I Meet Mrs. Earp

Josephine-Sarah-Marcus-c1881

Wyatt Earp was waiting for me at the O.K. Corral. He had been brought back to life by the Resurrection Project, an offshoot of the school of Russian Cosmism. We were to meet at high noon, but I hadn’t specified what day. (Background: Return Of Earp, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, January 2, 2015.)

I boarded the Greyhound bus, destination Tombstone, Arizona. Although fearful of the deadly Earp, at least I was getting away from the Little Ice Age enveloping Illinois. Wyatt Earp had taken offense (as many do) at my blog postings. I had felt safe, since Earp had died in 1929, but then the Resurrection Project had brought back the vengeful Deputy Marshal.

As the bus meandered on its way to the Apache State, I passed the time reading the memoirs of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, Wyatt’s wife of many years. Now some say this book, entitled I Married Wyatt Earp, is questionable. Certainly there is a great mystery behind it, involving the likes of Dashiell Hammett and a secret “Clum manuscript.” But I say even if the book is “somewhere between history and historical fiction”, it still has the ring of truth. [1]

While reading Mrs. Earp’s memoirs on the bus, I had learned that at least Wyatt Earp wasn’t a murderer. Sure he was a deadly killer, but I knew now he wouldn’t shoot me if I was unarmed. He might hit me upside-the-head with the long barrel of his Buntline Special, but at least I wouldn’t be shot. (Background: True Story of O.K. Corral, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, January 7, 2015.)

Sheriff Johnny Behan had also been brought back by the Resurrection Project. He had with him Mrs. Earp, who had also been returned to life, and he was sneering at Wyatt that he had his woman. Somehow I was going to have to get past the publicity hound Behan and get an interview with Mrs. Earp. “Sadie” (as she was called) might be the key to get me out of this mess. (Background: Resurrections for Roubles, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, January 4, 2015.)

Wyatt_Earp

I awoke with a jolt. “Tombstone!” the Greyhound driver called. I alighted from the bus into the welcoming warmth of southern Arizona. I glanced up at the town clock, which told me it was 9:30 am. That left me some time before high noon arrived. How many days now had Wyatt Earp been waiting for me at the O.K. Corral? I could imagine him getting madder and madder as each day high noon arrived and I hadn’t shown. What would I say to Wyatt Earp as excuse, some little quibble about how I hadn’t said what day? I could picture that Walrus moustache getting droopier and droopier from the weight of his anger. Out comes the Buntline Special and POW!

I noticed a shop: The Genteel Tea Parlor. “Maybe they sell maps of the town,” I thought. I was going to have to find not just the O.K. Corral, but also Johnny Behan’s residence because I might find Mrs. Earp there.

The Genteel Tea Parlor was one of those quaint establishments seeming to evoke another era. Ceiling fans helped keep the place cool. The wooden floor creaked as I walked up to the counter. Behind the counter was a huge mirror. As I glanced at what was being offered for sale, in the mirror I saw, sitting behind me in the corner, none other than Sadie Marcus, wife of Wyatt Earp!

This was great luck! But how could I introduce myself? “I am from Illinois and your husband is out to get me”? But just then I saw that Sadie had dropped her handkerchief! This was my chance!

I walked over to where Mrs. Earp sat drinking hot sassafras tea. She was in the form of her younger self, and dressed in clothing appropriate to the 1880s. People paid her old-fashioned clothing no heed because they thought she must be some re-enactor there for the tourists. Yet I knew she was in truth the resurrected Sadie Marcus.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Earp,” I said as I bent down to lift her delicate hankie from the floor. “You dropped this.”

“Why thank you, sir,” she replied.

“Mrs. Earp,” I made bold to continue, “I would very much like to talk with you about something.”

She smiled and answered, “No surprise at that. I am surprised though that no one else in this town has yet had any questions for me. Why don’t you sit yourself and we can talk.”

I accepted her invitation and ordered some strong Russian tea. “I will get straight to the point,” I began. “Your husband Wyatt has taken offense at some reports I have made, and waits for me now at the O.K. Corral.”

“Yes, at the old Nugget newspaper they used to write reports that caused Wyatt to get his dander up,” Mrs. Earp recalled. “However he used to contain himself back then.”

“Anyway,” I continued, “it would be helpful to me if you could explain the background political situation. That might give me a clue to calm things, in case Wyatt thinks I am some hack writer for politicians.”

“Like Harry Wood at the Nugget, you mean? He was a hack writer for Art Fay, who owned the newspaper.”

“Yes, exactly,” I replied. “Things about the hidden political situation in Tombstone.”

“Well,” Mrs. Earp began as she sipped some more sassafras tea, “I suppose the place to start is the County Ring. The County Ring was Democrat. Johnny Behan, by whom I was swept off my feet before I saw through his duplicitous ways, belonged to the Ring. So did Artemus Fay, owner of the Nugget. Harry Wood, the hack writer for Fay, was also Johnny Behan’s under-sheriff. The County Ring used to skim off tax monies for themselves. People sneered at the Ring and called it ‘the ten percent ring’, meaning they were stealing around ten percent of the taxes.”

“So there have been crooked politicians for some time now,” I thought to myself. “Perhaps thievery is endemic to politics.” Aloud I said to Mrs. Earp, “So in other words there was graft.”

“Graft?” said Mrs. Earp. “I don’t think I have heard that word before.”

“Yes,” I realized and said, “that word came into vogue around 1901, when Josiah Flynt’s book, The World of Graft, appeared. You may not have read it later, after Tombstone, because you and Wyatt were in Alaska for the Klondike Gold Rush around 1901. Flynt introduced such words as ‘graft’ and ‘underworld’ to help describe the argot of the criminal to America. Graft is a form of political corruption. It is the unscrupulous use of a politician’s authority for personal gain.”

“I see,” said Mrs. Earp. “So the County Ring, when it took its ten percent for themselves, were grafting – transplanting vines or twigs of taxes into their own pockets. Yes, ha-ha,” she chuckled, “I will have to remember that word.”

“So Johnny Behan was grafting… Ha ha ha,” laughed Sadie, still tickled by the word. “Yes, and I can tell you another way money was coming in. The Rustlers used to come over and play poker with Johnny…”

“The Rustlers?” I interrupted. “Do you mean the Cochise County Cowboys?”

“Yes, they were called that too,” Sadie replied. “The cowboys used to do the dirty work for the County Ring and for the Townlot Company.”

“What was the Townlot Company?” I asked.

“Hold your horses, buckaroo!” Sadie laughed. “I’ll be getting to them.” She ordered a refill of her sassafras tea and continued. “The cowboy leaders came over to the house sometimes and played poker. Almost always, Johnny won big. But that was how they hid the payoffs to the County Ring. In return, the Rustlers would handle the rough work.”

“So the Cowboys were the underworld, as Josiah Flynt called it, and the County Ring was the upperworld. Those two, the underworld and the upperworld, work together. Generally speaking, when one in the ‘Under World’ got lucky and ‘made his pile,’ he went ‘up-town’ to ‘put on the ritz’ and pretend to be ‘high class.’ When the aristocrat, inhabiting the ‘Upper World,’ needed money, he’d head ‘down-town’ and scrounge up a ‘pile’ of his own. But in Tombstone it was more a matter of secret business dealings between the upperworld and the underworld.”

Tombstone_1881

“Upperworld and Underworld,” mused Sadie. “Yes, that is a way to describe it. Anyway, the Townlot Company was also involved in all this. The Townlot Company, part of the upperworld as you call it, got title to all the city lots from the temporary mayor, Alder Randall. That happened when the town was in a mess, just getting started. People were already living on those lots, but Alder Randall on his own just up and claimed Tombstone had the title to those lots. He conveyed those titles to a private firm, Clark & Gray, and that was the Townlot Company. Then the Townlot Company began threatening to evict occupants unless they paid hefty fees.”

“That sounds kind of crooked,” I said. “The temporary mayor decides the city owns all the lots and hands title over to a private company. Did Mayor Randall get a payoff under the table, some graft, from the Townlot Company?”

“That was never proved,” replied Sadie. “Maybe the mayor won big in some poker games, if you know what I mean,” she said with a wink of the eye.

Sadie summed up the situation in Tombstone: “The town was a haven of thieves and murderers. And into this mess rode Wyatt Earp. He was a Republican, unlike the Democrat County Ring. Wyatt was tied in with Wells Fargo and, through them, with the federal people in Washington.”

“Wyatt tied in with the feds!?” I interjected. “Was he some kind of secret service man?”

“That I don’t know,” Sadie replied. “But I do know that, during the fifty years we were together, Wyatt often went away on mysterious jobs he wouldn’t talk about.”

Wyatt Earp a secret G-Man, in the days before there was an FBI. That could be, I realized. The government must have had such secret operatives in the years before there was an official FBI. And even the FBI was not really official, since it had no charter.

I thanked Sadie for giving me some background on the Tombstone politics back then, and rose from my chair.

“Hold on, mister,” Sadie cried. “What’s your name?”

“You can call me Ersjdamoo,” I told her.

“Well, Mister Ersjdamoo, I have told you what I know. So maybe you can tell me what you know about how I got here. What is this Resurrection Project?”

I looked at the clock on the wall. 10:30, it said. I still had some time before I had to meet Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. [2]

——- Sources ——-
[1] “I Married Wyatt Earp”, Wikipedia, January 7, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Married_Wyatt_Earp
[2] Acknowledgement to: I Married Wyatt Earp, by Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp. Edited by Glenn G. Boyer. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1976.

Advertisements

About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s