Mystery on the Back Side of a Blue Moon
February 21, 2022
Had she killed her husband? Where was the body? Doc didn’t know. And when Eudora smiled at him, he didn’t care.
I don’t particularly like con men.
But they fascinate me.
I met a lot of them back in the days when I was a police reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Con men were always jovial.
They never met a stranger.
They never saw a dollar they didn’t like.
They didn’t beat the odds.
And they were damn good at it.
So I wanted to write a novel about a con man back in the early 1930s when people had to make a living any way they could.
The cloud of the Great Depression hung dark like a funeral shroud around them.
So I created Doc Bannister.
And I wrote of him:
DOC BANNISTER WAS an illusion. Waskom Brown had him pegged a long time ago. But then, Waskom Brown was the only daddy Doc ever had, and Doc was twenty-five years old before he crossed paths with Waskom in a Hot Springs house of ill repute, and Doc would be dead as hell if Waskom hadn’t come along when he did.
A man peddling doodlebugs to farmers, who prayed for oil now that the water had dried up, needed a partner if only to drive the getaway car, and getaway cars were not always plentiful when the doodlebug exploded and sprayed sand instead of oil across the stunted cotton stalks.
If that black doodlebug box, filled with wires, dials, lights, buzzers and whistles, could have found oil, then Doc would have been a rich man instead of a wanted man, and those who wanted him were usually dead set on killing him. They had burned or buried a lot of his doodlebugs along the way and were always within an eyelash of burying Doc.
Instead, he was on the run, traveling from one con to the next scam, and the back roads could run out pretty fast for a man during the troublesome patchwork years of the 1930s. He could find only two things at the bottom of a hole in those days, oil or worms.
It was Doc’s story.
Maybe he won.
Maybe he lost.
I started writing and figured I would find out in time to slap an ending on the story.
But, without warning, here came Eudora Durant.
Where did she come from?
I wrote of her:
EUDORA DURANT KNEW there must be a hundred or more good ways of dying, some better than others, some worse, and she wondered why she had insisted on taking the slowest path possible to the grave. She couldn’t blame anyone for her lot in life. All she had to do was look in the cracked mirror beside her bed from time to time, and she knew where the blame fell, and it landed squarely on her shoulders.
She had been a fine-looking lady in her early twenties. Just about everybody in Ashland said so. Tall. Slender. Flaming auburn hair draped elegantly across her shoulders. It was said from the front pew of the Baptist church to the front porch of Jim Hamilton’s Dinner Bell Cafe, that Eudora possessed a winsome smile as warm as mid-day in August. Feel bad? Feel blue? Feeling sorry for yourself? Just wait ‘til Eudora comes walking by and smiles at you. You’ll be cured between good and morning.
She hardly ever glanced at her reflection anymore.
Somewhere during the last ten hard and unforgiving years, she misplaced her smile, then lost it altogether, and discovered she had no need for one. What was a smile anyway? Not much more than a scar on her face, and she could turn the corners of the scar down much easier than turning them up.
The belle of the ball was no longer invited to the ball.
Doc was standing around in his white suit and straw boater smiling and hustling.
Eudora took the story away from him.
And he didn’t mind at all
Doc didn’t even pay attention to the rumors that swirled around Eudora.
Where was her husband?
Had she killed him?
Where was the body?
Doc didn’t know.
And when she smiled at him he didn’t care.
No one ever really knew what was happening on the back side of a blue moon.
Please click HERE to find Back Side of a Blue Moon on Amazon.