Disciples of Otis,
Today, growing animosity boils over into violence as a grief-stricken Ike Clanton seeks vengence in the continuing story of The Legend of Kiddy the Cat.
After the memorials for Kiddy the Cat and Mrs. Stump were concluded, Ike Clanton sought out solace in a bottle. As the alcohol took hold, Ike began to tell anyone who would listen that the Earps were responsible for the death of Kiddy the Cat, and they would soon pay for what they had done. He drank all night and well into the morning. By then half the town had heard him issuing his threats, and word soon got back to the Earps and Doc Holliday.
At around 2:30 p.m. on October 26, Virgil Earp was informed that a group of Cowboys, including Ike Clanton, had gathered outside the O. K. Corral. They were brandishing weapons, the carrying of which was outlawed within city limits, and speaking loudly of how they would get revenge on the “mangy lawdogs”. Virgil rounded up Wyatt and Morgan, and together with Doc Holliday they headed off to confront the Cowboys.
When the Earps and Doc Holliday rounded the corner on Tombstone’s Fremont Street and came within sight of the O. K. Corral, they stopped in their tracks. In front of them they saw Ike Clanton and fellow Cowboy Billy Claiborne holding open the doors to the O.K. Corral. Wesley Fuller, another Cowboy, stood at the rear of the alley acting as a lookout. Inside the corral Ike’s brother Billy Clanton, and Cowboys Tom and Frank McLaury, were trying to herd all 50 cats contained within out through the open door. Instead of exiting, the cats were simply avoiding the Cowboys by climbing up onto the many high perches and walkways available to them in the corral.
Upon realizing what was happening, Virgil Earp shouted, “Hold on! I don’t want that!” After this, things happened quickly. Seeing that their time was up, the Cowboys got desperate. Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton drew and cocked their six-shooters. They pointed their guns in the air and fired them at the same time, hoping that the noise would frighten the cats into running out the door. Billy Clanton’s bullet ricocheted off of the metal flashing on the roof of the O.K. Corral and it struck Morgan Earp, who had just drawn his gun, across the back, nicking both of his shoulder blades and a vertebrae. Morgan fell to the ground, and when he landed his gun went off sending a bullet straight into Frank McLaury’s skull.
In all of the noise and confusion, most of the cats had retreated into play tunnels, enclosed beds, and other areas of the O. K. Corral that had, by then, become their safey-safes. One cat, however, bolted out through the open doorway. Ike Clanton, who was standing frozen, and still holding the door open, saw the cat coming toward him. The cat was the exact same color and size as Kiddy the Cat. Ike was thrown into a panic. He bolted toward the street and ran straight into Wyatt Earp. He fell to his knees and screamed, “Please! Don’t let him get me! I’ll never leave a cat unprotected again!” Wyatt, not knowing what Ike was talking about and preoccupied with the bullets flying by hissed, “You started this catfight! Go to fighting or get away!” He then tossed Ike aside. Ike got to his feet and ran off down the street. Billy Claiborne, who also thought he had seen the ghost of Kiddy the Cat, followed right behind Ike, and Wesley Fuller bolted off down the alleyway white as a sheet.
When Morgan Earp’s bullet struck Frank McLaury, it killed him instantly. He fell to the ground, dropping the cocked revolver that was in his hand. The revolver went off and sent a bullet through Virgil Earp’s calf. The pain caused Virgil’s trigger finger to jerk and he fired a bullet that struck Billy Clanton in the right wrist. Billy Clanton in turn jerked his trigger finger and the resulting bullet grazed Doc Holliday.
While this exchange of bullets was going on, the cat that resembled Kiddy was still making a beeline out through the corral door. Doc Holliday, already off balance from the grazing shot he had just received, tripped over the cat and fell hard on the ground. As he hit the ground, the shotgun in his hands went off, sending a spray of buckshot directly into the chest of Tom McLaury.
As Tom McLaury slumped to the ground, mortally wounded, Wyatt Earp saw the cat that was attempting to escape. He moved to intercept him, fearing that the panicked cat would run into the road and be crushed by a wagon just as his doppelganger had. Wyatt bent down to grab the cat just as Billy Clanton, who also believed he was seeing a ghost, aimed and fired at the cat’s head. The bullet narrowly missed, but Wyatt didn’t. He scooped up the cat in his left hand while still holding his revolver in his right. As Wyatt stood up, the still-panicked cat struggled to get away. As he writhed, hissed and batted, the cat’s paw came down on the hammer of Wyatt’s revolver twice in rapid succession. The gun fired both times, and the two resulting bullets flew straight into the chest of Billy Clanton.
Stunned by the unexpected discharge of his firearm, Wyatt’s grip loosened and the cat sprang free. Wyatt’s eyes remained fixed on the fallen Billy Clanton, so he did not see in which direction the cat had fled. Afterward, he tried to track the cat, as the thick layer of dust in the streets of Tombstone would make following a fleeing animal easy. To his surprise, he found no cat tracks leading out of the O.K. Corral and into the surrounding streets. He also found no cat hair on his overcoat, other than some that still remained from Mrs. Stump.
After the unfortunate events at the O.K. Corral, the McLaury Brothers and Billy Clanton were laid to rest in the cemetery formerly known as Puss-in-boothill. Their gravestones still stand there today, along with another proclaiming that the three men were “murdered in the streets of Tombstone” in 1881.
Tomorrow- The legend and the lessons of the incident in Tombstone fade into history as we bring you the final installment of The Legend of Kiddy the Cat.