In the aftermath of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Halloween October 1881 was not a happy one for the Earps or for Doc Holliday. Both Virgil and Morgan Earp were recovering from wounds that they had received during the gunfight. The cowboys had held a combined funeral for Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury and the sentiment that emerged from it, encouraged by Ike Clanton was that the cowboys had been murdered in broad daylight. Will McLaury, brother of Tom and Frank and also a lawyer, was on his way to Tombstone to help Ike start legal proceedings against the Earps and Holliday. There was to be a hearing, and if enough evidence prevailed, both the Earps and Holliday would stand trial for murder.
I’ve always enjoyed Halloween and felt that it seemed right to incorporate a Halloween vibe in Doc Holliday’s arrest by Johnny Behan. We join Doc Holliday on as he leaves his room at Fly’s Boarding House to meet with Wyatt Earp. Read on for an excerpt from my novel: A Gentleman in Hell.
An Excerpt from A Gentleman in Hell:
“He walked down the dark corridor of Fly’s Boarding House and was passed by a man dressed as the devil and a woman dressed as a witch. He shook his head and questioned his sobriety and then remembering that it was Halloween, continued on his way. The devil grinned at him unnervingly as he passed by. It made him shiver.
Every corner of Fly’s rung with laughter and excited voices. A door opened and a strikingly handsome woman, drunk on whiskey backed out into the corridor and crashed into Doc. He apologized and tipped his hat. She giggled and ran into the next room down, swinging her long, fake tail behind her.
‘Of course,’ thought Doc, ‘she’s dressed as a cat.’ He reached the front door and pulled the fur collar of his gray overcoat around his neck, preparing for the heavy rain that awaited him. He stepped off the porch into the wet and watched a skeleton wave to him as he passed by in the alley way. Doc laughed and shook his head. He strode on through the rain and whistled casually into the darkness.
He didn’t notice the shadowy figure turn down the alley behind him and raise a gun level to his head. A shot was fired and narrowly missed the dentist’s overcoat. The whiskey bottle smashed around the neck and dripped bourbon over Doc’s hand and on to the wet street.
Doc dropped the neck of the bottle, drew his gun and turned. A tall man dressed in a long black cloak stood before him. Doc lowered the gun, perplexed at what he saw. The man smiled at him and tipped his hat,
“Happy Halloween,” he said.
He turned and slunk away until he was hidden in the darkness. Doc fired shot after shot, until the figure had completely disappeared. He peered into the darkness. His gun was empty and the rain had soaked his wool overcoat. He was surprised to see Behan’s deputies appear from the shadows and grab him from behind, bending his arms behind his back.
“Well now, shooting at the shadows were you Doc? Come on, we’ve got a surprise waiting for you back at the calaboose.””