Reenacting A Murder

May 6, 2013

Reenacting A Murder coverOne potential witness said, “Whitey wasn’t the best-liked member of the reenacting community, but who would have thought he’d end up like this?”

When Prospect, Tennessee Police Chief Sam Jenkins attends the town’s annual heritage festival it not only satisfies his interest in Early American history, it draws him into the investigation of another murder on “the peaceful side of the Smokies.”

Local antique dealer, G. Nobel Whitehead, has been savagely killed. As the former New York detective wades through a cadre of quirky local characters to learn how the victim’s shady dealings lead to his demise, more questions keep popping up.

Did Whitehead’s attraction to a half-Cherokee woman trouble her fiance enough to commit murder? Or did the victim cheat one of his customers? The only thing for certain is that someone really wanted him dead, and killed him in the foulest manner.

Read An Excerpt

Fresh bacon sizzling over a wood fire makes one of the most heavenly smells on this planet. I put six strips into the forged iron pan sitting on top of Rollie Hutson’s small brazier. When the bacon crisped to my satisfaction, I’d remove it from the pan and fry the four eggs that sat awaiting their fate.

“You makin’ love to that pig-meat or cookin’ it?” Rollie asked, while I fiddled with a long-shanked fork, moving the bacon around.

“You could do this yourself, you know.” I didn’t like criticism while creating a culinary masterpiece.

Our campfire was one of thirty in the Prospect City Park. Other old-fashioned braziers and open fire pits smoked away as historical reenactors began their day at the Annual Prospect Heritage Festival. Everyone there volunteered to provide the paying public with an authentic glimpse of life in early Tennessee.

Smoke from hickory, oak, and cherry swirled around the encampment. Additional cooking smells filled the air—coffee, oatmeal, parched corn, and more bacon.

Several people walked among the canvas shelters carrying water buckets, all of them wearing 18th century-style clothing. Wedge tents, crude lean-tos, and large marquees made up a temporary canvas city within the park.

Besides being one of the two men there to portray local gunsmiths, I’m also the police chief in Prospect, Tennessee, a small city on the northwest corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“You reckon the bacon’s done yet?” Rollie sounded impatient.

A commotion four tents away interrupted my answer.

“Je-sus Christ! Hey, somebody, come here! Gat dag, somebody, I need a li’l he’p!”

“Sounds like a job for the local po-leece-man.” Rollie showed me a wide grin.

“Son-of-a-bitch,” I said, removing the fry pan from the flames.

I stood and looked toward the bell-backed wedge tent thirty yards down the row. A small crowd began to gather while a big man, dressed in a linen hunting shirt and knee-britches, held open the entry flap. Several people looked into the ten-by-twelve lodge before recoiling from the sight and smell.

“Excuse me, folks.” I pushed through the crowd. “If there’s a problem, I need to take a look.”

”Jesus Christ, Sam,” Bo Worley, the man holding the canvas flap, said, “I came lookin’ fer Whitey to show him this here powder horn I jest made and found him like this. Lord have mercy!”

I grimaced at G. Noble Whitehead, who sprawled face-up on his red wool blanket. The unusual thing I noticed was a pipe-tomahawk buried deep in his forehead.

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