Books By Willy

The Life and Legend of Old Man Thompson

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   My Demise






   My Miserable Life





 The Life and Legend of Old Man Thompson

By Willy   

Willy meets Paul Pierce:

It was a warm afternoon. I was sitting in my cushioned rocking chair on my front porch. My bride had made me a pitcher of lemonade. All I wanted to do was, relax and take a nap. My plan for a quiet afternoon was derailed by a big limo driving up my road. Who in hell could that be? I didnít know anyone that owned a limo or could afford to rent one. Maybe itís someone in the Smith clan. Frank and Peg probably, they have dozens of them.

I sat up and put my glass of lemonade on the table. I started to get up when the limo stopped and the rear door swung open. A short fat man rolled out of the rear door and called, "Stay there, I donít want to disturb you. You look too comfortable for me to ask you to come down here in this blazing hot sun."

I watched him waddle across the yard and up the steps. I should have gone to the limo. He was out of breath and perspiration was flowing down his face. I thought he was going to pass out before he got to the top step. I offered him my seat and he declined and said that he would sit on the swing. I think he would have flattened my favorite chair or made it two feet wider. I was glad of that; I did not want to move.

The swing bowed, creaked and it looked like the eyebolts were going to be pulled out of the porch ceiling. He pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his brow. There was a continuous flow of perspiration flowing down his face. If the eye bolts let loose, when he hits the floor, he will go right through it. After he got his breath he said, "I am Larry Pepper, Pepper like salt and pepper. You may have heard about me, I am an Attorney from Metro. You probably have heard about the problem with the state police and the Good-Ole-Boys down in Duster Ville. Everyone down there calls it Dustville."

  Who hasnít heard about it? You had to be dead, dumb and blind not too have heard about it. It had been in the news media daily for almost a year. There wasnít a TV, radio station, newspaper or any other forms of the media that didnít carry the story about the Pool Hall Gang. I nodded my head and said, "Yep, who hasnít?"

Pepper wiped his face again then said, "I was assigned to represent a Mr. Paul Pierce, the banker from Duster Ville. Pierce has turned states witness, and is pouring out his guts to the authorities against my better judgment. He insists on telling everything with hopes they will let him get off scot-free. He embezzled millions from the bank. You may have known that he lost everything. He thinks you can financially help his wife and daughter."

This hit me like a ton of bricks. What in hell is he talking about? Why in hell did this bastard pick me to help his wife and daughter? Is this nut canvassing the area for donation for Pierce?

I laughed, and said, "Heís crazy? I canít help my wife and myself, much less them. Heís asking the wrong person for help."

Pepper shook his head and laughed, "I know what you mean. He isnít asking for donations, but he would take it if someone gave him one. He has a bright idea that he will make a fortune telling about his close associates down in Duster Ville, especially Billy Thompson. He will tell all of the gory details of the murders the Pool Hall Gang committed. He wants you to write a book about them."

"Why did he pick me to write the story? There are a lot of very good writers out there that would do a much better job than I would."

"I donít know why he picked you. The authorities agreed to let Pierce have a computer with a connection to the internet as long as he keeps talking. When he stops talking, they will yank the plug. He has been reading your stories on the web and he thinks that the two of you will make a fortune."

I could not stop laughing. I told him that I hadnít made a cent. I get a number of hits on my web site. I donít know if they read my stories or not. They probably think they are terrible, which they are, or they are too cheap to send me a few bucks.

Pepper continued, "Pierce is very insistent, and I cannot change his mind. Just do me a favor and go see him. I will pay you for the time. I will sign you up as my assistant. All you have to do is sign in when you visit him and the state will pay you. You may get enough information out of him to write a book and make a few bucks yourself. At least, please go see him?"

I told Pepper that I just write for the fun of it and I do not think we would ever make a dime. However, I said to myself, I would like to know the inside story on what really went on in Duster Ville. After pondering it for a few minutes I said, "Mr. Pepper, I will do it on one condition. If I get into any type of trouble from this, you and your office will have to represent me pro bono. Do you agree?"

"Yes sir, I agree. I am sure that we will not have any problems."

We shook hands and he said he would write up an agreement and mail it to me. Pepper started to get up from the swing. He could not quite make it. His strength had given out. He tried again. He let out a roaring fart. His face turned bright red and I wasnít positive that it was a fart; he could have ripped his pants. A shocked look came across his face. The way he looked, he may have shit in his pants. I chucked and tried to hold it in but I couldnít. A broad smile came across my face. He giggled and said, "I sorry about that, I have digestive problems."

After the slight breeze had a chance to blow away the pungent odor, I got up and tried to help him with not much success. I called the limo driver for help. Between the two of us, we got Pepper to his feet. The driver helped Pepper across the porch and down the steps. With each step the wood floor squeaked. I thought the floor would give way. You could see the floorboards bending under his weight. The driver helped Pepper into the back seat. I thought the front end of the limo would pop up like a seesaw with no one sitting on the other seat. Fortunately, the front end didnít pop up, but the rear of the limo sunk about six inches.

As I watched the limo disappear in the tree-lined road, I said to myself, "Now, what the hell have I got myself into."

My bride had been in the kitchen watching a soap opera and hadnít head Pepper drive up. She came out to refill my glass of lemon aide and saw the rear end of the limo as it faded in the distance and asked, "Who was that. Did someone lose their way again?"

"No, that was the attorney for the banker that embezzled all the money down in Duster Ville."

"What was he doing here?"

I didnít want to tell her. She proof reads my books and hates it. Nevertheless, I wanted to spread a little cheer and said, "Paul Pierce wants me to write a book about his friends down in Duster Ville."

If looks could kill, I was dead. She whirled around and went back into the house. She didnít refill the glass with lemon aide and slammed the door as she went back into the house. She returned to her soap. I could hear her letting off steam and she repeated my thoughts, "What the hell has he got us into."

Before I went to Metro to see Pierce I spent a little time trying to smooth it over a little with my bride. I butter her up, telling her how beautiful she was. I hugged her and patted her on her butt. The little affection helped to clear the air, a little. She knew that she could not change my mind and that I enjoyed putting my thought on paper.

I had no problem getting in to see Pierce. Pepper had cleared the way. The prosecutor felt that I may jar Pierces mind and he would remember details that he hadnít thought of before. Usually they do not let visitors in the same enclosure with a prisoner, I was allowed to visit Pierce in his cell. They all thought he was a harmless, scared, fat little man that would not harm anyone. They did not tell him I was coming. I was standing in front of the cell door with a bright morning sun behind me. Pierce had his back to the door. The noise of the door opening frightened him. He spun around with a frightened look on his face. I thought he was going to pass out. He sat down on his bunk and asked, "Father, why are you here?"

I took a couple steps closer and blocked the sun. A smile came across his face. He apologized and said, "I thought you were Father Ryan and they were coming to take me to death row."

I apologized for frightening him and said, "Mr. Pierce, I am Willy. I understand you have been reading my books on the web. Why in hell have you chosen me to write your memoirs?"

He looked a little embarrassed and looked as if he was trying to think up a polite way to say, that he could not find another jerk to write the book. He was a little more reserved, "I have written and e-mailed everyone I could think of and no one answered my letters or my e-mail. I came across your web site and you had written about the Smith girls. I felt you might like to know what went on in Duster Ville before the girls were born. I asked Pepper to go see you in person with hopes he could persuade you to give it a try."

I smiled at Pierce and said, "What the hell. I donít have anything else to do, why not. I canít promise you that we will ever make a cent. I cannot afford the cost for having a book published. The publishers want their money up front. We are the ones that take the risk. Of course, if we become well known, and they like my work; they will be knocking my door down. I would not put any money on it. There are millions of wishful thinkers out there with dreams of becoming famous."

Pierce looked disappointed; he turned around and looked at the blank wall of the cell for a few moments. He shrugged his shoulders. He turned, looked at me, shrugged his shoulders again, tilted his head, wrinkled up his face and said, "What can I say? I donít have any money."

I could see the disappointment in his face. I thought that it would be a good idea to change the subject, I said to Pierce, "They made it quite comfortable for you."

He cupped his mouth and said, "I am blackmailing them. They want information and I am going to make them pay for it."

Pierce was like millions of overfed middleclass Americans. He had eaten, drank too much, and the heaviest exercise that he had done in years was pulling himself out of his favorite chair. He would not stand out in a crowd. He would fit right in. He appeared to be in his mid sixties, balding on the top with a chubby face, a potbelly that hung over his belt with a frightened look on his face. He was a timid little man about five foot six.

I think that he felt that his wishes had not been in vain. He invited me to take a seat. He may have thought that everything wasnít lost. A broad smile lit up his face. He went over to a desk and picked up a stack of notes that he had written. He thumbed through them, handed them to me then said, "If the courts donít kill me, this will. When the Pool Hall Gang finds out that, I have squealed on them, they will kill me. I have let them push me around for most of my life. I want to clear my conscience before I go to death row. Many years ago, my own greed got me into this mess. Now I have lost everything. My wife and daughter have deserted me. After the Smith girls took over the bank, my wife bled my bank account through an ATMís in Metro. I have not seen or heard from her since. I think she felt that they would lock my daughter and her up. I canít blame them. Both of them hated my associates. They had warned me that some day they would have to pay for the crimes they had committed. Everyone in Duster Ville knew that we were robbing the town and everyone else."

Pierce appeared as if he had forgotten where he was and why he was there. He kept rambling on about his past for quite a while. He stopped talking in the middle of a sentence and started scrambling around as if he was looking for something. He was mumbling to himself as he searched the room. I could see the frustration that he was going through. I asked Paul what he was looking for. He told me that he had written a tablet full of notes and he could not find them. I took the notes from my brief case and asked him if these were the notes. He looked confused. He stared at me for a few minutes then said, "You must think that I am crazy. I forgot I had given them to you."

I put my hand on his shoulder and said, "Paul, you donít have any idea how many time I have put something down, forgot where I put it and spend an hour looking for it. I would ask my wife if she had seen it. Usually she could tell me where it was. It happens to me all the time."

Paul said, "Forgive me, at times I think I am going crazy. The notes I gave you should get you started. Every time I think of something I write it down."

I had taken a tape recorder along with me and recorded our conversation. I wasnít going to trust my memory or have Pierce tell me later that he did not say what I have written. I told him it was a good idea to write down the things that came to his mind when he thought of them. When I came to see him, he could reference his notes and tell me the stories so I could record them as well. I felt that when we talk about the events, new thoughts would come to him. I would be able to see the feeling and emotions that went through when he told the story. I wanted to feel the emotions and drama of the event but I canít always translate these emotions and write them down.

I thumbed through the notes Paul had given me. I noticed that he had some very personal information about his former friends. I asked Paul, "How do you know about these murders your friends committed, were you there?"

Paul shook his head and a slight smirk came across Paulís face, he said, "No Willy, I was at only one of the murders. Usually, once a month Billy Thompson got us together and we would go over the books. He wants to know how much money we were stealing from Duster Ville. In addition, how much money Simon and Jasper were taking in and most of all he wanted to know how much money I was stealing from BFS Outlet. After we went over the books, he would pull out a jug of Moonís best moonshine. I loved my booze as well as everyone else. At times, booze does not like me and I canít drink too much  When my stomach tells me that itís has had enough, I only wet my lips and nurse the shot glass. A few shots of the moonshine would lubricate their vocal cards and unlock their vicious minds. Jasper and Simon would try to top everyone elseís atrocities. Billy loved to tell everyone how I begged him not to kill Bill Harden. His comments brought back memories that I wish I could have forgotten. I am still having nightmares about that evening. Wilson participated in most of murders that Simon and Japer committed. He wasnít as vocal as Jasper and Simon. The following day after their hangover had cleared, and they remembered what they had said the night before, they would drop in at the bank and threaten to kill me if I open my mouth and reveal their secrets. For my own protection, I started a journal. They revealed their darkest secrets about the murders that they committed and bragged about them. My journal was the clincher. If I didnít keep duplicate books and letters relating to the murders, I would not be in here today."

I asked, "Did they know about the journal?"

"Yes, they knew. One morning I was late coming into Sammyís. They were too busy stuffing their face that they didnít see me walk up. Billy was talking with his mouth full. He was warning Jasper and Simon about running off at the mouth. He had the feeling that I would tell the authorities about their foxhunts. At that time, he did not know how right he was. He told them if I wasnít ripping off the BFS Company, he would take me out for a foxhunt. When Jasper looked up at Billy and saw me standing behind Billy, he almost choked on the food he had in his mouth. He couldnít say anything and pointed his fork at me. Billy looked around and jerked back as if he expected me to hit him. I had already started the journal. When Billy regained his composure, he tried to convince me that he was just kidding. I knew that they had been friend since they were kids and I was a newcomer to the group. I told Billy that I had written the journal about the PHG foxhunts and had put it in a safety deposit box in Metro. I told my attorney if anything happens to me. Have the authorities open the box and read the journals. I also kept a copy at the Dustville Bank. As you well know, Peg Smith found the copy at the Dustville Bank. Billy blew his stack. When he finished I said to them, what would they have done if I were holding a gun to their head? Billy said that he wasnít holding one to my head. They sat quietly for a few minutes. Jasper smiled and got up and invited me to sit down. He put on his charm and told me they would not think about taking me on a foxhunt. Billy and Simon also tried to smooth it over. I will never forget the way I felt. I feel almost the same way now. I felt that my body was hollow like a balloon and it was going to bust."

Paul sat on the bed and covered his face. I could hear him whimpering. He rolled over and covered his face. I could feel the living hell that he was going through. I tried to comfort him. It did not seem to help. I called the guard and told Pierce that I wanted to take a break and go to lunch.

After lunch, I returned. Paul was in a better mood. I spent the rest of the day talking with Paul. At the end of day, I felt the emotions that he was going through. He probably feels as if he has already died and has gone to hell.

Old Man Thompson:

The stock market collapsed. Depression had circumvented the world. Bread lines and soup kitchen had sprung up around the world. In a small town in the southeast corner of the United States, a young man weeps at the gravesite of his late father William Thompson Sr. He had buried his father under his fatherís favorite shade tree. In the latter days of William Sr. life, they would sit for hours together on a porch swing that hung from a massive limb on a giant oak tree. William knew that he didnít have to long to live and he wanted his son, Little Billy as everyone called him, to know the history of his family. His father would tell him how Herbert Duster had robbed him of his life and property. William tried to relive his life in the few months that he had left. Over the few short weeks, that they talked together hate and revenge racked Little Billyís mind. His fathers had in stowed in Little Billy the same anger that he had in his sole.

Billy was a handsome young man. He stood over six feet. His body was muscled from hard work and he didnít mind working. What angered him was that he never had any money and the life that, his neighbor, Herbert Dusterís boys had. And now both of his parents were dead.

Billy had dug the grave and buried his father in a wooden box the funeral home had sold him. After he packed down the last shovel of dirt and said his final farewell to his father, he left the gravesite and walked back into his home. It was only a hundred yard from the gravesite. Tears streamed down his face. His face was smeared with dirt from his hands when he wiped the tears from his face. He looked up in heaven and cursed God for taking away his father and mother. He hated the world that he lived in. He wanted to take revenge on the people that had forsaken him and his parents.

Billy inherited his fatherís rundown 10-acre farm. On the farm, there were two worn out old mules, a couple of dozen chickens, a few hogs and a cow. The house and the barn were about ready to collapse. The only thing that held the buildings up was a few 4x4ís propping up one side of the building. A strong breeze would collapse the building. The cracks in the wall were patched with newspaper, mud and everything in-between. The house had one small bedroom, and one larger room with a loft. The larger room was used for the kitchen, living room, and dining room. A ladder was nailed to the wall for access to the loft. Little Billy had slept in the loft. The cracks in the roof were patched with similar material used to patch the walls and floor.

The cracks in the barn were not patched. The poor animals had to huddle together to keep warm in the winter. The smell was atrocious. It had not been cleaned out in years.

Billy had never gone to school but he had taught himself at home without the help of his parents. It wasnít that his parents didnít want to help Billy, they couldnít. They never had the opportunity to go to school either. Billyís level of education was equivalent to that of a seventh or eighth grader. Billy had just turned seventeen. Hard work in his younger years had shown in his looks. He was a big strong boy for his age. He looked more like he was in his early twenties. His Pa had kept him out of school to help him on the farm.

Billy was left with a run-down farm without a cent. The last few bucks that Billyís father had were spent on the undertaker. He couldnít afford a grave sight next to the church and he felt his father would enjoy his favorite spot on his farm.

His father had worked part time for his wealthy neighbor. For the last few years, no one was hiring anyone. The poor Blacks that lived on Dusterís farm were not being paid for their labor, but they were scraping together just enough out of their gardens and the chicken they raised to stay alive. God only knows what they would have done if winter showed its ugly side. The buildings they lived in were worse than Billyís.

Billy had search the county looking for work with no success. His last resort was his wealthy neighbor, Herbert Duster, whom he hated with a passion. Duster had used Billyís father and Billy knew that he cheated his father out of his wages and most of the land that his father had owned. The Duster Clan had controlled and owned most of the county and the people since the Civil War.

Billy had no choice. Duster was his last chance of employment. Reluctantly, Billy decided to visit his neighbor. As he walked along the dirt road, the powered dust puffs up like little clouds. In his frustration, he kicked and stomped the dust. The dust had covered the lower part of his pants.

Mary Duster saw Billy walking up the road. Mary had watched Billy grow up. The last few years she had built up fantasies about Billy. She lit up like a candle. Mary never enjoyed her teen-age life that other young girls experienced. She was sold into a marriage with Herbert when she was only fourteen years old. Herbert had prevented her from having any social life during their marriage. Herbert noticed the change in her face. He asked, "What the hell are you looking at?"

Mary didnít know that Herbert had seen the excitement in her face. She blushed and said, "I thank that is Billy Thompson coming up the path."

Herbert yelled, "Why in hell is that brat coming over here?"

Still blushing, she said bashfully, "I donít know. He is headed for the front door."

With anger and hate Herbert got up and walked out on the front porch. Mary followed and stopped at the door. She peeked out to see what Herbert was going to do. When Billy started to walk up the steps, Herbert snapped, "Stay there, and donít bring that dust up on the porch. Rosie just swept the porch this morning. What can I do for you?"

This pissed Billy off, but he kept his cool and said, "As you may know my father passed away."

Without any emotions, Herbert said, "Yes, I know. Sorry to hear about it."

Billy gritted his teeth, he could see that the bastard didnít give a damn and said, "Mr. Duster, Pa told me before he died that you owed him a lot of money, six months back pay."

"I paid your Pa every cent that I owed him before he got sick."

"Pa said that you had put him off every time he asked for it. He said that you told him that you didnít have the money. I need the money for food. I had to spend the last cent I could find around the house to pay the undertaker and that was not enough. I still owe him two hundred dollars. "

"Boy, what are you talking about? Your Pa was losing his mind. He would forget he had his hat on his head."

"Nothing was wrong with País memory. He was dying from TB."

Herbert and Billy argued for another ten minutes. Herbert knew that his father tried to cure the TB by flooding his body with alcohol. Herbert told Billy that it was the moonshine that made his father to lose his memory. Billy couldnít argue that point. His Pa was drunk for the last couple of months of his life. Herbert saw the anger in Billy and tried to lighten up the argument. He didnít want to get into a fight with Billy.

Mary also saw the anger building up in Billy. She wanted to tell Herbert to give the kid the money he owed his father. Mary knew that Herbert was lying and felt sorry for Billy. Mary popped out of the door and said, "Billy, why donít you have dinner with us. Rosie has dinner on the table and I will sweep the dust from your pants."

This took Billy off guard. For a few moments, he stood their staring into space. Billyís temper was chilled with the kind words of Mary. He accepted the invitation; he hadnít had a decent meal in a month. Mary walked back into the house to get a broom. Herbert was standing there fuming. He asked himself, what the hell is that bitch doing? He took a deep breath, turned around, and went back into the house. As he was walking through the house, Mary passed him with a broom in her hand. He grabbed her arm and asked, "Why in hell did you ask that son-of-bitch to join us for dinner?"

Mary replied, "You know damn well that you owe Billyís father money. The kid doesnít have a cent to his name. At least we can be cordial. He probably hasnít had a decent meal in months."

Mary pulled away from Herbert, gave him a dirty look and went outside.

Mary was only fourteen when she married Herbert. Mary was the youngest of five girls in her family. As soon as her mother gave birth to one of the girls, she was pregnant with the next one. There was only about five yearís difference in their ages. Maryís mother died when Mary was only four years old. Her father Peter was a sharecropper. He only made enough money to keep him and the five girls fed. All the girls were beautiful like their mother. As the girls approached puberty, they attracted the attention of every male in the county. Their father had enough problems just feeding them and keeping them clothed without having to fight off every stud in the county. By the time his oldest daughter was thirteen, he came up with a plan to sell his daughters to the highest bidder. Usually the buyers bought the girls for their sons. When Mary was fourteen Herbert saw her shopping in Duster Ville. Herbert couldnít take his eyes off her. Mary was standing in front of a dress shop wishing she had the money to buy one of the beautiful dresses. Herbert walked up and asked Mary which dress she liked. Mary was embarrassed. She blushed and said, "The red one."

Peter was across the street talking to one of his friends when Herbert approached Mary. He knew who Herbert was and he was already spending the money that he would get for Mary. Within a month, Mary and Herbert were married. Mary gave birth to her two boys before they had been married two years.

Billy had played with the Duster boys when they were younger. But, when they became teenagers, Herbert didnít want his boys to associate with the white trash. He sent the boys off to a private school. He had forbid the boys from associating with Billy. Mary lost her two young sons in a logging accident a few years ago. They were in their early teens. Mary enjoyed having Billy around especially after the boyís death. He reminded her of her own sons.

Mr. Duster did not give a damn about Billy and did not want him around. When Mary invited Billy to dinner, Herbert was pissed to all hell. Billy had never been taught etiquette. Herbert though he ate like a hog. Herbert could not stand to watch Billy eat; infuriated, Herbert got up from the table and went to his study. Billy was no fool. He saw the hate radiating from Herbert. With each bite hate, envy and jealousy were growing in Billy.

After dinner, Mary gave Billy a tour of her home. Billy had seen the outside of the house since he was a child. But, he never had been inside of the house. The mansion had three stories, 14 large rooms and a huge attic. The attic alone was 10 times the size of Billy home, not to mention four modern bathrooms with running water. Mary led him out a side door. There was a huge garden surrounding the house. To keep the garden looking as nice as it was, they had to have four or five people working full time. When they approached the front of the house, there was a circular garden with a large magnolia tree in the center. A cobble stone driveway circled the garden. There were ten marble steps leading up to the huge front porch. Four massive columns supported the third floor and the attic. A Large Mahogany door lead into an oval shaped room with a marble floor. To the left of the entrance was a staircase that led to the second floor. A larger chandelier was hanging in the center of the room. The balcony circled the oval room. It was a magnificent home. Billy wondered how much blood and sweat it took to build the home. Billy envied and hated the Dusters. He wondered why the Dusters had been so successful and his family had not?

As the evening progressed, hate permeated Billy from the memories of what his father had said about the Dusters. In Billyís mind, the Dusters had stolen his fatherís land and his life. Billy swore that some day he would take over the Dusters farm.

Billy was polite. He could be very charming when he wanted to be. At the moment, he had Mrs. Duster eating out of his hand. Mr. Duster saw through Billyís charm and it showed. Billy could feel the hate Herbert Duster had for him. Mary Duster enjoyed his company so much she invited Billy for dinner again on Sunday afternoon. Billy had asked Mr. Duster earlier if he was hiring anyone. Of course, Mr. Duster told Billy that he wasnít hiring at that time. Duster didnít want the young brat hanging around his house. He felt that Mary showed a little too much attention to Billy.

During the next couple of months, Billy came up with dozens of ideas of how he would take over the Dustersí farm. He felt that all of his ideas would fail. He had to came up with what he thought was a foolproof plan. However, he was afraid something would go wrong and he did not want to be hanged for killing the Dusters.

The Sunday afternoon dinner became a regular activity. Mrs. Duster hired Billy to be her chauffeur. It gave them a lot of time alone together. When they were alone Mary would put her arm around Billy and slip a few extra bucks in his back pocket and squeeze his butt. Billy was confused about Mary affections. One moment she treated him as if he was her son, and then she would treat him as a servant. Sometimes she would tease him sexually. When the old man was busy and Mary wanted to go somewhere, she would walk over to Billyís to get him to take her for a ride.

There wasnít any bathroom facility in Billyís home. He had an outhouse in the back of the house and a well in the front. He had to drop a bucket down the well and get water to prime an old hand pump to get water. Billyís mother had bought the largest kettle she could find and she would fill it with water and build a fire under it and bathed outside. She would bathe Billy in the same hot water after she had taken her bath. The days were never to hot or too cold, his mother would always bathe outside. Billy continued taking his bath outdoors after his mother passed away. Billyís father took sponge baths in a washtub on the front porch in the summer and inside in the winter.

Mrs. Duster was twice Billyís age and she wasnít getting the attention she wanted from her husband. Being with Billy, it made Mary feel young again. In addition, she felt that Mr. Duster was having an affair with someone. When he came home, she could smell cheep perfume on Herbert. He was not the type of person she could accuse of having an affair. He would backhand her and slam her across the room, whether she was right or not.

On a pleasant afternoon, Mr. Duster told Mary that he had some business to take care of on the other side of the farm. This was the usual lie that he told Mary when he had an itch in his pants. Mrs. Duster kept her cool and did not explode even though she knew he was going to have sex with someone.

Billy was the only man that she had any close social contact with. She watched her husband go out to the barn, saddle up his horse, and ride off. She knew he would be gone for the rest of the day. She went up into the attic and watched Herbert until he was out of sight. She ran to the other side of the house where she could see Billyís house. She could only see the top of the house. The tall trees hid some of the house. She saw smoke rising up above the trees. She knew Billy was at home. She wanted the attention only a man could give her. An emotional fire was building up inside her. She was trying to think up an excuse for going over to Billyís.

Mary took a long bath. Rosie noticed the look of excitement in Maryís face. When Mary was finished dressing and was getting ready to leave, Rosie complemented Mary on how wonderful she looked. Rosie had never seen her spend this much time getting dressed. Rosie asked, "Miss Mary, where are you going? You sure do look beautiful."

A slight blush came across Mary face and said, "I just felt like getting dressed up for a change. I am going to take a walk in the woods."

Rosie turned away from Mary, rolled her big brown eyes, and giggled to herself, "Miss Mary must have a boy friend out in those woods waiting for her."

Mary left the house and headed for the woods. It was also the direction to Billyís house. Rosie watched her until she was out of sight. Rosie shook her head and said, "Miss Mary is going to get herself into a lot of trouble. Herbert will kill both of them."

As Mary neared Billís house she stopped and started to go back home. The overwhelming desire for attention turned her around. As she neared the house, she saw that the smoke was coming from the far side of the house. As she turned the corner of the house, she saw Billy bathing in the kettle. The sight of Billy nude body kindled sexual desires that swept through her body. Her heart started to beat faster and so was her breathing. She tried to look away but could not. Her desires pulled her to Billy. Billy looked up and saw her standing there. Surprised and not thinking, he jumps up where the whole world could see his naked body. Quickly he sat down and reached for his towel. It was out of his reach. Mrs. Duster walks over and picks up the towel. She deliberately held it out of Billyís reach. Their eyes made contact. They could see the lust in each other eyes. Billy slowly rose up out of the water without losing eye contact. He reaches for the towel and Mary said, "Let me."

She wrapped the towel around his body and slowly dried him off. She did not miss a spot. In one area of Billyís body she made extra certain it was dry. She wrapped the towel around his waist and tied a knot. She took his hand and helped him out of the tub. She led him across the yard and into the house. Billy followed her into the house. He had never had a desire for someone elseís wife. At the moment, his mind was torn. He was trying to think of a way to kill this woman and her husband, and she wanted to have sex with him. He knew that Duster would kill him if they were found together. When they were in the bedroom, Mary turns around, unties the towel, and let it drop to the floor. Mary reaching around and unbuttons the back of her dress. The dress slowly slid down her body. Fear and lust engulfed Billyís body. Mary took Billyís hand, rubbed it across her breast and down her body then she pulls Billy down on top of her on the bed. Fire blazed in their bodies for almost an hour without either one saying a word.

The experience ended as quickly as it started. Mrs. Duster grabbed her cloths, put them on, and dashed out of the house. Billy lay there confused for a moment; he jumped out of the bed and ran to the door. He sees Mrs. Duster running down the path. Confused he walks back to the bed and lies down. His mind was in turmoil. He was falling in love with the woman he wanted to kill.

He had planned to sneak over to the Dusterís after midnight and kill them. Then he was going to tell the authorities that he heard them screaming and then shot were fired. He got his shotgun and went over to see what had happen and caught a field hand ransacking the house. The field hand pushed him down and ran away. After he got up, he took a couple of shots in the dark. He felt that the birdshot must have hit the intruder. Now, Billy was not sure he wanted to kill Mrs. Duster.

It was Thursday afternoon; Billy was going to the Dusterís for dinner on Sunday. After having sex with Mrs. Duster, he wondered if he should go. He felt that Herbert would know that they had sex. If he didnít go, what would they think? He decided to go on Sunday as usual. Mrs. Duster did most of the talking. As usual, Duster didnít say a word. Herbert stuffed down his dinner. When he was finished, he told Mrs. Duster that he had some business to attend to. He got into his car and took off. Mrs. Duster watched from the window. She saw the dust trail going through the field of cotton. She ran back into the dining room. Billy was still eating. She walked up behind Billy. She rubs the back of his neck, and then she runs her hand over Billyís shoulder and down his chest. She kisses him behind the ear. She runs her tongue around the rim of his ear. Billy was exploding sexually. She tugged at Billy. She wanted him to go into the bedroom with her. Billy was afraid. He knew that others had been killed when they were found with someone elseís wife and he didnít want Duster to kill him, he wanted to kill Duster.

Cautiously he got up, and climbed the stair to the second floor. He went to the window and looked out, he saw someone walking up the road toward the house. He called to Mary and said, "Come take a look. Someone is walking up the road. I can see his hat bobbing up and down over the cotton plants."

Mary craned her neck and said, "Thatís Herbert, I would know that hat a mile away."

Billy said, "I am getting the hell out of here."

Mary was still at the window and said, "He wonít be here for another ten minutes. Get yourself some of that chicken and some biscuits and put them in a bag before you go. Leave your hat on the chair when you leave. Do not take it with you. It will give you an excuse for coming back. When you get out of sight, watch the house, I do not trust him. He has something up his sleeve. Come back over here to get your hat after he comes into the house. I donít know if he has found out about us, but I believe he thinks that we are making love."

Billy grabbed some biscuits and chicken and stuffed them in a bag. Mary hurried and cleared the table. Mary gave Billy a kiss as he snuck out the opposite side of the house and hid in the wood to watch for Herbert. When Herbert reached the house, Billyís heart was pounding. His heart pounded as fast as it did when Mary made love to him, but the emotions were completely different. His heart pounded faster with each step of Herbert as he approached the house. Herbert had his shotgun in his hand. He burst into the front door and after a few minutes he yelled, "Where the hell is that kid."

Mary intentionally yelled, "Billy has gone home."

Herbert ran through the bedrooms looking for Billy. He ran back down stairs into the dining room, again he yelled, "Where is that kid? Donít lie to me. Thatís his hat on the chair."

Mary yelled, "He must have forgotten it."

"I know that little bastard is around here someplace. Where are you hiding him?"

Billy could hear the doors in the house being slamming shut. Mary told him to come back as soon as Herbert entered the house. He could not get himself to leave the safety of the woods. Billy ran through the woods to his home. He was torn between going back to Dusterís home and leaving town. In his heart, he knew that the bastard had found out about him and Mary making love, but how. Who told him? Was he guessing, or did Mary tell him. No one else was around, unless they were hiding in the woods. Did Rosie tell him?

Billy thought this might be his only chance to Kill Herbert. He grabbed his shotgun and headed back to the Dusterís. He would tell Herbert that he heard a lot of yelling and thought that Mary was in trouble.

As Billy approached the Dusterís home, he saw Herbert heading for the barn. Billy yells, "Is everything OK?"

When Herbert heard Billy, he jumped as if he had been shot. Herbert lifted his shotgun as if he was going to shoot Billy.

Billy stopped, raised his gun and said, "I wouldnít do that if I was you. That the shotgun you had in the kitchen and it has bird shot in it. If the shots got this far, they would bounce off me. The shots wouldnít reach this far. They would not go half way. This gun has a full choke and I have buckshot in it. It would put a hole through you as big as your head."

Herbert lowered his gun and so did Billy. Billy asked, "What was all the noise over here. I heard the screams over at my house. I thought someone was beating up Mary, so I came over."

Herbert blurted out, "Nothing Billy, nothing wrong. Everything is fine. Mary is OK. We were just having a little argument."

Billy asked, "Where is your car, did it broke down?"

"No, I ran out of gas I came back to get some. You just startled me when you came up. I am sorry I pulled the gun on you."

"That OK, Iíll go inside to get my hat. I think I left it over here."

"Oh yes, itís on the chair where you left it."

Herbert headed back down the road in the direction of the car. Mary and Billy watched as his hat faded in the distance. Mary said, "I donít know if someone saw us or I did something to make him suspicious."

Billy smiled and said, "I donít care if he does know. I scared the hell out of him. He knows that I am not afraid of him. I think he pissed in his pants when I pointed my shotgun at him. He wonít be back for a while. He will stay away for a while because he told you he has some business to attend to."

Billy picked up Mary and carried her into one of the bedrooms. They made love for a couple of hours until they heard Herbertís car in the distance. They quickly put on their cloths, went out on the front porch, and sat on the steps. When Herbert drove up Billy got up and walked over to the car. When Herbert got out of the car, Billy told him that he wanted to talk to him in private. Herbert had left his shotgun in the car. Billy headed toward the barn, reluctantly Herbert followed him. When they were in the barn Billy looked Herbert in the eyes, and said, "Why did you come back to the house?"

"I ran out of gas."

"The tank was full. I filled it the other day when I took Mrs. Duster for groceries."

Herbert snaps, "The tank was empty."

"When you came back to the house you didnít take the gas can with you. Where did you get the gas, out of the cotton field?"

"Itís none of your fucking business why I came back here. Get the fuck off of my property and donít come back."

"You made it my fucking business when you pointed that shotgun at me. I could hear you yelling all the way over at my house. You thought Mrs. Duster and I were making love, didnít you? Donít lie to me, you donít have your shotgun with you and I do."

"Yes, I think you are fucking my wife. She lights up like a light bulb when you are around. She never looks at me that way. I saw you two at dinner. Both of you looked like a couple of love struck kids. Are you sleeping with my wife?"

"No, are you sick. She is old enough to be my mother. She treats me as if I am her son. My mother never treated me that well. What would you do if you caught me fucking Mary? Would you kill us both? You came back here to kill one of us or both of us. Would you have killed us if we were fucking?"

"No, I wouldnít kill my wife."

"You would have killed me, wouldnít you? You hate my fucking guts, donít you? I should blow your brain out now before you get an excuse to kill me just because you think I am screwing your wife."

"No Billy, Iím wrong. I am not going to kill you. Iím sorry I said those things about you and Mary."

Billy gritted his teeth and said, "I donít know if I can trust you. I think you came back here to blow both of us to bits. Now I am afraid to close my eyes at night."

Billyís tempo increased as he talked. "I donít think Mary is safe with you around. Why donít I just blow your fucking guts out now and get it over with."

"Please donít Billy; I had no intensions of hurting you or Mary. I was jealous of the way she treated you. I was wrong. Please forgive me."

"I saw the marks on Maryís arm and neck. Why did you do that? Were you trying to kill her? Do you have another girl friend? You want an excuse to kill Mary and me. Then you can fuck anybody anytime you want. You are probably doing that now. Around here, you would not spend a day in jail if you told them you caught Mary and me fucking. I think that is what you had planned. You fucked up. You did not catch us fucking as you planned. Who is the girl that you would kill us for? My pop said that you were messing around with your field hands. Was he lying to me?"

"So what, I have a number of girl friends."

"Are you messing around with those teenage girls or with one of handís wives? If they caught you, they would butcher you and feed you to the hogs. Who are you fucking?"

"Itís none of your damn business."

"If you knock up one of your field hand daughters, their papa will kill you. Donít ever hurt Mary again. She deserves someone better than you. Donít tell her about this conversation and donít try to keep me away from her. I make her happy and she deserves a little bit of happiness."

Mary had followed them to the barn. She was listening outside. When she hear them leaving the barn she ran back to the house.

Billy walked away from Herbert as they leaving the barn. Billy headed home, as he passed the house he saw Mary sitting on the porch, he winked at her and said, "Thanks for the chicken and biscuits Mrs. Duster. If you need me, I am just a holler away. Call me anytime you need help."

Billy went home. He was proud of himself. He wished he had killed Herbert. He assured himself that the time would come, just be patient.


Herbertís Follies:

Billy had been in town most of the day hanging around the pool hall with some of his friends. When he left the pool hall, it was late afternoon. It was almost dark when he reached the road to his home. He could see the Duster house from the road. Herbert was headed for the barn. Mary had told him about those late afternoon business trips that Herbert took on his horse. Billy was curious; he wanted to know where he was going and whom he was going to see. He had seen him riding his horse in the daytime but not at night. As he got closer to the Duster house he thought he would drop in to see Mary but his curiosity was getting the best of him. He decided to follow Herbert. Billy waited in the cotton field until Herbert left the barn. Billy followed Duster for a couple of miles. When Duster looked over his shoulders to see if anyone was following him Billy would dive into a ditch or dash into the cotton field. Billy was starting to get tired and he wanted to turn around and go back home. But, his curiosity was plaguing him, he was almost exhausted trying to keep up with the horse, but he would not give up. His persistent paid off, he saw Duster approaching a small shack in the distance. Hebert got off his horse and led it into a shed behind the house. Herbert came out of the shed and shut the shed door. There was a light on inside the house. Billy wanted to know who Herbert had come to meet. He waited until Herbert went inside the house before he went any closer. When Herbert walked up the steps a woman came out of the house, jumped up into his arms, and wrapped her legs around his waist. Herbert carried her into the house. Billy slowly approached the house. The shades on the front and sides of the house were closed. As he approached the rear of the house, he could hear Herbert talking to a woman. He could not make out what they were saying. The shades in the rear of the house were also pulled. There was a slight breeze. Periodically it lifted the shade slightly. He walked around the shack to find the bedroom. It was in the back of the house. He took a small stick and pushed it through the screen and lifted the shade just enough to peek in. Herbert and the woman were not in the bed. He circled the house until he found them. They were removing each other cloths. All of sudden the woman flipped her dress over her head and exposing her beautiful body. Billy still could not see the womanís face. She put her arms around Herbert neck; she jumped up and wrapped her legs around Herbert body. A part of Herbertís body knew where it was headed. With the help of the young girl, it went there. They turned around and headed for the bedroom. Billy recognized the girl. It was the beautiful half-breed daughter of Jason Brown her name was Jackie. She was only fourteen or fifteen years old. Jason would kill Herbert if he knew that Herbert was shacking up with her.

Jason was a big man and he did not take any shit form any man, black or white. Jason himself was a breed. He got involved with a young white girl and the girlís parents did not want the child. They moved away and left the baby with Jason. She was Jason pride and joy. Billy had known Jason and Jackie for a long time.

Billy watched Jackie fondled and kiss Herbert. Billy was getting horny himself. Herbert carried Jackie into the bedroom. He kissed every part of her body, missing nothing. Jackie pulled his face down on her body and held it there for a long time. She was enjoying every moment. She arched her back pulled Herbertís face deeper into her body. She rolled her head back and forth and gritted her teeth. Suddenly she rolled Herbert over on his back and she straddled him. She rocked and rotated her body on Herbertís.

Billy had gotten so excited he forgot where he was. He headed for the rear door without thinking. Just before he stepped onto the rear porch, he came out of his trance. He returned to the window and to his dismay, he had missed the climax. Jackie was in the process of trying to prime Herbert for the second round. Unknowingly something had leaked from Billyís body and Billy headed for home. Billy wanted to join the fun. If he could not, he was not going to let Herbert have a rerun. He picked up a large rock along the road and through it at the house. When the rock hit the house, it made a sound that could have been heard a mile away. Billy knew that Herbert would be coming out of the house and looking to see who had thrown the rock. He hid in a cornfield that surrounded the house and watched. Herbert did not bother looking around. When he came out, he ran to the shed, got on his horse, and took off in a gallop.

Billy wanted to go into the house and take over where Herbert had left off. As he approached the house, Jackie flew out of the house and ran down the road. Billy started running after her. When Jackie heard him running after her, she took off like a rocket. Billy stopped and watched her until she faded in the dark. He was too tired to follow her.

Billy headed home and when he reached the Dusterís house, the lights were on. He approached the house and saw Mary and Herbert arguing. Billy was exhausted. He was too tired to get involved in their argument. He had walked to town and back, that was ten miles and this little trip following Herbert was another eight or nine miles. His feet were killing him so he went home and climbed into bed without taking off his clothes.

The Pool Hall Gang:

Billy spent most of his time hustling suckers at the pool hall. Billy was suffering from megalomania, lack of money. He felt that he could never have enough money. Some of the kids that he had grown up with hung around the pool hall all day complaining about not having any money. Besides Billy, there was Jasper Hill, Simon Pinket and John Wilson; they called themselves the Roaming Romeos. Everyone else in town called them the Pool Hall Gang (PHG). They were a rotten bunch of teenage kids that bullied the other teenagers in Duster Ville.

Johnís father was a local attorney and he was involved in the local political party. It was called the Duster Ville Sovereignty Party. The group did not give a damn about the national parties and didnít want them sticking their noses where they didnít belong. The local sheriff Jefferson Able was about to retire. He was approaching 75 and the local Good Old Boys though he was getting a little too independent for the Sovereignty Party. The Pool Hall Gang thought that one of them should run for sheriff. Simon was the largest of the bunch. Their only problem was to get the Sovereignty Party to back him. When John suggested it to his father, he fanatically rejected the idea. After a few weeks of the Party Big Wigs haggling over the different candidates, they went along with Simon Pinket. Duster Ville new sheriff was only eighteen years old.

The PHG had started a new era. Everything and anything goes, for a price. They were bleeding the town as well as the crooks. If you didnít do business with the PHG, you didnít do business in Duster County.

Two birds with one stone:

Time was sliding by. Billy wanted to kill the Dusters and take over the Duster Plantation. He came up with a number of ideas. There was not a problem to kill the Dusters. He could go over and blow their brain out any time he wanted. Billy was afraid that he would screw up, and be hanged; this prevented him from going through with any of his plans. Also, how would he take over Duster Plantation if both of them were dead? If he couldnít take over the plantation, why should he kill them?

One afternoon Duster took off on his horse for one of those so-called business trips and left Mary home alone. She felt if Herbert could cheat, so could she. She took a long bath, bathed herself in perfume, and went over to Billyís. They enjoyed a very romantic afternoon together as they had done a number of times before. There was only one exception. Mary made a comment that she wished they did not have to sneak around to make love. She almost hinted to Billy to kill the son-of-a-bitch.

As before, Billy felt that he would be lynched if he killed Duster. He had to find someone else to kill Duster. A thought flashed across his mind; why not get Jackieís Pa to kill Duster. All he would have to do was tell Jason that Herbert was fucking Jackie. That idea faded quickly. There was too many "ifs"Ö. What if Jason refused to do it? What if Jason told Herbert that Billy Thompson suggested that Jason kill him? Maybe Jason knows that Jackie is screwing around with Herbert. What if Herbert kills Jason? etc., etc. Billy still felt that was the most logical idea. Have someone kill Herbert. But, how was he going to do it. After Mary left, he stayed up all night trying to come up with a plan. Finally, he came up with a plan that he thought just might work. He needed a young girl to set the plan into action. Usually, Duster Ville was popping on Saturday night. It was like a mini festival. The streets were crowded. The few blocks along Main Street were as crowed as Times Square on New Yearís Eve. Every vehicle in Duster County was packed with field hands going to Duster Ville.

Billy had to find some young girl to pretend that she was Jackie and call Herbert. If Billy found someone to make the call, he was going to give her a dollar. At that time, many grownups would work all day for a dollar.

He approached a group of young black girls and offered them a dollar if one of them would make the call. He told them he wanted to play a joke on a friend. He told them what he wanted them to say. One at a time, they repeated what Billy told them to say. One of the girls voice sounded similar to Jackieís. The girls followed Billy to a pay phone on the outside of the pool hall. Billy picked up the phone. Disguising his voice, he asked the operator to connect him with Herbert Duster. He gave the phone to the young lady and he listened in. Herbert answered and the girl said, "Herb darling, this is Jackie, papa wants to talk to you tomorrow morning at nine. Be on time."

Billy hangs up the phone. As Billy hung up the phone, he heard Herbert saying something to Jackie. The young girl looked at Billy and said, "Do you think I fooled him?"

Billy was happy as all hell. He almost exploded with excitement. Herbert had called the young girl Jackie. Billy said, "That was wonderful. Please donít tell anyone."

Billy was so happy; he gave the girl a dollar and the other girls twenty-five cent each. They all were excited with their newfound fortune. Most of the young kids never had any money to spend. They just hung around with the other kids on the street. With hopes they waited for some guy to pick them up and maybe buy them a soda, if they agree to give the guys something in return.

To get a dollar for a few minutes on the phone was unthinkable. They would have made the call for a nickel or a dime.

The only problem Billy had now was he hoped that Jason would be home tomorrow morning. Jason did not have a phone and he had to take the chance that Jason would be home.

Sunday morning Billy was up bright and early. He didnít eat his breakfast he wanted to make sure that Herbert took off for Jasonís. He climbed up into the hills above Herbertís home. The morning dew was still on the plants. The air was still. A column of smoke was coming out of Herbertís chimney. Mary must be making Herbertís breakfast. Rosie, their cook and housekeep didnít come to work early on Sunday. Usually Rosie went to church on Sunday morning.

Billy waited for about thirty minutes, he saw Herbert heading for the barn with his shotgun in his hand. His plan was working. He knew that Herbert expected trouble when he saw the shotgun. Billy wanted to be at Jasonís before Herbert arrived. He knew a short cut over the hill and through a couple of cotton fields. He took off running. The woods were full of bull briers. As he ran through the backcountry, his arms and legs were being cut by the briers. He was a bloody mess. Blood was running down his legs and arms. His clothes were in shreds. He made it to Jason not a moment too soon. He was on the hill behind Jasonís house.

Smoke was coming out the chimney of Jason home. Herbert was only a couple hundred yards down the road. Billyís heart was pounding. Not only from the run through the woods, but the anticipation on what was going to happen. Billy hid in the cornfield behind Jason house. Herbert stopped the horse for a few minutes. Billy thought Herbert was going to turn around and go back home. A sinking feeling came over Billy. He was thinking the worse. His plan had failed. Hebert nudged the horse and continued. Billy let out a sigh of relief. Now, Billy was hoping that Jason was in the house. Herbert stopped the horse a hundred yard away from Jasonís. He loaded his shotgun and cocked it. Herbert laid the gun across the saddle and nudged the horse in its ribs. The horse walked slowly towards Jasonís. When the horse reached the path that led to Jason house, Herbert pulled on the reins and the horse stopped. Herbert dismounted and checked his shotgun. The horse whinnied; Jackie looked out the window and saw Herbert. She was in a state of shock. She looked at Jason; he hadnít noticed the horseís whinny. Frantically she motioned for Herbert to go away. He didnít see her or he was determined to have it out with Jason. Herbert headed for the house. Jackie was still trying to get Herbert attention. Jason was eating his breakfast and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jackie waving. He leans back in his chair, looked out the window and saw Herbert with his shotgun heading for the house. He got up quietly and retrieved his loaded shotgun from above the mantel. Jackie had not noticed her father getting the shotgun. She was doing everything she could to stop Herbert. Jason crept to the side door and walked out. Jackie didnít see her father leave the room. Herbert did not see Jason leaving the house until Jason turned the corner. Herbert stopped in his tracks. Fear ran through both of their bodies. They stood there motionless for a few moments. It felt like it was for eternity. Billy said to himself. Shoot the son of a bitch. Billy came out of the cornfield and stood behind Jason. Billy, Jason and Herbert were almost in a line. Billy was slightly to the right of Jason and about 50 feet to the rear. Billy raised his gun, smiled and aimed his shotgun at Herbert. But he didnít pull the trigger. Herbert quickly lifted his gun and fired it at Billy. Jason thinking Herbert was shooting at him; he raises his shotgun and fires at Herbert. Jason shot hit Herbert in the chest. None of the pellets from Herbert shotgun came close to Billy. Herbert fell backward from the blast. Jason was clipped with a few birdshots on his right side. Billy ducked back into the cornfield and watched. Jackie came out of the house screaming hysterically at her father. She pounded her fist on his chest for a few moments, and then she ran to Herbert. She did everything she could to revive Herbert. With tears streaming down Jackie cheeks she called to Jason, "Come help me. He canít die. They will lynch you. Damn you, I think you killed him. Why did you shoot him?"

Jason yelled to Jackie, "He raised his gun at me first. He shot me. His shot went off before I pulled the trigger. He was trying to kill me. I felt the shot hit my arm before I pulled the trigger."

Hysterically Jackie said, "You killed a white man. Those bastards are going to lynch you."

"You saw it Jackie, he fired first. You know it. What the hell was he doing here?"

Jackie yelled back at Jason, "I donít know why he came over here."

Jason walked down the hill and was stand behind Jackie. He asked, "Why were you motioning for him to go away?"

Crying profusely Jackie said, "I knew you would kill him if you found out we were planning to get married."

Jason shook his head and calmly said, "Baby, that son of a bitch would never marry you. Darling, just because your mother is white and my mother was white doesnít make you white. Honey, Iím sorry. That is the way the world is. You cannot change it. Go get me a towel and hitch the mule to the wagon. We have to take him to town."

Jackie desperately tried to convince Jason that Herbert was going to marry her and said, "Herbert told me that Mary was sick and she didnít have to long to live."

Jason took Jackie and held her in his arms. He lifted Jackieís teary chin and wiped the tears with his massive hand. With compassion Jason said, "Honey, that bastard has been sleeping with young kids all over the county. He has promised them all and he still hasnít married any of them. He wasnít planning to marry you or none of them."

Jason pushes Jackie away from him and said, "Go hitch up the mules."

When the shots were fired, Herbertís horse took off and headed for home. Billy watches them load Herbert into the back of the wagon. They put a piece of canvas over his body. Jackie took the reins, snapped them. The mules slowly walked down the dusty road. Billy headed for home going back the same path that he came.

Jackie and Jason carried Herbert to the state police barracks, and told them what had happened. The police knew that if it got out that Jason had killed a white man, they would have a lynching on their hands and they didnít want any part of it. They bandaged Jason up and called the Commander at headquarters. He told them to bring Jason to headquarters and they would arrange him there. They called an undertaker in a nearby town to come pick up Herbert. Billy had arrived home, cleaned up, and changed his clothes. He waited in his home to see what would develop. He had fallen asleep when he heard Mary calling him. She was hysterical. She walked into the house sobbing and screaming that it was all her fault. She blamed the whole thing on herself. She told Billy that she had wished that Herbert were dead. She told Billy a black man killed her husband. She felt that Herbert was messing around with his wife and the husband killed Herbert.

Billy took his shotgun walked Mary back to her home. He tried to console Mary. She was hysterical. Billy spent the rest of the day with Mary and finally convinced Mary that it was not her fault. He told Mary that Herbert had brought it on himself. Billy said, "Pop told me before he died that Herbert was messing around with the field hands wives and daughters."

With sorrowful eyes, Mary looked up at Billy and asked, "I am afraid to be here alone. Someone my think I had something to do with Herbertís death."

Billy agreed with Mary. He told her that it was not safe for her to be alone in the house. Billy told her wild tales of rape, torture and murder of women that lived alone. Billy had scared Mary out of her mind. She pleaded for Billy to stay with her. Billy told Mary that he would sleep on the couch just in case someone came around. She told him that there was no need for him to sleep on the couch there were many extra bedrooms in the house and none of them were being used. Billy took a large bedroom two doors down from the master bedroom. They went to bed early. It had been a tiring day. Billy had been in bed only a short time and was on the brink of going to sleep. He heard footstep walking down the hall. He picked up the shotgun lying on the floor beside him. He saw a candle light flickering in the hall. Mary peeked around the door. Billy laid down the gun and pretended that he was asleep. Mary tiptoed across the room, sat the candle on the night table and blew it out. She slid into bed with Billy. Billy didnít move a muscle and neither did Mary. Finally, Billy reached over and pulled Mary next to him. She kisses him on the cheek. They laid in each other arms and fell asleep. Maryís conscious was bothering her. The following night she slept by herself.

The following day Billy went to his home and picked up his meager belongs. When Mary saw the rags that Billy had, she took him into Herbert room. There was a large closet filled with menís clothes. She told him that they were all his. Billy tried them on. The pants were almost a perfect fit, except they were a few inches short. Mary told him she could let the cuffs out and they would be perfect. The jacket fit, but they were a little tight across his chest.

Billy drove Mary to the funeral home to make the arrangements for Herbert funeral. The funeral was arranged for Sunday afternoon. Mary had no idea who she should notify about the funeral. The funeral was simple. Only a few people that knew Herbert attended the services. Billy knew that the only reason that they came to the funeral was to see who would be there, and with hopes by attending the funeral, they would become friends with the widow. Mary thought they all wanted a handout.

A few days after the funeral, they were having dinner together. They didnít say hardly a word. After Rosie left, Mary talked to Billy about hiring someone to run the farm. She felt that he was a little too young to run the farm. Billy didnít push the issue. But, every now and then, he would drop a hint. Billy knew everything about running a farm. But how was he going to convince Mary. Mary felt bad about not thinking of hiring Billy. She said that she would let him help her until they found someone they could trust. Of course, with Billy sleeping with Mary, they never found the time to look for someone to run the farm and Mary didnít want to find someone.

Billy had gotten Jason and Herbert out of the way at the same time. Jason got fifteen years for manslaughter. He could get out of jail in five to ten years on parole. No one in Duster County seemed to give a damn about Herbert murder. They all seemed quite happy about Herbertís death, especially the local banker. As expected, Mary officially hired Billy as manager of Duster Plantation.

After a respectable time, a couple of weeks, Billy and Mary were going at it like newlyweds. It had started after Billy had gone to bed in his room and had fallen asleep. He was awakened by Mary crawling into bed with him. Billy took over where Herbert had left off with Jackie and Mary, and he started running the plantation. The romance was wearing out too soon for Mary. The honeymoon had lasted for a few months. Billy had other things on his mind and Mary wasnít included. Mary was somewhat cast aside.

Billy was working his tail off. He felt that he had half ownership in the farm. He gave pep talks to the worker. He promised them everything, knowing that he did not intend to keep the promises. Billy wanted to know everything about the business. At night, he would work on the books. He wanted to see where the money was spent and why. He tried to trim down the budget and increase the profits; this was a side of Billy that Mary had never seen. Billy cared more about money and power than he did about sex.

Mary was getting a little suspicious of Billy spending so much time away from the house. She wanted to know what he was doing. At first, Billy didnít know what to tell her. Of course, he didnít want to tell her that he was trying to figure out a way to get rid of her and he said, "The usual."

With a determined look on Maryís face she said, "What is the usual?"

Billy wanted to say none of your fucking business, but he cooled it and said, "I spent most of the day managing the farm and in the late afternoon I go in town and shoot pool with the guys for a while. I stop in at Bennyís and had a few beers. Thatís about it."

Mary looked down at the floor and mournfully said, "You hardly ever take me to town with you anymore."

Billy quietly said, "You didnít want to be seen with me after Herbert death. You told me that you were afraid that everyone would think that you hired Jason to kill Herbert. You told me that it was best not to spend so much time together the hands would start talking. They have been talking all along. They know that we have been sleeping together."

Sarcastically Mary said, "How do they know we have been sleeping together?"

Billy said, "Who makes the beds every morning?"

"Rosie, she would not say anything to anyone. I will ask her."

"Ha, ha, you know what she would say? She will look at you with those big brown eyes and shake her head and say, Miss Mary, I would never tell a soul. You know she only told her best friends. Every man, woman and child in the county is her best friend. Women are alike; they canít keep their mouth shut. Who else have you told that we have been sleeping together?"

Mary blushed and said, "I only told Sarah, and she promised me that she would never tell anyone."

Billy yelled out, "When did you tell her?"

"It was the day after I caught you taking a bath."

Billy shook his head and said, "No wonder Herbert came back to the house that Sunday. Everyone in town must have heard about us. Itís a good thing Jackie saw Jason shoot Herbert. They would have hanged me for killing Herbert."

Mary bowed her head then looked up a Billy and said, "Iím sorry; do you think Herbert knew that we were sleeping together?"

"Of course he did. Now I am positive of it. Did you tell her over the phone or did you tell her in person?"

"I told her over the phone."

"You couldnít have spread the news about us any faster. Those operators and all the other people that are on the same line listen in on all the calls. How many rings is your call, three? "

"Yes, three."

"I think there are about six houses on this line."

"Have you ever listened to anyone elseís calls?"

Mary blushed, put her hand over her mouth and turned away without answering.

Smiling Billy said, "You didnít answer me,"

"Yes, only once or twice."

"Bull shit, I have seen you look at the phone every time its rings. You canít wait until you can be alone to listen in."

Billy laughed, put his arms around Mary and kissed her. That little affection that he showed was all that she wanted. She smiled, put her arms around his neck, gave him a long sensual kiss and threshed her pelvic into his.

Billy did not give a damn if everyone in the world knew about their relationship. He picked her up and carried her into the bedroom. Herbert had never made love to her like Billy. She wanted it to last forever.

Mary was starting to get to possessive; she wanted to be with Billy every minute of every day. To hold her off a little, Billy told Mary that they should not make it so obvious. She should act more like a grieving wife rather than a teenage bride. Of course, she didnít like being shoved to the side. Nevertheless, she bit her lips and put up with it.

Billy took over Duster County:

Not only had Billy taken over Duster County, he had taken over the lives of hundreds of poor people that live on Duster Plantation. He treated them like slaves. He pulled every swindle he could think of to enslave the citizen of Duster Ville.

Of course, the salary that Mary paid Billy was a fraction of the money that the farm was bringing in. Even though he never went to school, he learned to handle money and he wanted the power that went along with it.

At night when Billy wasnít sleeping with Mary, Jackie or one of his other girl friends; he was going over the books that Herbert had kept. He examined all the old ledgers and statements from the bank. He noticed that someone had been tampering with the books or the bank was ripping Herbert off. Herbertís personal ledger was not matching the banks statement. Billy wanted to know which one was correct. Billy went over the books that he was keeping and the deposits Mary had made. They did not match either. When the next few months passed, he reviewed all the statement again against the ledgers. The Bank statements were always short about 20 percent.

Billy knew the bank had hired a young manager Paul Pierce about five years ago. The ledger that Herbert had kept only went back five years. He did not know if the bankís owner Jerry Peabody or Paul Pierce were ripping off the farm. Over the years, someone had stolen thousands of dollars from the farm.

Billy didnít tell Mary about the discrepancies. He wanted to know who was behind the sham. It wasnít his money, but he wanted to know who was skimming the cream. Billy was not sure who he should approach about the problem. Over the years, he had crossed paths of both of the men. He knew that Jerry wasnít a pushover. Pierce would shit in his pants if someone confronted him. Billy felt Pierce was the one to approach. Billy had been driving Mary to the bank and everyone in town knew or thought Mary and Billy were playing mommy and daddy even though they were not married.

When Billy was in town alone, he would stalk Pierce. He found out where he lived, who his wife was, Pierce had two children and he loved his booze. Pierce hung out at Bennyís for an hour or so after work playing the part of the big shot banker. He would buy the patrons at the bar a ten cent beer. The last of the big-time spenders.

Billy decided he would approach Pierce at night after he left the bar. On Friday nights, Pierce would stay at the bar until his wife called him and told him to come home. Usually, he was pretty well lit when he left Bennyís.

Billy arrived at Bennyís slightly before five; Pierce had already finished a pitcher of beer. Pierce called Billy over and offered him a beer. There were freeloaders sitting all around Pierce. Billy sat at the end of the bar and when he got his beer, he saluted Pierce. The place was so noisy that Billy could not hear what Pierce was saying. After the fourth beers, Billy had enough; he wanted a clear head when he talked to Pierce. He went outside and waited in Pierces car.

Billy had been waiting for almost an hour and was dozing off. Pierce came out the bar. Fortunately, he was alone. Billy got out of the car and walked over to Pierce, put his arm around him and said, "Thanks for the beer do you have a few moments. I would like to talk to you about the money you were holding for Herbert."

Pierce fell to his knees; it looked like he had stepped into a hole. Billy lifted him up and helped him over to his car. He put Paul in the passenger seat and he asked Paul for the keys. Without saying a word, Paul handed Billy the keys. Billy said, "Letís take a drive and let you sober up a little. I donít like to do business with anyone that is not clear headed."

They hadnít gone a mile and Paul said, "Pull over; I think I am going to throw-up."

Billy pulled to the side of the road and let Paul empty his bladder as well as his stomach. Between the two latter problems, Paul had a chance to sober up enough to think. He felt that after Herbert was killed he would be the sole owner of all the money Herbert had skimmed. Paul was too greedy. He should have stopped the skimming after Herbert was killed. He may have gotten away with it. Now Billy wanted to know where the money was. How in hell did Billy get Herbert to tell him about the money? He knew Herbert hated Billy.

Pierce recalled the day that Herbert came in his office quite disturbed. Paul offered Herbert a drink. After three or four shots of moonshine, Herbert wanted to bare his soul. Herbert told Paul that he felt that Billy was sleeping with his wife but he could not prove it. Herbert was afraid of Billy. Herbert was thinking about paying someone to kill Billy or beat the hell out of him and run him out of town. Billy knew all the townsí low life. If Herbert asked one of them to get rid of Billy, they would take the money and tell Billy that Herbert had hired them to kill him.

  Paul looked over his shoulder and saw Billy staring at him. Paul didnít want to get back into the car, but he had no choice. He shook his head to clear his mind, took a couple of deep breaths and headed back to the car.

Billy had estimated the amount of money that was missing. When Paul got back into the car, Billy asked, "How much money are you holding for Herbert? Not his regular account, his private account."

Paul cleared his throat then said, "I donít know exactly, itís quite a bit. Did Herbert tell you about the account?"

Billy knew that Paul had no idea what Herbert had told him. Billy said, "One night I was over a Herbertís. I think he knew that something was going to happen to him. He told me if anything happened to him for me to get in contact with you. He told me that he has a private account at the bank and Mary does not know about it. He does not want her to have the money because she has a lover and they are planning to kill him. You know, Herbert owed money to everyone in the county. He never paid them. Herbert bought a couple hundred acres from my Pa and he never paid for it. I guess that he wanted to clear up his debts with me before someone popped him."

Paul asked, "Who was planning to kill him?"

"I donít know. He didnít tell me who it was. I think Jason did them a favor. Jason got to Herbert before they did."

"What are you going to do with all that money? You canít put it into another account. The feds will be all over you. Herbert had two sets of books. The money that I have has never been reported as income."

Billy smiled and said, "I know Paul, Herbert told me."

Paul felt that Billy was lying. But, what could he do? Did Herbert tell him about the money? Billy knew about the money that Herbert hid in the bank. Who else knew about the money? Paul was afraid if he did not give Billy the money, he just might kill him.

Billy said, "I am going to leave it where it is. You are going to put my name on the account. Do you understand?"

Paul said, "Sure, sure, you know he kept only 19 percent and I got 1 percent of the 20 percent he held out."

Billy smiled and said, "I want 19Ĺ percent you can keep the half percent. I think that is enough, donít you?

Paul had no choice. He said, "Sure, that fine Billy."

"Does Jerry know anything about this?"

"Jerry doesnít know anything. He has no idea that the money is in the bank."

Billy took Paul back to Bennyís and told him if anyone found out about their arrangement he just might end up like Herbert. Paul assured Billy that no one would ever know about the money. Paul told Billy that he has all the money in a private safety deposit box and he will assign the box to him.

Billyís empire was growing. Little did Billy know that Herbert already had plans to end his relationship with Mary? Mary had been complaining that she hadnít felt well. She had been going to Dr. Parson for a few months before Herbertís death. He could not find out what was ailing Mary. Her conditions continued to worsen. Billy felt sorry for Mary. He did everything he could to make Mary comfortable and happy. He stopped his philandering and concentrated on helping Mary. Billy had wanted to kill Mary, but now he wasnít too sure that he wanted her to die.

 If Mary died, what would happen to the plantation? Who would she leave it to? What would happen to him? One day when Billy was solving a few labor problems on the north quarter of Duster Plantation, Mary called Attorney Wilson and asked him to come over. She told him that she wanted to make out a Will. She felt that she didnít have much time left and want to settle her affairs on this side before she went to the other side. Of course, everyone on the line was listening in on the conversation. Wilson wanted to know who her beneficiary would be. Mary told Wilson that her beneficiary was Billy Thompson, the listeners on the line let out a gasps. Wilson asked, "Donít you have a private line?"

"No, Herbert was too cheap. He felt that it you didnít want anyone to know what you were talking about donít talk on the phone. If you have a private line, the operator can still listen in on your conversation. No sooner had she said it, about 4 or 5 clicks were heard on the line. Of course, Mary knew everyone was listening in on her conversations, including the operator. The way Mary felt, she did not give a damn who heard the conversation.

Wilson drew up a simple Will and brought it over for Mary to sign. Then he took it over to the County Clerk and had it recorded.

She did not tell Billy about the Will. She wanted to surprise him on his eighteenth birthday next month. She did not get the chance, two weeks after she had the Will drawn up, Mary passed away in her sleep.

Almost everyone in town knew about Billy inheriting Duster Plantation. After the will was probated and Billy took over the plantation, he didnít care about anything. Mary was the only person outside of Billyís family that he cared for or loved. The incident tore him apart emotionally. He started drinking and let the farm go to hell. He hated himself for wishing that she were dead. He had enjoyed having breakfast with Mary. He didnít want to eat alone. Most of the mornings, Billy would drive into town and eat breakfast at Sammyís. He had a favorite booth in the restaurant and he had Sammy put a reserved sign on the seat. One morning he didnít feel like driving into town. It was early and Rosie had asked for the day off. He made himself some pancake and got some molasses out of the cabinet. The molasses was in a gallon jug and it was almost empty. He poured some of the molasses over his pancakes. When he took the first bite, he spit it out. He didnít know what was in the molasses. He knew that Mary loved molasses and she had made herself pancakes quit often. He wondered if Herbert had poisoned the molasses.

Billy got dressed and took the jug of molasses over to Dr. Parson office. Doc was with a patient when he barged in and said, "You couldnít find out what happening to Mary. You old bastard I think Herbert was poisoning us both. This jug was half-empty when I moved in with Mary. I want you to find out what is in the jug. Mary loved molasses. She said Herbert bought this stuff in Metro. I think he put something in it."

Doc told Billy he would look into it after he finished with all of his patients. Billy yelled, "You are finished with your patients."

He told the man in the examination room to get the fuck out, and then he went into the waiting room and told everyone to go home and come back tomorrow. He informed the receptionist that Doc was not seeing any more patients today. He went back into the examining room and Doc was taking a sample of the molasses. Billy asked, "What do you think is in the molasses?"

"I am not sure, I will find out soon."

Doc took about six different samples. He added different chemicals to each sample. He warmed the test tubes to thin out the molasses. He put them a machine that he called a centrifuge. It spun the test tube for about 2 minutes. He turned off the centrifuge and held one of the tubes up to a light then said, "My best guess its arsenic. I think itís enough in that jug to kill a horse. Did you eat any of the molasses?"

"Hell yes, Mary and I have had pancakes and cookies off and on since my father died. I poured some on my pancakes this morning and it tasted like hell. I spit it out and brought the jug over here."

Doc told Billy that someone had put the arsenic in an empty jug and then added the molasses. He tried to mix the arsenic and the molasses without much success. The molasses was so thick that the arsenic did not mix with the molasses. Doc took a blood sample from Billy and told him to go home. He told Billy not to eat anything that had been opened; there may be other things that were poisoned.

Billy was paranoid; he made a bonfire and burned all the food in the house. When Rosie came in the following morning, she noticed that all the food was gone. She yelled to Billy hysterically, "Mr. Billy, someone has stolen all the food in the house."

Billy was sitting on the swing on the back porch. He called to Rosie and asked her to come outside. Rosie felt that Billy was going to accuse her for stealing all the food. Sheepishly she opened the screen door with a frighten look on her face and said, "Yes sir, Mr. Billy."

The look on Billy face scared the hell out of Rosie. She shook her head and said, "No sir, no sir, Mr. Billy I have taken some of the leftovers home. I didnít take all the food in the house."

Billy saw the frighten look on Rosie face and said, "I know you didnít steal the food. I burned all of it. Someone has been trying to kill us. I know they killed Mary."

Rosie sat down next to Billy and said, "Oh my God, Lord have mercy on our souls. Who is trying to kill us?"

"I donít know. Do you remember that jug of molasses that was in the pantry?"

"Yes sir. That was Miss Maryís private jug of molasses. She would take a long teaspoon, dip down in it, get a spoon full, and eat it without anything. She said that she had a sweet tooth and that spoon full with satisfy he sweet tooth. For the last few months she thought that it was going bad and asks me how long can you leave molasses around without it going bad? I told her that I have had molasses around for years. The only thing that has happened, it turns to sugar."

Billy put his arm around Rosie and said, "I think her sweet tooth killed her. I made myself some pancake yesterday morning and poured some of the molasses on my pancakes. When I took a bite, I had to spit it out. It was terrible. I took the jug to Docís and asked him to find out what had happen to the molasses. He told me that he thinks that someone had put arsenic in the molasses. He told me not to eat any of the food that had been opened. I came home and burned everything in the house that could be eaten. Doc said that someone had probably had put the arsenic in the jug then poured in the molasses and it didnít mix. Poor Mary has been slowly killing herself. That jug was almost full when I came over for dinner after my father died. You had made those big biscuits and she asked me if I wanted to sop up some molasses with them. We sat there sopping away until all the biscuits were gone. We both loved sopping up molasses with our biscuits."

"Mr. Billy, I loved sopping to. I have taken home biscuits that were left over and sopped at home. Some times when I felt a little hungry, I would take a few biscuits and sop up some of Miss Maryís molasses. Do you think I will die?"

"I wish I knew. We both may die. I will probably die before you do."

Rosie prayed, "Oh Lord donít take me away like you took Miss Mary."

Tears were streaming down Rosie cheeks; she thought she would die before she got home to see her kids for the last time. There were only a few times in Billy life that Billy had cried. He had cried when Mary died. He also shed a few tears when his father and mother died. Tears ran down his cheeks. He was not sure if he was going to die. He wanted to think positive and he didnít want to frighten Rosie any more than she was already. He said to Rosie, "Donít worry. Doc thinks we will be all right as long as we do not eat anything that has arsenic in it. He said that we all take in some arsenic with our food and water. As long as we donít take in too much, we will be all right. Rosie, go home, see the kids, and donít worry. We will be all right. Tomorrow go in town and have Doc look at you. Tell him to send me the bill."

"Doctor Parson is a white Doctor he wonít see me. And, itís too far to walk to the clinic. Itís in the next county."

Billy assured Rosie that Doc would see her and he would take her to see him tomorrow.

Bill said, "Mr. Herbert probably wanted to kill Mary. He was doing it with Jackie Brown."

Rosie turned and looked at Billy with a surprised look on her face and said, "Oh my goodness. That is where Herbert was going when he passed my house later in the evening. How did you know that they were doing it?"

Billy almost let it slip out. Billy stopped in the middle of "I" then cleared his throat. He thought for a couple of moments and said, "I had heard that Jackie and Herbert were planning to get married. And that is why Jason killed Herbert."

Rosie let it slip out, "Itís a wonder that Herbert didnít kill you."

A second after the words popped out of Rosieís mouth, she slapped a hand over her mouth and again looked at Billy with a frightened look on her face. Billy smiled at Rosie and said, "Did Mary tell you about our affair?"

Rosie still had her hand over her mouth. She shook her head as if to say no. Billy laughed, put his arm around Rosie and said, "Do worry about it. I had an idea that everyone in Duster Ville knew about it. When did Mary tell you about us?"

Rosie slowly lowered her hand from her mouth and said, "Miss Mary didnít have to tell me. I saw it in her eyes and the happiness on her face. I knew something wonderful was happening to her. On the afternoon that it happened, I saw Mary watching Herbertís every move. Herbert had his mind on something else. Mary was peeking around watching everything he did until he rode off on his horse. She went up stairs and watched him ride out of sight. When she came back down stairs, I ducked back into the kitchen. She hollers to me and said she was going to take a walk. She usually walks in the woods. She took the dusty road down towards your house. She had been gone for a long time. I saw her frolicking up the dusty road like a happy kid with the happiest smile that I had ever seen on her face. I knew where she had been. I felt the same way the first time Ben and me did it. She came into the kitchen. She was smiling from ear to ear. She had a glow of happiness in her face. She asked me if the hot water boiler had hot water. I had been doing laundry and told her that there was plenty of hot water. I could hear the water running through the pipes for a long time. I had folded the laundry. I knew she usually used three or four towel every time she took a bath. I took the towels up stairs, called to her, and asked if she wanted some fresh towels. She told me to bring her a couple. I walked into bath and saw the syringe hanging from the shower curtain. She had the most beautiful smile. I was very happy for her. She looked as if she had the world to herself. She just radiated with happiness. Mr. Billy you gave Miss Mary a new life. It was just too short. Why did she have to die so soon?" Tears flowed down Billy cheeks. He tried to hide it from Rosie.

Rosie continued, "Herbert bought Mary from her father. She wasnít very happy the day she got married to Herbert, it was just the opposite. Herbert literally dragged her upstairs after the reception. She was only a kid, fourteen years old. After Herbert finished with her, he took off. God only knows where he went. Momma heard her crying and when up stairs to see it she could help. I was only a couple years older than Mary. Momma told me to stay down stairs and let her know if Herbert came back, he didnít come back for a long time. Mom told me a few years later what had happened. When she walked into the room, Mary was laying there with blood all over her. Momma went over to the bed and put her arms around Mary and asked her what had happened. From what Mom told me, he must have torn her apart, every opening in her little body. Mom gave her a bath and cleaned up the bed. When Herbert came home, he wanted to know why Momma and I were still there. I was still in the kitchen. He ran up stairs. I could hear Mom giving him hell. Herbert started to talk back to Momma and tried to hit her. She really gave it to him. She slapped him across the face three or four time. It knocked him across the room. Mamma was a big strong woman. She didnít take shÖ. from anybody. She told him if he ever hurts Mary again or he tries to hit Momma again she would butcher him and feed him to the hogs. She told him that no creature on earth was as filthy as he was and she told him that if he brutalized Mary again, she would cut it off personally."

Billy said, "She should have. I didnít know that was your mother worked for the Dusters."

"Momma and my Grandmother both worked for the Dusters. I even think that my Great Grandmother worked for them also."

"Why did you work for Herbert? If you knew about Herbert and the type of person he was."

Rosie huffed then said, "It was either work for Herbert or starve. As you can see I didnít starve."

"Did Herbert ever mess with you?"

Rosie looked a little embarrassed. With a depressed look on her face, Rosie looked over at Billy. Billy had to assure Rosie that he wouldnít reveal her secret. After a little persuasion, reluctantly Rosie opened up to Billy and said, "I was only nine or ten. Mom would not leave me home alone. A friend of mine came with me and we would play outside all day together. One time we were in the barn playing hide and seek. Herbert was older than us. We were in the loft building tunnels with the bales of hay. Herbert climbed up the ladder and asked what we were doing. He asked if he could play with us. We knew we could not say no. We played hide and seek. I started counting Herbert and Susie went and hid. It was obvious that Herbert wanted Susie out of the way. When I found Herbert, he had his back to me. He turned around, his thing was sticking out of his pants, and he told me to touch it. I didnít want to. He insisted. I touch it with the tip of my finger and I pulled away. He grabbed my hand and told me to hold it tight. I was so afraid. I was shaking all over. He put his hand over mine and pushed my hand back and forth. He took his hand off mine and told me to continue. I didnít see Susie sneaking up behind me. She saw what we were doing. She started to back away and Herbert grabbed her and told her to do it also. Then he had both of us doing it at the same time. That was my first experience with a boy."

Billy asked, "Did you ever have sex with Herbert?"

Rosie asked, "Do I have to answer that?"

"No, sometimes it helps to get it off your chest."

"Donít you ever tell Ben? If you do I will cut yours off."

Billy quenched and said, "Donít say that, I can feel the pain already."

Rosie laughed and Billy put his arm around Rosie and gave her a peck on the cheek. Rosie pulled back and gave Billy a weird look and said, "Donít you get fresh we me."

Billy grabbed his crotch and said, "The way you looked at me, I could feel the pain already."

Rosie laughed again, and said, "My girl friend went some place with her parents. I was playing alone in the back yard. Herbert was in the loft of the barn. He was standing at the door where the pulleys are. He motioned for me to come to him. I had played with his thing a number of times. I donít know why, but I was always frightened every time I played with it. I went into the barn and climbed up into the loft. I didnít see Herbert. I asked him where he was hiding. He called to me. I followed his voice. He had made a tunnel and it open up into an opening on the side of the barn. He had opened a bale of hay and spread it across the floor. I crawled through the tunnel. At first, I didnít see Herbert. I stood up and there was Herbert with all of his clothes off. I was so weak that I thought that I was going to collapse. I just stood there shaking. Herbert turned me around and unbuttoned my dress, and pulled it over my shoulder. My breast was just starting to protrude. He licked my breast and fingered me. The strangest emotions ran through my body. I can almost feel it now. I stood motionless letting him do what he wanted. He told me to lie down. I lay down and held my legs tightly together. He pulled them apart and raped me. It was very painful. I bled all over him and myself. My first fear, how was I going to get the blood off me? Herbert put his clothes on over the blood and left me there. I slipped my panties on and put on my dress. Blood was streaming down my legs. I went out to the well pump in the barnyard and tried to wash off the blood. The bleeding would not stop. Momma always checked up on me every now and then when I was outside. She saw me washing my dress and legs. I saw her hurrying across the yard. She looked at the blood running down my legs. She lifted up my dress and saw where the blood was coming form. She asked who did this to me. I didnít want to tell her it was Herbert. I had promised him I would not tell anyone. Herbert mother had seen Mom running across the yard. She was a wonderful woman. She was nothing like Herbert and his father. She came over to me, hugged me, and said, "Herbert did this to you, didnít he?"

I cried and didnít say a word. Mrs. Duster told Mom to take me up to her bathroom and clean me up; she was going to find Herbert. Mom had put me in the bathtub and was bathing me. The bleeding had stopped. Mrs. Duster came in handed Mom a dress and said that she had bought it for my birthday and she would get me another present. While Momma was cleaning me up, I could hear Mrs. Duster dragging Herbert up into the attic. I could hear the lashes of the belt hitting Herbert and Herbert screaming. I started crying. I could feel the pain of the belt hitting him. Mom asked why I was crying. I told her it was all my fault. She asked me if I encouraged it. I told her no, but if I had cleaned myself up some place else. She would not have ever known. When Mr. Duster came home and Mrs. Duster told him what had happened, he didnít give a damn. It sounded like he was proud of what Herbert had done to me. He insinuated that it was probably my fault."

Billy wanted to tease Rosie. With a smile on his face he said, "Rosie, you are one hot mama. I think it was your fault.Ē

 A look of rage came across Rosieís face. She looked like she was going to kill Billy. When she saw the smile on Billyís face, she said, "How do you know I am one hot mama?"

"I can see the look on Benís face when he comes over to pick you up."

Rosie lit up with a big smile on her face. The next second it faded away and she said, "Stop kidding me. I am about to die. I have enough to worry about."

A sad look came across Rosieís face. With sincerity Billy said, "Rosie if you were not married to Ben and you looked at me like you look at Ben, we would be rattling the spring on the bed upstairs."

Knowing that she may die and with Billy joking with her. With a half smile on her face she says, "Mr. Billy, I know you are kidding me. But, it makes me feel much better. Do you really think Ben likes me? I started to think he was looking for someone younger."

Billy puts his arm around Rosie shoulder and hugs her tightly and said, "No Rosie, I am not kidding you. Ben loves you very much. Get out of here, go home, and rattle the springs with Ben. Show Ben how much you love him. I will pick you up in the morning at nine."

The following morning at nine sharp, Billy picked up Rosie. They hardly said a word to each other. They both were wondering if they were going to die. With a solemn look on both of their faces, they walked into the Doctors office. There were about six people waiting. The receptionist looked like she was going to say something. Billy stared at her and the patients in the waiting room down. No one said a word. They walked in on Doc. Doc was examining a half dress women patient Billy asked the patient to excuse them for a few minutes. The women gave Billy a, "Who in hell are you" look. She did not move. Doc motioned to her with his head to go into an adjoining room. He shut the door behind her.

Doc knew why they were there. Doc took a few blood samples and reassured them both that they would be all right. He told them to go on with their lives and nothing would happen to them. Billy and Rosie were a little apprehensive. A little on the sarcastic side, Billy said, "Doc you couldnít diagnose Maryís problem. How in hell do you know that we are alright?"

Docís face flushed and he cleared his throat and said, "I didnít know what to look for. From the blood sample that I took from you, this time I knew what you had ingested. I looked for arsenic and you didnít have enough in your system to worry about."

Docís answer still didnít quite satisfy Billy and he said, "Look Doc, if Rosie and I start to feeling like Mary did, I am coming back here and blow your fucking brains out."

Doc whispered, "Billy calm down. I want the both of you to keep this quiet. If the authorities find out that I had been treating her and it came out that she was poisoned, I may lose my license. Also, they may think one of you gave Mary the arsenic in the molasses."

Billy yelled out, "You think I would kill myself. You are crazy."

Rosie had been quiet. When Doc said that she might have been poisoning Mary, she put her hands on her hips and said, "Why would anyone in this world think that I wanted to kill Miss Mary? She was the only reason I continued working out there. Herbert knew that if he didnít treat her right, I would butcher him."

Doc put his hand up in the air trying to quiet them down, he said, "Now hold on, there does not have to be a reason for someone to think one or both of you killed Mary. We donít know who put the arsenic in the molasses. Herbert is dead and they want try to pin it on him. Who else was close to Mary? No one else except you two. In addition, they may think I was in it with one or both of you. As I said, just donít tell anyone that she died because someone put arsenic in the molasses."

Still flustered, they walked out of Docís office. Billy took Rosie home and told her to stay home for a couple weeks until Doc get the results of the blood test. For the next few weeks, Billy ate at Sammyís, and Rosie ate at home, Doc called and told them that they were fine. Billy finally got back to running the farm and started seeing Jackie again. The farm was making more money than it ever had. Herbert was lazy and he didnít dirty his hand or his clothes. Billy had grown up poor and he didnít mind working long hours and putting every moment into the business. Billy was totally dedicated to the farm. With more money coming in, the more it stimulated Billy to work harder. If he wasnít working on the farm, he was probably rattling bedsprings with most of the young girls in Duster County.

Billy converted one of his old barns on the outskirts of town into a warehouse. He set up a business for the PHG. Jasper Hill ran the warehouse. Billy, Jasper and Simon were running the business. Jasper became the county fence. They also sold untaxed cigarettes and liquor. Duster Ville became the center of criminal activity in the state. The Pool Hall Gang was spreading out. The word got out that the thiefís could sell their loot in Duster Ville with no question asked. As the years passed by, they took over the political party and elected their own candidates. Billy Thompson was grabbing up all the land in the county. If someone didnít sale their land to Billy, he would try to run them out of business.


On one of my monthly visit to see Paul, Paul was fast asleep on his bunk. The guard said that he would wake him up for me. He started to rap on the bars with his nightstick as he had many times before. It irritated the inmates whether they were sleep or awake. The guard seemed to love rattling the inmates cages. I said, "Please donít, Paul has enough problems, without us adding to his misery."

The guard asked, "Do you want to go inside with him or wait out here?"

I said, "I will go inside. He has a stack of notes on his desk. This will give me a chance to read them before he wakes up."

The guard gently opened the cell door and let me in. It looked like he had a little compassion for the inmates until he slammed the hall door. Paul jumped when he heard the sound. He raised his head for a moment and slowly lay back down and went right back to sleep.

I had spent about an hour reading Paul notes. Most of the notes were slightly different version of the same stories that he told me before. Paul said something; I turned around and looked at Paul. I expected to see Paul waking up. The poor little man was having a nightmare. I could not make out what he was saying until I heard Paul say, "Please donít kill him. That poor man has a wife and a family to support."

The words were extremely distinct. I had never heard anyone speak so clearly during a nightmare or a pleasant dream. Paul pleaded with Billy to spare Bill Hardinís life. Usually, I cannot understand a word when someone talks in their sleep. I had turned on my recorder and was recording his nightmare. He pleaded over and over again to spare someone life.

When Paul woke up, I played the tape for him. After hearing it, he said, "Where did you get that? I donít remember telling you that."

I smiled at Paul and said, "I just finished recording it. It was in your dream or nightmare."

With his groggy eyes flickering and trying to wake up, he sluggishly sat up in the bunk. He almost fell back. I grabbed him and asked, "Are you alright?"

"I am just a little dizzy. When I sit up to quickly, I get a little light headed."

I asked, "What were you dreaming about?"

"Most of my dreams or should I say nightmares are about the Pool Hall Gang. They seem to have so much enjoyment out of killing someone."

I hesitated and cleared my throat. I didnít know how to ask the question that I wanted answered. I was afraid that I might offend Paul. I wanted to know if the PHG were racist. After stumbling with my words, I blurted it out, "Did the PHG hate blacks?"

Paul looked up at me and said, "I can take them or leave them."

I asked, "What about the rest of the gang?"

Paul shook his head and said, "I think they all hated them with a passion."

"Why did they hate them?"

Still shaking his head, Paul said, "I donít know. Maybe I am wrong about Billy. Billy hated everyone that got in his way. It didnít matter if they were white, black, brown or yellow. It they got in his way, I feared for their life. He wouldnít hesitate to kill anyone. He would have killed me if he thought that he could get away with it. He told me one time he wanted to kill Jasper Hill. The only reason that he didnít kill Jasper; he didnít know who he could get to replace him."

I questioned, "Why do you say that you werenít sure about Billy?" start here

"We were having one of our early morning meetings at Sammyís, Grandpa Jackson came in to get Sammyís garbage. Simon said that we are going to make that old man get a license for handling garbage. Simon and Jasper owned the garbage company in town. Of course, Billy had a share in the garbage company. Billy spoke up and said to leave Grandpa Jackson along. Jasper started to give Billy some lip. Billy did his persuader; he reaches across the table and grabbed Jasper around the throat. Billy said that if they fuck around with the Jackson he would kill them. Billy slammed Jasper back into the seat with so much force that if almost knows Jasper out. "

I was quite surprised and said, "Why was Billy so angry."

Paul remarked, "I think it goes back a long way. After Mary died, he went into mourning. He would get so depressed that I think he was going to kill himself. He hadnít been around for about a month and I called him to find out how he had been. He invited me for dinner and of course, you do what Billy wants. Rosie made us a good old country meal that was fit for a king. She made big biscuits with chips of bacon, some of the tastiest fried chicken that I had ever had, some fresh black-eyed peas, fabulous potato salad, ice-cold buttermilk and pecan pie for desert. I can still taste and smell the dinner. We both ate so much we could not move. After Rosie cleaned up the dishes, she came and asked Billy if he wanted anything else. He told her to bring him a fresh bottle of moonshine. She brought in a gallon jug of Moonís best. It went down smooth and it had a nice gentle taste. You drank one shot glass full and you were in another world. When Rosie was leaving Billy got up, hugged, and kissed Rosie. He must have seen the expression of surprise on my face. I didnít think he would do that to a black person. After he walked Rosie to the door, he returned and said that I looked surprised when he kissed Rosie. I didnít know what to say. I shrugged my shoulder and said, not really. That was the first time I had seen him show any affection for a black person. He was a real bastard to all of his field hands. They all hated his guts. If they thought that they could have gotten away with killing him, they would have killed him a long time ago. After he blew up with Jasper, I think he felt that he had to explain to someone for his behavior. He told me that after his mother died his father made him go to work. He did not remember how old he was, but he had to be down at the train station at four Oíclock in the morning to pickup his newspapers. The last person on his route was Ben Hudsonís Papa place. Grandma and Grandpa Jackson didnít take the paper, but when he headed back to town Grandma Jackson would call him in. She would give him a story that she had to many biscuits and etc. She would ask him if he was hungry. Billy told me that he was always hungry. His Pa never cooked for him or cleaned his clothes; he had to do it himself. Well Grandma Jackson fed him and cleaned his clothes until he became involved with Mary Duster. Grandpa Jackson picked up a junk bicycle. He put a basket on it, fixed it up as if it was new and painted it. One morning when he stopped for breakfast, they gave it to Billy. He offered to give them a free paper every day; they declined and said that Grandpa got all the papers he wants. Of course, they were a day old. If they got a chance to read them, they felt that the day before yesterday news is as good as yesterdayís news. The bike was too big for Billy to reach the pedals from the seat. He put one foot on one of the pedals and used the other foot to push the bike like a scooter until he was big enough to ride it from the seat. He told me that his ma and pa never treated him as nicely as the Jackson treated him. He told me that one morning Grandma Jackson told him to take off his clothes and go get in the washtub they had in the house. She said that he smelled so bad that people would think he was a goat. She scrubbed him so hard that he thought that she was going to remove all his skin."

I laughed and asked Paul, "Was he still going out there to get his baths before he got locked up?"

"No, Mary Duster scrubbed him plus other things. Then Jackie Brown took over where Mary left off. God only know how many other women washed his body. Even though he was a bastard and everyone knew it, he never had any trouble finding some sweet thing to roll in the hay with."

I asked, "You told me that Billy was banging Jackie. Did they know each other before Duster was banging her?"

Paul was on the roll, "On yea, Billy told me that before Jason got his own place. He lived almost next door to Jason. Billy and Jackie grew up together. Billy told me that when he was in his early teens, Jason was his hero and idle. Jason didnít take any shit from anyone."

Something was still bugging me. I asked Paul, "If Billy liked the blacks why did he kill them and dump them Devils Pond."

A little annoyed Paul said, "Willy, you forgot what I had said. Billy did not hate the blacks. He hated almost everyone. He would kill anyone that got in his way, white or black. You just didnít disagree with Billy; if you did, you would never know what he would do. He almost killed Jasper one time and he shot up Simonís house."

I continued my visits with Paul for the next few months. He continued to give me tidbit of information on his old buddies. He would tell me the same story a few times I didnít know if he was making up the stories or mixing up the different events.

Billy hooks the Banker:

Billy Thompson was on his way home one evening and he noticed a car closing in on him at a very high rate. When the car got closer, it slowed down. He recognized the driver; it was the local banker Jerry Peabody in a new sports car. Usually he passed Billy and waved. This time he stayed about 50 yards behind Billy. Billy glanced in the rearview mirror every now and then expecting to see Jerry passing him. He noticed someone in the passenger seat peeking over the dashboard. Jerry would put his hand on the passengers head and push the passenger out of sight. When Billy turned off on his road, he stopped for a moment at his mailbox. He wasnít looking for mail; he had picked it up earlier. After Jerry passed, he saw a head pop up on the passengerís side. As nosey as Billy was he had to know who was in the car with Jerry. Jerry lived about two miles down the road. It was to light to follow him home. He didnít want Jerry to see him. It would be dark in about an hour. He went on home, but his curiosity was killing him. He paced the floor and every few seconds he would look at his watch. He knew Jerry was hiding someone. He had never seen Jerry with a woman. If it was a woman, why did he try to hide her?

Billy could not wait any longer. He jumped in his car and headed for Jerryís. When he was about a quarter of a mile from Jerryís he pulled into a cornfield, parked his car, and walked the rest of the way. As he approached Jerryís home, he didnít see any lights lit on this side of the house. It was still a little light and he felt that Jerry would see him if he walked down the road. He went into the cornfield next to Jerryís home and circled the house. As he approached the house, he noticed that the shades were drawn. He cursed to himself; he only wanted to peek and see who was in the house with Jerryís and then go home. He didnít want to hang around all night. When he got closer to the house his wish came through. The shade was not pulled down all the way. He peeked through the opening and sees Jerry and a young boy lying in the bed nude. Billy could see the money already. He was going to blackmail the banker. He jumps up and down and almost yelled but he caught himself.

For the next few days, he mulled over different ideas on how to go about the blackmail. He didnít want to get the PHG involved in his scheme; he did not want to share the money with them. All of his ideas fell flat. He had to have a foolproof scheme; otherwise, he would not get a damn thing. Against his own judgment, he decided to talk it over with Simon.

When Billy told Simon, Simon said, "Hell man, no problem. We bust in on them and snap a few pictures. We will have him where we can bleed him for everything he has. He could get life for fucking around with young boys."

Billy asked, "Are you sure? I donít want to start something and have it backfire on me. You know I never had any schooling."

"Look Billy, trust me. We will have Jerry by the balls. He will give us anything we ask for."

Simon told Billy that they must get into the house without Jerry and his friend knowing it. Then wait for the action to start before they start snapping pictures. When Jerry was at the Bank, Simon went out to Jerryís home and jimmied a lock to get into the house. He found a key and he tried it out on the front door. To his surprise, it worked.

Most evenings Simon and Billy would stake out Jerryís home. They would park in a cornfield and wait for Jerry to come home. For the next month Jerry was taking his friends someplace else. Simon and Billy had been spending so much time waiting in the cornfield; they felt like they were just two more corn stalks. Late one evening around 10 Oíclock , they saw Jerry drive up. He got out of the car and opened the garage door on the side of the house. Billy had fallen asleep. Simon shook Billy and said, "I think we have got him."

"Why, what happened. He pulled the car into the garage and they are going into the house through the garage."

"Did you see someone with him?"


Billy asked, "What makes you think he has someone with him?"

"Jerry usually parks out front and goes in the front door. Get the camera we are going to take a look."

Billy scrambled around for his camera and a flash light. They crept across the road to the far side of the house. They peeked under the shade. No one was in the bedroom. Simon tiptoed around the house while Billy watched the bedroom. After about five minutes, Simon came back and said, "That bastard is fixing the kid a meal. We will be out here all night."

The mosquitoes were having a feast. They both were slapping so loud that itís a wonder that Jerry didnít hear them. More than an hour had passed when Jerry and the young man came into the bedroom. The thrill of the kill had set in on Billy and Simon. They wanted to catch them in the act. They watched them undress they started to fondle each other. Simon told Billy to come on. They were going inside. They approached the front door. Billy said, "That fucking key better work or we ainít going to get anything."

Simon whispered, "It will work. I tried it out."

They unlocked the door, crept across the living room and down the hall. Billy stepped on a squeaky board. It almost scared the shit out of him. Simon whispered, "Put your foot down lightly and the floor want squeak."

When they reached the bedroom door Simon peeked around the door. They were still playing around. Simon had trouble keeping Billy from busting in too soon. Jerry got up on his hands and knees with his rear sticking up in the air. The young man penetrated Jerry. Simon motioned to Billy, now is the time. They stepped into the room and started taking pictures. Jerry and the young man were so engrossed in what they were doing they did not respond for a few seconds. When they did, they had a tug of war with the sheet. Jerry yelled, "Get the fuck out of here."

Simon replied, "You are under arrest."

Jerry yelled, "What are the charges and what is Billy Thompson doing here?"

Simon calmly said, "I deputized him. You are being arrested for having sex what that boy."

Jerry reached under his pillow and pulled out a gun. He told Billy and Simon to lay face down on the floor or he would shoot their balls off. Reluctantly they did what Jerry asked. Jerry picked up the phone and told the operator to send the state police out to his home. He had caught a couple of men that broke into his home.

Jerry and his friend got dressed, took the cameras, and removed the film. Jerry had an old wood stove in his den. He stuffed it with paper, put the film in the stove, and lit it. Before the state police arrived, the paper and the film were nothing but ashes. Jerry ushered Billy and Simon into the living room and told them not to move.

Billy started yelling at Simon for getting him in trouble. They cursed each other until the state police arrived. Jerry told the police that they were sleeping in the bedroom when the Sheriff and his friend burst in on them. Billy yelled out, "That kid was fucking Jerry. We took pictures of them. Jerry had a gun under his pillow and said he was going to shoot us in the balls."

The office asked the young man if he would show him his driver license or some other form of identification. The young man handed the officer his driverís license. The office said, "You license says that you are 23 years old. You look much younger than a 23 year old."

The young man calmly said, "Officer, I am 23 and we havenít done anything to deserve the harassment these two men have given us. They came in while we were asleep. Jerry heard them walking in the hall. Jerry got his gun from under his pillow and turned on the lights. Jerry made them lie on the floor until we got dressed. Then we brought them into the living room."

Billy yelled, "That son of a bitch is lying. We caught them fucking each other."

Jerry calmly said, "Office, these two idiots came barging into my home thinking they could blackmail me. I am the owner of the Dustville Bank. I am a homosexual. Everyone in town knows I am gay. I do not hide it. There is no law that says that I cannot bring my friends to my home."

One of the officersí whispers something to the other office then told Simon and Billy to stay put until they returned. Billy asked Simon, "What are they going to do?"

Simon said, "Hell if I know. They should be locking up those two. We havenít done anything."

Billy said, "What are you talking about? I know enough about the law that you canít just brake into a house. The police have to have a search warrant or something before they can bust into someoneís home."

Simon bellows, "Old Jeff never go no legal stuff before he broke into someone house. He would knock down the door, grab their asses and haul them off to Jail. His brother Charlie was the Justice of Peace. He would call Charlie on a phone and tell him who he had and what they did. Charlie would tell him what to do with the guy that he arrested. Most of the time he would ask the guy for his wallet to see how much money he had on him. If the guy had a watch or a ring he would include that as part of the fine."

"Damn it Simon, we got the damn state police involved. They ainít going to take this lightly."

Just as soon as Billy said the last word one of the officers asked Simon, "Do you have a search warrant sheriff?"

"No, I donít think I need one. These two guys were fucking each other."

"Simon, you have no right busting in on someone without cause."

"I got cause. That kid was screwing Jerry, thatís cause enough."

The office said to the other office, "We are not going to get anywhere with this dumb shit."

"I think you are right. Mr. Peabody, do you want to press charges against the two for breaking in?"

"No, I just want those two bastards out of my house. Simon, how did you get in the front door, it was locked?"

"With a key."

Jerry asked, "Where did you the damn key?"

"It was in drawer in desk in the living room."

Jerry yelled, "Lock those two up for burglarizing my house. I will come down tomorrow and press charges."

After another fifteen minutes of Simon and Billy yelling and screaming, the officer took them to the police barracks and locked them up. The next morning Jerry called the barracks and told the officer that he was dropping the charge. If they showed up around his house again, he would press charges.

Jerry did not know what the two jackasses would do next. He didnít know what their motive was. However, he felt that it had to be money and, it was. A month hadnít passed and Billy showed up at the bank about closing time. He told Jerry that he wanted to talk to him about a loan. He didnít want to discuss it while the clerks were still in the bank. He waited in the conference room until all the employees had gone home.

Later Jerry came into the conference room, looks down on the bastard, and said, "What the fuck do you want? Are you trying to blackmail me? Half the people in town know that I am a homosexual. That is not going to get you a fucking dime."

Billy with a grin on his face stood up and said, "Now, I know that, I didnít know that before. However, I do know you canít fuck around with kids and I know who you have been fucking around with. If the kidís parent found out, they would blow your fucking head off. I want a very low interest loan of $20,000 and I will forget who the kid was that you were fooling around with."

Jerry yelled out, "You donít know a fucking thing about me and any kid. I donít associate with minors."

Billy smiled, "No! Do you remember about two months ago, you were headed home? You didnít pass me and leave me in a dust cloud as you usually do. You should have. I would not have looked into my rearview mirror and seen you pushing a kid down in the seat. He kept popping his head up and you kept pushing him down. That brought on my curiosity. I followed you home and caught you and the kid in the act. I spent the last couple of weeks looking for that kid. I found out who the kid was and where he lives. I had a talk with him. I scared the living hell out of him. He begged me not to tell his parents. I know his ma and pa would butcher your ass if they found out what you and that boy did, and what you did to him. Does the name Pat Peatree wake you up? Go get the fucking $20,000. Oh yes, I wonít be paying off the loan anytime soon."

Jerry sat down in a chair across from Billy. He took a deep breath, looked around the room for help. There was no one or nothing that would change Billyís mind. Jerryís mind was a blank. He pleaded with Billy. If was like talking to a rock. Finally, Jerry said, "I donít keep that much money in the bank."

Billy smiled and said, "Just write out a check to me, I will endorse it and deposit it in my account. That wonít take but a few minutes."

"Does Simon know anything about this? I donít want him coming around asking for another $20,000."

"After Simon fucked up on nailing your ass a few weeks ago, I wouldnít get myself involved with that stupid shit if my life depended on it."

In less than hour, Billy was $20,000 richer. Over the next few years, Billy continued squeezing Jerry. When Billy felt like it, he would drop in on Jerry and ask for a thousand or two to settle down his itch to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Peatree. He felt that it was his civic duty to inform the parents of what Jerry had done to their son.

Industry takes over Duster Ville:

Under the Pool Hall Gang noses, a company bought a 10-acre farm. The owner and his family without anyone knowing it packed up one afternoon and took off. The company bypassed Duster Villeís gridlock on development by going directly to the State for all the approvals. The local government was furious. They had their hands in the pockets of every company that had opened a business in Duster County . When the company bypassed the Good Old Boys, it put a padlock on the companyís pocket. Since Billy was the top man on the totem pole in Duster Villeís political group, they wanted Billy to take on the State and the Company. Billy was not mentally equipped for this type of confrontation. Therefore, the Company thumbed their nose at them and did anything they wanted.

This put Billyís scheming mind into operation. Since the company used Duster Ville Bank. Billy stopped by Bennyís and invited Pierce for a ride in the country. Paul was a little upset when Billy came into Bennyís and took him by the arm and led him out to Billyís car. Billy did not say a word until he was outside of town. Billy literally dragged Paul out of Benny's. By this time, Paul emotions were going wild. Billy loved scaring the shit out of Paul. With a slight chuckle in his voice, he looks over at Paulís shaking body and said, "Settle down Paul, why are you shaking?"

Paul did not want to let on that he was scared to death, with his quivering voice he said, "What are you talking about, Iím fine. Where are we headed?"

Billy said, "I want to talk to you about PK Parts account. Who handles their account?"

"I do, why do you want to know?"

"Can we tap into their account?"

"I donít think so; they have an accountant on their payroll. He is a pretty smart guy. I donít think we can pull anything over on him."

Billy grumbled and asked, "What do you know about him?"

Paul was still shaking. He turned and looked at Bill and said, "Nothing much, he has a wife and four kids. He owns a little house out on Old Town Road ."

"What is his name?"

"His first name is the same as yours, Billy Hardin."

"Does he have a mortgage on his home?"

"I donít know. He does not have a mortgage in our bank."

"With his help, do you think we could tap into PK Parts account?"

Paul rubbed his chin and did not say anything for a few minutes. A little more sure of himself, he said, "Well, yew, that would be a piece of cake."

"Get to know him, feel him out, and find out if he needs money."

Paul had settled down by the time they returned to Benny's. Billy said, "Keep in touch and donít let anyone know what we have discussed. See if you can get Hardin to stop in at Bennyís for a beer. Let me know when you will have him there. I want to meet him."

"Sure thing, Iíll keep in touch."

A few days later, Bill Hardin delivered the PK Parts deposit, Paul invited Bill to Bennyís for a beer after work. Hardin accepted, Paul called Billy and told him to meet him a Bennyís at five and Harden would be there. Billy was early. He took a seat away from the bar and waited. He did not order a drink. He wanted to have a clear head when he talked to Hardin. Paul and Billy came in together. They saw Billy sitting in the corner and they joined him. During the evening, Billy and Paul entertained Hardin, and inquired  about his personal life. Billy invited Paul and Hardin for dinner out at Duster Plantation. A couple day later Hardin came to Billyís for dinner. Hardin was overwhelmed with Billyís home. Harden said that his wife would have gone crazy if she saw Billyís home. Billy invited Hardin, his wife and kids out on the weekend. Hardin was reluctant about bringing his family out to the plantation. He gave all type of excuses for not bringing his wife and kids out to the plantation.

After about a week of digging into Hardin background, they were sure they could hook Bill Hardin. Hardin was in debt up to his ears. He had been wishing he could find a way to increase his income. With the nudging from Pierce, Hardin came up with a plan that would peel off about five percent of the companyís profits with plans to increase the percentage gradually. Hardin didnít want to share the five percent with Billy and he put up a little resistance until Paul told him that they needed someone that had a large sum of money in the bank in order to make the scam work. In addition, Paul told Hardin that the plan was Billyís idea. None of Paul argument set well with Hardin, but he finally went along with Paul. To ease the pain Billy only took one percent, Pierce and Hardin split the other four percent.

The plan went well for a couple of years. At times when the companyís profits were higher, they would increase their cut. Business was booming at PK Parts. At times, Harden and Pierce were skimming ten percent of PK profits.

On a miserable wet night, Hardin showed up a Billyís home around midnight . Billy was sound asleep when Hardin drove up. Hardin frantically knocked on the door. Billy grabbed a pistol and a pair of pants. He turned on the porch light and peeked out. When he saw Hardin face he knew he had a problem. Billy asked, "What going on? What are you doing out here?"

Hardin said, "A friend called me at home and told me that someone in accounting was doing an audit and came across errors in the books. He told the management that it looked like I had been embezzling money from the company. The FBI has been notified, and they will be at the office tomorrow morning. I want my share of the money. If I didnít get my share of the money and get out of town tonight the FBI will tie this to you and Paul."

Hardin should have known that he just signed his death warrant. Excitedly Billy said, "Sure, sure. We will get your money for you. Who else know about our arrangement?"

Nervously Hardin said, "As far as I know only you and Paul."

Billy asked, "When did you say they found out about this?"

"I donít know exactly when they audited the books. I think they know about us. I have to get my family out of town tonight."

Billy asked, "Does your wife know about our arrangement?"

"No, she doesnít know a thing about it."

Billy tried to calm down Hardin, he said, "Hold on, I donít have the money here, we have to get Pierce he has the key to the bank. We canít break in. The state police will be down there before we could get in the bank. Leave your car here we donít want to draw attention with two cars racing around town."  

On the drive to Pierces home, Billy questioned Hardin, "How is your wife handling this problem. Women donít hold up well when things get rough."

"She doesnít know anything about what we were doing. She would leave me in a second if she knew what we have been doing. I havenít told her that we are leaving. I will tell her when I get home. I will have to drag her and the kids out of the house when I get home."

Billy asked, "What did you say to your wife about the extra money?"

"I just told her I got a raise."

"Where are you taking your family?"

Hardin hesitated for a few moments and said, "I donít know. I am going to get in my car and drive as far away from here as I can."

Billy was a little relieved, he continued to question Hardin, and said, "You donít have someone  else at work that is in on this, do you?"

"Hell no, you canít trust anyone at work. They would squeal on you just to get a free beer."

What was going on in Billy mind? How far has this gone? Who else knew about their contact with Hardin? Has Pierce covered his tracks? Who has Pierce told about their association? What does Jerry know? Has Pierce told Jerry about their association? A dozen more questions without answers. When Billy drove into Pierces driveway, he asked Hardin to stay in the car and he would be back in a few minutes.

When Pierce came to the door Billy told Pierce what had happened and said, "We have to get Hardin enough money so he and his family can get out of town. How much money does Hardin have coming to him?"

Paul looked like he was going to shit in his pants. Whispering he said, "I donít know exactly, it must be close to a hundred thousand. We canít open the bank itís on a timer. We canít open the vault until tomorrow morning."

Martha Pierce, Paulís stepdaughter called out, "Pop, what going on out there? Mama said to come back to bed and knock off all the noise."

Paul yelled back, "Shut up and go back to bed."

"Dad, Mom wants to know whatís going on."

Billy said to Paul, "Get some clothes on and tell them to shut the fuck up. They will wake up everyone on the block."

With a quivering voice and nervous as hell Paul asked, "Where in hell are we going?"

Lying like hell, Billy said, "I have some money in one of my stores. We will send him more money later. I want you to drive so I can calm him down."

Paul said, "Sure, I will tell my wife were we are going."

Billy grabbed Paul and said, "Donít tell her a fucking thing. Does she know about our association with Hardin?"

"No, I havenít told her about our association with Hardin."

Billy whispered, "As I said, donít tell her a fucking thing; she will start asking questions that we donít want to answer."

Paul went back into his bedroom and quieted everyone down. He told them that Billy had a problem and he was going to help him.

Within a few minutes Pierce came out and jumped into the driverís seat, he looked over his shoulder, and asked, "What happened, Bill?"

In a trembling voice he answered, "They know about us. They know that we have been ripping them off. A friend called me tonight and told me I had better get out of town tonight. They know that I have been altering the books."

Paul asked, "How did they find out?"

Hardin said, "I donít know. I think they were doing an audit."

With the reality of what may happen to him, Paul was getting quite uneasy, perspiration was running down his face he said, "Oh God, what have we got ourselves into. How much do they know? What is your family and kids going to think? I think my wife will leave me."

Hardin answered, "My wife will want to kill me. I donít know what to tell the kids."

Pierce asked some of the same questions that Billy had asked. Billy could see the change in Pierces face. By the way Pierce was driving, Billy knew that Pierce was about to collapse also. Pierce asked, "Billy, where is the store we are going to?"

Hardin yelled, "Why are we going to a store? I want the money, go to the bank."

Pierce answered, "We canít get into the bank until tomorrow at 8:30 . It has a time lock on the vault."

Billy spoke up and said, "Calm down, we are going to get you enough money to hold you for a while. I keep some ready cash at one of my stores just in case I canít get into the bank. Go out Main Street and head out to the lake. I will tell you where to turn off."

Billy had a problem, two grown men so frightened that they were about to shit in their pants. Pierce knew where most of the Duster Farm Stores were located and he had never seen one out this way. He had been at the lake hundreds of time. Now he wanted to know where Billy was taking them. He was afraid to question Billy. He had seen Billy flare up over the slightest thing and now was not the time to stir him up. Hardin said, "How much money do you have in the store?"

Billy said, "I think I can scrape up about twenty thousands."

Hardin yelled, "That not enough, I got to have a hundred thousand."

Billy was calm and said, "I have about eight stores maybe I can scrape up another ten thousand. Or, do you want to wait around until tomorrow and let the Feds pick you up."

Hardin was persistent; he kept the pressure on Billy and Paul to come up with more cash. Billy had been lying through his teeth; he didnít have a thousand on hand, much less twenty or thirty. He had hid a hundred thousand at the plantation after Herbert was killed and he wasnít going to give that to Hardin.

For a while, no one said a word. Billy broke the silence when he said, "Take the next right."

The tone of Billyís voice frightened Pierce and Hardin. Pierce hadnít had time to think of the consequences if they were caught. He could only think of what was on Billyís mind. What was he really going to do? When he pulled into the dirt road, he knew where he was. The large oak tree on the left was a very familiar sight and a landmark for all of the locals. He made a u-turn and headed back to the main road. Billy put a gun to Pierces head and told him to stop. Pierce slammed on the brakes hoping that he could jump out of the car and run into the bushes and escape. Billy beat him to it. Billy told Pierce to relax then pointed the gun at Hardin and told him to get out of the car. Hardin lunged at Billy. Billy side stepped Hardin and said, "I donít blame you for trying. Nevertheless, you fucked up and we are all in trouble. I donít know how far this damn problem has gone. I have to put a firewall between me and the fire. I am sorry Bill. There is nothing else we can do."

In rage, Hardin yelled, "You bastards will never get away with it. They will find out who else is involved."

Pierce had pissed in his pants. He dropped to his knees and begged Billy not to kill him. Billy opened the trunk of the car and took out a shotgun. Billy handed Paul the barrel end of a pistol and told him to keep holding the pistol by the barrel. Billy told them to head for the big oak tree. Pierce pleaded with Billy, "Please donít kill me. I will do anything you want me to do."

Billy cursed at Pierce and said, "Stop your fucking whining."

Hardin continued to tell Billy that the FBI would find out they were involved in the swindle and he was the only one that could keep Paul and Billy out of the mess. Billy put a deaf ear to what Hardin was saying and nudged them in the direction of the big oak tree. The headlights cast their long shadows across the opening. The rain was still coming down. Billy stopped walking. He told Hardin to go over and stand by the oak tree. Slowly Hardin walked away. He looked over his shoulder and said, "I hope you two rot in hell. Somehow I know they will catch you son-of-bitches."

Billy said, "I donít give a fuck if they catch me and I rot in hell. I have a job to do and you are a fucking problem. I am just solving the problem. We are going to have a little foxhunt. I am going to give you a chance to get away. Your best chance of getting away is down that path next to the oak tree. I am going let you run down that path and we wonít go after you until we count to ten."

Billy whispers to Pierce, "Donít open your fucking mouth. Do exactly what I tell you. Take the gun an aim it a Hardin. You tell him that you are going to tell him when to go and then you will count to ten. Tell him the faster he runs in those ten seconds the better the chances of him getting away."

Shaking and trembling, Paul aims the pistol at Hardin and tells him, "When I say go, start running down that path. I will start counting. When I get to ten, we will come after you. The faster you run the better the chances that you can get away. Go."

Before Paul started counting, Hardin took off like a flash. Paul started counting. There was a long gap between numbers. Billy smiled at Paul and shook his head. Paul tried to smile at Billy, but he couldnít. Billy walked back to the car and got a flashlight. When Pierce reached ten, he turns around and said to Billy, "He going to end up in Devils Pond."

Billy laughed and said, "You are kidding me. What make you think he will end up in Devils Pond?"

Paul looked around at Billy. He was expecting Billy to tell him to start running.

Billy didnít say anything for a few minutes, and then said. "Why in hell do you think I brought him out here?"

Quivering Paul said, "I believed you. You lied to us. I thought you were going to help him out."

Billy took Paulís arm and they casually walked after Hardin. Billy lectured Pierce, "What the fuck do you think Bill would have done when they caught him? With a wife and all those kids, he would not get out of the county even if he had all the fucking money in the world. He would not go through this alone. He would drag us down with him, is that what you want? Do you want to go down with him? What would your family do if you got arrested?"

"I donít know what I would do. I just donít think about it. If I did I would be more of a drunk than I am now."

They heard a voice shouting for help. Billy said, "Paul, you were right. He must be in Devils Pond."

Pierce started to run ahead in the dark. Billy said, "Keep running and you will be in there with him. I am not going to try to pull you out, are you going to try to pull Bill out?"

Pierce stopped in his tracks. When they got to the pond, Hardin was chest deep trying desperately to get out. When Hardin saw them, he pleaded with them to pull him out. Billy said, "I canít do that, Pierce has to cover our tails. You fucked up and you have to go. Paul, shoot him and take him out of his misery."

Hardin screamed, "I hope they catch you bastards and you fry in hell."

Paul fell to his knees and begged, "I canít shoot him. I will not shoot him. He has a family. Who will take care of his kids? Please donít kill him. "

Billy aimed the shotgun at Paul and said, "Mr. Pierce if you donít shoot him I am going to shoot you. Get up and shoot him."

Paul stood up and was still facing Billy. Again, Pierce pleaded, "Please Billy, donít make me do it. I canít kill anyone."

Billy again raised his gun and said, "I am going to count to three. On four I am going shoot you if you donít shoot him."

Billy started a very slow count. He laughed at the terror that was on the faces of Pierce and Hardin. On the count of three Pierce did not fire the gun. On four, Billy cocked the shotgun. Fear covered Paulís face. He had no intentions of firing the gun. The gun was not aimed at Hardin, but he pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire. A shock of relief flooded Pierces body. A shot rang out. Pierce yelled thinking he was shot. Billy laughed. Pierce was gasping for a breath of air; a slight sigh of relief covered his face. Then he looked over his shoulder into the pond where the flashlight was shining and saw Hardin bloody body sinking into the pond. Pierce fell to his knees and cried profusely. Billy didnít say anything for a few minutes. Calmly he said, "Get up we have work to do."

It had started to rain very hard. Paul was emotionally exhausted. Paul struggled to stand up. Billy helped him up. Before they got back to the car, they both were soaking wet. Neither one of them said a word until they got to Billyís home. Billy told Pierce to get into Hardinís car and follow him. Pierce got in and said, "There isnít a key in the car."

Billy cursed himself then went into the house. He came back with a hammer, screwdriver and a wrench. He put the screwdriver in the key slot and drove it in with the hammer; he tightened the wrench around the blade of the screwdriver and turned it. The car started. Billy drove Hardinís car and Paul followed. They took Hardinís car about thirty miles out of town and hid it in the woods. Billy got out of Hardinís car and headed to the driverís side of his car, Paul slid over and got out of the car and started to take off his shirt. Billy yelled, "What the fuck are you doing?"

Paul said, "I am going to wipe off the door and the steering wheel. I donít want to leave my fingerprints on the car. You had your hands all over the steering wheel, the door, and every place else. Do you want me to leave your finger prints?"

Billy yells, "Hell no. Hurry up we have to get home. It is going to be daylight soon."

Paul hurried through the pouring rain and cleaned up the car with his shirt. He went back to Billy car and got in. He looked at the shirt, it was filthy. He started grumbling about what his wife would say. Billy sneered and said, "Throw the fucking shirt away. If she doesnít see it she canít grumble."

Paul said, "She will ask me where in hell is your shirt and I will have to tell her."

Billy snapped back and said, "It you tell that bitch what happen to the shirt. The both of you will join Bill Hardin."

After they had gone for about a mile, Paul rolled down the window and threw the shirt out of the window. He didnít say another word. Billy dropped off Piece at his home. As Pierce silently left the car, Billy told Paul to think it over; it was the best thing they could have done.


After Paul told me about the murder of William Hardin, he was in a state of delirium. Tears came to his eyes and he started bawling like a baby. I tried to comfort him. Nothing would work. I asked him if he had enough for today. He nodded yes. I patted him on the shoulder as I walked out of the cell.

A month later, when I visited Paul he looked as depressed as he did a month ago. I said, "How are you doing buddy?"

Paul was sitting on the bunk and looking away from me. He slowly turned his head and looked up at me. Frustration was spread across his face. I wished that I had not asked. Almost in anger Paul said, "Terrible, I should not have started this fucking thing. After last month meeting, I could not sleep for a week. I wish that I had never told you about Hardin. I was afraid to go to sleep. I had nightmares every time I dozed off. When I finally went to sleep, I would have more nightmares. I would wake up ten minutes later thinking I had been sleeping for hours. The sight of Bill Hardin sinking in the quicksand will haunt me for the rest of my life. I should have tried to save him. I would have been better off if Billy had killed me while I was pulling Hardin out of the quicksand."

I asked, "Have you told them that you canít sleep at night?"

Paul snapped back at me, "Yew, they donít give a shit. They figure that I am going to die anyway so they donít give a damn."

Paul looked terrible. He had lost close to 50 pound since he was jailed. I had asked him if he had been on a diet. Paul said no that one of the doctors said that his nervous system was draining all of his strength.

I asked Paul, "Do you want to stop these meeting. We can stop it anytime you want. If you want to stop, I will understand."

"No Willy, I have gone this far. Once I get over this hump, I think it will be clear sailing. I hate to stop something once I have gotten someone else involved. Where were we last month? Oh yes, the beginning of the end."

"What are you talking about Paul, the beginning of the end?"

"The beginning of the end of my life."

I interrupted Paul, "We donít have to relive those unpleasant moments,"

With a determined look on his face, Paul said, "I want to get this mess off my chest, if I tell someone about it, maybe it will stop haunting me."

The emotional hangover:

Paul looked out the window at the prisoners in the yard below. He didnít say a work for a long time. I didnít want to interrupt his thoughts. He said, "They all look happy down there. I wonder what is going through their minds. They are murders, rapist, robbers and God only knows what other crimes they have committed. I wonder if they are going crazy like I am or they just donít give a damn and have no conscious. Are they all immune to the things that cause me to have a conscious? I wonder what goes on in their minds after they are locked up in their cells. What do they think about when they are alone?"

"Paul what do you think about when you alone?"

Paul was still looking down at the yard. "Everything, I wake up in the middle of the night hoping this is a dream. When I open my eyes and see the bars, I know that it not a dream. I try to think of a way to get out of this damn cell. I want to turn back the calendar before Herbert Duster came into my life. I look back at the amount of money that I got; it wasnít worth all the pain that I have gone through. I was a stupid jackass to put up with all the crap that Herbert and Billy put me through."

Paul spun around and looked at me, then said, "The following morning after Billy murdered Bill Hardin, I was a wreck. I was sick with fear. I did not know what was ahead of me. I expected the worse. Everything shook me up. Hearing my wife walking down the hall in the direction of my bedroom put me in a state of shock. I expected to see the police following her down the hall. Later, Billy called me, when the phone rang; I knew it was all over. My wife answered the phone, and then she gave me the phone. I said, hello. Billy told me tell my wife to get the fuck out of the room and shut the door. Then he told me to lay the phone down for a few seconds, which I did. I could hear him telling everyone to get off the line. Somehow, he knew when someone else was listening. He would yell at them by their name and say, I have told you never to listen in on my calls. He blew a whistle; the phone was at armís length, it even hurt my ears. Then he said now we will have a little privacy. He asked if my wife was listening. I told him no. Then he said, donít open your fucking mouth to anyone especially your wife. We can always take another visit to our favorite swimming hole. Get the fuck out of bed and go to work. I want to know what happens. I will see you at Bennyís tonight. Billy hung up the phone. I was so weak I couldnít move."

Willy asked Paul, "What happened at work?"

"Surprisingly, nothing, someone from Hardin office brought the companies receipts in. I told the guy to say hello to Hardin for me. He said that he would. The whole day I expected something to happen. It never did. I was a bundle of nerves at the end of the day. I was so afraid of what we had done. I did not want to meet Billy at Bennyís. I thought that he would take me out to Devils Pond. Reluctantly, I went to Bennyís. Billy was already there waiting for me. I could see the hate and suspicion in his face. I was afraid that he would take me out to Devils Pond."

Billy looked around the bar then said, "What happened at work?"

I said, "Nothing, a young fellow brought in the receipts and I told him to give Hardin my regards. He acknowledged me and said that he would. That is it, nothing else happened. I expected a gang of cop to come barging in all day. It was the quietest day we have had in weeks. I think that is what frightened me more than anything else. I didnít have anything else to keep my mind occupied. From the moment I got to the bank till I left, I thought someone would be walking through the door to lock me up."

Billy said, "No one is going to miss Hardin."

"Billy got up and walked out without saying another word. Since that night and every time since, when I see Billy, I think my legs are going to collapse under me."

I asked Pierce, "Why didnít you pack up and leave. Get yourself another job some place else."

"Billy thought of everything. I held the key to his safety deposit box. I had the key to all of his money. Once the estate of Hebert Duster was settled, he took out about a hundred thousand and hid it somewhere. He told me if I took off or fucked up, or if anything happened to his money he would spend the hundred thousand to kill everyone in my family."

Poor Paul, he was locked in with Old Man Thompson for the rest of his life.

Post Bill Hardin:

The residence of Duster Ville continued their lives as usual. No one seemed to care what happened to Bill Hardin. Pierces emotions settled down somewhat. He did his best to forget about Hardin, but it was driving him crazy not knowing what was happening at the parts company. What were Hardin relatives doing about his disappearance? His curiosity and the unknown were driving him up the wall. He was afraid to ask anyone in fear that it would link him with the disappearance of Hardin. After a few weeks, Pierce started to settle down. He was at Bennyís every afternoon drowning his problem with shots of moonshine and washing it down with beer.

Billy was still a little shaky about the incident. He was hoping that someone had stolen Hardinís car. He drove out to see if it was still there. To his surprise, the cars had not been moved and no one had stripped it down to the wheels. Billy called up Simon and told him there was an abandoned car on his property up by the Old Pratt Place . He told Simon that the car was only a couple years old. He told Simon that he tried to get in but the door was locked.

Simon asked, "What the fuck do you want me to do about it. Let the State Police pick it up."

As usual Billy yelled, "You stupid shit. I do not want the State Police to get involved. You and Jasper go down there and pick it up. Sell the damn thing or strip it and make yourself a few bucks."

The tone of Billy voice and what he said about the State Police made Simon start to wonder, why was Billy so upset about an abandoned car? There was a least a dozen old junks spread all over his property. He called Jasper and told him to come over with the wrecker. When Jasper picked up Simon, he asked Simon, "Where are we going and whose car are we picking up?"

"I donít know. Billy got a bug up his fucking ass about a car on his property up on the Old Pratt Place . I told him to let the State Police take care of it. He doesnít want the State Police getting involved."

"Why not, they usually pick up all the abandoned cars?"

Simon said, "I think there is more to it than just an abandoned car. I am a little afraid he is getting us to stick our necks out for him. We will look at the car and if anything comes from it, we will tell the police that someone called and told us about it. Donít mention this to anyone until we find out who the car belongs to."

Jasper and Simon found the car hidden behind a row of trees. The driverís side door was locked. Jasper tried the rear door and it was locked. He tried the rear door on the passengerís side. It was unlocked. He reaches around and opens the front door on the passengerís side. He climbed into the seat, opened the glove compartment, and pulled out the registration. He said to Simon, "It is registered to a William Hardin. He lives out on the Old State Road . This car is only a little over a year old. No one abandon this car. Someone fucked around with the ignition switch. Maybe some kid took it for a joy ride."

Jasper chucked, "No kid is that stupid. They wouldnít leave a car this far out in the country. It would take them all night to walk home. Simon, come over here."

Jasper asked, "What do you want?"

"There is another set of car tracks. You can see where they stopped and backed up so they could turn around. See the crushed grass, the driver of this car got out of the car, walked over to the other car and got in the driverís seat. Someone got out on the passengerís side and went over to the abandoned car. The grass around the abandoned car is trampled down. Someone circled the car a couple of times. You can see the foot prints of him walking back over to the other car."

Knowing the answer, Jasper asked, "Who do you think dropped the car off out here?"

Simon asked, "Do you have to ask?"

Jasper said, "No, I wanted to hear what you thought."

Simon said, "Billy was one of them, I donít know who the other guy was. It was probably Pierce or Wilson."

Jasper remarked, "It had to be Wilson . Pierce would never get himself involved."

Simon quipped, "You donít know Billy. You watch Pierce the next time we have breakfast at Sammyís. All Billy has to do is look at Pierce and he is shaking like a leaf."

Simon wasnít going to cover Billyís ass without knowing what was involved. He said to Jasper, "We are not going to fuck around with this car. I donít know what connections Billy has with it and he was a quite upset about it. I am going to cover my ass not his."

Simon told Jasper that since the car is registered, they were going to take it to the owner. They hooked up the car and took off. When they approached the ownerís house, they saw some young kids playing in the front yard. Jasper backed the wrecker into the yard and one of the kids called out, "Hi daddy, we missed you. Mommy told us you were not coming back."

Jasper looked at Simon, rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. Simon shook his head, and then said, "Donít say a word to them or their mother. Something wrong and I donít like it a damn bit. I think Billy has got us linked to this mess and now we are stuck with it. Play it straight, we donít know a damn thing."

As Jasper was unhitching the car, Simon was trying to explain to the kids that they were just bringing their daddyís car home and they did not know where their daddy was. The front door of the house swung open and a very thin, fragile woman walked out of the house shading her eyes then asked, "Where is Bill?"

Simon explained to the lady that someone called and said that the car was abandoned about thirty miles up the road and they were returning it. Jasper came over and said to the woman, "Maíam is your husband at home? It looks like someone stole your car and left it out in the woods."

She started to cry and headed toward the house. Simon and Jasper followed and helped her up the steps. After a few minutes, she settled down. They all were sitting in the living room that was cluttered with toys. It looked like the room had not been cleaned in a year. It was obvious that the woman was not in good health. Simon said, "I am Sheriff Pinket. Where is your husband?"

Sobbing she said, "I donít know."

She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out a crumpled letter that looked like it had been wadded up to be thrown away. She unfolded the letter and gave it to Simon. Simon scanned through the letter than asked, "When did your husband leave you. Did he go off with another woman?"

She answered, "He left a few weeks ago. He told me that he had quit his job and he and a friend were going out west. He didnít say if it was a man or a woman. I tried to get it out of him but he never told me who it was. He told me he would send me some money when he was settled. I havenít heard from him. I found the note after he left."

Jasper was going to charge the woman a hundred dollars for bringing the car home, but Simon was being the nice guy and told the lady that he would pay for the towing charges.

On the way back home, they agreed that Billy had to be involved some way. They were going to get the PHG together and find out what had happened to Harden.

Billy called Simon and asked him what they did with the car. Simon didnít want to tell him anything over the phone and he insisted they have breakfast at Sammyís the following morning. Billy didnít show up at Sammyís. For some reason Billy kept putting the meeting off. He wasnít going to talk to anyone until he found out what was going on at PK Parts. He had been pestering Pierce to find out what happened after Harden had not returned. Paul was curious also; hesitantly he called PK Parts and asked for Hardinís extension. When someone answered the extension, he asked, "May I speak to Mr. Hardin?"

The person on the other end of the line said, "Mr. Hardin quit a couple weeks ago. He got an offer out on the west coast. Can I help you?"

"No, I didnít know he quit his job. I just checked to see how he was getting along. Thank you anyway."

With a feeling of relief, Paul let out a puff of air. He retrieved PK Parts account and compared the last few weeks with the month before. The amount had gone up about fifteen percent. Paul was quite relieved. Hardin was lying to them. Something had spooked him or for some other reason he wanted to skip. Pierce wondered what would make Hardin want to leave town.

Later that day Billy called again and wanted to know what he had found out. Their usual subterfuge was how about a beer at Bennyís. They both agreed to meet at 4:30 . The bar was usually filled at that time. Anything they said would be covered by the noise of everyone talking at the same time.

At 4:30 , both Billy and Paul arrived at Bennyís. The place was packed. They ordered there beers and went outside where it was quieter and cooler. Benny had a couple of tables outside. They took the one under a shade tree. Billyís cold and cutting eyes sliced into Paulís emotions. Slightly stuttering Paul said, "I think we are in the clear. Hardin was lying to us. He quit his job. He told them he had an offer on the west coast. Another thing the new accountant is not fooling around with the books. In a few months, someone is going to find out that Hardin has been fucking around with the books. I donít know what spooked him or he just wanted to take the money and go. When someone goes over the account and notices the jump in profits, it will send up a red flag and they will audit the books."

Billy said, "Find out who the new accountant is. We will get him to work for us."

"Billy you are crazy. The new accountant is going to tell his boss about the discrepancy. The new accountant didnít do it and he would be a fool not to report it. The management will have the books audited and they will want to know where the money went. They will be over here looking around."

Billy did not want to believe Pierce. Pierce did not realize whom he had called crazy. When it flashed across his mind, he moved away from Billy expecting Billy to knock him across the parking lot. Then he changed his tempo and said, "What I am saying Billy, we took about a quarter million dollars from them and they will come looking for it. When the IRS starts looking, PK Parts will have to give the IRS some answers that they cannot answer. Hardin was a good accountant. He knew it would not last long before someone would start doing an audit. He wanted to get out before the fireworks started. I donít know if he left a trail that will lead to us. I am sure; since Hardin left unexpectedly, they will want to know why. I want to get the money out of the bank. Small banks never have this much cash on hand. Do you understand?"

"Yes, yes, I hear you. Canít you put it my account or in a safety deposit box."

No I canít, I bought a metal trunk to hold the money. Itís a wonder Jerry hasnít asked me more about it. Some time back Jerry went into the vault and asked me about the trunk. I told him it was yours. He asked me what was in it. I told him that you opened it for me and there were old deeds, tax returns and lot of other papers that you wanted to keep in a secure place. I told him that there were deeds that went back to the Civil War. He wanted to look at them. I told him that you had the key. He kind of scuffed his foot and said ugh, and walked out. He hasnít asked about it since."

Billy said, "Paul we will split Hardinís money between the two of us and I will hide it. Make damn sure that you donít let anyone know about the money and that I have it. I will blow your fucking brains out if you do."

Later that evening when Duster Ville had gone to sleep, Paul and Billy met at the bank. Paul had not set the timer on the vault. It only took a few minutes for them to open the bank, haul the trunk out to Billyís car, and set the timer and lock up the bank.


I asked Paul if he knew where Billy hid the trunk. He told me that he didnít know and he was afraid to ask. Paul said that it was probably somewhere on the Duster Plantation, Billy has three hundred and fifty thousand dollars hidden. Paul asked me if the Smith women that took over the bank and Duster Plantation had found the money. I told him that Peg or Pam never mention anything about finding any of money on the estate.

Paul said that from what he has heard, Billy is planning an escape and he thinks Billy is going to pay someone to bust him out of jail. Paul said, "If Billy tells someone where the money is located, they will take the money and let Billy rot in jail."

I asked Paul, "How do you know Billy is planning to bust out?"

Paul told me that a prisoner in Billyís cellblock overheard Billy talking to a couple of guys that were being released. The prisoner told one of the guards. They moved Billy and the other PHG to a more secure cellblock. Paul said, "The prisoner that squealed on Billy had been locked up for robbery by Simon. Simon had told the crooked state cops up in Metro about this guy knocking over a jewelry store. The state cops in Metro tried to shake him down. He had heard that if they start bleeding you that they would never stop. He told them to go fuck themselves. The state cops frame him and he got five to ten. The prisoner is now trying to get his sentence reduced."

  Paul was right. After Bill Harden disappeared, within a couple of months, the whole town was flooded with all type of Federal and State Authorities. They wanted to know what happened to Bill Hardin and the money. It wasnít a sheet of paper that they didnít thumb through at the bank. Paul had taken every type of sedative to keep from passing out. When the Feds left town, they put out a dragnet for Hardin.

No one knew until the Fedís invaded Duster that Hardin had been going across the county line to a strip joint. One of the dancers told the police that Hardin was going to pick her up and take her to California with him. He was flashing money all over the place. The authorities were at a standstill, no money and no Hardin.

Simon and Jasper knew that Billy was involved in the disappearance of Hardin. They didnít know how deeply Billy was involved with Hardin. But, they felt that Billy was involved with the disappearance of the money and Hardin.

After the Hardin problem quieted down Billy continued the breakfast meeting with the PHG at Sammyís. At one of the early morning meetings Simon and Jasper inquired about Hardin disappearance and insinuated that Billy was involved, Billy started to boil. Paul could see the rage that was building up inside of Billy. It was like a volcano spurting out lava. Billy was sitting across the table from them; he reached across the table grabs the throats of Simon and Jasper. They tried to release his grip on their necks without very much success. Paul as usual was about to shit in his pants pleaded with Billy to let them go. This was the first time Billy had expressed his anger and strength toward his buddies. When Billy cooled down, he burned a hole through their bodies with his eyes. Quietly and calmly he said, "I told you before. Do not tie me into that fucking car. If you do I will finish what I started."

Pierce had never seen the fear that was on Simon and Jasperís faces. Billy got up and walked out of the restaurant, and left the three of them in a state of shock. They all looked at each other without saying a word. Jasper was the first to break the silence and said, "Damn it, when I drank the last bit of coffee, I couldnít swallow it. I thought that I was going to drown. Paul do you know why he is so pissed off about the car?"

Paul was still in a state of shock. It was no way in hell that he was going to tell them what had happen to Hardin. Paul stuttered and said, "Hell no, I have never seen Billy this pissed off over anything. I know just as much about the car as you do."

Jasper did most of the talking. He was going to get to the bottom of it. He wasnít going to let Billy push him around. Simon and Paul looked at Jasper, Simon said, "I am just as pissed off as you are. We all know that Billy is hiding something from us. I donít know what it is and now I know that I donít want to know. Everyone and his brother have been on my ass since that Hardin guy took off with a quarter of a million. I donít know how, but I do know that Billy is up to his neck in it. Jasper, everyone in town knows us as the Pool Hall Gang. If we let on that Billy is connected to Hardin and the quarter million, then we are also tying ourselves into it. Do you want to be locked up for something that you did not do? Itís the best for all of us not to open our fucking mouths. Donít you agree Paul?"

"Absolutely, I have had enough of this mess. If they tie us in with the bank and Hardin, they will nail us all, whether we were involved or not. I vote to not to talk about it to ourselves or to anyone else. Case is closed."

Jasper reluctantly agreed with them. They both told Jasper if he stirred up any shit, they would say that Jasper was the one that was involved with Hardin. Now Jasper was really pissed. Paul and Simon got up from the booth and looked at Jasper fuming. Simon said, "We are not kidding. Cool it and forget it. If they tie Billy or any of us to Hardin, we all will be locked up."

The Pool Hall Gang Empire collapses:

Billy had a hard night. He and Jackie had rattled the springs until the sun peeked into the bedroom. Rosie would be coming soon and he didnít want her to catch them. He gave Jackie a key to one of the trucks that were parked next to the barn. Jackie wanted the key to the car. A slight confrontation erupted. Billy put on his "scare the hell out of you look" that he used on Paul Pierce. To his surprise, it worked on Jackie. She flew out of the room meeting Rosie coming up the stairs. Both of them were startled, they stopped and stared at each other for a moment. Smiles came over their faces. Jackie said, "Good morning Rosie, I would not go in there he is in a nasty mood."

Rosie rolled here big brown eyes and smiled from ear to ear then said, "Good morning, why donít you stay for breakfast and keep me company."

Billy yelled out, "I told you to get out of here before Rosie gets here. Who are you talking to?"

Jackie yelled, "Rosie, who else, since you are in such a nasty mood, I am going to stay and have breakfast with her."

There was a pause, and then Billy said, "All right, but donít make any noise. I want to get some sleep."

Billy had been asleep for about an hour and the phone rang. He didnít answer it. It stopped for a few minutes and started again. This time it rang for about ten times. Jackie didnít want to answer the phone and Billy had told Rosie not to ever answer the phone. It he wasnít there they could call back. They could not stand the ringing any longer. Jackie ran up the steps, yelled at Billy, "Answer the fucking phone it is driving us crazy."

Her yelling didnít wake up Billy. She jumped into the bed and shook him. He opened his eyes and said, "Get out of here, I have had enough."

Jackie said, "So have I. Answer the fucking phone. Itís driving us crazy."

Billy climbed out of bed and answered the phone. Pierce said, "Have you hear about PK Part?"

"What about PK Parts?"

"They were bought out by one of their competitors. They are firing everyone and closing down the plant."

"Who told you this?"

"Their accountant, Peterson, came over this morning closed PK Parts account and withdrew all their funds. He was at the door when I opened up this morning. He just walked out of my office. He told me that the company that bought them out would not keep the plant open. They gave everyone pink slips this morning."

Billy asked, "If they closed out their account, how are the employees going to cash their pay checks? Did he take cash or did you write him a check."

"I gave him a cashierís check; I didnít have that much cash on hand. I should have given him a regular check."

"Paul, can you stop payment on the check"

"Yes, I think so."

Billy said, "Hold on for a minute and let me thinkÖ.. Call the state police and tell them that you may have a riot at the bank and tell them what happened. Let them handle the mob."

Paul said, "I am going to close the bank. If PK gives them checks, it is going to be like Friday night. I donít keep that much cash in the bank in the middle of the week, and if I did, it would not be PKís money. We are going to have an angry mob in here."

Billy screamed, "I donít give a damn what happens. Donít use any of our money to cover the checks. Does Jerry know about this?"

"No, I called his home and there was no answer. He doesnít show up until the middle of the day. So I called you for advice."

"Call Peterson and ask him how they are going to cover the payroll. I am going to send some of my men down there. You are going to have a problem when they came to cash their checks. The workers are going to blame us. Call me back after you talk to Peterson."

Billy yelled to Rosie and asked if she had breakfast ready. Jackie said, "Breakfast is ready. What happening?"

"I donít know what PK Parts is trying to pull. We may have a riot down at the bank today. They took all of their money out of the bank and there is no money to cover the pay checks."

Billy had slipped into his clothes and was stuffing down his breakfast when the phone rang. He ran over to the phone and answered it. Paul said. "Finish eating what you have in your mouth. If you donít you will choke when I tell you what Peterson told me."

Paul was waiting then he asked, "Have you swallowed everything. I donít want you to choke."

Billy yelled with a mouth full, "What the fuck did Peterson say."

Billy looked over at Rosie and Jackie. They both were shaking their finger at Billy. Billy said, "Go ahead Paul, what did he say."

"You are going to shit in your pants. He made me promise that I would never tell anyone, especially his bosses. I told him that I would not tell anyone."

Billy yelled, "Get to the fucking point. I donít give a damn what you had to promise him."

Paul cleared his throat, and said, "The FBI and PK Parts think that I was involved with Bill Hardin and somehow they think you are involved also. They donít have any positive proof. Hardin records reflect every cent that the bank was holding. Peterson told his boss and the FBI that there isnít anything that would indicate that we were involved. "

Billy said, "So, what does that have to do with them taking the money for the pay roll out of the bank?"

Billy could tell by the sound of Paulís voice that he was all shook up. Paul said, "Peterson told the CEO of PK Parts that they would still have to come up with the money and they could be put in jail for writing checkís that would bounce. They said that we have over a quarter million of their money and we would have to cover the check."

"How did they connect us with Hardin?"

"Rumors, the FBI were asking everyone in town who they thought would probably be involved in this type of scam. Who do you think they pointed their fingers at?"

"Who damn it? Quit playing games."

"Everyone thinks we were involved."

"You must be kidding. What made them think that we were involved?"

"Hell if I know. All the drunks at Bennyís think you are involved with every crime that happens in Duster County ."

Billy slammed down the phone and grabbed a couple of biscuits, opened them up slapped a couple slices of bacon in them and took off. He rounded up a dozen of his largest field hands and headed for the Bank.

Paul had sent everyone home, put all of the money in the vault, locked up the bank and put up a sign that said, "BANK IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE".

Paul was talking to two State Police officers. Billy and the men got out of the truck and headed toward the Police and Paul. The officers drew their guns. Billy told them to put their guns away; they were there to help the police if they were needed.

It was only ten thirty and a few employees from PK Parts showed up and wanted to cash their checks. Paul told them that PK Parts had drawn all of their funds out of the bank and he could not cash them. As expected they were quite agitated and demanding that Paul open the bank. Two men grabbed Paul and were dragging him in the direction of the bank and shouting profanities at Paul. The officers tried to pull the men away from Paul. A fight broke out and Billy sent in reinforcement. The hands subdued the men. Billy told the men that he was sorry about PK Parts withdrawing their funds and Paul could not take someone elseís money to cover the checks. He told them to go back to PK Parts and ask them for the money. Reluctantly they took off.

Paul was quite disturbed. He looked as if he was going to have a heart attack. Billy told him to go home; he and the Police would watch the bank. Everything was quiet for about a half hour. The Police got a call that there was a riot at PK Parts. The police took off and left Billy and his men to guard the bank. The men had brought all type of farm tools for weapons. Billy had blocked the entrance to the parking lot with his truck and his men were sitting on the curb in front of the bank. It wasnít long until a crowd started to build. Billy was standing in the back of the truck and trying to explain what had happened. PK Parts management was telling them to go to the bank to cash their checks, while Billy was telling them to go back to PK Parts. This did not satisfy the crowd and more workers were showing up. The crowd started to arm themselves with rocks that were in a divider between the street and the parking lot. Someone threw a rock at the large windows in front of the bank. The glass shattered and the crowd ran to the bank. Billyís workers could not hold them back. Billy called to his workers to come and get on the truck. When all of Billyís crew was on the truck, Billy fired a shot into the air over the bank. The mob fell to the ground. Billy yelled, "I donít want to kill you. If you donít get out of the bank, I will."

Billy fired another shot into the air and the mob started evacuating the bank. The mob fled for shelter. They all thought that someone had been shot and they did not want to be the next victim. As they scattered, Billy kept shooting into the air. Within a few minutes, the mob had cleared. They left the bank in shambles.

Billy and his crew got out of the truck and surveyed the damage. Billy went into the bank to look for a phone that hadnít been pulled out of the wall. He found one in Paulís office. He called Paul and told him that the excitement at the bank was over and to get his butt down to the bank. Before Paul arrived, Jerry drove up and saw the truck blocking the entrance to the parking lot. Billy and a few of his crew were sitting on the bed of the truck. Jerry yelled, "Get that fucking truck out of there."

Billy said, "Go to hell. You are lucky that you still have the bank. If itís wasnít for me the bank would be flattened and all the money would be gone."

Jerry parked his car; he still hadnít seen the front of the bank. He walked over to Billy. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the front of the demolished entrance. He yelled at Billy, "Why did you destroy my bank. I will have you sent away for life."

Paul had driven up and parked his car. He approached Billy and Jerry. When he saw the damage to the bank, he collapsed. Jerry saw Paul fall to the ground. He yelled at Billy again, now look what you have done."

Billy laughed and said, "I didnít do this. While you two were out fucking around, you had a run on the bank. If it wasnít for me and my crew there would not be a thing left."

Paul had pulled himself up on his knees and asked for help so he could stand up. Paul told Jerry what had happened. It did not help much, but it took Jerry off of Billyís back.

The mob went back to PK Parts and corralled the management. They held the executivesí hostage until all the workers were paid in cash.

Billy insisted that Jerry replace the windows with bulletproof glass and replace the vault. Someone could take a sledgehammer and break through the concrete wall of the old vault. Paul agreed with Billy, but the vault was never installed until after Jerry sold the Bank. Jerry was not going to spend the money for a new vault. It took a month before the bank was back in business.

 Duster Ville becomes a ghost town:

When the bank opened its doors, there was a run on the bank. Everyone that had been working at PK Parts was leaving town. They wanted the little money they had in their accounts. Most of the employees were paid minimum wages. They lived from one paycheck to the other, and were getting more in debt every payday.

Most, it not all of them that had bought homes and were behind in their mortgage. They did not have the money to make the payments. They simple sold what little furniture they had to Jasper Hill at a rate of ten cent on the dollar. Simon watched to see who had left town looking for work somewhere else and intended to return to pick up their meager processions. Jasper would strip their homes of everything of any value. When they returned to their homes, they were empty. They called Simon to report the theft; Simon would tell them that maybe the mortgage company had confiscated their property for not paying their mortgage. In addition, there had been a rash of thefts and they had not found the thief.

The PHG had their regular mornings meeting at Sammyís and the monthly meeting at Billyís. Wilson , Jasper and Simon blamed Billy and Paul for causing the man-made disaster. Billy told them to stop blaming each other and see what they could do to get the town back to a thriving community. There wasnít enough money coming in from taxes to pay the county employees, much less scrape off the cream.

Billyís farm was making all the money that was being made in Duster Ville. He and Paul manipulated his books to show that he was making thirty percent less than the actual income of Duster Plantation.

Duster Ville had turned into a virtual ghost town. There were more empty houses per square mile than any other county in the country.

Dustville Bank is sold:

Paul was the only one in the Pool Hall Gang that knew that Billy was blackmailing Jerry. But, he didnít know why. Billy had Jerry writing him checks that were deposited in BillyĎs account. Jerry didnít socially associate with Paul. Jerryís confidant at work was an older gentleman name Mr. Felder. One morning Jerry came in happy as hell. Everyone noticed the difference in his personality. He went over to Felder and asked him to come into his office. They were in the office for about a half hour. You could hear the laughter inside the office. When they came out, they both had broad smiles on their faces; this was burning Paulís curiosity. Why were they so happy? It didnít take long to leak out that Jerry had sold the bank to someone. This shook up Billy and his Pool Hall Gang.

Jerry had plans to see the world. He was going to take a cruise around the world. He was making all his preparations for the cruise. However, Billy was scheming to interrupt his plans. After the bank was closed, Billy, Simon and Paul were having meeting at the bank. They were trying to find a way to keep on extorting the townís money. If they lost the bank, they would lose the money they were stealing from the town. In addition, Billy would lose the money that Jerry was giving him to keep his mouth shut. Jerry felt that if he got out of town, he wouldnít give a damn if Billy told the kidís parents. Billy had John Wilsonís father draw up a loan agreement that stated that Jerry owed him a million bucks. Billy told the old lawyer that he had a gentlemanís agreement with Jerry to pay him back and Jerry had been paying him off a little at a time. He told Wilson that Jerry was going to sell the bank and skip town without paying him. Billy told Wilson that he wanted him to be his lawyer if Jerry didnít sign the loan papers. Of courses, Jerry wasnít going to sign anything. He was going to let Billy rot in hell before he paid him another cent.

The sale of the bank had gone through. The new owners let Pierce continue as manger of the bank. Jerry had a sales agreement on his home and the property around it. He was waiting for the closing before he left Duster Ville. The new owners were going to allow Jerry 72 hours after the closing to move out.

Billyís chance to get Jerry to sign the loan papers was quickly coming to an end. On the day of the closing Billy was on his way home, Jerry in his fancy sports car and passed Billy, he gave Billy the royal finger, and smiled. This burned the hell out of Billy. His furry lasted all the way home. He walked into the kitchen door and saw the shotgun over the mantel. He started to reach for it, but his better judgment told him not to. He was so mad that he was perspiring profusely. He walked into the bathroom to wash the perspiration from his face. The door of the medicine cabinet was open. He saw all of prescriptions that Mary had been taking. He started reading the labels, he came across one with a warning label that stated that no more than one tablets in a 24-hour period and do not take any alcoholic beverages while taking the medication. The bottle was almost full. He wondered how many would he have to pour down Jerry throat to kill him. He took about a dozen pills out to the barnyard. He poured some feed in a bucket with the pills. He single out a young bull that weight about 500 pounds. He fed the bull and watched him for about a half hour. It didnít seem to affect the bull. He kicked the dirt in discuss and went in the house and got a beer. While he was drinking his beer, Billy was trying to come up another way to kill Jerry before he sailed around the world. He finished his beer and went into the kitchen to get another one. He glanced out the window and saw the bull lying on the ground. He ran to the barnyard and examined the bull. The bull was dead.

He saddled his horse and dragged the bull over to the scaffold where they slaughter and butcher the animals. He tied a rope around the bullís hind legs and cranked the bull into the air. He slit the arteries of the bull and the blood flooded out onto the ground. He went back into the house, got another dozen pills, he took them in the kitchen and opened the capsules and put all of the powder into a small medicine bottle and sealed it. He put it into his watch pocket. He went up to the attic, and got a gallon jug of his best moonshine and took off for Jerryís.

On his way over to Jerryís he rehearsed what he would do. As he walked up to the house, the front door swung open. Jerry was standing there with a shotgun aim at Billy. Billy yelled, "Hey, take it easy. I am on an errand of peace. I brought you a jug of my best moonshine. I just want to wish you the best."

Jerry lowered the shotgun; Billy walked up to the front door, stuck out his hand and said, "I know you hate my guts. I canít help for being a jackass. I grew up with nothing and now I cannot get enough money to satisfy my internal desire to have everything. I will pay you back all the money that I took from you. I canít do it now because I have invested it in property all over the state. Letís have a drink."

Jerry wasnít quite sure how to handle Billy. For a few moments, they just stared at each other. Billy shrugged his shoulder, sat the jug on the porch floor, and started to walk away. He was halfway across the yard and Jerry called him and said, "Come on back, letís have a drink."

Billy wheeled around in his tracks, smiled at Jerry, and said, "I was hoping you would forgive me. Pierce pushed me into blackmailing you. He knew that you were gay. He made me split the money with him."

Jerry shook his head and shouted, "That fucking little bastard. How in the fuck could he do this to me? I trusted him all these years. I bet that son-of-bitch has been embezzling money from me. You are not kidding me are you Billy?"

"Honest Jerry, you may know I never went to school. After I inherited Duster Plantation, I started to learn arithmetic. Paul is a sharp bookkeeper. I think he has been stealing from me. I was looking at some of Duster books he was making more money than I am making."

Jerry laughed then said, "Damn it, if I hadnít made my plans I would stay around and have the books audited. I think you should have someone go over your books. I bet he has been embezzling your account as well as mine. I bet he and Hardin embezzled the quarter million from PK Parts."

Billy nodded and said, "Those two spent a lot of time together at Bennyís. I would not put it past him. I thing that is a good idea, I am going to have my books audited."

"You should. I will send you a card to let you know where I light. Let me know what the outcome of your audit is."

They had been talking and drinking for about an hour. They both were starting to feel the effects of the moonshine. Jerry poured them another drink. Billy asked Jerry if he had any ice. Jerry jumped up and walked into the kitchen. Billy slipped the bottle from his watch pocket, and poured the contents into Jerryís glass and stirred the drink with his finger. Billy heard Jerry chipping away at the block of ice and said, "Jerry donít bother, I think I have had a little too much already. My stomach is getting a little queasy and I donít think I should finish the one I have now."

Jerry came back into the room. Billy was already heading for the door. Jerry said, "Are you alright."

Billy put his hand over his mouth and said, "I got to get out of here. I think I am going to throw up."

Jerry followed Billy to the door with his drink in his hand. He thanked Billy for the jug. In the short hour, Jerry had forgiven Billy. The moonshine was smooth as silk. It was one of Moonís best. Jerry topped off his glass again and drank it down. He started to get ready for bed. He had a big day ahead of him. As he was taking his shower, he started to feel a little dizzy. He thought to himself that he shouldnít have had the last drink. After Jerry finished his shower, he laid down for a few moments. He was out within a few seconds.

Billy had driven a short distance down the road; he parked his car in the cornfield and walked back to Jerryís. The lights were still on. He walked around the house to find Jerry. When he got to the far side of the house, the bedroom light was on and the shades were up. He saw Jerry lying on the bed. He went to the back door. It was unlocked. He walked in and headed for the bedroom. Before he got to the bedroom, he heard a gasp. Billy froze in his track. He listened for a few minutes then proceeded to the bedroom. Jerry was hardly breathing. He took Jerryís pulse. He could not feel anything. He took a few of the capsules that he had and put them on the night table. He scoured around the house looking for anything that he may have touched. He cleaned the glass that he was using. He searched the house for documents that had Jerryís signature. He found a few documents and took them. He looked around the house to see if he had forgotten anything. As he was walking out the front door, he remembered the jug he had given Jerry. He ran back into the house and picked up the jug. He took a mirror and held it next to Jerryís mouth. He wasnít sure if Jerry was breathing or not. Again, he checked Jerryís pulse. He thought he felt a slight pulse. He opened Jerryís mouth and poured the powder from a few of the capsules into Jerry mouth. He poured a little liquor in Jerry mouth to wash down the power. He waited for about a half hour. There were no signs of life left in Jerry. Billy left the house with a smile on his face.

The following day the new owners came to show their kids their new home. Like most kids, they ran ahead. Before their parents could stop them, they were running around inside the house. One of the kids ran out of the house and told their father there is a man in the house sleeping. He yelled for his kids to come outside. When the other three came out the oldest one said, "Pop, I donít think he is sleeping. He looked just like grandpa when he dropped dead."

The man told the kids to get in the car. He went into the house and cautiously looked around. When he went into the bedroom and saw Jerry lying on the bed; he let out a gasp. He put his hand on Jerryís forehead and removed it instantly. He though that Jerry felt like an ice cube.

He went to the phone and cranked it. The operator asks, "What can I do for you Jerry."

The man stuttered, and said, "This isnít Jerry. I think you better call the Sheriff. I think Jerry is dead."

From the sound the man heard over the phone, he thought the operator had fallen off her stool. When she came back, she told him to hold on and she would ring the Sheriffís line. After a brief conversation with Simon, he hung up the phone. It did not take long for Simon to show up. He questioned the man and his kids for a few minutes then went into the house. He hadnít been in the house a minute and he came out and said, "You are right, he sure is dead."

The investigation into Jerryís death was quite brief and not very professional. Simon found the capsules that Billy had left and assumed that he had taken an overdose. Simon called an undertaker and they had Jerry cremated before the state came around to examine Jerryís remains.

The state official gave Simon holy hell and threaded to have him locked up for tampering with evidence. Simon bent over backwards to please the officials. He swore that he would never tamper with a crime scene again. Simon heard one of the official say, "No wonder this county is so fucked up. With jerks like him itís a wonder that the whole county doesnít fall apart."

The other official agreed and said, "It is falling apart."

"Isnít that the truth? What can you expect in a county like this? They are nothing but a bunch of stupid red neck idiot running the county."

Simon was pissed and his pride was crushed. He wanted to beat the shit out of both of them. He was boiling inside, but his better judgment told him to keep his mouth shut. He was already in a lot of trouble. That didnít last long. The men continued to belittle Simon. Simon wanted to show those highfaluting jackasses from the big city who was boss in his county. He puffed out his chest, stood up tall, pulled in his gut and walk over to them. He reached out to grab one of them by the neck. He touches the shoulder of the man. The man turned around, looked at Simon and saw the outstretched hand of Simon. He thought that Simon wanted to shake hands with him. He wasnít going to shake hands with Simon. The man asked Simon what he wanted. Simon opened his big mouth and started to tell them to get the fuck out of his county. However, his lips froze and he said, "Yíall come back you hear."

Billy was at home learning how to write. He wasnít very good at it, but he had perseverance. After he spent a day writing Jerry Peabody a million times, he came up with a close resemblance of Jerryís signature. He had Pierce sign that he witnessed the agreement. When they probated Jerryís estate, after taxes, Billy inherited everything that Jerry owned. The judge asked Billy why Jerry had to borrow so much money. Billy told the judge that Herbert Duster had lent him the money years before and he was still paying off the debt. Billy walked over to the judge and whispered to him, "I donít know if you have heard that Jerry was gay and he had a bunch of young boyfriends."

The judge looked over his glasses, cleared his throat and looked around to see if anyone had heard what Billy had told him. There was no indication that anyone heard Billy, the judge cleared his throat again and said, "Mr. Thompson, the Peabody estate is all yours. Case closed."

When the wife of the new owner of Jerryís house heard about Jerryís death, she did not want to move into the house. She wanted her deposit back. Billy was very obliging; he offered to take the house off their hand and pay off the mortgage. However, he would not give them back their down payment. After a few weeks of haggling, the couple turned the house over to Billy. Acre by acre Billy was taking over Duster County . The Pool Hall Gang was getting more powerful. The company that bought the bank from Jerry was a huge conglomerate, BFS Inc. Pierce was asked to continue as manager of the bank. The purchase of the bank bothered Pierce, why did they buy the bank. A couple months later, he found out. BFS Inc. bought the PK Parks building, started to remodel the building, and was going to open a large mall.

On the afternoon after BFS bought PK Parks building, Billy dropped in to see Paul just before the bank closed. When Paul saw the look on Billyís face, he almost passed out. His stomach was in knots, beads of perspiration lined his forehead and his mouth became dry. Paul tried to be casual, but words would not come out of his mouth. Billy said, "Hi buddy, you look terrible. Have you been sick?"

Paul shook his head. Billy asked, "Do you have a few minutes?"

Paul nodded yes. Billy rolled a blue print across Paulís desk and pointed out the area that he wanted to buy. Billy said to Paul, "For fifty thousand, I can buy the land surrounding the PK Parts building. Take the money out of BFSís account and write me a cashierís check for fifty thousand. They wonít miss fifty thousand out the two million they put in the bank for operating expenses."

Paul was shaking his head and was trying to say no. Billy was rolling up the blue print and didnít notice Paul trying to say no. It would not have done any good and Paul knew it. A couple of minutes passed without Paul moving. Billy yelled, "Get your fucking ass out of that chair and get me the check. I donít have all night. I am going to close a deal tonight."

Trembling Paul slowly got up, walks over to a cabinet, and got the cashierís checks. Billy said, "Damn it Paul something wrong with you. I think you better go see Doc."

Paul uttered, "Get me some water please."

"Sure Paul. I havenít seen you look this bad. Are you sure you are all right?"

"Just get me some water and Iíll get you the check!"

"OK, OK, I will get it for you."

An older couple owned the land. They had not worked the property for years and no one wanted to buy it. Billy had leased the 300 acres from them for five hundred a year. They couldnít make five hundred a year when they worked the property. To them it was a windfall.

Billy got John Wilson to write up a bill of sale for the 300 acres minus the acre that the couple house was on. John went with Billy to witness the transaction. The couple had not known about the sale of the parts factory and had no idea how much the property was worth. Billy knew they were asking twenty thousand for the land when the parts factory was in operation. Billy offer of fifty thousand was accepted with enthusiasm. The couple could not thank Billy enough. They thought they were robbing Billy.

The following morning Billy was at BFS Inc. in Metro offering to sell the 299 acres for one and a half million. BFS only wanted twenty-five acres that bordered the factory. Billy told them that he would not break up the track. It was all or nothing. BFS knew that Billy was ripping them off. They needed the land to extend the mall and parking area. Surprisingly, they purchase the 299 acres. Billy settled for one million and fifty thousand for the 299 acres.

The following morning Billy was at the bank when it opened. He wrote out a deposit slip and handed Paul the check and deposit slip. Paul with a surprised look on his face said, "I donít believe this. You must be kidding me. What are they going to do with 299 acres?"

Billy said, "I donít give a shit what they do with it. I knew they would want to expand the parking area as well as the mall. PK Part was going to extend the parking area. I had a lease on the property and I would not give up the lease. Simon was at the country clerkís office when they were recording the transaction. He called me and told me that we had a big mall coming to town. I went down to the county clerkís office to see who bought the plant. When I saw their plans, I knew they would have to buy the adjacent property. Give them back the fifty thousand and put the million into my account."

Not only had Billy ripped off BFS Inc. for a million he persuaded Paul to start skimming the profits of BFS when they started making large deposits.  


From what I heard from the Smith girls, when they had the bank audited and found the second set of books, Paul and Billy were using BFS money to purchase all the land in Duster County. They did not tell me the total amount, but they said it was in the millions.

Registering Voters:

Duster Ville Sovereignty Party is being challenged. Young people from Universities all over the country were arriving in Duster Ville in droves. They were going out into the fields incurring the workers to register to vote. They suggested that they vote for someone that they knew would support their desires. They had registered a couple of hundred new voters, and the Pool Hall Gang was being nudged to do something before the election. The PHG did not want to lose the control of their community.

Billy and his buddies were having daily meeting at Sammyís. They had single out the troublemakers and were going to try to chase them out of the county. Intimidation, threats and harassment was not deterring their efforts. From the way things looked Duster Ville would have a new slate of officers after the election.

Billy took control of the problem. One afternoon as he was driving around his property he saw a crowd that had gathered in the middle of a cotton field. He said to himself, "What the hell are they doing. They are trampling down all of the cotton plants."

Billy stopped his car and the crowd started to disperse. Only a single young black man was left. Billy with his very best image got out of his car and started walking across the field toward the young man. The young man expected the worst. He turned and started to walk away from Billy. Billy called to him and said, "Hey, donít go away. I am not going to stop you from registering my workers. You are welcome here anytime. This caught the young man off guard. He turned around and headed toward Billy. When he got close to Billy, Billy stuck his hand out to the young man. While Billy was shaking the young black manís hand vigorously he smiled and said, "I am Billy Thompson, I am sorry I interrupted your meeting. When I drove up, I thought that someone was injured. What is your name?"

The young fellow was cautious. For a few moments, he did not say anything, and then he said, "I am Jimmy Anderson."

"Jimmy, you are welcomed on my property at any time. I have heard about the wonderful work you have been doing. I congratulate you on your efforts. Some of the jackasses around here do not want the blacks to vote. They are afraid they will take over everything. You and I know that itís not going to happen. All we want is for them to have the right to express their feeling and vote for the man of their choice. How long are you going to be in Duster Ville?"

Jimmy did not know if he should answer Billy. Yet, he did not want to be evasive. Jimmy said, "Maybe a few months."

"Do you like fishing and swimming?"

"Yes sir, I love both."

"I have a lake on the north side of town. I stock it with some of the best eating fish in the world and itís a great swimming lake with a beautiful sandy beach with big Magnolia shade trees circulating the lake. They are nicest smelling trees in the state. When I go out there, I think I am in heaven. We will be seeing each other around. I am busy today and I know you are busy too. We have to go to the lake before you go home."

Jimmy was totally confused. He had heard that Billy Thompson was the devil himself. He did not know who to believe. Jimmy let out a sigh of relief and said, "Yes sir, that sounds great. I am looking forward to going out to the lake."

They shook hands; Billy went back to his car and drove off. Jimmy and the others watched the dust cloud following Billy until it was out of sight. The men Jimmy had been talking to came over and asked Jimmy what Thompson wanted? Jimmy told them about the conversation he had with Billy. All the men looked at each other with disbelief; one of the older men said to Jimmy, "Son, do you believe what that son-of-bitch said?'

 With a surprised look on Jimmy face he answered, "He sounds like a real nice man."

"Listen to me boy, that bastard will cut your throat just to watch the blood run out. I have known that bastard almost all his life. His Pa was a poor red neck farmer. His pa brought that bastard up to be the same bastard that he was. Both of them would kill a black man just for the fun of it. Donít trust him. I couldnít hear what he said, but I know nothing but lies were coming out of his mouth."

After the men tried to convince Jimmy that Billy was lying, without success, the men went back to their jobs and Jimmy headed down the road to another field where there was another group of workers. Jimmy was confused. He didnít know who to believe. Mr. Thompson was quite nice and he believed him.

Jimmy and a few of his friends helped the field hands register to vote. A few hundred blacks had gone in town and register. On Election Day a number of the field hands were already registered and voted, it didnít help. The same Good Old Boys were elected. The PHG and the Good Old Boys stuffed the ballots anyway. The young recruits were still around after the election trying to register more voters.

A couple of weeks had passed. Billy had Rosie make up a nice picnic basket. She smiled at Billy and said, "Mr. Billy got himself a sweetheart. Do I know her Mr. Billy?"

Billy smiled at Rosie, winked, and said, "No, this is a new one. I net her up in the next county. She is a quite a gal and full of fire. She crawls all over me."

Rosie started giggling and could not stop. She was embarrassed and walked out on the front porch for a few minute to settle down. As Billy walked out on the front porch Rosie said, "Mr. Billy, does Jackie know about you new girlfriend?"

Billy said, "No, I think she has a new boyfriend. Do you know anything about him?"

Rosie thought, I had to open my big mouth. Jackie will kill me if I tell Mr. Billy about her new boyfriend.

Rosie turned around and said, "I donít know anything about Jackie having a new boyfriend. What make you think she has a new boyfriend?"

Billy smiled and shook his head, "Bull shit, Rosie. I thought that you knew everything that was going on in Duster Ville. I saw her in town riding around in a convertible with a young white man and she was hanging all over him."

"Mr. Billy, I declare, what is that girl up to. Huh." 

Rosie shook her head, tightened up her lips. "Lord, what is this world coming to? Everybody is two-timing everyone else."

Billy laughed and said, "Variety is the spice of life. Donít you every have an itch to roll in the hay with someone other than Ben?"

"Lord have mercy on you Mr. Billy for thinking I would go out with another man. I would kill Ben if he thought about going out with someone else. He would kill me if he found out that I went out with someone else. Shame on you."

Billy had a big smile on his face. He gave Rosie a kiss. He picked up his picnic basket and the jug of moonshine and headed for the car. He walked out to the car laughing loudly. Rosie stood on the porch and watched him. Billy winked at Rosie. As he drove away, Billy threw Rosie a kiss; Rosie shook a finger at him, then smiles and went back into the house. She was so embarrassed that her dark skin turned pink.

Everything was moving along just the way he wanted it to. The night before, it had rained cat and dogs. He knew the crust on Devils Pond would not hold a fly

Earlier that day Billy had seen Jimmy walking through the fields. He had stopped and asked Jimmy when he was going back in town. Jimmy told him that he would start back around four thirty. It would give him enough time to get back in town before dark. Billy told Jimmy that he may be going back to town about that time and if he saw him, he would give him a ride back to town.

Billy looked at his watch it was almost five. Billy knew that Jimmy would probably be in an isolated area if he had started walking back to town at four thirty . As Billy came up on the isolated area, he saw Jimmy. He pulled alongside of Jimmy and asked him if he wanted a ride to town. Without any hesitation, Jimmy jumped in the car and thanked Billy for giving him a ride. Jimmy had been warned; never take a ride with any of the Poll Hall Gang. Jimmy trusted Billy. He thought that everyone was exaggerating.

Billy asked, "Are you hungry? There is a picnic basket in the back seat. Grab yourself a sandwich."

Jimmy climbed over the seat and opened the basket. There was a feast in the basket. He pulled out a big sandwich. He lay back in his seat, relaxed, and let the wind blow across his tired body. Jimmy was dead on his feet. The last few miles he has walked were hell. His feet hurt so bad that he was planning to sleep in the fields. Jimmy thought it was a blessing that Billy stopped and picked him up. In his mind, he thought that Billy was an angle. Those men were just jealous of Billy.

After a few minutes, Billy looked over at Jimmy. He had pulled his shoes off. Billy asked, "Would you like to cool those sore feet in a cool pond?"

Jimmy with a smile from ear to ear said, "Yes sir. At the lake you were telling me about?"

"Yes, thatís the spot. I have to take this basket to a young black boyís house for his birthday."

Jimmy looked over at Billy and seriously said, "Mr. Billy, you are a very nice man. Not many people down here have been as nice to me as you have been. I think most of people around here have a miss-guided opinion of you. You are the nicest white man I have met since I have been here."

Billy smiled and reached over and rubbed Jimmy on the head then said, "That is awful nice of you to say. Some time when you are the boss you canít be nice when someone is laying down on the job and they want you to still pay them a full dayís pay when they have been goofing off all day."

All the windows of the car were open. Jimmy laid back and enjoying the breeze blowing across his sweating body. He closed his eyes for a few minutes and thought about all the people that he had gotten to register. The joy of his achievement flooded his mind. He felt that he had turned the tide of power in the south. His thoughts were interrupted when Billy turned off the highway. Billy drove down a rutted path dodging the big holes that were filled with water from the rain the night before. The sun had been boiling the water from the rain. It was very humid. Billy came to a wide clearing that was circled by tall trees. Billy climbed out of the car and walked in the direction of a tall Oak tree. Jimmy was hurrying to put on his shoes. Billy said, "Take your time; I am not in any hurry."

Billy waited for Jimmy. The bright young man with an enthusiastic mind and beautiful dreams of his future ran to catch up with Billy. As they approached a small path near the giant oak tree, Billy stopped and told Jimmy that he had forgotten something in his car. He told Jimmy to go ahead and enjoyed the scenery he would catch up with him in a few minutes. Jimmy continued along the path while Billy returned to the car. Jimmy came to a pond. He could see the bottom on the pond. It was only about a foot deep. He took off his shoes, rolled up his pants and started to wade across the pond. He had gone about thirty feet and the ground under him gave way. He sunk waist deep into the water. He tried desperately to move. He could not pull his legs up. The harder he tried the deeper he got. Every time he tried to life his legs, he sank deeper into the quick sand. He yelled to Billy for help.

Billy opened the car door, reached under the front seat, and removed a pistol. He shut the car door and headed for the path. He heard Jimmy yelling for him. Billy did not hurry his pace. He continued casually along the path until he came upon the pond. Poor Jimmy was fighting for his life trying to swim in the quicksand. Billy stood there silently watching Jimmy struggling. Jimmy with tears in his eyes looked at Billy. He saw the gun in his hand. Memories of what the blacks had told him about Billy came to mind. Jimmy screamed, "You bastard, all of your workers know you for what you are, a no good son of a bitch. I should have listened to them. I may get to hell before you do. I will save you a reserved seat of fire for eternity."

Without any emotions and not saying a word, Billy raised the pistol and fired a single shot into Jimmy. He turned without looking back and headed back to his car. He continued back down the path to his car. Billy showed no emotions for what he had done.

There were questions running around town about the disappearance of Jimmy. The other recruiters were uneasy. Winter was coming and the recruiters were heading back home to go to school. Jimmyís parents had showed up in Duster Ville looking for Jimmy. After a couple of week they went back home. After a month, the county had forgotten about Jimmy.

Billy meets his match:

After Billy killed Jimmy, he left Devils Pond with other things on his mind, a young stripper that worked in an adjoining county. She was a local girl that had been abandoned by her parents after PK Parts was bought out and shut down a few years ago. At that time, a number of children were abandoned. Her name was Pamela Harrison but she called herself Pam Smith. She and a young man took off for California and returned a couple years later with a baby girl. The young man she lived with was the towns drunk, Tommy Henderson. She supported Tommy and their baby. Billy had seen her around. He had approached her before and she ignored him. This had heightened Billyís interest. He was not going to let any woman turn him down. The couple lived in Duster Ville.

At any cost, Billy was going to take that young lady home with him tonight. Simon had the hots for her and so did Billy. It pissed Billy off every time Simon showed his lust for Pam. He took a wad of money along with him and he felt that money would do the trick. When he walked into the bar, Pam was not around. Billy was pissed. His perfect evening was a bust. He sat down at the stage and started stuffing money in the g-strings of the young girls. When their set was over a couple of the young girls were clinging to Billy like leaches. Billy had brought in his picnic basket, and they were having a ball. Billy was pouring the girls shots of the moonshine he had brought with him.

After the next set was over the young girls that were dancing and flirting with Billy took off. Their day was over. This pissed him to no end. He had dumped a lot of money on them and they took off.

Billy was going to go after the girls. He grabbed his picnic-basket and was gulping down his drink when he saw Pam approaching the stage. He sat back down. The other girls had fired him up and he was not going to let this one get away. Pam rekindled the fire in Billy. He stuffed large bills into Pamís g-string until the bar closed. The girls always left the bar through a side door that connected to the dressing room. This gave them a head start in case someone became overheated and felt that he had already paid for their service.

During the evening, Billy was on his best behavior. Pam had allowed him to touch her when he inserted the money in the g-string. Billy felt that she was coming on to him. Pam stayed in the dressing room during her break. This irritated Billy. He wanted to hold her in his arms and fondle her like he had with the other girls.

When Pam had finished her last set, she headed for the dressing room. The girls in the other set had gone home. The bar was closing. Billy asked a man if the girls come out the front when they left the Bar. He told Billy that they left through a side door. Billy pushed his way through the crowd. When he got outside, he looked around and did not see Pam. He kicked the dirt and cursed himself. He went and sat down in his car.

Pamís car was on the far side of the parking lot. She always opened the dressing room door, looked to see if anyone was waiting, and if they might cause her trouble. There was no one around. Most of the outside lights were out. She scampered across the parking lot to her car. Pam started to unlock the car; Billy grabbed her around the waist, lifted her up. He carried Pam to his car. She was yelling and screaming and no one came to her help. The clubs customers looked at them, and laughed. Billy was forcing Pam into the passenger seat of his car. Pam was slapping, kicking, clawing and screaming for dear life.

Out of the dark came a Giant of a man. He put one hand around Billy neck and lifted him up in the air. Billy let loose of Pam. Billy was dangling and kicking his feet. He was almost two feet in the air. The grip of the massive hand around his neck relaxed. Billy fell to the ground. Pam put her arms around this giant of a man and he asked, "Miss Pam, are you alright?"

Sniffing she said, "Thank you Ben, I love you."

Pam walked a short distance away and looked back. Ben looked at Billy lying on the ground. For once in his life, fear racked Billyís body. Out of a deep baritone voice came, "Mr. Billy, I am sure Miss Pam doesnít want to go with you. She is a very good friend of my daughterís. They have been friends since they were toddlers. My daughter said to me, Pop I am afraid that someone might hurt Pam. She asked me if I would make sure that Miss Pam got home safely. This child has been like a daughter to me. Mr. Billy, I am sure, if you had a daughter, you would not want anyone to hurt her."

Ben left Billy lying on the ground. He and Pam walked to her car. They talked for a few minutes. Pam stood on her toes, pulled Benís head down, kissed him on the cheek, and hugged him. Ben watched Pam drive away.

Billy was still sitting on the ground rubbing his neck. Ben walked over to Billy and offered his hand. Billy yelled out, "Donít touch me."

Ben turned and walked away, he turned and looked over his shoulders and said, "Donít you ever touch Miss Pam again. If you do, you will take your last breath while you are still hanging in the air. I will not drop you the next time. Ben got in his truck and drove away.

A crowd that had gathered, they watched the whole event and were laughing at Billy. Billy, in all of his life had never been so humiliated. On his way home, still steaming over the events, Billy stopped at his white straw bossís home. He pounded on the door and yelled, "Alex get out here and open the door."

Billy turned the doorknob. The door was unlocked. He ran through the house and found Alex in bed with a girl. He yanked the sheet off of them and dragged Alex out of bed. The young girl yelled at Billy, "Get the hell out of here and leave him alone."

Billy grabbed her around the neck and said, "Shut your fucking mouth and go back to sleep."

He slammed the young girl down on the bed and told Alex to put some clothes on. Alex wanted to know why Billy was there in the middle of the night. Billy said, "We are going to kill someone."

When the young girl heard this, she hid under the blanket. Alex was pissed, but he didnít want to challenge Billy. Alex had never seen Billy so furious; they got in Billyís car and drove away. Billy left a cloud of dust in his wake. He headed to the male labors quarters, it was only about a mile from Alexís home. Alex laid his head back on the seat and thought, "What the hell is this bastard up to."

He thought that Billy was going to kill one of the young fellows that were registering the workers. Alex asked, "Are you going kill Jimmy Anderson? I though you liked and admired him."

Billy huffed lightly and said, "You must be out of your mind, I hated that little bastard and that problem has been solved."

Alex was worried. Billy wanted him to help him kill someone. What did he do to the young man? Who was he going to kill? When they reached the labors quarters, Billy said, "Go in there and get ten of biggest men in there. Get the truck and follow me."

Alex asked, "What am I going to tell them."

Billy with a fit of rage, yelled, "Tell them anything, damn it. Just get them out here quick. I want to get this over before daylight."

Alex went into the quarters and turned on the lights and said, "We got a fire in a field north of here. I need about ten men."

Alex pointed out the men that he wanted and said, "Hurry up; you can put your clothes on in the truck. Now come on, hurry up."

Within a few minuets they were on their way. Jake, the field supervisor was sitting in the front seat with Alex and said, "You are not going north. Where are we going?"

Alex shook his head and said, "Hell if I know, Billy told me to get ten men and follow him. He didnít tell me where we were going."

"You said that we were going to a fire."

Alex said, "He told me to tell you anything, but get your asses out there. I though you all would come if I said there was a fire and it worked."

Jake and Alex continued discussing where they were headed. The moon was full and it lit up the countryside. Alex was watching Billyís car. They were about a quarter mile behind Billy. They stayed that far back because the dust was killing them. Jake said, "I think he is slowing down or has he stopped?"

Alex slowed the truck down so it would not leave them in a cloud of dust when they stopped."

Jake said, "Thatís Ben Hudson house he is stopping at, why is he stopping their?"

Alex said, "Donít tell Billy that I told you. He said that he is going to kill someone."

With surprise Jake said, "You agreed to go with him?"

Alex looked over at Jake and let out a puff of air and said, "I didnít know until I was in the car with him. He carries a couple of guns with him all the time. He was so pissed that I didnít dare cross him. He burst into my home and dragged me out of bed. I thought that he was going to kill my girlfriend when she yelled to him."

Billy had pulled into Benís front yard. Alex pulled up beside him. The men in the back of the truck looked down on Billy and one of them said, "Where is the fire?"

Billy said, "Shut the fuck up and get the fuck out of the truck and come down here."

They all knew where they were and they did not want any part of it. They all liked Ben and he was one of the leading Black Men in the area. Billy yelling woke up everyone in Benís house. Billy headed for the house then looked over his shoulder and saw that no one was moving. A chill of fear struck his body. He froze in his tracks. He turned and looks at the men in the truck. They had not moved. He yelled for them to follow him. Billy was interrupted by lights on the front porch being turned on. He spun around and saw Ben standing on the porch. Ben said, "Hello Mr. Billy, I thought that you would come to visit me earlier. I see you brought some friends with you. Iím sorry, we did not know that many guest would be with you and we only have leftovers from supper. "

Billy jumped backwards as if he was hit by a wall of wind. He knew that he had no help. He started to reach for a pistol he had tucked into his belt. Two of Benís sons burst out the door with shotguns aimed at Billy. It was like another gust of wind hit Billy; he landed against the side of the truck. Billy was in a state of shock. He looked as if he was stuck against the truck. He could not back up anymore. Ben looked at the men in the truck and asked, "What did Mr. Billy tell you guyís to get you up in the middle of the night?"

Someone in the back of the truck said, "They told us we were going to put out a fire."

Ben smiled and shook his head, "I am sorry boys; I have to disappoint you, as you see there is no fire here. Have a good evening. Thanks for coming."

Ben turned and walked into his home and he whispered to his sons, "There isnít going to be any trouble, letís go back to bed."

Benís sons backed into the house and shut the door leaving the outside lights on. One of Benís sons told Ben that he wasnít sleepy; he wanted to watch and see what would happen. Ben told his son, "Just keep an eye on them. Donít you dare fire a shot, just watch and wait. I donít want any shooting around the house. You mama and the kids are in the house and I donít want them to get hurt."

Alex helped Billy into the passenger side of his car he told Jake to take everyone back to the barracks. With the sun slightly lighting the morning sky, the two vehicles with the trailing dust faded in the distance.

It took about a month for Billy to get over the shock. He became paranoid; he was constantly looking out the window expecting to see a horde of Blacks coming to kill him. His own guilt was driving him crazy. He had nightmares of the people he had killed coming after him. He would wake up in the middle of the night drenching wet from perspiration. When he finally got back to a somewhat normality he and the PHG were back to fleecing anyone and everyone around Duster Ville.

Dustville Mall:

The new owner of Dustville Bank built a Mall out on the interstate highway. As Billy requested, Pierce had come up with a scheme to rip off the Mall and the Bank.

Pierce was doing the accounting for the Mall as well as the Bank. He kept two sets of books. One set of the ledgers were for the actual transaction and another set was for the Mall and the Bank. They were getting in so much money that Billy question Paul about the safety of the bank. He asked Paul, "Did Jerry put in bullet-proof glass and a new vault in the bank after the PK Part riot."

Paul answered, "Jerry put in the bullet-proof glass, but he was not going spend the money for a new vault."

"Dam it Paul, anybody can take a sledgehammer could get in the bank in a couple of minutes. The walls of the vault are only one layer of concrete blocks."

With Billyís persuasion, Paul talked the bank owned into installing a new vault. When they installed the new vault, a man knocked a hole in the wall in fifteen minutes. The hole was big enough that all they had to do was slide the new vault into place. The walls of the new vault were made of high strength steel. After the vault was installed, they rebuilt the concrete block wall.

Jasper and Simon were doing their share. They were in the untaxed alcoholic and cigarette distribution business. When pot and coke became popular, they jumped into the drug business.

Another summer came around and a new group of young people came to Duster Ville to register voters. They were doing an excellent job. The federal and state police were still trying to find out what had happened to Jimmy Anderson.

When the new voters came in to register, someone in the Sovereignty Party would try to brainwash them and get them to join the Sovereignty Party. The young recruiters had warned them this would happen and to register for the party of their choice. The number of new voters being registered would soon be more than the voters registered in the Sovereignty Party. The new voters would be able to elect their own candidates to office. When Billy and the other members of the PHG heard that they may be kicked out of the political arena, they were fighting mad. Billy invited the PHG and Duster Ville elite in the Sovereignty Party to his house for a picnic and a political strategy meeting. Billy had made a platform where he could preach to everyone and see their faces as he spoke to them. Billy was a charmer when he had to be. He whipped up the hate, power and greed in all of his guest. When he finished speaking the crowd was going out and lynch all of the young recruiters. They all wanted to know who were these idiots that were encouraging their local citizen to register to vote to a party other than their beloved Sovereignty Party. They had to be crazy not to join the Sovereignty Party.

When the picnic was over, and after the party members had gone home, the PHG and the GOBís sat down to plan how to slow down the competition. They came up with a dozen ways to get rid of the recruiters. When everyone had their say, Billy said, "I like all of your plans. They are great, but we are going to kill them."

A dead silence engulfed the room. Pierce froze in his chair. Blood drained from his face. He looked like a ghost. Wilson cleared his throat, looked at the reaction of everyone in the room and scratched his head. Simon nudged Jasper. Billy smiled at everyone and said, "What wrong with you guys?"

Wilson cleared his throat again and said, "Donít you think that killing them is a little drastic? There is almost a dozen, if not more, running around here. We will have every federal agency crawling on our back."

Timidly Pierce said, "I think John is right. It just might fill up our swimming hole. We donít need all that attention."

Without any support from Jasper and Simon and the other guests, Billy leans back in his chair and surveys the group then said, "We will kill one of them, then we will spread the word that itís not safe for them to stay around. We will put on a big show telling how terrible it was and I will put up an award for the capture and conviction of the murderer. We will find some loafer and blame it on him."

Billy already had someone in mind. It was the dancerís husband. He was the town drunk. If Billy could not have the young dancer, the drunken bastard would not have her. He felt that no one would miss the bastard and Pam would be glad to get rid of him.

After a few hours of nudging and a couple gallons of moonshine, reluctantly the group agreed to go along with Billyís plan. Simon was to pick up one of the recruiters, drive him out to Devils Pond, and play the foxhunt game. Jasper and Wilson would be at the Pond waiting if Simon needed help.

The recruiters were housed with families in and around Duster Ville. They usually walked out to the fields or hitched a ride in the morning. Simon had seen one that lived in town only a short distance from where he lived. He watched the recruiter for about a week. The recruiter had the same routine every day. Simon knew that the recruiter headed for the field about eight thirty every morning. Simon parked on a side road and waited for the recruiter to pass by. Jasper and Wilson had already headed for the Pond. Simon had been waiting for almost thirty minutes. He got on his radio and called Jasper. He told Jasper that he must have missed him and for them to head back to town. Simon waited for another ten minutes and he cranked up the engine and started to drive off and the recruiter passed the intersection. He picked up the radio and yelled, "Go back to the pond we are going foxhunting."

Simon let the recruiter get a little down the road then he took off after him. When Simon turned onto the road, the recruiter turned around and stuck out his hand thumbing a ride. Simon stopped and asked the recruiter where he was going. When the recruiter recognized Simon he said, "Never mind Sheriff. I think I will walk."

Simon said, "Do worry; there ainít no law against hitchhiking in this county. Where are you going?"

The recruiter told Simon, then Simon said, "Jump in the car. I will take you out there. I have an errand to do first, but I will get you there before you can walk it."

The young black man was a little hesitant about getting in the car with Simon. With a little more persuasion from Simon, he got into the car. The recruiter was quite tense. Simon tried to loosen him up. Simon finally got him talking about himself. He told Simon where he lived and about his family. Simon felt that as long as he was talking he was relaxed. Simon said to the young man, "The city council had a meeting last night. They were talking about making you guyís register before you go around the county asking people to go down town with your group. Someone has been posing as a recruiter; they took a young woman out into the hills, and raped her. He beat the living hell out of her and left for dead. She is lucky that she is alive. She had seen him hanging around the Pool Hall and described him to me. I went down to the Pool Hall last night and he wasnít there."

A look of desperation and fear cross the recruiters face, he said, "Oh, that a shame. No one will want to get into our van and go downtown. When did this happen?"


"I didnít see anything about it in the news."

"We kept it quiet so the rapist wouldnít know the young lady was still alive. He may come back and kill her."

"Do you have any leads on who may have done it?"

"Yes, but we are keeping a lid on that too."

As Simon approached the road to Devil Pond, he told the young man, "There is some property down this road that I am thinking of buying. A couple of men are going to show it to me. I wonít be long. I have seen the land. They are going to show me the boundaries."

They drove down the road for a short distance to an opening. Wilson and Jasper were not there. Simon pulls his car under a big oak tree and got out. Simon told the young man to stay in the car. Simon gets out of the car looks around complains to himself, "Where the fuck are those bastards. Those sons of bitches must not have gotten back. How far could they have gone? I will have to kill him by myself."

Simon went back to his car and told the young man that the agent must not have arrived. He asked the young man if he had seen the lake up here. The young man said, "No, where is the lake."

Simon asked, "Would you like to see it?"

"Yes, I would."

Simon pointed down the path and said, "Itís only a short distance down the path. Why donít you go over there and take a look while I wait for the agent."

The young man took off down the path leaving Simon alone. Simon waited for a few minutes expecting to hear the young man yelling for help. He didnít hear anything. Thinking the young man had sunk rapidly into the quicksand, he started walking down the path. He hadnít taken a few steps when he hears someone call his name. It scared the living hell out of him. He jumped strait up into the air. Simon turned around and saw Jasper and Wilson . Simon yelled at them and wanted to know where they had been. They told Simon that they hid their car in a cornfield across the road. When he drove by, they left their car and started walking over. Jasper asked Simon, "Where is the recruiter? Did you kill him already?"

"No, I didnít kill him. I told him to go take a look at the lake while I was waiting for you nuts."

Wilson said, "Did he sink in Devils Pond?"

"I donít know, I told him to walk over to the lake. It he walks down that path he canít miss falling into the quicksand."

Jasper said, "Let go take a look."

When they approached Devils Pond, they expected to see the young recruiter in the quicksand. The pond was crusted over. You could see the footprints of the recruiter in the sand. Jasper said, "Letís go get him."

Jasper started to approach the pond. Simon said, "Stop, you crazy bastard you will sink. You are three times heavier than the recruiter."

Jasperís foot just entered the edge of the quicksand. It sunk into the muck. Wilson grabbed Jasper and pulled him out. Jasper had sunk up to his knee. Wilson wanted to know if they could walk around the edges. Simon told him the quicksand ran all the way up to the briar patch on both sides. The briar was so thick that you could not walk through the woods.

Jasper told Simon to get into his car, go around to the main road, get the guy, and just shoot him. Simon had never killed anyone and neither had Jasper or Wilson . Their plan to have the recruiter walk to his death had failed. Neither one of them could bring themselves to shoot the recruiter.

While they were standing there arguing on what to do next they saw the recruiter walking toward Devils Pond. They all stood there in a state of shock with their mouths open. Each step the recruiter took they expected to see him sink into quicksand. The pond of quicksand was about a two hundred feet across. No one had attempted to measure the distance. As the young man got closer to the group, he could see the expression on their faces. They all looked like they were holding their breath with a weird look of their faces. With each step, they thought that he would sink. The recruiter was not sure what he had gotten himself into. He became frightened and turned around and headed back up the path. He kept glancing over his shoulder wondering what was happening. This time they were sure that he would sink. When he got to the far side Simon yelled, "Where are you going. I am leaving now."

The young man stopped and turned around and said, "I am not sure your friends want me here."

Together they called to him and said, "Come back everything was fine."

Simon yelled, "They just didnít know who you were."

They finally convinced the recruiter to come back. Again, they gawked at the recruiter, they expected to see him sink into the mud, but he did not. Simon told the recruiter to go ahead and get in the car and he would be with him in a few minutes.

When the recruiter was heading to the car, Jasper was gesturing for Simon and Wilson to shoot him. Wilson mouthed to Jasper, "You shoot him."

Neither one of them took the hint. The recruiter was sitting in the car waiting for Simon. They argued silently for another ten minutes on who was going to kill the recruiter. Neither one of them wanted to be the executioner. They finally came to an agreement, let Billy be the executioner. He wanted him killed, let Billy kill him.

Simon took the young man to where he wanted to go. He thanked Simon for the ride. When the workers saw him get out of Simons car they asked him if he was in trouble and why he had been with the sheriff. He explained to them where Simon had taken him. One of the worker said, "Let me get this straight. The sheriff took you to a lake. Where was the lake?"

The recruited described where he had been and what had happened. One of the workers laughed and said, "You know, you are a lucky bastard."

"What do you mean? I am luck."

"The sheriff took you out there to kill you. He must have chickened out. They wanted you to fall into the quicksand."

The recruited asked, "Where was the quicksand?"

One of the men said, "Did he take you directly to the lake?"

"No, we stopped at this opening that was surrounded by big tree and I walked down a path to the lake. Why?"

"Did you get your feet muddy?"

"No, there werenít any mud holes."

Someone said, "Itís been dry lately, it was crusted over."

A frightened look came across the young manís face and he said, "Oh my God. The ground felt like I was walking across a bed. I walked across that pond four times. Every time I walked across it, it felt softer. That is why they all had a weird look on their faces. They were waiting for me to fall in."

The word got out through the workers that Simon and his friends were trying to kill the recruiters. When Billy heard how Jasper, Wilson and Simon had blundered a simple task of killing someone. He was going to show them how it should be done. On a cold wet night, he invited Simon and the other two jerks to his house. He told Jasper to bring one of the stolen cars he had at the warehouse. He served them moonshine to loosen then up. They took a ride downtown to a restaurant where the recruiters hung around to discuss the following dayís itinerary. They parked about a block away and watched for one of the recruiters to leave the restaurant. They waited for about a half hour in the closed car with the rain pounding on the windows. The windows were all fogged up. They saw someone leaving the restaurant. They followed him in the car. They caught up with him in a dark area a couple of blocks from the restaurant. Billy told Simon to pull along side of him and offer him a ride. The man was on the opposite side of the road. Simon lowered his window and asked the man if he wanted a ride. He said that he did and headed for the car. When he got close enough to see it was Simon, he headed back to the restaurant. Jasper had opened his door to let the man get in the back seat. When the man turned, Jasper slams the door into the man's face. It only stalled the man for a couple of moments. It gave all four of them time enough to get out of the car. They wrestled the man to the ground. He kicked Billy in the mouth so hard that blood was running down his face. It took all four of them about five minutes to hog tie the man and put him in the back seat.

They took off and headed for Devils Pond. Simon had hit the man with the stock of his shotgun. The man was either playing possum or he was knocked out. When they got close to Devils Pond the man said, "You white bastards you will never get away with this. Everyone in town knows that you bastards have been dumping people in the Pond."

Billy with a surprised tone of voice said, "You are kidding us. Who in their right mind would dump a body in Devil Pond? We are not going to dump your body into the Pond; you are going in for a swim."

They dragged the man out of the back seat and carried him to the path that leads to the Pond. They untied his feet and aimed him down the path. His hands were still tied. Billy told him that he would count of ten. On the count of one, he had better get his ass moving. When he hit ten they were coming after him. If he was still there, they would blow his head off with their shotgun. Jasper and Simon let loose of him and stepped back a few steps. Billy started counting, the man just stood there. Simon pushed the man with his foot. The man turned around and said, "Go ahead and shoot me if you got the guts. If I am going to die, I want it quick. Shoot me you bastards."

Billy yelled, "I am giving you a chance to live. Donít you want to live? You will have a head start of a count of ten. Then we will come looking for you."

The man was not a recruiter; he was a local resident that worked out of town. His name was Chuck Monroe. He had lived in Duster Ville all his life and knew the area. Chuck had hopes he could out fox the bastards. Chuck took off running before Billy started counting. With the sky light, he could see the path. When he got to the Pond, it was slightly lower than the firm soil. The rainwater had puddled over the quick sand and he could see the outline of the Pond. He ran along the edge of the pond until he started to sink in. Then he drove his body through the briers until they got too thick for him to push through, he fell to the ground exhausted. He hoped that he had gone far enough that they would not find him. He had a knife strapped to the outside of one of his legs. He took the knife and cut the rope around his wrist. Chuck felt around on the ground for something he could throw into pond to disturb the surface of the water in the Pond. He found a hunk of rotten wood. He waited until he saw the beam of the flashlights shining through the brush. He threw the wood into the Pond, Billy and the others heard the splash. He heard them rushing to the edge of the pond. Chuck froze, the flashlight shined across his face. Chuck prayed to God that they didnít see him. They shined the flashlight across the Pond and saw the ripples in the water. Jasper said, "Boy, he sure did go down quick."

Sarcastically Billy said, "That why I picked a rainy night. They donít get across the Pond on a wet night."

Simon saw the rotten chunk of wood and said, "The top of his head is still sticking out. Maybe he wonít sink."

Billy said, "They all sink. Do you want to wait until he goes down?"

Simon replied, "What if someone comes by here tomorrow morning and sees him."

No one answered Simon.

Poor Chuck laid their quietly in pain. The pain of the bed of briers was intolerable. Chuck prayed to God to let him live. Simon in his persistence shined the light over Chuck a number of times. Each time the light flashed across Chucks face, he did not move or breathe. With the grace of God, they did not spot Chuck. The rain started to come down again in buckets. Billy yelled, "Letís get out of here. Simon you can stay if you want. You will have to walk back."

They all started running for the car and left Simon on the edge of the quicksand still scanning the area with the flashlight. He yells to Billy, "He still hasnít gone down."

Billy yells back, "We will wait for another ten minutes, if you are not here you can walk home."

Chuck lay quietly with his thoughts. "God please stop the pain. I donít think I can stand the paid any more. I want to go home to my mama, and pap, and my brothers and sisters. God, I never paid any attention to them. They were always nagging me. I have taken them for granted. God please get me out of here alive. I will spend more time with them. I hope they will forgive me. I was selfish. I was inconsiderate. I never tried to listen to their side of an argument. I did not listen to mama and papa when they scolded me for being out late and all the other hundred of things that they didnít approved of. Oh God, why am I thinking about my family now? I am lying here in pain, thinking about my family and those bastards out there are trying to kill me. I do not mind the thunder. Itís the damn lightning itís getting more intense. I am trying to hide my body and it is lighting up the whole fucking world. I hope that son of a bitch is blind. That fucking Simon is too damn persistent he continues to shine his fucking flashlight in my direction. Why doesnít Billy Thompson drag his ass out of here? Thompson and the others had gone to the car. Damn it Simon, go home with them. Oh my God, he is walking to this side of the pond. The bastard is shined his flashlight right in my face. Oh God, cold chills are running down my spine and my whole body is shaking. God donít let the bastard see me. Go home you fucking bastard and leave me along. God, when is this going to stop? My body is racked with pain. I donít think I can stand it any longer. I am so fucking scared that I am going to drop dead before I get out of here. I feel like I have been in this hellhole for all my life. God please send him home."

Simon looked over his shoulder. No one was there. A chill of fear ran through his body. He took off like a scared rabbit. Chuck said, "Thank you God, the bastard is leaving."

When Simon reached the clearing, the car was already headed down the path. He ran as fast as he could and was not gaining on the car. Jasper was looking out the back window and saw Simon running after them. He told Billy to stop. Billy laughed and said, "He needs the exercise. Letís let him run for a while."

Billy had to slow down to maneuver around the holes that were filled with water. Simon gained on them. He was only a few feet behind the car when it reached the highway. Billy saw him through the rearview mirror and sped away. Simon made a last effort dive at the moving car and landed face down in a puddle of water. Jasper saw what had happened and started laughing. He told Wilson and Billy what had happened. Billy made a u-turn and aimed the headlight lights on Simon lying in the puddle of water. They all laughed. Billy rolled down the window and told Simon to get up and get in the car. Poor Simon was so exhausted that he couldnít move. He raised one hand wishing that they would come and pick him up. Simon flopped down into the water. Billy said, "We better get him in the car before someone comes by and we will have to take them on a fox hunt."

Wilson and Jasper helped Simon into the front seat of the car. He cursed them all and they all laughed at him.

Chuck lay quietly for almost an hour. He felt that they were still waiting for him. He was dreading the thought of having to pull the thorns out of his body. He felt that the thorns were piercing every inch of his body. He hoped he had strength enough to get out. When he tried to get up the pain was excruciating. The rain had stopped but now it was coming down in buckets full. He was just a few feet from the edge of the Pond. He rolled over pulling the thorn from his body and with other briers penetrating him. He rolled to the edge of the Pond. He stuck his hand down into the water. There was almost two feet of water over the quicksand. He thought that he could swim across the quicksand. He rolled over into the water and slowly pushed himself through the water to solid ground at the far end of the pond near the lake. He crawled up on solid ground. The cool rain soothed the pain from where the briers penetrated his body. He lay there for a long time listening. He did not know if they were still their waiting. He thanked God for his help. Slowly he rose to his feet. He exhaustedly walked to the road. The road was clear, fortunately, no one passed him on his way home. It took him almost the rest of the night to get home. Chuck lived alone. He thought, it they had killed him no one would have missed him. He took a bath and attended to the bruises and scratches that covered his body. The pain of the antiseptic was as bad as the cuts.

The following morning he wore a raincoat and a hat. He pulled the hat down to cover his face and turned up the collar on the raincoat. He didnít know if Simon or the others recognized him and was watching his home. He cautiously opened the door and looked around. He didnít see anyone. He hurriedly walked to the restaurant. Chuck told the recruiters what had happened to him. He pleaded with them not to tell anyone for fear of reprisal. He wanted to warn them that they should never approach a car full of people that they do not know. He did not want them to approach him for fear that the Sheriff and his friend might recognize him. He left the restaurant and headed back home. He called his boss and told him that he had fallen off his bicycle and he had to go to a doctor.

Billy got up the following morning and his face was sore. He looked in the mirror. His face was swollen so much that he could hardly open his mouth. Most of his front teeth were missing, they were broken off or swing in his mouth. The nearest dentist was in Metro. He spent the next couple of weeks having his face and teeth fixed. When he returned to Duster Ville all hell was breaking loose. The PHG had been doing a little fox hunting while Billy was in Metro. They wanted Billy to be proud of them. The media and everyone else were on Simon back. Two recruiters were missing and Simon hadnít done enough to satisfy the public. They demanded that Simon find out what had happened to the recruiters.

Wilson , Jasper and Simon were so proud of themselves. They had to brag to someone that they were the magicians that made recruiters disappear. As soon as Billy returned, they invaded his privacy. They walked in on Billy; he was not wearing his new teeth. All three of them went into a hysterics. Billy grabbed Wilson by the throat. He was the closest. He said, "What the fuck is so fucking funny."

Wilson was gurgling and Jasper yelled to Billy, "You fucking nut you are going kill him. You look like shit without teeth."

Billy let loose of Wilson and headed for Jasper. Simon and Wilson grabbed Billy and tried to hold him back. Jasper was still pissed off at Billy for choking him. He pulled up his knee and crushed Billyís balls. Billy fell to the floor. Wilson and Simon yelled at Jasper and said, "What in hell did you do that. Now he will kill you."

Jasper yelled, "You crazy fuck, donít give him any ideas."

Billy was lying on the floor in a fetal position. Wilson and Simon picked him up. Jasper helped them take Billy into the bedroom. For the next ten to fifteen minutes, Billy laid silently on the bed. No one said a word.

Billy broke the silence and apologized for his action. He told them he was sorry for his action. They filled Billy in on what had happened during his absence. They told him about the two foxhunts they had and the locals believed that they were involved with the disappearance of the recruiters. Billy told them to pick up Tom Henderson and charge him with the murders. If they ask how they knew that Tom did it, tell them that he had seen Tom with the recruiters on the days of the murder. Billy said that he would quiet down the locals by putting up a reward. As they left Billyís he again apologized to them. As Jasper was shaking his hand, Billy lifted his knee and hit a double home run. Both balls went over the fence. Jasper landed on the floor in agony. Billy said, "Now you know how it feels. If you try that again, I will kill you."

He looked at Wilson and Simon with fire in his eyes and said, "Get him the fuck out of my house. I donít want his ugly ass around me again."

As Wilson and Simon were carrying Jasper out to the car, Billy slammed the door behind them. Simon looked over his shoulder to see if Billy was looking and said, "That SOB is getting too damn big for his britches. He is going to get us all in trouble."

Billy gathered the local news media and deplored what had happened. He offered a reward as he had said he would. Simon put on an act of investigating the disappearance of the recruiters. He went all over the county questioning the field hands about the disappearance of the two recruiters. He put on a wonderful show, but everyone knew in their heart that it was a show. Most of the people in town knew that the PHG had caused the disappearance of the recruiters.

The PHG wanted to take the heat off. Billy had said to blame the towns drunk Tom Henderson. They all spread the word that Henderson had been seen with the recruiters on the days they disappeared.

Simon had been looking for Henderson in his local hangouts for a couple of weeks and had broken into his house without any success. He went to the restaurant where his girlfriend worked and asked her where he could find Tom. She told him the state police have him locked up and she did not have the money to get him released.

Simon went over to Billyís and told him that the state police had Tom locked up. Billy wanted to know why they had him locked up. Simon told him he didnít know, but we still can say that someone saw him with both of the recruiters. Billy had changed his mind and said, "Tell them you had a couple of anonymous callers. If that does not work tell them I saw Henderson with the recruiters."

Simon didnít want to accuse Henderson of the murder. Jasper told him he was crazy if he did. They knew that Tom hadnít killed the recruiters and they didnít have any evidence to support their accusations. Billy had given the order and Simon was going to follow Billyís order. He went to the State Police and told them they had the murder of the recruiters in their lockup. The officer on duty called Officer Carson. He was assigned to the case. Carson took Simon into the interrogation room. Carson asked who the murderer was. When Simon said it was Tom Henderson. Carson excused himself and left the room. He told an officer to watch Simon on the close circuit television set in the observation room. Carson called the FBI agent working on the case, Tom Spencer. He told him that he had Sheriff Simon Pinket in the interrogation room and for him to come over and observe Simon when he questioning the Sheriff.

Carson went back in the interrogation room and asked Simon would he like something to drink. Simon asked for a cup of coffee. To delay Simon, Carson told Simon that he was working on another case and he had to clear up a few points with the commander and he would be back shortly. Carson joined the officers in the observation room. Simon was overly nervous. The officer told Carson that Simon was acting like a caged tiger. He could not sit still and he felt that Simon was very uneasy about be there.

Within a few minutes, Spencer joined Carson . He also thought that something else was bothering Simon. They join Simon in the interrogation room. They did the formalities then sat down and asked Simon, for the record, to tell them who he thought was the murderer. Simon told them that in his investigation a number of people had seen Tom Henderson with the recruits on the days of the murders. In addition, he told them about the anonymous phone calls. Simon was quite convincing, but there was a problem. The accused was locked up a couple of weeks before the murders were committed and was still locked up on the days the recruiters disappeared. Carson did not tell Simon this little bit of information.

They let Simon rattle his mouth without telling him that the conversation was being recorded. When he finished, Spencer asked Simon if there was any physical evidence. In addition, did he have any idea where Henderson hid the bodies? They continued cross-examining Simon for a while. With all the questioning, Simon was starting to think they thought that he was the murderer. He could see that he wasnít making any headway in getting them to believe that Henderson was involved with the disappearance. Without thinking he blurted out, "Billy Thompson told me that he had seen Henderson with the recruiters."

Carson said, "Do you think that Mr. Thompson would come in and talk to us?"

Enthusiastically Simon said, "Sure, he has put out a reward for the capture and conviction of the murderer."

Spenser said, "Sheriff, how do you know they have been murdered? They may have just taken off. They are both young men and they have been here all summer and wanted a little time for themselves."

Simon face turned a bright red and he cleared his throat. He didnít have the confidence that he had before. He twitched around in his seat for a few moments looking out into space trying to get his brain to work. Those few minutes his mind was blank, he started to say something, then he would forget what he was going to say. His thoughts surfaced for a moment and the words came to him, "Those were some pretty sharp boys out there recruiting. I talked to a number of them. They wouldnít take off without telling someone."

Carson thanked him for coming in and asked if he would be available if anything else came up. Simon said, "Oh, yes sir. I will be glad to help convict Tom Henderson."

After Simon left the room, Carson looked over at Spenser and said, "What do you think?"

The Agent said, "I believe he has a grudge against the Henderson boy. I talked to Henderson the other day. I was eating in the cafeteria and they brought him in the cafeteria for lunch. He is harmless. He got a hell of an alcohol problem. He is an excellent artist. He was doing some sketches to pass the time away. In my opinion, he wouldnít harm a fly."

Carson nodded and said, "I went to the same school with Henderson and his wife or girlfriend, Pamela Harrison. I donít know if they are married. Both of their parents left them without a cent. They were just kids, 16 years old. Simonís business partner Jasper Hill was ripping off the people that were laid off at the parts factory. This goes back a few years. We got a call that someone was trying to steal their furniture. I took the call. The call was from Pamela Harrison. Jasper had sent two men out to her house to pick up the furniture. Jasper had told the men that he had paid her parents for the furniture. When I got there, Jasper was giving the two men hell for not picking up the furniture. Jasper was lying like all hell. He told me that he paid her parents. Pam parents had not been around for over a month. I intimidated Jasper and he gave Pam a little more for the furniture. There were dozens of kids that were abandoned by their parents. Itís a miracle that these kids lived through that period. Pamela is supporting Henderson and a little girl. They were about four or five years behind me in school. Henderson was booked for endangering himself and others. Every now and then, the Judge told me to keep him locked up for a few extra weeks and it just might spur him to give up drinking. So far it hasnít happened."

Carson gets on the phone, and calls Billy Thompson. He told Thompson that Simon had said that he might shed some light on the disappearance of the recruiters. Reluctantly Billy agreed to come in and talk to the police.


I asked Pierce how he knew what went on at the State Police. Paul said, " Carson grew up just a few houses down from me. Carson ís father owned a small drug store. When Carson senior came to deposit, his receipts and we chatted for a while. Carson Senior would fill me in on what went on in the county. Carson Jr. wanted to be a pharmacist like his father. When they closed the parts plant, Carson father almost lost everything. He didnít have enough money to send his son to college. Carson Jr. joined the state police."

Later that day Billy Thompson arrived. Like Simon, they had the meeting in the interrogation room and the interview was taped. Again, Carson offered Billy something to drink and then excused himself. Carson went into the observation room and joined Spenser. They watch Thompson for a few minutes. His reactions were similar to those of Simonís. They both seemed to be quite nervous.

Carson returned to the interrogation room and sat across from Billy. For a few moments, Carson didnít say anything. He was waiting to see the reaction of Billy. The silence was getting on Billy nerves. Billy blurted out, "What do you want to know?"

Caron tried to stare down Billy and upset him. It looked like it was working. After a few more seconds Carson said, "What do you know about the disappearance of the recruiters?"

With arrogance Billy said, "I donít know a damn thing about the murders. I do know who did it."

Carson asked, "How do you know who did it? How do you know that the men were murdered? We have not found the bodies. They might be alive."

Billy tried to back pedal, then said, "They wouldnít just take off without telling someone. I saw Tom Henderson with them the day they disappeared. He would kill them for a drink."

Carson had someone check into Billyís itinerary for the last few months after Simon said that Billy had seen Henderson with the recruiters on the day of their disappearance. He knew that Billy was staying in a motel in Metro during the entire period of concern.

Carson asked, "Billy, what do you have against Tommy Henderson. He is just a helpless drunk, he doesnít bother anyone."

Billy fired back, "I donít have anything against him. I am telling you I saw him with the recruiters."

"When did you see Tommy Henderson with the recruiters?"

Billy thought for a few minutes, then said, "The day they were murdered."

Carson shook his head and said, "Billy you are lying. You were in Metro at the dentist the day the first one disappeared. You were still in Metro the day the second one disappeared. How in hell could you be in two places at the same time?"

A cold chill ran though Billyís body. He knew he was in trouble. Billy stuttered for a few minutes and said, "I canít remember the exact day I saw him with them. However, I did see him with them. He has to be the one that killed them."

Carson picked up the phone, dials a number and said, "Bring him in."

Spencer came in with Tommy. Spencer had told Tommy not to make a scene if something comes up that may disturb him. Spencer and Tommy sat on the opposite side of the table from Billy next to Carson . Carson introduced Billy to Tom and Spencer. Billy just nodded. Carson asked Tommy where he had been for the last couple of months. Tommy said, "You donít know?"

Carson said, "I know, Spencer knows, and I am sure you know where you have been. I donít think Mr. Thompson knows."

A cold chill ran through Billy. He glanced rapidly from one then to the other across the table. Not knowing what Tom was going to say. Carson nodded to Tom and said, "Go ahead tell Mr. Thomson where you have been for the last couple of months."

Without hesitation Tom said, "I have been locked up here, why."

Carson answered, "We just want to let Mr. Thompson know where you have been. Why donít you go to the room next door and wait for us. We will be finished in a few minutes."

When Tom closed the door behind him, Carson said to Billy, "You didnít see Tom with the recruiters. You were in Metro for the last couple of weeks. You and Simon cooked up this charade, why?"

Billy went on the defense and starting to accuse Carson of cooking up a scheme against him and Simon. Billy got up and started to leave the room. Carson yelled, "Sit your ass back down here. You and Simon have been lying to us on a possible murder investigation. I can lock you up for 72 hours if I want to. You have falsely identified a person in a murder case. You and Simon are obstructing justice. I will turn this over to the State Attorney General. He will decide if we lock you up."

Billy sits back down. Spencer slapped twenty or thirty question at Billy without stopping. Billy was so confused he didnít know what to say. Carson asked, "Did Simon kill those recruiters and you are trying to cover his ass? Why are you trying to hang the disappearance on Tom?"

Billy didnít know what to say. He tried to weasel out of what he had said earlier. Then he said that he had seen Tom with the recruiters earlier. Carson had enough of Billyís lying. He lashed out a Thompson and said, "You might be trying to get Simon off of the hot seat that we all are on. Simon may have killed those recruiters and you are trying to cover it up. You were going to send an innocent man to prison to cover our inabilities. You have a grudge against Tom or Pam for some reason. They are just a couple of young people trying to make a life for themselves. Lay off them. I donít want to hear that you interfered with their lives in any way. If I hear that you messed around with them, I am going to lock you up and throw the key away. Get the fuck out of here."

Fall rolled into Duster Ville. The recruiters had gone home. The election was coming up and surprisingly the Sovereignty Party still had more registered votes than the other parties. The authorities still had not resolved the disappearance of the recruiters. Everyone knew that Simon was involved, as well as his buddies in the PHG.

The midnight ride to Devils Pond:

Ben Hudson was one of the leading Blacks in the community. Another young man had disappeared. His girl friend had went to the Sheriff and the State Police and told them about the disappearance. The State Police investigated for about 2 months and could not find out anything about his disappearance. The file is still open, but no one has been looking for him. On the other hand, the Sheriff didnít do a damn thing. Like the missing recruiters, nothing was done.

This type of thing had happen one time too many for Ben Hudson. He knew in his heart that the Sheriff and his buddies had something to do with the disappearance of this young man and the others. Over the few months after the young man disappeared, Ben quietly gathered a group of very large black men for a meeting. He told them that he was tired of his friends and neighbors disappearing. He knew in his heart that the Sheriff was responsible. He and the group were going to confront the Sheriff with the problem. They were going to use the same tactics that the KKK used, attack at night with a large group. They did not use white sheets; they used brown paper bags with eye, mouth, and nose holes. Ben and his group wanted to talk with Simon about the missing black men. They wanted to pick the time and place that suited them.

Ben and everyone else in Duster Ville knew what Simon usually closed Bennyís. He was always the last customer to leave. One of the group let Ben and a couple other men off in the parking lot at Bennyís. They waited in the Sheriffís car for Simon. They had been waiting for about fifteen minutes and Simon waddled from the bar. He was so drunk that he didnít notice the men when he first sat down. Ben was sitting in the front seat and he put his large hand around Simonís neck. Simon jumped and his head hit the ceiling of the car. Simonís whole body shook with fear. His bladder let loose and he flooded his pants. He started to scream. Ben slapped his right hand around Simonís mouth. Ben said, "Calm down, we just want to talk to you."

Simon tried to leave the car. The massive hands of Ben were like a vice. Simon couldnít move. Quietly and calmly, Ben got Simon to relax. He told Simon that they were going to take a ride to a nice spot in the country where they could have a private conversation. He told Simon to start the car and he would give him the instructions as they drove along. Simon wanted to know where they were going. Ben told him he would know when they got there.

Simon wanted to know what they wanted with him. Ben said, "A group of my friends want to talk to you about the disappearance of our friends."

Simon sniveled, "I donít know anything about those guys, they just up and left."

"Simon, where did they go?"

"Honest, I donít know."

"Sheriff, you know where you buried those bodies."

"Honest, I donít know where they went."

Ben tightened his grip on Simon neck and said politely, "Sheriff, we know you were the last person in town to be seen with them. When you drive around town with someone in your car, everyone looks to see who it is and prays for them. You have been seen on the road to Devils Pond a number of times with our brothers. They all seem to take a one-way trip. Just maybe you might want to take a one-way trip tonight."

Simon started pleading and yelling, "Donít throw me into Devils Pond. I donít know anything about those people. Please let me go."

"Where did you take them if you didnít take them to Devils Pond?"

"Honest, I just gave them a ride home."

"None of them lived anywhere near Devils Pond. I think we will let you look for them in their new home where you took them."

"Please, I donít know where they went after I let them off."

One of the men in the back seat yelled to Simon, "Shut up, you sniveling bastard. We will decide what we will do to you."

When Ben told the Sheriff to take his next right Simon blurted out, "You are taking me to Devils Pond."

One of the men in the back seat said, "You will be with all of those that are missing. They will all be waiting for you. If you go to the bottom, you will be able to count all of the bodies that you have dumped in the pond. How many have you put in the pond?"

Simon kept driving straight ahead. Ben spun the steering wheel, slammed his left foot on the brakes and just made the turn. They all were bouncing around in the car as it went over the rows of ruts and holes in the path. As they approach the clearing Simon saw about 2 dozen torches, "Donít burn me I hate fire."

"Donít worry Simon we are not going to burn you," said Ben.

Simon slammed his foot on the accelerator and was going to drive through the crowd. Ben slams his foot on the brake and turned the steering wheel, the car came to a stop inches from the men. One of the men gave his torch to another man and opened the car door. He dragged Simon out of the car with one hand, lifted Simon into the air and said, "You fucking bastard you tried to run us over. Now I know I am going to kill you."

Ben put a hand on the guyís shoulder and said, "Calm down, you would have done the same thing. He is just scared. Simon, sit down on that log over there."

Simon sat on the log and the group stood in a circle around Simon. One of the men said, "Look at that bastard. Everyone take your dick out and piss on him."

Ben said, "First we will talk and then we will decide what we will do to him."

The whole crowd was yelling that they wanted to throw him in Devils Pond and to hell with talking to him. After Ben calmed them down and said, "We all agreed that we would not kill him if he agreed to our terms."

Ben raises his hands to quiet the crowd and looked down at Simon. "Simon if another person disappears or gets killed in the county we will kill your fucking ass. You donít like fire. We will tie your fat ass to a pipe and rotate you over a bonfire until you are burnt to a crisp. We will take what is left of you and dump it into Devils Pond."

A guy with a huge knife in his hand said, No, first I will cut your fucking balls off. I will butcher his fucking ass like I butcher hogs and bulls. I will take your fucking ass and grind it up and feed it to the hogs."

Another said, "Letís just hang the bastard and get it over with and watch him wiggle around then butcher him."

There were a dozen ways they were going kill Simon. Ben told Simon to stand up. Simon stood up. Simon was perspiring so much his upper part of his body was as wet as his lower part. Simon was no longer drunk. Ben grabbed Simon by the throat and said, "I will personally choke you to death. Then I turn you over to the butchers if another Black or White Man disappears. You are dead. Donít ever tell anyone about this conversation. We all have ears. If you discuss this meeting with anyone, you are a dead man. Donít tell any of your buddies. Donít tell your wife. From what I have heard, she has been wishing you would be killed so she could get your insurance money. You tell her and I bet she will talk just to get the fucking money. Now get your fucking ass out of here."

Simon ran across the field to his car and lit out. Since that day, there hasnít been a disappearance or any questionable murders.

Over the years, new recruiters would come to Duster Ville. The PHG didnít care how many minorities registered to vote or how they voted. The PHG stuffed the ballots. The slayings were never resolved.

Between ripping off everyone in Duster County , the IRS, the Dustville Bank and Dustville Mall, PHG had more money than they could spend. That was not counting the money they were taking in at Jasper and Simonís Warehouse Company.

The Pool Hall Gang world is turned upside down:

The years sled by rapidly and they were all growing old. One morning the PHG was having their usual breakfast meeting at Sammyís. Wilson didnít always attend the breakfast meetings. This annoyed Billy. The meetings were getting more boring every day. Billy had insisted that they meet at Sammyís. One morning Wilson called Sammyís and wanted to speak to Simon. He told him that Pam Smith was trying to cash a $25,000 check and he wanted her locked up.

After the call, Simon went back to the table and told the gang that Pam Smith was trying to rip off the bank. Wilson wanted her locked up. Billy said, "Lock the fucking bitch up. I have wanted something to happen to that broad since Ben Hudson almost choked me to death. She thought that she was to fucking good for me. $25,000, that will keep her ass locked up for ten to fifteen years."

Simon said, "My pants itched every time I saw that little bitch. Now, I will have her all to myself."

Simon was laughing as he walked away. Within a half hour, two more women got involved. They said that Pam daughter had given her the check. Simon thought that they were all lying about how Pam got the check. He knew that Sally did not have a pot to piss in, much less $25,000... Simon picked them up at the bank and took them to the jailhouse.

Tom, Pamís boyfriend showed up at the jail and tried to convince Simon to let the women out of jail. Simon threatened Tom and told him that if he didnít leave, he would not lock him up. The only reason he didnít lock up Tom, he wanted to be alone with the women. Simon not only had one woman in jail he had three. His pants were really itching. Simonís imagination was on overdrive. He could not wait any longer. He bargained with them. If they would roll in the hay with him, he would let them go. None of them wanted to bargain with Simon. Simon took the women out of the cell one at a time. He fondled and tried to rape them. They fought and screamed so loud that Simon was afraid that someone would hear them. One of the women kicked Simon in the balls and it cured his itch for a while.

Before he put her back in the cell, he slapped her around until the other women started yelling. While he was putting her back in the cell, Simon looked out the window and saw his wife heading for the jail. He went outside and told his wife that he had a hard time locking up the women. He took his wife back home and they had lunch. In the middle of the afternoon, Simon headed back to the jail. He told his wife that he had to get the prisoners something to eat. He had no intentions of getting them anything. He headed back to the jailhouse with only one thing on his mind. His itch had returned. He wasnít going to let the same thing happen again. He would hog-tie them if it was necessary.

As he approached the jail, he saw a bright red convertible parked in front of the jailhouse. Simon did not know that Wilson had called Pamís daughter in Metro about the check. Peg, Pam daughter had told Wilson that she had given the check to Pam. Wilson ignored Peg and had Simon lockup Pam.

Seeing the expensive car in from of the jail kindled Simonís curiosity. He wondered who in hell in town had an expensive car like that. When he walked inside the jail, he saw who he thought was Pamís daughter, Sally. Simon thought that Sally had blossomed into a very beautiful and sexy woman. Simon was curious how Sally had gotten the money for the car. Simon said, "Sally, how did you get the money to buy that fancy new car outside? Have you been selling your ass like your mama?"

This set off a different type of fire in Peg. Simon walked over to Peg and commented on how nice she looked and grabbed her on the ass. Before Simon could blink an eye, he was flying through the air. He fell to the floor. Simon reached for his nightstick. Peg stomped on his hand with the heel of her shoe. Simon winced in pain and pulled his hand back. Peg walks over to the desk where she had seen a gun; she opened the drawer, and took out the gun. She walked back to the bastard lying on the floor. She cocked the gun.

Pam yelled, "Peggy, my baby, donít shoot him. He is not worth it."

With tears flowing down Peg face, she said, "Mom, he is not fit to be alive."

The bastard crawled away on his hand on knees and pleaded, "I sorry Miss. Sally, please donít kill me."

The young lady could not hold back her anger; she brought her foot up and kicked Simon against the wall. She yelled, "Where the fuck is the key to the cell?"

With fear in his eyes, he said that the key was in his pocket. She yelled, "Give me the fucking keys."

He fumbled for a few seconds and handed the key to her. Peg said, "Get on the fucking phone and get that attorney John Wilson down here. If you open your mouth about me being here, I will blow your fucking balls off. If you survive, I will file so damn many charges against you that you will not see the light of day for the next hundred years."

Peg opened the cell door and let the women out. Pam hugged and kissed Peg. Mrs. Swanson and Suzanne thanked her for getting them out of jail. They told her that the Sheriff had been groping all of them. If she hadnít come, he would have raped one if not all of them.

The Sheriff had Wilson on the line and she grabbed the phone and said, "Get your fucking ass down to the jail house. I told you to let them out of jail and I wasnít going to press charges against Pam. This fucking Sheriff has been sexually assaulting the prisoners and me."

Within five minutes, Wilson came prancing through the door as if he was going to show this woman who was the boss in his town. When he saw her he said, "You are Sally; lock this little bitch up with her mother."

Simon laughed and said, "If you want to lock her up, you do it."

Wilson reached for Peg and she put him through the same experience that the Simon went through. He landed against the bars of the jail cell. As he lay on the floor, Simon laughed and said, "She is a real firecracker, ainít she."

Peg looked at Simon and he clamed up. She looked at Wilson lying on the floor with a dazed look on his face. Peg said, "Mr. Wilson, you are looking at the owners of Dustville Bank, Pam and I. You are fired! I will file charges against you and the Sheriff. Maybe the Sheriff will hire you to defend him in court."

Peg asked Simon, "Sheriff, were do you keep your log."

Simon said, "This ainít any fancy jailhouse. I donít get enough money to keep books."

She looked at Wilson, "What about you? Did you file a complaint against these women?"

Wilson shook his head. Peg asked, "You locked these three women up without charging them with anything? Have you ever been to a law school?"

Simon bellowed, "He ainít a real lawyer. He never finished high school. His father was a real lawyer and he just took over his father practice when he died."

Peg said, "Sheriff, you and Wilson get in the cell. Tom help Wilson up."

With a surprised expression and guttural voice Simon said, "You ainít going to lock me up in my own jail. There are fleas and lice in that cell," complained Simon.

Peg smiled and said, "You will be in good company. You two can scratch each otherís back."

Tom had called the state police. In the distance, Tom could see the dust flying. Tom said, "Sally, they will be here in a couple of minutes."

Poor Tom had been so pickled that he didnít know that Pam had found her oldest daughter Peg, and Pam had been to Sallyís wedding in Metro.

Pam looked at Tom as to say, "That not Sally" and Peg shook her head and smiled. Mrs. Swanson and Suzanne smiled also. They had attended Sallyís wedding with Pam.

Suzanne said, "Miss Sally when I was Metro last week I saw a woman that looked just like you. She was the prettiest girl I have ever seen."

Peg replied, "Thanks Suzanne, that the best backdoor complement I have ever had. Mom had told me how you and your parents help her when she came home with me when I was a baby. I think we would have starved if it hadnít been for you and your parents."

Tom was watching the trooper when they drove up. They jumped out of the cruisers with their guns drawn. Peg yelled out, "You donít need your guns everything is cool. I am coming out with my hands up."

She told everyone to stay put. She would go outside alone. She opened the door, raised her hands, and said, "Put those guns down before you shoot someone I am Peggy Smith, my mother and I own the local bank, and my father owns the outlet stores on the interstate. The dam stupid Sheriff locked up my Mom because she was depositing a large check in her own Bank. I had to come all the way from Metro just to get her and her friends out of jail."

One of the officers told the others to holster their guns. Peg lowered her hands and said, "You wonít believe who I got locked up inside."

One of the troopers said, "I hope itís the dam Sheriff. That bastard should have been locked up years ago. Arenít you Sally Harrison Smith? I went to school with you. We were also in the same Sunday school class. You are about 5 years younger than I am. I was out at your house when the Sheriff tried to lock you up. I am Richard Norton."

Peg smiled and said, "You are close, but you wonít get the silver dollar. I will explain it to you in private later."

As the troopers walked into the jail the Sheriff yelled out, "Get us out of here and lock up those fucking bitches and that bum with them."

There were three troopers, the one that had not said a word drew his gun. He told everyone to freeze. Norton grabbed the trooperís gun and said, "You stupid jackass, what the hell do you think you are doing. Go sit in your cruiser.

Peg explained what had happened and told the troopers that they were going to file sexual assault charges against the Sheriff and probably about a dozen more charges after she talks to her lawyer. And, for Wilson , she was going to charge him with assault, filing false charges and impersonating a lawyer.

Peg asked trooper Norton to go outside with her, she had something she wanted to tell him. They went outside together; she felt it best to be up front with the troopers. Peg told him who she was and that Sally was her sister and Pam was their mother. She told him that her father was the owner of BFS Outlet. She told him that she wanted to keep it confidential.

Peg told him that Janet and Suzanne only tried to reason with the Sheriff and Mr. Wilson. They just threw them all in jail and the Sheriff molested all of them. Peg told the trooper that the Sheriff grabbed and fondled her when she came to get her mother and the other women out of jail. She said that he tried to shove her into the jail cell also. The trooper wanted to know if Peg wanted him to lock them up. Peg told him that she was afraid the Sheriff or Wilson might harm them if they were let out.

The troopers went inside; he let Simon and Wilson out of the cell. He put cuffs on them and loaded them in the back of the cruiser. Peg told Norton that she wanted to discuss the problem with her mother and the other ladies and talk to her attorney. Norton told her that he could hold them until tomorrow. They would have to file charges or he would have to let them go. Peg assured Norton that they would see him tomorrow morning.

After the trooper locked them in the cruiser, Simon lashed into Wilson . He yelled, "You fucking bastard why didnít you check out the bitch before you called me. Now you got the both of us in trouble."

Wilson lashed back, "I didnít tell you to lock up the other women and try to fuck them. You and your fucking dick will get us thrown in jail for the rest of our life. They will think both of us were going to rape them."

Office Norton approached the cruiser, Wilson clamed up. Norton stuck his head in the cruiser and said, "You fucking nuts have really got yourself in mess this time. That woman has more money than everyone in the county. She could keep you two fighting her in court for the rest of your life just on her pocket change. Do you know who she is?"

With a dumbfounder looks on their faces, Simon and Wilson looked at each other. Simon shrugged his shoulders. Wilson said, "I not sure who she is. She sure does look like Sally. She said she and Pam own the bank. BFS Company owns the bank."

Norton said, "Just think about it. You will find out soon enough."

On the way to the police barracks, Simon and Wilson were trying to figure out what connection Sally and Pam had with BFS Company. Wilson mumbled to himself, "It canít be."

Simon said, "What did you say?"

"That check was written out to Pam Smith. It was signed by Peggy Smith. Pam is a Harrison . Tom last name is Henderson . Sally last name was Smith. What a fucked up family. Simon, you can see how I got confused when I saw the check."

Norton was listening to them. He could have let them out and let them go home if he wanted. He had wanted this opportunity for years and he wasnít going to blow it. He looked over his shoulder and asked Wilson , "Have you figured out where you fucked up?"

Wilson was still trying to figure out the relationship between the poorest couple in Duster Ville and one of the wealthiest companies it the country. It had his brain twisted up in knots. Simon nudged him and said, "Norton wants to know have you figured where you fuck up."

Wilson asked, "What are you talking about?"

"Have you figured out who you have been fucking around with?"

Wilson said, "The only thing they all have in common, a Peggy Smith signed the check. The check was written out to Pam Smith and the bank is owned by the Benjamin Franklin Smith Company."

Norton laughed and said, "You are getting hot. You should have thought about that today before you had Pam locked up."

Wilson said, "You mean the owner of BFS in the father of Sally, or is her name Peggy."

Norton said, "You will have all night to figure it out. You had better pray that they donít press charges against you and Simon. I would hate to be in your shoes."

The following day Peggy Smith met with Norton. After a lengthily discussion with Peggy Smithís lawyers, they released Simon and Wilson. Simon has to resign his office as Sheriff and they fired Wilson as the bankís attorney.

The collapse of the PHG:

After Peggy resolved the problem with Simon and Wilson, they went to see the bank they had bought. Their welcome at the bank was exciting as the visit to the Duster Ville Jail House. Peggy had to fight her way into the bank. She had sent Paulís stepson Simmons to get his stepfather, Paul Pierce.

Norton at the request of Peggy told Wilson and Simon not to inform the PHG about the new bank owners. Since they were locked up all night, Wilson and Simon had not been able to inform the rest of the PHG about the new owners of the bank. Norton would not let them use the phone while they were in jail. They could not call out to inform their buddies about the banks new owners.

The beginning of the end of Paul Pierce, Paul was drowning his sorrows at Bennies. His stepson, Simmons, came in screaming to Paul. Paul was a little incoherent. Simmons dragged Paul from the bar and tried to get through to Paul that someone has taken over the bank. Paul thought that someone had robbed the bank. On the drive to the bank, Simmons could not get it across to Paul what had happened at the bank. When they drove up to the bank and Paul saw his parking spot taken. He blew his stack. Paul yelled, "Who parked in my parking space? Call Simon and tell him to have Jasper haul that car out of here."

Simmons said, "The broad that owns that car said that she owns the bank."

Paul yelled, "A broad does not own the fucking bank. BFS Inc. owns the fucking bank."

Everything in the bank had returned to normal as it could be under the circumstances. Pierce barged into the bank with his shirt unbuttoned and hanging out of his pants. He was reeking of booze. His son followed him into the bank. He was yelling and screaming where was the bitch that claims that she owns the bank. Peg and Pam were in the office talking with Mr. Felder. When Peg heard Pierce bellowing she went to the door of the office and said, "Mr. Pierce, I presume. I am the bitch that you speak of. I am Peg Smith. I think you know my father Ben."

When Pierce heard Benís name he almost melted in his tracks. His worst nightmare had happened. For years, he wondered when this would happen. He had warned Billy that someday their bubble would burst. Billy would always say, donít worry; we will be able to handle it.

You have never seen a man sober up so quickly and his attitude change in a microsecond. He was very apologetic. Beads of perspiration rolled down his body. His face turned pale. Paulís knees buckled under him. Those around Paul helped him to a chair. He was so weak that he almost slid out of the chair. Peg said to one of the cashiers, "Call an ambulance."

When the ambulance arrived, they took Paul to the clinic. Paulís world had come to an end. As he laid there in the clinic, his whole life ran through his mind. Where had he fucked up? When had it started? I was fresh out of college and Herbert Duster came in to deposit his receipts. He wanted to talk to me in private. He invited me out to his home for dinner. I was still single. The mansion and the surroundings at Duster Plantation blew my mind. I had never seen a home as lavish as the Dusterís. Duster kept filling my wine glass with the best wine I had ever tasted. After dinner, we took a walk through the garden. Hebert questions me about my finances. Herbert asks me if I would like to make a few extra dollars. He wanted me to be his accountant. I jumped at the chance.

With the encouragement of Herbert, they started trimming the amount of money the Duster Plantation was taking in. At first, they only skimmed five percent off the total. Greed set in over the months and they gradually increase it to twenty percent. Paul was allowed to keep one percent for himself. Herbert would give Paul a bonus on special occasions just to keep him from complaining. It took a few years until Paul finally realized that Herbert would blame him if he screwed up. He would be the scapegoat. Herbert would blame the scheme on Paul if there was an investigation.

When Herbert was murdered Paul though that all of his problem were over and all the money that they had skimmed was his. But, this was short lived. Somehow, Billy Thompson found out what he and Duster were doing. Now, he was locked in with a cold-blooded murderer. Billy let Paul continue to alter the Duster Plantation books.

The news that someone had taken over the bank had spread like wild fire. One of Thompsonís straw bosses had gone to the bank to cash his paycheck and saw the State Police cars. He asked one of the clerks what had happened? The clerk said that the bank had a new owner and Mr. Pierce almost died when he found out. And, Pierce wasnít the owner of the bank. Later that evening when the straw boss told old man Thompson, Thompson said, "I know that Pierce isnít the owner of the bank. What the problem?"

"But, there were a couple of women at the bank and they are the new owners," said the man.

Thompson almost went into shock. Thompson grabbed the phone and hysterically called Pierces home. Mrs. Pierce answered the phone. She told Thompson that her son had came home to get him, she thought that they were at the bank and he should still be at the bank, unless they are at the bar drinking.

Thompson hung up the phone, called the bank, and asked to speak to Pierce. One of the men working on the security system answered the phone. He told Thompson that Mr. Pierce was taken to the clinic earlier in the day and he looked like Pierce had a heart attack. Thompson hung up the phone, called the clinic, and asked to talk to Mr. Pierce. They told him the doctor was examining him and they could not put him on the phone. Thompson yelled, "When the doctor finishes with him, have him call Thompson."

The woman asked, "Could you give me your phone number?"

Billy yelled, "You donít need my phone number. He knows it. Just make sure you have him call me, it is very important."

Thompson was mumbling to himself, "I should have never listened to Pierce. If that bastard dies I will never get my money out of the bank."

Thompson paced the floor for the next hour. He reaches for the phone a hundred times thinking that it rang. It finely rang. This time he thought that it was his imagination. On the fourth ring he realized that it was the phone. He grabbed the phone and yelled, "Hello."

A woman said, "Mr. Pierce is in bed and canít come to the phone. Can I help you?"

Thompson yelled, "Who is this?"

"This is Martha Pierce, Mr. Pierceís daughter."

Billy bellowed, "No you canít help me, tell that fucking bastard to come to the phone or I am coming down there and kill him."

Martha slammed down the phone. Her stepbrother asked her, "Who was that on the phone?"

Pissed, Martha says, "Some old SOB that wanted dad to come to the phone. He threatens to kill dad and I hung up on him."

Pierce heard the conversation, jumped out of the bed, and ran to the phone. He dialed Thompson number. Thompson picked up the phone and yelled, "Hello!"

Scared to dead, Paul apologized, "I am sorry about the mix-up. My daughter is sorry that she hung up on you. I canít talk here. I will call you back in a few minutes."

Still steaming Billy said, "Doesnít your family know about our business arrangements?"

With beads of perspiration streaming down his face Pierce replied, "No."

"Canít you talk now?"


"Well hang-up and call me back. If I donít hear from you in a few minutes I am coming down there and you will wish you were dead. If I donít get my money back I am going to butcher you like a hog."

Pierce hung-up the phone and slipped into a pair of pants. He ran out of the house without putting his shoes on. There was a pay phone a couple of block down the street. When he got there, some kids were on the phone. He went up the phone, pushed them out of the way, and hung up the phone. Before he could dial Thompson number, the kids dragged Pierce out of the phone booth and held him on the ground. One of the kids said, "That wasnít the nice thing to do. I donít have any more change to call them back."

They rolled Paul over and pulled out his wallet. After one of them looked inside the wallet they laughed and said, "That old fart hasnít got as much money as I have. I will take his credit card and driver license."

As they walked away, Pierce pulled the change out of his pocket and dialed Thompson.

Billy in frustration asked, "Is that you Pierce?"


"What took you so long?í

"I just got mugged. They stole my credit card and my driverís license."

"That your problem, what about my money?"

The new owners have changed all the locks and had security camera installed all over the place. According to my son they were working there until about an hour ago."

In a fit of rage, Billy shouts, "Listen to me if you donít get me my share of the money I going to blow youíre fucking brains out. You told me the money would be safe and for me not to worry about it. Now you are telling me you canít get your hands on the money. Get your ass down to the bank and open it up."

Paul politely said, "You are telling me to listen and you are not listening to me. We had the windows changed and had bullet proof glass installed. You are the one that wanted the new vault installed. You money hungry bastard if you had left the bank the way it was, you could have gone to the back of the building with a sledge hammer and got your fucking money. The fucking locks have been changed and I bet the security code to the vault has been changed. I would have to have a tank with a cannon to be able to get into the vault. You tell me how I am going to get into the bank."

Screaming, "I donít give a fuck how you get my money. If you donít, your ass will be laid to rest with all the sons of bitches that we dumped in devils pond."

Thompson slammed down the phone. Pierce was standing there in his bare feet not knowing what to do. Without thinking he started walking down the middle of the street in his bare feet. Immerged in fear of his life, and being totally destroyed he wandered aimlessly through the town. A couple of times car swerved to keep from hitting him. Someone recognized Pierce and called his home and told his wife that her husband was drunk and walking down the middle of the street. They told her where he was and they better get down there before someone runs over him.

Mrs. Pierce yelled to her son to go find his father. Simmons went to the location where the caller had seen him. He was not there. He circled around the town and could not find him. As he continued to search he passed the bank and there he was pounding on the glass window with his fist. He pulled into the parking lot and with his headlights reflecting in the window. Pierce turned around and put his hands up. He was ready to go to jail. His son turned his headlights off and got his father in the car. Pierce was in a state of shock. He was incoherent. His mumbling didnít make sense. His life was falling apart.

Thompson wasnít giving up, he called the Sheriff. Simon answered the phone. Thompson told him what had happened at the bank. Billy wanted him to go to Pierces home, get Pierce, and go open up the bank. Fatso laughed and said, "I ainít going anywhere. I locked up some gals and got myself in a lot of trouble. Wilson had me lock up some women that were depositing money in the bank. They werenít trying to steal the money. They were putting money in the bank. I had to resign my office and if I fuck up, I go to jail. You and Pierce rob the fucking bank and leave me out of it."

Screaming to the top of his voice, Thompson yelled, "You bastard if it wasnít for me, you and Jasper wouldnít have a penny. Get your ass over to the bank get my money out of there."

Simon yelled back, "You old fart, you didnít hear me. I ainít going to jail for you or nobody else. I have been doing your dirty work for years. I quit. I was talking to Jasper and we ainít going to have anything to do with the bank. That little bitch and her mother got a lot of money backing them. I donít know how she got mixed up with all that money. They probably sold their asses. I donít have that kind of money to fight them. You break into the bank; get your men on the farm to break in."

Simon hung up, got himself a beer, and sat down to watch TV. About an hour had passed and a shotgun blast shattered the front window. Simon fell to the floor and yelled to his wife to hit the deck. Simon crawled across the floor and got his gun. Then he and his wife crawled to the rear of the house. He told his wife to climb into the bathtub and keep her head down. Simon went out the back door and peeked around the house. Whoever it was had gone. He knew that it must be Thompson or one of his boys. Simon went back in the house, got a plastic sheet, and covered the window. He and his wife packed a few things and headed for a little hideout they had up in the hills. He felt that no one could find him up there. He didnít think that Thompson knew about it. They could stay up there until things cooled off.

  After Thompson fired the shot through Simon window, he went to the bank. He had a group of his field hands with him. He parked in the back of the bank and proceeded to the rear of the bank. He paced off the distance across the back of the bank and estimated where the back of the vault was located. It didnít take long for his men to break through the concrete and plaster. They set up a cutting torch and started to cut the steel wall. It had the same effect as putting a match to a buck of water. The hands that were working with the torch told Thompson, "Boss this ainít going to work. All you can do with this torch is write your name with it. It doesnít heat up the metal."

Fussing, Billy said, "Give me that fucking torch. You donít know how to use it."

The man gave Thompson the torch, looks over at the rest of the crew, and shook his head. They all smiled. The field hand that was on lookout went around to the front of the building and saw that they were breaking into a bank. He returned to the crew and whispered to them that they were breaking into a bank and he wasnít going to jail for Thompson. As Thompson played with the torch the field hands slowly walked back to one of the trucks. They all agreed to leave Thompson and they pushed one of the trucks a couple of blocks from the bank before they started it and left old man Thompson playing with the torch.

Thompson continued for about half hour and he said, "One of you guys go out to the farm and see if you can find another cutter for this torch."

When he didnít hear a reply he yelled out, "Donít just stand there get your ass out of here and get me another cutter."

He looks around and saw that he was alone. Chills of fear ran through his body. He always had other men around him, which was his shield of protection. The old bastard panicked. He didnít see any of his workers and wondered where they went. He dashed back to the truck and left the torch, tank, and all the tools. He searches frantically for the keys to the truck. Then he remembers that one of the hands had driven the truck. The shotgun was still in the truck. He headed for Simonís place. It was about 2-mile hike, the old man was exhausted when he got there. He hadnít walked that far in years. He went around to the back door and knocked. There was no answer. He took the butt of the shotgun, broke in the glass, and opened the door. He searches the house and there wasnít anyone in the house. He opens the fridge and got himself a beer. He was drained from the events of the evening. He hadnít taken two swallows from the can of beer and he falls asleep.

When he woke up the next morning the first thing he saw was the plastic over the busted window. He grabbed his gun expecting to see Simon. He tiptoed through the house looking for Simon. He hurried to the phone, called his white straw boss, and told him to come over to Simonís house and pick him up. He also told him to get someone to go over to the rear of the bank and pick up the truck.

Thompson was afraid that Simon would be walking in and a wave of fear engulfed his body. Every creek of the house and the noise of people passing made chills run through his body. As he waited thoughts of his past ran through his mind, the number people that he had killed, the money that he stole and used to buy property all over the county, and what his future would be like. He remember the times he threatened Pierce and Pierce had told him that if he dies that Thompson would die for his murder and all the others he had murdered.

There was a knock on the front door. Thompson jumped and yelled, "Who there."

"Itís Pat. Is that you Mr. Thompson?"

"Yew, just a minute, I will unlock the door."

The man asked, "Mr. Thompson, what are doing over here?"

"Donít ask. Did you send someone over to the bank to pick up the truck?"

"Yes sir."

"Where were you last night when I needed you?"

"I was over at my girl friendís house. I just got in when you called."

On the way home Thompson didnít say another word. His mind was occupied with other thoughts.

A dragnet went out for the PHG. The FBI and State police started rounding up the gang. When Simon came out of the hills he was taken into custody.  He joined the other member of the PHG at the state police jail.

The events that had happened over the last fifty years or so started to unravel, Paul had kept records of the money they embezzled and who they had murdered. The new owner discovered the records that Paul had kept. The FBI and the State Police started rounding up the other member of PHG and their friends.

Changes in Duster Ville started soon after the PHG were arrested. Friends and associates of the PHG fled to parts unknown. A special election had to be called. All of the city officials resigned or left town.

As the federal and state started their investigation into the allegations that Pierce had made, they decided to dredge Devils Pond. The Federal Government brought in a giant pump and started pumping out the muck that filled Devils Pond. As they pumped out the pond, the level did not go down as they expected. The more sand and mud they pumped out of the pond the waterier the sand and mud became. After a month of pumping, only water was coming out. The Feds brought in a group of navy divers. They discovered that the lake and Devils Pond were connected by an underground stream. The pumping had flushed out all the mud and sand. It left only the remains of dozens of humans, horses, cows, old wagons, and cars.

They brought in a crane to remove the cars and wagon. Then they dropped a large metal basket in the pond. The divers filled the baskets with the remains. When they examined the remains, they verified what Paul had told them. Some of the remains could not be identified. Some had the remains had been in the pond possibly for over a hundred years.


I asked Pierce how he found out about Simonís midnight ride to Devils Pond. Paul said, "When Billyís health started to fail, he would get lonesome and wanted a little company. Jasper and Billy buried the hatch and made up. We played poker, drank moonshine and told stories. The moonshine loosened their tongues. I didnít drink as much as the others. However, it did not take me long to get into the habit. I wrote down and kept records of all the stories they told."

"They scared the living hell out of me. The only murder that I was involved in was the night we took the young accountant Bill Hardin out to Devils Pond. I knew that Billy had at least a hundred thousand dollars somewhere on the plantation and he was going to pay Hardin off. Well, he didnít. That was the worst night of my life. As you know, I am still having nightmares over that incident. I have a dream of seeing someone pushing Hardin out of the quicksand. He walked across the quicksand, grabs me by the throat, and choked me. He drags me into the pond with him. I wake up gasping for air.

I had no choice; Billy would have killed me if I had tried to stop him. I stood my ground on all the others. Billy did not give a shit. Simon, Wilson and Jasper loved taking someone for a foxhunt. I have never seen anyone that was so proud of themselves after they killed someone. It was like another trophy, another notch, or another conquest. If I had rocked the boat, they would have killed me. I was scared as hell of them and I still am. I wouldnít put it passed them to pay someone to kill me." 

"Once the mall opened and I was doing their books, we were making more money than we could spend. Simon and Jasper were making a fortune selling and fencing stolen goods. If you wanted something and they didnít have it, they would find someone to steal it for you for a price. If you wanted someone beat up or run someone out of town and you had the money, they would do it. I donít know of anyone that they killed for a price, but I would not put it pass them."

I asked Pierce why the state police had not stopped Simon and Jasperís business. Paul said to me, "Ha, they were paying them off. One night I went to Bennyís for a nightcap. I had been working late. Simon and Jasper were in a booth with a couple of guys. When they were leaving, Jasper gave one of them an envelope and it was bulging. I went to the bar and got my drink. Simon called me over. Simon had a big mouth and had to brag about everything. He told me that they were State Police Officers from Police Headquarter in Metro. I had heard him call one of them George. I believe he is the same George that they locked up in Metro. Jasper was quite pissed. He did not like paying them off for looking the other way and said as much. He was constantly fuming about paying off those bastards. When the local state police tried to bust Simon and Jasper, police from headquarter would tell them to leave them alone."

Pierce told me that he had overheard Simon and Jasper discussing their link with the state police. Jasper was feeding the state police information on the crooks that were selling their loot to Jasper. The state police never arrested them.  Every time a crook made a hit, Jasper and the state police got part of the loot.

The line up:

Paul was asleep in his cell. He was rudely awakened by a guard running his nightstick back and forth across the bars of his cell. The guard sarcastically said, "Put on your clothes we are going for a ride."

Paul asked, "Where are we going?"

"None of your fucking business, hurry up, we donít have all day."

With shackles around his arms and legs, they escorted Paul down the stairs and across the parking lot to a waiting van. They lifted him up and shoved him into the rear of the van. They drove for short distance and opened the rear of the van. They helped him out of the van, led him up a couple flight of stairs, and shoved him into a cell. The guard let out a cynical laugh. Paul turns around and sees the PHG staring at him from the far end of the cell. Paul falls to his knees. This was the first time that the PHG had been together since they were locked up. Billy said, "You miserable little squealing bastard I have been praying for this day."

Billy went into a rage. He put his cuffed hands around Paulís neck. Simon and Wilson pulled Billy off of Paul. Wilson yelled, "You crazy bastard. They only got his word that we killed someone. I want to kill him too. If we kill him in here, we all will go to the gas chamber. I have looked back over my life, and ask myself why in hell I ever started hanging out with you instead of going to college like my old man wanted me to."

Billy yelled back, "You fucking well know why you hung around with me. Your old man would not give you a fucking cent. I still donít know why we shared our take with you. I donít know a damn thing you ever did to help us make money."

Wilson looked around to see if anyone was around and said; "Simon, Jasper and I did all of your fucking dirty work. Over the years, we must have had over a dozen foxhunts just because you wanted someone to disappear. You expected us to jump every time you snapped your fucking finger."

Billy made a lunge at Wilson . He wasnít in the shape that he was in 40 years ago. Wilson sidestepped Billy and slammed a fist into Billyís back sending Billy into a wall.

Jasper had built up a storeroom of hate for Billy over the years. He joined the fun. Billy was facing the wall; Jasper laid a heavy foot into Billyís ass and slammed him into the wall again. Billy didnít move for a few minutes. All of a sudden, Billy wheels around. His face showed the hate that he had shown many times in his life. He made a sudden lunge at Jasper and drove him into bars. He cups the handcuffs around Jasperís neck. Jasper slams a knee into Billy and crushed Billyís family jewels. Billy curled up on the floor. A guard popped out of nowhere and said, "Itís nice to see old buddies enjoying their reunion."

The guard pointed to Simon and Wilson and told them to pick up Billy and put him in the bunk in the back of the cell. They picked up Billy, dragged him across the cell, and dropped him on the bunk. Simon lifted Billyís feet and put them on the bunk.

Wilson , Jasper and Simon stared down on Billy. Billy was facing the wall. Wilson turns Billyís head around so Billy could see them. Wilson said, "You son of a bitch, you said you donít remember a fucking thing I did for you. Do you remember the day we were in Sammyís and this young hooker came in and with Barry Metcalf?"

Billy shook his head, "No!"

Wilson chuckled, "You senile old bastard. He was the guy that owned that soda bottling company. He was losing his shirt until he started bottling Moonís moonshine. He owned about four hundred acres up in the northeast corner of the county. His bottling company was in the next county. You wanted to buy all of his land in Duster County . You made him an offer for the land. He spit into your face pushed you down into a booth. He told you that the land was worth twenty times the amount you offered him. You tried to get up and he cold cocked you. He grabbed the broad and took off when he saw Simon and me heading for him. You donít remember that?"

Billy yelled, "Yes, I remember it. What about it?"

Wilson shakes his head, and then says, "Do you remember that you got the land for the price that you offered him?"

Again Billy yelled, "Yes, yes, yes, so what."

"You told Jasper, Simon and me that you were going to kick us out of the PHG if we didnít get rid of Metcalf. When we tried to tell you how we got rid of him, you didnít want to know anything about it. You shut us up every time the subject came up. I am going to tell you what happened."

Billy shouted, "Go ahead tell me."

Wilson told Paul to stand over at the cell door and let him know if anyone came around. Wilson told Billy that he would have never gotten the land if they had not taken Barry for a foxhunt. Simon had been tailing Barry and taking notes on Barryís activities. Barry would go out to Moonís and load up his truck about once a week. Barry was making a fortune. When Barry headed back home, he would stop in at Dustville Bank and make his deposits. Most of the money would go into a safety deposit box. We were going to ask Paul to take the money out of the safety deposit box after we dumped him into Devils Pond. Take the truck and moonshine over to Jaspers. Repaint the truck and sell it.

We parked an old car across the road leading to Moonís still. When Barry stopped his truck, we were going to blow his brains out. Things didnít quite work out that way. He had the hooker with him. No one wanted to shoot the girl. The poor kid was scared out of her wits. We locked Barry and the hooker in the back of the truck. We were going to let both of them go on a foxhunt. We wanted to take all of Barryís money and divide it up. Jasper came up with an idea of how to get the money out of the bank without involving Paul. We wanted to split the money three ways. We didnít want to share the money with Paul. We told Barry that we wanted the money that he had in the safety deposit box at the bank. If he gave us the money, we would let them go. A big argument broke out. Barry wasnít going along with it. I threatened to blow the girls head off if he didnít let her go to the bank and get the money out. That did not work. He told us to go ahead and blow her head off. The bitch gets pissed off and took our side. After we bounced him around in the back of the truck, he agreed to let the girl make the deposits. Of course, we didnít want the girl to make any deposits we wanted her to take the money out of the bank. We had Barry fill out a withdrawal slip and leave only a couple hundred dollars in his regular bank account. Barry gave the girl his safety deposit key and the withdrawal slip. I put Barryís hat on and drove the truck. Simon and Jasper followed in the old car. When we got to the bank, I told the girl not to say anything to anyone inside the bank. If she did, we would kill her and Barry. Simon followed her into the bank. The girl went up to the teller and handed her the withdrawal slip. The teller didnít want to give her all the money out of the account. The teller called Paul. Paul came out of his office and talking the girl. Simon could hear the conversation, and walked over to Paul, and asked Paul what was the problem. Paul told Simon that he wouldnít let her withdraw all that money without Barryís permission. Simon took Paul into his office and told Paul that he had talked to Barry outside in his truck. Barry had hurt his leg and could not walk. Barry had asked Simon if she had any trouble to help her out. Barry was changing banks for personal reasons. Simon pointed to the young girl. Paul rolled his eye and told the teller to go ahead and give the girl the money. The hooker also went into the vault and cleaned out Barryís safety deposit box. Paul stood at the door as Simon and the young girl walked to the truck. The young girl got into the truck and Wilson drove off.

Simon went around the corner and got in the car with Jasper and they went to the warehouse. They drove the truck inside the warehouse. Jasper took the money and put it in his safe. They tied up the Barry and the girl. They laid Barry on the floor. The girl was lying on the back seat of the old car. Jasper drove the car out to Devil Pond and Simon and I followed in another car. When they got to the pond, we had a problem. The pond was caked over. The girl would never break through the crust. I told Jasper to head the car in the directions of the pond, put a larger rock on the accelerator and slam the car into gear. On the first try, the damn rock came off the accelerator and the car stalled. The second try we tied the accelerator to the floorboard, turned the engine on, slammed it into gear, the car took off and got half way across the pond and it started sinking in. The wheels were spinning like hell and slinging mud everywhere. The rear wheels dug a hole in the crust and the car started to sink. It wasnít going down very fast. I heard Barry tell the girl to untie him. She untied Barry, and then Barry untied the girl. They tried to open the rear doors. The car had gone down too far in the mud. They couldnít open the door. The girl was screaming. We were afraid someone over at the lake might hear her. Simon jumped into the other car and drove over to the lake side of the pond. Fortunately, no one was at the lake.

Paul said, "Someone is coming."

Billy sat up in bed and said, "Go ahead what happen."

Simon said, "Donít tell him what happened. Let him die wondering what happened."

The guard came to the door and looked around. He asked, "What are you doing over in the corner. Why donít you let Mr. Pierce join you?"

Billy yelled out, "Itís none of your fucking business."

The guard laughed, and then said, "It is my fucking business. Break it up. Each one you get into a corner and stay there."

Jasper said, "Fuck you."

The guard didnít say a word. He walked away from the cell for a few minutes. Jasper said, "You got to let them know that you donít take any of their shit from them."

The words no sooner got out of his mouth and a wall of water knocked him off his feet. Jasper desperately tried to get out of the stream of water with no success. The guard kept the stream of water on Jasper until he had Jasper in a corner of the cell. Then he turned the water off. The guard asked if anyone else had anything to say. Meekly they took a corner and sat down. When the guard left, Billy called to Wilson on the far corner of the cell and said, "Go ahead, what happened?"

Wilson said something, and the guard yelled out, "If I heard another word, you all are going to take a bath,"

Billy shut up and didnít say another word. They sat quietly for about an hour and the guard came and unlocked the cell, and stepped aside. Another guard led the group with six or more guards following them with shotguns. The prisoners along the way yelled profanities at them. Some of the prisoners reached through the bars grabbing at the group. There was a voice from a distance yelling, "Hang those bastards. They killed my best friend."

Not only was Paul sweating profusely, they all were racked with fear. Billy looked around at Wilson and said, "Those son-ofĖbitches want to kill us. How do they know what we did?"

Wilson whispered, "My uncle Charles came to see me. He is Momís brother. First, he was very supportive. After a few weeks, he came back and said that he hoped they hang me. Someone out there is singing their head off. This the first time we have been together. Have you been talking to the prosecutor?"

Billy said, "Hell yes, I have been talking with him. I have denied everything they have accused me of. I think Paul has been singing his head off."

Wilson said, "I know by the question the prosecutors have been asked me. Uncle Charles said that people are coming out of the woodworks telling horror stories. If makes me think that someone had followed us out there and sat quietly on the sideline watching everything that went on."

Billy yelled, "Who in the hell was it."

One of the guards yelled at Billy, "If you donít shut the fuck up, I am going to shove the barrel of this shotgun down your throat and pull the trigger. Now shut the fuck up!"

Billy looked over his shoulder and cut the guard apart with his eyes. The guard said to Billy, "You old fart you donít scare me. When we get back I am going to show you whoís the boss in this lockup."

They led them across the prison ground in a downpour. All the guards had rain gear. The Pool Hall Gang was drenched. Jaspers hosing had cooled him down. The rain was freezing him. They led them down a hall into a room and up a couple steps on to a stage. The room was about fifteen feet long and ten feet wide. In front of the stage was four rows of chairs the length of the stage. On the wall across from the stage was a long mirror on the wall. The mirror was the full length of the room. High intensity lights blinded them. The warmth of the lights felt good on their wet bodies. The backdrop of the stage was white and ruled so the witness could tell the height of the prisoners. In a room behind the mirror was a group of men. One of the men asked the witness if he saw anyone that he knew. He snickered and said, "Yep, I have known them all of my life."

One of the men said, "For the record, what is your name."

The witness answered, "Chuck Monroe."

"Where do you live Mr. Monroe?"

" 423 Clover St. Duster Ville."

"How long have you lived at that address?"

"All of my life."

"Were all of the men on the stage involved in your kidnapping and attempted murder?"

"All of them were involved except for Mr. Paul Pierce."

"Would you identify the one that you called Paul Pierce."

"He is the little short man on the right end."

"Are you sure that he wasnít in the car with the others."

"Yes sir, there were two men in the front seat and two in the back seat. After they hit me with the butt of the shotgun, they hauled me into the backseat of the car between them. They tied my hands and feet drove me out to Devils Pond. It was raining as hard as it is today if not harder."

"Was it light or dark when they asked you if you wanted a ride?"

Chuck nervously said, "It was just about dusk. When they called me, I could only see the outlines of them in the car. The windows were all fogged up. Simon was driving and he rolled down the window and asked if I wanted a ride. I walked over to the car, but when I saw Simon and the others, I tried to run away. Jasper opened the rear door and I ran into it. Before I could get away, they got out of the car and wrestled me to the ground. Someone hit me with the butt of a shotgun. I thought my head was going to explode. I was on the edge of being unconscious. They tied my hands and feet and put me in the back seat. I had been at the lake next to Devils Pond hundreds of times when I was a kid. I played, swam, and fished at the lake during the summer. It I wasnít at home or working I was at the lake. Like foolish kids that we were, we dared each other to see who could get across Devils Pond. When it had not rained for a while, the crust would be hard enough to support us. It felt like walking on a foam mattress. Someone had cut back the briars along the edge and made a footpath around the edge of the pond. Over the years, the briars would grow back. Cows would get out of the pastures, walk down the path, get stuck and could not get out. The farmers would give us a dollar to go out and tie a rope around the cowís neck. They would tie another rope around our waist and if we sunk in, they would pull us out. They would hitch a couple of mules to the rope and pull the cow out."

Someone interrupted Chuckís story and asked, "What happened after they took you out of the car.?"

"They took me around to the front of the car in the headlights. They wanted me to walk down the path to Devils Pond. I told them they would have to shoot me. I wasnít going to jump into Devils Pond. Billy Thompson said that they were going to give me a chance to go free. I would have a head start of a count of ten, and then they would come after me. I felt that I just might make it through the bull briers and I was hoping someone may have cut a path through the briers along the edge of the pond. I took off before Billy started counting. The lightning lit up the outline of the pond. It was filled with water from the rain. I ran along the edge of the pond until I felt that I was sinking in. I plowed through the briers until I was wracked with pain and exhaustion. I could not run any further. I fell on a bed of briers without the strength to move another inch. I had a knife strapped to my leg. I took the knife and cut the rope that bound my hands. I felt around me for something that I could through in the pond. I knew if I didnít disturb the surface of the water they would come looking for me. I found a hunk of rotten wood. When I saw the flashlights shining through the trees, I threw the wood into the water. They must have heard the wood splash when it hit the water. They ran up to the edge of the pond and shined their flashlights across the water for a while. They saw the rippling of the water. I was never so frightened in my life. I didnít have the strength to move. They shined the flashlights in my face a few times. In my mind, I could hear someone saying, there he is. One of them yelled look over there. I knew that they saw me. When I hear one of them say, he went down over there, I wanted to look to see where I went down. With all the pain of the briars, I laughed at myself. They shined their flashlight where the wood had landed in the water. I think they expected to see me floundering in the quicksand. Then someone else saw the chunk of wood and said that was only a part of my head that was showing. I heard Billy bragging to the others.

He said that you have to bring them out on a rainy night and they will go down quicker. I lay there quietly. I donít think I was breathing. Simon wanted to make sure that I went down. He kept shining the light back and forth across the pond. Every time the light shined across my face, I knew they saw me. My whole body racked with pain and fear. While I laid there in pain, I prayed for this day. Finally, when I heard the car drive off, I let out a gasp. I felt as if I had been holding my breath for an hour. Another down pour came. Lightning was lighting up the whole place. Simon had stayed behind for a while. Finally, I heard him leave. When the lightning strikes, it was bright as it is in the daylight. I was afraid they left someone out there and they were waiting for me to leave. I did not dare move. If there was someone there, I believe the lightening and the rain drove them away. The rain on my cuts was soothing. I still could not move. I laid there for a long time until I felt that I had the strength to move. I could not stand up; I did not have the strength. I rolled over to the edge of the pond and felt to see how much water was covering the pond. It was almost two feet of water on top of the muck. I rolled into the water and pushed myself to the end of the pond. I pulled myself up on solid ground. It was like being in heaven without the bed of briers. I laid there for about an hour with the rain pouring down on my wounds. When I regained enough strength to get up, I walked back into town and went home. I took a long bath and tended to my cuts. I fell asleep and didnít wake up until daylight. I got up and I put on a hat, pulled it down to hide my face, and turned up the collars of my raincoat. I knew if those bastards up there on the stage saw me. They would not give me a second chance."

Someone asked, "Why didnít you go to the Sheriff?"

Laughter broke out and Chuck said, "That the Sheriff in the lineup. He is the one with the suspenders."

Someone said, "Pierce shouldnít be in the lineup. The others will kill him."

One of the guards took Paul to an interrogation room. After another hour of questioning, they took Pierce back to his cell. Paul looked at himself in the mirror. His neck was already swelling and turning dark. The hell he was going through immersed his body. Tears rolled down his face. He cursed the day he was born. He franticly paced the floor hoping that there was some way out of this hell. He felt if the courts didnít kill him someone else would. He knelt beside the bed and prayed to God to take him quickly and to end the hell he was in.


I visited Paul a couple days after the lineup. The guard pulled me aside and told me that Paul wasnít his normal self. He suggested that I request that a psychiatrist take a look at him. I thanked him. He opened the cell door. Paul was standing at the far end on the cell facing the wall. He didnít turn around to greet me as he usually did. I walked over to him and put my hand on his shoulder. I expected him to turn around, he didnít. I pulled on his shoulder and tried to turn him around, he resisted. I stepped to the side of him and he turned his head. I caught a glimpse of his face. His face was covered with blood. I yelled, "Who in hell did this to you?"

He turned around and said, "I did, I want to commit suicide. I cannot kill myself. I know they are going to kill me. I would rather do it myself. I ran across the cell and butted my head in the wall hoping it would crack my skull. It only gave me a terrible headache."

"Why did you do it?"

"I want to get it over with now. Pepper was in here this morning and told me that the PHG were claiming that I was involved in a least a dozen murders. Somehow they found out that I was talking to the prosecutors. When they took me for the lineup, they put me in a cell with Billy, Simon, Jasper and Wilson . Billy almost killed me. If it hadnít been for the others, I would be dead now. He choked me so hard that I am still sore around my neck."

I said, "Most people cannot kill themselves. You donít want to kill yourself. You have a lot to tell the world. You can tell them the hell you are going through, how you got into this mess and maybe you will save thousands of souls from falling into the hell on earth that you are going through. God is giving you this chance to tell others so they will not fall into the pit of hell you are going through. Why donít I go home and let you think about what I said. I donít see anything written on your yellow pad. You must have had a rough time."

Paul turned around. With a very determined look on his face, he said, "Willy, I think you just gave me a new perspective on the little life that I have left. No, I didnít do any writing this month. I think Iíve told you everything I can think of. I donít want to talk about my family or my family life. That is another story. Greed and power has destroyed all of our lives. If we all had not been so greedy, we would not be here in jail. I cannot blame Billy; Herbert is the one that sweetened my greed. I wanted the same life Herbert had. Billy got it and that wasnít enough. Both of them, Herbert and Billy were not satisfied with being the wealthiest men in the county. They wanted to control everyoneís lives. If I hadnít let Herbert talk me into helping him cheat on his taxes, and the thought of living a life of grandeur, I would not be here. Many nights before we took Bill Hardin out to devil pond, I would wallow in my expecting fortune. Then after that night of horror, I drowned my soul in alcohol. That didnít help; I still had the nightmares after I started drinking. Willy, you must be sick of listening to me and my problems?"

"No Paul, I wanted to know everything that went on in Duster Ville. With your help, I wanted to tell the world what went on in your world.

Paul had told me the story about Barry Metcalf that Wilson was telling Billy. Paul had left me hanging their as Wilson and left Billy. I asked Paul, "What happen to Barry and the hooker?"

"Willy, I never hear about Barry until Wilson told Billy. I remember the girl that came into the bank with Simon and I watched the truck drive away. I always thought it was Barry driving the truck. Wilson said that they killed a dozen people. I never knew it was that many."

I asked Paul, "Didnít the police investigate the disappearance of Barry and the hooker?"

Paul nodded his head, "The state police came around with Simon. All I could tell them was that the girl came in with Simon and Barry was in the truck waiting for her."

I asked, "How did Billy get the land that Barry owned?"

Paul slightly sneered, shook his head, and said, "Nothing surprises me anymore. Barryís poor wife came into the bank after the police investigated Barryís disappearance. He had left her without a dime. I think there was about two hundred and fifty dollars left in the account. She was desperate. Those few hundred didnít last very long. Billy came in one day and asked about her. I told him that Barry and the hooker took everything out of the bank and took off. They didnít leave her with anything. He took some of his money out of the bank and bought the land she had. I should have said he stole the land and gave her a few dollars. As I said, she was desperate and had no idea of the value of the land. Willy, you asked me if Billy was a racist. Yes, he hated all the races."

I thought that I had spent enough time with Paul today. I picked up my recorder and put it in my briefcase. Paul said, "Leaving so soon?"

I was ready to go home. If he wanted to talk, why not spend a little more time with him. I lied and said, "No, just tidying up my things. Do you have something on your mind that you would like to talk about?"

Paul said, "No really. I have wondered how you knew so much about the Smith girls and BFS Company."

I sat back down and said, "That no secrete. I worked for BFS Company. I managed one of his Outlets. Over the years, I became a very good friend of Peg Smith, the young lady that turned your life upside down. She invited me to her wedding. I was one of the few guests that she had invited. I had known Ben Smith for a long time. I had worked for his father and I knew that Ben was a philanderer. Everyone knew it. Over the years, Peg and I became very good friends. I managed one of the Malls in Metro. I attended most of the board meeting. When Peg was seven, Ben would let Peg run the board meeting. Ben would sit back and gloat over Peg, his pride and joy. She was a very bright young lady and she still is. For some reason, she picked me out of the crowd. Peg became quite attached to me. She was between seven and eight years old and after one of the meetings, she took me by my hand to one end of the conference room. She was inquiring about my life and wanted to know everything about me. Then she asked me if I would marry her. At that tender age, she was very serious about wanting to marry me. She put me into a very awkward position. I never expected to get a proposal from a seven-year-old or anyone else. I knew she was quite serious and I didnít want to upset her. I picked her up and kissed her on her cheek. I told her that was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me in my life. I told her that if things were different, I would marry her in a second. I sat her on my lap and told her that I was already married to a very wonderful person and I loved my wife as much as I loved her. If I divorced my wife, it would break her heart. Peg wanted me to stay married to my wife and marry her also. I told her that I would love to marry her but; the law does not let anyone get married until they are sixteen and I can only have one wife. She told me that her father had three or four wives. I told her that I could only have one wife at a time. She asked me if I would marry her when she became sixteen. I told her that she might find someone that she loved as much as I love my wife and she would no longer love me. She told me that she would never find anyone that she loved as much as she loved me. I told her that we would have to wait and see how she felt when she became sixteen. Living a few miles from Peg, she would visit us when her father was on the road. She loved my wife as much as she loved me. When she was about twelve, she came to me with a sad look on her face. I didnít know what had happened. She put her hand on my cheeks and kissed me. She said to me, I hope you wonít hate me. I told her that I would never hate her and asked her why she thought I would hate her. She was looking down and she slowly rolled her eyes up and said, "I still love you more than anyone else in the world, but I like a boy at school and he likes me. Are you going to hate me?"

"I told her that I would always love her. That ended the love affair, but it didnít end the friendship. I became her sounding board. She would bare her soul to me. She would ask me for advice. At one of our many quiet meetings, I saw that something was bothering her. I asked Peg what was bothering her. She told me about the affair she had with her father. She was so matter of fact about the affair with her father that I was speechless. She told me that she wanted to break it off, but her father didnít. He had threatened to kick her out and disinherit her. What a bastard. I told her to record the conversation with her father and blackmail him. And, she did. When I talked to her about writing Sally and Peg, she told me that she had told her husband Frank before their marriage. She did not give a damn if everyone knew. As you may know, everyone in the book Sally and Peg, their names have been changed. The cities, counties, businesses and all the other names were changed. She felt if someone figured out that she was Peg in the book, she would threaten to sue the pants off them. She is one little fire ball, as you know."

Paul laughed and said, "How well I know. She turned my life around and everyone elseís is in Duster Ville. What has happened in Duster Ville since we were busted?"

Willy asked, "Where do you want me to start?"

"Start the night they picked me up."

"You read all of Sally and Peg didnít you?"

"Yes, but I would like you to tell me."

Willy asked "You remember the character in my book, Mr. Hacker, donít you?"

"Yes, what about him?"

"He has more power and wealth that anyone in this world. He made a few calls. To whom, I do not know. Pam Smith got everything. The money in the bank, everything that Billy owned, including the mansion, your home, your bank account and God know what else. The feds got everything that Simon and Jasper owned, including the few buck they had in the bank. It looks like the Duster mansion is going to be a historic monument for the blacks that slaved to build and maintained it. The surrounding garden will become a park for the community. Pam will not give it over to any historical society. She wants to make sure that it maintained as a historical place for the blacks, not for anyone else. The blacks have suffered to maintain the property before and after the Civil War and it is their heritage, not anyone elseís."

"Has anyone found the quarter million dollar that Billy hid out there? He never returned it to the bank."

"You told me that Billy hid a hundred thousand out there."

"Thatís right. He took out a hundred thousand. That was quite a long time ago. I wonder if he spent it or itís still out there."

Willy was a little surprised and said, "As far as I know, no one has said a word about it. If itís out there, no one has made an issue about it. I havenít told anyone about the money you said that Billy hid it on the plantation. Do you want me to take it out of our book?"

Paul smiled, looked around the room and said quietly, "No, leave it in the book. Maybe you should tell Pam before you publish the book. Every thief in the nation will be out there ripping the house down to find the money."

Willy eyes lit up and said, "Thatís a good idea Paul. I will tell Pam and maybe she has found it, if not she may find it."

"What else has gone on in Duster Ville?"

At the moment, I could not think of any major event and said. "Nothing more than what you already know. There are three political parties in town. With the money that Pam is pumping into the area, it is the fastest growing little city in the state. The blacks have become the power in the community and the bigots have moved out. They want Pam to run for mayor. She declined and said she can help the community better, by doing what she has been doing for the last three years."


I had been answering Paulís questions for most of the day. I was getting tired, what could you expect from an old fart. I cut the conversation short and I told Paul that I would drop in on him now and then. They have quite a backlog of trials going on in the state; the lawyers are lapping up the states money with delays and motions to dismiss. It looks like the PHG trial has been put on the back burner at the moment. Paulís family is still in hiding.

The fourth year of Paulís incarceration is coming up. Paul has emotional accepted his fate. He is in good health, physically and emotionally. Pepper has worked out a deal with the prosecutor. Paul has agreed that he will admit to involuntary manslaughter and embezzlement. If things go as Pepper wants, Paul could possibly get only 15 to 20 years, not counting the time he has already served. He may get out on parole in 7 or 8 years. Now and then Paul calls me if he thinks of something that he forgot to tell me.

I went down to Duster Ville to see Pam Harrison Smith Henderson. Pam and Tom had gotten married and they had a little one named Ben Henderson. I stopped in at the bank and Pam was not there. They told me that she was out at Duster Plantation. They were having a family reunion. From what I could gathered Mom and Pop and their spouses, both girls with their families and a number of their close friends from Metro and Duster Ville were there. They didnít invite me. I felt a little left out. I always felt that I was part of the family.

As I was walking out of the door, one of the tellers called me. I was wallowing in my self-pity and didnít hear her call. A man going into the bank grabbed my arm and said, "I think you are wanted inside."

I turned around and went back into the bank. A cute blond was smiling at me. It made my day. I forgot about not being a part of the family and hurried over to her. The blond stretched across the counter. Her low cut blouse revealed her beautiful assets. With her pearly white teeth showing she handed me a phone and said, "Someone wants to talk to you."

I found out later that Pam had left instruction to let her know when someone can in the bank looking for her and if she wasnít there for them to call her.

I took the phone and before I had it next to my ear, I heard a voice saying, "Willy, talk to me."

The phone cord didnít quite reach. I stretched across the counter and yelled, "The cord is to short I canít get the phone to my ear."

I heard the voice yell, "Climb up on the counter sweetheart."

When I finally got to the phone, Peg said, "What are you doing in Duster Ville? Did you read my mind? I just wrote you an invitation for our family reunion. We are out at the Duster Plantation. Come on out here. I want to see you. Do you know how to get out here?"

"No, but I am sure I will find someone that will give me the direction."

"What are you doing down here."

"I came to talk to your Mom."

"She is out here with me. We are getting ready for a family reunion. Someone from the bank called her and told her that you were there. She was going to come pick you up. I wanted to talk to you. I took the phone. I want to see you. Do you want Mom to pick you up?"

"No honey, I will find my way. See you soon."

I climbed off the counter, gave the phone to the blonde and I took another peek at her assets and thanked her. Not for the view of her assets, for her calling Pam and telling her that I was in town.

The blonde gave me instruction on how to get to the plantation. I had been out here a few years back. It was nothing but a rutty, dusty road. It was like an obstacle course. Surprisingly they had paved the road all the way to the plantation.

I could see the mansion a couple of miles away. It was a majestic building. The history of the home and the families that lived there flooded my mind. Who build the building? I knew the Duster families were carpetbaggers that took over the home after the Civil War. My thoughts were so intense that I had driven around the circular cobblestone driver and parked the car before I realized where I was.

The huge front door swung open. Peg and Pam popped out. Peg ran down the marble stairs, opened the door took my hand and pulled me out of the car into her arms. She put her arms around me, laid her head across my shoulder and whispered, "I want you to know how much I loved you and how much I still love you. I think of you often. I donít think I would have had the happiness that I have now if it hadnít been for you and our love for each other."

As I held her in my arms and listened to her voice tears trickled down my cheeks. As strong as she was on the outside, I knew that down deep she had been a very troubled young lady when she was growing up. Our mutual love and respect for each other had survived the years. This precious moment was interrupted by Pam calling for us come in.

They want to know what brought me to Duster Ville. As we walked up the steps, I told them that I was getting close to ending "Old Man Thompson" and I came across something that Pam should know about. I could see the curiosity in their faces. Pam asked, "I donít think I can take any more surprises. But, go ahead tell me."

Not knowing what she had heard, I asked, "Have you found a large amount of money in house."

Pam and Peg started to laugh. Pam said, "Thank God, I thought you were going to asked if we had found any more bodies. Yes, we found some money. Who told you about the money?"

"Paul Pierce thanks there is about three hundred and fifty thousand dollars hidden in the house or on the grounds."

Pam looked at Peg, and then said, "We found around a hundred thousand dollars in old bill. They were the large bills that they had before World War II. We didnít find any more."

Peg told me that last year they were playing hide and seek and Sallyís little girl found a place under one of the stairs to hide. She came out with a hand full of larger bills. They had gone through the house and found other hiding places throughout the house. They had found old clothes, shoes, and papers regarding the house.

I asked Pam about the bodies that they had found. She told me that they wanted to open a community vegetable garden for all the workers. When they started to plow the field, they uncovered many remains. They didnít know it they were uncovering a graveyard or bodies that Billy Thompson, Herbert Duster or someone else had buried. They had to find another place to put the vegetable garden. They took all the older remains and set aside land for a new cemetery. The state police took the newer remains. Pam said they found a grave where a man and woman were buried. That perked up my brain. I asked myself, "Were these the bodies of the young hooker and Barry Metcalf?"

I asked Pam were these bodies in the same location where all the other bodies were found. She told me that they were in front of the house. The ones in the back of the house had been in the ground much longer. I told them about Metcalf and the hooker. Paul had thought that Metcalf had run off with a young hooker. Pam asked, "Was the young girl named Liz Conson. Her parents had left her as my parents had left me. I had seen her in the restaurant where I worked. The poor thing thought every John she went out with was going to marry her. For a while she worked as dancer, I heard that she left town with an older man that was married and lived somewhere north of Duster County."

I told Pam that I had a feeling that it must be the same girl. I wrote a note to myself to ask Paul if the young hookers name was Liz Conson.

Pam and Peg gave me a tour of the house. The original owner must have spent a fortune on the house. They must have imported exotic woods and marble from around the world. The artisanship in the woodwork was masterful.

Peg had notified the judge that awarded the estate to Pam and told him about the money that Sallyís daughter had found. He told her that everything that was in the house at the time he made his decision belonged to the bank owners and that the money belonged rightfully to her. Since the money was old and was in excellent condition, Peg had found a collector that bought all the old money. They were paid approximately five times what the face value of the bills. The collector said that it would take some time, but he was sure he would make as much profit as Pam had made. The money that they used to repair the estate was a fraction of what they received. The remaining money was put in a trust fund for the house. They used part of the money to make repairs on the mansion.

I spent a wonderful afternoon at the estate. Peg and I filled Pam in on our friendship. It filled in some of the voids in Pegís life that Pam had never known about her daughter. I agreed that I would not let it be known that there may be a quarter million dollars hidden somewhere on the estate. Since Billy Thompson had hidden the money and Pam was sure that he would do anything to get hold of it. Pam said that she was going to install an alarm system on the property. She didnít want a guard at the house because, if anyone came to steal the money, they would probably kill the guard to get the money. She would rather lose the money than have someone killed for it. We kissed, hugged and cried until our tear ducts were dry. They wanted to make sure that I would show up next week for the family reunion. As I drove through the cotton fields, I stopped and looked back at the mansion. I though it looked out of place. What was a masterpiece of architecture doing out in the middle of a cotton field? The barn was about a hundred yards if not more from the home and it was hidden by a row of large pecan trees. The mansion stood alone; I wondered what memories that old mansion must have. Who built it? How long did it take to build it? How many generations lived in the home? How many children were born in the house? What were their names? It reminded me of the pyramids. The only thing I knew about the history of house was that the Duster Clan had taken over the home during the Civil War. I could not find out anything about the original owners. During the Civil War, all of the town records were destroyed. There was no record of when the mansion was built.

I wondered what went on in Herbert Dusters mind as he walked back to the house the day he expected to catch Mary and Billy rattling the springs. Was there anger, or joy, or both in Herbertís mind?

I wanted to spend the day in the field wondering about the generation that lived in the mansion. It was getting late and I wanted to get home before dark. Reluctantly, I took off for home.

My bride asked me about the trip and was it worth the ride. I told her I wish she had gone along with me. I told her about the reunion and she was tickled pink about going to the reunion. The first thing she said, "I donít have a thing to wear."

She had a house full of clothes. A room on the second floor was filled with clothing. She had so many outfits that she could open a store.

She had read and heard so much about Duster Ville and the estate she could not wait to see the real thing. Most of the details of the estate were edited out so that no one would know where it was located. Anyway, next week she will see it in all of its glory.

The week didnít past fast enough. We didnít want to miss any of the festivities. My bride was up at the crack of dawn. I am glad we had two bathrooms in the house. I would have had to go out back to relieve myself in front of the world.

We finally drove down the tree-lined driveway, and headed south. I love to drive in the early morning when no one else was on the road. I hated having someone riding on my bumper trying to pass me on a winding road. I always felt that if they passed me in a no passing zone and a car was coming around the curve, it would hit me instead of the bastard that was passing me.

We reached Duster Ville early. It was too early to go out to the mansion. I had not visited all the places that I had written about. I had a map that Paul had pointed out the locations of all of the places that were mention in the book. We drove downtown and saw the Dustville Bank, Bennies, Paulís and Simonís homes. We passed Sammyís. I asked my bride if she wanted a cup of coffee. She never turns down an offer for coffee. Sammyís had not changed. It had a new coat of paint and Sammy sons had taken over the business. Of course, Sammy came to the restaurant to supervise or kibitz with his sons. I had been there before and knew where the reserved seats for Billy and the PHG were located. I hadnít looked close enough the first time I was there. In the old wooden tables, the PHG had carved their name at the places that had sat. The waitress came up and saw me looking at the carving in the table. She said, "Only a very few people ever sat at this table. This table was reserved for the Pool Hall Gang. Most of the townsí people think the seats are cursed. No one wants to sit here, even if they have to wait for an empty seat."

I told her that I had been cursed all my life and it could not get any worse. We drank our coffee and continued our sightseeing tour. I did not want to miss seeing Devils Pond. I didnít go to see it the last time I was here. I missed the road that went to the giant oak tree. We pulled into the parking lot of the lake. From what I had remembered from what Paul had said about the lake, someone had spent some money fixing it up. The place was a beautiful recreational area. We found the path that lead from the lake to Devils Pond. Cold chills ran through my body as I neared the pond. The pond was chained off and a marble podium stood in the middle of the path. Engraved in the slab of marble was the Lord Prayer. The pond was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the pond. The Pond was renamed "The Door to Heaven." I could see the far side of the pond it was chained off also. The pond was not crusted over. It was filled with crystal clear water. At the far end of the pond, the water was rippling as if the water was flowing. I recalled that the pond was fed by an underground stream. I took my wife hand and we said a pray for those that had lost their lives in the pond.

We got back into the car and took the next left hoping it led to the other side of the pond. Well it did, I wish I had not gone down the road. I almost got stuck in one of the ruts. The area was just like Paul had described. The giant oak was still there. Many lives have come and gone and the oak tree is still there watching over the pond. The bull briers were quite thick. It looked like no one had cut a path through the briers. Just looking at the briers, I could feel the pain that Chuck Monroe went through. I would love to hear the stories the old oak tree could tell. On the way out of clearing, I missed the ruts in the path and headed back to town. I could feel the pain that Chuck must have felt as he walked along this deserted road to his home.

My next stop was at Pamís home. I knew she wouldnít be there; we just stopped along the road and took a peek. Pam home was a quaint little two-story house that was probably built in the early twenties. It was in excellent condition with a small flower garden in the front. There was a modern studio in the rear with a new detached two-car garage. Above the second floor was an attic room. From all the painting that Tom had painted, he must have spent many hours in the attic. I wanted to see where Ben Hudson, Grandma, and Grandpa Jackson lived. I followed the map for about three or four miles out of town. I saw dozens of flowing sheets in the distance. I thought that it must be the Jackson ís home. The home definitely had had a face-lift from the way I had depicted it in Sally and Peg. I stopped in front of the home. An elderly man was outside feeding the chickens. He looked at us and stopped feeding the chicken. He put the pail down and headed for us. I got out of the car and went to meet him. Before I got close to him, he asked, "Can I help you?"

As usual, for a few moments I was lost for words. I said, "Good morning, I am a friend of Pam Henderson. I have heard so many nice things about you and Grandma Jackson. I had to meet you in person,"

I stuck my hand out to shake his hand. I wished that I hadnít. I thought he was going to crush every bone in my hand. I could not believe that this elderly gentleman could have so much strength in his hands. Not only were the hands powerful, they were deeply callused and felt like rock. He invited me to come in and meet Grandma Jackson. My bride hadnít gotten out of the car. Grandpa went over to the car and said, "Come on in, Grandma loves to have ladies come visit her. Not many people come to visit. They just drop off their laundry."

We followed Grandpa into the house. When we walked into the home, Grandma had her back to us. She was a tiny little lady wearing what I called a flour sack dress. You canít buy flour that is in printed fabric anymore."

She spun around; she was quite brisk for her age. The smile that came across her face made me think she was an angle. She just simply glowed. She walked over and hugged us both and asked us to take a seat. We all sat down at the table. She wanted to know if we had had our breakfast. I told her that we had eaten earlier. Grandma stared at me for a few moments, and then said, "I know you; I met you at the opening of the Country Store. You are a friend of Miss Pegís."

It amazed me. I had only talked to her briefly at the opening. She was quite busy helping the customers. I said, "You are amazing. How in the world did you remember me? There were hundreds of people there."

She smiled and said, "I always remember the nice good-looking men."

We all laughed. My bride gave me a sneer and shook her head in disbelief.

We spent over an hour talking about Pam, Sally and Peg. She thought they all were angles. She could not say enough about them. She showed us all of the additions that Pam had added to their home. She said that Ben Hudson kept the outside of the addition so that it matched the rest of the house. Grandpa thought that the John should be outside and he still used the outhouse. Of course, he likes taking a warm bath inside in the winter. Grandma insisted that we have something to eat before we left. To appease her I asked for one of the biscuits on the back of the stove. Grandma took a couple of biscuits, sliced them down the middle and put them on a saucer. She opened the refrigerator and took out a bowl of butter. She spread a layer of butter on one side and put the other half on top. She sat the biscuits in from of us and asked, "A nice cold glass of buttermilk would be good with those biscuits."

I knew I couldnít argue with her. She poured a couple of glasses of buttermilk for us. I could see that she had made the butter. There were specks of butter still in the buttermilk. I hadnít tasted freshly made buttermilk and butter since I was a kid. It was delightful. It brought back old memories of my own Grandma churning away at the clabbered milk. She got a kick out of watching my uncoordinated hand trying to churn the soured milk.

We thanked the Jackson ís for their hospitality and assure them that we would come back to see them. When I got in the car I asked my bride how old did she think they were. She said, "They look like they are probably in their late eighties or early nineties."

I said, "That what they look like. However, from what I have heard they have looked that old for the last sixty or seventy years. That has been the mystery of Duster Ville. There isnít anyone around that has lived as long as they have and they say they donít know how old they are. Peg asked them the same question. They said that they didnít know and that they havenít kept count."

Before I started driving I called Peg on my cell phone. I asked her if we were too early. She told me no and asked where I was. When she heard that I was outside the Jackson ís she told me to bring them along. I asked her if the party was formal. She said hell no, we let everything hang out. When we get together, we just relax and enjoy ourselves. I looked over at my bride. She was all dolled up. She had on a five hundred dollar dress, three hundred dollar shoes, a hundred and fifty dollar pocket book, and a thousand dollar in jewelry on. I said to my bride, "Honey, you are over dressed. The reunion is very casual, very, very casual."

If looks could kill, I went back to the Jackson house. They saw me coming. They opened the door. Grandpa said, "Having a problem with your car."

"No, someone wants to see both of you. Tell Grandma to take off her apron and take a ride with me over to the Duster Plantation."

Grandma said, "I canít go looking like this."

"Yes you can. I talked to Peg and she said that it was a come as you are party. You both look fine."

Grandpa said, "You have on a suit, white shirt and a tie. You wife is also dressed up."

"I know we are over dressed. I am going to take the jacket and tie off as soon as I get back to the car."

With a little bit more persuasion, we were on our way. As I drove up the road to the mansion, I stopped the car and looked around at Grandma and Grandpa Jackson. I said, "Do you know who the original owners of Duster Plantation were?"

The Jackson looked at each other. They didnít say anything for a few moments. Grandma nudged Grandpa. Grandpa looked at Grandma she nodded her head. Grandpa, said, "Yes we both were born out here. There was a row of houses to the left of the main house. There were three large barns on the right side of the main house. All the slaves lived over there. The animals lived over on the other side of the pecan orchard. Over the years, most of the orchard has been cut down. The orchard produced thousands of barrels of pecan. I donít think you could get over a couple barrels of pecans from the trees that are left. When the Yankee soldier arrived, they burned all of the slaveís homes and two of the barns searching for Rebel troops. If someone hadnít stopped them they would have burn the main house and the other barn."

I asked, "Who was the owner? What was his name?"

Either Grandpa didnít want to tell me or he didnít know. He kept evading the question by telling me about the plantation. He said, "There were thousands of salves. The plantation consisted of all of Duster county and all the land in all the counties that surrounded the Duster County . When the Civil War broke out the owner started giving out parcels of land to the slaves. Most of the slaves kept the land until after the war was over. They could not make a living on the few acres they had. Some of them went to work for the big landowners after the war."

Grandpa said that the Yankee Soldiers killed the owners of the Duster plantation and the Duster clan took over. Our parents were given the land that we live on now.

"Did all the slaves stay around Duster County ?"

Grandpa shook his head slightly and said, "When the war was over, the oneís that hadnít already sold the few acres they had, sold out and then scatter. They went in all directions. Some went north and other headed west."

Grandma said, "My pa was a blacksmith. He saved his money and bought his freedom. He worked for the owners and they let him live on the plantation. They liked him for his independence. Pa saved his money and one by one, he bought all of his familyís their freedom. In those days, there wasnít anyone to marry you. The couple just started living with each other. After our parents passed away Jeb and I moved in with each other."

I asked, "Grandma Jackson, what is your name?"

She said, "I donít know what name to tell you. Jeb has always called me Tish. My brothers and sisters call me Penny because my Pa bought me for a penny. My pa spent all the money he had to buy all of us. Pa was very mad at himself. He had spent all his money on us and then they set us free. Then during the war, everyone was set free. Thatís why Pa only paid a penny for me. He wanted all of us to have papers that showed that no one owned us. He didnít trust anyone. There was talk of the Yankees letting us all go free. Pa didnít believe them."

We were just pulling into the cobble stone drive, I asked, "Was the mansion being built when you lived out here?"

Jeb said, "No, the house was here before my father and mother were born. There is a large basement under the house. It was the nursery. They brought all of the pregnant women down to the main house when they were about seven months pregnant. I went there to see my mother when she was pregnant with my little sister. Pa called it a baby factory. I was still quite young and thought the mothers would go down in the basement and build a baby."

We all started laughing then my bride asked Tish if they had any children. If my bride had read all of Sally and Peg, she would know the answer. Tish said, "No, but we have been trying ever since we started living together."

The car was rocking with laughter. We all were sitting there laughing and did not notice Sally coming up. She said, "I know I look terrible. What do you expect when you are eight months pregnant?"

We all started to laugh again. Poor Sally thought we were laughing at her. My bride got out of the car and told her why we were laughing. Sally wanted to go down in the basement to see what was down there. I told her that they used the basement for a nursery a hundred and fifty years ago. After all, of those years, it was probably quite dusty and dirty. She insisted we take a peek.

As we approached the house, it looked like a fire drill. Everyone was coming out to greet us. They didnít come to see me. They came out to see the Jacksonís and my bride. Pam came over and whispered to my bride, "I think you will be uncomfortable in that outfit. You will ruin those beautiful shoes and dress. I have an outfit you can wear. We will be playing with the kids on the lawn."

They took off together. When they came back, my bride had on a pair of shorts, a fancy blouse and some sneakers. She looked a lot more comfortable in that outfit. We spent the day playing with all the kids, nibbling all type of hors díoeuvres, drinking wine and just enjoying each other, what a feast.

Pam had assigned rooms for everyone. My bride and I were exhausted. We had been up since four thirty this morning. We took a shower together; we hadnít done that in a long time. We were too tired to do anything even thought it was tempting. We both were asleep by the time our heads hit the pillows.

We didnít need an alarm clock. The kids were up at the crack of dawn encouraging everyone to get up and we did. In the large dining room, there was a long tableís setup. Along the walls were tables with every imaginable type of fruit and breakfast dishes you would ever want. Jeb and Tish were already up and about. One of the young ladies that were helping said that Jeb and Tish had been up and had taken a walk around the plantation. Later they told me that the walk had brought back many forgotten memories.

The rest of the family had gathered and everyone was enjoying the reunion. Sally and Peg were up dating each other on the progress of their little ones. Frank, Henry, Sam and Ben were discussing their business problems. Ben had turned over most of the management of BFS to Henry. Henry had closed down most of the businesses that were not making a profit. For personal reasons, there were a few businesses that were in the red; Ben would not let Henry close them down. Ben and Alison had gotten married, but it didnít look like Ben was faithful to Alison. It looked like he still liked to play the field.

Jeb and Tish had to feed the animals. I took them home. Jeb give me a little more history about Duster Ville and the county. Jeb said to me, "When Mr. Billy took over the farm; he hired me to come out here once a week and pickup his garbage. He always paid me extra for coming all the way out here. He would send Tish a gift."

"What type of gifts did he give her?"

"Ah, a big ham, a bucket full of eggs, fifty pound bag of flower, thing like that. He gave Tish a lot of Maryís clothes after she passed away. I never saw the boy cry about anything until Mary passed away. It really upset him. He was a very evil man. He was very hard on the people that worked for him. Knowing the two sides of him kept me guessing. One minute, I hated his gut, and the next, I never knew anyone that could be so generous, especially to Tish and me. At times, he could be the nicest person in the world. Other times, he would kill someone at the drop of a hat. I wished that his pa had died earlier. Tish would have taken him in. Maybe with Tish raising him he would have been a nicer man. Tish loved the bastard. She didnít want to believe the little fellow that she loved so dearly would do anything wrong. She knew it, but she didnít want to believe what everyone was saying about him. She wanted to remember him as the spunky little kid she mothered."

When I put the figures together, Jeb and Tish had to be well over a hundred years old. Possible close to a hundred and fifty, I should live so long, ha. I didnít know if Jeb was telling me about things that happened in his life or experiences that his parents or grandparents had told him. I wasnít going to question him about it. He was giving me more information about Duster Country and it history than I ever expected to get. Jeb and Tish loved to talk about old times and I was a grateful ear.

We arrived back at the plantation just in time for a hunt for the loot. Everyone was assigned a room to search. After all the rooms were searched, we came up empty handed. Sally hadnít had the chance to see the basement. She suggests that we all go down in the basement. No one in the family had ever been in the basement. They did not know of anyone else that had been in the basement for years. We all headed for the basement. The stairs leading to the basement were filled with cobwebs. Pam grabbed a broom and led the way collecting the cobwebs. The lights in the basement didnít work. Peg went upstairs and got a flash light and a couple of light bulbs. It was almost useless. Some of the bulbs had corroded in the socket and they broke off when we tried to replace them. Henry found a side door that led to the outside. He unlatched the door and opened it. It gave the basement a little more light. Everyone fumbled around in the basement for about an hour with no luck of finding anything of any value. There was a lot of old furniture scattered around the basement. If they had not started to rot, they could be refinished. They would be beautiful antiques.

Everyone gave up searching the basement. Maybe they would come back at a later date. Sam suggested that Pam have an electrician come in and check the electrical system. The dampness may create a fire hazard.

I remembered the story that Paul had told me about Herbert raping Rosie. His mother had taken him into the attic to whip him. I ask Pam, "Have you searched the attic?"

She said, "No, not really, the attic is almost empty. I have been up there, but I donít think there is any place where you could hide something."

Sally said, "Mom, that just the place you would hide something. It looks empty and you would think there was nothing up there. Letís take a look."

Everyone went except Ben. He didnít feel like climbing all the stairs. As Pam had said, the place was empty except a few boxes of old clothing and a few pieces of furniture. The attic was finished with a dropped ceiling; it did not extend to the rafters. Walls were built out about 8 feet from the eve of the roof. The walls were made of planks butted together. Tom said, I wonder what is behind these walls. There were cracks between some of the planks. They all walked around the attic looking for anything that was unusual. They all tried to peek through the cracks. Peg went to get a couple of flashlights. Without a light to shine through the cracks, they could not see anything. Tom had left the crowd and walked to the far end of the building. The walls did not extend to the window. They stopped about six feet from the outside wall. On each side of the window was a door. Tom opened one of the doors. There was a narrow stair that led to the ceiling of the attic room. There was a vent at the peak of the roof. The outside light lit up the area above the ceiling. There was insulation lying between the cross members. Tom went down the stairs and walked behind the stairs. Between the attic room wall and roof was wiring and piping. There were hanging lights along the way. He saw the flashlights shine through the cracks. He walked along the wall until he came to where the flashlights were shining through. He looks through the crack and was eye to eye with Peg. Peg jumped back. It scared the hell out of her and the rest of us. Tom yelled, "Iím sorry, itís only me."

Pam yelled, "I am going to kill you. We all almost had a heart attack. How did you get back there?"

Everyone was laughing. Again, Tom apologized then said, "Go to the far end of the room and there are doors each side of the window."

As Tom walked back to the door, he turned off the lights. Everyone was waiting for him to come out. Sam asked, "Whatís back there?"

"Mostly pipes and wiring, there are a few pieces of furniture, old high button shoes, and plenty of cobweb and dust. There is insulation above the ceiling. I did not go down the other side. I tried it and it was locked."

  Pam looked at the key hole and said, "There are a dozen or more keys downstairs in the kitchen, maybe one of them will work."

Peg said, "I know where they are. I saw them on a hook in one of the cabinets."

While we waited for Peg, we all peeked at the area where Tom had gone. There wasnít any money hidden behind the wall.

Peg came back with a ring of keys. Frank took them and tried them. He had gone through three or four and Sam said, "Try the silver one. I had one of those and it opened most of the doors like this one. I think itís a master key for this type of lock."

Frank tried the silver key. Bingo, it worked. He opened the door. There was a fairly new light switch on the inside wall. Frank flipped it. A string of fluorescent lights turned on. We all followed Frank down the corridor. As we turned the corner to go down the side of the building, we saw another door. It had a padlock on it. Frank looked at the lock, tried all the keys and then turns to Sam. He asked, "None of them worked, now what are we going to do buddy?"

Everyone chuckled. He turned and looked at everyone that was following him. Sam said, "Do any of you ladies have one of those long bobby pins?"

My bride always has a head full of them to hold her hair in place. She fiddles around for a few moments, pulls out one, and said, "Will this one do?"

Sam nodded and said, "Thatís perfect."

She passed it through the crowd; Sam jiggled it back and forth in the lock. After a few minutes, it popped open. Frank said, "Sam, you always amaze me. This wise guy knows everything."

Sam held his chin up with a smirk on his face and patted himself on the back. He opened the door, steps aside, bows, puts his hand out and said, "Pam."

Everyone stepped aside and let Pam enter the room. Pam flips the light switch. There was a desk, a couple of chairs, file cabinets, shelves full of ledger and books. In one corner was a barrel full of maps, blue prints and plot plans. The far end of the room extended for another 20 or so feet. That area wasnít lighted. Pam looked around and shrugged her shoulder. She opened the desk and file cabinet drawer, no money. Again she shrugged her shoulder and looked around for help and said, "Where now?"

The crowd was as confused as Pam and so was I. I thought that I had sent everyone on a witch-hunt. Pam looked at me with a confused look on her face. I wanted to crawl into the nearest crack. I craned my neck and looked around the room. All of a sudden, a light bulb came on in my head. I shined a flashlight into the darken area. I said to Frank, "That looks like a trunk under that canvas at the other end of the room. Pull back the canvas and lift the trunk."

Frank cleared the cobwebs as he went to the other end of the room. He picked up the canvas. A cloud of dust came off the canvas. He fanned the dust out of his face, and lifted one end of the trunk. He said, "Itís full of something and it has a lock on it. Sam, come over here. Donít let us down this time buddy."

With an air of arrogance, Sam rolls up his sleeves, polished his fingernails on his chest and pushes through the crowd. He squats down, pushes the bobby pin into the lock. This lock was a lot more stubborn. We all were getting a little impatient. Perspiration was starting to trickle down Samís face. His legs were getting cramped from squatting. He stands up, pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket and wipes his brow. He sits down on the trunk with the lock between his legs and put the bobby pin into the lock. Again, he tries to open the lock. The crowd had their finger crossed. They were holding their breath. We could see Samís finger were hurting. He kept changing hands. He stops, stands up and reaches inside his pants pocket to get his car keys. He sits back down and removes one of the keys from the ring. He threads the keys into the closed end of the bobby pin, and inserts the bobby pin into the lock. He tries again. The lock popped open. Everyone applauds and shouts. With that smug look on Samís face, he looks at the crowd. He slowly removed the lock, lifts the latch and started to open the trunk; he dropped the trunk lid and invited Pam to have the honors. She told Sam to go ahead. Sam refused. She turns around, pointed her finger at me, and then she curls her finger for me to come to her. I said, "No honey, you open it."

She said, "I want you to help me."

The crowd was impatient; they pushed me into the room. I squatted down next to Pam. I took one end of the trunk lid and she took the other. Together we very slowly raise the lid. The crowd started to applaud. From the side view of the trunk, they could see the money before we could. We flipped the lid and before our eyes was a trunk stuffed with money. Pam said, "How did you know the money was in the trunk?"

Everyone thought I was a genius. My baldhead was swelling with pride. My bride burst my bubble and said, "Tell them honey."

Reluctantly, I told them that Paul Pierce had bought a trunk to store the money. There wasnít enough room in the old vault for that much money. After everyone finger through the bills, Henry and Frank carried the trunk down stairs. They spread the money out on a table in an upstairs parlor. They separated the different denominations and started counting the stacks. Sally said, "Peg do you know what this reminds me of?"

Peg looked confused and said, "No honey, what?"

"The box of money they gave me when I started working for Hacker. There were so many small bills that it took me all night to count the money."

Peg nudged Frank and said, "Ask her how she laundries money."

Frank shook his head and said, "Donít get me mixed up in this conversation. I can see itís headed for trouble."

This made everyone curious; they all wanted to know what had happen. Peg said, "Sally, tell them what happened."

Sally giggled and said, "Pete had given me a box of money. It smelled like it had been soaked in cocaine. I spent the whole night washing and ironing the money to get the smell out of it. I strung up strings across the room and hung the wet money to dry. I burnt my finger a hundred times pressing out the wrinkled money. I hadnít finished a quarter of the bills before the sun started to peek into the room. I took the rest of the money and put it in the washing machine. I think it took me over a week to wash, dry and press the money."

The money in the trunk was mostly new bills, but they were in all different denominations. The money was in dozens of neat small packets. The top bill of each packet had a date and PK marked along the border of the bill. It was no question; the money in the trunk was the money they had embezzled from PK Parts.

When they finished counting the money, it was a little over a quarter of a million. Pam did not want the money it the house. She wanted the money put in the vault. She could override the time lock on the vault and put the money in the vault when no one else was in the bank. They put the money in a couple of suits cases with wheels. They loaded the money in the back of Henryís car.

Sam told Pam to put a note in the trunk and say that they were too late. He would put the trunk back in the attic where they had found it. I wondered what would happen if someone came to get the money, and what they would do if they found the empty trunk.

I told Sam, I donít think that would be a good idea. It may infuriate the person and they would go looking for Pam and wanting to know what happened with the money. Whether the money is in the house or not, Billy Thompson knew, the money was hidden in the house. Who ever came to get the money would probably go looking for Pam when he could not find the money. We all agreed that something had to be done to prevent anyone from coming to the house looking for the money and harming Pam.

After a long discussion, we all agree that the best way was to clip the problem in the bud and let Billy Thompson know the money was found and it had been turned over to the authorities. Frank said that he would make sure that Billy Thompson found out the money was no longer in the house. If the courts didnít kill him and if he tried to harm anyone in the family, he would make sure he regretted the day he even thought about it.

With a clear conscience that I had done everything I could to prevent anything from happening to any of my dearest friends, I motioned to by bride that it was time for us to leave. With all the emotions of leaving some of the nicest friends that I have know we departed into our own little world.

I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my friends. I wonder what they are doing without me nosing into their lives. I havenít been back to see Paul in six months. The attorneys are still trying to unravel all of the lies from the facts. I have been trying to filter through all of the tapes and Paulís hen scratches. Paul was so tedious about his books, why wasnít he neat with his notes. Oh well, you canít have everything in life. Good-bye and God bless you.

Table of Contents

Willy meets Paul Pierce: *

Old Man Thompson: *

Herbertís Follies: *

The Pool Hall Gang: *

Two birds with one stone: *

Billy took over Duster County : *

Willy: *

Billy hooks the Banker: *

Industry takes over Duster Ville: *

Willy: *

The emotional hangover: *

Post Bill Hardin: *

Willy: *

The Pool Hall Gang Empire collapses: *

Duster Ville becomes a ghost town: *

Dustville Bank is sold: *

Registering Voters: *

Billy meets his match: *

Dustville Mall: *

Willy: *

The midnight ride to Devils Pond: *

The Pool Hall Gang world is turned upside down: *

The collapse of the PHG: *

Willy: *

The lineup: *

Willy: *

Willy: *

Table of Contents *


Written and Published


William W. Wynne

Copyright © 2002

Edited and Rewritten in 2005 and 2006







Written and Published


William W. Wynne

Copyright © 2002

Edited and Rewritten in 2005 and 2006