Attorney Timothy Haines decided to represent me in court on November 22, 1966 in the matter of felony charges #0936420. I wasn’t so sure the old boy believed I was innocent by the way he questioned every darn thing I said. In my mind I wagered if I had let him know I had a million dollars he would have accepted every word I said, because that is the way the cards fall in business. Money talks but I had decided I didn’t know this man well enough to share such a secret. No need for the whole town of Amarillo to know and it clearly would if the wrong individual got ahold of that mystery tale of mine. It certainly appeared as though I was on my own to discover who framed me for their criminal acts. Me and Old Tom Baird that is. The situation wasn’t looking good from where I was sitting that dim rainy day in a stranger’s office a long way from home. Be that as it may I didn't have a home any more so this was it for the duration of the trial.
Tom worked full shifts the next few days making him unable to do any detective work for me. I was still driving at least a hundred miles a day searching for Duke. I had to stop and get my mind on something else or I recall feeling I would have lost it. I was in the heart of the panhandle and all I could think about was Duke and prison life. I flipped on the radio and wouldn’t you know, the song “Reach Out and I’ll Be There,” by the Four Tops was playing just for me. I was wailing that tune out loud and clear knowing each and every word by heart. Funny how we all think we can sing like a rock star when we are alone in the car.
Now if you feel that you can't go on
Because all of your hope is gone
And your life is filled with much confusion
Until happiness is just an illusion
And your world around is crumbling down, darlin'
(Reach out) Come on girl reach on out for me
Reach out for me
Hah, I'll be there with a love that will shelter you
I'll be there with a love that will see you through
When you feel lost and about to give up
'Cause your best just ain't good enough
And your feel the world has grown cold
And your drifting out all on your own
And you need a hand to hold, darlin'
(I'll be there to always see you through)
(I'll be there to love and comfort you)
I can tell the way you hang your head
You're not in love now, now you're afraid
And through your tears you look around
But there's no peace of mind to be found
I know what your thinking
You're a loner, no love of your own, but darling…
My smile had returned even though I didn’t have a lover. I felt I had another promise. I figured somewhere in the Gideon was a promise sent to me through the radio that very day. I never cried again for Duke or for fear of prison. I aimed to find some answers that would open that wooden box and set me free. I could handle being in a cardboard box on occasion but that was a skuzz bucket coffin full of secrets.
I decided to make a pit stop at the Real Estate Office Tom had followed Pam to the night of my arrest. Why in the world would she go to a Real Estate Office after work? * I planned to find out. I opened the door to find a young woman receptionist. I inquired as to whether the owner was in and she cheerfully responded no but she would be happy to take a message and let him know I stopped in. Poor kid sounded like a chirping bird all giddy and just too sappy happy. Perhaps it was me being excessively critical which was unusual for me but then so were my circumstances at present. I graciously gave miss teeny bopper my name but no number. I told her I would stop back in about an hour and to tell the agent I would be inquiring about any small churches for sale in the area. She chirped some more sappy happy and was still grinning ear to ear when I stepped out the door giving one more look back glance at the movie star wannabe. I continued walking back to my rental car but not without some serious “what did I just see” back there going on in my head. A cutsie patoosie is what I had just experienced. God Amarillo was full of Texas Ranger and Marilyn Monroe wannabee’s. I wondered what I might run into next.
I stopped at the drugstore fountain and had a chocolate malted shake topped with real whipping crème. Then I frequented The Hub Clothiers Store near 6th and Polk where I purchased a few more things for Shamika and her little girl. And of course I found the prettiest pink western shirt with silver studs and rhinestones above the front right and left pockets. I also bought a couple of the latest crop tops that exposed the midriff section of my almost prefect body that could use some serious tanning time. For my new friend Tom, some new threads like a stunning beige three piece suit with a matching shirt and a dark brown on pink pokadot silk tie to die for with matching silk pocket kerchief. Oh, and a gleaming new gold watch. The store assured me they would tailor the suit for Mr. Baird as well as fix him up with a pair of rust colored patent leather shoes to match when he came in for his fitting. Now all I had to do was get old Tom to accept my gifts. I figured if I told him he would look like Dr. Martin Luther King that would get the job done. That was the second time I had spent that much money in one day and it felt darn good.
I made it back to the Real Estate office just as the male agent was rising from his desk to leave. Not wanting him to leave out the back door before I could have a chance to talk with him, I walked quickly past cutsie patoosie into his office and introduced myself to which he did not reciprocate. I assured him his secretary had put forth her best Marilyn Monroe bit but that I felt I had a more serious businesslike reason for stopping in as well as I noticed he was about to leave. I was trying to play the Mr. Intimidation card on the realtor man that the jailor fuzz used on me. Not sure it worked so I skipped past it, shook his hand, sat down while telling him I had a serious interest in finding a small church for sale in the area. He inquired as to why I wanted to purchase a church of all things. I wondered if that were normal procedure for a relator to inquire about. I considered when I have gone to purchase a car no one ever asked me why. I looked him square in the eye and said, “Mr? Uhm.” You see, since he had not utilized due graciousness when I presented myself previously, I had not known his name.
He reluctantly answered with, “Tilton, Tilton Boyer. Pleased to make your acquaintance Miss Rowe.
Well that was better! I wasn’t sure what had tilted his all show and no go attitude but possibly we were on the same or similar page now. He let me know he was not mindful of any empty churches available in the area yet he did have one with a dwindling congregation that the townsfolk gossip said was headed towards a down and out end. I informed Mr. Boyer I was interested. He set up a time for us to look at the property the following day to which I agreed. We shook hands and as I was leaving I turned to him and asked if he had any children. He gave me a quick harsh glance resembling the psycho killer of the eight nurses, Richard Speck. Ice cold chills ran up and down my back as well as the hair on my arms stood at direct attention. I was petrified worse than driving across any bridge over water which had been my biggest fear in life before that day. I was standing up close and personal next to a guy who I could see and sense was heavy duty trouble. I backed away a few steps, smiled like cutsie patoosie teeny bopper saying I was just trying to be friendly as I did an about face and exited the building. God I didn’t want to go see that church alone with that man the following day but I had no one to go with me except my baby browning small blowback-operated single-automatic six round pistol. And if I were caught with it while awaiting trial my attire would have changed back to red and white stripes.
Later that night after Tom’s shift ended he and I followed Pam again. She stopped at a club on the strip for about an hour and then left with a man driving a black and silver truck. I almost jumped out of my shorts and crop top when I saw the truck that stole my dog. We were going to follow that truck if it took all night. Tom was extremely apprehensive about us going anywhere these drug dealers were without the baby browning. I told him I brought it along jail time or no jail time. He sort of laughed but was so darned nervous it came out a slight grunt which made up both laugh. We followed the truck a few blocks when we realized it was stopping at the Psycho’s Real Estate Office. When Pam got out the black and silver truck it did not leave, rather it waited for her until she came back out with a satchel and climbed up into the cab and they sped off. We directly pulled out in pursuit of Duke and evidence to clear my name. We went unnoticed until we hit the country roads where headlights are hard to hide at one in the morning. The truck slowed to a crawl and so did we. They had seen us and wanted us to pass so they could get a good look at us which of course we couldn’t do. There we were out in the middle of nowhere going so slow it was the next thing to parking. I could have made a Y turn and headed back home, but I didn’t want to lose them even though I realized I already had. That is when we heard shots. Danged if they weren’t shooting at us. I told Tom to lie down but instead he popped the magazine into baby browning, pointed and striker-fired at the truck tires.
“By God Tom you hit one! “
“Yes ‘em, I am a perdy good shot, but now what ‘n tarnation we gonna do Miss Julie, they are speeding off with a flat tire?”
I instructed old Tom to hit them again in the other back tire and so he did but this time his hand was shaking so bad he missed and when they fired back I knew it was time to stop before I got the old man killed. Then I’d have no friend and no help not to mention he hadn’t even seen his new suit yet. Heck if I wanted to be burying him in his sharp new threads he hadn’t even seen. No I wanted him preachin’ in them instead, so I backed off tailing the black and silver truck with Pam in it. They drove out of site a little off balance due to a shot out tire, but out of site regardless.
We sat on the side of the road feeling helpless like we were alone and adrift at sea. We wondered if Pam had seen who we were. Surely she saw the car and she knows what the car I rented looks like.
She could have turned me in on the sly for having the gun which would have gotten me out of the way for sure. Then all they would have had to deal with would be an old Negro man and that wouldn’t be hard to do in these parts I learned. When we got back to the motel I threw Tom’s bike in the trunk and I took him home. He wanted me to leave the baby browning with him for hiding but I was too frightened to be without some sort of protection. Can’t say I wasn’t scared to death to be alone from that day on. Just me and an old Negro man had messed with a pack of panhandle drug dealers. We had gotten in way over our heads.