Shot for a Knot


It was pleasant autumn day for a Civil War reenactment as I pulled my truck up under the “Hanging Tree.” The small town had once been called Mormon Station and was the oldest known settlement in northern Nevada.

My unit, consisting of both Confederate and Union forces, had established a small encampment in front of the towns museum. It had a beautiful sloping hill with a nice shade of trees and place ready-made for recruiting new members to the organization and that’s what I set about doing.

It wasn’t until after late afternoon that I was relieved by another member so that I might be able to take in some of the sights and sounds of the festival. I was tickled to discover that I also had the privilege of escorting Miss Kathrine Marie and her South Georgia friend Miss Christine Louise through the event grounds.

Together we headed along the rows of venders displaying the many crafts and arts of the day. Miss Katherine Marie shined in her purple evening gown, while Miss Christine Louise flashed wildly in her red satin dress. I stood out like a sore thumb between the two in my dark blue wool uniform.

It was me who saw trouble approaching in the form of a group of gunslingers. I recognized them as Southern sympathizers who would not let us pass due to the fact that I was wearing Union blue.

“I see we have ourselves a Blue Belly,” said the leader of the band as he stepped into my path, barring my ability to continue escorting the two women.

I paused, smiled and said, “Excuse me, sir you are in the way of these two ladies.”

The leader looked around and then said, “No, I’m in your way Billy Yank. Are you prepared to die or make music?”

I said nothing.

“Perhaps you don’t know who I am,” said the leader. He paused, and then proceeded to tell, though no one had inquired, “I’m Doc Holliday and I come from Georgia.”

With that he threw back the right bottom of his jacket, exposing an ivory-handled six-shooter.

“As you can see Doc Holliday of Georgia, I have come unarmed,” I calmly replied, “as being prepared to die or make music, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so I am forever ready for death.”

Slowly I reached into his sack coat and with drew a silver harmonica, “I am also prepared to make music.”

Blowing into the little device I sounded out, “Dixie.” The group laughed and wished each other well then continued down the street in opposite directions.

Such are actors, actresses and acting.

The streets had long since closed up, the vendors packing away their goods, and the festivities had moved themselves to the dance. It was after nine when the three of us decided that fifteen hours was enough for one day.

We decided to head back to where our vehicles were parked. It was a large and mostly vacant field now, filled with fresh-cut hay, bordered by rows of cottonwood trees including the infamous “Hanging Tree.”

Once we got to the car Kay and Christy’s were driving, the two women decided they had enough of the hoops under their skirts. Kay’s came off without any problem.

However, Christy’s hoop had developed a knot and refused to be undone. It was decided that I needed to get a flashlight out of my truck so the situation could be better seen.

Minutes later, I found himself standing in the middle of an open field hold a flashlight on Christy’s hips as Kay worked to get the knot undone. The knot was proving to be more difficult to get out than it was to get in.

“I told you not to tie it in a knot,” Christy scolded Kay.

“I know,” she answered.

I added my two-cents worth, “We can always cut it.”

“No!” was the resounding reply from both ladies.

A few more minutes of picking at the knot produced no more success than when the two first started. Kay was getting annoyed and Christy was exasperated.

“Here, hold my hat,” I said to Kay.

I kneeled and grasped the knot between my teeth and rolled it over a couple of times.

Christy asked laughingly, “What in the world are you doing?”

Suddenly the knot loosened and the cotton sash that held the hoop skirt up slipped away. At that same moment there was a heavy sound from the right of the trio.

It was some one walking through the hay-field.

“Why you Yankee Bast…” it was Doc’s voice.

It was heavier and sounded sluggish. It occurred to me that the man I knew as Doc was perhaps intoxicated.

Doc never finished the sentence, or if he had, the sound of his voice was interrupted by the report of his black powder pistol discharging towards me. I had seen him as he walked towards us, fumbling with his six-shooter.

I found myself temporarily blinded by the muzzle flash of the pistol.

Quickly Kay and Christy raced to get into the awaiting car. They drove out of the field like old-time moonshiners with the revenue man hot on their heels.

I ran for my truck too, high tailing it out of the field right behind the women.

It wouldn’t be until I was half way through Carson City that I’d come to realize I had bloodied my knuckles. I then wondered aloud, “Will Doc remember shooting at me or that I broke his nose?”

So much for actors, actresses and acting.

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