In Stephen Woodfin’s review of The Tourist Killer, he informs readers, “Claudia Barry is an assassin nearing the end of her career, who has reached the point in her life where she questions the livelihood she has crafted with such precision. Her private life of thirty years has allowed her few human interactions beyond casual acquaintance.Except for two men.One is a mystery mentor who pops in and out of her life when she least expects, the other a comrade in her profession who gets under her skin.”
She met John Hixon when they were both, well, here it is in her words, “John Hixon and I were both undergrads at the University of Arkansas. He was in law enforcement. I was a junior and it was the last semester for him — graduating senior. The FBI found him and made him a great offer. He minored in ballistics and had written several papers that were published. To this day, he can rattle off details and stats about a wide variety of ammunition. He can tell you the speed of the projectile, the rate of drop at varying distances from the target and how it changes with different loads of powder.”
Was he that good? Again, here’s Claudia, “”Add to that his independent study of psychology and he made a damned good investigator. He could analyze a crime scene and reconstruct the action as accurately as anyone.”
Why did he retire early? “He had to watch too many guilty criminals go free. After he left the agency, he disappeared into the Great Smoky Mountains.”
Readers continue to express interest in and ask questions about Mr. Hixon. I enjoy talking about him because there is a real John Hixon, sort of. My character is an amalgam of three men with whom I worked and finally a bit of myself. Hixon lives on an inherited twenty-seven acre parcel of land in the Great Smoky Mountains where scenes from Deliverance were filmed. Locals refer to it as “Little Canada.”
Outsiders aren’t welcome.
Local law enforcement officers are reluctant to go there even with backup.
Hixon lives comfortably in a log cabin he built himself. He shares the place with three dogs, Caroline, Luger, and Uzi.
For several years he lived there with no electricity. Finally, the power lines got as close to him as about a mile. So he ran extension cords through the woods to his cabin. They didn’t always work for his electric blanket.
He explains when Claudia asks, “I bet you have some cold nights up here,” she commented.
“I think I invented the expression, ‘three dog night’,” he replied with a laugh.
He shook his head, “When it’s cold, I have to sleep with all three of my dogs to stay warm — especially if the electric blanket ain’t workin’. I’m on the north side of the mountain, so around four in the afternoon, it starts coolin’ off up here. This is about thirty-five hundred feet above sea level.”
In addition to their relationship described as “an occasional couple,” they have a professional relationship as well. John Hixon designs and builds many of her weapons and ammunition.
He has an amazing library housed inside a half-buried school bus and he drives a pickup truck that features a live tree growing in the dirt accumulated in the cargo area.
His weapon of choice is a Ruger SR1911 0.45 pistol. He’s a walking talking reference manual for bullet flights, trajectory, and assorted ballistics information.
John Hixon is a big, tall man. When asked in an interview about an actor if the movie was ever filmed, I suggested the late Clint Walker.
Finally, a friend asks Claudia, “One more question about Hixon. What drives him and how do you know you can trust him?”
Claudia thought for a moment. She wanted to say it just right. Wanted her friend to understand.
“Like me, he believes that to be successful in my craft,” she paused for effect — “you must be convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the ends we bring about will justify the extreme means. He’s earned my trust over the years with consistently doing and reacting exactly the way I expect — in every situation. He’s dependable and loyal.”
Everyone needs a John Hixon in their life.
You can meet this one in The Tourist Killer and enjoy more of his adventures in