WHOM GODS DESTROY is the story of the rise and fall of Roy Foley, a man who grew up in Big Prairie, Oklahoma om Burk Street, the wrong side of town. He spent his growing up years trying to prove he belonged on the other side. He could outfight those boys, was smarter than all of them, but he was still a Burk Streeter. It was football that gave him an inroad. He became the high school’s quarterback and had colleges scouting him. He was the toast of the town.
That’s when he worked up the courage to talk to Lola, the beautiful dark haired girl he’d worshiped from afar since both were nine years old. She was from the “right” side of town. He asked her to the dance, but was told she’d already promised another boy. She would certainly save some dances for him and looked forward to seeing him there. Roy had planned carefully. College on a football scholarship, then law school, marriage somewhere in that mix. To Lola of course.
The dance went swimmingly, several dances, then a couple of cokes and a talk out on the balcony. That’s when things went awry. He professed his love for her and his plans.
And she laughed at him.
Devastated, he was angry at first, then embarrassed. So he ran. He couldn’t face her again. There would be no football scholarship, hell, no high school graduation, and no marriage.
It’s fourteen years later and all that was behind him. Or so Roy thought. He is a fry cook in a small joint. A telegram arrives from his aunt telling him his father had died and the date of the funeral. He finishes his shift, packs a bag, and catches the bus to Big Prairie, with four hundred dollars in his pocket and a small bag, everything he owned. He knew his father had no money. Neither did his aunt and he didn’t want father buried in a potter’s field.
He arrives to late, just after the funeral and burial, and learns it was paid for by a charity, the Christian Ladies Aid. Determined to pay it back however long it took, he called the charity and asked who the chairman was, informed that it was the wife of the county attorney, Mrs. Lola Keating!
And he was ready to begin running again.
Fate has something different in mind for him though. On the way to the bus station, he runs into an old friend from high school, a teammate for football, Sid, big, dumb Sid, another from Burk Street. He was driving a hit red convertible, wore an expensive suit, had a big house, and a blond wife that matched all of them. Suddenly interested, he learns Sid is a bootlegger. Prohibition had ended twenty years ago, except for a couple of states, and Oklahoma was one of them.
A new plan springs into his mind(consult back cover below) and he wangles a job as a runner with Sid, to get his feet wet. He could lay hands on the money needed to start his own retail business, so he said, he just wanted to start slow.
Roy is full of hate for that long ago incident and has long range plans to make th lovely Lola pay. Crooked politicians, Lola’s husband one of them, crooked cops, all are to pay in his plans. To do that he has to become top dog.
And as the title implies…
A fine little crime novel from 1953, a Gold Medal at that.
Patti has an owee day tomorrow, so Todd Mason is doing the gathering for Forgotten Friday again this week. Check him out at SWEET FREEDOM.