Sheriff Porter 28
I decided to wait until I was less emotional before deciding what to do about Osborn. So the next morning I was at the sports field at 6 AM. I ran my hour and did about seven miles. I had stopped counting the laps and just ran an hour. I hated to fucking run. I always had hated it.
It was seven thirty when I pulled into the gym and hit the bag for an hour. Since it was Sunday, I didn’t have a real plan for the day. Reggie didn’t say a word. He seemed to have something on his mind. He sat in one of the ringside seats and watched the guys in the ring punch and jab each other. He kept the time, but he wasn’t really there.
“Something wrong,” I asked after I had finished my workout.
“Nothing for you to worry about Sheriff,” he said without his usual smile.
“Okay, but if you need anything, you can count on me,” I said.
I was sweaty and I smelled bad, but I stopped for breakfast anyway. It was almost nine so I went to the local Hardee’s for a biscuit. The biscuits, filled with animal fat of one kind or another, were also fantastic. I sat there eating my biscuit filled with a chicken embryo, sliced pork belly, and curdled milk, when I happened to look out the window.
An old man at least seventy parked a tricycle in the parking lot. It wasn’t just any tricycle it was a thing of beauty. I admit I had a motorized trike that was an attention getter, but it was nothing like the one the old man rode. First of all it was hardly any taller than a large go cart. It was obviously homemade.
The rear wheels appeared to be off a child first bike. They were about 12“ in diameter. The frame most likely was from a 20“ Girls shocking pink bicycle. There was a front wheel hand brake but I would bet a hundred bucks it was just there to pass the highway patrol test, if it were stopped for inspection. I say that because it had a true tricycle front wheel. There was no chain. It was direct drive. It would also run away with you going down hill. So there were foot pegs where the old chain crank had been.
When the old man had his breakfast tray on a table and seated himself, I went over to him. “Hello, I’m Sheriff Porter, I would like to talk to you about the contraption in the parking lot.
“Yes sheriff?” he asked in a surprisingly young voice and a sparkle in his eye.
“Did you build it,” I asked.
“I did indeed,” he said. “The highway patrol already stopped me. They decided that it conformed to what little law there is on trikes on the road.
“Why did you leave it that awful shocking pink color?” I asked grinning at him.
“Oh hell my grand daughter likes it. I didn’t have the heart to take a can of spray paint to it,” he said with a laugh.
“Mind if I sit down,” I asked.
“Not at all,” he said.
“So tell me how you made it?” I asked.
“I can’t ride bikes any more. My balance is all fucked up from a stroke I had a few years ago. My grandkids want to ride their bikes but their parents are divorced and my daughter works a hell of a lot. So I needed a trike. I looked at what was out there and they were all way too expensive. So I designed this one. Then I kind of built it myself.”
“I got a few tools left from when I was younger. I had to convert the front wheel from freewheel to a drive wheel but it wasn’t too hard. A little welding that was a bitch but it works pretty well. For the back I just built a wide trailer then attached the bike frame. That front wheel was the mother, but I got it done.”
“For the big question, would you build me one,” I asked.
“Sheriff, I would be happy to build you one. Of course you will sign a waiver. So that when it falls apart and you get hurt, your insurance company won’t sue me,” he said.
“Would you mind if I rode it around the parking lot, while you eat Breakfast,” I asked.
“Hell no, go for it,” he said.
The trike rolled easy but the front wheel pedaling was a major pain in the butt to get used to. I pedaled it to the top of the slope in the parking lot. It gave me some pretty good exercise but I wasn’t out of breath. Then when I started back down the slope of the Hardee’s parking lot. I removed my feet from the pedals and used the foot pegs. It ran like a mother going down hill. I also took the turns like a mountain goat. I was sold.
When I got back inside I asked. “How much just like it sits,”
“You want mine?” he asked.
“Yep just like it sits in the parking lot. Have you got someone you can call to come get you or do you need a ride home,“ I asked.
“I haven’t agreed to sell it yet, and if I do you haven’t heard the price,” he replied.
“Okay will you sell it, and if so how much?” I asked.
“While you rode I thought about what I would charge to build one, if you liked it. I decided if you didn’t mind used parts, I might have $50 in parts. My time isn’t worth much these days, but I would have about five hours in it so another
$50 bucks for building it. I got to make a profit so how about you take that one for $175?”
“Like I said you got someone to pick you up or do you need a ride home?” I asked.
“You carry that kind of money on you?” he asked.
“No, but they have an ATM at the Wal-Mart store about a hundred yards from where you are sitting. I can be back with the money in fifteen minutes,” I informed him.
“I’ll call my wife. She will be here about the same time as you get back with the money,” the old man said. “She will be happy to see it gone. She thinks I’m gonna get killed on it.”
An hour later the deal was done and his wife was standing in the parking lot. “You have no idea how glad I am that you bought that death trap. Please be careful,” she said.
“It’s not far to the ground,” I said with a smile.
“Wait till you go down a really steep hill. That little thing will fly,” she said.
The back wheels have a frame of angle steel on each side then the were bolted and welded to a 18“ long and 12“ wide platform which was then bolted and welded to the place where the rear wheels were. The 20“ front wheel somehow had cranks attached so it was like a giant big wheel.
There had been a lot of trial and error I was sure in making it work. However it rolled easily. I loaded it in the rear of the truck with a little help from the seller. I told him that I would have my lawyer send him a release statement Monday.
I took the trike home and unloaded it. I put it beside the motorized trike and found a cover for it. I planned to ride it sometime that day. Good intentions were the paving stones in the road to hell.
“Sheriff we have a potential problem over in Suffolk,” the dispatcher said.
“What kind of problem?” I asked.
“A deputy went to a house there on a unknown trouble call and found that a child was missing. They think he wandered off in the woods behind the trailer. We want to call the dog man but we can’t without you signing off on it,” she said.
“Who is the deputy?” I asked.
“Melvin,” she said simply.
“Did he request dogs?” I asked.
“Yes Ma’am,” the dispatcher said again.
“Alert the dog man right now. Have him be ready to load on a moments notice. Give me the address and tell Melvin I’m headed that way,” I said.
The drive took fifteen minutes at a high rate of speed. I pulled into the yard of the trailer home too fast I’m sure, but there was a kid involved. “You heard anything?” I asked getting out of the candy cane truck.
“Situation is the same,” the deputy said.
I picked up my portable radio from the truck seat, then I called dispatch. “This is Porter send me the dog man now,” I said.
The kid was a third grader and played out all the time. Not only was he missing the family dog was missing as well. I thought that might be a good sign. It wasn’t cold but the dog could find his way home better than the kid. He could also give the kid some protection. I had learned long ago to never under estimate the role of dogs.
When the dog man arrived we had three more deputies. They were off duty but were at home when they heard. The swing shift deputy came in early and the patrol supervisor was on site as well.
“This is my cell phone number we are going to track your son. You call me if you hear anything,” I demanded and I went into the woods with them. My cell phone rang almost immediately.
“Sheriff the dispatcher called me. Do you want me to come out and join the search,” Osborn asked.
“No, get a patrol car and ride the roads in the area until you hear different.” I had completely forgotten our previous problems.
“Roger that Sheriff,” she said very professionally.
I was in the woods at the time of the call and had to catch up with the team. The dogs were bloodhounds bred and used strictly for tracking. We had a deal with the handler and paid him by the job. If the job took fifteen minutes or three days it paid him the same. He wasn’t trying to fly through it though. He followed the dogs lead. They seemed to be looking for the trail.
After an hour they started to move with a purpose. “They got the track,” the handler said. “It’s a good scent.”
We followed along behind the dogs till it came to a drop off of several feet. The body of the child lay and the bottom. We hurried down but there was nothing we could do. His body was cool to the touch. That led me to believe he had been at the foot of the drop off for longer than the mother admitted he had been gone.
I speed dialed the local medical examiner. “Doc it’s the Sheriff I’m sending a deputy after you. Wear your hiking shoes.” I broke the connection and said, ”Melvin go get the doc for me.”
The whole time we were standing there waiting for the ME, the kid’s dog just lay on the ground whining softly and watching us carefully. The dog man finally went to the boy’s dog. He walked his bloodhounds over. One bloodhound lay down beside the boy’s dog. The two of them just lay there watching till the ME arrived and pronounce the boy. He also estimated the time of death to be 5 AM to 7 AM. That meant while I was working out the kid was dying. I kicked a tree before I began walking back to the house. I stopped at my candy cane pick up truck to calm down before I went into the house. I had some serious questions for the boy’s mother. I wanted to be calm when I asked them.
Edited by Walt