Describe a chance encounter that changed your life.John Writes about Wyatt.
Then he tears up the paper. It does not say the things he meant. It is not personal
enough. It does not bring his friend back, convey him even, or begin to touch John's love or pain or guilt. He can't do it. Maybe another time he will try again.
Wyatt. Of course it is Wyatt.
He wrote about it - about meeting me. Why is it so hard for me to do likewise?The young fellow who came into the office was so slim as to give a mistaken impression of his height, and was unusually pallid for the plains country. He was about five foot ten inches tall, but couldn't have weighed more than one hundred and thirty pounds. If his face had not been emaciated, he might have been handsome; he looked to be a man of intelligence and good breeding. From the moment I laid eyes on him, Doc Holliday's appearance haunted me - it does to this day- with his large blue eyes set deep in a haggard face, his heavy head of wavy ash-blond hair, and his neatly trimmed moustache, his really fine nose and his very expressive mouth.
*John stares at it a long time and begins obliquely*
Once upon a time...
I was a dentist in Dallas. How I came to be there is not important. I was ill. It was hard to be a dentist in Dallas. So I became a sporting man also. Then I was a sporting man alone. And a gunman, but I had always been that. I followed the circuit, though in truth a little haphazardly, for I was new to it and of course had my own bright ideas. I did have difficulties in various places. I had to leave Texas. I went here and there. Santa Fe and Las Vegas in what became New Mexico. I ended up in Denver, using my Uncle Thomas' name, had to leave there. Back in Texas, I was in Fort Griffin. John Shannsey was my friend, and I was a fixture at his Bee Hive saloon and gambling house. And the bartender was Frank Thurmond, from Georgia, which pleased me very much. So when I was not working I quietly sat, drank and practiced cards. I always practiced, not wasting a single second. And so it was that day in January of '78 when Wyatt Earp came in the door.
*John stares at this a further time*
Wyatt. What did I see in him that day.... *he swallows and begins* He was tall and calm. Serious, sincere and focused. It... rang from him, like a hammer on steel. All the things I valued, but had been slowly turning from. He was thoughtful, full of consideration and deliberation, and then action. He didn't question himself. He did... what he thought best, after deciding that. And his courage was unquestionable. Do you know that in the old days in Dodge he didn't even carry a gun? And he exercised his will against convention too, doing what he believed. In such days as those, he did not even drink.
Wyatt. They said he was cold. But I could see that he just didn't care for trivial things. They weren't... factors. Didn't bear acknowledging. And at first, I was one of those things, treated with brusque courtesy. But I accompanied him, helped him with his work, for he was looking for one Dave Rudabaugh, an idiot. And I talked to him. Of all the world, for sometimes, so very rarely, I have done that. Like all the sky opening. Sometimes, one can see something so clearly in another, some worth, like gold, like wonder. Something to admire. And yet, even if one values oneself, how to let them see one's own worth? How to give them a reason to look? I tried so hard. 'Haunting,' he says now, of that first sight of me. But I did not see it then reflected in his eyes. Perhaps. Or perhaps that is what I did see. I was near an outlaw then and not... inclined to notice him either, but his focus and the depth of his intentions were so immediately apparent they completely blew away my own customary indifference.
A man does not just become like that. I surely did not. I gave him what I had in that winter - as much of my... soul as I could, so that he would see me too, as valuable. I was so ill. Winter is always worst. The doctors say the cold air is bracing, seals the tubercles, strengthens the lungs. But I always felt worst, chills and fever, pneumonia and ague. I was close to my death, was waiting, just waiting, and perhaps even wanting it. I had nothing by way of purpose, was drifting. So, in Wyatt I saw something better, perhaps a last chance to contribute something with my then lost life. Hope, perhaps? And he told me of Dodge City, and I willed to go there and to be... better.
They said he was cold. But after I saved his life in Dodge, it was all different. As if he had... melted. The sun of brotherhood, family. More than friends. Perfect trust, so rare. And I gave him everything, gladly, with joy. It was like the sun. It gave me
everything. And I rode at his side, to defy Hell. He backed me, and I backed him. His wrong my wrong, his right my right, in season and out of season. I stood and backed him in all men's sight, with that my only reason. He stood for me, for me
! So many spoke against me, and I was not always pleasant, conventional, even tolerable. And he stood for me all his life.
Even with what I cost him in Tombstone. Morgan!
Was it my fault?
"Should I leave?" I asked him, when I was causing him pain and trouble. And he answered, "No."
And everything went to Hell. Despite that he stood by me. I read now that even when I was long dead, and Clum, Masterson and others spoke against me, he still stood by me. And even when no one asked, when he need not have said anything, he spoke for me. "Doc Holliday was my friend."
Something happened. It was my fault.
Ah, Wyatt. Wyatt.
*John very quietly describes, as Wyatt did*The man who stood there in the office at John Shannsey's side was tall and lean, tanned and healthy, clearly physically strong. His face was calm and quiet, reflecting mental strength, and sureness of himself. He was about six foot two inches tall, comprehensively muscled with no extra fat. He was relaxed, his clothing utilitarian. He was handsome; thought and determination clear in his gaze and habitual expression. From the moment I laid eyes on him, Wyatt Earp affected me deeply, and I knew that I should be his friend. His eyes were deep blue, not piercing or soft, but... chiselled, perhaps, if that can be said of eyes; set deeply above his high cheekbones, shadowed by his brows. His hair was neat - thick and blond with a hint of red - not curly nor wavy, but not straight either. He was clean-shaven, but for his moustache, which was also thick and both sweeping and tidy. His fine nose was long and straight, and his full lips reserved.Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 1215
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