A Parnell McNamara interview is a real-time experience in out-west cowpoke lore.
Colorful yarns seem to sprout from his brow as fully-woven serapes out of the costume department of a John Ford picture, a man with no name double feature – with a hipshot percussion Clint Squint.
And if you pull a notebook, or reach for an audio recorder, he says you can’t do that. No story. Beats all you ever saw.
Here’s an example.
When he was still on the campaign trail, The Legendary asked him for an idea of what getting a crime story from his operation would resemble.
He put it this way.
As a freshly minted 1970 model rookie Deputy U.S. Marshal, fresh out of Baylor and working alongside his brother Mike under his father’s supervision, he worked backing up a federal undercover operative who was making an illegal gun deal with a firearms bootlegger in a parking lot of a drive-in on North 25th Street.
“We were across the street, watching, and the two of them got out of the car to look at the guns. The old boy had the trunk lid up and they were talking when all of a sudden the seller pulled his piece and they got to circling around the turtle and edging each other. Then the old boy took a shot, and it was all over in just a short.
“When I got there – came across the street – I was just in time to see the gun dealer – shot right square between the eyes – flat on his back, taking his last breath. He said, ‘Oh – my – God.’ And then he died.”
A couple of weeks went by, and McNamara received a phone call from the U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas at San Antonio, the boss man his daddy, Thomas P. McNamara, Sr., the U.S. Deputy Marshal In Charge, reported to. “He wanted to know where my report was. I hadn’t written one.”
McNamara remembered he told the man he didn’t know so much about writing reports, and the man reassured him by saying, “Well, is there anything in the paper, something written about it, a news account they already published?”
He agreed to send him the news clipping. “He said, ‘I’ll write it for you. Everybody’s got to learn.'”
That’s what a Parnell McNamara interview sounds like. It comes complete with a technicolor backdrop in cinematic terms, and there’s definitely a point to the story. In this case, it’s called we’ve all got to be on the same page. Understood.
Shot between the running lights is a hell of a deal, very serious business.
And it goes way, way back – a lifetime of experience. It’s always the same message. That’s my story, but it’s off the record – after you’ve heard the story – and it’s dynamite.
Talk about a broken rice bowl. Ooh, la la, and right now.
So when I asked him about the Bandidos v. Cossacks with intervention from Waco P.D., et. al., he shook his head, got that old far-away look in his eyes, and said, “Well…it’s got to be the worst crime scene I’ve ever seen. The bloodiest, just the worst.
“I’m standing there, looking at seven dead men, and off to the side is another one, and they’re all laying in the position they fell in. Then I got to hunting the last one and he had run plumb over to the Don Carlos Restaurant and around to the other side, and he’s laying up against the building there, shot, sprawled out like this…”
He shook his head.
I asked if he could give me that statement on-mic, and he said no. Absolutely not.
“It’s not my crime scene.”
Behold, an old-time lawman with a lot of experience at seizure of motorcycles, guns, money – drugs – that once belonged to outlaw 1% clubs, and were declared contraband, because they were used in the commission of a crime, or while the defendant was engaged in organized crime.
It’s just another skirmish in a long-term war.
“This thing is as bad as the gunfight at the OK Corral,” said I.
“It’s worse. That one only got three. This deal got 9, and there are 18 wounded.”
So mote it be.
– The Legendary