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Fifty-five

Dick Wright says Behans got a posse out for us. Says theres a warrant out of Tombstone for you killing Stilwell.

Dick bring the money? Wyatt said.

Yes, Warren said. Right when he said he would.

Crawley Dakes money? Doc asked.

Didnt say, Warren answered.

Itd be Crawley s, Wyatt said. Federal funds.

Well, youre in it now, Doc said as they made camp near the water hole at Iron Springs, twelve miles north of Tombstone. The night was clear and the stars were high and uninterested in the velvety blackness. The silence was vast, though, Wyatt thought, in fact, when people talk about silence they really mean human sound. They dont notice the sounds that were there before they came. That will be there after theyre gone. Night birds. Coyotes. The scurry of small animals in the brush. A breeze stirring the scrub growth. The crackle of the fire seemed to drown all that out unless you listened. Texas Jack was cooking salt pork in a heavy black-iron fry pan. Doc had the bottle out, and it moved from man to man, skipping Wyatt.

Go easy on that stuff, Warren, Wyatt said as his brother took the bottle. Warren drank some whiskey and passed the bottle to Turkey Creek Jack.

Not easy, Warren said, your brother being a parson.

Not easy being your brother, Wyatt said and smiled.

Doc was drunk. He was probably always a little drunk. But when he was more than a little drunk, Wyatt knew it because his stubbornness increased.

You done it to yourself, Wyatt, Doc said. You come over to my side, you cant go back.

He took out the Colt.45 he had used to shoot Florentine Cruz, and flipped the cylinder open.

Im going where I got to go, Doc. Things dont give me much choice.

Wyatt took the big flat-nosed.45 bullets from the cylinder and put them one at a time into the ammunition loops on his belt.

It was one thing in Tombstone, Doc said. You were a lawman. And Frank Stilwell was threatening your brothers in Tucson. But Indian Charlie back there that didnt have anything to do with the law.

Wyatt ran an oily cloth patch down the barrel of the Colt.

The law had its chance, Wyatt said.

Doc took a pull of whiskey and swallowed and put his head back and laughed.

Now its your law, Doc said.

Wyatt didnt say anything. Texas Jack spread the fried salt pork over an inverted pot to drain, and dropped sourdough in small spoonfuls into the hot salt-pork fat.

And, Doc took another drink, heres the thing, parson. Its the same goddamned law as my law.

Wyatt carefully ran the patch through each of the six chambers in the cylinder. Then he carefully balled up the oily patch and put it in the fire.

No, Doc. Its not. We got different reasons for what we do.

Wyatt put a dry patch on the short cleaning rod and ran it down the gun barrel.

Youll shoot a man for spilling his drink, Wyatt said.

Maybe so, Doc said. Maybe so.

Doc passed the whiskey bottle to McMasters and leaned back against his saddle. Wyatt discarded the second patch into the fire, put his thumbnail on the muzzle and examined the barrel in the reflected firelight.

But you wont be able to come back from this, Doc said. Maybe were as different as you say. But youre on my side of the line now, and theres no way to get back.

Wyatt was satisfied with the condition of the Colt. He took the bullets from his cartridge belt again, one at a time, and stood them on a rock near him, nose up. Texas Jack put some fried pork and biscuits on a tin plate and handed it to Doc.

He said, Eat something, Doc. Itll make you stop talking for a while.

Doc took the plate and ate with his fingers. Texas Jack dished out for the others. Everyone except Wyatt ate in silence for a time. Wyatt put his plate aside until he finished with the Colt. He was running another clean patch through the barrel. Doc finished chewing. He took a drink of whiskey.

Im right, though, he said, and Wyatt knows it.

Wyatt picked up the fat.45 bullets one at a time from the rock where they stood and fed them, one at a time, into the cylinder. Then he snapped the cylinder shut, put the gun back in his belt, and picked up his plate.

I like fried biscuits, he said.


Fifty-four | Gunman`s Rhapsody | Fifty-six