Possession 2: Daddy-O Missing Moments
Author's Note: I lied. I thought I had this story out of my system. But when I completed Chapter 8 of Possession, I rewatched Daddy-O to make sure everything fit together nicely, and there were several MM's in that ep just waiting to be filled in. Here they are.
This chapter contains plenty of dialogue and plot from the Gunsmoke episode Daddy-O, Season 2 (June 1, 1957) written by John Meston.
Doctor Galen Adams hobbled to the door of the U.S. Marshal's Office of Dodge City, Kansas, calling excitedly, "Chester, he's here!" Chester Goode hurriedly limp-hopped outside to greet Marshal Matt Dillon on horseback, returning to Dodge after being out of town for three long weeks.
Doc couldn't wait to deliver the wonderful news to Matt, that while he was away in Hays City attending a trial, their dear mutual friend Kitty Russell had finally turned over a new leaf, closing the deal on purchasing half-interest in the Long Branch Saloon from owner Bill Pence. It gladdened Doc's old heart that Kitty would now be able to cease her efforts to raise the considerable sum of money it had taken to accomplish this feat.
She had scratched and saved to raise most of the cash singlehandedly, through what Doc considered an entirely risky and unfavorable means. But after Kitty was violently attacked in her bedroom by a cruel drifter named Horace Hamilton one unfortunate evening nearly a month ago, Matt and Doc had seen to it that she quickly had access to the remainder of the payment to Pence so that she could quit this dangerous line of work immediately.
It still made Doc's blood boil to recall the injuries inflicted by that sadist Hamilton. It took a special kind of coward to beat up on a defenseless woman. Doc's heart had squeezed in his chest as he examined poor Kitty's injuries-ugly bruises and raw, painful abrasions marring her lovely, young skin. Why, what he wouldn't give to get his hands on the sorry, good-for-nothing degenerate who had hurt her!
Kitty Russell was a brave, independent girl, but it was time for her to stop this foolishness and accept a little help from someone else for a change. Someone who deeply cared for her and who was devoted to her happiness and well-being.
Unfortunately, women in these parts were severely limited in what they could do to earn a decent living, and he'd never been one whit happy with her choice of occupation. Doc loved Kitty dearly, but what in tarnation could he do? She was a grown woman and he had no business ordering her around, even if he had come to think of her as a surrogate daughter. And so he stood by helplessly as she braved the dangers of prostitution: disease, violence, and unwanted pregnancy among the very worst of them. Unfortunately, the danger had become all too frighteningly real to Kitty that ill-fated night. She was dadgum lucky that Matt had been there to intervene.
When he learned from Matt that she'd had a long-term financial plan to get out all along, but was still short a small amount of the necessary funds, Doc couldn't come to her aid fast enough. Kitty had stubbornly insisted that she would repay them both, but Doc could care less, honest-to-Pete, if he ever saw his relatively paltry contribution again. It was a small price to pay for his peace of mind that Kitty was safe and liberated from that unwholesome sort of existence.
Matt had confided that Kitty assured him she would speak with Bill about the purchase the day he left for Hays City. He quietly asked Doc to keep an eye on her for him, and make sure she made good her promise to get the ball rolling on the saloon deal.
Now Doc was elated to be able to inform Matt of the welcome changes that had finally come to pass in his three week absence. Doc and Chester enthusiastically greeted Matt as he got down from his horse, gesturing excitedly to the newly painted sign across Front Street: "Long Branch Saloon: Russell & Pence, Proprietors."
Doc was mightily impressed at Matt's feigned look of surprise when he read the words aloud. Doc, Matt, and Kitty had agreed not to let anyone, even Chester, know about their role in aiding Kitty's purchase of the saloon. Doc nearly chuckled aloud when Matt affected ignorance, "Well, I'll be doggone. Where'd she get that kind of money?"
Doc quickly recovered, "Well, she's been savin' her money! She's smart…she's been savin' it for a long time!" It was vital for Kitty to be taken seriously in Dodge as an independent businesswoman, reliant on no man for her existence. Of course, she could have done it on her own, but following the close call of Horace Hamilton's attack, Matt and Doc insisted that she accept their help. That's what friends were for, they firmly asserted.
As for letting Chester know about their involvement…well, none of them thought that it would remain a secret for too awful long if Chester ever found out. He was a dear friend, but you just never quite knew what was going to come out of Chester's mouth.
"Mr. Dillon, she's been waitin' real proud for you!" Chester fairly beamed at Matt.
"Oh, she has, eh?" Matt hooked his thumbs in his gun belt, threw his shoulders back and grinned.
"I'll go and put your horse away."
"All right, Chester."
Matt and Doc quickly smothered a tiny smile as they glanced knowingly at each other. Neither said a word.
As Chester headed for the stable, Doc finally questioned, "Well, what do you think of it?" Doc knew how much Matt cared for Kitty, and how desperately he had wanted her to buy the Long Branch and therefore cease earning her additional income upstairs in her bedroom.
After Kitty's injury, Matt had spent a great deal of time with her, making sure she woke long enough to eat and that she took her pain medication regularly. Remembering the sight of Matt's boots lying under Kitty's bed, Doc wasn't quite sure how far their relationship extended, but he thought that the two were definitely good for each other.
"Well, I think it's pretty fine, Doc, you know?" Matt beamed contentedly and beat the trail dust off his hat as he replied in his usual understated way. They glanced at each other wordlessly for a moment, and each could see the other's pride in Kitty, and yes, relief that this had come to pass. "Well, I'd better get some of this dust off before I go and meet the influential citizens." Matt headed to his office to spruce up before going to congratulate Kitty on her purchase of the Long Branch.