DiscoverHistorical Fiction

Red Clay Rising



RED CLAY RISING is a historical detective novel relating the true events of a Russian invasion, by subterfuge, to foment an uprising among Sharecroppers during the great depression in Alabama. The Russian goal was to establish a self-determined nation in the Black Belt and to establish Communism in the United States.

CADE PELL, sheriff of Tallapoosa County, Alabama, attempts to shut down the invasion by enforcement of the law but runs into conflict with the local establishment in maintaining the rule of law. Cade’s inner conflict is to be a good sheriff for all the people in the face of his boss', desire to keep the black’s and poor whites in oppression.

To complicate matters Cade falls in love with a mysterious novelist, JEZ LEGION, who suddenly appears in his county. They engage in a love-hate relationship that pulls out many of his innate flaws. They fall into an “unstated” love affair.
The story starts with the initial condition. The invasion proceeds with the efforts to incite the Sharecroppers into rebellion for a better life. The climax and resolution follow in gun battles of the uprising and Cade’s eventual solving of the plot.

Highway 29 Alabama


She had ruminated about changing her name for the assignment

but decided her father and her husband would scrabble from their

graves if she weren’t Jez Legion. They worked so hard to make her

who she became. Besides no one in Tallapoosa County, Alabama

knew of her exploits as a Soviet operative in Europe. No one here

even knew her name. She hadn’t been back in the United States

since she decamped to Russia during the world war.

She stepped from her Packard convertible next to the single

Gulf Oil pump and waited for the station boy to drop his broom

and scurry to the pump. The chickens scattering before him as he

ran to help made her smile. Nowhere but Alabama, she thought.

“Afternoon, ma’am.” He greeted her with a broad grin. “How

much gas do you want?” He cranked the wheel on the pump to reset

the counter. The numbers spun and stopped at all zeroes with

a resounding ding.

“Fill it up.” She returned his smile as she closed the car door.

“What’s that you say?”

“Fill it up.”

The boy shook his head but inserted the nozzle and energized

the pump.

“Is there a problem?”


“No, ma’am,” he shook his head again, “Don’t nobody fill up

they car round here…not even white folks.”


“Cause they ain’t got the money.”

She looked out over the fields, fallow for the season. Stubbles

of dead cotton stalks wore the colors of winter looking like yesterday’s

beard: brown, sienna, beige. Her nose stung a bit from the

air redolent of pine wood-fired chimneys, the unique turpentineladen

smoke wafting above the trees spreading out in a thin line

like stratus clouds. All rural sights and smells strange to her.

A chill ran her spine; it was a cold day. In the distance, she saw

the waters of the Tallapoosa River, from her briefings she knew

following its track would lead her to Tallapoosa County, the place

of encounter.

She leaned against the front fender and returned her gaze to the

boy pumping her gas. She caught him glancing sidelong to look at

her long red tresses blowing about her head in the strong breeze.

Behind her she heard what sounded like metal trash cans rolling

before the wind. She turned to see a battered pickup truck

sputter to a stop at the other side of the pump. The driver, a redfaced

man, the edges of his mouth stained with tobacco, stuck his

head out the window. With one eye closed, he squinted at her. He

wore overalls and a flannel undergarment as a shirt, neither had

been washed since the price tags came off. A sweat-stained, red

bandana decorated his neck.

“Well, lookie here, Otis, lookieee here, we got us a real city bitch,”

he said and launched a stream of tobacco into the dust at her feet.

Otis opened his door and stood on the running board craning

to look over the truck top at Jez. “Damn, Billy Bob, you got that

right.” He rolled his gaze over her from head to foot.

“The hussy even got on pants. Ain’t no woman round here gets

out in public looking like that.”

“Yeah, she don’t belong here,” said Billy Bob.

Jez rolled her eyes and looked away, willing herself to not react

to the duo of rednecks. The pair started around the truck when a


pregnant black woman with a stripped rag tied around her head,

came from the store pulling a small girl by the hand. The girl, barefoot

in the cold air, was trying to eat an apple.

“Hey,” Otis shouted, “Stop right there, you Negro bitch...I saw

you steal that apple and give it to that picker ninny of yours.” He

snatched the apple and threw it in a high arc over the trees to

splash far out into a lake behind the store.

“Don’t....please,” the black woman raised her hands to try to

stop the redneck. “She ain’t had nothing to eat since day fore


The storekeep emerged from the store, he wore a white shirt

with a dirty, white apron over grey, pin-striped pants tucked into

the tops of his boots. “She come in here a begging for food.” He

scratched his sparse grey head. “Told her to get out of my store.”

Billy Bob rushed up to the black woman and shoved her down.

“I’m going to call the sheriff to lock your ass up.” The black woman

fell in the dust holding her arms above her head to fend off expected

blows. The child screamed and rushed to her mother’s side.

Jez stepped between the mother and Billy Bob blocking off the

sun rays, “Leave her alone.” She hasn’t done anything to you.”

“This city bitch’s a feisty heifer ain’t she?” He pulled a pearlhandled

knife from his pocket and snapped open the long blade.

“Come on over here you city hussy; I aim to carve up that pretty


“Yeah,” said Otis rounding the truck. “Then we going to cut off

that mop a red hair.”

“We’ll send your ass all the way back to the city where you belong.”

Billy Bob advanced on Jez with the knife glinting in the sun.

She crouched and, as he swung the blade, grabbed his wrist,

threw his body over her hip, and slammed him into the dirt. In a

split second, she had seized the knife, twisted his arm behind his

back, and held the knife at his throat.

He bellowed and struggled.

Otis advanced toward her.

“You damn bitch,” he yelled, “I’ll kick your ass.”


She tightened her hold on the Billy Bob’s arm twisting harder;

he squealed and squirmed trying to break the hold.

“Take one more step. I’ll cut his throat then run you down.”

She glared at him.

Otis took one look at her face and backed down, holding his

arms in front of him as if to fend off a mad dog.

“Hold on now,” he said, backing away, “I ain’t done nothing to

you. Let him go. Don’t cut him.” He stared at her through rheumy

eyes, his body poised to take flight.

The storekeep advanced a few more feet from the store. “Here

now, Missy,” he pointed at Jez. “Let Billy Bob go, he ain’t done

nothing but stop a damn thief.”

“She’s hungry,” she spoke in a guttural voice, “go in there and

get her a whole sack of apples.” She looked at the woman gathering

herself from the dust. “And, a quart of milk, a loaf of bread,

and some bacon.”

“Ain’t got no bacon, I…”

“A slab of baloney…a tin of potted meat…something to eat. And

be quick…now.” She commanded him.

“I’ll call the sheriff. He’ll put your ass in jail,” he said.

She looked back at him in a jerk. “What sheriff? What’s his


When he didn’t answer immediately, she jerked Billy Bob up

to his feet but kept the hammer lock on his arm. “His name Pell?

Cade Pell?”

“No. Our sheriff’s Oscar P. Hook. Pell’s the next county over.

He’d put your ass under the jail. Hook’ll only make you leave.”

“Pell that tough?”

“You ain’t seed tough till you run up against him.”

“Tough on Negros?”

“He’s tough on justice. You break the law? He don’t care about

your color. He’ll slam justice up your ass.” he said chuckling.

She paused and looked into the distance across the lake toward

the river.

“Get this woman some groceries and something for the little girl.”


“I ain’t going to allow you to rob me in the name of charity for

nobody much less Negroes. I…”

“I’ll pay, go get it.” She looked at the struggling redneck. “On

second thought, Billy Bob here is going to pay.”

Billy Bob yelped, “Not me. Ain’t paying for no Negro. Ain’t got

no money, no how.”

“You’ve either got money or credit,” she said, tightening her

grip. The thin blade sliced skin-deep into his neck loosing a trickle

of blood. “Awoooha, you done cut me.” He struggled to get his

wallet from his pocket and tossed it on the ground. She released

him, he fell in the dirt thrashing to get to his feet and ran behind

his truck.

She pulled two dollars from his wallet and more from her

pocket for the gas and handed them to the storekeep. She tossed

Billy Bob’s wallet into the dirt.

When the storekeep returned with the groceries, she put them

in her car and helped the two blacks in with her. She drove forward.

Otis ran out from behind the truck but maintained a safe

distance. He shook his fist in the air. “That’s right, you bitch, you

better get out of here before I get mad.”

The storekeep walked a few paces toward him. “Otis, you’d be

better advised to muffle your mouth. That woman’s something else.”

He shook his head, “And another thing, if she didn’t have on

them crazy pants and washed up her face a bit, she’d be the prettiest

woman I done ever seed.”

Jez drove off slinging a cloud of red dust from her wheels. She

looked back. The men stood motionless watching her disappear

over the hill.

• • •

Down the road thirty miles or so into Tallapoosa County, she

rendezvoused with her top comrades at a local landmark called

Herren’s Crossroads. She pulled into the graveled lot of a local

store. Waiting for her were “Lucky” Redding and Vern Belcher.

They stood beside a 1929 Ford X-cab pickup hitched to a trailer


loaded with a large white sailboat. She admired its sails stored in

red socks laced to the beams. The truck looked too small for the

boat. At the top of the mast, popping in the wind, flew two flags,

the stars and stripes and the flag of the state of Georgia.

She parked beside the boat. The two walked to her and leaned

over into the car, admiring the hand-tooled upholstery and wood


“Damn, you got nice wheels,” said Lucky.

“And you’ve got a nice sailboat there,” she said. “Bigger than I


“I’ve sailed a lot of boats but this here one beats them all,” said


“George King doesn’t do small. He’s the top lawyer in the

southeast. Longtime family friend of my father’s.”

“We got our stuff packed aboard and ready to go,” said Lucky.

“You two will be living aboard the boat, so no one will see you

in local hotels. You’ll put in at Lake Martin and move around a lot,

so you aren’t seen often at the same place. There’re sailboats all

over the lake. It’s a huge lake.”

“Got it.”

“Did you bring the equipment I asked for?”

“All aboard.”

“Great. Use the maps and put in at the public ramp up around

Alexander City at Wind Park on Highway 14,” she said. “It’s on

the map I sent you. We’ll meet on the boat whenever we need to

talk. Use the radio for communication.”

“Where you going?”

“To find our fine sheriff.

“What’s the game?”

“The Honey Trap...of course.” She said and clicked her tongue,

flipped her hair.

“He won’t know what hit him,” said Vern, chuckling.

She backed around and took off in the direction of Dadeville,

the loose gravel flying from her tires. She waved as her big car

screeched and fish-tailed on the black top.

About the author

Charles is an executive consultant/writer. Educated at Emory University in Atlanta, he retired as a top lighting executive. He serves on multiple boards and mentors C-level executives. He is writing a three-book series of historical novels, short stories and a series of business books. view profile

Published on January 15, 2019

Published by

80000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction