Duel at Parkison Town

First Impressions:    A rare second season episode where Andy plays a big part. Slim's patience and pride are put to the test by a bitter old man out to perpetuate an old blood feud.

The Story:     A young man is by a creek alone, apparently trying to steal a calf. He puts his rifle down, leaning it against a rock, and proceeds to try and rope the calf. The rifle slips and shoots the young man in the back, and then falls into the water. The young man falls dead.

The young man, Floyd Parkison is taken home by his brother, Lee to his old and bitter father. Since the creek was on Sherman land, and the calf was a Sherman calf, Ben Parkison believes that Slim, or someone at the Sherman ranch killed his son, and he wants a life for a life. He is filled with hate for all Shermans because of a feud from the old days that killed several on both sides.

At the Sherman's, Slim and Jess are working on a wagon wheel. Andy is home from school and he has a little wolf cub that heís found and wants to keep. He asks Slim to let him keep it. Slim says he has to set him loose, he wonít be a pet.

Ben Parkison and his son, Lee ride in and Ben accuses Slim of shooting his other son, Floyd in the back. Parkison tells Lee to search the house for Floyd's rifle that is missing. Ben calls Slim a dirty, thieviní, lying, black-hearted coward. Slim stands there and takes the old manís abuse, sympathizing with him for the loss of his son, but angering quickly. Slim tries to mollify the old man, but he stands his ground and won't allow Parkison to search the house. The Parkison's leave.

Slim tells Jess about the Sherman/Parkison feud that has gone on for generations. Jess dismisses the old man as a crazy old coot, but Slim knows he's not crazy. He's mean and filled with hate, but he's not crazy.

There is an old town up in the hills called Parkison Town where they used to hold their duels. Slim takes Jess up in the attic and shows him his familyís old dueling pistols and tells him about the tradition of dueling.

Meanwhile, Ben Parkison is in town dictating the notice of challenge to the newpaper man to be put in the newpaper and on the public notice board. The townsfolk see the notice and wonder what old Ben Parkison is up to. They havenít seen a dueling notice in 20 years.

At the ranch Jess and Andy are talking about the wolf cub . Andy still wants to keep it. The newpaper man drives up and shows Jess and Slim the dueling notice. Slimís really ticked now and even yells at Andy about the cub. Heís letting Parkison get under his skin. Jess tries to placate him, telling him to forget it and don't let the old man get to him.

At the Parkison place, Ben is practicing his shooting with his dueling pistol. The Doc drives up in response to Benís summons. Parkison wants the Doc in Parkison Town to attend the duel. The Doc reluctantly agrees. After the Doc rides off, Lee tries to talk his father out of the duel. He says the town is laughing at them and Slim seemed surprised when he heard about Floyd's death. The old man spouts on about the Parkisons and the Shermans and what it means to be a man, and how important it is to maintain your name.

Later, Slim and Jess are searching the creek where the boy was killed, looking for evidence of what really happened. They canít find any tracks going in any direction. The Doc drives up in his buggy having just come from the Parkison place. He tells Slim he tried to talk Ben out of the duel to no avail. He tells Slim no one will think heís anything but sensible if he doesnít show up at the duel. Slim says he has no intention of showing up. The Doc is greatly relieved and drives on. Slim and Jess continue looking for tracks.

That night, Slim and Jess are sitting on the front porch. Andy wants to take the cub to bed with him, but Slim makes him leave the pup outside. He says if it's still hanging around in the morning, he can keep it. Andy asks about the duel. Slim says heís not going. Andy is concerned that Parkison is calling Slim names. Jess probes a little, but Slim assures him that heís not going to meet Parkison in the morning. Thus reassured, Jess gets up, dumps the cub in Slim's lap and goes inside to turn in.

At dawn, Andy and Jess wake up to see that Slimís bed hasnít been slept in. Andy goes out to the porch and Slim is still sitting out there, heís been up all night. The cub is gone and Andy is disappointed.

Up in the hills, Ben, his son and the Doc are waiting. Slim hasnít showed up. Ben calls Slim a coward. He said heís gonna get him a Sherman and thatís what he plans on doing.

Slim and Andy are in town getting supplies. Locals tease Slim about not showing up for the duel. Andy sees it and is embarrassed for Slim. Slim finally slugs one of the men and leaves.

At the sheriff's office, Slim complains to the sheriff that the challenge notice is still up. The sheriff says itís not illegal to be up. Slim wants to know what it takes to get him out of that chair. Slim wants the sheriff to do something, but so far, nothing has happened but a bunch of words flying around. No one believes Slim killed Floyd and the sheriff warns Slim to stay out of Parkison town. Heíll arrest the winner of any duel and will see that heís convicted of murder.

Arriving back home, a sullen Andy asks Slim if heís really scared of Parkison. Slim doesnít dignify the question with an answer.

Later, the stage rolls up and spews out a dandified English gent who barges in to talk to Slim. He tries to get Slim to give him a story about the feud for his newpaper. Slim refuses to talk to the man and throws him out bodily. Jess has a bit of fun with the man himself before the reporter blusters back on board the stage.

Jess goes inside and is immediately set on by Slim. Slim's on edge and he apologizes. Jess is going out to take care of a downed fence that the stage driver told him about, so the cattle wonít stray. Jess gives Slim a pep talk and then heads out to work.

Out at the fence, he sees that the wire has been cut. Up rides Ben Parkison and tells Jess to drop his gun. Jess has no choice because the son has come up behind him. Ben was hoping for a Sherman, but he says Jess will do.

That night, Slim and Andy are worried about Jess because he hasnít come home for supper. Andy apologizes for what he said earlier. Slim accepts and tries to make Andy feel better. The Doc drives up and tells Slim that Parkison has Jess and theyíll hang him at sun up if Slim doesnít show up. Slim tells the Doc to tell Ben that heíll be there. Slim goes back inside and tells Andy that Jess sent word that heís staying over in town, He also tells Andy heíll be leaving real early in the morning to go see about some steers. After Andy goes to bed, Slim goes up in the attic and gets out the old dueling pistol. Heís resigned that heís going to have to kill or be killed to save his friend.

The next morning, Slim rides into the old ghost town of Parkison Town. Near the old livery stable, Ben comes out with Jess who has a noose around his neck. They let Jess go now that Slim has showed up. Jess goes to Slim and apologizes for walking into their trap.

Parkison starts the formal duel. Jess says they can still make a run for it, but Slim says itís too late for that; he has to go through with it.

Out on the street, Slim starts walking toward Parkison while Jess watches helplessly. The first shot by Parkison goes into the air. His second shot is aimed at Slim but misses. Slim aims but doesnít shoot. Jess warns him to wait. Too far away. Parkison shoots at Slim again and misses again. Jess urges Slim to shoot. Slim aims again, but doesnít shoot. Parkisonís next shot goes in Slims arm. Again, Slim aims. Parkison shoots Slim in the side and Slim falls. Jess runs toward him, but Slim makes him stay back.

Slim gets up, blood running down from his side. Parkison is out of shots and is now at Slim's mercy. Slim makes Lee promise to end the feud after today, something that Lee is only too willing to do. Slim aims at Ben, and Lee says ďI promiseĒ. Slim wonít shoot even though Parkison wants him to. Slim tells Ben that until he fires his gun, Parkison owes him his life. He owes a Sherman. A broken Parkison turns and walks off, and Slim passes out in the street. Jess and the Doc go to help.

Jess and Slim are back at the creek and theyíve asked Parkison to come. Andy was out looking for his cub and found Floydís rifle in the creek. Heís able to reconstruct for Parkison what happened. Lee thanks Slim for asking them to come. Slim hands the rifle to Parkison and Parkison asks about Slimís wound, and says he was glad it wasnít any worse. After the Parkisons go, Jess asks Slim if Lee hadnít agreed to end the feud, would he really have shot Parkison. Slim says heís asked himself that same question, but never gives an answer. Andy comes up and has found another critter that he wants to take home. ďCan I keep it Slim?Ē

Annie's Favorite Moments:   This episode is chock full of domestic scenes. No major dramatic action, no big fights or shoot outs (except the duel which was pretty one-sided), just daily life on the ranch. I like that. I can't pin down a favorite moment, just a group of them. I like the tension and conflict between Slim and Andy. Andy is too young to understand really what Slim is going through. All he knows is that his brother is being called names and won't do anything about it. He also is a little ticked that Slim won't let him keep his wolf cub.

If I had to pin it down to one scene, I'd have to say the nighttime scene on the front porch where Jess is whittling and he and Slim are talking.

Notes of Interest:   Lee Parkison was played by Ron Harper, who later plays an old friend of Jess' in Edge of Evil. Old man Parkison is played by Henry Hull, who was seventy if he was a day. He looked way too old to have a fifteen year old son (Floyd was 15).

The Owie Factor:   Slim gets shot twice. He's a tough 'un in this one.

Annie's rating:  I really like this one. It's very domestic and very well done. Slim has to turn the other cheek, multiple times. Slim has never been more noble while enduring an awful lot of slings and arrows. Jess is his staunch ally and friend throughout.

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