The Rifleman
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Fan Fiction

Fulton's Fury

A Predatory Excursion - To Ravage …. Fury
Sea Change — Chapter Twenty-Four
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

Thursday evening was not only exciting for the Western fans. Vernon Carlson was aching to make his move. The carrier for the stock broker came by in the early afternoon and stayed well into the night. Vernon dyed his hair black and dressed in several layers of clothes in attempt to look like the carrier. He left the flat near nine o’clock and took the carrier’s usual route to the broker’s office. The carrier took most of Vernon’s traveling items to the office in his briefcase over recent visits. Vernon was followed by a detective all the way but did nothing to cause suspicion. He was out of the flat for good! His friends were waiting there for him. They had his belongings ready and took him off to a safe place to wait for the next step of the plan.

The detectives only noticed something different when Gerald failed to show up. This was a first time and a man was sent to check on the theater and to keep watch on his flat. They saw the same lights on in Vernon’s flat as any other evening

After the Wild West show, a dinner was held at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in honor of Buffalo Bill. Lucas was top dog as he told stories and kept the conversation active. There were a number of cast members present and they drew a lot of attention as people stopped by the table to pay a compliment. Annie and Lillian had to sign many autographs as did the men. Bat and Joe eventually found a time to take leave so they could check in on the detectives. Bat was convinced something was going to happen. It had him worried the entire time during the show.

The detectives on watch explained how Gerald did not show up and the carrier came and went at his usual time. They didn’t think too much about Gerald. He was seen at the theater when a detective asked about him there. He was said to have gone out to eat afterwards. He had to have a night off once in a while, but Bat was concerned no matter what.

“I sure would like to go knock on that door. This has to be the night Vernon would try to run. Did your man get a good look at the carrier? Was it really him?”

“He reports nothing unusual. Looked like the same dark haired large man as before.”

“Dark hair! Is that all he noticed?” He could have changed to his clothes and dyed his hair! I don’t like this at all. Let’s go over there, what do you say Joe?”

“If you want to risk blowing our cover, we really should wait to hear from the stock brokers first.”

“I know, I’m just nervous. When I have these feelings they don’t go away. I think we better do something. Let’s send a man over there see what’s going on. We can come up with some kind of a story.” Bat paced back and forth trying to think.

Joe settled on the idea. “Let me go over there to knock on the door. I can say I was given a wrong address. If I don’t like what happens, we’ll go in and put this thing to rest. You come back me up Bat. And you, Halbert, come along too.” Joe pointed at one of his detectives.

The three men walked across the street, Halbert was assigned to watch the fire escape. Joe and Bat went into the building. Joe went forward to knock on the door. Nothing happened. Joe knocked again, still nothing. He went back to talk with Bat before deciding if they should go any further.

“I’m tempted to go in Bat. We’ve been watching this flat far too long and this man never comes out. By now he must be paralyzed from paranoia, if he’s even in there. We have little to loose.

“I’m all for it. We can’t wait any longer. Let’s get it over with, we’re only losing time if he’s on the run.”

They knocked one more time. Some noise was heard inside and then quiet. Joe kicked in the door to find an empty flat. A rear window was open and the fire escape was obviously used as the getaway. Halbert saw the man coming down the ladder and held him at gunpoint as he dropped down to the street. The crates were in the front room as Bat and Joe knew they would be. The rest of the place was void of belongings other than large pieces of furniture and enough things in the bedroom and kitchen to make it look like someone was still living there. They ran down to the street to find Halbert and the second detective that had been keeping watch holding the carrier at gunpoint.

“I knew it! Vernon left in place of the carrier hoping he wouldn’t be noticed. Let’s get over to the broker’s office, but I don’t think we’ll find much there either.” Bat recalled Lucas making the comment about waiting around while the bad guys get away.

“We should have kept a detective at the office tonight for good measure. Now we have a manhunt on our hands.” Joe looked the carrier in his eyes. He was a big, tough looking man, he wouldn’t flinch. “I don’t suppose you’d like to tell us what’s been going on here. What is your name?”

The man formed a big grin on his face. “Theodore Roosevelt!” He laughed loudly and spit on the ground.

“We’ll have time to deal with you later. We have a pretty good idea what you’ve been up to. Things might go easier for you if you tell us what we want to know.”

“It’s my job to deliver documents. I was waiting for my client to return. I get nervous when strangers come around.”

“Is that right? Well, we have you in custody for now. Your client is not coming back and we’re not going to let you get back to him. If you are what you say you are, where is your briefcase? Why did our man think he saw you leave earlier this evening?”

“I don’t have to answer any more of your questions. I’m here doing my job and that’s all I have to say.”

“Very well, we’ll find Vernon Carlson on our own. You’ll have plenty of time to think about your future in a cell. Take him to headquarters and don’t let him out of your sight. Charge him with harboring a fugitive. I’ll think of other charges later. Halbert, meet us at the broker’s office when you’re through.”

On their way Bat and Joe discussed the possibility that Carlson might try to go by sea. Joe had easy access to the ship’s registry. The usual procedure was to keep watch on the docks and train stations. At the office the door was locked and no one was present. Joe left Halbert there and told him to stay until he returned with a warrant in the early morning. Next, they were off to roust Gerald and take him in for questioning. They found him alone at his flat already in bed. He had a feeling he was eventually going to be arrested and did not resist.

Gerald would only admit that he worked as a butler for Carlson. It was no use to lie as they were well known friends since Gerald’s childhood. Joe threatened him with hard time if he didn’t tell them what the plan was. This did no good though, he didn’t know anything. Gerald pleaded ignorance about the Fulton murders and claimed that he only knew basic facts about Carlson’s underhanded business practices.

“Well Gerald, we’re going to keep you for a few days until we can decide what comes next. We have you on a charge of harboring a fugitive for now. That may not stick but we can’t afford to let you out to warn anyone else involved.”

“Maybe they will know something is wrong simply by my not showing up! Did you think about that? And what becomes of my theater job? I can’t afford to miss for very long.”

“We’ll notify them of your situation. We don’t want to ruin your life son, but we want Vernon Carlson. We also want to prove fraud in the Graham Textiles firm. This means a lot to people in Dallas. I’m sure you can understand.”

“If you intend on charging me, I want my father notified. He will want to be involved in my case.”

“We can arrange for that. But it will take some time. You are to be kept under wraps for the time being.” Joe walked out of the room in a bad mood. He motioned for Bat to join him in his office.

“I’m tired Bat, it’s been a long night. We’ll have men ready at the stock broker’s office early in the morning. You go back to the hotel and get a brief rest, let Lucas know what happened. The snake lulled us to sleep and crawled off into the grass. We’ll have to find a way to smoke him out now. They probably won’t come back for those crates, but we’ll be waiting if they do.”

“I say let them take the crates and follow them. They’ll make it to a ship sooner or later. It may be our only chance.” Bat looked up to the ceiling in disgust.

“I like that idea. If Carlson wants the contents bad enough, perhaps he will send somebody to try for them. Even the landlord may want to act in that capacity. We’ll let them take it after we have a look of course.” Joe heaved a large sigh. “Go on Bat, meet me over at the broker’s office around eight. We’ll have a look there and move on.”

“Alright, I do need some sleep. Say, can I get a copy of that Ship Registry? Lucas and I have some snooping to do.”

“I’ll make sure we get copies and we’ll put a watch on as much as we can. There are a lot of docks and it would be easy to sneak out. He must have influential friends and you can count on the fact that he won’t keep his regular appearance. He can also leave by rail or wagon, we don’t have much to go on. We can hand out a wanted poster with his picture from that old Dallas paper. I don’t know what else to do except try.”

“I can tell you one thing, we’re not going to give up easy. And if we can get a statement from Gerald that it really was Carlson in that flat, it may be enough to prove the fraud back in Dallas. We’ll see when I hear from Templeton.”

“I’m sorry Bat. We dropped the ball on this. I’m willing to do whatever I can to help. Now go get some rest.” Joe got up and walked Bat to the door. “Eight o’clock Bat, I’ll see you then.” Joe settled at his desk and took rest in his chair. It was after three in the morning.

Joe woke up near seven and went about getting a warrant to search the broker’s office. He assembled a group of investigators that were experienced with such matters and met Bat, Lucas, and Halbert at the door. No one came to open the office. They waited for thirty minutes. At eight thirty they picked the lock and went inside. There was no sign of Carlson having been there. They looked through the files and found a great deal of records for Graham Textiles Inc. The only signatures were of Robert J. Graham, nothing about Carlson or Renfro. All of the records were impounded and taken back to the police station. Bat wondered if there had been any response to their stock purchase proposal. There was no evidence of it at the office. A detective and several officers were left to keep watch in case anyone showed up. The office was put back to its original appearance.

They went to Tom’s broker to see if there was a response to the proposal. There was nothing, which was to be expected. At least it helped to make Vernon run. They explained what happened and told them to hold any correspondence as evidence. Bat paid the fees as was agreed upon before.

The men went for a walk along the docks. They looked for the most likely ships available to Carlson for escape. It would take a long time and many men to search the entire waterfront. It could be a freight ship or any number of different vessels. They had several copies of Carlson’s picture and showed it to as many as they could. This was just a start. They made their way by the Fulton Market and had fish for lunch. It wasn’t as enjoyable with their problems looming, but it gave Lucas an idea to go by the fishing boat shop and show Joe the picture of his fish on the wall.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do without these fish when I get home to the ranch and all of that beef, but you have to see this sucker Joe.”

“I enjoy beef but I’d miss the fish more.”

“Here, right in the middle, just look at the size of that thing!”

“Wow! That is huge. I didn’t know they got that big! Lucas, you never cease to amaze me. I bet you want to do that again.”

“I’ve been thinking about it, at least once more before we go. What do you say we show the Carlson picture to the man behind the counter?”

“Can’t hurt, I doubt Vernon would like to do this type of thing.” Joe and Lucas brought the picture to the counter and asked the man if had ever seen him. “What do you say Mack? Ever see anyone that looks like this?”

“No sir, I see so many faces in here, it takes a big deal like the Rifleman here to stick in my head for long. But I’ll let ya know if anything comes up. You plan to go again Lucas? We always got room for you, what a fish!”

“Yes I do! What say you guys, want to go?”

Bat got a strange look on his face. “I’ll go if you need the company but I’d rather keep busy with the manhunt.” Bat looked at Joe who was shaking his head no.

“I don’t blame you guys for that. It’s a hard day’s work and we should stick to our duty for now. I’ll get back to you in a few days friend. We have some important work right now, but I’m sure I want to go.”

“Don’t wait too long. Whatever made that big boy come down this far south may not last much longer. We haven’t caught many near that size.”

“You tempt me, but let me see how things go for a few days.”

They walked along the docks showing the picture around. The best they could hope for was to keep watch on the flat and maybe the crates would lead them to a ship. They went to the flat and looked inside them. They were full clothes, pictures, books, and various personal belongings that one would take with them on a move. Some of the items were old and showed signs of coming from Texas. An old Stetson hat and well worn pair of boots were buried deep under the clothing. The paintings were of scenes familiar to Bat of the Dallas and Fort Worth area. There were knick knacks, a few tools, and a photo album found at the bottom of the second crate. The album revealed family members and scenes from a cattle ranch. Bat recognized the house as the one he visited when he met Emily Carlson. There were pictures of Frank the foreman and Emily. And then there was a key page that had pictures of a child, Gerald. These were perfect proof of Vernon Carlson having been the one present here.

“This is exactly what we need. I wonder why he left these behind?” Bat looked long at the pictures and found one of Vernon.

“Maybe this is his way of giving us just what we need. He knew there was a good chance we would search the crates. Perhaps he figured we would leave him alone as long as we can prove what we need to in Dallas.” Lucas shook his head and walked around looking in the other rooms.

There was little of value left behind. Lucas picked through the kitchen items. There was a good looking set of pots and pans which made sense if Gerald was doing the cooking. No knives or good silverware were present. Gerald took the small items but didn’t want to chance larger ones that would be noticed leaving the flat. There was a bed in a second room which is where Gerald was thought to stay. It was cleaned out better than Carlson’s. Once they were finished, the crates were carefully nailed shut without leaving a splinter out of place. They kept the photo album as evidence.

“I can see how he might think we would give up on him if we are able to clear things up for the farm. He wouldn’t have done this out of the goodness of his heart. Anyone that could do what he did can’t have a heart. He knew this would be found and he knew he was being watched. He picked a perfect time to run and we should have been right on it. But I don’t feel bad, it was such a stroke of fate that we found Gerald at all. And now we have what we need for Sarah and William’s sake.” Bat rapped the hammer against the crate one last time.

“I’m committed to finding him Bat. We won’t rest until we’re sure there has been no stone left unturned.” Joe motioned for the men to depart out the front door.

“I’d be surprised if anyone comes back for these crates gentlemen. They’ve just served their purpose.” Bat patted Joe on the back. “You’ve done more than we could ever expect my friend. It’s impossible to cover every base. If we hadn’t been so fancy with the stock proposal and wanting more proof then this wouldn’t have happened. As it is, we do have some good material here and Gerald can go a long way to prove our case. The important thing is that we can make things right for the farm.”

“Still, I’d like to nab Carlson. I know that William can never rest knowing that he still walks free on this earth. It goes beyond revenge. No man deserves to have something like that looming over him. I can just see Vernon sipping a tall cool drink on a beach somewhere lighting his cigars with hundred dollar bills!” Lucas was now the one with a strong desire to see this to the end.

“Gentlemen, I know you’re probably wanting to go home. Your visit to our fine city has given you a taste of what modern life can be. Take some of it with you and enjoy the rest of your lives. Don’t risk reprisal by hanging around too long and getting involved with the undesirable side. Vernon is most likely connected with some bad people in organized crime. You don’t want to mess with them. Our entire police department doesn’t want to go near them!”

“I understand what you mean Joe. I have never backed down from a fight though, not this early. We’re going to try for a while, but I can assure you that home is where my heart is and I have a boy waiting for me. I don’t want to get involved with anything unless there is a high chance of success.” Lucas smiled and looked over at Bat.

“I don’t have anywhere else to go for the time being, I was going to go back with Lucas after this. Let’s see what we can do, I’m in for completing this task! Bat tapped his cane on the ground and felt his pistol for good measure.

“Very well my friends. We’ll put some men on the street and spread the posters around. We’ll visit the train depots and any other place we can think of. Perhaps a picture in the paper is a good idea. But I think we should go talk to our suspects first, we have something to show them!

Gerald was in a bad spot. Joe played it to his advantage. He showed Gerald the photo album and the picture they had from Turley. He offered him one way out. To make a positive identification and give a written statement that he had been working for Vernon Carlson in New York for almost ten years. That he was unaware of the murders and had nothing to hide. This would give him a chance to continue with the theater. He could avoid involving his father and wouldn’t have to return to Dallas unless needed to testify. Joe told him that as long as he was willing to cooperate and remain in contact for further questioning that he would release him in a couple of days. Gerald understood that this was the best thing for him to do. He had no reason to hinder William Fulton or Sarah Cockrell. He knew Sarah from his most early memories and how could he forget about the horse she gave him.

“I may be guilty of being a friend to Vernon Carlson, but I had nothing to do with those murders. My father sent me here before the trial you speak of and I met up with Vernon some time afterward when he came here.”

“I have no reason to believe you or not. We’re only interested in making things right. I’m sorry that it’s come to this, but I think we have offered you a good deal. If only you could tell me where he is going, something, anything we can use.”

“Let me tell you something detective. I wanted to know where he was going. I wanted to go with him. He was scared for both of us. I thought he was over reacting. I had no idea he was in such fear for his life. I thought it was about the business. He was very concerned when he saw Tom’s name on the stock purchase report and then found out he was the one who befriended me at the theater.”

“We had to find a way to identify him. It was not easy and I hope you realize that we did everything we could to be careful. Tom is a friend of mine and a very gentle man. He was genuinely concerned for you, and I think you can see that. So here you are, able to carry on with your life. I think that’s getting off very easy indeed. If it were up to me, I’d have you investigated as part of the fraud. But we need your help to straighten out issues in Dallas. Now I hear you are one heck of an actor, you might as well be acting right now. But I believe that you don’t know where Carlson is going. It would be best to leave you out of it. We know how to search this city and we may yet find him. It won’t matter after a few days though. You can even go warn him if you dare. But I think you’re smarter than that. And so is he. He knows that we are on to him. He wouldn’t have left this photo album in the crate otherwise.”

“I guess not. That surprises me. I haven’t ever seen this. I’ll tell you another thing. Vernon is a very smart man. He was on to your tricks from the start. He can hide and get away anytime. He has friends in high places. I can’t even tell you who they are. He doesn’t need me to warn him and I won’t try. All I want to do is be part of the theater and free of this nightmare. You can tell Tom not to worry about me. And thank him for the referral at the Liberty. I’ll be sure to make him proud.”

“I hope that you do son. Nobody wants to hurt you in any way. It’s not your fault that Carlson is who he is. By providing you with this opportunity we’ve given you a way out. So take it and don’t look back. Be willing to help fix things for William and Sarah if you are required. And if you need any help, you can come to me. I’m not that bad of a guy and I like to see things turn out for the good.”

I appreciate that Joe. I’m willing to help. Just tell me exactly what you want the statement to say and I’ll sign it.”

Joe sat with Gerald as he wrote out the statement. It was easy for him to do and it wouldn’t hurt Vernon either, he was on his own to get away. Deep inside he wanted the time to come when he could confront Tom, but that was for another day much further down the road.

The stock broker never returned to his office. He realized the trouble and cashed out as well. The American Cottonseed Oil Trust was in for a lot of tribulation as things were going to take a turn for the worse in the southern states. Louisiana would be the first to take action as they realized the carpet bagging ways of the investors. Bat received word from John Templeton that Quentin Renfro was caught trying to leave town. It appears that he was in communication with those in New York and thought he would run early. Authorities seized all of his records and arrested Paul Gusset as well. There was only one man needed to complete the puzzle.

The days flew by as the crates sat in the flat under surveillance. Lucas and Bat could only walk the docks and think about finding a needle in a haystack. They went to the train stations and handed out wanted posters to the terminal personnel and what conductors they could find. The NYPD manhunt was doing the same with no results. Lucas still had a fishing trip in mind. The weather was good and no progress was being made. Lucas went for another fish lunch and then over to the fishing shop to make a reservation. He was on his own as Bat wanted to keep looking along the freight docks. He had no interest in going fishing again. Lucas wanted to get his fill of fish because he knew he wouldn’t be this way again any time soon. He went into the shop and the man was not there. He looked at his photo on the board and walked around for a few minutes. The boat was still out so he sat in a chair outside the door to wait. It was a nice warm day and Lucas began to doze off when the shopkeeper came back.

“Hey there Lucas! Glad to see you. I’ve been wondering if you were ever coming back! How’s the manhunt going?”

“Not so good I’m afraid. We’ve been checking every dock and railroad terminal. We had an idea that he might try an escape by sea. He’s an old man though, it might not agree with him. Maybe he only was going to ship his crates. It may soon be time to give up and go home. I wanted to go fishing one more time though, so here I am!”

“We’ve been busy of late. The fishing season is at the peak and there aren’t many openings. I have one three days from now and I can put ya on a list in case we have a cancellation.”

“I can live with that. I guess I’ll have to check in for the next few days.”

“That’s how it’s done. I could let your hotel know if ya like.”

“Nah, that wouldn’t be any fun. I’d like to get by here on my rounds anyhow. It’s nice to go by the market and look at the goodies while I’m at it.”

“The fishing has been great ever since you were on board. They’re still talking about that trip. In fact, we haven’t had an open spot since that day!”

“I’m glad to hear it! I wouldn’t want to keep anyone from getting their turn. And let’s keep my going again a secret while we’re at it.”

“Not a problem, shall we use another name on the register?”

“Yes. I go by Bill Roth sometimes. I won’t wear my big hat either. I’d just like to have a good day of fishing without any interruptions.”

“I know what ya mean Lucas, sometimes we get a popular guy on board and they have nothing but trouble. I know you had a big time of it the other day.”

“I don’t mind that so much as long as they’re respectful. But I’m going alone this time and just want to be one of the guys. I think I can look like I know what I’m doing and the crew can always keep an eye out for me. And by the way, we’re kind of getting to know each other here, what’s your name?”

“You know, we never introduced, it hadn’t crossed my mind! I’m Orson Granderson, folks call me “Orly”. You know, Orly to bed, Orly to rise!” They shook hands to complete the formality.

“Well I’m real pleased to know you Orly. I want to thank you for helping me feel at home while I’m here.”

“The pleasure’s all mine Lucas. The Captain will need to know who ya are just to be safe. He’s a good old boy that Captain, always on the look out for his best customers. So I’ll see ya tomorrow then. Say, I got some work to do down below the dock. We have our mechanical room there. Want to take a look?”

“Sure, why not?” Lucas followed him down some stairs to a shop room below the dock.

“Here we have spare parts for the boat and I fix the fishing rods and reels too. Sometimes we need the woodwork repaired. We can do almost anything except smithing. They won’t let us make a fire on the docks. That is a bad thing with all of this wood around!”

I reckon so. I deal a lot with the blacksmith’s art back home on the ranch. I guess they need that kind of thing here too. Where do you go?”

“We take our work to a shipyard or sometimes we go to a livery stable if it’s just a small job. There are a few up the street a ways.”

“With all of these horses around I guess so! Seems I learn more about the city every day. I sure liked the horse I rode in the Wild West show. Come to think of it, they had a smith of their own. Don’t that beat all?”

“I wish I had time for that, I bet you guys had some high times there. I saw the story in the paper anyhow. And those rifles, I’d give anything for one of those! Someday I’ll find the time.”

“I’ll fix you up brother. I have a working model I’d be honored to give to you. It won’t have the engraving, but that’s better so you’ll want to shoot it. I’ll bring it to you tomorrow.”

“That’s too good Lucas! And your fishing trip is on us this time. That makes a great deal! And one more thing, I want you to have this.” Orly handed him a heavy duty knife with a pearl handle. He reached behind a tool box and gave him a sheaf that was made for it. You can wear this on the boat. Most of the guys have them. Keep it oiled and sharp. It’ll help you fit in better.”

“That’s mighty fine of ya Orly. I can hardly wait to lay that rifle on you now!”

They continued to talk and Lucas learned the chores of a boat mechanic. Later on, Lucas showed Bat the knife and it gave him a case of envy as much as he liked pearl handles. The next day he brought the rifle and several boxes of bullets to the shop and gave Orly a lesson on how to handle it and whip it around. They had a great time as they took it below to the shop so Lucas could show him how to take it apart and clean it. When they were finished the rifle was put in its case and placed out of sight alongside the workbench. Orly gave Lucas a brand new pearl handled knife as a gift for Bat.

Bat and Lucas continued to walk the docks from dawn to dusk. They went each day to see the boats off as they embarked. They realized that the chances of finding anything were slim and thoughts of going back to Dallas were creeping in. Templeton told them there should be enough evidence from the photos, broker records, and Gerald to do prove their case.

On the day that Lucas was to go fishing Bat noticed a passenger ship that was leaving for a final destination of Southern Mexico. It was to embark at eight in the morning. He made a point to be there. He was going to meet Lucas when the fishing boat returned later in the day. Lucas was already on the boat and well underway. As he sat talking to some of his fellow fishermen Lucas noticed a group of men that didn’t seem to fit in. They sat by themselves and weren’t very interested in getting ready to fish. They wore overcoats and big hats which seemed out of place. Lucas kept looking over at them and tried not to stare. Finally, he got a good look at their faces when it was close to time for the fishing to begin. The men were helped by the crew and obviously knew little about what they were about to do. Lucas couldn’t help but think about Carlson. He kept a close watch on them and found an excuse to go near. Sure enough one of them had to be Carlson. His hair looked a phony dark black too.

It was hard for Lucas to believe what he thought he saw. He tried to act casual and kept fishing, but the thoughts of what to do wouldn’t leave him alone. Bat would be at the docks when they returned if he needed help to apprehend them. What were they doing on this boat? Finally, he went up to the Captain to tell him what he thought was going on.

“I must tell ye Lucas, these men are paying me to take ‘em to join with a ship that will be passing by in a short while. Fer some reason they didn’t want to be seen getting aboard at the docks. They may be who ye say they are, but I can’t stop ‘em. They ‘ave guns and threatened me. I had to let them get aboard.”

“Can’t you let me make like I’m sick or something and maybe insist on heading back? I’ll have help at the dock when we get there.”

“I’d like to help ye Lucas, but they wouldn’t like that and it could be dangerous fer me afterwards if’n we didn’t let ‘em do what they want.”

“I understand sir. How much longer do you reckon until we meet the ship?”

“Oh, maybe an hour, little more. I know ye must want ‘em bad Lucas. I promise to think on this, but please don’t do anything to endanger anyone.”

“Thanks Captain. If you can find a way to miss that ship or fake a problem I’d sure appreciate it.”

“I won’t promis ye, but if’n you was to do a good job of getting’ hurt or sick, we might ‘ave to turn back.”

“I’ll be sure to give a convincing performance and wait until we come within sight of the ship. I’ll remove my cap to signal before I do anything.” Lucas was wearing a black knit cap similar to many of the men onboard.

Lucas went back to his spot on the rail and let his line out. He brought up several average size fish and things were moderately busy for everyone. He tried to think of a way to create a diversion when the ship came close. He felt for his Colt under his shirt. It was cold to the touch, still a virgin in this world of killing. He hadn’t fired it for over a week. He wondered if the time in the salt air from the docks and now on the boat could cause enough corrosion to keep it from working. He reckoned it was still new enough and well oiled.

As luck would have it, Lucas got a fish on just as the ship came into view. He could feel that it was a big one. He took the fight up and down the rail and caused as much commotion as possible. He could tell it was’t as big as the one a week ago, but he fought it as if it was. He played out the line several times when he didn’t really need to. The ship was starting to get close and the Captain had no choice but to let Lucas fight the fish. He kept waiting for a signal from Lucas, but he couldn’t take his hands off of the pole. Some of the men started to bring in their lines so Lucas could have more room to fight. He moved back and forth and worked his way towards the three men in overcoats. They didn’t know what to do as Lucas got closer and closer.

Now the ship was expecting a signal and the men in the overcoats were looking up at the Captain for some action. One of them tossed his pole overboard and went up to talk with him. He came back with the Captain to the spot where Lucas was now right next to them. They were arguing and the man told the Captain to make Lucas give up on the fish so they could come alongside the ship. Lucas could see the trouble brewing and got even closer, the fish was still pulling hard and a crewman was nearby with a gaff hook. The Captain yelled at Lucas to let the fish go, he was causing too much trouble. Lucas turned to look at him with a wink of his eye and then suddenly made as if the fish lunged in the direction of the overcoats. He slipped and crashed into them sending both, Carlson and the one closest to him, sprawling onto the deck. A crewman rescued the pole and kept the fish online. The overcoat standing with the Captain went for his revolver as he was going to put a stop to things right off. Lucas brought his out first and everyone else on board hit the deck or found someplace to hide.

The overcoat with the gun didn’t have time to put a hold on the Captain to force the issue and was standing in the open with Lucas, on his back, pointing his gun at him. The other two were still on the ground and were reaching for their guns. Lucas could not hold all of them off. The one standing decided to make his move and went to fire at Lucas. As everyone knows, Lucas does not hesitate. He pulled the trigger and sent the man down on the deck holding his right arm which now had a sizeable chunk missing. His gun slid far away and was picked up by a man nearby. Lucas whirled around to see Carlson and his lone protector with their guns drawn. Just before they could fire, two crewmen came to the rescue with gaff hooks and knocked the guns from their hands. Others nearby rushed the overcoats and kept them on their backs as Lucas got up with his gun on them. The Captain happened to have a pistol of his own and brought it out to help Lucas keep the peace.

“Hello there Vernon! Nice to see you, get up! Lucas motioned with his gun and moved towards him. With no time to think Vernon stood up.

“Curse you Lucas McCain! I know who you are! Plastered all over the paper with that mug of yours! The Rifleman indeed! You’ll pay for this!”

“Maybe I will, but I know you have a price to pay. I’m not the sort to see devils like you get away! All three of you, get over by the rail here and don’t try anything. Hold onto the rail and spread your feet. The crewmen picked up the guns and stood nearby with the gaffs as Lucas made each man remove his coat and checked them for other weapons. The man who was shot was helped to wrap his arm in some cloth, he was bleeding badly. The Captain knew what had to come next.

“Sorry mates, we must turn back early today. I hope ye can understand. No charge for the extra excitement and the next trip is free! Drinks are on me when we get back!” Not a soul complained. The crewman helped tie the three up by their feet and kept watch at the stern. The Captain signaled the ship that they should go on and that everything was under control. They were watching all along and knew there was trouble.

On the way back Lucas told the Captain that he should go ahead to the dock in a life boat to make sure there would be no further trouble when the boat came in. There were plenty of guns for the crew to hold Carlson and his friends, Lucas had his and took one other. He asked a member of the crew and another man to go with him. When they were reasonably close to shore they rowed in and arrived under the dock to a small landing near the mechanical room. Lucas went to find Bat and the shopkeeper, leaving the others on the steps out of sight. There were several men waiting to meet with those with Carlson to confirm his safe passage. Bat was talking with Orly in the shop while they waited for the boat to come in. They didn’t suspect anything and were shocked when Lucas appeared before them.

“I don’t have time to explain everything right now. A few of us came in early on a lifeboat. You won’t believe this, but Vernon Carlson and two other men were on the fishing boat today. They were trying to get him on a passing ship. I took action to put a stop to it. We have them tied up on the boat. We figure there may be more men waiting here and wanted to come ahead to be safe.” Lucas was breathing heavy and seemed worn out.

Bat brought out his pistol and checked it immediately. “We better take a look around outside then. Are you alright Lucas?”

“I’m fine, just been a little busy. Rowing is tough work. I’ve got two men waiting on the steps to the mechanical room. They have one other gun. The boat must be getting close, we should check outside in case anyone is waiting around.”

“I don’t want to see any of these men become involved in a gun fight.” Bat looked at Orly. “Can you do us a favor and make haste to the police dept? Ask for Detective Joe Murray and tell them that we may have trouble here. They should send help right away!”

“Yes sir! Please be careful, there’s going to be a lot of people gathering when the boat comes in.”

“We will do our best friend, but who knows what could happen. We’re going to clear the dock ahead of time to be safe. There are only a few people out there right now, it will work to our advantage to walk about and speak to everyone we see. Lucas, let’s get to your men and then see who we can find.”

Orly walked out and tried to leave unnoticed. Lucas and Bat went to the steps and asked the two men to stay put and only come out if trouble required them to. They started to walk along the dock and spoke to the few people they saw waiting around. They showed their badges, warned them of a possible incident, and asked if they would calmly walk away until after the boat arrived. This was not a problem for the first few they encountered. As they were getting close to the two men waiting for Carlson’s friends they could see that they were getting nervous. They couldn’t walk away as they were near the end of the dock and would have to go by Lucas and Bat. It was obvious that a confrontation was brewing.

Before they could get close, the men made a move to hide behind some large wood boxes and drew out their guns. Lucas took one side not far from the steps and Bat made way behind another wood box. Bullets began to fly as Bat just got out of the way and returned fire. Lucas fired back as well. There was nowhere for the men to run and they would have to break cover to dive into the water some fifteen feet below. Lucas was not carrying a lot of ammunition and the few bullets he had on his holster belt went fast. He waved at Bat and pointed to the stairs. While Bat kept them busy with cover fire Lucas went down the stairs and brought the men into the store room. He went to the side of the workbench and there was the rifle and boxes of bullets he gave to Orly. He asked them to take the lifeboat and wait under the docks in case the men decided to jump. He gave them his pistol and the few bullets then ran back with the rifle to help Bat keep them pinned down. The men continued to return fire and seemed to have plenty of ammo. Lucas took up a favorable position and began to return fire. The bullets smashed through the wood and took their toll on the men’s ability to return fire. Lucas kept them coming and Bat was more able to reply as well.

The men became desperate, one of them popped up at a bad time and Lucas nailed him in the shoulder. He fell and landed on his back. By this time Lucas had enough, he looked over at Bat and reloaded a fresh eleven rounds. The last man was stubborn and Lucas wondered what made him keep firing. Bat gave him a few rounds so Lucas could come out in rapid fire. He pumped the rounds and held the man down while Bat walked behind him ready to finish him off should he try to fire again. There wasn’t much wood left to the box and they were getting close. The man held his pistol up in the air and then tossed it aside. Lucas and Bat held their fire as the man stood up. He came out moving toward the edge of the dock and finally jumped for the water. He didn’t get far as the lifeboat came out to nab him. The smell of gunpowder permeated the air as a large group of policemen arrived in time to take the men into custody. Orly brought out a mirror and signaled to the fishing boat to come in. Joe Murray showed up soon after the policemen to join in the wait for the boat’s arrival.

Fulton’s Foray — Roundup

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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