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

Chapter Twenty Four — The Show Must Go On

Lucas was given the entire story at the hotel saloon upon his return. His first reaction was to make sure that Will and Ann still wanted the show to go on. They were satisfied that there would be no further danger. Lucas took a few minutes to ponder and speak with Bat. There was no reason to disappoint a town full of anxious fans, but Lucas cautioned everyone that Jack was merely a bad example of the kind of danger that could be lurking at any turn. It was fortunate that Jack was not a hardened criminal and that no one was injured. Will rubbed his sore wrists at that remark. Micah was glad that he wouldn’t have to work on Lucas to change his mind.

“Well Ann, after seeing all these years of you growing up with horses, I guess it’s your marksmanship that made the difference today. I’m sorry you had to deal with all of this.” Lucas said once the decision was made to go on. “I know you don’t like guns all that much, but I hope you learned why they must be.”

“Yes Lucas, I will never question you or my father again when it comes to such an important responsibility. It does take the experience of danger to bring out the realization that you can’t trust an opinion. Especially one that could mean life or death.”

“I’m glad you understand and know that I care about safety at all times. It was out of that desire that Sam and I taught you to shoot in the first place. And we’re all thankful for your bravery when it really counted. I also want to say once again that we must stick together and watch our backs from here on. We can’t afford to let our guard down, even for romance.”

“I don’t know if it was bravery or anger that caused my actions. Jack has had me upset for many years. I couldn’t stand by and watch him destroy others. I was fortunate to find Flash on my way through the trees. I saw where the struggle took place and William must have gone back for the marshal. So I followed the tracks into the hills and finally heard the gunfire. Rather than disturb what was going on, I figured Jack wouldn’t think to look out for me. So I snuck around in the rocks and found a good spot to shoot down at him.”

“And a good thing too, Jack was about to do me in once he saw Sam sneaking off to his side. How long were you there before you decided to shoot?” Will asked
“I had only the time to hike over to a point where I could see the both of you. Daddy must have kicked a rock down the hill and startled him. I heard Jack yell just then and I shot the rifle from his hands. I didn’t know I could do that, all I was hoping to do was to distract or possibly wound him. I guess my taking part in the target practice over the last few days paid off.”

“Well, you’re part of the show any time you want my dear! That was the greatest shot of them all!” Will exclaimed as he hugged her.

“We always have a place for the lady if she wants to take part.” Bat agreed.

“As long as she doesn’t show up the Rifleman!” Brighton couldn’t help but add.

“Bat, I want you to know that we are grateful for how you risked your life today, you too Micah. Better lawmen have never walked this earth!” Lucas held up his shot glass and they all drank a toast. “Now, it has been a long day, we better all turn in. We have a big day tomorrow.”

The sun rose on an expectant Santa Fe. The Church bells rang and a record number of people were in attendance. The Priest gave a sermon about bravery and forgiveness. The story of the day before was unknown except for the few. But somehow the Priest knew that his subject should cover these assets of human behavior due to the massive interest in guns for the coming afternoon. Santa Fe had seen plenty of war and gunplay over the years, but times were changing. The US Military was in strict control since the last uprising. The territory was growing up and would someday face statehood. Outlaws were finding fewer opportunities to destroy law abiding citizen’s lives. It was the gun that fueled the fire both good and bad. More and more people grew tired of the violence, but it was the few brave men like Lucas McCain and Bat Masterson that lead the way in taming this wild land, making it safer for all. The Priest had much to say on these subjects and left everyone with something to think about. In closing, he thanked Lucas and Bat for being in attendance.

After Church, there was one hour before show time. A huge Barbeque was given in honor of Bat and Lucas. John Browning and William Brighton had this set up along with a special booth for prospective gun customers. As show time drew near, Bat and Emma came up front to start things off. Bat made all the introductions, including the marshal, and the General in charge of the town. Finally, he brought John Browning up for a round of applause. Bat described the meeting they had with Lucas and they brought out the fancy 1892 rifle which would then be on display at the Winchester booth. Emma began to sing to give everyone a few minutes more to gather. When she finished, Bat announced that, beginning with this evening, the coming week would be the final set of shows in Santa Fe and that her theater group would then move on to Dallas, Texas. A great cheer rose up and everyone knew that the demonstration was about to begin.

Lucas started things off with some shot glass shattering rapid fire. The crowd cheered as he reloaded, whipped his rifle around and did it again. Josh ran around like a chicken with his head cut off. There was much more to this show than the one in Yuma. Bat, Will, and Brighton showed off their hand gun skills as Lucas helped Josh with the targets. The next part of the program was the long distance target shooting. Josh and Will handled the targets as Lucas, Bat, and William did the shooting. Near the end of this round, Ann came out and showed her skills with the rifle to great applause. The bottles shattered and the cards were pierced until the rifles needed to cool down. Next came the coin toss. Bat and Lucas were the shooters for this part of the show. Brighton would like to have taken part but it was agreed that the silver dollars needed to come from Bat and Lucas in order to be collector items from the stars of the show. Will tossed them up and Josh handed them out to the crowd. At the end of the coin toss, Lucas announced that the final coin was to go to Josh for his hard work. The crowd loved this and Lucas gave it a double hit with two quick rounds. Josh had to walk further back to retrieve the twisted coin and the crowd gave Lucas and Bat a rousing ovation. Once the audience calmed down, Lucas said, “Josh, I guess you really earned that one!”
The final part of the show was the sideways card split. Bat was still going to try this with his pistol while William and Lucas used their rifles. After all the practice Bat had still only mastered the stunt from thirty feet. This was a very difficult thing to do. There was no shame if anyone missed, but Bat hit eight out of ten. Lucas and William set their cards at fifty feet and showed great patience in their aim. Both men hit their first five cards and they fell in half. Josh brought the targets forward so the audience could have a better look. As the next groups of five were placed, Lucas took a moment to tell William’s story. William took aim and shot his five very quickly, hitting all of them. Lucas let the audience cheer for a moment and told William to do it again. William shot the other five cards meant for Lucas with ease. Now the people were really impressed.

Lucas motioned to Josh for another ten. William moved back and Lucas stood looking at the crowd with his rifle crossed in his arms. William yelled go! Lucas whirled around and let off ten straight rounds in rapid fire. All ten cards upper halves flew up into the air and the audience went crazy with applause. Everyone involved with the show was also shocked by what they had just witnessed. Lucas even jumped for joy as he wasn’t so sure he was going to pull this off. This wasn’t even tried during any of the practice sessions. Bat was stunned. It seems that William and Lucas did a little private practice on their own. It was clear who the star of the show was now. The audience cheered for a long time and Lucas had to hand his rifle over to Will as some of the fans tried to come forward. Deputies stepped in and held most of them back. Lucas welcomed the ones that got to him. He knew them from the practice sessions. They raised his arms up and patted him on the back, Lucas had an overwhelming feeling of trust come over him. This was the end of the show and it couldn’t have gone on if there was more. The others came out to take a bow and the audience cheered on and on.

John Browning was pleased with his good friend. Brighton told him of his plan to work with Lucas privately on the final stunt to rapid fire the cards. After the show, Brighton had to admit that Lucas was the one who wound up teaching him a thing or two. The rifle sales were brisk and Lucas still wound up with a pocket full of paper.

The evening called for another great performance from Emma and everyone had seats up front. The entourage had to take up some of the second row this time as Aubry and her family were now included. Most everybody of importance in Santa Fe was in attendance. There was standing room only as a good sized crowd formed outside the theater, satisfied to only hear the wonderful music. The show featured some new skits and most of the same music. Emma added a few extra songs for good measure. Later on, everyone enjoyed a late night dinner and dance at the saloon, Lucas and Bat took turns making toasts and greeting fans. John Browning and William Brighton were busy at a separate table, still taking orders. Josh was hard at work pouring whiskey and showing off his souvenir. Will and Ann were grateful to be able to dance in each other’s arms after what happened the day before. As the second dance began, Will felt a firm shove from behind, he turned to see the smiling face of Lucas only inches from his.

“Kind of makes life worth livin’, don’t it!” Lucas said as he offered Aubry to Will for the dance. They each gave a bow and exchanged partners.

“You never cease to amaze me, Rifleman!” Will replied as he and Aubry turned to each other and began to dance.

“Well cowgirl, looks like you just might have one more to cook for if I play my cards right!” Lucas grinned as he whisked Ann off into the crowd.

“I hope she can cook as good as she looks, I’m going to need all the help I can get to feed all you cowpokes!” Lucas and Ann hugged while Sam and Micah looked on from the table.

“I’d say we got us a whole new Lucas McCain to keep an eye on Sam.” Micah sighed.

Sam sipped his whiskey and chuckled. “One thing’s for sure, he won’t have near as much time to keep an eye on us!”

Over a short period of time, much less than a year, battles had been won. Lucas started out looking for a ranch hand and wound up with an entire new life. Will Fulton had no idea that he would be rescued from prison and given the chance to have a family once again. Ann’s faith in Will proved to be true. Her years of waiting for Will were not easy to bear, but she made the best of her time, becoming one of the strongest women in North Fork. Will’s coming back made her have to face the many building emotions and insecurities that she so bravely ignored while he was in prison. Her instincts to take care of the men in her life prepared her for the strength it would take to love a man such as Will Fulton. Something she could only dream about while she turned her attention towards her horses.

Sam and Lucas discovered that the answer to their challenge with competition from the larger ranches was to form a partnership and trust the younger generation to take the lead. It was time for the old boys to go off and play. Fate dealt from a stacked deck when Lucas met Bat Masterson. Their friendship was set to last for years to come. His long time relationship with Simon Battle may have started out in a most evil fashion, but times and people can change. By witnessing this change, Lucas was able to reckon with the many demons that had tortured him for years. Keeping focused on his only son, Mark, kept him from going mad. He needed Will Fulton to replace the void left by Mark. His entire life to this point seemed to be a battle within, raging over a past that would not leave him be and a future that constantly brought him new turmoil. Even now that he seemed to have found a new love and a smooth road ahead, those demons just might be lurking still, thinking of new ways to challenge the strength and faith of ……….…... “The Rifleman”!

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

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