Tuesday October 10, 1871 Ė Abilene, Texas

Iím all packed up and ready to head out of town, Lou. I know this is the first letter that Iíve sent since I got here. Things have been busy, more than is healthy for a man like me. Itís not like it was in Sweetwater or Rock Creek. When things get rough I canít just call in the boys and clean house. It was just me and a deputy that I liked.

You know what it means for me to say that. Mike was one hell of a man.

I say was because thatís exactly what I mean. Mike is dead, Lou, and I killed him. This time it ainít just the way I see things, itís the way it is. I turned, thinking one of them dirty cowboys was sneaking up on me and I fired.

I could say it was too dark for me to see, I could say it was too confusing, or just that it was an accident. It doesnít matter. I did it. I killed him and now Iíll live the rest of my life with blood on my hands.

The man causing the ruckus died two days ago, he held on for three whole days and nights while Mike was already in the grave. It wasnít fair for Mike to go so fast, he deserved a chance to make it. He deserved the chance to tell his girl what he had in his heart. He deserved to be alive.

So here I am, sitting in my hotel room, everything I own packed up in my trunks and a stage ticket in my pocket. I donít know where Iím going to end up. I have a bunch of money in the bank and Iíll be all right, if only on the outside.

Inside, I just donít know what to do.

Tell me, Lou, when did I get lost? When did I become the kind of man that can kill his friend?

Yours, always,


Authorís Notes: On October 5, 1871, the trouble finally came to a head. Many cowboys were in town, fighting, drinking, carousing, and only Deputy Mike Williams offered Hickok his assistance. Coe was celebrating the end of the cattle season and when he and his friends neared the Alamo Saloon, a vicious dog tried to bite him, prompting Coe to take a shot at the dog.

Though he missed the dog, Hickok appeared just minutes later to investigate the shots. Upon Coeís explanation, Wild Bill explained to Coe that firearms were not allowed in the city, but for whatever reasons, all hell broke loose and Coe sent a bullet Hickok's way. Bill returned the fire and shot Coe twice in the stomach. Suddenly, Hickok heard footsteps coming up behind him and turning swiftly; he fired again and killed Deputy Mike Williams. Coe died three days later, on Sunday on October 8.

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