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Chapter 1
College Days

John (sometimes called Jack) was a second-year law student at the University of Texas in Austin. He was an excellent student, getting straight A’s. It was not because he studied that hard, but because he had a photographic memory. The night before a test he would read a textbook and refer to his memory to pass the test.

John was majoring in girls more than law. Almost six feet tall with an athletic build, girls were attracted to his dark complexion and blue eyes. The girls referred to him as a desirable bachelor who would be a fine catch. His male friends thought of him as a lucky guy. His jealous acquaintances called him a spoiled rich kid. They were right about the rich part, but in reality, it was his parents who were very rich.

His father, Jacob King, was a criminal defense attorney in Houston. His mother, Helen, was a tenured professor of English literature at the University of Houston. His father was Jewish and his mother, a Roman Catholic. Both children were encouraged to pick their own religion, so John chose neither. His younger sister, Sarah, a senior at Sam Houston High School, chose the Catholic religion, which greatly pleased their mother. John considered himself an agnostic. Their home in Houston was a large estate in River Oaks, which fit their positions in life.

The Kings also owned a 500-acre ranch west of Galveston. Their ranch manager, Juan Ortiz, handled everything about the ranch: the hiring and firing of the ranch hands; the cattle sales; the planting and cutting of coastal hay; and the management of ranch funds. As a reward for his twenty years of service, he was awarded a generous bonus of twenty percent of the ranch profits.

The Kings elected not to participate in Houston’s society circle. Instead they preferred to have quiet intimate dinners with friends, or an evening playing cards with neighbors or friends.

They led the good life and indulged their two children.

John rented an off-campus apartment in Austin where he entertained many of his girlfriends. Sarah lived at home and commuted to school in her own surrey, pulled by a very expensive sorrel gelding.

One Monday evening John was sharing a bottle of wine with Lola Bigelow. They were half-way through the bottle when there was a loud and rapid knock on the door. Lola ran into the bedroom to hide as John answered the door.

It was Sergeant Dick Smith from the campus police.

“John, I hate to break up your little party, but I had a telegram from Police Chief Mike Ward in Houston.” “What did it say?” John asked.

“It seems you have an emergency at home, and your family needs you at home right now,” Smith reported. “What’s wrong?” John excitedly asked.

“Chief Ward will fill you in when he picks you up at the train tomorrow. I’ll take you to the stage coach now and you can get to San Antonio in time to catch the morning train for home. “And, oh yes, you can tell your little honey in the other room she can come out now,” Smith told him.

“How did you know?” John asked.

Smith replied, “I am a cop, you know. One bottle of wine, two glasses, and the aroma of an expensive perfume were good clues.”
John laughed and told Lola to come out and lock up when she left. He also asked her to tell Professor Moriarity he had to go home for awhile. Then he left with Smith to catch the stage for San Antonio, then the train to Houston.

It was late afternoon when Chief Ward picked him up at the depot. John knew Chief Ward from hunting trips his dad invited him on, and Chief Ward and his wife, Carol, had been at the King house numerous times for dinner and a game of cards. As John watched Chief Ward approach the depot he studied him carefully.

Mike Ward was a big man. He stood over six feet tall, had broad shoulders, a large chest, long arms, and big hands. His face with a warm smile and glasses looked friendly, but John guessed it could turn to stone in an instant, if necessary.

“Hello, Chief Ward,” John greeted him.

“Hi John,” came the reply. “I’m sorry, but I have some terrible news for you.”

“I have worried all the way home—what is wrong?” John asked.

Ward replied, as he put his arm around John’s shoulders, “I’m afraid your mother and dad have been murdered.”

“Oh, shit, what happened?” John asked, struggling while trying to fight back tears.

Ward continued, “Well, it appears to me someone broke in trying to rob them, and it turned bad from there.”

“What about my sister?” John asked.
 

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