Monday, February 26, 2018

You Ain't Listin' To Me

Wade was at the Sheriff's station discussing an upcoming hunting trip he and Rascal had planned. This was an annual trip, almost a ritual, that the two men had taken since they were in high school. Both were good hunters. However as they got older, they  realized getting up before dawn and staying out all day was beyond their ability. Another thing the 2 had done was starting to rent a cabin that was near the fields they hunted.  Rascal was the first to throw in the towel and decide that their tent camping days were finished. 

Sometimes their foray afield was bountiful, other times not. It didn't matter, because the success of their hunt was not necessarily the measure of a good trip. The 2 old friends enjoyed staying up late each night, drinking single malt Scotch, and solving all the problems of the world. The hunting was just something to do in the morning.

Rascal heard the door open. In walked Delmar Flynn drunk as a skunk. The Sheriff just sighed, "Delmar you need someone to drive you home?"

"No, sir. I ain't going home rite now."

"Well, what can I do for you?"

"Remember I told you I saw those 2 men gettin' in big square truck after they moved that body?"

"Sure do," the Sheriff answered, not sure where this was going.

"Well, I found that truck?"

"And, where is it?"

"Out front here. I was just making my way to see the boys when I saw her. You wanted to know, right?"

"Of course," said the Sheriff, still wondering what was going on. "Did Ruthanne drop you off here?"

Delmar got mad and raised his voice,"No, you ain't listnin' to me. I said I was on my way to see the boys."

"OK. Can you show me the truck?"

"Yessir," Delmar turned and walked out of the door.

Rascal looked at Wade, "Let's see what Delmar is talking about?"

They followed Delmar out of the station. Wade took note of his dirty clothes that were a size too big and the old wool newsboy cap he wore on his head. Delmar was wearing a pair of well worn work boots with many miles on them.

When they all were outside, Delmar pointed toward the vehicle, Wade's Range Rover. Rascal was a bit confused, "That one?" 

"Yessir, I'm  pretty sure that's the one."

"How close were you to it when you saw it that night?"

" 'Cross the street." He shuffled his feet, "Sheriff, don't tell Ruthanne I was here. She'll hold back my money."

The Sheriff smiled at Delmar. "No problem we will not say a thing." He paused, "But you're sure this is the truck?"

"Yessir." He started to leave. "Won't say nothin', right?"

"Yes, Delmar, you have my word. Thank you for telling me this."

Delmar sauntered down the street. Rascal and Wade walked back into the station.  Wade spoke first, "What was that all about?"

"That was Delmar Flynn, his wife is convinced that Delmar saw 2 men moving a body into a car on Boulevard the night Madison died. He said the 2 men left in a truck - a 'big square' truck in his words." He paused,"a truck such as yours."

"Really?" Wade acted surprised. "Did he see the color of the truck?"

"No. Nothing else. I don't know what to think." The Sheriff paused, then continued. "There was another time Ruthanne dragged Delmar's raggedy ass down here with some story." He paused again. "She's convinced his 'witnessing' is worth some money. We have told her we do not pay for information."

"Another time?" asked Wade.

"Yeah, he came in after John Barker's death and swore he had seen 2 men moving a body into the minister's car."

"Really?" said Wade. "Maybe you should hire him as your detective - if he sees things like this. How did he happen to be at both places?"

"Apparently, his route to and from where he meets with the 'boys' goes past both places."

"That's fairly circuitous isn't it - to go from one side of the town to the other?" Wade didn't need to ask where Delmar met the boys or where he lived. There was a small bait shop down by the river that had long since been abandoned. Some enterprising fellow had started his own 'club' there. Nothing was official. Wade doubted anything was legal, but that was where the older generation of men, cast out when the Cotton gin closed years before, went. They were too old to do any manual labor and had too little education for any of them to be literate. The men only found solace with their little group, card games, and rot gut liquor.

Delmar lived 'across the tracks' behind what was left of the Cotton gin. A long dirt road was edged with small white clapboard houses. Everyone had a front porch. Some had been kept up in pristine condition, while most of them looked as if the next wind would blow them down. 

Wade could remember, as a young child, going with his Daddy to Hattie's house when she worked for them. Her house always stood out. He could remember it being freshly painted with beds of flowers and a clothes line in the backyard. But Hattie was one of the few who was able to save her money, sell her home, and relocate to another part of town. Now, Wade thought, she was a partner in a successful enterprise. Not everyone had enough ambition to better themselves. There were few positive role models for this generation. 

The Sheriff stopped Wade's train of thought. "Wade, nothin's straight with Delmar." The 2 men finished their plans. "I'll pick you up Friday afternoon," the Sheriff told Wade. He agreed and walked out of the station, leaving the Sheriff thinking about Delmar's visit.

Kathleen called Jeb as soon as she left the Tea Room. "Honey, this is worse than I thought?"

"The wedding?"

"Yes, the wedding and my mother. I just had lunch with her. She is talking about Turtle Doves, and clouds of Blue Butterflies."

Jeb laughed, "Kathleen, that makes her sound seriously nuts. Not just crazy like we thought."

"I really want to elope."

"No, you will regret that. This is important."

"But why should I have to deal with palettes of violet, turtle doves, and blue butterflies?"  Kathleen asked almost in tears.

"Sweetie, the purple whatever and the birds and the butterflies will be at Dixie's wedding, not ours. Remember we are having our own wedding, just like we want." Jeb paused, "Please cheer up. It is all going to work out." Before Kathleen could protest again, Jeb said in an excited voice, "Besides, I have some good news."

"Well, I can use some of that."

"Chip, one of my college roommates, is in a band - a serious band. Lots of brass, they play everything from today's Pop and Country to Big Band."

"Wow, that sounds great, but remember we decided a band was not in our budget." Kathleen's enthusiasm waned.

"This fits in the budget because Chip wants to play at the reception for free - as his wedding present to us."

Kathleen sighed, finally something positive. "That is wonderful." She paused, "Actually that is better than wonderful, that is incredible."

They spoke for a few minutes and then they rang off.

The following morning Anna Belle checked and found that Miranda had not returned. This was very much out of character for her. Miranda was, if anything, dependable. Inquiring, Anna Belle learned from the other girls that they had not seen her nor did they know where she had gone on her day off. Once again, Anna Belle's instincts kicked in - something was not right. And, once again, she ignored them telling herself that it was nothing and not to think about it any more.

Wade thought about telling Anna Belle about Delmar, but decided that was not going to help anyone. Unless something came from that, no need to bother Anna Belle. He just hoped that Delmar's reputation of living in a drunk fog would keep anyone from taking him seriously. Wade really wasn't worried about the Flynns.

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