Tom had stopped by my room after his shift ended that evening. Ordinarily he stayed until close but that day was his short shift. It was about eight o’clock when I heard the knock on my motel door. I about jumped out of my skin at any sound after seeing Pam in the condition she had been in earlier. Before opening the door I tip toed over to the window and pulled back the heavy motel drapes ever so carefully so as not to be noticed and peeked out hoping it was not another bloody body. When I saw Tom I was so relieved I about relieved myself on the spot. Of course only in a manner of speaking would that ever happen, I hope. I opened the door, grabbed old Tom by the shirt and pulled him inside faster than he could say Jack Robinson.
What he did say was, “What in da tarnation’s is wrong wit you girl.”
I told him about Pam showing up at my door all bloody and with little or no explanation to boot. Tom just sat there with a very serious look on his face as he starred across the room. I stopped my continual chatter and asked him, “What is that look on your face about?”
“What look,” he said. And then added, “You mean she told you no reason for her bloody appearance? “
I told him her explanation was that she had fallen down. I expressed my concern to old Tom regarding the amount of blood I saw vs her explanation. Something very odd was going on and to top it off she didn’t want to go to the hospital. She surely must have needed stitches. All she wanted to do was clean herself up and head home.
“What! Tom said, again.
I came back at him quickly saying, “Don’t give me that Mr. Tom. That look on your face says trouble is all over that girl. What are you thinking, come on; don’t leave me out in the cold.”
“Miss Julianna, didin ya ava think somethin’ stinks around dis place? Haven’t cha noticed anythin’ strange at all girl? That Pam lady is hidin’ things girl. She ain’t what you see, I can tell deese things. “We doesn’t even know where she lives or if she lives alone or wit family. We do know Duke din’t like her cause he node she lies, she steals, and she is a disrespectful person, right? And I would bet my new bike there is more you hasn’t told me, right?”
I concurred with old Tom some of my misgivings about Pam but nothing concrete enough to take any action on.
“Well I’s tellin’ ya right now I’s be followin’ her home tomorrow causin’ you sure caint considerin’ you be stickin’ out like a sore thumb in that pink Cadi a yourins’. No I’s goin’ to wait and watch after tomorrow’s shift. When she leaves da building I will be watchin’ her ever move. We be findin’ out where dat girl goes at night and wit who. My gut tells me somethin’ real stinky goin’s on Miss Julie, real stinky indeed.”
Old Tom scared the beejeebee’s outta me that night. I never felt as alone in all my life as I did in that motel room without Duke. I was still seeing blood every time I closed my eyes as well as constant worrying about where my Duke could be?
Morning came quickly and after breakfast at the motel restaurant I took off for the Doctors Park to set up a house call for Shamonta as well as to fill out the appropriate paper work for payment of services and any necessary medical equipment. By the time I finished it was midafternoon. I decided to stop once again at the local police station to inquire if anyone had called about finding Duke. The officer lowered his head while shaking it at the same time, almost appearing funeralistic. My own made up word fit appropriately. I left the building feeling lost and very alone. If it hadn’t been for old Tom I can’t imagine how I would have made it through all this. I spent the next several hours once again driving all around Amarillo and the surrounding countryside searching for any sight or sounds of my beloved friend Duke.
When I arrived back at the motel there were two squad cars outside my section of the building. My experiences from the past couple months left me very gun shy of Johnny Law in any way shape or form. If it hadn’t been for Duke I wouldn’t have even stopped at the cop station to inquire about anything. But there they were again in all their red white and blue glory. And as usual they were interested in me. There were four “Fuzz” walking in a row in unison toward me like Texas Ranger wannabe’s. I told myself not to have a cow like I usually did. Be cool. I stood still and tall ready to kiss up just in case.
The fuzz in charge asked me to step away from the car. I thought to myself, that isn’t just any old car you fink, but of course I stepped away from my Cadi as I asked the famous question, “What’s going on officers?”
The kingpin of the fuzz told me they had received a tip there were drugs in the area. Their informant told them a woman in a pink Cadi sold them some LSD as well as marijuana. Then they informed me they would be doing a thorough search of my vehicle and motel room.
I agreed wholeheartedly while sharing I had absolutely nothing to hide. That is when I saw one of the fuzz pull out a plastic bag someone had taped up under my wheel well. Pretty sure my jaw was at my waist, as well as my heart was in my throat. I knew this was real bad and could put me away for many years. And then they found even more under the trunk mat and more when they pulled the back seat out. They were killing my beautiful Cadi right before my eyes… But then I guess I wouldn’t need it where I was going. I was even sadder realizing I would never see my Duke again.
Thank God I had given Tom my “Baby Browning” for protection considering he was going to be following crazy lady Pam. Otherwise the fuzz would have impounded that along with the Cadi. I wondered how Tom would find out about this. He would know the truth, and maybe be able to help me. Tom was my only hope. I could have called Granddaddy but that would have just upset him. I would wait a bit on that one. Where was Pam anyway? If she was working she would know what was happening and surely come see if I was alright. But she nor Tom neither one came to my rescue. What was going on?
The third fuzz was a short man whose pants were hiked so high he appeared to have a wedgie going on. He instructed me to turn around and put my hands behind my back which of course I did and of course he cuffed me, put me in the back of his fuzz cruiser lights still flashing as they were on all four other cruisers. Heck it looked like the county fair had hit Polk Street, Amarillo, Texas, USA. I couldn’t even cry. Somehow in the back of my mind I was wishing this was one of Daddy J B Justice’s tricks from the first part of my trip traveling from the Upper Boundary waters of Northern Wisconsin to Texas. Least I would be safe and this wouldn’t be real. But it was real alright. I was headed for the pokey. They did let me retrieve my bank book and travelers checks before taking me away.
As the circus caravan of fuzz pulled out of the motel parking lot I saw old Tom peeking around a corner of the building like he didn’t want the fuzz to see him. He raised his fore finger and middle finger showing me the peace sign then ducked back behind the wall after making sure I saw him. At the least I had some hope. But Tom was an old black man, what he could do that anyone would pay attention to. During the ride my mind traveled back to Owen Rutherford, the fiancé I left at the altar a year or so ago. I bet he wasn’t sitting in any Texas State Patrol car headed for the pokey. And Roger ratfink, the thumber I picked up in Illinois who caused me great duress, he was probably having a good ole time spending Daddy JBJ’s money. And Billy Connally, the governor’s son who wanted to marry me on the spot, surely he was back in Houston dancing the night away at the Fools Gold dancehall just off Westheimer. All my fancy dreams of driving Route 66 out West to see and live among the big city lights had caused me nothing but trouble. Every time I tried to help someone I got stuck in a cardboard box of my own making. Usually it was temporary and I could push it open and keep going, but this time it felt like a real box made of wood and the top was screwed down tight. I wasn’t going anywhere for a very long time unless a miracle of a huge magnitude occurred.
They booked me into the county jail after taking all my clothes including my Bobbie socks and the knife I kept tucked inside the left one. My clothes were replaced with a red and white stripped jumpsuit. I was in a cell by myself and once again I wished I were in the pokey back in Oklahoma City surrounded by the hookers and skags unknowing to me Daddy J B Justice hired to watch over me. I supposed I could call him but after our Cassious Clay run in at the family ranch where I stood my ground between he and the governor of Texas…..well calling him really wasn’t in the cards for me at this stage.
I had enough money for a good attorney but the evidence was what it was. The fuzz found drugs in the Cadi. It was an open and shut case.
I was so busy feeling sorry for myself I forgot to even try to figure out how those drugs got into my car or who might have put them there. Instead I quickly fell asleep on the hard steel grey shelf attached to the wall with one small blanket and no pillow. I was escaping from reality and I didn’t seem to care about anything anymore.
Morning came along with jailhouse breakfast of hard toast, black coffee, and some cheerios. I was not able to eat or drink anything. I was very depressed and I knew it but didn’t care. Noon came along with a jailhouse bologna sandwich, chips, and a carton of warm white milk. I ate a couple bites and went back to sleep.
Around three p.m. the jailer woke me saying I had a visitor. I sat up in anticipation as to who it was. I didn’t think Tom would put himself in the spotlight to be investigated by coming to see me. And Pam, whew, who was bloody Pam anyway? No it was Shamika, Tom’s daughter. She had told the jail staff she had been sent by Pastor Baird to pray with the prisoner Julianna. I almost broke out of the depression long enough to give out a hardy horse laugh but I kept my cool. Shamika prayed with me for a long time. So long the guard got tired of it and walked away. Shamika told me Tom had an idea how those drugs got into my car. That he was working on it and for me to sit tight. He would send Shamika to see me every day to keep me up to date on his progress. Shamika told me to trust God. I asked if there had been any word on Duke. She hung her head which told me the answer was no. I thanked her for her time and told her to give Tom a big hug for me and to tell him to be extra careful with the “Baby Browning!” Shamika’s face gave me a questioning look. I responded that Tom would know exactly what I meant. The guard was walking back and as he got closer she got louder with prayer. I noticed how much she enjoyed taunting the old chrome domed (bald) guard with her Jesus said this and that. She actually got me to chuckle a few times.
The jailhouse dinner hour came around and this time I was hungry and I ate the soggy meatloaf with unsalted mashed potatoes and butterless corn. And then I found a Gideon Bible on the metal desk in my cell. Why not read some of it considering I was slept out. I did the old superstitious trick of opening the book and believing whatever it opened to was meant for me. Silly but I did it anyway. And to my utter surprise I opened to a scripture from…..
Psalm 91:1-16 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, ...