Debbie had won the contest the night before. We were at the Silver Saddle on Stuart Avenue in Atlanta. The Silver Saddle was a knife and gun club. They checked you at the door. If you didn’t have one, they would give you one. When the band went on break, Tex stood on the stage and announced that he was looking for a new girlfriend. All applicants must have at least 5 tattoos. He said that he was holding interviews in the men’s room. I walked in the bathroom and overheard Tex say “I don’t see but four tats.” Debbie dropped her drawers bent over and showed him number five. He later told me that he chose Debbie because she looked like she could take care of herself. He said that his Mamma had always told him “That a girl that can take care of herself, can also take care of you.”
Getting out of Atlanta fired me up; I was ready to get the heck out of there. We had been there for what seemed forever. It seemed like I spent my money just as fast as I could make it, on whores, bars and motel room repairs, keeping Tex out of jail. We were heading for Milwaukee to meet up with Wayne Holland and his gimp crew (new guys were called gimps), in my gold Trans Am with the “T-tops” in the trunk. It was a long trip, changing time zones seemed to make it longer. It was a beautiful sunny day, the closer we got to our destination, the more I pushed down on the gas pedal. I guess I was enjoying the moment.
Tex was riding shotgun, Debbie was in the back seat, her hair was blowing wildly, I couldn’t see the state trooper in the rear view mirror. He later said that he had been chasing me for miles. When the trooper finally caught up with us, he pulled me over for doing 105 mph on the Interstate through Rockport, Illinois. Just outside of Chicago. He was full of rage, he started spouting off that I was trying to commit vehicular homicide going that fast, that I wasn’t just getting a ticket, I was going to jail. I guess he never saw “Bandit” or maybe he did.
My bond would be at least $1,500.00 he said. I was thinking there was no need to get upset, I just figured that’s cool. With just over six thousand in my front pocket. I got that. Just about that time, Tex pulled the trooper over to one side, he said “Officer,
When we get to the Police Station in Rockport, I only had to pay ten percent cash money, so my bond was only $150.00. I paid it and I was released. Tex’s bond was $10,000. The booking officer said that we needed it all in cash. I was about $4,000 short. I hated to leave Tex in jail but it was time to come up with a plan. Debbie and I got a room at the Holiday Inn, to chill out and figure out our next move. I got on the phone trying to call in some markers, but to no avail. Debbie went out for a while, when she got back she told me that she had been selling baking soda on the corner and made about $300.00. Even if that was true, we were still way short of what we needed.
The next morning when Tex goes to court, Debbie and I were sitting on the bench right behind the handcuffed prisoners who were waiting to see the judge. Trying to play on the judge’s sympathy Tex told the judge he was a Georgia boy and wasn’t familiar with how the police up here do their business. Tommy was still wearing his cowboy hat in court. The judge told him that proper etiquette in court required him to remove his hat. Emphasizing that he should take it off. Tex trying to be funny, told the judge “Your Honor, there’s more women seen me with out my pants than seen me without my hat.” The judge picked up the gavel and to show that he wasn’t fooling around, he said “Fine, fine let’s make it ten days.” Tex said loud enough for every body to hear that, “He was from Nahunta, Georgia and that he could do 10 days standing on his head.” Then he did so, without removing his hat, right in the courtroom. His boots had holes in the bottom the size of a silver dollar, the newspaper packing covering the holes were visible to every one in the courtroom, causing a round of laughter. The judge, not wanting to be outdone said, “Well, I’m from Macon, let’s just make that 30 days.” Then he slammed the gavel down. Two bailiffs, one on each side, helped Tex to his feet and escorted him out of the courtroom.
That afternoon I called the factory back in Carolina and found out that Tex had left us a message for us on the 800 number. He said that he was going out on a “work truck” the next morning, he wanted us to look for him and follow him out. At that point there wasn’t any plan; we were just going to check it out and see what happens.
Bright and early the next morning, Debbie and I were in the Trans Am, T-tops in trunk, parked behind the Municipal Complex, drinking coffee in Styrofoam cups, waiting for the “parole man” (fog) to lift. After about 30 minutes we saw a big deuce and a quarter county work truck headed out of the jail complex, with a bunch of guys standing with their arms hanging over the side.
Sure enough, the tallest one and waving his white cowboy hat was Tex Jones. These guys were the men you see on the side of the road, picking up trash, slinging weeds, mowing grass etc. We followed the truck out into the countryside, as the men got to work; they were stretched out on the side of the road for a couple hundred yards. Each of the two guards had shotguns and walked casually back and forth.
When Tex saw us coming up from behind, he ducked into the ditch with chest high weeds. I pull up behind them slowly driving past, with the radio blasting. I passed by the work crew Bandit style, did a four wheel power slide, the car half turned. Debbie got out, slammed the door and started walking away from me and every body else. Boy was she shaking it, like she was mad. She was dressed in her “daisy dukes,” a halter top, and heels. She was wearing a bright red scarf that draped around her neck, loosely tied, with the ends flapping in the wind.
Every body was watching her, guards, inmates, passersby, and heck, even I wanted to stare at her, that morning, she looked that good. I drove back down the road, the way I had come. I could see that all of the guards were watching her. After I drove past about a quarter mile’s distance, I pulled a Youiee, then eased back up on them slowly, trying to keep under their radar. All eyes were focused on Debbie, she was still shaking it, walking north on the two lane road. Trees lined both sides of the highway, pointing up a hill on the horizon. When I approached the rear of the big truck, I slowed the Trans Am to a crawl. As if on cue, here comes Tex out of the weeds and he dives into the back of the car through the open top. I maintained the slow steady speed like nothing was going on, easing up on Debbie with the radio blasting, she turns and smiles at the audience, opens the door. Hesitating before she got in, she stopped to blow all the guys watching a kiss, then she let the red scarf go into the wind. Pedal to the metal, we were north bound “just watch old Bandit run.”