When Dreams Come True - Sort Of
Earl Snort is the nom de plume of a retired law enforcement officer with more than forty years experience toting a badge and a gun. Before that he served in the armed forces.
He and his wife have been married nearly fifty years. They reside in the South. They have one son, also a career law enforcement officer, and two grandchildren.
This is the author's second foray into the world of writing fiction. After a lifetime of writing non-fiction to document investigations of true crime, he decided to try his hand in make believe.
He hopes you enjoy the yarn.
The year is 1970. Barlow Adams is a young deputy sheriff in a rural county in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. He’s a rookie still learning the ropes. Up until now, his experience has been limited to working in the jail and performing routine patrol work that is anything but routine when bad men decide to exert themselves in furtherance of their wicked ways.
In recent months, a gang of rustlers had begun to prey on the livestock of unwitting ranchers. The sheriff has decided to stop them cold wherever he finds them. He employs all the limited resources at his disposal to achieve this goal. One of those resources is Deputy Adams, who learns new law enforcement skills in teamwork, criminal investigation, surveillance, and undercover operations.
Barlow also learns something else. The crime may be solved and plans may be hatched to catch the evildoers, but, in the end, there’s usually a joker in the woodpile who upsets the applecart and then suddenly Life becomes a free for all.
This is the second novel in the new Barlow Adams series.
To My Wife and in Memory of Mosby the Cat
The year is 1970. Barlow Adams is a young deputy sheriff in a rural county in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. He’s a rookie still learning the ropes. Up until now, his experience has been limited to working in the jail.
Trapped in the Life of an Owlhoot
One Night in the Winter of 1970
Follow the leader. The driver in the second rig was lighting one cigarette after another trying to calm his nerves. He was trailing his older brother along gravel roads close to the Mexican border in the middle of the night with no headlights. El Jefe said no lights until they were back on the main US highway. The driver navigated by the light of a nearly full moon and his brother’s brake lights whenever he tapped them. If he botched this up, El Jefe would probably kill him.
After an hour of choking dust and nearly rear-ending the rig his brother was driving, they braked to a halt along a lengthy stretch of empty road. El Jefe and Segundo got out of the new Ford pickup truck and scanned the area for signs of human activity while the driver and his brother waited in their rigs.
Satisfied that they were all alone in the correct location, El Jefe began cutting the farm fence wire. He rolled it back post to post. Then he signaled for the driver and his brother to follow him and Segundo onto the ranch. They putzed along a couple of miles to a canyon with a makeshift wire fence. The driver and his brother opened the back doors to their trailers and put out the ramps. Then the four of them and the sheepdog herded well over a hundred sheep into the trailers.
When they were done, he helped roll up the makeshift fencing and place it in the bed of the pickup. They drove back to the road and waited while El Jefe and Segundo rolled the farm fence back into place and spliced it together. When they were done the fence was good as new.
Each minute they delayed, the driver feared someone would drive past and know what they were up to. He did not want to go to jail, nor did he want to be lynched by an enraged rancher or wrathful lawman for getting caught red-handed rustling. Some of the old timers still subscribed to roadside justice. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. It sent a chill up his spine.
He had long since realized that El Jefe and Segundo could probably outrun the police and escape in the souped up pickup. However, the driver and his brother would be left ‘holding the bag.’ They’d never get away driving tractor trailers loaded down with stolen sheep. If he got caught he would be ‘swinging in the breeze.’ What would his mama or Dolores think if they knew what he was doing? Heaven forbid! He hated his brother for getting them mixed up in this.
Finally, after an eternity which lasted at least fifteen minutes, they slipped away in single file like a jackal leading a pair of bison, still without any lights. Then, after what seemed like his entire lifetime, during which he was too scared to breathe, they came to the intersection of US 90 where they turned their lights back on. When they arrived at US 285, they turned north to Fort Stockton and thence to Pecos and on into New Mexico.
It was daylight when they offloaded the livestock into a holding pen for an Anglo driving a new, white-over-red, GMC Jimmy. The Anglo paid a fistful of dollars to El Jefe. The two of them shook hands. El Jefe returned to his truck. They followed him to Loving, where they stopped at a small diner and ate a ranch hand’s breakfast washed down with a carafe of coffee each. The driver was beginning to relax.
When all were sated, El Jefe peeled off twenty $10 bills and gave the driver and his brother ten each. He said for them to drive the rigs back to Pecos and return them to the lot where they had picked them up.
El Jefe pointed his finger at big brother and said to make sure they cleaned out all the sheep dip before locking up or it would be his ass. They would never find his body. The threat was duly noted, as evidenced by expressions of youthful horror. El Jefe said he would get in touch when they had another load. Then he pointed his finger at each of them and said, “And you better be ready, pendejos. Comprenden?”
The look on El Jefe’s face chilled the driver all the way down to his stones. He got an involuntary shake and dribbled a small squirt of pee down his leg. El Jefe was surely first cousin to El Diablo himself.
El Jefe paid for everyone’s breakfast and walked them into the parking lot back between the rigs. He told Segundo to show them Esperanza.
Segundo pulled out an ornate switchblade with silver and turquoise grips. He flicked open the five-inch blade. It was mesmerizing. Then he grabbed the driver by his hair and jerked his head backwards so forcefully that he lost his balance. Segundo slowly ran the blade across the front of the driver’s neck less than an inch from his throat. Then he released the driver with a little shove. He flicked the blade back into the handle and returned it to his hip pocket. He smiled like this was a big joke.
El Jefe spoke softly. “Bad accidents happen to people with big mouths. Real bad things. Sometimes they even happen to their esposa or los niños. Muchachos who can keep a secret earn mucho dinero and live to become grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Comprenden?”
“Sí sí, Jefe.”
“Bueno. Make sure you’re both available when I need you again. It won’t be long.”
Another Day in the Life
Monday, March 9, 1970
t was almost 8 o’clock. Barlow had finished another midnight shift with Archie and was headed to classes at West Texas Junior College (WTJC.)
The semester was half over. So far, so good. He was making all A’s and B’s. He was content, but at the same time, restless. He concentrated on accentuating the positive. He certainly had a lot to be thankful for. Even so, he was hungry for a little excitement. Bells and whistles were going off in his head. He was fully aware. Be careful what you wish for. You might actually get it to your own dismay!
It had been almost three months since the shootout with the El Diablos Motorcycle Club.
Sarah had said yes and they were engaged to be married next year. Things were going gangbusters between them. She was able to spend more time at his house than before the engagement, which meant more time for dot, dot, dot, which might also mean that her folks knew what their new, number one recreational activity was and had tacitly accepted it so long as they were discreet. Or maybe not. Probably not. He supposed it was better to pretend that he and Sarah had not discovered the wonders of passionate love until they were wed, and maybe not even then to some folks. Small town gossip could be cruel.
Barlow had recently turned 21. He was now the legal owner of the revolver he had carried daily for the past eight months. This seemed like a rather stupid bit of red tape for which to be thankful, but nevertheless, there it was. The last thing he needed after two on-the-job shootouts was problems with the federal government’s branch of the IRS known as Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, acronymically known as ATF. Best to stay on Uncle Sam’s good side.
Also, he had been surprised and honored that Sheriff Sol had notified the Army about his rescue of Sandra Taft on the next-to-last day before his ETS (expiration term of service) expired, which resulted in him being awarded the Soldier’s Medal for valor and the Good Conduct Medal, as an afterthought, he supposed. This was humbling all the way around.
In addition, Sarah would graduate in May. She was trying to find a better paying, full-time job in addition to helping her folks run the sheep ranch.
Sarah had overheard her folks talking. For the past several years the sheep industry had been on a decline that wasn’t expected to reverse itself. For centuries the warmest and most durable garments had been made from wool, unless you got yourself a fur coat made from bear skin. At any rate, science (many said progress) had developed new synthetic fibers at least as warm as wool which were a lighter weight, but more importantly, cheaper to manufacture than wool.
Wool mills were closing one by one because the demand for wool garments was diminishing. That meant the price for wool had fallen for the sheep ranchers. At the rate it was going there would be virtually no demand for it after the next ten years.
That left only one thing. Raising sheep for meat. The price per pound for lamb was higher than for mutton. This was the direction sheep ranching was headed. Nevertheless, neither lamb nor mutton were in as high demand as either beef or pork.
The Bakers hadn’t decided yet what they planned to do to remain viable. With times getting lean for sheep ranchers whose primary source of income came from wool, it would be in the best interests of the Baker family if Sarah found outside employment. Of course, she would help out as unpaid labor at the ranch whenever she could.
Another concern for the Bakers was that they employed three loyal ranch hands. The last thing they wanted to do was to let them go. They had worked there for so long that they were like family.
Fortunately, Sarah had a line on a potential full-time job at the rodeo grounds. Dennis DeBerry, the director, had run the operation solo for at least thirty years but he was getting up in age. The county supervisors were considering the employment of an event planner to assist him. This would be a seismic shift in thinking for those tightwads. Plus, there was a good chance the assistant could become the director whenever Mr. DeBerry decided to retire. Sarah was a local favorite in the barrel racing circuit and Mr. DeBerry was fond of her. Besides that, she was getting her associate’s degree in animal husbandry. That should help. Barlow was keeping his fingers crossed.
But back to being restless. Barlow needed some action. Just about any kind of lawful action. Yes. He was thankful for the opportunity to attend college and he was determined to graduate on time next year. Also, he was riding horses with Sarah once or twice a week and sometimes this could be a little dicey. He wasn’t anywhere near being up to rodeo circuit standards but he was working in that direction.
He had no right to be even a little bored, not with everything going so smoothly, but there it was. Besides Sarah, who really got his juices flowing, he needed some adventure or a small brush with danger.
Barlow was becoming something of an adrenaline junky. Not so bad that he wanted to be a bull fighter or jump out of airplanes or engage two or more outlaw bikers in a fight at the same time. He needed just enough excitement to get his heart racing to feel really alive.
Good grief! He had to get himself in check.
He knew this was the wrong thing to wish for, but he just couldn’t help himself.