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Forty-three

Behan never looked quite comfortable, Wyatt thought, as the sheriff walked toward him. He was always a little too dressed up. When he wore a gun, it didnt hang quite right. On horseback he looked awkward, as if hed be happier on foot. On foot, he looked as if hed be easier sitting.

I need to talk with you, Behan said, his voice distant, and surprising in the sulfurous quiet.

There was no one else to talk to but Wyatt. Ike had run. The McLaurys were dead, and Billy Clanton. Dr. Goodfellow was probing the wound in Virgils calf. Morgan, in pain from his shoulder wound, was being loaded into a hack. Doc had retreated to Flys boardinghouse with a bullet burn creasing his hip.

I wont be arrested, Wyatt said. His own voice seemed to come from somewhere else.

Im the sheriff, Wyatt. I got to arrest you.

If you were God, Johnny, I wouldnt let you arrest me. Im not going away. Ill be around for the inquest.

I warned you, Behan said.

You fed us bullshit, Wyatt said. You told us youd disarmed them.

The hack with Morgan in it moved past them and Wyatt watched it as it went. The street was filled with people now, many of them men, many of them armed.

I told you I would disarm them, Behan said.

Wyatt turned back from looking at the hack.

Johnny, Wyatt said. This is your fault. You couldnt come at me direct, so you rigged this.

Wyatt, so help me, God

Wyatt shook his head.

Dont talk to me now, Johnny. I cant talk to you. You got to get away from me.

Behan tried to hold Wyatts eyes and couldnt and hesitated another moment and turned and walked away. Wyatt watched him go as he headed east on Fremont Street until he turned the corner by the post office at Fourth Street disappeared. He realized he was still holding his revolver. He could tell by the weight that it was empty. He opened the cylinder, ejected the shell casings, fished absently into his left-hand coat pocket and came out with a handful of fresh bullets. As he fed them one at a time into the cylinder, the coroners people were gathering up the three dead men and loading them onto the back of a wagon. Wyatt snapped the cylinder shut and put the gun in his right-hand pocket. Another hack, carrying Virgil, moved slowly past him.

They find the slug? Wyatt asked.

It went on through, Virgil said.

Good, Wyatt said and the hack moved on.

Fremont Street in front of the alley was crowded now. To Wyatt the crowd was a phantasmagoria, as intangible as the projections of a magic lantern. It was what followed reality, trailing in the absolute fact of the gunfight, like the wisps of gun smoke that had already disappeared, dispersed by the fresh fall air. The coroners wagon began to move away with the corpses of the McLaurys and Billy Clanton, and when it was gone Wyatt was the only embodiment of the facts that had transpired, alone in the insubstantial crowd of miners and cowboys that meaninglessly milled and chattered around him. People may have spoken to him. If they did he didnt hear them. He put the leftover shells back in his left-hand coat pocket, and put the newly loaded revolver in his right-hand coat pocket. Then he turned and went to find Josie.


Forty-two | Gunman`s Rhapsody | Forty-four