They'd rode out with weakened Virgil, recovering for a miracle, guarding his ruined arm. And Allie. In Prescott John had watched over them while Wyatt cleared the train.

"Mr. Holliday? Telegram." The stationmaster.

Bob Paul. Cowboys skulked to take them in Tucson. A finger's touch on the telegraph key had warned him instantly. John was appreciative.

The others turned back, even his brother Warren. But Wyatt brought John and they bought tickets from Prescott, rode guns drawn. Though Spence and Clanton got away, they killed Stillwell in the railyard. The first one.

Virgil and Allie were safely California bound.

Year: 1882
John smiled inside. The boys disrupting lessons dispersed, desisting at his word. He was gentlemanly, his grey woollen suit close-buttoned sober.

"Might you wish to say a few words to the students?" The teacher was gratefully impressed.

Nothing could have pleased John more. He spoke of honour, diligence, the value of education, his pride in dentistry. They took notes. He inspired them.

The town censored the teacher for exposing children to a gambler, gunman, consort of whores, general bad man. She refused to teach until they apologised. When the task of delivery fell to Wyatt, he sent his deputy - John.

Year: 1881
It must have been a bank employee selling information. John privately sent money to Lee, reliably and regularly, for his education, shelter and needs. The boy's aunt was quiet, grateful, overwhelmed. In Creede he received a letter from a man concerned for the boy's welfare. Apparently his mother needed a great sum of money or the boy would be ruined. Was it threat? The boy was an orphan.

John invited the man to visit and discuss the matter. He boarded the train. He disembarked. He was never heard from again. John was not a gold mine for confidence men.

Year: 1884
John avoided campfires. He was not robust enough to swing an axe. His hands were gambler-smooth and soft. He worried about splinters, nicks, sprains from rocks and wood that would keep him from working. The smoke troubled his lungs, making nights on the ground still more uncomfortable.

Riding with Wyatt changed his mind. They sat in the evening talking quietly, intimate, sharing. His friend's face and red-gold hair glowed rosy in monochromatic warmth, smiled for him. It was difficult to talk single-file on the trail. But after the day's work or killing, John now treasured their campfire.

Year: 1879, first. then 1880 - 1882


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