. "It is no use.....we have nothing. Miguel took all our guns two years ago." This news upset me very much.
How was I ever going to get my son back? I felt hopeless. She told me to rest, and for now, that’s all I could do.
They had Mark doing hard labor. Mark was so depressed and lost that he couldn’t even eat. His strength was gone. It was hard for him to saddle the horses – the saddles were so heavy, but the bandits gave him no mercy. While they sat around and ate and talked, he did the work. Mark was just so very miserable without me – thinking I was dead.
I don’t know how long I’d been there, but I do know that one day, a group of women gathered outside Maria’s house and demanded that I leave. Maria went outside and begged them to go away. She came back inside and complained to her grandfather. “They will not go away. They keep coming everyday. They think he brings evil to us.” I lifted myself from the bed. I had finally gained enough strength to move. It was time for me to go looking for my boy, but first…I’d need a gun.
Maria saw me getting up and ran over to help me. She had nursed me back to health and was suddenly worried about me. I told her I was alright, surprising her by being able to talk. I told her I needed to go talk to them. She begged me not to, but I had no choice – my son was out there!
One woman in the group spoke for all of them. “Tell the gringo to leave us,” she said as I walked into the doorway and peered outside.
“I’ve got to talk to you,” I pleaded with them.
“We don’t want to hear you,” the spokeswoman said. “We don’t want to be killed. We don’t want our tongues cut out like the old man’s.”
I had to explain – had to make them understand! "I came to Mexico with my son, that’s all. Miguel robbed me. He left me to die. He's still got my son and I want him back!"
My news upset Maria. She began yelling at the group of women, trying to get them to understand. "Miguel has his son! Don't you understand that's why he must wait here!"
"I need a gun. Has anybody got a gun?" I asked. She tried talking to them. Nobody would answer me or her.
She turned to me. “It’s no use. I told you, there’s no guns.” She apologized for them and said that they were scared. "If you fight Miguel.....you do it alone.”
I felt so frustrated! I didn’t have my boy…my partner…Without him, I felt so incredibly alone! I was so weak with no strength, and I knew that if I had my son, my strength would return. I had no choice but to go inside and lay down – hoping that soon enough strength would come back so I could go find my son…with or without a gun!
That night, Maria had to go to the Cantina and work. I felt stronger and went outside to get some fresh air like I often did. But this time – this time Mark would be joining me. I looked out over the big, scary land. My son was out there somewhere! He was scared and alone – being treated like a slave, no doubt. I just prayed to God that he wasn’t hurt – and that I would be able to rescue him soon! I hit the side of the door in disgust. What was I going to do? I needed a gun!
The old man was frustrated as well. I finally got up and took something out of his drawer. He walked over to me and touched my arm, handing my the wrapped bundle. I grabbed it and unwrapped it. It was a gun. “You had this all along?” At first I didn’t understand why he didn’t tell me about this gun sooner. I had hope now. “Ammunition. You got any bullets for the gun?” He gave me a sorrowful look. I suddenly understood why he didn’t tell me about it – he had no bullets. “A gun without bullets isn’t much good.” My frustration was back. But it wasn’t the old man’s fault. I turned and patted his shoulder, letting him know I was thankful he tried to help.
He turned and walked away. I turned back to look out the door. Suddenly, there were gunshots. I looked up in surprise to see some riders coming in and the villagers scurrying for cover. The patron was back. I suddenly moved back inside and peaked out. I didn’t want Miguel to know I was here. I looked around. Suddenly, I saw him – the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen! My boy was there – and he was unharmed! Relief flooded my heart, and I knew that Mark would not be leaving with them. I would get him back even if it killed me! He would be free!
Miguel called him over and told Mark to go watch the horses – inside the cantina was no place for him. Wasn’t that the truth! Mark slowly walked back over to the horses and sat down. He was so very sad! I’m sure he thought I was dead and he was all alone and scared.
I quietly stared at him. My boy…my Mark…
I had to get him to safety – then I’d deal with these bandits! I threw a big pebble at him but he paid no attention. He was too distraught – about to burst out into tears again. I’m sure he had done a lot of crying over the last few days! I threw a second pebble at him.
That got Mark’s attention. He lifted his head and looked around. He then saw me standing in the doorway. At first, he was confused. I was supposed to be dead after all, but then surprise and relief appeared on his face. He wanted to cry with joy. He mouthed “Pa,” as he looked toward the cantina. I shot a finger to my lips, warning him to be quiet. Then I waved my fingers toward me, telling him to run over to me.
He didn’t hesitate for a second. He jumped up and ran as fast as his legs would carry him! He ran so fast that his hat fell off. He walked inside and I grabbed him. I was again touching my precious little boy! Thank God! We just stood there for a few minutes staring at each other. “Pa!” He cried in a loud whisper. He could hardly believe it was really me. I could say nothing. I just drew him close to me and held him in my arms. We both cried, relieved we were finally back together!
But there wasn’t much time for a family reunion – we were still in grave danger and I had to get rid of the danger before we could have our happy reunion. I told Mark my plan, then with a very heavy heart, sent him back to the bandits. It was the only way!
Maria put on a good show for them. She did it with a smile and allowed them to caress her and have their fun. But suddenly, the gay laughter died. Mark came inside, disobeying Miguel’s strict orders to stay out – but he had my orders to go inside! Miguel yelled at him. But Mark turned to Angelo. “Senior Angelo, it’s your horse,” Mark said. Angelo wanted to know what was wrong with his horse. “I…I think he’s gone lame,” Mark answered.
The men fell for it. Angelo went out to look at his horse. Before they walked out, Mark turned to see where my rifle was sitting. He saw it on a table and hurried outside. He walked Angelo to the horse, telling him it was his right foreleg. Angelo told him that wasn’t his horse, but he decided to take a look at it anyhow. As Angelo lifted his head to tell Mark there was nothing wrong with the horse, I came up behind him and hit him hard with the pistol the old man had given me. It knocked Angelo out.
That was one man down. I grabbed Angelo’s gun. Mark grabbed my arm. “Pa, your rifle’s on the table nearest to the door.”
I patted his shoulder. “Wait here son!”
Maria was dancing around really making the men happy. I snuck into the doorway, but stayed hidden from the men. She looked toward the door and saw me there, but she didn’t let on that she saw me. I motioned with my head for her to lure them away from my rifle. I wanted her out of the way. She knew what I was planning on doing. She had seen my boy and knew I’d fight to get him back.
Maria knew what she had to do. She immediately set to work helping me. She smiled and coaxed and lured them out of my path. When all three were up against the bar, Maria suddenly moved out of the way into the back room. At the same instant, I raced in while they were staring at her and grabbed my rifle. I fired one shot at them using Angelo’s gun. Then I grabbed my rifle and fired every shot into the three men. They fell to the floor dead.
When the shots stopped, Mark came running in. He stood in the doorway and stared at me. I held out my arm to me as he ran into my arms and hugged me again. Now we could cry and have our reunion. Everything was okay now!
The next day, Mark and I were ready to head home. Maria said goodbye to us. “I wish there was some way I could repay the both of ya',” I stated. I was now wearing my shirt and felt fresh and like a new man. I had my strength back because I had my son back.
After a good nights rest we were getting ready to head out. I told Maria I wished there was something I could to do to repay her and her grandfather. "You risked your life for us.....you got rid of the patrõn, that is enough. We are the ones who are grateful." said Maria. "Vaya Con Dios or McCain!" There was nothing more for me to say. Mark and I got on our horses and rode out of there…together!
piddlin' stuff.....Chuck almost suffered the same fate twice — once in The Rifleman in The Vaqueros — he was stripped to the waist, tied to a tree, and left to die under a scorching sun by a group of Mexican banditos ― and in Branded ~ Fill No Glass for Me ― he was stripped to the waist, tied to a tree, and left to die under a scorching sun by a group of Indian warriors.
Martin Landau played Miguel, the patrõn. He did an excellent job in this episode!
Ziva Rodann as Maria, she is the lady who helped Lucas.
Vladimir Sokoloff played the grandfather, the man who had his tongue cut out by Miguel.
Than Wyenn as Ramos, he's the one who took Lucas' boots.
Roberto Contreras as Angelo, he's the one who took Lucas' hat. He's the one that Mark lured out of the Cantina by telling him his horse has gone lame.
Jack Tornek appeared in six episodes — New Orleans Menace as Tiffauges Rider ― Legacy as the preacher — Lariat as the card dealer — Baranca and on of Baranca's Angels ― The Vaqueros as one of the townsmen and Quiet Night, Deadly Night as one of the townsmen.
Pepe Hern appeared in three episodes ― Waste 1 & 2 as Sleeper, one of Alphonso's men ― Vaqueros as Abuelito Lazaro, he's the one that was given Lucas' shirt and the one who took Mark on ahead.
Al Haskell appeared as one of the townsmen in Vaqueros and Day of Reckoning.
John Michael Quijada appeared in two episodes ― Baranca, he was one of Baranca's Angels ― Vaqueros as one of the men who helped carry Lucas into Maria's.
Daniel Núñez as the guy with the mustache bringing in Lucas.
Marie Halo as one of the Townswoman.
Tina Menard as one of the townswoman.
Bloopers - Vaqueros
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
around The McCain Ranch