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FROM THE AUTHOR
It was a cool March evening when I sat next to a long-haired guy with gray beard and sporting a cowboy hat at a local dive bar in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. He smiled and nodded as I pulled up a chair at the long table next to him to see one of my favorite off-beat bands, Mountain Sprout.
“Where ya from”, I asked.
“Colorado, I just moved here”, replied the man.
“Well welcome, have you ever seen these guys?” I asked.
“Just on YouTube”, he answered.
“You’re in for a treat”, I told him as the waitress brought my beer.
“You from Eureka?”, he asked me.
“Nope, I ride through here about four times a year from home to my parents house in Hot Springs. It’s a little out of my way, but the ride is sweet and I love this town”, I answered.
“What do you ride?”, he asked me.
“A 1990 Super Glide”, I responded.
The guy just smiled. He had a worn look like somewhere deep inside his soul had been beaten to a pulp and left for dead. He was clean and his beard was neatly trimmed but there was a ruggedness to him that was accentuated by his full length canvas duster. His face had a kindness to it and his blue eyes were piercing under the brim of his hat.
“You ride?”, I asked him.
“Use to”, he replied and ran his finger around the rim of his glass, staring at the whiskey as if the question had forced him to remember better days. There was silence as I tried to figure out if I had somehow offended him. He finally looked up and smiled.
“My name is Albert, but folks call me Al”, he said as he extended his hand.
I’m August”, I replied and shook his hand as a short brunette came up behind us and placed her hand on his shoulder in an almost protective gesture.
“This is my wife, Betty”, Albert said and nodded to me, “this is August”.
“Nice to meet you”, Betty said softly.
“Likewise”, I replied as the band took the stage.
It was not an unusual evening by any measure and as a writer I had been through the routine thousands of times in my search for new stories about the lives of ordinary people in small towns. But this chance meeting turned into a friendship and eventually this book.
I discovered that Albert was a writer as well and as we sat weeks later in my Ozark, Missouri cabin talking, I found a story that he had tried to tell but had lost interest. It was a tale about two friends who married young, struggled through life, buried family and friends and eventually settled down in the resort town of Telluride, Colorado, only to find that the paradise they discovered was not a paradise at all.
At first the stories I heard were unbelievable, filled with corrupt police, district attorneys who operated above the law, judges banning books and politicians involved in trafficking cocaine and heroin. But as I sat and listened, I felt that what Betty and Albert were telling me was the truth – at least the truth as they saw it.
Albert gave me a copy of his first book, “Exodus of Angels – The Murder of Harry Force” which I read in one night. He told me he had a finished manuscript of a revised version almost ready for print but had lost interest as his health took a turn for the worse. He gave me a copy along with a box of papers corroborating nearly all he had written. Thousands of pages of police files, search warrants, emails from police to politicians and audio transcripts of several court cases he had been involved in back in Telluride. With Betty and Albert’s permission, I began to investigate his claims.
I made a trip to Telluride, flying into the small airport just outside the deceptively quaint little town since the weather made my regular mode of transportation impossible. It was during what the locals call off-season and many of the businesses were closed. Albert’s favorite haunt, an old bar downtown called O’Bannons Irish Pub was open and I found his description of the place and the people who frequented it exactly as described in his book.
I spent a week in an overpriced hotel and made every attempt to eat and visit the places Albert wrote about. The scenery was amazing, but underneath the facade of friendliness and beauty there was a feeling of darkness. When I returned home I called Albert to ask him if I could revise and finish his new book. He agreed with his only request that the title be changed to, “Exodus of Angels – Whatever Happened to Betty and Al?”.
Exodus of Angels is a story of two friends with dreams and a good life until a sociopath entered their peaceful existence – a man who spent seven years systemically destroying all they had built. With the help of a disturbed group of political allies, dishonest lawyers, corrupt judges and drug trafficking police, this sociopath convinced a community in search of its soul that violence and murder were moral. This is the tale of the true Telluride.
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