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by Frank Shortt
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A Useless Killing
2014 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
Keen Mountain was an unsettled section of Buchanan County in the early 1960's. There was
beer joints scattered all along the old Route 460 corridor which separated the only businesses there. The coal camp sat in the only
flat land along the upper Levisa River. When the men, who had a penchant for alcohol, finished their shift at the Red Jacket Mine,
their natural inclination was to drift toward the beer joints for a cold one. One of these joints was owned by Quirt Jensen.
Uncle Felton Heneker drifted into Quirts establishment one sultry afternoon in early spring. His purpose was to show Quirt the pistol
he had won in a 'punchboard' contest. As he drifted to the bar there was mention made of the contest and how that some shenanigans
had gone on insuring that Felton had won the gun easily. Felton was well-known in the community of Keen Mountain because of his rough
and tumble ways.
"How's it going, Quirt, I hear you've been real busy this spring?"
Quirt wiped a glass as he turned to face the speaker.
"Shore have, Fel, and if this heat
spell keeps up I'm liable to be even busier," he replied with a wink.
"I won this great
pistol just this morning, do you think it is worth having?" Felton asked as he handed the firearm to Quirt.
Quirt was somewhat of an expert on firearms and other trade-worthy items as he sometimes had to take 'things' in place of hard cash
for someone's beer tab.
"It ain't the greatest gat I've ever seen, but would probably
be ok for a house gun."
Just as Quirt handed the gun back to Felton there was a rush
of someone coming through the door across to the bar. Ray Romey had sped in accompanied by his young son with the intention of taking
the gun from Felton by hook or by crook. Felton did not turn as he had no inkling that anyone meant him any harm.
"You dirty, sneak thief, you cheated me out of that gun, now you're gonna pay. I know that you pulled one of your tricks to win the
contest that I should have won!"
Before Felton could turn around, Ray stabbed him in the
back with an ugly hunting knife. Felton's instinct was to turn and use the gun in his hand to protect himself. Just as he turned,
Ray pulled his small son in front of him as a shield.
"You dirty low-life, using your own
son to protect your dirty hide. I oughta use this gun to beat your twisted brains out!"
Ray, still holding his son as protection, made his way quickly out the door, Felton in pursuit. Felton fell as he reached the street
from loss of his life's blood.
It is an ugly sight to watch a large man holding on to the
last shreds of existence.
Someone cried, "Go get the doctor down at the coal camp. Can't
you see this man is bleeding to death?"
The doctor did not make it in time. The wound from
Ray Romey's hunting knife had done a thorough job. Felton's blood trickled into the dirty gutter.
The trial in Grundy, which lasted but a short time, was very well attended. Had not Ray Romey used his child as a shield, not as many
witnesses would have shown up to testify against him. Several of the witnesses had before been the brunt of Felton's rage. Romey's
actions outweighed any grudge they held against Felton.
Romey was given the maximum sentence
allowed by the State of Virginia. His family probably became wards of the County. The young son had to suffer the memories of an infamous
father. Then we wonder why we have a criminal element?
The pistol that Felton possessed
was empty of ammunition!
Things That Lead To Death
What possesses men to fight
Over material things,
Things that have no life to give,
But often lead to one's
Why do men do texting as
They travel down the freeway?
Why do men drink and then drive
Leading to fatal meetings ?
mysteries of life
Which are not easily solved.
As mankind seems to progress
He makes more death devices.
Whiskey and hatred destroys!
Nuclear devices kill!
Automobiles aid mankind?
Hybrid foods destroy our cells!
God will not need to burn earth
Man will destroy it