Other Writings
By Edward A. Graves


 Here are a couple of my other Old West writings. 
I hope you enjoy them!

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Bill Doolin
Deputy Marshal
Bill Tilghman
Deputy Marshal
Heck Thomas
Bill Doolin
The End
The Ballad Of Bill Doolin,
A 'Cowboy Poem' ...By Edward A. Graves
 1)
     I’ve heard the hoofbeat thunder,
Smelled the fire of the gun,
Ridin’ in the territory,
Beneath the Western Sun.

     My bed is where I lay down,
Saloon halls are my host,
That no man is my master,
I’m proud to loudly boast.

     I figure my own destiny,
I do what pleases me,
And when I’m runnin’ low on cash,
Folks give it up to me.

     ‘Cause I’m an Oklahoma outlaw,
My definition’s clear,
An hour’s work behind a gun,
I can live free for a year.

     No man is my enemy,
Fact' everyone’s a friend,
But in my mind the means,
Well they justify the end.

     My name is William Doolin,
Most folks call me Bill,
I do it for the money,
And partially the thrill.

     My younger years were right enough,
Workin’ ranches as a hand,
But early on I felt the need,
To be an independent man.

     I found a bit of trouble,
On a Kansas Independence Day,
And as I gained a reputation,
Started makin’ my own way.

     There came along an outfit,
They’d set their sights on trains,
Stop and robb’em, then escape,
Holdin’ tightly to the reigns.
 2)
     Well them boys was the Dalton’s,
Emmett, Grat, and Bob,
We had some really fine times,
Until the Coffeeville job.
 
     I didn’t ride along that day,
We’d had a fallin’ out,
Them boys found resistance,
In fact it was a rout.
 
     Fore when the smoke had settled,
Both Bob and Grat lay dead,
We were branded outlaws,
With prices on our head.
 
     I found my way to Ingalls,
An outlaw friendly town,
Them folks kind’a liked me,
And the law came not around.
 
     Slowly others gathered up,
My bunch began to form,
When we lit out as a group,
The Wild Bunch was born.
 
     There was one person left behind,
Edith, my new wife,
We’d met while I was restin’,
I’d love her all my life.
 
     We picked up where I’d left off,
Before the Dalton’s met their fate,
With lots of other trains and banks,
Them treasures wouldn’t wait.
 
     Now the law had surely noticed,
The exploits of our gang,
And they became right serious,
Bout' seein’ us all hang.
 
     Trains became our specialty,
We knew just what to do,
And when the posse quit’a chasen’
Back to Ingalls - let things cool.
​​
 3)
     But little did we know by then,
The law had learned our ways,
Through spies they’d set among us,
They’d heard us plan our plays.
 
     They came to town unnoticed,
But Dick Speed jumped the gun,
Shot at Bitter Creek Newcomb,
And that began the fun.
 
     Gun shots echoed out across,
That sleepy little town,
The lawmen hid behind what could,
And we just hunkered down.
 
     One of ours was upstairs,
Layin’ on a bed,
Known as Arkansas Tom,
Armed with guns and lead.
 
     Well he had hisself a good time,
The best seat in the joint,
Kept them lawmen pinned down,
He surely made his point.
 
     Meanwhile all the rest of us,
With our guns ablaze,
Made it to the stable,
Through the gunsmoke haze.
 
     Guess there weren’t but one thing,
For the Wild Bunch to do,
We mounted on our horses,
Prayin’ luck to see us through.
 
     Somehow we all made it,
Some shot, includin’ me,
The lawmen didn’t do so well,
Of theirs they had lost three.
 
     As for Arkansas Tom,
Well he kept’em occupied,
Till we were out of danger,
Then he was caught and tried.
​​
  5)
    Well that was my side of the story,
But the law does not forgive,
They were not about to let me,
Just leave and let me live.
 
     Edith and my son Mack,
Were loaded up and ready,
To end this outlaw livin’,
Was the vision I held steady.
 
     I started down a darkened road,
To check it out ahead,
Somehow deep inside me,
I felt a secret dread.
 
     They hollered out a warning,
Not to give a fight,
My choice of action that time,
Surely wasn’t right.
 
     Now I lay here dyin’,
Upon this dusty road,
In my chest the fire,
Of a deadly shotgun load.
 
     Heck Thomas stands above me,
I hear Edith cryin’,
This time when they found me,
Them boys was really tryin’.
 4)
     We made it out of Ingalls,
Stopped to heal our wounds,
Then we started once again,
To seek out other boons.

     Once again we pulled our jobs,
And once again we split,
I headed for Eureka Springs,
My wounds was givin’ fit.

     I was sittin’ in a bathtub,
Highly unprepared,
When a Marshal by name of Tilghman,
Informed me I had erred.

     Weren’t no sense in arguin’,
Sittin’ naked in a tub,
He took me back to Guthrie,
I joined the jailhouse club.

     I didn’t stay there long though,
Not bein’ much for jails,
Escaped and headed homeward,
Cross' seldom traveled trails.

     Guess this was an insult,
The law just could not stand,
They sent out every lawman,
And scoured all the land.

     It then occurred to me,
That I had had my thrill,
Started thinkin’ of a peaceful life,
Beyond an unrode hill.

     I sent a message to my wife,
To come and bring our son,
That we would leave this life behind,
My outlaw days were done.

     New Mexico was beckoning,
I knew good people there,
We’d live our lives as ranchers,
With normal people’s cares.

  6)
     I guess it’s only fair for me,
To find this violent end,
The Wild West itself is now,
Nearly at an end.
 
     I’ll slip away toward my fate,
Without a moan or cry,
I made my bed some years ago,
And now it’s time to die.
 
     I lived the way I had to,
Seemed natural for me,
My single point in all of this,
Was simply livin’ free.
 
     For those I’ve hurt deservin’ it,
I’d do the same again,
For those who got caught in it,
Apologies, I send.
 
     I’ve heard the hoofbeat thunder,
Smelled the fire of the gun,
I’m at the end of ridin’
Beneath the Western sun.
 
     My bed is where I lay now,
My home’s the great beyond,
My outlaw’s story’s over,
My way I’ll now by on.

  Well that's my "Cowboy Poem", it's based on historical fact by the way.  I hope you liked it!  
All the Best to You and Yours, ...Ed

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The Break
A Fictional Short Story By Edward A. Graves
  
Early morning sun streamed through the window, a window he could only peek out of.  Its light fell on his pant leg and he watched as every grain of dirt and grime reflected as it floated off his boots and pants when he kicked his heel on the ground.  It was a lovely morning, in a not so lovely place.
 
          For some reason, he couldn’t quite recollect for sure how long he and his boys had been holed up in this, their temporary fortress.  But he did know that the length of time they’d been here didn’t matter because today would be their last.  His plan was set, it was as perfect as any plan could be under the circumstances, and he knew in his heart they’d make their break that day.
 
          No doubt they’d ended up in a tough situation, somehow getting cornered up in this building, but they’d held their own and held them off long enough for him to make the plan.  He was their leader and was known far and wide for getting out of tough scrapes against seemingly impossible odds.  So well known in fact, that as he peeked out the window once again he couldn’t help but notice that more than a few, both lawmen and civilian, were milling about, all with an eye to his holdout - they were waiting to see whatever might come next.
 
          “Sure got a lot of law out there,” he said, not knowing which of his boys might hear or respond.
 
          “That’s a fact,” he heard answered from another room. “Figure they got enough to deal with you?” the voice went on, with a snicker.
 
          “We’ll see partner, we will see,” he answered back with a quiet snicker of his own.
 
          He looked around the corner of the window frame once more and confirmed his thoughts - there were lots of people watching his way, many of them armed.  The sight took his mind back to the day, he recollected, that had really started it all.  The memory filled his mind.
 
          It was late afternoon on their family farm - not a huge or prosperous place, but good enough to take care of his Mom, Dad, Sister, and himself.  He was the first to see the column of Union soldiers crest the hill on the road that led past their house and he called out an alarm to his family.  His Dad started walking a fast pace toward him while signaling his Mom and Sister to go inside, and for him to be quiet.  Accustomed to following their Dad’s lead, they all complied.  His Dad came up and put his arm around his son, standing tall, intending to meet the column with respect, without cowering.  His Dad had demanded that the family not take sides in the War Between the States, but rather live their lives independent of the troubles.  And while that had worked for them in the past, on that day, it had not.  His mind raced over the events that followed.  There had been no violence.  The Union Army simply arrived, stated their needs and intentions, took the things that suited them, and moved on.  He had wanted to fight them, but his Dad had held him at bay with stern looks and the occasional squeeze on his shoulder.  At the time he had thought his Dad a coward, but as time passed he gained more and more respect for the strength his Dad had showed that day.  It was a fight he knew could not possibly be won that day in any other way than by total submission.  As he remembered that event ending he thought of the Union column moving away with so many of their goods now in their possession, his Dad still standing tall and proud, but with the hint of a tear in his eye, and it occurred to him that this had become his true vision of strength and bravery.  He also remembered that despite his Dad’s wishes and advice, the event had stirred an anger in him that could not be denied.  He joined the Confederate Army less than three weeks later, and that had defined his path leading straight up to this point.
 
          A sharp, loud bang from somewhere beyond his vision brought him back to his present situation.  The sound was familiar but he could not quite place it.  “Sounds like they’re getting ready for us!” he said to whichever of his boys might hear.  “You can bet on that,” came an answer, “gonna be a hell of a fight”. ‘Or did he say sight?’ he thought.  No matter, it was going to be both when he made his break.  He looked out once again, kicked his heal against the boards of the floor, and watched more dirt float away.  It didn’t glisten quite as much as before because the sun was rising higher.  The time for his move was growing closer, but it was still a ways off and so, with nothing much else to do till then, he let his mind slip back to distant memories.
 
          He thought briefly about the war, the parts he’d played - some wins, and some losses, heroes and cowards, and the horrors he’d seen.  He thought about the end and how he and several others had planned to surrender, but word came to them that half as many as tried to surrender to the Union Army were shot for their effort.  And so he and several of his friends, while sitting around a campfire one night discussing what to do, made the fateful decision to go on with the fight, but now on their own terms and strictly for themselves.  It started out simple enough - they robbed mostly stores, payrolls, and supply wagons of the Union Army, always sure to leave some of the spoils behind for any remaining Confederate sympathizers in the area.  Their boldness grew and soon they were on to banks and trains with bigger rewards and much higher risks.  The memories of the excitement and adrenaline of their exploits automatically raised his heartbeat and increased his blood flow to the point that he started anticipating those feelings to come from today’s break.  Then he began to remember the gunfights themselves, his own near misses and brushes with death, and the men he had shot.  He took solace in the fact that he’d never killed or even seriously injured anyone who was not as hard and seasoned as himself, and, who was not trying to shoot him first.  He saw them fall in his memory, one by one, and with each he felt no guilt.  Until came the memory of Bobby White, the killing that had put him in this fix, the one man he wished had not died by his hand.  With Bobby’s memory came a deep and sorrowful guilt that he knew, even in his subconscious, would not serve him well on this day.  He knew he couldn’t bring Bobby back, there was no way to recall that bullet, but he vowed that once free of this place he would find another place where he could lead a peaceful life.
 
          BANG, came that same sound from somewhere out on the street, once again bringing him back to the here and now.  ‘What the hell is that?’ he thought, but was still unable to place it.  ‘Probably setting up some barricades to block my escape, but it won’t be enough - others have tried that before,’ he thought on with a confident expression on his face.  Nobody had ever stopped them, or even resisted for long, when he and his boys were in full fight.  They were a force to be reckoned with.  He looked at the sun, the time was getting closer and their plan was soon to unfold.  No need to discuss it further now, it was set and everyone knew what to do and when to do it.  He squatted down and stood up again, shook his arms out, and stomped his feet again, all just to keep the blood flowing and muscles loose.  More dust floated off of him as he did so.  ‘Gonna get me a bath and fresh clothes when this mess is done,’ he thought - this time he even let a little laugh escape his lips.  He looked out on the street once more and noticed even more people were out and about, many with guns, many without, most watching in his direction, waiting to see his move.  He squinted up at the sun one more time, carefully gauged the time, and decided he needed to relax just a bit longer.  The timing, after all, was critical.  Unfortunately though, try as he might to avoid it, the memory of Bobby made its way back into his mind.
 
          Bobby had joined up with them about a year ago.  He was a good kid and damned fine in a firefight, but he had a problem with whiskey and the whiskey brought problems to him.  The whole reason they’d ended up in this town was that it was Bobby’s home and he’d asked that they make their way here to see his family.  They’d discussed it carefully and decided that it might be a good thing for Bobby to help curb his drinking some.  And, they were right.  Bobby’s family had welcomed them, let them all stay in their barn for a few days, and fed them well.  It had been a very nice, and welcomed break from the trail.  But, it was a small town, and in a small town small things get noticed and word gets around.  Since Bobby was well known and liked in the area, they decided it would be safe to spend one night in town to let his friends give him a going away party of sorts, on their way out.  And that night had turned out to be a fine time, up to a point.  The little town saloon put out extra food for the gathering, the piano player had been in fine form, and of course the beer and whiskey flowed freely.  It was somewhere around midnight he guessed, when he first saw that look in Bobby’s eyes, that look that he’d come to know meant trouble was brewing.  Subtly he got word to the rest of the boys and they all recognized the same - it was time for them to get out, and Bobby along with them.  At first Bobby just shrugged off the suggestion that they leave, downing another shot of whiskey in the doing.  Then the inevitable happened as Bobby got into an argument with one of his long time friends and a scuffle broke out.  What happened next happened it seemed, in the blink of an eye.  He and the boys had separated Bobby from his adversary, himself taking hold of Bobby.  But Bobby had spun from his grasp and turned on him, “You ain’t bossin’ me in my own goddamned town!” Bobby shouted at him. 
         
          “I’m not bossin’ you Bobby, I’m askin’, as your friend,” he’d answered with his hands outreached, palms up, so as not to be confrontational.  This had seemed to calm Bobby for a moment, but the moment passed. 
 
          “You tell us where to go, when to eat, who to hit, how to hide, and every other goddamned thing out there, OUT THERE,” Bobby gestured outward, “but not IN HERE!” and he pointed to the ground.  “In HERE, I’m the boss and I say I’ve had just about enough of your bossin!”  Bobby was in his blind rage now, and he knew that what would come next could not be predicted. 
 
          He had simply stood there, hands out, palms up, silently hoping that somehow Bobby would stand down.  And once again Bobby seemed to relax just a bit, “Awww hell,” Bobby said, “What am I gonna do, …shoot you?”  Thinking he saw a moment of opportunity, he’d stepped slowly forward.  But in a flash that look of rage returned and Bobby had drawn on him, “Believe I will, come to think of it.  That’ll make me the boss, here, and out there.” 
 
          Against all of his instincts, he did not draw in return.  He knew he was far faster and much more accurate than Bobby, but they’d rode together, shared bread and blood together, been brothers on the trail, and so he did not draw.  Rather, he simply continued to smile, hands outstretched, palms up, and said, “Then shoot me Bobby, I could use the rest.”  He had never been more stunned in his entire life than when, an instant later, he watched flame explode from the end of Bobby’s pistol and he felt a bullet tear through his shoulder.  Still, he maintained his composure (experience told him the wound was relatively minor).  He staggered back a few steps but regained his footing, and turned back to Bobby with hands still outstretched.  “Ok Son, you got me, I’m shot and you win.  Now let’s call it a night and we’ll ride outta here together.” 
 
          But Bobby wasn’t done, he was still holding his pistol on him and the rage in his eyes flared on.  “Oh hell no,” Bobby said, “only one man calls me son and he taught me to always finish what I start.”  He felt the dread of what he realized for the first time he might have to do.  He stood fast as Bobby pulled back the hammer on his pistol.  He tried to use his eyes to communicate, ‘Please don’t, you know what’ll happen.’  But Bobby was past seeing, his eyes blinded by rage.  His many years of experience in battle and showdown alike, focused his own eye on the knuckle of Bobby’s trigger finger.  He saw it go from red to white as pressure was applied. 
 
          There was no thought, no time to think. Before he knew what had happened his own gun had been drawn, aimed, fired, and re-holstered.  He saw the rage leave Bobby’s eyes, a wisp of smoke rising up from the hole just above and between Bobby’s eyes.  He seemed to look at him for just a moment with a look of bewildered betrayal, and then simply fell backward, hitting the floor with a thud.  “Damn it Bobby, damn it,” he said. 
 
          And that’s when he heard from somewhere in the gathering, “No, damned you!” and another shot rang out in his direction, missing wildly, as amateur shots tended to do.  In the next few moments it was as if they were back in full war battle with guns firing from, and in, every direction.  Of course, with their experience they were by far the more formidable force, but someone must have got a lucky shot in because he felt an instant of pain at the back of his head.   
 
          He had woken up here, in this very room, some hours later.  That was when he came to determine that he’d been pistol whipped from behind but his boys had gathered him up and made a successful break from the saloon - then a barrage of fire from the townspeople had driven them into this building, where they’d been holed up ever since.  He thought of Bobby, his friend and comrade, falling backward with that hole in his head - a hole he’d put there - and the madness that ensued.  And now they were in this sanctuary from which they would have to escape.
 
          BANG! That same sound brought him back to the moment.  He shook his head and sighed over the guilt he felt over having killed Bobby.  ‘After this,’ he thought, ‘after this I’m living clean’.  He squinted one more time at the sun.  It was time.
 
          “You ready?” he heard from another room.
 
          “Damn right,” he answered back.  “Take your positions boys, I’m done with this place.”
 
          As planned, he’d watched the morning from his good vantage point, but it was not where he’d make his move from.  And so quietly, he made his way to his appointed position for the break.  He knew he’d win, but he also knew it was going to be a fight and so, for the briefest of moments as he moved along, he thought of other things.  His Dad, the definition of strength and bravery. His Mom, from whom he’d learned love and respect. And that barmaid in Amarillo who had so wanted him to take her to San Francisco to live a peaceful life, ‘Maybe I’ll go find her and do just that after this,’ he thought.
 
          But there was no more time for thought, it was time for action.  He shook out his legs and arms once more and rocked his head in a circular motion - he was loose, he was ready, every sense was spiked.  He waited for the signal.  Every muscle tensed as he prepared himself, and then it started.
 
          He felt the air below his feet as he jumped.  He heard that loud bang again and this time he recognized it.  He looked for a split second and saw all the faces that had come to watch his break.  He was above them, but falling fast.  He looked back and recognized his vantage point from the morning, it was the jail.  There was an instant of pain, similar, but different, from what he’d felt at the end of the fight in the saloon.  This pain was quicker though, in his neck this time, more severe, and came with a crack that seemed to fill his ears. 
 
          He’d done it again.  He’d escaped.  He was free.  His legs twitched a time or two, but by then, he was already back on the trail, headed toward San Francisco to find that lady.  He was without fear or worry, never to fear, fight, or worry again. 
 
The break was clean.​​
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Sully, After All...
By Edward A. Graves
If you've read and enjoyed Sully's American West , first off, I thank you!  But you'll no doubt be wondering what happened between the time Sully left Guthrie after the gunfight in Ingalls in 1893, and when he writes his story in 1895.  This is a possible sequal that tells that story.
History Publishing Company maintains the exclusive rights to this potential sequal.
    
Well Hello Again!
          Above all other things I want to thank all of you who read my stories that came before this, and encouraged me to continue the story.  I thank you, and take up my pen again in response.
          It’s been a couple years since last I wrote.  Sully’s Place, I’m happy to say, has been a great success.  It is known as a clean, fun, honest place for good food, fair gambling, excellent entertainment, top notch beer, and yes, me.  Whether I intended to or not, it seems I built quite a reputation in all my travels and I’m still surprised at how many people come through the door specifically to say ‘hello’ again and relive old memories.
          Most of those memories I’ve already written, and I hope you’ve already read.  If not, I suggest you go back and read them now - otherwise this will seem like an exercise in hubris.  It is not.  What follows here are the other stories that I did not tell from those times, along with the adventure that followed between that ending, and today.  These are the stories that so many of you have asked me to tell over and over again, and finally insisted that I write.
          And so, here we go again, but I’ll take this opportunity to actually tell you two stories at the same time.
          I’ll tell you my stories from the time I left Guthrie in 1893 until I arrived in San Francisco and opened Sully’s Place.  This was one of the best times of my life.  As you’ll remember, I basically retraced my original thirty year journey from beginning to end, primarily to reclaim the money that I’d made along the way.  Certainly I could have done this in a much more efficient way, but I longed to follow the same path as before, in order.  And since efficiency in work and travel had been such a critical part the first time around, I made a conscious decision to disregard it on this journey in favor of pure enjoyment.  I did not travel with wagon, I did not cook for a living, and only worked when and where I genuinely wanted to – which was not all that rare.  From time to time when I found myself in a familiar setting there would be a call for me to bring back a recipe, and I was happy to oblige.  But bartending, storytelling, and entertaining had become an equal part of my efforts in those later years and I found that I enjoyed it tremendously.  So as you’ll see, I found myself doing just that to pass idle time along my route.  I started by returning to New York and my old friend John McSorley – the man who helped start it all.  After New York I retraced my path and I think you’ll find there were some fine times along the way, all the way to San Francisco.
          But as I made that trip, other stories came to mind, stories of the memories.  How many times in my earlier tales did I say something to the effect of, ‘This is a story of America’s Old West, and not of me’? I believe I stuck by that theme and stayed true to only recount what I witnessed of that history.  But as I’m sure you imagined, there was no shortage of personal stories from those travels that I did not share at the time.  As I revisited all of these places, those memories came flooding back, and I made note of them in a journal.  Those notes, and memories, will make up the remainder of this story.  My oh my, as I recalled them I realized what an amazing adventure I’d been on – personally.
          Finally, before getting started, I’ll give you my reason for sharing this now.  You see, with Sully’s Place running so well, I’ve got spare time on my hands.  But there’s yet another adventure to come, in the not so distant future, with faithful friends and new opportunity.  Once that begins there will be little time to write, until it is time to write about it.  If you read the end of my earlier story you can probably guess what, and with whom, that adventure will be.  If not, well, you’ll have to read to the end of this one to find out!
          And so, returning to the story at hand, and in direct contradiction to the theme of my earlier stories, this is the story of me, the story of Sully.

​And the story continues...