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Chapter 1
Meet the Oak

His ad in the San Antonio Express News read,

Will find anyone, anywhere. I can return them to you or punish them, whichever you prefer. Wire me at or visit the Menger Hotel in San Antonio. Leave word with Bill, the bartender.
The Oak, or Mr. Oak, or Oakie, depending on how well you knew him, was an enigmatic man. He was a man of means, living at the Menger Hotel, and well known in town as a respected and well-connected citizen and “man about town.” No one knew where he came from or his background, and he volunteered no information about himself.

Standing six feet tall and well built, he obviously had taken good care of himself. His mustache was always neatly trimmed. When not working, he wore tailored western suits, usually grey or blue. They fit loosely so as to conceal the Colt .45 Peacemaker in a black shoulder holster.

His clothes, when working, were always black jeans, shirt, and leather chaps. They were complemented by a tied-down, hand-tooled black leather holster with an inlaid silver sprawling oak tree. His Stetson matched the rest of his outfit. His horse was a huge black stallion, with four white socks and a white blaze. He called him Santana.

One evening he was relaxing at the bar enjoying his favorite drink, a glass of champagne, and carrying on a conversation with his favorite confidant, Bill the bartender. A bellhop interrupted them saying, “Excuse me Mr. Oak, but there is a lady in the coffee shop who wants to talk to you.” As soon as he saw the lady sitting at the table sipping a cup of tea, he recognized her from the society pages. She extended her hand, and he clasped it as he said, “My dear Mrs. Magruder, what may I do for you?”

“Well, Mr. Oak, I would like to hire you to kill someone,” she whispered.

“Oh dear, and who might that be?” he asked.

“It’s the man who raped my daughter Sarah,” she answered.

“That’s a little bit of a severe punishment for rape, don’t you think?” he said.

“I just don’t care. My daughter is so miserable, she wants him dead,” she told him.

“And who might this person be?” he inquired.

“It’s a Mexican who works for one of my neighbors. He has been staring at Sarah for a long time, trying to talk to her, and night before last he raped her as she walked home from a neighbor’s house,” she explained.

“And how old is your daughter?” he asked.

“She is 16, but she looks like she is 20,” Mrs. Magruder explained.

“Why don’t you go to the police—isn’t this really a matter for them?” Oak asked.

“Oh, heavens no. We couldn’t do that. Our good name would be blemished beyond belief,” she blurted out.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll take on the job, but I won’t kill him. I’ll take him someplace and give him 20 lashes with a buggy whip. That would be an appropriate punishment for the crime, and your daughter can watch if she wants to. Will that be satisfactory with you?” he said, hoping this would be enough to diffuse the situation.

“I suppose so. I’ll ask Sarah. And how much would you charge for that?” she asked.

“Two hundred dollars,” was the answer. He knew that he was asking for a lot, but she could afford it.

“I guess it will have to do. I brought some money with me, so I’ll pay you now,” she said, taking out a large roll of $100 bills from her purse, and handing him two of them.

“Thank you. Now if you will please write down the rapist’s name and address and tell me if your daughter wants to watch me do it. Just let me know.”

“Thank you, Mr. Oak. And please keep all of this private,” she answered.

“Thank you, Mrs. Magruder. Just let me know and I’ll do the job for you.”
 

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