The Strange Case of Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone

SCENE I. A fancy cemetery a couple of miles south of the San Francisco county line.

1.Establishing Shot. Big granite sign:”Hills of Eternity Memorial Park”

2. Pull back to reveal workaday suburban traffic cruising by. It’s a normal day on a normal street in normal suburb…but something sinister’s in the air.

Teenager with baggy pants on skateboard misses curb and falls on nose.

Little girls in pink party dresses and holding balloons skip down sidewalk. A blackbird flies angrily into their midst and pops the balloons with his steely beak.

An armored Brinks truck passes cemetery entrance — and its wheels fall off.

Across the street from the cemetery stands…the First National Bank!

3. A ancient black Rolls-Royce enters LEFT, pulls around the corner and

4. CUT to DRIVER’S perspective as the limo rolls uphill into a city of the dead, a city crafted for the city’s wealthiest, most respected and distinguished residents, and one mysterious frontier marshal. A city of granite and marble and enduring peace…until today.

5. Apparently not noticing the caretaker gazing pensively at some pigeon dung on the sidewalk, an older pig steps from the Rolls. He is dressed in black, black silk hat, black cape, and he carries a cane adorned with an enormous, although glass, diamond. It is the Pondering Pig’s fabulously wealthy detective uncle, SWINISH McTAVISH. Intent on his mission, he hobbles down the walkway ahead.

6. POV of McT: (VO) Not this one…not this one…what has Josie done with herself and her rascally husband? Not here, not here. Oh, there’s someone who really missed his mother…”

7. McTAVISH spots a raggedy gardener making notes on which weed to pull next. They engage in conversation. “My good man”, the pig patronizingly begins, could you direct me to the grave of that glorious lady of song and story, the great actress and renowned beauty Miss Josephine Marcus?”

8. GARDENER: You must be myopic, old pig sir, the maiden you speak of resides here, in front of your tremulous snout, beside her husband, the fabled frontier marshal, Wyatt Earp! Yes, their ashes lie side by side, for, as the old poem says, “That nothing’s so sacred as honor, and nothing so loyal as love.”

9. “Strange,” replies McTAVISH – “I’ve never heard of that poem. Do you know who wrote it? Was it the great Robert Service?”.
GARDENER: Actually, it’s not a real poem at all. This isn’t even the orginal gravestone!
McTAVISH: Great Scott! Not the original gravestone! How can that be?
GARDENER: Some say it was the the work of the Clanton Gang, or what was left of them. All I know is one morning in 1957 I came to work with my notebook, planning to make notes on which weed to pull next, and the stone was gone! Evaporated into the night, the whole piece of granite plus 250 pounds of cement foundation! Why, it was the size of Mama and Daddy’s gravestone back behind there. Gone. Flitted away,like the souls of those two adventurous wanderers.
McTAVISH: Hmmm, I’ve heard of graverobbers, but never graveSTONE robbers. I wonder…
GARDENER: They lay there like that for forty years or so, then a year a two ago a mysterious stranger ordered this stone with specific instructions that it must contain the words,”Nothing so sacred as honor, nothing so loyal as love.” Go figure…
McTAVISH: I am. I’m figuring hard right now. I figure that was none other than Jimmy Clanton, last of the mean Clantons, stricken with remorse over his gang’s heinous deed. Or maybe it’s a code of some kind. If I could find old Jimmy, I just might find a clue to the whereabouts of the gravestone and its secret coded message.
The old pig paces the sidewalk excitedly. “I’m going to find that gravestone or my name’s not Swinish McTavish!”

10.WS: Suburban homes on the hillside looking down on the Earp’s’ grave. McTAVISH walks thoughtfully back to his 1948 Rolls. His driver, now revealed to be none other than McTAVISH’S daring and resourceful young protegee EMERALD LAKE, looks at him expectantly.

EMERALD: So what’s up with Earp, Unc?

McTAVISH: Emerald, have you been sitting in the car this whole time working on that line? Look, I’m on the scent of a crime so incredible, so fiendish that for 49 years the entire misbegotten act has been dismissed as a simple college boy prank. There’s something funny about this, Em, and I’m going to need your help!

EMERALD: 49 years? Thast’s the coldest case we’ve ever taken. Shall I head for the morgue? Newspaper morgue that is.

McTAVISH: Yes indeed, Emerald. But first, let’s make a little stop at The Whiff of Cyanide, the worst bar in the Tenderloin!

Big scarey music stab.

(Pondering Pig, pulling sheet from beatup typewriter: Well, that ought to grab ’em. Big bucks, here we come! Gabbin, get off that feedbag and get this in the mailbag! Straight to Paramount Pictures!)


5 thoughts on “The Strange Case of Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone

  1. Hi PP -I was wondering if you knew that Wyatt Earp was buried in Colma when you first embarked upon his story. Pretty crazy huh?Carioca


  2. That “raggedy gardener” looks kind of familiar. You wouldn’t happen to know his name, would you? He also looks an awful lot like the “caretaker”. Are they perhaps twin brothers who happened to gain employment at the same cemetary? A family business, maybe?


  3. Pingback: Patrushka Shoots Wyatt Earp « the pondering pig

  4. Wyatt died in El Lay in ’29 and was cremated, but Josie had them bury his ashes way up in Colma (and that’s a jewish graveyard I believe).

    Earp roamed all over the West, even working as a Teamster from San Berdoo to Vegas, BEFORE the Tombstone business. He also ran a few casinos–and bordellos at times; he also headed up to the Klondike around the turn of the century, where he probably met Jack London.


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