The Butlers Did It by Wayne Zurl

Wayne Zurl
By Wayne Zurl April 20, 2013 03:09

The Butlers Did It by Wayne Zurl


Things started out innocently enough. Sam Jenkins and Bettye Lambert used a little police department time to go Christmas shopping. When three gunmen robbed the Prospect Citizen’s Bank and Trust across the street from where they sat in a parked car, Sam killed one bandit and wounded another, but the third got away.

Teamed with FBI Special Agent Ralph Oliveri, Jenkins pursues leads that take them from the Smoky Mountains to middle Tennessee and then to the coal country of southeast Kentucky where two local detectives help corner the escaped felon and a pair of colorful accomplices.

The author has rated this book PG-13 (questionable content for children under 13).


Some people say, when a person completes a stretch in a Tennessee correctional facility, they’ve paid their debt to society. They didn’t know Noyd LeQuire.

After his release from Brushy Mountain State Prison and a bus ride to Knoxville, a taxi delivered him to the town square in Prospect.

After he rented a single-wide on Doc Beasley Road, it became known as a bad neighborhood and property values dropped drastically.

All that happened just before Thanksgiving.

Four weeks later, I sat double parked in my unmarked police car outside Prospect Bait & Tackle waiting for Sergeant Bettye Lambert to purchase a Christmas gift for her son.

The city’s Department of Buildings and Grounds had once again overdone the holiday decorations with illuminated wreaths on every utility pole, millions of twinkling lights in the bare branches of trees on the town square, and a Christmas tree to rival the monster at Rockefeller Center in front of the municipal building. If the citizens of Prospect didn’t know the city’s kilowatt hour meter was spinning at warp speed, they should have.

I looked in the rearview mirror and watched a GMC suburban vacate a spot three car lengths behind me. As the big SUV drove past, I tapped the gear shift into reverse and parallel parked in the vacant spot.

Two minutes later, a twenty-year-old Chevy Caprice slid into a parking spot near the Prospect Citizen’s Bank & Trust.

As I looked away from the yellow Caprice, Bettye startled me by opening the back door of the Crown Victoria and tossing in a disassembled fishing rod. Then she jumped into the passenger’s seat, next to me.

“Hey,” I said. “That was quick.”

“I sure hope you’re right about what rod and reel to buy for Li’l Donnie.”

“Of course I’m right. My friend Richie is a fisherman and he says a Penn reel and Ugly Stik rod is the way to go.”

To my left, three car doors slammed. I looked across the street at a trio of men wearing night watch caps and rain coats exit the Caprice and head toward the bank.

“Damnit,” I said. “This does not look good. Get on the radio and tell all units we’ve got a 10-15 in progress at the bank.”

“What?” she said.

“I’m moving up to that blue car across from the entrance. Get backup and meet me there. And be careful.”

“Gotcha, boss.”

I stepped out of the car and tried to stroll to the sidewalk without drawing attention to myself. As I reached the first parked car, I ducked down and scrambled to a spot directly across from the bank. A few moments passed and luckily no pedestrians showed up on either side of the street. After making a radio call, Bettye hustled over and squatted down next to me on the sidewalk, her back against the Camry I hid behind.

“Come over here behind the wheel,” I said. “I don’t want you to get your backside shot off.”

She moved and I peeked over the hood. One man carrying a sawed-off shotgun with a cut down stock emerged from the bank. He looked right and left through the eyes of the cap which was now rolled down into a ski mask.

In only moments, a second man wielding a handgun emerged carrying a cloth sack.

To my right, a Prospect PD cruiser with its blue lights flashing stopped, blocking both lanes of Main Street. The robbers looked to their left as a second police car came screeching up from the opposite direction, assuming a similar posture on the roadway.

I could feel the panic emanating from the two criminals as their heads darted left and right. And then a third man hurried from the bank carrying another bag and a short barreled riot gun.

To prevent a hostage situation, it seemed essential to keep the robbers from reentering the bank. The sporting thing to do would have been call out and give them an opportunity to surrender. But I didn’t have the luxury of time to take that chance, and I couldn’t talk and shoot simultaneously.

“When I tell you,” I said, “as loud as you can, yell police don’t move.”

Bettye nodded.

I braced my Smith & Wesson on the hood of the Toyota. As soon as I said, “Now,” Bettye yelled. The robbers turned toward us and I squeezed off two quick shots. Each of my hollow-points struck the man with the cut-off scattergun in the chest. His weapon fell to the ground and he crashed, face first, on the concrete.

After seeing their comrade fall, the crook with the other shotgun ran toward the Caprice and the man with handgun fired three quick one-handed shots at me. Two went high and shattered the plate-glass window of the store behind us. One hit the side window of the Camry. The booming reports echoed in the narrow street. I guessed a .45.

Bettye drew her Glock and began to peek over the fender just as a fourth shot hit the sheet metal of the Toyota. I grabbed her shoulder and pushed down.

Two more shots sounded from our left and right. The sharper, cracking sounds told me they came from two cops firing their .40 caliber Glocks. One hit something with a thud. The other sounded like it hit metal, but both missed the gunman.

Leather soles tapped the blacktop just before two more .45s struck the Toyota. I dropped prone and looked under the car. The man shooting had walked toward our hiding place.

I had counted his shots. If he was using a traditional Army .45, he might have two more rounds.

I tried an old trick by firing three shots under the car at the ground in front of our assailant. If you don’t have a big target to aim at, sometimes the bullets can do the finding for you. Before I could roll over and conceal myself behind the rear wheel to reload my revolver, I heard a scream.

Bettye and I peeked over the car at the masked man writhing in pain and clutching his ankles.

I stretched over the trunk lid and fired my last shot at the Caprice, but only shattered the moving car’s left rear door window as the third robber accelerated straight for PO Lenny Alcock’s cruiser. The Chevy hit the rear quarter of the police car and spun it sideways. Alcock ran for cover behind a nearby Honda. After grazing another parked car, the escapee nailed the gas and took off down South Main.

I ran to the wounded man and Bettye followed. We met Alcock there with his gun pointed at the bank robber’s head. I used my foot to move the big automatic from the man’s grasp.

PO Billy Puckett maneuvered his patrol car through the carnage in pursuit of the one who got away.

Bettye scurried back to the radio to alert the adjoining districts. I ejected the six spent shells from my Smith and reloaded.

“Cuff that son-of-a-bitch, Lenny. Then get something to wrap his ankles. I’ll cover him.”

When Alcock returned with a first aid kit, I bent down and pulled a navy blue ski mask off the prisoner’s head.

He kept repeating, “Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Got-damn that hurts.”

Bettye returned looking a little out of breath. “I put out an alarm for that yellow Chevy—for all the good it’ll do. And I called the medics for this one.” She pointed to the wounded man. “I’ll go back and see if Billy’s called in yet.”

“Okay. Lenny’s got this guy. I’ll check the one across the street.”

She nodded.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Yes. You?”

“For a minute there, I almost soiled my knickers, but yeah, I’m fine.”

She touched my arm. “I’m glad you’re a good shot, darlin’.”

“Just like the OK Corral.”

Bettye shook her head and walked off saying, “We really don’t need this.”

From far off, the hi-low siren of a Rural Metro Ambulance broke the silence of the crime scene.

“I think the cavalry is coming,” I said, to no one in particular as I reached the second gunshot victim.

A pool of blood covered the sidewalk in front of the bank. The manager, Joe Rex Wilcox, and three of his employees stood in the doorway looking into the street.

I lay two fingers across the man’s carotid artery and felt nothing. I rolled him over, looked into the lifeless blue eyes, and turned to the banker.

“Joe, stand here and keep an eye on this shotgun and the sack of money. This guy’s not going anywhere. Don’t touch anything and don’t let anyone near you.”

My ears were ringing from the gunfire and I couldn’t hear well.

When he didn’t respond I yelled, “You hear me?”

“Yessir, yessir. I’ll do it. Lord have mercy, Sam . . .”

“Everything’s okay now. Just keep an eye on things until I can get another cop here.”

Joe Rex nodded and I walked over to Lenny and the wounded man, who had calmed down a little and might have been lapsing into shock. I kneeled down next to him.

“Boss, I’m sorry,” Lenny said. “I couldn’t get off a second round without shootin’ at Billy.”

“It’s okay, Lenny. Sometimes you can only do so much.”

I took hold of the shooter’s face and turned it.

“Hey, look at me,” I said.

His glassy eyes focused on mine.

“The ambulance will be here in a minute.”

He nodded.

“What’s your name?”

He didn’t answer.

“We’ll find out soon enough.”

He gave a slight shrug. “Von Butler.”

“Who’s the other one over there?” I gestured to the body with my head.

“You killed my brother, Wyatt.” Butler spoke with as much distaste as he could muster.

I couldn’t resist a little sarcasm. “Yeah, sorry for your loss.”

“I’ll bet.”

“And the one who drove away?”

“I ain’t sayin’ no more.”

I made a fist and rapped my knuckles against his bandaged ankle, hoping to change his mind.

“Ahhh, got-damn!”

Von Butler passed out and I didn’t get my answer.


Bettye walked over scowling. “What did you just do?”

“I was questioning him.”

I guess she saw me hit his leg.

“What am I gonna do with you, Sam Jenkins?”

It was a rhetorical question. One she often asks.

“You have news for me, Sergeant?” I returned her scowl.

She wrinkled her nose. “Yes, I do, Chief. But not good news. Billy lost him.”

I shook my head. “How could he lose a tub like that old Caprice?”

“On the Thirteen Curves. And there’s more bad news. Billy ran off the road.”

“Jeez. He get hurt?”

“No, but the car’s mashed up a little.”

“Mashed up?”

“The air dam got ripped off and the grill’s broken. He’s not sure if the frame was bent.”

“Can he drive it?”

“Stuck in the dirt.”

“Super. Two cars out of commission.”

“A deputy’s coming up from Maryville to help out. The County’s dispatching a wrecker.”

“And the Caprice is?”

“Last seen headin’ down Sevierville Road.”

I began to open my mouth.

“Yes,” she said. “I amended the alarm.”

“See why you’re my favorite desk sergeant?”

“I’m your only desk sergeant.” She made a face again.

“You know you’re beautiful when you’re being sarcastic?”

“Oh, give it a rest.”

I laughed. She smiled and ran a hand through her blond hair.


Since the FBI claims to have a vested interest in bank robberies—Federal Deposit Insurance and all—I called Ralph Oliveri at the Knoxville field office.

“Just my luck I’m catching the squeals today.” Ralph’s from Queens and speaks with a very New York accent.

“For a young guy, you sound like an old squad dick. Where do you get language like that?”

“Probably from you. Sometimes I wish you had stayed in New York. My caseload would be much lighter.”

“Fate brought us together, Ralphie. Hey, before you leave the office, bring additional help along with your evidence technicians. We’ve got one bad guy dead and one wounded.”

“You guys killed one and shot another?” He sounded surprised.

“Well, actually just me. But one more got away. Sorry.”

“So, you want us to investigate the shooting, too?” Now he sounded overworked.

“For chrissakes, Ralph, there’s not much to investigate. I was justified. One pointed a 12 gauge at me and the other was popping caps at Bettye and me when I took him out.”

“Okay, don’t get your dander up. Who’s the third guy?”

“Beats me. I can’t do everything for you.”

Copyright© Wayne Zurl. All rights reserved.

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Wayne Zurl
By Wayne Zurl April 20, 2013 03:09
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