[Episode Two: Tombstone – 1882]
[Tombstone, Arizona–1882] Arizona-Blue wiped the dust off his pants as he dismounted his horse, Dan. Another town he said to himself. He hadn’t been back in Arizona going on four-years. It was nice to be back in Tombstone, it was a place he usually avoided though, because of the gunfighters and he loved them dearly, but when they got together in a town like Tombstone, or Deadwood, the law was never orderly. But why look for them, they’d find him if need be. He was like an alcoholic when it came to shoot outs, or show downs. He knew it. He couldn’t avoid a fight. So like a good alcoholic, he was a loner, it was best to be alone he’d tell himself: ‘…better to be alone than be caught in the grips of your fancy.’ But Tombstone was on his way to Wyoming. He had just left New Mexico. Things were pretty hot for him down there; after a shootout in a saloon that is. The bartender started a fight where four-men had lost their lives, he had shot one. They hung the saloonkeeper. It was best to get going before too many minds got together and thought of lynching him.
Tombstone sprawled across a treeless plateau in the southeastern part of Arizona. And Blue, remembering the cockfights held in a roped-off area on the outskirts of town from years back, and needing to make a few bucks, some spending money, it would be more favorable on him for reentering the town, broke. Maybe he could make a few more bucks. And maybe some of his old friends were around. He also needed to land a job for a season, and often times there was need for a man with his skills, and talents.
He remembered a few years back in l879, how the fever of the silver mines was in every ones conversations, and money was but a hand shake away–like in Deadwood. Many mine owners needed guards, gunmen to protect them. In the surrounding hills there were many mines, and miners back then. But now he had heard of some mines that were yielding ore, and making the town even richer.
Blue pulled up to a wooden post in town, he tied his reigns to it, and started heading to a saloon but a few feet away. Three men were standing on the wooden sidewalk, one tall with a derby hat, long beard, white shirt and old suit jacket. The one in the middle wore kind of a conductors hat, and the one on his left, a bit taller than the one in the middle, mustache, and a small rounded hat, standing with his right hand in his pocket, like a chair ready to fall back at the least bit of wind. He stood with a hand in his pocket as if he it was frozen as he stared at Blue walking toward him on the wooden sidewalk.
Blue was close to five food nine inches tall; a rugged looking fellow, especially when unshaven, with dusty close and hat. His gun hung heave on his side, and low. He wore his colt pistol tight against his body though, especially before he’d go into a down like this, so there’d be no flopping of his holster; cleaned shaved for most occasions, except for now, as he had just arrived in town–with his bushy auburn sideburns, natural waves to his hair; square chin, a good looking fellow most woman would say.
The saloon was next-door to a pawnshop–two, stories high. Blue looked up and down Allen Street, sizing up everything. A man with a tie and dressed in black was making his way across the muddy street to the other side, from Macalister & Company, not far from a shoe store. He was a natural for details. Maybe that was why he lived so long he thought. Thirty-four men he killed since he left home at the age of eighteen. He was considered the fastest gun alive. No exceptions to the past either.
The saloon had three windows in front. One on the right hand side and one above the door and another one on the left hand side of the building. He often liked not to be too close to windows. Too many people new his face in Arizona; and outside of Arizona, too many knew his name. And too many people would like to shoot him in the back, as they had done to Wild Bill Hickok, back in l876, in Deadwood. Blue remembered that well. He was in Deadwood that day, but missed the action, he had already been shot. Matter-of-fact, he hadn’t been back there for a spell; he never liked the narrow streets, but he was thinking of heading on down there, or up there, he knew Lola, an old girlfriend.
Blue walked past the three men, slowly. The tall one whispered:
“Looks like one of the Masterson Brothers except for the mustache.”
The middle man turned to look, he caught Arizona’s eyes, then quickly turned away:
“It’s Arizona-Blue, just look at his eyes, they’re as blue as the sky.”
The third man noted also, saying:
“Yaw, could be, could be, I saw him in town some years back–a loner, a mean kind of loner.”
Arizona swung the door to the saloon open, a few eyes from within turned towards him. He checked the place out as a matador would prior to entering a bullring; or a prize fighter checking out his prey, just before the bell rang. The bartender stood behind the bar squint-eyed, trying to see if who the stranger was: cleaned shaved, white shirt, hair groomed with axel grease, about 5’9″, a vest of white and black silk, and a gun in a glass case behind him, as to imply he was ready in case of trouble.
To the right, a man was smoking a cigar, leaning in a chair with only two legs of the chair supporting him, as he laid his right hand on the table, the other dangling to his side. He was playing with some silver dollars, by himself. To his right, a card game was going on. Five fellows were playing, not paying much attention to the breeze coming through the door. Standing not too far from the card game another man watched the players; as if checking out a few of the fellow’s hands.
Just then the tall man from outside looked in with another fellow, pointing at Blue:
“Yaw,” said the tall man’s friend, “that’s Blue all right.”
The words echoed into every ones ears in the bar. Even the card game stopped. Silence filled the long slim barroom. You could tell they had all heard of his reputation, and Tombstone was just a place where a crazy gunslinger could practice his trade with out too much trouble. It was just a year ago  the gunfight took place at the OK Corral. Blue had met the Earp’s some years back. He was more of a shrewd business man he had thought than a gunfighter. He thought it funny Wyatt made it out of the OK Corral alive.
Pulling his hat off, Arizona commented: “I’m just here for a drink, fellows, not looking for trouble.”
Blue starred at the bottles of whiskey across from him, scotch to be exact.
“The names Jake, Mr. Blue,” said the saloonkeeper.
“Glad to meet you Jake,” replied Blue, “give me a double shot of the scotch, and beer to chase it down.”
From the backdoor, an Indian woman came in. She was caring some wood for the cast-iron stove that stood against the wall of the left side of the room. She was tall, taller thought Blue, taller than the average Indian woman. And he knew most of the tribes in the area.
She couldn’t be Sioux, or Chippewa, they were too far to the north. She didn’t look like a Comanche he told himself, because she wore buckskin. She had tinsel and beads as ornaments around her nick. She was very pretty, strong looking, and warrior like. There was grace in her movements, and pride he told himself, in her face. He liked looking at her, and he liked her make up.
As he stared at the Indian woman putting the fire wood down, it brought him back to memories of his childhood. His father had beaten his first wife to death while drinking one night, he was a drunk–his mother was his third wife; and on a number of occasions swung at him, but missed most of the time, he was fast in the ducking. It was hard to keep your head up he remembered, after being hit a few times, but he died when Blue was fourteen, too much booze or something. His heart just stopped one day, and that was it. They were tough times then and after; he then went into the Civil War, he was 25-years old then. He was kinder to his mother than he was to his previous wives, he thought. He drank on occasions, but not like he had prior to meeting his mother. The love he wanted, he probably never got, but then he’d think, he could had been worse, he could had been born to one of his other wives and beat to death as a child, although he never beat his daughter Sarah, his step-sister.
It seemed to Blue, as he watched her every move; she was trying hard to get that respect also. She tried to keep her chin level with her shoulders, to show at one time she possessed dignity. But Blue noticed it fell short of what she wanted, as she glanced at his starring.
“Say Jake, who’s the Indian woman?”
“The squaw belongs to Todd Lukas, the gentleman sitting down over there.”
Blue looked. It was the man playing with the silver dollars, a checkered suit coat, vest, and timepiece with a golden chain hanging so everyone could see it: a big cigar in his mouth.
“A big shot, haw!” Blue mentioned lightly-loud, somewhat under his breath, but enough to make a little echo. Todd looked towards the bar, not sure if he was or was-not, part of Blues conversation.
“Curiosity Mr. Blue,” said the bartender.
“You could say that. Can’t figure out what tribe she’s from.”
“Save you some time, she’s Osages,” said Todd Lukas. From afar, as if he had ears as sharp as Blue’s eyes.
“She does odd jobs around here…” said Jake the bartender, almost reluctantly, yet hoping there wouldn’t be any trouble; as if he helped with the conversation so Blue’s mind would be off Lukas.
He added: “I pay” Jake hesitated, then commented: “Mr. Lukas for it.”
“I thought slavery went out in ’65,” commented Blue.
“Well, if you must know mister,” replied Todd, “I own her, heart and soul. Ok!”
“How’s that?” asked Blue.
“That’s none of your business, even to you, gunslinger,” said Lukas as he stood up from his chair.
Blue look about, he noticed there wasn’t much room in the bar, and right by Jake was his cash register, and right by that his gun and rifle in the glass box; mirrors on each side. Blue took a quick look into Jakes eyes, made a little smile, almost a sneer, and Jake moved closer to the cash resister, and away from the guns. Blue then shifted his focus to Todd, although Jake knew Blue could still see him with his peripheral vision.
“I don’t, like your attitude, Mr. Lukas.”
Blue’s hand was already lowered to his holster. His double shot of whiskey was already finished. Blue added with a calm vice, as steady as a cats purr: “You better be fast mister,” adding, “I love to shoot, I’m like an alcoholic, can’t help taking the next step–early…eee.” and he slurred the early part of the word, like a cat.
Blue looked about the room. Everyone remained silent. No one moved. They knew the game. Any movements would be taken for assistance on Mr. Lukas’ behalf. And it looked to Blue, he didn’t have a lot of friends in the bar. Plus out of the several people in the bar, only a few had guns on anyway; and they looked more like farmers and ranchers than gunfighters. And he knew by the looks of things, they were not going to protect a vulture, not with their lives anyhow.
“You know how to use that Smith & Wesson Schofield .45?” asked Blue.
Todd was silent. And he did know how to use the gun. Todd was somewhat known throughout the area as not being afraid of Wyatt Earp, or for that matter Bat Masterson, but then Blue wasn’t either. Blue new the name Lukas, although he didn’t let on. To him he was simply another cowhand who thought he was quick with skinning his gun.
Todd looked at his gun on his hip took a step away from the table.
“You know Todd,” said Blue “Jesse James’s choice.” Todd looked dumfounded, not knowing what Blue was saying. “The gun mister,” said Blue as if insulting his knowledge about guns. Now Todd knew, Jesse hand the same kind of gun.
“So what,” said Todd with irritation? Than looked at Blue with burning eyes.
“Let’s get down to business, Mr. Lukas, go for it, and skin that gun. Go oooooooo!”
“Listen Blue,” said Todd with a shaky voice, “the sheriff in town is a good friend of mine…”
“He can die just as fast as you can,” responded Blue with a low voice, calm as still-water.
“So walk away big man, but leave the girl behind, she’s free.”
“I can do that,” replied Todd.”
“Mr. Lukas,” commented Blue, “…it’s only money, and a woman. She’s not worth your life is she?”
“Maybe I can beat you,” said Todd.
Blue shock his head, said to himself: he took my grace as weakness.
Just about this time Todd got more confidence, and took another two steps to position himself according to his aim to be.
The woman looked sharp at Lukas–, almost wanting him to start shooting. At that moment, the woman ran to Jakes guns behind the bar, broke the glass with her hands, cutting them, and pulling a gun out, and dropped the pistil on the floor. She was full of tears, yelling:
“I want to kill him, let me!!”
The whole saloon was on edge now; the bartender still standing by the cash resister, the Indian woman bleeding at the end of the bar, looking at the gun on the floor. The card players looking at their hands, and making sure no one switched cards, as they watched the gunfight about to take place. And the two from outside the bar gawking through the crack of the door.
“Let’s go Mister Lukas, were losing time, I need another shot, and some food, I had a long ride.”
“Answer question Mr. Blue,” asked Todd Lukas, “listen, there is really no need to fight. I’m not a gunfighter, although I’m not bad with a gun. I won the Indian down in a card game in Arkansas. She was married to a drunken Indian; I gave him $100, for her. She’s simply working the money off.”
“How long she was working the money off, Mr. Lukas?”
“That’s none of your business again,” said Mr. Lukas with a smirk.
“So she’s a married woman?” inferred Blue getting more irritated and about to push Lukas to shoot.
Now the whole bar was looking at Todd and Blue’s hands, as if one would surprise the other with a quick draw; perhaps thinking, Todd was talking to Blue to distract him, for they had seen him do that before.
Said the woman (with a crying voice):
“He killed my husband–he, he gave money to drink to my husband, he do, he-e drank much, he swell tongue in night. He took me then. My husband and I went to get supplies, Fort Gibson.”
“I saved you from that drunken bum, bitch!!” Said Todd, with a roaring voice.
“You save-me for yo–for wh-ore. My husband bad… but not ba-a like yu.” She stopped and wiped her eyes, kicked the gun away from her feet, as if to tell Blue, she was over her emotional hate. That she would not get in the way.
Blue looked into her deep black eyes. She had lovely features; long black hair. But she was tired. Worn to the point she looked ten years older then her 20’s, an unhealthy looking skin color, but strong features. There was now a little hope in the glitter of her eyes. She held herself up by the end of the wooden bar, as her legs seem to be like noodles fighting to gain strength, and tighten the elasticity–.
She was all of five foot seven inches tall; large bosom, and a shapely figure beyond that, if one looked beyond her silted clothing, and scabbed legs, and cut feet that is, she was lovely. Her hair touched her waist, uneven, and with some snarls. She had strong looking hands; veins perturbing from her reddish-brown skin, coffee colored check bones.
“What’s your name?” asked Blue, as he pretended not to notice Todd, making him quite insufficient for the moment, and posing as being off guard; two could play the game he thought.
“It is Wild-flower,” she responded with a half smile, as if it took all her energy to talk.
“And where is your tribe. I’ve heard of your band. Though they became extinct years ago, I thought?”
Responded Wild Flower, calmly, after catching her voice from all that was happening:
“Yes, we are not many; all that is left is one-hundred or so, maybe less. But many years ago, there were 5000-of us; maybe more, so many I could not count them all.” She coughed a little, got some more air into her lungs, and continued, “…small-pox killed many. War …and the tribe split, years ago. I was just a kid then. We were mighty warriors.” She ended proudly, pushing her chin back with the little strength she had left.
Blue had heard many things about her tribe, and what she had said was mostly true he thought. It is too bad he thought how a mighty tribe passes with the wind, as if time ate it up. As if it never was. Who would know?
“Well,” Blue said with a confirming voice: “you are free to go wherever you want, back to wherever, go Wild Flower…while you can.”
She looked at Todd. His face was as red as her lips. His eyes were filled with anger, hate, and revenge. Todd stared at Wild Flower as if his prize was being taken away. Blue could see all his movements from his peripheral vision, as he centered in the middle of his chest. Every twitch he made with his leg movements were caught by Blue.
Continued in Part Two…
Written 1990, revised 12/2001, originally
Published 2002; revised August, 2005
Dennis Siluk’s web site: http://dennissiluk.tripod.com
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