The car bounced along the ribbon of blacktop, heading back toward Atlanta from Memphis. The day was getting late, shadows were growing long.
In the back of the sedan dozed Tyree Taylor, disgraced federal marshal turned bootlegger, now turned state’s witness.
“Why’d you do it, Tyree?” Asked the driver, glancing back in the rear view mirror.
“Did a lot, have to be more specific.” Tyree said, not opening his eyes.
“Don’t encourage him,” grumbled the marshal sitting next to the driver, shotgun across his lap.
“Any of it. You took an oath to this country. And broke it for what? Money?” The driver watched the road as he spoke, gripping the wheel.
“Not just money. Quite a lot of money.” Tyree leaned forward, his manacles clanking. “When I started, I was there with you. Nothing would be allowed on my watch. But, you spend years working late nights, watching your marriage fall apart, getting drilled down in a city that doesn’t care, and it doesn’t take much to change your mind.”
Tyree stared out the window, frowning. “Just a few dollars in the back of an alley is all it takes some times.”
Outside the window, the shadows grew longer.
When Tyree Taylor was sworn in as a US Marshal in the mid-1910s, Tennessee was already a dry state. Unfortunately, he was posted to Memphis, where prohibition was about as well enforced as traffic tickets are today. His worked hard, but marriage fell apart, and then one night in an alley behind a hotel, he took his first bribe. Within a few years, he was protecting the entire Memphis bootleg racket, raking in over a hundred thousand dollars in bribes before going on the lam. When he was finally captured, he became a witness for the state, implicating dozens of local, state and federal officials.