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Authors: Larry Huddleston

Tags: #romance, #guitar, #country western, #musical savant

Just Beyond the Curve

BOOK: Just Beyond the Curve
7.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Copyright © 2009 by LARRY E. HUDDLESTON

Smashwords Edition

This ebook is licensed for
your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or
given away to other people. If you would like to share this book
with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
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was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting
the hard work of this author.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. All characters
are totally from the imagination of the author and depict no
persons, living or dead; any similarity is totally

Cover Layout & text design:

Midnight Express Books

POBox 69

Berryville AR 72616




In reality there are very few people in the world who
do not long for fame and fortune. Many believe that given a chance
they could make a difference. Most would fail miserably for any
number of reasons. But there are exceptions, too.

John Edward Travis was twenty-five, tall, dark and
handsome and had a personality that made everyone he met love him.
He was outgoing and generous. He was married to a beautiful girl
name Donna Sue and he had a son named after himself that he

John was on his way to the top of the country music
charts for the third time and his name was becoming a household
word that ranked up there with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Conway
Twitty, Bill Monroe, and the list went on. His concerts were always
sold out and he always stayed to mingle with the crowd and sign
autographs. He never allowed himself to become estranged from those
who had put him at the top. And for that reason his untimely death
jerked the heart from his millions of fans. In fact, the whole
nation, and many foreign countries, was in mourning for John Edward
Travis, dead at the young age of twenty-five, leaving a wife, son
and legend, much like the great Hank Williams, Sr.

In January 1985 Austin, Texas was well on its way to
becoming the new Nashville of country western music. Many famous
musicians, from Towns Van Zant to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings to
Chris Christopherson had recorded their music there and helped to
put Austin on the map as a booming music mecca, much like Branson,

On that fateful night in August 1985 John Travis and
the Travelers were in the recording studio putting the finishing
touches on the last song of their third album. They were looking
forward to a few weeks off before beginning the tour to promote the
album and the chance to mingle with their millions of fans across
the nation and around the world.

The band had arrived early and were in the process of
tuning and warming up when John arrived from his home in Wimberley,
Texas, thirty, or so, miles to the southwest of Austin, and perhaps
twenty miles northwest of San Marcos. John and Donna had been
raised around Wimberley and considered it their home, regardless of
the money they were making. They liked the rural living the
desert-like country offered.

When John entered the recording studio with his
guitar case that housed a 1964 Fender Stratocaster which he had
inherited from his father, he was met with cheers, whistles and
catcalls from the band.

Cotton Stubbs, the rhythm guitarist, stepped to the
microphone and sang mournfully, “Hurry up John, it just ain’t the
same, without your singin’ and a’ pickin them straaaaangs!” His
comment was met with good cheer and laughter from everyone,
including John, who laughed and bowed to the band. He then got on
his knees in supplication to them.

“I wanna thank you boys,” he said prayerfully, barely
containing his laughter, “for makin’ me the most famous and richest
of this bunch! And, I might add, by far, the most talented and
handsomest, and sought after, and chased, by wicked women, and...”
Unable to contain his humor any longer he burst out laughing. He
was joined by the rest of the band and the fiddle player, Ernie
Bottoms, who had begun playing a sad, dreary accompaniment to
John’s recital of all his superior endowments.

When the laughter died down the band broke into a
fast, happy tune that changed the whole mood of the studio. John
leaned over and unbuckled his guitar case. He was just opening the
lid when the phone began to ring in the mixing room. The mixing
engineer, Tom Franklin, reached forward and flipped a switch on the
console and then spoke into the microphone.

“John, there’s a problem at home. You’re needed
there, now!” the elderly man said seriously.

John gently laid the Strat back into the case and
closed the lid, buckled it, picked the case up and headed for the
door. “I’m goin’ to Wimberley, boys,” he said, opening the door.
“Tom, did they say if it was Momma, Donna, or John Junior?”

“It’s your momma, John,” Tom replied, sadly. “You
drive safe and hurry back, now. And watch those curves out there;
you never know what’s waiting just around ‘em.”

“I will,” John replied with a smile. “I ain’t tryin’
to die young,” he added waving over his shoulder and closing the
door behind him.

By the time he reached his pickup and swung the case
up and over into the bed, he could faintly hear the band resuming
their practice. He got in and drove carefully from the parking


Jesse Cameron had driven the big rigs since before
John Travis had been born. He had driven them all, from Diamond
Rios to Mac, to Harmon. He had even driven Citroen and Mercedes
when he was in the military. He was intimately familiar with the
brand new Peterbilt he was now piloting coast to coast. He had
stopped in Austin to refuel and eat his supper. He was hauling a
load of gasoline for Texaco to Twin Sisters and Kerville. He had
decided to drive down 1-35 then cut across through San Marcos and
over to Twin Sisters, then on to Kerville. He foresaw no problems.
He had driven the route before, at least once a month for the past
several years. He knew all the curves and highways.

As he rolled slightly under the speed limit for big
rigs at night he listened to his favorite country singer ever, John
Travis. Boy, he thought, that ol’ boy can lay it down! Make a grown
man cry for all his lost loves and heartbreaks. Jesse sang along
with the song and tapped his fingers on the big steering wheel.

Twenty miles or so behind him his favorite singer in
all the world sped up the on-ramp and onto 1-35 South. John sped up
to near sixty-five, the legal speed limit: and settled in for the
long, but fast ride. He had decided to take the expressway down to
San Marcos, then cut over on Ranch Road 12 to Wimberley. That would
take him right past his house once he got through Wimberley.

Jesse Cameron exited the freeway in San Marcos and
made his way over to Ranch Road 12. He made the light and began
going through the gears, building speed and making time, listening
to John Travis sing.

Ten minutes later Jesse began to slow down for the
Wimberley turn off. In San Marcos John flipped his right hand turn
signal on and eased down the exit ramp. He made the light and sped
up to the speed limit.

As the trailer swung around the Wimberley turnoff and
Jesse began to build speed a seal ruptured at the side of the
tanker and gasoline began to spray from the tank and back onto the
left rear tires. Jesse was singing along with another of John
Travis’ songs and didn’t notice the seal had blown, or that he was
losing his lode.

On Ranch Road 12 John Travis slowed for the Wimberley
turnoff. His right hand turn signal came on flashing brightly and
he swung around the curve and headed for Wimberley. He reminded
himself of the dangerous right hand curve up ahead. To the left was
a wide deep valley. In the bottom were two mounds of dirt like
extinct volcanoes. John had always figured it was a couple of
hundred feet to the bottom and he didn’t figure the guard rail
would stop a car going the speed limit if one should happened to
hit it. He had no idea he was about to find out.

Up ahead as Jesse began to turn into the curve, the
fuel in the tanker began to bulge to the left with the centrifugal
force as it leaned farther into the curve. Halfway through the
curve where the total weight of the trailer and cargo was at its
greatest, the fuel slick rear tires lost their grip and the tanker
began to slide around toward the railing and the deep valley

Jesse immediately felt the trailer slip and began to
make efforts to regain control. Then he knew it was a losing battle
and just tried to keep the trailer from overturning and rolling
into the valley and taking him with it.

John came around into the curve and instantly saw the
big tanker sliding broadside across the highway. He hit his brakes.
He began to slide sideways and he made the correct maneuver to
regain control. However, all four of his tires were coated with the
spilled fuel and the pickup actually began to pick up speed and
spin in a complete 360° turn, as it neared the guard rail and the
back of the sliding tanker.

Then, as if in slow motion, the right front fender of
John’s pickup slammed into the right rear corner of the broadside
trailer. The impact with the trailer and the speed, nearly 80 miles
per hour, lifted the pickup up and launched it into the air and
over the rail. The pickup made another 360°, plus another 180°
roll, dropping the guitar case from the bed. It landed hard and
slid down the steep hillside. The nose down pickup slammed into the
ground, spun around several times on its nose, slammed onto the
earth and rolled six more times before exploding in a ball of

Jesse sat in the cab of his Peterbilt and watched
every move the pickup made. Then he opened the door and puked his
guts up, knowing he had just caused the death of another human
being. When he regained his composure he began to cry. Finally, he
turned to the CB radio and called for assistance, through his

Jesse would never know but John had felt nothing
after the impact against the trailer. His head had slammed into the
door post and knocked him unconscious. Jesse would also never know
that a light ball of mist had flown from the crashed and burning
pickup and drifted against the wind and to the northwest; the
direction of John’s wife and son. Some may speculate that it was
John’s spirit, others that it was just an illusion, a play of the
fire light on the night. Maybe even just an anomaly, a playful
zephyr of wind that carried a light mist of smoke up the hill,
across the guitar case, where a tendril slipped inside and the rest
moved on to the northwest and John’s house.

In the master bedroom of John’s house a light mist
gathered over the baby’s crib. John Jr. greedily sucked his thumb
and slept the sleep of the truly innocent.

In the big bed Donna also slept soundly, unaware of
the mist that floated above her. She smiled and whispered John’s
name sadly, questioningly.

The mist moved back to baby John’s crib and as it
neared him, his eyes opened and he smiled and laughed. The faint
blue mist entered into his mouth and nose and he breathed it in and
then drifted back to sleep. Suddenly, Donna sat up in bed and
screamed, “John!”

The truly sad part of the whole affair was that with
his death his music began to quickly fade. For the most part
because when his fans thought of him they also recalled the
horrendous accident that had taken him from them. Donna, after
learning of John’s death the following morning was never the same
mentally. John had been her entire reason for living up until baby
John had been born. It was only then she discovered she only had
enough love for one of them; that turned out to be her first love,
John Sr. She became a mysterious recluse who managed to eek out a
living on the royalties from John’s music. In time, as baby John
grew and began to greatly resemble his father Donna began to slowly
transfer her love to him. However, even then he was never allowed
in her bedroom. For that was where the treasure was kept. All of
John Sr.’s memorabilia was kept there, safe and sound and only for
her pleasure.

John Jr. however, was never all that bright and Donna
kept him from the public schools as much as possible. But even that
didn’t keep him from learning. Somehow he managed to read, write
and do his sums. Then, nearly twenty years to the day, later, Donna
Sue Jacobs-Travis joined the love of her life and left her only
child alone and for the most part, broke.

Luckily, by then, John had managed to graduate from
San Marcos High School, a C average student, and had taken
employment with a man named Paul Holmstead at his small grocery
store on the outskirts of western San Marcos.

BOOK: Just Beyond the Curve
7.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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