Friday, December 26, 2014

The Last Place Clyde Barrow Was Seen in Dallas

While one of the troopers runs off, this man Hamer continues staring at me the same way folks do when they think they recognize someone, but can’t quite place them. I stare back like it don’t bother me none, though, truth to tell, my knees like to buckle right under me. But I just keep on my poker face and act like I could stand there under his gaze all the doodah day.
The trooper trots back with a dark brown folder. He opens it and takes out some photographs which he offers to the big man. The big man gives his head a tiny shake, like he wants him to show them to me and that he’ll just watch me doing it.
The first picture he shows me is the girl, only this time she’s got on a long black dress and she’s posing before the front grill of a Ford. “That’s her, all right,” I say, tapping her image with my finger. The next picture shows her with two young men in suits. One I recognize immediately as my cousin Clyde, the other is a kid I’ve never seen before but he’s got that same hungry West Dallas look of a dog finally getting to have his day. I tap Clyde’s face. “I think this is the guy who was outside, but I can’t say for sure cause I saw him through the screen door.”
Hamer listens to what I’m saying like it’s from a long ways away. He stands stock still, but, even so, I can feel the wheels furiously turning inside his head.
“I didn’t see this other guy, is he the cousin?”
Hamer gives his head another imperceptible shake, like this time he’s just a little annoyed by the question. He gestures the trooper to continue. The trooper hands me another photograph. It’s a mugshot of myself.
“You seen him?”

I stare at my picture. My face is swollen from a beating I’d just taken, but still it’s me. I look up from the picture directly into Hamer’s inquiring eyes. “No, sir,” I say.
“Look again,” he orders. “You’re from Dallas. You look like a man who gets around town. You should have seen him.”I stare helpless back down at the photograph of myself staring sullenly back. And I remember the moment, because at that moment I was staring into the eyes of one of the cops who’d just beaten the crap out of me. What’s going on with Hamer? Doesn’t he recognize me? Is this some game he’s playing with me? He’s got to know that the guy in the picture is myself. But I just look up back into his eyes and say, “Sorry, sir, I don’t recognize him at all.” (Excerpt from "Friend of the Devil," available on Kindle)
Point of historical interest here. The view is of the Dallas skyline from the north eastern side of White Rock Lake. The Coca Cola truck is on Buckner Blvd AKA Loop 12. It is also right around the spot where Clyde Barrow was last spotted by the police. My source here is Ted Hinton, of the Dallas Sheriff's office, who knew Clyde growing up and knew Bonnie as a waitress at Marco's cafe. Ted Hinton was also part of the shooting party led by Capt Frank Hamer, which ultimately bushwacked Bonnie and Clyde on May 23, 1934.

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