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Excerpt from Chapter Nine
Carl Shelton may have been accorded celebrity status by some, but not by a number of his Pond Creek neighbors. They found Carl to be overbearing in squabble after squabble over allegations that Carl allowed his cattle to roam at large while continuing to engage in land-grabbing schemes. The Sheltons also were accused, among other things, of trying to impose a levy of a few cents per bushel on loads of soybeans and other crops carted past their places.
The scenario was ripe for a needed counterbalance to the fear fostered by Shelton potency. Shelton hegemony had to be breached; its bubble had to be pricked. A remedy was at hand. The setting couldn't be more ready-made for Charlie Harris, a person no longer shaking in his boots at the specter of challenging the family. Besides, Charlie was close to an extended family of Pond creekers known as the Harris-Vaughan clan.
His open hostility to the Sheltons had been mounting. His track record also suggested to some that he might have an underside as sinister as that of the gangster brothers. For that reason, he too made some uneasy. But, the Shelton problem was paramount, and none but loyal Shelton followers objected when Harris seized the opportunity to project himself as a protector of Pond Creek farmers at odds with the Sheltons.
Standing up to the brothers-which primarily meant confronting Carl, the principal target of Charlie's ire-cast him in a role comparable to that of a tough western hero galloping into town to save the good folks from entrenched bad guys.
Carl might not have taken Harris' comeuppance as fully as he should have, a serious miscalculation.Still, it was evident that Charlie had made himself a burr under the Shelton saddle. It had to be galling for Carl to realize that Harris, in the view of a growing number, was making headway in the intimidation game.