Weird South: Poor Old Hank

A Pensacola Mystery of the Unexplained
Yep, down here in the South, we love our stories of the strange and uncanny. Everything from ghosts to unexplained disappearances, from alien encounters to family curses, we are all over ’em. And when it suggests that there may be powerful forcing working in ways we cannot understand — well, like the outsiders and underdogs everywhere, we love a good conspiracy theory. So listen, my children, and you will hear the sad story of Poor Old Hank. You ain’t got to believe it. But I’ll tell you, it’s the whole truth, with my hand up.
Back in Pensacola in the 50’s, poor old Hank Killam just couldn’t seem to, as they say, catch a break. Things just never seemed to work out for him — jobs, relationships. So he decided to take off for Texas and see if his luck would change. Turns out, it changed. But not for the better.

  
Hank made his way to Dallas, where he got a job painting houses. He made a few friends, other fellows doing construction work, like himself. Hank’s best friend was a guy named John Carter, and he would meet John and his roommate Lee after work every now and again for a drink. Hank met a woman, too, and they got married. Wanda may have been a little rough around the edges, and she worked at a nightclub/strip joint — but hey, she made Hank happy.

  
Then in the early 1960’s Hank showed back up in Pensacola. And honey, I think he had lost his mind. 
“They’re after me.” He said that to everybody. “They’re gonna kill me. I know too much.”
Hank? Know too much? Most folks thought rather the opposite — Hank had never been renowned for his great learning and deep thought. But he insisted. “They won’t let me live. I know too much.”
Yeah, Hank had lost his mind, all right. Folks tended to ignore him, figuring he was just Hank being Hank. But then early one Sunday morning, a Pensacola Police officer found poor old Hank on the sidewalk in front of a store on Palafox Street, bleeding from a severed carotid artery.

  
Now, the police said they knew just what had happened. The store’s plate glass window was smashed, and clearly, said the police, poor old Hank had broken the window in a burglary attempt, and — just his luck — he had cut his throat on the glass and bled out. Accidental suicide. They closed the case practically as soon as they had opened it and moved on. 
But Dr. Northrup, the coroner, didn’t agree. Accidental suicide by plate glass? He didn’t see how that could happen. He noted the cause of Hank’s death as “unknown,” but that was pretty much as far as he went with it. I might wonder why he didn’t do more of an investigation, but then again, maybe for some reason he decided it wasn’t worth looking into.
Now, Hank’s mama, Mrs. Killam, she had a lot to say about Hank’s last hours. She said he had been at home with her when he got a phone call. That was kind of odd, since Hank didn’t really have many friends by now. And it was even odder when he left the house a little later. She heard a car door slam and saw headlights leaving her house, but Hank didn’t have a car. 
And it was just a few hours later when the cops found Hank bleeding out on a Palafox Street sidewalk.
No one ever stepped forward to say they were in the car that picked Hank up that night. But surely, surely, it really was just an accident, like the cops decided so quickly. Nobody was after poor old Hank. And just as surely, it didn’t have anything to do with that guy Hank and his friend were hanging out with in Dallas back in ’61. John Carter’s roommate, that` weird little guy Lee. Yeah, that was his name: Lee Harvey Oswald. 

  
And that strip club where Wanda Killiam worked? That was a little dive called the Carousel Club. Owned by one Mr. Jack Ruby.
  

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