SOUND: (Click of rails swells briefly. Distant train whistle then rails fade to sustained background)
JERRY: (Little fade in) But Doc, there’s so much of it!
DOC: So much of what?
JERRY: So much of Texas...we’ve been zooming through Texas now since...
DOC: Oh Honey...you ain't seen nothin’ yet! This here is a BIG state! And the only thing wrong with it is that is ought to be bigger...
JERRY: Bigger? Why?
DOC: Then they’d jest be that more of it to love!
Jack, irritable at being hot and tired, and having difficulty reading his newspaper, tries to tell the others to hush. This being a vacation for the three of them, Doc and Jerry ignore him. They marvel at the countryside passing by outside their window for several minutes, when there is a knock at the door of their compartment, and a stranger enters.
BUCK: (Bad Man...Texan...Humorless...authoritive) (Slight fade In) Howdy, I’m Buck Bradley. Thought you Boys might like to set in a little poker game. My drawin’ room is right down in the next car and I thought...
Jack, ever wary for a scam or a card-shark, tells him to buzz off; they aren’t interested. Bradley gets sore at this perfunctory treatment and accuses both Jack and Doc of being yellow. Bradley’s challenge makes Doc sore, and he says *he’ll* play in their poker game. Jack tries to convince him not to, but Doc ignores him. Yes, Doc knows the game is likely crooked, “...yes...but as the feller says, it’s the only game in town!”
Doc leaves with Bradley down to one of the other rail way compartments, and Jack and Jerry are left alone. Jack still tries to read his paper, but Jerry starts talking again about the scenery of the Texas oil fields just outside the train window. Jerry thinks the derricks and all the jump-start towns are picturesque, but Jack cautions her.
JACK: This part of Texas is as wild and colorful as you can find. Oil hits and towns grow up overnight. Like a gold rush. And it’s pretty wild until the law takes over.
He reads on in the paper, and suddenly finds something of interest which he shares with Jerry.
JACK: But listen to this, “Whamperjaw, Texas, Jan.______. The murder of Squire Hootin remains a mystery. No trace has been found of the murderer. The Squire was shot in the back over three weeks ago and died without ever regaining consciousness. Until the time of his death, he had steadfastedly refused to sell his farm land to any of the numerous oil men who made him attractive offers. He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Arabella Hootin."
Jerry is disgusted; can’t he ever think about relaxing, even on vacation? Jack sheepishly replies.
JACK: Sometimes I think it’s a disease.
JERRY: What is?
JACK: This business of mixing in crime...adventure...you know.
Jerry shakes her head, and time passes with the clatter of rails chattering in the background. Doc at last returns to the compartment, and relates what happened with Bradley’s poker game. At first, Bradley tries to intimidate Doc by pulling a revolver out and placing it by his elbow, “just in case.” Doc just shrugged, and pulled out *his* pistol, a pearl-handled nickel-plated beauty which he placed by his elbow, “just in case”.
They started to play, and others soon joined them. As he told the others, Doc realized when he started losing money that the game *was* crooked. He soon noted that the others were marking the playing cards with their fingernails, leaving creases and other marks in which to aid their play. Doc started to put his *own* creases and other marks on the playing cards that first confused then baffled the schemes of the other sharks. But not before Doc won back all his losses...and more! He pulls out a thick bank roll of $4000 which the Jerry marvels at and Jack scowls at, before the door of their railway compartment suddenly bursts open!
It’s Buck Bradley and his pals! And they have guns held on Jack, Doc and Jerry; it’s a hold up! Pointing to the thick fist full of dollars in Doc’s hands, he spits out:
BUCK: (Hatefully) I’ll take that...and I’ll take every...single...red...copper...cent...there is...between...you!
Episode 2: Tuesday February 19th, 1952.
MERC: That is the bad thing, senor! No has died. NO ONE.
Mercedes goes on with her story to the surprised trio from the A-One detective agency.
MERC: On the tombstone, Ramon says, is painted with white paint very crude writing. This is what it say, “On January 25 a man will not be alive. He’ll fall like a sparrow...that is hit by an arrow!
JERRY: Some sentiment.
JACK: The 25th of January...why, that’s today!
MERC: Si...that is today, and I worry senor. I think could it have been meant for my little brother Ramon...I try to keep him in with me tonight, but he will not stay...
Mercedes explains that the reason she thinks that the deadly poem is aimed at her brother is because he has made certain enemies in town, enemies about a certain gang and its leader, a man named Buck Bradley who is “...the mos' evil man in all Texas!”
As she explains her fear for her absent younger brother, Jack is suddenly tense; he hears a man prowling outside the cafe. A man with a gun, for suddenly a shot rings out and the cafe window is shattered!
A body of a man with an arrow through the heart!!!
DOC: Winnie-Mae! Dad-gummet, honey, how are ya!
WINNIE: I’m so glad to see ya, I could bust my belly band! Where have you been these last hunnerd years, y’ol’ hoss-thief?
DOC: Been EVERwhere! Jack! Jack, this here is Winnie-Mae, my cousin on my mamma’s side! Ain’t she wonderful?
JACK: Well! I’ve been hearing about you for years. It’s nice to see you...
WINNIE: Thank ya. Me an’ Doc growed up together.
Doc and Winnie-Mae play catch up for several minutes, with Jack eying Doc’s famous “cousin on my mamma’s side.” Jack’s eyes wander from the folksy Texas gabfest...and he suddenly spies up the street their nemesis--Buck Bradley!
When he points this out to the others, Winnie-Mae comments, “...that feller’s as treacherous as a ground rattler.” They see Bradley head over to a slightly more ornate shack which Winnie-Mae says belongs to one “Judge” Abernathy. Abernathy is no real Judge; he’s little more than a sleazy town lawyer with a bad reputation. As the three watch, they see Bradley first head in and then leave Judge Abernathy’s shack. They also notice Ramon unexpectedly arriving on the scene, turning a corner of the street and run smack into his enemy, Buck Bradley!
With sadistic delight, Bradley lays viciously into the kid with a quirt. Doc, seeing Bradley flailing away at the defenseless kid, wades in to the rescue, and knocks Bradley “kitty-wampus” with a single haymaker blow. As Jack and Winnie-Mae rush up, to the shaken Ramon and the victorious Doc, Doc turns the unconscious Bradley over and notices with surprise a silver star pinned to his vest! Winnie-Mae explains the facts of Whamperjaw life to Doc.
WINNIE: Why shure! Didn’t you know? He’s the law in these parts! Marshal Buck Bradley!
Episode 5: Friday February 22nd, 1952.
DOC: See? I tole y’all I had a way with wimmin!
Hushing the smug Doc aside, Jack has some more questions for Mercedes, especially about the body found on the steps just outside her Mexican Cafe. Mercedes had recognized the corpse as being from a member of Buck Bradley’s gang, another bad man who was no friend of Ramon’s. They also discuss the two verses written on the tombstones, verses prophesying murder, with one prophecy already having come true. The second verse is repeated again to the others, “On February 5th, a man will not be alive. Because he was so dirty smart, he fair broke a bein’s heart. He’ll be pumped full of lead, right square in the head!”
Jack asks Mercedes who in town of Whamperjaw could be the “dirty-smart” one referred to in the verse. “Judge” Abernathy’s name comes up again. They all learn that the “Judge” is in fact a disbarred lawyer, a snake of a man who has cheated and tricked farms out from under their owners for the rich oil underneath the land. Yes, Mercedes says, it must be Abernathy who is intended as the mysterious gravedigger, poet and killer’s new victim.
All of a sudden, a strange woman enters the cafe. It is the same very tall and plain woman who had been prowling the night before outside the cafe just before the dead body with the arrow in his heart fell down in front! Mercedes whispers to Jerry and the others that the woman in the plain dress, men’s shoes and diamond tiara is Squire Hootin’s widow, now known as Miz Arabella Hootin! In a raspy and time roughened voice, she addresses the others.
Mrs. H: Yes Ma’am. I am Miz Hootin. I was Mrs. Hootin...Squire Hootin has gone to glory. He’s up yonder...with the stars in his crown.
Mrs. Hootin takes a shine to the suddenly uncomfortable Jerry Booker, repeating over and over, “She shore is purty...” and little else, learning Jerry’s name. When asked about her diamond tiara, she simply answers, "It won't do it!", before leaving as suddenly as she came, after one long lingering glance at Jerry. Mercedes tells the amazed others that yes, the diamond tiara is real, and it suddenly appeared soon after Squire Hootins' death. A true local eccentric, much of the time Mrs. Hootin is seen wandering the streets of Whamperjaw at all times of day and night, and attends the local church with great zeal for the religious hymns she croaks out.
Suddenly, as they are talking about the peculiarities of Mrs. Hootin, Buck Bradley jumps into the cafe! The boys had lingered too late after knocking him out!
With the drop on everyone in the room, Bradley handcuffs Jack. As he moves to do the same to Doc, Doc slugs Bradley as Jerry simultaneously kicks up Bradley’s gun hand. The gun explodes...harmlessly into the ceiling of the room! In the confusion and chaos, Doc ducks out the window and escapes. Bradley turns and snarls at Jerry.
BUCK: Alright smart girl. Will get him later...and as for you, Mr. Wise Guy--
JACK: I’m listening.
BUCK: A man was shot through the heart with an arrow last night...
BUCK: Yeah! An’ I got a warrant for your arrest...for MURDER!
MUSIC: "Valse Triste"
This is the end of the first week--five episodes in total--of the ILAM serial, "The Graves of Whamperjaw, Texas."
The remaining two weeks, or 10 episodes, of
"The Graves of Whamperjaw, Texas." appear in synopsis format.
these two links: Week
2 Week 3.