The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 20, 2010

Chapter 15: As the Small Town Turns


CNHI

— By D. T. Hutchins

Guest writer

Jackson Lafayette Hill was the last person Buck expected to see in Branson. Jackson was one of his men from the unit, as country and natural as the Ozark Mountains where he was born. That, plus his tendency to hold an old-fashioned corncob pipe in his mouth when he talked, earned him the nickname of “Corncob.” Things were not good the last time that Buck saw Corncob, but things looked much worse now.

“Corncob, if you could help us, I’ll do more than a few dollars,” said Buck as the words came tumbling out. “That big, oversized Elvis stole a little girl from her mother in Alabama and we are trying to get her back.”

“Cap’n Buck, it was a big Elvis alright, but it was a little boy, not a girl,” said Corncob. “They took off in a orange truck with a big, orange guy driving. Almost hit me. They went left,” said Corncob pointing the direction that the truck left.

“Great, Corncob, I owe you another,” said Buck as he handed Corncob a $20. “Can you stay around here a while? I want to talk with you, but a little girl’s life is at stake.”

Sheriff Blinky had already coordinated with the local police, and a helicopter was in the air. Sheriff Blinky and Buck jumped back into the patrol car and everybody took off in the direction that Corncob had pointed.

It wasn’t long before the radio began crackling. The orange rig had been seen moving toward the interstate, and a helicopter was tracking the truck.

“Rock, baby, why is that helicopter following my truck,” asked Twyla LouAnn. “Are we leaking something?”

“Floor it, Twyla,” hollered Rock. “Get off at the next exit. I got a plan.”

At the next exit the helicopter seemed to have disappeared. Rock was relieved –– only temporarily. Just then, the helicopter reappeared along with a swat unit and six patrol cars.

Twyla stopped the truck and Rock climbed down to the pavement. Officers, guns drawn, circled Rock.

“Rock, baby, what is going here?” whined Twyla, still trying to squeeze out from under the under the wheel.

Buck pushed forward and grabbed Rock.

“Where is Roxy?” roared Buck.

“Hey, mister, don’t hurt my husband,” said Twyla as she pushed her 400-pound body between the two men.

Buck just stared.

“In the truck,” said Rock, as police pulled Twyla away.

Buck climbed into the truck and found Roxy still sitting on the truck mattress. Other than the haircut, she looked okay.

Later, at the hospital, Buck called Raquel to tell her that Roxy was fine and he would be bringing her home the next day. Buck could hear the relief in Raquel’s voice, and she had even laughed about the new Mrs. Roddenheimer.

Buck asked Sheriff Blinky to stay with Roxy while he went back to the Stardust to find Corncob. The two spent several hours talking. Afterwards, Buck knew what he must do next.