In the center of the town square, the great bronze statue of Colonel Evan Gandee on horseback, the Indian fighter who had given the town its name, towered over fire trucks covered with red, white, and blue bunting. At the limo's approach, they greeted his arrival with a sound system blaring John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever." A truck away, a TV camera crew was mounted on a flat bed, ready to roll.
There were "Welcome Home Jack" signs everywhere, and the town was smothered by blaring sounds and bunting-covered windows.
Two miles down Carson Road, the motorcade reached Black Jack Field, where the sounds of Sousa gave way to the Gandee High School band playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The stands were jampacked with Black Jack baseball caps, three thousand plus, maybe half the population of the town. Others filled the area behind the foul lines.
Everyone rose to greet him, dancing in place as they waved black and white Black Jack Bar candy wrappers, so many in one congested area, the sweet smell of its licorice permeated the air.
"Well, all riiiight!" Gordon sang out, for he had, in fact, arranged for the free candy bars as well as baseball caps with the Black Jack sportswear logo. He had also orchestrated the grand entrance, directly to the mayor of Gandee himself, and there he was on the pitcher's mound in the center of it all.
"Uncle Sam!" Jack cried out, for Sam Manning was indeed Jack's uncle. A small wiry man with dark curly hair and amber-rimmed bifocals that rested high on the bony steeplechase nose of his ratlike pro