You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Tombstone’ category.

This is written from the pov of Johnny Behan who I have made Wyatt’s nemesis in Tombstone based on my interpretation of the historical data. Here I’m playing with their rivalry over women as well as politics. This was first posted on September 29, 2006.

Johnny had not planned to be at the Schieffelin Hall for the dance; hence he had not asked the esteemable Miss Fanny McKay to accompany him. His business of late had required his presence elsewhere in the territory, but then he had managed to find himself returning to Tombstone earlier than estimated. Ever the one to support a worthy cause he was happy to pay the ticket price for the admittance to the festivities, though he was a little shocked to hear that white children would be mixing with colored children. There was time enough, at another date, to deal with that problem. There was always the Bipartisan Anti-Chinese League and failing legal statues there was lynchings. Some of these do-gooder women allowed sympathy to get the better of them.

Wisely Sheriff Johnny Behan kept such opinions to himself for the dance. There were too many of these lovely but addle-pated bleeding hearts in attendance.

“Ah women,” Johnny thought to himself, “such sweet soft creatures, but without the sense God gave a cur.”

Johnny hadn’t gotten where he was in Tombstone society and in County politics (trumping Wyatt Earp in the previous elections with his connections and smooth talking deal making) without being a keen observer of men. He was not so astute with women, but he thought that he was. His blindness was his firm belief in their inferiority of thinking and nothing could dissuade him from that opinion. If a woman showed cleverness or wit he invariably ascribed it to a sort of animal cunning and a similar ability to that of a parrot in being able to mimic what she read or heard.

So as Johnny’s eyes traveled the ballroom of Schieffelin Hall he made note of the words of men, their demeanor, and who they were standing with, and of women he had only one use: were they pretty? He was aware of the different undercurrents present at the dance. Curly Bill had arrived, probably to cause trouble, but then had been caught up in merriment and dancing; Johnny Ringo was being strangely well-behaved, the Clanton clan was in not in attendance in force, Tom McLaury had been dancing with that Earp girl, and now the Earps were riled. Johnny could feel their buzzing like a hornet’s nest. But where was Wyatt Earp?

There he is…

“Oh hell.”

The shock of seeing Miss Fanny McKay dancing with Wyatt Earp was like getting a bucket of cold water over his head. This development had come right of the wild blue yonder and put rather a kink in Johnny’s hitch. Miss Fanny was supposed to be nice and safe at the Hacienda where Johnny could pluck her for his own at his leisure (even while he had allowed some of his allies and cohorts to do a little ‘plucking’ of their own). She must have called the son of a bitch in over that unfortunate death of one of her hands (women were apt to be sentimental that way) when she should have been trusting in Johnny’s investigations. After all it was neither town nor federal business so the Earps had no business being out that far from the city limits.

The dance finished and Johnny watched as Wyatt escorted Fanny to the punch bowl. It was then he made his approach. He smiled with fake cheer. It would be difficult to explain why he had not invited her to the dance and yet attended it himself, and it was necessary not to appear flustered or upset in anyway.

“Why Miss McKay, what a pleasure to see you! I had not thought to be here myself as business has kept me out of town, but surely if I had I would have been competing with deputy Earp here for your company. At least you might allow me to steal you away for one dance? Wyatt, you don’t mind, do you?”

Johnny brooked no refusal and as the music started up for the next dance Miss Fanny was lead adroitly to the floor.

What Wyatt had lacked in skill (though Johnny had noted that Wyatt’s steps and poise had a certain animal quality that Johnny was quite sure he didn’t care to see in the handling of his own future bride) Johnny made up for in polish.

Advertisements

First posted for the Tombstone novel at Pan Historia on September 22 here Wyatt ruminates on the type of woman that his friend Angus would leave in charge of his ranch. Meanwhile Sheriff John Behan has not been remiss in courting the lady in question as well. Inspiration for this direction in the story had some basis in the historical possibility of a love triangle between Johnny Behan and Wyatt Earp and Josephine Sarah Marcus.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

I had to admit that when I had arrived to pick up Miss McKay she was a vision. The cliché would be to say it took my breath away but that weren’t quite it anyhow. It was more of a tightening inside. What business had Johnny Behan in mussing up his opportunity with this fair flower of feminity? Well I reckon it was the usual business – which, of course, was glad-handing and working the angles. Johnny thought himself rather the cock of the walk, and, in fact, thought well of his powers of acumen, but the fact was his facilities were lacking in the matter of women. He tended to underestimate them. In Behan’s world all women were either decorative or useful or both. He discounted their brains and their emotional needs. The brains did not exist and the needs were to be brushed aside as irrelevant to his needs.

Obviously I had been privy to the aftermath of one or two of his liaisons in town. It made me like him no better than I cared for the way he sought elevation in Tombstone society or the nature of his shifting ethical standards or his lack of loyalty – even to the men that buttered his morning toast. Now I was troubled by women for I had read the good book and I knew of their status, but I had encountered the sharpness of their tongue fueled by a brain that was faster than mine, and I knew, just watching my mama, of their strength and the power of their emotions. It seemed that what God said in the good book was to balance things out for surely if man did not exercise his rights we would all be soon under the yoke of the clever female. Beauty in a woman just strengthened her power.

Fanny McKay was one of those women. I seen that straight off. First she had a face that probably could have launched a thousand ships as had happened in the Trojan War, and second Angus would never have left a woman, let alone a young niece, in charge of his spread if she weren’t as biting as a whip, and as quick on the draw as a gunslinger. Both of these things had determined to me that I wouldn’t be setting my sights on her and yet here I am driving her in a buggy to Tombstone and the Schieffelin Hall. We talked a little on the ride in. I was a slight bit more tongue-tied than usual and she politely filled the spaces by mostly talking of her life in Scotland. She also filled me on some of the events around her spread, enough to make my hackles rise. I would have to be back out there to investigate. It bore all the earmarks of Curly Bill or any of his ‘cowboy’ crew, and no doubt had the approval of Sheriff Johnny Behan in the fleecing of a lady who they imagined without guile or defense.

Once we turned up at the dance I dispensed with talk of cattle and took Miss Fanny’s arm and escorted her into the hall where the band was commencing to play. The place was fair packed and it was going to be quite something else to find room to dance I reckoned. This might serve me well as I don’t fancy I’m the most agile when it comes to such courtly affairs. I learned the steps when a boy for Pa and Ma insisted on such matters and I had been to a few dances since, but just one glance at the dance card and I could see I was way out of my league. There were dances I never even heard of on here. I was safe with the waltzes and I reckoned I could get away with a couple of those without treading on my partner’s toes.

This was originally posted on September 4, 2006 for the collaborative fiction novel Tombstone at the Pan Historia community site. I did a little editing in order to remove some references to another writer’s post that made no sense here, and seemed gratuitous. Miss Fanny is looking after the ranch of her uncle Angus McLeod who has returned on urgent business to Scotland. Naturally the Cowboy element is looking to take advantage of what they view as a helpless female.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

It had taken me a couple hours of fairly hard riding to make it to Angus’s spread before the sun had reached its zenith. I certainly hoped that the lady in residence would be hospitable and have something on the griddle for lunch. I was also a bit tired and wouldn’t have minded one of those ‘siestas’ considering having risen so earlier in order to visit Miss Fanny and then make it back to town before night.

It was an odd visit at the hacienda, considering why I had come. I started off taking a look around, offering a small dash of advice, which the lady accepted with politeness but seemed to feel was quite unnecessary for she knew her way around stock, she claimed. That might be so but I wasn’t so ignorant that I thought Scotland looked anything like Arizona Territory or that those Angus beeves could possibly do well where Longhorn were king. She confided that she was having some trouble with rustlers, and that she’d had a couple hands killed. That was not such good news, but then she said that too was under control for Sheriff Behan had been out to look around and he would, no doubt, catch the murdering thieves. I expressed some concern for her safety way out here and wondered if she were not better off taking rooms in town until Angus could come home, but she’d have none of that either.

As Miss Fanny started talking to me of her woes out here on the hacienda I began to smell a rat. It might be that Johnny wasn’t going to be too chivalrous to Miss Fanny and that she would be better off without his attentions, but it was hard to broach such a topic without seeming mean-spirited or the sort that likes to toot his own trumpet. In the end it seemed like squiring her to a dance might be doing her a service for I could get to know her a bit better and there might be the opportunity to let her in on the nature of the man she was letting escort her around Tombstone. I would introduce her to John Clum at the dance and Virgil. Either of those men, with their glib tongues, would be far more adept at enlightening Miss Fanny.

And after the dance I would be back out to the hacienda land to see if I could find some clues about who was rustling Miss Fanny’s cattle and who was killing off her men.

Of course all of this cunning plan of mine rather depended on Miss Fanny liking me well enough to accept my invitation to the dance and judging by her coolness towards me, I reckon she doesn’t care all that much for me. She’s no doubt heard ill of me from that snake-oil salesman Behan so I did register a slight expression of surprise when she agreed.

This is why I’m on my way this afternoon in the buggy to pick up Miss Fanny. It will be an effort not to get myself dusty and sweaty on such a long round trip just for taking a woman to a dance. I’ve engaged a room for her at The Grand Hotel for after the dance so that she is quite free to dance all night if’n she takes a mind to it.

First posted in Tombstone, the Collaborative Role-Play Novel, at Pan Historia on August 19th, 2006. Sometimes I find dialogue the easiest way into a scene. I wonder if it’s my theater background? Here I’m writing from Morgan Earp’s POV as he tries to encourage his brother to take a woman to the upcoming dance.

Morgan Earp, artwork by the Author

Morgan Earp, artwork by the Author

“Wyatt, you gotta go to the dance.”

Morgan looked at his brother with concern.

“I’m taking Lu, Virge is taking Allie, and Jim is taking Bessie, I don’t know who Warren is taking, but I know he’s going.”

“And who might I take, Morg?”

“Any number of pretty little fillies, Wyatt?”

Morgan looked back to the baize cloth and eyed the ball he wanted to pot. He leaned forward, propped the cue on his knuckles and began the slide.

“I haven’t been seeing any particular fillies and I’m quite sure, even though Miss Louella is going, that it will be taken amiss if I show up with a whore on my arm.”

“Yeah, that Miss Louella is something. There are not many women that could pull off being as respectable as she is with the ladies in this town and run a cathouse.”

“Yes, she really is something.”

“Why don’t you take Miss Louella, Wyatt?”

Morgan let the stick fly forward, easily potting his ball, and he moved around the table for another shot.

“Because, little brother, she’s stuck on that no good rotten Johnny Ringo and it won’t do my chances in the coming elections to get into a fight over a woman with a wastrel like that.”

“Ok, but what about Nellie Cashman or Rafael Murieta Montoya?”

“Good god, Morg! I might need some female companionship, but let’s not set me to sleep.”

“There ain’t nothing wrong with either of those fine young women.”

“No, they’re both paragons of virtue, and that’s exactly how they will stay until someone collars them and puts a ring on their fingers. I prefer an earthy type myself. Besides I hear George Parsons is taking Miss Montoya.”

“What about that new woman, that one that is out handling Angus’s spread?”

“She’s being courted by Sheriff Behan.”

Morgan, missing his final shot, straightened up with a grin and lets Wyatt take his place at the pool table.

“Well that shouldn’t put you off none. Take her away from that carpetbagger.”

“It’s not a bad idea. I was thinking of riding out to her place and checking it out for Angus’s sake. I could see for myself the lay of the land.”

This was fun to write because it was about the return of an old writing partner from the very earliest of my western fiction days: Roxanne Montesquieu. This was first posted in the Tombstone collaborative fiction role-play novel at Pan Historia on August 10, 2006. Roxanne had a history that was literally years earlier, but in Tombstone time probably less than a year had gone by. By being a bit creative we worked out the details so it didn’t read as if time had been stretched beyond its normal limits, but Tombstone at Pan is a bit like the Korean War in M*A*S*H. It has gone on a lot longer than the real events could have.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

“Well, well, well.”

I spoke out loud to myself as I carefully folded the letter on its thick and expensive vellum and tucked it back in its envelope. It had been brief and yet opened up floodgates of memory.

“Roxanne.”

I knew that my feelings for her had changed over time to that of brotherly affection, but I wasn’t sure how Doc felt. We’d not mentioned her once in the time since she’d decided that she’d had enough of gambling men and got herself hitched to James Vandenberg. I had read in the newspapers of his passing and had chosen not to bring it up to Doc. Now it was going to be inevitable – she was on her way.

It would be hard to be calling her Mrs. Vandenberg but I reckoned I could get used to it. It was interesting to contemplate how widowhood might have changed her. I hoped the vivacious French woman was not too much changed. It would be good to see her again.

In fact the memories she stirred up caused me to direct my feet towards the new cathouse. I decided I should use that chip Madame Silks had provided me with for that new blonde filly. Apparently I was in the mood for a bit of a rougher ride. I had seen no tenderness in that girl, even though she was about one of the prettiest women I had ever seen. It seemed a shame that light was hiding in a house of ill-repute when such a face should have been gracing the stage or some rich fat politician’s arm. Of course she might lack any and all talent. I had seen other pretty girls that had tried for the stage find themselves working on their back instead – not that actresses didn’t often work on their backs too.

The girl, her name turned out to be a strange sounding name Janako, didn’t seem surprised that I was back to see her. Her cool grey eyes, lighter even than mine, raked me up and down. Her lips never turned up in a smile, not even a pretense at a smile, as she took me up to her room. Like most rooms in such parlor houses it was small but richly appointed with feminine things, but a little more spare than others I had seen. There were perfume bottles but not a profusion. There were silks but no overflowing trunk. I wondered if she was one of those that actually saved her money, and then I stopped wondering and got down to business.

While I removed my collar she seated herself on the bed with a negligent air. She knew she was surpassing lovely and wasn’t putting much effort into winning me over. She relied on her looks to do the work. She moved with a pleasing feline grace that did even more for her appeal than her pretty face and voluptuous form. I couldn’t help wondering about her even as I took my role as ‘john’ or ‘trick’. I knew she didn’t want me in her head, and she sure as hell didn’t want me in her heart, and right now that was fine with me. She rolled down her stockings and lifted her skirts.

That I wouldn’t have. She didn’t have to like me but she was going to do this my way.

“All of it, lovely lady.”

First posted on July 27, 2006 at Tombstone in Pan Historia (a collaborative writing community).

“Later in the evening I returned to the Oriental to find Morgan dealing faro. I settled down near him, with a copy of The Nugget. That particular paper was guaranteed to raise my temperature but it was as unavoidable as the Arizona heat. To be informed was to be armed. It was always necessary to know what the other side was saying about you. This edition was surprisingly empty of any substantive town news. It seemed that the depredations that had plagued our county always were quiescent around about now and there was no more to report that church socials, a dance come Saturday night, and the arrival in town of Miss Fanny McKay to take over her uncle’s spread. The editorial comment on the likelihood of success of a female managing a large ranch was approving, though reminding the reader of Miss McKay’s generally gentle and ladylike demeanor, and how the weaker sex, in general, was seldom up to such an endeavor.

I seriously doubted that Angus would leave his holdings in the hands of someone incapable and that seemed to the general view of The Nugget though I suspected there was more to it then that for the rag was generally Sheriff Behan’s mouthpiece, being edited by his deputy Harry Wood. The paper also related how Johnny Behan had been seen stepping out with the aforementioned Scottish heiress. Did I smell a whiff of matrimony in the air? I had no trouble imagining Behan working this situation to his advantage and pressing home a suit what would be beneficial to himself financially and socially – thus the heiress had to be shown in as positive a light as possible. I was tempted to ride out there to check on her just to throw a wrench into the gears. Then it occurred to me that maybe I should for the sake of my friendship with Angus – just to see that things were going smoothly. It would be remiss of me to ignore a long friendship just because I was avoiding beautiful and cultured women.

Speaking of which; I had a token for the new parlor house. I let my fingers run over it, flipping it over and over, and side to side in the confines of my pocket. Perhaps I would amble on over late in the evening and sample the wares. I had in mind that one blonde filly with the cold eyes. She would be perfect. I craved no intimacies of the heart or mind – just a good time for the body. She had looked at me with all the cynicism of her kind. It was clear she was no silly empty-headed girl. Her clothes, while stylish to be sure, showed a certain economy and there were no extra adornments about her person. I reckoned she was of the wilier sort – the sort that put away every penny they earned so that one day they could aspire to a higher station in life, such as that of Abby Silks or like that of Louella McCandles.

Ah, Miss Louella… she was still a puzzle to me; so refined but spending her days in a cat house.

Chewing on the end of my cheroot I considered that it was likely that I would never truly understand the minds or hearts of women.

The seat next to me was filled.

“Why Wyatt, you didn’t tell me you were up and about. I could be insulted.”

I turned to look at Doc.

“I wouldn’t bother, Doc.”

“No, in your case, I can always make an exception; though if that sonofabitch Milt was here I would not be so forgiving.”

“I heard what happened with Kate. Where is she now?”

“The bitch went back to Tucson.”

“I have no idea what you see in that woman, Doc.”

“Neither do I, Wyatt, neither do I.”

First posted on July 21, 2006 for the Tombstone collaborative role-play fiction novel at Pan Historia. Wyatt is definitely getting over the flu if he’s noticing a new skirt.

“The sun was a painful glare in my eyes as I stepped out onto the street. The starch of my collar and the fit of my suit kept me upright when, in reality, I felt weak as a kitten still. Nonetheless I pressed onwards. Time and tide, so they say, wait on no man. I discreetly patted my coat pocket to make sure I was heeled. I was in no condition for my normal physicality and would have to rely on a weapon if cornered. I was tempted to forego my normal temperance and take a shot of whiskey to clear my head, but common sense spoke up and I settled on a beer instead. I reckoned, for now, I would avoid the Crystal Palace for my last evening there had created quite a stir around town. Sober Johnny Ringo might well be a match for me in my present condition, and drunk – he was mean as a wolverine.

Besides it was good business to check on the Oriental – I had receipts to collect and I could catch up on town news with Lou Rickabaugh. Happily it was not Milt at the bar today but Frank Leslie so I could get service without a sour face – for Milt was still airing a grudge at trouble that Doc had made for him while in his cups, and of course, Milt being a Democrat he was backing Behan’s horse. Such is the city of Tombstone. Every cup of ale comes with a dollop of politics and feuding. I was in no mood for it today. I found Lou at the faro tables.

Lou filled me on the latest news as it was quiet this early in the afternoon, though the evening was not far off. I grabbed a copy of the Epitaph when Lou got a miner or two desperate to blow their earnings on a turn of a card. The air was hot and muggy in the saloon even though it was dim and restful on the eyes. The fans hardly made an impression against the Arizona summer. I looked out onto the street through the windows; idly watching the passerbys. I was not surprised to see that there were few on such a scorcher of a day. Then I seen her. She was one of the demimonde but not one I had seen about the camp before. She was damned fine though with hair the color of corn silk tassels. I knew that color well but the face and figure were different. She was statuesque and somewhat tall, and her skin was pale, nor freckled. She carried a parasol to keep the son off that fair skin.

“Lou, who is that?”

“That’s one of Abby Silks’ girls.”

“Abby Silks?”

“New Madame, set up a new cat house, you know that lot on the corner of Sixth and Fremont? I hear it’s a real fancy high-toned kind of place. The prices are a bit steep, but they’ve been doing good business.”

“I reckon I better check they’ve paid their license fees.”

Lou grinned at me.

“I imagine they’ll even be willing to pay in trade.”

banner2

Originally posted on July 8, 2006 for the Tombstone collaborative novel in Pan Historia. Though I have read a great deal of the historical research around Wyatt and his family I have never believed the negative portrayal of the brothers spun by writer Frank Waters who had access to Allie Earp but then embellished it with his own anti-Earp bias. His book The Earp Brothers of Tombstone is a blot on an otherwise noble career. However what remains of his interviews with Alvira Sullivan Earp do suggest that she might have been less than pleased with Wyatt getting all the attention instead of her beloved Virgil. This is the source of my portrayal of her as being hard on Wyatt, but still devoted as a sister-in-law.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

Jesus H. Christ, I need a drink of water!”

I was sticking to the sheets, my head still pounded, and my mouth tasted like I’d been licking alum off the streets of Tombstone with a little good horse shit in there for good measure, but I was feeling better. The fever had broken.

Allie looked at me askance when I took the Lord’s name in vain, but that wasn’t unusual nor was the likelihood of her doing the same when the spirit took her. For all her disapproval of me in general, she, along with the other women of the household, had been nursing me good. She brought me water with some chips of ice in it.

God that felt good.

She followed it with a bowl of chicken soup and a doorstop of bread thickly spread with sweet butter.

Once I had tucked into my lunch I started out of bed. Lu attempted to dissuade me but Allie said: “Don’t waste your breath on a mule-headed Earp – particularly that sorry son of a bitch – he’s the worst of the lot.”

“For chrissakes, Allie, I can’t stay in these sheets. I need a wash and a shave. There is no point in me slothing around in bed with you waiting on me. I’m fine now.”

There was a sort of huffing sound as Allie turned her back on me and disappeared into the kitchen. I never knew a woman so small and so mean at the same time.

Nor had I discerned the nature of her longstanding ire at me. It just was – and had been since soon after we met. Virge loved her and so I was tolerant.

I washed down from the jug, getting the soap over my skin to remove the stain of sweat from days thrashing in that bed. I remembered the girls changing the linens a couple times but I had only drenched them again in minutes. I glanced at the bed in distaste to see a rime of salt on the sheets. Lu had brought me clean towels and left out my suit. I dressed quickly, feeling a little lightheaded to be standing after all this time, and once I was presentable, my timepiece adjusted to the correct hour and wound, I headed out to the street.

It was time to see what had taken place in town since my illness.

banner2

Originally posted on June 1, 2006. In the last scene I posted Doc has lost his temper at Big Nose Kate. In between several other writers responded, attempting to dissuade Doc from bloodshed.

Doc Holliday by the Author

Doc Holliday by the Author

Doc considered his options. If he slit Kate’s throat, with all these witnesses, just as Nick Stokes had suggested, the odds were that he would hang for it. Death carried no weight with Doc. Now Wolf’s reminder that death would eliminate Doc from Wyatt’s circle did carry a little weight but the fact was there was no avoiding that day. It would come for him, hell or high water. The issue here was doing the world a favor, and removing the bitch Kate from that world.

“I reckon you’re all not being mindful of the facts here, ladies and gentleman. Let me introduce my fair companion, Kate. She would give Lilith a run for her money. She could out suck a succubus. She’s a vampire of men. She sucks out their souls, and their wallets. She’s a liar, a schemer, and a cheat. If I slit her throat right here there would be no one to mourn her except Mr. Scratch.”

With a sigh of regret, Doc, withdrew his knife from Kate’s throat. He did it so that it nicked her as the sharp blade passed, and for one eerie silent moment in the saloon everyone held their breath expecting the blood to do more than well and bead on her throat, and then for Kate to slump down dead.

She did neither of those things. What she did do was turn to Doc and spit in his face.

Then she ran from the saloon. Her eyes were dry, but her heart was slamming her ribs.

Doc tucked his knife back in boot, wiped Kate’s saliva from his face, and took his cards back up in his white boney hands. He looked straight up at Miss Louella.

“That mercy was for you, dahlin’. I have no beef with you, and I’m quite sure that Wyatt wouldn’t approve of me causing trouble in your place of business. I have no need of a private conference, however, though it’s kind of you to offer, I have quite a clear account of that whore’s part in the matter.”

“Well, are we playing cards or not? I might not live until morning, so don’t dawdle my fine friends.”

First posted in Tombstone at Pan Historia on May 29th, 2006.

Doc Holliday by the Author

Doc Holliday by the Author

The scene in the Crystal Palace was unavoidable. There was only one truth in Doc Holliday’s life – and that was his utter loyalty to the man called Wyatt Earp. Life had dealt the Southerner a bum hand. He was dying young. His career as a dentist was cut short by his disease (who wanted those diseased hands in their mouth – who trusted a man with blood in his own?). His temper and health had been made worse by the liquor he habitually poured down his throat to ease the pain. Death was his companion – at every hand of cards, in his bed at night; whether or not a whore like Kate was by his side. Death was friend and foe.

Wyatt was his friend. He would easily give his worthless life to that friend.

That Kate had dared to distract him when Wyatt might have needed him caused a great rage in Doc’s heart. His calm for the hours of dinner, the walk to the Palace, and for a few hands of cards was all just time to let that rage gather force. He meant to kill the bitch this time. She was worse than death to him. She was Eve with the apple, she was Lilith, she was all that was dark and rotten in women. Who could blame him if he finished her off? He would be doing men everywhere a favor.

“Well dahlin’” he drawled like a tiger, “looks like my luck at cards is sorry tonight.”

Gazing over the table so sanguinely that no one could tell he was about to draw blood, he smiled slow and easy, not even slurring though he was nothing but skin and liquor.

“They saw that a man that is unlucky in cards is lucky in love.”

Doc gathered Kate close, listening to the rustle of her silks, he hugged her to his thin body. He felt her stiffen. She, alone, had sensed the menace.

“So it stands to reason that I must be lucky in love, isn’t that right, dahlin’?”

Doc yanked Kate’s face to his and kissed her so hard that when she finally was able to pull away for air her mouth was bleeding.

“Doc, my man, not in front of these gentlemen… “

“Gentlemen? I don’t see any gentlemen, sweet heart, just a few miners, gambler, and dusty cowpokes… oh yes, and one fucking whore.”

The dude two chairs to Doc’s right started to protest at Doc’s language, but before he could stand up for Kate’s honor, a wiser hand had stayed his rash act.

“For god’s sake, that’s Doc Holliday, you wanna get killed?” the miner hissed.

Doc didn’t hesitate; his knife was out of his boot, and at Kate’s white regal throat. He held her head back by her hair. She kept very still, at a disadvantage. She had been lulled by the card game, assuming the worst would come later, at their rooms.

“Anyone care to watch me spill this whore’s blood?”