Maybe you heard of Billy the Kid…how he stole cattle, participated in the Lincoln County War and killed over 20 men with his six-shooter. Maybe you read one of them dime novels that say Billy escaped from one jail by wormin’ up a chimney and escaped another jail by shootin’ two armed guards when he was ‘sposed ta have no gun and nothin’ but a tin cup to spit in!
But maybe you also heard that the Kid twern’t really shot and killed by Pat Garrett in 1881. Maybe you done seen Billy’s grave stone that say he expired in 1880! I reckon there are many contradictions in the legend of Billy the Kid.
Hell, that twern’t even his real name! I mean…what mamma would name her boy after a goat?
Sheriff Pat Garrett was out huntin’ the Kid with his posse one day and he happened upon a wanted poster that said, “Wanted…dead or alive…Billy the Kid…” Only problem was the poster had Pat’s likeness on it and not Billy’s!
At least that’s how my grandpappy tells it ’cause that’s how his grandpappy tells it. My great great grandpappy was there in Lincoln County at the time and saw and heard everythang.
I reckon I’ll tell you what he and my grandpappy passed on down to me (with a few embellishments of course).
And that brings me to the legend of Peedy Wickum. What? You reckon you never heard of Peedy Wickum? Well of course you ain’t never heard of him. Peedy Wickum was the printer and undertaker of Lincoln County.
Fat as a sow and bald as baby’s behind, folks never paid him no nevermind! Hehehe!
But Peedy was fast and accurate with a gun. He could knock over six tin cans with just one shot! He’d simply think about drawin’ his pistol and a bullet had already left the barrel; it would head on out to the first can on the far left, make a right turn (just like the JFK assassination) then knock all them cans down like dominoes! Yeeeeehaaaaw!
Peedy wanted so bad to git hisself a little recognition like all them purdy-boy gunfighters he read about–and he read about ’em all cause he printed the dime novels. He also made a good livin’ buryin’ them who twern’t fast on the draw, but he wanted more.
Henry McCarty was the answer to his prayers. Henry was young, handsome, knew how ta spin a yarn and impress the ladies, but Henry couldn’t hit the side of a barn with his six shooter. Probably ’cause he done forgot to load it. Even when it was loaded, he would miss the barn, hit the water tower and be soaked down to his long undies.
Like Peedy, Henry twern’t no gunfighter, but the two of them together made the perfect gunfighter! They was like Cyrano (that boy who wore the silk tights and had the big funny nose) and that other feller!
Henry agreed to be the front man while Peedy agreed to work in the background. Whenever Henry got into a gunfight, Peedy would hide in the bushes and do the sharp shootin’.
Together they became the legend of “Billy the Kid”! (Before that, they were “Billy the Goat” for awhile until Peedy reckoned that “Billy the Kid” had more of a ring to it.)
Now I reckon this explains all them contradictions I mentioned earlier.
Billy the Kid didn’t really worm his way up a chimney the first time he escaped from jail–it was Peedy who threw a rope down the chimney and hauled up Henry who didn’t have the good sense to suck in his breath the first few times Peedy tried to pull him up that tight crack of a chimney!
The other time he was in jail, Billy the Kid didn’t really shoot two guards and escape–it was Peedy who shot the guards when he delivered some stationary to the jailhouse. He then took the keys and let loose Henry.
Pat Garrett never shot Billy the Kid, but rather, Pat Garrett was mistaken for Billy the Kid. It was Peedy who done printed up them wanted posters and put Pat’s likeness on them–then Peedy changed his name to Pat Garrett, shot the real Pat Garrett and claimed he had shot Billy the Kid!
Bein’ the undertaker, Peedy buried Pat Garrett where the Kid’s grave is ‘sposed to be. He done messed up real good when he carved the date on the gravestone. I reckon that’s why Billy the Kid’s gravestone says he died in 1880 instead of 1881.
Some scholars believe that Billy the Kid was not killed–and I reckon they ain’t got a clue how right they are! Both Peedy and Henry lived and continued to leave the mark of the legend: Billy the Kid. (But they changed their name to Jesse James.)