Friday, July 3, 2015

Cotton Creek

Cotton Creek


 Cotton Creek was a small, slow-running creek in east Texas, known for not much more that the Cottonmouth snakes that lived in the swamps left by the creek as it meandered through the flat countryside. Kenny and his sister Sue lived nearby on a small farm, and they often played along the banks of Cotton Creek. They would play cowboys and Indians, shooting at imaginary Indians, running and hiding behind the trees.

A real shot startled them as they were playing. They huddled down behind a bush and remained real quiet. It sounded like something was being dragged through the brush toward the creek. Then a red jeep roared by them and crossed the field toward the main road.

Sue broke the silence first. "What was all that about?"

"Don't know, let's go check it out."

Along the creek with his legs in the water, lay a man in a suit, with blood coming from his mouth. As they carefully eased closer, his hand moved.

"He's still alive! Run to the house and tell mother. I will stay with him and see if I can help him."

Sue raced across the field toward home, stumbling and falling in the mud.

Kenny managed to pull the man's feet around to the bank. He loosened his tie and took off his coat, making a pillow for his wounded head.

"Money belt, robbed, fifteen-eighty-nine," he said as he passed out.

Sue crashed through the kitchen door too exhausted to speak. Her shocked mother, thinking something had happened to Kenny, said "What happened? Where's Kenny? Did he fall in the creek?"

Catching her breath, Sue managed to get it out, "Shot, a man was shot down at the creek! He needs help!"

Mom was already calling the police as she held Sue in her arms. "What is your emergency?"

"Someone has been shot down on Cotton Creek and needs help!"

"I am dispatching help now and the police are on the way. Please stay on the line." "Did you see it happen?"

"No, my children were playing and heard the shot. They saw a red jeep drive away."

About fifteen minutes later they heard sirens in the distance, and Sue went out to show them where Kenny and the man were. Sue and her mother got in the police car and directed them toward the creek. As the medics worked on the wounded man, the police questioned Kenny about what happened. He told them what the man uttered before he passed out. The police could not find any identification on him and no clues as to who he might be. As the police followed the jeep tracks to the highway, they found the empty money belt. Road blocks had been set up around a ten mile area and all vehicles were stopped, but no red jeep was spotted. Still unconscious, they loaded the wounded man in the ambulance and sped off.

Kenny thought about "fifteen-eighty-nine." What could it mean? Kenny had to ride into town with the police to give a full report, and he was questioned again about what the man said.

"Are you sure it was fifteen-eighty-nine?"

"That's what it sounded like." One, five, eight, nine, kept ringing in Kenny's mind. He even spotted a tag on an old car with the last digits of one, five, eight, nine. Then he wondered if the man was trying to give a street number. Kenny went back to the police station and suggested it to the police.

"Well we can check it out."

The detective came back later and said, "There are only three addresses in town with that number. Would you like to go with us to check them out?"

"Love to!"

The first house was an elderly couple, the next one was empty. The last address was a bank. They questioned the employees, but no one was missing and they knew nothing about the money belt. Kenny noticed the vault and all the lockboxes through the bars.

"Maybe he visited here and emptied one of the lockboxes?"

The officer pulled out a picture of the wounded man and showed it to the tellers.

"Yes that man came in as soon as we opened the doors. He spent about three minutes with a box, then left."

"Can we see who rented that box?"

"If you get a court order we can open it for you. A lot of people rent boxes and don't use their real names."

After a phone call, another policeman arrived with the court order. The box was removed from the wall and with bank witnesses the box was opened. A folded piece of paper was all that was inside. As soon as the detective read the note he was on the radio. Kenny was able to read it over the arm of the detective as he called in. "Help, my family is being held for ransom by two men and a woman with a red jeep at the motel on Hwy 80."

At the motel, the clerk quickly gave them the key to the room where the red jeep with two men and a woman checked in. A woman and two kids were tied up and blindfolded. Kenny had to wait outside, but he could hear the questions.

"No, we couldn't see them, then came up behind us and threw something over our heads. My husband is a courier, when we enter a town, he goes straight to a bank and places his money belt in a safe deposit box for the night. Someone must have seen him enter the bank and followed him."

"Did you hear them say anything?"

"They were very cautious, but as they were leaving, I thought I heard something about the border!"

The trio were caught at the Mexico Border with two million in large bills. The company that the wounded man was working for gave Kenny's family a reward for their efforts. 

Copyright © 2015 Hubert Clark Crowell
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By: Hubert C. Crowell
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