I love history. And there is one subject in particular I love to study: Billy the Kid. I’ve read all books, WebPages, and magazines about him that I can find, and I especially love watching movies about him (Young Guns is my favorite western movie of all time.).
But there are two things I cannot bring myself to do: read the book written by Patrick F. Garrett (it was actually written by his friend, except for the last few chapters) or visit Fort Sumner, the location Billy was supposedly shot and buried.
I’m afraid of what might be lurking under the cover of Garrett’s book. Billy told Garrett stories of himself, and Garrett used those details against him. I don’t want to know what Garrett thought or felt. I don’t know if Garrett’s friend used Billy’s exact words, or if he twisted them to make people hate him (Billy) even more. So the book sits under a layer of dust on my bookshelf. One day I might read it, but then again, I may never have the courage to look at the pages.
And I don’t want to see Billy’s grave. Because in my mind, Billy is still very much alive. (Not physically, of course.) But I’m afraid that if I see his headstone, I will feel like a rock is crushing me. I think I might just feel like I have been lying to myself with the vain hope that Billy lived on after July 14, 1881.
Is this silly? Am I hurting or helping myself for filling in the gaps with bits of fiction from my own imagination? Should I just open that book and see what it says? Should I go to Billy’s supposed place of rest?
With my luck, you know what I’d see there? Billy. His ghost anyway. And then I’d just have to interview him! 😉