Months ago, just minutes before Jackson Walker lay badly beaten in the ally on Smith Street, three figures stood in the shadows under the pecan tree on the courthouse lawn. The drug dealers had taken over the town and the residents were scared. ‘Hey, wait one fucking minute, man. I didn’t sign up for the electric chair.’ The first man stepped back from the group.
Placing his hand on the first man’s shoulder to calm him down, the second man continued ‘No, I am not saying that I want to kill him. I need him alive. If we kill him, he will not be able to do what we need him to do,’ the second man replied. ‘Just hurt him real bad, okay?’ He looked at the third man and shoved a large envelope his way. He refused to take it from them.
‘That is all right, I will do this for free. Call it the retribution of a recovered crack head.’ The third man laughed to himself and continued, ‘Just trust me. The best way to rid Marion of this crack problem is to start a drug war. By the time I finish I will have the two families killing each other every day. Just remember our deal, Mayor. I will never be arrested for this and no one can ever know that I did it.’ He looked at the two men and extended his hand. Each of the men shook hands and left.
Moments later, a dark blue 1972 Dodge Charger slowly crept toward the corner of Washington and Smith Street just as Jackson began setting up. The car slowed down and parked in the alley off Main Street behind the Rexall drug store, ‘I’m tried of these guys selling this stuff. They’re doing nothing but destroying this town,’ the hooded driver said into a recorder. ‘I still can’t understand how they get fooled into using that stuff.’ Inside the car, the gunman pulled the mask down over his face and placed the recorder inside the glove compartment. Opening the door of the car to get out, he pulled on the leather jacket with the Moore family crest on the back. The target was Jackson Walker, an important member of the Walker family. As the stealthily figure neared the tiny brick building, he opened a black leather case and withdrew a large wooden pool stick. ‘I have to make sure he sees the name and emblem,’ the masked man whispered as if someone was listening. Sneaking up on the unsuspecting drug dealer, he violently attacked Jackson. Jumping him from the rear, the masked man slammed the butt of a thirty eight pistol against the surprised victim’s forehead. The blow knocked Jackson off the chair and sent him sprawling across the ground.
Jackson looked up at his attacker, but he could not see clearly because blood was running into his eyes from the gash on his forehead. However, he recognized the green cross and flaming sword of the Moore family. ‘Why you come in on my turf and hit me, you motherfucker. I’m gonna to kill your ass for that, bitch.’ Still shaken from the blow he got up off the ground; however, he did not see when the man moved behind him. Suddenly, he heard ‘Bam.’
‘Shit, I am shot,’ a frightened Jackson screamed. Only dazed from the blow from the barrel of the gun against his left temple, he fought to remain conscious and standing on his wobbly legs.
The masked man struck him hard again. This time slapping the gun hard against Jackson’s right temple, the masked man pulled the trigger on the gun again. Jackson felt a sharp strike against his head then heard it again, ‘Bam.’ Right before he lost conscious, he crashed like a tree to the concrete face first breaking his nose and dislodging most of his front teeth. Like a frightened dog, a warm stream of urine run from under his twitching body and puddle on the ground.
Not finished with the job, the masked man roughly drug Jackson’s limp body down the street to the alley. Once in the alley, he undressed the young man and strapped him face down across an old saw horse. Pulling Jackson’s legs apart, the assailant tied them to the legs of the sawhorse. He kicked him hard. ‘Wake up, bitch,’ the masked man demanded. ‘I want to hear you beg for mercy before I blow his brains out.’ He slapped Jackson hard across the face with the butt of the pool stick.
Jackson gained consciousness and slowly blinked his eyes. The blood stung as a small river of blood from the gash ran down his forehead into his open eyes. ‘Man, why don’t you just kill me and get it over.’ This time he could see well. Before he blacked out, he read the name on the jacket. ‘Dennis, you’re a bitch ass motherfuckers; it takes a punk like you blindside me like this. At least, I’ll die like a man, but you will still be a pussy, Dennis.’ he spit on the man’s right foot.
The man whispered as he slowly circled around his victim. ‘Wrong; I am not going to kill you. I am just going to teach you a lesson, boy. After today, you will be my bitch and everyday I want you to remember how you became my bitch. Marion belongs to the Moore family. You need to join us or the next time, I will kill you.’ Immediately, Jackson groaned from the blow from the trunk of the pool stick across his buttock. Suddenly he felt a hard object rammed against the tight lips of his anus. ‘Man, don’t! Stop, STOP, OH PLEASE STOP!!’ His pleas feel on deaf ears. The last thing Jackson heard before he passed out from the pain of having a pool stick continually shoved up his rectum was the man laughing and urinating on his face. The assailant finished brutally abusing and degrading the limp body and left his nude body tied across the sawhorse. Thirty minutes later, the EMSA medics slowly untied him and rushed him to the hospital. Three days after Jackson was released from the hospital, he murdered Dennis and the drug war started.
Meanwhile, Justice stood looking out of the window and talking on the phone. ‘Avery ‘Shorty’ Burgess, you don’t want to be a drug dealer. Let’s face it; it’s not a great gig. Drug dealers are seldom their own boss. They can’t work their own hours because they must have product available when the addict craves it. Although, they make decent money, they rarely get to keep it because most of it goes to the cartel, to the cops for protection, to the crew, and then lastly to the dope dealer. I mean really, with eight hundred thousand dollars coming through your hands a week, as a major drug dealer, a Justice Department certified kingpin, you’ll only keep less than one hundred thousand dollars. That is why you can’t, dammit. You just can’t because I do not want to watch you die.’ Justice leaned her thick one hundred and forty pound frame against telescope attached to the window frame. ‘I mean I care about you, Avery, but money is not that important. Please reconsider, for me, okay.’ She said goodbye and hung up the phone. Shorty was her best friend, and she did not want to see anything happen to him. However, she knew if anyone ever sold crack inside Marion again, they would be dead in less than a month.
Justice knew exactly what she was talking about. Within a month of the end of the drug war, the trail of mysterious drug dealer murders began. All the street-level drug dealers with the “Bahaman Crew", Alfred Kinnaird, Walcott Cornell, Jeff Smith, Brianna Helens and Nicholas Carr, were brutally gunned down inside their crack house on Johnson Street at midnight. Next, four members of the Carr family began a crack house on Pickens Hill. Less than a month later, Mitch, Greg, James, and Curtis Carr were shot dead while selling at Turner Park. Two days later, Jessie and Margie McKinnon were found shot dead along a roadside just south of Highway 14. Her bullet riddle body still clutched the three kilograms of cocaine they drove to Birmingham to buy.
The Marion police department continually tried to determine exactly why the drug dealers were methodically being killed. However, it really did not bother them much because most of the dealers caught and brought to trial were given light sentences or were put back on the streets before the ink dried on the search warrant. Then, a week after the Carr killings the Marion Times newspaper received a short letter that read, ‘To the citizen of Marion- The recent eliminations of three drug dealing families should serve as a warning to others involved with the illegal drug trade within the city limit of Marion. The sell and distribution of crack cocaine is hereby prohibited inside Marion’s city limit. If you operate crack house or sell crack in Marion, you run the risk of having to meet me. The end result will be your death. Citizens of Marion, I’m here to help. I will make Marion a better place, one dead crack dealer at a time.’ The letter was signed the owl that watches by night. For eight months, the paper ran the letter from the shadowy vigilante killer dubbed The Night Owl.
Randall walked into the house, ‘Justice, where are you?’ He quickly searched the front part of the house.
‘I am upstairs in the game room,’ she replied. She hung up the phone and walked down stairs. Justice Evans was the youngest daughter of Bobbie from her first marriage. She recently graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans and moved in with the couple.
After she walked into the room, Randall quickly grabbed her hand and led her to the couch in the living room. After they sat down, he said. ‘Listen, I know you were there, last night at the church. I just need to know did you see anything.’ His heart pounded inside his chest waiting for answer. Although, she was not his daughter, Randall grew to love her like she was his. ‘Did you?’
Justice worked at the church most nights running the only HIV/ AIDS outreach program in the county. ‘Nah, I was gone most of the night to Newbern. What was it I supposed to have seen anyway,’ she questioned.
‘Nothing, I just thought you might have seen the murder take behind the bus station.’
‘Nah, I was long gone by then,’ she lied.