Beyond the Night Road 2

A spy espionage thriller that is set in the early 1970's.

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3. Beyond the Night Road-Part Three

***

Mark Denning hadn't contemplated any disasters. He had decided to perfect the crime of nineteen seventy-two. To him, as America imploded, he had shaken off the irrational thoughts that caused plagued his fractured mind. He saw the Texas sign, and waited for something to happen.

***

Thelma finished her meal.

"Is there an inn nearby?", she asked the barman.

"In the middle of town", he answered her.

"What's it called?".

"The Thorpe Inn", he said.

"Thank you. Good night".

"Good night. Bye!".

"'Bye!", Thelma said.

And she walked out of the front door, and walked there.

***

Danielle Farr stared at the television. 

"President Nixon is under intense pressure over the Watergate scandal. He was lying low, as the members of his Cabinet have resigned as Nixon, and Henry Kissinger, and other politicians, have denied any kind of illegal wire-tapping inside the Oval Office itself, since January of 1971...", J. Kelly Price said. She smoked a cigarette, as the heavy rain drowned the city of Austin, Texas. She saw Martin Roberts, a Democrat, shake his head. "It's over". He wanted to believe that Nixon would be as successful as President Harry Truman, or JFK was in the early nineteen sixties, before the assassination in 1963. "We have to move on, Martin", Danielle stated. He watched her with a resigned look that was etched on his lined face; he was shivering from the intense cold. Danielle strode forward towards the bar area, and drank some beer in the Democratic Party Headquarters. She had believed in democracy, and fairness; she was going to walk away from the political heat. "So, what now?", she asked him. Martin shrugged. "Nixon has an anti-Kennedy agenda that goes as far back as the nineteen sixty election. You can't think of a time in which everyone was nervous; you can't think that JFK, and Bobby Kennedy would die in the early to late nineteen sixties. And, after the Chappaquiddick incident with Senator Ted Kennedy in 1969, America was bleeding, and the nightmare over the Vietnam War covered the news daily. Hell, we were suffering; we were dying; we were in a bloody war that was in the Oval Office, not in the jungle. Death is death", Martin stated. Danielle remembered the talk of the Zodiac killer in the news. He wasn't caught yet, in California. She knew other killers were on the loose across America. She took a long, deep, breath, and prayed to God that the new killer who stalked Texas's roads would be shot dead.

***

Sheriff Gorman was in a mass panic.

He hadn't imagined America was in an abyss. He knew that the social, economic, and political climate was staining the country's faith; he knew, deep down, everyone was believing in the doom of an American President, while killers were free to commit murder. He rang J. Edgar Hoover at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Can you tell me we're not in trouble, Edgar?", he asked him. "Vietnam, The Pentagon Papers, and Watergate, is killing us, Sheriff Gorman. Texas is bleeding. Besides, everyone's thinking that we're in a troublesome state of affairs. And, secondly, Washington, DC is afraid of law and order", he said. Sheriff Gorman spoke in a concerned voice. "Everyone's blaming each other. Now, we need results", he said. J. Edgar Hoover gazed at the telephone in his plush office. "I have a name for you, Sheriff Gorman". The Sheriff was pleased, as if his Christmas had come early. "What's his name?", he asked him. "Mark Jacob Denning. He failed the FBI test back in the winter of nineteen sixty-five. He is your killer", J. Edgar Hoover answered. And then he hung up the telephone, and the signal went dead.

***

Thelma loathed the bad weather.

She imagined Texas was dark. She tried to focus on the bright lamps that illuminated the city. She walked to her 1967 van. It was new. She felt nervous. Suddenly she heard the sound of cars zooming down the dirt road in Austin. She was about to drive away, when she heard the sound of gunshots. She stopped still like a statue; she was lying flat on the grey mat near the brake, and hoped that the shooter would leave. There was a lot of killers across America; there were a lot of assassins who killed for fun. Thelma waited. She thought of her dream to be an actress in Hollywood. It was something that fuelled her desire to make the Big Time. Yet, as she did so, she saw a man smiling at her. "Good evening. I'm Todd Malansky", he said. Thelma backed away from him. In his left hand was a .9mm gun. "You're a killer", she uttered. Todd, who stood six foot two, grinned. He wore a blue Reno, Nevada sweater, black jeans, a black belt, brown socks, and black sneakers on his feet. On his right hand, was a cheap Rolex watch. "I am death", Todd started to say. And he aimed his gun at her chest. "Don't! Please don't!", she yelled. Todd was about to fire when a shadow of another man fired into his back three times. Todd saw blood drip everywhere. Seconds later, his prone body thudded onto the ground, and Thelma broke down and screamed with terror.

***

Sheriff Gorman staked out Marshall Lake Point. He was about to rest in his car for an hour when there was a call of a shooting nearby. "I'll get it", he said on his radio mike. He drove away from a place where teenagers made out, and went to the Drive-In cinema on dates during Saturday night. He wondered whether they did drugs. He had a million thoughts in his head, as he saw Thelma and a man watching him. Nearby was the dead body of Todd Malansky. The Sheriff knew Todd as a hot-headed killer who had just left jail in the summer of nineteen sixty-eight for assault and battery of his girlfriend Carol Ann Fletcher. She was only seventeen; he was twenty-one at the time. He stopped driving. He then got out, and focused his attention on the scene in front of him. "What happened?", he asked her. "He was about to shoot me dead, and the other man shot him dead. He saved me, like he was Clint Eastwood", Thelma stated. Sheriff Gorman wrote everything down with a black, felt, pen on a piece of paper. "Todd is bad news. He's been in jail in Connecticut in nineteen sixty-two for murder. It was a debt collection problem. He got Francis Hall-Smyth, a nasty lawyer, to get his sentence reduced to three years instead of twenty years. Francis owed Todd $600,000 in poker winnings during a gambling binge in Las Vegas, Nevada. Todd owned everyone because of his mafia links to the Napolitano crime family in Chicago. And they shoot you dead, and don't say anything if people disappear, if you get my meaning. Anyway, the Coroner will have to be called, and an ambulance, too". He grabbed his phone mike, and requested back-up, while they waited for help to arrive at the scene of the crime.

***

Deputy Lisa Campbell smoked a cigarette. By eight-thirty PM, she heard President Richard Nixon, was grovelling on late-night television. "It wasn't my idea to bug the Oval Office. My Cabinet didn't commit any crimes. It was best for the American people if they didn't know the truth about the Watergate affair", he stated to millions of viewers. She knew he was hedging his bets; she was determined to force something out of the unpopular President. She stubbed out the cigarette with her black left, boot. Once she threw the embers into a silver trash bin that was in her office, she called her parents. "Mom, it's Lisa. How are you all doing? Everything is going downhill fast in Texas, and Washington, DC. The growing bureaucracy had hastened all of the problems of America. Suddenly she saw another report on the television. "In breaking news, killer Todd Malansky was shot to death at Marshall Lake Point. Details are still sketchy, but it could be a mob hit. In other news, Gordon K. Weiss, of Weiss Industries, the Arizona multi-millionaire, died of natural causes aged 81, in his Mansion...". Deputy Lisa Campbell turned off the television, and read The Collector by John Fowles, as she waited for Sheriff Gorman to arrive back at the station.

*** 

Larry Hart shivered. 

He ran towards Marshall Lake Point. He saw a lot of police cars swarming like bees. He saw a couple were kissing in their blue 1970 van, and dreamed of better times that included being the President of the Texas Prankster's Fraternity from 1964 to 1969 with his friends. Larry was close to being kicked out of the fraternity. But, on a technicality, he was freed on good behaviour. And, as the nineteen sixties ended, and the nineteen seventies started, the birth of the new decade was full of hope. He read The Washington Post newspaper, as Sheriff Gorman spoked to him sternly. "Go home, Larry", he said. He blinked his tired eyes. "Fine, but the country is damned", he told the Sheriff. 

He shook his head, and headed to a motel nearby.

***

By June 22, 1972, Alison Poole Maclean started to focus on the growing dissatisfaction that deeply afflicted America. She had smoked a cigarette and focused her attention on the feminism movement. She telephoned Moira Daniels, the President of the Texas Ladies' Union of Austin, Texas, for advice on a career in political violence. She glanced at the glass window of her small apartment and pondered on the magazine article she was being unduly unfit for duty as an enforcer. The title irked her. Her parents, Ed and Margaret Maclean, were hardworking people who lived on a wage of sixty-five thousand dollars a year with a house and mortgage. Under President Nixon's America, the creeping underworld hadn't tainted the White House. She had already seen the damage done to her friends through drug use, and partying on the weekends. Alison, who was twenty, wanted more to do with her career than wasting her life away. She had remembered Danielle Parker, her best friend, had died young from a car accident in Lawrence, Kansas. The driver had been jailed for twenty years. Alison stomped on the embers of the cigarette, and walked down Arrow Road at night time. It was eight o'clock PM when she saw several teenagers were whispering near Frederick's Park, a safe haven for the growing political radical movement who loathed Nixon, and America. Some were associated with burning down the flag; some were known to use Molotov cocktails to shatter glass from windows; some people suffered burns, and spent months in the Texas Hospital for treatment for their injuries. 

      Alison breathed in the night air. The cold wind blew from the south. She grabbed her red purse. Inside was a .9mm gun. She took her time walking towards several black limousines that were parked nearby. Dark clouds hovered above her head. Being drenched by heavy rain didn't faze her. She saw the teenagers were holding placards in their hands that read: PRESIDENT NIXON HAS RUINED AMERICA. She smiled at that. A woman walked towards her. "Are you alone in the World, dear?", she asked her. "No. I want to make a statement. One that will make the most impact. The KKK in the Deep South are a joke. They have a skewed view of the Civil Rights Movement; they hate blacks", she answered. "I'm Natasha O'Brian". Alison nodded. "Alison". Natasha nodded. "Come with us, dear. You'll survive the night", she stated. And she saw a warm fire burning in the middle of Arrow Road, as the rain turned into a small flood.

***

Mark Denning and Sheriff Gorman met by nine-thirty PM. They hadn't met each other before, or since. Mark grabbed a straight razor in his right hand. "It's over, Mark", the Sheriff told him. Mark grinned like a lunatic. "What do you think of me now, Sheriff? I am more powerful than Charles Manson, or The Zodiac Killer", he answered him. "Time is up, Mark. You know that; I know that", he said. Mark glanced around. He was cornered. He grabbed at the razor, and brought it downward. The Sheriff aimed his gun, and shot him dead. By ten o'clock PM, about an hour later, the terror in Austin, Texas, had ended.

Page 3.

 

 

 

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