One haunting murder that changed a town is seventeen years later still destroying a family.
Just outside of a small Texas town on a lazy hot day in 1919, sixteen year old Rachel Brock was found in the sea canes by the railroad tracks brutally murdered. A black man, Samuel Ford, was accused of the crime and was illegally hung.
Seventeen years later Texas Special Agent Cal McKleen returns home to face the crime that not only tore a town apart but his family.
His judgement comes into question when his partner, Jim Connors, learns that Cal and his cousin Jack have three things in common; a very lucrative family owned and operated business; Katie, Jack's kind and caring wife, who had been Cal's true love that he abandonded years earlier, and a deadly secret they all share that is sure to destroy them.
Can the combination of the three be the reason two innocent people died that hot August day? If so, will Cal be able to find the truth before there is another casuality of that summer and will he be able to regain his partner's trust before it's too late?
"Nigger, don't let the sun go down on your head in this county," Agent Jim Connors read the sign just outside of the city limits of town. "What a warm welcome. So this is De leon?" he asked, glancing out the window at the fields that were barely dotted with green.
"Yep," Agent Cal McKleen made a heavy sigh. "This is De Leon."
Connors tossed out his cigarette butt, and then rolled up the window. Quickly he pulled out another Lucky Strike and lit it,his third one in the last hour. Smoking was his way of keeping his nerves calm, but hardly ever did it work.
"You from here, right?" he asked, cracking the window for the smoke to escape.
"Yep," Cal answered.
"This could be intersting," he said.
"How's that?" Cal questioned.
"Well, seeing that you're from here many folks may not be so friendly when they find out why you're here," Connors explained.
"That will be their problem. I'm here under the direct order of the Texas Governor.I have a job and I intend on doing it."
"It's been awhile, maybe they have forgotten about you." Connors took a long draw from his cigarette.
"People around here don't forget. That's evident by the sign back there."
"Just how long has that sign been there?" Connors inquired.
"Sixteen years," Cal said as he casually pulled out a ciagrette.
"Sixteen years?" shocked Connors.
"Yes, sir, sixteen years. Light me," Cal instructed.
"Are you sure people around here don't forget or just hold some sort of grudge?"
"Both, and be prepared when we step on those toes." Cal took a puff from his cigarette.
"Aw, heck Cal, you know I can handle whatever people dish out," Connors said, "especially small minded ones."
"Don't say I didn't warn you."
"Speaking of knowing people," Connors reached for the back seat and retrieved a file. "You know anything about this Sheriff Neal, besides his name?"
"Yeah, he's a real prick," Cal answered.
"And you know this from experience?" Connors asked while reading.
"Sort of, I know he can be bought off whenever possible."
"If he's so bad, why do the people keep electing this man?"
"I have a feeling we'll find out in this investigation that those elections were probably fixed, among other things."
"Boy, this investigation is going to be the most interesting case yet," Connors commented.
"You said that about the last case. What makes this one any different?"
"Because we are investigating Cal McKleen's hometown. A man who doesn't say anything about his childhood or girlfriends or anything."
"Well, don't get too excited," Cal said. "I had an average childhood like anybody else around here and girlfreinds were too many to count."
"Still, it ought to be interesting."
Cal didn't like talking about the past because the past was full of hurt. His father wasn't abusive, but he did manage to make anybody around him feel inadequate in whatever they did. Billy McKleen expected the best out of his children and expected more out of Cal since he was the only son. Because of Billy's demands, his and Cal's relationship was always strained.
"If you don't mind, I want to stop by and see something," Cal said as he turned off the highway and down a dirt road.
"Sure, we have all day. That sheriff doesn't even know we're coming."
Cal didn't say anything as he went along the road, thinking. He knew coming back was risky; some people were going to hate him, like Katie, the woman he loved and whose heart he had broken. Some would be more than thrilled to see him, like his mother.
He pulled the car to the side of the road before coming to a stop. Cal hesitated to get out as the flood of memories came into his mind.
The field was practially overgrown with rageweed and Johnson grass. The old gate that was there to keep out trespassers had slowly decayed over the years. The padlock was so rusty Cal knew that even with his key it wouldn't budge.
Connors tossed the butt of his cigarette into the dirt and ground it out, then followed by bringing out another and lighting it. "Interesting place. This where you were born or something?" Connors asked as he pointed at the top of run down building.
"I'll be right back," Cal said as he cautiously crawled over the gate.
"All right," Connors sat on the hood of the car.
The overgrowth may have obscured the way but Cal remembered. He slowly walked through the weeds until he got about one hundred yards in and saw the famous oak tress--the marking that told him he was near the trolley. Cal took a deep breath before glancing back at Connors, who had found himself a restful spot by lying on the hood of car with his hat protecting his face from the hot sun. Cal walked on until he met what he had been thinking about, the trolley.
It had been old before, but now it just looked as if it was run down. Parts of the siding had begun to rot, he noticed as he inspected the place. A stray curtain flapped in the breeze outside a window, which had been broken out. The door was partially open. He pushed on it and walked in.
Cobwebs marked the spiders homes, along with a few varmints that had left their marks. Sixteen years of neglect and animal abuse only made Cal depressed as he picked up a coffee pot off the floor and laid it on the wood stove. The roof hadn't leaked, which was a miracle in itself as he kicked some scattered bits of magazines with his foot. He walked over to the old iron bed and took a seat. He sighed as he looked at the place he had left, when he saw something under the edge of the bed. He reached down and picked it up.
It was Son's and Lovers by D.H. Lawerence. He smiled as he thumbed through the pages. Katie Filmore filled his mind like an intoxicating wine. She was only sixteen but was more of a woman than he had ever met even to this day.