THE CRY OF THE CUCKOOS

A Novel

John Wayne Cargile

E
Eloquent Books
New York, New York

Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved – John Wayne Cargile No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system, without the permission, in writing, from the publisher. Eloquent Books An imprint of AEG Publishing Group 845 Third Avenue, 6th Floor - 6016 New York, NY 10022 www.eloquentbooks.com ISBN: 978-1-60693-526-2, 1-60693-526-7 Printed in the United States of America Book Design: Stacie Tingen

THE CRY OF THE CUCKOOS Synopsis
The cuckoo bird is a master of deception, fooling other species in their race to copy their chirping begging call. Donald Drummond and his wife, Anne, chase after the killer of his father, Henry Drummond, but find themselves up against a radical right wing supremacist organization called the Society of Southron Patriots and, like the cuckoo bird, deception is the Society’s mission. The couple unravels a terrorist plot aimed to kill Washington dignitaries at the Super Bowl and delegates at the United Nations. Donald, a retired news reporter, and Anne, a retired school teacher, unfold the mystery leading them on a wild chase from Alabama to Texas. And one of the many murder suspects is Donald’s biological mother, Betty Jo Duke, who he only just met after his father’s death. Donald and Anne are hired as informants by the FBI to unravel the mysterious case and they get a lot more than they bargained for.

Dedication
In loving memory of my late mother, Billie Joyce Duke Hollers, and my step-mother, Annie Abercrombie Cargile, who raised me as her own.

Book Review
“The Cry of the Cuckoos” is the story of a son separated from his biological mother for over sixty years. They were reunited for the first time after she becomes a suspect in the murder of his father. Donald Drummond, the main character, is a retired news reporter. Award-winning writer John Wayne Cargile incorporates similarities from his own life in this novel of romance, murder, and intrigue. Cargile’s character development reflects his understanding of flawed personalities. His narrative provides a related analysis of their symptoms, motivations, and resulting actions. The strength of character of the genuine religious or spiritual person is contrasted with the lip service and lifestyle of deception in those motivated by selfishness and greed. These characters become colorful composites, expressions of idealism, reality, and deception. I was quickly drawn into the story of “The Cry of the Cuckoos” and the theme of deceit and forgiveness. Cargile’s writing style is crisp, direct, and engaging. While I found this directness appealing, it may be seen as too simplistic for others. Transitions of locale or time-frame and the pacing of conflict and resolution confronted by the protagonists were well-paced, maintaining the suspense element of the story. I felt the story ended quite quickly, somewhat abruptly; however, an “afterward” wrapped up all the loose ends and gave closure to unanswered questions. The final chapters create the possibility of a sequel. “The Cry of the Cuckoos” by John Wayne Cargile will appeal to readers who enjoy mystery, intrigue, and romance. Cargile’s writing is thoroughly entertaining and highly informative. Reviewed by Richard Blake for Reader Views (11/08)

John Wayne Cargile

Chapter One Midfield, Alabama
He was in thick woods with grass taller than his four-foot-two body. He wanted to race away as fast as his legs could carry him. The burning wood crackled and lit up the cloudy night sky, illuminating the white-sheeted figures that circled a cross and chanted. A plea for help from a black man sliced through the ritual of the robed men. A long rope hung over a tall tree limb. The noose meant death to the nigger. “Noooo...Dad!” He awakened from the dream in a cold sweat from the shrill ringing of the telephone next to his bed. “Donald, come quick,” his mother’s voice exploded through the telephone line. “I think your father is dead.” He rolled over on his pillow and glanced at the clock radio. It was 5:32 in the morning. He shook his head trying to clear the cobwebs from his brain still somewhere in dreamland. “Stay calm. I’ll be there in a few minutes,” he told her. The old son-ofa-bitch has finally croaked. “What’s the matter?” his wife, Anne, asked as he threw back the bed covers and hung up the telephone receiver. “It’s Dad,” he said, nearly falling onto the floor when his right foot tangled up with the bed sheet. He unsnapped his pajamas and grabbed his blue jeans. “Mother thinks he is dead.” “Really,” Anne said, sitting up in bed. “Do you want me to go with you? “No, honey,” he told her. “I’ll call if I need you.” Donald reached into the closet, grabbed an old XX-large green plaid shirt with button-down collar and his sports jacket. His keys and wallet were in his jeans. He pulled on ankle top boots and raced out of breath into the garage and climbed into the Jeep. He opened the garage door with the
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remote device clipped to the sun visor. As soon as the engine kicked in, he reversed out of the driveway. He was normally a safe driver, but today he was not in the mood to obey stop signs or red lights. He turned on his emergency flashers just in case he ran into a cop in the five blocks to his parent’s home. It was six days before Christmas and the houses in the small city he raced past were decorated with colorful lights. The lawns lit up the dark morning with sparkling scenes of the manger, plastic reindeer, Santa Clauses and snowmen. White bulbs glowing, outlining Christian crosses. Peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Goodwill toward men was not his father’s best characteristic. He gunned the accelerator to the floor as the Jeep climbed the long, steep driveway. The black wrought iron gate was already open. No need to stop and punch in the security password. He parked at the front entrance of the mansion sitting atop the hill overlooking the city. Rose Marie Drummond stood on the porch with the door half-open. Still in her pajamas she waved him in. Donald turned the ignition and red emergency flashers off, got out and raced to her. “He’s gone, son,” she said. Her eyes were pink and heavy, her face buried in her wrinkled cupped hands. Donald gave her a quick hug and walked into the den where his father usually stayed most of the day. He found his father lying on the couch, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and a black tie. His black laced shoes polished to a spit shine. Donald cast his eyes toward his father’s face. It was drawn and haggard. His head, bald from radiation and chemotherapy. His body, gaunt and frail. The thin arms were folded across his chest. He knew before he took a pulse his father was dead; dead at eighty-two years of age. Donald sensed his mother standing behind him waiting for a verdict. He turned to face his mother and took her in his arms without saying a word. He nodded his head. Rose began to whimper softly, and Donald hugged her tightly.
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“I know, I know,” he said, trying to console her. He stroked her solid gray hair as she laid her head on his chest. He was unable to cry. His mind numbed, unattached to the body lying on the couch. With a strange dispassionate calm, as though he were his own guru, he tried to examine his final thoughts. He felt like he had been swallowed inside a giant vacuum and sucked into a higher state of mind. It was an emotion he never had experienced. Had the dream earlier that morning meant anything? He barely remembered it. It was more nightmare than dream. He wondered why death was in his dream and suddenly he awoke to the reality of his father’s death. Prophetic? Coincidence? Finally, Donald asked her: “Have you called 9-1-1?” She shook her head, “no.” He walked into the silence of the dining room, switched on the light and found the telephone attached to the wall. His heart-beat raced. He dialed the emergency number. He gave his name and address to the house then dialed his home. “Honey, it’s Dad,” he said softly, trying to stay calm. He was the oldest of the three sons and felt it his duty to be strong for his mother’s sake. His mother was the glue that kept the family together. Not this monster of a man lying prone on the sofa with a stiff face. “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” Anne said. “How’s Rose holding up?” “She’ll be fine.” “I’ll call David and Daniel and tell them to come to the house.” “He was lying like this when I woke up and came into the den,” his mother said. “I guess it was just before 5:30. The television was on. His eyes were closed and he was just like he is right now. I called his name, but he didn’t respond.” Sirens from first responder vehicles screamed into the early December morning. The red and blue emergency flashers lit up the neighborhood. A police car was the first on the scene, then paramedics. The yard swarmed with activity. Neighbors stirred outside their homes.

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Donald watched as the responders hurried into the house to examine the body. Thirty minutes later a coroner arrived and behind him a government agent he recognized from the FBI. The den was covered with a stack of magazines spilled across the floor. The drawers of a desk had been emptied, and a closet looked as if it had been imploded, most of the hangars and clothing on the floor. He watched as the medical examiner uncovered a sheet Donald placed over the body. “He’s been dead for several hours,” the examiner said. Donald turned to look at Rose, whose eyes were now alert. The tears were gone. She walked around the room, looking at the family pictures she personally placed in the room to help remind her husband of his offspring. Donald knew his mother was reminiscing. He had seen her like this before. His father hadn’t placed a lot of value on his children. Not what was expected from an old man near death. He hadn’t been the model father or grandfather. He placed more value on friends... and enemies. Donald remembered his father’s words, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer.” “Mrs. Drummond, I am the county coroner. Do you want an autopsy of your husband?” “Why would we need an autopsy?” Donald blurted out before giving second thought to the question. “He might have died of natural causes but sometimes there are extenuating circumstances,” the coroner responded. Henry Drummond was a familiar figure in Birmingham, Alabama and across the country for that fact. Even the coroner knew his name. His name appeared in newspaper articles and in court records, something Donald knew all too well. The Federal Bureau of Investigation listed Drummond as a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. He controlled the underground Southern mafia though the agency could never prove it. The Civil Rights Legal Center in Montgomery, Alabama listed his organization, The Society of Southron Patriots, a right wing supremacist hate group and a terrorist’s threat due to its philosophy as a Southern Nationalist organization whose
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ultimate goal was a free and independent Southern republic. He had been accused and acquitted of all charges in court of being an accessory to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombings which took the lives of four young, innocent black girls in 1963. Donald spotted his friend and high school classmate. Midfield Police Chief, Jay Norris, was the first cop on the scene that morning. “I’m so sorry, Donald,” Norris said, putting his arm around Donald’s broad shoulders. “Thanks Jay.” Donald’s name was familiar in Birmingham for a different reason than his father. His bylines often made the featured headline story for the newspaper. Radio and television reporters often relied on him in order to get their leads for stories breaking in the court systems. He was the city’s expert on court news. Drummond’s death meant the media would be at the house in a matter of minutes. “I don’t need this right now. It’s Christmas, and I am retiring on the 31st.” Local television reporters appeared out of nowhere, setting up cameras in his parent’s front yard. Donald hesitated but walked out to greet them. “Mr. Drummond, can I get an interview with you?” a TV reporter asked, sticking a microphone in Donald’s face. Other TV crews were on the scene, and a reporter from his newspaper was there with pad, pen and a tape recorder. “My father is dead, that’s about all I’ve got to say,” Donald said. “Was it a natural death, Mr. Drummond?” “I suspect so, but I don’t know anything at this point. My Dad suffered from prostate cancer, so I assume it was cancer which caused his death.” “He’s been linked to the mafia, and the Society of Southron Patriots is under attack by the Civil Rights Legal Center. Do you think it was a hit job?” Despite the sobering death experience of his father Donald couldn’t help but see irony in the question and had to keep from laughing.
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“Well, I didn’t see any signs of struggle. I don’t think we have a story here about the mafia going to the mattresses.” Donald said, alluding to a scene in “The Godfather,” movie. “That’s all I can say right now. You’ll have to interview the coroner and Chief Norris to get the information you need.” He knew every one of the reporters and liked all of them. But this wasn’t the Birmingham Media Club. He didn’t feel like being sociable. Maybe another time and another place, he told them. “This embarrasses me every time something happens with my father involved,” he thought as he dialed his editor’s cell phone to let him know the situation. He wouldn’t be in the office today. “Don’t worry about it,” his editor told him. “Everyone knows the type man you are, and you are not your father.” Donald went back into the den. He eyed the coroner who was finishing up his work. He noticed the coroner holding a pill bottle in a handkerchief. “I found this,” the coroner said, holding out the bottle to let Donald read the label. “I found it lying under the couch.” Norris overheard the conversation and looked at the bottle the coroner had in his hand. “It’s empty,” he said. “I suspect these are sleeping pills, Norris,” the coroner said. “You might want to question Mrs. Drummond about them at the appropriate time.” “It’s his sleeping pills,” Donald said, not surprised at the finding. “Mr. Drummond, I also smelled alcohol on your father. Due to the findings we must automatically perform an autopsy.” “We don’t have a choice. Is that what you mean?” Donald asked, knowing how the procedure worked. Donald went into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. Norris followed behind. “Donald,” Norris said. “Your father might have taken an overdose of sleeping pills mixed with alcohol. You know what that means?” Donald stared blankly into Norris’ eyes.
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“You think his death is more than a natural one?” Donald asked. “He had health issues. It could have been a heart attack.” “Alcohol and sleeping pills, Donald! Are you listening to me?” Norris said again, making sure his friend understood what was going on around him. “That’s possible,” Donald said, managing to regain his senses. “He liked to drink vodka, that’s for sure. Wait a minute. You think he took his own life? He committed suicide?” “It’s certainly possible, Donald,” the chief said. Donald circled the kitchen looking for nothing in particular. He opened the refrigerator door, closed it, then checked on the brewing coffee. He went to the sink and stared absently out the window into the backyard where he had grown up with his two younger brothers throwing baseballs and footballs. His mind raced forward and backward with a hundred questions seemingly crashing down all at once. He was dressed like he was going somewhere. “Suicide?” he asked out loud. Chief Norris did not respond. “You know what will happen if the lab finds the pills and alcohol as contributing factors to his death, don’t you?” Donald stated alarmingly. “Yes, Donald, I do. Most insurance companies do not pay off on premiums involving suicide.” “Exactly!” “Donald, another question,” Norris asked. “Yes.” “Why was your father already dressed in a suit and tie? Was he going some place in particular today?” “I wouldn’t know,” Donald said tersely. “I guess he figured he was going to hell!” Donald watched as his mother returned to the den. He followed behind. She got down on her knees. Donald thought she was about to pray over her husband. Instead she was on all four’s, stretching one arm behind
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the corner of the couch as if she had been through this process more than once. She found what the coroner missed. She pulled out an empty vodka bottle and a piece of paper. She held the bottle in one hand and the piece of paper behind her back in the other. “What’s behind your back?” Donald asked. “Nothing. Just nothing,” she said. Donald saw the coroner return to the den. He looked to be hurried. “Mrs. Drummond, under law we must perform an autopsy and have our forensic science lab examine his body for foreign substances.” Rose bowed her head in silence and closed her eyes for a moment. She nodded to the coroner she understood.

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Chapter Two Kilgore, Texas
The phone rang six times before the maid answered. Al Falvey was impatient. “Mattie, let me talk to Betty Jo,” the voice on the other end spoke. “Jist a minit, sir, yes sir.” “Ms. Duke, it’s your mister on the phone,” Mattie shouted over the intercom system. Betty Jo was sipping on a glass of orange juice and eating bacon, eggs and grits still steaming hot on the tray in her lap when she heard Mattie’s voice. She placed the food tray on an ornate end table and leaned over to pick up the telephone by her bed. “Betty Jo, I have some wonderful news for you this morning,” Falvey’s voice cracked with excitement. He was a life-long friend to east Texas’s richest heroine. “What?” “Henry Drummond is dead!” “He’s dead?” “How did you find out?” she asked, knowing Al’s fastidiousness about the news of the day and an eye like a hawk for details. She felt blessed to have him as her friend the last forty-four years, through thick and thin, as they liked to intimately tell one another. “I found out on the Internet,” Al said. Henry Drummond was Betty Jo’s first husband all of six months during World War Two. She kept abreast of Henry’s shenanigans because she still had a stake in him. “It’s high-time to make your presence known in Alabama, Ms. Duke. “The hay is in the barn!”

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“You’re right, you gorgeous man,” she said. “The hay is finally in the barn. You have been my friend through all of this and I want you to share these blessings with me. I want you to go with me to his funeral.” “Well, this just happened today,” Falvey said. “They’ll bury him before Christmas.” “Call and find out when the arrangements are made. Get back to me quickly. I’ll start packing as soon as I hang up.” “You want to fly or drive?” Falvey asked, knowing Betty Jo’s twin propeller Cessna at the ranch was the most comfortable. “I’d rather Amos drive us,” she replied. “Let’s leave early tomorrow morning. It’s been a long time since I was in Birmingham, Alabama, and I have a lot to think about. It’ll give me time to sort out the mess that happened sixty-one years ago.” She tried to fight off thinking about the past, but she knew this day would come. She pushed back the quilted bed cover and eased out of bed. Her breakfast was in her throat and her stomach felt queasy. The idea that Henry was dead didn’t bother her as much as the sobering fact she had to retrace her life as a teenager again, look back in the mirror and do a lot of explaining. She couldn’t simply say she had learned her lessons for the millionth time. The haunting words she lived since 1946 surfaced again. “You have no other choice, Ms. Duke. You have no other choice, trust me.” She had to face it all again. It was time to reclaim that which was hers.

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Chapter Three
In a certain lonely stretch on Interstate 20 somewhere between Monroe, Louisiana and the old Mississippi River, Betty Jo’s eyes misted up for the first time since learning of Drummond’s demise. She and Al sat in the backseat of the white Cadillac as the chauffeur drove them east toward Alabama. “You are quiet,” Alfred said, breaking a silence between them for the last twenty-five miles. “Oh, I am just reminiscing.” Al and Betty Jo immersed themselves in each other’s lives many times. She enjoyed Alfred’s company. She worked for him, and he worked for her. Together they amassed a fortune from oil and ranching. The attorney had only one client – Betty Jo Duke. “You never told me about the time you went to Alabama. About the divorce.” Falvey was curious. She stared out the window at nothing in particular. The interstate was boring. She recalled the last train trip through the Heart of Dixie; through heavy kudzu vines avalanching down hillsides, past rundown Negro shacks alongside the tracks, and rich, green grazing cow pastures. “Well, it was the worst day of my life.” She tried to sort through the images coming to mind. “Do you want to talk about it?” “I remember his blond strands of hair sprouting over his little head and how hard it was to change his diapers and breast feed him on the train. “It was a gloomy July morning with rain pelting down outside the train station. Puddles of water stood in little sink holes. It was the day before July 4th, and the city of Birmingham was decorated with American flags. The war was over. A young boy toddled beside his mother, carrying an American flag in one hand and a Rebel flag in the other. “I had no way of knowing what to expect when Henry and his uncle, Mack Tucker, picked Donald and I up at the train station. Little did I
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know what I was walking into. I was a young naive eighteen-year-old suddenly grown up as a new mother with a new husband. “Mother was against me going to Alabama with Donald. I hoped it would save our marriage. Little did I know. My father was in the Navy somewhere in the South Pacific on a ship. I know mother must have written him about me, but she never let on as if she had. We were very poor. “I looked for Henry at the train station and saw him and his uncle coming toward me. I was in love with Henry. I thought he would grab me, swing me around; kiss and hug me. It didn’t happen. “I was more confused than ever before. Henry told me we were dropping off the baby at his mother’s house, then we had to take care of some business. “On the way to wherever we were going, Henry wanted to have sex with me in the backseat of his uncle’s black Cadillac. I tried to fight him off, but it ended up he had his way. I worried about the wrinkles in my dress, and if the lipstick was smeared. My body was violated, if you know what I mean. “We stopped at a lawyer’s office and got out. The lawyer was waiting on us, and I sat down between Henry and Mack. “The lawyer didn’t waste any time getting right to the point. He told me Henry was filing for a divorce, and I didn’t have any choice in the matter. “He said a judge had already given him the power of attorney to sign the divorce papers if I refused. Then he motioned to a black suitcase in Mack’s lap. “He told Mack to open the suitcase. Inside was $200,000 in cash. The lawyer told me I would be rich. He also told me Mack had two oil wells on his property in Kilgore, Texas that were mine. The royalties from the oil would amount to thousands of dollars a month. “I was dumbfounded, numb. “I remember the lawyer’s crooked smile and the smirk on his face. He looked like he might have been fresh out of a flaky law school. One part of
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his shirt hung out over his trousers. He held a cheap cigar in his left hand, and blew curly rings of smoke into the air. “I told them I would not be part of any such thing. I had a right to an attorney. Well, nothing I said mattered. “‘You have no other choice, Ms. Duke. You have no other choice, trust me. “Henry grabbed my right arm; squeezed until I hurt. He pushed a pen into my fingers, and told me I was going to sign it or else. I knew he was capable of killing another person. He seemed to enjoy the stories about the war, killing six Germans in a matter of seconds. He boasted about killing more men than General Robert E. Lee. “Henry had powerful arms. I could not wrestle free of him. I sold myself to the devil that day. “Mack flew me to Sweden, to Stockholm, when I was five months pregnant with our second child. It was months following the divorce. He paid for the trip and escorted me there. He threatened to kill me. I had an abortion. I conceived two children by Henry – two boys.” “Jesus, Betty Jo,” Al said. “You never told me.” “I guess some things are best left unsaid.”

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Chapter Four Midfield, Alabama
Donald hated funerals even if it was his father they were burying today. Maybe it was because things became so final. Closure. Open wounds. It made the mind wonder about eternity, heaven and hell. His mind wasn’t built for deep spiritual concepts. He was a realist, a journalist. Facts. He dealt with facts and findings. Newspaper reporting hardened his outlook on life, but he was already a hardened soul because of his father. His father was a ruthless, self-imposing and a conniving man. Donald was the exact opposite, but he had not come close to reaching his potential as a human being. The Browns Funeral Home was at capacity as Henry’s family sat left of the preacher behind closed curtains. Donald squeezed his large frame body between Rose and Anne. His son, Joseph, sat next to his mother. His brothers, David and Daniel, sat with their wives on the first pew with their children beside them. Several other family members sat behind them, including 85-year-old Uncle Mack. A contingent of Henry’s “Society of Southron Patriots” brothers came, filling up half the chapel. “Henry Drummond told me before he passed over to the other side that he was a born again Christian,” the preacher said. Donald nearly vomited right then and there. His stomach was tied in knots. “Henry was a family man,” the preacher continued in the funeral home chapel. “He did not always attend church until he found that he had prostate cancer. Friends and family can rest assured that Henry’s spirit is now with God. You can take peace in knowing that. Henry leaves behind his wife, three sons, four grandchildren and many other family members. Let us pray.” Donald’s mind raced with thoughts. He was oblivious to the preacher’s sermon.
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Maybe this is what yin and yang is all about? While we are humans in flesh, our spirit is eternal. My father’s spirit? Where did it go? He grew up a Christian but was always uncertain about heaven and hell. His father had not been in a church door as far back as he could remember, yet his father told everyone who visited from the church he was a born again Christian. Were heaven and hell actual places above and below us? Or were heaven and hell states of mind, conjured up by humans to explain the unexplainable? He wrestled with those thoughts for years. He bowed to philosophers, theologians and scientists to debate it until the end of time. Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” and “Inferno,” had done more to proselytize a picturesque hell than any other western writer. If hell was an actual place, he knew without a doubt his father would be there right now, soaking in sweat; his soul burning. The family went to their parked cars outside the funeral home for the three-mile ride to the Valhalla cemetery. The military marker at the grave site read that he served his country during World War Two. Rose read to the boys when they were young all the papers she saved from his military days, where he went and what he specialized in. The scene at the graveside was busy. Many of Henry’s Southron brothers came to pay their last respects. Donald watched them closely. He could see them whispering to one another. He wondered what they were saying. Donald sat beside his mother as the pastor continued the final rites. He also recognized the face of a news reporter in the gathering. He was a young, aspiring writer whom Donald thought showed promise. The winter December winds cut through the heavy clad coat Donald wore. He was freezing, and he saw his mother tremble. Rose was a petite woman, classy. Her Italian accent still accentuated her words. Her olive skin had wrinkled over the years, but she aged healthy. She wore a black mink coat, black dress and black heels. A black veil covered her face. The large Carnaggio family; aunts, uncles, cousins, even her own five brothers, except her youngest brother, Alonzo, refused to attend the funeral. They were Italian Catholics, and Rose’s family disliked Henry more than
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any other person. Alonzo came out of respect for his sister, and Rose cried when she hugged him after the funeral. The grass was winter brown and the grave site was one of hundreds in Valhalla. The plot had another grave marker beside Henry Drummond’s. The marker already was engraved Rose Marie Drummond, Born July 5, 1924. As the crowd of well-wishers returned to their vehicles, Rose gathered her sons and grandchildren together in a circle. “We must let him go,” Rose whispered softly. In the distance a white Cadillac parked at the end of the long-line of cars. A woman and man stood in front of the vehicle, huddled up to one another as the wind blew a nasty cutting breeze on a balmy afternoon. The elderly man had his arm around the woman. “Who are they?” Donald’s son, Joseph, asked as the family turned to look. He pointed toward the Cadillac and the couple standing in front of it. Donald felt his mother push forward out of the family’s circle. He saw her look intently toward the couple and put her right gloved hand to her mouth. He watched his mother’s face. She gritted her jaw. “Let’s go to the car, Donald,” Rose said with a panic-stricken voice. He quickly took a second look at the couple standing by the car. He had never seen them before. They were neither family nor friends as far as he knew. They didn’t look like part of the Society of Southron Patriots either. He could barely see a license tag from the distance. It was definitely not an Alabama license plate. He shrugged off his mother’s reaction to the couple. Probably nothing. A whimsical notion of hers. Donald recognized another face in the crowd. It was the county coroner. He saw him approach and the coroner looked to be on a mission, his square jaw locked, his walk deliberate. “Mr. Drummond. I hate to be here today to tell you the bad news. The autopsy report came back. We ordered it rushed from our lab at UAB because of Mr. Drummond’s background. It looks like we now have a homicide case to investigate concerning your father’s death.”
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Donald stood speechless, eyeing the coroner’s expression. He felt heat inside his body welling despite the winter chill. Was the coroner suggesting someone actually murdered his father? “Are you saying he was murdered?” Donald finally asked nearly choking on the word MURDER. “It appears so, Mr. Drummond. I am turning the case over to the homicide division of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office.” “What did the autopsy report reveal?” “I think the Sheriff’s office might be able to explain the findings. I am certain you will be contacted by their office today. I really don’t want to be involved. I’ll probably be ordered to testify in this case when it goes to trial. I can say this. Everyone is a suspect right now.” He watched the coroner make his way to his friend, Midfield Police Chief Jay Norris. Donald felt terribly uneasy by his friend’s eyes as they turned over the coroner’s shoulder at him. He knew it wasn’t good news.

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Chapter Five
Yellow crime scene ribbon cordoned off the house and property on Violet Street. Donald saw two sheriff’s cars in the driveway and a brown unmarked car with a county license plate as he slowed the Jeep in front of his mother’s house. It had already been a long day with the funeral and burial of his father. The coroner’s message was on target. The sheriff’s office wasted little time in coming back to the crime scene. The autopsy report had made its way through law enforcement circles. His mother looked out the passenger side window and sighed. He warned his mother on the drive home what the coroner told him. Henry Drummond’s death had turned into a homicide case. It was no longer considered suicide in the eyes of local law officials. “Mother, is there anything I need to know before we are questioned by the detectives?” His mother appeared not to hear the question. She held up as bravely as he knew she could under the circumstances. Her circle of friends and church family comforted her at the funeral. She was a proud woman. She would never fold even under the most extraneous circumstances. She had been the one stable person in the Drummond clan. He wished she didn’t have to go through all the interrogations. She would be asked a million questions since she was the only one in the house when she found him dead on the sofa in the den. “It is odd, mother. Dad was dressed up like he was going somewhere that day. Do you have any clues about where he might have been going?” “Son, your father never told me his business, except once. And he didn’t actually tell me. He wrote a letter to me which I found under the sofa along with the vodka bottle. I hid the note from you because it has a lot to do with you.” “I don’t understand, mother. Can you be more specific?”
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“I don’t feel up to it right now. I will talk to you about it as soon as this all settles. I can think of many people who would like to see your Father dead.” A host of church people stood outside the yellow ribbon. They came to bring food to the family, a tradition after funeral services. The people gathered to watch in disbelief. No one was allowed to cross into the yard through the gate. Donald parked and helped his mother out. They strode toward the mansion; an old four bedroom ranch-style house built in the 1950’s, the largest home in west Birmingham at the time. A black steel gate auspiciously stood open. The name engraved at the top of the gate read, The Drummonds. Rose Marie Drummond reveled in totemic images when it came to decorating the yard. Being from Italian descent, she grew flowers even in winter. The bird baths in the front yard gave it a peaceful aura. As peaceful as the yard was to those who saw it, it did not hide the calamity inside the house. A large waterfall basin provided a tranquil and luminous site for her. The face of Mary, mother of Jesus, stood atop the vintage monument. She often went and sat at the waterfall, listening to the water drain into a small pool. This was her spot, a getaway when the family, especially her husband, found trouble brewing from all his esoteric activities. A man dressed in a brown suit with a solid brown tie and a tan overcoat was the first to greet Donald and his mother as they approached the front gate. “Mrs. Drummond. My name is Detective James Blair. I am with the homicide division of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. “We have the autopsy report results from the laboratory, and we are going to have to ask you some questions. Do you feel up to it today?” Donald watched his mother’s demeanor. She looked sheepishly tired. “Mr. Blair. I am Donald Drummond, Henry Drummond’s son.” “Yes, I know who you are, sir,” the detective interrupted. “I need to interview your mother. I’ll also need to talk to you and others who might know anything about who killed Mr. Drummond. He died of arsenic poisoning.”
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Donald looked into his mother’s eyes and saw fear. Her body began to tremble. Donald’s knees went limp, and he felt faint. “Arsenic?” Donald managed to address the detective’s new revelation. “Quite a bit of it,” the detective said. Numbness sat in. Donald’s brain couldn’t fathom the breadth of the detective’s words. “Mrs. Drummond. Can we begin our interview today or would you rather me come back tomorrow when you are feeling better?” “Yes. Yes.” Rose told him. “Please come back tomorrow. I’ll be of a better mind.” “Very well, Mrs. Drummond. But I must tell you. You are under orders to leave your house until a full investigation is conducted. We have a team of forensic experts looking for any clue as to Mr. Drummond’s killer. I’d suggest you stay in a hotel or with friends and family, at least until we can complete our forensic tests and detective work. We’ll be finished by tomorrow. As for you Mr. Drummond. I know you are a reporter. All we ask of you is that you do not travel out-of-state until we have the chance to speak to you. We have no suspects at the moment and with your father’s background, we figure anyone who had business dealings with him is a suspect. We hope to conclude the interrogations as fast as possible and find the person or persons involved in his death.” “She needs a few things from the house, Mr. Blair,” Donald said. “Can she at least go in and get what she needs? She can stay with me and my wife tonight or as long as it takes.” “Very well. I will have an officer take her inside to get her things. Mrs. Drummond I must caution you. Only get the bare necessities for today and tonight.” A deputy was summoned to Mrs. Drummond’s side and he took her arm. They walked through the gate, up the driveway to the house. “I’m sorry we cannot be more accommodating, Mr. Drummond,” the detective said. Donald’s eyes watched his mother and deputy walk slowly to the front door and disappear inside.
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“Would you like to answer a few questions, Mr. Drummond?” “I’ll speak to you later. I’m exhausted. I’ll wait here until mother returns, then I will take her to my house where she can rest.” “I understand,” the detective said. “I’m sorry for any inconvenience we are causing, but I am only trying to do my job.” Donald understood what “just doing my job” meant completely. As a news reporter he had used that phrase so many times it was cemented into his nomenclature. “Just a brief question and I will leave you alone, Mr. Drummond,” the detective offered. “Mack Tucker. He is a relative of the family. Do you know what kind of business relationship your father and Tucker had? We are questioning him down at the sheriff’s office. He is not being very cooperative.” “Uncle Mack and my father had some sort of business between them, but I could not tell you one iota. I wish you luck in talking to uncle Mack. He’s not a person I associate with when he comes to town. I’d rather be in a pit full of poisonous snakes than in his company. I avoid him like the plague.” Donald eased back into the Jeep and took out his cell phone. He dialed the number to the family’s attorney, Bob Parsons. “Can you meet me at my house in about an hour?” Donald asked him. “Certainly. Donald,” Parsons replied. “I already know what this is all about.” “You do?” “Yes. I am sitting here with Mack at the sheriff’s office. I’ll let them finish up with him, and I’ll see you in about an hour or two.” “You know about the arsenic poisoning, too?” Donald asked. “Oh, yes. They just told Mack and he has been questioned about his whereabouts for the past year. I think they want to pin the murder on him already. That’s just my guess.” “Good guess,” Donald told him and disconnected the call.
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Donald’s mind raced back several years when he recalled his father and Uncle Mack caught up in a Ku Klux Klan rally. Mack, his father and several hundred men, dressed in robes, threatened to cross over police lines during the Civil Rights March in downtown Birmingham. The Klan wasn’t exactly non-violent that day on the downtown streets, hurling insults and cursing the blacks, mostly young children recruited by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The black demonstrators obtrusively yelled obscenities to the men clad in white. A cross burning was held that night in front of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where four young black girls died after a bomb exploded in the basement of the church in 1963. Donald was eighteen-years-old when Martin Luther King, Jr., arrived in Birmingham with young children and adults from the SCLC. They came to protest racial injustice. He watched police use fire hoses to keep the demonstrators in line, and police dogs to attack those who got out of line. He saw his father shouting obscenities at King and the children. It made him sick to his stomach. It was a life-changing event after he read King’s letter from the Birmingham jail. “I am not my father,” Donald thought. “No. I am not my father. Praise, God.”

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Chapter Six
Detective Blair of the homicide division of the county sheriff’s department had his work cut out for him. The arsenic – Dushuqiang - the forensic lab turned up came from China. Only one case occurred in the United States, and that was in 2002 when a 15-month-old girl died from ingesting it in New York City. Her parents had brought it from China where they once lived. The University of Alabama-Birmingham forensic team, ranked third best among pathology departments in the country, was able to trade samples with a New York pathology department to make positive identification of the poisoning. The poisoning was banned in China in the 1990’s because it was being used extensively to intentionally murder people. Who needed guns when you could use rodent poisoning? Chinese authorities destroyed 41 factories in three major distribution centers capturing more than 200 tons of the white powder. Blair knew his staff was incapable of sniffing out the distribution of the arsenic if it made its way into the United States. Another agency, another bureau would need be involved. But for now, he sat in Rose Drummond’s living room making notes. Deputies combed every inch of the house and property the day before, leaving nothing for granted. The law officials did not find a trace of arsenic any place, neither inside nor outside or in the large garbage container in the back of the house.Rose answered every question the detective asked of her. Bob Parsons, the family attorney, sat next to her in silence. “Mrs. Drummond. Did you buy and use rat poisoning for the house?” She leaned her head into her palms; her elbows resting on her knees. “We haven’t used rat poisoning that I can remember since we moved into this house in 1952,” she finally answered. “Our cats take care of them.”

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“We found a rare poisoning called Dushiqiang, only found in China in his stomach. The poisoning is not found in the United States. That is what has our team of experts puzzled. He would likely have had a seizure or convulsions before he died. You didn’t hear anything?” “No. I sleep alone in a back bedroom. Henry has his own bedroom and stays in the den during daylight hours, watching TV or talking to his buddies on the telephone. He stays behind a closed door. I never bother him.” “Were you the only one in the house the night before you found Mr. Drummond?” “No. Henry had a few of his friends over for drinks to discuss business.” “Where were you when this took place?” “I was in the back bedroom reading a novel.” “Was Mack Tucker in attendance?” “Yes. He’s always around when he comes to town.” “Mrs. Drummond. Can you guess who would want to kill your husband?” “I’m sure he had a lot of enemies, but I cannot think of who might have done this to him.” “Did you kill him? Rose’s eyes teared. She had waited for the question, knowing it would be asked. She rehearsed it. Now she could not speak. “Take your time, Mrs. Drummond,” the detective told her. “No. I did not kill him,” she finally managed to say the words. “Did you know if Mr. Drummond was expected somewhere on the day you found him? He was dressed in a suit and tie.” “He never told me a thing about his business, Mr. Blair. Someone was always picking him up. He would leave the house on a moment’s notice and not return for days or weeks. That was before he became sick from his cancer treatments. He hardly moved the last few months. We didn’t have the best of marriages as you probably guessed.”
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“Mr. Blair, I think that is enough questioning of my client for the time being,” Parsons interrupted. “Yes. I agree,” the detective said, closing his notebook and turning off his tape recorder. “I might have to conduct further interviews if we do not find the killer soon.” “We understand,” Parsons said. When the detective left the house Rose lay down on the sofa. Signs of a migraine. “I’ve got to go to the the county jail and arrange bail for Mack,” Parsons said. “They have nothing to pin Mack with. He is being held as a person of interest.” “Is there anything else I need to know, Rose?” Parsons asked. “No. I’ve told them everything. You know as well as I what Henry did, probably more than I. You’ve been with him in those secret society meetings. Maybe it was one of them? Maybe it was Mack?” “I know some of them were at your house the night before he died,” Parsons said. “I was here, too.” “You didn’t tell the detective you were here?” “He didn’t ask me,” Parsons said with a smirk on his face. ”And you didn’t mention the note you found. So we’re even.” ***** Blair’s next visit was five blocks away. Donald and Anne were waiting for him. “Come in, Detective Blair,” Donald said, opening the door. “I know this has been hard on all of you, Donald. I can call you Donald?” “That’s fine,” Donald said, motioning the detective to take a seat on a sofa in the living room. “Where were you the night before Mr. Drummond died?” The question was abrupt.
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“I was at the newspaper office. I didn’t get home until midnight.” “I see,” Blair said, his head bent over scribbling notes. Blair held a tape recorder in his left hand while he wrote with his right. He asked Donald’s permission to use it. Donald knew the value of a recorder. He used a recorder in newspaper interviews. “I’m sure that can be verified.” “Definitely,” Donald said. “Ask my wife what time I came home?” “No need. I believe you.” “Do you know who might have held a grudge and be a suspect to killing him?” Donald felt antsy, rising from the sofa and walking over to the large window looking onto the front lawn. He stared at nothing in particular. “It could have been someone from the organization, maybe a power struggle or something. It could have been one of his sleazy friends from Las Vegas.” “Do you think Mack Tucker had anything to do with it?” Donald snapped to attention when he heard Mack’s name. “I would consider him your number one suspect,” Donald said. “And why is that?” “Mack Tucker put my father in business years ago. I suspect what has been written about my Father is true in certain respects. His KKK rallies, The Society of Southron Patriots, his mafia connections throughout the country. I don’t know what all he was involved in. All I know is, we have been estranged for a long time. “I decided forty years ago that my Father did not share my ideas in politics or philosophy in life. We hardly spoke. When we did it generally ended up in a fierce argument. I decided long ago not to speak to him unless it was a social occasion like a birthday or the holidays when the family came together.” “So you harbored ill feelings toward your Father for forty years? Did you kill him?” “Hell, no, I didn’t kill him, but there were times I wished him dead.” “So you’ve got your wish, Mr. Drummond?”
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“Don’t take that the wrong way. I would never take the life of another human being, especially my Father.” “Very well. If I need to ask you any further questions, I assume you will be available.” “Certainly. Don’t hesitate to call.” ***** Mack Tucker sat in a jail alone when a deputy unlocked the cell door. “You’re free to go, Mr. Tucker.” Mack smiled at the deputy. “Nice meeting you,” Mack said, bowing his large frame body like a Chinese sumi wrestler in deference to the deputy. Parsons waited in the admissions office and watched deputies release all of his client’s personal items. “What took you so long, Bob?” “You know how police work, or you should by now,” Parsons said testily. “How much was the bail?” “Twenty-five hundred dollars.” “For questioning?” Tucker raised his voice. “You are a person of interest, Mack. You can’t leave the state until you are told.” “That could mean years!” Mack shouted. Several bystanders looked at Mack and his attorney with interesting and curious faces. “We’ll take what we can get,” Parsons said. “I suggest you take it easy for a while. Go into seclusion somewhere. If they want to contact you again, they can call me.” “You think I did it, don’t you, Bob?” “I don’t know what to think, Mack. Did you?” “Hell, no. Henry was like a brother to me.” “Then who did it?”

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“I don’t have a clue. My guess is it could have been one of the organization’s brothers. It could have been Betty Jo Duke.” “Betty Jo Duke?” Bob asked. “Yes. She was at the funeral. Someone needs to talk to her about the murder.” “Well, we did befriend her in 1946 when we took her child away,” Parsons said rubbing his hand across his chin. “She was paid royally,” Tucker reminded him. “She might have hired a hit man to kill him because that was the only way she would be able to claim her son. She has the money to do that, you know?” “Smart thinking, Mack. I will drop a hint to the investigators.” “It would take the heat off me,” Mack said as the two walked out of the jail and drove off to the Bessemer Elks’ Lodge for cold brew. There they met some of their Society of Southron Patriot’s brothers.

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Chapter Seven Tuscaloosa, Alabama
In the backwoods of rural Tuscaloosa County, twelve men convened an emergency meeting of the Society of Southron Patriots. A log home built by Henry Drummond in the 1950’s was converted into the league’s headquarters. Ten thousand unencumbered acres with mostly pine and oak trees dotting the property. The dirt roads in, around and through it were constructed free by the county transportation department, thanks to a Southron member on the County Board Commission. It started out as Drummond’s secret little hideaway, but had grown into a social gathering for certain league members when the organization expanded and began to operate publicly. Certain dues paying men, those who could afford $10,000 a year membership, were allowed to come to the lodge to hunt deer and turkey in season. Meetings were held to organize a grass roots campaign to petition other like-minded southerners of the time to rebuild the South as a nation unto itself, separating from a senseless federal government that no longer appealed to the masses of southern gentlemen and their families. Other lodges were formed in southern states. Each state had its president and board of directors. A school in Tennessee was founded to teach true southern history to a younger generation. The league had a website to discuss its philosophy and offer essays on what it believed should happen because of an inefficient federal government. The Civil Rights Legal Center, a small law firm founded in 1971, felt differently about Drummond’s organization. The CRLC was a watchdog group of lawyers which specialized in bringing lawsuits against any hate or terrorist organization. It had brought a lawsuit against the Imperial Klans of America. The group became internationally known for victories against supremacists and its tracking of hate groups. The Society of Southron Patriot’s hidden agendas threw the CRLC for a loop, and the founders could
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never pin anything specific on the league, so lawsuits were never brought against it. Drummond also had his hidden agendas. Only a handful of members knew of his intentions. These were some of the twelve men convened this day, including Mack Tucker and Bob Parsons. “We’re here today to discuss where the league goes from here since our leader is dead,” announced Harvey Hall, vice-president of the league since its founding in 1994. Hall was Drummond’s right-hand man. Hall was known for his avid and devout attitude concerning southern states’ rights. He held a doctorate degree and had written two books on how the southern Confederacy used similar military tactics the Scots used when fighting the English during the Scottish wars. He immediately called Drummond and held meetings with him. Drummond was thought of as the KKK wizard of the South and a wellto-do businessman with mafia ties. Drummond could finance his new idea of a Society of Southron Patriots. The league was more Hall’s idea than Drummond’s. “As many of you are aware, Henry Drummond’s death is now considered a homicide case,” Hall said. “They found poison in his system. Our league will be targeted by law enforcement officials in a matter of hours. “I am more than concerned on how we answer questions, and who will be interrogated. Bob Parsons will represent the league in all these matters. If you are called upon for questioning, please call Bob immediately and he will represent you.” Hall pointed his finger at Parsons and smiled. “Bob knows the ropes better than anyone here. Trust Bob, please.” “The law doesn’t know who our leaders are, except Drummond and myself. They might have our individual names gathered from someone who has infiltrated our organization from the FBI. It will be hard for them to interview all 30,000 of us,” Hall said with an outburst of laughter. The other eleven men snickered. “Amen,” someone yelled. “The South will rise again!” another voice boomed.
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“God save the South,” said another. Hall waved his hands for silence. “We must honor the life of Henry Drummond. He has served us well. At the same time we must protect the league. We all have worked hard to see this organization grow, and we don’t want to do something foolish where some federal agency decides to close us down. We are certainly going to be hit with more misrepresentation stories by the media and from the Civil Rights Legal Center. “Bob will serve as our spokesman until all of this has died down. It might take a few months, a year.” “Dr. Hall,” addressed a member. “How are we to conceal the arsenic? It’s certain to be traced back to us at some point.” “I’ve thought of that. Bob and I will meet directly after this meeting and discuss how we handle this.” Ten thousand pounds of the powder called Dushuqiang was hidden in an underground and deserted coal mine shaft on the property. Neat stacks of the one-pound powder were wrapped in clear cellophane packages like cocaine. The Dushuqiang was purchased from a Chinese drug dealer in Beijing by Hall, using Drummond’s money and transported by ship to Mobile where it was transferred on two barges to the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa more than six months ago. The bill of laden listed the commodity as sugar. The twelve men in the room helped unload the arsenic and take it to the mine for storage. Ordinary pick-up trucks owned by members, many who were professional men and high-ranking Christians in their communities, risked their reputations in hauling the stash and out-maneuvering Tuscaloosa law officers. It helped that the police chief was among those league members in the group. Questions about how it was to be used were vague. Only Hall knew how to put it to good use. Only select members knew about it. Most thought the rat poisoning was a good investment and could be sold for a good price with the profits going into the league treasury. The South was full of rats.
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“This meeting is adjourned for now. Y’all stay around, drink a few beers or whiskey, eat some great barbecue I ordered from Archie’s. Bob and I will meet to discuss our next move. We will reconvene in two hours.” Tuscaloosa Police Chief Bill Baker called Hall aside as he sat down at the end of the long conference table. “Dr. Hall. If I can help fend off the law let me know. I will do everything in my power to keep our league’s good reputation from being slandered. I know I can keep my guys away from here, but when it comes to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, my hands will be tied.” “Thanks, Bill. Take care of your men for us. We will deal with the FBI and ABI when the time comes.” Hall motioned for Parsons to follow him into the expansive president’s office. Drummond rarely came to headquarters any longer because of his health. Hall occupied the office with shelves of books on Southern, American, Scottish, English and world history. Among the books on his desk was “Rob Roy MacGregor, a legendary Scotsman in the 16th century. Rob Roy would have cut the throat of anyone doubting him. Another book on the desk was “The Art of War,” a Chinese military treatise written in the 6th century BC by Sun Tzu. Hall’s penchant for the book paralleled his belief system. It was the oldest book on military strategy in the world and was a huge influence on Eastern and Western military thinking and business tactics. Hall believed as Tzu concerning the five weaknesses of a general in war. If a general is reckless, he can be killed. If cowardly, captured. If quicktempered he can be made a fool. If he has a delicate sense of honor he can be calumniated. If he has a compassionate nature, he can be harassed. The politicians in Washington, D.C. and the dignitaries of the United Nations were ruining what once was a Great Society. “No one is going to wound me with impunity,” Hall preached to Parsons, slamming his right hand on his desk. “Our plans are in place to send a statement to Washington bureaucrats and the imbeciles from all around the world at United Nations that
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threaten the very freedom we have fought so hard throughout the centuries. America is burning just like Rome. “We have the political machinery in place in many states to send the man we choose to the White House to fight for our rights. We got Sally Paladin in as Vice-President through our vigilance. “If all fails, we must secede from the American Empire. We are no longer a free nation, but run by a socialist government of former Nazi loyalist. Hitler’s followers are amongst us even today. They are in every nook and cranny of what once was a democratic society. “We will be the revolutionists who turn our country around.” Hall sat down behind his mahogany desk. Sweat poured off his red face. His eyes were glassy, looking deadpan at Parsons. He had a chance to get his second wind. “Bob, we are going to be targeted by the FBI and ABI in addition to the Civil Rights Legal Center. I’m afraid one or more of our members will fold under interrogation. You have any suggestions?” Parsons had heard this speech from Hall a thousand times, and he almost knew it verbatim. Most of the Southron brothers could recite Hall’s hell fire and brimstone like John 3:16. Parsons was quick to answer. He leaned forward, looked into Hall’s eyes with a gleam. “Dushuqiang.”

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Chapter Eight Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The ten Southron brothers were summoned back into emergency meeting with Hall and Parsons. After downing whiskey and eating barbecue, the men appeared to Hall to be in a great frame of mind. That had been his intention. If there were loose lips among them, he would soon find out. “I hope y’all enjoyed the brief adjournment,” Hall said, standing again at the end of the large conference table. Each man took their seat. “Dr. Hall,” spoke up Chief Baker. “Yes, Bill.” “Me and the boys are really concerned about the poison down in the mines. Henry was poisoned. No one knows about our stash except us. Apparently someone here took the poisoning with them the night we met at Henry’s house. That makes one of us guilty to Henry’s murder.” “Well, Bill. Since you brought this up, do you have any idea which of us might have killed him?” Hall said sarcastically. “We were all at his house,” Baker continued. “It could have been any of us. Of course, I am coming clean. I didn’t do it.” Hall wasn’t surprised his Southron friends had been talking about the poisoning and Henry after they left the room. Two hours of drinking whiskey and talking. No telling what the men had on their mind. “Anyone want to admit killing Henry?” Hall asked, looking at each face as his eyes moved from one to the other in the room. “That’s what I thought,” Hall said when no one was forthcoming. Hall knew what the men had own their mind. They each thought he or Parsons might have given Drummond a dose of poisoning to kill him. “Rest assured, gentlemen. I did not kill Henry. I think I know what you are thinking. Bob, did you kill Drummond?”
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“I’ve been Henry’s friend since high school. He helped me with my law practice and if it had not been for him I might be chasing ambulances for a living today,” Parsons said with a burst of laughter. The other men laughed. “So, no one here killed Henry,” Hall continued. “We can reasonably assume none of our Southron brethren had anything to do with Henry Drummond’s murder.” Everyone nodded no. “We still have the subject of the poisoning in the mine,” Hall said. “We have to protect that secret. I must get your loyal and honorable oaths that no one slips and gives out that information. Each of you raise your hand if you will abide by our oath.” Everyone raised a hand. Hall studied the face of Baker. Baker’s hand was in the air, but beads of sweat ran off his forehead. His left hand tightly gripped the edge of the table. Baker was overweight probably 100 pounds, and Hall thought it might be high blood pressure making him uneasy. Then again, the police chief had a lot to lose when interrogated by his friends in law enforcement. It made Hall uneasy knowing this. If anyone among them squealed, he thought, Baker would be the man. “Bill. Are you feeling all right?” Hall asked. The other men looked at Bill’s face and saw it turn blood red. “I need another drink,” Baker said, attempting to laugh. “Brother Parsons. Would you go and mix Brother Bill another whiskey sour?” Parsons left the room and returned with the drink. “Gentlemen. This meeting is adjourned,” Hall announced. “Remember to contact Bob if someone wants to interrogate you about our organization.” Everyone left the conference room, except Hall, Tucker, Parsons and Baker. “Take a drink, Bill,” Parsons offered. The chief downed the whiskey sour in two gulps.
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A few moments later the police chief began to gasp for air. He had convulsions and a seizure. The men left the room. None of them could stand to look at the body facial contusions. “Bob. Make sure everyone has left the grounds,” Hall said. Parsons left the room and went outside. All the trucks were gone. Everyone left as Hall advised. “They’re gone,” Parsons said re-entering the room. “So is Chief Baker,” Hall smiled at Mack. Deputies found Baker’s squad car ten days later after a tip from a state dock employee. The car was found sixty-feet below the Black Warrior River. But there was no trace of Baker’s, even after divers combed the river for five days. Baker disappeared off the face of the earth.

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Chapter Nine
Detective James Blair of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and his investigators knew the time would come when Drummond’s death would be impossible for them to manage. Blair contacted the FBI in Birmingham and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation in Montgomery for assistance. Drummond’s file was turned over to each agency. “Dushuqiang,” questioned ABI Commissioner Bill O’Connor. “How in the hell did y’all turn up that information?” “From the pathology lab at UAB,” Blair told him over the telephone. “They are one of the best in the nation.” “Hmmm...” O’Connor mused. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.” “You got that right,” Blair said. “I had to get the FBI involved because we have a person of interest out-of-state who needs to be interrogated. She lives in Kilgore, Texas. It’s Drummond’s first wife. Apparently, no one knew about her but a few associates of Drummond’s. He has an older son. You’ve probably heard of him. Donald Drummond, the news reporter in Birmingham. The son didn’t know his biological mother is Betty Jo Duke. Apparently, from my sources, she has been waiting sixty-one years for Drummond to die. Something about a divorce back in 1946. Could be a revenge issue. I’ve handed that file over to the FBI to follow up. She is a person of interest in Drummond’s murder.” “I’ll be working with the FBI since the poisoning might have crossed over state lines.” “Sounds like a piece of fiction to me,” O’Connor said. “Sometimes fact is better than fiction,” Blair said. “Bob. The Society of Southron Patriots should be your next target. The headquarters is in Tuscaloosa, out of my jurisdiction. You have a field office there, right?” “I’ll put my men on them. Any suggestions?” “Harvey Hall is Drummond’s successor in the organization. I would start with him. They also have an old man name Bob Parsons, an attorney
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in our county since the Civil War it seems. He is a tough lawyer. Your men will probably see him when you interview Hall.” “Gotcha,” O’Connor said. “I’ll assign the men today to visit with Mr. Hall. By the way, how y’all doing trying to find that police chief in Tuscaloosa. He’s still missing, right?” “Afraid so. No leads yet,” Blair said. “Best of luck,” O’Connor said and hung up the phone. The National Crime Information Center’s computers in Washington, D.C. spit out tons of information being received from law offices around the country. O’Conner did a NCIC search for Henry Drummond. His name appeared 140 times in the computer system. Information about Drummond used up two gigs of memory dating back to the 1940’s when he was in the Army Air Corp in Pyote, Texas. Drummond left a paper trail about as long as the Rio Grande. Drummond was dead. Baker was missing. His office wasn’t asked to investigate Baker’s whereabouts. Not yet. It remained a Tuscaloosa city and county missing person investigation for the time being. He scratched his head and dialed the ABI Tuscaloosa field office. The line was busy. He followed up with an email to his investigator in the district with specific orders to find Harvey Hall and interrogate him concerning Drummond. He knew of Drummond’s connection to the Society of Southron Patriots, and the night before Drummond died, members of the league were boozing it up at Drummond’s house in Midfield. Interviewing Hall would hopefully give his office the clues to Drummond’s killer. ***** “Let’s lay low for awhile,” Parsons advised Hall and Tucker. “The FBI and ABI will be looking for us in a matter of hours.” Hall locked the headquarters’ doors before leaving. If law officers came looking for them, they would find no one at home. Each of them made sure there were no traces of people being at the lodge that day. All the beer cans, whiskey bottles and barbecue rib bones were hauled off to a dump38

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ster. The dirt road into the property had been dragged with wire fence like a baseball field. No tire tracks would be found. Hall and Parsons boarded an airplane for Las Vegas after adjourning their meeting at headquarters. “Bob. I’m sure you can show us a good time in Sin City,” Hall said. “We all need it.” “Trust me,” Parsons replied. “What’s your pleasure?” “Women,” Hall spoke up with a wide grin. “Then women it shall be.” ***** O’Connor received a phone call from his district agent in Tuscaloosa that afternoon. “No sign of Hall at the league’s headquarters,” his agent told him. “Where does he live?” O’Connor quizzed the agent. “We don’t know where he lives. Apparently, he lives somewhere on the property at their headquarters, but we didn’t find another lodge. If he lives there, he must live at the headquarters.” “I’ll get a warrant from a Tuscaloosa judge to search the league’s headquarters,” O’Connor said and hung up the phone. It was easier said than done. O’Connor quickly found out the judge who could render such a warrant was out of town, and his right-hand man could not find reasonable cause to issue a search warrant based on what O’Connor told him. The ABI commissioner would have to wait until the judge returned. “Damn it!” O’Connor said when he hung up the phone to the judge’s office. “He’s probably a society member, too.” O’Connor dialed his district agent in Tuscaloosa again. “Hang loose. I’ll try to get a search warrant when the local judge returns to his office.”

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Tuscaloosa Judge Roy Bell joined Hall and Parsons in Las Vegas at their expensive hotel suite. A bevy of young women walked around the room in sexy Victoria Secret lingerie. “The South will rise again,” bolstered Judge Bell as one of the young women sat in his lap. “Did you bring your Viagra, judge?” Hall laughed at his own joke. “Don’t need it,” the judge shot back and gave out a hearty, bellowing laugh. “Of all the places in Las Vegas, this was Henry’s favorite.” Parsons said, slugging down a glass of Wild Turkey. “He loved the young girls. Y’all probably don’t know this but Henry had a daughter by another woman name Mary Frazier. She worked for Western Union in Monahans, TX during the war. “I know this because I sent child support payments to her for years until his daughter was 18. His daughter was murdered along with her husband. Henry went after the killer with a vengeance. He found the killer before the cops in Oklahoma did and one of his henchmen took care of the son-of-a-bitch. Henry was devastated over his daughter’s death. Henry’s granddaughter was only eight years-old at the time and she went to live with her grandmother. I think they still live in Tulsa, OK. Mary Frazier calls and writes me on occasion asking about Henry. They never married, but Henry felt like they were his responsibility and he took care of them. His granddaughter’s name is Mary Kate O’Quinn. “I called her when Henry died. She was shocked. He left his granddaughter some money in his Will that I never told anyone about. She’s now going to college, and Henry paid for it. “Henry was a lady’s man. That’s for sure.” “Here, here,” the judge said lifting his whiskey glass in a toast to their departed leader.

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Chapter Ten
“ABI Joins Investigation Into Drummond Murder,” read the headline in the morning newspaper. Another story was embedded in the state briefs: “No Clues To Missing Tuscaloosa Police Chief.” Donald scanned the newspaper while he sat at his office desk in the hustle and bustle of The Birmingham Iron-Herald newsroom. He felt faint. He lay his head on his desk. His mind was spinning from everything he had witnessed the past week and a half. “My last hooray,” he thought to himself. Only a few days left and he would be permanently retired. The idea the Tuscaloosa police chief missing was unfortunate. Donald shrugged off the news. Homicides in Birmingham were among the most recorded by the FBI, ranking No. 3 in the country. Nothing new. His father’s murder weighed heavily on his mind. The reporter who wrote the story about the ABI joining the investigation of his father’s death dropped by his desk. “Mr. Drummond. Are you feeling all right?” “Just tired,” Donald said, raising his head. It was four days after Christmas. His father was buried on December 21st. His father’s death was a homicide case. Donald drove home in a stupor. When he arrived his wife met him at the door. “A woman left a message on the answering machine. Her name is Betty Jo Duke,” Anne said with emergency written in her voice. “Who was it?” he asked. “I don’t know, but you better listen to it.” Donald replayed the message over and over. He did not know a Betty Jo Duke, but her voice was very calm and the message was succinct. “Hi Donald. I am your mother and I want to talk to you,” the message said. “What kind of sicko is this?” Donald asked Anne.

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“I don’t know, but the area code is somewhere in Texas, east Texas, I think. I did a background check on the telephone number,” Anne said. Donald shrugged the message off momentarily. He was tired; spent and needed a beer. He was getting too old for the pressures of newspaper reporting. Christmas was over; the family celebrated at his mother’s home. But it wasn’t like Christmases’ past. His father wasn’t there but that was no big deal to him. His father’s absence meant more to Rose, David, Daniel and Joseph. Each of them shared a story about their father and grandfather. Donald refused to take part. Donald went to the refrigerator and got a beer and sat down to watch television. It was ten o’clock in the evening, and he turned the station to the local news. After three beers, Donald played the telephone message again. The caller ID had a area code of 903. He knew someone had dialed the wrong number. But she called him by name. His curiosity got the best of him. He dialed the number. She was probably senile or crazy. On the second ring a voice answered. “Hello.” “My name is Donald Drummond, and I am returning a call which was made to my answering machine.” “That was me,” the lady on the other end said. “My name is Donald Drummond. Were you trying to call me?” “Yes, Donald, you are the person I was calling.” There was deft silence on both ends of the telephone. “Donald, I am your mother. I am so proud I can finally tell you.” “What are you talking about, and who are you?” Donald asked, perturbed. “Donald, it is a very long story, but you will have to believe me. I am your real mother, and I live in Kilgore, Texas. I was married to your father, Henry Drummond, for a short time in 1945, during World War Two.” “Okay, okay. What are you looking for? You must be mistaken. My father was Henry Drummond, but my real mother is Rose Drummond.”
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“I am very familiar with your mother. She is your step-mother, not your real mother. I have kept this secret until your father died. He died on December 19th, just a few weeks ago, and I was there at the burial.” Donald swept a hand through his sandy hair and listened. He hoped the lady on the phone would give herself away, and he let her talk. A memory flashed across his mind. There was an unidentified woman who came to dad’s funeral, but no one knew who she was. “I was there, Donald. “I saw your mother, err step-mother, and your two step-brothers and your wife and son, Joseph. I did not come to the graveside, but stood by my car until the funeral was over.” Donald’s mind was running on all cylinders now. He remembered Joseph asking who the lady was with the black hat with a red feather. He had noticed her no further. His mind had been busy trying to console the family. “I don’t understand,” Donald managed to say. “I’ve never heard of you. My real mother’s name is Rose Drummond. She was married to my father since the war ended.” “That’s true, Donald. Your father and step-mother married after your father and I divorced. Your father took custody of you in 1946, and you grew up in their household. I was barred from seeing you or contacting you when the divorce decree was written. I was ordered not to speak of this until your father died. Your father is dead now, and I could no longer wait until I could tell you. It’s been a nightmare for me all these years. I have suffered something awful for sixty-one years. I want to see you and show you all the papers and photos I have from our divorce. It will prove to you I am your mother.” Anne brought Donald another cold beer. “I just don’t understand any of this,” Donald managed to say. “I know, but you will understand all this bye and bye. I would like you to visit.” “I need to talk to my mother about this,” Donald responded.

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“Honey, you are talking to your mother. If you mean Rose, who you thought was your real mother, she knows, too. She has kept this secret for all these years.” “What crazy joke is this!” Donald was ready to explode. “You can talk to Rose, but she doesn’t know the entire truth. I want you to know the truth for yourself.” “Before I do anything, I am going to talk to my mother first,” Donald said, trying to remain calm, but it was hard. “Suit yourself, but I desperately want to see you, see your wife and my grandson.” “I’ll get back to you soon,” Donald said, hanging up the telephone. It was getting late, and the shocking news weighed heavily on Donald’s mind. He drank another beer, and sat down to talk to Anne. Anne heard a oneway conversation, and it was Donald’s responses. She was in shock also. “What do you make of this?” Donald asked her. “I don’t know. Tell me everything she said.” Donald tried to reconstruct the telephone conversation, and he stammered through parts of it. He had one too many beers, and his mind felt like it had been shot out of a cannon. He was ready to burst. “Mom’s in bed,” Donald said. “I don’t want to disturb her this late. I will go see her first thing in the morning and get to the bottom of this.” ***** Donald awakened at five-thirty the next morning. He did not sleep well. He tossed and tumbled, and he kept playing it over and over in his mind what the strange lady told him the night before. “Someone is playing games with my mind!” He slipped on his jeans, a t-shirt, tennis shoes and a baseball cap with the University of Alabama logo. He backed the Jeep out of the driveway and headed toward Violet Street. “Mom, it’s me!” Donald called as he entered the house. He closed the screen door behind him.
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“You are up early this morning, son?” Rose questioned as she saw Donald nervously enter the dining room. He took a seat at the end of the dining table. “Would you like some coffee?” she asked. “Yes, thanks.” “Mom, I got a strange call from a lady in Texas last night,” Donald began. Rose stopped dead in her tracks. She had the coffee pot in her hand, and her hand began to shake. She dropped the coffee pot on the dining room floor, glass shattering. Donald jumped out of his chair. Rose coupled her hands over her mouth. She stepped backward. Donald saw a look on her face he had never seen before. It was one of fear or dread. He could not decide. He began to tell Rose about the lady’s conversation. Rose sat down at the other end of the table, and she held her head with one hand as her elbow tried to steady it. She pushed back her gray hair with the other hand and tears began to well up her eyes. She moved to get up and find a broom to clean up the broken glass. Donald continued to talk, watching his mother’s reaction to each and every word. “Mother, what’s wrong?” Rose began sobbing, and he went to her side, cradling her in his arms. She could not talk. Donald reached in his pocket and gave her a handkerchief. “Mother, is what this woman saying true?” Donald asked in a low voice. She nodded yes. “What is going on? I don’t understand,” he said more sternly. “I cannot stand it any longer,” she finally said. “I always knew she would contact you after your father died. But I didn’t know it would be this soon. It’s only been a few days since we buried him.” “What are you talking about?”
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“Oh, Donald, poor Donald. I must tell you the truth. You are going to hate me and your father now. We have lived with this secret for more than a half century, and I knew this was going to happen.” “What secret, mom? Are you not my real mother? Is this lady from Texas my real mother? Are David and Daniel my real brothers?” Rose cried harder. “It’s true. Your real mother is Betty Jo Duke, and she lives in Kilgore, Texas. I do not know the whole story because your father never spoke of it but one time, and that was when he asked me to marry him. When he told me he had been married during the war, we almost didn’t get married. My mother and father were against it. But, we loved one another so much.” “Well, how in the name of Jesus did my father get full custody! It is hard for a father to obtain custody in divorce.” “Well, like I said I don’t know the whole story. I know some money was passed along to her in 1946. She was not supposed to contact you, see you, or present herself to you as your mother until your father died. Now that he is dead, she is calling you.” “What sort of mother would have done something like that!” Donald exclaimed. “And you kept this from me? I don’t know who I am more angrier at – you, dad or Betty Jo what’s her name?” “I know you must be angry. I have been angry at myself, and I know your father harbored a lot of guilt all these years, and no telling what your real mother has gone through.” “This is really hard to comprehend,” Donald said, returning to his seat at the end of the table. They sat in silence for what seemed like eternity. Donald stared blankly at the walls of the dining room. “Who knows about this?” Donald asked. “Well, my mother and father knew about it when your father told us. No one else but you and me, Uncle Mack and possibly Bob Parsons, your mother, and Anne, if you have discussed it with her?” “Yes, she overheard the conversation last night. And, we’ve been over and over it again and again. I wanted to hear it from you.”
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“I have loved you like my very own son all these years, Donald. I have treated all of you equal. I raised you the best I knew how when I was young. I bought for you, and I taught you so many things a mother must teach. Your dad and I provided for you as we did for David and Daniel. You were always part of my family growing up. My mother and father went to their graves with the secret. My aunts and uncles knew of this, too. And they went to their graves knowing. We always considered you as part of the Carnaggio family. “I always told people I was half Italian and half Scotsman,” Donald mumbled to himself. “You are a very unique person, Donald. You are a gifted writer. You worked the hardest in the family to get an education, and you got it on your own. “I saw early on how determined you were and how creative you were in expressing yourself in your writing. Most likely you got some of that creativeness from your mother, but I do not know that for certain because I have only seen her once, and that was when your father was buried. She was the lady who came to the funeral with the long black dress, black hat with the red feather, and stood by her car while we were there. “I am so ashamed of myself, Donald!” Rose got up from her chair and hurried to Donald’s side. She put her loving arms around him, and kissed his cheeks and forehead. Donald returned the caresses from his mother and weeped in her arms. A man, who had not cried much in his adult life, poured teardrops by the gallon. “Oh, Donald, I wish I could change it all, but it’s too late now. You will have to call her back. She has been waiting all these years to reclaim her lost son. “Something your father and uncle schemed up during the divorce, and I never knew what that was.” “What kind of woman would have done that!” Donald kept thinking to himself. “Donald, I have something more to say. I haven’t mentioned it to David and Daniel.
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Chapter Eleven
Bob Parsons’ office was in Bessemer where it had been for sixty-two years. He was an elderly man, in his 80’s. He had a three-man law office and delegated most of his work to the younger attorneys. “You’re looking mighty dapper,” his secretary said when she brought a pot of coffee into his office. “Well, I just got back from Las Vegas,” he winked at her. “That explains it,” she said, beaming a smile at him. “This is going to be tricky,” Parsons told his two partners. “I’ve known Henry Drummond since grade school. I’ve been his attorney since 1946. Never easy when dealing with Henry,” he joked. “What are we dealing with?” one asked. “Well, Henry’s only legal asset is the home he and his wife, Rose, live in. The only other asset he had was cash. Cold, hard cash.” “How much?” another asked. “Over four million dollars.” “Four million dollars!” they exclaimed. “Yes, you understood me correctly. Henry Drummond did not put money in the bank like a normal citizen. He used me as his banker and attorney. I kept his money,” he said, pointing to a large black vault sitting behind his desk. “Anytime I needed money, Henry let me have access to it. He never asked questions. Believe me, if it wasn’t for Henry, our practice might not be here today. He’s had to bail me out many times.” “And, so...” one of them said. “What now?” “The family will be here around eleven o’clock. His wife and three sons are about to receive their inheritances.” “Four million dollars, cash? A million each.” “Wow!” one of his partners exclaimed, looking at the black vault, wishing he could see the stash.

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“There are some exceptions to Henry’s inheritance, however,” Parsons continued. “He left explicit instructions to each of his sons how they must earn their inheritance.” “I guess you are going to tell us what those instructions are, right?” “You’ll learn about it when they arrive, and I read his Last Will & Testament.” ***** Donald left Anne at home. He picked up his mother at ten thirty and drove to the law office. David and Daniel drove to the office separately. Rose spoke to both of them and told them about the will. Excitement stirred in each of them, she told Donald. “They don’t know what to expect, and neither do I.” Donald was not as excited as he was intrigued. He knew his father better than anyone, including his mother. His sources inside the FBI office in Birmingham came in handy for a lot of stories he had written. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the one year he spent as a clerk with the FBI while attending college, he might not be a newsman at all. After a full investigation, Donald was hired as a clerk, handling the filing of reports written by agents. Donald read all the KKK activities his mind could fathom. He read the extensive reports about his father. King’s assassination fascinated him the most. The local bureau was involved because the gun James Earl Ray used was purchased in Birmingham at a pawn shop. His job as an FBI clerk was one reason the editors liked the resume he turned in. Now the truth was out he had a biological mother he knew nothing about. So much for the secrets kept in this family! It weighed heavily on his mind as he drove Rose to the lawyer’s office. “I just don’t understand how everyone could keep this secret from me about my real mother,” Donald told his mother as he maneuvered the vehicle into a parking space. “I’m sorry, son. There was never a good time to tell you. You’re old enough, wise enough, smart enough to deal with it now. I don’t think ei49

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ther of us, your father included, thought the time was right, even after you married and had Joseph.” “How do you think this makes me feel? It’s so surreal it’s almost hilarious.” “I know. Maybe good things will turn up for all of us.” ***** “Would anyone like something to drink?” Parsons’ secretary asked as the Drummond family sat down in chairs in front of the attorney’s desk. “No, thanks,” Rose said, speaking for them all. Each had nodded “no”. Donald could see the excitement in each of his brother’s eyes and faces. “I’m glad all of you could come today,” Parsons said, looking at each of them one by one. His partners sat to each side of him. “I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” he started. “First of all, I think all of you knew your husband and father pretty well.” David and Daniel nodded their heads affirmatively. Rose and Donald stared at the lawyer absently, waiting for his next words. “Mr. Drummond left his Last Will & Testament with me several years ago. He edited it from time to time. The last time I saw him was two weeks ago. He came in and changed the wording. “I had no idea then what he was thinking about, much less his life being taken like it was. I apologize if saying this makes any of you uncomfortable. “Mr. Drummond had a sizable amount of cash he left for his family to share.” Everyone was at full attention now. Donald shifted in his seat, uncrossing one leg and crossing another. “Mr. Drummond and I have been friends since the 1930’s. I knew a lot about him. We went to school together and belonged to the same organizations. He confided in me his trust. Even so much as to use me as his banker and attorney.

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“Oh, I knew Henry was not the model citizen in this world. But I didn’t ask questions. I was his hired hand. I did what he asked. He paid me graciously.” Donald’s mind wandered as Parsons randomly spoke about his father. Bob Parsons. It was Bob Parsons who sat with his father through interrogations by the FBI and CIA. It was Parsons who sat next to him at the hearings concerning the four girls killed in the Sixteenth Street Church bombings in 1963. Donald’s heart raced. Bob Parsons was one of his father’s best friends as well as family attorney. Parsons paused before he addressed the Drummond family again. “Mrs. Drummond, I need to talk to you alone for a moment. Would the rest of you excuse us? You can sit in the reception room.” Donald was perplexed. David and Daniel followed him into the waiting room. “What does he want to talk to mother about?” Daniel asked. “Who knows,” asked Donald. “He might want to know where dad kept his robe.” Everyone laughed. With the door closed, Parsons walked from behind his desk and sat down next to Rose. “Mrs. Drummond, as you know Henry was married before he married you. You know that, right?” “Yes, I am fully aware of that,” she said, opening her purse in her lap. She knew what Parsons was about to say might be hard for her to take. She searched for a kleenex. “You know, too, that Donald is not your son, right?” “Yes, I am fully aware of that.” “Does Donald know?” “Yes, he just learned this week. His mother has been talking to him. Donald thinks it is a cruel joke someone is playing on him.” “Mrs. Drummond. I was the attorney when Henry filed for the divorce from his first wife. Her name is Betty Jo Duke.”
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“Yes, that is true.” “Before I start to read the Will, I wanted to make certain that Donald was not shocked to learn this news from me.” “Why, is Donald left out of his Will?” “No, no, no, Mrs. Drummond. “Donald is in his Will.” “We can call them all back in now,” he said directing one of his partners to usher them in. Donald looked to see his mother’s facial expression, if it had changed since he left the room. She did not appear to be out of sorts, wrestling with any bad news. “Your father has left each of his sons $1 million each,” Parsons said. David and Daniel gave each other a high five. When they tried to high five Donald, he waved them off. They were stunned by his reaction. Each of them watched Donald’s mannerisms for a moment. It was a total shock to them when Parsons mentioned Donald was not the son of Henry and Rose Drummond. “What!” David yelled, standing. “What are you talking about?” “Yes, what are you talking about!” Daniel asked, standing, too. Donald looked at each of them and nodded. “It is true. You are my step-brothers. I only found out about it this week.” “How? What? Can someone explain?” David asked scrutinizing Donald and his mother. “We’ll talk about it later,” Rose said, motioning for them both to take their seats. “We are dealing with cash, so this Will will not be probated. In other words, we will not file in Probate Court. That would alert their office, and red flags would go up everywhere. I am here to see that Mr. Drummond’s final wishes are handled correctly.” Donald listened more intently. Dirty money! “There are several stipulations your father has for his sons,” Parsons continued. “Mrs. Drummond, you will be happy to know your husband
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did not stipulate how your inheritance should be used. You are free and clear. But he did stipulate the following for his sons. “Mr. Drummond stipulated that each of his sons must join the Society of Southron Patriots, an organization he founded and felt highly of and supported.” “Count me out!” Donald broke in. “I’ll do no such thing.” “Hear me out, please. He wants each of you to become a member and make yearly contributions of $10,000 for ten years. He wants each of you to join a local chapter and participate in all of their activities. You are also asked to attend the organization’s annual conference, and attend schools offered by the league. They are very informative, by the way.” Donald stood, shook his finger at Parsons. “I’ll not be party to any of this!” he shouted. He looked at David and Daniel. Their faces described their intentions. “If the two of you want to take this dirty money our dad is passing on, that’s fine. I can tell you though, this money has many people’s blood on it. You take it, and the sins of our father will be your sins, too.” David looked at Daniel, then back at Donald and to their mother. Rose sat numbed by it all. Donald drew a line in the sand and dared anyone to step across it. Donald walked toward the door. “Mother are you coming with me?” he asked. Rose sat still. She could not speak. She could not comprehend Donald’s outburst, much less the meaning of it all. “Son, please sit down and listen. Calm down, please!” “Mother, have David or Daniel take you home. I can’t sit here and listen to this.” “Donald,” Parsons butted in. “You’re giving up one million dollars. Do you think you want to do this?” “I am certain!” Donald shouted. “Then I guess the three of you will split the four million dollars since Donald is excusing himself,” Parsons said.
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“I can survive,” Donald said. “I didn’t have a million dollars when I came in, and I won’t have a million dollars when I leave.” With that, Donald hastily walked out of the office, opened his car door, slammed it shut and gunned the Jeep onto Bessemer Super Highway. Donald dialed the number he saved in his cell phone to Kilgore, Texas. “Ms. Duke, I will see you tomorrow.”

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Chapter Twelve
Driving back to his house in Midfield took Donald past the Valhalla Cemetery. It was only nine days since his father was buried. Today is December 30, he remembered. The newspaper planned a retirement party for him at noon tomorrow, and he had almost forgotten about it. He told Betty Jo Duke he was coming to see her. He called Anne on his cell phone and told her to pack their bags; they were leaving as soon as she packed. “How did the meeting go?” Anne asked. “You don’t want to know,” Donald told her. “Anything wrong?” “Plenty. We’ll talk later.” “Donald, Detective Blair said you cannot leave the state,” Anne cautioned him. “The hell with him. Pack the bags.” He was anxious to put everything that had happened in the past few days behind him, wiping out the memories as quickly as he could. He wished he had a magic wand to stop the wild ideas gushing through his mind. A $1 million inheritance gift from his father; a new mother in Texas. The retirement party. He slowed the Jeep as he came closer to Valhalla. Valhalla, the hall of the slain. A Norse myth, he recalled. Donald turned right off Highway 11 into the cemetery and wound around the one-lane paved road to where his father was buried. Do I really want to revisit my father’s grave? It was if someone else took control of the steering wheel. The cemetery was vacant, except for a few workers preparing a grave for a new dead soul. He spotted them about a hundred yards away as he got of the car and walked toward the grave marker.

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The sun was at high noon. Not a cloud in the sky. It was cold but he did not feel the slashing wind against his cheeks. He walked past graves sites, monuments and a mausoleum. Most of the decorations on the graves wilted because of the season. Those graves decorated with plastic flowers withstood the weather. Plastic is good, he thought. His father was plastic. My life is coming apart at the seams. Time. I need time to think. I need time alone. I need air. My breathing is heavy. I’m having a heart attack! Am I dying? He sat down on the cold ground. He was dizzy. His thoughts bounced around like a ping pong ball. A thought ignited in him. The realization that David and Daniel are only step brothers. He pondered how different he really was from them. He stood five feet, nine inches tall, and both David and Daniel were over six-feet tall. They had blond hair, and he had sandy-colored hair, but he never thought about the difference until now. He didn’t have black hair like his father or olive skin like his step-mother. David and Daniel had the skin of their mother, but he hadn’t noticed through all the years. When he did wonder he shook the notion off as if it were some heredity fluke. What had he done to deserve such fate? Why do I feel so strange? He prayed for an angel to appear to show him the answers. Seeing all the graves and the flowers reminded him of those special days he spent with his family at the grave sites of his ancestors on Decoration Days in April. He felt like a boy again, running around the little church in the country, chasing and romping with his cousins through the wooded valleys and dales in the wild woods before settling down on a log to eat a delicious paper plate filled with fried chicken, turnip greens, potato salad, corn on the cob and a piece of cherry pie. Watching all the old ladies and men decorate the graves of their ancestors still brought up chilling memories of death. This is my Decoration Day. The only hunger he had was the truth about himself.
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He sat beside his father’s grave. He picked up a small pebble and threw it at the grave marker. He found a larger rock and threw it at the grave marker. He found a bigger rock and threw it at the grave marker. Finally, he jumped up and down on the grave marker. He was a crazy man. His knees finally gave out and he crumbled across the grave site, unconscious. Cemetery workers found him and dialed for an ambulance. He woke up in a hospital room. He saw a man who looked like a doctor talking to his wife. A nurse fumbled with a needle, and he felt the prick. He looked up at her and questioned. “Are you an angel?” A second later he was in la la land.

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Chapter Thirteen Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Donald’s scene at the Valhalla cemetery, jumping up and down on a grave marker, drew the attention of a worker who called for help. The next thing Donald knew he was in the psychiatric ward of the state mental health institution in Tuscaloosa. A .45 gage revolver was found in his vehicle. Officers felt he might harm himself or someone else, and turned him over to state medical examiners, and a team of psychiatrists needed time to evaluate his behavior. Donald woke up in his bed. He looked around at his new surroundings. How long have I been here? What am I doing here? The small room had three other males. He smelled fresh paint. He was with another white man and two black men. Have I gone crazy? Donald couldn’t remember anything after the day he went to his father’s grave. Everything was a blur. “Mr. Drummond, you must take your medications!” a black nurse implored, standing over him like a sergeant giving orders. Donald stared into her evil black eyes and turned his face away. Why am I here? Have I done something awful? Did I kill someone? The nurse shoved two pills in front of Donald with a glass of water in the other hand. “Take these, Mr. Drummond, or we will have to force them down you!” she said. Donald was unusually quiet. In fact, he felt quite tranquil. He felt as if his body had been to sleep, but not his brain. He took the pills from her hand and washed them down with the water.

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“That’s good, Mr. Drummond. You’ll feel like getting out of bed and moving around in a little while. You might even be able to walk out on the grounds this afternoon.” Donald did not respond. He looked around at the three others still in bed. They were sleeping or, at least, he thought that was what they were doing. The bodies lay lifeless. Donald’s mind felt at peace. It was an uncanny feeling, almost supranatural, surreal. Little did he know he was drugged by Xanax. Whatever it was, he could use another dose. It made him feel like a zombie, even though his brain was running in five different directions at a time. Dr. Jerry Heart, the psychiatrist in charge of the ward where Donald was sent, appeared. “How are you today, Donald?” Heart asked, pulling up a metal chair beside Donald’s bed. “Couldn’t feel better, doc,” Donald said. He felt like he had a crooked smile when he tried to talk. “How much longer do I have to stay here?” “You’re making progress, Donald. “We’ll just see how things are in a week or two. You’ve had an extreme shock to your system. The medications I gave you will help to relieve your anxiety and panic attacks. It is not uncommon for people to have a mental breakdown in mid-life, but these are extenuating circumstances to deal with, and I am here to help. However, I can help. I want you to know I am here for you. “Have you ever been hypnotized,” Dr. Heart asked. “Not that I know of,” Donald replied. “Well, I am not a big fan of it, either. There is another treatment called Neuro Emotional Technique. I’d like to perform this with your consent.” “Well, what is it, and does it hurt?” Donald asked. “Oh, no, no,” Dr. Heart laughed. “It’s a relatively new technique I do which allows us to see what past wounds you might have, and get rid of them, so you can begin the healing process.” “So, what you are treating me for is not insanity?” Donald asked. “No, Donald,” the doctor said. “You’re sane as anyone. You’ve just had a big blow to your system. It affects your entire physiology; your body,
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mind and Spirit. The N.E.T., I will perform is a holistic health technique. I can promise you will feel like yourself in a few weeks. We are going to find the source of your anxiety and panic attacks and erase them from your past. Not many psychiatrist are using the new technique.“ “Well, I am all for holistic health,” Donald said. “You sound like me giving a speech to my colleagues,” Heart said. “Trust me, I think we can begin to treat you with N.E.T. And you will be able to begin using these techniques yourself as we proceed. We’re going to get you off these strong medications as quickly as we possibly can.” Donald was excited. But, where was Anne, his wife? Where was his mothers, Betty Jo and Rose? He wanted to see them, talk to them, find out from them why he seemed so troubled. Had he hallucinated? He remembered a dream he had. In the dream, he was walking up stairs, and standing at the top was a figure who resembled Jesus of pictures he had seen on his grandmother’s wall. The figure tapped him on the head, and waved for him to go into a room which was painted white. The room was cloudy as if a mist, and he saw a mother figure beside a baby crib. No words were spoken. Donald, the man, looked down into the crib and saw a newborn baby. The baby was him. “I’d like to see my wife and mothers,” Donald said to the doctor. “Well, I think you can have visitors on Sunday afternoons only. I do not see a problem with them visiting. I want to speak to them first, and let them know what our plans are with the new procedure, and explain what it is to them, so they will understand it, too. “I don’t think it is wise to see your mother and step-mother at the same time. I don’t think the two of them are ready for any form of communication. You can choose which person you want to see. Of course, your wife can come any time she wants.” Seeing his real mother and his step-mother at the same time, in the same room, appealed to Donald. “If I could just get them together, I know they can fill in some blank spaces in my life.”
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“Well, I do not recommend it right now,” Heart said. “I think talking to your real mother at this point would be a good starting place. Let Anne know how you feel about all of this. I think she understands better than anyone else what you are going through.” “Whatever you say, doc. I am in your hands.” They both laughed at Donald’s play on words, since N.E.T. Technique is performed with the hands. “So, when do we begin?” Donald asked. “I think we can begin tomorrow,” the doctor said. “I will reserve a special room for us in the hospital.” “Well, I am not going anywhere, so I will be here when you are ready.” ***** “You certainly look a lot better,” proclaimed Dr. Heart as Donald lay in his hospital bed. It had been four weeks and still Dr. Heart was not prepared to release him. His diagnosis was anxiety, panic attacks, depression and with a neurosurgeon’s examination -- the onset of Alzheimer’s. “You have a lot of anger built up inside you,” Dr. Heart said. “I want you to talk to Dr. Gene March. He is a neurosurgeon. He’s examined you and thinks you might be in the initial stages of Alzheimer’s, but it is too early to tell.” “Alzheimer’s!” Donald exclaimed, confused. “Well, he is not prepared to diagnose it yet as Alzheimer’s. He will better explain it than I can. He’s a neurologist and knows about the disorder.” “Does my wife know?” Donald asked. “Yes, Dr. March met with her and your son. He has also asked to speak to your mother and step-mother.” Anne already had seen a big difference in Donald in just the few weeks he was hospitalized. He did not remember the scene at the cemetery. He asked her more than once what his real mother’s name was. Each time she
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would say, “Betty Jo Duke,” and Donald acted like the name stuck with him, then again he would ask her again and she repeated it again. “I have two mothers?” Donald asked, and Anne tried not to confuse him any more than he was. “Your real mother is Betty Jo Duke, and your step mother is Rose,” she said. “Rose,” Donald pronounced her name. “Rose. Do I know Rose?” Anne wept when she left the hospital room. No one saw this coming. It was like Donald left one morning to drive to the cemetery, entered a psychiatric ward and poof his memory was fading fast. “Your mother has been calling and writing,” Anne told him the next the day when she went to visit. “She is really concerned about you. She blames herself for what you are going through. “Look, she sent this to you.” Anne gave him a small package wrapped in brown paper. “She’s been calling, and we have talked quite a bit. She is not such a bad woman. Matter of fact, I think your mother is really a deep thinker. She sounds sure of herself. She lives on a ranch in Kilgore, and she wants us to come and be with her and for you to get some rest at her home. “She ask me a lot of questions about you, and your work, and she asks about Joseph, and what kind of a boy he is. She ask a lot of questions about me, and seemed genuinely interested in my teaching experiences. She wants to get to know us better, especially you. She said there is a lot of catching up everyone needs.” Donald eyed the box and fiddled with the scotch tape before tearing it open. There was a gift box inside, neatly wrapped in solid red wrapping paper. It had a white bow on top. “She knows your penchant for things red and white,” Anne said, jokingly. I told her about your addiction to Alabama football.” Donald carefully opened the package and felt a book. It was a book about The Duke Family she had written about the old ancient surname. Donald’s mind spun as he tried to find the irony of it all. It didn’t help that
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the lithium Dr. Heart prescribed for him did not seem to be working, or maybe it was? Maybe I have the blood of a nobleman. A duke’s rank is of the highest order right below the King and Queen. “Here, let me read something to you,” Anne said. “Dearest Donald, I want you to have this book. I have been compiling it since I was in my late twenties. It is the last copy I had with the exception of the one I kept for myself. I hope you enjoy it. It might be boring to you because there are a lot of old marriage records, birth records, divorce records of our family dating back to 1585 A.D. I always believed in family roots, because my family was so dysfunctional. I wanted to know who I was. I learned long ago it is important to know where you came from, because it is a road map to where you might be going. You have to know yourself in order to be yourself. I hope to see you real soon. I want you and Anne and Joseph to come visit me here in Kilgore. I almost went crazy when I returned from Birmingham without you in 1946. Well, I’ve got to go for now. I hope to see you soon.” Love Mother Donald opened the blue hard-cover book, and found a reference to the first Duke family in America. It didn’t make much sense to him. Anne read him a passage. “Peter Duke, one of the masters of the 1585/86 voyage of Sir Francis Drake, was the first person with the surname Duke to set foot on American soil.” The Duke’s were of the lineage of families from Devonshire, England, of the family of Poerhayes. Anne closed the book as a doctor came into the room. “Hello, I am Dr. Gene March. I am a neurologist.” He shook Anne’s hand first, then Donald’s.
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“I want to be frank with both of you. I’ve had some test run and although there is nothing certain, I am confident you might be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.” “How can you tell?” Anne asked somewhat annoyed. She had seen some signs that Donald was becoming a little forgetful at times, but she thought it was normal for him at sixty-two years of age. “The causes of Alzheimer’s are often misunderstood, Mrs. Drummond,” the doctor said. “It has an effect on brain tissue and brain cells are killed off. A healthy brain has billions of nerve cells called neurons. Neurons generate electrical and chemical signals that are relayed from neuron to neuron to help you think, remember and feel. “Initially in people with Alzheimer’s neurons in certain locations in the brain begin to die. When they die, lower levels of transmitters are produced, creating signaling problems in the brain.” “How can you be sure?” Anne asked. “Well, I am not totally convinced. There are a number of tests which need to be done. The best place is the Mayo Clinic. There’s one in Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida. I’m convinced, Mr. and Mrs. Drummond, that more sophisticated tests are required before we jump to conclusions which might be false. “Once Mr. Drummond is released from here, I will be happy to recommend you checking into the Mayo Clinic for more tests. Are you both willing?” Anne couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Donald was more confused and remained silent. He focused his heavy eyes on the ceiling. “We certainly want what’s best for him, doctor,” Anne offered. “I recommend the clinic in Chicago,” Dr. March said. “They have researched the disease about as well as anyone in the world.” “How long do you think he will be in this hospital?” Anne asked. “Well, that will be up to his team of doctors, I included.” “Thanks, doctor.” Dr. March left the hospital room, and Anne had to walk out in the hall to catch a fresh breath. It was too much information in one day for her. She
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could not absorb what was happening to her husband. She tried to reason, but the more she tried to reason, the less any of it made sense to her. When she returned to the room where Donald lay in his bed, he was sound asleep. She let him sleep, and she slipped out of the room to call Rose and Betty Jo Duke on her cell phone. ***** Donald’s stay in the mental health institute lasted two weeks. Anne stayed by his side, only leaving to catch a nap and shower. She kept in close contact with Rose and Betty Jo. “Donald, I think it’s time to talk to your mother,” she hinted one morning. “You mean Rose or what’s her name?” Donald said, perplexed. “Your mother, Betty Jo Duke.” “Oh, that one,” he said, finding it depressing. “Why don’t you call her now,” Anne said. “We need to visit her. We can go next week if you want.” Donald pondered Anne’s suggestion and agreed. He picked up the phone and dialed the number. The call was answered on the third ring by an unfamiliar voice. “May I speak to Ms. Duke?” “Yes sir. Jist a minet.” Donald heard the voice shout out. “Ms. Duke. There’s a man axing for you.” “Hi, Donald. That was my maid who answered. Did you get my package?” “Yes, thank you. I look forward to learning more about the Duke’s. I already know too much about the Drummond clan. Anne and I have been discussing the possibility of driving out to see you next week. What do you think about that?” “Oh, Donald, that would be great. You’ll love it at the ranch. You ever been on a ranch?” “I’ve seen them but never actually visited one.” “I can’t wait!” Betty Jo said. *****
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Donald phoned Rose and talked to her about their plans. “What about the Mayo Clinic?” Rose asked him. “That can wait.” “I worry about your health, son. I know you are hurt. I know you must think I am a bad woman. But I want you to know your father forbade me to speak of your mother. Your father was a very tough man. He had connections which I knew nothing about. I was afraid of him at times. He often threatened me. He beat me a few times which y’all do not know anything about. Your Uncle Mack and father stood for everything wrong. They were members of a secret society. They were part of the mob, I learned later. I know you must go to your mother now. I pray the Lord be with you. And, I hope you will forgive me?” Donald couldn’t help but call Rose his mother, even though he was confused now. How should he address his real mother? Would he call her mother, too? That would take some getting used to. “Mother, I forgive you. I don’t know everything I should know at this particular moment in my life, but it will be interesting to find out what these missing links are. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be all right. Tell David and Daniel I’ll see them when we return.” “Detective Blair has been here to question me again,” Rose said. “They still don’t know who killed Henry. The detective said they are sending the FBI to Texas to question your mother. Someone said she could have killed him. She has money, Donald. She’s rich. Blair thinks she could have bought a killer-for-hire.” “Fascinating. Maybe her butler did it?” Donald laughed. “It sounds like you are back to your normal self,” she replied.

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Chapter Fourteen Kilgore, Texas
Two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents drove through the gated property with the initials BJD Ranch engraved on the black wrought iron entranceway. The gate was unlocked in the day time but locked at night. A high barb wired fence circled around the land as far as the eye could see, giving it the look of a prison. The fence actually was donated to the ranch by the warden at the Huntsville State Penitentiary, thanks to the friendship between the warden and her friend and attorney, Al Falvey. The first place they stopped was at a log house which served as the home to the ranch foreman. Charley Noble watched as the car stopped. Noble was Betty Jo Duke’s top ranch hand, and she paid him generously. Part of his salary was the house so he could live there with his wife 24/7 to oversee the ranch, which included cattle, horses and oil wells. He was responsible for twelve ranch hands, and his wife cooked breakfast and dinner for them. The ranch hands came each day and weren’t allowed to live on the property. Noble had little trouble hiring help, since they were a “dime a dozen,” he told his boss. Noble had problems like most businesses, keeping good help. He had a lot of turnover in personnel. Some were Hispanics, druggies and alcoholics. His top ranch hand had been with him since his boss took over the ranch from Mack Tucker 18 years ago. That’s how long Noble had been with Ms. Duke. Noble met the two FBI agents at their car before they could get out. “Can I help you gentlemen?” Noble asked, stretching his denim coverall suspenders as the driver rolled down his window. “Looking for Betty Jo Duke,” the agent said, showing Noble his FBI badge. “She in trouble?” asked Noble, whose job it was to see that no hoodlums came onto the ranch. That was one of the characteristics Betty Jo
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liked about her foreman. He was a no-nonsense type fellow with grit in his veins. “Just a few questions,” the agent said, flipping to close his leather badge case and putting it back in his coat pocket. Charley wasn’t the sophisticated type. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade and worked on ranches in Texas, Colorado and Montana. He had never dealt with someone like the FBI. The only thing sophisticated about Charley was his walkie-talkie. He hated computers and cell phones. “Mattie,” Charley called, pushing the talk button on the gadget as he called it. “There’s two men from the FBI that wants to talk to Ms. Duke. I’m sending them to the house.” “The FBI,” Mattie radioed back. “What’s they’s want with Ms. Duke?” “I dunno, Mattie, but they are coming in.” Charley motioned the agents to drive along on the west road about a mile and they would see the house. “Don’t get any cow shit on that nice, clean car, you hear,” Charley said, laughing at himself as they drove off. “This gal’s got money,” the agent in the passenger seat observed as the car weaved around the well-maintained dirt road. Cattle and horses grazed on pasture land, and dozens of oil wells were pumping oil like a duck drinks water, dipping the iron heads, rocking back and forth. Betty Jo was in her Fiddle Dee Dee bedroom when Mattie announced on the intercom that two FBI agents were coming to the mansion. The Jo was half-full of guests, which meant 30 people were in and around the property. She wasn’t surprised by the FBI coming to question her. She and Al discussed it on the ride home from Birmingham the day after Henry Drummond’s funeral. What surprised her was how long it took them. She hoped to meet with the agents at The Jo without anyone suspecting they were from a federal agency.

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“They will figure out your relationship with Drummond and come calling,” Falvey told her. Falvey also disclosed after they arrived home that Henry Drummond had been killed by arsenic poison. “Gotta go somehow,” she told Al sardonically. “Mattie. Show the two men into the study when they arrive. I will be down when I get ready.” “Yes ma’am,” Mattie replied over the intercom. ***** The FBI agents had plenty of time to wait as they sat in the exquisite study of The Jo. Mattie offered them sweet iced tea or coffee but both refused. “She’ll be down in a jiffy,” Mattie told them. One hour later, Betty Jo swooned into the study, looking like she had dressed for a ballroom dance. “Hello, gents,” Betty Jo offered her hand to each agent who stood upon her entrance. “How can I help you?” “I’m Tom Peyton and this is Jim Betts.” Tom introduced himself and his partner. “We are with the FBI out of Dallas.” “I bet you are,” Betty Jo teased them. She was an old woman but she still knew how to be gracious and flirtatious. “We’re here to ask you a few questions about the relationship between you and Henry Drummond,” Betts said. “Well, what do y’all want to know about us?” Betty Jo replied, sitting down on an early Rococo Victorian custom cushioned arm chair. The frames of the chair were carved with flowers, fruits, grapes and leaves, with cabriole front legs in brass castors. She signaled for the agents to sit on a matching sofa beside her. “Henry Drummond and you were married in 1945 in Dallas, Texas,” Peyton began. “The two of you had two children, one who is still living and one child that was aborted.”

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Betty Jo cringed as she felt a twitch in her right eye. Maybe they didn’t see it. How could they know about the child she had and the abortion in Sweden? Mack Tucker. “Ms. Duke,” Peyton continued. “Ms. Duke.” “Uh...yes,” she said, trying to hide her secret thoughts. How long had she not been listening? Betty Jo was about to respond to the agent when her butler knocked on the study door. The butler let himself in and announced she had an important telephone call from Mr. Falvey. She excused herself and walked across the room to the office phone. “Yes, they are here,” she spoke softly into the phone. “Yes, it would be nice if you were here.” She hung up. “Gents. That was my attorney and he asked if he could be with us while you question me. He is on his way.” “You don’t need an attorney, Ms. Duke,” Betts said, a little miffed by the interruption. “We are only here to get a few facts from you.” “My attorney thinks it is in my best interest for him to be present. After all, I know y’all both think and the Bureau considers me a person of interest as y’all like to call it these days.” “Very well, Ms. Duke,” Peyton said. “How long before he arrives?” “Within thirty minutes,” she said. “Either of you like sweet iced tea, coffee or something to wet your whistle?” ***** Betty Jo left the agents sitting in the study. She returned to her room upstairs and found her diary and scrapbook. She recorded the few short months she knew Henry in 1945-46. She wanted to refresh her mind a little in case the agents wanted to know when they got married, where, when and whatever. Falvey arrived thirty minutes later and was shown to the study. “Ms. Duke. Mister Falvey is here’s now. He’s down there with those fellows,” Mattie said over the intercom.
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“Okay, Mattie. Thanks.” Betty Jo returned to the study to find the three men in casual conversation. She heard them talking about the cold, damp weather outside and the beautiful ranch. She nodded and smiled at Al, who had taken a chair opposite her. “Ms. Duke,” Peyton continued. “You know by now Henry Drummond is dead. He was killed. Arsenic has been identified as the cause. He died on December 19th at his home in Midfield, Alabama.” “I am aware of it,” she responded. “According to our records you were married to Mr. Drummond in 1945. It was a short marriage ending in divorce. The two of you had a son, Donald, and an unknown son who was aborted. “According to the divorce decree filed in Jefferson County, Alabama in July 1946 the custody of your son went to Mr. Drummond. Although the records do not show it you received a lump sum of cash and told by his lawyer not to contact your son until the death of Mr. Drummond.” Falvey interrupted and spoke to Betty Jo aloud so the agents could hear him. “Ms. Duke. You do not have to respond to the agent concerning the alleged cash. That was never entered into court records.” “Mr. Falvey, we are not in court,” Peyton said, admonishing him like a judge. “We only want to establish the relationship between Ms. Duke and Mr. Drummond.” “Well, you have established they were married,” Falvey said. “That should be sufficient.” “Ms. Duke. Where were you the day Mr. Drummond died? On December 19th.” “I was here at the ranch. Anyone here will vouch for me.” “You had a motive for the death of Mr. Drummond,” Betts pitched in. “You could not contact your son, Donald Drummond, until Mr. Drummond was dead. You are now a person of interest in Mr. Drummond’s murder, Ms. Duke. Our investigative team will be here shortly to search your property and confiscate all communication equipment, including computers, cell phones and records pertaining to your business.”
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“You can’t do this!” Falvey said in defiance to the agent. “Yes, we can,” Peyton said. “Our investigative team is on their way at this moment.” ***** “Mattie! Mattie,” yelled Charley Noble from the ranch house. “There are a bunch of revenoors who did not stop when I asked them, and they are on their way to The Jo.” Mattie heard Charley’s words and went into a tizzy. “Lawd, Lawd. What’s dun happen ning here!” she screamed. The housemaids gathered around her and wanted to know what was occurring. “I jist dunno,” she said. “We’s being attacked by revenoors.” “Ms. Duke. We are taking you into custody,” agent Peyton said. “You are not being accused of murdering Mr. Drummond at this time. You are only a person of interest. “Agent Betts. Please handcuff Ms. Duke and lead her to the car. Mr. Falvey, your client will be held in Tyler County Jail until we have had time to interview her and establish whether or not to bring charges against her. “Since you are her attorney of record, you are free to accompany her to the jail.” Falvey was beside himself, angry. He had not dealt with the FBI before, but he had heard tales of their heavy handedness. “Is this what Homeland Security has come to!” Falvey shouted to the agents. “Ms. Duke is not a threat to our country, to herself, and she did not murder Henry Drummond.” “She’s just a person of interest,” Betts said as he placed the handcuffs loosely around Betty Jo’s wrists. “She’s an old woman for God’s sake,” Falvey blurted out to the agents. “We’ll take that into consideration,” Betts said, and helped Betty Jo into the backseat of the government vehicle.

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“Damn government agents,” Falvey fumed as he went to his car. He would follow them to the Tyler County Jail and try to recall all his client’s legal rights. He had not been in a situation like this in years. “What they don’t know is we have already done a surveillance of the property and wire-tapped their phones,” Peyton laughed, looking over at his partner. “Y’all have done what!” Betty Jo yelled over the backseat.

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Chapter Fifteen Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Harvey Hall was alone at his desk at the Society of Southron Patriots headquarters when he heard a knock on a door. He opened his right desk drawer for his pistol and slid it into the back of his pants. No one came to the Lodge unless there was a called meeting or members scheduled to come during deer and turkey season. Hall peered out a window by the door and saw a car outside. An unmarked ABI vehicle. They’ve finally come. He took his pistol out and hid it behind a mahogany chest, then opened the door. “I am Don Gardiner with the ABI, and this is Hunter Gaines also with the ABI. We are looking for Mr. Harvey Hall.” “I’m Harvey Hall.” “May we come in?” “Certainly.” “We need to ask you a few questions, Mr. Hall, in regards to Henry Drummond,” Gardiner began. “Come in and sit for a spell.” Hall waved them in. “Follow me to my office.” “Mr. Hall. Henry Drummond was the founder of the Society of Southron Patriots and we have it on record that you and several of your members were at Drummond’s house the night before he was found dead,” Gaines began. “The pathology lab identified the cause of his death to arsenic poisoning, a rare substance only found in China.” “We were all shocked when we learned Henry had died, and even more concerned that he died of poisoning,” Hall said, reaching for a pipe on his desk. He placed the pipe in his mouth, poked some fresh tobacco into it, and fired it up. Cherry aroma. “Do you know who could have killed Drummond?” Gardiner asked.
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“It could have been a number of people,” Hall said, blowing pipe smoke into a little curl out of his mouth. He told himself to remain calm, cool and collected when the time came to meet with law officials, and he was trying his best. “How many members does the league have now?” Gaines asked. Hall looked at a daily report on his desk. “Thirty-two thousand members as of today,” he said, pointing down at the report. He was proud of the numbers. He also noticed the names of the league’s newest members – David and Daniel Drummond – both investing $10,000 each to the organization. “Do you know why someone would kill Drummond?” Gardiner asked. “There are probably a number of suspects, but I assure you none of our members, nor myself, wanted to see Drummond die. We knew he suffered from prostate cancer, and we didn’t have many chances to meet with him. The night we gathered at his house was mostly to catch up on our organization’s news events. He has been a figurehead for this organization since it began in 1994. If it wasn’t for Henry Drummond’s generosity we would not be where we are now.” “Was there a power struggle at the top of the organization’s structure?” Gaines asked. “I am the vice-president of the league, and Henry and I were great friends. We got along fine. I am satisfied with my role as vice-president. However, with Drummond’s demise the board has elected me president.” “When did this occur?” Gardiner asked curiously. “Why, just last week,” Hall said. “We called an emergency meeting with 11 other members and a vote was taken.” “What day did this occur?” asked Gaines. Hall looked at the desk calendar. “On January 5th,” Hall said, his finger pointing to the calendar. “Do you know Bill Baker?” Gaines asked. Hall studied a moment, scratching his head. “You mean the Tuscaloosa police chief?”
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“Yes. Chief Bill Baker. Was he a member of the league?” “I’d have to check my files to see if he was a member,” Hall said. “Can you do that for us?” Gardiner asked. Hall turned on his laptop computer and let it warm up. He scrolled to the organization’s member listings. He began to perspire. The logs in the chimney were amber, making the room hot, but the question about Baker’s membership in the league made it even hotter. How do I answer the question? If I tell them he was a member will they trace his death back to us. Or should I tell them he was not a member and let them figure it out on their own. Bill had been a board member, but how many people outside the organization knew about it. Maybe his family? “Yes. Chief Baker is a member,” Hall said. “He is a member in good standing.” “Mr. Hall. Chief Baker is missing as you are probably aware. His wife said he was at the lodge on January 5th. I believe you better come with us to our local office for further questioning. The FBI has been called in to assist us.” What am I doing? I should have called Bob Parsons. He should have been here with me. Damn it! Gardiner took out his cell phone and dialed the number to the ABI headquarters in Montgomery. “Good work, Don,” O’Connor said. “We’ll get the FBI involved and the Society of Southron Patriots will be shut down for good.” That afternoon, the FBI’s Birmingham office sent six men to the Tuscaloosa headquarters of the Society of Southron Patriots and began seizing all forms of communications and records, including Hall’s laptop. Three of the six FBI agents began combing the property, and one of the agents stumbled onto an abandoned coal mine pit. “What have we here?” an agent asked, standing in front of overgrown grass leading to the shaft. “Call headquarters and tell them to the get the K9 units here. We’ll need oxygen masks.”

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Chapter Sixteen Midfield, Alabama
An FBI agent knocked on Donald’s door in Midfield. He and Anne were in the back bedroom packing their suitcases. They were packing for at least a two-week stay in Kilgore, Texas where he would be united with his biological mother for the first time. It was the same agent who appeared the day his father was found dead. Donald had known him for over thirty years. Gary Bartholomew was one of the oldest agents in the local bureau. He spent most of his time working on the KKK. Donald remembered the stacks of files on the KKK in the Birmingham office when he clerked there before joining the Birmingham Iron-Herald as a news reporter. Bartholomew had spent years recording KKK meetings from his “stringers” in the field, hired to infiltrate the organization. Donald opened the door, and invited the agent into the house. “I understand you are going to see your mother,” Bartholomew stated matter of fact. “The FBI in Dallas has detained your mother in a holding cell in Tyler, Texas. They’ve confiscated records from her business dealings with the ranch and Mack Tucker. She had a motive to kill your father. In the 1946 divorce decree she took a lot of money from your father and Tucker. She gave you up into the custody of Mr. Drummond. She became a rich woman, and even richer when she received the ranch from Tucker 18 years ago. The problem is we’ve got to release her. Apparently, we cannot charge her at the moment for anything. She has an alibi at every turn. I’ve got a deal for you.” “What kind of deal? You want me to dress up in a sheet and parade around Texas?” Donald teased him. “Donald. I’ve got permission from Washington to hire you as a stringer to investigate the murder of your father. Homeland Security has now joined us.”
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“Homeland Security?” Donald asked inquisitively. “I thought Homeland Security was to protect us from terrorism?” “I’m getting to it,” Bartholomew said, holding his hand out for quiet. “You can be of great assistance to us because of your investigative work you’ve done for the newspaper. Since this is your father, you will be an asset as we uncover something even greater than your father’s death.” “Ohhh...” Donald said, getting a few goosebumps. He was always prepared to uncover deceit, lies and illegalities. It was the nature of his work. But, but...he was retiring from the business. “We’re not only dealing with your father’s murder, but we are afraid of this new arsenic poisoning that somehow has made its way from China to the United States. We have a few clues. Your work for us will be to report to us any findings that will lead us to the source of where this poisoning might be by being more attentive to all the people in your father’s lives, including those members of the Society of Southron Patriots, Mack Tucker, your own mother in Texas and your step-mother, Rose. Some one from the aforementioned people killed your father. If we find the source of the poisoning, we find your father’s killer or killers. It also appears the Society of Southron Patriots is steadily increasing in numbers and one of their hidden agendas is the overthrow of the central government, which you know is our American way of life. The arsenic might be a key to their hidden secrets.” Donald looked at Anne, who was seated on the living room sofa. He searched her eyes. Did she want him to join sides to clear-up his father’s death? He looked for any sign. Anne’s bright blue eyes gleamed at him. He learned long ago how to read his wife’s facial expression, and he knew she was signaling a total yes to him. The emotional ties he had with his step-mother, Rose, might be a hurdle to overcome. He could care less about the Society of Southron Patriots, Uncle Mack or his new mother in Texas. He could be objective up to a point, up to a point where he would lay blame for the murder on his stepmother. He knew she didn’t do it. She was a devout Christian who cherished the lives of others. She would not disobey the Ten Commandments, especially the one, Thou Shalt Not Kill.
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“Our agency has it on good authority from looking at communications from your father and The Society of Southron Patriots, especially of your father’s successor, that an attempt to use massive poisoning at this year’s Super Bowl in Washington, D.C., is being schemed. “We found plans whereby the food service at the Super Bowl is targeted by the Society of Southron Patriots to use arsenic in food and drinks. They hope to kill as many dignitaries in Washington as they can; to send a message. “They’ve also targeted the United Nations’ food service to do the same. We’re still looking at some of their plans and, God knows, what else they have in mind.” Donald limply sat down beside Anne. He slumped his big frame body on the sofa. Anne reached out for his right hand and squeezed it tightly. “Gary. I don’t know what to think, what to believe. I’ve been trying to come to grips with the deceit my family has dealt me over my new family in Texas. I hoped to visit with my real mother to try and resolve the truth. “Now you come to me and tell me you want me to work with you and the FBI to nail my father’s killer. That’s hard enough. But you want me to help you nail the cuckoos in the Society of Southron Patriots for their plan to kill people in mass. It’s a little overwhelming.” “That’s it in a nutshell, Donald,” Bartholomew said, looking down at him with steely brown eyes. “Wow. Let me think about it?” “Don’t take too long. We’ve got an awful lot of work in front of us and the Bureau is waiting for your answer. If it takes our local agent-in-charge, Doug Evans, or the FBI director to convince you I am certain plans are in place. It’s a duty you need to strongly consider for our country.” “You could be a hero like Denzell Washington in the ‘Pelican Brief ’,” Anne said, trying to break the serious mood in the room. “Yeah, right,” Donald looked at her smiling. “That was a good movie and I love Julia Roberts. Maybe you could be a heroine like her.” Donald stood awkwardly. He felt a little dizzy. The Xanax he had been taking eased some of the panicky feelings he still had. He reminded himself
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he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and needed to plan a trip to the Mayo Clinic for more testing. But he felt like a young reporter in his own mind. This was a job he dreamed about years ago as a boy. He wanted to be a famous writer. Who knows maybe when this was all over he would have a book to write. “I’ll do it,” he told Bartholomew and Anne. “How much did you say it pays? I want first dibs on the copyright for a book. That has to be in the negotiations.” “We’ll negotiate that down at headquarters,” Bartholomew said, shaking his hand. “Can you postpone your trip to Texas just for a little while? We need you here. It’s important we deal with the Society of Southron Patriots, find the poisoning which we believe they have a large amount stashed somewhere. We have narrowed your father’s killer to the Society of Southron Patriots and your Uncle Mack.” “Yes. You’re right. I will postpone the trip for a little while. I hope we can solve this case as quickly as possible because I really want to get to know my real mother.” “Can we meet with you at headquarters tomorrow morning?” “I’ll be there.” “Nine o’clock.” “Nine o’clock,” Donald replied. “Anne, you must keep this a secret. I told Agent Evans you should be there when we asked Donald to assist us. It is only fair you know what he will be doing as an investigator for us.” “Cross my heart and hope to die, if I do,” Anne said, making a cross mark.

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Chapter Seventeen Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Six members of the FBI swat team entered the coal mine shaft on the property of the Society of Southron Patriots. Three K9 sniffing dogs anxiously ran in front of their masters, dragging them along. Each dog had been exposed to the arsenic – Dushiqiang. The agency borrowed the poisoning from the pathology lab at UAB which was taken from Henry Drummond’s belly. The dogs were given a piece of clothing from Tuscaloosa Police Chief, Bill Baker, to sniff. The FBI suspected the league of Baker’s whereabouts, probably dead since it had been two weeks since he disappeared on January 5th. The three K9’s also dabbled their noses into a piece of Harvey Hall’s jacket he left at headquarters. Hall remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail where FBI and Homeland Security agents continued to question him in regard to what they discovered on his computer – the massive killing of people at this year’s Super Bowl in Washington, D.C., and the plan to use food poisoning at the United Nations. Both plans were extensive and complicated, and both agencies wondered how it could be pulled off. Regardless, a threat was a threat. Hall would talk or else. Bob Parsons met with Hall in his jail cell. “Our conversations are tapped,” Parsons said. “I don’t care. Just watch what you say.” Parsons winked and Hall knew what to do. Hall and Parsons had code words and the gibberish conversation heard by the FBI and Homeland Security agents threw them for a total loop. If they could decipher the words, they would have learned the 10,000 pounds of poisoning had been moved to a remote barn in rural Tuscaloosa County, on Parsons’ abandoned farm. It was stored below ground in what once was a nuclear bomb shelter built during the 1950’s. They also would have learned that the body of Bill Baker had been dumped into the Black Warrior River with two concrete blocks tied to his feet. His body had been
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stored at the mine shaft for several days. Hall suspected the agents would find the shaft and when they did, they would find nothing. “The dogs are onto something down here,” one FBI K9 handler shouted up to the agents above ground. “What is it?” “I don’t know yet, but they are acting on the scents. We cannot find anything. It’s like the poisoning and Baker were here recently. Maybe even Harvey Hall. At least, that is what we think.” “Someone probably moved them,” the head agent in charge told them. “Come on back. We’ll have to report to the agents questioning Hall to see if they can break him.” ***** Hall sat in his jail cell and pleaded the Fifth Amendment as agents embarked on further questioning. Parsons advised him to offer nothing that would incriminate him. They would go before a judge and plead the fifth also. The agents backed off from questioning him and left the jail with no more than when they came in. A local judge told Hall he would be arraigned before a federal judge on charges of terrorism in the United States Federal Court in Birmingham. Hall was arraigned in court the following day. “It’s not necessary for the government to prove this is all in connection with some specific violent act,” the presiding judge serving on the court ruled when Hall appeared at arraignment. “Hall and others we find behind this act of terrorism will be arrested and will stand trial. If the government succeeds in showing that the conspirators had agreed to a course of violent conduct, even without being specific about who or when they were going to carry out this attack, or assist others in carrying out some specific attack. It’s enough if they have the general intent.”

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Hall will undergo a psychiatric examination before the trial begins, the judge ruled. Parsons, who was by Hall’s side at the arraignment, said his client was unfit for trial because of “reason of insanity.” “We also plead the Fifth Amendment.” Hall was ordered back to the Tuscaloosa County Jail to await a psychiatric examination. The results would be sent to the presiding judge, the government prosecutors, and to Hall’s attorney. Hall also was a suspect in the disappearance of Tuscaloosa police chief, Bill Baker. Parsons knew he was too old to represent his client. He telephoned a Southron member, a feisty attorney in Charleston, South Carolina, who had dealt with federal laws, especially terrorists acts. He enlisted his services. “I’ve been keeping up with it in the newspaper and on the Internet,” Bobby Kennedy said from his law office in Charleston. “Bob, you did the right thing pleading the fifth, but we have our work cut out for us. As long as Hall is not found guilty of the murder of the police chief, then we can work around the terrorists threat. It takes more than one person to carry out the plans Hall and probably Henry Drummond had in mind. Drummond’s dead. So, we are representing Hall for the time being on the terrorist plot which is bad enough. Homeland Security takes these threats seriously since 9/11. Are any other organization members involved?” Kennedy asked Parsons. “Perhaps,” Parsons said. “We are thirty-thousand members strong. It will be hard for the prosecutors to pin this terrorism plot against all of them.” “What if they find one of our members and give him immunity?” Kennedy asked. “Possibility,” Parsons said and hung up the telephone. ***** Mack Tucker rested at the YMCA in downtown Tuscaloosa. Parsons told him to lay low. But it was hard to lay low since he was wearing an
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ankle bracelet, a satellite and remote tracking device to monitor his every movement by the FBI and Homeland Security. Tucker remained a “person of interest,” in Drummond’s murder, despite his claims otherwise. He was out on bail and ordered not to leave the state. The order made Tucker angry. He had business in Dallas and Las Vegas. He refused to discuss Henry Drummond’s death, pleading the Fifth Amendment. Before FBI agents Ted Wimberly and Lucious Mosely knocked on Tucker’s door at the YMCA, Wimberly looked at his African-American partner, who had a business administration degree from Harvard. “Lucious, are you ready to face one of the most prolific racists in America? Are you up to it?” “Hell, my family immigrated to Detroit from south Alabama in the 1930’s when the boll weevil chased them out of the cotton fields. I know about Jim Crow laws, and about the South and its racism. Don’t worry about me. It ain’t no better up North.” Tucker holed up in a cheap room for $10 a day. He had money to afford the most expensive motel in Tuscaloosa or the world, but he chose the Y. The smelly, dark room had one small bed, a chest of drawers and a small desk. The Y also extended cable television into the room for an extra $5 a week. Tucker kept up with the news around the world, the U.S., the weather in Dallas. He was not allowed to have a computer in the room. A USA Today and a Tuscaloosa daily newspaper was delivered every morning, free of charge. He kept up with Hall’s travesties and wondered how long it would take the FBI and Homeland Security to come after him. The plot to poison people at the Super Bowl and United Nations this year had been formulated and people were in place to carry out the scheme. “Mr. Tucker, I am FBI agent Wimberly and my partner agent Mosely,” the agent said introducing themselves and asking if they could speak to him. Reluctantly, Tucker allowed them into his trashy room. Newspapers cluttered the floor and the smell of stagnant cigars and whiskey filled up
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the rest of the space. Tucker was deft in one ear, and the volume of the television blared. He turned it off. “Mr. Tucker, the Washington office has given us permission to discuss with you immunity if you will testify against the Society of Southron Patriots and Harvey Hall, who heads the organization now since the founder, Henry Drummond is dead. “You were Henry Drummond’s uncle, yes?” Mosely asked. Tucker spit at the man speaking to him. “I ain’t talkin’ to no nigger,” Tucker hissed at both of them. “Besides I am taking the Fifth.” “It looks like you’ve already drank a fifth,” agent Mosely shot back at Tucker. “Then I will ask you,” Wimberly exhorted. “Were you Henry Drummond’s uncle?” “Yes, I am or was his uncle by marriage.” Tucker sensed the ropes around him were growing tighter each passing day. He was shocked by his nephew’s death and he didn’t know who killed him. He wanted to know. He would have his hit men take matters into their own hands. They were like brothers as far back as he could remember. Five years older than Henry, Tucker weighed over 250 pounds and was a squatly figure on his five-foot-five frame. “He was more like a brother than a nephew,” Tucker told them. “We’ve worked beside each other, drank together, watched one another grow old. He was quite the man, Henry Drummond.” “We don’t know about Mr. Drummond’s character, but we are not interested in him at the moment,” Wimberly interrupted Tucker as his mind turned down memory lane. “Tucker, we have a lists of charges we can bring against you if you do not cooperate with us,” Mosely said. “These charges date back years in the state of Texas. It’s a wonder you have not been extradited with all the charges against you. Child molesting being the highest crime on the list.” “Well, the biggest crime against me is killing niggers, but the court never proved it. Y’all can’t charge me with anything. My record is clean.
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I’ve been in court for every charge that was ever brought against me and been acquitted.” “Paying the prosecutors and judges, huh, Mr. Tucker,” Mosely responded. Tucker stood, raising a hand as if to wallop agent Mosely. “Get that nigger out of here! I can’t stand the sight of the smart-mouth bastard!” Wimberly stood between them. “I’ll not commit to helping you in any way,” Tucker told them. “Perhaps you will, Mr. Tucker,” Wimberly said. “We can charge you as an accessory in the terrorist plot to kill people in mass with arsenic poison at the Super Bowl and the United Nations. Your name is on the list we found on Harvey Hall’s computer. You were in meetings about the plans and know what those plans were. “How about if we release to the media about your homosexual affairs with little boys?” Mosely said in a conclusive tone of voice. How could Hall have been so stupid to put out a lists of board members? The son-of-a-bitch. Tucker drew his body out of the metal chair where he sat, stood and looked at the agents squarely in the eye. “What do you want me to do?”

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Chapter Eighteen Midfield, Alabama
Donald’s meeting with the Birmingham FBI Agent-In-Charge Doug Evans went well. His assignment was to work undercover for the agency in order to bring the Society of Southron Patriots to its knees and, in return, he would receive $1,000 a month, the copyrights to any future book about his father, the Society of Southron Patriots or whatever he felt like writing when everything was resolved. He was also given $10,000 to join the supremacist organization. That is, if he could talk his way in. “Use this money only if you need to,” Evans advised. Donald tucked the money inside his coat pocket and left the office. He pulled out his cell phone and called Bob Parsons. “Bob, I want to join the league,” Donald told his attorney over the telephone. “How do I go about it?” “Why Donald?” Parsons asked, stunned by the question. “You’ve always been against what your father stood for. Why now?” “I think the league, for the sake of my father, should restructure itself in light of all the charges against it and Hall has taken the organization to new lows. You know blood is thicker than water. I don’t think the majority of the members intended on mass killing of northern Yankees. Do you agree?” Parsons studied the sudden turn of events in Donald’s offering. Indeed, the organization had been hit hard. The majority of members did not hold the same beliefs of Hall and Henry Drummond. Most members were middle-of-the road conservatives or right wingers. It was not the intent of the majority to use force in any way. It was only an ideology by most. Talk. Talk about secession and its consequences. Going to meetings of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, attending Society of Southron Patriots conventions each year to listen to history professors lecture on the true meaning behind the Civil War, discuss why the South was snookered by
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Northern invaders and how history books were written by northerners and how the schools taught from these books about how the Civil War started. It wasn’t a slavery issue to begin with. It was a states’ rights issue to have the right to secede under the U.S. Constitution. Abraham Lincoln was the perpetrator of the war between the North and South. High taxes on goods from the South to northern cities was why the war started. “God Save The South!” was a rally cry at every convention and then all the members went home, back to their livelihoods until the next convention rolled around. In the meantime, the league collected money from 30,000 plus Neo-Confederates each year. Larger donations came from members who could afford the highest rank in the organization, a $10,000 membership for the right to hunt deer and turkey on the headquarters’ property and a position as a board member. Prime hunting in west Alabama. They enlisted many professionals, some with doctoral degrees, lawyers, professors, judges and the average Joe who wore a t-shirt with the Rebel flag, who wanted to wear it proudly to stir up trouble with blacks in their community. That was not what the league was all about. At least, not in the bylaws. “Look, Bob. I’ve been a journalist all these years. I was taught to be unbiased, to be fair and balanced, not to let my beliefs get involved when writing or interviewing for a story. I am tired of not being able to share my feelings with others. I am a Southerner and I am proud of it. My great great grandfather fought in the Civil War, and I know a lot about him. Our family heritage means a lot to me, our Scottish heritage especially. That’s who the league members are; Caucasian people just like you and me with a connection to our Civil War past. “While I didn’t always agree with my father, there were some things we agreed upon, and that was states’ rights. I think this is what the league is all about,” he lied. “Well, this is welcome news, Donald,” Parsons said, wondering why all of a sudden Henry Drummond’s oldest son wanted to become a member. Then, too, what the league needed now was to regroup. Donald’s writing ability would certainly help to get the message out. We’ve got to begin a
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new public relations campaign. With Hall in jail, the league will certainly be targeted by the Civil Rights Legal Center and the news media. “Since I am the attorney for the league, and our founder is dead and his successor is in jail, we need you, Donald. I tell you what. You don’t need to invest $10,000 to join. You come to work for us. We’ll pay you whatever Hall was making. He won’t be receiving money from us while he is incarcerated. The members would not go for that. Having Henry Drummond’s son as its new leader is just the ticket. When can you start?” “Let me get some priorities straight,” Donald told him. “Anne and I were planning on traveling to Texas to see my real mother, but we will postpone it for the time being. I’ll start next Monday.” “Good. Come to the league’s headquarters and you can get started on our public relations campaign. I am sure the media will be knocking on our door by then. “Does this mean you want your part of your father’s inheritance?” Parsons said, hoping the answer was no. He already had spent most of it. “No, I am not interested in that part of my past. I am looking only to the future.” Parsons wiped the sweat from his brow. “Welcome aboard, Donald.” ***** “You did what?” Hall screamed into Parsons’ ear while standing inside his jail cell. “I hired Donald to take over while you are being detained.” “How could you, you son-of-a-bitch! Whose side are you on?” “Harvey, don’t worry. We need him right now. It will be only for a little while until we get the league back in order and on solid footing. Having Donald take over for a little while will take the heat off us. I’m still your attorney unless you want a new one.” “I’ll think hard about that, Mr. Parsons!” Hall angrily detested. “Get out of here before I kick your sorry ass.” *****
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The headlines in the Birmingham Iron-Herald took up much of the front page the next morning. “Society of Southron Patriots President Charged With Terrorists Plot.” Another story beneath it read, “Former Iron-Herald Newsman to Revamp Neo-Confederate League.” Another headline on the front page, “East Texas Heroine Released For Questioning In Murder of Henry Drummond.” “What are you doing?” Angus McCarron asked Donald when he got him on the cell phone. McCarron was the editor and publisher of the newspaper. “Have you gone cuckoo?” “Relax, Angus,” Donald told him. “I am going through a transition in life, and maybe soon this will be all over.” “Are you talking about your health or something else?” McCarron asked, confused by the turn of events. “Well, maybe both,” Donald told him. “You know how Alzheimer’s works.” “This is serious business, Donald. Don’t wise crack me.” “Seriously, sit back and watch me, Angus. My true self is emerging.” “You know the media will tear you apart at the seams?” “It’ll be nice sitting on the other side for a change.” “I just hope you know what you are up against and what you are doing, Mister.” “I’m just following my gut feeling and instincts, Angus.” “Don’t go New Age on me, Donald.” “Why, Angus. I thought you like New Agers. You’re the model of New Age.” Both laughed as the phones disconnected.

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Chapter Nineteen Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The Society of Southron Patriots’ records had been confiscated by the FBI and Homeland Security. Donald felt awkward as he sat down at the old mahogany desk usually reserved for Hall. It had been his father’s in the beginning, but when Henry Drummond’s health and age kept him away from the property he so dearly loved, Hall took over the high-backed crimson leather chair and everything else he got his hands on. With Drummond’s demise, Hall took over the league’s bank account when the board named him president on January 5th. He rushed down to the bank and immediately had his name added to the account. The bank president was part of the League’s Board of Directors. Donald remembered the chair and property like it was only yesterday. His father brought his three sons to the lodge when they were young. Donald thought. “I was probably 10 years-old. We would romp through the woods and play cowboys and Indians while dad readied his attire for a day of deer hunting. We always traipsed around with him. Those were the fondest memories. But one day it all ended. We never came back.” Nothing was ever spoken about the rural log house in west Tuscaloosa County as they grew older. In fact, Donald forgot about it for a long time, until he was too old to care. Parsons came through the Lodge door and into the office without knocking. “I hardly know where to start,” Donald said, opening the desk drawers and closing them. All of them are empty. “Well, I have a backup computer disk of all our members,” Parsons said. “The FBI and Homeland Security haven’t searched my things yet.
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They probably will. I’ve moved a lot of things to a place they won’t find so easily.” Donald brought his own laptop, and Parsons handed him several CD’s to install. “All of the names and addresses are there,” Parsons said. “I think a letter to our membership would be great to start with. I hear there’s a lot of backlash from every state president. They want to come here and have an emergency meeting.” “Well, let’s invite them,” Donald said, feeling good about his first directive. “Let’s send out a newsletter and invite them to join us for a called meeting. We will be better able to discuss the position of the league and what we are going to do as several members might be indicted for the terrorists plot. We’ve got to work a plan.” “I agree, Donald,” Parsons added. “Good. At least we agree on the first plan of business,” Donald said, good-naturedly. ”How about a July 4th picnic here? Fireworks, barbecue, beer, maybe a good band.” “Excellent. I will call the 28th Alabama Infantry Regiment Band and see if they can entertain us,” Parsons grinned. “This is gonna be fun, but not without a lot of cussin’ and discussin’ the state of the league’s business.” Parsons excused himself and left the property. Donald found email contacts and fax machine numbers from the membership lists. He created an email account on Google since the league’s website email address was in cyberspace or an FBI agent was monitoring it. He sat back in the easy chair and thought about the newsletter. He jotted a few notes down. His cell phone rang and interrupted those thoughts. “Donald, this is Gary,” the FBI agent said. “What’s up?” “We’ve convinced Mack Tucker to testify against the Society of Southron Patriots and Harvey Hall in the federal court in Birmingham.” “How in the hell did you get him to agree to that?” Donald said as he amused himself by doodling on his notepad.
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“We’ve given him immunity. The guys in Washington are sending him to a holding cell at the Talladega Federal Penitentiary. He should be on his way now. I know I can trust you not to talk to any one about this.” “Well, the old bastard is going to squeal his ass off,” Donald said, pleased his uncle Mack was finally getting his comeuppance. ***** Bob Parsons rushed to the Tuscaloosa bank to change the league’s checking and savings account into the name of Donald Drummond. “I’m sorry, Bob,” the bank president told him. “That bank account is closed, and the money has been impounded by the FBI. “Damn. Damn. Damn,” Parsons said as he walked out of the bank. He returned to his law office and opened the black vault where Henry Drummond kept his stash hidden from the rest of the world. “Well, they can wallow in celebration for taking the league’s money, but they’ll never find the millions in here,” he said, patting the top of the vault. ***** Donald remembered Parsons’ comment about his father’s assets when they sat down to discuss the inheritance money. The lodge and the property it sat on belonged to his father. Why hadn’t the FBI seized it? Donald was finding out fast that Parsons was as much a part of the Society of Southron Patriot’s plans as were his father and Harvey Hall. His reporter instincts kicked in, and he dialed Parsons’ cell phone. “Bob, I was sitting here thinking. What about the property the league’s headquarters is using. Wasn’t this my father’s?” Parsons was quick to point out that Henry Drummond sold the property to the Society of Southron Patriots for $1.00 and goodwill. “Why hasn’t the FBI seized the property yet?” Donald asked curiously.

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“We’ll cross that bridge if they attempt to confiscate the property,” Parsons said, leaving himself wide open for more questions. But Donald thought he would leave the question for now and come back to it later. He wanted to gather as much information as he could and report back to the Bureau his findings. Parsons was upset over the league’s bank account being impounded. How would the league survive? How could they put on a shindig for the presidents of each chapter on July 4 without money? He’d have to finance it from Drummond’s money in his vault. Parsons wondered if he made the right decision to allow Donald to be involved in the league.

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Chapter Twenty Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Donald’s curiosity got the best of him. He had not visited the property since he was a kid. He decided to take a walk. A little exercise would help his brain. His brain would help his body and spirit. He found a trail and began a leisure walk to see where it led. The tall grass which had been allowed to grow lined the trail. He wondered what he would do if he stepped on a snake. Snakes scared him more than a 100 Neo-Confederates. He stopped in his tracks as he looked up the trail. On a grassy knoll ahead of him something all too familiar returned as a childhood memory. He was in the thick woods with grass taller than his body. He wanted to race away as fast as his legs could carry him. The burning wood crackled and lit up the cloudy night sky, illuminating the sheeted figures who circled a cross and chanted. A plea for help from a black man cut into the festive mood of the men in white robes. A long rope hung over a tall tree limb, the noose meant death to the nigger. “Noooo...Dad!” He thought he had only dreamed of it, but this was the actual place, the actual scene he remembered. This is where he saw his father wail and chant when he was as a child. Dozens of sheeted klansmen gathered to see the lynching; chanted and sang an old gospel song about, “Oh Death, Where is Thy Sting?” The old black man didn’t stand a chance. What had the black man done to deserve punishment? Why would anyone kill another person? Donald turned around on the trail to see a red pickup truck, kicking up dust, racing toward him. The truck was being driven recklessly. Donald tensed. He felt alarm. He threw himself into the tall grass as the truck drew closer. Had the driver seen him? Was he being targeted?

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Donald raised his head barely to get a glimpse of the truck with two men as it roared by him. Maybe they were some hoodlums driving around, boozing it up. He stood and brushed off the weeds and dirt from his jeans and t-shirt. He watched the truck continue on the trail and he followed it. He heard the engine die, and the voices of the men as he grew nearer. “Get the oxygen masks,” he heard the driver say. The other man, who looked to be in his mid-forties, gathered the masks from the tool box in the bed of the truck. “We need to work fast,” he heard the driver say. “We’ve got to get our share of the arsenic before it is found.” Donald watched both men as they cleared grass away and threw a gray tarp to the side. They disappeared into a hole, oxygen masks covering their faces. He eased toward the opening and heard the two men talking to one another as their voices trailed further and further away. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed FBI agent Gary Bartholomew. “Gary, this is Donald.” His voice filled with excitement. “I think I know where the arsenic poisoning is located.” “Where?” Bartholomew asked. “It’s on the league’s property here in Tuscaloosa. I am standing by what looks like an old mine shaft. Two men are down there right now trying to find it. I don’t know who they are.” “Great work, Donald. I’ll have a swat team in there within ten minutes. I’ll give the head agent a description of you and tell him you are working for us. Be careful, Donald. Are you armed?” “Hell, no,” Donald said, remembering his .45 gage pistol was in the glove compartment of his Jeep. “You think there will be trouble?” “Did the two men have guns?” Donald hustled over to the pickup truck and saw two shotguns, a pistol, rifle and a machine gun in the floor board on the passenger side. Out of breath, Donald talked to Gary. “Yes, they are loaded to the gills with ammo,” Donald said. “I don’t think they took any weapons inside with them. At least, I didn’t see any.”
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“Get one of the guns and arm yourself, man.” Bartholomew admonished. “The swat team is on its way. Should be pulling up within three minutes. The swat team is from Tuscaloosa County. They are not ours.” This was better than reporting court news. Finally, he was in action. He was part of the FBI. He thought he might want to be an agent during college which led him to the Bureau in the beginning. He often wondered what it would be like. Now he was about to find out. He put his cell phone back in its black holster fastened to his belt. He quietly opened the truck door and it squeaked just as he thought. The rusty hinges had not been oiled in years. He reached for a .45 gage pistol just like he owned. He checked the chamber. Loaded. He darted behind bushes not far from the truck. The two men were still in the coal mine shaft. He looked down the dirt and dusty road and saw three cars weaving around the curves, leaving curls of brown soil trailing in the midst. The Tuscaloosa County swat team members swarmed out of their vehicles armed and wearing vest protectors. An agent tossed Donald a vest. “Put it on, Mr. Drummond,” he said. Donald fitted the vest, tightened a few strings and watched as the swat team took their places. Two squatted behind the pickup truck, front and back. Two more took positions on the right side of the mine shaft, and the other two on the left side. Donald sat tight. God, he hoped he didn’t get in cross fire or have to use the pistol. He had only practiced at the shooting range and that was ten years ago. The gun felt heavy in his hand, but it also felt like it belonged for some reason. The hot summer sun brought out a sweat in him. The humidity was high like southern summer afternoons. Not a breeze. He wished he had an FBI cap to cover the sun from his eyes. It would make him look official, but he wasn’t an FBI agent, only an informant who worked undercover. The oath he took in Evans’ office in downtown Birmingham reminded him of his role. He was not to reveal the nature of his work to anyone. Anne knew what he was doing and she was sworn to secrecy. She was asked to act as an informant, too. She agreed but the bureau chief said they could only pay
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for one stringer. She didn’t mind. Besides it was as exciting for her as it was for her husband. “What should we be called?” Anne asked Donald after they talked about working for the FBI. “Can’t be Bonnie and Clyde. They were gangsters.” Neither of them could come up with a suitable name, but they had fun trying. This was not as fun to Donald, sitting behind bushes, waiting for the two suspects to come clambering out of the mine shaft with the poisoning in tow. An hour later the two men with oxygen masks over their faces appeared at the front of the mine shaft. Neither of them had guns nor anything in their hands. “Hands up!” shouted one of the swat team members, holding a bullhorn to his mouth. The two men stood motionless, looking at one another in disbelief. Their hands were high over their heads. “Carefully step toward the pickup truck and spread your legs,” the agent instructed. The two men did as they were told. The agent read them their Miranda Rights. “We need to see your identification.” Two agents frisked them. They were clean of weapons or knives. “You are under arrest for the questioning for an illegal substance,” the agent in charge told them. “You will be transported to the Tuscaloosa County Jail for further interrogations.” “But...officer,” the one who drove the pickup onto the property said. “We don’t have any drugs on us. We were just out for fun, looking at this old coal mine shaft.” “You can explain that down at City Hall.” *****

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Don Tolbert and Reilly Peck were taken to the county jail. The sheriff’s department contacted the FBI and found their names listed as members of the Society of Southron Patriots. “Where is the arsenic poisoning?” a sheriff’s officer asked both men who were separated in two rooms. “We have a witness who overheard you talking about the poisoning and wanting your share of it.” “What witness?” one of them asked. “Never mind who,” the officer chided. “Where is the poisoning?” “It wasn’t there,” both admitted. “You knew about it, and you are both on the Society of Southron Patriots Board of Directors. You both will be charged with the intent to murder.” ***** “I’m too old for this,” Parsons told his secretary when Tolbert and Peck used their one phone call from the jail to call their attorney. Parsons thought quickly. “We are going down. They have Harvey Hall, and two of our board members. They haven’t found the poisoning, so maybe I can get these two out on bail. Hall won’t stand a chance in federal court. As long as the prosecutors don’t have the arsenic then we still have grounds to stand on. “Tolbert and Peck will be charged as accessories in federal court, so they will be subpoenaed to testify. Not good for the league.” Parsons dialed Donald’s cell phone. “Where are you?” Parsons asked. “I am at home,” Donald told him. “I finished the letter and sent it to each state president as you asked.” “I don’t think we are going to have that meeting,” Parsons told him. “The league is out of business.” Donald smiled as he sat down in front of the television to watch the evening news.

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“Two Suspects Arrested In Terrorist Plot,” teased the announcer at the local television station. “Stay tuned for more.” His cell phone rang and Angus McCarron was on the other end. “You know anything about this?” McCarron asked bluntly. “Nothing,” Donald lied. “All I know is what is on the news.” “Well, a fine president you are,” McCarron said with a sigh in his tone. “Stay tuned,” Donald told him. “I’ll give you a story idea and the paper will win a Pulitzer Prize for it. How about that?” “I’m listening.” “Get that new guy, Rob what’s his name, to call the local Birmingham FBI agent-in-charge. The question you need to ask is how deep does this story go with the Society of Southron Patriots. I believe the FBI is questioning each state president at this very minute. There’s going to be a lot of preachers, lawyers and doctors whose feet will be held to the fire in the next few days over their terrorists plot. There’s going to be a lot of squirming by model citizens in each city, community and state where the league has a presence.” “How, pray ask, do you know this? “Just do as you are told,” Donald laughed. For one time he held the upper hand on his boss. “Do you know how hard it is to get the FBI to go on record in any case they are investigating?” “I’m well aware of that as you well know. Just tell Rob to tell the chief, I sent him.” “It’s worth a try,” McCarron said, hanging up the phone. Two days later Rob McRobbie had a featured story in the Birmingham Iron-Herald. The headline read, “Society of Southron Patriots Heads Roll.” “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is questioning Society of Southron Patriots leaders in the states of Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon for their role in the terrorist plot to
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poison politicians in Washington, D.C., at this year’s Super Bowl and at the United Nations, the Iron-Herald has learned.” Donald watched every news outlet as the story unfolded. He devoured every story in The Associated Press, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Post, the London Daily News along with every European news source. He turned on CNN and Fox News and saw newscasters in every community where a state chapter president lived being interviewed. The same scene played out around the country with every chapter president denying any role in the Society of Southron Patriot’s plans. Each man alleged they were dropping their membership in the organization which called for such massive murders.

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Chapter Twenty-One Midfield, Alabama
Donald was without a job as Society of Southron Patriots president. He wasn’t sure what his title might have been for the one day he was on the job. He sat at his home computer and typed a few notes about his experience thus far as an FBI informant. Mack Tucker was in a Talladega Federal Penitentiary waiting for the trial to begin in federal court in Birmingham. Two Society of Southron Patriots members had been arrested and taken to the same facility. Harvey Hall was still in the Tuscaloosa County Jail and the sheriff was waiting for orders to take him to Talladega to await trial for the terrorist plot. Somehow Bob Parsons was unscathed. Donald wondered when the hammer would come down on him. Parsons was as smooth a lawyer he had been around, and he had seen his share in the Jefferson County courtrooms as a reporter for 25 years. Evans called him that afternoon and asked him if he was still going to Texas to unite with his mother. Donald told him he planned on going as soon as he was released as an informant. “We still have work for you,” the chief told him. “We want you to go to Texas. I know this is asking a lot of you, but your mother is still a person of interest in the murder of your father. She had a better motive than anyone. I want you to go there and visit. Take as long as you want. We want reports back from you on what you find. I know you are going there to try to discover who your new family is, and this will be a little tricky, maybe hard on you. Will you do it?” Donald closed his eyes for a moment while he considered Evans’ request. “I’ll do it,” Donald told him. “I can kill two birds with one stone. I can find out if she killed my father or knew who did and also get to know my
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mother better. We have a lot of catching up to do. I have a lot of questions for her.” “You’ve been trained well,” the chief said. “You did a good job by helping us capture two of the board members. Now all we need to do is build the case for the federal prosecutors and, at least, one mystery will be solved in destroying the terrorist plot by the Society of Southron Patriots. Their days are numbered. We still don’t know who killed your father, and the trail is growing cold.” Donald told Anne what their plans were when she came home from shopping. She bought new outfits for both of them. Blue denim jeans, nice Polo shirts, tennis shoes and sandals. She purchased herself new shorts, tops and sandals. Everything was casual. She had enough dresses in her closet to open a thrift store. She was excited they were finally going to Texas. She had never been there. Joseph would stay behind. He still was in classes at the University of Alabama. He was in his sophomore year. His grades were good and he liked the university scene. He could visit with his grandmother some other time. Donald had only spoken to his mother, Betty Jo Duke, once since she was released from the county jail as a person of interest in Henry Drummond’s murder. Her confiscated records did not reveal anything astonishing. Records of her business dealings with Mack Tucker and the ranch were well-documented and in order. She told him it had been a “harrowing experience.” As hard as it was, Donald still told himself Rose was his mother. How could he ever not call her mother. He never would be able to call her anything else. He called and told her they were leaving for Texas. She sounded depressed over everything the family had been through. The $1 million inheritance she received could not replace the love she had for Donald. Money was just money. She had never been in need for anything. Henry had been a great provider, but in the last twenty, thirty years, he had closed himself off to her. She replaced the need to be needed, wanted and loved through her worship, church friends and charities. She didn’t know she was about to lose the house she had maintained for years. She hadn’t given it a
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thought. When the registered letter came that the house was being confiscated by the Internal Revenue, she filed it away. She still had the $1 million. No one knew about it. No one but Bob Parsons and his attorneys. As he drove west on Interstate 20 toward Texas, his thoughts danced like a hummingbird looking for nectar. He began piecing together the big puzzle surrounding the death of his father, the business his father had with Mack Tucker, and how Bob Parsons’ name always came up in conversation in tying them all together. Donald recalled a line from Parsons when they met at the Lodge. “I have a backup computer disk of all our members. The FBI and Homeland Security haven’t searched my things yet. They probably will. I’ve moved a lot of things to a place they won’t find so easily.” Donald also remembered the meeting Parsons called to read his father’s Last Will and Testament. Why had his father trusted Parsons so much? How much money did his father actually leave behind? Maybe Parsons was hoarding more money from his father’s account? It’s got to be dirty money...got to be. Where did Uncle Mack and his father get so much money? Drugs? Money laundering? It was making more sense to him. “Honey, we have to turn back,” Donald told Anne, who was asleep in the passenger seat. “I’ve got to go back.” Anne sat up straight in her seat, setting the lever from the bottom of the seat to upright. “What are you talking about?” she asked, rubbing her eyes awake. “I can’t exactly explain it, but Bob Parsons is getting off the hook in every sequence of events, including dad’s death, the Society of Southron Patriots terrorists plan, and most of all my father’s trust in him to handle his money and legal affairs. Something is rotten about all of it.” “But...what about your mother?” Anne asked. “The FBI asked you to go there and report back to them concerning your mother. I thought you were finished with the Society of Southron Patriots mess? The FBI and Homeland Security has their case to bring them to trial.”
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“Not exactly,” he said, turning at the next exit off Interstate 20, and heading East. Anne was confused. Or maybe it was Donald’s mind being compromised because of the Alzheimer’s the doctors talked to them about. She worried about his health. Maybe they should have gone to the Mayo Clinic before beginning fresh projects. Donald dialed FBI Chief Evans in Birmingham. He had a direct number to his desk. He set the vehicle on cruise as the SUV turned onto the Interstate. “This is Donald Drummond” he introduced himself. “What’s up? Are you in Texas yet?” Evans asked. “I’ve turned around. I am coming back. We’ve got to bust Bob Parsons. If we get to Parsons we solve everything.” “I agree,” Evans said. “He’s been on surveillance since everything began popping about the league’s plans. So far, we have not been able to arrest him on any charges. Since he is an attorney for the league, we’ve let him have a little more rope to hang himself. How do you intend to bust him?” “I don’t know yet. I’ll figure it out when I get back. I should be back in Midfield in six hours. I’ve got a hunch. Uncle Mack is the key to unload the goods on Parsons. If you have given Mack immunity, maybe I can get him to tell me as a family member the big picture. He will spill his guts if I can get through to him. Can you arrange for me to meet with Mack through the warden in Talladega? After all, I am his great nephew, a family member.” “I’ll try my best. Call me tomorrow. Donald, you should have stayed with the FBI instead of becoming a news reporter.” They laughed and hung up. “Honey, call Betty Jo and talk to her. Tell her we’ve had to change plans for a few days, a week. We’ll get there, I promise.”

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Chapter Twenty-Two
“The meeting is all set up,” Evans told him the next morning. “I’ve set it up where you can meet with Mack Tucker as long as you wish. You’ve got to be at the federal prison at noon today. You’ll go through a normal routine like any other person. Stay calm. You are Uncle Mack’s nephew for all intentional purposes.” Donald understood. He knew Evans could pull off the meeting with the prison warden. The FBI and Homeland Security took precedence in federal cases involving their inmates. Donald wrestled with every idea imaginable concerning the questioning of his great uncle. He hoped one question would ignite his uncle into spilling the beans about his father’s business, his death and where the poison could be found. He knew he was stepping out of bounds a little by questioning him about the poison. That was a federal prosecutors’ question to ask. He decided only to talk to Uncle Mack about family matters. Appeal to family. “What brings you here?” Mack asked, sitting behind a glass window, scratched and dirty. His orange prison uniform looked pressed and clean. His face was freshly shaved. They spoke through a microphone. The guards kept handcuffs on his uncle and had secured the entrance door. “I’m here on family business, Uncle Mack.” “Family business? Since when were you interested in family business? All you’ve been interested in is newspaper reporting. You know it is the media which has caused the breakdown in our American way of life. Y’all are part of the problem.” “Well, I am not here to discuss the pros and cons of media bias. I am only here as your great nephew to find out more about my dad and my biological mother in Texas.” “You want to throw a pity-party for yourself. Is that what this is all about? Some psycho-babbling doctor is trying to help you find your self?” “That’s not it at all. Not it at all,” Donald said tersely.
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“You’re just as liberal as those Washington politicians. We had a good thing going with the Society of Southron Patriots and now it is in a mess. I’ve got to go before a grand jury and spill my guts to save my ass. I guess you can call that being between a dick in the mouth or one in the asshole. Don’t matter. One feels as good as the other.” His uncle made him sick to his stomach. He felt the muscles inside tighten. He wanted to smash in his face, make him hurt and suffer. His uncle had preyed on American society too long and he wished he was the one who injected the lethal gas into him to set him free to go to hell. His eyes watered and he noticed his uncle looking at him with great intensity. “What are you, a cry baby?” Mack smarted off at him again. “Old wounds. Nothing you would understand.” “So what do you want to know about your family? Your father was a good man. He was a good business person. He amassed a lot of money and kept the feds from finding it. Your mother was just a naive young woman when Henry married her. We baited her hook, line and sinker the day their divorce was final. Parsons handled that real well, I thought. “Your family has fought in every major war dating back to the Scottish wars with the bloody English. They fought in the Revolutionary war, the war of 1812, the Civil War, World War One and World War Two. The men who followed after World War Two were sissies. Sissies like you. You never went to war. You never knew what it felt like to kill another person. You never had some foreign-born idiot shoot at you and face the fear of death. It all ended with you, Donald. You ended the Drummond line of brave soldiers. Then you get the hifalutin’ job with the newspaper and you think you are going to write about the truth. The truth is, you don’t know what the truth is all about.” “Well, that’s why I came, Uncle Mack. To find out what I’ve missed.” “You’ve missed a lot, smart ass. Your father knew what war was all about and so did I. We carried on the family tradition. When we got out of the service there wasn’t much for us to do, so we went into bootlegging. We were so good at it that the Chicago mafia hired both of us to handle
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drugs when it became a popular item among a stupid country, made up of stupid people, who couldn’t face reality.” “You call what you’ve done reality?” Donald asked, fearing the answer from his uncle. “The Caucasian race is being eliminated by the bastards in Washington. We are God’s race. It is the white man who is responsible for dominion over all other races. We are the ones to save ourselves from the world, and now we are targeted by the same Yankee bastards that started the Civil War. They want to get rid of all of us. And, by God, they are doing it. We knew this day would come.” “And you are going to let them do it by testifying to a grand jury what the Society of Southron Patriot’s plans were to murder innocent people,” Donald responded, raising his voice. “You’re doing it to save your life! You don’t give a damn about people, only your stinking self!” “Damn straight!” “That tells me a lot about you. I wouldn’t want someone like you to protect me in a foxhole somewhere in the lands of Iraq or Afghanistan. You would sell yourself to the devil before you’d protect anyone else.” “Guard! Guard!” shouted Tucker, steaming hell fire and damnation. He spit on the glass window. “I ain’t telling you a damn thing more about the family. You don’t deserve it.” “Who killed my dad?” Donald shouted at his uncle as the guards led him away. It’s no skin off your back now. Who did it?” “Try that yellow-bellied lawyer of ours. He is selling me out. He is selling Harvey Hall out. Ask him who killed your father. Ask him who killed the Tuscaloosa Police Chief. Why don’t you ask him?” The yelling was over. Donald was drained. He gave it his best shot, but his uncle was no match for him. He always held the winning hand. He had the best poker face of anyone he ever knew. “By the way, boy,” Mack said as he was led out of the room. “Your mother was a nice piece of ass.” Donald headed to his Jeep and climbed in. He bowed his head over the steering wheel. The same feeling returned. He was ready to explode once
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again. His mind raced, but somehow he had to drive home, return to his safe haven and Anne. He woke up again in a hospital room.

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Chapter Twenty-Three Midfield, Alabama
“It was a panic attack,” Donald told Evans upon his release from the Birmingham hospital the next morning. “I’ve had them once before. I am all right.” “I’m glad to hear you are feeling better,” Evans told him over the telephone. “We don’t have to worry about Bob Parsons any more. We have him in custody,” Evans told him. Donald was stunned by the news. “What happened?” “We tracked him to a rural farm in Tuscaloosa which led us to the poisoning. He had it hidden in an old bomb shelter built during the Eisenhower years. We also found millions of dollars stacked neatly in hundreds in a black vault. Parsons bought a one-way ticket to Bogota, Colombia. Our agents arrested him before he boarded the airplane at the Birmingham airport. We have him at the Jefferson County Jail at the moment. He will be arraigned in federal court tomorrow. We believe he was trafficking drugs with the kingpin of Colombia and had been doing so for years. Your father and Mack Parker, too.” “Has he said anything about my father’s killer?” “Well, he is not charged with the murder of your father. Not yet, that is. We are holding him on drug trafficking, money laundering and an accessory to the Society of Southron Patriot’s terrorist plan.” “Am I privy to what Parsons told your agents about the drug running and money laundering” Donald asked. “I’m afraid you will have to wait until it goes to trial, Donald. I am sorry.” What did the FBI know about his father? More than they let on so far?
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“Can I get you to process a request through the Freedom of Information Act to obtain what the FBI has on file regarding my father?” Donald asked Evans. “Why, I suppose I can at least do that for you,” Evans told him. “Can you ask it be rushed?” “I’ll see what I can do. I have your address.” Donald knew how the FOIA worked. He requested information about the FBI’s investigation into his background when they hired him in the 1960’s. The file was sent to him and, in certain references, the names of the individuals being interviewed were blackened out with a black marker. He found the file interesting. The FBI had interviewed thirty people and their comments about him were in the file. They even went to Texas to talk to his Uncle Mack. Interesting reading about what Mack thought about him. He was actually very approving at the time. “Smart guy,” instead of “smart ass,” “conservative” instead of “liberal,” a “young patriotic man,” instead of “sissy.” What would he find out about his father from the FBI? ***** A FedEx package arrived the next day to Donald’s house. He signed for it. It had a return address from the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. He ripped open the package like it was a Christmas present. Neatly organized in a manila folder was the life of his father as the FBI and others knew him. Maybe it would relieve or depress him. His fingers trembled as he thumbed through the 140 typed-pages. Most of what he read in the beginning pages he already knew. Mostly factual material about his height, weight, his military service and what he did for the Army Air Corps during World War Two. He had not paid any taxes to the federal government since he was released from service, citing exemption of the 16th amendment which was never ratified by Congress, the report read. Henry Drummond cited the

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IRS as an “illegal system to take money from United States citizens, when it is strictly on a voluntary basis. Federal Tax Regulations, 601-602.” “My God,” Donald thought. “How was he ever able to get away with that?” Donald scanned each page. Some of it was boring. Some of the interviews agents had with other people were blacked out. He read the report about his father’s KKK activities, even though he had never been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor in court. Much of it was speculation from a FBI informant. He read his father’s information about the Society of Southron Patriots which he founded. Dates, speculation from informants. Nothing to indict him on any local, state or federal charges. An informant speculated in the report that his father, along with Mack Tucker and Bob Parsons, were involved in drug trafficking and money laundering through a Colombian drug lord name Pablo Escobar, now deceased. No one could charge him for any crime. Why? It looked like a simple case to solve. Why did his father appear so guilty yet blameless? He was growing tired from thinking about everything which was happening since his father’s death. He and Anne needed to getaway from it all. The trip to Texas might relieve some of the anguish, and his panic attacks might subside from all the stress he had been through. He dialed Betty Jo Duke’s telephone number. He told her to expect them the next day. This time for certain. No turning back. No running away. No feeling to flee from what lay in store for him. He wanted to know more about his biological mother. Good or bad. He wanted to know.

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Chapter Twenty-Four
Interstate 20 West was light with traffic for a weekday. An occasional 18-wheeler whizzed past. Donald set the Jeep’s cruise to 70 miles per hour. Anne looked great. They were on their way to Texas and Donald noticed her long tan legs propped on the dash. They looked just as inviting as the day he first saw her. The steady hum of the engine, and the boring white lines on the highway took his mind back to a more tender subject, a time long ago. Anne was a University of Alabama cheerleader and he spotted her through his binoculars from the stands during a football game between Alabama and Louisiana Tech in 1966. He was tired of the dating scene. He wanted to settle down and get serious with a woman who shared the same values as him and a love for one another. “See that cheerleader,” Donald pointed to the sideline, shoving the binoculars into his best friend’s hands. Bill Owen looked through the lens. “Which one?” he asked. “The girl second from the left. I’m going to marry her.” “You better get in line,” Owen had told him. “She’s dating Joe “Willie.” Joe “Willie” was Joe Namath, who had already graduated and become a professional quarterback for the New York Jets in the fledgling American Football League. Donald’s heart sank. How could he compete with Joe Namath? “Well, she dated Namath a few times, I heard,” Owen said. “You know Joe. He doesn’t get real serious about the girls. I’m sure she is not dating him right now. He is in New York and he has gals at his beckon call.” “What do you know about her other than that?” Donald asked him.

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“She’s a junior. She is in one of my education classes. Bright girl. Makes good grades. She’s from Pittsburgh. You want me to introduce you to her?” “You better know it,” Donald smiled at his friend. If he were a puppy he would be wagging his tail off right now. ***** He took his eyes off the road and glanced while Anne slept. Her head rested on a pillow. She still looked great even at age 61. They had been through a lot. They wanted to have children, but it wasn’t until Anne turned 38, and after artificial insemination, that she was able to give birth. Joseph was an only child, and they thanked God for him. She stretched her arms and sighed. She awoke with Donald watching her come alive. “What are you looking at?” She flashed that familiar smile at him. “I was just thinking about the first time I ever saw you. That day in 1966 during a football game. You were cheering on the sideline and I told my best friend I was going to marry you.” “Did you really date Joe Namath?” he asked nonchalantly. “Who told you that?” “My best friend, Bill Owen.” “You guys are better gossipers than women, you know that?” “I never dated Joe Namath. I only met him once at a party. He was too up-town for me. I wanted a sweet guy. Someone not too high-class or low-class. Someone to share my life with forever. Then you came along. Remember your proposal?” Anne smiled at her husband, who still looked mighty handsome despite his 62 years. “How can I ever forget.” Donald arranged to propose to her at halftime during the 1967 Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl officials wouldn’t allow him on the 50-yard line, so

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he proposed on the sidelines in front of 68,000 people and the cheerleading squad. The Crimson Tide ambushed the Cornhuskers, 34-7, to go undefeated, 11-0. A national championship was denied in the final polls. No 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State battled to a 10-10 tie in the Rose Bowl and the pollsters kept those final rankings intact. “Remember it?” Anne asked again. He was reliving the incident in his mind. “Yep. I was so mad we didn’t win the national championship.” “I’m not talking about national championships, you idiot. I’m talking about your proposal.” “Oh, yes,” he smiled back at her. “That was the best day in my life. Our picture ran in the Tuscaloosa Daily News the next day. Me on my knees with a ring in my hand outstretched for you to take. It was meant to be.” ***** The fact they were now moving into another transition in their lives was exciting and a little discomforting. Donald wondered if his mother actually killed his father? His retirement was anything but...he was working harder now than ever before. He was on a mission to find his father’s killer and to unite with his biological mother he had never known before. Anne was by his side, offering him her love and devotion. Besides being FBI informants was an adventure. She was all about adventure at this point in her life. She would look for any signs that Betty Jo Duke was a murderer. She doubted it. She would keep an eye on others who worked at the ranch. She had a good eye for detail. The Jeep exited off Interstate 20. Donald saw the road he was to take to the BJD Ranch. A large billboard sign stood high over the treetops so travelers could see it from the interstate. It read, “The Jo, The Best Bed & Breakfast West of the Mississippi – 27 Suites in Scarlett O’Hara Fashion.” It was five miles.
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He stopped the vehicle under the black wrought iron entrance which read BJD Ranch in big letters. A barbed-wire fence enclosed the property for miles. “Oh, my God,” Anne said as she looked down on the lush, green pasture. Hundreds of head of cattle grazed in the grass. Horses ran about playfully. A few female mares nursed their young ones. “What do you call a female horse?” Anne asked inquisitively. “I don’t know for sure, but you can call them mares or fillies. I think the word for young horses is a foal or colt, depending on sex and age.” “You’ve been reading up on ranching on the Internet, haven’t you?” “You know me. I’ve got to know.” ***** Donald was flagged down by a man wearing a straw cowboy hat stained with sweat and wearing a red and plaid short sleeve shirt. His blue jeans were spotted with crud from who knows where. Dust covered his wellworn black boots. His face was crusty, sporting a scraggly beard needing trim. “You must be Ms. Duke’s son and daughter-in-law,” Charley Nobles spoke, spitting a stream of tobacco out of his mouth. Donald nodded to him. “We are.” “Y’all find Ms. Duke’s house up the road about a mile. She’s waiting on you.” He fumbled with a yellow gadget attached to his belt. “Mattie!” shouted Nobles into his walkie-talkie. “Tell Ms. Duke her folks are here.” “I’s certainly will,” Mattie’s voice boomed back. “She’s so excited.” Donald noticed the ranch hands as he drove to the house. The rugged men, twelve he counted, dressed in cowboy hats, cut off shirts exposing their raw muscle, filthy blue jeans and dusty boots. They appeared to be walking toward a barn behind the ranch house. Donald saw Anne watching the cowboys. He was a little jealous, even after 40 years of marriage.
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They stopped in front of a big mansion sitting on a hillside. “Oh....” Anne said seeing it from the short distance. “It’s just like Tara.” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” smiled Donald. “Why, Rhett. I love you so,” Anne replied. They both let out belly laughs.

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Chapter Twenty-Five
The immaculate lawn leading up to the white-columned porch caught Anne’s attention. It was decorated with red and yellow rose beds. Anne felt at home already. She wished she lived during those old Colonial periods when time seem to stand still. Then she remembered Scarlett O’Hara at Tara. Nothing stood still in her life. She looked up to see the big mansion rising gallantly in the high Texas sky. She was home, she told herself. Then she realized quickly this was not her home. It belonged to someone else. It was Betty Jo Duke’s safe haven. “Oh, honey,” she exclaimed. “Ain’t it just beautiful?” “It’s really something,” he replied, taking in the breathless view of the property. It was picture post-card perfect. For a moment, Donald’s thoughts wandered off the trail he left behind him: his father’s death; his talk with Uncle Mack; The Society of Southron Patriots; and the FBI. He felt safe. His mother either was a great creator or she had enough money to buy someone else’s creativity. Maybe it was a little of both. A black man ambled down the concrete steps. Behind him were several black boys trailing him. “We’ll get your bags,” the man spoke in perfectly good English. Donald could tell he was a well-educated black man by the way he handled himself and the boys. Donald couldn’t put his finger on it. The black man was not from the South. Too polished. Too well-mannered. Too professional. Old enough to have learned other things besides slavery since the Civil Rights Act in the 1960’s. He had taken advantage of the new era in integrative education. “I am at your service,” he announced to Donald and Anne. “My name is James.” Seeing the rugged cowboys and ranch boss, Charley; James was an iconoclast. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe James fit in this scenery more

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than he thought. More like a New York City hotel doorman. Better yet. A classy butler for Donald Trump. “Thank you, James,” Anne said. She gave a high brow look at Donald standing beside her. Standing in the doorway was a small, petite older woman. Donald and Anne climbed the steps. The woman was smiling from ear to ear. James and his boys trooped behind with the luggage. The woman’s brown hair was fixed perfectly into a French twist and pulled back into a bouffant. She looked as if she stepped out of a movie from the Civil War era. She wore a pink and white satin-hoop dress, stylish of the 1800’s. It could have been the same period dress the women in Charleston, Atlanta or New Orleans wore before the ravaging war tore the South to shreds. For the first time Donald felt really nervous. He hoped he was not on the verge of panic. He had been taking medicine for his anxiety attacks. He hardly knew how to address the woman. His mother. His blood. He had her facial features. The eyes were the same color, blue. He stood in front of her like a teenager looking at his first date. His hands were sweaty, and he felt the trickle of perspiration run down his arm pits. He was glad he had on a Polo shirt. Maybe it wouldn’t show. She broke the silence. “Donald,” she addressed his name. She stretched out her short, thin arms. He embraced her. She patted him lightly on the back. He returned her embrace with a kiss on her cheek. Her age wasn’t a reflection on how she appeared. So fit and trim. She was physically attractive for her seventy-nine years. He had calculated her age. He didn’t know her birth date, so she could be 78 or 79. “This is my wife, Anne,” Donald finally managed to offer. Betty Jo swept Anne into her arms, hugging and kissing her on the cheeks. Anne returned the greeting. “I’m so happy. This is the best day of my life. My son has finally returned home.” She teared up.
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The butler ushered his boys up the winding stair case with their luggage in tow. Donald heard James tell them to take them to the Robert E. Lee room. It was all surreal to Donald and Anne as they looked after them to the top. “Can I get you some iced tea or coffee?” Betty Jo offered, stepping back and taking a panoramic view of them both. “I’ll have some iced tea,” Anne told her. “Me too,” Donald said. “Mattie. Iced tea for all of us. We’ll be in the living room.” “Yes ‘em, Ms. Duke,” Mattie said, scrambling across the foyer, her short legs inching toward what appeared to be a big kitchen behind the staircase. “Well, we are finally together,” said Betty Jo, waving her hand toward the living room. Anne and Donald followed behind her. She walked lively. Donald swore she was much younger than her late 70’s. He guessed the new wave about aging was true in certain instances. The 70’s were the new 60’s, the 60’s the new 50’s. He felt 16 if that was the case. A new sensation. He felt like a boy again for the first time. Maybe it was her presence. He wondered what it would have been like if things had been different in 1946. His mother raised him. He quickly discounted the scenario. Anne noticed couples walking around the foyer, heading toward the door. Other couples wandered around looking at famous paintings from artists who definitely knew southwestern folklore. Betty Jo walked through the open door to the gigantic living room, decorated with antiques from every section of the world. James closed the doors to the living off to the foyer. Betty Jo motioned for Anne and Donald to take a seat on a large Italian styled sofa. She pulled up an armed cushioned chair with the same brown and white cloth as the sofa. She tucked her hooped dress around the chair and she sat down in gracious fashion. Anne wondered if somewhere in her mother-in-law’s life she had been given New York etiquette in southern grace, but she shook the notion off. No one in New York knew how to teach southern graciousness. It was only learned in southern society.
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“We’ve been through so much since your father died,” Betty Jo said. “I know the two of you have. I was shocked when I found out about his death, then it being ruled a homicide. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read about it in the paper.” Donald looked at her deeply for the first time, trying to find any hidden agendas in her voice or body language. Not a trace of anything hidden, he decided from the beginning. He relaxed. He really wanted to know more about her. He already knew way too much about his father. “Henry’s death tore Donald apart at first,” Anne spoke up. “But it wasn’t because he died. It was the way he was killed. The two of them were estranged from one another for nearly thirty years.” “I can certainly understand,” said Betty Jo, shifting in her chair. “Finding out you had a new family here must have been a mighty shock.” Donald was uncomfortable talking about things so sensitive. Not now. These were private issues only his psychiatrist knew about. He didn’t want to open up the wounds. Not now. “Let’s change the subject,” Donald said apologetically. “There’s plenty of time to talk about our past. I want to know about James.” “James?” Betty Jo questioned. “Your butler.” “Oh, James.” “I found him in New York when I went to visit about five years ago. He was a hotel bellman. He was so attractive. So gracious. I asked him if he would like to work for me on a ranch in Texas. I had just finished building The Jo. He was born in Dallas, he told me. He wanted to return as close to home as possible. He still has relatives all over Texas. He jumped at the chance.” “I knew it!” Donald said with a clap of a hand on his knee. “The Jo?” Anne quizzed her. “Yes. That is what I call this place. It’s named after me. I just left off Betty.” *****
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The morning turned into noon. The conversations between the three people sitting in the living room at The Jo went well. No more probing questions. Donald was relieved. Anne and Donald were shown to their suite in the Robert E. Lee guest room. Above the bed was a portrait of the general himself. “Isn’t this a great room?” Anne said, throwing herself onto the Victorian bed with a canopy. She stretched her arms above her head. Donald lay down beside her. He held her in his arms. He kissed her passionately for the first time in months. Anne warmed to his cuddle. She kissed him longingly and Donald was stirred sexually. “You think...” “I know what you are thinking,” she said. “Yes.” Donald went to lock the bedroom door. It was already locked. He tore off his clothes, while Anne undressed in front of him. He was aroused beyond belief. This hadn’t happened in months. They made love on top of the bed without throwing back the spread or sheets. Donald knew exactly how to make Anne climax and he had her panting for more. He was about ready to put the finish on, when he and Anne heard a voice. “Mister and Mrs. Drummond. Your presence in the dining room is requested by Ms. Duke. Lunch is served.” “The room has an intercom system. Wonder if they have a video camera in here, too,” he smiled, kissing his wife once more. “I’d like to skip dinner and stay in bed here with you,” Donald kidded her as he went to the bathroom and took a quick shower. Anne joined him, and they took turns scrubbing one another’s body to a rich lather. “Down, boy,” Anne said, her body warmly touching his. “Your mother is expecting us. We’ve got to behave like two grown people.” “The hell you say,” Donald said. They made love in the shower. Twice in one day, ten minutes apart. Donald walked over to the bed. He looked up at the portrait of Robert E. Lee hanging above it. He winked at the old general. General Lee was sit122

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ting upright and straight in the saddle of his horse name “Traveler.” The old general had a smile on his face. The general would be proud of his mount, Donald laughed to himself.

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Chapter Twenty-Six Kilgore, Texas
Charley Noble dialed the number to the Kilgore Coral night club owned by Mack Tucker. The person on the other end said Tucker was in Alabama and unavailable. Noble didn’t read newspapers, didn’t watch television or listen to the radio. He hardly knew who the president of the United States was. Noble had news for Tucker. The cocaine wasn’t being delivered any longer. He was Tucker’s go-between when the drug was delivered to the ranch and stashed away in a secret hideaway in one of the vacant barns. It was Noble’s job to see it went to the right destination. He contracted with independent truck drivers to move the cocaine throughout the United States. The drivers didn’t pick the drugs up at the ranch. Too risky. He built a fake opening beneath the bed of his truck where he hid the drugs and carried the neatly wrapped cocaine in one-pound cellophane wrappers to a warehouse outside of Tyler, a thirty-minute drive. The drivers loaded it at night from the warehouse and drove during the daylight hours. He paid them handsomely. He gave each driver a little coke as an incentive. No one at the ranch knew what Charley did as a side job. After getting his ranch hands together each morning, feeding them breakfast and handing out instructions for the day, Charley went to work behind the scenes. He made a good income as a distributor. More than Ms. Duke was paying him to run the ranch. He was getting desperate for money. Desperate to lose his high. Something was wrong. Tucker was out of touch. Noble was in deep shit. A UPS truck pulled up at the ranch house. The delivery man walked to the front door and Noble signed for a package addressed to Donald Drummond. Noble looked at the cardboard package. Looked like a book from Amazon.com.
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Noble went inside and looked down the guest list. He did not find Donald Drummond’s name listed as a guest or his name among the city slickers who signed up for a two-week course to learn about the cowboy way of life. He was puzzled. He was also curious. He knew Henry Drummond, president of the Society of Southron Patriots. Charley was a member in the Texas chapter although he never attended local meetings. He liked to receive the league’s newsletters. He once attended a school of southern history taught in the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee and came away proud to be a true Southerner by the grace of God. A bumper sticker on his old pickup had a rebel flag glued to the truck gate, “Hell, No. We’ll Never Surrender.” “Mattie, do we have someone name Donald Drummond staying up at The Jo?” Charley spoke into his walkie-talkie. “Why, Lawd, yes, Mr. Charley. That’s Ms. Duke’s son. Didn’t you know?” How would he know? Nobody told him anything about the family. He never knew Ms. Duke was married to Henry Drummond much less a son. Noble’s heart beat a little faster. Donald Drummond would be Mack Tucker’s nephew. He’s part of the Society of Southron Patriots and he’s in on the drug dealings. He had to find a way to talk to him privately. Maybe he could straighten out the drug running. He had no one else to talk to about it. ***** “I’ve made plans for us to drive to Monahans,” Betty Jo told them. “I’d like to show you where I first met your father. I need the trip. I haven’t been back to that town since the war.” “Excellent,” Donald replied. He was anxious to trace his mother’s past. To piece together the puzzle. To learn the truth about the divorce.

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“We could fly, but I figured you’d like to see west Texas. Not much to see. If you’re like me you like to know family genealogy. I’ve spent years in research of the Duke family. That’s why I sent you my book.” “I’ll cherish it,” he said. Donald suggested they take his Jeep. It was comfortable. Betty Jo planned to take the Cadillac and have her chauffeur drive. “I’d really rather drive myself,” Donald insisted. “Suit yourself,” Betty Jo said. “We can leave tomorrow morning. I’ve prepared a great supper for all of us. Angus steak with lobster.” Donald’s mouth was already watering. “That sounds great.” ***** Donald strolled the lawn after supper. He wanted to walk off the steak and lobster. He stood and looked at the ranch as the dusk turned to night. Anne went to the room. Couples strolled outside arm-in-arm. He should have brought Anne with him. Headlights from a golf cart wound around a trail coming toward him. He didn’t know whether to be alarmed. The cart drew to within feet of him. He saw the old ranch hand, Charley, at the wheel. “You Henry’s boy?” the gruff voice asked. “You mean Henry Drummond?” “Yeah, that’s him. You’s part of the Society of Southron Patriots?” Donald looked at the man in the golf cart. His craggy beard. The cowboy hat, the boots. His eyes looked red from what he could see. His speech was slurred. “I took over the league when my father died,” Donald told him. “You’s mean Henry Drummond is dead?” “Haven’t you heard?”
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“No, I don’t listen to news. Didn’t know he died. I admired your father for the things he did. We were partners you know?” Donald sensed something about Charley when he first saw him. Something spooky about his eyes. A little crazy, perhaps. Doped up. Liquored up. Donald decided not to divulge too much information, but he wanted to pull everything he could from him. Might be the connection the FBI was trying to find. “Yeah, I knew that,” Donald told him, lying. “Well’s Mr. Drummond, I’s in a jam, deep shit. The drugs quit coming over two weeks ago. I know Mack Tucker and your father trusted me to get them on the road. But nothing’s turned up. The cocaine quit coming.” “Who knows about this?” Donald asked. “Just you and me. I’s can’t find Mack. Now’s you tells me Henry is dead. They’s were my connection.” “I know,” Donald lied to him again. “You’ve done a great job. You’ve made the family a lot of money. They paid you well, didn’t they?” “Why’s yes. Paid me more than your mother to run this ranch. I thought you might be able to tell me what’s going on with the coke.” Donald crawled into the passenger side of the golf cart. “Why don’t we go for a ride, Charley. We can talk privately.” Charley turned the cart and headed toward a trail. A full moon was in the western part of the sky. Stars glistened. The humidity stagnating. Temperature in the high 80’s even after dark. A few miles later, Charley stopped the golf cart. They sat in front of an old dilapidated barn. “This is where’s I keep it,” Charley said. “You’s can see no one would expect anything in this old barn.” “You say it stopped coming two weeks ago?” Donald continued his prodding. “Yes, sir. “Bout two weeks ago.” “You got any left in there? A few bags?”

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“I’s keep some for myself and some for my hired hands. Comes in handy after a long day working with these city slickers who wanna be cowboys.” “You keep it here?” “I’s got quite a bit, but not enough to put on the road again.” “I could take a sniff or two,” Donald told him. “Wells let’s see what I’s can dig out for you.” Charley and Donald went into the barn. Charley shined a flashlight across the straw floor and opened a door covered with straw and a rubber mat. “You’s has to be careful going down in the ground. I’d better get it.” Charley hoisted himself under the floor, his flashlight beaming. Donald watched him as he made his way to a shelf. “It’s all here,” Charley said excitedly. “You wanna bag?” “Don’t mind if I do,” Donald hollered down at him. Charley returned to the opening with a large sandwich bag with powder. “I’s don’t fool too much around with this stuff. It’ll kill you. Besides I has to be of good mind to keep my job here on this ranch,” he laughed. “I need to be getting back, Charley. My wife will be wondering where I am.” “Sure, Mr. Drummond. You think you can talk to Mack Tucker and let him know what’s goin’ on here?” “I know where to find him,” Donald told him as the golf cart returned to the lawn. “Thanks for the bag, man,” Donald told him as he shook Charley’s calloused hands. “I’s be waiting for your instructions, Mr. Drummond.” Donald took out his cell phone and dialed his contact with the FBI in Birmingham. Evans answered. “I’ve found where the drugs are being kept, and how they are being distributed,” Donald told Evans. “It appears my father and Mack Tucker
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made their fortune from drug trafficking. I found the distributor at my mother’s ranch.” “Do you think your mother was involved?” “I don’t know yet. That is something I need to work on next.” “Does she need to be arrested?” “I think she needs to be questioned when the agents get here. I’d like to know what she has to say.” “Good work, Donald. I’ll have our men there the first thing in the morning.”

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Chapter Twenty-Seven Kilgore, Texas
Donald told Anne about Charley and where the cocaine was located and how it was being distributed from the ranch. Anne was shocked. “I wonder if your mother knows about this?” Anne asked. “I don’t know, but we are going to find out soon enough,” he told her. “I want to drive down to the ranch house. FBI agents will be besieging this place in a matter of minutes. If anyone ask where I am, tell them I went for a ride before breakfast.” “Can I go?” Anne asked. “No. You stay here. I don’t know what Charley will do when he sees the FBI. There might be trouble.” “You take care of yourself and stay out of harm’s way,” she admonished. Donald couldn’t help but wonder if his mother was involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Maybe she made a deal with Uncle Mack at some point to provide a distribution point? Mack mentioned he had a sexual affair with her when he was at the prison. Had she mentioned Mack Tucker to him? He tried to recall anything which would tie the two together. Oh, yes. The ranch. Mack had sold the ranch to her, and Mack was there when his mother and father divorced. That much he knew. Donald parked his Jeep two hundred yards from the ranch house and took out his binoculars. He saw six cars filing through the BJD entrance from where he sat. Dust kicked after them. He looked through the lens at the front of the ranch house. Noble sat on the porch, rocking. Suddenly, he saw him jump to his feet. He walked gingerly out to the yard as the cars stopped

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rapidly in front of him. He became a wild man. Donald saw him race into the house. When he returned Noble had a rifle in his arm, cocked and ready to fire. Donald drove closer with his windows rolled down. He was close enough to hear a conversation. “Charley Noble. This is the FBI,” one agent spoke into a microphone. “You are under arrest.” Noble fired one shot at the agent who spoke to him. It was the only bullet he managed to get off. Agents unloaded their ammo into his body and he fell limply to the ground. The holes in his body gushed blood onto the lawn. His wife ran out of the house and to her husband’s side. She screamed and shouted. “Y’all bastards!” The agents surrounded them. The wife continued to wail. The agents stood motionless and stoic. “Why did you kill him?” “Your husband shot at us first,” an agent said. “Who are you?” “FBI,” the head agent said. Noble’s wife lay across her husband’s body soaking up the blood onto her white cotton dress. “Charley! Charley!” she cried. The ranch hands, all twelve of them, rode up to the ranch. Some were riding on horses, others on four-wheelers. Donald turned the Jeep and headed back to The Jo. ***** “Lawd, Lawd!” screamed Mattie on the intercom to Betty Jo’s room. “There’s troubles down at the ranch house, Ms. Duke.” Betty Jo went to her bedroom window. She heard the gunshots. She could see the ranch house from there. She saw six cars parked haphazardly

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around the front of the ranch. She saw the outline of figures standing in the yard. She dialed Falvey’s cell phone. “Al, come quick. Something is happening down at the ranch house.” “I’ll be there in a jiffy,” Falvey told her. Donald didn’t want anyone to suspect he knew anything about the raid. He parked the Jeep and walked briskly to the porch, pushing past a few men standing on the lawn. “What’s going on?” one of the gentlemen asked. “I don’t know, but I heard the gun shots. I will find out what’s happening.” He entered the foyer and noticed the fear in the eyes of the women’s faces. He walked up the winding stairs. Anne was in the hall. He looked at her as he past and winked. He knocked on the door to Betty Jo’s suite, and she opened it. “What’s happening down at the ranch?” Donald asked her. “I don’t know. I just found out about it. My attorney is on his way. He’ll be here in ten minutes.” “Attorney?” Donald asked. “I never leave anything to chance. If it involves the law, I want my attorney Al Falvey involved. He’s been by my side the past forty years.” He filed that tidbit of information away for later. ***** Donald followed close behind as FBI agents were led to the large study at The Jo. He and Anne were introduced to Falvey. Handsome guy? Donald thought. Wonder what he and his mother have going on between them? He also wondered if the two agents sitting in the room knew about his role with the FBI. He was still a little jittery from the scene at the ranch when the agent gunned Noble down. “We meet again, Ms. Duke,” FBI agent Tom Peyton said as Betty Jo, Falvey, Donald and Anne sat on comfortable sofa.
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“I swear to God, Al, I don’t know anything about drugs being on my property much less being distributed from here,” Betty Jo said as she lay her head on the arm of the sofa. Agents Peyton and Jim Betts were assigned to follow up since they had interviewed Betty Jo previously concerning Henry Drummond’s death. Her files were clean concerning Henry. Now drug trafficking. “Ms. Duke, it is a fact you and Mack Tucker have had business dealings in the past. We’ve proven that much,” Betts said. “Tucker has been interrogated already in Alabama about the drugs which have been distributed from your property. What is your knowledge about this?” “I swear on a stack of Bibles, I was unaware of drugs being on the property much less being distributed by my hired ranch manager, Charley Noble,” she told them. She looked Betts dead-eyed without a blink. Donald saw a fiery side to his mother and noticed the serious look she gave the agent. “If I’d known about this, I would have fired everyone involved. Are there more people on the ranch you suspect?” “We’re not certain, Ms. Duke,” Peyton spoke up. “Our agents are interviewing all your employees. As soon as we have completed talking to each and every one of them we will know more about the situation.” “Are you going to charge my client with drug trafficking?” Falvey asked them bluntly. “No. We are not going to charge anyone as yet,” Betts told him. “We will do a full investigation and we will let you know. I would advise Ms. Duke not to leave the property until we complete our interviews with her employees.” “Thank you,” Falvey told them. Donald saw his mother heave a sigh of relief. “Ms. Duke. May we use this study to question your employees?” Peyton asked. “You may,” she told him. As Donald walked past Peyton on his way out of the study, the agent winked at him. * *133* * *

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“We’re not going to arrest her,” Birmingham agent-in-charge Doug Evans told Donald when he called. “Our Dallas office is handling this matter. I want you and Anne to inform us of anything suspicious going on at the ranch. You report to me and I will report to the Dallas agent-in-charge.” “Do the agents assigned to the case know I am an informant?” Donald asked Evans. “They do,” Evans replied. That solved the riddle. The agent winked at him. “We talked to Mack Tucker and asked him if Betty Jo Duke knew anything about the drugs on the ranch,” Evans continued. “He told our agents she would not have known. That it was something he and Noble worked out many years ago. Drug trafficking has been going on behind your mother’s back for the last eighteen years. Amazing. Mack owns a nightclub in Kilgore. You might want to check it out when you have time.” “I will do just that,” Donald told him and hung up. “I’m curious,” Donald asked his mother when he rejoined them in the dining room after calling his FBI contact in Birmingham. He had walked outside to make the call. “What sort of relationship did you have with Uncle Mack?” He noticed her cheeks turn to a red blush. “Can I discuss this with you later, son?” she replied. Maybe she didn’t want Falvey to know about a relationship she had with his uncle? Maybe Falvey knew way too much about his mother already? “Whenever you want to talk,” he told her. ***** Donald and Anne ate lunch in the dining room with Betty Jo and Falvey. He noticed how his mother and Falvey acted around one another. Very casual. Easy. He was the guy who came to the funeral. My God, why hadn’t he figured that out!

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When they finished eating, Donald and Anne left the dining room to return to their room. They left his mother and Falvey alone to talk. “Let’s take a drive,” Donald told Anne. “Where are we going?” “We’re going fishing.” “Fishing? You don’t know the first thing about fishing,” Anne said annoyingly. “I’m not talking about fishing, fishing. I’m talking about riding over to the Kilgore Coral. That is Uncle Mack’s private club. “How are we going to get into a private club?” Anne asked him. “Falvey is a member and let me borrow a guest card.” “You little schemer,” she said smiling. The drive to the club took ten minutes. Donald found it without any trouble. He used the guest pass to unlock the front door for members only. “Nice place,” Anne said. “Your uncle Mack has an eye for decor.” “He’s also got an eye for guys,” Donald joked. “Hold my hand,” Anne implored. “I don’t want some queer hitting on you.” The long bar was filled with businessmen. The waiters were mostly guys with one exception of a beautiful young waitress with blond hair and sparkling blue eyes. She wore short shorts and a tight halter top with the name Kilgore Coral engraved on it. It reminded Donald of Hooters. “May I take your order?” the young waitress asked. “I’ll just have a beer if you don’t mind,” Donald told her. “I’ll have the same,” said Anne. “I’ll be back with your order.” Donald cased the bar. When he saw two guys kissing one another on the mouth his stomach tightened. Anne gripped his right hand for him to be calm. The waitress returned with the cold brew and placed a napkin on the table with the drinks.
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“I’m your waitress, Mary Kate. Let me know if I can get you anything else?” “We will,” Donald told her and watched her sashay away, her buttocks smooth and round. “Down, boy,” Anne clutched his balls under the table. They laughed. They finished their drink and Donald motioned for the waitress. “Want two more?” she asked. “Who’s the owner here?” Donald asked. “He’s out of town and unavailable,” she told him. “Who is the manager while he is away?” “That would be Bud.” “Is he here?” “Nope. He’s in jail. I’m running the bar while he’s serving time.” “Well, Mary Kate. You’ve got your work cut out for you.” “I can manage. I go to Kilgore College at night.” “Where are you from?” Anne asked. “From Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ever been there?” Donald and Anne shook their heads no. “Nice girl,” Anne said as they walked out the club back to the Jeep. “She might be someone Joseph would be interested in. She’s beautiful. Our son is a sucker for blond headed girls.” “That reminds me, we need to call him. We need to see when he can come out here,” Donald told her. “Why exactly did we come here, except to watch a few queers kiss and a young girl’s ass? You said you were fishing around. Was the girl your catch?” “Not exactly,” Donald smiled at her. “Agent Evans wanted me to take a look around. That’s all. He thinks there’s a connection between Tucker and Betty Jo than just an exchange of property which has been documented.”

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Chapter Twenty-Eight Kilgore, Texas
Donald awoke early the next morning to the sound of a scream outside the door. Anne was still asleep. He quickly slipped a robe over his pajamas and opened the door to the Robert E. Lee suite. Mattie and James, the butler, were in the hall in front of his mother’s bedroom. “Lawd, Lawd!” screamed Mattie. “Ms. Duke’s dead!” Donald pushed past Mattie and James and went into the room. He saw his mother lying on the bed. He went to her side and poked her. No movement. He took a pulse. Nothing. Donald was in panic mode. He hadn’t taken his daily medication as yet. He raced out the room and back to his suite. He woke Anne and told her what happened. “This can’t be happening, Donald.” Anne sat up in bed. “It’s just not happening. I am dreaming. Pinch me to make sure.” Donald pinched her on the arm. “Yep. It’s real,” Anne said, rubbing the red spot. It was deja vu. He had already been through this same rite when he went to Rose’s side when his father was found dead in the den at home. Now it was happening all over again. Eerie. Strange. Weird. “Call 9-1-1,” Donald told her. Donald returned to his mother’s room. “We’ve called emergency and an ambulance is on the way,” Donald told Mattie and James. Both of them stood nervously outside the doorway. Other maids gathered in the hallway. “Who found her?” Donald quizzed them. “I’s did,” Mattie said. “I’s call James to come up.” Donald went over to the bed again. He tossed back the quilt. He looked at the body. He did not see signs of blood.
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It took emergency responders nearly twenty minutes to get to The Jo. By that time many of the guest were pacing up and down the hallway. There were two floors of quest rooms, fourteen rooms per floor. The hallway was packed with people. “I’d suggest all of you return to your rooms or you can go downstairs to the foyer. There’s been an accident and emergency crews are on their way.” “Who is it?” one frightened woman asked. “It’s the proprietor,” Donald said. He didn’t know any other way to put it. It still felt odd to say the word mother. If he said Ms. Duke, they might not know who she was. He blurted out the first thing that came to mind. Anne joined him in the room. Emergency responders leaned over the body. They didn’t have to hook up any of their equipment. She was dead. “Who knows how to reach Mr. Falvey?” Donald asked Mattie and James. “I can ring him,” James said with confidence. “Call him and tell him to come to The Jo. His client is dead.” “Oh’s Mr. Al is gonna be so upset,” Mattie said to no one in particular. Donald overheard a conversation between the ambulance driver and assistant. As far as he knew his mother was in pretty good health. She was energetic. Vivacious at times. He had seen women her age who looked ready for the morgue, but she wasn’t one of them. “Are you next of kin?” asked a paramedic. “I am her son.” “Do you want an autopsy?” “I suspect so.” What else was there to do? The drug trafficking. The death of his father. The poison. Did all of it connect? “Call the coroner’s office and get him here,” the head paramedic asked of his assistant. He dialed from his linc phone. “Have him come to the BJD Ranch off Highway 82 in Kilgore.”
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Falvey looked a nervous wreck when he came into the room. The coroner was not there yet. Donald and Anne were in the room. They had not been inside her suite. It was luxurious. Antique furniture, bed, lamps and a big picture window. The curtains were closed. Donald opened them. He could see a panoramic view of the ranch from where he stood. “I just don’t understand,” Falvey said. “She was in good health. She lived life to its max. She never complained of any health issues that I knew of. Maybe a little arthritis here and there. Even at seventy-nine she had a zest for life. I could hardly keep up with her in our travels.” “How long have y’all two known one another,” Anne asked. “More years than I can count. She was the most astonishing woman I ever met. Good sense. Prolific organizer. Writer. Philanthropist. Her employees loved her. She paid them more than minimum wage. Some of them top dollar. Noble was one of the highest paid.” “It appears Noble had extracurricular money coming in, too,” Donald said sarcastically. “Honey, look at this,” Anne said pointing to a scrapbook and diary on a table by her computer. “I don’t think we should touch anything until the detectives and forensic people have had a chance to look at her possessions,” Donald cautioned. A coroner stepped into the room. He introduced himself. “Are you next of kin?” he asked. “I am her son,” Donald told him. The coroner examined the body and told the paramedics to take the body downtown to the morgue. He would do further investigations and send anything suspicious to a forensic lab in nearby Tyler. “Can’t say how she died,” the coroner said. “How long will the autopsy take?” Donald asked. “Can’t say. Might be a week or two.” “Is there a way to rush it along?” “You’re not from around Texas, are you mister?” the coroner quizzed. “We don’t move very fast in Texas.”
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Falvey stopped the coroner, and Donald tried to listen to their conversation but Falvey’s voice was a whisper. “We’ll have the autopsy report completed by tomorrow,” the coroner said and left the room. ***** Falvey told Donald where his mother banked. He called the bank president and told him to allow Ms. Duke’s son to have the possessions inside the vault. “Mr. Falvey,” Donald said curiously. “How much money did my mother have?” “Enough, son,” he said. “More than enough. I believe you and your wife will be quite pleased with what she has left you. I helped write her Will & Testament.” “I’m concerned that mother might have been killed,” Donald finally said. “What!” Falvey exclaimed. “I’ve seen a lot in the last few months. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mack Tucker had something to do with her death.” “Isn’t he in prison?” Falvey asked. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have henchmen working for him.” “Henchmen?” “My father was murdered by arsenic poisoning. It came from China. The Society of Southron Patriots, which my father founded, brought it into the United States. Someone poisoned my father, and I fear someone may have poisoned my mother.” Falvey sat down on the bed where Betty Jo’s body had been found. His hand tried to smooth the wrinkles out of the bedspread. “You all right, Mr. Falvey?” Anne asked. “I never knew it would come to this,” he said.

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Donald wondered what he meant “never come to this.” He was reluctant to push the aging attorney fearing he might go off the deep end. He tucked away that tidbit for a later time. The three of them left the room and headed toward the dining room where breakfast was served. Donald sat down at the table. A television reporter was on the local news. “Betty Jo Duke, multi-millionaire, has died at her ranch,” he said. “Stay tuned for more information.” A commercial followed. Donald flinched. News reporters and television crews would be filing onto the ranch. He knew how to handle the media, but he wasn’t as certain about handling the life he now faced.

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Chapter Twenty-Nine Kilgore, Texas
Donald and Anne sat in the study at the Jo. Since he was Betty Jo Duke’s only living kin, he was responsible for seeing to it she got a proper burial. They had been to the bank as Falvey suggested. His mother’s last Will & Testament, among other documents, were found in a safe deposit box. “Here’s the box,” Anne said. “Do you want to open it now, or do you want to wait until after she is buried?” “I guess we need to know how she wants her funeral conducted?” Donald said, sheepishly. “I think we should wait on reading the Will and Testament. It just doesn’t seem the right thing to do before she is buried.” “Let’s make the funeral arrangements first,” Anne said. The first document in a letter-sized envelope in the box read, READ ME FIRST. Anne unsealed the envelope, and began to read aloud the instructions. It was about her burial services. The second document was the Will and Testament. It read, DO NOT OPEN UNTIL DAY AFTER FUNERAL. The third item in the box was a book. The cover on a small hardback book she had self-published read, DECORATION DAY. It was her memoirs. ***** Donald and Anne drove to the funeral home the next morning to meet with the funeral director and his staff. “Well, the burial policies cover the funeral,” Anne said. “Just enough.” The funeral director looked over the burial insurance. He was dumbfounded also at what her burial insurance specified. She had figured to the penny what it would cost to be buried at Memorial Park Cemetery; the burial policy left little room for anything lavish.
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Donald and Anne met with the minister of the Church his mother attended, and he agreed to perform the services. He picked the word “Joy,” as his topical subject. Everyone called Betty Jo, Betty Jo, but her middle name was Joy. “Your mother gave generously to the Church,” said Brother John Bobo. “In fact, your mother’s gifts to the Church helped build the Senior Citizens Building. We wanted to name it after her, but she would hear nothing of it. “You might want to visit her bank. I think they know more about her finances better than anyone else. I know I visited with her local banker when she made a sizable contribution to the Church. We had to sign a lot of papers to obtain the money.” “We’ve met with her banker,” Donald said. The day before the funeral had been taxing. Donald and Anne postponed looking at anything else until the day after her burial. ***** A beautiful day emerged the day of the funeral. The funeral service was at eleven o’clock. Their son, Joseph, drove from Tuscaloosa to Kilgore that morning. “I can’t believe this place,” Joseph said as he wandered around the large mansion. “It’s just like Tara in ‘Gone With the Wind.’” “It’s ashame you did not get to meet your grandmother, son,” Anne told him. “She was a remarkable lady.” “So is my grandmother, Rose.” “I know,” she said, putting her arm around him. They drove to the funeral home in downtown Kilgore. The oil wells along the way drew Jacobs’ attention. “This place is rich in oil,” he said to no one in particular as he looked out the back door window.

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They entered the funeral home through a back entrance, and were greeted by the funeral director and his staff. The curtains were closed for the family. “Would you like to view your mother now?” the director asked. Donald looked at Anne and she nodded yes. Donald hated funerals. He already had buried his father. He had consoled his family then, including his mother, Rose Carnaggio Drummond, whom he loved so much. Who would console him? He felt strength in Anne. He squeezed her hand as they viewed his mother’s body in the casket for the last time. Anne placed a red rose across his mother’s chest. Joseph leaned in to get a glimpse of the grandmother he never met. Donald feared a panic attack. He took the pill the doctor prescribed for him, and he wondered if he might need to take a double dose. Donald and Anne forgot to ask the minister if he planned on mentioning the money their mother gave to the Church. It was too late now as the chapel was filling. Donald met many people at his mother’s funeral. A conservatively dressed bank president, who looked like he just stepped out of Gentleman’s Quarterly, introduced himself, and Donald recalled him saying: “Your mother was a pillar of this community. You do not know how much we will miss her?” A hospital administrator, dapperly dressed in a pinstripe suit, shook Donald’s hand in the receiving line, and said, “Your mother has helped our hospital immensely, and we will certainly miss her?” The pastor of the Church was the last to grasp Donald’s hand after capping off the burial service. Brother Bobo shook Donald’s hand, and said, “Your mother was a God-send to our Church. You don’t know how many lives she touched, and how generous she was with helping the Church out financially. We are dearly going to miss her. God Bless you, son.” *****
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Donald tossed and turned in the bed that night. Anne was fast asleep. He woke her and wanted to talk. It was two o’clock in the morning, and Anne was a sound sleeper. “Anne, Anne,” Donald whispered into her ear. Anne stirred a little and turned over on her side facing him. “What time is it?” “It’s two o’clock,” Donald replied. “Can’t we talk in the morning?” “It is morning,” Donald said. Anne sat up in bed. “I am so confused over what happened after the funeral,” Donald said. “Do you know how many people came up to me, telling a story about mother’s help? Dozens of people. A bank president, a hospital administrator, her pastor, and so many friends who came to share a story about her and how she had helped them.” “The way they spoke about her is next to being called a saint,” Anne replied. “I’ve never thought of her being a saint,” Donald said. “I know she has been through a lot of misfortunes in her life, but a saint?” “Well, you’ve only known her a few days. You just know a few pieces of a larger puzzle. I am certain you will find out who your mother really was when you read her Will and memoirs.” “I’m almost afraid to look at it,” Donald said and he lay down beside Anne and cuddled against her.

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Chapter Thirty Kilgore, Texas
Donald dressed in his blue Levy jeans, and pulled a red t-shirt from his bag. He had more than one crimson t-shirt with the letter A among his belongings. He was a big University of Alabama fan, no matter if the school was playing football, basketball, baseball or women’s softball. His Jeep Liberty was ablaze with Alabama decals, even the spare tire cover on the back. He laced up his red and white tennis shoes, brushed his hair, and strolled downstairs to the dining room where breakfast was waiting. A sheriff watched Donald pace through the foyer. “Are you Donald Drummond?” the sheriff asked. “Yes.” “Mr. Drummond, I am sad to inform you that your mother died of arsenic poisoning. The autopsy report came in late yesterday. The forensic lab identified it as a rat poison from China. I cannot pronounce its name.” “Dushiqiang?” Donald attempted to pronounce it. “Yeah, that’s it. How did you know?” “My father was poisoned by it a few months ago. He died.” “Sorry to hear about that. Well, we don’t know if this should be considered a homicide or if she deliberately took it. Suicide, maybe?” “I don’t think so,” Donald told the sheriff. “I think her death should be considered a homicide and it will take federal law officers to investigate her death. There’s more to the picture than you or I can fathom.” “I see,” the sheriff said. “I will call the FBI.” ***** Donald called agent Evans in Birmingham and told him about his mother’s death. “I’m sorry, Donald,” the agent said.
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“I’ve got a hunch. It’s only a hunch,” Donald told him. “I believe Mack Tucker is behind her death. He got to someone at the ranch. Paid them to poison her. She might have known too much and Mack needed to get rid of her.” “Do you know who that could be?” “Not a clue as yet, but I am going to go with my hunch and see if I can find out who killed her.” “I’ll send two of my agents who have been talking to Tucker. We’ll ask him about it. He thinks he has immunity to anything which has occurred before or after his imprisonment. What he doesn’t know is, he only has immunity for his testimony against the Society of Southron Patriots. We can still bring drug trafficking charges and second degree murder charges if we find him guilty as the killer of your father and mother.” “Wow!” Donald thought. The news opened up a new door of opportunity. He wished he could return to Talladega and talk to his uncle once more, knowing he might tell him anything if he thinks he has total immunity. The last meeting with his uncle had been a total bust. ***** Agents Tom Peyton and Jim Betts returned to the BJD ranch for the third time in less than a month. The first time to question Betty Jo Duke about the death of Henry Drummond. The second, to ask her if she knew of drug trafficking by Charley Noble and Mack Tucker. The case was now being built by the Dallas FBI office for federal prosecutors. Tucker was the only man still living who could be charged for drug dealing. The death of Betty Jo brought the agents back the third time. “Mr. Drummond,” agent Peyton addressed him in the study. “Do you know who would be out to kill your mother? Or do you think she did it deliberately?” Donald was playing on hunch.

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“I do not think she took her own life,” he said, looking at the scrapbook and memoirs on top of his desk. “She had plenty to live for. I think someone here at the ranch poisoned her.” “How much do you know about Al Falvey?” agent Betts asked. “Not much but I don’t think it was him. It’s someone else.” Donald thought back to his first meeting with James, the butler. He seemed out of place on a ranch. An educated black man. But why would he act as an agent to Mack Tucker? Money?” “Of all the people at the ranch, James, the butler, should be questioned,” Donald told them. “Can you have him come in for questioning?” Peyton asked. “Certainly.” The butler, dressed in a neat black tuxedo, came into the study. He was a man in his early 50’s, handled himself well with organization, the employees and a confidence showed in his walk and speech. Donald remained in the room. “What is your full name?” agent Betts questioned. “My name, sir, is James Benjamin Whiting.” “How old are you?” “I am fifty-five years old, sir.” “How long have you worked for Ms. Duke?” “Five years and counting, sir.” “Do you know Mack Tucker?” The butler froze when his name was brought up. “Do you know Mack Tucker?” “Yes sir, I know of him,” Whiting said. “I never met him.” “We know you had a business relationship with him,” Peyton said fishing for him to show guilt or blame. Mr. Tucker said he paid you to kill Ms. Duke. James Benjamin Whiting’s black face turned grayish white. Sweat broke out on his forehead. “He told you that?” “Yes. What have you to say?”
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“I wasn’t paid to kill Ms. Duke. I was hired to poison her son, Donald Drummond, sir. Someone switched the dinner plates last night at supper. It was a mistake, sir. A bad mistake.” “But you administered the poisoning. Is that right, Mr. Whiting?” He bowed his head in silence. Donald stood back from the agents and Whiting. He was the intended victim. He felt faint. Someone wanted to murder him. Why? Did someone know he was working for the FBI? “You are under arrest for the murder of Betty Jo Duke,” agent Peyton told him. He read Whiting the Miranda rights. “How much did Tucker pay you?” Betts asked. “He didn’t actually pay me. A fellow at the Kilgore Coral paid me. I received $3,000 cash.” Donald remembered what the waitress at the night club told him when he and Anne went in for drinks. “He is in the county jail,” she said. “His name is Bud Anderson.” The agents led Whiting out of the study, into the foyer and out to their car in handcuffs. Mattie watched him. “Lawdy, Mr. James. What has you dun?” she hollered after him. The butler paid her no attention and was helped into the backseat of the government vehicle. “The guy he is referring to, at the Kilgore Coral, is in the county jail,” Donald told Betts. “His name is Bud Anderson.” “Thanks, Mr. Drummond. We will handle it now.” ***** Donald went back to his room. Anne was getting dressed. He told her the butler just confessed to murdering his mother. Anne was stunned. “We’ve got to close The Jo off from guest and employees, and ask the ranch hands to leave until we can get everything resolved,” he told her. “You want me to handle it?” she said willingly. “Please.”
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Within two hours, the guests left and so had the ranch hands and housemaids. The only three people left at the ranch were Donald, Anne and Joseph. Joseph had borrowed a four-wheeler from the ranch and raced around the property like he owned it. It felt eerie and frightening to be all alone in such a big mansion and on so much property that was about to become theirs.

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Chapter Thirty One
Donald was on the brink of being wealthy. He turned down $1 million from his father’s inheritance. His salary as a newspaper editor and writer did not put him in even a middle-class income status, but with Anne’s salary as a school teacher, they were able to pay their bills, afford a nice home in a suburb of Birmingham. They had two cars and a two-car garage. The only thing missing was a white picket fence. His retirement check from Social Security was skimpy, and the savings from a 401K retirement fund reached upwards of $75,000. He knew he didn’t have enough money to live out his days in luxury, so that is why he wanted to continue to write to make extra income for he and Anne. Donald was confused about all the help his mother had given to people she hardly knew. He could not rationalize it in his brain when people began to discuss her great giving to the Church, hospital and charity organizations. “Where did she get that kind of money?” he asked. “Are you ready to read your mother’s Will and Testament?” Anne asked, pouring a cup of hot coffee in a mug and placing it in front of him. “Might as well get it over and done with,” Donald replied. Anne went to a dresser in the dining room, and pulled out a black box. It was larger than a shoe box and had to be unlocked with a special code. The password was given to her by Betty Jo’s banker the day before. Apparently, the banker knew more about their mother’s business affairs than themselves. Anne unlocked the black box with the password. “Oh, my,” Anne said. “What has she written all these years?” Donald took the book and let his right hand rub across the leather bound cover. “Decoration Day,” Donald said aloud, reading the book’s cover. “That has a lot of implications.”

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He was anxious to read the content, but panic-stricken at the same time. “Would the true story about him, his mother and father unravel itself today?” He felt his heart racing. His palms sweating. The wrinkles on his forehead tensing. “Had his mother told him everything about her marriage to Henry Drummond? Or, was there more to come?” He opened the page of the book to the first page. She had chronicled her life in a neat and orderly fashion in one hundred and twenty-five pages. Photos she collected over the years were of the family, and covered thirtytwo of the pages. She talked about her birth in Austin, Texas on August 10, 1926. A family genealogy followed. It was filled with Duke relatives from ages ago. Then in her own handwriting, she began to talk about her life. “You want me to read it?” Anne asked. “Do the honors,” Donald replied. Dear Ones, I know you feel sad today, but don’t be sad. The Good Book said for us to rejoice at death, and I am rejoicing now in Heaven and Eternity with the Lord, my God. I sold myself to the devil when I was a young girl, but God forgave me for it and, Donald, I hope you forgive me, too. Anne, you have been a great blessing to me, and I hope you fill the remaining days of your life with God’s great blessings He has in store for you. Donald, I cannot begin to tell you everything about me. I’ll let God speak to you in due time on how I have spent most of my life. After your father and I divorced I became a rich woman, thanks to your Uncle Mack. I didn’t know what to do with all the money I received when your father divorced me. I used some of the money unwisely at first, but then Alfred Falvey, my attorney, showed me how to put it to great use. I worked for him, you know, for forty-four years. He is a great Christian man. He was there for me and we were lovers after the death of his wife. You can trust Mr. Falvey in everything he tells you. After I began going to Church, I be152

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gan to let God show me the way. Jesus is the Way Shower. I amassed quite a fortune as you will see. “One thing you don’t know about me is I found the secret to life itself. It’s in the giving, not the receiving. The money I collected was dirty money, and I wanted to turn dirty money into clean money, so I have done that throughout my life. “I go to be with my Lord and Savior now. I want you and Anne to make sure the money I have left behind goes to the right people, and spent in the right way. This is clean money now. God forgave your father, Donald. I forgave your father long ago. You, too, must forgive your father’s transgressions against both you and me. “Maybe I will see your father in Heaven, and if I do, I will say hello to him. Maybe I will even ask him for a dance?” Love, Mother Donald’s eyes welled up with tears. Anne reached over and hugged him. She, too, was uncontrollably weeping. They sat together like this for several minutes. Anne let the book fall out of her hands onto the table. Decoration Day. Donald and Anne remained attached, hugging and kissing one another for as long as it would last. They gazed into one another’s eyes. No words were spoken. Anne finally returned upright in her chair, and Donald wiped her sad eyes with a tissue, and used the same tissue to wipe his. Anne opened the envelope with the Last Will and Testament. The two of them looked at it together, reading it silently.

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LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ME, BETTY JO DUKE. 1. I HEREBY REVOKE all wills and testamentary dispositions of every nature and kind whatsoever by me hereto before made. 2. I NOMINATE, CONSTITUTE, AND APPOINT, MY SON, DONALD WAYNE DRUMMOND, to be the sole Executor and Trustee of this my Will. If he is unable or unwilling to act, I THEN NOMINATE, CONSTITUTE AND APPOINT ALFRED FALVEY, MY ATTORNEY, to be the sole EXECUTOR AND TRUSTEE of this my Will. 3. I GIVE, DEVISE, AND BEQUEST all my property of every nature and kind and whatever situate, including any property over which I may have a general power of appointment to my said Trustee upon the following trusts; namely; $20 million (give or take) in savings from Dalton Bank and Trust, Kilgore, Texas; these monies to be divided evenly between the TRUSTEES after disbursements of $6 million to the FIRST CHURCH OF Kilgore in my name to build a Senior Citizens Center; $6 million to the St. Teresa Hospital in my name to build an addition for cancer patients; $6 million to the KILGORE SENIOR CITIZENS COMMUNITY in my name divided equally among all the residents there; $2 million to my son, DONALD WAYNE DRUMMOND. “Oh, my God!” Anne exclaimed. “Jesus!” Donald chimed in. It was like a time capsule exploded, an oil gusher reaching its pinnacle, the perfect climax between a happy couple. Donald looked into Anne’s eyes longingly, and she returned the gaze. Neither one knew what the other was thinking, if any thinking was actually going on. The numbness from reading the Will began to slowly sink in. They continued to read together.
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The Trustee is given my share of stock in HUMPHREY OIL Company, a 10 percent share; a 10 percent share in Wal-Mart, Inc.; and a 100% ownership in the BJD Ranch, located in Kilgore, Texas. To use discretion in the realization of my estate, with power to my Trustee to sell, call in, convert into money any part of my estate not consisting of money at such time or times in such manner and upon such terms, and either cash or credit or for part cash and part credit as my said Trustee in their absolute discretion may decide upon, or to postpone such conversion of my estate or any part or parts thereof for such length of time as he thinks best, and I hereby declare that my Trustee shall have a separate and substantive power to retain any of my investments or assets in the form existing at the date of my death at his absolute discretion without responsibility for loss to the intent that investments or assets so retained shall be deemed to be authorized investments for all purposes of this my Will.

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Chapter Thirty Two Kilgore, Texas
Falvey’s office was located in downtown Kilgore. Donald and Anne needed him to decipher the Last Will and Testament. Rumors around town, especially on the beauty parlor circuits, were that Al and Betty Jo were secretly in love. Anne suspected it, too. Betty Jo confirmed it in her last letter before she died. Falvey was a small man in stature, standing five-foot five-inches and one year older than Donald’s mother. His gray hair and small bifocal glasses made him look the part of a lawyer. He had practiced law for over sixty years, and half of that time Betty Jo was his legal secretary. Falvey had been her confidant, friend and soul mate. He was widowed when he was fiftyeight, and Betty Jo had been at his side when his wife died of cancer. If Falvey had been there for his mother in 1946 when she lost custody of him things might have been different, Donald thought. The attorney had a copy of his mother’s Will and Testament on the top of his desk when Donald and Anne arrived at his office on Monday morning. Donald and Anne had a lot of questions for him, and things to sort out. Donald was interested in knowing how his mother’s assets had grown to $20 million. “Well, I take it you both have read the Will and Testament,” Falvey said as he sat down in his brown leather high-backed chair behind his desk. He pushed his glasses down on his nose, and peered at Donald and Anne over the top of them. “Yes sir,” Donald replied, “but there are many questions we have, and we need your services to make certain we follow the intent of her Will and Testament to the full extent of her wishes.” “I thought so,” Falvey said. “How about starting with the Humphrey Oil Company,” Donald asked. “How was she involved with H.B. Humphrey?”
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“That’s an amazing story,” Falvey said. “I introduced your mother to H.B. Humphrey and Pop Werner in the 1950’s. My father represented Pop Werner when he discovered the first oil in the 1930’s.” “Who was Pop Werner?” Donald asked. “Pop Werner’s real name was Columbus Titus Werner. He was a wildcatter in the east Texas oil fields. He was the first wildcatter in east Texas to discover oil. Mr. Humphrey bought the oil field from Werner in the 1930’s, and nearby leases from him. It was a significant risk for Mr. Humphrey. Humphrey was the first to recognize the possibilities of oil in east Texas, and poured all his money into drilling. With the discovery, Humphrey Oil Company was created. That field continues to operate today. “Your mother and Mr. Humphrey became close friends. He liked her business savvy, and your mother became a Board of Trustee before he died in 1974. “She continued to work for me, but she would take leave and sit on board meetings. The company divests some of its assets periodically, and your mother took advantage of an offer several years ago after she took over the Triple K Ranch, which I am sure you both know about. “Your mother never let on any airs about the money she had in her savings account. She didn’t live lavishly. She liked working with me, and being a part of Humphrey’s Oil Company. “She told me the story about the money she received in 1946 when she had to give up custody of you, Donald. It was something which haunted her all her days of life, I suppose. “She told me she spent very little of the $200,000 she got from Mack Tucker, and began saving the royalties from the two oil rigs she had on BJD Ranch. She was a spend thrift, and that’s what Mr. Humphrey liked about her. She kept his company on the right track with decisions made by the Board of Trustees. “When Mack Tucker bought the Kilgore Coral your mother bought the Triple K Ranch for a $1.00 and other considerations. We hired people to run it for her. She received royalties from Humphrey Oil Company, even until now. The two of you have a nice nest egg for the future. While she left
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a lot of money to her Church, hospital and to a senior citizens’ community, no telling how much money the two of you will make from the assets of BJD Ranch, and the oil money which continues to pour in. “Now it’s both of your decisions on whether or not you want to sell the ranch, or whether you want to keep it, oversee it or whatever you want to do with it. Your mother is leaving those decisions up to you.” “The senior citizens community. How did it fit into her dowry?” “Her mother lived there until she died. Her mother didn’t want anything to do with Betty Jo after she returned to Texas in 1946. Even though Betty Jo had $200,000 in cash, her mother didn’t want any part of it. Her mother took up residence at the senior citizens community when she got older. Betty Jo was so distraught; she gave money to the manager to make sure everyone at the community had what they needed and more. Her mother died a pauper.” “That’s so thoughtful,” Anne said. “Amazing,” Donald pitched in. “She was an amazing woman,” Falvey said, turning in his chair for a moment, choked up for the first time. “We don’t know the first thing about running a ranch,” Donald interjected into the conversation. “Well, neither did your mother,” Falvey replied. “She hired the right people to run it for her, and just sat back and let the money roll in. I am her attorney and friend, and I helped her set up a management team to run the ranch. But, it is up to you if you want to keep things as they are. The $6 million she gave to the Church, hospital and senior citizens’ community do not hold a candle to what the oil money brings in each year. Billions of gallons of oil are pumped from those wells. You can count on $2 million dollars a year in royalties if you decide to keep the ranch. The Jo brings in a good share of money, too. “Your mother never liked to be called rich,” Falvey said. “She’s chided me many times. She paid me handsomely to advise her on legal matters. Hell, I don’t know if your mother worked for me or I worked for her,” he laughed. “It was the latter, let me assure you both.
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“Let me make it clear to both of you. Your mother did not care about having money. She followed the Good Book’s saying about not storing up riches on earth, but living a good, ethical life on earth with your eye on eternity. “She really believed it. She walked the walk of a beautiful Christian soldier. She loved old gospel hymns, and loved her Church and all the people there. She helped out people who could not help themselves at the senior citizens community. She would give the coat off her back to anyone who asked. She was a living saint if she had been Catholic,” Falvey joked. “Money was to her just a toy.” Donald and Anne were beginning to piece together somewhat a picture of his mother’s life. Different than what they thought. It had not dawned on them what was in store for the remainder of their lives. Soon they would be able to accomplish what they were never able to accomplish before. For Donald, it was writing and providing for his family in retirement. For the first time, he could give Anne what she wanted. “What about her stock in Wal-Mart?” Anne asked. Falvey leaned back in his high backed chair, and began to bellow in laughter. “Your mother shopped at Wal-Mart. She bought everything from WalMart. She told me once, if she was going to spend her money there, she might as well own stock. It was just an investment for her, and it is lucrative, but not like the oil at the ranch. “Your mother bought me a plaque,” he said, pointing to a small wooden plaque hanging on a side wall. It read, ‘Bury me at Wal-Mart, so you will come see me.’ She had a sense of humor. “The stock will be transferred from your mother into your name,” Falvey said as he looked at Donald. “How much does she get from Wal-Mart stock?” Donald asked. “It depends on the stock market. If you watch Wal-Mart’s stock, it is a good investment for just about everyone. I imagine her dividend checks range between $10,000 to $15,000 a quarter.”
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“Honey, what are we going to do with all that money?” Donald looked toward his wife. “I think we can find something good to do with it,” Anne smiled back. “One more thing, kids and I’ll let you go on your way,” Falvey said. Donald and Anne looked at one another, wondering what time bomb would explode. “Your mother had another son by Henry Drummond.” “What are you talking about!” Donald said, feeling uneasy. “He was aborted.” “It happened right after your mother was divorced to Henry. Apparently, he raped her the day of the divorce and sent her back to Texas. When Henry and Mack Tucker learned she was having another Drummond baby, Tucker forced her to go to Sweden to an abortion doctor. He flew her to Sweden and escorted her there under intense psychological pressure, threatening even her life. Your mother told me that story while we drove to Alabama to your father’s funeral, and I have not told a single soul about it. But, I thought you should know.” “Where does the news stop?” Donald asked wiping the sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief. “How old was the baby when he was aborted?” “About five months,” Falvey said. From what little Donald knew of his mother, she was an anti-abortionist. “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” He thought he read something his mother had written, but he thought it meant something about marriage. It certainly was used in most marriage ceremonies. “Thank you for sharing that with us, Mr. Falvey,” Anne managed to say. It made Donald sick to his stomach.

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Chapter Thirty Three
The Betty Jo Duke Ranch was the focal point for Donald and Anne. What would they do with it? Would they sell it or hold onto it? “Wonder if we turn the ranch into something more than a ranch?” Anne said as she sat in front of Donald’s desk in the study. “What if we move here, and each of us has a role and responsibility,” replied Donald, fiddling with several books on the desk. “Well, I don’t want the ranch to bring in those goof balls that were here before. The druggies and immigrants,” Anne said. Donald sat in thought. He was raised in Alabama. It held so many special memories. He had accomplished most everything he set out to do in life, the exception being to write his mother’s story. He brought up the subject to Anne. “Why not, Donald?” she replied. “I am game if you are!” Anne called Joseph on his cell phone and told him about the new inheritance. She asked him if he was interested in coming to Kilgore and help them redesign it. Joseph had second thoughts. He was enrolled at the University of Alabama and was in his sophomore year. He had not declared his major. Living and working on a ranch might offer more of an education than the traditional college education, he thought. The thought of living on a ranch, however, was exciting. He would make new friends, and with the money his father had, he would make friends fast. “How about an oil museum and park for kids?” Joseph offered. Anne laughed at the exuberance in his voice. “Not a bad idea, my boy!” she said. ***** “I don’t want to burst all of your bubbles,” Anne said after Joseph arrived at the ranch. “We need to begin some serious planning. We all have some great ideas, but someone needs to plan this whole thing.”
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“Well, we’ve got to go home for awhile and get some things settled back in Alabama,” Donald said. “This is going to be a shocker for Rose and the family. But, my home needs to be here now. I can get some serious writing done.” “I am at your disposal, dude!” she laughed. “Your gonna need some boots and a cowboy hat. You’ve got to learn to rope and ride a horse, too, sir.” “You’re so funny, Miss Scarlet,” Donald replied. ***** Falvey was ecstatic to learn of Donald and Anne’s intentions. He was bored with dealing in the oil business. Even though he was aging and his arthritis gave him fits, his mind was as sharp as ever. Anne was drawn to Falvey, even though he was twenty years her senior. She could see why Betty Jo might have had a love affair with him. He was an attractive, older man. “Older men make better lovers,” she laughed to herself. “Oil production has been declining in the last few decades,” Falvey told Donald. “Our state still produces more oil and gas than any other state in the Union. A museum and theme park would be a great asset to this community and to the state.” “We need help, Mr. Falvey,” Donald said. “We don’t know the first thing about business. We have ideas and we want to use mother’s money to do good things.” “Don’t you worry about it one bit, Donald. I can put the right management in place. I know the boys at the ranch will probably raise hell at first. They think of themselves as real cowboys. Seeing people come here for fun and games might not set well with them. I think they realize that producing oil ain’t what it used to be, and raising and herding cattle is a thing of the past. It’s hard to let go of the past.” “Another thing, Mr. Falvey. I want Anne and Joseph to be in charge of helping in the design and management of the museum and theme park for the families. Anne and I will work with you and whoever you decide is best
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to get these ideas off the ground.We need a management team put together to make it happen.” “Donald, I will see that it happens,” Falvey said, smilingly. Falvey was true to his word. ***** Donald and Anne returned to Alabama to prepare to sell the house, pay all their bills, visit with Rose, David and Daniel and their families. It was then Rose told Donald the house he grew up in was being confiscated by the federal government. “Henry’s idea of not paying income taxes broke our back,” she told him. “After they found out about his drug trafficking and money laundering and the terrorist plot some government official in Washington decided to just take the house and property. “I don’t have a place to live,” she cried. “Yes, you do, mother,” Donald said as he stroked her hair in the same den his father was found dead. “You can come live with us on the ranch.” “I don’t know, son. I’d have to give it a lot of thought.” “What’s there to think about it. You can help Anne with The Jo. She would love having you around.” “I guess I need to talk to Anne,” Rose told him. “It seems like a great idea. David and Daniel will have a fit, but they are all consumed with their inheritance. I haven’t seen them in weeks.” “It’s settled. Anne and I have already discussed you coming to live with us. She is as crazy as a Bessie bug.” ***** Falvey began a campaign to hire people to begin construction of the oil museum and park. There was more than enough land on the Betty Jo Duke Ranch for expansion. The news of what lay in store made the headlines in the local newspaper, and into the Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and smaller daily newspapers. Television reporters arrived by the droves. Every163

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one wanted answers, a feature, an interview. Falvey was the one person who could handle the requests. “Who are the new owners, and what are their plans? “Who was Betty Jo Duke?” Falvey loved being the center of attention with the news media. He was down to earth, funny, and brilliant in business affairs. At eightytwo years of age, he felt light on his feet once again. It had taken him years to get over his wife’s death in 1988. Betty Jo had been by his side during those hard times. He was depressed, but Betty Jo’s presence everyday had carried him through. If it wasn’t for Betty Jo, he didn’t know what he would do. “She was a saint,” Falvey often repeated to the news media. “But, she wasn’t Catholic, so I don’t know what you would call a lady like her?” A press release was sent out to local radio, television and newspapers from Mother Teresa Hospital. The new Cancer Treatment Center at the hospital will be called the Betty Jo Duke Cancer Center. “Recent fund raising efforts by Mother Teresa Hospital got a shot in the arm when $6 million was received from Betty Jo Duke Enterprise,” the press release said. “Harry O’Neal, vice-president of financial affairs, released the news of the Cancer Center’s latest donor. We have completed our fund raising efforts by this most gracious woman. “Ms. Duke supported us the past fifteen years, and she had given some of her financial assets to us when our project first began, but nothing like the latest donation. We are thankful to her and Al Falvey, long-time Kilgore attorney, for making this happen. “The Betty Jo Duke Cancer Center will be a two-story, 93,000 square foot cancer treatment center, which will cost an estimated $25 million when completed. “We will begin construction as soon as possible.” Falvey explained to the news media who the new owners of the Betty Jo Duke Ranch were, and what their plans were. “The new owners are Betty Jo Duke’s son and wife,” Falvey told them.
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“When can we interview the new owners?” a reporter wanted to know. “Well, not anytime soon. We have a lot to do in a short time. I can tell you, though, there is a great story about Betty Jo Duke and her son, Donald Drummond. It’s a story your producers and editors will love. It will break your heart. It has a Texas ending to it, too.” That started a crescendo of questions. “Where could they find this Donald Drummond character? Where is he? What does he do now?” The questions were constant. Each time Falvey told them, “Soon. It will be soon. I’ll make them available to you in due time.” An investigative reporter from the Wall Street Journal somehow found Rose Drummond’s telephone number in Alabama. He called Rose and she told the reporter Donald was in the midst of moving and unavailable. Donald had Anne disconnect their telephone. They were using their cell phones, and the number was available only to a few close relatives and Falvey. He guarded Donald’s cell phone number like it was black gold. Still, it did not stop the reporter. He found Donald Drummond’s number by talking to Daniel, Donald’s now half-brother. The reporter dialed Donald’s cell phone and the identification was number unknown. He answered out of curiosity. “Is this Donald Drummond?” the voice on the other end asked. “It is.” “My name is Jack Robenstein from the Wall Street Journal. I am sorry if I am intruding on your privacy. I am interested in talking with you about your plans for the new ranch in Kilgore, Texas. I understand you and your wife have some interesting business plans, and we here at the Wall Street Journal like to keep up with new business ventures.” Donald admired the reporter for his tenacity. He had done the same when trying to find a key person to interview for a story. It felt strange indeed to be pursued instead of the pursuer. “Well, it is a little early yet to give an interview,” Donald replied. “I have just buried my mother, and she gave me explicit instructions on how
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to spend the money she left from investments and stocks, along with the oil money on the ranch. “I’ll tell you this much. The days of oil production and cattle ranching is over for us. Our plans in the future will be dedicated to entertaining people. We are going to have an oil museum along with a park for children on the ranch.” “Wow!” the reporter said. “When do you expect all of this to happen?” “As soon as I can sell my property in Alabama, my family and I will return to east Texas to formulate our plans. The best person to stay in touch with is Alfred Falvey. He is our media relations person, as well as our personal attorney. Mr. Falvey has our full trust, so he will be the person you want to stay in touch with.” “I understand through several sources you and your mother were separated for sixty-one years. You didn’t even know about your mother until after your father’s death. I think his name was Henry Drummond.” Donald was amazed the reporter knew so much already. But, Donald wasn’t ready or prepared to tell the story about he and his mother. After all, if he told the story, it would diminish the real story about he and his mother, a book he wanted to write. “Well, I do not want to discuss our relationship at the moment, Mr. Robenstein. I am writing the story of our lives, and to discuss it would not be appropriate for book sales, don’t you think?” “Oh, I see. You are writing a book?” “Yes, it is a historical romance novel. That’s all I want to say about it. I think you have enough for a story. Please contact Mr. Falvey, attorney at law in Kilgore, Texas and he will keep you abreast about the business we are formulating.” “Thanks, Mr. Drummond,” the reporter said. “I certainly would like to read your book when it is completed.” “I’ll see to it you get one of the first copies,” Donald replied and hung up.
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Donald immediately telephoned Falvey and told him about the Wall Street Journal reporter. Donald knew how investigative reporters worked. He knew their minds, because his was the same. “There is a reporter from the Wall Street Journal snooping around about our plans,” Donald told Anne. “I want Mr. Falvey to be the contact. Reporters will be bugging you for an interview. Don’t give them any information. Let Mr. Falvey deal with them. We need to be in the background for awhile. There will be other times we will make ourselves available to the media, but now is not a good time.” “My lips are sealed,” Anne said. “I don’t like giving interviews anyway.” “He’ll dig and dig until he finds out the other stories surrounding our family.”

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Chapter Thirty-Four
Donald’s return to east Texas was filled with excitement. It was like starting a whole new life. “Hell, it was!” he told himself. Stomping on his father’s grave for the sins committed against him and his mother were forgiven. He felt ashamed it happened, but it was time to move forward. It had taken time to rehabilitate his brain after his entangled mind got to the point of giving up his life with a .45 gage pistol. Donald returned to his father’s grave site on his visit home. This time he kneeled at the foot of the grave marker. He bowed his head in prayer. He heard himself talking aloud. “Father, I forgive you.” It was the hardest thing he had done in his life, but he knew it had to be done, to be able to move forward, to forgive. Forgiveness was one of the more delicate messages he ever thought about. He heard ministers preach about forgiveness in the past, but he didn’t comprehend the full meaning. He remembered Jesus on the Cross, and his words in the Bible, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” At last, he understood. Conceived in the west Texas desert by two passing strangers, and spanked to life by nuns in a Catholic hospital in Tyler, he felt his destiny blossoming, his mid- life haunted by an Alabama soldier-father was the new fruit which he tasted in more sobering times. He gave up drinking after seeing what it did to his father. He overcame drug dependency for panic and anxiety attacks. His life returned to normal, if there was any such thing as normalcy. Donald wondered if actually anyone living on earth was normal. Everyone was shadowed with their own ghosts and demons. He reconciled his self to something more deeper working in the universe, the great Mind of creation. Donald took out his laptop computer. His mind, body and spirit seemed to be spinning in a way he never experienced in his life. He was in the mood for writing. A writer has to write when he doesn’t feel like writing, or when the inspiration hits.
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“I’ve decided on the theme of the park,” Joseph offered at the supper table. “It will have rides for kids in an oil field setting. We are constructing one ride to take the kids inside the oil well shafts. It’ll be dark and scary and fast. The oil museum will sit right in the middle of the park.” Everyone laughed.

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Chapter Thirty-Five
Falvey moved fast for an old man. The management team was in place. Anne and Joseph busied themselves with their own projects. Anne had plans to keep the Jo running smoothly. Joseph drew blueprints for the theme park and museum. Alfred met at separate times with Donald and Anne to keep them advised on the money their mother left to the Church, the hospital and the senior citizens’ community. He announced the money was dispersed, and emails and letters were pouring in with heart-felt thanks from all involved. The bank president gave them each a line of credit which was mind boggling. It allowed them to proceed with every dream they had. Construction crews began their daily tasks in carrying out the plans on the property. It was like a gigantic ant bed with workers scurrying around, each with their plans in hand. The Betty Jo Duke Ranch was the talk of east Texas and the late night national talk shows. Fox & Friends wanted an interview with Donald and Anne, but they were not the only cable network interested in talking to the heirs to Betty Jo Duke’s fortunes. CNN, MTV, the Disney Channel and others called Falvey for interviews. He watched Fox & Friends every morning before scurrying off to the office. The shows’ hosts were friendly and the producers carried the right conservative message to the world. Conservative was Falvey’s bent in politics and religion. He knew Betty Jo’s taste as well as anyone else. He planned for Donald and Anne to be interviewed on Fox & Friends. He negotiated for a ten-minute interview, five minutes before commercial, and five minutes after. The producers bought into it, and sent a reporter and a cameraman to Kilgore for a Wednesday morning show. “I’m nervous about this,” Anne told Donald. “Well, I am too. I can’t remember when I was on television? Oh, yes, I was on television when I was a little boy. It was a birthday party when I
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was nine-years-old and mother invited my friends to be on a kid’s show. I remember the show featured Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger as well as cartoons like Popeye and The Roadrunner.” They both laughed. Donald felt like Roy, the Lone Ranger, Popeye and the Roadrunner rolled into one package now. He began to analyze how they all fit in with what was going on in his life. “I’m a lucky man,” he told himself. The Betty Jo Duke Ranch covered 146,000 acres of lush green pasture. In the summer the grass turned burnt brown because of the sun and heat. Donald advised his new ranch foreman, Clettus Atkinson, to install an irrigation system over the grazing pastures, which would help when the Texas summer was in full swing. Droughts played a significant role throughout its history, but each time the land bounced back. The property was purchased in the mid-1830’s by a displaced New Yorker named Bill Connerly. By the time the Civil War was over, Connerly explored other ventures and became an adventurous steam boat captain. After reconstruction, Connerly sold the ranch, and it changed hands several times before Donald’s second uncle, Mack, and second aunt, Hazel Tucker, purchased it in 1946. It has a lot of history to it, Donald thought. Donald knew one thing he wanted the property to be known for and that was he wanted it to be recognized as a greening ecosystem second to none. He told Falvey of his ideas, and Falvey already was a step ahead of him. The primary focus for management was to make the land simultaneously productive for wildlife, other fauna and the native range. No longer would the primary focus be on oil and cattle, although this brought in a good bit of revenue. Donald’s ideas transcended those to stewardship, education and entertainment. Falvey set the Betty Jo Duke Ranch up as a corporation. Donald and Anne shared the duties as directors of the board along with himself. Meetings were held each month, bringing the heads of each management team together so each could share their ideas and views about how to best manage the ranch.
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This was, after all, the twenty first century, and times had changed. Integrating systems of the past to form a future for those yet to come into the picture of the Betty Jo Duke Ranch was clear-cut to Donald, Falvey and Anne. The whole is the sums of its parts, thought Donald. And the sums not counted. Teams of construction workers continued to work every day, breaking ground for the theme park and museum. The ranch hands mended fences, kept the horses groomed and cattle fed. Atkinson had plenty of ranching experience, and Donald liked him. He reminded him of his father in a way. He didn’t take anything from anybody. It was his way or the highway. Unfortunately, Clettus’ management skills came from a time now past, and it took Falvey and Donald time to convince him of a new day arriving in east Texas. “I don’t understand a thing about this greening type management y’all talk about,” Clettus confessed. “I’m paid to run the ranch, so I’ll stick to what I know. Y’all can deal with the greening issues or whatever it is.” Falvey set a date for Donald and Anne to be interviewed live by Fox & Friends. The interviews took place at the ranch instead of station’s New York Headquarters. The station’s producers flocked into Kilgore with their staff. The ten minute segment was not enough time to explain the entire concept about the ranch. Cameras scanned the construction work going on while Donald and Anne answered questions from reporter, Brian Keesler. Keesler was a cut-up and wanted to ride one of the horses around the ranch. He had never been on a horse. He was born on Long Island and had Yankee written all over his face. Henry Drummond would never allow a “Yankee” to touch him or talk to him without reminding them of the Civil War. Donald changed his family’s culture by reaching out to others and, besides he liked Keesler; he kept everyone in stitches with his antics. It gave the production a leisurely yet provocative twist. He promised he would return as a city slicker when everything was in full swing. The one question he posed, however, made Donald squirm.
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“I understand you and your mother were separated for sixty-one years before you knew you had another family,” Keesler said. “How did you handle that news?” Donald was prepared for the question. “It was hard at first,” Donald replied. “I thought I knew who I really was in a past life in Alabama. Then when I learned I had a real mother in Texas, things got a little interesting.” Donald grinned at him, and Keesler laughed. “I would think so,”he replied. Donald was off the hook now. Keesler handled it perfectly. Donald was able to relax. The Wall Street Journal reporter was given an exclusive interview, which appeared in the newspaper. Jack Robenstein, who had been relentless in his pursuit of the story for the Journal, depicted quite accurately Donald and his mother’s sixty-one years of separation after WWII; how Betty Jo Duke became heir to millions of dollars; and what Donald was doing with the inheritance. Robenstein went one better than other media. He linked Donald Drummond to his criminal father and uncle. “Donald Drummond is the son of Henry Drummond, former KKK wizard, Southron Legaue founder and drug trafficker. His second uncle, Mack Tucker, is being held in federal prison in Talladega, Alabama awaiting trial for a terrorist plot at the Super Bowl and United Nations to use arsenic poisoning in the food systems. “Drummond’s father and uncle are also linked to drug running. Tucker will be tried in federal court for the death of Drummond, drug trafficking and the death of Betty Jo Duke.” Donald sat holding the newspaper in his hands. He hoped his name could be separated from his uncle and father. An article appeared the next day in the Wall Street Journal. “Donald Drummond To Testify On Government’s Behalf in Federal Court Against Society of Southron Patriots.”
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Agent Evans had only the day before told him he would be subpoenaed. This reporter was good, he thought. The Associated Press and Reuters picked it up and printed the story in part to all media outlets in the United States and Europe. Before he went to Birmingham to testify, Donald still was suspicious over who killed his father. The nightmares resurfaced. He got cold sweats. He tried to take his mind away from all the bad things which had gone wrong. He turned his attention to the good things. Within a year and a half the ranch began to look more like Six Flags Over Texas, Donald thought. Guests began returning to The Jo, and Anne kept busy with the house guests, the menus, the hired help. Joseph’s theme park and museum were remarkable. That young mind would have suffered with boredom in business college at Alabama, Donald thought. His son wasn’t cut out to be a suitor in the business world. He was gifted with design and engineering. He should have went to engineering school at Georgia Tech, but the University of Alabama was his love. He was a whiz when it came to creating the park and museum. The museum re-created oil discovery on the Betty Jo Duke Ranch in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Here people could see the people, their town, their personal habits, their tools and their pastimes – all colorfully depicted in dioramas, movies, sound presentations and actual antiques donated by east Texas citizens. Hand-painted murals were mounted on the walls to the entrance of the lobby. Portraits of famous oil men, including the industry’s great H.B. Humphrey, told a story of the past. It was a journey into the 1930’s to see how people lived. The sound system gave the museum a deep-rooted meaning as gospel hymns were played in a Church exhibit. One could see how the local schools looked, what the cars and trains looked like over the rough, rutted roads and land in a time past. There was a general store, and a drugstore where you could order a root beer float or just an ice cream cone. Visitors could have their picture taken with a wildcatter while mom and pop danced to vintage 1930’s and 1940’s big band music on the jukebox.
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You could get your feet dirty walking down the streets in the museum on the rutted dirt covered ground, and see an old newspaper office with its Linotype machines. A barbershop was in view on the street with a quartet singing a accapella. People spoke of new oil gushers outside a gas station. A movie was available in the theater to see how oil was actually drilled. The seats rocked when an oil gusher blew out its oil on screen and the kids loved it. Joseph had the lobby of the museum built on top of the property, but most of it actually lay 3,700 feet below the earth’s surface. The theme park’s design reminded visitors of the past. With thirty rides, it was not as large as Six Flags. Joseph’s theme was oil like the museum’s. It had the thrill rides, including one built like an oil well which sent riders zooming to the top and falling at the rate of a parachute back to the ground. Another ride went underground like you were riding into a coal mine. Small oil wells and wax people, horses and cows dotted it along the way. Joseph, along with the park and museum manager, hired students from Longview, Kilgore, Tyler and other areas of the South to manage the rides and concessions. In all, some one hundred people worked in the park and museum. Joseph was the hardest worker of all. He especially liked hiring the young girls who applied. He had good taste with the teenage girls. They were high school and college students. Many thought he was handsome, and he strutted around like a peacock with colored feathers. Whether or not Joseph would find the love of his life in the park or museum was yet to be seen. He asked a few of the girls for dates, and was never turned down. ***** Joseph was twenty-two years old, had light brown short hair, and blueeyes, and looked nothing like his father or grandfather, Henry Drummond. He had an identity all of his own. When he was five-years-old, he
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was tested by the school system and labeled as gifted. He attended gifted classes until he reached junior high school. He was chosen for the Honor Society in junior high, and finished forty-eighth in his senior graduating class of five hundred students. Yet, Joseph wanted more than a traditional education following high school. Yet, his father insisted a college education would allow him to go further in life. A college education served Donald Drummond well. He had taken his journalism to heights he never believed would happen. It prepared him for this time in his life when he wanted to write a creative account of his mother’s life. Donald was a word smith, and yet it was the hardest writing assignment he ever tackled. He guessed because he was too close to it. Education could help his son reach his dreams also, he admonished. But, to Joseph education was about experience. He wanted to experience the world and life first-hand. He traveled Europe the summer he graduated high school and soaked in all the culture of Italy, France, England and the Scottish highlands. He spent two months across the ocean. Donald and Anne were worried about him the entire time he was away, but when his mind was set, it was hard to talk sense to him. Books bored him. He wanted to be part of the experience instead of reading about it on the sidelines. He took these traits into greater stride when he wound up at his grandmother’s ranch, now his family’s ranch.

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Chapter Thirty-Six Kilgore, Texas
“Hi, my name is Mary Kate,” announced a new hire to the theme park as she spotted Joseph, who was barking out orders for other employees. Opening day descended on the Betty Jo Duke Park. It was a beautiful sight to see his workers scurrying for their positions they were hired to work, he thought. Girls and boys in their teens hurrying to their assignments wearing specially designed t-shirts and all of them wearing shorts and tennis shoes. The girls wore white t-shirts and the boys wore blue. The park opened on May 1st, and closed in September when the new school year began. The excitement of opening day had Joseph’s adrenalin flowing off the scale. The smell of the newness of the park, the cleanliness of it, the sounds of voices from his workers, and the electricity which swung the rides into gear, had him breathing harder than most days. But, Joseph breathed in all the sights, sounds and smells that surrounded him. The museum was a masterpiece and open year-round. He and the park manager made sure older students worked the museum, especially those students prolific in public speaking and sound in their understanding of the history of oil. Kilgore College offered degrees in geology for those students interested in pursuing jobs in the oil industry. He hired them first to tend to the museum, and each had taken a two-day class about how he wanted the museum to feel to the visitors. Joseph looked down on the young girl, who was a good five inches smaller than him. A smile as big as Texas radiated on her beautifully made-up face, the long blond hair flowing down her back. Her blue eyes twinkled, and her bright teeth were perfectly set. She was five-foot-five and shapely. Joseph stood five-foot-ten, had square muscular shoulders like his father and grandfather.

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“Hi, I’m Joseph Drummond,” he replied. He was unaccustomed to someone, especially a girl, to be so assertive before getting to know him as their boss. She struck him as someone different than any girl he had met. “Yes, I know who you are, Joseph Drummond,” she replied. “I just wanted to let you know I am working for you, and I want to introduce myself.” She wore one of the employee’s new t-shirts. Employees were allowed to wear shorts and tennis shoes at the park, but he required the museum employee’s to wear slacks. No shorts allowed for museum help, he advised the managers. The t-shirt with the BJDR logo engraved on it filled out Mary Kate’s buxom breasts. It was the second thing Joseph noticed after her smile. “Mary Kate? Is that your name?” Joseph asked. “Yes, Mary Kate O’Quinn. I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma.” “Is that so!” Joseph said, breaking into a smile. She returned the smile and offered her hand. Joseph shook her hand, and it had a warm and nice feeling. He felt kind of jittery when she spoke to him, like she was looking deep into his soul, he thought. And the smile and warmness of her was charming. He had never met such a beautiful girl, and he had met many since junior high and high school. Something was different about Mary Kate O’Quinn from Oklahoma. “You act like you know me,” he said. “Have we met before?” “No, this is the first time we’ve met, but I’ve known about your family a long time. My grandmother knew your grandmother years ago. She told me about your family after reading the article in the Wall Street Journal, and seeing your father and mother on television.” “Is that so?” “Yep, it’s true. Our family is in the oil business in Oklahoma, but my grandmother, who I am named after, worked with your grandmother during World War II at Western Union. Somewhere out in west Texas.” “It’s a small world, huh?” Joseph asked. “Is your grandmother still alive?”
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“Oh, yes! She’s alive and kicking. She has some health problems, but she is a live wire even in her eighties. She’s told me quite a few stories about your grandmother, some of them pretty funny.” Joseph was a little uneasy for the first time. He didn’t know a great deal about his grandmother, only what his father told him. He got to know his grandfather, Henry Drummond, quite well, and heard a lot of stories about him from Rose. It turns out Rose was only related to him by her marriage to his grandfather. Betty Jo Duke was his real grandmother. The news of Betty Jo Duke being his father’s real mother not only affected his father, but him, too. He was caught in the middle. He really loved his grandfather and Rose. He was at first confused about Betty Jo Duke coming into their lives, but things happened so fast he did not get to really know her like he wanted. He listened to his father and mother talk about her, and knew she left them a lot of money when she died. He didn’t know how much was involved, and he didn’t care. He was living the life of a prince, and the little princess who stood by him at this moment had his head spinning in circles. “Well, Mary Kate O’Quinn, you better get to your assignment. Where are you working?” “You’ve got me working in yogurt concession,” she said. “And that was what I want to talk to you about.” “Well, can it wait? The gates are about to open, and if you are unhappy with your job we’ll discuss it later.” “How about after I get off at four this afternoon?” Mary Kate asked. “Four it is!” Joseph replied, and turned to stroll the park to see that all his employees were in place. Gates opened at nine o’clock, and Joseph wanted to station himself around the gate area to meet and greet his first customers. ***** Donald had been busy all morning, typing the story he was writing about his mother in his new office at The Jo. Anne busied herself with the
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manager and the hired help. She already had booked half the rooms at The Jo for guests. It was taking on a life of its own, like the park and museum. Donald took time out to visit the park, and found his son meeting and greeting visitors at nine o’clock sharp. Donald couldn’t help but notice the energy with which Joseph worked. He was great in social circles, and besides being gifted in engineering and design, he possessed the knack at good public relations. A rarity in the modern world. He was proud of his son. “Looks like you have things under control,” Donald said as he spoke to Joseph at the front entrance. “Yep. It’s a great day, dad!” Joseph replied. “Hey, listen, dad. There’s a girl I just met from Oklahoma. Her name is Mary Kate O’Quinn. She says her grandmother and grandmother, Betty Jo, worked together somewhere in west Texas at Western Union during the War. You familiar with her?” Donald thought. The name was unfamiliar. He would investigate it, he told Joseph. “Is her grandmother still living?” Donald asked. “Yep. Her family is in the oil business, too. Somewhere in Oklahoma. She said she was named after her grandmother.” “What did you say her name was?” “Mary Kate O’Quinn,” Joseph responded.

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Chapter Thirty-Seven
Donald took the reigns and pulled himself up on his new ride, a beautiful Appaloosa named Cassie he found stalled at the ranch. Her coat was white, with a few spots of black over the hip area. She was a yearling, and Donald fell in love with her on first sight. “Remember cowboy,” Atkinson said, “You’ve got to keep your heals down, letting your toes point upward. Don’t jam your heals down, let your weight drop into the heels rather than the ball of your foot and into the stirrup. Sit with your ear, shoulder, hip and heel in a perfect vertical line. Stay relaxed and let your legs sit against your horse. You will feel comfortable as you practice, and you’ll get a good ride out of her every time.” Horse riding 101, Donald thought. “Hey, this ain’t so bad,” Donald said when he first rode Cassie from the stables to The Jo and back. A little dirt road was carved out so people would have a riding trail to The Jo. Mostly it was used for family members, but some visitors who wanted to ride a horse instead of driving up in a car found it quite refreshing. Horse riding was something he never thought about in his entire life, except the time he posed on the Shetland pony at his grandparent’s house for a photograph. Now he came to the realization of what he had been missing. He was a cowboy in a younger life. Donald leisurely cued Cassie back to the Jo. He wore a pair of Wrangler denim jeans like he saw in an advertisement in Cowboy Today magazine. He bought a custom cowboy hat from a guy who said he made all of Charley Daniel’s and Willie Nelson’s hats. It was white, symbolizing the good guy among western folklore with a rattlesnake band around it. He wore a red and checkered long sleeve shirt, and felt he was cowboying out of his mind. “Mary Kate O’Quinn,” he thought. “I’ve not seen that name in mother’s journals.” He dismissed the name for the time being.

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Donald reigned Cassie to a post behind the house. A water trough sat by the post, and a large oak tree provided shade for the new love of his life. He entered the house through the back, and heard no one stirring. He walked into his office and found his mother’s journals. He kept the journals in the bottom right hand side drawer of his desk under lock. The journals were actually ten bound books, each holding about three hundred pages. His mother was a prolific writer, and she shared her most innermost thoughts on these pages. The cursive handwriting was meticulous. It was like an old art form of writing used in journals he had seen in the 1800’s when he read Civil War journals. Perfect and legible. Finding her name would take time. He wished she had referenced the pages like a professional writer, but that was asking too much. He had to dig to find what he was looking for. It wasn’t as easy as picking up a reference book, and going to the index and finding what you needed. He often browsed the pages in the early morning hours before the house maids, Anne and Joseph, began to stir. His office was well insulated. The tall bookshelves helped keep noise to a minimum, and the thick hounds tooth black and white carpet offered a cushion where he could walk barefoot if he wanted. Donald never wore boots in his office. He shed them at the door. He was comfortable walking barefoot around the office. He learned to walk barefoot on the ground outside The Jo. It gave him a sense of being rooted now. Something about being one with nature, the ground of his being. He sat down behind the mahogany desk, took out the key to the desk drawer and picked up three of his mother’s journals. He didn’t know where to begin. The first four books of her journals were written about her life in Monahans, Texas, during World War Two when she met his father. He already had read them, it seemed, hundreds of times. Mary Kate O’Quinn’s name was never mentioned. He leafed through the pages of the first book, scanning for her name. Nothing. He picked up the second and leafed through it. Nothing jumped out of him. When he opened the third book, the page jumped out at him. He saw Mary Kate Frazier’s name several times. He eased back in his brown
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leather high-backed swivel chair, put his feet on the corner of his desk, and began to intently follow his mother’s cursive writing. “Mary Kate Frazier was one of my roommates when I worked for Western Union in Monahans. She was a beautiful girl, but she was the reason I left there. She was very crafty and mean. She bought an advertisement in the base newspaper called the Rattler after I left. She wanted to steal Henry away from me, and when she couldn’t, she struck back by posting an ad that the reason I left Monahans was because I was pregnant by your father. The truth was, I was not pregnant. I had not even slept with your father. She wanted Henry to look bad, and the advertisement made your father look like a bad fellow, and made me look like I left because I was pregnant. It made me look like a whore. “She was something else. I had two other roommates. Ida Shores and Dianne Marcum. Ida was my best friend. She took up for me. She actually got into a fight with Mary at a local theater after learning she had been the one to spread the word about me being pregnant. From what I heard, it was a a sight to behold. “Mary Frazier and I made friends later in life, and we reminisced about those days in Monahans. We kept in close touch over the years. She married and had children and, like me, was in the oil business. We crossed paths many times through Humphrey Oil Company when I served on the company’s board. We met several times and had lunch together. We laughed over the pranks she pulled, and she told me she never loved Henry. Men were a challenge to her, and if she could ever get an upper hand on them, she dumped them in a New York minute. I came to like Mary a lot. I forgave her. I’m happy we became good friends.” Donald laughed aloud at his mother’s story about Mary Frazier. He thought it a coincidence now that her granddaughter worked at the ranch, and he began to wonder if Mary Kate had the same characteristics as her grandmother? Joseph better be careful, he thought. He thought better about telling Joseph the story about his grandmother and his new friend’s grandmother. He would watch their relationship a little closer and see what developed.
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Before Donald put the journal down, he noticed another tidbit from his mother about the time she left Monahans to return home to Tyler. “Dear Henry, “I’ve decided to go back home. I felt all-alone here without you, and I know so little about you. I think things were moving a little too fast. I hope you understand? I cannot stop thinking about you, though. I like you a lot. If you want to ever call me again, here is my telephone number, and if you want to write me, here is my address. Love, Betty Jo.” Anne surprised him when she came into his office. She had a smile on her face. “I think our son is falling head over heels over Mary Kate O’Quinn,” she announced. “That’s interesting because I was just this minute reading mother’s journal about Mary Kate’s grandmother.” “Oh, what did she say?” Anne asked. “See for yourself.” Anne read the passage about Mary Frazier and laughed. “Joseph wants to invite Mary Kate to supper tonight, if that is okay?” “Don’t see why not. I’d like to find out more about her grandmother.” “I’ll tell Joseph he can ask her to dinner. Anything special?” “Let’s have chicken,” Donald said. “We’re eating too much beef.” ***** Joseph picked up Mary Kate at her dorm on the college campus. It was a beautiful summer night in June. The humidity was high as always and he lowered the roof of his new red, shiny Corvette convertible so he could see Mary Kate’s long blond hair blowing in the wind as they made their way to the ranch. Mary Kate was enrolled at Kilgore College, and was a Kilgore Rangerette. The Rangerettes were legend. He remembered seeing them at Cotton Bowl parades, and the Cotton Bowl itself on New Years’ Day, and at Dallas Cowboy halftime shows. She was the head Rangerette.

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“I really love it here, Joseph,” she said. “I know we will have a fun summer. I am impressed with the park and museum. You’ve done a great job.” He felt a little flush. His heart beat ran ninety miles an hour. Looking into Mary Kate’s beautiful blue eyes, and seeing her long blond hair waving in the wind was breath taking. He couldn’t keep her out of his mind and thoughts. There was something different about her other girls didn’t have. He couldn’t exactly put it into words yet. She wore a gorgeous blue short dress bearing her buxom breasts, curved hips and tanned legs. What more could he ask for? “You didn’t have to dress up to come to dinner,” Joseph said. “Well, it’s not every day you’re asked to eat at a fellow’s house with his parents,” Mary Kate shot back, smiling those great white teeth. “I suppose you’re right. We’re just down to earth people. We don’t try to put on airs about ourselves. We are all about being our authentic selves.” “Are you saying I am not authentic, Mr. Drummond?” “You’re authentic all right, Miss O’Quinn. You are authentic.” They laughed. The menu prepared by the cook was perfect. Baked chicken with brown rice, steamed broccoli and carrots, with boiled new potatoes and fresh, warm rolls. A Sock It To Me cake for dessert. Donald watched his son and Mary Kate interact. She was vivacious, and Joseph seemed comfortable with her. That’s the girl who waited on us at the Kilgore Coral, he recalled. “This girl spells trouble,” Donald told Anne when they were alone. “You remember the waitress from the nightclub owned by Uncle Mack? That’s her.” Anne looked more attentively. “You’re right. That’s her.” “She’s got that something special about her, and our son is falling head over heels for her already,” Donald said. “You don’t think I’ve noticed?” Anne smiled. “I understand your grandmother is still living?” Donald managed to ask Mary Kate at dinner.
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“Oh, yes, Mr. Drummond. She’s very much alive. She is the reason I came here to work for the summer. She told me about your mother and how they became good friends after the war. She said I would be among good friends or how’d she put it? Among good relations.” Donald asked Mary Kate how he could reach her, and she gave him her grandmother’s telephone number and address. Donald wrote it down. ***** “I’m going to Tulsa,” Donald announced to Anne the next morning. “You’re going to visit Mary Frazier, aren’t you?” Anne smiled. She knew him all too well. Donald always wanted more information. He was never satisfied with one question or one answer. One question always led to more; one answer led to one more. Anne could set her watch by him; she knew him so well. “I need to drive you,” Anne said, afraid of the panic attacks returning. “No, this is something I need to do alone,” Donald said. “Besides you have a lot to do around The Jo. Make sure everything is running smoothly.” “I hate for you to go alone.” “I’ll be fine. Just fine.”

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Chapter Thirty-Eight
Donald took out the notes he scribbled on a napkin at dinner the night before. He found Mary Frazier’s telephone number and address. Donald cradled the telephone on his shoulder and dialed the number in Tulsa. It was eight o’clock and the telephone rang five times before someone answered. “Hello, could I speak to Mary Frazier?” “Who is this?” came an abrupt response. “I’m Donald Drummond, and I would like to speak to Mary Frazier. I think my mother was a friend.” “You’ve got her. Are you Henry’s son?” “Yes, ma’am. Henry Drummond was my father.” “Yes, I know. I heard about his death from some close friends. I am sorry to hear that.” “Yes, ma’am. He died a year and a half ago.” “I’m so sorry to hear that. I heard about your mother. I’m glad they caught the killer. I read the newspaper account. Henry’s uncle Mack was behind it, right?” “Yes, that is what the FBI came up with.” “I’m sorry to hear about your mother. She was such a good friend. I sent flowers to the funeral home.” “Your granddaughter is here in Kilgore with us,” Donald continued. “I met her last night for the first time. She and my son are sort of dating, I guess. She gave me your number, and I want to know if I could visit with you. I am writing a book about my mother, and you are probably the only person still living who knows about those days in Monahans.” Mary Frazier laughed. “I guess I am,” she said. “I would be delighted to see you.” “Can I come tomorrow?” “Be my guest. I can probably give you a few stories for your book.” “That’s what I thought!” Donald said.
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“You’re not going to pull a Capote on me?” Mary quizzed. “A what?” Donald asked. “A Capote. You know, Truman Capote, the writer? The one who wrote ‘In Cold Blood.’” “Oh, that Capote,” Donald laughed half-heartedly not getting her gesture. “I was a fan of Capote after he wrote the book,” she continued. “He and I shared some stories about my life, but he never wrote anything about me and the sins I’ve committed in my life. He said he just never got around to writing it. We spent a lot of time together. He was a very funny man, even though he was homosexual. We never had those kinds of feelings for one another. Just friendship. I met him a few times when he went to New York, and met many people in the publishing business. That’s how I met my last husband.” “Who was your last husband?” . “His name was Justin Bloomberg, another writer from New York. He never published a book, but wrote a lot of articles for some big magazines, including The New Yorker. He mostly was a freelance writer. He died ten years ago, and I’ve managed to stay unmarried all this time.” Donald was confused. Yes, he had read “In Cold Blood,” the story of a wheat farmer in Holcomb, Kansas, who was murdered along with his wife and two teenagers on their farm. But, what did that have to do with him? He failed to ask what her married name was. All he knew was Mary Frazier. He guessed she went by Mary Bloomberg now. Curiosity set in. ***** Tulsa was once the oil capitol of the world. Donald assessed the city by reading about the oil business which faltered in the recession of 1980’s. Perhaps Mary Bloomberg lost a lot of money when the recession hit. Donald recalled his mother’s words. “She was crafty and mean.”

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What was mother trying to say? They became friends, too. She forgave her? Forgave her for what she did in Monahans? Or was there something more? The drive to Tulsa took four hours and fifty one minutes. It was nearly three hundred miles to find what? Donald had more questions than answers as usual. His mind conjured up all sorts of scenarios. How did Mary know so much about his mother? She must have known a lot, sending her granddaughter to Kilgore. Was this a scheme of hers? Was she being crafty? Was Mary Kate O’Quinn a ploy? ***** Mary Frazier appeared at the door of her plantation-style home at Donald’s second knock. She was white-haired, and looked nothing like he expected. She had a dashing smile, and she didn’t look the age of eighty. Instead, he thought she was no older than in her late sixties. She looked like Elizabeth Taylor in photos he had seen of the former Hollywood legend. Mary was tan and wore a black skirt with a pink button down shirt with a short black jacket. Her shoes were patented leather and, of course, pink. She had pink diamond earrings and an expensive looking necklace around her neck; a large diamond silver ring on her ring finger, and a silver diamond bracelet around her left wrist. Her face radiated. She had clear blue menacing eyes, and wasn’t wearing glasses. Her makeup was flawless, just enough lipstick and rouge and maybe a dab or two of face powder. She showed a little sign of wrinkles, but perhaps she covered the wrinkles with makeup, he thought. “Donald Drummond, it’s so nice to have you in my home,” Mary said. “Can I get you something to drink, a martini, scotch, your brand of whiskey?” “No thanks. I don’t partake the hard stuff any more,” Donald said graciously. “It’s killed all my brain cells.” She escorted him into a spacious den, lavishly decorated with an assortment of vases with freshly cut flowers. It had a woman’s touch about it
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with pink lush carpet, and the decor matched. It was apparent she loved pink. Nothing in it showed signs of a man living with her. No mounted deer heads; moose or bear. She sat in a comfortable chair as Donald seated himself at the end of a long couch. “I am sorry to hear about your mother, Donald. “I guess you could call us friends, loosely speaking. We saw one another a time or two after those days in west Texas. I kept up with her when she got into the oil business. My family has been in the oil business since I can’t remember when. I have oil in my blood.” “I’ve read some of mother’s notes about you in her journals,” Donald said. “I also saw a note that she had forgiven you. I guess she was alluding to things which happened in Monahans in 1945?” “Well, did she write anything about me and Henry?” “What do you mean?” asked Donald. “Well, Henry and I went out after they were married. In fact, the day you were born in Tyler, he was with me here in this house. I loved Henry. He was going to be a professional baseball player, and play in Philadelphia. Gathering from the look on your face, you didn’t know anything about that. Did you? I should have married him, even though he was married to your mother. I am a Mormon and in our religion we have the blessings of the Church to be married to several men at the same time, although it is usually the man who has several wives. I guess I interpreted that to mean women also?” Donald was irritated by the surprisingly new turn of events. “I guess your shocked?” she asked. “I don’t think your mother ever knew about Henry and I. I never told her. If he did not tell her, she never knew.” Donald’s head felt like it would burst. It began throbbing. He didn’t think he had ever heard such a wild story, and he had written some newspaper and magazine stories which were amazingly true, but nothing of this magnitude.
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“So, did you want to know more about your mother and me?” Mary asked. “No, thanks, unless there is more?” “Oh, yes, dear there’s quite a bit more. When I found out through the news that you had converted the BJD Ranch into a successful amusement park and read about how you were changing the image of it, I told my granddaughter stories about how I knew your mother. I confessed that her grandfather was Henry Drummond. Henry and I had a daughter together. Her name was Edna. She and her husband, Jonas O’Quinn, were murdered seven years ago, and my granddaughter lived with me from the time she was eleven until she decided to leave and go to school at Kilgore College. I told her about your ranch and that she would be in good company; that you all were related. Your father came to visit often to see Edna when she was a child. He sent me money. I was able to live quite comfortably. He talked about an uncle in Dallas, and the businesses and connections they had. I assumed it was mob related. I never questioned him about his employment. He quit coming to see us after he remarried. He still sent money from time to time up until Edna was eighteen. He sent her a wedding gift when she married Jonas. When Edna and Jonas were buried, he came to their funeral. He said he would find the guy who killed them. Apparently he found him before the police did. The murderer was hanged in a wooded area not too far from here. A cross was burnt at the scene. I still have the newspaper clippings of the murder. I was terribly distraught when Edna and Jonas were murdered in cold blood. Mary Kate was visiting with me at the time. My personal physician put me on sedatives, and I took them for a long time until I found closure. Henry met Mary Kate at the funeral. She was only eleven-years-old, and we told her Henry was her grandfather. He talked to her. He was real sweet. He talked about how beautiful she was, and how happy he was she had the Drummond blood in her. We talked and renewed acquaintances, you know what I mean? He was terribly shaken up over Edna’s death.” Donald stood. His palms were sweaty. He felt his heart racing. The panic attacks were threatening to explode his brain. Suddenly, he felt like
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his world was toppling over again. It was about as much as he could take in one sitting. The woman who sat across from him was the worst person he ever spoken with. She was eat up in pride, lust and uncontrollable mischief, and it appeared to him she was as poised and confident as a person he ever met. The news that Mary Frazier had followed in his mother’s footprints from those days in the 1940’s; that the story continued even until this day, overwhelmed him. The news that Mary and his father had a daughter, his half-sister, Edna; his son, Joseph, who was head over heels with Mary Kate O’Quinn, and had the Drummond blood running in her... “I think I’ll have a scotch and water,” Donald told Mary. “Could I use your restroom?” She pointed in the direction of the downstairs bathroom. He was totally confused. He needed to take his stress medication, but he left it in the Jeep. He began to shake when he entered the bathroom. He went to the sink and turned on the cold water. He took a handful of water and splashed it on his face. He looked into the mirror, and saw his face as red as a beet. His face usually turned blood red when he was anxious or his blood pressure was high or a panic attack was imminent. He tried to calm his nerves before going back to the den. Maybe a little scotch would settle him? Mary placed a tray on a coffee table in front of the couch. It had a bottle of Scotch whiskey, and a pitcher of water in a tea kettle with ice. She had made a martini for herself and sat down. Donald poured a glass of whiskey in his glass. He did not mix it with water and ice. He needed a stiff drink right now. “I guess this is why you are visiting, right?” Mary asked after Donald gulped down his first glass in two swallows. He wondered now why he came. Maybe the woman talking to him killed his father? She might have had an agenda? To keep the family’s blood in the Drummond clan? “Well, I didn’t know I would be surprised by all this news,” Donald said, trying to regain his composure. “I just thought you might recall some of the things that went on while y’all were in west Texas. I never in my wildest dreams thought you and my father saw one another after my parents were married and had a child I knew nothing about, a half-sister.”
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“She’s buried in a local cemetery with her husband.” Mary had a scrapbook in her lap. She asked Donald if he wanted to take a look. He wasn’t certain at this point if he wanted to talk any further about her relationship with his mother or father. She offered the scrapbook to Donald, and he took it. He poured himself another strong Scotch, sipped the first swallow, then downed the rest in a big gulp. He opened the scrapbook and it was filled with photographs of his father and her, hugging and kissing. It showed a photo of his father holding baby Edna. Then there was a photo of all three of them together. She had photos of him at the Bomber Base, and a picture of him playing baseball in the service. Donald felt the same stirring he had when he threw rocks at his father’s grave and stomped on the grave marker before being hauled off to the state mental institution in Alabama. Hate and anger. Confusion and shock. It was all too much for him. “You’re nothing but a whore!” Donald screamed at her. “But, you’ve heard that before, right?” All the newspaper ethics a reporter adheres to was shot down in a second. A reporter is not supposed to be this involved. He is to be fair and balanced, but all that ethical bullshit went out the door for the moment. “Oh, my!” Mary said. “I didn’t know this would be disturbing to you? I never would have told you, but I thought you knew all along. I thought your mother knew all along. Oh, my!” “I’ve got to get out of here!” Donald said. “I have no more business here. My son will have nothing to do with your granddaughter. That I can assure you of!” “Well, I hate you feel this way, Mr. Drummond. “It’s all in the past for me. Mary Kate is a sweet girl. You are her uncle in a manner of speaking. I thought you would like to know. I didn’t know she was dating or seeing your son. Oh, my! I just chalk it up as a lesson learned. I’ve learned a lot in my eighty years and nothing surprises me about folks anymore, not even myself. I’ve never been one to worry about what other people think about me. I’m sure people have said some bad things about me, but it has never
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bothered me, except that one time in the movie theater when one of your mother’s friends called me a whore, and we got into a fight. You knew about that, right?” “Yes, I’ve heard that story. I don’t think I want to hear any more!” Donald said tersely. “I don’t worry about tomorrow,” she continued. “I just live each day, taste a little of this and that and go on my merry way.” “I can see that!” Donald screamed as he headed toward the door. “You don’t have to see me out!” ***** He still felt the effects of the whiskey when he piled into the Jeep. His brain was out of sync. He grabbed his medication bag from the passenger seat, and sorted through the medicines. He searched for the Aricept, a medication prescribed by his neurologist. The medicine was to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a brain chemical believed to be important for memory and thinking. Neurologist Dr. March told him and his wife when they first visited that as Alzheimer’s progresses, the brain produces less and less acetylcoline. These inhibitors eventually lose their effect. He also found a bottle of Klonipan for panic attacks. He opened both bottles and took one pill each as prescribed. “There, that ought to settle things down,” Donald thought. He drove the Jeep onto a freeway. He did not consult his map. He remembered, he thought, how he came in, and he could get out with little problem. The roadway system had several non-interstate freeways. He wanted to find the Indian Nation Turnpike heading south, and get onto U.S. Highway 271 South. His brain kept thinking about his conversations with Mary. He relived it as he drove. How did this woman manage to screw up everything in sight? How did she manage to meet his father or how did his father manage to meet her after he was married to his mother? How was it his destiny
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changed in a period of just over a few months? What was his destiny now? Thoughts of writing a book about his mother were slowly diminishing. He didn’t know if he had the stamina to write it. He was engulfed by emotions and feelings he never experienced. A life once almost spelled out in detail for him was lost, maybe lost forever. Paying little attention to the road signs, Donald cruised out of Tulsa on Highway 51 East toward Broken Arrow. The signs meant nothing to him. He was all alone in his thoughts, and he headed for nowhere in particular. Anne and Joseph were not in his thoughts at the moment; neither was The Jo and the Betty Jo Duke Ranch. Minutes turned into hours and Donald was confused more than ever. He was also depressed over the news he just heard. He had been deceived so many times in the last few months. It was something he didn’t deserve. His life with Anne and Joseph was perfect. He celebrated forty years of marriage to Anne, and the last twenty-two years with their only child. How could all this be happening to him at age sixty-two? He hadn’t spoken to Dr. Heart or Dr. March in several months, not much follow up since he found out he had the onset of Alzheimer’s on top of panic attacks and depression. Moving to Kilgore and restoring his mother’s ranch had given him a new sense of identity. He thought his days of panic attacks and depression were over. Doctors were mistaken about Alzheimer’s, he tried to reason. But, he took his medicines as directed. The medications had not yet taken effect, and his brain wasn’t functioning properly. He felt lost in a world of deception. Yes, he was angry. Angry with his father; angry with Mary Bloomberg; angry now with his mother, who had been so naive about everything in her life up to a point. He felt his stomach growling. He needed something to eat. Maybe that would settle him down. He pulled into a diner after taking the Muskogee Turnpike South and heading onto Interstate 40 East. He exited onto exit 56B and found the diner. He didn’t know where he was, but he knew his stomach ached for food.
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He locked the Jeep and walked into Joan’s All Night diner at one fortyfive in the afternoon. The dinner crowd had dispersed, and he was one of only a handful of people sitting down to eat. He studied the menu and ordered a hamburger all the way with French fries. The waitress took his order. She was a friendly sort. She asked him where he was headed, and all Donald could answer was, “I’m not sure, yet. I’ll know when I get there.” She laughed, thinking he was just a sightseer, maybe a divorced fellow just driving around the country, and where he ended up was anyone’s guess. She wasn’t far from wrong about “just driving around the country.” He ate his meal, tipped her a five-dollar bill and returned to his Jeep. It was two fifteen now, and he pulled out on the highway, confused over the direction he came in. He took a right and he finally saw a road sign -- Interstate 55 South. At least, he was going South, he thought. He didn’t remember passing over the Arkansas state line, the Tennessee state line or the Mississippi state line. He didn’t remember the drive to Valhalla cemetery where his father was buried, nor kneeling beside the grave marker and asking his father why he had not been willing to tell him about his mother. He begged from the grave that his father visit him in a dream and ask for repentance. He could not remember if his father’s spirit visited him or simply stayed away. He did not remember the feeling he had months before of throwing rocks at the grave marker and stomping on the grave. The University of Alabama cover over his spare tire had never been replaced with anything Texas on it. He was proud to be from Alabama, proud to be an Alabamian, and when he passed the Alabama state line, he felt like he was going home at last. He was going to Tuscaloosa to cover another Alabama football game for his newspaper. His cell phone rang, but he did not answer. He didn’t like talking on the cell phone while driving. They could leave a message. He had a ball game to go to, an article to write for the newspaper. He hoped his Crimson Tide would win another one for the “Bear.” “Bear” Bryant died in 1983, and Donald’s brain was back there in the 1978-79 when they won another
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of their national championships. He played the game over in his mind. Alabama walloped Miami in the Orange Bowl. No, that was in 1993! Who did Alabama beat in 1979? He couldn’t remember the team. He remembered Johnny Musso and John Hannah; Major Ogilvie and Ozzie Newsome; Shawn Alexander and Ken “The Snake” Stabler, Joe “Willie” Namath and Ray Perkins. He was unable to recall the 1979 team and who they played. He was getting frustrated by his inability to recall those tidbits. He once knew every score and every team Alabama beat from 1959 until now. But, his mind was blank. He had been traveling nine hours and forty-four minutes when he found himself in the parking lot of Bryant-Denny Stadium on the campus of the University of Alabama. Where were all the cars? The parking lots were empty. Where are the 92,000 fans? He saw a few students walking around campus, and he rolled down his window. “Isn’t Alabama playing today?” he asked one student. “Are you crazy, man,” the student shouted back. “It’s May, jack!” What was he thinking? He sat in the parking lot, his engine still running and the heat going full blast. He didn’t know when the policeman knocked on his car window, nor when an ambulance was called to the scene. He didn’t know he was in the hospital, and Dr. Heart and Dr. March were attending him. He didn’t know Anne and Joseph were at his side, or that Rose had come to visit, and that his brothers David and Daniel had been to see him. He didn’t remember Mary Kate in his room. A missing person report was filed by Anne after he didn’t arrive back at the ranch for two days. A nationwide search began, and police in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama began searching for a 2006 red Liberty Jeep with a Mr. Donald Drummond driving. The description they had: five-foot-nine inches, 190 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes. They were given the license plate number. It had a Texas tag Z67RDL. Last seen wearing a denim blue jeans with gray cowboy boots, red and checkered short sleeve shirt with an Alabama baseball cap.
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Dorothy of Joan’s Diner overheard a description of the missing person from an Oklahoma state patrol officer who came in for coffee. She gave the officer a description of the man she had seen twenty-four hours ago. He came in and was wearing the same thing described in the alert, she told the officer. “Did you notice anything unusual about him?” the officer asked. “Well, I did hear him say he was not going any place in particular. Oh, yes, he said he would know when he got there. I thought he was humoring me. I just thought he was traveling the country, maybe a divorced guy looking for answers. He ate alone, and we didn’t talk but one time. He did leave me a five-dollar tip. That was nice of him.” University of Alabama campus police found the missing red Liberty Jeep outside the football stadium. The engine was still running, and a man matching the missing person report was slumped over the wheel. They called an ambulance, and he was taken to the local hospital and admitted. Anne was informed her husband had been found in Tuscaloosa, and he was not alert. Anne found the telephone number to John Pitt’s home. He had been Betty Jo’s pilot since she bought it three years ago. Pitts lived in town, and was available. Within two and a half hours, Pitts had the twin-engine Cessna on the runway of the Tuscaloosa airport. ***** “Mrs. Drummond,” Dr. March said after reviewing an EKG tests. “I’m afraid your husband has suffered a brain stroke.” Anne broke down crying and Joseph took her in his arms and hugged her. Rose, David, Daniel and Mary Kate waited impatiently outside the ICU room. When they learned Donald had suffered a stroke, they wanted to know if he was going to live or die? “The doctors didn’t say,” Anne said as the family closed in around her. “They are keeping him in ICU. His condition is critical at this point. The doctors want more tests run.”
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Falvey called Anne on her cell phone, and told her not to worry about anything. He would take care of business at the ranch. “Pray,” Anne said. “Pray for Donald, please!” And, she wept more. The editor and publisher of the Birmingham Iron-Herald came to the hospital. He ordered a writer to begin research and write an obituary just in case he died. Angus McCarron offered his sympathies to Anne and the family. He told them if there was anything he could do, not hesitate to call him. He left them his business card. “My home phone is on the back.” Joseph and Mary Kate walked hand in hand to a vending machine, and Joseph purchased them both a cola. “I’m so sorry, Joseph,” she said. “I wanted your father to know of our plans for the wedding.” ***** Silence filled the hospital room. Anne sat beside her husband next to the hospital bed. Anne held his right hand lovingly. A needle was inserted into his left hand, and he was being fed intravenously. Doctors ordered an EEG and an EKG for both his brain and heart. The machines beside her were spitting out paper continuously with lines only a physician could read. She stared at his face. It was no longer the face she knew. It was drawn. He suddenly looked older. Two days ago, he was his normal self, and he was excited he was going to Tulsa to see Mary Kate’s grandmother. A clue to his past might be there, he said. He was on another mission, and Anne could not remember when he had been this excited. A brightness in his eyes, the little twinkle she was accustomed to seeing. His walk was brisker. He breathed new air, and it showed in his entire makeup as a man. The doctors called it a stroke, but Anne began to think about what Dr. March told them several months ago – the onset of Alzheimer’s. How he managed to drive himself from Tulsa to Tuscaloosa was a mystery. What prompted him to come here? What did he find in Tulsa? Had
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his visit gone well? Did he find anything new about his mother from Mary Frazier? She had a million questions to ask him. Minutes turned into hours, and hours into days. Anne had the nurses bring in a bed so she could rest beside her husband. She had Rose bring her some fresh clothes, makeup, shampoo and soap. She showered in the hospital room. Joseph brought her food from the hospital cafeteria. He, Mary Kate and Anne stayed at Rose’s house. Joseph worried about his father and mother. Mary Kate was concerned about the wedding. “I want to be married at The Jo,” she told him. The wedding was the furtherest thing on Joseph’s mind. He listened to her rave on about what kind of wedding she wanted, and the type of dress, who to invite, when to have it. Joseph nodded his approval at everything, even though Mary Kate’s words fell mostly upon deaf ears. Anne listened to the same dreams when she and Mary Kate were together. She wondered how Mary Kate could be thinking about a wedding while her soon-to-be father-in-law was laying in a hospital bed, not knowing if he would live or die? She almost spoke up when Mary Kate raved on and on about the cake, the catering, and who would sit where, but she thought better against it. After all, she only got to know more about Mary Kate on the trip to Alabama. Anne thought she was a beautiful young girl, but a bit eccentric. She talked about money and how she wanted the best things in life for herself. She spoke about her mother and father’s murder eleven years before. Anne and Joseph listened with compassion. But it was how Mary Kate told the story. There was no emotion, no feelings. It was like, “Oh, well, it happened.” Mary Kate telephoned her grandmother on her cell phone when she found herself alone in the hospital waiting room. She told her about what happened to Donald Drummond. “Oh, my,” Mary Bloomberg said. “Listen, Granny. We’ve got to keep this a secret about our family. Do you hear me?”

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“Why, yes, Mary Kate, dear. We cannot utter one word about it. I want the best for you, and you will have the best. I’ve taught you everything I know, and you’re going to live as high on the hog as I have.” They laughed. “If Mr. Drummond wakes up, then my marriage to Joseph is sure to be called off. I’m sure you told him the truth didn’t you, granny?” “Oh, my, yes, dear. One of his last words was that you and his son would never be married. He said he would see to that. I think he was upset hearing about his father and me. He was shocked to know his father and I had a daughter and a granddaughter with the Drummond blood running throughout this family. That might have contributed to his stroke. I know he was real upset when he left my house.” “I don’t think it would be wise for you to come to my wedding, Granny. I do not want anyone prying into our past. Just you, me and Mr. Drummond know the real truth. And, if he never wakes, it will be just our little secret.” “Have you set the date yet?” “Yes, Granny, but no one else knows. I plan to have it at the ranch, at The Jo. It will be a real Southern gala. I am so excited. We will have it in September after the theme park closes and Joseph can devote all his attention to me and my wedding! Don’t you love it, Granny?” “I taught you well, dear. You know you and Joseph cannot have children?” “Yes, Granny, I know. I’ll deal with that in the later.” ***** Mary Kate was filled with charm as she was growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her mother, Edna, and father, Jonas , adored her. Her mother saw to her every need, succumbing to every whim her young daughter requested. The murder of her mother and father set Mary Kate into what doctors said was a histrionic personality disorder. When she went to live with her

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grandmother at eleven years of age, Mary Kate was so out of control, her grandmother paid for multiple psychiatrists’ visits. Dr. Sam Branch, a local psychiatrist in Tulsa, had never worked with a personality quite like Mary Kate O’Quinn. He told her grandmother what he suspected. He gave her several personality trait tests, and every tests revealed a histrionic personality disorder, a rare dysfunctional trait found in only two percent of the world’s population. Dr. Branch cited Mary Kate’s disorder as a “pervasive and excessive pattern of emotionality and attention-seeking behavior. They are lively, dramatic, enthusiastic and flirtatious. They may be inappropriately sexually provocative, express strong emotions with an impressionistic style, and can be easily influenced by others.” When her grandmother heard the doctor’s diagnoses, she began to analyze her own personality. Her granddaughter was just like her. By the time her granddaughter was in junior high school Mary Kate was the one of the most attractive girls in Tulsa. Her grandmother saw to it. She arranged her to be in every local beauty pageant. She won them all. She went out for cheerleader when she was fourteen, made the team and was named captain. By the time she reached high school, she had been accused of sleeping with every football player on the team. When she graduated, Mary Kate’s life was in such turmoil, she had to get out of town. She was being lied about, talked about behind her back, by practically everyone. She applied to Kilgore College to become a Kilgore Rangerette. When she was accepted, she and her grandmother celebrated by inviting the top socialites in Tulsa to her plantation home for a going away party. Mary Kate O’Quinn was the belle of Tulsa in her grandmother’s mind and she knew her granddaughter would finally strut herself on the world stage with the famous Rangerettes. Working in her favor, too, was the fact she would be near the family of Donald Drummond, her grandfather’s son, who inherited one of the most famous ranches in east Texas. Her grandmother smelled more money and helped pack her granddaughter’s luggage when she left. *****
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Two weeks and two days passed as Donald lay catatonic in the hospital bed in Tuscaloosa. Doctors and nurses came and went. Anne was beyond tired and distraught, but Rose stayed steadfast by her side. Joseph left with Mary Kate to return to Kilgore. He would rush back if any news changed about his father. He would see that things were working properly at the ranch. Too, Mary Kate would be out from under his mother and grandmother. They had heard enough about the wedding. ***** “Mrs. Drummond, may I see you for a few moments?” Dr. March directed one morning on the seventeenth day. Dr. March took Anne by the arm. An army of doctors followed as they shuffled into the prayer room of the hospital. A hospital minister was in the group, along with Dr. Heart and other psychiatrists and neurologists. “I have some bad news for you,” Dr. March said grimly. “Your husband has suffered a debilitating stroke. It has left him completely paralyzed. He shows signs of some brain activity, but very little. I, and the doctors here with me, agree he might never regain consciousness. He most likely is destined to be unaware of his surroundings the rest of his life.” Another doctor explained: “Mrs. Drummond, your husband inherited what we call an E-4 variant of the apolipoprotein (ap0) gene. People with this gene are at high risk for also developing Alzheimer’s disease. Your husband’s high blood pressure doesn’t help the situation.” Anne heard what the doctor’s told her, but she didn’t absorb all the details. Her brain was numb. Her body was numb. Her soul was numb. She couldn’t think of any questions to ask. Her mind was blank. “Do you have any questions, Mrs. Drummond?” Dr. March asked. “Is he going to live or die?” she managed to ask.

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“Well, these conditions are progressive. He will die sooner or later. He might be in a coma for the rest of his life. The brain cells are dying off quite rapidly.” “You mean he is going to be a vegetable?” “Well, yes, if you put it like that,” Dr. March said. “Do you have plans for him? Do you want to put him in a nursing home or take him with you back to your home in Texas? “He is not going into a nursing home for certain!” Anne cried unashamedly. “He will return home with our family to Texas.” “I’ll have the social workers make plans for you,” Dr. March said. “I’ll give you a doctor’s name in Tyler. He will be able to oversee your husband once home.” “I want him flown back to Kilgore, Texas,” Anne said. Pitts had flown the Cessna back to Texas after the first day, promising he could be back as soon as someone called. There was no room, however, for a bed on the airplane. “We can arrange to transport him,” Dr. March said. ***** Anne canceled all the reservations at The Jo. Guests who made reservations for the months of June, July and August were refunded all the deposits. The three months expected to be busy. The theme park was closed, but the museum was kept open. The Internet site for the BJD Ranch was updated. The site received over three hundred visits a week. The Dude ranch remained open, but visitors would have to find other lodging than at The Jo. Anne wanted full attention given to her husband. She called Falvey. He had kept up with the news about Donald, calling Joseph during the first few days of Donald’s hospitalization. The business could run successfully without him. Donald didn’t oversee much at the ranch anyway. He had dedicated and secluded himself to his office at The Jo where he was writing.

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Falvey ordered a full-time team of nurses to the ranch. Donald needed twenty-four hour-a-day attention, even though he lay unconscious in his bed upstairs in The Robert E. Lee room.

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Nurses served eight-hour shifts. His body needed to be turned, bed dressings removed, new ones in place. His diapers needed changing, and they had to be sure he was being fed intravenously. Anne visited his room often every day. She knelt beside his bed while he was sleeping and prayed. She brought freshly cut flowers into his room, opened the curtains to let fresh sunlight in. She hoped and prayed secretly her husband would awaken one day and be his normal self. ***** Mary Kate chided Joseph for being cool to the idea of their wedding. She returned to her dormitory room, sporting an expensive diamond engagement ring from her new beau. She was unashamed to stick it in front of every girl she ran into. Students began avoiding talking to her, because she was so self-centered. She flung herself into her Rangerette duties, but she was missing classes. The director of the Rangerette program scolded her about her grades. If a Rangerette did not maintain a B average, they had to sit out a semester until the grade level was restored. She spent more time with Joseph at the ranch than she did at school; only to be seen at Rangerette practice or events. Soon she was suspended from the team, and she cried uncontrollably to Joseph. “No one likes me any more!” she screamed at him. Joseph loved Mary Kate, and he did not like to see her pitching teenage fits. Every time she demanded something of him, he dropped what he was doing and catered to her every beckon call. He loved catering to her. It made her happy, and it kept him out of her doghouse. “You’ve got to quit catering to all her needs,” Anne told him one night. “But, mother I love the girl,” he said and stomped out of the room. The “Gone with the Wind” wedding was scheduled for September, a fall festivity, at The Jo. Mary Kate would see that her wedding would be done in high fashion.

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Chapter Thirty-Nine
Joseph knew how important the wedding was to Mary Kate. He was becoming accustomed to her demands and whims. She was a handful, but he loved her crazy antics. They had not been together sexually, but he wanted her badly each time they kissed and he held her in his arms, listening to her plans for the wedding. He wanted a virgin for a wife, and had he known her virginity had been taken when she was fourteen-years-old, he might have had second thoughts about marrying her. Joseph was oldfashioned in a way. He gave her the benefit of the doubt. She told him she had never been involved sexually with anyone before, and he believed her. Those flirtatious blue eyes consumed him. Part of him felt like he was being overwhelmed by his new life. He had been turned into some kind of rich prince, and Mary Kate was the princess. He knew his mother’s and father’s dreams were tied to the ranch, but he wondered if his life should be the same. He wondered if he was moving too fast. He actually missed the University, classes and football in the fall. He was an ordinary college student before his family inherited the money from his grandmother. It had changed everyone’s life. It was too late to back out now, he thought. Mary Kate was taking up much more of his time. Her every thought was centered on her desires. He even thought about joining the U.S. Marines, going to Iraq and fighting terrorists. After text messaging and talking to a few friends who had actually joined the military, he decided against it. “Are you crazy, man,” one friend wrote. “You don’t want to be over here! You’ve got it made. I joined just to get my $40,000 bonus after five years. It’s dangerous. Man, you’ve got it made in the shade!” His ancestors had fought in all the wars, and he had seen “Braveheart,” so many times he could repeat Mel Gibson verbatim. The movie stirred something in him. It reminded him about who he was, a Drummond. He never fully understood the meaning of “Gang Warily,” which was on the family crest. He supposed it meant to be “Go Carefully,” or “Be Careful,”
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in matters of war. His father broke the family’s circle in war things, and often wrote and spoke brilliantly on why the United States should not be involved in Iraq, nor should it have been involved in Vietnam, a war Joseph only read about in history classes. But, his blood was still oiled and clothed in fighting. He felt he was betraying the family’s roots. He hardly knew his new grandmother, and he didn’t understand his father’s obsession in finding his new identity. He had not read any of his grandmother’s journals. All his memories were tied to his family in Alabama, especially Rose. He didn’t know much about his grandfather. He was murdered and no one knew who the killer was. He didn’t know much about him, only that he taught him how to defend himself in case someone attacked him on the playground. It was fun while it lasted, and he had used one of the fighting techniques in a playground excursion when a football was taken from him by a classmate bully. The classmate never messed with him again, and Joseph’s chest stuck out a little more every time he saw him. “I have one demand,” Joseph told Mary Kate in late July. “I want to wear the Drummond kilt at our wedding.” “No, Joseph!” Mary Kate exclaimed. “You must wear the Confederate uniform worn by Charles Hamilton in the movie. It won’t look right!” “Sorry, dear. I want to wear the Drummond plaid. It is very appropriate for our family. Our family goes beyond the Civil War. Our family has fought in all the major wars throughout the centuries, even to the Battle of Bannockburn.” “I don’t care anything about our Scottish heritage!” Mary Kate exclaimed. “Our Scottish heritage?” Joseph asked interestingly. “You’re not in the family yet, Ms. Mary Kate . “You can’t take away my Scottish heritage!” Mary Kate fell silent. She almost gave herself away. She had Drummond blood in her veins, and when she realized it, she conformed to Joseph’s request. “Oh, all right!” Mary Kate said. “Have your way!”
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It was settled. Joseph would wear the Drummond plaid to his wedding. The red, green and blue plaid was very similar to Clan Grant. The tartan had been in the family since he could remember. It followed his Scottish lineage after his father, his grandfather, and his grandfather’s grandfather. He ordered the Scottish dress after he had one of the housemaids measure him accordingly. It arrived three days before the wedding. Mary Kate found a band to play at their wedding. She insisted the Tara Theme be part of their repertoire. They could play Civil War music. The 28th Alabama Infantry Regiment Band from Tuscaloosa, Alabama was hired for the wedding, and she didn’t ask what it would cost for the big band to travel to the ranch. Joseph could pay them whatever they asked. They would dance to Civil War songs: God Save the South, Lorena, Goober Peas, Home Sweet Home, Just Before the Battle, Mother, Rose of Alabamy and Shenandoah. Mary Kate thought it was all too appropriate. Joseph agreed. Most of the Civil War songs came from the Scots-Irish. He told Mary Kate, the band can end with Auld Lang Syne. She smiled. ***** Mary Kate found the exact wedding dress, a replica of Scarlett O’Hara’s, on a website. She had a seamstress follow the exact pattern. The replica was made of thirty-one yards of French silk satin. Touch of Lace of New York reproduced one hundred sixty silk leaves and twenty lace leaves. The dress took three hundred forty hours to complete. When it arrived a week before the wedding, Mary Kate hurried to the ranch. She wanted to try it on as quickly as she could. She wanted to look in the mirror and see Scarlett O’Hara standing there to greet her. She had been called a “Scarlett O’Hara” before, so why not act out the role, she thought. The dress was too long and the large sleeves, which were the fashion in 18oo’s, needed adjusting. She forced herself to lose weight to fit into her dress, and practically starved herself. Talk among her friends was she was
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anorexia. Mary Kate pitched a diva hissy fit. Another seamstress was called in, and Mary Kate was fitted elegantly. She now looked into the long, tall mirror in Joseph’s suite, and found her wedding dress to be lavishly made, just what she pictured. She would sweep her guests off the floor when they saw her. They would be breathless. She would be the princess for ever, and Joseph would be her master slave. She would dance the night away. The four hundred guests she invited, including every Kilgore Rangerette, would envy her. She didn’t care who Anne and Joseph invited. She wanted her friends, although she did not have any close ones, to see the beautiful Mary Kate Frazier Drummond in all her glory. ***** The day arrived for the wedding. Flowers were driven in from Tyler – roses of every color. Tyler was considered the Rose Capital of the World. The wedding planner, Jenni Craig, hustled about ordering the staff to make preparations for the biggest wedding in east Texas in years. Magazine writers from most every region flew in, even the tabloid writers. Mary Kate had her own paparazzi following around, flashing photographs of her every move. Joseph found them irritating, but Mary Kate was enjoying the attention so much he never questioned her motives. The 28th Alabama Infantry Regiment Band began playing two hours before the wedding as guests arrived one after the other. Car attendants had plenty of room to park vehicles. People who had never been to the BJD Ranch were awed by its beauty. Many read about the ranch, but the locals had never actually been on the grounds. Out-of-towners brought big money to Kilgore, and the city council was thankful for the new tax revenue. Among the dignitaries was the governor of Texas and his wife; the city mayor and councilmen and their wives. Anne was perplexed because she didn’t include them on her guest list. Mary Kate did. Mary Kate requested an out-of-town minister to perform the wedding ceremony. The wedding planner finally found a minister from Scotland.

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His price was exorbitant, but Mary Kate didn’t care. A bagpiper was flown in from Scotland. He and the minister flew in together. Joseph invited all the students who worked for him at the theme park. There were one hundred fifty invitations extended, and all but twenty came. He had a loyal group of students who loved him. He couldn’t believe out of all the young women he hired, he had chosen Mary Kate O’Quinn. He hired some of the most attractive girls who applied. He had even dated a few of them before Mary Kate introduced herself on opening day. Mary Kate had won out in the end, had lassoed him with a short rope. He was steered in like a cowboy roping a calf. Anne looked stunning. She wore a replica of Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain dress. It was made of sixteen yards of Italian cotton velveteen. The silk tassels and cording were reproduced by Scalamandre of New York. The dress took two hundred hours to complete. The dress was moss green velvet overskirt, and a chartreuse underskirt. It had fitted sleeves with a semi-cape on the left shoulder and a drapery cord belt. She let her silver gray hair, previously cut short, grow over the last six months before the big day. Her hair was parted down the middle and slicked down to the crown, pulled back and secured with pins into an enormous bun. The bun was low on the back of her long, slender neck. Not a strand of hair was out of place. She was gorgeous. She felt the same way. A hat made out of the same moss green velvet sat atop her head. It had been handmade with buchram and wire frame and decorated with cocque sweeps and real chicken feet that were petrified and gilded with gold paint. It was edged in gold boullion fringe. A matching petal purse with corded piping trim hung around her left arm. The bodice was lined and closed with sixteen hooks in a concealed placket with another eight hooks used to fasten the skirt. The skirt was mounted on wide grosgrain waistband. Her dress was accented with heavy gold and green cord around her left arm at the junction of the sleeve cape and for belt that ends with massive gold tassels trimmed in green. The young girls in the wedding party could only wish they were as beautiful when they turned sixty.
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Mary Kate’s three bridesmaids wore the Burgandy Ball Gowns. The gowns were made with sixteen yards of French silk velvet. It took over one hundred ninety one hours to complete. When she asked several of her Rangerette acquaintances to be her bridesmaids, many found excuses. Finally, three accepted. Joseph was just as happy. He didn’t want to have more than three groomsmen. Her maid of honor was an old friend from Tulsa. Waverly O’Toole was a high school cheerleader, now married to her high school boyfriend. She still lived in Tulsa. Waverly, at first, made several excuses for being her maid of honor, but finally put out by Mary Kate’s insistence, she agreed. The maid of honor’s blue dress, called The Blue Velvet Peignor, was made of French silk velvet. The fox fur trim made Waverly stand out in the ceremony. Mary Kate wore white; her maid of honor wore blue, and her bridesmaids’ red. Joseph’s kilt matched with the plaid of red, green and blue. Mary Kate thought she had made the wise choice in letting him wear the Drummond kilt. He was handsome as she walked into the large den at The Jo. By her side was one of her grandmother’s ex-husbands. Her grandmother recommended him. He was a genteel man in his early eighties – Herbert Weaver. He was still a handsome man, a grandfatherly look about him; silky hair and a mustache to match. He wore a Confederate gray uniform. Mary Kate had seen him several times at her grandmother’s home, and agreed to have him give her away. Not that it mattered that his grandmother ditched him like six other husbands, and took him to the cleaners in the divorce settlement. Joseph invited his uncles David and Daniel to be in his wedding party. Both of them were excited, and Joseph had them fitted with the Drummond dress tartan. To them, Donald was still their brother, and Joseph was their nephew. Jonathan Storm, his high school and college buddy, was the third groomsman, decked out in Drummond colors. Joseph slipped him two hundred dollars to coax him to wear it. Rose didn’t wear a Civil War dress; instead an Italian dress from the archives of the Carnaggio family. It was a muslin dress, gathered under her
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waist, a low, square neckline with a short narrow backed bodice. The small neat puff sleeves barely capped her shoulders. She was escorted by Falvey, handsomely dressed in a white tuxedo. She and Al had been “courting” to hear them talk, almost since the day she arrived at the ranch. To Rose, Donald was still her son and Joseph her grandson.

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Chapter Forty
Anne asked the wedding planner to pipe music and the words from the ceremony into Donald’s room where his comatose body lay, hoping any sound would arouse him. She spent hours reading to him. She had not given up hope he would awaken one day. She read stories about miracles that gave her unlimited energy. She prayed he would recover. A nurse was in the Robert E. Lee suite when the wedding began. She could hear the music and the ceremony from downstairs. The minister began the wedding ceremony. Mary Kate said, “I do,” when prompted by the minister. When it came time for Joseph to say, “I do,” Anne thought she heard a voice. It was a scream. She looked around, but everyone else watched intently as her son said his vow. Had she been mistaken about the voice? “Nooooo.....!” she thought ring in her ears. It seemed to echo throughout The Jo, inside and outside. Surely someone else heard it. “Nooooo!” she heard again, and she stirred in her seat. When the wedding ceremony was over, Anne rushed to her husband’s side. She thought it was his voice she heard. “Did you hear anything?” Anne asked the duty nurse on call. “Oh, yes, ma’am,” she said. “Your husband raised up in bed all of a sudden like, and yelled at the top of his lungs. He screamed, “Nooooo...! Dad!” And, he went back to sleep.” The nurse went to the bedside and took Donald’s pulse. Anne anxiously watched the nurse’s expression. She smiled. He still had a pulse. The nurse looked at the heart monitor and the lines were still wavy. “He’s still alive!” the nurse told her. Anne wept. Rose came into the room. She knelt where her son was lying.

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“I have only one thing to say to you, son,” Rose said without a tear in her eye. “I killed your father. I poisoned him. I knew what he and his friends were planning. I had to stop him. It was me.” Rose felt Donald’s hand squeeze hers. “How did you do it?” Anne asked, remembering how Henry Drummond was dressed in a white shirt and black tie like he was going somewhere; recalling how the room was in such disarray; the note he left. “I faked it all,” she told her. “I found the poison in one of his coat pockets, and I gave it to him before he went to bed that night. I poured vodka down his mouth, and dressed him.” Anne was speechless. Donald’s eyes opened for the first time since he went into the coma. His sight was blurred, then he began to see his mother, Rose. She rested her head on his chest. Anne stooped over the bed and hugged them. Falvey tapped Rose on the shoulder. He had followed her into the room. He overheard her confession. She fell warmly into his arms. “You’re secret is my secret, darling,” Falvey whispered in her ear. “You cannot keep this a secret as an attorney,” Rose said looking into his aging dark, brown eyes. “I’m not an attorney any longer,” he said. “I am giving up my practice. I am asking you to marry me.” Rose looked at him. She saw the seriousness in his eyes. “Yes, yes,” she said, tears streaming down her face. “I love you, Rose,” he said. “We’ll make a great couple.” A television was on in the corner of the expansive bedroom. Mattie stood by the duty nurse watching as a news report beamed across the channel. “CBS has learned from its sources the Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested owners of two food catering services in Washington, D.C., and New York City for their role in a terrorists plot to poison dignitaries at the Super Bowl and The United Nations. “We have also learned that Vice-President Sally Paladin was secretly involved in the Society of Southron Patriot’s plans in the plot. An investigation will begin immediately into her role in the terrorist’s attack.
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“A couple, hired by the FBI, has been hailed as heroes by infiltrating the Neo-Confederate organization. The FBI did not reveal the couples’ names, citing confidentiality.” Mattie cut an eye toward the bed where Donald lay, surrounded by his step-mother and wife. “Lawdy, lawdy,” Mattie said in a low voice. “We dun got us three heroes in this house.” Joseph and Mary Kate came into the room followed by David and Daniel, still wearing their Scottish kilts. David held out a box of condoms. Daniel did likewise. “You’ll be needing these, laddie,” David joked. Laughter broke out in the room. “I’m getting married,” Rose told them. Her right arm was locked into Al’s. David and Daniel hugged their mother and shook Al’s hand. Joseph smiled and did the same. Mary Kate fumed. “Can we discuss this after the reception?” Mary Kate chided them as she stood in the room still wearing her wedding dress. “This is my day. My wedding day, and y’all are spoiling it. It’s a spoiled day for me.” Mary Kate looked at steely eyes beading in on her from everyone in the room. She gathered her wedding dress from the bottom and stomped out. “Joseph, you’ve got to harness that girl,” Anne said. Everyone laughed. Mary Kate’s charm was repulsive to everyone but Joseph. He loved her despite her Scarlett O’Hara personality. Had he only known she was a half-cousin.

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John Wayne Cargile

Afterward
Mack Tucker testified against the Society of Southron Patriots in the United States Federal Court in Birmingham, Alabama. He was given immunity for his testimony against the league. Harvey Hall, the visionary of the league, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the terrorist plot to kill unnamed persons at the Super Bowl and United Nations. He was acquitted for the murder of Tuscaloosa Police Chief Bill Baker. No body. No case. Don Tolbert and Reilly Peck, Society of Southron Patriots’ members, were found guilty as accessories in the terrorist plot and sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole. Bob Parsons was charged in the terrorist plot, drug trafficking, money laundering and the murder of Tuscaloosa Police Chief Bill Baker. He was acquitted of the murder of the police chief. No body. No case. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Tucker didn’t go scot-free, even though he protested to the FBI he had immunity. “Only for testifying against the Society of Southron Patriots,” a court attorney told him. “Your not as smart a man as you think, Tucker. The FBI had you by the balls.” The attorney snickered at Tucker, and the last words out of Tucker’s mouth before being taken to jail were, “You bastards! You bastards!” Tucker sneered at the federal prosecutors as he was led away. He was charged for drug trafficking and being an accessory to the murder of Betty Jo Duke and Tuscaloosa Police Chief Bill Baker. He was acquitted of the murder of the police chief. He was sentenced to life without parole. James Whiting, the butler, was charged with the contract murder of Betty Jo Duke and sentenced to death in Texas by lethal injection. Rose Drummond remarried. She remained on the BJD Ranch. She and Al chose the Fiddle Dee Dee suite where Betty Jo was found dead.

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Joseph and, oh yes, Mary Kate Drummond, who got on everyone’s ever-lasting nerves, took up residence in Scarlett’s suite, “I’ll Think About It Tomorrow.” Donald re-emerged from the coma, but he had amnesia. He didn’t remember anything about his life as a news reporter. He had vague recollections of his mother and father. The things which hurt him most were erased from his past for six months until his life began to reveal itself again. He became a New Age writer. Anne was the perfect hostess at the Jo. She dressed in period costumes and offered the grace, grandeur and romance of the Antebellum South. Along with Rose, the best bed and breakfast west of the Mississippi, became an international tourist attraction. Sally Paladin, vice-president of the United States, had been a loyal Society member. Her name was listed as Mae West on the membership roll. She was forced to resign her office until a full investigation could be completed. The Society of Southron Patriots was bankrupt. The cry of the cuckoos was silenced for now.

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