This here be the second chapter of the tale of my adventures.
He was born August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia. John Henry Holliday who was my friend. In 1870, bein’ at a time in his life when he had to choose himself a trade, he went off to dentist school and opened him up a bona fide dentist office in Atlanta, Georgia in 1872. So’s his friends took to callin’ him ‘Doc’.
When he got the tuberculosis, that hackin’ and coughin’ took a toll on his bedside manner and business started fallin’ off. So he become a natural born gambler! Now, y’all know a gamber has to be able to protect himself, so Doc spent plenty of hours developin’ fine shootin’ and carvin’ skills. Which he used a might freely, earnin’ himself a reputation of the bad kind. Always runnin’ from the law and those with a mind to kill him, Doc drifted from city to city, state to state, poker table to poker table. When he ended up in Fort Griffin, Texas, he met the love of his life, Big Nose Kate. But they fought like cats and dogs and was apart and together more than Liz and Dick.
I’d see him from time to time when he drifted through town. We’d set and talk and share stories that got bigger and better with every tellin’. Mine was all about minin’ and bears and snow what was 20 foot deep. His was about saloons and cards and guns...assorted company like his pal Wyatt Earp and gun battles all over the west. I remember him goin’ on about some big broohaha at some corral in a town called Tombstone. He said the corral was O.K.
One night I told Doc about this big old grizzly that near to ended my life one winter, and Doc just guffawed.. coughed….and told me he almost lost his life nine times! Said four times they tried to hang him and five times he was shot from ambush. He never cared about all that danger. I do believe he kinda courted it. Doc was always braggin’ that his death would come quick from lead poisoning, at the end of a rope, a knife in the ribs or he just might drink hisself to death. He didn’t take no pleasure in thinkin’ the tuberculosis would end his days.
I remember the spring of 1887. It were May and the sun was breakin’ up the clouds and the earth springin’ into it’s green blanket. Doc sent a message up the canyon to my cabin...he was back in Glenwood Springs to try the sulfur vapors, as his health was getting’ worse and worse. I come and found him and we spent some fine evenings talkin’ about days past and cheatin’ each other at cards. All that summer I’d get down to visit him when I could, bring him fresh meat and whiskey and haul him down to the caves for the vapor cure.
On November 9, 1887, he woke up clear-eyed and smilin’. He called me to his side and asked me to do him one last favor.
“Take my journal up on the mountain near where my final resting place will be, Zeb, and hide it carefully in a place where only my friends will find it so they can come and visit me after I’m gone.”
Then he asked for a glass of whiskey, drank it down, said, “This is funny.”, and he passed on. Thus passed Tombstone's most deadly gun.
The next day I rode my mule, Molly, across the river on the road known as C82. As I passed over the river I shook my head in amazement at the people bobbin’ about in the giant swimmin’ pool off to my left. On the far side of the river I looked sadly at the Hotel Denver which would never be the same now that Doc was gone. Molly and me rode on til we got to 11th and made a left turn, headin’ us due east. Shortly after we swung right on Bennett until we got to the head of the trail that was the path to the Pioneer Cemetery. Up and up we went until we reached the top and stopped to admire the fine view. I tied Molly up and continued on afoot. I knowed they was gonna put a marker for Doc in the west end of the cemetery, and I went and stood silent like at the spot. Then I turned myself around and headed for the northeast corner of the fence. Most folks didn’t know how far the land stretched up the mountain and I walked on and on, passin’ the quiet white headstones clustered together at the east end of the cemetery. I walked way up the hill until I reached the furthest northeast corner of the fence and found myself standin’ in front of a giant sign that don’t say nothin’ that was planted on the other side of the fence. I stayed on the cemetery side of the fence, with my body plum centered in the middle of that sign for a bit, wonderin’ what it meant and not really carin’ at the same time. Then, I turned to my right and followed the trail for 25 paces. At that point I stopped dead in my tracks, turned left again to face south. Off in the distance I could see the third power pole from the big sign that don’t say nothin’. I stepped off the trail and walked 20 more paces towards that far off pole then stopped in my tracks again. I swung myself left one more time and walked straight ahead to the wire fence runnin’ along the boundary. Right about here I seen a metal fence post kinda hidden in the bushes and cedar...a fence post where the fence changes it’s angle. A small tree was growin’ a few inches in front of this post, so I hunkered down and settled the journal between the tree and the post. Then, bein’ worried about varmints, I covered it with a healthy pile of sticks. You'll have to get real close and look real hard to find it. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Esmerelda says: This trail isn't suitable for wheelchairs and you'll need some strong legs and healthy lungs to get a stroller up there. It's not a long hike (about 45 minutes round trip), but quite steep and the trail is fairly rocky in spots. It is, however, dog friendly, and there's a wonderful view from the top.
A handmade stamp and handmade journal.