Life fell into a boring routine quickly. It had been a bore since the first month and it stayed that way for eight months. It was out of the blue when something really exciting happened. It was sad, but that didn’t change the fact that it brought excitement to the Sheriff’s department.
Some hikers found a child’s body wrapped in a tarp. Since she was wrapped in a tarp everyone jumped right to murder as a cause of death. It took the Medical Examiner three hours to rule that it was indeed the cause of death. Once that happened, we began work trying even harder to identify her. Since the cause of death was blunt force trauma, we had a violent offender on our hands.
When my shift ended we still didn’t know who she was. The tarp wasn’t any help it was one of those cheap blue painter type drop cloths. She was about seven years old so she was too young to be a Jane Doe and too old to be Baby Doe, so we called her schoolgirl Doe for the press. “If you want help, you have to be media friendly,” the Sheriff said. He should know, he was the biggest media whore I knew. He was always campaigning.
“So who is that little girl you found?” Ada asked. Ada was the sixty year old manager of the motel. That made her my landlady.
“We don’t have a clue just yet. They always identify them, especially these days,” I explained. “It just might take a few days.”
“There are some families here who have more kids than they can afford. I hope it wasn’t one of those kinds of things,” she said.
“Ada, what do you hope it was honey. I can’t for the life of me think of anything good that could have happened to that little girl.” I said.
“I guess you are right. Still a parent killing their child for no good reason is the worst thing I can imagine,” she said.
“It’s right up there, I grant you,” I said in agreement. “It’s been a long shift, I’m going to bed. If anyone comes send them up. I’m also going to turn my cell phone off, but if the office calls ring the room please.” That last message was why I went into the office in the first place. Ada usually didn’t ring my room while I slept.
I had a white bag with a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit in it. Ada had let me have a coffee maker, so I made a fresh pot of coffee before I ate the biscuit. Ada had somehow managed one of those dorm refrigerators, a tiny microwave, and the coffee maker for me, so I had a half ass kitchen.
While the coffee cooked, I sat at the small low table and even though I didn’t want to, I remembered what the little girl had looking like in the blue plastic tarp. It made me queasy but I worked through it. After breakfast I was exhausted enough to sleep. I stripped to my panties and the men’s tee shirt I wore to help insulate my body from the cold night air, then I fell into bed.
The very next thing I knew it was five in the afternoon. I didn’t feel very rested, but I managed to drag my ass out of bed. I speed dialed the station’s duty number. “Warren Country Sheriff’s office,” the voice said. I thought I recognized every voice in the department but I didn’t know that chick’s voice.
“This is Deputy Porter could you put me through to whoever is coordinating the Schoolgirl Doe investigation?” I said into the phone.
“No need, I have your assignment for tonight. The Chief Deputy wants you on the midnight tour. You will be working with Deputy Letter. He is pulling the other car to aid in the investigation of the body, so you two will have to cover the calls for the whole county.” she said.
We often covered the country with two cars, so it wasn’t a big deal, except that we all wanted to work on the Schoolgirl Doe case. “Fair enough, I’ll be in at eleven tell the Deputy Chief.” I demanded.
There was just too much distance to cover with too few people to do it for me to be a anything but a regular deputy. I half thought i would end up dealing exclusively with the women of the country, but that was just impossible. There was just too much crime for me to be anything but a run of the mill deputy.
As I passed the front desk at 10PM Ada’s niece said, “It is terrible about that little girl. I don’t guess you can talk about it.”
“I might could, if I knew anything. I just don’t know a thing yet.” I said it as I passed through the lobby of the old style motel. I almost took a moment to walk through the lounge, but decided I might get tied up explaining that I knew nothing. That being the case I drove the Toyota to the Sheriff’s Department instead.
The place was empty except for the county’s 911 operator. “Lois, I see you are hard ad it,” I said to the 300 lb woman. She was probably ideal as a 911 operator. Jobs would be hard for her to find, so she would be dependable and grateful for the job.
“Yes I am, have you heard anything?” she asked.
“No, I haven’t talked to anyone all day. They pretty much ignore the new girl,” I said smiling.
“Yeah, they pretty much ignore me as well. All I know for sure is there are no kids reported missing, so they are widening the search area, The State Bureau or Investigation has joined in,” she said.
“Good they have the best lab. I know they can pull more from the body than we can.” I said it hoping our lab guy wouldn’t hear me talking smack about him. I left Lois looking at her recipe book. It was how she spent her down time. I could only hope that kind of thing wasn’t in store for me. I struggled with my weight, but I did keep up the fight. I watched what I ate, and I ran every other day. I realized that it was my day to run so I would have to find time to do it before I collapsed into bed after my shift.
“Sylvia, we meet again,” Letter said to me.
“Yes we do, it seems to happen no matter how we feel about it,” I said.
“True, but that’s okay. You are a fine young officer. I expect in a couple of years you will be a first rate cop.” Letter said.
“I guess we will just have to wait and see,” I replied. “So how do you want to divide the county up?” I asked.
Everything north of 268 I’ll take, everything south of it you take,” he suggested. 268 was a the county road that ran east and west cutting the county almost in half, It was a fair division of the territory to cover. “That sounds perfectly reasonable,” I suggested. Of course it meant that all the open diners were in Letter’s area, but it was the cost of being a rookie. There was a truck stop with cold sandwiches and a microwave south of 268, so I wouldn’t starve.
I rode around all night trying to stay awake and reasonably alert. No one expected the midnight shift deputies to do more than answer calls and try to keep the peace. That is petty much why I surprised myself by checking out a truck parked at the boat ramp located on a county road.
The truck was in the parking lot of the boat ramp, but there was no empty trailer. The SUV’s owner might have transported a small boat on the roof. Even so I checked the registration of the SUV. I found that the Truck belonged to Edward James Allen who lived several miles away.
I rode by his house and it appeared deserted, but at 2AM I was not surprised. Still I made a note to the detectives. Anything out of the ordinary might mean something. It was the wrong time of year for anyone to be on the river. It was as cold as a witches tit or a stepmother’s kiss. It hardly seemed the weather for a midnight boat ride.
My final act of the evening was to warn a party girl to go home. She didn’t appear to be drunk, but she appeared to be stupid. It was 4AM and she was moving from one party to another. “Why do I never get invited to that kind of party?” I asked myself as she pulled away from the traffic stop. That’s when I realized that it was a Friday night. Even if I hadn’t been working, I would have been alone most likely.
Letter and I sat alone in the break room, meant for the whole courthouse. We were writing out reports. Mine covered the SUV and the party girl, but nothing else had really happened. Both Letter and I noted things that would never have made it into the report any other time. The girl and the SUV were really not worth noting any other time.
After I left the office I drove the Toyota home. I stayed there long enough to change into my running clothes. Running in the mountains was a challenge because it was so cold. I wore a light wight thermal suit and a hood. I could have stopped along the way to stick up a service station, I suppose.
That morning I ran down to the courthouse. I stopped in long enough to find that nothing had changed with the investigation. I asked Simpson, “Hey Detective did you get a chance to see what the deal was with Edward James Allen.” He looked lost. “The guy whose SUV is parked at the boat ramp, but has no trailers.”
“No but hold on I’ll see what I come up with. The fact that his SUV was at the ramp overnight this time of year without a trailer is a reason to look into it. It’s a shot in the dark but it is a shot,” he added at the end.
“According to the school records Allen has a daughter seven. I think now that the suns up I’ll have a deputy stop by to check his house out. Go home and get some sleep Sylvia,” he said to me.
I finished my run and did exactly what Simpson said. I fell hard into bed and harder into the land of nod. Seven hours later I just work up. Sleeping with the sun shinning in the window is not the easiest thing I do, but I can manage it usually. Seven hours is enough sleep so the day was a success.
It was 6PM, so I walked to the diner. Lucy served meatloaf every Friday night, so I tried to get to the diner for that. She made great meatloaf. My mother made meatloaf that fell apart and had to be served with a spoon. Lucy’s could be cut into slices which made it great for sandwiches come Friday night at midnight. The deputy who worked Friday nights would stop buy for meatloaf sandwiches for both deputies any supervisor who happened to stay and of course the dispatch lady. It was tradition I had been told. I supposed that would be my chores later in the evening.
Even so it was so good, I didn’t mind having it twice in the same day. Lucy was a very nice black lady who worked her ass off to make a living. I was pretty sure that she made a good living since hers was the most popular cafe of the two inside the city limits. Most everything in Miss Lucy’s Cafe was cooked right there. There wasn’t but one real mean choice but it was always cooked fresh that day. Lucy did cook all the usual cafe items as well as one real meal at night.
When I got to the courthouse at 10PM, there were way too many people around.