Bill Gates Unplugged

Thursday, November 29, 2007



Without commercial interruption or commentary, I proudly present the masterpiece of the truth behind “American Gangster”, done by none other than Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes themselves in collaboration.

The documentary opens with the statement: They (Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes) killed in the name of commerce… They shot a man at point-blank range and the man’s short caught afire.

It reminded of Fort Worth outlaw Luke Short, owner of the White Elephant saloon, friend of another top-hat wearing outlaw named Bat Masterson. They both wore top hats and carried .45 caliper derringers up their sleeves. It was with one of these concealed handguns that Short shot a man and his shirt caught fire.

In 1883 Short settled in Dodge City, Kansas, where he purchased a half interest in the now famous Long Branch Saloon. This put him at odds with the mayor of Dodge and his allies, who made attempts to run him out of town as an "undesirable". In what became known as the Dodge City War, Luke's friends rallied a formidable force of gunfighters to support him, including Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Charlie Bassett. Faced with the threat of force, Short's opponents allowed him to return without a shot being fired. Later that year he sold his interest and moved to Fort Worth, Texas.

In Fort Worth, Short was involved in another of the most famous historical gunfights. Short had developed an invested interest in the White Elephant Saloon. "Longhair" Jim Courtright, who was then Marshal of Fort Worth, reportedly had a protection rackett, in which he offered his "protection" to saloon and gambling house owners. Short turned him down, telling him he could protect his own place. This irritated Courtright, and many now believe that Courtright felt it was necessary for his other protection interests to make an example of Short as to what could happen if his services were declined.

On a cold February 8th night, in 1887, Courtright called Short out of the White Elephant saloon. Courtright reportedly had been drinking, some words were passed, and the two men walked down the street about one block. There, facing one another, Courtright said something in reference to Short's gun, apparently to give the impression that the inevitable gunfight was in the line of duty. Short stated he was not armed, although he was. Short then indicated that Courtright could check for himself, and walking toward Courtright, he opened his vest. When he did so, Courtright said loudly "Don't you pull a gun on me.", and quickly drew his pistol.

However, Courtright's pistol hung on his watch-chain for a brief second, at which time Short pulled his pistol and fired one shot. The bullet tore off Courtright's right thumb, rendering him incapable of firing his single-action revolver. As he tried to switch the pistol to his left hand, Short fired at least four more times, killing him.

This story was told to the Fort Worth newspaper, but later in life Bat Masterson would tell a different story. That the saloon had already been sold to the Ward Drugs boys. As Short walked Courtright around the side of the White Elephant with his arm around his shoulder, in the moonlight under the window of Bat Masterson, Luke shot the marshal at point-blank range with a derringer's bullet to the heart. The evidence was staged as a shootout.

So goes the story of a Fort Worth outlaw named Eddie Griffin, who grew up in a city Where the West Began and where he saw the Old Wild West come to An End.

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