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by Bobby Woodall
Category: Historical Fiction
Description: Clearwater is an action novel set in 1879. The story revolves around the exploits of a small town in the Indian Territory. Its small bank is robbed by a murderer who has just escaped execution. He kills three men in the process of escaping and robbing. In his escape, he almost burns the town down. The town springs in to action and quickly forms a posse consisting of the aged sheriff, a retired Pinkerton Operative, Indian scout, and the bank's president. The president wants to catch the robber so that he can cover his tracks of embezzling the bank's funds. The posse's quarry rides south and forms another gang. More trouble looms on the horizon, for the bank examiner tells the sheriff of his findings. The president of the sole bank has embezzled all of the town's funds and the town will soon go under! That is unless a savior for the town's financial woes is found. He tells the sheriff of a group of men back East that might help them. When the killer and his gang return to town for further reward, things start to heat up...
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2002 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: September 2004
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [313 KB]
Reading time: 219-307 min.
"The story is great and it's written in a way that once you start reading you MUST know what will happen. If I have to give a quotation on it (let's say on 5) I'll give the novel 4 on 5. Clearwater will be a success, and I won't be surprised to see a motion picture in a few years called Clearwater."--Erwin Vanhomwegen, Brussels, Belgium
David White stayed where he was for a moment. When he thought he had waited long enough, he slipped into the entrance of the barn. He held his hands out in front of him to make sure not to bump into any obstructions. Looking like a sort of ghost, he was walking stiff legged and with his hands thrust out in front of him.
Slowly he made his way to the front of the barn, stopping his forward movement when a horse snorted, after he mistakenly bumped into the side of the stall. He could hear the loud snoring of Tom above, but figured that to be a help, for when the snoring stopped, David knew that the sleeper was awake and that he must be more careful. Upon reaching the doorway, he squatted beside the entrance and looked out on the sleepy little hamlet.
The moonlight allowed him to see the buildings as if it were still dusk. David thanked his stars for the bright moon. He smirked as he cast his gaze about him, his beady eyes darting here and there were taking in everything.
Across the street was a telegraph office and a general store. Along with these businesses, a leather shop and restaurant were on the same side of the street. The newspaper office was on the corner. Next to the newspaper office was the leather shop. A sign hanging to one side of the leather shop door said:
To the right were the saloon and the sheriff's office and across it emblazoned in bright large letters was THE CLEARWATER COMMUNITY COMMERCIAL BANK. The large edifice sat squatting like fruit in a bowl.
"Ripe enough to pick," he thought. "A fat plum and I'm just the man to pluck it."
The bank was separated from the sheriffs? office by an alley. The hotel next to it boasted of cane chairs and benches on the front porch. Potted plants were siting either side of the hotel door like door attendants. The sound of merriment, glasses tinkling and the loud pinking of a piano let David know the saloon was going full swing. The bank stood formidable across the alley from the sheriffs? office. The jail had a brick front and bars were at the window. It looked black and foreboding.
"At least it's closed," David muttered, as he looked at the darkened windows of the building. He could not discern whether the jail had occupants or not. The killer was just thankful that he was not one of the guests of the county.
He then glanced back at the object of his desires. According to the letters emblazoned in gold-colored paint across the window of the bank, Gale L. Loughmiller was the president; Ron Edwards, the vice-president and chief teller. Ron was also the only employee of the bank and according to Gale.
"That's all we need," he said. Gale did not want too many people to know of the bank's assets or his sometimes nefarious dealings. "The less that knew, the better," it seemed to him.
A short time later, cowboys were seen streaming from the saloon. David knew the saloon would be closing down for the night. He waited. The cowboys mounted their horses and galloped out of town. That left one horse at the hitch rail. The horse stood there and patiently awaited its owner. Finally, the owner showed up.
David saw a cowboy come staggering through the saloon's batwing doors. The cowboy stumbled down the steps, went to the hitching rail and untied the lone horse. He pulled his means of conveyance from the hitching post and then the fun began. David smiled as he watched the drunken cowboy try to get up on his mount. The man would get one foot up in the stirrup and the horse would shy away. The wrangler and horse went around in circles for quite awhile. Finally, he got up on his saddle. The bowlegged equestrian grabbed the reins with both hands. He wheeled his steed and started slowly down the street toward the outskirts of town.
"I wonder, how far he thinks he's going to get," David mused to himself, as he saw the drunken cowboy was leaning precariously in the saddle. He watched the receding back of this modern-day paladin of the plains and his transportation fade into the darkness of the still night.
David moved quietly from his hiding position. He ran to the side of the watering trough in front of the bank. He immediately dropped to his knees, breathing heavily, as he had not done much physical activity in a long time. After catching his breath, he was rising from this position when he heard a noise. Ducking his head and he hurriedly scooted back into the shadows cast by the lights from the saloon.
It was only the bartender coming outside to move a few chairs back into the saloon. He was preparing to close for the night. He gathered the chairs and took them into the saloon. In a moment, the bartender returned, placed his hands behind his back and stretched. The barkeep scratched his belly, then looked up and down the street. The bartender was short, portly and sweating profusely. He had on baggy trousers held up by red suspenders. His belly hung so far over his belt, it seemed to defy the law of gravity. Black garter belts held up the sleeves of his sweat stained white and blue striped shirt. Boots that were run down at the sides with the leather drooping over the heels were his footgear.
The bartender took a soiled handkerchief out of his rear pocket and proceeded to wipe his damp brow, which was glistening in the light of the moon. He wiped his forehead and blew his nose. Placing the soiled napkin back in his rear pocket, he hitched his trousers up a little. Then the barkeep pulled the saloon doors shut tightly, locked them, paused to stretch again and hurried down the street.
David watched him vanish around the corner of the street. He waited. The town was quiet as a tomb and appeared to be as empty as his stomach. The customary cur was asleep.
"Nothing like a yapping dog to spoil a man's plans," David thought. "Time to make my move," he muttered, as he slowly left his concealment at the partially filled watering trough.
David hurried to the side of the bank. The building had one large front bay window. Hurrying to the alley, which separated the building from the sheriff's office, he looked and saw another window about five feet from the ground. Its mate was further toward the back. All the windows were dark.
"The side window's the one I want," David thought, as he moved forward to the alley.
He looked around and his gaze fell upon a water barrel under a rainspout. David ran to the barrel and saw that it had water in the bottom. Emptying the barrel of its contents, he drug the hogshead underneath the window. David climbed atop the cask and he was happy to find that he could reach the windowsill. The killer took out his sharpened spoon and began to pry at the caulking in the panes of glass and achieved nothing. It was taking too long, by his reckoning, so he peeled off his shirt. Taking his shirt, he wrapped his hand in it. Then turning his head to shield his eyes from the flying glass, he broke out the window. He looked around to see if anyone had heard the noise. David discerned no movement so he turned back to the window and raised the sash. He wiggled into the opening.
David came down on top of a desk barely missing the upturned spike that held receipts. He jumped off the desk and found himself in front of a teller's cage. The light from the moon made checkerboard shadows in front of the teller cage. Other light filtering in a window cast shadows on the interior of the bank. They reminded David of part-time guards guarding the bank's contents. Like shadows they posed no threat to him and he happily walked among them. He moved behind the small wooden barrier in front of the cage and quickly pulled out each drawer to reveal ... nothing!
"I'm a killer, not a safecracker," he thought, as he looked at the vault. It was too hard for him to break into. In the dimness, he could see a door beside the vault. "That must lead to the bank president's private office," he thought.
David grinned as he started toward the door, pausing long enough to grab a candle and a handful of stinkers from the side of a teller's cage. Making sure the drapes were pulled and satisfied that it was sufficiently dark for him, he drugged the lucifer across the wire mesh, held his hand up to protect the match and applied the flame to the candle. He held his hand in front of the flickering wick of the candle as he started toward the door. His progress slowed as the flame began to flicker. Reaching the door, he stopped and, holding the candle in his left hand, opened the door. The glow from the candle cast an eerie glow on the scene.
The room was twenty feet by fifteen feet, with a back door. He checked to make sure the back door was locked. Satisfied, he surveyed the room. An oval rug took up half the floor. On the wall above a large oak desk hung a picture of the president of the bank. He was shaking hands with some senator from back East. A heavily draped window was at the left of the desk. On the opposite wall were pictures of various railroads. Inside to the left of the door was a coat rack. The rack held: umbrellas, mackinaw, slickers and a woolen coat. On the top of the rack were a black felt bowler, a railroad conductor's hat and a woman's straw hat with a red ribbon.
David went to the desk and sat down in a swivel chair. He spun around to begin his search of the drawers of the desk. He pulled out the top drawer, which revealed paper clips, cloth bands and a pair of scissors. David shut this drawer and reached down to pull out the bottom drawers. One had a pile of dirty rags while the other had bank papers; some deeds, notary seal and blank bank drafts.
"Hrump!" David exclaimed. Disappointed with his find, he began to shut the drawer with the rags quietly. "So far," he thought, "nothing that I can use."
It was while shutting the drawers he heard a metallic click in the lock at the back door. He glanced at the door and saw the doorknob start to turn. Thinking fast David hurried across the room and quickly hid behind a sofa in front of the draped window. He pulled an overstuffed chair to one end of the sofa. The chair slid softly on the carpet. This chair helped to conceal him; he felt more secure.
"Sure, the bank has the money?" a squeaky voice softly asked.
"I saw 'em bring it in this afternoon," a deep voice replied, also in a muffled tone of voice. "We just go into the front room where the vault's at. I place the dynamite. Boom! We sashshay over and clean out the vault. Then we waltz out the door and hightail it to the border. Just live high off the hog and have pretty señoritas at our beck and call. We'll have enough money to get them to do anything we want."
"I can hardly wait until that bank clerk sobers up in the morning and finds his bank key is missing," the whimpering voice cackled.