Blood on the Table brings to life the same powerful emotions and riveting excitement that Gerry Spence evoked from juries when the blood was real.
Blood on the Table is a blend of darkness, sex, and violence, with characters who are far from perfect and often are their own worst enemies. Spence takes the reader to savage—back country Wyoming, where an eleven-year-old boy must take the witness stand against a vicious prosecutor, corrupt police, and a prejudiced judge, to keep his family safe.
Blood on the Table will be available on March 2, 2021. Please enjoy the following excerpt!
Laramie, Wyoming, Winter, 1947
Ringo felt something hard poking him in the ribs. He couldn’t remember where he was. When he pulled his head out from under his bedroll, he was attacked by a blinding light.
“Get out of there,” a harsh voice demanded. “I said, get out of there!”
When the cop prodded him again, Ringo bolted straight up. He grabbed for his hat and stood up in the pickup bed, naked, all that belonged to him in plain view. He tried to cover it with his hat.
“Whatcha doin’ here?”
“I was sleepin’,” Ringo said.
“I could run you in for sleepin’,” the cop hollered.
A scruffy tramp stumbled up in a dirty gray overcoat with a gray woolen cap pulled over his ears. “Ain’t no law in Laramie, Wyoming, against sleepin’,” the tramp said. The bottoms of his ragged pants were dragging on the sidewalk.
“Get your ass down the street, or I’ll haul you in, too,” the cop yelled at the tramp.
“Been tryin’ to get one of you cops to haul me in for three days,” the tramp said. His thick whiskers held his face together. “It’s colder than a well digger’s ass in January out here.” He walked over to where the cop was standing. “And I’m hungry. I could eat the ass off a skunk.” He stood huddled, his hands in his coat pockets.
“Get down out of there,” the cop ordered Ringo. He reached for his pants, but the cop started at him with his stick again. “I said, get out of there.” Ringo slid down from the back of the pickup onto the street in his bare feet. His toes recoiled from the cold, rough pavement, and he tried to balance himself on his heels.
“Turn around.” The cop prodded him with his stick. Ringo jumped and spun around. “Stand up against that pickup door and don’t move, or I’ll shoot your ass off.”
“Ain’t much to shoot off,” the tramp said.“Anyways, you’d probably miss.”
The cop climbed into the pickup bed. He shook Ringo’s bedroll, and, satisfied it contained no illegal contraband, he began to untie the rope that held Ringo’s old suitcase closed.
“Hand down this boy’s clothes,” the tramp ordered the cop. “It’s cold out here, in case you didn’t notice.”
“He ain’t gonna run no place without no clothes,” the cop said. “Well, you can deputize me. I’ll watch him. Hand down his clothes.”
“Get the fuck out of here,” the cop said. He began rummaging through the suitcase and scattering its contents across the length of the pickup bed—two pairs of socks, a pair of old boots, a couple pairs of patched Levi’s, and a faded western shirt, town pants and boots. The cop ripped open Ringo’s old lunch bucket and dumped out a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a bar of soap, along with a small box of Ex-Lax his mother insisted he take “just in case.” Finding nothing of interest, the cop jumped down from the pickup and walked over to Ringo, who, by this time, had begun to shiver in spasms.
The tramp stuck his whiskers in the cop’s face. “I am hereby orderin’ you in the name of the law to give this boy his clothes. If you don’t, I’m makin’ a citizen’s arrest and turnin’ you in for cruel and unusual punishment.”
The cop beamed his flashlight into the tramp’s eyes.
“You are a cruel motherfucker,” the tramp said. “I should take that billy club from you and stick it up your fat ass.”
The cop raised his nightstick, and the tramp backed off, telling the cop, “You lay a hand on me and I’ll sue your fat ass plum off you. My brother’s a lawyer in this town.”
“Yeah? Who’s your brother?” the cop asked. “Christopher Hampton. Ever hear of him?”
The cop poked his nightstick into Ringo’s belly. “Whatcha doin’ in Laramie?”
“Goin’ to school, the university.”
“Don’t give me no bullshit,” the cop said. “You ain’t no schoolkid.
Where you from?”
“West of town at Bear Creek.”
“More bullshit. Just a bunch of rich ranchers live out there.” The cop stuck his nightstick under Ringo’s testicles and gave it a small, quick, but hard upward lift. Ringo jumped, and when he did, he grabbed the cop’s nightstick and pulled it loose from his hand.
Ringo hollered at the tramp. “Get my clothes.” He stood waving the stick in front of the cop. “Don’t be goin’ for your gun. Throw it down there on the pavement, or I’ll break your head wide open.” “Go ahead and smack him,” the tramp said. “He’s got it comin’.
And there ain’t nothin’ inside his head but donkey shit. That’s why we call him ‘Shithead Henry.’” The tramp picked up the cop’s service revolver and handed Ringo his pants and shirt.
“You hold his gun on him while I get dressed,” Ringo said.
“If you do, I’m charging you with aidin’ and abettin’ a crime,” the cop said to the tramp.
“Finally!” The tramp pointed the gun at the cop’s nose. “I admit it take me in.” The tramp started to shiver. “I’m gonna make you a deal. Number one: You let this kid go. He’s goin’ to school. See here?” The tramp picked up a copy of Ringo’s registration from the hodgepodge the cop had spilled over the truck’s bed.
“Number two: You gotta haul me in for vagrancy. It’s too fuckin’ cold out here. Okay?”
The cop thought about it for a minute. “Okay, but don’t tell nobody about this.”
“You a man of your word?” the cop asked the tramp.
“Yeah, just like you.” He handed the cop his pistol and his nightstick. “Take me in, Officer,” the tramp said.
“And you ain’t gonna tell Chistopher Hampton?”
“Naw,” the tramp said. “I was just shitin’ you. I don’t even know him. I just heard he was a pretty good lawyer, and that he’s got you cops scared to fuckin’ death.”
Copyright © 2021 by Gerry Spence
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