Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nobody Knows the Kid

Here is a bit of western poetry outside of the Professor's alias.

As the last rays stole away
an' shadow cast itself upon the panes
the usual flibberty-gibbet an' hem an' haw
took a backseat to another stranger ---
though we'd plum lost count on which number he'd be ---
confessed through whiskey breath
that he knew "the Kid."
Which, as you can surmise
sparked multiple decibels of mutterin' throughout the saloon,
a half-dozen "Glory be's,"
and a unanimous "Do tell."
So seein' he had the floor,
the proverbial spotlight were a'fixed,
he wasted but a moment ta' wet his whistle again,
then commenced his tale.
Well this feller' piled it higher an' higher,
he was a bald-face liar,
even the usual crackpots he way out did ---
cuz' lies are lies, an' facts are facts,
an' truth be known
don't nobody really know the Kid.
Case in point
the multitude with lives out of joint
hopin' ta' cash in on some unearned fame,
sort of... guilt by association,
professin' ta' be "blood kin."
Yet all they've got ta' prove such claims
is that their surname just happens ta' be
Bonney or Antrim.
Woe upon woe to these misbegot's
who do little more than add shame
ta' their name.
Even those who claim McCarty as the proper moniker
maybe no better than the others,
since not one shred of evidence has ever come ta' light,
an' proved beyond a shadow of a doubt,
if'n fact it were the Kid's name,
his mother's maiden name,
or his half-brother's...
his half-brother's pa, that is.
I suppose if'n yer' a gambler "McCarty" makes fer' a best bet,
but the wiser move
is ta' wait til there's evidence ta' prove,
so you can at least speak from a place of intellect.
"Alas," says the stranger, a windin' down his tale ---
slurrin' more words than in the beginnin' ---
"November 23rd in eighteen an' fifty-nine
is a day my friends like no other," says he.
"The day of the birth of my friend, the Kid, ya' see,"
just repeatin' the fib of others before.
If'n he'd checked his facts before speakin'
he'd a found out a certain little truth,
Ash Upson, the predominant tale-spinner fer' Pat Garrett's biography
was a might uncouth,
an' used his own date of birth fer' the Kid's.
In actuality, no certificate of birth has ever come ta' light
ta' verify neither the time nor destination
of when or where the Kid come into the world.
But like others before him, the stranger cared not a wit,
nor had a wit ta' care,
he'd continue ta' jaw-jack fer' as long as the cactus juice flowed.
He went on ta' tell how he stood beside
the Kid's younger brother "Edward" on the auspicious day of matrimony,
an' how he'd even had business dealin's
with the Kid's older brother "Joe."
Jus' perpetuating the illegitimate facts of dimwit myth-makers
too lazy ta' seek out truth over fiction,
or too dang blab greedy
knowin' there's cash ta' be had,
or perhaps jus' free drinks,
to uplift legend over the true ta' life depiction.
Ya' see, there weren't no brother Edward,
an' Joseph was the younger, an' only half ta' boot.
An' both were cast away upon the death of their Ma
when William Antrim, their Ma's last betrothed,
shown himself only half a man
ditchin' his late wife's dependents
so away he could scoot.
Yet such truths never once passed this stranger's lips,
fer' every yarn he did spin
sunk him deeper in
the quagmire of falsehood an' fable.
He said, "Do ya'll recall
the day the Kid first stood tall ---
a mere lad of twelve, protectin' his Ma's... honor
an' blastin' the bejeezus out of a cad,
an' hightailin' it away?"
Except in actuality, the Kid never ran away
til after bein' arrested fer' the simple theft of laundry,
an' his Ma had already passed on from consumption by then.
But that stranger, as if gettin' a second wind,
said, "Set um' up again at the bar
an' at the table"
where he sat down again an' recommenced the fable.
He raised his glass high ta' bid a toast
"To the greatest left-handed gun in the west!"
Obviously unaware of the truth that's come ta' light ---
ta' even many who don't claim ta' know him ---
how the left-hand nonsense started;
cuz' the only known photo of the Kid
is an' old reverse tin-type.
An' since it's reversed
than right is left
an' left is right.
An' since then, as most merely look with a glance,
rarely the truth shall meet.
Factually speakin' the Kid was ambidextrous,
though predominantly used his right.
Now I took a gander at the grandfather clock standin' amongst us
jus' tickin' away the night,
an' I figured that gent,
an' I use the term loosely,
would've stood up an' stumbled out quick
had he known his flappin' jaw,
with each lie now bein' tallied,
would take the power of a magic trick
ta' curtail his soon comeuppance.
But he jus' kept on a jabberin',
addin' to our arsenal ta' go against him.
The next bit of trivia he did offer was how the Kid not only had a finger
but a temper that was quick on the trigger,
an' how he hated ta' speak any negative against him,
cuz' he loved the little cuss.
An' of course he'd stand by every claim jus' like we'd figger'.
But truth be known, most folk, friend or foe,
reporters, an' those he took ta' courtin'
testify ta' his easy goin' ways,
good spirits an' good humor.
'Ceptin' of course, strangers like this feller'
or even Pat Garrett,
who had a specific political agenda ta' perpetuate the rumor.
An' the stranger jus' gulped down another slug of firewater,
an' continued with facts he thought he knew.
He claimed he once offered ---
in secret mind ya', so as not to offend the boy ---
ta' teach poor Billy how ta' read an' write,
on account ta' his illiteracy.
Well, "poor" was the truth,
but "illiterate" ain't.
As a young pup he had a hankerin' ta' write an' read.
An' even without much formal education
he scoured books, dime novels, an' penny dreadfuls.
Showin' more sense than this gent with a head full
of nothin' but fudged facts an' lies.
Lies of the sort he claimed of John Tunstall.
"Such a fine old gent, tried ta' steer the Kid right,
a father figure if there ever was one."
'Cept Tunstall was jus' a mere twenty-four
when he bit the dust,
murdered in the Lincoln County War.
Though it's true he helped the Kid get out of a stint in jail
an' gave him a job ta' boot,
he weren't really fatherly,
an' never even told his close folks about the Kid,
though he mentioned others he did employ.
That tidbit of untruth rings of the Hollywood touch,
it makes fer' better scripts fer' folks ta' enjoy.
Well, ol' whiskey breath kept a talkin',
spillin' his guts like a criminal confession,
irritatin' our eardrums with his squawkin',
jus' like a damn political senate session,
an' makin' jus' about as much sense.
Like claimin' the Kid rode with the infamous Jesse James,
though it's true that they met,
but never shared the same trail dust,
they simply chatted each other up at an eatery.
Ol' Jesse said, "Join me."
The Kid said, "Nix."
An' that's the simple truth of history.
Well that stranger was a snockered now,
with the rot gut flowin' so freely,
an' he slurred most his words,
an' butchered the others,
so we could hardly understand him.
Course it never deterred him,
he jus' kept pavin' manure road
with one shit an' shine-ola claim after another.
Like how the Kid,
allegedly upset fer' losin' forty winks of sleep,
plugged a bellowin' blowhard fer' snorin'.
Too drunk ta' realize he was mixin' up facts,
claimin' feats by the Kid that were actually done
by both Clay Allison an' John Wesley Hardin.
An' then he had to unearth the false recollection so often babbled
how the Kid was "Little Casino"
to his friend of friends "Big Casino" Pat Garrett.
In truth they were acquainted,
but you could never call what they had "true friendship."
Jus' a law dog and an outlaw pup crossin' paths on the trails of life.
Finally the stranger with the diarrhea mouth
was truly windin' it down,
he could hardly hold his head above the table.
Yet he said, "Jus' one last thing I'd like ta' remind ya'll,
how young Billy tallied up a death toll,
killin' a man fer' every year he lived,
that bein' twenty-one."
Except the most notable "kidologists" have come ta' realize
the Kid probably never reached that legal age,
an' the notches on his gun
were less than a dozen,
an' less than a half-dozen fer' those he took out by himself.
There was Frank Cahill an' Joe Grant,
both in self-defense.
An' of course James Bell an' Bob Olinger
while he was escapin' the rope.
Any others were in tussles durin' the Lincoln County affair.
An' history has gone on ta' prove
in that fiasco the Kid never got a break,
even the Govenor failed ta' treat him fair.
Well, the stranger finally shut-up as he passed out with the sauce,
jus' as the first rays of the sun began ta' flicker.
An' the rest of us went into motion,
findin' tar, an' gatherin' feathers,
cuz' it's payback time fer' this city slicker.
Ya' see, this dandy made a heap of mistakes,
but the one that did him in,
was pickin' a bar in Billy's hometown ta' do his drinkin' an' lyin' in.
Sure, we know once a legend is started
the myth will continue ta' grow,
it's always like that when lies are set free
an' truth is kept under a lid.
But only fools tell them where the Kid called "home"
an' the descendants of Billy's contemporaries
attempt ta' keep the record straight.
So this stranger will be sloshed,
an' he'll be fluffed,
an' he'll skedaddle like a tar-baby chick right outta' the state.
An' hopefully learn a lesson that us here in Billy's hometown already know ---
nobody really knows the Kid.

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