The pickthorn chronicles

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Short Stories covering a wide range of readers's interest.
Murder, terror, drama, humor, and spine-tingling suspense.
Checkout my other two books on Amazon/Kindle, Short Stories by Pickthorn and "The Gunfighter" by Gary Lemon

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The pickthorn chronicles

  1. 1. The Pickthorn Chronicles By Gary W. Lemon www.pickthorn’scorner.com a.pickthorn@yahoo.com Introduction I have been writing short stories for a good many years, mostly for my own pleasure and therapy. But, a number of friends and associates, in my recent past, have suggested that I share some of my work, that has evolved over the years, with the reading public. After dwelling on this possibility for some months I decided to take the plunge and in September, of 2011, I released my first book entitled, ‘Short Stories By Pickthorn.’ I was pleasantly surprised by how the reception of this simple book of tall tales was embraced by many short story enthusiasts. After receiving some modest monetary reward for my effort, the thought occurred to me that maybe I could put my over stimulated imagination to some use in what some refer to as the literary world. ‘The Pickthorn Chronicles’ is the second product of short stories that I offer to those who have expressed a pleasurable experience in reading my stories and to those who are reading these words for the first time.
  2. 2. I understand that there are many who prefer the standard full length novel with as many pages and words as possible. I have read many novels, over the years, but I have probably laid aside many more because my interest level waned and could not be revived. I prefer short stories that can grab the readers interests from the story’s beginning to the exciting conclusion. I know there are many people who share this reading preference. Most of my stories, you will find, are fast paced and easy to read. I try to keep the interest level at a maximum throughout each narrative, with a minimum of superfluous wording. The ‘twist’ or surprise ending is another trademark I use to baffle the reader, whenever possible. I try to offer a wide range of reading interest. Horror and suspense, laced with a little humor is my favorite genre, and you will see these emotions come to life in our first story, “Horror In Alaska.” But whatever your reading pleasure, I hope you find it here within these pages. I do sincerely hope you will enjoy, ‘The Pickthorn Chronicles.’ Gary Lemon FOREWORD Pickthorn has selected some great stories as a sequel to his first book, “Short Stories By Pickthorn.” “The Pickthorn Chronicles” brings us new accounts of horrific, blood chilling adventures as well as heart warming stories that may bring forth a tear or two. Suspense, mystery, humor, and intrigue are a few adjectives that describe the highly entertaining narratives that we have come to expect from of Alfred J. Pickthorn. ‘Horror In Alaska’ describes the terrible ordeal three people face after their plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness. The fight for survival takes an evil twist as the wife of the injured pilot and her lover, the pilot’s junior partner, decide to leave the injured man at the crash site, believing that he would soon die from his injuries and the freezing temperature. The conniving lovers manage to reach freedom and safety and they then divert the rescue mission, to a different location, far from the actual crash site. Confident, their dastardly plot would never be discovered, the villainous pair would now take over a thriving business and live a life of luxury, or so they thought. From the ‘Horror In Alaska’ the author treats the reader to another murder mystery with the grisly murder of two prominent citizens, who are the parents of a young man who has a burning ambition to succeed in life but prefers to inherit his wealth rather than to work for it; he engages a mentally impaired girl to help him reach that goal. The young girl is known as ‘Dumb Dora.’ If you prefer a nostalgic, warm and neighborly story, then you should enjoy the adventure of a young lad, who risks the displeasure of an old man and his bulldog, by stealing
  3. 3. plums from the tree in the man’s backyard. The ‘old geezer’ protects his plums and his property by shooting trespassers with his BB gun and then lets Spike (his bulldog) chase the intruder away. The confrontation between the father of the young boy, who had been shot with a BB, and the old man, was one of the highlights of this story titled “Old Spike.” A pulsating, heart wrenching, drama is offered in the suspenseful story of a young twelve year old who is heir to a sizable fortune. He has been kidnapped by a pair of clever and diabolical characters who are intent on executing the boy after the ransom has been paid. A shocking and unexpected ending to this story called, “Kidnapped.” In my opinion, each of these stories could be and should be made into a feature length film, they are that riveting and entertaining. Now sit back, relax and enjoy, “The Pickthorn Chronicles.” Sir Jacob R. Malone Cabot Institute of Fine Arts Contents Horror In Alaska Dumb Dora Duel In The Sky Left Wing - Right Wing Garden Of Evil - Sherlock Holmes Old Spike Shawnee Lynch Mob Killer Korpis A Day Soon Forgotten Death Before Dishonor Flight 301 Death Watch Death At Four AM Page
  4. 4. Kidnapped Festus Leghorn Pic Alas Horror Horror In Alaska In March of 1981, Thad McSwain, became owner of the newly established McSwain Oil & Gas Development Company. He had high hopes for his new company. Since childhood, everything about the Alaskan petroleum industry fascinated Thad. Now, his life-long dream of owning his own company and marketing his own products had come true. It took every penny of his savings and all he could borrow to start a new company, but now he was wheeling and dealing as the new owner of an up and coming oil development and exploration company in Fairbanks, Alaska. Rick Killtrain, Thad's friend since high school, became a junior partner in the company by investing his life savings in the venture. Roseanne, Thad's wife, decided at the last moment that she wanted to accompany Thad and Rick on their business trip to Vancouver, British Columbia in Thad's new Cessna 340. Thad had been a bush pilot for several years in Alaska before his opportunity to enter the business world. Thad didn't think it necessary to file a flight plan, but planned to keep a close check on weather reports for the area through the airport in Vancouver. They left Fairbanks at seven o'clock that evening. About thirty minutes into their flight, Thad called in to the Vancouver Airport: "Vancouver Tower, this is CSA-One, what's the latest on that front moving in from the southwest?" "CSA-One.....Vancouver Tower..... this 'bad boy' is getting dicey here. You are right on the edge, but coming your way pretty fast. Recommend you return to CS Municipal or divert to Cordova." "Negative Vancouver. We are only three hundred miles east of you, going
  5. 5. to try to make it on in. Can you give me a new heading? "Roger that, CSA-one, come right to course 126, maintain altitude of 15,000, speed 200 knots." As they came closer to Vancouver, Thad peered out the side window, hoping to see the glow of city lights below. His gaze focused on the droplets of water dancing across his window. Farther out on the wing, he noticed tiny horizontal icicles growing on various projections. "Hey Rick, check out the wings... think we should de-ice?" "Yeah, good idea," Rick replied. Thad loosened his grip from the yoke and flipped the wing deicer switch. Instantly the cockpit lights went out. Soon, an overpowering odor of burning plastic filled the cramped cabin of the aircraft.. "What the hell!" said Thad. "Rick! Get the breakers!" Rick fumbled in the darkness until he found the breaker console and began pressing. The instrument lights flickered back to life and glowed dimly, followed by the interior lights which revealed the source of the burning odor. Hazy smoke filled the cabin. Thad radioed Vancouver, "Mayday, Mayday! This is CSA-one. We are approximately a hundred miles southeast of Juneau, experiencing heavy ice storm, smoke in the cockpit, electrical system going out, one engine smoking, losing altitude." Thad heard a few garbled words, interrupted with static but couldn't decipher the message. Seconds later, the lights flickered off again. "Turn off the deicer!" said Thad. "We'll have to take a chance of icing up or we're going burn up the damn plane." Roseanne became hysterical. "Isn't there any place we can land?" she screamed. "I don't want to die in this airplane." She knew before she asked that they were flying over some of the roughest terrain in the Alaskan wilderness. "We need to set this crate down someplace. Keep looking for lights!" Thad shouted. Snow and tiny pellets of ice could be seen bombarding the windshield. The Cessna continued its westerly course, being buffeted by fifty-
  6. 6. mile-per-hour winds. Rick yelled, "Thad! You're going to have to think about landing this thing, whether you want to or not!" All three were panic stricken. They knew they were going down. "Oh my God!! I don't want to die!!" screamed Roseanne. She began crying uncontrollably. Rick moved from the co-pilot's seat into the back of the plane next to Roseanne. He held her close, trying to calm her and protect her should they crash. The plane began a rapid descent. "Both of you hold on tight.... and pray! We're going down. There's nothing I can do! God.. let there be something besides the wall of a mountain there when we touch down!" Thad struggled, trying to keep the plane level. Suddenly, his eyes widened as he saw a dark object through the falling snow, directly in front of them... then blackness. ~~~~~~~~~~~ The skies were clear the next day when Rick regained conscious . He propped himself up on his left elbow and with his right hand, shaded his eyes from the brightness of the sun shining on mounds of snow all around him. He remembered his last thoughts just before the plane crashed and wondered how long they had been there. He saw a large Aspen tree broken in two. The sheered off top of the Aspen could be seen, lying under the fuselage of the Cessna and the tail of the plane, upside down about 100 feet to the east of it. After sheering off the top of the tree, the nose of the plane had miraculously plunged into a snow drift which softened the impact. Rick struggled to his feet and staggered over to examine the remaining wreckage of the plane. He saw Thad lying on his side, still in the cockpit, his left leg twisted and mangled, his pants soaked in blood. He saw Roseanne, lying unconscious, still strapped in her seat behind Thad. Roseanne looked unharmed and breathing normally. He went to her and patted her cheek lightly and spoke her name. "Roseanne.. wake up.... It's Rick." A frown came upon her face as she began to move her head and flutter her eyes. "Rick... Rick.. Is that you? Where are we? What happened?" "Shhhh... don't talk. We crashed. I have no idea where we are, but it appears that we are on the side of a mountain. I can see a lot of trees below, so we aren't that high up. There's a lot of snow out there. You better stay
  7. 7. right here inside the plane. It will keep the cold wind off of you. Thad is lying there in the cockpit. I don't know if he's dead or not. There's a lot of blood on his clothes." Rick heard a moan from the cockpit. He went to check on Thad. After struggling with debris of limbs and bent fuselage structure, Rick finally managed to free Thad from the wreckage. Feeling excruciating pain in his leg, he told Rick to break out the survival kit in the cockpit under the pilot's seat, which contained 10 syringes of morphine, a mirror, matches and a flashlight. Thad injected his injured leg with a shot of morphine. A three day supply of food, enough for three people, remained safe under the passenger seats. Thad, wincing with pain, assessed the situation; "The radio has no power. We are about a hundred miles east of Juneau. We don't know if the airport got a clear copy of our Mayday. They may not have any idea about where we are or that we are down. We can't count on Air Rescue finding us up here any time soon ... and maybe never." He turned to Rick. "It's up to you, buddy. You're the only one able to go for help. You need to start out on your own as soon as possible and get us some help. Show them the way back here. You're our only chance." Rick immediately packed some food and a sleeping bag in a backpack and strapped it on his back. Thad told him to keep on a westerly course and he should be able to find a house or road somewhere, since they were so close to Juneau. Rick could see the morphine taking effect on Thad, as he fell back into the reclined seat next to Roseanne and closed his eyes. As Rick started to leave Roseanne followed him, then threw her arms around him and kissed his lips. "Come back to me, darling." she said, with tears in her eyes. "Don't worry, sweetheart. Everything is going to be all right," he said, then proceeded down the mountain. Rick covered a lot of ground that first day and he soon reached the valley below the crash site. Being on level ground, he walked, stumbled and crawled about five miles through the deep snow before darkness set in. Rick found a place away from the wind where he could throw down his sleeping bag for the night. He chose a snow drift by a narrow frozen river he
  8. 8. had been following and used a small digging tool from the survival kit to dig a deep hole in the drift, then put the sleeping bag inside and curled up for the night. He couldn't sleep because of his thoughts of dying there in the wilderness and thoughts of Roseanne. His affair with her had started about six months earlier. They were now deeply in love. If I can just get help and get back up the mountain, what a stroke of luck it would be if I could find that Thad had died of his injuries. Roseanne and I could be married as we planned and my wife would not only be my partner for life, but we would be joint owners of the company. And Thad would never have to know about the affair. The exhaustion of his body soon won over the anxiety in his mind and he drifted off to sleep. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Rick awoke early the next morning and started out again on his westward trek. After three hours of trudging through knee-deep snow, his optimism began to wane. Depression took its place when he realized that he had only covered a half-mile and needed desperately to rest. As he lay down in the snow, looking up at the blue sky and the snow covered mountains, he thought, what a beautiful day to die. He couldn't hold his eyes open and succumbed to his need for sleep. After dozing for about forty-five minutes, he suddenly sat up with a look of bewilderment on his face. Am I going crazy...or do I smell bacon frying? Looking around, off to his right he saw a plume of smoke rising above the ridge. A new wave of energy swept over him as he scrambled up the ridge. At the crest of the ridge, he looked down and saw a small shack with two mules tied up outside. Ten minutes later, Rick stood at the door of the old shack. Without knocking, he barged through the door. He saw an old man who looked to be about seventy, with a gray frizzy beard sitting at his table eating breakfast. Startled, the old man dropped a fork with a clump of scrambled eggs on it and jumped up from the table yelling, "What the hell are you doin' in my house? And who are you? What do you want? " "Look mister, we were in a plane crash about ten miles from here.. up on
  9. 9. the side of the mountain. I have two friends at the crash site and one is hurt bad. I need a little food and water to take back to them and I need those two mules outside to get back up there." "You ain't gettin' my mules. That's for dang sure. And I ain't got but barely enough vittles to last out the winter. So just get the hell on out of here and get on about your business. You can follow Roaring Fork River for about a mile and right where it turns back west... there's a village just north of there about two miles. You can make it in about three days... Now get out of my cabin." The old man went over to an old kitchen cabinet and opened the drawer. He took out a .45 Smith and Wesson and aimed it at Rick. His hand shook as he said, "Get on out now, young feller. I mean business! Rick lunged at the old man and grabbed his hand that held the gun. Afraid the weapon would go off, Rick turned the barrel away from him, pointing it toward the old man. The old fellow's hand squeezed the trigger as he tried to pull the gun away from Rick. The gun discharged. The old man screamed, his face frozen in pain and terror as he placed his wrinkled hand over the gaping wound in his chest. "Oh, Lord, you killed me boy,...I'm goin!" Oh my God. What have I done! Rick watched as the man fell to the floor. The old man gasped a few times then his breathing stopped, his sightless eyes staring at the cracks in the wooden floor. Rick dragged the old man's body out near a stream about fifty yards from the cabin, expecting that some wild animal would dispose of it in a short time. He hurried back to the cabin, gathered all the food he could carry and untied both of the mules. Climbing atop one of the mules and leading the other one, he made his way back up the trail to the site of the crash. ~~~~~~~~~~~ Rick tied the mules to a tree at the base of the mountain. Then he started climbing up the slope. As he approached the fallen plane, he could see Roseanne smiling and running to meet him.
  10. 10. Thad was lying on the frozen ground outside the plane on a makeshift bed made from his sleeping bag and other clothing they had brought on the trip. He had been drifting in and out of consciousness all morning and he thought he must be dreaming when he saw his wife embracing and passionately kissing his best friend and partner. Thad knew he had not been dreaming when Rick and Roseanne were now standing there looking down at him. "Is help on the way, Rick? I don't think I can last much longer." Thad was wincing in pain, not only from his mangled leg and broken ribs but from the realization that his wife and partner had betrayed him and were now lovers. "No, old buddy, helps not on the way, not for you, anyway. I didn't want it to end this way, Thad, but you would have found out anyway. Me and Roseanne love each other and we've been in love for some time now." Roseanne felt that she had to explain to her husband her true feelings. "I was going to divorce you, Thad, but now that won't be necessary. Being a widow is much better and a lot more profitable than a messy divorce." Thad could feel the rage building within his tortured body. "So that's what's been going on behind my back, huh? Do you plan on leaving me here to die or will you send help." "I wouldn't expect any help, if I were you, Thad. We got plans for a life together and they don't include you, old buddy. We just need a few things from the plane then we'll be on our way." Rick took the flashlight, the only matches in the aircraft and some navigation maps. Rick paused for a moment when he came across Thad's . 357 magnum in the console. "Thad I'm going to leave your Magnum, you may need it if the pain gets to much for you. Well, I guess this is goodbye, old chum. Don't worry about Roseanne, I will take good care of her." "Thad, I want you to know that I did love you at one time, but that was a long time ago, and don't worry about the company, me and Rick will run it better than you ever could. We have to go now."
  11. 11. Thad watched his wife and partner walk away without looking back. The rage and adrenalin surging through his body gave him strength to rise to his feet. Luckily he found a severed limb from a pine tree a few feet away that was perfectly shaped and could be used as a crutch. With his makeshift crutch he hobbled over to the starboard engine of the aircraft, partially buried in the snow. The cowling had been ripped away from the engine at the point of impact and the wiring and fuel lines were exposed. Thad knew that he had to hurry to have any chance to save his life. He frantically began ripping out the wiring from the engine with his bare hands. Using a ten foot piece of wire he wrapped his broken leg. White pain shot through his brain and he fought to keep from blacking out, but it didn't slow his preparation to leave the crash site. He removed his upper clothing and stood shivering in the zero degrees weather as he pulled on a quarter inch fuel line that lead to the engine induction system. The line came loose from it's housing and a stream of avgas came spewing from the broken line. Thad caught large amounts of the gas and began applying the liquid all over his body. He knew that the heat given off from the fuel would offer some protection from the bitter cold. Then, with his sleeping bag and a few items strapped to his back he started out in his painful pursuit of Rick and Roseanne. The fresh tracks left by the pair were easy to follow in the snow covered mountain side, but every step was like torture to his badly broken leg and ribs. It took Thad an hour to descend to the valley below. At this point he became momentarily confused because the two tracks he was following became two tracks of some kind of animal, either horses or mules. He became even more discouraged because the thought of tracking two people riding mules or horses while hobbling along on a broken leg seemed like an impossible and futile exercise. Soon darkness began to settle over the valley and Thad knew he had to give up the pursuit until morning. He chose a spot between two large
  12. 12. boulders to pitch his sleeping bag. He prayed that it wouldn't snow during the night and cover the tracks he had been following. His luck held out, at sunrise, the sky was clear and the mule tracks were still visible. Six hours later he had painfully trudged another mile. The thought of his unfaithful wife and his longtime friend and partner leaving him to die at the crash site gave him a strong will to carry on until he found them or died trying. Near sundown, Thad found another excellent location to spend his second night alone in the Alaskan wilderness a small cave that was only a few feet deep in the side of a small rise along side a frozen stream. After entering the cave and zipping up his sleeping bag he was ready to spend his second night alone in the unforgiving cold northern winter. His breakfast consisted of two candy bars that Roseanne and Rick had left him that were in the survival kit. At sunrise the next morning Thad was ready once again to resume his pursuit of the treacherous pair. Again the weather had cooperated and the tracks he had been following were still visible. Around noon after covering another torturous two miles, Thad, couldn't believe his eyes, about a half mile ahead he could see the old man's cabin and two mules were walking around near the cabin. It took Thad another hour to reach the cabin. He was totally exhausted and his body was wracked with pain. He quickly discovered the dead prospector that had been shot and left by the side of the creek. After entering the cabin, he found that Rick and Roseanne were gone. He had noticed the tracks of two people leading away from the cabin. All he wanted to do at that moment was to rest and recuperate from his arduous trek of the last two days. There was still some food left in the cabin and Thad decided to give up the pursuit of his betrayers until his wounds were healed. As Thad slept in the miners cabin, big news was taking place forty miles to the southwest. Roseanne McSwain and Richard Killtrain had somehow survived a plane crash and walked 50 or 60 miles through the Alaskan wilderness to the small Eskimo village of Umiak.
  13. 13. Television and radio news media descended on the small village and air rescue began an immediate search for the badly injured owner and pilot of the downed aircraft. Richard Killtrain, insisted on joining the air search for his injured partner and close friend. The location of the crash site according to Killtrain, was approximately fifty miles northeast of Umiak, but the actual location was thirty miles southeast of the village. The last act of betraying his former friend had now taken place. After three weeks of daily searching a hundred mile radius of the area indicated by Killtrain, no sign of the airplane or Thad was found.. After two weeks the search was called off and Thad McSwain was presumed to be dead. Three months later Thad McSwain was officially declared "deceased" by the state of Alaska and Roseanne and Rick were married the following Sunday. Roseanne and Rick didn't have time to think much about the man they left on the mountain to die a horrible death. The McSwain oil com-pany was expanding and profits were soaring. Life couldn't be better for the newlyweds. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~` The months following the plane crash passed quickly for Rick and Roseanne. There was great excitement within the company. Another gusher had been capped down in the lower valley. It was the fourth well brought in by the company since Rick and Roseanne became the new owners. Today was their first anniversary of their marriage and Roseanne had promised Rick a nice surprise when he came home from the office. The first thing Rick noticed, when he came through the door, was the delectable smell of baked pheasant, Rick’s favorite dish. Soft, romantic music was playing on the stereo system and was heard throughout the house. The dining room was dark except for two candles lit and glowing on the dining room table. Rick began looking around the house for his lovely Roseanne. He kept
  14. 14. expecting her to leap out from her hiding place, in a scanty clad negligee, or something, but she was no where to be found. The little darling must be upstairs, I bet she's waiting for me in the bedroom. His anticipation of a session of unrestrained and steamy sex was racing through his mind. He opened the door to their bedroom, the sound of running water was coming from the bathroom. Ah, she's taking a shower, I'll just check and see if she's ready to rumble. Rick slowly opened the bathroom door, "A-AAA-IIIE-EAGH." Rick couldn't control the blood chilling scream coming from deep within his being.. He had come face to face with the severed head of his wife, Roseanne. It was hanging by a cord from the ceiling. A look of unspeakable horror was frozen on the face. Rick had recoiled in a state of shock, he had backed up against the wall, whimpering like a small child, trying to comprehend what was happening. The head was slowly turning to the right and then back left again, the lifeless eyes seemed to be staring at him as if accusing him of the terrible fate she had suffered, blood was still dripping from the severed head, now beginning to coagulate in a large pool on the tile floor. Then Rick heard a familiar voice. "Aren't you going to kiss your wife, Rick... it's your anniversary, isn't it?" Rick couldn't believe his eyes. He was looking at a slender figure of a man with a scraggly beard and shoulder length hair and a crooked left leg. He had stepped out of the closet where he had been in hiding, waiting for Rick. He was holding a .357 magnum in his right hand “My God! Thad, is that you? I th-thought y-you were d-d-dead!! Oh, Thad, it was Roseanne, who wanted to leave you out there, not me!!! Don't kill me, Thad... we've been friends a long time." "I'm not going to kill you Rick, we're going to be partners again, just like before, but without Roseanne. What do you say.....?" "Y-yeah, you bet Th-Thad, it will like old times. Ju-just put the gun down, please."
  15. 15. "I better not do that, Rick, I'm not sure I can trust you. You may try to kill me again." "No, no, Thad, like I said, it was Roseanne who wanted to leave you at the crash site, not me." "Come over here and sit down at your desk, Rick. I want you to write an apology. I'll have it framed and put on the wall in my office." "Sure, sure, Thad. I'll do that.... what do you want me to say?" Rick sat down at his desk and picked up a pen, a note pad was placed in front of him. Thad was standing next to him, still holding the magnum pointed at Rick's head. "Just say, I'm sorry for what I done, then sign it, Rick." Rick nervously wrote the message dictated by Thad and signed it. "Now will you please"......Those were the last words ever spoken by Rick, the sound of the explosion was deafening. Thad was surprised at the size of the hole in the side of Rick's head caused by the discharge of the magnum. Blood, brain tissue, and skull fragments sprayed the wall, floor and even the ceiling. Thad, who was wearing his gloves, then placed the magnum in the right hand of the deceased, then quietly left the premises. The following day, the horror of the murder and suicide was headlined in the morning paper. The police were at a loss to explain why Richard Killtrain would sever the head of his wife and leave her headless body in the shower with the water running. They concluded that there must have been a terrible argument between the couple that led to the grisly murder and suicide. Killtrain's note left no doubt as to what occurred. There was no evidence of foul play and the case was closed. Two weeks after this tragedy, another sensational "miracle" occurred. Thad McSwain was found "alive" in the small village of Umiak. He explained to
  16. 16. the police and news media how he had managed to leave the crash site, over a year earlier, with severe injuries and miraculously found the prospectors cabin in the wilderness. There is where he stayed and lived for over a year, subsisting on mule meat and food left in the cabin. He explained how he found the skeletal remains of the old prospector after wild animals had devoured most of the man's body. McSwain said he was anxious to see his wife Roseanne and get back to work running his company. When told of his wife's murder and the suicide of his partner--- McSwain wept bitterly. It was obvious, he was heartbroken after hearing the shocking news. pic 6420108 blonde Dumb Dora Charles Van Norton was president and CEO of Van Norton Enterprises of Scarsdale, New York. The Van Nortons owned three of the largest supermarkets in Scarsdale. The grocery business was very profitable for the Van Nortons and those profits exceeded over two million dollars per year for the last fifteen years. But, money could not buy happiness for Charles and Emily Van Norton. Their one and only son, twenty-year-old Robert, a Princeton dropout, was continually getting into serious trouble with his drug use. He had a pen-
  17. 17. chant for making the headlines of the daily paper with his drunken escapades. The Van Nortons, once considered the royalty in Scarsdale's society circles, were now being shunned by Scarsdale's elite community leaders. The situation in the Van Norton household had reached a boiling point. Charles decided that Robert was a hopeless case. The time had come to inform him that he could no longer expect to be supported by his parents and would have to move out on his own and survive as best he could. "Did you want to see me, Pop?" Robert asked his father, who was waiting for him at the bottom of the stairway. "That's right, Bob. Come into my study. I want to talk to you." "Well make it quick, Pop. I got a date in about twenty minutes." "Are you still seeing that stripper down at the Nitty Gritty Club?" "Yeah, Pop. Roxy is the hottest babe in town and she's nuts about me. I guess I'm the most eligible bachelor in town, eh ?" Robert had an irritating laugh that made his father wince. "I'll get right to the point, Bobby. Your mother and I want you out of here and out of our lives. You have been nothing but an embarrassment to us and a royal pain in the ass. I've given you every opportunity to make something of yourself and you have let me down every time." "Oh yeah, Pop. I appreciated the offer of a position in your company, but I don't want to be a lousy stock clerk in one of your lousy grocery stores." "Let me tell you something, smart ass. I started out in this business as a stock clerk and you sure as hell aren't any better than me." "So you're kicking me out eh, Pop? Just when I'm getting ready to close a deal that will make me a few million bucks." "I'm not interested in your pipe dreams, son. Here's a thousand bucks. You can blow it anyway you want to, but I want you out of this house by the first of the month."
  18. 18. Robert angrily snatched the money from his father's hand and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him. He was still fuming over the fight he had with his father, while waiting for Roxy to finish her number at the Nitty Gritty Club. After Roxy completed her striptease act, she walked over to Robert's table, ignoring the whistles and wolf calls from the male patrons. As she sat down next to Robert, she sensed that something was terribly wrong. "What is it, sweetie? You look like you're ready to explode." "The old man is kicking me out. I got to be out of there by the first of the month. That gives us two weeks to pull this off." She leaned close and whispered, "Oh honey, do you really plan on killing both your parents? Isn't there some other way?" "No, there's no other way. I'll take over the business and you will be the wife of a multi-millionaire. How does that sound?" "Oh, darling. That sounds wonderful, but I'm so scared." Robert could feel the adrenalin surging through his body, as he envisioned taking over his father's company and being in control of millions of dollars. "Don't be scared. It will be a cinch. Do you remember Dora Plunkett? She's been madly in love with me since high school. She has agreed to do the killing" because I kind of let her believe that I would marry her after this was all over. Heh, heh. I gave her two hundred bucks to buy a pistol at the pawn shop. I'm going to meet her in a little while, after she gets off from work." "You mean 'Dumb Dora', that works at the Dairy Queen? She dropped out of school after spending two years in the eleventh grade," Roxy said, in disbelief. "Yeah, I know Dora ain't too bright, but the way I got this planned, nothing can go wrong. Trust me, baby. I got to go now." Robert kissed Roxy and hurriedly left the club to see Dora at the Dairy Queen.
  19. 19. At 10:30 that evening, Robert was parked down the street from the Dairy Queen in his Ford Mustang. Five minutes later, the lights went out and Dora soon came out, walking briskly toward his car. She opened the door on the passenger side and slid in beside Robert. He kissed her very passionately and said, "Did you get the gun, baby?" Dora opened her purse and withdrew a .38 snub nose revolver and said, "Will this do, Bobby?" "Hell yes, this will do just fine." Robert examined the weapon. "Ah good, it's fully loaded. We may need those extra bullets." "Oh Bobby, I'm so scared. I don't know if I can do this," she whimpered. "Look, darling, I know you can do this. It's our only chance of having a life together. Just think, baby " you are going to be the wife of a millionaire." "Bobby, I love you so much. You know I will do anything for you." "Okay, that's settled. Let's go over this again. After you get off work tomorrow night, you wait until eleven-fifteen before you enter the house. I'll leave the outside door to the pantry unlocked before I leave for the club. I'll be at the Nitty Gritty, that will be my alibi. My parents go to bed at ten o'clock every night and will be sound asleep by eleven fifteen." He could see that Dora was shaking badly as he went over the details of the murder plot he had planned. "Now calm down, Dora. You are a big girl now. Think of what's at stake here. Once you're in the house, quietly go upstairs, then go to their bedroom and open the door. Walk over to the bed and hold the gun close to the old man's head and pull the trigger, then turn the gun on mom and shoot her in the head. Make sure they are both dead then go to mom's jewelry box on the dresser and take all of her jewelry. We have to make this look like a robbery" and be sure to wear those latex gloves I gave you. We don't want to leave any fingerprints for the cops to find. Do you understand, baby? We don't want any screw-ups. I know you will pull this off just as we planned."
  20. 20. "I'll do it, Bobby. Just as you say." Robert leaned over and kissed Dora again. There was no turning back now. The next night, Dora parked her ten-year-old Chevy Cavalier two blocks down the street from the Van Norton two-story residence. The poor girl was scared out of her wits, but she knew she could not fight the spell that she was under. Bobby Van Norton had complete control of her mind and body. The pantry door was unlocked, just as Bobby said it would be. Dora had the pistol in her pocket and was wearing the latex gloves he had given her. She slowly climbed the staircase leading to his parents' bedroom. Standing at the bedroom door, Dora hesitated. She was trying desperately to muster the courage to enter the room and carry out the plan of taking two innocent lives. Finally, she opened the door and stepped inside. She could make out the darkened figures of a man and woman, sleeping side by side on a king size bed. They were both sleeping soundly. Dora took the .38 pistol from her pocket and approached the bed. She was trembling and fighting back tears as she stood over Mr. Van Norton, aiming her pistol at a spot just over his right ear. Dora slowly squeezed the trigger. The loud sound of the gunshot echoed throughout the house. Mrs. Van Norton raised up in bed and screamed at the horror taking place in the sanctity of her bedroom. Dora was sobbing loudly and said, "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Van Norton," and pulled the trigger again. The bullet struck the woman in the forehead and she fell backward and died instantly. In a robotic trance, Dora went to the jewelry box on the dresser and stuffed the diamond necklace, bracelets and rings in her pockets, then ran down the stairs with tears streaming down her face. When Dora entered the darkened pantry, ready to bolt through the door, a hand reached out from behind her and covered her mouth to muffle a scream. She was pulled back into the arms of the person behind her. "Don't be afraid. It's me, Bobby," he whispered in her ear. "I left the
  21. 21. club a little early. I wanted to make sure everything went off as planned. Are they both dead and did you get the jewelry?" "Yes, they are both dead and I got the jewelry. Let's get out of here." "You did great, baby. Give me the gun and I'll get rid of it." Dora handed him the gun. The barrel was still warm after being fired twice. Bobby said, "Kiss me, darling." Dora came into his arms and their lips met. At that instant, Dora knew that the terrible deed she had done was worth it. She would soon be Mrs. Dora Van Norton and her life with Bobby would be wonderful. But that ecstatic thought was vanished when she felt the barrel of the pistol Bobby was holding being pressed against her throat. For a split second she realized what was happening. She pleaded, "Oh no, Bobby... don't." The gun fired and Dora fell to the floor. She died instantly. The bullet entered under her chin and exited through the top of her head. Bobby flicked on the lights in the pantry and looked down at the pathetic young girl lying on the floor at his feet. Blood was still gushing from the wound in her head. He noticed the diamond necklace that was partially hanging from her pocket. He dropped the gun and went to the phone and dialed 911. "Send an ambulance and the police to number 64, Brentwood Street. Please hurry. I came home and found a burglar in the house. The burglar has been accidentally shot.” The police arrived within minutes of the call. They found a distraught young man sobbing uncontrollably. He had found the bodies of his parents after he called 911. Bobby Van Norton explained to the police that he had returned from the Nitty Gritty Club at approximately eleven-thirty. He heard someone running through the house and he knew it must have been an intruder. He caught the person in the pantry and there was a struggle for the gun. The gun
  22. 22. accidentally discharged and the intruder fell to the floor. He was shocked when he saw that it was a female he had been struggling with. The morning paper in Scarsdale ran this banner headline in its morning edition: "VAN NORTONS ARE KILLED BY BURGLAR; SON KILLS BURGLAR" The mayor of Scarsdale, Anthony Bergman, released this statement to the news media: "We are shocked and saddened by the brutal murder of Charles and Emily Van Norton. Mr. and Mrs. Van Norton were two of our most honored and respected citizens and business leaders. They will be sorely missed by all. On behalf of our fair city, I wish to express my heartfelt sympathy to Robert Van Norton and the Van Norton family. I would like to publicly thank Robert for his heroic effort in subduing the person that killed his parents." Robert was having a hard time suppressing the feeling of elation and playing the role of a heartbroken son who had just lost both of his parents. At ten o'clock, on the morning after the murders, Robert was giving an interview to a reporter from WLRZ TV. After the interview, he was met by two detectives from homicide division of the Scarsdale Police Department. "Robert, would you mind coming down to the station with us and clear up a few things?" said lead detective, Vincent Marconi. "No, I don't mind. But I have another interview at noon, so I don't have much time." Robert was reveling in his newly acquired fame as a hero who had avenged the death of his parents. "It won't take long Robert, let's go." Detective Marconi didn't seem impressed with Robert's celebrity status. At the police station, Robert was led to an interrogation room and was seated at a small table opposite the two detectives. "What's this all about, boys? I ain't got all day, you know." Robert was getting a little testy.
  23. 23. "I want you to explain something for us," said Marconi, as he placed a small tape recorder on the table and pressed the 'play' button. The words coming from that little recorder caused shock waves to reverberate in Robert's brain. His body began to shake as he heard his own voice coming through that small speaker on the table. "Baby, did you get the gun?" Then he heard the voice of Dora, "Will this do, Bobby?" His voice replied, "Hell, yes. This will do just fine. Ah, good! It's fully loaded." Robert sat listening in stunned silence, to the incriminating words coming from the tape player. The last words heard on the tape were" "Oh no,... Bobby don't." then the sound of a gunshot. When detective Marconi turned off the tape, Robert meekly asked, "Where did you get that, sir?" "Your friend, Dora, had this recorder taped to her chest. Evidently, she didn't trust you and she was going to use this tape to force you to carry out your pledge to marry her. She wasn't as dumb as you thought. Her biggest mistake was getting involved with a loser like you." Robert's head was spinning and he felt faint. Within a matter of minutes he went from millionaire and town hero, to a detestable, vicious murderer, facing death in the electric chair. As Marconi placed the cuffs on Robert's wrists, he said, "You know you're going to fry, don't you, son?" "Yeah, I know that, and the sooner the better," Robert said with a sigh.
  24. 24. pic dogfight Duel In The Sky Major Peter Dietrich eyed the fuel gauge of his P-51 anxiously. He knew his squadron was approaching the maximum range of their aircraft and would soon have to return to England. The U.S. 152nd Fighter Group, comprised of forty one P-51 Mustangs, was flying escort for the 4th Bombardment Wing. The 4th B.W. included seven different bomb groups, totaling 146 B-17 flying fortresses. Their target was the Messerschmitt aircraft plant located in the Bavarian city of Regensberg. This plant turned out two hundred deadly ME-109 and ME-110s, each month, nearly thirty percent of the German single-engine fighter production. Far ahead of their formation, Dietrich could see swarms of tiny specks in the sky. He knew that these were German fighter planes; ME-109s, ME110s and Foch Wolfe-190s. They were out of the range of the U.S. P-51s and were patiently waiting to pounce on the American bombers, as soon as their P-51 fighter escort was forced to turn back. Ten miles before reaching the German border city of Aachen, Col. Robert McDowell, commander of the fighter escort, radioed the bomb group leader, "Redbird Leader to Rainbow One. Breaking off. Good luck, men." The American bombers were on their own. They would now be escorted by hundreds of German fighters, attacking in relays, all the way to Regensberg and again on their return home. At this moment, Major Dietrich noticed four ME-109s, far below, streaking upward and hellbent on attacking the last bombers in the formation. "Redbird One to Redbird Leader. Jerries at 2 o'clock ! Low, going down."
  25. 25. "Roger, Pete, watch your fuel gauge, don't stay too long." As the rest of the fighter group turned back to their base in England, Major Dietrich and his two wingmen, dove down from 23,000 feet to intercept the German attack. The range between the fighters closed rapidly. At two hundred yards, the P-51s, using the three 50 caliber machine guns, mounted on each wing, opened up on the German MEs. The surprised Germans never had a chance. The lead ME-109 exploded in a massive ball of flame. Another began to fall away, showing a trail of black smoke. The other two MEs broke off and scattered in different directions. Peter Dietrich had recorded his eleventh kill. His major concern now, was whether he would be able to return, with his two wingmen, Lt. Carl Buel and Lt. Ed Durking, back to their base in England on their sparse amount of rapidly depleting fuel. The sky was now clear of all other aircraft. The rest of their fighter wing was far ahead on their easterly course to England and the bombers were now deep into Germany, fighting off hordes of German fighters. Major Dietrich wasn't too concerned about meeting any other German fighters on his return trip. He knew that three hundred forty six heavy bombers, in the 1st Bombardment Wing, should be crossing into France about that time. They were on their way to bomb the ball bearing factories at Schwienfurt, Germany. Any German fighters in the area would, no doubt, be there to meet that challenge . On his return trip home, Peter Dietrich had time to reflect on the unusual events in his own life. He had been born in Germany, but in 1926, when he was two years old, his American mother had taken him to the United States. His mother had married Herr Dietrich, a German business man. After the birth of three children, one girl and two boys, she had divorced her German husband and returned to the United States. She was successful in gaining permission to bring only Peter to America with her. Pete's mother had written to him earlier that year, that his father, brother, and sister had been killed in the British bombing raid on Hamburg in November of 1942. Peter felt sorry for his mother, but he could feel no remorse for the rest of his family that he never knew.
  26. 26. He did feel compassion, however, for his fellow pilots who were falling in increasing numbers before German guns over France and Germany. There were many empty bunks in his barracks, once owned by good friends, who had failed to return. The three P-51s were cruising at three thousand feet. They were only fifteen miles from the English Channel and only thirty minutes from landing at their base near Hiwycome. Then, disaster struck. "Look out Pete!! Bogey two-o'clock high," came the frantic scream through the headphones of Dietrich. The warning had come from Carl Buel, flying off the starboard wing. The warning came too late. A single FW-190 was diving directly out of the sun toward the three American fighters. There was too little time for evasive action. At point blank range, the German opened up with his 20 MM cannon. One 20 MM shell penetrated the fuel tank of Ed Dierking's P-51 and the plane exploded violently. The force of the explosion lifted Dietrich's plane one hundred feet straight up in the air and Pete momentarily lost conscious. Seconds later, Dietrich's mind cleared and by instinct, he immediately banked his plane to the right, searching the sky for the FW. After the initial attack, the German fighter pulled out of his dive and started climbing again in a wide, 180 degree arc. As Dietrich leveled off, he could see the action taking place below. The Foch Wulf had completed the 180 and was now directly beneath Carl Buel. Dietrich called frantically for Buel to dive, but it was too late. One short burst was all that was necessary. The stricken P-51 was riddled and immediately began to trail black smoke, as it nosed over and started falling out of control. Dietrich marveled at the flying skill of this German pilot! He had never seen such a performance in aerobatics. Dietrich was quickly shocked back to reality. The FW suddenly flipped over, while making a 90 degree turn and then leveled out again. Dietrich now realized that the German pilot was flying on a collision course, directly toward him. He pressed the firing button and he could feel the vibration, as the 50 caliber machine guns on each wing, began firing at the oncoming FW.
  27. 27. Dietrich could see the black puffs of smoke coming from the German plane that was bearing down on him at fifty knots. He knew that his enemy was answering back with his deadly 20 MM cannons. Suddenly, Dietrich's plane was rocked by the impact of a 20 MM shell, that hit the engine of the Mustang. At that instant, Dietrich was aware of the FW flashing by. The P51 began to vibrate violently and the cockpit began to fill with smoke. Pete knew he had to get out, before the plane exploded. He slid the canopy back and a few seconds later, he was falling free from the aircraft. A sense of relief swept over him as his chute blossomed out above him. As Pete drifted earthward, he anxiously searched for the FW and the German pilot, who had successfully gunned down the three P-51s. Far to the left he could see the FW swinging around. Though the plane was trailing smoke, the pilot was very much in control of the aircraft. Hanging helplessly in his parachute while drifting to the ground, Pete suddenly realized that the German was maneuvering his plane to make a firing pass at him. Pete Dietrich watched in horror, as the smoking German fighter plane, came bearing down on him. At a distance of about two hundred yards, the German fired a short burst at the American pilot, descending in his parachute. Pete felt a 30 caliber round tear through his flight jacket and several others pass by his ear, but miracuously, he was not seriously hit. Before he had time to think about being alive and unhurt, the FW zoomed by within thirty feet of Dietrich, and for a split second, he saw the German pilot staring back at him, curiously. Dietrich finally hit the ground, landing in a French cornfield. He quickly unharnessed his chute and looked around. To his complete surprise, he saw the F-190 coming in very low, at the edge of the same cornfield. The pilot appeared to be attempting a forced landing with his landing gear up. Dietrich watched as the plane hit the ground, sending up a cloud of dust and corn stalks, high into the air. Pete watched in awe, as the German FW bounced across the field. Still smoking badly, it nosed over slightly, then settled back. The plane had stopped only fifty feet from where Pete was standing. The canopy on the
  28. 28. FW was thrown back and the pilot struggled to free himself from the burning plane. Pete withdrew his 45 automatic from his holster and approached the burning plane. As the German stepped out, onto the wing of his plane, he saw Pete coming toward him. He reached for the Luger at his side, but this time he was not fast enough. Pete squeezed off two rounds. The German pilot pitched forward onto the wing. He slowly rolled over and then over once more, before falling to the ground. Pete rushed over to where the German was lying face down on the ground. He had his gun raised, ready to put another slug into the bastard who had killed his two wingmen. Pete angrily kicked the German pilot's side, and nudged him over on his back. At that moment his knees buckled. He felt a wave of nausea sweep over his body, as he looked into the lifeless eyes of Lieutenant Herman Joseph Dietrich ......... his twin brother. pic Left Wing - Right Wing Lieutenant Ryan Jennings, Bravo Company, 76th Combat Regiment, 101st Airborne, could not wait for the last week of his third deployment to Iraq to finally end. On Friday, August 6th, 2011, he would be winging his way back to Medford, Long Island, New York. Ryan was deliriously happy because of his upcoming wedding to his high school and college sweetheart, Jennifer Bledsoe. Ryan had saved every
  29. 29. letter he had received from Jennifer. He read and re-read them dozens of time. He considered himself the luckiest guy in the world. Jennifer's Dad ran a large insurance firm in Medford and he, had promised Ryan a good position in the firm that paid six figures, but Ryan was undecided about the offer. He didn't feel like he was cut out to sell insurance. His homecoming finally arrived, and all his family, his mom and dad and little brother Billy, were waiting for him when his MAC flight landed at McGuire AFB in New Jersey. He was glad to see his folks but, the one he was most anxious to see was the beautiful girl who flew into his arms and kissed him with passion and a burning desire, his beloved Jennifer. The wedding was set for October 16th in St. Marks Chapel. The Bledsoe’s had sent invitations to all of the elite, upper class residents of Medford that always attended the social gatherings of the rich and famous. With all the hustle and bustle, just three weeks away, Ryan and Jennifer, had not much time to get re-acquainted, and relax and discuss their future together. Ryan was determined to remedy that problem that very night. He suggested a movie, then a little dancing, then a drive to some romantic spot on the island where they could just talk and enjoy each other's company. Jennifer said, "That's a splendid idea Ryan, we do need a little down time. I've been on cloud nine since your return." After the movie and an hour at the 'Club Divine, Ryan drove out to Montauk Point at the northern end of Long Island. He parked on a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound where the inland waterway joined the Atlantic Ocean. It was 1.30 am. "Oh, Ryan, what a lovely view. There goes the ferry over to Nantucket; I wonder if any of those people are as happy as we are?" "I doubt it, darling, I don't know about you, but, I don't think anyone could be as happy as I am right now.... A full moon tonight, it looks like the man up there is smiling down at us, with his blessings. That's a good sign." "Ryan, sweetie, I wonder if you would do something for me tomorrow?"
  30. 30. "Why sure my love, your wish is my command, what is it, darling? "I would like for you to come with me to Wall Street tomorrow to show our support for the 'occupiers,' and Ryan, I want you to wear your uniform." Ryan's jaw became rigid. He had an incredulous look on his face. "Jennifer, I can't believe you said that. You want me to join those maggot, infested protestors, and wear my uniform? HELL NO! I won't do that. Those people are the scum of the Earth. Don't you understand, those low life, nut jobs are what's wrong with this country. I don't want anything to do with those freaks and I'm surprised that you would ask me to do something like that." "Ryan, I'm shocked! Are you, one of those right wing, George Bush, ass-kissin, idiots, who wants to turn the clock back to the good old days of segregation, keeping the wife home, barefoot and pregnant with the kids?" "Now calm down, Jenn, let's not get too emotional. We may have different ways of looking at things, but I love you. We're going to be married in a couple of weeks." "I'm not so sure about that,....... . I guess you're against a woman's right to choose too, huh?" "A right to kill her unborn child!! Hell yes, I'm against that, and I'm against spending this country into oblivion with one hair brained scheme after another, adding trillions to the national debt. I can't wait until November, 2012 to get rid of this radical crackpot, Obama!" "I just realized something, Ryan....... I hate your guts! I am on the Medford committee to re-elect Barrack Obama. One more thing, you redneck piece of crap!....I want you out of my life and out of my sight." Jennifer opened the car door and stepped out onto the ground. "How many babies did you kill over there in Iraq, you miserable creep?" "So now I'm a baby killer, am I?" "I don't know what you are, but I know one thing for sure....you won't be my husband. I must have been nuts to fall in love with you."
  31. 31. "Get back in the car, Jenn, I'll take you home or I'll drop you off on Wall Street and you can join your lunatic friends, just get back in the car." "No, leave me alone. Go, already, I have my cell phone, I'll call somebody." Ryan opened the car door and got out. Before Jennifer could run from him he had his arms around her waist. She fought like a woman possessed. Her right hand grabbed his hair and with her left hand she dug her fingernails deep in the side of his face. He stepped back for a second, then suddenly slapped her hard across the mouth and nose, from which blood started gushing. Grabbing the struggling girl, he tried to drag her back into the car. Jennifer's face was buried in his chest, her blood was creating a large stain on his sport shirt. Ryan cried out in pain as Jennifer sank her teeth into the flesh of his chest. He released his grip on his ex fiance and she turned and ran. He grabbed her blouse, but the fabric tore away and he was left holding a strip of torn cloth. He watched as she ran off into the darkness. "Well to hell with you, I'm leaving." Ryan threw his car into reverse and then into forward drive and with spinning wheels, leaving gravel and rocks flying in his wake, he gunned his 2006 Mustang and left the scene without looking back. Ryan pulled into a VFW club that he knew would be open at three o'clock in the morning. After four or five scotch and sodas he headed back to his apartment, feeling terrible over what had happened at Montauk Point. Ryan had a puzzled look on his face when he saw two police cars waiting for him in front of his apartment building. "Are you Ryan Jennings?" A balding detective with a thick moustache asked while he was shining a flashlight in Ryan's face. "That's right, I'm Jennings, what's this all about?" "I'm Lt. Marquard and this is detective Mallard. We'd like to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind." "Go ahead, what do you want to know? Make it fast, I've had a rough
  32. 32. night and I want to hit the sack." "How did you get those scratches on your face, and this looks like blood on your shirt. Where did that come from?" "Me and my girl had a little fight tonight. She became violent and I tried to slap some sense into her and maybe she bled on me a little bit." "I think maybe you better come down to the station with us, son,....Your girlfriend is dead." Ryan was in a state of shock, as he sat in the back of the police car on his way to the Medford police station. He knew Jennifer was alive and well when he left her after their fight. After they sat down in the interrogation room, Ryan learned more details of Jennifer's death. "We found Miss Bledsoe at the base of a sixty foot bluff. Her neck was broken, and she had bruises about her face and part of her clothing had been torn away." "We were engaged to be married. I love Jennifer, we found out tonight that we weren't suited for each other. She loves Obama and I can't stand the son of a bit... uh, son of a gun." "Well I won't lie to you, Ryan, this looks really bad for you. You admit you fought with this girl and you slapped her around and tore her clothing didn't you." "Yes, I told you that, but I didn't kill her. Don't you believe me?" "No, we don't believe you. You admit that you fought with this girl, slapped her around and tore her clothing. THEN YOU THREW HER OFF THAT CLIFF, DIDN'T YOU?" "No, no...HELL NO! I loved Jennifer. I wouldn't hurt her. I want a lawyer." Ryan Jennings was read his Miranda rights and was later charged with the murder of Jennifer Bledsoe. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
  33. 33. Harold Meredith, the Jennings family lawyer, was retained to defend Ryan at his murder trial. Ryan was charged with first degree murder The evidence was overwhelming. The jury only took thirty six minutes to find Ryan guilty of murder. He was sentenced to life without parole in Attica state prison. Before Ryan was taken from the courthouse and transported to prison he asked to have a private meeting with Jennifer's Father, George Allen Bledsoe. He wanted desperately to convince him that he had nothing to do with Jennifer's death. The court allowed the meeting to be held after George Bledsoe agreed to the private meeting, where only he and Ryan were present in the room. Ryan was in tears as he explained what happened on that dreadful morning that Jennifer died, and concluded his remarks with this appeal: "Mr. Bledsoe, I know I will spend the rest of my life in prison and maybe I deserve the fate that I have received, but I want you to know, sir, I did not kill Jennifer." George Bledsoe looked a bit uneasy after listening to Ryan's pitiful explanation, concerning Jennifer's death. He cleared his throat and then said: "Ryan, I know you didn't kill Jennifer, but you are the reason she is dead and you must pay a price for that. Jennifer called me on her cell phone after you left her out there on Montauk Point. She asked me to come and get her. I hopped in my car and went as fast as I could out to the Point but I didn't see her. After searching for five or ten minutes I found her body at the base of the cliff, she was still clutching her cell phone. She probably fell off the cliff while stumbling around in the dark. I removed the cell phone from her hand, then called 911, using my own cell phone." "So, like you said Ryan, maybe you deserve the fate you have received. I hope you fair well up there in Attica. I must go now....good day."
  34. 34. pic Sherlock Holmes In The Garden Of Evil Looking back on those years I was privileged to assist Sherlock Holmes in his investigations, I have frequently been asked; which of the many cases of the master sleuth intrigued me the most?' This is indeed a difficult question. As you know, Holmes disdained the commonplace and mundane. He only accepted a case that offered a test to his extraordinaire reasoning power and his analytical mind. One comes to mind that did indeed test the wit and cunning prowess of the great logician of Baker Street. It was a most unusual case, a case of intrigue to be sure. I had just returned from a safari in East Africa... in February of '92, as I recall. An expedition in which I was fortunate to claim several magnificent trophies. After a month-long absence, I was anxious to pay a call on my old friend Sherlock at his 221-B Baker Street quarters. After entering Holmes quarters I was introduced to a very distinguished gentleman who had been discussing, with Holmes, a subject of some urgency and of a delicate nature. "Doctor Watson, I would like you to meet the world renowned mystery writer, Sir George Mumphry." "I'm an ardent admirer of yours, Sir George. I've read much of your work," I said, after shaking hands with the gentleman. "Thank you, Doctor, and I am well aware of the great service you have rendered Mr. Holmes during these past years." "Sir George, I received your letter yesterday recounting the disturbing events recently befalling you. With your permission, I would like to relate the details you have given me thus far to Dr. Watson. I would like for him
  35. 35. To assist me on this case. "By all means, Mr. Holmes. Please feel free to conduct this investigation as you please, you have my complete cooperation, I assure you." With that, Holmes recounted the facts of the case as told to him by Sir George Mumphry. "The wife of Sir George has apparently been abducted by unknown assailants. Lady Catherine disappeared from the Mumphry estate April second, four weeks ago. The following day, this ransom note was found in the letter box of Sir George." Holmes handed the note to me; it read: 'WE HAVE YOUR WIFE. DON'T GO TO THE POLICE, SHE WILL SURELY DIE. LEAVE FIFTY-THOUSAND POUNDS OF UNMARKED CURRENCY OUTSIDE YOUR FRONT DOOR, AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. ANY FUNNY BUSINESS AND WE SLIT HER THROAT. YOU ARE BEING WATCHED.' Holmes continued, "Sir George paid the ransom as instructed but Lady Catherine has not been returned. He fears for her life. There is another aspect to this case, Watson. The gardener of the estate, Albert Drue, has not been seen since the disappearance of Lady Catherine." "Sir George, would you kindly give me any information about Lady Catherine you feel is pertinent to this case?" "Of course, Mr. Holmes. My wife is an American lady from Boston. Her father was a diplomat at the embassy here in London. That is how we met. We were wed almost three years ago. Happily married, I might add." Sir George Mumphry paused to re-light his pipe, then continued, "My wife is twenty-one years of age and I have reached my fortieth year. Yes, I know of the age disparity and the gossip bantered around the social circles in London but we are not concerned with such drivel, I can assure you." Holmes interjected, "Very interesting, but if you please, Sir George, give me a description of your wife and a photograph would be most helpful." "Of course, Mr. Holmes. She is five-foot six-inches tall and about one-hundred-ten pounds. She has long red hair about shoulder length and she wears spectacles to correct a condition of near-sightedness. Here is a recent photograph that I believe captures her radiant beauty. Don't you agree,
  36. 36. Mr. Holmes?" "Yes, I do agree, quite a striking young lady. Quite striking, indeed. Now, sir, pray tell me about Mr. Drue, your gardener." "Yes Drue, a loathsome chap. I wanted to discharge the fellow sometime ago, but Catherine wouldn't hear of it. For some odd reason she was quite taken with the man. He is about thirty-five or thirty-six years of age, about my height and built. Drue has a full neatly-trimmed beard, black hair and brown eyes. I hired the man about six months ago to look after my garden and take care of the grounds. Actually, I don't know where the man came from or anything else about him except that Catherine seemed foolishly attracted to him." "And you have not seen Drue since the night your wife was abducted?" "That is correct. I must say, I fear the worst, Mr. Holmes." Tears welled in the eyes of Mumphry. "My poor wife. She did so want to return to Boston to visit family and friends, but I would not allow it. Now I fear that she will never see Boston again." "Let's not be too hasty in our conclusions, Sir George. Lady Catherine may be alive and well. We must wait and see where this investigation leads." Holmes checked his timepiece. " The hour is late. May I suggest that we continue in the morning, Sir George? Watson and I will meet you at your home at eight a.m. ." "Very good, gentlemen. I will see you then. Good day." Inspector Holmes examined the ransom note and studied the picture of Lady Catherine. On the back of the photo was written: "To my darling husband, Kate." "This ransom note was most assuredly written by a feminine hand but definitely not the hand of Lady Catherine." Holmes mused. "This could be a most interesting case." We arrived the next morning at the Mumphry Manor. We were admitted by Sir George himself. "Did you sleep well?" Holmes asked. "No, Mr. Holmes, I haven't slept well since my wife was abducted. I'm afraid I will never see her again."
  37. 37. "You must not fret, Sir George, I feel that I will have answers within the week." Holmes placed his hand on the shoulder of the shaken man. We then proceeded to look over the house, escorted by George Mumphry. Holmes busied himself taking notes and asking questions, completely engrossed in his work. Later, we were shown the magnificent garden of Sir George. We came to a long row of yellow flowers and Holmes took an immediate interest in this particular group. "A lovely assortment of marigolds, Sir George, but something is odd here. The marigolds in this section are two inches shorter than the rest. Why do you suppose that is, Sir George?" "I couldn't say, unless they were planted at a later date, let's move on." After returning to Holmes' Baker Street address, I spoke to him as we relaxed in his study. "I'm afraid not much was learned from our visit to the Mumphry Manor today." "On the contrary, my dear Watson, a great deal has been learnt. For instance, our friend Sir George is keeping company with another woman, a woman with yellow hair." "My word, how do you know of this?" Holmes produced a single strand of blond hair and began studying the follicle with his magnifying glass. "I lifted this from the shoulder of Sir George this morning when he believed I was trying to console him. An incriminating piece of evidence, no doubt. But as yet, I have not gathered all the missing pieces to this puzzle.” “I know you have many patients in need of your service, Watson, so I will let you return to your practice. I expect to be quite busy for the next few days and I expect to have this matter resolved before the week's end." During the next few days an outbreak of measles gave me cause for great concern. For a time, my work did not allow thought of Holmes' investigation of the case. Then on Friday, I received a summons from Holmes to meet him at his Baker Street quarters. I wondered what progress the great detective had made since our last meeting.
  38. 38. "Well Doctor, I trust that the absence from your practice has not tarnished your skill," said Holmes upon our meeting. "Not in the least, Holmes. But how is your investigation proceeding, pray tell?" "Splendidly. The day following our visit to the Mumphry Manor I checked with several shipping lines and discovered that a Mr. and Mrs. A. Drue booked passage on the 'British Star'. It sailed for Boston on April 4th, two days after the abduction of Lady Catherine. The ticket agent recalled that Mrs. Drue had long, red hair and wore spectacles. Mr. Drue, likewise was the same age and description as Sir George gave of him... black hair and beard, about thirty five years old. He further identified the photograph of Lady Catherine as the identical red-haired lady who booked passage, Mrs. Drue." "Well, there you have it, Holmes. This fellow Drue and Lady Catherine obviously faked her abduction, robbed Sir George of fifty-thousand pounds and off to Boston they went. Dastardly deed, just dastardly. I say, Holmes, I suspected as much." "Well now, Watson, you may be correct in your conjecture. But I must caution you... sometimes things are not always as they appear." Sherlock Holmes lit his pipe and inhaled deeply. His demeanor was that of a man in deep thought and a troubled mind. "Watson, I would like for you to accompany me to the Mumphry estate tonight. I hope to have this matter cleared up by morning, and Watson, if you please...bring your pistol." Not knowing what to expect, I went with Holmes after sunset, to the home of Sir George Mumphry. We secretly made our way to the garden where we found a place of hiding among the wisteria bushes. Ominouslooking clouds were moving in from the east. Flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder disrupted the silence of the evening. Hours passed and all became still. I began to think that we might be on a lark, but I should have known that it was not wise to doubt Holmes reasoning or his methods. I whispered to Holmes, "The hour is getting late. It's almost midnight." "Patience, have patience, old friend." Suddenly, we noticed a movement near the rear of the manor. Two dark
  39. 39. figures were moving in our direction. As they drew closer, we could see they were carrying spades. They stopped near the row of marigolds and began digging rapidly. Within minutes they had uncovered what they were looking for. "Have your pistol ready, Watson," Holmes whispered, then stepped out from our hiding place. We then confronted the two mysterious intruders. "The game is up, Sir George. Do not you, or your lady friend, move a muscle. Doctor Watson has his pistol aimed directly at your murderous heart." Sir George gasped, "You!... Sherlock Homes!" Holmes then moved closer to see what had been uncovered by Mumphry and the woman with the yellow hair. "Well now, Sir George. I see that you have found your beloved Catherine...and Albert Drue as well. If you and the lady will be good enough to accompany us to Scotland Yard, I'm sure they will be pleased to have such distinguished guests to honor their establishment." Sir George Mumphry and his accomplice, Annabelle Simmons, were charged with the murder of Catherine Mumphry and Albert Drue and were securely locked away. We departed from the Yard in the early morning hours, feeling exhausted from the long ordeal. A dense fog had descended upon the city as we guided our carriage through the deserted streets of London. I was most anxious to learn of the facts that led Holmes to the apprehension of our quarry. "Well, Holmes, you have done it again," said I. "Brilliant work, simply brilliant. But how was the case solved, pray tell? I believed that Mrs Mumphry and Drue were in Boston having a jolly time, whence all the while the poor souls were lying, murdered, beneath the marigolds." Sherlock leaned back in his seat and lit his pipe before answering. Simple deduction, my dear Watson, very simple. Remember when we visited the garden of Sir George? It was quite obvious that the soil beneath the flowers had been disturbed. The marigolds, being two inches shorter than the other flowers, indicated something was buried there. When asked about this
  40. 40. oddity, I became suspicious of Sir George's nervous response." He correctly assumed that my investigation would discover that a man and woman answering the description of Lady Catherine and Albert Drue had booked passage for Boston on the British Star. He assumed that my investigation would end at that point after I surmised Lady Catherine and Albert Drue had staged the abduction, received the ransom and sailed for America. That was not my assumption, however. I was quite sure that the two who purchased the tickets to Boston were actually, George Mumphry and his mistress, Annabelle Simmons, in disguise. Miss Simmons, wearing a red wig and spectacles, bore a striking resemblance to Lady Catherine, and George Mumphry wearing a fake black beard, was mistaken for Albert Drue." "No doubt you garnered some solid evidence other than speculation, Holmes." "How right you are, Watson. I could not call his hand until his guilt had been established without a doubt, so I decided to play Mumphry's little game. On Thursday morning, wearing the disguise of an elderly gentleman with a slight limp, I followed Mumphry from his home to Chelsey Station. I watched as he boarded a train for Wickerbee. Undetected, I boarded the same train. In Wickerbee, I followed him to the home of Annabelle Simmons. After several hours, they left the residence. I quickly gained entrance to the home using a pass key. I soon discovered what I was looking for. Hidden in a hatbox in Annabelle's wardrobe, I found the red wig and fake beard. I also found a Sterling-Wright revolver, which I am sure will prove to be the murder weapon." "Remarkable! But how was the murder committed?" "Oh yes, the murder. Sir George spoke the truth when he mentioned that Catherine was attracted to Drue. Being a man of intense jealousy, Sir George could not abide his wife having an affair with another man, even though he was guilty of the same indiscretion with Annabelle Simmons. Mumphry waited for his opportunity. On the night of the murder, he hid
  41. 41. in the shadows, watching his wife slip off to be with Drue in the servants' quarters. Moments later, he burst through the door and fired a lethal charge, killing his wife and her lover, then burying them in the most convenient place, beneath the marigolds." "Brilliant, Holmes. Simply brilliant!" "Ah, but the evidence was not conclusive at that point, Watson. It was necessary to induce Sir George to place his own head in the noose, you might say. After returning from Wickerbee with the evidence I found at the home of Miss Simmons, I again paid a visit to Mumphry manor. This time, I secretly left a notice in the letter box. It stated that I, as well as Scotland Yard, would arrive at his estate the following day for the purpose of searching his garden and that we were particularly interested in the marigolds." Sir George knew after reading my note that he would have to move fast to remove the evidence buried in the garden. To accomplish this task, he would need the service of his accomplice, Annabelle Simmons. Naturally, removing the remains of Lady Catherine and Albert Drue was risky. It could only be done under the cover of darkness... And that, my dear Watson, is why we were hiding in the wisteria bush, catching a chill, no doubt."
  42. 42. Pic. old spike Old Spike When I was a young lad, about eight years old, we moved to Argenta, Arkansas. We were very poor, but my daddy managed to pay $200 down on an old house on 31st Street. The house was badly in need of repair. I didn't mind too much though, because out in the backyard, mounted on a telephone pole by the alley, was a real basketball goal. I was so excited to have my own basketball court! I just had to have a basketball. After a few weeks, Mama finally became tired of listening to my continuous begging. It was the happiest day of my life when she relented and bought me a brand new Voit basketball. School was out and I had two months of free time to do what I wanted. I expected to be in the backyard, shooting hoops every day until I started back to school in September. Directly behind us, and across the alley from our backyard, was a house that faced 32nd Street. The house had a big backyard, with a white picket fence completely surrounding it. It didn't take long for me to spot a big plum tree on the other side of that fence, right across the alley from my basketball court. There was a sign on the fence that said: 'PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING'. Another sign warned: 'BEWARE OF DOG'. It just so happened that plums were my favorite fruit and that tree was loaded with fat juicy plums. I began thinking, How can I get some of those plums? My new friend, Jimmy Tucker, who lived next door, was reading my thoughts. "Don't even think about getting a plum from that tree. The old man who lives in that house will shoot you with his BB gun if he catches you in his yard... and that ain't all. He's got a little bulldog named 'Spike' that will bite your leg off if he catches you in there."
  43. 43. "What's the old man's name?" I asked. "His name's Caldwell, but we call him 'old man BB gun'. He's got a bad leg. He hobbles around with a crutch under his arm, but he can still shoot that gun." "Well I ain't scared of some old man with a bum leg. How'd he get crippled?" "Well, Pa says he was shot up during the war. Other folks say he was shot by a revenuer one time when he was making whiskey up in the hills. Nobody really knows for sure. He don't talk to nobody and nobody talks to him. He's just a mean, grouchy old man." The next morning I was in the backyard by myself, shooting hoops. I kept eyeing the plum tree across the alley. My mouth was watering for one of those juicy plums. Finally, I could stand it no longer. I left my basketball on the ground and ventured over to the picket fence. No one was around and I didn't see a dog anywhere. Hopping over that fence was easy as pie. In no time, I was in Mr. Caldwell's backyard, sneaking over to his plum tree, and feeling a bit cocky. I plucked a nice big purple plum from a low hanging limb and took a big bite. Boy, was that good! It was the best thing I had ever tasted. After finishing off the first plum, I was ready for another one. I was reaching for another plum when I heard a 'zing', then felt a sharp, stinging pain in my right shoulder. At first I thought I had been stung by a giant wasp or a bee, then I realized that I had been the target of old man Caldwell's BB gun. I was about to turn and jump the picket fence, when I heard someone say, "Get him, Spike!" I glanced back in time to see a small bulldog coming at me as fast as his little legs would carry him. He was growling and showing me a bunch of his sharp little teeth. I was terrified, but that didn't stop me from making a beeline for that picket fence. Two feet from the fence, I became airborne and sailed headfirst over the fence. Spike had managed to nip the heel of my left bare foot, before I could make it over the fence. I lay sprawled in the alley for a few seconds, looking back at the fence. Spike was going crazy, frantically clawing at the ground, trying to find a
  44. 44. way to get through the fence and take another bite. I limped back home with my shoulder still stinging from the BB wound. I had to tell Mama what happened, even though I expected to get a whippin' for stealing those plums. "Mama, Mr. Caldwell shot me with his BB gun and his little dog bit me on the heel." "Oh, my Lord," she cried in a loud voice. She raised my tee shirt and examined the spot where the BB had hit me. Only a small red spot was visible. "That doesn't look too bad," she said. "Where did the dog bite you?" I showed her where the dog had nipped the back of my heel. "It looks like he barely broke the skin. You are lucky, young man... but you may not be so lucky when your daddy gets home. I'm going to have to tell him what you did and what Mr. Caldwell did to you." My luck held out. My old man's favorite verse in the Bible was, 'spare the rod... spoil the child.' He usually didn't need a good reason to take me to the woodshed. This time, he was more angry at Mr. Caldwell for having the audacity to shoot a little kid with a BB gun, even though the kid was on his property, stealing plums. Daddy said, "I think I'll go over and have a little talk with Caldwell after supper." Sure enough, Daddy was hell-bent on having it out with Mr. Caldwell. I had to go with him after we had supper. As we approached the house, we saw Mr. Caldwell sitting in his porch swing, reading the paper. Daddy unlatched the fence gate and started to push the gate open. "Caldwell, I want to talk to you," he said, in a menacing voice. "I wouldn't come through that gate, mister, unless you want to get dog bit." Spike, who had been asleep on the porch, was now on his feet snarling and baring those sharp little teeth. "Simmer down, Spike." Caldwell patted his dog on the head. Daddy stepped back and closed the gate. "If that dog ever bites me, you're
  45. 45. gonna have a dead dog on your hands, Caldwell." "Well, who are you and what the hell do you want?" "My name is Larkin. I bought the house behind you last week and I want to know why you shot my boy with a BB gun. Just who do you think you are, anyway?" "You need to teach that boy how to read, mister. I have three or four signs on my fence, warning people to stay off my property. Your boy was trespassing and stealing my plums. I got a right to protect what's mine." "You ain't got a right to shoot anybody, especially an eight year old boy... No matter what he's done. If you weren't a crippled old man I would take that BB gun and wrap it around your neck." "Okay, you said your piece. Now get on out of here and leave me be." "You've been warned, Caldwell." Daddy said, as we turned to leave. "Let's go, son." I saw Jimmy in his yard the next day, with his cousin, Jerry Bajorek, and I couldn't wait to tell them what happened. "Me and Pa scared the dickens out of old man Caldwell, I don't think he will be shooting any more kids with his BB gun after the bawling out Daddy gave him." A few days after our confrontation with Mr. Caldwell, I saw Spike running around in his backyard, chasing a butterfly. I decided to taunt the little devil for biting my foot. I walked over to the fence and started barking like a dog, "Arf, arf, arf," I said, then growled a little. Spike looked up to see where the noise was coming from. He spotted me looking through the picket fence at him, acting like a fool. Spike didn't hesitate. He came at me as fast as he could, barking and growling at the same time. I wasn't scared. I knew he couldn't get through the fence. When he was about thirty feet away from me, I picked up a rock and threw it in his direction. I was horrified when I saw the rock hit Spike right above his left eye. He let out a loud yelp of pain, then rolled over and over. He stood up but then fell down again and lay on his side. His little legs were still running, but the rest of him wasn't moving. A few seconds later, after a final twitching of his hind legs, he wasn't moving at all.
  46. 46. "Oh, no! What have I done?" I cried. "Get up, Spike. Please get up. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you." But Spike didn't move. I knew he was dead. Panic took hold of me. I knew I had to get away from there... and fast. I began to run and I kept running until I was so tired, I couldn't run anymore. I realized then, I couldn't run away from what I had done. So, feeling like a murderer, I went back home. "Billy Joe, where have you been?" my mother asked, as I stumbled up the steps with my head down. "I've been down to Bajorek's house," I mumbled, not looking up. "Someone killed Mr. Caldwell's dog. That poor old man. You could hear him crying and wailing all over the neighborhood when he found his dog in the backyard. I felt so sorry for him. It was a pitiful sight to see." Mama knew me so well. When she looked at me, she sensed that I already knew what she was talking about. "Billy Joe, do you know who killed that dog?" I couldn't keep the tears inside any longer and began to sob. "I done it, Mama. I didn't mean to hurt Spike I just wanted to scare him a little bit. Please don't tell anybody I killed Spike." She could see how much I was hurting inside. She put her arm around me and said, "I know you didn't mean to kill him, Billy Joe. You love all animals. This will be our secret. I won't tell anyone what you've done." Mama kept our secret for forty-one years... until the day she died. Three days after the death of Spike, I was shooting hoops in the backyard when I noticed a big, black hearse pull up in front of Mr. Caldwell's house. Two men got out and with a stretcher went inside. It didn't take long for some curious neighbors to gather at the house next door to the Caldwell house. Daddy always called them a bunch of 'cackling old hens'. I saw the two men come out of the house, carrying Mr. Caldwell's body on the stretcher. It was covered with a sheet. As they carried his body to the
  47. 47. hearse and placed it inside, I heard Mrs. Tucker say, "Poor old feller. I guess after his dog got killed, he figured it was his time to go too. That old man didn't have a friend in the world... 'cept that little dog. He was the only friend or companion old Caldwell had for the last ten years." The day after Mr. Caldwell's funeral, five or six other kids were playing basketball with me in the backyard. We stopped playing when we saw a gray-haired lady in the backyard at Caldwell's house, waving at us. She beckoned to us and said, "Boys, would you come over here for a minute? " We all went over to see what she wanted. "My name is Mildred. Mr. Caldwell was my father. I will be living here for awhile. I'd just like to meet and get to know some of my neighbors. Would you all like some plums? I'll open the back gate and you can have all the plums you want." A joyous shout went up from all the kids. "Oh boy, plums! Let's get 'em." The lady unlocked the back gate and we all rushed in like a pack of hungry dogs. There was no need to fight over plums because there were hundreds of juicy plums in that tree and each kid had a hand full of them. I took a couple of bites of the plum I picked, then I noticed a little dog house sitting by Mr. Caldwell's back porch. Over the entrance of the dog house was written, 'SPIKE'. The memory of the terrible deed I had done came back to me in a flash. I dropped the half-eaten plum, then turned and walked away. The kind lady asked, "What's the matter, son, don't you like plums?" "I used to like 'em," I said. "I liked 'em a lot... but not anymore." I walked back across the alley, picked up my basketball and went in the house. From that day on, I never played much on my basketball court. It seemed like shooting hoops was just not as much fun as it used to be.
  48. 48. pic noose Shawnee Lynch Mob Oklahoma Territory had an unbelievably hot summer in the year of 1892. Folks in the town of Shawnee, had another reason for being hot under the collar. Tempers were flaring among many of the populace who were wanting to lynch an old negro named Rufus Millweed, who worked for Luke Crenshaw at the livery stable. Rufus had been arrested the previous Friday because of accusations made by the widow Simpson. She swore, "That nigger meant to break in my house and have his way with me! He wanted to rape me!" Rufus denied any such intentions. He told Sheriff Forrest Malone, "Nawsuh, Sheriff. I'as jus' walkin' by the wida's house, so hot I was spittin' cotton. I only stopped to get a drink of water from the wida's well." The circuit judge was scheduled to be in Shawnee on Thursday. Sheriff Malone planned to bring Rufus before Judge Mumphry to be tried for trespassing on the widow's property. The Sledge brothers and other irate citizens of Shawnee had other plans for Rufus. They wanted to string him up to the nearest tree to warn other negroes in the area what would happen to them if they ever got out of line. Jack and Bob Sledge were cattle barons in central Oklahoma. It was widely
  49. 49. known that they acquired most of their cattle by rustling them from other ranchers in the territory. No one ever mentioned that fact, because both Sledge brothers were mean as rattlesnakes and lightning fast with a sixshooter. Jack Sledge had spent six months in jail at Fort Smith for killing two Pima Indians in a barroom brawl. The Sledge brothers were at the Rotgut Saloon on Monday evening, organizing a lynch mob. The brothers soon incited the members of the mob into a frenzy. They were ready to storm the jail and take Rufus down the street to the hanging tree. Sheriff Malone was aware of the unrest in town, but he thought the talk of lynching would die down before the judge arrived on Thursday. Suddenly, the door flew open and the sheriff's son, Jake, ran in screaming, "There's a lynch mob down at the Rotgut and they are coming for Rufus!" From his jail cell, Rufus could hear what was being said in the sheriff's office, "Lawdy mercy! Don't let 'em git me, Sheriff ! I swears I ain't done nothin' wrong. I swears, I ain't." "Shut up in there, Rufus. Ain't nobody gonna hang you. Them boys is just blowin' off a little steam." The sheriff turned to his deputy, Jess Edwards, and said, "Jess, you will have to handle things here. I have to ride over to Okemah and settle that water rights squabble. I need to see that things don't get out of hand over there." "But what about the lynch mob?" Jess asked. "Aw, them boys ain't gonna hang Rufus. That's just talk." With that assurance, Sheriff Malone mounted his horse and rode out of town in a cloud of dust. Jake said, "What are we gonna do now? Do you think he will be back in time to stop the mob." "Hell no! Didn't you see him skeedaddle out of here? He ain't gonna stand up to them Sledge boys! Go out to the ranch and tell Snake what's happening here." "Snake? Are you crazy? Snake Corley retired 20 years ago! He's almost as old as Rufus."
  50. 50. "Do like I told you, Jake!... and hurry! I'll try and hold them off as long as I can." Rufus could see from his jail cell window, the lynch mob was coming down the street. "Lawdy, Lawdy. Dem folks is sho 'nuff gwine to hang ol' Rufus. Oh, help me, Lawd." Jack Sledge approached the sheriff's office, holding a long rope with a noose on the end. About thirty townsfolk were with him and they were all ready for a necktie party. "We want Rufus! Bring him out here and no one will get hurt." From behind the bolted door, Jess replied, "I can't do that, Sledge. Y'all get on out of here. Rufus is going to stand trial. The law will see that justice is done." "Damn the law! We gonna see that justice is done. Okay, boys. Let's break this door down." Jess was helpless against the angry mob. Within minutes, they had Rufus and were heading down the street to the hanging tree. Jess could hear Rufus pleading, crying and praying, all at the same time, "Lawd, help ol' Rufus. Don't let 'em hang me! I aint nevah done nothin' bad." When the mob reached the hanging tree, one man tossed the rope over a lower limb and six other citizens of Shawnee volunteered to hoist old Rufus skyward. The widow Simpson was part of the lynch mob. She urged the lynch party to do their duty. "Alright, get on with it! I want to see that nigger swinging in the breeze." "Now, calm down, Rosemary. We ain't barbarians here. We gonna let Rufus speak his last words. Go ahead, Rufus. What have you got to say?" "Mistah Sledge, suh... I swear I ain't evah done no hawm to nobody. Pleeze don't hang ol' Rufus." "Okay, boys... let's get on with it," Sledge said, with a cruel smile. The noose was placed around the neck of the trembling black man and six citizens were waiting for the signal to hoist Rufus into the tree.
  51. 51. Suddenly, two shots rang out in rapid succession. The crowd turned in the direction of the gunshots. Riding slowly toward the lynch mob, was Snake Corley. Dan 'The Snake' Corley was still a handsome figure of a man, with a no-nonsense, takecharge, aura about him. In his younger days, he had been a federal marshal, overseeing the Central District of Oklahoma. It had been twenty years since he hung up his guns and retired to his ranch, just outside of Shawnee. Boot Hill was populated with outlaws and renegade Indians who were foolish enough to test Dan's quick draw and pinpoint marksmanship. He had been given the name 'Snake' because of his fast draw. People said he was 'quicker than the strike of a rattlesnake and twice as deadly'. It had been many years since he had kept the peace in Indian Territory and he had not picked up his guns in all those years. But here he was, now close to seventyyears-old, and facing the fastest guns in the territory. As Snake slowly stepped down from his horse, he holstered one of the two Colt forty-fours, worn at his hips. He never took his steely-gray eyes off the Sledge brothers. "Alright, you boys have had your fun. Now, take that rope off of Rufus and get out of here," Snake said, with grim determination. "Corley, we gonna hang Ol Rufus and there ain't a damn thing you can do about it! You ain't the law around here no more. You may live a little longer if you mind your own business." "I'm gonna kill you boys in about one minute unless you take that rope off Rufus and get the hell out of here." Out of the corner of his eye, Snake saw Tom Donlevy go for his gun. At the same time, the Sledge brothers began their draw. Seven or eight shots rang out in the next two seconds. When the smoke cleared away, Jack and Bob Sledge lay dead on the ground. Jack had taken a bullet in both eyes and the back of his head was missing. Bob had taken one slug right between the eyes and Donlevy had taken a round in the belly and one near his heart. Tom was writhing in pain, as he took his last few breaths.
  52. 52. Snake had been shot once through his upper right arm but the bullet missed the bone. One bullet had grazed his right cheekbone and another slug had passed through his new Stetson hat. He survived this shootout, as he had many times before. With blood oozing from the wound in his arm, Snake walked over to Rufus and removed the noose from around his neck. Rufus was in a state of shock as his eyes looked toward heaven and he said, "I is still alive! I is still alive! Lawd, Almighty! I is still alive! Thank ya, Mistah Snake. I'll be yo slave fo as long as I live." "You ain't gonna be nobody's slave, Rufus. Them days are gone forever. You go on back to work at the livery stable. Tell Luke to let me know if there's anymore trouble down here." The undertaker, Roy Barcroft, with the help of Jake Malone and Jess Edwards, were loading the three dead men onto a buckboard, when the widow Simpson came up to Corley. "Oh, Snake! I tried to stop them Sledge boys from hangin' Rufus. They just wouldn't listen to me. You know me, Snake. I ain't evah had no bad feelings toward them nig... uh, black folks." Dan climbed back in the saddle and looked down at the widow Simpson and said, "Rosemary, you go on home now. You've caused enough trouble for one day." With a tip of his hat and a twinkle in his eye, Snake turned Ol' Scudder around and headed back to his ranch.

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