On the way to the softball field, I stopped by the courthouse and voted for myself. Then I did five laps on the run without stopping at all. That was a first and I considered it a good sign.
I was in the half-ragged sweat suit, when I stopped at the middle school polling place. I couldn’t go in but I could shake hands with the people coming and going. I did that for about twenty minutes, then went to McDonald’s for a salad and small diet coke. Breakfast was my high fat meals, but I made up for it the rest of the day.
After lunch I was too nervous to go home, so I went to the pub. I stood around too nervous to drink. I drank a ton of really bad coffee before the first results came in. I could have cared less about the School Board and County Commissioners. It was all about the run for Sheriff. First results had it a close three way race with me, Webster and the retired Chief from Dobson in the rear. But the largest precinct to report was near Dobson. Dobson wasn’t in Warren County but it was on the edge, and that area had reported, so they thought the retired police chief was through with that vote.
About 9 PM they updated the tally. Just like before I had to wait while they gave me the County Commissioners and the School Board. Then they gave about half of the precinct’s totals. As they had predicted the Republican was out of it. Webster led me by a thousand votes more or less, but there were a lot of precincts that hadn’t given a report. I had no strong areas, so it was hard to tell any trends.
“Well it’s time for the 11:00 news,” I said, getting myself a fresh cup of coffee. We had to sit through all the different offices until they got to the almost final tally. It was Webster by 200 votes and no one was talking, but there were about 2000 uncounted votes. I would have to win the last of them and win by a large margin to take it away from Webster.
“Well they won’t report again till the final tally at noon tomorrow,” I said. “So I guess I will go home and to bed.” I drove the Christmas candy truck to the plaza. I parked in the Hardee’s lot while I drank coffee and checked out the tapes. It was all safe, so I went home and to sleep. I was surprised that I had no problem sleeping.
I woke up and could barely wait until the local TV gave the final vote count. I was absolutely shocked when the channel 14 news crew finally got around to the count. According to them, I had won the election by a hundred and fifty five votes. The news crew speculated that there would be a demand for a recount from the democratic camp. If that happened the elections would go into overtime. Results would have to be certified within 10 days, so the results could change right up to the tenth day. I wasn’t going to have any Sheriff’s uniforms tailored till the count was certified.
I was a little surprised when Eddie Simpson called to congratulate me. He really was very nice and he sounded happy. Odds were he was already having his posters printing for the next election. Odds were pretty good that I wouldn’t be starting a twenty year long dynasty, like the last Sheriff had done.
I had ten days till the certification and over a month after that till the changing of the guard. It was also November, so the warm weather was already gone. I wasted it messing with the election campaigning. I hated I hadn’t done more fishing. The only thing of any real value I had done was to buy an old duffel bag. I had filled it with scraps from the over stocked warehouse. It made a pretty good heavy bag as Reggie had promised me it would.
I got the bag hung from a wooden frame Tomas had bolted to the side of the storage trailer. That damn trailer had been a lot of things for me. So anyway I put on my workout rags and knocked the bag around till I was almost exhausted. Then I went back into the house for coffee, before I drove to the softball field. I got there by nine that morning. I ran for an hour so I was up to six miles most mornings. I still wasn’t setting the world on fire, but I was worn out by the time I got home from the field.
Then I had a whole day with nothing to do. That looked like it was going to be my schedule till the forty days and night passed till I assumed office. That was only if the Board of Elections certified the election, if not it was back to searching for something worth doing.
I took calls from Liam, Reggie, the Brit, and Jeremy as well as various others congratulating me. “So what are you going to do for the next fortnight?” Liam asked me.
“I guess, I’m going to sit around bored to tears, why you got something better for me to do,”
“The Colonel wanted me to see if you had any interest in another baby sitting gig,” Liam said.
“His babysitting is never as easy as watching the baby while mom and dad go to the movies. So what is it this time?” I asked.
“A ship, like the one you bought the cargo off, is sailing from a port in Italy and going around the horn of Africa delivering cargo here and there. It should pull into Spain in three weeks time. That will give you plenty of time to get back and be sworn in.”
“I don’t need money, why would I do it?” I asked.
“Because there will be pirates trying to take the cargo. Some of them may be sponsored by a government. Regardless what flag they fly, they will be pirates and you and your team will keep them away,” he said.
“Hon, you know, if I kill pirates that are government sponsored, I will have to stand trial which will not look good on my Sheriff’s resume,” I said.
“You lost your balls already?” he asked.
“I never had any balls, but no I’ll throw the dice, if you are paying enough,” I said.
“Five grand for the three weeks,” he said.
“How big is the team,” I asked.
“Three people you pick. But you got to leave tonight to meet the ship,” he suggested.
“Shit, you pick them, it will be all I can do to get ready. We flying commercial?” I asked.
“Yeah, the shipping company is supplying the hardware,” he said.
“Oh you saved the best for last, how thoughtful of you. I suppose you chose me because we aren’t supposed to look like security officers?” I asked.
“Exactly, so bring your Bikini,” he suggested.
“So does the captain know that when there is a threat, we take over the ship?” I asked.
“He knows he has to cooperate,” Liam said.
“Tell him again, it’s cooperate or die,” I said. “Where and when do we leave?”
“Capitol City Airport tonight eight PM. If you want him, the Brit is willing to go. I can pick a couple from down here to tag along,” Liam offered.
“Good, get me a couple who speak English, and have been there before,” I demanded.
“Not to worry old girl, I’ll pick them as if your life depended on it,” he said.
“Yes, that’s a very good idea since it might,” I said.
It was 10 AM. I had to be ready to drive two hundred miles, catch a plane for Italy, then be ready to guard a ship a few hours after our plane landed. It was a hell of a lot to ask, but that was Swamp Dog. They asked the impossible, and yet somehow we always pulled it off.
I heard the ring tone then saw the name on the screen of my cell phone. “Brit you gonna be ready about four?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m surprised you took the job,” he said.
“I’m surprised they asked me,” I replied. “Well anyway we are on for this afternoon. I’ll pick you up at the pub.”
“No you leave your truck at the pub, and we will take my land rover,” He suggested.
“Brit that isn’t a land rover,” I said.
“I use land rover to designate a type of vehicle, not a brand,” he said.
“Whatever, I’ll be there at 3:30,” I said.
I had to find enough clean clothes for at least two weeks before we would have a chance to do laundry, if not they had to last longer. If I had enough to change every day for two weeks I should be fine. Fortunately I had done laundry a couple of days earlier so I had the tee shirts and cargo pants and jeans enough to last, I thought.
I had far too much for the half duffel, so I had to start editing. I kept all the underwear, and all the tees that could be washed and dried easily. I kept two extra pairs of cargo pants. With that the half duffel was full. I called it a half duffel but it was really no more than a quarter duffel.
It was five minutes to four when we both kissed Jeremy goodbye, then hit the road for the three hour drive. We arrived at the airport at 7 PM for the 8 PM flight to New York’s truly international airport. While we waited Andrew and one of the Eastern European chics showed up.
“This is Nikki,” Andrew informed me. “Terry this is Sylvia and Allen. She calls him Brit so we will too.”
“You Nikki will be the Russian chic,” I said.
“Why don’t you want to use my name?” she asked in her accented voice.
“Because love, we are all expendable. It is easier to give the orders, if we aren’t all that friendly,” I said.
“Does that mean I will be the first one to be expended?” she asked.
“You guessed it. I expect we can do this job with three, if you want to go back to the swamp,” I said.
“No, your reputation is that you will do whatever it takes to bring us all home. Even if I am the first to go, it is better with you, I think, than someone else,” she said.
“Speaking of which, how come I wound up in charge of a mission with two more senior officers as peons,” I asked.
“Just lucky I guess. Actually you take advice better than either of us,” he said. “And these Italians take orders better when they don’t know it is an order.”
This is going to be one hell of a mission, I thought. Even though I thought it, I said nothing. “If you are carrying any weapons now is the time to get rid of them,” I said.
“I have nothing and I’m sure Terry has nothing, how about you,” Andrew said.
“I have nothing,” the Brit said. “Sylvia?”
“I have almost nothing,” I answered. What I did have was four inches of orange plastic driveway marker post. It had a cross handle attached with plastic fishing line wound around the sharpened piece. It would make a fairly lethal weapon up close and personal.
If anyone hijacked the plane, it would be with weapons equally crude. So given that fact, I figured I had a 50/50 chance to survive. I would bet my ass that at least Andrew and the Brit had a plan and I certainly hoped the Russian chic did as well.
It was eight o’clock when the plane took off for New York. I was leaving all thoughts of the Warren County Sheriff behind. It felt good to be away from politics for a while.
Edited by Walt