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John Henry Holliday

Short story By: Doc Scurlock

John Henry "Doc" Holliday was a dentist and gunfighter. An alcoholic, a racist, a murderer, a woman-beater, a loyal friend and a corageous follower of his own star. He died of turburculosis in Glenwood Springs, Collorado at a young age. His last words were "I'll be damned, this is funny."

Submitted:Feb 5, 2007    Reads: 450    Comments: 5    Likes: 1   

I shan't occupy myself overmuch with Melanie. That would be childish and stupid of me. I only remember her face when I'm asleep or drunk near beyond measure, and I don't suppose I remember it truthfully then. Nor do I care to search my memory for the words exchanged during that absurd set-to with Earp: if I behaved unbecomingly, surely I have earned the right not to be reminded of it. Coughed out with my lungs, foresooth: let the pious devide among themselves what consciense bestows. I doubt that a man who hasn't shed as much blood as I would be as keenly aware of encroaching death: I feel all the sensations I have observed in others visited finally on J.H. Holliday.

I'll be damned, this is funny.

If not Melanie, is Kate worthy of my thoughts? Will she thank me for that? Drunken betrayals not withstanding, God knows I owe it to her, along with my very life. And her cunt and her smile both were known to me in ways others, I pray, were never permitted to savour. Perhaps the only truly unique woman I ever met: surely that earns her at least a portion of my dying thoughts?

I should savour death and perhaps it is disgusting that I might do otherwise. I've longed for it more frequently and sincerely than anyone else I know, for sure. And I'm assured that I have worked towards it with a fervour and single-mindedness impressive to the common man. Certanly I don't long for life or concern myself with yearning for the unobtainable: I sincerely want nothing more than for this experience to be at an end. It is undignified and uncomfortable and curtails any action save thinking, and thinking now I would not suffer to be visited on me more readily than death. I'm not sure I care to assess my decisions or actions: few of them reflect well on me, or tell of a life lived successfully or to any admirable or understandable code. I only approached a handfull of them as decissions when they were at hand: Mike Gordon was a decision, made on the basis that if I had not killed him Webb and I may very well have found ourselves unable to operate that damned saloon even for the rest of that evening.

Strangely enough, I don't think Tom McLaury was a decision, as I didn't aim carefully and forgot that the barrell was full of buckshot: I do remember making a decision to kill Ike Clanton, however, as if the neccessity of this had been confirmed by having found myself to have killed McLaury, but as the little son of a bitch opted to run and throw down on us from concealment, that decision has no bearing on the course of my life. Those which definitely weren't decisions, definitley not the product of contemplation or anything other than what struck me at the time as circumstance, were the matters which determined who I am and where I now find myself. That is to say, the wisdom or lack thereof in abandoning my dental practice, taking no pains to buttress my consumption, attaching myself to Wyatt and Josie, and to Kate and so forth can not be attributed to me. It follows that a good portion of my life has not been mine, and I don't know that I should regret that. There is no vice in admitting now that it has been a more noteworthy and formidable life than that of anyone else I would recognise from Georgia. That I have not planned it means that I have had no control on whether it has been an "Epic Tale of the Golden West" or a pleasing little joke: I have read it related as both, and both tellings amuse. If I were to summon guilt over any subject, however, it might be over not being who Mother would have liked: to be a dentist, to be abstentious and dutiful, never struck me as a great hardship, so I suppose it was inevitable that I would not be able to do it. That which might have been tortures even we who bring to gaudy life the Golden West.

Why, I wonder, that sudden urge to see Wyatt, Wyatt and his ridiculous wife, before my death, and offer him comfort and absolution? "Goodbye, old friend, it will be a long time before we meet again." Why did I want to say that to him when I knew he wouldn't have the words to respond, and would just do as he did (although I couldn't have predicted that his look of baffled, stymied blankness would be completely the same as it was when we last parted)? Did I long for a reminder of the intensity of chasing the Clantons or walking to the lot outside Fly's with Virgil's shotgun under my coat? I may have done, and certanly I found something of it: that old man was only at peace when the conversation came to sitting drinking at Virgil's side as the Doctor fixed his leg after the "Gunfight at the OK Corral" (a title I am rather proud to have some involvement in the source of). Only then was he Wyatt Earp. Only then, I suppose, was I Doc Holliday, though he called me John more frequently than most. It might could be I longed to hear him call me John. Josie called me Doc, and as I say, that same ridiculous wife might have been as much a lure as Earp: I always longed to know what that bizzare creature thought of me, simply because such a twisted and bizzare perception of the world could not fail to mould entertaining thoughts on the subject of a whisky-crazed sometime dentist. I only spoke two words to her, and will hear no more: a transaction with a woman meets with dissapointment for the last time. At any rate, it is unthinkable that I should die without bidding Wyatt Earp farewell: the world will remember not Wyatt Earp nor Doc Holliday, but Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and we owe one another the legends we are together and alone.

I have chosen. I shall brood on Melanie. I will pass my last few minutes in rememberance of her face and the way her clothes clung to her body and the coy, gratefull smile she would favour me with only when fucked to the highest plateu of her satisfaction. The fading light shall be the texture of her skin and the darkness that follows it the same. This shall be the function of these last seconds, for they can not be other than this, and thank the Lord that I have no doubt. This is how I choose to spend them, having been given notice and thought on it accordingly. It is what I assured myself I would not do and with good reason. It is a vanity and an indulgence, and I shall feel its inadequacy to the occasion, its belonging not to me but to a man I may have been back yonder, and the stale and dejected air the years have given it right up until my last breath. I can think of nothing more fitting or satisfying: perhaps propriety and satisfaction have dissapeared so fully from my mind since then that their faint glow in rememberance of Melanie are all I can call to mind of them. I don't care to consider it any further.


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