A Life Consumed

Dear Wyatt:

It appears there are many things I have not shared with you, for revealing them, I fear, would make you shun me as a holy man shuns vice.  It is enough to say I have much to answer for and little time to atone.

My time on this earth is running out, but it is my plan to live on in your recollections.  In the best of times, drink to me.  In the worst of times, curse me.  Your friendship is my most valued possession. Leaving you is regretful.  You are a lousy shot.

Farewell my friend,


Friday Fictioneers at Addicted to Purple
Photo Prompt:  Copyright Jan Wayne Fields
Word Count:  100

Special thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers


A Little History:     John Henry “Doc” Holliday was born in Georgia on August 14, 1851.  Holliday earned a D.D.S. degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in 1872.  In 1873 he was diagnosed with consumption (tuberculosis) and given three months to live.  He moved to the American Southwest hoping the climate would prolong his life.  

He set up a dental practice but discovered that gambling was far more lucrative since he had few patients due to his ongoing coughing.  He became a gambler and gunman. He met Wyatt Earp in 1878 and their friendship endured until Holliday’s death in 1887, in bed in a hotel in Colorado at the age of 36.  Holliday’s cousin by marriage was Margaret Mitchell, who wrote “Gone with the Wind.” 

Happy Birthday, Doc.

When I was a kid I wanted to be an "atomic" scientist. Not anything my mother expected of me. Well, I became a scientist, just not an atomic one.

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Posted in fiction, flash fiction, Friday Fictioneers
34 comments on “A Life Consumed
  1. yarnspinnerr says:

    The history you added was very helpful and informative. Many doctors have found their true vocations outside medicine. Interesting write.

  2. Dear Lucy,

    It’s no secret that my favorite genre is historical fiction. You’ve (or rather Doc has) written one delightful letter. I enjoyed the background you provided as well. Nicely done.



    • Lucy says:

      Thank you Rochelle. Out of the blue I wrote the letter–then to find that today is Doc’s birthday was a little creepy. He was an interesting man. Lucy

  3. Kate Loveton says:

    I had no idea that ‘Doc’ was Margaret Mitchell’s cousin – that’s interesting. Ever see Val Kilmer’s portrayal of him in the movie ‘Tombstone’? Really good.

    I liked this. Liked the ‘feel’ of it. Well done!

    • Lucy says:

      Yeah. Tombstone was my favorite movie for a long time due to Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Doc. What’s so weird is that today is Doc’s birthday. You know, Val Kilmer lives in New Mexico and at one point he was thinking of running for mayor our last election. I would’ve voted for him. Thanks for coming by Sister Grime. Lucy

      • Kate Loveton says:

        My grimy pleasure! 😀

        I loved it when Kilmer took the whiskey glasses and twirled them around like they were guns. Cool! It was my favorite movie for several years, as well.

  4. Sandra says:

    A whole lot of interesting stuff there. Enjoyed this.

    • Lucy says:

      Thank you, Sandra. Doc was an interesting character. So was Wyatt Earp. Doc was arrested in Colorado and Arizona wanted him extradited. Bat Masterson went to the governor (at Wyatt’s request) and the governor denied the extradition. Masterson went to “bat” for Doc and got him out of jail. What an interesting time it was. Thanks for coming by. Lucy.

  5. I love the historical tone of voice in the letter, and thank you for the history. I can’t imagine that many people would be that keen on having a dentist with a persistent cough!

    • Lucy says:

      I don’t understand how the people around him didn’t catch TB, too. He lived with TB for many years. He was very sick but managed to leave his mark on history. Thanks, Claire, for coming by. Lucy

  6. The horror of TB.. but still many lived many years with the disease.. many died but many survived too.. I love that end sentence.. a wry humor to put in that final letter…

    • Lucy says:

      Thanks, Bjorn. You liked that last sentence, huh? I thought it fit. It was so creepy that I wrote about Doc Holliday on his birthday. Thanks for stopping by and as always, I appreciate your comments. Lucy

  7. nice piece, written well – and much appreciated history on wyatt and doc.
    Thanks, Randy

  8. Well, everyone else said it all – I will add my Kudos and thanks.

  9. Doobster418 says:

    Good history lesson, good letter. I didn’t realize he was only 36 when he died. I keep envisioning “Doc” on Gunsmoke when I think of Doc Holliday, and that Gunsmoke Doc was — or looked — quite a bit older than 36!

    • Lucy says:

      Doc Holliday was the Doc on Gunsmoke? I remember the show about Wyatt Earp, and there was a Doc on there but I seriously do not remember him. I remember the theme song: Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, brave, courageous and bold. Long live his name and long live his glory and long may his story be told. Impressive, huh? It’s amazing what little kids remember. I remember the tune. I can’t even remember who played him or what he looked like or anything about Doc.

      I had in my head Val Kilmer who played Doc in “Tombstone”. He was great. Kilmer lives in New Mexico and was contemplating running for governor. I ran into him a couple of times in Santa Fe.

      You know what was freaky? I posted that on Aug 14th, his birthday. Lucy

      • Doobster418 says:

        No, the “Doc” on Gunsmoke was not Doc Holliday. I think he was Doctor McCoy. No wait, that’s the doc’s name on the original Star Trek TV series…you know, “Bones.” The Doc on Gunsmoke was Doc Adams, played by Milburn Stone.

        I remember Wyatt Earp on TV. He was played by Hugh O’Brian. And I, too, remember the theme song and all the words.

      • Lucy says:

        Scary isn’t it? We grew up with rather simple theme songs. I also know the one for Gilligan’s Island and the Beverly Hillbillies, and I’m ashamed to say, Green Acres. And the big one: Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. It’s five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. Lucy

  10. Grace says:

    Oh, this was a fantastic piece! I really enjoyed reading it, and it left me wondering if most of us – if all of our “secrets” were known – would have any friends left. Doc was – and is – in good company. 😉 well done!

  11. ahtdoucette says:

    I never knew all that about Doc Holliday and Margaret Mitchell! That explains a lot. I love the ending, how he takes a jab at his friend – all in good fun I’m sure! 😉

    • Lucy says:

      Thanks. I’m glad you liked it. I was channeling Doc Holliday on his birthday, no less. It was a shame that he suffered for so many years with TB. I learned a lot also. Thanks for coming by Lucy

  12. I’ve seen and read many recounts of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, yours was every bit as good.

  13. Lucy, That was an enjoyable story. My dad used to love to read magazines about the “Old West.” They showed photos of some of the real people, and they looked a lot different than Hollywood pictured them. I don’t remember if I ever saw a photo of Doc Holliday. I knew he was a dentist, but not that he was Margaret Mitchell’s relative. I seem to remember that a lot of those famous people in the “Old West” were a good bit younger than you’d think. It was rough living there then, and not a good place for old men. Well written and very interesting. 🙂 —Susan

    • Lucy says:

      Thanks, Susan. I should have put a photo of him with his history blurb. Wikipedia has a very in depth history of Doc and photos. The photo of him at age 20 is his graduation photo–from dental school. He was blond with a slight build. The later photos reveal a sick man. Some have been retouched. When you think about it, he lived with TB for 14 years, poor man.

      At my house it was my mother who loved anything about the Old West. I lived in New Mexico half my life and she would visit me from Connecticut. At first she was afraid to go on a Reservation.. She thought the Native Americans were like the old Indians from movies and books. I just laughed at her and told her they don’t bother to take an old lady’s scalp.

      Again, thank you. I’m glad you stopped by. Lucy

  14. Amazing letter, you pulled me in from the start. Doc was my childhood crush, I thought he was the coolest man ever.

  15. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Lucy, I didn’t know that Margaret Mitchell was Doc’s cousin by marriage. How cool to know – learn something everyday. I loved that same movie too with Val Kilmer. Your story is marvelous and wonderful. I very much enjoyed reading it and pondering the implications of all your words. You really are a brilliant writer Lucy! Congratulations on your 100th post! Just great! Nan 🙂

    • Lucy says:

      Was that my 100th post? Really? thanks for all the kudos. I just get out my “voice” and use it accordingly. This voice was Val Kilmer. Sounds weird doesn’t it? Again, you are so kind. I just left commenting on your story. Hey, we both use the same theme. Lucy

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© [Lucy Conrad] and [Sapient Chronicles], [2015-2016]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Lucy Conrad] and [Sapient Chronicles] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

August 2014
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