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"The Dead Armadillo"

A true story of one mans forgiveness, redemption, and success after his incarceration in the late 60's in a Georgia Chain Gang.

"The Dead Armadillo"

A true story of one mans forgiveness, redemption, and success after his incarceration in the late 60's in a Georgia Chain Gang.

$1
pledged of $75,000pledged of $75,000 goal
1
backer
23days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sat, December 7 2019 11:46 PM UTC +00:00.

About

The Dead Armadillo Story

Foreword

This is a story that some would first think was a re-do of “Cool Hand Luke”, a film from 1997 that was very successful for Paul Newman and George Kennedy. Paul was nominated for Best Actor and George won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for their character portrayals.  As you read on, you will see that this film project stands by itself and is not a sequel to “Cool Hand Luke”.

Based on the real-life experiences of the author, this story and the upcoming film requesting funds through this Kick-Starter campaign, is a great story of trials, tribulations, and ultimately the ability to overcome many negative aspects in his life, eventually resulting in a positive outcome and his own concept of success in life. This portion of the story that the author shares here in this funding campaign, is just a part of a story that the author has been trying to write for over forty years. Each time he tried, he soon gave up, partially because the memories for that part of his past was a little obscure to say the least, partially because he lacked the skill to write it, and mostly because his inspiration was just not there like it is today.

The author has recently found himself swimming in a sea of inspiration and memories and now asks for your help in producing the film of “The Dead Armadillo”. We believe that after you read the following portion of the story, you will be inspired as well, and donate to this Kick-Starter campaign.

For those who do feel inspired after reading this, who also contribute by donating to this funding project, if you happen to know OR you are, like say, a Producer, or a Director, or a Screenwriter you can contact the author at any time, night or day. So now, on with our Teaser of "The Dead Armadillo".

Chapter One - Murphy's Chevrolet, sign "Humming" above me

The front part of the story about how the author got into this predicament is as follows. Growing up as a child in a very violent home, after ten years of abuse, his mother eventually was beat to death by his insane step-father. Childhood PTSD is real. Just prior to the armadillo story, the author was AWOL from the Navy. Working for a carnival midway at the New Jersey State fair putting up the “Hootchie Cootch” show tent for a once famous stripper that he had hooked up with several County Fairs earlier beginning in Maine. He ended up hitchhiking south for reasons that he will finish writing.

It was about 2 o’clock in the morning. I had been hitch-hiking for three days from Trenton, New Jersey and was now walking through a small town of Folkston, Georgia. No skyscrapers, and you couldn't find the sidewalks because they rolled them up at midnight.

Quiet, so quiet as I walked down the main street of town. The only sound being this interesting sound of electricity coursing through the pole-top transformers, and the even more interesting sound, hum really, of one neon sign, humming, "Murphy's Chevrolet".

Bugs. You also could hear the night time bugs. The large bugs flying around the six street lights, mostly moths, the other bugs, like the crickets, who apparently, we're suffering from insomnia as well. Not like there actually was a brick and mortar "Downtown".

There were no tall buildings to leap over in a single bound, and I didn't run through it like a speeding bullet. I certainly wasn't more powerful than a Locomotive, just a very tired, very hungry, scrawny teenager walking past Murphy's Chevrolet, sign "Humming" above me. Well, not quite past. I ended up walking around the lot with all the new cars lined up in three or four rows.

Dead balloons. I remember all the mostly deflated balloons lying across the cars, limp but constrained by the string that bound them, mostly deflated, like all the helium had leaked out, many had just enough helium left in them, that they were still round, and not totally out of gas. Two of the balloons were still defying gravity and were floating just a little.

Well, look at this one! Brand New Shiny Red Malibu Super Sport with 396 on its front fenders. In the back of the building, I found myself crawling through an open window. You know, the industrial kind of window that flips open from the center. Window already was open. I never would have entered the building, i.e., never would have broken a window to get in the place. The window just happened to be cranked wide open, inviting me to explore further.

Raided their refrigerator. Leftovers of every imaginable kind. Did I mention I was hungry? Actually, I really hadn't eaten a decent meal in two days, so yes, I was hungry. I ate someone’s leftover tuna salad sandwich, 2 bananas, some soup, and what was left of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

After this wonderful gourmet meal, washed down by some Dr. Pepper, I decided to explore a little further. In those days, the dealers didn't have the sophisticated gadgetry and electronic doodads to monitor and control all the keys to everything on this lot. Nope. Just a big peg board with pegs of car keys hanging, new & used. Whoever designed their system should get the Nobel Prize for Stupid.

I went back out to the shiny brand new 1968 Malibu with pencil and paper in hand, (I didn't find ONE ink pen, that dude was Scottish). They hadn't invented Post-It pads yet, otherwise I would have used one. Wrote down the special code that was written on the front glass on the driver’s side. 68Mr4. That stood for 1968 Malibu Red 4 Speed.

It took me a minute or two to figure out the coded location on the pegboard. There was a total of 40 pegs. Thirty pegs had keys dangling, ten pegs were empty. Ahhhhh, see? Simple. As I grabbed the keys with the correct code hand-written on a small circular tag in pencil, I noticed that this tag was almost worn out. Codes had been written and erased so many times, many of the tags were dying of overuse.

Anyway, not exactly a clever system, and like I said before, the owner has to be Scottish, (how much do paper tags cost anyway). Your very first listen to the revving of a 396 V8, putting out 350 horses. Along with three bottles of Dr. Pepper, which I had stuffed in my pockets along with all the "desk" change I could find in the unlocked desk drawers, I had grabbed some bags of potato chips, cigars & matches, and a typewriter.

OK! This was exciting! I made the typewriter trip one more time and snagged one of those mechanical adding machines and a slide projector and put it in in the trunk with the typewriter.

Down the road I go. Heading still, to Florida, only now I’m not walking. In the headlight's glare ahead of me I could see foliage on either side of the road, cut back to trees and open areas. I couldn't really tell what the open areas consisted of because by the time the scenery was even with my 1968 Chevrolet Malibu, 396 with a four-speed, it was dark again, i.e., no longer in the headlights.

Three miles to the state line? Folkston is the last small town off U. S. Highway 301 before crossing over the St. Mary's River into Florida. 54 miles to Jacksonville. I had a map when I drove away from Folkston.

Southern Georgia two lane country road at 3:00 AM, almost to Florida. Beautiful starry sky, nothing but dark on either side of the road. No other headlights in sight that time of the night, well early morning.

It was not a deer in the headlights I suddenly came upon. To me it may as well have been a dinosaur, or some creature from Mars. Seeing it from a distance, this strange creature was big enough to notice, and sat there, frozen in the high beams like Bambi.

I stopped in the middle of the road about ten feet from this strange creature, got out of the car, and walked up to take a closer look. This thing was still moving forward a little, in spite of having the headlamps of my car probably blinding it momentarily. I picked this odd beast up and walked back to the car.

Putting this monster in the trunk, I thought to myself, "Gee, maybe I can sell this thing to a zoo when I get to Florida". You will find out what this animal was later on in this story. Try to guess what I almost ran over?

No, it was not an alligator. At some point, if not now, one has to be just a little bit curious as to what this 19-year-old farm boy from Minnesota is doing in Southern Georgia at three AM driving a brand new 1968 Chevrolet Malibu SS (Super Sport) with a 396 and a four-speed. Story begins in Minnesota in October of 1963. That strange night and equally strange creature happened in the late fall early winter of 1967, four years later.

Remember, I'm a farm boy from Minnesota. I really had never seen this creature, even in a book. Our school was too backward in time to believe that something like an encyclopedia would have an influence on our education. In junior and senior high, I didn't spend a whole lot of time in the school library, and the mention of this creature must have been on a day I stayed home from school.

Honestly, in my stupidity, I had absolutely no idea what the fuck this thing was. Back to the 1968 Malibu Super Sport with a 4-Speed. Dealers in those days, in order to prevent or negatively affect your little joy ride to a mile past dinosaur, did a few things recommended in their Dealer Ownership manual.

The needle on the gas gauge was just a hair or two above empty. Rule number one in your ownership manual "Security" section, don't leave a lot of gas in the tanks. Instructive advice number two in that same section, disconnect the alternator or generator, so the only thing running the spark-plugs on the car is the battery, which dies shortly after you ran out of gas, and out of ignorance, left the radio on, which worked great for a while, catching some cool jazz from a station in Jacksonville, Florida, to slowly dying radio signal.

No, you idiot! Slowly dying battery! Count Basie is down to a whisper for less than a minute before fading out to totally dead battery. Soooooo tired. It's about beddy-bye time. It's more than just spooky to be on a two-lane road, three miles from town. Dead battery. No lights. And now, no radio.

You start to hear all the sounds, almost like jungle music with monkeys and everything, as you climb into the tiny back seat to try to get some sleep. Remember, you haven't slept in two days, and you really are seeing too many things in the dark that probably aren't there.

Other than the jungle sounds, there eventually wasn’t any sound coming from the trunk where the “Creature”, one typewriter, one adding machine and one slide projector were sitting. I said eventually, when I first tried to fall asleep, the "Creature" from Planet X possibly thought it could claw, like through dirt, through the floor of the trunk. After about fifteen minutes of clawing by that thing from Mars, it stopped clawing, and I finally fell asleep.

I was abruptly awakened to a loud, tap tap tap of the barrel of a six-shooter on the driver’s side rear window. Said six-shooter was in the right hand of the local sheriff. I immediately rolled that rear window down as he said, "Good Morning, son". I wasn't his son, but that's how they talked back then. Think about this. I've been sleeping so soundly, that I thought he was going to break the window, he tapped so hard. I wonder how many taps on the window it actually took before I heard it?

No gas, no battery, no license plates, no driver’s license and registration. He asked a few lame questions. I told him that I had to pull over to sleep, as I did not want to fall asleep while driving, and possibly put other drivers at four in the morning, in grave danger. He didn't ask me to get out of the car. After I told him that I did not have the required by law, documents, you would normally think that the Sheriff would politely ask me to get out of the car.

"Yes sir! I would NEVER drive if I even thought for one minute that I was too sleepy to drive, that's why I'm in the back seat, and there's a box on the front passenger seat containing a stolen Nuclear Bomb. And that hand cranking antique adding machine in the trunk is for counting up all the dead people after I leave this Nuclear weapon at the Pawn Shop in Jacksonville".  I obviously didn't say all that, I thought it, but whatever conversation that took place between the Sheriff and I was strange enough.

No. Instead we said our goodbyes. When he was out of sight down the road, I grabbed the stuff in the front passenger seat, the one remaining Dr. Pepper, the Slide Projector, and the old pull handle adding machine, put the cigars in my shirt pockets and started walking, in the opposite direction. He drove away, waving goodbye, and I hitch-hiked to Florida. My last ride was all the way into Downtown Jacksonville.

I knew I couldn't take the typewriters AND the “Creature” to Florida, and dummy me didn't think of letting the Martian out of the trunk either, sadly. Actually, I did think of it, but I had already walked about three miles before I thought of it, and I was not going to walk back to that, car. They will certainly let that creature out of the trunk. Probably sell it to a zoo. What do you think?

First thing I did was have lunch at McDonald's, with most of that loose change from my pockets. I used up all the quarters and fifty-cent pieces and all of the dimes and nickels. I think I had 23 pennies left to my name.

"Hello, my name is Johnny Racket", kinda said with a Johnny Cash accent. No not "Rocket", Racket, like in tennis. "Yes, I'm A tennis pro in Jacksonville. Where do I teach you ask? I teach at the tennis courts. Where? Like specifically? All over really, any tennis court that will take me. The slide projector? I use that to show my students pictures of my last tournament at "Widdlledumb".

That was my conversation with the old couple that gave me my last long ride into Jacksonville. At a randomly picked Pawn Shop, “20 Dollars for the typewriter? That's fine, what about this antique adding machine? Is two dollars the best you can do?” The Pawn broker gave me the $22.00 and I headed out the door. At the same time, he starts dialing the Charlton County Sheriff's office to notify them that you have just left, his store, and they in turn radio Sheriff Jackson, who is waiting for you as you walk across the state line into Georgia. Yes, I got turned around. Thought I was walking south, but I was walking north, back towards Georgia.

Duuuuuu!!! No map, shitty, actually, deliberately false directions, means you are not heading farther south into Florida, it's noon. The sun is up there in the middle of the sky. You really can't tell East from West or from North to South as you are walking along.

Now sitting handcuffed in the back seat of the Sheriff's police cruiser, he's laughing his ass off about my lack of direction, and more so, laughing at the fact that the Pawn Broker gave me directions that would intentionally get me heading north towards Georgia. You really didn't pay attention to the highway signs that said things like, during that one nice long ride that took you to the driver’s turnoff just before the state line.

Sheriff Jackson's vehicle was nowhere in sight until you were about a hundred yards into Georgia. Then he pulls up from behind you, driving ever so slowly in reverse, as you are sorta walking backwards, looking south, when you thought you were looking north, i.e., you are mostly walking backwards when cars are approaching, so you think the cars coming toward you are heading to Florida. Walking backwards with your thumb out precludes a person from seeing the signs like, ten miles to Georgia.

Once I turned and saw the "Welcome to Georgia" sign, everything happened so quickly. You realized that you were an idiot, and Sheriff Jackson believed that you were an idiot. The welcome sign was NOT on the exact line. It was a hundred and thirty yards into Georgia.

This wasn't some major border crossing like into Tijuana, this was a highway crossing a state line in the middle of nowhere, not at the state line in Lake Tahoe. Jokes on you, you thought you were headed towards Miami. First words from Sheriff Jackson? "Welcome back to Georgia, son". I wasn't his son.  I sort of felt relieved. I look back now and realize it was all good karma. What was in the trunk along with the typewriters? We will reveal the "creature" shortly.

90 days later, still sitting on the lot is that beautiful 1968 Chevrolet Malibu SS with a 396 and a 4-speed, a salesman was opening the driver’s side door to show a young couple the car, and the stench of rotting flesh, that dead dinosaur, had filled up the interior from the unopened trunk. The salesman immediately closed the door and calmly walked back into the office, asking everyone within earshot, "Isn't that the vehicle that kid took off the lot three months ago?"

Well yes, George said. Bob the salesman who was trying to show the car, said, "I think we need to call the Sheriff, that kid left a dead body in the trunk". Yes, everyone thought, dead HUMAN body. The Sheriff along with three other officers, the Fire Department, and an Ambulance shows up for the "Opening of the Trunk" along with a news crew from Atlanta that happened to be in the area, about thirty minutes away.

The “Opening of the Trunk” could not take place until the news crews from Atlanta and Jacksonville showed up to film it (where’s Geraldo Rivera when you need him). Finally, drum roll please, after about thirty minutes of speculation and waiting for CBS Channel 46 out of Atlanta to show up, and another fifteen minutes for the news crews to get set up, one of the reporters is telling the TV audience, "They are about to unlock and open the trunk”.

Who will it be?" By now of course everyone is thinking a dead person. Rumors are going around that this kid from Minnesota was high on Marijuana and killed his partner in crime. Flash forward to when the owner of the dealership had visited me in the cell at the county jail a few days later.

"Tommy, we all feel sorry that your mom died and everything, and quite honestly, you know we care because Jesus cares (Mr. Murphy was a Born-Again). We were potentially going to let the Navy take you back, but if it wasn't for that dead fucking Armadillo in the trunk, I would have let them take you. You have to be punished, and you will be punished, not by the Navy, but by the State of Georgia. We had to total the vehicle. Cost me $2,300.

Yes, good karma. Had the U. S. Navy got a hold of me, it could have been 10 years or more in a Brig. Instead, the Wayne County Prison Farm in Jesup was my next home for what was supposed to be three years.

A "Chain Gang", like the Paul Newman movie, "Cool Hand Luke" if you have ever seen it. Lucky me, I made parole first time up, which was a miracle in itself, after 22 months, two months shy of two years. Jesup is close to Penholoway Swamp Wildlife Management Area, or as George Carlin would say, "The Penholoway Alligator, Snakes, and Other Lethal Creatures Management Area".

At just under 5,000 acres, it's a much smaller swamp than the Okefenokee Swamp at 500,000 acres. Which Carlin probably would have renamed, "The Okefenokee Lots More Alligator, Snakes, and Other Lethal Creatures Refuge Area". Both swamps are places you do NOT want to get lost in, day or night, and they built the Wayne County Prison Farm in the early 1920's purposely backed up to the Penholoway.

Chapter Two - “Don’t I get a Defense Attorney?”

After the suspenseful "Opening of the Trunk" and the discovery of the rotting carcass of the Dead Armadillo, and two days after the owner of the dealership paid me a visit, I was taken to a small nondescript office building in Folkston. This was the office of the Charlton county appointed Judge who was, as far as I could tell, just a local attorney that had been appointed to the position.

I was seated in his office, with the sheriff, Mr. Murphy the owner of the Chevy dealership, and a few other dudes that I did not recognize. Mind you, this was not a courtroom. It was this lawyer/judge's in a normal, sort of plain old ordinary looking office. Could have been the Dog-Catcher’s office as far as I knew.

Not wasting time, they were very polite, and the judge, Mr. Brown, whom I guess had been told about the trauma regarding my fucked-up childhood and my mother's death, spoke to me in a very sympathetic manner, telling me like Mr. Murphy had, how sorry he felt for me. He asked me a few questions basic questions which I can't remember, and then read off three charges.

Breaking and entering, which I didn't do because the fucking side window was open, burglary, which was correct I'm thinking to myself, I had stolen a few typewriters an adding machine, a slide projector, some loose change, a few cigars and of course, that beautiful 1968 Chevrolet Malibu Super Sport, with a 396 and a four-speed ". The theft of the vehicle was the third charge he read.

It's funny that when he was reading off the items for the burglary charge, he included some of the food that I had taken and eaten from the refrigerator, plus the four Dr. Peppers, one Milky Way Candy Bar, and three packages of Potato Chips. After he read the charges, I asked him, "Don't I get a Defense Attorney", and the "Judge responded, "Son, Mr. Jackson sitting over there will be your "Court Appointed Attorney" this evening.

Right after that he asked me how I was pleading to the crimes and without hesitation I said remorsefully "Well sir, I AM guilty of all of it, so I guess I plead guilty as charged". As soon as I said that, my attorney got out of his chair, and without a word, left the room. As he was leaving, I commented, "Where you going, Mr. Jackson, He was gone without saying good luck, good bye, nothing.

Mr. Brown, (the Judge) immediately answered for my attorney who had just walked out the door closing it behind him, "Well, you see Mr. Saxe, down in these parts, if you plead guilty like you just did, we figure you no longer need legal representation".

Several minutes later, some papers were being signed, and I received my sentences. Not guilty for the "Breaking and Entering" charge, guilty for the "Burglary" charge, three years, and guilty for the "Auto Theft" charge, three years, both sentences to run concurrently. That meant that I was going to spend three years instead of three plus three equals six years in prison. Whew, that was a plus. Fifteen minutes later I was back sitting in my cell at the city jail.

It's six in the morning the following day, and I was being transported, to where, I had no fucking clue. Jesup, Georgia is 55 miles of Folkston, heading north towards Savannah. That's where we were heading the Deputy said. It took us a little over an hour to get to Jesup, which was a much smaller town than Folkston was. As we got closer, I noticed that part of the scenery looked a little swampy.

We arrived at what I soon found out, was the Wayne County Prison Farm, bluntly, a "Chain Gang" kind of place, but being just a poor farm boy from Minnesota, I had no clue what a "Chain Gang" was. The movie "Cool Hand Luke" had just been released and I did not have the opportunity to see it yet, and I didn’t even know it existed at that point. I eventually saw it for the first time on television several years, maybe even ten years later. I think I was living in Southern California when I saw it with some friends. Boy, did THAT inspire some conversation that day.

After stopping at the gate, I was removed from Sheriff Jackson's car, and taken into a small building that looked like an add-on type of construction to a much larger, main building.

The Wayne County Prison Farm. The main building, which I will describe for those readers who have not seen the Paul Newman movie for which he received an Oscar Nomination for his role as "Luke", I'll try to describe the prison farm in as much detail as I can remember as I write this chapter. For those of you that HAVE seen the movie, this prison farm was very similar to what you saw in the movie.

Inside the little add-on building I met my first inmate, who was part of the intake processing staff, well, just him, and a prison guard. I was given my prison outfit, a towel and a washcloth, a pillow, (which I found out later I only got the pillow because I was a white dude). I also was given an old, what appeared to be, an Army Blanket from the Civil War. I lost possession of the pillow AND the blanket that night (another part of the story for the folks that can wait for the novel). Okay, I can say I was a scrawny little teenager, and he was an African-American dude, twice my size, and twice my age. I did not put up a struggle.

Chapter Three - "I'll see your three cigarettes and raise you five"

My first week in, I was hired by another convict, a white dude named Jack, to make cigarettes. For every pack I rolled, he gave me a choice of payment of either ten cigarettes, or 10 cents. Sometimes I took the cash, sometimes I took the cigarettes, since I was a smoker. The cash doesn’t sound like much, but after a brief tutorial on the hand-held rolling machine, I quickly became one of the fastest “Rollers” in the whole “Camp” as some of us called the place.

I could roll twenty packs an hour, and that was good money, $2.00 per hour. The drawback was that Monday thru Saturday from six in the morning until sometimes as late as seven at night, we ALL were working. My big money day was Sunday, putting in at least five hours, and I usually rolled for a few hours every work-night while everyone else was kicking back from a hard day of labor.

My cigarette rolling money amounted to an average of $30 to $40 dollars a week. Within two months I had enough money to buy my own rolling machine, papers and tobacco. That dude, Jack, that I had rolled for? He sold those packs of cigs for 75 cents a pack. He had one other dude besides me rolling for him, and I figured he was clearing at least $200 dollars a week because there were 200 hundred convicts in that camp, and most of them smoked. There also were two other cigarette manufacturing operations, but Jack’s business was by far the biggest, I tend to believe that was because I rolled really good cigs for him, and everyone wanted MY cigarettes as opposed to someone else’s.

It’s a great thing when you are incarcerated, to have a steady income from a business like rolling and selling cigarettes, or leather work like hand-tooled wallets, purses for women, belts you know, the belts that have some dudes name embossed into the leather in the back, so the bikers know which cowboy they’re fucking, well that’s if you have taken your buck-knife and cut a gaping hole in his jeans right where his ass is.

There were dudes doing oil paintings, water color paintings, and other small crafts. Every Sunday during visitor’s hours, you could really make some dough if you had something to sell because half of the visitors we received were not there to visit their husband or brother, they were there to buy shit from the entrepreneurial dudes like myself, because in addition to eventually owning my own cigarette rolling business (three hired rollers at one point), I also had a leather tooling business.

So about eight months in, I was making some serious coin. When I was finally paroled after twenty months, I left there with $684.73 My mother would have been proud. A sizable portion of that Dinero was my poker winnings, which leads me to a poker-related story about the one and only fight that I got into while I was there.

I had only been there for a few months and the poker games that I played in literally were penny-ante games. There were much higher-stake games that I would eventually get into, but in the early days all I could afford was the smallest-stake games. The smallest games you could bet with singles as we called them. Single cigarettes, both hand-rolled on a little machine, or what we called ready-rolls (short for all ready rolled) like Camels and Marlboros. The ready-rolls were worth three times what a hand-roll was worth.

Now we come to the reason for my chapter title. Poker. Need I say more? I was good, really good at Texas Hold-Em. Within my first six months I probably made an additional $200 just from poker.

Chapter Four – “Yeah, they call me the Minnesota Kid, and I’m…..”

Sunday was our only free day to do whatever we pleased, as long as it did not violate the “Rules”. Some dudes spent their time immersed in reading. Reading all kinds of different things, from paperbacks to Playboy Magazines, and everything in between. Some dudes slept. Some dudes, (many of them) were out in the “Yard”, playing basketball, pitching horseshoe, lifting weights (we did have a pretty good selection/variety of weights, and a similar variety of dudes lifting them.

Scrawny dudes like myself, when I did try lifting a few times, more than once, with the Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger types, in Black and white (race wise), along with the average dudes who were serious about becoming an “Arnold”. Some dudes were working on their cigarette manufacturing biz or leather tooling biz, and some dudes were playing various table games amongst themselves, like Monopoly, Checkers, Chess, etcetera. My game quickly became Texas No-Limit Hold-em Poker. Thanks to my Great-Great-Grandmother who taught me the game when I was five-years-old, I came to that Chain Gang at a much higher skill-level than the average convict.

One day I was playing with three other dudes, and we had an incident that would forever change my status while I was there. We had been playing for about two hours one Sunday afternoon, and I was up about nine whole dollars, and THAT was a whole lot of pennies, nickels, dimes, and cigarettes. During this one particular hand, I caught this dude cheating. The dude was twice my size, built like he had been frequenting the weight lifting equipment in the yard for most of his sentence (he had been there for two years). “Chief” as he was called, was the biggest fucking Indian I had ever seen, the movie, “One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” didn’t come out until 1975, so when it did, from my memory I could compare “Chief” to Will Sampson, the 6-foot-7-inch actor who played the silent Indian in the film. Chief was bigger.

A Seminole Indian from Florida, Chief was a Safe Cracker. Not your typical run-of-the-mill safe cracker however, Chief’s modus operandi was way different. The first time we played poker, he shared a little of his story with us. Back in those days, stores and pawn shops, and other places of business did not have fancy burglar alarm systems. Doberman Pincers, Pit Bulls, or German Shepherds, that’s what the store owners used.

Chief went on to explain the secret of his success as a “Safe Cracker” (not telling us how he got caught, yet). “Boys, it’s quite simple. I would first case a place out, you know, go into let’s say, a Pawn Shop in a small town like White Spring, (I generally worked in Georgia and then went back home to Florida after each job). So, I’ve “pawned” a TV that I had from another job, and got a pretty good idea of wither that pawn shop was worth my time and effort. In this case, yes, it was worth my effort, plus they only had one dog, which is always better than trying to subdue two or more dogs. I gave up the idea on a liquor store once just because they had two really vicious looking Dobermans.

Anyway, what you do with the dog like in this case, is bring along a piece of raw beef (with the bone), tainted with some shit that puts them to sleep. You only have to wait about ten minutes, and when the dog doesn’t bark anymore when you knock loudly on the back door, that’s when you know it’s safe to gain entry. Having gained entry, I would walk over to where I knew the safe was, and roll it out to my pick-up truck”. Almost all of the stores in those days had these safes on wheels.

Chief continues, “Once I have at the back end of my pick-up truck….” “Let me guess, Chief, you simply picked it up and placed it in your truck”, I interrupted. Chief, continued, “Yeah, you’re right Minnesota”. I just won the last hand, and Chief continued, “There’s a favorite place in a swampy area that I go to, and once there, I take the safe out of my truck, place a logging chain around the safe with a 25-ton railroad jack between the chain and the safe’s door, and crank away. Usually five or six cranks of the jack, and the door has crushed in and off the hinges. I remove the chain and jack and the door’s always just fall away. Take the goodies out of the safe, which usually besides cash, is the most valuable shit like diamonds, Rolex’s and so forth. One time, out of a safe from another Pawn Shop, I pulled out a set of “Choppers”. I guess they were in the safe because some dude thought it was cute to have some gold teeth instead of the carved ivory that older dentures had, and the dude pawned them (because of the gold) I suppose. Then I throw the empty safe into the swamp, and drive home. Simple”...........

Just to dangle a carrot, you will read about things like being bitten by a Rattle Snake, how we built roads, cleared trees, unplugged drainage culverts that were plugged up by Beaver Dams, my one and only time I got into a fight with a Con twice my size and age, and so many more memories.

Thank you for your donation and showing your interest in this project! Here's a link to a PDF file of the first eight chapters + my notes at the end which are sort of my "3 X 5" cards (copy & paste in your browser). Throughout the "life" of this brief KICKSTARTER campaign, I will be periodically updated the PDF file so you who have donated or intend to donate, can follow my progress.  So, please visit the link often to view the progress, and to get the latest PDF file.

 https://tcsblog.net/the-dead-armadillo-novel-and-screenplay/ 

Risks and challenges

I believe the risk is minimal, because I also believe that a major "Producer" and/or "Director" is going to get involved with this project. Besides this Kick-Starter funding campaign, I will be providing "Points (shares) in the film.

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