Jim Miller was a killer for hire at the turn of the 20th century. He worked in Texas and Oklahoma and reportedly executed more than 50 people. He was also a clean-living, churchgoing family man. (His regular church attendance and enthusiastic singing of hymns during services earned him the nickname ''Deacon Jim.'').
The duality of Miller's life sparked an interest in playwright Jason Aaron Goldberg, who wrote The Confessions of Deacon Jim, A True Western Tale for the Stage, which is getting a staged reading by the Wordsmyth Theater Company. ''I was looking for a story that I hadn't heard before,'' Goldberg tells us. ''[Miller] was a quiet, well-dressed…guy who didn't curse or drink or smoke, and he wound up being a killer for hire. He did it because he was good at it and it fed his family, not because he was some crazed, ruthless killer. He wasn't a gunslinger; he wasn't flashy. His job was just to put people down and he did it.''
Confessions is set during the last part of Miller’s life, after he's been arrested for killing a former deputy U.S. marshall and is being held in jail awaiting trial. ''He got caught lots of times, but he had the best lawyer in town and he was always able to get off,'' Goldberg says. ''The people in the little town of Ada, Oklahoma [where he was being held], knew this. The whole town knew that his lawyer was coming and that the chances were [Deacon Jim] was going to — once again — get off. So the townspeople took justice into their own hands and a mob of about 200 people broke into the jail and…'' Ah, you''ll have to see the show for the rest of the story. Goldberg will be in attendance at the Wordsmyth reading.
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7 p.m. Main Street Theater, 4617 Montrose. For information, call 713-726-8953 or visit wordsmyththeater.org. Free.
Mon., Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m., 2013