“Jones, have I done something wrong? I thought when we set up our arrangement everything was understood. Given what we know of your area we assumed that you would be giving us a little more high dollar wagers. I know you get a lot of business from sawmill and paper mill workers, and that’s good, but we’re looking for a higher level of business if you know what I mean.” Bubba Mastronni knew what Waymon Jones’s difficulty was, but he wanted Jones to articulate it first. Come on boy, he thought.
“Bubba, I’ve tried to get in with the high dollar crowd, but there’s a fellow here that’s had that business tied up for years. He’s originally from your neck of the woods.”
Bubba knew exactly whom Waymon Jones was talking about. E.J. Boudreaux had been freelancing in Sumter County, Alabama for several years now. He’d never been viewed as a problem before, but that was before. Now they had invested serious money in a player and they wanted their fair return.
“I hear what you are saying, Waymon, but didn’t I tell you to ask for help if you had a problem? So, I’m asking you, do you have a problem?”
Waymon paused before he spoke, not quite knowing how to reply. Finally, he said,
“Yeah, I guess I do have a problem.”
“That’s all I wanted to hear you say.” Bubba hung up the phone and made another call
Parsons Crossing, Alabama – a few moments later.
“Chief Hackney, how may I help you?
“I won’t say my name, but do you know who this is?”
“Yeah, I know who you are. Haven’t my payments been coming to you on time?”
“They certainly have Chief, but that’s not why I’m calling.”
Chief Hackney didn’t say anything, but listened.
“Chief, how would you like to have that debt wiped out entirely plus have a little money extra?”
“I’d like that, but what would I have to do?”
“I’ll tell you, but you need to go to either Livingston or York and call me at this number...” The man gave the Chief a number, “and Chief - use a pay phone, okay?”
Same day –U.S. Army Recruiting Office – Parsons Crossing, Alabama
“So what makes you boys want to join the Army? The two young mill workers looked across the desk at Sergeant First Class Mitchell Johnson as if he were crazy. This guy has never worked in a sawmill, they thought. At that moment, Johnson’s phone rang.
“U.S. Army Recruiting, Sergeant First Class Johnson speaking.”
“This is Chief Hackney; meet me over at E. Humphrey Boswell Park in about 10 minutes.”
Mitch Johnson listened and said nothing.
“You know what it’s about Mitch. Just get your ass over here.”
Mitchell Johnson suddenly grew cold. He turned to the two applicants seated in front of him and said,
“Could you guys come back this afternoon? I promise you, if you’re paperwork checks out, I’ll have you on a bus to Montgomery tomorrow to be processed for boot camp.”
The two wannabe soldiers sulkily walked out of the room. Mitch Johnson headed for his sedan and the meeting with Chief Hackney. A million thoughts bombarded his mind – first and foremost was a persistent question, how could I have been so stupid?
Three weeks before, Mitch Johnson had been visiting the local high school in search of potential recruits. Recruiting was tedious to Mitchell Johnson. He hated it. He’d been involuntarily assigned to recruiting duty due to the Army’s sagging recruitment numbers. Despite his distaste for the job, the kids loved him. Thirty years old, Mitch looked many years younger mostly because he was in excellent physical shape and handsome. Mitch Johnson looked like the Marlboro Man in the cigarette commercials. He’d been warned in recruiting school to beware of young high school girls trying to get to close to him. Mitch a Vietnam veteran and Army Ranger didn’t see himself getting into trouble with high school girls. I’m too much in control, he thought. But, like his last firefight in Vietnam, he didn’t see it coming.
Two girls followed Mitch back to his office from the high school. They said they knew some boys who were interested in joining but they were working at a construction site and couldn’t get in to see him. If Mitch would follow them, they would take him to where the boys were working. When they arrived at the site, no one was there. The three of them walked around the site to see if by any chance the boys were still there. Inside a half completed shell of a building one of the girls said,
“Sergeant Johnson, we lied to you. Are you going to punish us?” The girl who said it rubbed her body up against Mitch. The girl odor was intoxicating to him – he rubbed back. Before too long the three of them were on a folded tarpaulin on the floor. One of the girls had a six-pack of beer, which they all shared. Mitch, who’d been under constant pressure to make his recruiting quota, let himself go. The party went on for a couple of hours taking several imaginative twists and turns...When they heard the footsteps they were all naked on the floor...
“My God, Jenny, Brenda Sue, where are your clothes?” Chief Hackney stood in the unfinished doorway with his hands on his hips. The Chief had been passing by the closed construction site when he saw two cars that weren't supposed to be there. The two girls scrambled to gather their clothes. Looking directly at Mitch, the Chief said,
“I think we have a problem here son. You girls get on home – keep your mouths shut and come by my office tomorrow, I’ll keep you out of trouble – but you have to work with me. Like all naïve kids, they thought they were in as much trouble as Sergeant Johnson. They both smiled shamefully at him as they left.
The Chief was smiling too. “Do you know how old those girls are Johnson?” Mitch shook his head.
“Granted they’re both little sluts, but Wilma is barely 15 and Brenda – even though she’s large for her age is not even that. Statutory rape is what they call the charge in Alabama. I don’t know what the Army will charge you with. You’re in big trouble boy!”
“Damn! I just didn’t know, Chief.” Mitch had dressed and felt numb like he was in shock. He was.
“Well, I don’t quite believe that bullshit, but tell you what, son, I’m going to cut you some slack. I’m not like some law enforcement officers, I believe in giving a guy a break if I can. I’ll especially give a veteran a break. I was in Korea myself so you see I know how it is. However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to forget this. I can have both those girls pressing charges anytime I wish.”
“I appreciate the break Chief.” Johnson felt as if the heavens had opened up.
“Not so fast, Johnson, I’m not through with you. I see that Ranger patch on your uniform. That tells me you have some skills I might need. Don’t mention this to anybody – I’ll give you a call when I need you…”
Mitch drove to his meeting with the Chief, dreading what Hackney would ask him to do...
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