The Rifleman
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Fan Fiction

Fulton's Fury

Show Me the Money — Chapter Twenty-Three
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

On Monday morning Lucas and Bat went with Tom to his stock broker’s office. They asked him to prepare an offer to purchase ten thousand dollars worth of Graham Textiles stock and to suggest that there is plenty more to come if things went well. They explained that in the future they wanted to make an investment in cotton seed oil as they were coming into large amounts of money from the gun shows. They wanted to have an official response from the proposal before any money was to change hands. They told of meeting R.J. Graham in Dallas and that they would appreciate a direct communication from him to make the transaction complete. Tom’s broker made sure it was understood that no matter what happened a fee would be charged. He was happy to conduct the business proposal as requested. He already knew Graham’s broker from Tom’s previous purchase. They were the same firm involved with Carlson. This was sure to draw attention within a day or two. If they responded positive about the oil then they had further proof that Renfro was trying to hide this part of the business from them.

After the meeting they went to the Fulton Market for more fish and then Lucas took them to meet the man at the Sport Fishing shop. The dock was empty as the boat was still out for the day’s expedition. They discovered that there was enough space if they wanted to go the next day. After that they would be busy with the Wild West show and then things were sure to heat up over Carlson. They signed up to go and paid to rent poles and related gear. The boat was due back soon so they decided to wait for a look at what they could expect. As they talked in the shop, there were some black and white photos of men posing next to tied up fish so big that they were as long as the fishermen were tall. Bat took notice of nearby ships at dock that were unloading cargo. As he saw the crates and barrels hoisted out it dawned on him that Carlson might be preparing to leave by ship. How else can crates be transported?

“Say Lucas, don’t you think that the crates Carlson must be packing are intended to go by ship?”

“Makes sense to me. I don’t know what else he would be doing with crates, could go by wagon I suppose. But we haven’t seen them yet. I’m more concerned that he’s going to sneak out before that day comes. I hope our business proposal is enough to roust the old boy and give us a reason to nab him. I don’t really understand why we are messing around with all of this surveillance and such. We should be able to take him into custody and prove who he is.”

“I know it seems that easy, but because the police are involved and the laws are what they are, even Vernon Carlson has rights. What if it’s not him? Of course I think we have him, but making a direct connection to Graham will implicate the entire fraud, which is what we’re really after.”

“I understand. It’s the waiting that’s getting to me. Where I’m from we don’t mess around like this. It gives an outlaw time to get away.”

“I’m with you Lucas. Too many times I saw them get away to No Man’s Land. That’s why I’m trying to be with the detectives as much as I can. I try to take a walk around the building every so often too. We’ll be ready for him.”

“I’ve been through No Man’s Land. I came from near those parts. Went through there over last Christmas in fact. It won’t be long before their hiding places are gone. But in this case, I’m willing to bet our man has either Europe or South of the Border in mind.”

“Lucas, you read my mind! I love it. We need to learn these docks and find out what ships are preparing to sail when and where.” Bat walked over to the counter and asked the man how one would go about finding out such things.

“Most ships are required to log in with the registry at the Maritime Office. It’s required for taxation and safety. And they are expected at their destinations in most cases too.”

“I should have known! Thank you from a land lubber my friend.” Bat took out a Cheroot and handed it to the man. “I have these special made back in Texas, I hope you enjoy it.”

“Thank you mate, and I hope ya catch a big one tomorrow, should be good weather. They’ve been doing real well of late. You picked a good time to go.”

A few minutes later a steam powered boat full of happy men docked and began to unload their fish and gear. It was a hectic scene to say the least. Lucas was enthused as he watched the men take turns posing in front of the large cod being lifted from the boat on a boom. Others were busy at tables cleaning their smaller fish all the time laughing and telling stories. By now there were more onlookers gathering. They walked around chatting with the fishermen and admiring the catch.

Lucas was ready to get out on the water right away, but first there was a matter of visiting the Wild West. Upon their arrival at Madison Square Garden, Bill was waiting to take them into the arena for a practice session. Over the weekend Bill’s crew built a special heavy duty barrier and rigged a rack to hold shot glasses and card holders. Lucas went first and blasted ten shot glasses with ease.

“I like the lighting, much less glare than outside. I’m hopeful there’s nothing to ricochet off of.”

“We have ten inches of wood and a metal sheet behind for the barrier. I tried it out with my 45. I think it will be plenty safe. We are going to add a fresh layer of wood just before the show on Thursday. I want you boys to give it a good practice session now and then again on Wednesday. You should have everything to your liking by then.” Bill stood back so Bat could take a turn. Bill was impressed with Bat’s quick draw and sure ability to destroy the bar glass. Lucas loaded 11 bullets in his rifle and set up the target rack to split ten cards. Lillian Smith along with Annie and Frank arrived on the scene to witness Lucas at his best. He had the rifle crossed in his arms as he saw them join Bill. Just as they came to a stop, Lucas spun around and grabbed the rifle out of the air. He pumped the lever as fast as he could and all ten cards were torn in half. As a final gesture he cocked the rifle one last time to reveal the eleventh unspent round. Everyone cheered with delight. Bill stood frozen over what he had just witnessed.

Finally he had to say something. “Lucas! That was the most amazing shooting I’ve ever seen! You men have a job in our show anytime you want!”

“Why thank you Mister Cody! I’ll keep that in mind. But I think you already have a group of very special target masters.” Lucas gazed fondly over to Annie who was all smiles.

They walked over to the barrier to inspect the damage. There were a lot of splinters in the front and not one hole or dent in the metal sheet.

“I’m confident these barriers will do the job. The Winchester rifle has the most power I believe and if we do get any holes in the sheet, we can load ya up some special bullets that have just a little less powder.” Bill ran his hands over the metal sheet while the rest started back to prepare for more shooting.

Annie walked along with Lucas and gave him some encouragement. “You’re gonna love performing here Lucas. My only advice is to be ready for the noise. Do you recall how loud it was in here during the show?”

“Oh yes I do, but I was just a bit distracted by everything going on. I reckon I’ll be alright with it.”

“I think so too. I just wanted to make sure you’re aware because it took me a little while to get used to it. I do miss every so often you know. I can usually cover it with another shot, but sometimes I just have to gesture that I’m mad at the target and give it another try. The audience expects me to show off and get crazy. It all happens so fast and we’re under a rigid schedule to keep the show moving.”

“I understand that. We’ve done our show outdoors three times now and the noise was not a factor. We also had many days of practice at the public ranges so that by show time we were ready to do our thing. We won’t have that luxury here.”

“Well, I can see that you’re ready to split those cards. You won’t have anything to worry about. Just keep your mind focused on the targets and do your best to ignore the audience. I would advise that you attend the show with us on Wednesday as a warm up. Maybe Bill will let you two be in the cast somewhere so you can have a look from the performer’s perspective.”

“I like that idea, let’s see what Bill thinks. I really want to thank you for your hospitality Annie. I’m very glad to have you to talk with.”

“Why thank you Lucas. I like you too. I don’t often get to chat with a down home sort. The way things go around here I wind up talking with the Indians more than anyone else.

I enjoy their ways and most have a very gentle nature about them. They’re not always happy to act as the bad guys in our show, but they also have it much better here than on the reservation. I hope what they’re doing does some good for the younger generations. Their story should be remembered. And I do agree that there needs to be some truth involved. It’s hard, but we all love the life this show affords us.”

“Are you looking forward to going to England? It must be very exciting!”

“Yes I am. They need to know the Western story as much as anyone else. I want to learn what they’re about. Our path goes both ways and is well worn, but I imagine they don’t see enough of our customs while we have seen plenty of theirs.”

“We need to heal the old wounds Annie. We’re not that far past the Civil War but we have learned to get over the hatreds and work together. Just look at this city, so full of busy people. It seems as if they don’t have time to hate. I’m still trying to figure out what makes them tick!” Lucas took off his Stetson and wiped the sweat from his brow as they returned to join the others at the firing line.

“New Yorkers are a different breed. Everything changes so fast and this is about the most densely populated place on earth. If you can make it in this city, you can do it anywhere. There are good and hateful people as in all places, they fight the same battles and more. You have to look longer into their eyes to see it”

“I guess so. The big city has many layers where we are more direct out west. Everybody knows each other in town and on the ranches. Our battles are fought out in the open and dealt with swiftly. Only recently have I been learning about the subtle ways of city life.”

“I know what ya mean Lucas. That is the kind of life I knew back in Ohio. But comes a time when we must look at the world with modern eyes. I know this is a big change for you by coming here. One thing’s for sure, the lead flies just as straight as anywhere else! We’ll give them a show they’ll never forget!”

“Thanks for cheering me up Annie, let’s split some more cards!” Lucas loaded his rifle and handed it to Annie. Then he set up ten more cards for her.

Annie took her time but missed the first one by the slightest of margins. She wrinkled her brow and studied where the second bullet hit, right on the edge of the card! Then she went right to it and shot four more. She turned to hand the rifle back to Lucas then suddenly took it back and shot the last five cards as slick as you please. It took all eleven bullets to kill the ten cards, but everyone was amazed at her ability to learn an unfamiliar weapon. The practice went on for another hour and then it was close to show time. Lucas told them about their fishing plans in the morning and that they wanted to get to bed early. Bill warned them about going out on a boat and wondered if they shouldn’t wait until after the show on Thursday. They didn’t want to explain about Carlson and told them that they would be alright. Bat had been on boats before, but never like what he was about to experience!

They got up very early and were at the dock by six o’clock. They had several cups of coffee while the crew made ready to cast off. Lucas could feel the difference the moment he stepped onto the deck. The motion never stopped. There were places to sit but many of the veteran fishermen remained standing until the boat was underway.

“Ahoy ye slimy dogs! Are ye ready to catch the big ones?” The Captain came out onto the top deck to look over his crew.

“Hooray!” Replied the men

“We hit ‘em good yesterday and I figer to do even better this day! I want ye all to ‘ave a great time and be careful. If ye aren’t sure what yer doin’, let one of the crew help ye. Always be thinkin’ safety first and big fish second. We’ll be underway for over three hours men, so make yer selves comfortable and get ready fer some action!”

Tom knew what he was in for, Bat and Lucas had only heard about cod fishing. The water rolled easy, almost as flat as glass, as they headed out of the harbor. The waves picked up as they progressed into the open ocean. Lucas stood at the railing to watch the city disappear on the horizon. It was an unsettling feeling at first. Bat joined him for a while but Tom remained seated.

“I’ve not lost sight of land before Bat. My whole life I have wondered what this would be like.”

“It kind of makes one feel smaller in the world. There’s no where to run out here. Can’t you just feel what a sailor or pirate goes through?” Bat drew in a deep breath and stretched out his arms.

“That is part of why I wanted to do this. You can hear the stories all day long, but it’s really something to get out on the water and feel it for yourself.”

“This is new for me also. The waves are getting bigger now, maybe we should sit down.”

“Not that much different than riding a horse I reckon. But I guess you’re right. We should reserve our legs for when the fish are leaping into the boat.” Lucas sat down with the others. Chatter among the men was brisk as they got their lines and bait ready. They were going to use squid and five hooks a piece. Some of the men were on board the day before and told of the big fight where a man had three fish on at once and had to maneuver from the bow to the stern trying not to tangle with the others. They advised each other that if they saw someone struggling to either get out of the way or bring in their line until the situation had ended. Lucas and Bat cut their own bait with the new knives and learned quickly how to tie the knots and operate the reels. Tom let the crewman get his gear ready and kept his seat until it was time to drop the lines. He drifted in and out of slumber as the boat bobbed along in the waves.

All of a sudden Tom awoke to the shuffle of many feet and shouting men. The order had been given. The lines were dropped and the men stood awaiting the first sign of action. The pole felt light in the strong hands of Lucas McCain. He had his leather gloves on as did Bat and Tom. They did not want to risk hand injury and this was just the place to hurt them. Lucas was the first one to get a bite. The pole slammed downwards much harder than he expected. He let out some line and a crewman stood at the ready in case he needed a hand. Bat and Tom stood back at first, but before they knew it they had a fish on too. Others around the boat were getting busy, the fish were biting just as the Captain predicted. Lucas heaved and wrestled the pole back and forth as if he was breaking a horse. The fight went on for close to half an hour. Lucas reeled in the line a precious little bit at a time and then paid it back out. Others were doing the same. The smaller fish began to come onto the deck and the clamor to get them off the hook and the bait back into the water was furious. Several men had to get out of the way as Lucas took the fight toward the stern. He had a big one and people were beginning to take notice. A crewman made ready with the gaff hook and stood back when he saw the fish break the surface! He motioned for another man to come help out. Just as Lucas thought he had the monster close enough, it took the line right back out for another round. Finally, the fish was tired and stunned from his rise from the deep. It took Lucas and two other men to lift the fish into the boat. It slapped around and made many have to get out of the way.

A crewman rushed up to the fish and bashed it in the head with a small baton so it would stop thrashing around. “Five feet ten inches cried out the crewman, bigger than yesterday! Must weigh close two hundred pounds! We don’t usually get them this big, something must be driving them down from the north!” The Captain came out from his perch to have a look.

“Blimey mates! We are havin’ a huge run of it aren’t we! Let’s get busy now! I feel the big ones a rumbling below. This be our lucky day!”

Lucas was exhausted sitting on a bench against the cabin wall to rest for a spell. He didn’t expect to run into this kind of luck. Lucas sat there staring at the fat fish in awe of his size. Bat and Tom caught plenty of average sized fish, but they too did not want to over do it. Lucas went back for another round and was able to haul up several more big cod but not anywhere near his first one. He finished the day with a few smaller fish and helped a man bring in one that was over five feet long. In the process the man got a close look at Lucas and asked his name. When he told him it rang a bell right away.

“The Rifleman!” He looked over at the resting Tom and Bat. “And Bat Masterson!” He reached out and shook Lucas’ hand and saw a look of dismay in his eyes.

“Please don’t get too excited just now, were trying to fish here!” Lucas looked around to see several other men standing close by. He stood up and shook their hands. It was too late.

“I’m sorry Lucas, really I am. I couldn’t help it when I recognized you. Look, you men clear out for now. Mister McCain needs room, he has some fishing left to do.”

“It’s alright my friend. I understand. And all of you men, thanks for understanding. I’ll be happy to meet any of you in just a little while.” Lucas went back to his spot along the rail and dropped his line. Each man on board caught more than one fish. It was one of the best days the Captain had ever witnessed. The boat was headed back before one o’clock in the afternoon. Lucas and Bat held court talking to the men and enjoying the feeling of heading home with a catch worth bragging about. Lucas caught the biggest fish for many a day. The boat’s custom was to make a wager at the start as a prize for the biggest fish. Lucas was presented with a sack full of coins and paper money totaling well over one hundred dollars. Back at the dock they hoisted the giant cod with a boom and the men took turns having their picture taken with the celebrities. A newspaper reporter showed up and gathered the story quickly. This was one time they were happy to get into the paper. The photo of Lucas and Bat with the fish was one that would long hold its place on the bait shop wall. They asked the shopkeeper to arrange for the meat to be delivered to Buffalo Bill. It was set to be used for a feast before the Thursday show.

Once the excitement wore off, the three men started to walk towards the street to look for Greg and the carriage. The ground seemed to move underneath them as if they were still on the boat. Tom knew this was coming and said not a word. He let them have the full experience on their own. Neither man became sick, but the feeling intensified on the way back to the hotel. Greg dropped them off and then took a very worn out Tom home.

Lucas and Bat were happy to ride the elevator on this occasion!

With the news of the Thursday show and the celebrity’s fishing trip in the New York Times, Vernon Carlson could not help but take notice. He was also notified about the stock purchase proposal during his Tuesday night visit with the carrier from his broker. He was beside himself with worry. He knew this was the time to run. Gerald was over for his last visit on Wednesday evening. The crates were packed and all of Gerald’s belongings were back at his flat. They had a roast of prime beef and drank wine. Vernon’s flat looked stark without paintings on the walls. The furniture was too much to deal with of course, it was to stay behind. Vernon wasn’t keen on having very many possessions as he knew he might have to run one day. He just didn’t want it to be like this. Gerald formed tears as they parted for the last time at the door. He made Vernon promise to contact his father as soon as he got settled. He knew not where he was to go, but Gerald had to take it on faith that his long time boss would send for him one day.

The heart broken actor walked slowly along Broadway watching the street pass by under his feet. He couldn’t help but feel anger towards the circumstances at hand. Part of him wanted to run away and part of him needed to see the play through. His friends were not aware of his association with Carlson. There was no problem in staying the course and it had to be done for that matter. But he wanted to confront Tom Garret one more time. It might take a while, but he would study and learn how to react to his habits just as he had been investigated. It was all too obvious to him that Tom had set him up even though it was easy to deny.

William Brighton sat in the train seat across from the Winchester salesman as they rolled into New York excited about the performance with the Wild West show. They arrived at Grand Central Station and checked into the Fifth Avenue Hotel. The last telegram from Bat told them to be ready for the rehearsal at Madison Square Garden that afternoon. It took them a while to unload their belongings and get the special rifles ready for delivery. Three engraved beauties had the recipient’s name included in the pattern.

The waves were still being felt that morning by the cowboys. Both men slept late then met with William and the salesman for breakfast.

“It’s great to see you guys so spry, I thought we would be the weary ones from our train ride!” William shook hands with Bat and Lucas.

“We went fishing yesterday, never been to sea before. It was quite an experience. Lucas caught several big cod and we had a good work out in the process. One of them suckers was this big!” Bat held out his arms to their full extent to describe the size. “It weighed just over two hundred pounds!”

“Good Lord!” replied the salesman. “I’ve been out there a number of times and we were lucky to get one or two over a hundred pounds, that’s outstanding.”

“Was it a good fight Lucas?” William asked.

“It was tougher than breaking a horse, I can tell you that! It sapped the strength right out of my arms. I’m still feeling sore from it.”

William formed a small frown on his face. “That’s not the best thing to subject oneself to right before a target shooting performance. I hope you’ll settle down by the time we get to the arena.”

“We’ll figure it out, I‘m already feeling better, but let’s eat and get some fresh air before we get there.” Lucas sat down first and ordered his bacon and eggs.

“I must say that I heard good things about the show in Dallas. You’re making quite a reputation with your turn around card split. I knew that would be a hit.”

“Thanks William, I’m very thankful for your guidance with that. Annie Oakley showed me a thing or two also. She’s quite a special lady.” Lucas began to down a cold glass of milk.

“And Bat, I understand you have a new Colt to show off with. I’m looking forward to seeing that iron. You both are in the right place now. What made you shoot right for the top?”

Bat couldn’t help but answer. “We have ourselves a new legal matter! Our William Fulton is involved in some land ownership controversy. You may recall that his parents were murdered on their farm near Dallas.”

“That I do, what sort of controversy may I ask?”

“It has to do with that farm land and it involves one Sarah Cockrell, who was friends with his parents in the day. She purchased the farm after the murder and now it is leased to a cotton company.”

“I’ve heard of Sarah, she’s very wealthy. What led you to New York then?”

“It’s complicated, but to keep it brief, the cotton company is based here and we have suspicion that the man behind the company is the same man that murdered Will’s parents. He was supposed to have been tried and hung in Dallas years ago, but big money has been known to buy one’s way out of such things. We have identified a suspect here and we’re gathering evidence right now while keeping him under surveillance.”

“That’s remarkable! You seem to stay in the way of trouble wherever you go Bat. And I also know about the Luke Short incident. Does the fun ever end?”

“I wouldn’t call that much fun, but I know what you mean. I have dragged Lucas and Will through the muck ever since we came to Dallas. It wasn’t enough that we barely escaped Santa Fe. I guess you could say that we knew the job of being with Fulton was dangerous when we took it.”

“And where is he? I should think he would love to be here.”

Lucas piped up as he saw the food coming. “We decided it best for somebody to go back to the ranch and keep the girls safe. It might get ugly here and in Dallas before we are through. We thought the gun show was good cover while we were here.”

“And dare I ask, how did you get involved with Cody? You know I have met the man some years ago, he’ll recall it” William smiled as he looked at the stack of pancakes just placed in front of him.

“Before Bat can tell his story, I started to read about him on the train coming here. It seemed natural that we should at least see the Wild West and this led to a decision to approach him. The show is about to leave for London and we didn’t have a lot of time to play around. Bat, the floor is all yours.” Lucas waved his huge hand as his fork plunged into his eggs.

“Thank you Lucas!” Bat gave him a little eye brow lift before he turned to speak to Brighton. He told him about the Thompson incident and how he met Bill Cody so many years ago. William laughed with delight about the buckshot carriage ride. Then he proceeded to describe his encounter with Buffalo Bill when he was on the road performing in gun shows. It was nothing real special, but Bill was impressed by his skills and told him that he should come work with him one day soon. But William met John Browning instead and never got around to taking Bill up on his offer. They continued to catch up while they finished the Fifth Avenue breakfast. Lucas was very happy with his eggs and bacon. It did wonders for his wave riding stomach.

By early afternoon the sea weariness had subsided enough for them to show their faces at Madison Square Garden. Bill could tell right away that they were still feeling the effects.

“William Brighton! I’m so glad to see you! It’s been a long time. Need a job?” Bill laughed heartily as he looked back over at Lucas and Bat. “You boys alright?”

“You were right boss!” Bat replied. “We had one heck of a good time though. We sent the fish over here so we could have it for a feed tomorrow.”

“That sounds real good, it might even be here by now. It will stay on ice. That is one of the luxuries we have in the city. It might cost a bit, but ice is one thing we can’t do without. Do you think you can shoot?”

“Only one way to find out!” Lucas wanted to get right to it.

“Ok then, no cigars and no drinkin’ for now. You men have several hours to set your sights. I wish ya luck!” Bill led them to the arena and took a walk around to the back of the barrier to make sure one of his crew was there to keep watch.

Lucas took aim for some warm up rounds at the shot glasses. The targets were dancing for a few moments so he let his eyes relax and waited for things to come to a rest. He missed his first shot and then thought about Annie a few days before. He looked at where his round had hit and made a slight adjustment. The next one shattered with ease. Bat stood back and watched at first. He practiced drawing his gun while Lucas did his thing. William used the time to inspect Bat’s new Colt. He put on the holster and gave it a spin. After a few minutes Bat got used to taking aim and went right to hitting the targets. William blasted a few with the long barrel Colt and fell in love with the pistol. Bill joined them with his Colt and they had a good time destroying bar glass for the rest of the hour. Frank and Annie showed up after that and they worked on hitting clay pigeons. William joined Frank as they tossed them up only a short distance so they would stay in line with the barrier. William was going to toss them during the show and wanted to get used to it. As time went on Lucas and Bat forgot all about the waves and had regained their sure aim. Near the end they changed to shot glasses and glass balls. They conserved the balls for the act but it was necessary to get used to them. The final targets were coins nailed to a board and placed on the rack. They missed a few of these at first but it didn’t take long to get a bead on them. The coins popped off the board and it gave an interesting effect that would make it obvious to the audience that they actually hit them.

When they were finished it was a few hours before the show. People were starting to get busy in the arena. Bill talked to them about how Annie thought it would be a good idea to be in the show somehow so they could get used to the noise and see things first hand. They agreed to be passengers for the train robbery so there would be nothing to learn other than to hand over the loot when the outlaws came along. They were given horses to ride in the opening parade. They were going to do this tomorrow as well. The only difference was that the audience would know they were present. Lucas was happy to get on a horse after so long. Bill let them ride around while he took his walk about the grounds with the Winchester salesman. When the parade started they rode with the cowboys and waved their hats. With the band playing and the audience cheering Lucas could hardly hear himself speak as he tried to comment to Bat. It did seem very different than when seated in the audience. It was a joy to stay with the cast and see how the show worked from the inside. They could understand what Annie meant. Both men imagined what it would be like trying to concentrate on their performance under these conditions. William gave them some advice on how to shut out the noise and think only of the targets. They were able to stand to the side as both Annie and Lillian performed their acts. By the end of the show, they were exhausted. They spent a brief time discussing what was going to happen for the show the next evening and visiting with Annie and Lillian. They had all the advice in the world from the best in the business. Tomorrow would be their time to show the world what they could do.

Vernon Carlson was impatient to go. His plan was close to complete. Thursday night during the show was the set time for him to leave. He thought it best as Bat Masterson was not going to be watching for sure. The crates were scheduled to leave a week after he did. Members of his inner circle were going to come and go in an attempt to hide the time that Vernon would make his getaway. Gerald was gone and all he could do was wait.

Meanwhile, the detectives met with Joe and Bat late that Wednesday night. Bat told them to make sure to keep an extra careful watch while they were at the show on Thursday. It was obvious that Vernon knew of it by now. This was part of the plan to encourage him to make a move.

The fish feed on Thursday afternoon was a welcomed change from the usual grub. Bill saw to it that everyone had plenty of fun. The band played western music and card games carried on, which made Bat a very popular character. Others played their favorite games and William took a special interest in a knife throwing competition among some of the men. Once things settled down, Bill made a formal introduction for Bat, Lucas, and William as he explained how they were to fit into the show. The next order of business was something Lucas was really looking forward to.

“Ladies and gentlemen! We have a very special presentation to make. I would like to call up Annie Oakley and Lillian Smith.” The ladies came to join Bill as Lucas was handed the first wood box by William. “We have three very unique people up here, well known for their sharpshooting skills. We would like to give each of them a special edition custom engraved Rifleman Commemorative rifle. Bat, myself, and the Winchester Firearms Company want to show our appreciation for the wonderful work they do and the lessons they have given us not only in the art of gun handling, but in the Western way of life that we have been a part of since we were born. We have been so honored by your hospitality in every way during our visit with the Wild West. Each and every one of you has shared your culture and good will by allowing us into your family. So let’s hear it for William, “Buffalo Bill” Cody!” Flashes from the photographers filled the air.

Bill stepped forward and Lucas presented him with his rifle. A small table was placed in front and he sat the box down to open it. He lifted the rifle above his head which brought on a round of applause.

“We have been very fortunate to get to know a very lovely lady, she has given of her time to be with us as we learned how to be part of this show. I want to thank Lillian Smith for her great contribution to the art of sharpshooting!” Lucas stepped aside as Bat presented her with the second rifle. Lillian opened her box on the table and held it up to another loud cheer.

“And for a very special friend who has been so gracious to work with us and be our mentor. We all know who owns our hearts with every pull of her trigger! Annie Oakley! Annie leapt for joy before Bat handed her the box. Frank was at her side and they both held the rifle up together to more cheers and camera flashes.

Lucas ended the presentation by asking them to stand together holding the three rifles overhead. Lucas and Bat were at each end holding their hats above their heads. This is what wound up on the front page of the next day’s paper. After that, the rifles were left in the open boxes as everyone took a turn for a close look. After the celebration, Bill had his rifle put on display where the Winchester salesman was to host a booth for the audience. Soon it was time for preparations to begin. The fish was all gone and everyone began their daily ritual of getting ready for the show.

The audience started to arrive very early and as show time drew near it was standing room only. The sea legs were forgotten and the men took their place for the parade. Lucas was impressed by the sure footed nature of his horse. Bat and William’s were the same as they started out and remained side by side. They waved their hats and twirled their pistols while Lucas spun his rifle to the audience cheers. They waited their turn patiently and stood to the side while Frank and Annie performed. They handed over some loot in the train robbery and kept themselves busy helping out until it was finally time.

The announcer began the introductions while Lucas and Bat took their places at tables set up with ammo and various guns. Joe Murray, Tom, Greg, and others were present in Bill’s special seats. William Brighton took part as their assistant making sure guns were loaded and targets were in place. Bat asked the announcer to narrate from a short script. He gave a brief account of how life was for a Western Lawman and a Civil War Veteran. It gave descriptions of a few exaggerations and tried to set the stories straight.

The shooting began with quick draws at the shot glasses. William ran back and forth to replace the targets. Bat took the lead at splitting the cards with his long barreled Colt revolver. William set up the next round for Lucas. He spun his rifle and split the cards with ease from his hip. The audience cheered loud for both men. They moved on to shoot the tossed clay pigeons, shot glasses, and glass balls. William sent them into the air and they were shattered with ease. The final targets were coins mounted on the board. This was part of the act because the fans knew about it from the Dallas show’s review in the Times. Lucas and Bat stood side by side, each with a rifle and plugged them all without missing. The audience cheered as the coins flipped into the air when they were hit. William took most of the coins from the ground and tossed them to the people in the front rows for souvenirs. The cheers became very loud as the sharpshooters waved their hats in appreciation. William worked his way back to the target rack to set up the final ten cards. The announcer made some closing remarks and Lucas edged his way over to the table to pick up his rifle. He stood there with it crossed in his arms and the applause went on. Just as the audience was expecting the act to end the announcer told them to remain quiet for just one moment. Bat walked off to the side, but Lucas just stood there as the noise calmed down. As it finally became eerily quiet Lucas tossed the rifle into the air, spun around to catch it, and blasted the ten cards to pieces. He turned around, ejected the eleventh round, caught it with a huge fist, and then tossed it into the air! The audience erupted into a frenzy as the three men bowed. Annie and Lillian both came out and gave them a hug. They all grabbed a rifle from the table and in unison gave them the Rifleman spin. Finally, Bill came out, lifted his hat and gave the shooters a bow.

When the action was over, Lucas and Bat moved on to the Winchester booth to sign autographs and talk with the fans. Some took notice before the show had ended and the crowd grew until it was hard to get near the booth. The Winchester salesman was frantic as he tried to take orders and ask questions. Bill gave them plenty of space to work with but that just gave people more room to occupy. The Cody rifle was on display and many simply wanted to take a good look at the fancy engraving.

Bat leaned over to Lucas in the midst of the madness. “Kind of makes life worth livin’, don’t it!”

Lucas smiled and replied. “And we’ve lived quite a life haven’t we friend!”

“Right you are Lucas my man. We have come a long way in a short time. It don’t get any better than this!”

Fulton’s Foray — Sea Change

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

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