Tombstone Silver

Jack Dunlap

3-Fingered Jack is buried at Boothill. Here is a fanciful story about how he got that name.

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Juan was just finishing hitching his mule, Esmeralda, to the old buckboard. He was a proud father and was taking his daughter, Angelica, to her Quinceanera. Juan was just a ranch hand and didn't have much money, but he had festooned Esmeralda's harness with some bright red and white ribbons and wore his best go-to-church suit. Juan couldn't help but think how proud Maria would have been to see her daughter on this special day. Sadly, Maria had been killed by a stray bullet in a stagecoach robbery one year ago to the day. Juan had done his best with Angelica and she often told her friends that he was a good father. He had ordered her a beautiful new white dress from the Sears catalog and then asked Mrs. Miller in Tombstone to tailor that dress to fit Angelica perfectly. When Angelica came out of the house that evening Juan couldn't help but shed a tear -- she looked just like her mother and it made him miss Maria something awful. He helped Angelica onto the wagon then climbed aboard and called "git-up, girl" to Esmeralda. It was about a 30-minute ride to Tombstone so Angelica and Juan joked and sang songs that they had learned in church.

Jack Dunlap woke with a start from a nap he was taking beside a boulder at McGillicuddy's corner. He stood up and stretched then cocked his head and listened. He could hear a man and woman singing some sort of Spanish church song off to the east. Jack smiled and thought that this would be easy pickings since a man would give up anything to protect his woman. He pulled his pistol from its holster and checked that it was fully loaded, then leaned against the boulder and waited.

A few minutes later a horse came around the bend. Jack was somewhat surprised because he hadn't heard a horse approach, but he was happy to see that the rider was a young woman and there wasn’t anyone else around. She was beautiful, with olive complexion and long black hair. She did not smile or even look at Jack, but stiffly stared straight ahead. Jack figured this must be his lucky day with two easy marks in a row. He stepped into the middle of the road in front of the horse and held up his hand to stop the woman. He smiled broadly and said "Afternoon, ma'am." She said nothing in reply but shifted her gaze to stare at him with dark brown eyes. Jack smiled even more broadly and said, "I said afternoon, Ma'am. In these parts it’s common courtesy to greet a polite stranger." Again, the rider stared silently. Then Jack pulled his pistol and pointed it loosely toward the woman and said "All right, then, we won't talk. Just hand over your valuables." The woman said nothing and made no motion. Jack cocked his head just a little bit to the side and was confused. Normally, when he pulled his gun a traveler would be frightened and willing to do anything, but this woman just sat there like a statue. Jack looked at her closely and after a short pause his eyes widened a bit and he said, "Wait a minute. Don't I know you? It seems like we've met somewhere, what's your name?" The woman said nothing but she began to smile at Jack. He was struck, it wasn’t a friendly smile that she offered, it was more like his own smile just before he gunned someone down. She took her right hand and pulled her hair back over her ear, then turned her head to the left. That's when Jack saw it. Just in front of her right ear was a hole with a single drop of blood running down the side of her head. Suddenly, Jack remembered and said, "Wait a minute! You're that woman what I accidentally shot during the stagecoach robbery about a year ago. They told me you was dead. What are you doing here?"

Maria turned and looked directly at Jack, but she was no longer smiling. His blood ran cold and he quickly stuffed his pistol back in its holster and started backing away. The corners of Maria’s mouth began to pull back revealing oddly sharpened teeth. She then seemed to float off of her horse onto the ground while her muscles were melting from her face and hands. Gone was that beautiful skin and black hair, replaced by ugly green wormy flesh dripping from her skull in great chunks. Gone were those beautiful brown eyes, replaced by empty sockets. Gone was her white gown, replaced by a dirty, tattered gray rag. She floated just above the desert floor toward Jack, and as she moved she opened and snapped shut her mouth, again and again, as if she were planning to bite something awful.

Jack was walking backwards to keep away from Maria when he tripped over a small stone. He fell backwards and hit his head on the boulder that he had been napping beside earlier. The last thing he remembered as he lost consciousness was that specter hovering above him with sharp teeth gnashing together with a sickening, grinding noise.

Jack Dunlap woke with a start from a nap he was taking beside a boulder at McGillicuddy's corner. He stood up and stretched then cocked his head and listened. He could hear a man and woman singing some sort of Spanish church song in the west toward Tombstone. He immediately thought that it was too bad that he had missed that couple because they would have been an easy mark. He was thinking about a bad nightmare he had just dreamed and felt an odd inching coming from his trigger finger. He reached to scratch his finger, then panicked and pulled his hand up in front of his face. Then, Jack Dunlap screamed.

If you happen to visit Boothill Graveyard you'll find Jack Dunlap's grave just inside the main gate next to the fence. His marker reads: "3-Fingered Jack Dunlap."