A Vulture’s Daydream.

The trail hand was complaining about bad cards. Doc ignored him, and dealt the man another losing hand.

It was hot in the airless saloon. Doc was shining with sweat, and coughed into a handkerchief.

As Doc reached for the money in the center of the table, the trail hand suggested the deal had been less than fair. Everyone got quiet.

Both men rose from their chairs. Time stood still, and so did they. Head to head. Eye to eye.

Doc coughed. The trail hand didn’t care about the spray of fevered breath. He cared about Doc’s gun hand.

Doc said, “Sir, I am too unwell to draw at this time.” Backing away, palms open, he added, “Take the pot.” Doc turned, and disappeared through swinging doors into the Arizona night.

Weeks later, back on the open range, the trail hand watched a Turkey Vulture circling him at end of day as he rode.

The vulture and a nagging cough had been recent acquisitions.

The trail hand, chilled and sweating, spit a bloody slime onto a nearby rock. The blood turned from red to black in the setting sun.

Doc Holiday never knew about the blackness on the rock, or that he’d earned himself another sort of notch.

7 Responses to “A Vulture’s Daydream.”

  1. marc says:

    …a piece of advice from Nelson Algren: “Never play poker with a man called Doc.”

  2. typehype says:

    The end made me laugh. I love the “earned himself another sort of notch.” Funny.

  3. Rick says:

    That’s quite an imagination ya got there, Pilgrim.

    Ya best leave it on the table where we all can see it whilst ya deal us another round — otherwise, things could get ugly . . . just some friendly advice.

  4. Marc says:

    TB or not TB.

  5. Jeff says:

    this is a perfect story for my wife, who both loves Tombstone, and gets coughed on often by our toddler 🙂

  6. Rob says:

    More! Can’t get enough doc Holliday…

    That’s a new take on a trope.


  7. Lem Mason says:

    This would make a perfect illustrated comic book type story. Sort of like the kind from the 50’s and 60’s. I’m an artist, I can see the whole thing, panel by panel, in my head!
    Very evocative!!