Monday, October 17, 2011

Billy the Kid's Language Lesson

October 19, 2011

Sometimes we get delayed reactions to articles and features that ran months ago. Got this late last week on an article that ran in June:

The Language Lesson Taught By Billy the Kid
I liked your illustrated story of the Kid in “the Language Lesson” in a recent True West magazine. I have been fascinated by Billy the Kid since I was a boy growing up in New Mexico. There are so many books and articles about him. I know much is myth. But, I was wondering if the events in the “Language Lesson” are based on true accounts or if they are just good fiction? Was Billy being taken to Las Vegas in a stagecoach after an arrest? Was he left inside with a young woman? And, was he really ordered out of the coach in just his long underwear by three desparados?

I can easily believe that the three bandits would not have expected to be gunned down by a young boy wearing only his unionsuit and boots and having a hidden gun stored in his hat! I know this could have happened but just wondering if it did.

Thanks for an enjoyable magazine.

—R. E. Corlis

As I believe I mentioned in my editorial of that issue, I saw the "gat in the hat" deal in the Socorro Courthouse (told by Elfego Baca of all people) and the rest is totally made up by me. I was riffing on the fact that Billy spent quite a bit of time at Anton Chico and Las Vegas and the idea of him riding a stage to go see a lawyer has some merit. As for the young lady, we know Billy "improved a bumpy ride" for more than one querida (girlfriend). Ha.

Glad you enjoyed it. I see it as the opening to a movie about the Kid in the last year of his life. Stay tuned.


By the way, it was this graphic cinema that evoked the Sonoita cowboy remark, "What's with the Mexican comic strip?"

One of my quests for this past week's road trip across New Mexico was to see the land north of Anton Chico, which is where I placed the attempted stage coach robbery. I was relieved to see that my skyline for Anton Chico was quite accurate (whew!), but I made mental notes from there north about the long mesas and cottonwood choked streambeds of the upper Pecos, which of course traverses the famed Santa Fe Trail. All this for Part II of "The Language Lesson."

"El que tiene boca se equivoca." ("We all make mistakes")
—El Kid

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