abreast, Wyatt on the far right. He knew there was coldness and the smell of snow. Now and then a random and singular snowflake would drift in front of him. He felt the weight of the six-shooter in his belt. Everything seemed to be happening soundlessly at the bottom of a clear lake. They were at Fremont Street. It had taken no time at all, and yet it had moved more slowly than it seemed possible to move. Wyatt didn’t want it hurried. If Josie were with him here in this crystalline moment there could be no heaven to match it. As it was, he felt as if his life had compacted into a density that no harm could penetrate. He opened his hands wide and let them relax and stretched them again for the sheer physical surge of it. Everything was profoundly intense, nearly magical. Ike was there with Billy Clanton and the McLaurys, clustered in the alley together beside Fly’s. Virgil’s voice came from beyond a vast emptiness. Something about “Throw up your hands…” and then, “Hold on, I don’t mean that…” and then gunfire. His big Army Colt ahead of him, an extension of himself, the hammer thumbed back, bucking slightly as the hammer fell. Around him, barely penetrating his focus, other guns were firing as if at a great distance. Frank is hit, and Billy Clanton, and his brother Morgan. Ike closes with him for a moment. Wyatt tosses him aside. Ike runs. Tom shoots from behind his frightened horse. More shots. Hammer back. Pull the trigger. Again. The bullets seem to surge from his deepest self in a leisurely way. Doc staggers and curses and fires again. Clinging to his horse, firing over him, Frank takes a few steps into Third Street and falls. The horse shies off, his reins trailing, and trots down Third Street. Tom is down in the alley. Billy Clanton is on the ground, his back against the wall of Fly’s, still cocking and firing. Another shot. Billy slumps. Then vast silence. As if time had stopped. Virgil was limping, a bullet through the calf. Morgan was in pain, a bullet in his shoulder. Billy Clanton was dead. Tom McLaury was dead. Frank was dead. In the utter stillness the smell of cordite was thick in the narrow alley. Wyatt still held the gun with its hammer back, moving the gun slowly before him back and forth, scanning the silence. Part of the silence, at one with it, as the occasional snowflake spiraled down, and the clean desert air that filled his lungs began to clarify the gun smoke.

Behan never looked quite comfortable, Wyatt thought, as the sheriff walked toward him. He was always a little too dressed up. When he wore a gun, it didn’t hang quite right. On horseback he looked awkward, as if he’d be happier on foot. On foot, he looked as if he’d be easier sitting.

“I need to talk with you,” Behan said, his voice distant, and surprising in the sulfurous quiet.

There was no one else to talk to but Wyatt. Ike had run. The McLaurys were dead, and Billy Clanton. Dr. Goodfellow was probing the wound in Virgil’s calf. Morgan, in pain from his shoulder wound, was being loaded into a hack. Doc had retreated to Fly’s boardinghouse with a bullet burn creasing his hip.

“I won’t be arrested,” Wyatt said. His own voice seemed to come from somewhere else.

“I’m the sheriff, Wyatt. I got to arrest you.”

“If you were God, Johnny, I wouldn’t let you arrest me. I’m not going away. I’ll be around for the inquest.”

“I warned you,” Behan said.

“You fed us bullshit,” Wyatt said. “You told us you’d disarmed them.”

The hack with Morgan in it moved past them and Wyatt watched it as it went. The street was filled with people now, many of them men, many of them armed.

“I told you I would disarm them,” Behan said.

Wyatt turned back from looking at the hack.

“Johnny,” Wyatt said. “This is your fault. You couldn’t come at me direct, so you rigged this.”

“Wyatt, so help me, God…”

Wyatt shook his head.

“Don’t talk to me now, Johnny. I can’t talk to you. You got to get away from me.”

Behan tried to hold Wyatt’s eyes and couldn’t and hesitated another moment and turned and walked away. Wyatt watched him go as he headed east on Fremont Street until he turned the corner by the post office at Fourth Street disappeared. He realized he was still holding his revolver. He could tell by the weight that it was empty. He opened the cylinder, ejected the shell casings, fished absently into his left-hand coat pocket and came out with a handful of fresh bullets. As he fed them one at a time into the cylinder, the coroner’s people were gathering up the three dead men and loading them onto the back of a wagon. Wyatt snapped the cylinder shut and put the gun in his right-hand pocket. Another hack, carrying Virgil, moved slowly past him.

“They find the slug?” Wyatt asked.

“It went on through,” Virgil said.

“Good,” Wyatt said and the hack moved on.

Fremont Street in front of the alley was crowded now. To Wyatt the crowd was a phantasmagoria, as intangible as the projections of a magic lantern. It was what followed reality, trailing in the absolute fact of the gunfight, like the wisps of gun smoke that had already disappeared, dispersed by the fresh fall air. The coroner’s wagon began to move away with the corpses of the McLaurys and Billy Clanton, and when it was gone Wyatt was the only embodiment of the facts that had transpired, alone in the insubstantial crowd of miners and cowboys that meaninglessly milled and chattered around him. People may have spoken to him. If they did he didn’t hear them. He put the leftover shells back in his left-hand coat pocket, and put the newly loaded revolver in his right-hand coat pocket. Then he turned and went to find Josie.

They were in her room, sitting together on the bed. Josie’s face was a white oval in the cold last light of the November day that came in through the window. A wood stove warmed the room.

“So it’s over?” Josie said.

“Hearing’s over,” Wyatt said. “You want to hear what Spicer ruled?”

“Of course.”

Wyatt’s coat hung on a chair near the bed. He reached over and took paper from his inside coat pocket and unfolded it.

The evidence taken before me in this case,” Wyatt read, “would not, in my judgment, warrant a conviction of the defendants by a trial jury of any offense whatever.

“Of course, he’s right,” Josie said. “No one could have ruled differently.”

Wyatt smiled a little. He put the paper back inside his coat.

“Maybe if Behan were running the hearing…” Wyatt said.

“Thank God he’s not,” she said.

Josie put her head against Wyatt’s shoulder. He held her hand. They were quiet together in the still-moonlit room.

“Do you think Johnny put them up to it?” Josie said.


“Is it about me?” Josie said finally.

Wyatt thought about her question.

“It’s about you and me,” he said after a time. “There’s been a lot of push and shove between us and the cowboys. And it’d be hard to get along with both sides. Johnny tried, but after you and me turned out to be what we are, it was pretty easy for him to slide over to the cowboys. I think he stirred them up, Ike especially, because Ike’s pretty much a fool drunk and easy to stir up.”

“Is he through trying?” Josie said.

“Not likely,” Wyatt said.

“What do you think Johnny will do?” Josie said.

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