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Today In Billy the Kid History - April 28, 1881
"Sentenced to hang in the town of Lincoln, Billy made his bold escape. Both of his guards died from thinking, that a shackled young boy couldn't break away." I've often wondered what thoughts were going through his head as he stood staring out that window chained to the floor by his bed, watching the gallows being built that would soon seal his fate. Was he planning at that very moment his greatest escape? Did he already know that his hanging would never come to be? Was he already aware that before night fall, once again he'd be free? Whatever his thoughts, they were interrupted rudely by Deputy Bob Ollinger, one of his guards while in custody. "Word has it you said that if we ever met again you'd kill me on the spot. Well here I am Kid. Now's your chance. Show me what you've got. It's a shame that you'll hang in another week or two, because I'd love to be the one who gets to kill you. I've got silver dimes in the barrells of my shotgun. I'd love to try them out on you, but I can't unless you run. If I free you from those chains will you run for the door? Oh by the way Kid, your Ma was one sweet filthy whore. I'll kill you before you hang Kid. That's a sure bet." "Be careful Bob," said the Kid, "I'm not hung yet." Bob thrusted his shotgun hard into Billy's gut. The Kid looked up at him in pain and said, "Now what?" "Don't do it Bob," Bell screamed angrily, "or you'll be the one who'll hang for sure for killing an unarmed boy in cold blood who was chained helplessly to the floor. It's time for the other prisoners to be escorted across the street to be fed. The Kid's not going anywhere. He's chained to the floor by his bed. Anyway, I took the prisoners last so now it's your turn. Go and have yourself a beer and I'll stay here and guard the Kid until you return. Bob Ollinger placed his shotgun into the gun rack. Before he left, he said to Billy, "I'll see you when I get back." No one can say for sure if the above scenario ever truly took place, but one thing's for sure. Ollinger tormented Billy at a merciless endless pace. They were enemies who fought against each other during the Lincoln County War. Ollinger was in the posse that murdered John Tunstall, Billy's employer, friend and mentor. "I have to use the privy Bell," Billy said to the deputy. Bell kept his rifle trained on Billy as he tossed him the key. Billy unlocked the chains that kept him bound to the floor. Still in handcuffs and leg irons, Bell escorted Billy out the door. Billy entered the outhouse closing the door behind him. "Let's not take too long in there Kid," Bell said with a friendly grin. While in the outhouse, Billy managed to slip one of his hands out of his handcuffs. "You fall in there Kid?" Bell laughed, "You've been in there long enough." "I'm coming out now Bell," Billy said opening the door. "Sorry I took so long Bell. I must have ate something bad for sure." Deputy Bell then escorted Billy back to the jail cell. Once inside, Billy spun around and smacked hard Deputy James Bell. Bell lost his balance, dropped his rifle and was momentarily stunned. "Hands Up Bell!," the Kid yelled. In his hand was a gun. Please, please don't do it Bell," Billy pleaded, but Bell tried to run. The Kid had no choice but to do what had to be done. He shot and killed Bell, then quickly got Ollinger's shotgun. The Kid never found pleasure in killing, but Ollinger would indeed be the exception. Knowing that Ollinger heard the gunfire, Billy stood by the window and waited for Ollinger to appear in the street down below. One senior named Godfrey saw Bell fall dead down the stairs. The moment probably gave Godfrey a few more gray hairs. Ollinger ran out into the street as Godfrey screamed, "The Kid's killed Bell!" Ollinger looked up into both barrels of his own shotgun and muttered, "..and now he's killed me as well." "Hello Bob!," Billy called out with a song in his heart just prior to blowing Bob Ollinger apart. He blasted both barrels into Ollinger's chest and face. Pieces of old Bob lay scattered all over the place. Billy snapped his shotgun in two, threw it at him but missed. "You'll never rifle me again," he screamed, "you son of a bitch!" On the balcony he addressed the crowd whose jaws hung agape. "I do not want to hurt anyone, but I will kill anybody who tries to prevent my escape." In the office he found a sledge hammer and smashed the chains of his leg irons free. He told Godfrey to fetch him a fast horse immediately. As he walked down the stairs, he came upon Bell's lifeless body and many eyewitnesses admit that the Kid looked upon him and said somewhat tearfully, "I'm sorry I killed you Bell, but couldn't help it." As Billy mounted the horse the chains of his leg irons startled the beast. The horse bucked violently throwing Billy down onto the street. He was at this point his most vulnerable laying down on the ground. The crowd could have overtaken him easily, but none made a move or a sound. One might think that they were all too terrified to subdue him immediately, but the truth is that he was so loved by so many that they all just let him go free. Once again Billy mounted the horse and fled with the sound of his leg iron chains ringing. Many claim that as he rode out of Lincoln County that they heard the Kid singing. Billy had escaped danger so many other times in his past, but this was his greatest escape ever. It would also be his last. * It was a few days after the Kid's great escape, when the following happened to Sheriff Pat Garrett's dismay. A stranger rode into the town of Lincoln, with the same horse that the Kid stole for his escaping. The stranger approached Garrett and said, 'Excuse me partner, "Billy said that you would return this horse to its rightful owner." .....just another example of the Kid's unique sense of humor.
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