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26th October 2015

The Ghost of Queenie Bennett by Jeffrey P. Frye

For: Queenie and George, and my Confederate friend from Charleston, Samuel G. Garwood. And for his website thelastcharlestonconfederate.weebly.com

True love never dies. It has an energy, power, and a life of its own that is capable of bringing about untold passion and joy, yet also capable of bringing a person such pain and sorrow that when their heart breaks, it never fully mends. Sometimes, there's no unbreaking a broken glass. Even in death. In the Holy Bible, the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13 "Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love."

Seventeen year old Queenie Bennett learned this on February 17, 1864 when the love of her life was taken from her. His name was Lt. George Dixon and he was the Commander of the C.S.S. Hunley, the world's first hunter-killer submarine. The Civil War was raging, and, on this day, after successfully sinking a Union ironclad named the U.S.S. Housatonic, the Hunley drifted out with the tide into the Atlantic ocean off the coast of South Carolina. It was there that Lt. Dixon along with seven brave members of his crew asphyxiated, and simply went to sleep...forever. This is where they laid, lost, until their remains were discovered in 2000.

Queenie Bennett was the sweetheart and lover of George Dixon. She came from a wealthy family in Mobile, Alabama, and her father owned riverboats that ferried gamblers up and down the Mississippi. George Dixon was the captain of one of these boats when he met young Queenie. They immediately hit it off, and after falling in love, they were inseparable. There was an age difference between the two of them, with Dixon being about seven years older, but love doesn't recognize an age. Love only knows love. The heart wants what it wants, and Queenie's heart wanted George. And luckily for her, George also felt the same way.

Four days before his death, George Dixon celebrated a wonderful Valentine's Day with his Queenie. He'd purchased her a beautiful gold necklace with a golden locket on the end of it in the shape of a heart. Inside the locket was his picture, and he'd had engraved, "Forever In My Heart. George and Queenie February 14, 1864." Queenie had cried when she'd received the gift. She was a tough young woman who was know for speaking her mind, but when it came to George, she melted like butter. She was 16 years old at the time, and he was her first love. It was a love that carried passions for her that she'd never felt before, nor ever felt again after his death.

Dixon knew of his upcoming mission, and he knew that it was dangerous. This was the second submarine christened the Hunley; the first one had been lost along with all of her crew. He wanted to spend Valentine's Day with Queenie, so he brought her to Charleston from Mobile. Queenie loved Charleston and it's cosmopolitan atmosphere. She loved the city's sound and smells, and she also loved the beautiful mansions with their different styles of architecture that were scattered throughout downtown. However, the war had been going on for almost three years at this point, and the city's landscape reflected this. What the war ultimately came down to, was the very same thing that decides who wins or loses most wars: Money.

The Confederacy was literally bled dry of her most precious resource: men; but she was also drastically low on basic things such as clothing, food, and especially iron for armaments. The city of Charleston, in her support of the war effort, reflected this in everything from families who had lost all of their male members, to houses and churches that donated their fences and bells to Confederate foundries so that they could be converted into rifles and cannon balls for the troops.

Whenever Queenie was in Charleston, and whenever it was safe to do so, she liked to go out to Sullivan's Island for walks on the beach. Hand in hand, they would walk underneath the warm Carolina sun as the waves crashed and formations of pelicans swooped down and skimmed the top of the surf. They would talk about their future, and the children that they planned on having, and sometimes, they would just walk and talk about their love. Eventually though, their conversation would always come back to the war.

On Valentine's Day in 1864, Queenie wore a long Blue dress with a Yellow sash, and she had her hair tied up and held by a Yellow bow. The locket was around her neck. She was terrified of losing George, and she told him, "If you die, I want to die too, because if you die, I won't have a reason to live anymore." George comforted her that day and told her, "Nothing is going to happen to me, Queenie. But when you get to missing me and worrying about me, come out here to this spot, close your eyes, and grab the locket around your neck and call my name, and wait for me." Unfortunately, this would be the last Valentine's Day that George Dixon and Queenie Bennett got to spend together, and it would be George's last visit to their spot on the beach. But not Queenie's.

Queenie overheard of George's death in a conversation between two people at the market in downtown Charleston as she shopped. She ran screaming through the streets, and her father ended up having to come to Charleston and personally take her back to Mobile. She stayed sedated and in bed for weeks to come, and although she eventually recovered and met somebody else, she never recovered from losing what she described as her soul mate. Four and a half years later, she died in childbirth at the age of 21.

Although Queenie Bennett's body ceased to exist in 1871, her soul has yet to leave this earth. Back around the year 1900, the first reports of her ghost were recorded. The sightings were always at the same place and same time; Valentine's Day around midnight on the beach at Sullivan's Island. The reports mentioned the translucent image of a young girl who was weeping and wailing as she called out, "George!!! George!!! Where are you???" Fishermen off the coast have even reported hearing this voice.

On May 17, 2004, George Dixon and his crew were finally laid to rest. They were buried with full military honors in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. Dozens of people attended the funeral that day, including a local man who'd brought his camera along. He snapped a picture of the tent that had been set up for the burial. Behind the tent was a stand of trees, and when he had the picture developed, the image of a stunning young girl appeared. What made her stand out was that she was by herself, and peeking out at the service from behind a tree. The girl in the image had on a long Blue dress with a Yellow sash, and her hair was tied up, and held by a Yellow bow. Around the girl's neck was a golden locket in the shape of a heart.

Some 140 years later, Queenie Bennett still loved George Dixon. Her spirit wandered the earth and did exactly what he told her to do...wait for him. As the Apostle Paul said in the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, in the 7th verse, "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

True love never dies. Even in death. Just ask Queenie Bennett.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

17th October 2015

Czech Mate by Jeffrey P. Frye

I met somebody interesting at work last night. I thought he was a spy at first because he had a steely-eyed Cold War look about him, but it turns out that he's doing 27 months for Illegal Entry into the United States (2nd offense). His name is Ivan, and what a story this guy turned out to have. But I'll get to that in a minute. As far as him possibly being a spy...the jury's still out on that.

The library opens up for the evening shift at 5:30 PM and there's usually a covey of crooks congregating on the concrete close to the confines. When the staff member comes and unlocks the door, the needy pack of clueless psychos swarm into the library like a hive of over-caffeinated bi-polar bees. Most of them buzz right up to my desk. The library here has about 10 large, rectangular tables that seat four people a piece, and they have maroon-colored plastic lawn chairs tucked in underneath them. The door going into the library, like every other window and door in the entire prison, is made of steel and has bars on the front of it. When you walk through the door into the main library, along the left and back walls are individual computer stations that have a chair, black keyboard, and 15' flat-panel monitor on the desk. There are 15 of these stations. These are referred to as the "law library." Against the back wall is a large brown desk with a high-back green chair behind it. This is my domain. FCI Edgefield's literary center of the universe.

So last night I get to work and it's the usual suspects who want the usual hood novels and cowboy books. Or sometimes nature books about predatory animals that stalk, attack, and kill lesser animals. Books about crime, killing, or fucking seem to be real popular back here...

After checking in and out numerous tomes of mindless, testosterone-based fiction, I noticed a small, unassuming man standing away from the pack. He was leaning against the wall and just watching me. He was wearing the standard tan uniform pants, but they looked like they'd been taken in at the waist and I made a mental note to get the name of his tailor. He was wearing a crisp white tee shirt, and blue canvas bo-bos with the white rubber bottom. The kind you buy at Wal-Mart for $3.99 to wear when you go out on the boat. He looked to be about 60 and had slate-gray eyes. He was somewhere around 5'4" tall, and he had a bald head that was speckled with liver spots. Strangely enough, he looked a little bit like Phil Collins. He was looking at me, and the first thing that I noticed was that he had a crafty kind of glint in his eyes. possibly even mysterious. Being a person who is ate-up with all things abnormal (as well as all things crafty), I waved him over and asked him if there was something I could help him with.

He stood there and seemed to consider me more than my question. He finally replied, "Vhat is your name?" The accent sounded distinctly Russian and I immediately thought that he might be a KGB agent. Have I ever checked out a book to a KGB agent before? Well, no, but there is federal prison.
I ignored his question though, and said, "I was 'round St. Petersburg, when I saw it was a time for a change. Killed the czar and his ministers..."
He broke into a smile and came right back with, "I whhrrrode a tank at a general's rrrrhhank."
I smiled, and said, "I'll bet you did, comrade. Vhwere are YOU vrom and vhat is YOUR name?"
He replied, "My name is Even, but I believe thot you pronounce this as Ivan. I am from Prague, and Boston, and Mexico, and most recently, the Bahamas."
Some people carry an air of intelligence about them where you can tell that they probably have a formal education. Ivan was one of these people. I wanted to know more, so I asked, "What's your story, Ivan?" I paused, then added, "We all have a story."
He placed his hands flat on the counter as if to brace himself, then he asked me, "Vhat is your name?"
I extended my hand, and as he shook it, I said, "My name is Jeffrey Frye. And it's nice to meet you."
He rolled my Western name with his Eastern mouth, and it said it out loud. He rolled the E in my first name and when he pronounced my last name, it sounded like he'd somehow managed to cram a D into it somewhere. Then he said, "You seem like an reasonably smot mahn. Vhat are you doing in prison?"
I replied, "Twenty years."
He smiled, and asked, "Vhat fore?"
"I was accused of taking indecent liberties with seven banks."
It took him a second to get it, but when he did, he grinned, and said, "Ahhh. Yue rub seben banks, yes?"
I shrugged.
He asked, "Eef jew don't mind me osking, how did jew get caught?"
I shrugged again, then said, "I guess I rubbed one the wrong way."
He leaned on the counter and bent in towards me as he lowered his voice. "I alvees vhant to meet American bank rubber. But may I ask yue something Mr. Jeeeffhrey Frrryyde?"
"I understand vhy a person might rub one bank, but vhy did you rub SEBEN banks?"
I looked at him and said, "Because I got away with the first six." Duh. Maybe this guy wasn't as smart as I thought he was.
He threw his head back and roared with laughter.

It turns out that my new buddy Ivan had quite a story. He'd been born and raised in the Czech Republic and emigrated to the city of Boston when he'd been around 20. He'd been with the same woman for over thirty years, but after getting into an argument and physical altercation, he told me that she called the FBI and CIA on him. I didn't ask why out of all of the agencies with acronyms, why she chose to call these two though. But it was rather telling that she didn't just call Crimestoppers to get her $50.00 like every other American schmuck does when they want to report a crime.

After the fight, Ivan had been locked up and eventually deported back to the Czech Republic after their fight. The only problem with this was that, after living in the U.S. for nearly forty years, he didn't have any family left over there. So like a homing pigeon, Ivan had gotten off Deportation Airlines, turned around, and made a beeline straight back for the states. For the return trip, he chose to come through Mexico. This turned out to be a mistake.

Unfortunately for Ivan, illegal immigration has been a hot-button issue in America for some time now, and he was busted in Mexico by the U.S. Army before he even made it across the border. This was after forking over five grand to a Coyote (smuggler) to sneak them through the dessert, all the way to a town in Arizona. The first time he got pinched they just sent Ivan back home to the land of boiled cabbage. This second time though had almost cost him his life, and then they'd sent him to the feds.

Ivan touched down on the continent of Africa, making his way via Palermo City at the base of Sicily. He trekked his way over to Morocco, and hooked up with a Brazilian couple in a small cafe in the city of Tangiers. They were planning to make the trip together across the Atlantic ocean. Up to this point in his journey, he told me that he'd spent about $10,000 of the fourteen thousand that he'd brought to make the trip.

They made it as far as the Bahamas, at which point Ivan paid a Coyote his last $4000.00. Ivan said that this was the last of his cash. The deal was that the three of them were to be transported from the Bahamas to Palm Beach, Florida. The boat they were crossing the ocean in was a 15 foot fishing boat. The journey was 50 miles, and when they hit Florida, the Brazilians had somebody that would be waiting to drive them non-stop to New York City.

The Coyote had several cans of gas on board for the trip, and when they would run low, he would stop the boat, turn the engine off, then fill the tank from one of the gas cans. It was all good, that is until they were about 18 miles from Palm Beach and the boat wouldn't start back up after refueling.

A day and a half later, the Coyote and Ivan, along with the Brazilian couple (who was a doctor of some kind, but obviously not a mechanic), were still dead in the water. The Coyote finally shrugged, and growled something like, "It's better to go to jail than die" and he fired a flare gun up into the air a couple of times. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

Nobody saw the flare. So now it was two days later and they'd run out of food and sharks were circling the boat. Big sharks. Ivan and the Brazilians were feeling like future sushi, when all of a sudden, the short-wave radio on the boat squawked to life. The Coyote snatched it up and promptly howled out their coordinates to the Coast Guard, and about two hours later the first helicopter buzzed them. Then the Coast Guard Cutter came and scooped them up and gave them a ride to their next stop. The Federal Detention Center in Palm Beach. Ivan said that the facility was okay, but that the food there was nothing to vvrrite home about.

I'll be honest here. Ivan tells a good story. He uses his voice in dramatic fashion and gesticulates wildly when telling his tale. I felt like I was playing a game of charades with a Stasi agent. He'd made my night, and since that's hard to do, I wanted to do something nice for him. So I came out from behind my desk and walked over to the printing station, and printed him off a couple of blogs that were sitting in my print batch. The first one was a four-pager about the killings at the church down in Charleston, South Carolina. The name of it is NOTHING CHANGES...NOTHING CHANGES and it hasn't been published yet. I have a new book coming out for Christmas that's titled STORIES FROM THE LIFE, and if you'd like to read it...buy this book. Better yet, buy a few of them.

The second blog that I chose to print off for Ivan was JENNER IDENTITY ISSUES. This is the one about Caitlyn Jenner. I explained to him that this was a blog about transgenders in the federal prison system, and I asked him if he understood. He put a hand next to his mouth to direct his words toward me, and said, "These are da vhuns who chop off their vhieners, ya?" I nodded, and went, "Yah."

Here ends another adventurous tale from my vhundabar life. A life that ended up being filled with people who have names like Workie Workie, Joey Roast Beef, This Fucking Guy, and now Ivan The Immigrant. He's due to be released fairly soon, but I have no doubt that he'll come right back. I hope he gets away this time, because let's face it. There is no better feeling on this earth than getting away. But if he does run into the Army or the Coast Guard next time, or if he's just too old to climb The Wall of Trump, I hope they at least send him back here. He's fairly decent company.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog