The Rifleman
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Fan Fiction

The Partnership of Lucas & Mark McCain
Written by Donna Hume

Chapter I

Mark was sitting at the table before Lucas came in from morning chores but was able to jump out of his chair and up into his fathers arms and wrap his legs around Lucas’ waist before anyone noticed him in action, almost knocking his father off his feet with his overly enthusiastic greeting. “Hold on there partner, you need to give me some warning,” his father laughed as he wrapped his arms around Mark. “Am I really your partner Pa, am I really?” Mark asked, refusing to relinquish his grip on his father. “Wouldn’t say so if I didn’t mean it, now would I?” replied Lucas as he tried to release Marks grip from his throat. “Gramma, did you hear that, me and Pa are partners” Mark practically shouted the words across the kitchen. “Son, this partnership would last a whole lot longer if you could see your way to let me breath.” Lucas’ mother went over to take Mark from his father and set him back in his chair while Lucas took a moment to catch his breath.

“I’m sorry Pa, I didn’t mean to choke you none. I wouldn’t never try to hurt you” came the broken voice of this little boy as tears rolled down his face. “Mark, your Pa knows you didn’t try to hurt him any” his grandmother tried to console him as she set a cup of coffee before Lucas who by this time was sitting next to his son. Lucas ruffled Marks’ hair, “Mark, I know you would never do anything intentionally to hurt me or your grandmother, we would never do anything to hurt you either. Sometimes, when we love people so much, it just happens. The thing we need to remember is that we need to see that it was done out of love and that we need to forgive out of that same love. Do you understand?” “I think so, but you will probably have to tell me again, I am still just a kid you know.” Lucas laughed at his son,” Yes you are but not such a kid that you get out of going to school today. This is your first day and I am so proud of you. I will ride in with you but do you want me to ride all the way to the school or just up close to it?” “I’m not sure, let’s see what the other kids are doing and then we can decide. But you will meet me at school when it gets out though, won’t you?” Mark almost sounded pleading in his request. “Do you think I would let my partner back out of his job? We have to pick up our supplies before we come home, isn’t that right grandma?” “Sure is, especially if you want that apple pie you’ve been asking for” she grinned at her grandson as she handed him his books and lunch sack. “Now off with the both of you, scoot, a woman has chores to do and can’t have her men folk sitting around all day takin’ up her time” and then she watched them ride away until she could see them no more.

She walked back into the kitchen and removed the dishes from the table, then she walked back to the table and sat down with her head in her hands and cried until she had no more tears within her to shed but still she did not move.


Chapter II


Lucas and Mark rode to the top of the hill near the schoolhouse where they could see all of the other students riding up or walking to the schoolyard by themselves. Mark really wanted his father to ride next to him, he had never had to face anything alone before but he did not want to stand out in front of the other kids either. “Well son, what do you think?” his father asked. His voice a little trembely and quiet in response “I think I should ride in by myself Pa.” Lucas shared the same fears as his son but just said “That is probably best, but why don’t I wait up here until you all go inside the schoolhouse? You know, just so that I don’t worry so much.” Mark tried to hold back his enthusiasm for this idea but it came bursting out from his mouth before he had time to spit, “That’s a great idea, Pa.” Lucas tried to assure him that he was just looking out for his partner, he had to make Mark feel more confident in himself; he had already lost so much in his young life.

Lucas waited until Mark walked inside the schoolhouse doors then turned his horse to head home. He made about 2 steps before pausing and looking back. This was the first time he was going to be leaving his son since his father told him to come home sober or not to come home at all, ever. Those words still stung in his mind and the words Mark had asked were still like arrows in his heart and that had been three years ago. Lucas knew he had work to do at the ranch but decided it could wait, he would wait out the day here, at the top of the hill; watching and waiting for his son.

Martha finally lifted her head from the table; this had been a hard year for her. After John had been swindled out of the ranch they came to live with Lucas and Mark but the life just seemed to slip out of her husband. He was once a proud man and losing everything, not being able to take care of his family tore him apart. He kept reading his Bible but could not seem to find the guidance he was seeking, Lucas tried to remind him that he had to keep his heart open to find the answers. Each day drained on him until there was no life left in him, that was the day he found his answers. He asked forgiveness from his family and then from the Lord, and died a few moments later. Martha remembered that day as if it were yesterday; she had spent forty years with that stubborn man, now she had to go on without him. At least she still had Lucas and Mark; what a blessing they were. She read from the Bible to Mark every night before bed. She told him it was a good habit to get into, it was good for him and it was good for her. She looked up at the clock and noted the time, “I have been wasting a lot of time today feeling sorry for myself, Lord, help me off my butt and get myself to work. I’m going to have two hungry men when they come home and they’re going to need some clean clothes too.” And with that she stood up and started back to wash the dishes.


Chapter III

It had been a long time that Mark had been away from his father this long but this wasn’t too bad. The teacher seemed really nice, she had pretty golden hair. There were some boys his age, it might be nice to play with some kids his age. The only hard part was trying to sit still and pay attention, whatever attention was. Finally they were told they could go outside for a half hour, then they would have to come back inside. Mark figured he could eat his lunch in five minutes and have the other 25 to run around, he hoped the other boys felt the same way.

The day seemed to take forever, at least for Lucas. He kept checking his watch but the hands didn’t seem to move. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard the voices of children, finally, he thought, he could go pick up his son. As he stood he realized it was only noontime, they were just out for lunch. He kept dwelling on the past

Those three years seemed such a lifetime ago yet they stung like yesterday. Back then he would not have given any thought about even being away from his son, now he could not fathom being away any longer; would this day never end? He tried to stay out of sight as he watched his son play with the other boys, it did his heart good to see how well Mark interacted with others, he had not really been exposed to other children but as with everything, Mark seemed to have a heart bigger than his body. This caused Lucas to wonder, how could he protect his innocent son without making him cynical in the process? He would definitely be scouring the Bible for some guidance on that issue. The children were being called back into the classroom and Lucas wished he had thought ahead and brought his canteen. He left the hill long enough to go into town and get some coffee and then went back to the side of the hill, waiting to hear his sons voice once again. Who would have thought being a father was so hard? Then he thought about how difficult he had make life for his own father, not just after Margaret had died but all the years he had been growing up. He sure did run his father through his paces. Now he knows why his father always knew what he was up to, it was because he had already done it when he was growing up. Kids always think parents are born parents, that they were never kids; at least that is what he had thought.

There were voices again; he had to sneak back down the hill a little so Mark didn’t think he was waiting there all day. As he rode up, Mark didn’t pay much attention, he was playing with the other boys his age. Lucas was hurt but proud at the same time, “Hey there partner, you ready to go and get those supplies we need for the ranch?” Mark turned around and a great smile appeared on his face, “Yes sir,” he said, “Hey guys, this is my Pa, we’re partners. I’ll see you tomorrow” and he climbed up onto his horse, “Let’s go Pa.”


Chapter IV

As they rode up to the ranch, Martha was just finishing hanging laundry on the line. Mark wanted to race Lucas in but Lucas saw what his mother was doing and knew the repercussions that would befall them if they raced and advised Mark against it, Mark however did not listen. By the time he realized his mistake it was too late and there was dust all over the clean laundry. Lucas rode in slowly behind him, not wanting any part of this trouble. Either his mother was getting old or Mark was too cute to punish because all she said was “Boys will be boys.” Lucas told her that he and Mark would rinse everything and re-hang it right away, she said it could wait until after supper, “No sense letting good food get cold over some dusty clothes.” Lucas made a mental note to talk with her after Mark went off to bed, something must be bothering her.

Mark talked all through supper about school. Martha and Lucas had to keep reminding him to close his mouth when he was chewing and not to speak when he was eating and not to eat so fast. “Well then how am I supposed to tell you what happened if I can’t talk while I’m eating?” he asked them with such a somber expression, Lucas had all he could do to keep from laughing. Martha suggested he finish eating and they could talk while they were waiting for the pie to finish baking. Lucas reminded him they had to finish the laundry he ruined and it was their night to do the dishes. “That will work, I can tell you both then when we’re doing the dishes” Mark told them. Martha said “Lucas, I don’t know what you fed him when he was a new born calf but since you started putting clothes on him, nothing seems to stop him from talking.” Mark just looked at the two of them and then pulled on his father’s hand, “Lets go get the laundry done so I can tell you about school.”


Chapter V

Mark was still talking as Lucas tucked him into his bed, “You know Pa, this going to school stuff might be a pretty good idea.” Lucas looked into his son’s dark brown eyes, the eyes’ of his beloved Margaret, “do you think so?’ “Sure do, where else would I find so many other kids to play with?” With that Lucas let out a slight chuckle, tousled his son’s hair, kissed him on the head and said good night.

As he closed the bedroom door, he noticed the way in which his mother sat, as though the life was draining out of her. The light that had always been in her eyes was missing, “Ma, do you want to talk about something?” he asked softly as he sat next to her. Even sitting, he towered over her. She tried not to let him know that anything was wrong but as she looked up into his face, all she could see was that of her lost Frank and the tears streamed down her face. Lucas was immediately at her side, holding her in his arms, knowing all too well the pain she was feeling but understanding it must be fourfold because of the amount of life they had shared together. He did not know how long he stayed there on his knees holding his mother, he did not care; she cried until she was spent and then he carried her to her bed and gently covered her with a blanket. He made another mental note to make sure they went to the cemetery the next day, they should have gone today.


Chapter VI

Martha woke early and embarrassed by her display of emotions in front of her son. She was supposed to be there to help her son, not be a burden to him; Lord knows he already had enough of his own to bear without her adding to his load. She washed up and went into the kitchen to start breakfast, Lucas come out just as the coffee was ready. “Ma, why don’t you come over here and sit a spell, I’ll get the coffee for both of us,” Lucas said as he guided her to the table where he invited her to sit down. After he carried the coffee to the table, Lucas joined his mother, “Ma, I don’t think I have been very fair to you lately,” he had to hold his hand up as she started to interrupt him, “I know you think you it is your job to tend to us men folk but you have a more important job and that is to tend to yourself.” “Lucas, I take care of myself just fine, thank you.” she stated somewhat indignantly. “Ma, I am just trying to say that you are doing too much for us and not letting us help you any. When was the last time we went to the cemetery? We all need to go, not just for Pa but I need to keep Margaret alive for Mark too. I hate to give you one more job but I’m afraid I have to ask you to do one more thing.” Martha looked at him very quizzically. He just told her he was asking too much but now he wants her to do something else. She just sat staring at him, waiting for him to tell her what additional chore he had in mind for her, as if she were not doing enough already. “Ma, I need you to tell us to do things for ourselves. You are not our maid. Like yesterday, when Mark came riding in and spread that dust up all over the clean clothes; you were too easy on him. You need to let him know how much hard work he had just ruined by not thinking. As for me, maybe you should teach me how to do some of the cooking so you can relax at dinner or breakfast sometimes.” Martha had to interrupt him at that, “Lucas, I can take your point on something’s but I don’t know about cooking; I want to be able to enjoy my food when I sit down to eat and I haven’t met a man yet than can cook worth a darn in the kitchen,” she stated very seriously.

They discussed quite a few things before Mark came into the kitchen, ready for his breakfast and his second day of school. Martha agreed to teach Lucas some basics of cooking but insisted that she continue the meal preparation if she was going to be home for meals. They also made plans to go to the cemetery on Sunday after church and then to take Martha to visit with one of the families that she and Pa were close to before all their problems started. Lucas felt like he had addressed at least some long overdue issues.

Mark was hurrying Lucas along; he did not want to be late for school. “C’mon Pa, I’m ready to go, Gramma packed my lunch, can’t you hurry up?” “I’m going as fast as I can son,” Lucas stated, a little shortly. Mark looked up at him with those eyes so like his mothers’ and Lucas’ heart was ready to break. “I’m sorry son, I didn’t mean to sound so harsh, I’m just worried about something and I wasn’t really paying attention to you the way I should have; forgive me?” “Shucks Pa, you could never do anything that I wouldn’t be able to forgive,” said his son as he smiled up at his father. Lucas looked down at his son, tousled his hair, finished saddling the horses and they headed off to school.

After seeing Mark walk through the doors at school, Lucas went back to the ranch, he had to actually get some work done today but he planned to be back at the school to pick up his son. How did his parents deal with his growing up and becoming independent? That was something else he was going to have to unload upon his mother; he didn’t want to make things more difficult for her but he really needed her help, what else was he supposed to do? What else could he do?

Donnaa.k.a. picklemum

to be continued....

The Adventure Begins

These stories are based on the TV series The Rifleman
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