Monday, January 30, 2017
Sam was getting angry, and nobody had ever seen Sam angry. Sam, herself, did not understand this new emotion. It was totally against her nature.
Alvin and Lorna Wilson, Sam’s employers, were watching this exchange closely. Sam seemed to think Davis was not doing her right, somehow, and they strongly felt that there was nobody in Nashville to speak up for Sam. Except them. They walked over and joined in the conversation, just as Davis, still red faced, hollered loud enough that all could hear, “No! You just need to face it! You lost, fair and square. I’m not gonna let you make a circus outta this!” By now, a few of the other shooters had joined in the discussion, also. After a couple of minutes, Davis shook his head once again, and hollered out to the field judge, “Take yer knife, dig out that bull’s eye ball, an take a look.”
He did. It took several minutes. The crowd remained totally silent, nobody wanted to miss what the field judge would say.
After a few minutes, he held up both hands to show. The man appeared to be crying. “Two fifty caliber balls, stacked dead center!” Many tears were being shed among the onlookers.
At that moment, Sam became the toast of Nashville. Everybody was calling her DEAD EYE SAM. Nobody, in the long history of this event, had ever seen anything like this happen. It seemed impossible! This story would soon spread all over Tennessee, and beyond. Samantha’s life would never be the same again.
One of the most noticeable changes regarding Sam’s new-found fame showed up almost immediately at Wilson’s Family Restaurant. Crowds were showing up to eat there each day, with a long waiting line out front. Everybody wanted to see Dead Eye Sam. Be served by her. Sam’s tips skyrocketed. Course, in those days, nobody knew what a skyrocket was, probably.
The Wilsons’ called Sam into the office.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Sam placed her first two bullets inside the three inch circle, and by then the crowd was totally wild. Nobody could believe it. The judge stopped, and bellowed, “Everbody shut up!” Jack Davis was so red faced and angry by now, most everyone did. On her last shot, a strand from her brown wig was giving her some trouble, so she had to start her process over again. Sam was afraid her time limit was about to expire. She may have rushed a bit. The last shot was close, but outside the three inch circle.
It was close. The two men who put all three balls inside the three inch circle were in the finals. Sam and two men had two inside the circle, with one out. One of those men was a half inch closer than Sam but she edged out the other man by a half inch. Sam was in the finals! The crowd could just not believe it!
The final shootoff was scheduled for after lunch, but Sam could eat no lunch that day. Her stomach was all in knots.
It seemed most everybody in the crowd wanted to come over and meet Sam during the lunch break. Everybody was talking about what had just taken place. Finally, Sam walked away and found herself a quiet spot. She needed to rest. She was completely worn out, physically and emotionally.
The finals began. The best score shot first, so Sam was, once more, shooting last. A totally new target was nailed up to another large tree nearby. The wind was mostly settled, so everyone was shooting their best. All three men put both bullets inside the three inch circle, none hit dead center, but some were only an inch, or maybe a little less, away.
Sam had already decided to ditch the wig. She had planned to keep it on while she was in Nashville, because she had no plans to go back to the Clan, and sooner or later, Slim would be looking for her. But it messed up her last shot, so it had to go. She remembered how the crowd had reacted to her bright red hair in Taladega, so she decided she would just play to the crowd.
Sam’s turn. She walked up to the rail, put her gun up, and made just a bit of a show as she pulled her wig off, allowing the most beautiful red hair anyone had ever seen to curl down around her shoulders. Jack Davis tried his best, again, to shut them up. But this time, he could not. But it didn’t matter. Sam was focused. No wind. Sam slowly squeezed off. It felt good. The field judge took a look, and started laughing. “Dead Center Bullseye!”
Well, the crowd was completely out of control by now. Jack Davis didn’t even try to settle things. He just stood there, shaking his head.
But as Sam put her wet thumb up in the air for the second shot, a strange thing happened. The crowd went stone cold quiet. Not a whisper was heard. Again, no wind at all. She squeezed off. The silence continued and the field judge took a look. He seemed to be surprised, but for an entirely different reason this time. There was no hole in the target for this shot.
The field judge bellowed, “A clean miss!!” Sam was thunderstruck. She couldn’t believe it. Her three opponents were very relieved, and the stress was gone from their faces.
She knew something was wrong, and she thought she knew what. She walked over to Jack Davis, and they talked a moment. Davis was madder than ever, and was shaking all over as he bellowed out, “No!” Now, a one-of-a-kind thing was happening………
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Forever A Hillbilly: 26 - Dead eye Sam - or Samantha?: It seems 56 readers are reading regularly, usually within a few hours after posting. I've already changed one segment because of a...
It seems 56 readers are reading regularly, usually within a few hours after posting. I've already changed one segment because of a reader's suggestion. How about the book name? Sam or Samantha? E-mail your vote in. email@example.com This is still an open manuscript. Thanks for reading! Pat
The shooting range, as it turned out, was not that far away, and would be open for practice every day until the big event. After work that day, Sam went down to the gun store, signed up as Sam Dudley, and paid her entry fee. She also bought three boxes of ammo.
The shooting range, as it turned out, was not that far away, and would be open for practice every day until the big event. After work that day, Sam went down to the gun store, signed up as Sam Dudley, and paid her entry fee. She also bought three boxes of ammo.
Sam got the big gun out. She needed to limber it up a little beforehand. When the big day arrived, she was at her peak.
Thirty-five men were entered. Two hundred yards, shooting at a two foot circle, with a three inch bullseye circle in the middle. Each entrant would shoot three times, followed by a two-shot shoot-off between the top four.
Sam was a little nervous about this. The owner of the gun shop, Jack Davis, was in charge. All the entrants were called together, for the rules of the match to be explained. Sam walked forward with the men. Mr. Davis glanced at Sam. He seemed a little confused.
“Ma’am, this here meeting is for the shooters’ only.”
Now it was Sam’s turned to be confused. “Mr. Davis, I am a shooter.”
Mr. Davis showed her a list. “This here is th’ Official entry list. See, there ain’t no ladies on this list. This contest has always been for men only.”
“There’s my name, right there, Mr. Davis. And right there beside it, as it shows right here, my entry fee was paid.”
“Oh yes, I do recall now. You came in and signed up and paid several days ago. I assumed you were signing up your husband, Sam Dudley. But you see, the official rules allows only men. Sorry about th’ misunderstandin’. Come by Monday morning, and we’ll refund your entry fee.” He turned away and walked off, as if moving on to other business.
Sam was not about to be so easily put off. She caught up with him. She smiled. “Could I please see a copy of those rules, Mr. Davis”?
He was getting flustered. “Well, uh, I don’t have a copy of it with me. You see, the rules committee would have to act on that before you could enter. I’m Sorry, ma’am. Now please, I must get on with this meeting.”
A big man stepped up. “Now, Jack, I been shootin’ ever year, ever since this thing been goin’ on. Nobody ever said a thang about no rules committee. Th’ way I see it, you took her money, you put her name on th’ list, and she’s in. Simple as that.”
Many of the men in the group around were nodding their heads. Another man spoke up. “Look, there ain’t a woman alive that can stand up ta these here men. If she’s so anxious to get herself embarrassed, let her shoot, th’ way I see it. I ain’t skeered to shoot again any woman.” That seemed to express the general feelings of the group.
By now, Jack was red in the face. “Okay, allright! If you men got no objection, let’s get on with it. This crowd’s gettin’ antsy. Let’s move on. Each man, er ah, person, will get three shots, prone or layin’ th’gun on that rail. Ever inch you miss dead center is a point again ye. You miss th’ target completely, it’s 15 points. Th’ four with th’ fewest points advances to th’ finals. Two shots each, same scorin’. In case of a tie, th’ two winners have a two-shot shoot off, until somebody wins. After yer called up, you got one minute ta shoot, or yer disqualified. Any questions?”
Everybody was ready. One by one, they stepped up and took their three shots. Sam noticed the wind was generally just a breeze, with an occasional gust.
Sam soon realized, these men were top notch. Most put at least one .50 caliber ball inside the three inch circle. Only occasionally did anybody miss the two foot circle completely. After five entrants shot, that target was taken down, with a new one nailed to the big tree. Sam was the last entrant to sign up, so she would, again, be shooting last. Two men had put all three balls in the three-inch circle, only one man had a dead center shot.
The Judge bellowed out, “Sam Dudley, it’s yore turn!” The crowd, as one might expect, roared with laughter when this slim, pretty lady stepped up, laying her big gun on the rail.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Just got back from a cruise. The start, was slow, waited two days in Galveston for the fog to clear so the ship could get to port. The end was slow, waited six hours on ship for the same reason, Other than that it was a good trip. Stopped at The Caymen Islands and Mexico. Pat
Two days later, an announcement was made by the conductor. “This is the end of the line, folks! The tracks have not yet been repaired past this point. You may obtain passage on a stagecoach, if you wish to head on north. Everyone should exit at this stop.”
Samantha saw no need in going farther. Nashville, she could see, was a large town. She could find a room, and maybe a job. Besides, she was tired of riding this train. And, she was excited about Nashville. Here, she could live and work in this large town while she made her plans. She was excited.
She found a nice room only a few blocks from the station. Tomorrow, she would look for a job. But for today, she only wanted to get her room organized, and sit outside, watching life go by. This is exciting!
Samantha had always dreamed of working in a large, bustling town. Maybe the downtown area, only a few blocks away, would be a good place to look about a job.
Samantha was thinking as she walked toward downtown. When she was out, on her own like this, among these nice, friendly people, she always thought of herself as Samantha. That fit her self-image better. But when she was living life with the Dudley’s, where she constantly had to pretend to be something she was not, she automatically thought of herself as Sam. That fit her tough-girl image better. Hopefully, in her new life, she could mostly be Samantha. She also had noticed that when her .50 caliber Buffalo gun was in her hand, Sam worked better. Oh well. During these rough times following this war, she would sometimes need to be Sam. It was just the way things were. She could smoothly move from Samantha to Sam, when the situation called for it. Millie had taught her that being a Sam often made life easier.
Samantha hit the jackpot at her very first stop, Wilson’s Family Restaurant. It was nice, large, and Alvin and Lorna Wilson were very friendly. They seemed to take a liking to Samantha immediately. And, best of all, they needed a waitress. Samantha thought her friendly disposition would make her perfect for this job. She would start tomorrow morning.
Samantha soon found that to be true. Her naturally kind and helpful disposition to all made her a favorite with her customers, and many were soon asking for her by name. The good tips were rolling in. Things were wonderful in Samantha’s new life; she loved every minute of it.
After a week or so on the job, she was serving coffee for three of her customers one morning. She soon became interested in their conversation. They seemed to be excited about a major upcoming event in Nashville. Before the War, a very large shooting contest was a yearly event, and it attracted the very best shooters from miles around. This would be the first year it had been held again since the war started. Sam was fascinated by this; it would give her a chance to let everyone around Nashville know how she could shoot, and could very well help prevent any trouble that might come up for her in this large town, being a young woman on her own as she was. Maybe she should slip into her Sam persona for a short time, so that she could be Samantha for the rest of her time in Nashville.
One of the men had been her good customer for some time, and she talked to him for a few moments on his way out.
“Yes ma’am, miss Samantha, this is one of the biggest events we have here. At least, it was before th’ war. All th’ best shooters will be there. Ever’body’s wonderin’, will shootin’ at th’ Yankees fer four years make fer better shooters? It’s still two weeks away. Ya aughta come see it. Might find ye a good man,” he kidded.
She smiled. “I just might! Anyway, I know someone who might be interested. Tell me all the details!”
Jordan was happy to spend a little extra time with Samantha. It would give him a chance to see her bright smile and beautiful dimples for a little longer today.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Once James and Tenny were seated, Tenny had a chance to look around at all the people on this big train. This was grand! Josh would be so jealous! She couldn’t wait to tell him! A really pretty young woman sat down opposite them. She smiled at Tenny, and Tenny thought she had the prettiest dimples she had ever seen. Then she smiled at James. Soon, they were all laughing and talking. She was so nice. Tenny just couldn’t keep from liking her. Before long, Tenny had forgotten about all the aches and pains from her long ordeal. She had found a friend! Now, her horrible ordeal was becoming a great adventure to Tenny, and she told Samantha all about it.
They laughed and talked throughout the day. As suppertime approached, Tenny told James she was hungry. Samantha smiled. “Mr. Thacker, If you want to go get food, I can watch after Tenny.”
So James left. Samantha moved over beside Tenny. She brought her face close to Tenny’s. “I’ve got something to show you, Tenny. I’m wearing a wig.” She pulled up her brown hair, just a little bit, and Tenny saw she had the prettiest red hair she had ever seen.
“You and I are red-haired sisters, Tenny. I already knew you were coming to Taladega, and that your name was Tenny. The same people who took you, took me, too, when I was very young. You were supposed to be my little sister. I have something to give you, if you promise it will always be our secret. Then we’ll always be sisters. Promise, Tenny?”
“I promise, Samantha. This is really fun!”
Samantha took out a really small pair of scissors, and cut a lock of her red hair. Then she cut a lock from Tenny’s hair, too. She placed them together, tied with a thread. Then she got out a small golden locket, and placed them inside together. She handed the locket to Tenny.
“As long as you keep this, and never show anyone, we will always be secret sisters.”
“I will never show anyone, Samantha! I’ve never had a secret sister before! I promise, forever!”
James came in the coach door, and Samantha moved back to her seat so James could sit down.
The next morning, James walked back to the stock car to get the horses. They were at the water tank stop where James had caught the train into Taladega days before. Tenny ran to the coach window to say goodbye to Samantha. “Where are you going, Samantha?”
“I don’t know, Tenny. To the end of the tracks, wherever that is. But don’t worry about me. My family gave me money. They think I’m coming back, but I can never go back to the life they live. But I’m starting a new life, somewhere out there.”
“We’re moving, too. Papa says we’re going to Dover, Arkansas!”
“I promise I’ll come see you there, Tenny! I really mean that. After all, we will forever be sisters! Never forget that, Tenny!”
“I won’t, Samantha! I promised!” They both were crying. The train was moving. Tenny grasped her hand, running alongside the coach as long as she could. Then, she watched the train until it went around the bend. Tears were still running down her cheeks as she walked back to Papa.
As the train rumbled along, heading toward the end of the tracks, Samantha returned to her seat. She was soon asleep, smiling, dreaming of her sweet sister.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Author's note: Going out of the country for 10 days. I'll pick up here when I get back. Thanks for reading! Pat
Tenny didn’t want to be Mrs. Dolly’s little girl. She wanted to go home with her papa. She pushed his hand aside, slid off the horse, and landed running. She looked back to see if he was gonna catch her, and she saw Mr. Bob’s head disappear in a sudden red cloud. Then she heard a shot from a long, long way off. She ran and ran. Pretty soon she fell, and she was crying so hard, she couldn’t get up. She cried. Partially because she was so scared, but also because she had ran from Mr. Bob after promising she would not. Pretty soon, Papa was holding her. He was crying too. Before long, they were both crying and laughing. At the same time.
LaFayette was in a big hurry. “Quick – get her on a horse! If the Clan heard that shot, they’ll investigate. We gotta go now!”
LaFayette’s wife took good care of Tenny when they got back to Taladega. She gave her a bath, the first in many days, and cared for her bruises and rope burns.
“Other than that, she seems to be fine. But you need to let her rest up several days before heading back to Tennessee, James.” She looked at James quietly for a moment. “No, James. She has not been attacked.” James almost cried again.
While Tenny slept, her first real sleep for many days, the men smoked a cigar.
James Spoke. “Thank you, LaFayette. I think we’re even now. We helped you, and you saved our Tenny. After Tenny rests up a few days, we’ll take the train most of the way home. But this time, Tenny travels first class.”
“Yeah, James, I guess we are even. And by the way, I think I mentioned we might go to Arkansas. Well, we’re leaving this spring. I got kin at Atkins, in th’ Arkansas River Valley. They have never had a constable in Atkins, but they have offered me th’ job, if we will come. There’s a lot of homestead land fer th’ takin’ there, an I hear Arkansas is not as torn up by th’ war as Alabama. Why don’t you meet us where the Arkansas and th’ mighty Mississip’ join? There’s a town there, on the Arkansas side, called Napoleon. We could go on up by river boat. Lots of good land fer th’ takin’. An that girl Tenny, she sure has a lot of that red-haired spunk. Never had any red hair in my family. Like to have some. My oldest boy, John Wesley, is about her age, ye know! But that leaves out my youngest daughter, ‘fraid Josh is a little too old fer her. If, that is, the new baby turns out to be a girl!”
They both laughed. But nobody, in their wildest imaginings, could have guessed what strange matrimonial twists lay in store for those two families.
“You know, LaFayette, I’ve been thinkin’ about Arkansas, an all that homestead land. Haven’t even talked to Sara yet. But she’ll come around. I’ve got kin in Dover, which is also in that river valley. Let me know when to meet you. We’ll see you this spring where the two mighty rivers join. Count on it.”
“It will be sometime around the first of April, James. I’ll telegraph you. Th’ lines should be back up by then.”
A few days later, LaFayette saw James and Tenny off as they boarded the train. The last thing LaFayette said as they stepped onto the train was, “Don’t fergit! Atkins is waitin’ fer us, an Dover is waitin’ fer ya’ll! See ya this spring where the mighty rivers join!”
Tenny stepped into the long aisle. She was surprised at the big, comfortable seats on that train, and all the people.
But Tenny is smart, and she was still thinking about what LaFayette said. “Are we movin’ to Dover, up in Arkansas, Papa?”
James laughed. “You’re too smart for your own good, Tenny. That was just talk. But don’t you mention that to your mama. I haven’t even talked to her about that yet!”
Once Sam was arrested, it didn’t take long for Slim to figure out what Doodlebug and Darryl had tried to do. He didn’t blame Sam for that, because he knew she was just following along with them. “But I will deal with those two, if they ever show back up here.”
Once Darryl and Doodlebug came slipping back to the Clan, and found out what had happened to Sam, they packed up, sneaked out, and got gone in a hurry, before Slim could find them. They knew what Slim would do. They would not be back.
Slim had laid out his thinking for Sam. “Sam, you need to be away from here fer a spell. The townsfolk are so riled up over your deal, they may cause trouble for the Clan. I’m gonna give you money enuf to ride that train until you’re far away from here. Wear this brown wig until you get there. Get you a room and even a job, if you want it, and stay gone six months. That will give time for all this trouble to settle down. Won’t take too long, once th’ townsfolk know yer gone. Then, you can come back. Six months. Not a day more. Now go pack up.”
Mama Dolly was distraught. She had lost one of her girls, now Sam was about to leave. But there was one thing that was making her happy, at the same time. “Slim got a telegram yesterday. He said Bob is bringing a little orphan girl to live with us. She’s jest a child, and her name is Tenny. And guess what – She has pretty red hair, just like you, Sam! She will be your little sister! When you get back, you can be her best friend, just like you and Millie. Won’t that be grand!
Wearing her brown wig, nobody recognized Sam when she boarded the train the next morning. She had two bags and a nice long case containing her buffalo gun. She was not about to leave the one thing that would keep her from ever having to shoot anybody. As she walked down the aisle of the fancy coach, she looked at all the people. She was excited. She had no plans to ever come back to the Clan. This would give her a chance to start a new life, and Slim’s money was making that all possible. She felt bad about taking Slim’s money. But he had taken her away from her life. It was only fair that his money should help her start a new one.
Halfway down the long aisle, Sam saw a little red-haired girl sitting beside a big man. But the sight of that little girl sent Sam into shock. She had to quickly find a seat and sit down. She couldn’t stop staring at her – her heart was racing wildly. Sam’s mind was a blur, bombarded by flashbacks from the last time she had seen this little girl – her real sister!
It took a few minutes for Sam to pull herself together, realizing, finally, it’s not her. Her real sister would be a grown woman now. This little girl was exactly the size Samantha faintly remembered her older sister being – before Samantha’s memories went blank, and her life turned so bad.
Mama Dolly had mentioned that a little red-haired girl was coming to be her sister. Could this be her? No, that can’t be, this train was going away from Taladega. Or could it be? Or did something go wrong? If so, why did they turn around? The man beside her was obviously not Bad Bob. He was big, but not that big. She had to think this out, then find a way to talk to this little girl.
A seat was open opposite the man and little girl. Sam had to think out her plan, then move up there, and strike up a conversation.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Tenny was really doing good. She had caught two catfish, and a bunch of big bream. Mama would sure be surprised! She was about to set the hook on another when it happened.
A big hand, from behind, covered her mouth tightly. Tenny tried to scream, but she couldn’t. Then a dirty-smelling rag was pushed into her mouth, her hands were tied, and she was put on a big horse in front of a really bad smelling fat man. He spurred his horse. They rode a long time. Then they stopped in a small clearing, where a loaded pack horse was waiting. Tenny was crying, as best she could with a dirty rag in her mouth. She was scared, but she could do nothing. She was tied onto the pack horse, and again they rode. They were miles away before the man spoke.
“You can call me Mr. Bob. If you will shut up with that crying, and promise not to holler, I’ll take out that rag. We’re goin’ to be travelin’ together a long time. Nothin’ to be scared of. I’m gonna take you to a really nice lady who loves little girls. You’ll like it there.” Mr. Bob took out the rag, and Tenny promised not to holler. She didn’t like that rag. It smelled almost as bad as Mr. Bob. They traveled for days, seemed like. Every night they slept on the ground. Tenny’s hands were still tied, and her wrists’ were bloody.
“Mr. Bob, if I promise not to try to get away, will you take these ropes off? If I did try to run away, where would I run to? I promise not to try to get away.”
Mr. Bob didn’t say anything, but the next day he took off the ropes, while telling her again that she was going to be Mrs. Dolly’s little girl, and she would just love Mrs. Dolly. From there, she only cried real quietly, and didn’t talk to Mr. Bob. He didn’t like it when she talked.
Finally, late one afternoon, they came to an old house with horses in front. Mr. Bob told her they were going to stay with his friends tonight, and to not be talking. We would be home tomorrow, he said.
She didn’t like Mr. Bob’s friends. It gave her a chill, the way they were looking at her.
Mr. Bob said, “This little girl is going to be Mrs. Dolly’s new little girl. I don’t want nobody to touch her. I’ll kill you if you do. And, Mrs. Dolly will know. Then Slim will kill all of us.” They all laughed real big at that, but quietened down after they had a chance to think that through. They all knew how Slim operated.
Mr. Bob then put her in a dirty room and gave her a blanket, a little water, and some more jerky, that tasted bad. He told her not to move or talk.
Tenny could hear Bob and his friends drinking and playing cards until late at night. After the noise settled down, a man she didn’t know came into the room. He told her not to make a noise. He said he felt sorry for what was happening to her, then he hugged her. She didn’t like his hugs. He smelled even worse than Mr. Bob. And, his hugs weren’t like Papa’s hugs. She tried to scratch his eyes and hollered real loud. Mr. Bob came in, got real mad, and almost killed that man before he ran off. She didn’t sleep any more that night.
The next day, they left there early. It was getting close to noon. Mr. Bob Stopped.
“When we get over that next mountain, right up thare, we’ll be home. Nobody can ever bother us there.”
Mr. Bob put her on his horse, right in front of him, and said, “If anybody is gonna try to stop us, it would be right here, in this valley.” Mr. Bob was dumb as a rock, but sometimes a streak of common sense showed through dimly. He held his knife in one hand, holding her real tight. “We jest gotta get over that hill right up thare, and we’ll be home.” Mr. Bob smiled; a crooked, lopsided smile. But it was the first one Tenny had seen.
Two men stepped out of the bushes, pointed guns at them, and told them to stop.
Mr. Bob said, “Put down the guns, and let us pass, or I’ll cut her throat.”
They did. Tenny didn’t know for sure, but one of the men might have been Papa. She sure hoped so. They rode on.
Those two men were a long way back now, and they were about to start up the mountain. Mr. Bob eased up his hold on her a little, and laughed. “In jest a few minutes, you will be Mrs. Dolly’s little girl!”
Monday, January 9, 2017
James was thinking as he traveled. Bob had a big head start. He needed to catch him before they got to the Dudley Clan. But how? There was a decent-sized town between him and Taladega, right near the state line. James didn’t even know the name of it, he’d never been there. But he knew most folks headed to Taladega from Tennessee went through it. It might have a telegraph, and maybe the lines were back up after the war. Maybe they had a constable who could help him. Maybe the train headed south is running again, and maybe, LaFayette was the Marshal in Taladega once more. An awful lot of maybe’s between him and getting Tenny back. But it was his only chance.
James was feeling some better as he rode in the stock car, with his horse, into Taladega late the next morning. All his maybe’s had worked out. LaFayette was waiting for him when the train pulled into the station.
James quickly filled in the details for LaFayette.
“We got to hurry, James. We just might be able to cut him off, if you’re still ahead of him. My guess is, you are. It’s an extra two days by horseback. But we best get movin’.”
James didn’t feel quite as good after LaFayette briefed him on the way.
“That Dudley bunch is as bad as they come, James. I would say, if Bob gets Tenny in there, you will never see her again. We can’t, in any form or fashion, just ride in there and get her. There must be twenty men up there, and they’re all good with a buffalo gun. Even the kids. Everybody in Taladega is scared of them, and I got one deputy.”
LaFayette continued. “There’s a creek leading back into the mountains, that goes right back in to the heart of the Clan’s land. Most people would go in that way, to keep from having to climb all th’ mountains. We’ll set up there. It’s our only possible way. ”
They hid the horses at the end of a long clear valley. Sitting in the bushes beside the valley, LaFayette readied his buffalo gun. “This is one of the new models. I can hit a man’s head at 300 yards with this baby. All we can do now is wait. And hope.”
They waited. It grew dark. Rather than risk Bob sneaking by at night, they took turns watching the trail all night. It was near noon the next day. James was afraid they had missed Bob and Tenny completely. Then, Lafayette brushed his arm.
“Somebody comin’. Jest a speck, way down there. See um?”
Saturday, January 7, 2017
After weeks of working to clear the back ten acres of the back forty, James and his boys were close to finishing up. Sara and Tenny were working in the garden, closer to the cabin.
Suddenly, James thought he heard someone scream. He stopped working, and listened closer. Yes. It sounded like Sara. Screaming. He and the boys ran toward the cabin. Sara, completely out of breath and crying, was running to meet them.
After a few moments, Sara was able to talk. “Tenny’s gone! I let her go down to the Deep Hole, right down from the cabin, to catch a mess of fish for supper. She was not back when she should have been. I looked for her, and she’s just gone!!” She burst out crying again.
After half an hour of searching, there was no sign of Tenny. Tom found footprints of a horse in the sand by the creek. But that was all.
They had seen no sign of Bad Bob around the place for weeks now. The men in town had told James just last week that Bob had not been there either, ever since the day he and James argued.
James quickly took over the situation. “Y’all keep searching around here. If I’m not back in two hours, Tom, go into town and tell the Constable. Ask him to organize a search. Gather me up some jerky and stuff that will keep, Sara, while I get my gun and my bedroll. I’m going to the Dudley place, out behind th’ swamps. I may be gone a long time. I’ll be back, and Tenny will be with me.” He soon rode out at a fast pace.
After a hard ride, James rode up to the Dudley place. Clint sat on his porch, his scattergun across his lap. Two of his boys were walking over, well-armed. James left his gun in place, and dismounted.
“You gotta lot of nerve, showin’ up here, Thacker, after th’ way you been tryin’ to turn th’ whole town again Bob. Before we shoot ya, whatta ya want?”
“I know you can shoot me at any time, Mr. Dudley. But my six-year-old girl is missin’, and Bob’s been stalkin’ her. Is Bob here?” Clint spat a long brown stream at Jame’s feet. “He ain’t here, Thacker. Ain’t been since yesterday. We got no part in this thing between you an Bob, lest you push it. Now get off my land.”
As James mounted his horse, he noticed that Mrs. Dudley was standing in the doorway. She appeared to be near tears. James slowly rode off, halfway expecting a bullet in the back at any time. When he was around the bend, and well out of sight, he reined his horse into the woods. He was thinking.
I have no way to find Bob. Don’t even know where to start looking. But I betcha the answer is in that house.
James tied up his horse, and quietly walked back through the woods toward the clearing. He had seen the hog pen, off to the right and against the woods. He walked up to the bushes beside the hog pen, hid himself, and sat. He waited. An hour went by. Then two. No sign of anybody stirring. He was about to give up, when the back door opened. Mrs. Dudley walked out with a heavy bucket. She walked to the hog trough, and emptied the bucket. The hogs squealed with delight, and came running, with smiles on their faces.
James spoke very quietly. “Please, Mrs. Dudley. I don’t mean to scare you, I just need to find my little girl. Can you help me?”
Serenity said nothing. Never recognizing his presence. Then she leaned against the hog pen. She never looked at James. After a long time, her shoulders drooped.
“Said he was headed to Taladega. The Dudley Clan lives right on the south county line. But they’re all mean, not like my boys. And there’s dozens’ of um.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Dudley. I knew you were a good woman.”
As James turned away, she spoke in a faint voice, full of emotion. “And Mr. Thacker?”
“I hope you find your little girl.” She choked as she said it.
James quietly, but quickly, walked to his horse, mounted, and reined him south. Toward Taladega County.
Thursday, January 5, 2017
During those four days, Slim was busy. Slim had gotten rich during the war. With money, comes power. The Governor of Alabama was now a Northern man, commonly called a Carpetbagger. He was placed in that office by the North, which, during the Reconstruction, was policy. No Southerner was allowed to hold a political office in the South, except for a few Scalawags, a Southerner who had proven beyond any doubt to be loyal to the North.
Slim had dropped a few hints in just the right places concerning what would happen to the Governor’s family if Sam was hanged. The Governor had no real military power this early in the Reconstruction, having no resources to fight an all-out Clan war. And, everybody well knew Slim always kept his promises.
The Jury was in. Guilty. Sam was to be hanged the next day. The jury foreman had barely gotten those words out of his mouth when Marshal Gillum, who was, personally, becoming convinced that Sam could not have shot that man, stepped forward to make an announcement. The Governor had passed down the word. Sam was pardoned. The verdict was vacated.
Now, Taladega was in a royal uproar. While Sam did have friends, the vast majority of Taladega citizens were livid. It was easy to figure out what had happened, and most were still in an uproar about what Millie did, anyway.
Marshal Gillum moved Sam to the jail for temporary protection for her, while he decided what to do. There were signs of a lynch mob forming. The whole town was agitated and extremely upset. Sam’s reputation with the big gun in Taladega was working against her now. “There ain’t no way she woulda gotten that good with that gun if she was not plannin’ on using that skill ta kill innocent people!”
“Th’ Dudley’s are all killers!
“ She’s jest another red-haired Dudley Killer!”
“Somebody get a rope!” That, and many more expressions of outrage were heard in the streets that day. It seemed all of Taladega’s pent-up distrust and anger regarding the Dudley Clan, that had built up over the generations, just burst forth, at long last, that day.
The Marshal had a real problem on his hands. He finally decided. The only way he could do his job, save that girl, was to get her to the Dudley Clan. Breaking her out of jail and lynching her was one thing; going up into the hills of the Dudley’s, taking her away from the Dudley’s, then lynching her, was quite a different thing entirely. LaFayette knew that once she was under Slim’s protection, the lynch mob would shut up and slink off home with their tail between their legs. And, as it proved out, he was right. All Gillum’s, as history has shown, are very smart. In a few cases, that continues on to this very day.
Once the Marshal sneaked her out the back door of the jail, (where two horses were waiting,) took her half way up to the Dudley’s, and explained to her the only option she had to stay alive, Sam’s common sense did the rest; she was soon home. With the Dudley’s.
She was not real happy about it. But she was alive.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Sam knew about that cabin, and she loved vacations there. She and Millie had spent a week there once. But she could not understand how Doodlebug and Darryl would be able to settle their differences with that man down there, regarding such a serious matter, so simply, until the man walked out of his house, and Doodlebug took him out with the big gun.
Sam burst into tears. She was totally distraught. “You didn’t even try to talk to him, to reason with him. He was not going to hurt us, he was just going out to feed his horses!” Sam wailed uncontrollably.
Well, as it turned out, there was no chance for Doodlebug and Darryl to sew up the loose ends, because just at that moment, four men rode into the clearing below, neighbors who were planning to help the farmer raise a barn that day. The four men quickly saw the situation, and opened fire.
If there was one thing Dudley’s were really good at, it’s getting away from trouble, and this was no exception. They executed the getaway plan almost to perfection. The one little problem was, Sam’s long red hair, now so well known in Taladega County, was very obvious, waving in the wind as they outran the pursuit. Once the getaway was complete, Doodlebug did his best to console Sam. But there was no settling Sam down that day.
Doodlebug carefully explained that they must stay away from the Clan for four days, so that Slim would never know what they did. If he ever found out, he would kill them all. They all agreed to that, because they all liked living. But Sam stated she was going to camp by herself. She wanted no vacation with a murderer.
Sam camped out in the woods all day and all night, crying most of the time. Finally, she decided. Tomorrow she would ride into town, find some of her friends, and ask them to help her get away from the Dudley’s, once and for all. That decision, considering Sam was recognized at the site of the killing, proved to not be a well-thought-out strategy, and it landed her right in the middle of Marshal LaFayette Gillum’s jail.
The trial was not as quick as Millie’s, thanks to her friends. Many people testified that Sam was not like the other Dudley’s. She was friendly and personable. And they were convinced she could never have done this. They were all up in the air about it.
On the other hand, four eye witnesses testified that Sam was right there, at the scene of the crime. Others were convinced that she was just another Dudley redhead, following in the footsteps of Millie, who everybody knew by now killed men just for fun. Everybody except Sam. Nobody ever told Sam about Millie’s really bad habits, and her unfortunate ending.
The jury just could not decide. They debated for four days.
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Forever A Hillbilly: Forever A Hillbilly: Part 15 Dead eye Sam: Forever A Hillbilly: Part 15 Dead eye Sam : By the time the crops were all planted, Lafayette brought up his status at breakfast one d...
Hey readers - Hope you had a good Christmas and New year.
Since most of you regulars read within two days, I'm going to start posting every two or three days. Thanks for your time and your attention - Pat Gillum
Since most of you regulars read within two days, I'm going to start posting every two or three days. Thanks for your time and your attention - Pat Gillum
Sam didn’t know that Millie actually had been hunting the townspeople, often going far off Dudley land to seek them out. Sam didn’t know Millie had now killed four men who never stepped foot on Dudley land. And she did it from three hundred yards away, long before they even saw her. And she did it all just for fun.
Sam did notice that Millie had disappeared from the compound. Sam knew that Millie had gone to live with kin awhile. Sam knew that, because that was what Mama Dollie told her. Sam didn’t know that Millie had been caught killing a man a little too close to town one day. Sam didn’t know that Millie was about to be put on trial for murder, because Mamma Dollie never told her.
Slim came down to talk to Dolly privately. “Look here, Dolly.
Millie has made her own bed. Now, she can lie in it, or climb out of it by herself. Millie kain’t be controlled, and she’ll be a liability ta th’ Clan as long as she stays around. Someone like her can bring th’ whole family down.”
“Now Sam, she’s another case completely. She’s a full grown woman now, an we need her. I been patient with her. It’s time ta send her on a business trip with a couple of th’ men. See if she can cut it, once and fer all. If she kain’t, I’ll make a peddler outta her. Either way, she’ll be worth her weight in gold ta us. But she must not find out about Millie, cause Millie will likely hang, and Sam’s so close to her, she might kill herself if she ever knows th’ whole truth. I’ll send Sam out with th’ boys tomorrow, keep them gone from here while all this Millie trouble settles. Then we’ll see.”
It was early in the morning when Sam was told she had been promoted. She would ride with Doodle Bug and Darryl, the two most experienced businessmen, to far south Alabama to see a client.
Sam had been kept completely in the dark about the true business of the Dudley’s all her life. Usually, a Dudley kid of twelve or so was brought into this work. But Sam was so tender, so soft-hearted, that she had been treated differently. Now, it was time. See what she was really made of. Get her started out on her professional path in life.
Although Slim’s directions were very specific, Doodlebug and Darryl were totally worn down during the last four years, and they knew of a nice little farm only ten miles away that would be just as good, though it was still in the edge of Taladega County. They had no desire to ride four days right now. If they handled this right, and if Sam never told, then Slim would never know.
Sam didn’t know that after a thirty-minute trial, Millie was hanged at three o’clock that same day. By the time she and her two business associates returned, Millie’s case would be old history. Over and done with.
At daylight the next day, the three were hidden up on the hill, two hundred yards above the prettiest little farmhouse Sam had ever seen. Doodlebug, while very experienced, was not quite as skilled at handling touchy cases, like Sam, as Billy Boy had been.
“Now see here, Sam. That man down there robbed a Dudley family two weeks ago, then killed th’ whole family,” he lied. “When he comes out, I’ll confront him about it. Then Darryl and I will ride down and sew up th’ loose ends. You stay here on lookout. Then, we’ll head up in the mountains to a nice little cabin we Dudley’s have, and have a fun vacation, fishin’ and such for a few days. Simple as that.”