Question by Frontier Reporter, May 1877:
Er, ah....Mr. Golden, I hate to bother you at what looks, ah..., a bit of a bad time for you. But can you tell us why you're here at The Flat?
Johnny Golden, (lying in the middle of the main street in a pool of his own blood, gasping) answers:
I…I came here looking for my wife… For months, I've been riding across Texas, searching the fort towns for her. Then today, I rode into this town, walked into a saloon to wet my whistle, and saw her. There she sat, playing cards, looking as lovely as a rose! Oh, how could you have left me, my dearest Lottie? I was just about to sweep her up in my arms and take her away when, all of a sudden, a constable came in the door. He walked straight over to me and shoved an arrest warrant in my face. It accused me of being a horse thief.
Mea horse thief? I'm a professional jockey. That's how I met Lottie; I rode her dad's racehorses. I ride horses for a living, not steal them. Besides, how could I have stolen any horses around here when I've only been in town one day? It was a frame-up to keep me from my girl!
Lottie started screaming but the constable wouldn't stop. He took away my pistols, put me in handcuffs, and hauled me out in the street. But he didn't march me to jail. That "lawman" wasn't interested in seeing justice done. Someone wanted me dead and he was the hired killer. Within minutes of my arrest, he had dragged me behind some livery stables and shot me. He left me here. Look at meI'm dyingand just when I thought I had my Lottie back…[His head slumps to one side. He has breathed his last.]
Johnny Golden was arrested in Shawnessy's Saloon two days after he arrived, and was killed in the back of the town wagon yard by Sherriff Jim Draper and Town Marshall Bill Gilson. Some say he was set up and killed because of his affection for the beautiful lady gambler, Lottie Deno, who he had known years before. Although Johnny claimed she was his wife, they were never married.
Credits: Character dialogue by Lisa Waller Rogers; top painting by Charles Shaw; photo of Lottie Deno, from Marvin Hunter collection, Frontier Times Museum.