Written by Terry McGahey
Chapter Eleven: Shots Fired and Threats Made
The cycle of the full moon was upon us once again, and for another month we had set our trap in the wash but it was almost as though the perpetrators knew when we were there. I know that they didn’t, but it sure seemed that way because once again we had no luck in catching these people.
We went into town one day to pick up our mail and the Tombstone Tumbleweed newspaper, which we nicknamed the Tombstone Tumblebug, just to see if any new lies had been printed. We went to the Legends Saloon for coffee like we normally would, and while reading the paper we came across an article which was written about a new group in town.
They called themselves WAG, "Women Against Guns."
As it turned out, the group of women was nothing but a small bunch of self-righteous better-than-thous which also included the woman who wore the tiara in her hair and who was known as the Queen of Tombstone.
As Jack put it, "All they accomplished was to wag their tongues."
It wasn't long before this group had fallen apart because everyone with it wanted to be the leader, and none of them wanted to be the followers. Apparently, their egos had destroyed them from within.
Another two or three nights passed with Jack and me sitting in the wash, but again we were having no luck.
But on the third or fourth night while we were waiting in our stand of brush, it happened. Jack walked into the house to get us some more coffee, and he had no more than entered his place when I could hear the brush rustling and footsteps crunching the dead foliage on the ground just before entering the wash, about sixty or seventy feet in front of my position.
As my adrenaline began to pump, my eyesight had grown into a very keen state, and I could hear everything as though it were taking place right next to my ears. There were three of them and they were slowly making their way down the wash in my direction, and with each closer step my senses became more heightened.
I only hoped that Jack would not be heard, as I could see him approaching the wash with our coffee, thank God Jack was walking quietly.
As the group came within fifty feet or so, I still wanted to make sure that I had the right people, and then I heard it. One of the three had whispered, “Tonight we’ll hit the tack shed.”
I knew that Jack had also heard them, but he was out of position and all I could see in my mind was my horse’s head cut wide open, so I raised up from the brush and hollered, “Wrong move you sons a bitches!”
I fired my shotgun, hitting one of them right in the butt as he was trying to pull a pistol. The other two grabbed that fellow and dragged him off into the brush while he was screaming like a coyote.
Jack, now at the edge of the wash, dropped the coffee cups and pulled his .45 Colt revolver while hollering "My God! Terry, you shot him!"
I jumped out of the stand of brush and pumped another round into the twelve gauge shotgun, and Jack hollered in an excited and surprised voice, "Where are you going?"
I hollered, "I'm goin' to shoot that son of a bitch again!"
I have to admit, I had lost it. I ran down to the area, the area where I guessed the three had disappeared into the brush, with Jack right behind me. When we reached there, I fired two more blasts from my shotgun in the direction where they had gone into the heavy brush.
Jack also fired three shots into the brush, and hollered, "Come on back and get some more you no good bastards!"
After things had quieted down, and we couldn't find their trail because of the darkness, we decided to go on back to Jack's house and calm our nerves with some more coffee. But this time, we put a little whiskey in it.
We pondered if we should call the Sheriff’s office and report what had happened, but Jack said that we should just leave it alone and wait and see what takes place tomorrow. I agreed with him, and we just sat in the darkness drinking coffee with whiskey shots most of the night because our adrenaline rush wouldn't let us sleep if our lives had depended upon it.
The following morning as the sun rose over the hills with the colors of pink, red, orange and yellows, it seemed so peaceful that it was hard to believe that the event of the previous night had really taken place. It truly seemed surreal.
Without any sleep, Jack and I decided to walk down the wash and see if we could find any evidence or tracks which might have been left by one of the perpetrators.
Once we reached the area where the three had disappeared into we found some blood trail, and the same type of tennis shoe prints which we had seen before. We knew then that we had the right people without a doubt. We then followed the signs until we came to a spot on the main dirt road where there were fresh tire tracks, but that was as far as we could go.
Both Jack and I had decided to take a nap because we were completely worn out. After sleeping for three or four hours, I could hear a pickup truck bouncing down our road, so I looked out my window and realized that it was Jeff.
As I walked out onto my front porch, Jack was exiting his shop door. He too had heard the pickup truck, and by now we were both pretty spooky about who would drive into our place.
As Jeff parked his truck and got out, he was already asking questions about what happened last night. I told him that I didn't have a clue what he was talking about, and then he looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Terry, I know better than that."
I then asked him why he would think anything had taken place last night, and he replied, "Because I went to the Circle K late last night, and when I pulled in there were three guys getting into an old station wagon and one of them was wrapped in towels and bleeding like a stuck pig."
He then told us that as he got out of his pickup the three drove off like bats out of hell heading in the direction of the Mexican border. He said that when he went inside, the clerk had told him that they claimed someone had shot their buddy and they were going to need some towels.
She had overheard one of them say, that they would take him into Mexico. When the clerk asked them why they wouldn't go over to Sierra Vista, because it was the closest hospital, none of them would answer her.
Jeff then said, "Terry, I know what’s been going on down here, and you can’t tell me that you or Jack didn't shoot that old boy."
I then asked Jeff, if he had ever seen those three before, to which he said no.
Knowing Jeff real well, I knew that he wouldn't say anything, so Jack and I told him the whole story of our strange and unusual night.
Afterwards, Jack, Jeff and I went into town for a late breakfast, and as we were walking down the boardwalk Ron stopped us, He asked if we had heard about the fellow who had been shot last night, to which we replied, "No! What happened?"
Ron then began to explain that he had gone to the Circle K, and the clerk was mopping up a lot of blood on the floor. He said that when he asked what had taken place, the clerk told him that someone had been shot and his buddies had hauled him off to Mexico.
I told Ron that "We hadn’t heard anything about it, but if you hear anything else let us know." He said he would, and we went on to breakfast.
The one thing that I’ve always wondered about that night, and Jack and I had talked about several times afterwards, was why we were never been paid a visit by the Chochise County Sheriff’s Department, and why, to the best of our knowledge, was there never a hospital report issued?
Whenever a gunshot victim is admitted to a hospital, the doctor in charge, by law, must report it to the local authorities. The only thing that we could ever figure was that the clerk at the Circle K had heard right, and whoever these people were, they went into Old Mexico and had their buddy’s wounds attended to by a Mexican doctor or at a Mexican hospital. This would be the only explanation for why a report had never been filed, or why we had never been contacted.
Whoever those fellows were, they must have had a very good reason why they did not want to be identified. I am not stating that these fellows had ties to someone important in Tombstone, but why else would they have any reason to do the things they had done? You figure it out!
Just like the people who would sandwich in my truck while I was parked in Tombstone, the people who had been causing us all of our grief at home had finally decided to leave us alone, and once again Jack and I went back to living a quiet life on the Old Guthrie Place.
I decided to join into a business venture with Bill, Hal, and another fellow by the name of Tom. We had all decided to start our own gunfight shows down at the old set behind the library.
We paid rent to the Lions Club for the use of the set and hired several people in town, and started our own western shows. We called the group, the Boot Hill Gunslingers.
This group, being an actual business had started off slow, but at least it paid for itself. As time went on, we actually made money. Being that this was a paying proposition, we also had no trouble getting people to work the shows. We actually had Vigilante members, as well as Wild Bunch members, working the shows and remarkably everyone got along just fine.
One afternoon when the show had ended, we were all standing in the parking lot of the library near Toughnut Street. This fellow by the name of Chuck, who claimed to be an Apache Indian and who was fairly drunk, had walked up to Hal explaining that he was upset because he had an argument with his girlfriend and he was looking for her.
She worked for us from time to time, but she didn't work on that day. Hal had told Chuck that she wasn't around, but Chuck didn't believe him, so he pulled out a Bowie knife and held it tight up against Hal’s stomach while demanding Hal tell him the truth.
When I saw what was taking place, I began walking towards the two and hollered over at Chuck, “To Get the hell away from Hal and put the knife away."
I then said, "Hal is almost seventy years old for heaven’s sake, what in the hell is the matter with you?"
By now I was with in about ten feet of the situation, and I placed my hand on my gun. Even though I had blanks in it, the bluff worked and Chuck put the knife away. And when he turned to leave, he looked back at me and said, "If I see you uptown, I am going to kill you Terry."
Someone had called the marshal’s office, and just a few moments later a deputy by the name of Frank had showed up. The deputy wasn't going to do anything about Chuck, who was a possible danger to someone and he was only trying to defuse the situation with us.
While the deputy was still trying to calm everyone down, I walked over to my truck, opened the door, and strapped on my .45 auto.
As I began walking passed everyone, the deputy and the employees of the Gunslingers tried to stop me, so I told them, "I do not take my life being threatened in a very kindly fashion and since I have plenty of witnesses that my life was actually threatened, I am going to find Chuck and give him the opportunity to make good on his threat, because I would rather look him in the eyes than take the chance that he would walk around a corner and come up on me from behind."
With that said, I walked into town. I knew that Chuck would either be in Big Nose Kate’s Saloon or the Crystal Palace, and since Kate’s was the closest, I went there first.
As I walked in, there was a fairly large crowd, but I spotted J.B. who was a friend of mine, so I walked up to him and asked him if he had seen that "God damned Indian Chuck?"
J.B. told me that Chuck had just walked in, and walked out again about five minutes ago. He could see that I wasn't in a very jovial mood, and when he looked down and saw my .45 in the cocked and locked position, he said, "Terry! This looks serious to me."
I nodded my head and replied, "Yep," as I turned and walked out the door of Kate’s onto Allen Street.
I was headed to the Crystal Palace, and when I reached the center of Allen Street, Bill and Hal were waiting for me. They said that the deputy had radioed ahead to the marshal and told him what was about to take place, so the marshal grabbed Chuck on Fifth Street and arrested him for being drunk in public.
Bill asked me to put my gun in his truck, which I did, and we went to the Legends Saloon, and he and Hal bought me a few beers. I was still angry, but the situation was over for the moment.
The following morning, I went to town to pick up my mail, and I spotted Chuck walking along the boardwalk near Fifth Street, so I walked right up to him without taking my eyes off of his, and he said, "Terry, I want to apologize. I heard you were looking for me yesterday with a gun, and I want you to know that I was just drunk and I didn't mean anything by it."
He then asked, "Would you have shot me?"
I told him, if he would have pulled that Bowie knife, I would have put a hole in him big enough to walk through. I then told Chuck that I do not believe in treating people the way he had, and I would not allow people to treat me that way.
He apologized once more and reached out to shake my hand. I shook it, and after that I never had any more trouble with Chuck.
It seemed to me like trouble had become my middle name during this time period, no matter the reason.
My baby sister from California called me one evening, and she sounded as though she was almost in tears. Her ex-husband had been making threats by telling her that if she didn't come back to him, he would hurt someone in our family or pay to have her raped and beaten. He had gone so far as to smash her new boyfriend’s car window and slash his tires.
She didn't know where else to turn, so she called me. I knew that her ex had been in prison, and was on drugs, so I didn't doubt that he might make good on his threats if he became strung out on drugs long enough. Drugs can ruin good people.
I told her that I would take care of the problem, and assured her that everything would be OK. I then picked up the phone and called her ex, Jim. I told him that if anything happened to anyone in my family, or to my sister, that I would not care how good his alibi would be, and I would not care what I had to do. I told him that I would simply take him out!
Well, at least that problem was solved. Jim called me back and apologized profusely, and made amends with my sis and her boyfriend.
You know, I actually liked Jim, and I hated to have to do that, but it had to be done. Sometimes, if you wait on the legal system to handle a dangerous situation, it’s too late.
The only reason I wrote this segment about my sis is because for me this was a time of awakening within myself. I had never thought of myself as one, who would take another’s life.
Sure, I had been involved in several fist fights during my life, and I have always believed in right and wrong. There has never been much room in my life for gray areas, because I see things as either black or white.
I have to admit, knowing now that I could take another man's life if pushed too far is a scary feeling. But on the other hand, I guess that is who I am, so I have to be more careful and learn to control my own emotions better.
There is a big difference in thinking you are capable of doing such a thing, and actually coming to realize you will. It is nothing to brag or feel macho about, because the seriousness of such an action is somewhat frightening to a decent person with a conscience.
-- end Chapter Eleven
For Chapter 12, the final Chapter in the sage of one man's fight against the City of Tombstone and the historic Tombstone City Ordinance Number 9 -- America's most famous gun-control law, please click on the link below:
The Last Gun Fight -- The Death of Ordinance Number 9 (Chapter Twelve)