Tombstone. If Ed Schieffelin did not find his grave as was predicted when he first prospected for the fabulous silver-strike, there were good men who did, and the town was aptly named.
It was a child's fistfuls of bare board and adobe buildings, along with a few more opulently appointed establishments. These had been tumbled onto the seemingly endless desert that indifferently featured mountains, washes and valleys, punctuated occasionally by vague landmarks and springs, some of which were alkali, and inhabited by rattlesnakes, and the odd itinerant or Apache. It was so dry a whisper would blow dust to coat your cheeks and eyelashes. A whisper. It was frequently windy and one alternately burned and froze, fever aside. In short, it was healthy, even gradually cauterising, though I was grateful for the filter of my mustache.
And with that, the stage has been set and the major players introduced - at least those I care to have you meet; those that shine like stars for me in this drama.
I waited a time in Prescott, as I was doing... well... at the tables. I came to Tombstone marvelously wealthy for those days. And as news traveled fast on the western sporting circuit, I was soon cursed and haunted by Kate. I came in on the Sandy Bob stageline with Bud Philpott driving and Bob Paul, Wyatt's friend, riding shotgun. The former was a friendly easy man with a long family and long gentle stories. He would sing sometimes and surely shortened and warmed the journey. I rode on top with him and Paul because it pleased me to practice shooting as we drove. Kate rode inside.
By the time I arrived Wyatt and his brothers had already settled into our usual occupations and lawmen, saloon-keepers and sporting men. I set to dealing Faro at the Alhambra, resplendent with Brussels carpets, all the equipment of mahogany and ivory, and a stuffed Bengal tiger behind the bar. The Earps had found two stagelines already operating out of Tombstone and no room for a third.
Wyatt deputised me, which allowed me to carry a gun in town. This was so that I could back him and protect myself. There was need for these things because there existed in the territory certain gambling elements we had fought elsewhere because they were enemies and political rivals of our friend Luke Short in Dodge City, back when we were lawmen in Kansas. Politics, in those days, seemed to involve wars of bitter feuds, gunplay, court proceedings, and legalised killings. These gamblers were allied with a gang of ruthless rustlers, hold-up artists and murderers under one Johnny Behan, a small cowardly treacherous but politically canny man of unclear profession. The gang had been cowboys out of Texas. The term was derogatory then - 'cow boys' as opposed to 'cattlemen.' As I said, they were taking vengeance for the loss of Civil War, though some were young enough to have still been tiny children when the war ended and had less reason for rage than I did. They raided, killed and stole with free rein across the territory and into Mexico, terrorising decent citizens and truly honest ranchers, protected by the petty and corrupt politician Johnny Behan.
My old comrade Billy Leonard had migrated, for the sake of the Tombstone silver boom, to the Wells, a small community in the hills. And he ran with the cowboys.
I visited him often, and his roommates, riding out of town and staying overnight. We resumed our friendship and conversations. And I backed Wyatt as a lawman in Tombstone. He hunted criminals and I helped him, always ready, always proud. I played cards and enjoyed the friendship of such men, never exchanging information of ne'er-do-wells, never exchanging information of their pursuit. Wyatt knew me and respected what he knew to be my conviction and my honour. I am nothing if not loyal. To death, as it turned out.