The Last Call: A Bill Travis Mystery
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Bill Travis believes that he may not live the most exciting of lives, yet when Julie Simmons steals two million dollars from North Texas quarter horse racer and illegal liquor baron Archie Carpin, the last of a dynasty of criminals from the 1920's, thus ensues a chase across the Lone Star State to recover the money. Carpin's cohorts may seem simple-minded, yet their penchant for sniper rifles and high-explosives makes for a reckless and deadly quarry. Yet, through all this action the compelling tale of another mystery--the 80-year unclosed missing-persons file of a U.S. Marshall--begins to unravel.
First, I need to know something. Don’t take this the wrong way, alright? ” “Shoot. ” “Are you a close friend or relation to Archibald Carpin? ” Sheriff Thornton laughed. I looked at Cranford. He was a little too seasoned to take offense. He waited for the laughter to subside. “What’s so funny? ” he asked “Heh! Nope,” Sheriff Thornton chuckled. I’m not remotely related to that coke-snortin’, rum runnin’ fool. No sir. You and Mr. Travis and that aging hell-raiser in my drunk tank in there come to my county to do something about that idiot?
Julie. ” “Yeah? ” “I’ll get you through this. ” “I know. ” Silence again. I could feel the electric current between the two of us, an effect of the attraction versus the distance. Like two huge celestial objects attracted together by gravity or magnetism but held apart by some greater force. But there were more important matters at the moment. “You and Hank and I are about to leave,” I told her. “But Keesha stays here with Lawrence and his mother. ” She frowned. “She’s a wonderful kid, Bill. But I know we can’t take her with us.
You scared me,” he said. Upon seeing the dog, Keesha drew in a quick gasp of surprise and almost bolted, but Julie caught her. “It’s okay,” she said. “That’s Dingo. He doesn’t bite. ” “You promise? ” “She maybe don’t bite,” Hank said, “but I do. Dingo’s my dog. ” Hank called Dingo over to him and by way of petting and tousling the dog around maneuvered her slowly closer to the kid. After about a minute, the child was petting the dog. The way she did it, though, left little doubt that this was her first friendly dog encounter.
Travis,” she began, and sniffed once, delicately. “Call me Bill. ” “Bill. Have you ever been afraid? ” ***** There are some people you just don’t cross. Julie Simmons had made it a point to cross the exactly wrong person, a North Texas liquor baron named Archie Carpin, distant relative to the Carpins of Signal Hill and Stinnett up in the Texas Panhandle. I’d read up on the Carpin Gang and some of the 1930’s depression desperadoes before, back in the days when I actually did my assigned college research.
What else was there to say? I reached into his shirt pocket and took out the business card that I’d given him back at Hill’s Cafe. ***** The stunned people moved slowly across the street, coming on like zombies from some Grade B horror flick. I picked out bits and pieces from their abbreviated conversations with each other: “What do you think happened? ” “I dunno. Sure was loud. ” “Gotta have been the gas jets. My cousin once—” “Has somebody called the fire department? ” “I think that man’s dead.