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The Battle Within A Young Gun
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

Chapter Ten — Lone Pine

It took three days by horseback to get to Lone Pine. The heat diminished over the last couple of days since the train ride. The Gila mountains offered some of the most rugged barren terrain and yet beautiful trees lined the canyon as they got closer to their destination. The Gila River made possible the green life in these parts. As they stopped to camp along the trail, Simon and Lucas found themselves talking more and more about the old days in Oklahoma. They had much in common and this made it easy for them to resolve any problems that existed between them. Lucas grew to have a great sense of admiration for Simon due to his achievements in medicine. It was difficult for both of them to have lost their wives to what probably was the same affliction, but it brought Simon solace to know that so many in the future would not have to suffer.

“Ignorance is our own worst enemy Lucas, The world is full of silent, invisible killers and my research has only just begun. We know what a virus is now, and that is a great thing. But there is still so much to learn. A virus may only be one of countless things we don’t know about. We’ve had microscopes advanced enough to find a virus for only a few years. I can predict that, in the future, we will be able to look inside the body as much or more than we can on the outside. Research is the key and we’re learning faster all the time. This is what I know I have to do with the rest of my life.”

“That’s a wonderful way of putting it all together. You’ve done so much more good than harm my friend. It’s my hope that Mark can make such a contribution one day. He has a great mind for asking questions and seeking better ways. I’m looking forward to traveling to Oklahoma next year to see him. It really helps to have something like that to look forward to.”

“I can’t agree more, it was Vicki that kept me inspired through it all. I had to make sure that she could have a better life and that the fever would never find her. Seeing her in full bloom now makes it all worth while. You’re going to really love her, and her husband. Tom is a hard working man. He not only works in the mine, but he helps me with some of the medical practice while I’m gone. Vicki met him in camp one day and we discovered he had a desire to learn medicine. They got married about a year after they met. I had already taken him under my wing. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

I’ll say, that‘s really great news. Vicki is such a sweet gal. Mark sure wished he was a few years older back when, that was funny. It took years for him to ever want to admit his age. Boys can be funny that way. But he did have to grow up fast. I have a lot of regrets over that. There were quite a few times that I thought I would never see him again, that maybe the end was near for this old gunfighter. We have so much to be thankful for Simon, so much.” Lucas kicked a few half burned logs closer to the center of the fire.

“It is my hope that we have much more in front of us. You are sitting on top of a powder keg of good fortune and you don’t even know it!”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, my old friend Bat knows what he’s talking about. You’re well known and that can mean a lot.”

“Is Bat really that sure of himself? He can make it sound so easy. I want to go in with him, but I’m doing me some powerful thinking while we’re on this trip.”
“I know what you must have read about Masterson, and much of it is true. The one thing to be aware of is his short attention span. When he gets bored with something, he moves on. Not even the most beautiful of women have been able to tie him down. He only married Emma because she was so understanding of his need to travel. She is a very sweet lady and has a traveling fever of her own. You’ll see what I mean if they make it to visit you in North Fork.”
“I suppose if it goes that far, then he may be for real. I don’t want to make a spectacle out of myself unless I know it will really be worth it. You know as well as I do about how gunplay can turn into trouble.”

“That’s true, and one thing is for sure, after so many years living by the gun, Bat is still standing. If anyone knows how to survive gunplay, it’s Bat. He knows the criminal mind so well and the law is usually his friend wherever he goes. With the reputations you guys have, the sky’s the limit.”

“And what about you? How do you figure to be involved in Bat’s plan?”

“I’ve worked hard to keep my reputation forgotten. The people of Yuma know my past though and it actually helps to gain their trust now. In the early days it was quite different. I had a few challengers, one of them is dead. Bat saved me from killing another, that is how we met. But I haven’t had to shoot at anything but targets for many years since. Bat loves to practice and he makes me go out with him as you have seen. Living out here, far from town, helped me cool things down of course. So I feel safe if we keep it simple and shoot at targets. If I can make some money to help fund my research, I’m willing to play along for a short while. We really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by this Lucas. Let’s give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can always count on Bat to find something else to capture his fancy. And Bat knows how to make money, unfortunately, he also knows how to spend it!”

“It’s a chance to improve all of our lives and lend credence to our reputations. It would take me many years and a broken back to do it by raising cattle. If you think it’s a good idea, then it’s worth a try, thanks Simon.”

“You keep thinking on it, we have a week or so ahead of us before anything happens. Vicki will fatten us up with her home cooking and I think Old Will over there will enjoy meeting Tom.”

“Tom sounds like a good man. Right now though, all I can think about is a certain good woman!” Will commented, tipping his hat back from his early slumber. “You know Lucas, I can run the ranch while you work with Bat and visit Mark. I think you need to do this. Get out there and have some adventure, you’ve earned it.”
“It seems to be my fate little brother. When we get back to Yuma, I promise to make short work of things so you can get back to Ann. I miss the ranch no matter how long I’m away. It has close to twenty years of my life’s blood into it. I know I can trust it to you. We’ll have plenty of time to work that out.”

“We’ll all do fine boys, but it’s a long trail and we better get some shut eye if we’re going to make Lone Pine tomorrow, Good night!” Simon crawled off to his bedroll as did Lucas. Will sat by the fire a bit longer, thinking about Ann.

When they arrived in Lone Pine, Simon gave the guests a quick tour of the settlement and then on to the house to meet Vicki and Tom. It was a modest home but very warm. Simon had a small office on one side to see patients and keep supplies. Tom Pryce was very handy with wood and enjoyed making furniture. Most of the furnishings were of his hand. Vicki had dinner ready soon, but before it could be served, two men arrived in a wagon carrying a third man who was injured. Everybody got up to their aide. The man was lifted onto the table in Simon’s office and the doctor went to work.
“Oh Doc Battle, you have no idea how grateful we are that you’re here!”

 Exclaimed John Dunnigan, one of the miners from nearby. “It was an awful accident it was, Jason here broke his leg when he fell into a deep hole that formed underground. We had to pull him out with ropes. I’m afeared he may have been injured further as we lifted him from the hole.”

“Let me look him over John, Tom, you get me some hot water and some linen, we’ll have to clean this leg up before we decide what to do. There’s some swelling, how long has it been?” Simon started to cut the pant leg away as Tom dashed off. Lucas and Will stood bye. Vicki already had a pot of water on the stove.

“It happened maybe two hours ago. We got here as fast as we could. Is he gonna be alright?”

“I can’t be sure just yet, but I’ve seen worse, why don’t all you men go wait in the living room, my daughter has plenty of grub ready. Tom and I can handle things from here. I’ll let you know as soon as I know something. Sorry about this Lucas, duty calls. I want you and Will to eat and get some rest, this may take a while. Always happens this way, there’s no good time to get hurt. The mines are so dangerous.”

“We understand Simon, I’ve seen you work in similar conditions don’t forget. If you need anything, just give us a holler.” Lucas and Will got out of the way and joined Vicki in the kitchen as she readied plates for each of the men.
Simon and Tom worked for over two hours as the others became restless. Finally, Simon came out of the office with a smile on his face and sweat running down his shirt.
“We had to open up his leg and stop some internal bleeding, he’ll be alright. Tom is finishing a splint. We gave him something to make him sleep. We’ll keep him here for a couple of days to make sure the leg sets right and the swelling goes down. Does he have a family?”

“Nope, he’s a loner. Name’s Jason Birch. He lives in the camp outside of town. We’ll come back to get him when you say he’s ready Doc. We better get on and let you folks be for a spell I reckon.” John and his companion thanked everyone and went home to their families. It was dark now, but Lone Pine was small and they didn’t have far to go.

“Well boys, you got some first hand looks at what life for a doctor can be like. It was good fortune that we got here when we did or Jason may have lost his leg. Injuries like that have claimed many lives out in the country, and most settlements do not have doctors. I’ve had to travel many times to remedy such situations. This is just what made me want to come here in the first place.”

“Simon, I knew it when you rode out of North Fork then, and I’m learning it now! We came here to see how things go for you and it didn’t take long. I saw many lost legs in the war, they didn’t have time or real doctors in most cases. Hard working men need doctors just as much as soldiers. You may recall that our doctor in North Fork was out when Mark and I brought that man in. All we could do was try to keep him still. He has you to thank for being in the right place at the right time.”

“That’s true, and it was just as fortunate that Vicki noticed you guys arriving from across the street. It was a close call that day, makes me believe that some things are simply meant to be. I’m glad you’ve seen the better side of me Lucas, it means a lot.”

“I’m convinced and very thankful to have learned these lessons Doc Battle. Your daughter has grown into quite a lady and that makes it all worth it. You belong here, not out playing around with a pearl handled gun.”

“I’ve known that for a very long time, but some money can really help back at the lab. We can make it all work out, remember, things are meant to be.”
“I guess I can go along with that. You have Tom and I have Will. We have to learn to trust the next generation sometime. Now, I’m going to prescribe some grub and rest for you and Tom. Will and I are pretty tired, what do you say we hit the rack and let these folks settle in for the night.”

The rest of the visit in Lone Pine was not so eventful. Simon and Tom spent some time seeing patients with much less urgent needs, while Lucas and Will had a good time taking it easy and learning the area. There was some good trout fishing in the river and Tom took them to see some of the mines. The swelling in Jason’s leg went down on the second day. The miners showed up to take him to John’s home for a lengthy recovery. It was difficult and expensive to lose a worker for so long, but these were the kind of hardships you had to get used to so far out in the wilderness. Lucas gave Tom a few lessons with his rifle and Tom showed them some of his methods for woodworking. Will enjoyed learning these skills and it gave him some ideas for improving the ranch. By the end of the fourth day, it was time to start back for Yuma. Lucas could tell that Will was getting anxious about Ann.
"Simon, coming here has been a real eye opener. Thank you for having us in your home. We’ve learned a lot. Vicki, you’ve grown up to be so beautiful, Mark will gush when I tell him about you. And I think he’ll be just a little jealous of you Tom. It has been a true pleasure.” Lucas and Tom shook hands, then he gave Vicki a big hug.

“I really enjoyed learning how to make those dovetail joints Tom. I’m going to have the blacksmith make us some of those tools when we get back. I hope we get to visit again some day.” Will gave Tom a handshake and a hug. “And to you Vicki, your beauty has helped to ease the pain I have from missing Ann. You keep this man happy and your father eating well, Good bye.”

The downhill ride to Yuma was a little faster than the uphill climb. The sun was in their faces most of the way. Lucas still had some reservations about the gunplay and Will was becoming evermore worrisome about Ann. Simon was the one most at ease during the descent from the mountains towards Yuma.

Battle Within A Young Gun - Chapter 11 — Credence

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

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