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Things I Keep in Mind when Writing John  
23:27:00, April 3rd, 2008
John Henry Holliday, DDS
It was supposed to be 5, but I got carried away. These are in no particular order, especially not that of importance. They are not complete. They are musings from observations, mostly and I reserve the right to think something else at any point. There is something important I have not mentioned. It slides away as I write. Perhaps I will remember, in which case I will post it (of course.)

1. All or Nothing
John either throws himself completely into something, will give it all his effort and will, or he will not care. He is prepared to give his life, or he is not willing to do more than tip his hat, polite and indifferent. He will work hard or disregard something. He will love someone, or they will be as the air - an element of scenery. And these are not pretty words, but literal. If John loves you, your cause is his cause. If John loves you, your soul is as much to him as all the world - he would ransom it with all else in creation including himself. But if he doesn't, he will wish to be elsewhere, become shaky and eventually turn on you in frustration. He is always a gentleman, trained well, but his eyes are cold and he can kill and feel no loss, no guilt, not a shadow. He is humble and nervous though sure and strong, his eyes warm, trusting, waiting forever, turning whatever he can into some small thing of beauty for you, turning you most and above all, to make his wonder yours.

2. Death
John is dying, considers himself dead. In a sense he has already jumped, has jumped again and again, is always jumping, and all that is left is the crushing destruction of landing. Everything he does must be as if it were for the last time, because it may be. Every moment he takes must be used as best he can use it, for he has no time to waste. He believes in making the future a better place - it is a very material Heaven to his way of thinking, and he believes in practicing, in case he has other moments when he may need to excel, and he believes in working towards goals, but he doesn't believe in wasting a single moment, and he chooses goals and company carefully. Every choice is a sacrifice of the choice not taken, for he may have another chance to reach for it, and the one chosen must be worth the loss of the abandoned.

3. Fear of the Mundane
John is, in ordinary circumstances, irritable to the point of shakiness. Wyatt said this of him, and it was stated by others. He is dying, and... it is not just that. His concerns are alien, rendered stranger, more displaced, more homeless, the more conversations range to domestic concerns, or small likes and dislikes, trivial complaints, preferences, neighbourhoods and day-to-day tasks or troubles. It presses him away, renders him void. It makes him nervous. It drives his identity into relief. What can he reply, if people speak of death and it is less than his; of war, but it is distant, impersonal; of losing, perhaps... a book. How can he reply with sincerity, without condescension. He cannot respond honestly, and words push to the front of his mouth that he must not speak, and irony tugs his lips, his eyes grow opaque. Again and again it happens and he can only wait for more and practice cards, perhaps, to still his shaking hands in work.

4. Diligence
John does his best, if he is serious about something. He will work until there is no one better. He will practice until his fingers bleed, he will study until he is red-eyed with lack of sleep. And he will keep up with it, maintaining his best, always. He will give any spare minute to learning, practicing, getting better, sometimes moments that are otherwise filled but not completely. This was the predominant feature of his childhood - long long hours, day after day, from the time he was a baby. As a result, he will never give up a goal. he believes man may create miracles.

5. Alienation
John is a displaced person. War loses its children, and after he left Griffin, John was lost, finding a very brief peace in Atlanta before he came west. What difference, if he is in hard dusty Tombstone, Dodge with its piles of buffalo carcasses wrapping the whole town in stench, the icy sulfurous Colorado towns where no one would lift a hand to save his life. What difference if he is in the twenty first century driving out of Los Angeles or engaging with a wizard's kitchen? It is not antebellum Georgia, warm and humid, with family on whom he could count, a legacy of the seemingly conflicting yet seamless qualities of honour, courtesy and self-reliance. He tries to find shards with which to build himself belonging, but there is always a sense of sadness, standing outside. Home in people, if not milieu; in individuals, if not extended circles. And he knows this is ultimately fatalistic, but he tries with iron will. He is at a loss as to how else he may be, and he is always honest. Just as in the west with Wyatt. He always has faith but not hope.

6. Heaven
John believes, purely and almost simply. He believes in souls, perhaps his favourite, and approaches them with awe and wonder. He believes in God, as Goodness, as shining Right, and furthermore a real father of infinite mercy, love and understanding, watching with sorrow and care as the confusion of causality - the plan - unfolds. He believes in Jesus as sacrifice, the core of his life. He believes with perfect faith in Heaven, where he will be with all he has loved. He does not fear death. And because he trusts in forgiveness he is free. Life is working out the way through the maze of events and people, and if he always does his very best there is no condemnation possible. Sometimes he fails, but he is walking with the light of Right in his face, and if he stumbles or turns, there is always a shining direction with which he may reorient himself.

7. Memory
John holds memories precious. He saves them to remember, to cherish in the night when he is wracked by fever and feels his loneliest and worst. And he is aware he does this, preserving them by exertion of will even as they occur, noting tiny details for the time when he will not have them and will want to revisit them, live them again in his mind. He always thinks of this. A smile, words that know him, warmth, welcome. Not just that, but a nice meal, a vista in the morning or at night, faces. He remembers, carefully, deliberately, reverently. Often he has nothing else. But even though he acknowledges loss at the most beautiful times and his lips curl more sadly the more moved he is, he remembers. He collects, cherishes, holds small wonders close or sometimes within him.

8. Illness
John has consumption, phthisis. This colours everything he does. He coughs, it hurts to breathe, at night he cannot sleep, it is hard to walk far, to exert himself. He wearies and has to sit, helps himself with a cane. Though he loves food, to eat, as he loves any fine sensation and notices it exquisite, his digestion is terrible. He loves to sing, but cannot quite make it through a song with his full voice. He coughs. It would embarrass him, does embarrass him, though he doesn't understand why. He knows well it is not his fault. His body is wounded and scattered with old and new scars. And almost above all, he is emaciated, having once been handsome. His thinness is startling, even to him, and his skin is thin and tight over his bones. Pressure hurts - even small hardnesses compressing and trapping his nerves between his bones and surfaces. But it is the coughing, and the worry. He rarely has reason to unbutton his clothing - to reveal himself, but the cough bursts forth at the worst times, wakes him from moving dreams. Dreams. His fevers give him visions, all the world transformed, looking deep inside things, seeing people as patterns, as metaphor. He almost likes this - when he wakes he remembers and values them, considers them, holds them as precious insight though it is just illness.

9. Unknown People Could Be Worthwhile Despite the against This
John does not really like people very much. Unless he loves them. But because he loves, and he knows those hide themselves, he can never guarantee that he can see all of a person. Thus it is his duty, and he is serious and diligent - to be courteous, to work to protect, to teach, to save. He is not personally involved, does not care for the people but more for himself, that he is dutiful, that he is doing his best for a good future. And if he fails to help someone and he is wrong, if they were... valuable, he would find the loss incalculable. He has known men of all classes he would have been able to love, and their sterling qualities were not necessarily apparent. If one of them were harmed, if he were responsible for harming one of them, through inattentive dismissal he would be guilty of great wrong. He hates that, above all. And if another is harmed so, and that other could have been as valuable, that would be a great wrong also. So he is careful, and gives whatever he can, even though most people are nothing to him, though he doesn't like them.

10. Forgiveness/Acceptance
Recently, John has discovered that in some men he will forgive anything, not even forgive, but accept openly with no thought of condemnation or forgiveness. This has surprised him, and me. He had always seemed to say he held betrayal unforgivable, particularly, drawn from his words to Ike Clanton and the entire Tombstone fiasco. But in his life, he disregarded many things in some men, holding them just so - openly accepted - while he cheerfully killed others for the same things. Witness Billy Leonard and General Sherman. And so, if he loves you, he will accept massacres just for his appreciation of your existence. He will deem them worth it, not only in the past but in the present - for the part those actions played in the creation of what he sees in you that he loves. He is, as they say, a respecter of persons.
affect: discontentdiscontent
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16:56:23, April 9th, 2008 (UTC)
Maybe not the easiest man to know, but a good man - and one worth knowing.
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