Wanted for a Heinous Crime – Extended Epilogue

The two riders looked similar in one sense as they rode into the town. They both look dedicated and determined.  But they looked very different in another sense. The older man had white showing through his hair. He had a few scars and a few wrinkles on his face. But he smiled, as if he considered life to be on great joke. He was almost six feet and slender but not thin. The second was young. Folks looking at him probably didn’t think he was out of his twenties yet. They both looked dedicated but both smiled and looked to be joking with one another as they rode up to the sheriff’s office. The younger man, whose name was Bill Evers, pointed at the sheriff’s office.

“So that’s where it started,” he said, almost a trace of amazement in his voice.

The second man, named Alex Sutton, nodded. “Well, actually it started about twenty years before, but it bubbled to the surface here and started the chain of events that made a bit of history. This is the start of the story where Victor “Vic” Grant brought in an accused killer called Henry Hogan, who the judge later cut loose with a ‘not guilty’ verdict. I think most of the folks thought Hogan had a good chance at a not guilty verdict when the trial started.”

“Folks didn’t like the dead man.”

“No, they didn’t. The defendant had a reputation of being a cheat and a killer. Didn’t take the jury long neither. Think they took about ten minutes and everyone voted not guilty.  The prosecutor didn’t have a great case, and I think even agreed with the verdict,” Sutton said.

Evers climbed out of his saddle. Grant and his twin brother went on to create and begin a ranching empire. Evers was amazed that the agriculture empire was created in this small jail house. It could all be trace back to here.

Knowing Texas and knowing that Texas appreciated audacious actions, it was rather easy to believe the two twin brothers had won the appreciation of a large majority of Texans. The fact they were twins but separated at birth and found each other years later only caused their legend to become more famous.

“It’s absolutely amazing it me that no one had written their story before.  That’s why my publisher wants a book on them. It should be a best seller. But I want to send directions to the photographer. He will want to get pictures of this jail.”

“You can, but it won’t look much different than any other jail in the West. There are jails and bars and that’s it.”

“I still want to see it,” Sutton said. “And is the sheriff still around, the one who arrested ‘Vic’ Grant.  Is the cell still there that he was put in?”

“I think so. I don’t think the jail has been remodeled since that time. The cell Grant was put in is probably still there. As I said, I don’t think there’s been any remodeling recently.”

Evers gave a shout. “That would make the book even better.  A pic of where Grant spent the night in jail.”

They walked, and Evers introduced himself as a writer with the Chicago Tribune and said the publisher was interested in a story that involved the courthouse. The two deputies in the office might have given the writer a skeptical look and guided him politely out of the office.  But Evers was a likeable and an enthusiastic young man and people innately liked and respected him. So they also gave him the benefit of the doubt.

One deputy smiled and showed Evers the cell where “Vic” Grant had stayed overnight before getting an attorney that won Grant’s case with the judge, so he was released.  After that came the revelations that someone who looked just like Grant had robbed a bank and other institutions. But all the resulting events had occurred because the courts did not know that Grant had a lookalike that was his very own brother, a brother he didn’t know he had.

“Amazing,” Evers said.

“It got even more amazing. At that time, Grant’s brother was robbing a bank in a nearby town but was very nice about it. He and his partner tapped the bank president on the head that put him to sleep but caused no lasting injuries. He woke up feeling mostly fine with a slight bump on the head. Grant’s brother knew by this time about his twin and was amused by it. But there was a sign of grace in him. That’s what the ministers would say. He had a sign of grace in him. The fact he got an innocent man in trouble got to bother him. He had a tale that was almost unbelievable. It weighted on him for a while, and he decided to write a letter to his brother and tell him everything, including how they became separated.”

Evers nodded. “In researching the book, I found that letter and read it. And the family the brother talked about was all shot and killed by Texas Rangers. That family had killed other family, innocent people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Yep. If you want to see white trash, just get a look at their picture before they were killed. Ugliest bunch you would ever hope to see. They had killed more than that innocent family. A man and a woman who had two sons helped them out, and the white trash family killed them. That’s how the Texas Rangers got into the case. Four went out to capture and kill the men and woman who had killed that family. Which they did. The Rangers left the bones rotting in the desert and no one ever complained. That state was glad to be rid of them.”

The young reporter took another long stare at the cell.  He had the use of a photographer for the story, and he wondered if he should have his photographer take a picture. The Westward Hills Publishing Company, although not promising a contract, had expressed interest in the book. He supposed he should inform the photographer and have him snap a few pictures. If the publisher didn’t want them, he could discard them. If he did want some and the photographer didn’t take any, that was a bigger problem. He would make a note and telegram the photographer and ask for a shot.

He walked out of the jail and climbed on his horse.

“Where would you like to go now?” Sutton said. 

“Well, I have appointment to see them in three days. They are rather busy so I said I would meet with them any time. They have scheduled an afternoon for all my questions.”

“That was good of them.”

“It sure was. A year or so ago, I met both men. We just talked for couple of minutes. I sensed they were both generally nice guys.  I guess Grant always was but his brother, over the years, has changed into a good man. That is a story in and of itself. He has told friends he is not the man he was twenty years ago and credits the minister here for that matter.”

Sutton nodded. “This is the West. More than one man has turned bad out here, but there is also more than one man who has turned his life around and became an honorable citizen. It might surprise you to know how many people currently wearing badges were at one time on the other side of the law. There are plenty of tales like in this country. Want to see Father Alvarez now?”

“Yes, I would. I have already written him, and he said he would talk to me. I’m sure he has a story to tell too.”

“OK, but let’s eat first. I’m hungry.”

“That’s fine with me.”

“How long before we get to the padre?”

“I’m not sure. Sometimes the directions down here are not precise. I’m estimating about three to four hours. We can go down to the hotel and come back tomorrow.”

“Well, I must admit the food is not too bad here.”

*

The next day Father Alvarez welcomed the two Americans into his office. He rose from behind his desk and extended a gracious greeting.  

“Senors, welcome to the church. I received your message. You have a very interesting project to work on. Please sit down.”

The two sat in chairs opposite Father Alvarez. He looked overjoyed to see the two men. Sutton nodded and thought the priest’s manner would bring a smile to anyone’s face. He thought a priest’s office would always be a place of reverence. He was not, per se, a religious man, but he did have respect for those who became ministers.

Evers explained the project he was involved in.

Father Alvarez nodded. “I think it is a very good story. I still have the letter that I write for Mr. Kelly. It was, I think, the longest letter I had every written and the most interesting. With Mr. Kelly’s permission, I will certainly let you read it, but I have to have him agree to it.”

“Thank you, Father. I think I can get him to agree to it. It was the most unique letter. Nothing else has come close to it. Mr. Kelly had a most unbelievable life. He literally went from nothing and from a murderous evil clan, turned away from it and made a decent life. He is also a generous giver and has helped many people, both this church and many others in this community.”

“He must have listened to many of your sermons to turn from evil to good.”

The priest laughed. “No, I give the credit to the Lord, but perhaps I helped a bit. I was very impressed with Mr. Kelly when I first met him.  But back then I didn’t know which way he would go in life. He could have stayed with the outlaws, but he made a decision to change. And now he’s one of the richest ranchers in all of Texas.” Father Alvarez shook his head.  “And while he was going toward righteousness, Banker Roger Barket made headlines by trying to pull of the biggest robbery in the history of the nation.” Father Alvarez shook his head. 

Sutton gave a somber look at the priest. “I remember that case. Of course, almost everybody in the state and probably the nation. He was always a rich man. He was born rich. It was his father who started the first bank and maybe a second but Barket took care of the rest of them.”

Sutton sighed again but a gray pall seemed to come over his eyes.

“Roger Barket may have been the richest man in Texas. Well, at least he was when he decided to steal even more. Father, there’s a man I just can’t understand. He was already rich, but he wanted more, but he couldn’t have spent all the money he made if his crime had been successful. He couldn’t have spent all of it. What the heck does a man like that want? He convinced some of his bank pals to go along with him. Now all of them are in prison. They had plenty of money too. Nothing like Barket, but those bank executives were rich.  They knew where their next dollar was coming from. They knew where their next thousand or ten thousand dollars were coming from. Does greed corrupt not only morals but intelligence as well? What were the chances that his scheme would actually work.”

Father Alvarez shook his head. “To be honest, evil, whether it is greed or any of the other vices can corrupt and manipulate the mind toward evil. Goodness is often ignored but so is common sense and decency and all of the virtues for that matter. Evil can also shred not only decency and logic but also common sense.” He leaned back in his chair. “Have you read The Inferno. It’s a classic and reveals great truths about the spiritual and material realms.”

“I did read it. It rather scared me,” Evers said. “The author was a genius.”

“Yes, he was.  Beginning with the first level. Men and women who placed the flesh first in their life were blown by great winds in the Underworld, just as they were blown by the flesh in their physical life on Earth.  On Earth, the souls of those on the first level of Hell were dominated by the flesh. Just as Barket was dominated by greed and riches.  Dante was a genius, and he knew his subject and his subject was man and good and evil.”

“That’s something to put in my book. A man who was redeemed and another man who was condemned due to what was in their heart,” Evers said. 

“Barket fell from a great height. Kelly rose from a great depth. That’s the story of mankind.  And it is a lesson that mankind doesn’t seem to learn.”

“And never will,” Evers said. “Well, I doubt it.”

“Not unless there’s a miracle,” Father Alvarez said.”

THE END


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5 thoughts on “Wanted for a Heinous Crime – Extended Epilogue”

    1. The story subject was captivating… The story itself was a little disjointed in my opinion although I read it to the end and was kept interested throughout. I will investigate more of your books to see if your style has remained the same and if the stories are as interesting. I would give you book a 3 star rating out of 5.

    2. I really liked the beginning of the book and the storyline until it started jumping around and at one point seemed to get out of sequence. I really love your writing but this is one book I question!

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