Tombstone, Arizona, March 18, 1882.
The pistol roared, the assailant heard Morgan cry out, “What the hell…?” and then saw him fall face down on the pool table.
“We finally got you, you law dawg son of a bitch.” Pete Spencer stood trembling outside the poolroom, the smoking gun still in his hand as he uttered the words quietly to himself.
Before he made his escape, he glanced through the window at the stunned crowd. His action had caught them completely off guard. Not one of them suspected what he might be up to when he quietly removed himself from the poolroom earlier that evening.
With two people on each side of his collapsed body, they carefully lifted Morgan off the pool table and laid him on his back on the floor.
“Go fetch LouIsa,” one of them said. Another said, “Better get Wyatt and Virgil too, and the Doc. I don’t think Morgan has much of a chance of makin’ it, but he’s still alive and needs a doc.”
“Who did this?” he asked. “Did anyone see who did the actual shooting?”
One man spoke up and said, “I didn’t actually see the shootin’, but I did see Pete Spencer leave the poolroom about a half hour before Morgan was shot.”
“Come to think about it,” said another, I saw the little weasel sneak out of here m’self.”
“But none of you actually saw Spencer fire the shot,” Wyatt said. It was more of a statement than a question. They all agreed, none could swear to seeing the shooting.
Wyatt looked at LouIsa. He agonized at the pain he saw in her eyes, and the tortured expression on her face. He sensed she was in another time, another place. He reached out and lightly touched her shoulder.
LouIsa looked up at him. Again, he saw her pain. “Come, LouIsa,” he said, “I’ll have someone escort you home.
She heard nothing of what he said. She was aware only of her own thoughts. She continued to hug her husband and rub his face softly with her hand, her mind engulfed in her own private thoughts.
Why, Morgan, why? You said you would hang up your guns if I accompanied you to Tombstone. Why couldn’t you have stayed out of the law business like you promised? If you had stuck to prospecting or gambling, this would never have happened. But when you saw the lawlessness that was here, I guess I should’ve known better than to think that you could let it stand without trying to do something about it. And then worst of all, my darling, you forgot the last thing I told you before you walked out of the house tonight. ‘Don’t turn your back on anyone.’
She nestled him closer to her bosom. Morgan had been unconscious the whole time and knew nothing of what she had been thinking. She heard a gurgle come from his throat and felt him give one last desperate gasp for air. She realized he had just died in her lap.
She loved this man who lay in her lap more than life itself. She had only longed to devote herself to living for one man building a life with him and raising a family in a little cabin with flowers and a white picket fence. Her health had prevented her from having a family, and now the rest of her dream had just been shattered by an assassin’s bullet.
LouIsa was part Cherokee Indian, and it was now that she needed the inner strength that her Cherokee grandmother had instilled in her. She never let LouIsa forget that part of her heritage as she taught her the ways of her people. Cherokee life was hard; their women had to be strong.
LouIsa broke into a soft wailing of the mourning song of her Cherokee people, and as she mourned her husband’s death, she relived the last several years.