5th excerpt, from “WESTERN LEGEND”
For Those Who Came In Late: Told in “false document,” the story of “Western Legend” details a chance encounter among a motley group of aging historical legends in the Autumn of 1899, their afternoon spent entertaining adventurous children with tales of the Wilder days of the West — and an astonishing sequence of events that play out over the next 24 hrs.
In this instance, I have chose to include the text of an entire, albeit brief, chapter:
SIX – DUBIOUS EXPLOITS
The Boys were now seated cross-legged on the saloon floor, looking up at and listening intently to, men of genuine legend. In geography, the four had come to rest in a semi-circle not more than two feet away from the edge of the table, with Horn to their immediate left, Frank to their immediate right, Jim to the right of Frank, and finally Virgil, with his profile boldly facing the window. Lastly, across the Saloon behind them, was the Barkeeper; leaning on his bar and observing the newcomers, with total confusion. He never even saw them come in.
After a moment of chatter, the Men grew quiet, and Tom took the opportunity to address the recent addition to their party.
“Now, if you’re gonna be in here,” He gave them a wry smile, “You’re gonna have to ignore any language that might be sour to your ears, boys. Can you do that?”
All four boys nod, diligently.
Frank suddenly pointed at J.D. “You said J.D. — you’re name’s J.D., right?”
His voice was powerful and stunned the boys for a few seconds.
“Yes, Sir,” J.D. nodded.
“What’s the J.D. stand for?” Frank asked.
“I’d rather not say, Sir.”
“Speak up for your name, son!”
Reluctantly, J.D. gave it to him, “Jamie Dwayne.”
Sean was so nervous. He pointed at the men one at a time, and said, “Mr. Tom Horn! Mr. Frank James! Mr. Virgil Earp! Mr. James Earp!”
“That’s right, I am the James Earp,” Jim boasted.
“Shit…” Virgil snarled, humored.
Mahlon offered, “People say you’re ‘The Pistoleer’ himself, what killed a whole mess o’men, Mr. James Earp.”
“That true, Sir?” Sean asked, “You a gun-fighter?”
“Well…N-No,” Jim stuttered, “That’s just here-say.”
To elaborate, (and this information must be taken with a grain of salt) James Cooksey Earp was one of several suspected gamblers, rumored to have been the individual popularly known as “The Pistoleer.” Truthfully, no evidence ever surfaced to substantiate Earp’s connection to a series of shooting scrapes, all committed in correlation with various card games, and all committed in the Southwestern U.S., immediately following the end of the Civil War. And in fact, Jim Earp’s connection to these incidents (which mind you have never been proven to have ever really happened,) was probably nothing more than gossip, attributed mainly to two acknowledged facts: 1) the eldest Earp brother was known to carry a firearm, even when his current occupation did not include wearing a badge, and 2) although he was to an extent crippled during the Civil War and wore his arm in a sling thereafter, James Earp was nevertheless known to have the full use of that arm, and was witnessed frequently by many in the close company and confines of a darkened saloon, removing his arm from its sling and demonstrating its full capability. For leisure, to better facilitate a business transaction, and legend says, once in a while, for self defense.
Yet truthfully, even when taking all of this into account, it remains probable that the elder Earp brother simply allowed the rather suspicious “Pistoleer” rumors to include him, because the reputation kept him alive following a bloodbath of events that trailed the street fight in Tombstone.
“Then tell about your proven, true exploits, Sir.” Foster suggested.
“Yea, that there’d be just fine.” J.D. nodded.
“Well, all right…” Jim said and straightened his jacket.
Countering the gossip with various proper, yet more colorful moments of his life, he told them about how he’d fought with the 17th Illinois Infantry at Fredericktown, Missouri in October of 1861. And about how he had been wounded in battle and thereafter found himself discharged and on bed rest at his families farm. He told of his work as a Deputy in Dodge City, Kansas. Then there was his gambling, and working establishments such as Vogan and Flynn’s Saloon and Bowling Alley, and the Sampling Room Saloon; both of which were in Tombstone.
He took a breath, and there was more about his gambling expertise and exploits, with Jim often leaving out the more violent confrontations associated with such a profession. And lastly, he finished by briefly describing both driving a Hack (a horse and buggy, or Nineteenth Century taxi,) and working as a Postmaster…before discovering his brother looking at him sideways, and with a strange twist on his face that said a lot.
Turning from Jim, Virgil simply said, “Yea, absolutely boring stuff you boys wouldn’t be interested in.”
“Right,” Jim said, “But I’m not the Pistoleer you’ve read of.”
“Well then why do you carry a gun, Mr. James Earp?” Virgil said facetiously, bating his brother.
“Cause I’m famous,” Jim stuttered, “If you only knew the number of people which’ve tried to kill me just because I’m a brother to this one,” He referenced Virgil, “And especially that other one.”
“Don’t forget you’re now a friend of mine,” Frank said toasting him.
“Frank James, Wow…” Foster said.
Frank took a drink, and inquired, “I’d expect boys your age would have greater interest in pirates and sea monsters, no?”
“Mr. Virgil Earp, is it true you killed one man for every year of your life?” J.D. asked.
Virgil’s face grimaced, “What…??”
“Guess that answered my question.” Frank said.
Jim laughed, “Why, Virgil is that true?”
“No, of course not,” Virgil said, “J.D., a lot of what you’ve heard about us is wholly innac — horseshit.”
“Most of that stuff isn’t true, son,” Frank also responded, “People used to say I was a monster. Truth is I never killed an unarmed man.”
“I always give a man a warning!” Tom tapped the table, “Always! And do you know they’ve not recorded that, yet!”
Mahlon looked to Horn, “How many men have you killed?”
“Not as many as they say, Mahlon. Not that many.”
“Now, are you sure about that, Tom?” Virgil asked.
Tom nodded forcibly, with diligence, almost like a child. And it drew a laugh from the other men. “However…” He answered, “Other than that, all the fanciful stuff they write about me is absolutely true.”
“Except the number of men he’s killed,” Virgil added.
“Correct,” Tom said, “Otherwise, I’ve done some of everything. You wanna hear about an adventurous life?”
The bottom dropped out of the room. There was a brief pause, as the Boys, taken by surprise, caught their breath.
Then all four unanimously shouted, “YEA!!”