"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius." -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear
John smiles at this. It is true. He does not like men of mediocrity. He does not know what to do with them. Faced with a lukewarm conversational glass of domestic trifles, petty thoughts and inconsequential preferences, he does not partake.

He is not sure if he is a genius himself or merely talented. He know that whichever it is, it is not so much inspiration or original thought to light the world. But the fire of the vision of which he concieved so long ago has been fueled with diligence, conviction and devotion until it illuminates all he does - everything for which he strives. Even in the brilliance of genius, he is confident it will shine pure.

He seeks out genius, looks for it, waits for it. He followed Wyatt across the Western States. Eddie Foy, with his gentle wonder and smile at adventure had shared his delight in the recognition of genius. They were quietly friends. John had recognised the genius of General Sherman when he met him, even past the destruction of John's own childhood.

John trusts genius, feels at home, even relieved. Men of genius have always treated him well, with mutual respect. It is the mediocre who have plagued him, wracked by insecurity about their own worth, desperate to bolster it with cruelty and power over others. Men of genius wield power with every glance of their mind and will. As John, they already know they are justified.

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 243
Please comment if you wish.
john_h_holliday: (cartoon)
( Aug. 14th, 2009 06:00 pm)
01 Cowboy 02 Horse 03 Blacksmith 04 Indian 05 Desert
06 Ranch 07 Hat 08 Boots 09 Sheriff 10 Posse
11 Saloon 12 Poker 13 Dancing Girls 14 Brothel 15 Campfire
16 Six Shooter 17 Duel 18 Railroad 19 Tracker 20 Quack
21 Preacher 22 Snakeoil 23 School Teacher 24 Banker 25 Outlaw
26 Hold Up 27 Civil War 28 Reservation 29 Beans 30 Cattle
31 Dust 32 Wagon Train 33 Frontier 34 Jail 35 Whiskey
36 Gambler 37 Wolf 38 Hawk 39 Arrow 40 Gold Mine
41 Roam 42 Corral Buffalo 44 Gold Rush 45 Rattle Snake
46 Cactus 47 Stagecoach 48 Lynching 49 Pony Express 50 Telegraph


Drabbles! John hates the West, but here he is anyway.
100 words is a very pleasing number. Easy, less daunting just now.
When I look back at my life, there is a period of time that sticks up like a splinter when you run your hand down a hard-wood banister worn smooth and creamy by the flesh and oil of decades, a century of touch. My life has not been simple or naïve, but the chaos has been largely of my own creation, or a reaction to the misdeeds of others. There has been a certain consistency of self-sufficiency. I have always been in control of myself, have always had choices.

To some degree my entire life has been an exercise in ingenuity, in terms of my livlihood. To some degree, I have always been at a loose end, since I lost my vocation in Dallas, since I became a sporting man with neither home nor visible means of support.

Nevertheless, save for the time of my illness in Leadville, there has always been the possibility of dignity. I am inclined to say I am ashamed, but I do not believe in shame. I can still say I did my best, but I was helpless, and my own devices did not sustain me.
cut for length )

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 936
Please comment if you wish.
I didn't make plans for my funeral or burial. They did not have cremation in my time. I was alone in Glenwood Springs, and I wished to spare my family the pain of long journeys and responsibilities that would surely cause them dismay. It was better for them to remember me as I had been - young, serious, diligent, productive, handsome (though I say it myself) - than an ill dissolute with a reputation they should not have to face. It was not that they did not know of my life - Mattie in particular, of course, and Robert - but it is one thing to bring comfort to an ill and despondent cousin than to meet his detractors, would-be murderers, or even his fellow sporting-men, lawmen, and... pioneers.

I did not even tell Wyatt. How could I bear to have him near, attentive in the shadow of Josie, to be granted perhaps a few moments alone from tie to time. Better too for him to remember me riding at his side with his cause as my cause, my hand and heart as his, my gun and will at his service. How could I bear the shame of my hurt anger in Albuquerque resurfacing as it surely would in those circumstances.

The only plans I made were with my priest, to grant me the last rights at the proper time. I made my confession, received absolution. In the end, it was bitterly cold. He could not be present after all.

There were four people present at my funeral. Four. The good people at the hotel took a small collection to hold the service, to bury my body. But the ground was too hard to dig the grave in the cemetery and they had to bury my body in the easier ground lower down. A flood that year - spring run-off - dissolved and collapsed the hill above my resting-place and my body was lost.

My body was lost, but not my soul, for Gabriel came for me - the Angel of Death, who had marked my lip and followed me all my life, close as my own heartbeat.

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 361
Please comment if you wish.
Pride is a virtue. In pride, we set high expectations for ourselves. The opposite of pride is shame. Pride demands that we strive not to disappoint ourselves, with whom we spend all our waking hours. Pride is not weakness nor vying for power nor passive smugness with mediocrity. It is struggle to master ourselves, and the honour of success, without other reward or recognition. Pride demands we act in such a way that we may hold our heads high. Pride is active and dynamic, a way of being in the world. Pride is ability and competency. Pride is a virtue.
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

"Why, I do.

"As I was quoted as saying, so aptly, We could be a lawmen and outlaws. The best of both worlds.

"What do you do, when the law is corrupt - when those charged with the safety and security of citizens are themselves lying cheating stealing murdering corrupt bastards?" John smiles with half his mouth and his eyes twitches at you, amused. "I could go on."

"One restores order. And corruption calls for vigilance. One must consider strategy, one must wait at times, and at others one must act suddenly. One must be clever and devious enough to outrun them, to meet them with a smirk, waiting in the dark where they have crept at dawn to lie in wait for you. One must out-manouevre them, listen to their lies to predict the direction in which they will next try to sway the citizens.

"If one may be arrested on trumped up charges through the lies of petty criminals hiding behind stolen stars, one may be imprisoned, shamed, broken, killed, but honesty and integrity of purpose will still remain for you and Heaven - cold comfort perhaps, but the sides remain clearly delineated in some mythical court of ultimate judgement.

"I watch the watchmen, but their own deeds condemn them or save them.

"In the mean time, in this world, I am happy to defeat them, to foil and confound them.

"I am pleased to kill them."

"Ike Clanton, Frank Stillwell, Pete Spence, Johnny Ringo" John hisses. "Behan himself? All wore stars - watchmen or deputies. What more do you need to know?"

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 275
Please comment if you wish.
john_h_holliday: (Default)
( Apr. 13th, 2009 07:54 pm)
I dreamt the world, the earth as an entire globe, a sphere, had shattered beneath my feet and disappeared, the pieces falling below me through the black of sky and stars, so small as they receded from view, becoming nothing.

In the dream I laughed with bitterness, at you; at you and everything you had done with which I had not agreed.

In the dream I wept, for myself; for myself cut loose, alone, self-pitying.

No, it was not so simple. Though it is true, that is all you think of me.

In the dream I laughed with bitterness, at myself; at myself for inevitable folly of will, for whatever I had done, whatever I had become through hoping for a world, wanting a world.

In the dream I wept for you; for you for whatever pain and loss of war had caused you to lose yourself, your way, to vanish into the darkest void of night. For you surely vanished.

I was free, without the world, company, anyone who knew me, with no one's pain to bind me that I could respect. I was free to feel: to weep if I felt the impulse, to laugh if I was lost amidst those strange to me, to whom I was strange. I was free to recreate myself in any way I chose as I deemed best.

In the dream I held to what I valued, seizing memory in force of will with iron clenched fingers, wresting it from mind to matter. Not physical matter; consequence.

I never woke.

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 250
Please comment if you wish.
I don't understand...

His blue eyes look back at him from the mirror. He doesn't understand. It is never enough - whatever he does, it is impossible to atone, impossible to be anyone but an outlaw, a murderer, a bad man generally.

It is Christmas, and he is in alone in his room at the Cosmopolitan. It is not illness - the dry Arizona desert has sealed the bloody tubercles of his lungs as much as anything ever will. He has cleaned bows of salt cedar and hung them over the door, to provide a little festivity for himself.

It is Christmas, and the town is all at the new church. There is a Christmas tree, presents for everyone, cheer and holiday wishes, the women have brought pies and there will be dancing. Everyone will have their best clothes and the girls will dance on their father's feet, or with the little boys until they fall asleep against coats on the benches. The men will leave periodically to stamp their feet and share from their flasks. The women will cluck and arrange the food and laugh together in the corners. Wyatt is there, all the Earps, all the Committee for Public Safety, all the good people in town. John has been told he would not be welcome, but he can hear them on the December air if he opens his window.

He understands he is a foreigner. He understands he has a reputation, a less than savoury past. He expects now that his general courtesy and greetings will go unheeded at least as often as they are returned. But he has never lied. He has worked for them all, offered his hand - even to killing or dying for them. He has fought and stood and never been less than a gentleman to any of the townspeople. Without his name, without his past, he had been considered a fine man. What more can he do?

Nothing.

He doesn't understand. There must be something, some trait or error. There must be something he can do. There must be some way of atoning, of offering. It is never enough.

It is Christmas.

"I don't understand," His blue eyes say, looking back at him silently from the mirror. He has no answer, and there is no one to tell him. He drinks from his own flask. He goes downstairs and stands by the rail, listening again.

"I don't understand."

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 403
Please comment if you wish.

no one knows what it's like to be the bad man, to be the sad man. behind blue eyes.
john_h_holliday: (Default)
( Nov. 13th, 2008 06:37 pm)
"What did you hope for?" The priest sits by his bedside, not a friend exactly, but a voice and a kindness. He asks the right questions - the ones that are not quite intrusion but allow him to answer, to be a true person rather than a simple invalid to be washed and clucked over. There is no constant request for confession. He had been exorcised, washed clean in the pure mountains in Creede. The Catholic church has become familiar, reasonable, though he turns it to his own firm tenets. The man's fingers are warm and soft under his own bony ones still covered by the thin smooth gambler's skin. His wounds itch but he doesn't touch them, nor rub the bandages

John has not let himself hope for anything since he left Georgia. He had changed on that train, heading for Dallas, his future receding into the distance along with his past, becoming ever smaller, not dots but perfect miniatures of themselves to examine under the microscope of fever for the rest of his life.

Hope had always been too much to ask, accompanied as he was by Death. This had not meant there were no things for which he had worked. He had bought Lee - his chosen child - education and a future. He had worked for his friends, every one. He had worked to settle the West. No, that was Wyatt's dream.

No, he has not hoped. He has not worked for anything but his friends since he had become a dentist from his own vision and intention. But he has wanted. There have been things he wanted almost hungrily, even to madness. Wyatt. He has wanted to be known; wanted to know others; wanted a knowing eye to meet his; wanted an understanding hand on his wrist, sympathetic fingers in his hair. He has wanted friends and their shining respect for what he gave, for the wonders he could work. He has wanted to see them, to appreciate them soaring beyond him into the future, while he rode by their sides during the brief time given to him, breathless with exhilaration. Wyatt, and yes, others. He has wanted it so badly he has destroyed it. Not hope, but hunger.

Hope is treacherous whether he had life before him or not. Ever since the War and the lost idyll of Griffin, there has been nothing he had been permitted to touch and hold but it has been torn from him, or that he has not clenched so hard it had shattered.

"I am not yet dead," He answers the priest lightly. "It is too soon to speak of me in the past tense." To him it is a non-sequitur, though he is glad of the impetus to think of it. He has been dead twenty-five years and is stretching towards Heaven, where he will spend all of time with those he has loved.

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 486
Please comment if you wish.
john_h_holliday: (20 and all the world ahead)
( Oct. 16th, 2008 11:31 pm)
When he had been a boy in the large houses, warm air and long cool lawns of his childhood; when he had looked up to the ladies in their wide silken skirts and the gentlemen in their fine flared coats and high boots, John had learned the art and language of innuendo. It had never been lying, but a code of honesty, a way of speaking what one may not say aloud. There was a complex code of honourifics, orders of precedence, seating arrangements, the position of one's hat, the details of one's dress, the deepness of one's bow, an elaborate phrase accompanied by a raised brow. John watched, John listened and John learned. Small subtleties could be angry or witty, could be a slap in the face or a punch to the jaw. These could insult someone, cut them to ribbons. Done in the presence of others, these could ruin a reputation. They were spoken of, mimicked, sometimes in whispers with sly smiles, sometimes for years. Outright expressions were so extreme they would call down a duel. An observer would have seen the smooth veneer, the elegant and graceful movements, but underneath would be the expressions of sordid truth. It had been a scandal when one of the otherwise respectable townswomen, widowed early in the war, had begun to wear clothes of blue and green after only two years! One could call a woman a whore by simply addressing her as "Mrs. ___" rather than Miss or Ma'am, if she were unmarried. One could indicate one's doubt of a man's character by habitually omitting a respectful address of 'sir.' One could grant a child favour or prominence by insisting he be addressed as Master Hidalgo rather than Francisco. One could renounce a family and spurn the memory of a good wife if, after her tragic passing, one immediately marries a girl one has been courting during your wife's infirmity. By the same token one could ridicule a man by addressing him by a title he had dishonoured by his conduct. Taking up an alien profession to one's father, abandoning his church for a rival religion, and refusing to address his wife at all were actions loud as a trumpet blasts. Loudest of all were absence, and silence.

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 377
Please comment HERE.
Appealing from his native sod
In forma pauperis, to God:
"Lay bare thine arm, stretch forth thy rod."
It's Stonewall Jackson's way!


Thou shalt not kill, saith the Lord.

But John does not think this is a high rule set for all times and all places. His later childhood had been war, and he still believes he was right. It is easy to see the world as it is, more difficult to see what it would have been. In the war, so much loss did not mean lives became cheap. They became expensive, invaluable. Killing was a bargain one made in return for life. Good men died. Good women - his mother - died. Death became grief and sacrifice. It became the place of beloved people offering themselves up for their country, not just in battle but in privation for the Confederacy. Killing became sacrifice as well. It became a setting aside of one's honour for a greater cause. It was making oneself less that the world would be better, would be stronger, would know a higher right than the wrong of one's transgression. Lee had given up his home and all his life for the General he became, not for himself but for Virginia and her people. John listened and learned.
cut for length )

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 638
Please comment if you wish.
These are John's views - I've reconstructed them best as I can. Mine are different, and I am not American.
Cut for politics )

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 529
Please comment if you wish.
John is not now, nor has he ever been, adept at negotiating. Or convincing gracefully, without threats. In the trial over the Tombstone fiasco, everyone about him said the best move their lawyer, Finch, had made was his refusal to put John on the witness stand.

His five step negotiations tend to work as follows:

Please?
No?
No????!!
Hurt bewilderment.
Either withdrawal or violence. Or panic, the worst of all.


Ideally, the first step in negotiations would be to make his request.

The second would be to logically explain his reasoning, were his request not granted.

The third step would be to listen to the other party's arguments. At this point, if he recognised their validity and supremacy he would withdraw his request.

The fourth would be... there is no fourth, and there is no fifth. At that point, if he had not convinced them, and had not been convinced himself, he would express incredulity. He would then retreat to bitter resentfulness, or fight, offended. Or he would act nonetheless, despite rejection, in extreme inappropriate ways.


He does not make bargains. Either the other party will recognise his claims as valid and accede to them, or they will not. If they do not, and he has not discovered he was wrong, he is confounded.

How much, how many people has he lost?

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 222
Please comment if you wish.
john_h_holliday: (soapy!)
( Aug. 23rd, 2008 10:14 pm)
John indulges in a brief fantasy. As it is his own mind, he may wallow in vanity for once.
cut for length and John's brimming and shameless egotistic imagination )

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 692
Please comment if you wish.

I wrote this. The computer crashed. I lost it. I tried to reconstruct it. I couldn't. Not really.
When John finally arrived at the hospital camp he refused to let go of the horses. Everything depended on them, and he only hoped his Uncle Thomas was well enough to ride. The soldiers who had met him at the gate seemed to know his name, so that was a positive sign. He waited nervously, exposed at the gate, used to hiding now. He was also worried because he did not know what to expect - a stretcher, crutches, someone so broken in mind and body he couldn't come, wouldn't recognise John, or care. The news of his uncle had been vague, old, second-hand. He could hear his heart in his thin chest. His stomach was knotted, and he couldn't differentiate between hunger and fear.
cut for length )

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 837
Please comment HERE.
Any principles held are sacrosanct. That is what principles are. And even if they are not something with which one can agree, they should be respected. One may fight against them. In a perfect world everyone would hold principles and conflict would arise only when they were incompatible with each other. I can respect someone who would fight for principles.

Unfortunately, people usually act without an overarching plan out of instinct or manipulation, because immediate desire calls them. They express what they believe are principles but which are borrowed from the last person to whom they spoke, or the one who spoke the loudest, used the most effective techniques of empty promise and flattery. Who is to know the nature of such people? They are unaware, not wholly real.

If anyone holds sure principles he has learned, lived and developed, and if he is willing to stand by them and fight for them when it is inconvenient, when his latest companion disagrees, when holding them would mean sacrifice, why then his principles should be respected.

And if with all his strength of will and learning, his principles are such that they still defy your own, why then he is a worthy opponent. Should his principles affect valued circumstances or people about you - should they threaten your principles, why then you must fight. And it is honourable - a true fight instead of one waged against fools where one has an upper hand of skill and vision.

Or maybe, if he believes so strongly, you will learn from him, learn of yourself and what you believe. If someone has principles, when you deal with him you deal with truth.


Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 308
Please comment if you wish.
John looks at the question out of the corner of his eye.
Wyatt had said John was afraid of nothing on Earth.
Wyatt had said John would have been more wise had he been afraid of himself. This last had always been said with a smile, fond and amused, but weary.

John had a great deal he could have feared. Death. Incapacitation. Pain. Bad Luck. Bullets. Jail. These possibilities he learned to live with, adjusting for them, taking them inside himself until they were gone and he had learned to use their presence in others to serve him.
In truth, he was afraid of Wyatt.

The other things he had subsumed. He had let his fear transform into certainty and expectation.

But of this he could not let go. To want is to fear. To hope is to fear. To look forward is to fear. Because they are an investment of feeling. And if they do not fulfill themselves that feeling will bankrupt itself. John saw this possibility clearly. And dreaded it, but he could not accept it, could not kneel and offer himself one more time to fate. It meant too much - loss of those investments would have broken him, he thought. Instead it was the fear that ruined him. And he betrayed himself, lost it all.

He feared Wyatt.
He should have feared himself.
And a great deal of what he valued in Wyatt was John's own trust in his friend.

Had he left Georgia because he feared Mattie, or himself? He had been so young then, but he had been right. And Mattie had remained with him.


Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 270
Please comment if you wish.
Guns in the night, shouts, shattering glass. Damn cowboys shooting up the town again. Weariness. They had not wanted to be lawmen, but to build a frontier empire - solid business, intrigue - yes, politics, shrewdness. They followed Fred White out nevertheless. Duty. To back up the sheriff against lawless Texans.

Curly Bill, strangely sober. Feigning drunkenness.

"Give me your gun."

He had handed it over, at the last second spun it in his hand - a border roll they called it. Fred fell into John's arms, bullet in his gut and clothes aflame.

Later they found it had been a set-up. Murder.

Year: 1881
Even this word was insult. Cowboy - a child, irresponsible and a child's word. Moo-cow. There were steers as often, more often, than cows. Cowboy, as opposed to Cattleman. It was a jeer, lacked dignity. But they took it to themselves.

In Arizona though, near the Mexican border, they were not even cowboys anymore, driving the big herds up from Texas. They were still fighting the Civil War, insipid heirs of Quantrill, putting one over on the North. They were lazy. Thieves, raiders, hold-up men and murderers. Destructive for a whoop and whiskey. Destructive for the sake of irresponsibility.

Year: 1881
Kate was a whore. She enjoyed being a whore. She was a whore even when she didn't need to be.

Kate saved John's life in Firt Griffin when he had been bound in a hotel waiting to hang for killing a popular gambler. She had fired a stable and freed him. When they reached Dodge, John believed he owed her a life debt and was responsible for her. He settled 'permanently' in Dodge as a respectable dentist with a respectable 'wife.'

Two weeks later she was working in a brothel again and brawling in the street. He was ashamed.

Year: 1878
john_h_holliday: (Prescott photo)
( Jul. 20th, 2008 10:47 pm)
During the war, John had always hoped to somehow acquire some store-bought soap for Mattie. But he was never able to do so, intentions aside. There was just not enough money for luxuries. Not when a penny package of needles had come to cost seventy five dollars. So they made lye soap. They had rendered pig fat and when the lard had been taken from it, run water through woodstove and fireplace ashes to syphon off to make lye. These were stirred together in a wooden tub until the paddle would hold vertical. Then it was poured, thick sludge into wooden forms for bars. But lye was caustic and it made their skin ruddy and shiny - tight, smooth and inclined to crack and itch. They used it for everything - to clean the stove, their laundry. They used it in the bath.

And to wash their hair.
cut for length )

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 639
Please comment if you wish.
Stage rides were long. Though he was voluble and diligent, John sometimes simply dozed, dreaming in summer heat and woollen clothes. So pleasant to relax, trust, be simply carried, rocked by the journey's jolting rhythm.

It was the only time he was caught so unawares. A sudden stop placed a Colt so close to his nose he would have had to cross his eyes to focus on it. Though dying, he was disinclined to hurry the matter. He was relieved of his guns and the gold watch from his Uncle John congratulating him on graduation. Subsequent pocket watches were silver.

Year: 1876
John keeps cases for Lotte Deno. Faro Artist is title and compliment; can only be earned. Lotte deals in the saloons - the only lady John knows is master of the subtle exact finger movements, the calculation of the shifting order of each card, the professional's air of precise casuality. He admires her work. He deliberately lost $3000 to her skill the day before, just to learn her technique.

Usually women keep cases, claiming tips for grace and smiles, moving skirts, bare skin. John sits happily tracking the cards Lotte deals, clicking ivory beads in the counter. It is respect.

Year: 1877
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
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 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
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
Thirty seconds. From his striving, his heart, his life, all that remains is thirty seconds of dust, determination, scuffle. From rumours and elaborations all the truth that survives is guns, death and names. All the reasons, will, even the sides have become confused.

When he shot McLaury John threw his shotgun away, not realising it had been effective without the expected bloom of red in his enemy's stomach. Shotguns toss his ruined frame with their recoil. It was the only thirty seconds he handled such a weapon. Now he hears it is his favourite. There hadn't even been a corral.

Year: 1881
The night of the Philpott murder John hired a horse, tied it to the rail outside the Alhambra. He waited to ride with Wyatt in posse at his word. John had earlier been lured to a nonexistent poker game in Galleyville, and returned with his other horse tied companionably to the water wagon.

Wyatt did not call, for he did not want to ask him to break loyalty, choose between friends. They rode after Billy Leonard.

When they tried to frame him for the murder, the horse at the rail was prosecution evidence. The horse behind the wagon exonerated him.

Year: 1881
The Atcheson Topeka and the Santa Fe. Founded by one Cyrus K. Holliday. The West was built by railways. Boom towns rising, falling. Money. Striving for monopoly.

John, loyal, was soldier in the Railroad Wars between rival companies for rights to mountain passes. Armoury was excessive and included Gatling guns.

Assembling an army in Dodge, he tried to recruit even his friend, Eddie Foy.

"But it doesn't matter if you can shoot. What we're looking for is a show of force, and you'll get your pay just the same."

"I am an actor, not a gunman."

"I am a dentist."

Year: 1878
Hot trail air. Dust. Wyatt had been ahead, John following Texas Jack whom he'd recruited from his old outlaw days. A friend.

Across the arroyo, then gunfire ripping the world apart. Crazy to ride into it. John's life turned on that small rational thought. Wyatt was ahead, riding into it. Texas Jack's horse was cut down. John stayed long enough to help him up behind his saddle. But Wyatt rode purposefully straight into the fusillade.

Afterwards John regretted, offered to ride back with Wyatt, kill them all. He'd rallied belatedly. Was it that which defined his last five years alone?

Year: 1882
Two for Morgan. Florentino Cruz - Indian Charlie - was second. After he betrayed his friends John turned his horse, scornful. The man gibbered, pathetic - nothing.

"Just what did they give you? For killing my brother?" Wyatt's tone conversational, knuckles white.

He dangled something glittering. "twenty-five dollar silver watch."

"I'll count to three, then pull my gun and kill you. You can pull yours any time.
"One.
"Two.
Three."

The man made a frantic spasmic reach. Wyatt killed him.

John's eyes widened, his lips parted. He rode with Wyatt, hand and heart. After Cruz they offered no more questions, no more chances.

Year: 1882
The spectre on horseback bearing death had risen from the dust, haloed in daylight.
Run! John had woken from nightmares.

Atlanta aflame, the country ruined.
Spare us, oh Lord. Not John's prayer, but other's breath as news came to the station. Before trains ceased.

"Whiskey?" Short beard, lined eyes observing him, self-deprecating smile. Human, curious, aware.

Small payment for Mattie's home, but John liked him; remembered his failures, his exile for his vision, his friendship with Grant.

"I did what was needed."

John raised his cup to touch General Sherman's. "Pax vobiscum." It had been war. Now John fought Texan cowboys.

Year: 1878
John felt comfortable with magic. The busy Lupin house, laced and peppered with every-day spells was treated sometimes with matter-of-factness, sometimes with an air of production to amuse or amaze him. And he was enchanted by the small things. As much out of his element in the electronic and gas-powered world as the wizarding world, he cheerfully accepted and admired every innovation, every effect with quiet intrigued curiosity.

A magical oven made as much sense to him as a modern oven - there was no fire, wood to cut, matches. The mechanism for heat as invisible and non-intuitive for him in either case. He was more at home in a wizarding environment where at least heat and light sources were familiar. Quills made more sense to him more than biros, books were more prevalent than television, and brooms and creatures were more personal and secure than cars - almost like horses. It was a relief to visit the Lupins and step out of the technological confusion of the 21st century.

The thing he found strangest was the little port-key Remus had given him. He had at first thought he had meant porch key, as one often mishears and takes unexpected words for expected ones. He had thought perhaps he was to let himself in before they arrived to sit quietly on a couch perhaps, rather than hovering nervously on the path - a very trusting and warm gesture on Remus' part and he had smiled inside. It had been explained to him, but somehow he still saw it as a porch key.

When he had handled it, as instructed only upon starting out, he had sprung, been sucked dizzyingly, seemed to disintegrate, seemed to simultaneously be flung into the air and dropped from a great height. "What...?" He landed in the garden on a soft mossy hillock, tumbling a little, harmlessly. He lost his grasp on his case as he arrived, but it had apparently arrived safely with him.

Tonks was there in the garden, picking flowers, changing the colours to please her. He was a little worried, but she left them hovering in the air as she came herself laughing to offer her hand to help him up. He was sitting on the mound, legs stretched out, looking for his luggage. His eyes and mouth and left eye both formed round O's, but when he saw her cheerful brightness his face cleared. He laughed with her, happily, at the wonder of sudden transportation and her warm welcome.

"You'll need some practice with that, I think!"

"It was just amazing!"
"So, Hickey... Pipe-dreams. I've never really talked to you about them, apart from the perhaps premature, slightly impertinent statement that I do not have any. But is that true, or does every man have pipe dreams? Does every man fool himself deliberately?

"There are things I find I want, after all. In a way it is true I am dead, so there is no 'tomorrow' to which I may put off actions or decisions that might cause me to transform my life. But is that perhaps not a symptom of fooling myself? I reach for what I want, not trusting the future, but perhaps I reach taking away the possibility of trust, relying on the idea that everything is temporary. With that I never have to think of failure. I've made success an impossibility before I've begun. I never have to risk, in a moment, that the future might contain loss, rejection. Because there is no future.

"It is not, as it is for the others, that I do not reach, do not try, for I do. Always. But I do it without hope. Oh, not with work, accomplishments, striving for excellence - I manage to put aside the lack of existence of the future then quite tidily. With people.

"Hickey... without hope... I don't trust. And how can I be trusted, ready to despair with one foot already pointed toward the horizon, prepared to make of others pretty - no pretty is unjust - beautiful, poignant memories within me?

"If there is no hope, I don't even dare to have a pipe dream.

"And yet... I do hope, despite my best efforts. Despite everything I said, I think, the part inside me that is natural - is entranced and believes itself entrancing - takes for granted that all the friends, company, communion I desire will be mine, should be mine - is mine by natural worthiness. Then I think of everything I've lost, every time I've lost and I am afraid. I try, reach, but... if I have a pipe dream, I might not fullfill it, and I lose again... I think...

"Hickey... er, another drink for you?" John pours himself another full and generous tumbler.
Again, this is much more than a double-drabble, but sometimes that is the way it is. The icon does not really do the inappropriateness justice.

John forgives me, so I hope you will. )
All right. These are not drabbles or even double-drabbles. Perhaps I will manage to curb myself for future submissions...

John loved being able to perform a little dentistry for his friend )
Pick your drabble!

Pick a John and I'll write a double drabble based on him and your muse. You can pick your top three and I'll write at least one (it would be fun if other people posted this too, though of course there is no obligation. Also, if you tag here and re-post, you can count on a tag back from me.)

1. Playful!John
2. Murderous!John
3. Flailing!John
4. Incarcerated!John
5. Deviant!John
6. Ill!John
7. Intoxicated!John
8. Wildly Inappropriate!John
9. Eloquent!John
10. Cooking!John
11. Naked!John
12. Confidential!John
13. Inexperienced!John
14. Young!John
15. Long-winded!John
16. Bedtime!John
17. Jealous!John
18. Inquisitive!John
19. Confused!John
20. Arrogant!John
21. Angry!John
22. Loving!John
23. Working!John
24. Needs-a-Hug!John
25. Choose-your-own!John
Buffaloing people is clipping their heads with the butt of heavy Colt. Wyatt preferred this to shooting miscreants. In Dodge he hadn't even gone armed, leaving shotguns at prominent saloons. John shadowed him, protecting him.

During the gambler's war in Tombstone, John went to the Oriental, defending Wyatt against the saloon owner. Amidst his tirade, John shot Milt Joyce in the arm. Joyce bufflaoed him. Unconscious, streaming blood, they thought him dead, propping him in a chair and attending Joyce. Proving alive, he was convicted of assault. Joyce was not charged. John bore a long white scar in his scalp.

Year: 1881
John did not participate in the gold rush to Deadwood, busy fleeing Texas (again); involved in Colorado escapades. Wyatt had gone, curious, regaling John with his own understated tales beside the campfire. Wyatt had met Wild Bill, returned all admiration. Though when he went armed he preferred to use a colt as bludgeon, he thought deeply about shooting techniques.

John listened, agreeing from his own experience. It was better to hesitate that instant to aim, than rely on speed alone. Wild Bill had given Wyatt this advice. John always looked indecisive for that heartbeat - it was calculated, and it worked.

Year: 1874?
The desert was healthy. Dry simple air enabled John to ride, visit in the hills, wander town, join posses. His lungs eased. If he still lay in fever when he retired, needed whiskey to rise, he enjoyed the day and active night with relative impunity. Summer was his favourite. He was happiest in sun or warm evening air rising from the earth breathing heat against his bare skin, moving his hair where it curled around the edges of his hat. Colorado was disappointment, despite cosmopolitan Denver. He declared it had ten months of winter, two of late fall. He ailed.

Year: 1882
John participated in but one wagon train - from Dodge to Prescott with Wyatt. The happiest months of his life after the war. He had ridden after Wyatt on a fast horse, overtaking him on the trail. Travelling then was leisurely, almost lazy - pleasant days riding quietly, always talking, thinking slowly, watching the sky and clouds. John told stories, his life, his thoughts; hypothesised; dreamt; explained; speculated. Wyatt listened, smiling beside him, present, replying with fondness; precise thoughtful brevity. John had felt... free. Oh, to be known! To speak without censor or expectation he feign conventionality.

And there were always biscuits.

Year: 1879
John went with Wyatt to the bank. It was night but the banker, on the vigilante committee, cheerfully granted Wyatt special courtesies. John had been cleared of murder and stage-robbing charges after Wyatt sobered Kate up and she admitted she'd lied, condemning John. Had her lies held, he would have been hung.

The banker wouldn't address John directly, but slapped Wyatt's back in comradely fashion. Each withdrew $500 to pay Kate to leave John forever. It was Wyatt's idea; John's hands were shaking. Wyatt cared enough to help him, want him to remain near. John himself had offered to leave.

Year: 1881
John was expected, as a sporting man, to wear black and white - a gambler's uniform. He pointedly selected grey tailored suits, pastel striped linen shirts, silk brocade waistcoats. In black and white, with educated speech and sombre manner, he was taken for lawyer or preacher.

On horseback in sun or rain, especially on the desert, a wide-brimmed hat protected face and head. In Arizona, so close to the Mexican border there was smuggling and skirmishes, cowboys and miners wore large sombreros. John wore a black western dress hat for both trail and town, but in Denver a soft-crowned, narrow-brimmed grey hat.

Years: 1873 - 1887
Now you'll be a lawman and an outlaw - the best of both worlds.

John smiles as he watches a simulacrum of himself speak to a simulacrum of Wyatt as they feign setting off on their vengeance ride under the shadow of Stillwell's killing. It had been a new experience for Wyatt, and the words were apt. John wishes he had spoken them.

It had been a new experience for John as well. Deputised, with the warrants from Wells Fargo in Wyatt's pockets, John had finally been a lawman and an outlaw. His killing had been sanctioned. He had been just like a privateer under a writ, as opposed to a pirate.

Year: 1882
Dust coats everything, seeping through doors, windows, falling from clothes, inhabiting the air. There is no escape. It floats on the surface of the water in John's ewer. He feels it in his teeth. It must surely coat his shredded lungs. Perhaps it seals them, dries the rot within them.

Horses, carriages, wagons throw up clouds that obscure the other side of the street from John's window. Water is expensive; must be carried in by wagon, but dust is such a problem the mayoral committee agrees to sprinkle the streets each day. John and the Earps gamble for water rights.

Years: 1880 - 1882
In Las Vegas John was a dentist - the last time with an office, tools, drill, chair tilting back. The last time he filled teeth with gold, gently coaxed them into alignment with metal, swelling wood, silk. Billy Leonard was his friend, a goldsmith, a jeweller, not yet a stagerobber and murdering bandit.

They coughed. Even in dry desert, hot-springs nearby. John lost his patients, moved across the tracks. It was the first and last time he owned his own establishment. The Holliday Saloon. Falling out with colleagues, patrons, he abandoned it. Virgil never understood why he had no friends.

Years: 1878 - 1879
'Straight as an arrow' was a phrase used to describe John in Denver, arrested for Stillwell's murder. It was commendation, along with his quiet responsible demeanour, soft slender hands, tailored clothes, rational forthright speech, contrasting him with the manic paranoid crank charged with conveying John back to vengeful Tombstone.

Billy Allen threatened to 'do him up' - beat him to death, when he was desperately ill in Leadville. Newspapers used the same phrase when he shot his would-be murderer, shattering his arm. Despite incapacity, his posture was perfect, his eyes alert, looking for any emergency or harm he could thwart.

Years: 1882, 1884
.

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