Three Towns

Tombstone, where David lived and died, sits exposed on a gentle slope, visible for miles. Straight streets form right angles and carry names like 1st, 2nd and 9th. The town imitates a theatrical set with people in character and costume making it difficult to separate reality from theater, truth from legend. David fit well here – he was always dressed for 1881. He believed in the script without knowing who was playing the roles. In the town of the OK Corral, a jealous lover stabbed David in the back. A dozen people in Tombstone can give you two dozen perspectives. All illuminate something, but the whole is never seen. No one knows the actors’ real names.

Bisbee, where court was held and justice meted, snakes along a canyon. Streets curve, with no square corners nor long views. On steep hillsides houses perched on minimal foundations and old foundations that outlasted their homes are linked by long flights of steps. Criminal court here documents the witnesses revealing pieces of lives, pieces of crimes that don’t quite fit together. This puzzle has holes and it buckles and twists, first favoring this view, then that. All that is evident is the pain, sadness and futility. Bisbee tries to mine the truth, but most of it still lies unknown.

Douglas, where his remains are buried, lies unprotected by hills, wind-blown against Mexico’s border. Across the grid of streets surrounding the cemetery, winds pile up sand along the gravestones. But the dust can’t hide the delineation between those living above and those buried. No ambiguity. David is dead and lies under this stone in a town he’d never seen, three blocks from the border, in the next world.

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