Billy the Kid, legend for all time
Sheriff Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid; photos from Wikipedia.
So who’s buried in Billy the Kid’s grave? That’s not a trick question. DNA testing of remains there never took place. Exhumation was blocked by officials in FortSumner and Silver City, New Mexico.
Who knows why Billy the Kid became such a legend, and why there’s so much controversy surrounding his alleged death at the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett? There are plenty of people who would swear the Kid lived out his life as “Brushy Billy” and died of old age inTexas.
My friend Earl Staggs picked up that idea and wrote a fascinating short story called “Where Billy Died.” It’s just under 10,000 words, but author Staggs packs a lot into this yarn about a skip tracer named Jack who outfoxes a mobster and runs into the legend of Billy the Kid. Here’s my review:
“Where Billy Died” by Earl Staggs
Kindle E-Book, $1.99
Reviewed by Pat Browning
Story opening: “It was June, 2001, and I’d been working as a skip tracer in Philadelphia for about a year when I leaned across the desk and said, ‘I don’t want to go toTexas.’”
Jack’s wife Beverly, owner of the Liberty Bail Bonding Agency, sends him anyway. She’s tired of looking at him and they need the money. Resolved to stay out of trouble Jack heads to Hico, Texas to look for Billy Joe Raynor, a clean cut lad who took part in a bungled robbery and jumped bail.
At a diner in Hico, Jack meets Ollie, a rumpled old man who claims to have known Billy the Kid and offers to show him Hico’s tourist attractions. Leaving the diner Jack realizes he’s been tailed by a brute named Turk, an enforcer for Sal Marino, a mob boss who has bad history with Jack. Here’s Jack’s idea of staying out of trouble:
Quote: “When I was directly opposite Turk’s Honda, I threaded my way through the trees, crouched, and crossed a patch of grass to its rear end. Then I eased around to the driver’s side, held the two-by-four behind me in my right hand and tapped on the window with my left. When Turk turned his head and recognized me, I said, ‘Hello, you stupid pile of puke.’ He jerked the door open, but before he could get out, I whipped the two-by-four around and whacked him on his bald head.” End Quote
Turk gets the upper hand and is on the verge of killing Jack when Ollie picks up the two-by-four and knocks Turk out cold.
Shortly after, at Ollie’s spiffy cabin in the wilds outside Hico, Jack hears yet another version of Billy the Kid’s legend. Billy Joe Raynor makes his appearance, Turk shows up, and the ending is a pip.