Wyatt Earp, Ghost Town Marshall
Gale meets Carbons Creek doctor
I woke up in an old fashioned looking doctor’s office, like one in the old Western movie, The man who spoke to me was reminiscent of the doctor on the old Gunsmoke series on television. “You’ll be alright young lady, “he said. “You got some bruises and a bump on the head when that horseless wagon of yours tipped over. “
I told him my name was Gale Neilson and was a reporter from Chicago heading for an assignment. He told me he was the doctor from Carbons Creek “You,” he said,“are the woman from the future.”
“I guess I am from the future if I only knew ‘when’ this place is. As such you folks are from the past.”
He put his pipe in his mouth and looked thoughtful. After a few puffs, he took it out and said, “You’re suggesting this town is somehow timeless. An oasis, of sorts, from the flow of time?”
“Listen Doc, the scientists of your time thought all the rules were set. But, for better or worse, there are a lot of things we don’t know. I seem to end up in this ghost town every once in a while and meet all sorts of out of place people. Have I gone to their past, or have they come to my future? I never know when I’ll end up here. So do I go to the past, or is the town a time-space neutral zone? For that matter, why are you here?”
The doctor brushed his hair back and looked thoughtful. “You bring up some interesting points. I don’t rightly know how or why I am here. I was heading home from delivering a baby for one of the farm women near Carbons Creek and I found myself in this strange town. Then somebody brought you in unconscious and I had work to do. When I was through with patching your cuts and checking you for broken bones, I went to look around town.”
“Anything interesting out there?” I asked
“As a matter of fact, yes, For one thing, the buildings are mostly weather beaten and untended to, but there seem to be a lot of people. Most, I would guess are gamblers and miners. If we are still near Carbons Creek, I don’t think there has been any successful mining since before the Civil War. In one of the saloons, I found my old friend Ed who kept a saloon in Carbons Creek. He told me that every once in a while he finds himself in this town and told me about having met you and Sarah, your great-grandmother or whatever. Looks a lot like you, by the way.”
“Didn’t you and Ed have a dime novel written about you?”
“Sure as heck did. Neither one of us liked it much. Just brought in more troublemakers.”
I told him about meeting Ned Buntline here in the ghost town.
“That’s interesting because you know who runs this town right now? Mr. Wyatt Earp, that’s who! The man that Ned Buntline supposedly had the ‘Buntline Special’ made up for.”
“Is that the revolver with the extra-long barrel? I heard about that. He had several made up and gave them to men he wanted to promote.”
“He did that. Earp had books written about him, not necessarily by Buntline. It gave him a reputation that he thought he had to live up to, but I don’t think it’s what he really wanted.”
Gale meets Bat Masterson
I told Doc that I’d have to go and meet Marshall Earp.
“You should find him in the saloon across from Ed’s. Earp owns that one and sometimes deals Faro himself, but he usually tries to get some attractive women to deal other games. Did I mention he has your ancestor Sarah in jail?”
I went over to the jail and met a good looking dark haired fellow there who said he was Deputy Marshall Bat Masterson, at my service. Although he was a lawman, I recalled from history that he was also a writer, had published a paper, I think, in Dodge City and was a sports editor for the New York Morning Telegraph. “Tell me Deputy, what brings you to this town, the law, gambling or prize fighting?”
He probably guessed from my looks that I was related to Sarah and was surprised to be greeted with an interview question. But he recovered quickly.”
“Ah,” he said. “Is that a question of personal interest or for a publication you work for?”
“The journalism instinct gets ingrained, as you may know yourself.”
“Alright, fair is fair. I’ll tell you my story and you tell me yours. Wyatt Earp and I both have a taste for gambling and following mining opportunities. Maybe not so different from one another. We also have a strong interest in Boxing. Wyatt wrote me that he was planning a series of prize fights and asked me to come and write about them. For various reasons we have both made a living in law enforcement, so until the money rolls in we signed up as City Marshalls. He got here first, so I’m a deputy.”
O. K. I’m a journalist from Chicago and I am related to the lady journalist that is locked up in the jail. I came to see what her crime is.”
“You mean Sarah. You don’t have to worry about her. She’s more or less here voluntarily. It may sound odd, but Wyatt, despite his reputation as a gunfighter, doesn’t like firearms all that well. Maybe because, like myself, his reputation was boosted up two much by the press. Anyhow, Sarah wrote a story about the mayor that he didn’t like. He started to get in her face and even shoved her. She stood back and pulled a derringer from her pocket and told the mayor to back off. When he didn’t, she fired—into the floor.”
“That sounds like Sarah,” I said.
“Wouldn’t be surprised if it was a bit like you too. Anyhow, Wyatt had to calm the situation down. And said ‘I do believe, Mr. Mayor, that the little ladies gun went off accidental and she didn’t mean no harm.’ The mayor cleared his throat and said well. Maybe…”
“Then why is Sarah in jail?”
“She didn’t cotton to being called little lady and said she darn well meant to fire the gun, but only to scare him off. ‘Put me in jail and we’ll go to court abou
Earp and Holliday
Sarah In Jail
“Sarah, what have you gotten into now?”
“Gale dear. How nice to see you.”
“Well, why are you here. Bat Masterson told me how you got here, but why. All you had to say was that you didn’t mean the gun to go off.”
“But I did mean to shoot it. Not to hurt anyone, but to show that politician that the press can’t be bullied.”
Just then Marshall Earp came in. I can’t believe there are two of you. I’m not sure the world can handle even one of you.”
“Maybe you can’t, Mr. Earp, but the world can.” What a time to be a smart ass. huh.
Sarah got that mother hen look on her face and Earp held his tongue.
“Let me start over, Marshall. I am Gale Neilson and Sarah is a relative of mine. We are both journalist and you may have figured out that we are all here from different times and places. I don’t know how but it just happens. For Sarah, your story is part of her time after the Civil War. For me it is from a time you might not even believe. I feel it is important to know about both the good and the bad of those who came before us and settled this county.
“How would it be if I invited you to Ed’s Saloon and bought you a beer, if you can handle a lady in a saloon. that is.“ Earp laughed.. Miss Gale. I think you’re bolder than Miss Sarah. Hell with the mayor” Then he opened the cell door, which apparently wasn’t actually locked and let Sarah out. “I’ll buy for all of us, despite Ed being a competitor.”
Ed looked baffled when we came in, but brought a picture of beer and three glasses. I didn’t know if Sarah had any questions for Earp but I figured it was my interview.
“Marshall Earp, I’ve read that you have held many law enforcement jobs in your career. How did you start out as a lawman?”
“Why don’t you call me Wyatt, if I can call you Gale?”
“Okay by me, Wyatt.”
“Well, Gale, I’ve followed a lot of trades in my life. Policing seemed to be my family inheritance. My father was a constable in Lamar, Missouri. He went on to be Justice of the Peace and I got his job of constable. Later I was a deputy marshal in Wichita, Don’t be shocked now, but I had some trouble with the politics in Wichita. My brother James had gone to Dodge City and opened a brothel there. I decided to join him. Dodge City was a big time cattle town by then and I got an appointment as assistant Marshal”
Bat Masterson came in about then and joined us. Sam brought another glass and said.. “I thought you didn’t drink, Wyatt.”
“Only on special occasions” Wyatt responded.
What are you doing in this mysterious town that seems to not exist permanently, Mr. Earp?” Sarah asked.
Earp leaned back and thought for a moment. I guess I got tired of all those big towns where I had a reputation as a gunfighter. It did get me some jobs policing, but it’s not really what I wanted. Virgil was much more the policeman and a much better shooter than me. I ‘m more likely to settle things with my fists.. Maybe that’s why I took an interest in boxing and became a referee. But all and all I’m a speculator. I’ll do policing for a while, or gambling to get a stake and invest it... “
“Invest in what,” I asked.
“Well, Gale. Take the Saloon across the street. And there are the mines that I think can still produce ore...”
“Brothels too?” Sarah chimed in.
Wyatt frowned and then said, “I’ve worked in brothels as what you might call a bouncer or guard. In some cases, I’ve owned an interest in them. You know, you young lady journalists have a way of getting kind of personal.”
“Would you rather tell us what happened in Tombstone?” I asked.
“You mean the O. K. Corral and all that. A lot has been said about our fighting Cowboys, simple country boys so to speak. But in that area of the country men who work cattle are drovers of ranch hands. Cowboys was a term for ruffians and outlaws. Well, the Clintons and McLaurys filled the bill. There had been tension between us and them for a while. Some of the Cowboys were threatening to kill us. My brother Virgil being the Tombstone City Marshall and heard that the Cowboys were armed and getting together at the O.K. corral. Well, he wanted me, along with my brother Morgan and Doc Holliday to help him unarm them. I was made a temporary assistant Marshall. Morgan was a Deputy City Marshall; and Holliday was deputized for the occasion. Virgil figured we could unarm them without a showdown. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne got out of there, but Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton stayed to make it a gunfight... They both died. Morgan, Virgil and Doc were wounded.”
“Is that what made you a famous lawman and gunfighter?” I asked.
“Actually, it led to a distorted reputation that made life much less pleasant than it could have been. After all Virgil was the lead lawman and he should have gotten credit for anything that happened. He was also a better shooter and had been in the war. If there was a hero, it was Virgil. And the Cowboys knew that, ambushed him and shot him with a shotgun right in town. Virgil was badly wounded.
“You see, Ike Clayton had filed a lawsuit against us claiming they were unarmed and that we murdered their friends. We won the case but the people had turned against us.”
I never got to finish my interview with Earp. There ws a trembling in the ground. Whether it was an earthquake or not it caused people to scatter.. I apparently fell and bumped my head again, because the next thing I remember, I was laying by my Jeep with my keys clutched in my hand. It was on its wheels and I didn’t see any fluids on the ground, so I held my breath and started it up.
All in all, I tended to believe Earp about preferring to avoid guns if he could, yet history bears out that he did seek revenge on the Cowboys. A complex man, I think.
copyright 2013 Don Hoglund
© 2013 Don A. Hoglund
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