Don’t call me that. I go by Billy, some add Kid.
They tell me I’m a killer. What about you?
Well, I suppose it depends what you mean;
for killing, to me, is such a harsh word,
and, I don’t rightly think it serves me well.
Don’t you agree? Oh, I see, you’d rather not say?
All the same to me. True. I’m not tall as you.
5’8″. Does that make you feel brave? Ok,
so you’re not so brave after all. I see. Yes, yes,
I dress clean, my eyes are blue, my hair
a might musty, dirty blonde – they say;
some say I’m from New York City, by crickety,
I’ve got no clue as to that, just saying.
They say my mom had me in the basket
after the potato famine, on that boat over;
crossing and tossing those cold seas, Irish
as gray is she burst on those shores with me,
and here I am a free man living like an Irishman;
my old man bartended, gambled, did the numbers,
while mom stayed home did laundry, baked pies,
and died of that dread tuberculosis in my arms.
Do you think that made me what I am today?
I never stole a thing. They told me cheese. Locked
me up. Someone put those clothes and guns
in my locker: didn’t matter, they put me in that dark
hole, I climbed out again, up that brick chimney
and been running ever since. Till I met Pat. Jailed I am!
Oh sure, I might have stolen some horses, learned
that quick from those dime novels; yet, when
that old man threw me down I knew right then
he’d kill me with his bare hands; so I shot him dead.
Is that a crime? Self-defense, you call it?
Of course they lied, I told you that, you think
they’d defend me; hah, they’d just as soon kill me
now, so I left again for here. Here, this place: jail.
Sure, I ran those gangs, John Evans and others,
rustled horses, drank plenty, and lost my horse;
and near died, but nursed me back from that brink
of the pit – fine people there, Mr. & Mrs. Jones. Yep, I
moved to Lincoln County, worked that Cheese Factory,
met those boys from that ranch; worked there, too.
Tunstell hired us to guard some cattle, got us all
fouled up in that war; well, them townsman wanted
more than they owned, gold the likes they should
have kept to themselves, you hear? Now I’m here.
Then those idiots came and killed my boss, and
stuffed his bay upon his pillow; what a travesty
of justice that was; pissed we was, I’ll say. We
found our way to town, became deputized,
“Regulators”, they called us; but then things
went south, killed those boys and a traitor
in our midst; justified, sure it was. What can I
say, things went from bad to worse, that
buffalo man, nasty business there, our leader,
dead and all; sorry lot of shots. Hell that boy
in the bar, the click: I heard that empty chamber;
he’d of shot me in the back, what choice did I have?
That posse killed Greathouse, not I, we struggled
free, got out, wrote that governor the truth, but
like all else, no one wants truth. My nemesis came
to Stinking Springs, killed my horse clean through.
Now I’m talking to you, so what; they’ll hang me now.
I kept tabs of him, Billy the Kid, after that. Hear tell
he killed two guards, stole another horse, and sang
ballads on his way out of town, in Lincoln City.
Pat Garrett sat in that dark room waiting when Billy
came in unannounced. “¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?”
he said, backing out. Garret recognized that voice,
gunned him down, and that is the final tale or legend
of that boy known as Kid Antrim; else as others say:
Billy the Kid, a gentle soul who learned the art of death
and killing. As I write these words down is there a lesson
learned? A fool’s judgment for the blind? A woman’s smile?
Or, is this just necessity working out her ways and means?
– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.