Part Two

The thing about Bowie, Keechie knows, is that he’s loyal–too loyal to T-Dub and Chickamaw. T-Dub’s an old lech. He throws money at bimbos. And he likes to drink. Chickamaw’s a flat out alcoholic and he’s a hot head deluxe. Plus–and this is the worst thing–he’s jealous.

All of this attracts too much attention, and if Bowie keeps doing business with them he’s going to get caught. She tries to tell him, but he won’t listen. They even argue about it and they hardly ever do that.

Of course Keechie has every reason to be worried; Bowie has already killed a police officer. He had to, she reasons, if he didn’t the cop would have killed him.

Sure enough ole’ T-Dub gets himself killed in a shoot out with the cops and Chicamaw gets thrown into jail. It’s the electric chair for him for sure, unless Bowie can break him out.

In today’s parlance Bonnie Parker would be described as drama queen. In her day people called her a pistol. Just how apt the later description is depends on the historian. Most contend, that despite having a predilection for being photographed brandishing them, she probably never fired a gun in the commission of a robbery.

Bonnie’s father died when she was four and that proved cataclysmic for her family. Up to then the Parker’s were comfortably middle class. Emma, Bonnie’s mother, liked to project herself as affluent. While Charles Parker’s death didn’t dampen her attitude, it devastated her pocket book. Unable to provide for the family in their hometown of Rowena, she had no other choice but to move them to her parents home in Cement City.

Whereas Emma was an unqualified snob, Bonnie was a product of her environment. Cement City was rough. She palled around with bad boys and even had a couple of tattoos (scandalous at the time). Nonetheless her mother had taught her that she was special and she believed it–when she wasn’t bored or depressed. Whenever a camera turned up within her personal space, she jumped in front of it.

Bonnie was twenty-one and estranged from her husband–a two-bit thief–when she met Clyde Barrow. She was babysitting a friend with a broken arm when he dropped by to visit. Fresh out of prison he was skinny as a rail and not much to look at, but you couldn’t tell him that. He oozed bravado. It was love at first sight.

There was a lot riding on Edward Anderson’s second novel. Important things like providing for his wife and children. The matter of his pride; and, perhaps the most important thing, having the ability to feel good, hopeful even, about the future and his place in it.

If things didn’t work out he could always get another job writing for a paper. Or the tabloids.

He bought a car and drove his family into the Texas hill country where they rented a cabin around the outskirts of Kerrville. There Anderson felt more at ease than in Los Angeles where he was regarded as talented–he was one of Raymond Chandler’s (the father of the detective novel) favorite authors–but difficult to work with. Perhaps this was due to his tendency to drink too much and because he preferred his own company. Or maybe too many people had got wind of his hard right politics–he had been seen at a Nazi rally and was heard making anti-Semitic remarks.

Hollywood is a fickle place. That was just one of the many things he hated about it. You could be in and out in a matter of mere moments. Or vice versa. He needed a hit.

When he was in New Orleans writing for True Detective and Murder Stories, his wife, Anne, would spend hours at the police station talking to the top cops, collecting stories for him, about the Dillinger gang, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly and the like. The country was in a crime wave–that’s what J. Edgar Hoover called it and Anne had a big in with the guys at the precinct. She had worked for the feds and her dad and her uncle were FBI big wigs.

Anderson had a satchel full of this material with him when he headed to Kerrville. John Dillinger would have been the most obvious choice as subject, he was the criminal superstar of the time and had recently got his comeuppance in an alley–no less–by Hoover’s muse “little” Melvin Purvis and the boys. But Anderson had a soft spot for the underdog, as well as a romantic streak.

Over the last two years he had been keeping up with a runty, white-trash hoodlum and his girlfriend, both fellow Texans, wrecking absolute havoc on the cops–killing at least nine of them–in spectacular shootouts where they hoisted guns as big as they were and escaped in jaw-dropping feats of driving. Dillinger had called them “grocery store bandits” and “gun crazy amateurs.” The end had finally come for them too.