"A Noose is Waiting"

(Original air date 11/13/67)


The Barkleys’ new friend sets up his medical practice in Stockton
but conceals plans to avenge his father’s death


Writer: Arthur Browne Jr.

Director: Joseph A. Mazzuca

While in town doing shopping Audra tries to convince Victoria to have a quick medical check-up after having experienced bouts of fever in the last couple of days. Victoria suspects that her daughter’s insistence is due in greater part to this new young doctor who, in Doctor Merar’s absence, has set up his medical practice in town.

She finally yields to Audra’s request and go in to meet the dashing young Dr. James Belton (Bradford Dillman) who is instantly smitten with the pretty blonde. Sheriff Madden (Douglas Kennedy) suddenly irrupts with two men carrying unconscious Everett Gibbons (I. Stanford Jolley). Victoria finds it hard to believe that the man tried to hang himself. Fred says that evidence points to someone helping him commit suicide.


Inside the examining room Dr. Belton is left alone with the dying patient. Gibbons opens his eyes briefly to recognize his assailant before a pillow is placed over his face. Minutes later, the corpse is taken out. Belton acts out the part of the remorseful doctor who deplores having failed to save his first patient in Stockton. Victoria’s speech about a similar experience momentarily lifts his spirits and he gladly accepts an invitation to dinner at the ranch.


After dinner over a game of pool, James has a brief hallucination of his father, a controlling man that young James strove to please. When Stockton Eagle publisher Martin Erskine (Martin Ashe) decides to call it a day to go work on tomorrow’s issue, James follows suits and thanks the Barkleys for the lovely evening.

Later in town while Fred does his rounds he is shocked to find Martin’s body hanging from a rope in his office. Meanwhile James drops by the cemetery to visit his father’s grave. He flashes a satanic smile and promises the deceased that his revenge will be complete with the murder of the third quarry on the list of people who disgraced his name. Then he takes a shovel and digs out the coffin.


During the night Audra sends for Jarrod to get Dr. Belton for Victoria who is running a high fever. As Jarrod gets ready to leave, Sheriff Madden shows up to inform the lawyer of Erskine’s murder. The assassin left a second note: “For what they did together, all will die as they did. The last victim will be Victoria Barkley.” They are baffled as to the singular handwriting.

The next day, Jarrod drops by the bank to get Emmie’s (Ellen Corby) expert opinion on the penmanship. She concludes to a right-handed person writing with his left hand and proves it by having Jarrod sign his name with his left hand.


Jarrod returns to the ranch to learn from Nick that Victoria has pneumonia. In her room, the scalding fever has Victoria hallucinating. She refuses the sedative and cries out to her children, saying they are her reason for living. After injecting the drug into her arm to render her sleepy, Dr. Belton grabs a pillow to suffocate her. But another hallucination about his own mother prevents him from committing the gruesome murder. Audra then asks to enter and suggests the weary man to take a nap while she keeps a vigil on her mother.


The next morning he awakes to find Victoria sitting in bed with a radiant, healthy beam. She thanks him for his ministrations before he leaves for town.

Outside, Nick instructs his men on the search for the loose killer. Sheriff rides up to inform them of a telegram Martin Erskine received on the death of a mentally insane Janet Davis. He produces another telegram in answer to a specific question regarding the Davis family. The reply suggests to seek out the file on Emory Davis, the former founder of the Minor Bank that went bankrupt years ago.


In town Jarrod drops Audra at the doctor’s office where she brings the empty bottle of medicine for a refill. There, James invites her to join him on a drive of the countryside.

Meanwhile Jarrod and Fred make startling discoveries on the presumed killer. The surmise that Emory Davis’s son is likely avenging his father’s suicide by targeting the three principal investors in his bank who suddenly withdrew all of their money when it was known that Davis had made bad investments.


Unbeknownst to Audra, James drives her to his old parents’ ranch. Inside, hallucinations of his life as a troubled child invade him, taking possession of his mind. He undergoes a radical metamorphosis before Audra’s eyes. After she screams at the sight of a skeleton hanging by the neck, he threatens to kill her in order to inflict great pain and suffering to Victoria Barkley as she did him when she drove his father to suicide.


Luckily Jarrod and Fred arrive in time to stop the insane man. As they march toward him, James accidentally steps on a rotten board and falls to his death at the bottom of a well.


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