The Writer's Corner
Attempt at Midnight
Forward: This story is based upon a real 1960's television show
called The Rifleman.
The show is about a New Mexico farmer in the late 1880's names
Lucas McCain and his young son Mark. Time after time, Lucas must
fire his rifle in order to assist Marshal, Micah Torrance in
driving bandits and outlaws out of North Fork. Of course, most
who come into town are out to kill Lucas, but most times he
Mark's mother died when he
was six years old, so it's just him and Pa. Time and again he is
witness to the killing of someone who is out to get Lucas. At
twelve, he's already learned to run a ranch, buy a fine horse,
and shoot his dad's rifle. He and Lucas sometimes share
emotional scenes when Mark fears that the shot that was just
fired has taken his "Pa's" life.
The show lasted for only five seasons in reality, but in my
imagination, it has lasted ten, with the first five as they
were, and the last five written so Lucas remarries and Mark has
a mother, and soon a young girl comes to town, who is adopted by
the McCain's. This story, although considerably long, and maybe
boring to some, is the fruit of nightmares and good dreams and
daydreams, so please read it all.
Three figures, seated in a simple buckboard wagon, drove into
the small town of North Fork, New Mexico. These three were
Lucas, Mark, and Anna McCain. Pulling up in front of the
Marshal's office, they dismounted, and Lucas picked a huge rifle
up off the floor of the buckboard. "Hello Micah!" he called to
the aging marshal. "Any news?" The marshal smiled and answered,
"Nothing at all. Hattie's been worrying since the latest
shipment of licorice is late." The big, brown eyes of the
sixteen-year boy beside Lucas grew wide at the mention of
licorice. He had always loved licorice; it was his favorite
treat! His sister elbowed him as if to say, "Maybe Papa will
give us each a penny and let us get some." It seemed as if Lucas
could read his children's minds, for he reached into his pocket
and pulled out two pennies. "Go buy some licorice. I'll be over
at Hattie's in a minute." The two kids ran off to buy the
licorice, and maybe get some extra, if Hattie was in a spoiling
mood today. She usually was.
Before Lucas had married Milly Scott, the former General Store
owner, and before Anna had come to town and been adopted by the
McCain's, life was more than busy for Lucas and Mark. They had
to run their 4,100 acre ranch all by themselves, with little or
no help. But after Milly married Lucas, and Anna was adopted,
life was different. For one thing there were more hands to do
chores, and for another, every day there was a new pie or cake
on the supper table. Lucas sometimes joked that the only reason
Mark loved his new mother was because of her desserts. Mark did
have a knack for treats and goodies. He was a growing boy, who
could blame him?
A little while later, as Anna and Mark were sucking contentedly
on their licorice sticks, four strangers rode into town. They
wore black hats, and one of them wore a ten-gallon Stetson. The
strangers dismounted in front of the General Store, and tied
their horses to the hitching posts. The men entered the store,
nodding hello to Mark, and tipping their hats to Anna. Anna's
face turned bright red, almost the same color as her hair.
"Nobody's ever tipped to me before, Mark!" she gushed. Mark just
rolled his eyes and looked into the store to see who those men
were. "Curiosity killed the cat." a moderately deep voice said.
Both of the children turned to see the smiling face of their
father, and laughed. Anna jokingly put her hands on her hips and
retorted, "Well satisfaction brought it back!" Lucas chuckled.
"Wondering who those men are?" He asked. The children nodded.
"Well," said Lucas. "I could probably find out. I was just going
to get that lace your mother wanted." With that, the tall,
light-headed rancher stride into the building. A few minutes
later, he came out with a parcel under his arm, evidently the
lace. "Who are those gunslingers, Pa?" Mark asked curiously.
Lucas turned to look back at them. They were mounting up now. "I
didn't get a chance to ask." he said. Climbing into the
buckboard, he clucked to Razor and Blue Boy and they drove out
Back the ranch, Mrs. McCain had a warm meal of fresh bread and
beef stew waiting for supper, with, Mark's favorite, apple pie
for dessert. After supper, the family sat quietly around the
fireplace, Lucas reading his Bible, Milly sewing, and Mark and
Abby playing a quick game of checkers. Suddenly, a horse
whinnied outside. Lucas jumped up, and the rest of his family
lifted their heads in worry. Grabbing his rifle, Lucas stepped
out onto the porch. "Who's there?" he said. A deep husky voice
spoke out of the darkness. "Don't make one move, McCain, or
we'll shoot." Lucas looked around, wondering where that voice
had come from, but could see nothing from the nighttime
darkness. "Pa? Who's out there?" Mark said quietly from the
threshold. Lucas shrugged. He tried to make his way to the barn,
but the barrel of a rifle was stuck in his back. "I said don't
move!" the same husky voice said. Looking out of the corner of
his eye, Lucas saw four figures making their way out of the
shadows. Anna and Mark, who were watching from the doorway,
gasped when they saw who the figures were. They were the men who
had been in town that day! The men surrounded Lucas, and the one
with the Stetson snickered cruelly. "Well, McCain, your time has
come," he said. Mark and Anna looked at each other frightened.
Then Anna spoke up. "What is he talking about, Papa?" Lucas
looked back at the porch. The man in the Stetson laughed before
speaking. "So, you've never told them" Lucas sighed and turned
to face his children. "A long time ago, before Mark was even
born, I accidentally shot and killed one of their friends. There
use to be five gang members, and they were know as La Cinco
Amigos, The Five Friends. Of course, all they ever did was rob
banks and general stores. One afternoon, I heard someone busting
into the bank, so I went over and saw that it was them. So I
fired some shots, and one hit their buddy." He glared at the
gang and the other three men chuckled. "So now," said
Stetson-man. "We're here to give him the treatment our pal got!'
Laughing, he cocked his gun, and Anna turned and buried her head
in her Milly's shoulder. Everyone had forgotten Mark's fifteenth
birthday though. Lucas had given his son a rifle of his very
own. Determined not to let his pa get shot and killed, he ran
back into the house and picked his rifle up off his bed. Fingers
shaking, he loaded it, cocked it, and returned to the porch. He
had never shot a man before. Turkeys and deer, yes, but not a
man. He resolved not to kill all four, but to shoot them all in
the thigh. Two of the men tied Lucas' hands behind his back, and
the Stetson-man aimed his gun, ready to fire. Anna was sobbing,
Milly was trying not to cry, and Mark was praying. The man with
the gun slowly pulled back on the trigger, making sure that
Lucas' "last moments" were stressful. Suddenly, a shot rang out,
and the murderer fell to the ground, clutching his leg. Anna ran
down the front steps to release her father. "Don't any of you
try to move!" Mark commanded. "Or you'll get shot in the leg
too!" The three other men tried to make a run for it when Mark
turned away, but Lucas was up and popped 'em all in the thigh
too. Happily, father and children embraced, and tears of joy
flowed from Milly's eyes. "That was a close one, Papa!" Anna
said. Lucas nodded, and he stood and placed both hands on Mark's
shoulders. "I'm proud of you Mark. And, I owe my life to you."
The two hugged, and Mark grabbed his father's shirt, never
wanting to let go. After about five minutes of breath-catching,
the happy family went inside the small ranch house, to forever
dwell in peace.
I would like
to thank Abby for her story Murder Attempt at Midnight
picks up where the TV series stopped.
Abby was 12 years old when she wrote this story & drew this
picture of Mark & Blueboy.
Thanks Abby, you did good!
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch