#11 - "Short Straw"
1958 - 1959
Three saloonkeepers want to to get rid of the marshal's 10 pm curfew. When bribery doesn't work and they can't get the town council to go against Marshal Troop, they draw straws to see who will kill him. The man who draws the short straw doesn't have the sand to call Dan out so he hires a killer, not a gunfighter, just an ambushing killer.
Dan recognizes Lon Haggert, the hired killer, when he rides in and stops at the Blue Bonnet. Dan warns him to be out of town by midnight.
Dan has Johnny watch the saloon from across the street. He doesn't know who the killer is after, but he bodes trouble for someone in Laramie. As Dan does his evening check of the town, he joins Johnny at his post. The killer hasn't come out, but Johnny can no longer see him from the window. As Dan continues checking the town, the killer comes out of the shadows. Johnny shouts a warning and shoots the man with his rifle.
They lock up the wounded killer but he won't tell who hired him. A little later when Dan releases a man locked up to sleep off a drunk, the man is shot as he walks out the office door. The shot came from either the hotel or the Blue Bonnett saloon and was clearly meant for Dan. They're unable to find the shooter. There's no one registered in the hotel room facing the office but the window is open.
Dan and Johnny are on edge. Dan is driven to threats against Haggert and Johnny almost shoots the office cat after he steps on it. Dan confronts the three ringleaders but gets no answers. Dru Lemp gives Dan coffee and an impassioned speech about how his curfew has saved the lives of decent people who were the victims of the fights and killings prior to the curfew. When Dan does the 10 pm curfew round the next night, he has Johnny tail him about half a block back.
Dan hears the pump of a shotgun from across the street. He does a dive and roll of the kind usually reserved for his deputy. The shooter is the saloon owner who drew the short straw.
The other two ringleaders are later picked up as the flee to Cheyenne. Johnny comments its going to be nice to be able to walk around town completely relaxed. But he catches himself at Dan's look. He reckons how a lawman can never be completely relaxed.
NiteOwl Review: This is a nice tightly written, spare episode. No important revelations or interactions between the characters, but it does give us another look at the thankless job of guarding "the decent" people. Johnny is a fully capable deputy in this one.
Dan meets with the lawyer
for the saloonkeepers

"I don't take bribes"
The killer
Dan recognizes him
and tells him to get out of town
"A gunfighter?"
"No, a killer"
Dan tells Johnny to watch the saloon
Johnny stands guard
He saves Dan from ambush
The hotel room was unoccupied
Now we can relax
Dan raises a skeptical eye
Well, maybe not
Original air date Dec 14, 1958
Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by Clair Huffaker

Regular Cast
John Russell as Dan Troop
Peter Brown as Johnny McKay

Guest Cast
Bek Nelson as Dru Lemp
Jack Lambert as Lon Haggertt
Ted DiGorsia as Jess Crowthers
John Hubbard as Jake Biddle
Charles Fredricks as Orin Smith
David Alpert as Lester White
Tom McKee as Joe Heslip

Our Favorite Scene: The one where Johnny spots the killer and saves Dan from being gunned down. Although we like Dan as mentor, we also like to see Johnny acting with the confidence Dan has placed in him when it's called for.
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