Friday, November 3, 2017

From the Amazon to Gallagher, a Young Man comes to Town

Dr. Sadler, as coroner, often had business at the Sheriff's office. The following morning, knowing the Sheriff was out out of town, he walked in the front door of the Sheriff's office. "Mornin' Mary Lou, is the Sheriff in?"

Mary Lou told him what he already knew, that the Sheriff was out of town.

"How about Mike?"

Mary Lou told him that Wade called a little bit ago and asked if Mike could come to his office. But she was sure he would be right back. Hollis knew better, since he also knew that Wade's business would keep the deputy occupied for a while.

"I need to look at a few pieces of evidence from the Barker case. I know where it is, I don't want to bother you."

Mary Lou laughed,"Go right ahead, you know better what you are looking for than I do. Holler if I can help."

"Will do," replied Hollis as he made his way back to the evidence room.

The Sheriff's office was not nearly sophisticated enough to keep the evidence room locked. After all, when a crime was committed, everyone in town figured out who was guilty in a day or two. Needless to say, attorneys knew whether to ask for a change of venue for a trial or not. There was no doubt how a Gallagher jury was going to vote. If one wanted to know, just get a cup of coffee at Ed's and hang around one morning. The citizens never looked at this as interfering with justice. They just knew better than anyone else, the appropriate verdict that should be meted out in their small town.

This was especially true of sentencing in the spring and fall. Those poor souls accused of anything from public drunkenness to car theft knew their fate should they be arrested. In the spring, the Judge would sentence anyone found guilty to 100's of community service hours to be served under the direction of the Grand Gallagher Ladies Club to assist them in their Gallagher Spring Planting Fling. This was the Club's annual event to clean up all the yards on the Boulevard and plant 10's of thousands of annuals.  The Fall was no better time. The Town's Maintenance crew could always use community service hours raking all the leaves in the town park and clearing  the leaves off  the side walks.

Hollis made his way back to the evidence room. He walked past the envelope of pictures from the Barker case that was sitting on top of a side table. He moved toward the back of the room where there were the 10 wooden cases that had been confiscated during the Eldridge caper. Hollis opened the back door to the building. Sitting outside were 8 cases containing bottles of the Eldridge nectar of the Gods. Carefully, he exchanged each case inside with another from the outside, leaving the first 2 cases where they were inside the evidence room, untouched, in front of the rest.

Hollis had been through enough trials, that he knew they would only pull 1 case, 2 at most, for evidence. That was the reason for leaving the first 2 cases as they were. The other 8 were packed exactly like the original ones, in identical bottles, but instead of the Eldridge's potent punch, those were filled with water - just as crystal clear as the original contents. Hollis always knew there was a reason he kept all the bottles and wooden cases from his many purchases of their liquor.

He quickly put the 8 cases into the back of his SUV. Then he walked back in the door. quietly closing it behind him. He looked carefully at the 10 cases. Nothing looked different, no one would know the difference. As he walked by the Barker envelope, he opened it, closed it, and placed it back on the table a bit eschewed from how it was originally placed.

Hollis walked out of the evidence room. Mary Lou was on the phone. He smiled and quietly said "Thanks".

Mary Lou smiled and mouthed, "Anytime", as she continued listening to her caller.  Hollis walked out of the Sheriff's Station, got in his SUV, and drove home.

Earlier, when Mike arrived at Wade's office he found a nice looking gentleman standing there. Wade introduced them, "Mike this is Harvey Wells. Harvey, this is Mike Pace with our Sheriff's Department." The two exchanged greetings and sat down in front of the desk at Wade's invitation. "Mike, Harvey is here to see Vivian. Harvey, you can better explain the situation."

"Mike," said Harvey,"the children Vivian is caring for are my niece and nephews. It was my brother and his wife who were killed in the accident."

"So you want to see them?" Mike asked.

"No, I want custody of them. I am their closest relative."

Mike thought for a second, "Why now? Why didn't you want them when your brother died, why wait more than a year later?"

Harvey looked him straight in the face,"I didn't know about the accident." Before Mike could say anything, Harvey added,"I have been on a 2 year stint in the Amazon with Doctors without Borders. We were so deep in the jungle, we had no contact with civilization. The last time I talked to my brother was a week before he died. Naturally all was well. Then one the first occasion I was able to, I called home and learned what had happened."

Harvey looked at Wade. "It took me a month or 2 to get home. Then when the reality of it all hit, I knew it was my responsibility to raise those kids."

"But what about Vivian? She is very dedicated to them. And, as far as I can see, she is doing a great job."

"That's the sticky part. No doubt she is. I was shocked when I learned she took them on. She is a very special young lady. And  was so close to my brother and his wife. Given what she went through growing up, I can imagine her dedication."

Wade finally weighed in, "So why are you talking to us?"

"Tula."

Wade and Mike exchanged looks. Wade responded, "Tula? What does she have to do with this. I know she is Vivian's mother but what does she have to do with the children?"

"Tula is my aunt. She was my Daddy's only sister. So she is the Great Aunt of these children."

Mike looked at Harvey,"I cannot imagine Tula wanting to have anything to do with those children. Heck, I doubt she has gone to visit her daughter yet."

"No doubt. It's not the children. It's the money."

"Money?" said both Mike and Wade.

"My brother, thank goodness, planned ahead." Then Harvey explained the details of the trust. "I'm fortunate enough to have the resources without the trust to raise them. I have the time and I owe it to my brother. After all, they are all I have left of him."

Wade just shook his head. "They are 3 lucky children to have family who care about them. What can we do to help?"

"I just wanted to make you aware of the situation with Tula. If something gets ugly, I wanted to make sure the truth was out before I had to haggle with her."

Wade looked at Mike, "So that explains your showing me all the papers." Wade paused, "Harvey showed me all the legal documents and identification. There is no doubt in my mind what he is saying is true." He looked at Harvey, "Well, let me take you to see Vivian. She's right down the hall."

Harvey looked a little surprised. "Well, you could have told me that earlier."

"No, not until we knew this was all on the up and up. In Gallagher, we watch out for everyone." Wade said with a wink as he got up  and moved around his desk to take Harvey to Vivian's office.

When they walked into Vivian's office, she looked surprised, but smiled and jumped up to give Harvey a big hug. "I thought you were in the jungle? Why you here? Oh, the children will be so happy to see you." Before he could answer, Wade and Mike had quietly left the room.

As they walked down the hall Wade looked at Mike, "3 hours at most."

Mike laughed,"If that, I bet she is already on the way."

Mike said he needed to get back to the station and left. Wade went to Della's desk. "Do me a favor, if Tula calls or drops by, you do not know where Vivian is or what she is doing. Nor have you ever seen Harvey." He paused,"Or, how to get in touch with Vivian."

"OK," laughed Della.

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