The Rifleman
Welcome to The Writer's Corner
Fan Fiction

The Rifleman's Serenade
Chapter 9 - Rehearsal for a Ghost
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

When the dinner was over the result was a room full of pleasingly intoxicated friends after too many toasts and impatient wives wanting to go home. Some wanted to carry the party over to Sweeney’s and then there was the clean up crew. Lou had a huge job on her hands. Aubrey had enlisted many to stay after to help. When Lucas and Aubrey parted it was to be for the last time until they saw each other at the wedding. Saturday was going to be very busy with parties for each of them.

“My dear, it has been great knowing you as Aubrey Canton. Next time we meet it will be to make you Mrs. Aubrey McCain!” Lucas held her firm and kissed her.

“I wish we didn’t have to wait another day my love.” Her heart was pounding and it was obvious that she wanted out of the gown.

“I’m so tired from all of this, I can’t imagine how you must feel. Can you believe all the hot air that went around this room?” Lucas and Aubrey laughed.

“If it were a balloon it would have lifted off the ground!” Aubrey shook herself loose from his grip and struggled to get better situated within the gown.

“I bet you want out of that thing, don’t blame you one bit.”

“The sooner, the better! I keep saying this has been the best night of my life, and the next day it happens all over again.”

“I pray that never stops happening Aubrey. No matter how much a room full of admirers can fill our heads with such notions, you will always be more to me when we’re by ourselves.” Lucas looked over to spy Morgan waiting for him patiently.

“I feel the same Lucas. Tomorrow will be an eternity as I wait for the next time I am to be in your arms.” This time Aubrey grabbed Lucas and the kiss lingered long.

“I promised Lou I would stay and help with the clean up. You better get on over to Sweeney’s and get your bachelor’s party started early.”

“Those boys can take care of that all by themselves. I’m going to save my energy for you!” Lucas kissed her again and released her hand as if he were giving her away for the angels to protect until the bells chimed. They kept eye contact for a long time as they walked away from each other, both wanting to hold onto the moment forever.

Others tried to join Lucas on the way to Sweeney’s but he lingered to tell them to go on. He had to talk with Morgan for a few minutes and then they would catch up. He made eyes at Johnny to join him finally and they walked out into the evening air and eventually into the marshal’s empty office.

“Johnny Morgan, I can’t get over this. When was the last time we saw each other?”

“Lucas, you have to remember that. It was right before you left Oklahoma for good. We spoke of the risk you were taking by moving Mark so young and that the West was too wild. Little did the West know that Lucas McCain was too strong. You’ve tamed it well my friend!”

“I was a bit too mean maybe, way over confident of myself. Most of all, I wanted to breathe new air, give Mark a fresh chance at life. It wasn’t easy.” Lucas walked over to the stove and put on the coffee pot. “You seem to have something important to tell me, what gives?”

“Do you remember how much you despised a man named Ralph Hayden?”

“I could never forget. He sent that assassin after me a few years ago. You can ask Mark about that. He had me Johnny, dead to rights. What saved me was something unimaginable. Seems Mario had some heavy memories about his own father and it was too much for him to give Mark the same burden. He saw his past in us. God was certainly watching over us that time!”

“That he was my friend. Hayden got very mad about that. All he heard was that you killed Mario. He still doesn’t know how or why. That painting still hangs in his study. He still curses your memory every day.”

“Is that right? I hoped he had given up on his vengeance by now. It was his fault to begin with. He knew better than to go up against me. It never fails to amaze me how far vengeance can go. God never made a more ornery man.” Lucas shuffled the coffee pot and poured two cups.

“That is an understatement. I wouldn’t put it past him to try it again someday. There have been rumors about his health. He must be upwards of 75 by now. They say his heart is weak. He’s lived a long time for someone in a wheelchair.”

“I see. I’ve wondered often about this. Slipped my mind of late I must admit. I have some stories for you as well. I have met an equally evil man, Vernon Carlson. He murdered our William’s parents. We tracked him down in New York not long ago. He even sent an assassin after me only a few weeks ago.”

“My God Lucas, I’ve heard a small bit of news from your gun shows, but I had no idea you’ve been involved in such things. You must tell me more. But first, let me finish about Hayden.”

Alright Johnny, must be important then. I’m listening.” Lucas pulled out two Cheroots and they were soon puffing their way through the ancient past.

“Well. Hayden is said to be on a crusade to finish you off before the end of his days. He has feelers out to find another gunman. He must see your name in the paper. Imagine how that drives him crazy, staring at that painting all the time, his hip hurting, and he can’t get out of that chair. All I want to be sure of is that you know and that I am watching. If I find out who might be gunning for you I’ll get word to you fast.”

“This is amazing. Since I got involved in this gun show thing, Mark and I have been anguishing over our safety. I just told him about the new assassin a few days ago, he hasn’t forgotten Hayden for that matter. We kind of decided I should taper off and quit the shows.”

“That would be a shame. You may not yet realize the fame you are garnishing. People all over this country know who you are. Once your name was mentioned along with Annie Oakley and Bat Masterson, well, it don’t get any better than that! Unless you happen to look like Abraham Lincoln or something.” The two men chuckled.

“I reckon Mark needs to know about this, so do some others I’m afraid. We have a close knit group and watch each other’s backs as you might imagine. But this is about the worst thing I can think of to add to our equation.”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this Lucas. If you ask me, I would take a firm hold on the situation right from the start. Whoever he finds, if he finds one, will come gunning for you no matter where you are or what you’re doing. I don’t think the gun show should matter. But I do understand about the public exposure. It only makes things easier for the gunman.”

“You know, I’ve had to assume all along that there is another gunman every moment of my life. Most of the time I kept that rifle within reach. But recently, I got me a pistol. Can you believe that?” Lucas reached in and brought out the Colt.

Johnny took it into his hands and gave it a good look. “This is quite the change for you Lucas. I never thought you would take this path.”

“I had to, especially with Bat Masterson harping on me all the time. You should see that man draw Johnny. There’s a reason he still lives. It’s the gun!”

“That, we all know! You really hit it big teaming up with him!”

“We can thank Simon Battle for that! Say, I bet he’s wanting to meet up with you!”

“I’m anxious for that to happen, no doubt. There was once a time he didn’t want to hear my name. And I sure didn’t want to run into him. How you two are friends today is a miracle. Funny how one bullet can change things!”

“And how a woman can have twice as much effect!” Lucas thought about Simon’s wife making him promise to give up the gun. Yet there it was, still on his hip, a doctor with a reputation. Lucas had to surround himself with guys who once wanted to kill him and now were his friends. And yet here was another ghost from his past threatening to haunt him.

“Do you have legal representation Lucas?”

“Not at this time. I know a few lawyers in town, but all I do is handle my property matters through them.”

“You really should consider some form of agent when you make deals with companies like Winchester and shows like Buffalo Bill.”

“I tend to agree. If we knew what we were doing going in, we may have sought such a thing. But Bat is a confident sort. He is part lawyer if you ask me.”

“I suppose you’re right there, didn’t think about that. But do give it some thought. I would do it for free to start, maybe keep it inexpensive if it were to be a long term deal.”

“Always looking for a way in the door Johnny! Just the way I expect ya to be. Of course you can join in with me somehow. We’ll talk it over with Bat and the others before ya head home.” Lucas downed his coffee and poured another. “More?”

“Why not, you lawmen sure know your coffee, great flavor!”

“They must be wonderin’ about us by now. Let’s wrap this up and I promise we can talk more before the party tomorrow. I don’t think we should let this out just yet. Be careful around a man named Ron Fitch. He is our reformed assassin from New York. Not many know of this. He won our pistol competition, very good with a gun. I’ll point him out to you.”

“You’re treading in shark infested waters my friend. I don’t envy you that. But it has always been your environment.”

“I didn’t even know I could swim. Why did we ever invent the gun?”

“So lawyers could make a living!” Johnny raised his eyebrows a few times.

“It’s so good to see you Johnny. The water is a bit chilly and the shark’s teeth are sharp. But with you around, I don’t think any of them will dare bite!”

When they reached Sweeney’s they were ushered right to a back table where Bat was holding court with Simon, Fitch, Will, Sam, Micah, and many others gathered around in standing room only fashion. Chairs were immediately surrendered and the court now had a new king. Lucas motioned to Sweeney to refresh the drinks. Bat already had the cards in play and the conversation drowned in the constant drone of the pressing crowd. As in many cases, they left one chair available for temporary guests to sit in for a few hands. This gave most a chance to speak with Lucas and make a donation to the bank of Bat Masterson. Simon managed to get a chair next to Johnny Morgan once things settled down.

“Well Johnny Morgan! Never thought I’d get to see you again.” Simon held out his hand for a shake. Johnny grabbed it firmly.

“Simon Battle, you look so much better these days! I’ve been admiring your achievements from afar. Congratulations on such a great turn around!”

“Thank you John. It means a great deal to be able to hear that from you. I guess you figured I’d be dead from a gunfight by now.”

“Let’s just say that most of us had you written off back when Lucas plugged you.”

“I was a goner in everyone’s eyes. My angel of a wife is the only reason I’m still here.”

I’m real impressed at how you and Lucas can be friends now. It’s not often that two such as you change ways like this. I’d like to drink a toast to that!” Morgan lifted his glass and Simon clanked his in good cheer. “You’ll have to tell me the whole story soon, I won’t make you go into it now.”

“Let’s just say we bonded under fire” Simon smiled and filled the glasses.

“That seems about right. Lucas left Oklahoma an unhappy man for many reasons. He knew it had much to do with his rifle. But it wasn’t as if he was looking for all that trouble.”

“We were hot headed young guns back then. When you feel immortal in youth you become blinded by ego. I can now see where Lucas was from. Before, all I saw was this cocky looking stud with a fancy rifle. Given a new chance, I think we now are witness to the real man. I can’t imagine a better soul.”

“That says it all Simon. There’s hope for this world yet! And the contributions you have made to the medical arts are simply wonderful. I must hear about this too.”

“That you will John. I think we can find time in the morning to catch up. I’ll try not to have too many more of these!” Simon hoisted his glass once more and the two warmed their gullets.

“Let’s make sure we keep in good shape. We’ll have plenty of time tomorrow. There’s still some things we need to discuss.”

“Don’t tell me there’s trouble.”

“Not yet. I’m not supposed to let it out, but let’s just say Oklahoma still has ghosts.”

“Hayden! I knew it! Simon spoke in almost a whisper and Morgan knew what he said.

“You got it. Now keep it for the time being.” John patted Simon on the shoulder. “We should give Lucas a chance to deal with this on his own terms.”

“Yes, I agree. But do realize that those around this table are his terms. We’ll keep him safe.”

“I’m beginning to see that friend. Thank you.” Johnny smiled and motioned for a hand in the card game. Simon sat back nursing his drink and pondering what Hayden might do.

Simon recalled his early days working for Ralph Hayden. The cattle business was lucrative and Simon headed up many of the drives. He saw Ralph getting rich while he got sore and better with his gun. It was Hayden that first had the idea to steal cattle from the ranchers along the way giving him huge profits as they reached the railroads to the north. It was difficult for small time ranchers like Lucas McCain to compete even then and soon Lucas was working with Simon for the Hayden drives. Lucas figured out what was going on and rebelled. This led to the almost fatal gunfight between Simon and Lucas. When Hayden learned that Lucas had most likely killed Simon, he became enraged. He not only was losing his best man, by that time Simon had become the soul leader of the operation. Hayden’s source of easy living had just been ripped from his hands. It took years to develop the relationship and it would be hard to find a new man.

One fateful night at a saloon in Enid, Lucas ran into Hayden, Ralph had been drinking heavily. By this time, many thought Simon was dead and Lucas was thought to be the dominant gun in town. Hayden had heard enough about McCain. He saw Lucas shaking hands with friends as he came into the room, rifle at his side. He let out a yell and demanded satisfaction for his lost friend. Lucas did his best to avoid the shoot out but the drunken Hayden would not back down. The next best thing he could do was to shoot the pistol out of his hand. If this was all that had happened perhaps Ralph would have sobered up the next day and gotten over things. But the bullet glanced off the pistol and lodged into his hip. The doctors did their best, but there was permanent damage rendering Ralph a cripple. This meant great hardship and a long recovery, both physically and financially. The hatred grew in Ralph and he sought to cause Lucas more and more trouble.

In the day, Johnny Morgan was as a brother to Lucas and did him many favors. Their friendship went back further than the Civil War. Johnny was a fine student and went on to study law while Lucas was off at war. After the war they reunited in Oklahoma and Johnny did what he could for Lucas as he started out at ranching. More often though, Johnny would help Lucas out of legal scrapes over gunfights. This is where he ran into Ralph Hayden. One of the early attempts to harass Lucas was to file an assault charge against Lucas over the hip injury. Johnny had no trouble getting this dismissed but it cost Lucas much time and trouble. Hayden commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of Lucas so he could then have it copied to make wanted posters, even though the law was not behind them. Ralph hoped that if he circulated enough of them somebody was sure to get Lucas. This didn’t happen, of course, but trouble never seemed to leave Lucas after that.

Not long after all of this, Margaret passed away and Lucas lost the will to fight back. He stayed home with Mark and did his best to make the ranch work. Friends and family did what they could to help but it didn’t take long for Lucas to decide it was time to leave. Mark couldn’t understand the many reasons why. All he knew was they were going to find a new home and a better way. Hayden lost track of Lucas by then. He had to concentrate on his recovery efforts in order to get back to that easy way of life, wheelchair and portrait along for the ride. It took him 5 years to discover that Lucas had settled in North Fork. That is when he sent the assassin, Mario, after him.

Simon knew most of the story from talks with Lucas, but somehow he never thought any of this would surface again, especially now. It was just then that something occurred to him. There was a way that he could repay Lucas for all of this trouble. He decided right there at the table that he was going to go to Hayden and become the next assassin. Only this time, Hayden would be the only one to think that he was going to do the job. If he had to, he would find a way to disable Hayden from being able to haunt Lucas, at best he could fool the man and get him to leave his friend alone.

The ride back to the ranch after the night at Sweeneys was full of mirth. Nobody figured to do chores in the morning. They had to be quiet getting to the lodge as they didn’t want to disturb the men charged with covering the chores early the next day. By evening Saturday, everybody wanted to be free for the big bachelor’s party. Lucas did well by not drinking too much and rose early. Johnny and Simon had done the same. The three men went for an early walk to where they could speak in private.

“Before we get into this Lucas, I have something I want to say.” Simon held up his arms and insisted on continuing without interruption. “I feel it is my fault that all of this trouble has followed you over the years. I know we have become great friends and forgiveness is the most important factor. I love you for that. But now I must have my say. Ralph Hayden and I were evil men. We killed people and stole from them. There is no way to undo that damage. Now you and I have both gone on to live great lives afterwards, I grant you, but from what I realized last night there is something I must do.”

Lucas looked confused and concerned. “You don’t owe me a thing Simon. We all came to our fates over that ugly business. It’s God’s will now that we stand here today.”

“I realize that Lucas. But I have decided that the only way to set you free from Hayden is for me to go to him. I will think of something to put an end to his haunting you. You don’t deserve what he’s cost you. Now I have a plan. I’m going to surprise Ralph by showing up and answering his call for a gunman to kill you. I can convince him that I still have a grudge to settle and he should fall for that like a ton of bricks. Once I get that old man hopeful of my intent, I should be able to leave him thinking his evil best and then you can rest easier about the whole thing. You know I would never do such a thing for real. Johnny can keep an eye on him back in Oklahoma. If I wind up having to do worse to keep him off your back, then so be it. I owe you that.”

“I can’t let you Simon. You have much more important things to do. Hayden is an old fool and anybody that would take the job of coming after me is even more of a fool. I’m sure we can think of a better way of dealing legally with him. Johnny must know of a way to prove what he is up to and have him stopped.” Lucas looked long into Simon’s eyes. “Please tell me you won’t do this!”

“It’s pretty heavy on my mind Lucas. Once I realized Ralph was still a threat it preyed on my mind all night. You know I had no business forcing you into a gunfight and it certainly wasn’t you that did anything wrong. Why, you could have made a great life back home if I hadn’t of been such a jerk. You had every right to be angry when you laid eyes on me again years ago here. Now, I’ve felt so good since you came to Yuma and the knowledge that many lives have been saved in my survival is a grand thing to ease my conscience. But now is the time I must atone for the original sin. It’s my duty to get this load off your back. I want you to be able to live easy and put this behind you for good.”

“Simon may have a good idea Lucas.” Johnny shook his head in disgust. “I might be able to find a way to eventually stop Hayden legally, but we would have to prove that he is trying to hire somebody. He may have already done so and more than once. So even if all Simon does is go to him and find out what the truth is or get hired, then I could step in with the law behind us and put Hayden away. It could work.”

“I’ll have to think on this friends. This isn’t something to enter into lightly. I can’t feel good about it one way or another. This is one heck of a way to get married!” Lucas tipped his hat back and kicked at the ground.

“Well, you think about it the best you can for the next two days. After the wedding, I’m heading for Oklahoma with Johnny here. We’re going to fix this thing so you can get on with your life.” Simon glared at Lucas for a moment. “Look, I didn’t ask for this any more than you did. Morgan shows up here with this news and now look at us! There’s no way to get this off of our minds and we can’t let it spoil the wedding. You have plans to uphold and I’m not going to stand by and let you change a thing, you hear me Lucas!”

“I hear ya Simon. I’ve had to face so much and I can understand how you feel. I want you to know that I don’t expect a thing from you or Johnny. But it appears there is little choice. If it makes you feel better then so be it, but don’t do it just to ease your conscience. Do it because we are brothers and you know I would do the same for you.”

“I have no doubts about that. I wouldn’t be here right now otherwise. Now Hayden has spent all of these years burning inside. He’s tried to kill you many times. I didn’t ask him to do any of that. He thought I was dead for that matter. I promised my wife that I would change and part of that was letting them think I was dead. Good enough. So let’s think of this another way. We have to stop Hayden for the benefit of everyone here. You are our rock Lucas. Like it or not, many depend on you. This is your web and we are the bugs caught in it. It now becomes necessary for those of us capable, to do the right thing and make this well oiled machine run on.”

“I get the picture Simon. You’re right. Johnny knows what’s best as far as I’m concerned. Go to it. But do it right. Get him on the hire and let the law deal with it. He’s an old man and prison would do him in. I’ve found myself wishing I had killed him in that saloon so long ago. Back then I thought I had killed you. I didn’t like having that on my conscience then and I’m happy now that neither one of you is dead. But, Hayden has done so much damage in his life, I think I should have done the world a favor. I won’t be able to handle it well if anything happens to you. I want word from you often as this transpires. If anything goes bad, I’m coming to see it through, you understand?”

“Simon smiled just a bit. “I’ll do it right Lucas, don’t you worry about a thing. In fact, now that we have talked, I’m kind of looking forward to this. Ralph Hayden, you’ve met your match!”

“Alright then, none of this is to be mentioned. I’ll take care of informing Mark and the others I deem necessary. It will be as if you are simply going home and we’ll leave it at that. For now, my plan is to travel to Denver with Bat. I’ll contact Johnny once I’m there. I don’t want any of this to spoil our wedding. It’s bad enough that we’ll have this on our minds. Simon, we’ll have to talk with Bat about this. You two are my body guards until the end of time, as I am for you.”

“Can’t be any other way Lucas. This is how it must be. I’m a doctor in charge of healing a very old wound. For now, I give you a very good prognosis!”

“Well thank you Doc! Right now I can’t be in any better company I reckon. My doctor and my lawyer! What do I have to worry about!” Lucas smiled but with great reserve. How was he to enjoy the biggest moment in his life with this on his mind? It was already hard enough after talking with Mark. But the same strength that held him together so tears wouldn’t form in the past now kept him firm in the face of his haunting past. At least the rest of the weekend was going to be pleasant. He only had a few marshals and a preacher left to deal with!

Not long after this meeting, Johnny and Simon wandered off to have that conversation they had promised each other. Lucas made it a point to look for Bat. He wasn’t sure what to do about telling anyone else, but he knew Bat was going to be involved sooner or later, best sooner. Lucas looked over the ranch contemplating the many changes and what the future could bring. He was tired of constantly looking over his shoulder. He was tired of it when Mario came to town for that matter. Too many times he allowed himself to become trusting and complacent. The Colt tucked under his arm put an end to that. The big question he next thought about was how to be fair to Aubrey and her family. He had just got finished with assuring Daniel that danger was for the most part in his past and that Aubrey was very safe with him. Now what? Should he conceal them from this and risk losing their trust? He knew better than that. But first things first, he wanted to find Bat.

Bat was still asleep from a long night of poker and drinking. All things seemed right with his world for the time being. Lucas figured this and waited in the barn helping with some chores. He found it soothing to work up a sweat and the summer heat didn’t take long to aid him. Lucas thought back to his days with the Indians and the sweat lodge custom. Whenever there was a challenging situation at hand an Indian warrior would sweat himself while meditating and praying to his Gods. Lucas quietly prayed as he worked. The exertion felt good and his mind opened up to the reality of his existence. All of his life had been filled with challenges. Most times he was faced with defending himself or others. Many times this meant having to kill. He didn’t like the idea of others doing it for him. But he also agreed with Simon about how he had much greater responsibility now. Many did rely upon him and he ultimately had to realize that it was time in his life to rely more upon others.

Bat came walking along near ten in the morning. Lucas had several hours of sweating under his belt when he saw his friend. Bat wasn’t surprised to see him at work and Lucas had to drop what he was doing and get his attention.

“Heading for breakfast are ya?” Lucas ran up to join Bat near the doors at the front of the Lodge.

“I’m afraid I need a bit more than that to free this head from its aches. It won’t be long before this lodge is full of screaming cowboys, oh the pain!” Bat looked a sight from his drooping eyes to his dragging tail.

“Well, join me for a cool drink and some eggs and bacon old pal. We need to talk, but I want to see that you’re properly awake first.” Lucas opened the door and the smell of bacon all but overwhelmed them. Micah and some of the others were already finished eating and having a good chat as they entered.

“I better let it end here for now boys.” Micah said loudly so Lucas could tell he was being talked about.

“Ah, you guys go on, Bat and I will sit near the bar, we need to talk.” Lucas tossed his sweat soaked hat on the rack and pulled a chair out for Bat to fall into. Before long two plates of eggs were in front of them along with cold glasses of milk. “You’ll get some coffee after we eat friend.”

“Bat poked at the meal and ate a few bites. All he could do was sip the milk and look forward to the coffee. “Tell me what this is about Lucas. It’s going to take a long time for me to snap out of this one.”

“Alright, this isn’t good news. You recall my friend last night, Johnny Morgan?”

“The lawyer, yes, seems a likeable chap. Please don’t tell me he wants to sue you!”

“I wish it were that easy. Long ago we knew each other in Enid and this is when Simon and I had our troubles. There is a man named Ralph Hayden, a cattle baron for lack of a better term. He employed Simon as his foreman and I came along later to work on those cattle drives we talked about back in Yuma.”

“I remember, a rather dark time from your past then.”

“To say the least. When I shot Simon in our gunfight Hayden thought him dead and wanted to get revenge. First he tried to challenge me to a draw and I wounded him. This broke his hip and put him in a wheelchair for life. He has hated me ever since and sought to have me killed a number of times. It’s a complicated affair, so I will spare you some of the detail right now.”

Bat pushed his plate away and went for a coffee cup. “Let me guess. This Hayden is at it again. He has seen you in the news and now is back on the warpath.”

“You know the story all too well. Johnny has heard of his call to hire a gunfighter to get me. That is why he pulled me aside last night.”

“So we have another reason to keep looking over our shoulders then. More security is in order I suppose.”

“There is a twist to this. It involves Simon. He feels responsible for all of my troubles and wants to go back to Oklahoma to deal with Hayden. We just got done hashing that out a few hours ago.”

“As if there needs to be more to this story. Does Hayden know that you two are friends? Does he even know Simon is alive?”

“Those are good questions. We can assume he’s read about Simon as a doctor by now. But it’s as easy to figure he still thinks him dead. Simon wants to pose as a would be taker for the gunman job and make Hayden think he’s going to hunt me down.”

“That might buy you some time, but what happens after that?”

“Johnny wants to bring the law in once the hire is made and have Hayden put away.”

“Hmmm, could have merit. Must be done right or it will be hard to prove.”

“I’m having a hard time letting others do my dirty work. I’m more concerned about putting you or anyone else in danger. It’s been bad enough already. How can I tell Aubrey and her family about this? I just got done telling Daniel I thought his mother would be safe being with me.”

“That is a great dilemma my friend. I don’t mind letting you practice on me, please continue, I’m starting to wake up!”

“As I see it, I don’t have much choice. Simon is convinced he must do this and Johnny thinks it can work. I don’t want to change our plans for Denver and a gun show. I know that must mean a great deal for you. We’ve had plenty of time in my home town, I want you to have your moment in the limelight in yours.”

“While I’m well known for my extensive visits to Denver, I don’t want to say it’s my hometown. Many do not appreciate my presence there in fact!” Bat chuckled. “But I know what you mean and I appreciate that. Our safety is much more important, of course. I’ll tell you this, my feelings right now say we should go to Denver and take Fitch with us. It’s too soon to trust him alone around here or to send him off on a mission to Dallas. We don’t know how all of the Carlson matters are going to sort out. With this new issue upon us, I think it better for you to be away as planned. If anyone comes gunning for you here they will be disappointed. Anyone looking for us on the road is going to have a bad time.”

“I hadn’t thought about Fitch yet! Oh my. We can tell him he is our body guard or something. Do you think he will enjoy the idea?”

“He doesn’t have a choice in my book, but I think I can intrigue him with it. It must be crossing his mind by now. He knows we are going to Denver eventually.

“I think that would be best too. The one thing that worries me most is Aubrey and her son. Daniel is already concerned about her and my past. His father’s death hit her hard and she doesn’t need to go through that with me all over again. It makes me want to scream!”

“I can’t give you a magic answer for that. They have to accept you for what you are and you have been honest with them so far. Tell them. Make them face the fact up front. If you try to hide this and something bad happens you’ll never be able deal with it. If it means not taking Aubrey to Denver I can understand. We can always do that another day. That can also give us time to deal with Fitch. We do have some time Lucas. Let us give this more thought. Let’s get you married and worry about Denver later. Emma will understand. We two can go on and get her set for her theatrical needs. The gun show might work better further down the road.”

“I’m liking this idea Bat. Aubrey and I can have some time by ourselves and I can be around in case I need to deal with Hayden. Once you’ve been in Denver for a while it will be easier for us to get started on the gun show. We’ve been trying to take on way too much since Santa Fe. Dallas still has us on guard. We don’t need to heap Hayden on top of it all and be distracted in Denver. I’m so sorry Bat. I want so bad to keep our show on the road.”

“Lucas, we have had a great run so far. No matter what happens I can never be disappointed. I’m a carefree soul and I learned a long time ago that life comes best one day at a time. Unfortunately, this day comes too soon for this hangover!”

“This was the last thing I wanted to lay on you Bat. My past seldom lets me rest.”

“We can never free ourselves once we strap on a gun. It becomes a maker of our past.”

“Thanks for that thought Bat, I just bought Mark a Colt!”

The Rifleman's Serenade — Bachelor Party

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

The Writer's Corner
Table of Contents

Site Map
around The McCain Ranch