A good half-dozen years before the famous Shootout at the OK Corral between the Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday and the Claiborne-Clanton Gang in Tombstone, Az., a tale about a far more unusual gunfight in the nearby small town of Tumble Creek took root in local legend.
As the story made its way around the Arizona territory, Tumble Creek and its surrounding towns had become “depositories” for the riches accumulated by many who had found ways to profit handsomely from the Black Market thriving after the War Between the States.
The small town banks also became instant targets for a number of desperados anxious to relieve them of the riches contained in their vaults.
As many Western yarnspinners unfolded their stories, the “honor” of leading the pack in terms of viciousness and the “success rate” of holdups went hands down to Tommy Danton. Danton, with the help of a changing lineup of freelance accomplices, had managed to take down at least nine banks in seven different towns over the course of a year and had escaped with about $50,000 in loot.
Every sheriff and U.S. marshal within a hundred miles of Tumble Creek had tried every tactic in their arsenal in an effort to bring down Danton and his henchmen.
Besides the changing faces of Danton’s gang, the other major hangup was trying to stop the head man himself. Every time a lawman came close to rounding up or gunning down the gang leader they came face-to-face with not one Danton, but several identical images of Danton. This happened so often that Danton had earned the nickname, “the Blurry Bandit.” The multiple images made every lawman who confronted him feel like he had spent too much time in a local saloon, making him suffer from double vision.
Noone drew a clear “bead” on Danton because noone knew which of the multiple images would produce the real Danton. The marshals watched the blood flow and the savings disappear from local bank after local bank thanks to Danton, yet the Blurry Bandit, and his gang, aided by his dopplegangers, continued to slip from their grasp. The law officers had tried every trick in their limited arsenals, and they soon saw their options running out.
According to the often-told-tales, however, one Saturday, Marshal Sam Johnston of Tumble Creek nursed a glass of whiskey at Marsha’s Saloon as he tried to come up with a winning strategy to hunt Danton down and bring his gang to justice.
Supposedly, as the marshal had just about “hung up his six gun” on the fight, a “squirrelly looking” little man, who had heard the marshal reciting his troubles to the bartender, suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He shyly approached Johnson in the saloon.
“My name is Harry Sigfried,” he said. “I am a government scientist who travelled here from the planet Huchoron, a fellow member, with Earth, in the Interplanetary Council of the future. You see, myself and my colleagues, aided by Huchoron’s advanced technology, have watched the trouble you have had. The council, in conjunction with the Huchoron Planetary Governing Body, has decided to bring the benefit of our research to your time because, we believe, if history doesn’t correct itself, the financial future of the entire solar system may face real jeopardy.”
Sigfrid added that the Interplanetary Council had developed a device that enabled planetary inhabitants of the future to travel through time. Additionally, he said, the Huchorians had been conducting research on an invention that had the ability to detect vibrations in the atmosphere linked to the creation of dopplegangers with evil intentions. Neither normal human senses nor devices currently available on earth could detect or deal with such dopplegangers.
“We have inserted this device into a headband that we have programmed to give the person wearing it the ability to trace the real image of a person who is projecting a number of false images of himself and destroy the dopplegangers,” the scientist said
“Alright,” Johnston replied. “This whole yarn you continue to spin sounds like somethin’ conjured up from the booze I have been sippin’ on all afternoon or somethin’ pulled out of Satin’s bag of tricks However, we need to solve our problem before every bank in the territory goes belly up or we have any more bloodshed. How much do you want for this invention and how do we put it into operation?”
“My superiors and I will make it a gift to you because I think it will solve your problem while preventing our financial future from being destroyed,” Sigfrid replied. “Just bring me the belt that Danton wears. That provides the power that enables him to blur his one image into many.”
He added, “I will return to Huchoron with Danton as my prisoner so our Inteplanetary Council can dole out the justice he deserves. You see, our research began when we discovered Danton and his bag of tricks had also travelled back in time from Huchoron. Only, instead of helping the earthlings like we want to do, he misused our technology to take advantage of your people. If you want Danton taken care of he must face interplanetary justice in our time. These terms are non-negotiable.”
Johnston met with his fellow lawmen. The following week they told Sigfrid to bring his device to a clearing outside town and chased Danton into the clearing and surrounded him.
The scientist placed the band on his head, turned it on and aimed it toward the multiple “Dantons” projected in front of them. The multiples disappeared and a lone Danton stood in the clearing.
Suddenly, a loud noise came out of Sigfrid’s machine and both Sigfrid and Danton disappeared into an orange “fog” that took off into the atmosphere.
According to legend, neither a single nor multiple Dantons ever appeared again, and both the robbery and shooting death numbers took a dramatic plunge in the area around Tumble Creek. They remained at that level for a number of years.