Sunday, August 27, 2006

Entry #61

It Ends In Valdosta
by John McAuley


Gunsmoke darkened the full moon that had followed me for two nights and two thousand miles.

Halfway to Georgia my car started wheezing louder than my lungs, so I stole a Mustang from a Ford dealership in Houston; on a Saturday night nobody'd miss it until after I'd righted a wrong from over a hundred years ago.

That's when all the men in my family started dying before they reached fifty. I'm forty-nine. I have untreatable tuberculosis.

All I'll miss in this damn world is my son. He went to mechanic's school and has his own shop now. I'm proud of him and he ain't ashamed of me. He visited me regularly when I was in Arizona State Prison.

That's where I heard something interesting about Valdosta, Georgia--and figured out how to give my boy a chance.

I was shaky hungry, so my first stop in Valdosta was at a diner.

The waitress's name was Kate. She asked if I was a real cowboy. Must've been the hat. I didn't mention the ancient Colt .45 out in the Mustang.

Kate liked talking. Especially about Doc Holliday growing up here. "Heck, his daddy was even the mayor. And the last of the Holliday men still lives in town," she said.

"I know."

When I left a five dollar tip Kate smiled and said, "Well, thanks sweetie. What's your name?"

"I'm Michael Clanton. Friends call me Ike."

Then I put on my hat and went to do a killing.

11 comments:

Scott said...

Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Perhaps poker just isn't your game. I know, let's have a spelling contest.

Somehow, I think you'll know what that was from. I somehow doubt that the name Kate was a coincidence. Did she have a big nose?

The tuberculosis had me suspicious. Great job, loved the story.

Joni said...

Has a very natural feel. The voice isn't overdone, yet very effective. You're good at this. :)

Nicholas Abbot said...

Now. How well written was *that*?

Defintely one of my favorites.

Jim said...

Maybe it's because it's an early Monday morning, but I'm completely confused here, even after reading it twice. What's the connection between TB, Doc Holliday, Valdosta, and killing?

John McAuley said...

Jim: It's based on several people who were involved in the gunfight at the OK Corral. The movie "Tombstone" covers the incident quite well. The conflict between Doc Holliday and the Clanton's is an intregal part of the film.
[Some people think Ike Clanton was a coward and that Holliday was a murderer. I just juggled things around a little. Re: T. B.-- Doc Holliday died from it so I thought it would be an ironic twist if the modern day Clanton had the same affliction.]

Scott: Yer right on all counts, including Kate. And of course when Ike had to "rustle" a car it had to be a Mustang. B.t.w.-- When I visited Valdosta, GA. several years ago and found out that Holliday had indeed lived there and that his father really had been the mayor I knew I had to make a story out of it.
John McAuley

anna said...

way too clever! these guys 'r'
smarter than me.
Loved the story anyway - without
getting the TB, Valdosta, Kate, etc.
Great voice - rang true.

anne frasier said...

wow, thanks so much for the explanation, jim. i'm ashamed to say i've forgotten much of that history. :(

like anna, i loved the story anyway. i certainly got all the cowboy references. those made me smile. absolutely loved the first line.

thanks!

klgilbert said...

You're a daisy. The story is as right as the mail. If you have any other stories with a western slant...I'm your Huckleberry.

Oh...I have to stop this...I could go on day and night and then some....(I can't stop)

Loved your story...

Marcail said...

I loved the story, but admit to thinking that maybe Doc Holliday's TB had been infecting generations of Clanton's and Ike wanted to end the killin' by doing some of his own. Ha, ha. Real grabber.

john mcauley said...

Marcail: Actually that was a subplot in the 1200 word version,lol.

The 250 version was really tricky to write because some of the references were already obscure even in the longer format. But I was in the mood to take some risks and I'm glad I did.

B.t.w.-- Mucho thanks to everyone for their kind words, especially all the little references to 'Tombstone', one of my favorite films.

John McAuley

jason evans said...

Very interesting back story. I feel the power of the larger story. I wanted to keep going! High marks overall.