Sheriff Porter 42
I slept very late that next day. It was almost dark again when I awoke. I staggered out the door and went for a run in the dusk. The light wasn’t good, but Dog came along to be sure I didn’t fall off the running trail. I appreciated his company more than I would have Osborn. Dog didn’t insist on talking about ‘things’.
About half way through the five mile run, I just stopped running. I walked to finish the course. I tried to process that I was fucking rich. Not just a little rich, I was really fucking rich. I was rich enough that I never had to work again. Or if I wanted to work, I could do anything I wanted. I could mine for gold in Alaska or drive race cars.
I was most of the way back to the compound, when I decided that I didn’t want to do anything else. At least I didn’t have anything I wanted to do more than what I was doing at that moment. Dog and I walked back into the compound with our heads held high.
Osborn and I shared a late supper which came from a microwave. I had those things at home, so I wasn’t offended. Even Osborn didn’t seem to mind.
“So Osborn, it looks as if the settlement came through. They tell my by Friday I will be insanely rich,” I said.
“Do I still have a job with you?” she asked.
“If you want, bitch and bitch investigations,” I said with a grin.
“Okay, so are we staying in County Seat, because if we are I want to move in with you.” She saw my face and rushed on. “Not like that. We can just watch each other’s back. Working with you is dangerous.”
“Well that much is true, but I don’t know how long I’m staying here. I have to talk to Colonel Martin tomorrow and work out how we will function,” I said.
“My god this place is so cool. I can’t believe I will be working here,” she said.
“You won’t be. It’s a subcontractor gig. They will just be one of many clients, I hope,” I said.
“But I like it here,” she said.
“Trust me Oz, you wouldn’t like it here, if you knew the things that go on,” I said. “But you do have a point. No sense you paying rent on a place for the next few months. I think I’m going to move the operation somewhere warmer.”
“You mean somewhere like Florida?” she asked all excited.
“I was thinking more like on the coast right here. We get warm southern breezes and hardly any snow on our own coast,” I said.
“And it’s close to the Swamp Dog headquarters?” she asked.
“Yes, but that isn’t the reason,” I said.
“Of course not,” she said.
“Well we are through here now. In the morning I will meet with Colonel Martin and we will work out the details then I’m going home. We will have to decide about furniture and where to put you,” I said.
“Talk to the Colonel first,” Osborn suggested.
“It’s late, you should go to bed. I have been sleeping all day, I’m not tired,” I suggested without being asked.
After she left, I started a fire in the big stone fireplace. It wasn’t really cold just a little chilly. I sat by the fire with Dog. I wondered what the future would bring. I had a chance to go back now. It might well be my last chance to be someone of whom I could be proud. Which way would I turn? I had no idea what to do, or answers I could give Colonel Martin. I knew that I had tortured that man, because he simply wasn’t a good man and he had information I wanted.
I broke Ginger’s finger just to get information, so I could bring her husband back to answer to the UN War Crimes Commission, information that he didn’t even have. It was all such a waste. I was willing to turn a human being into a vegetable and torture a woman who had done nothing. I had been willing to do all that not for principal, but for a group of men who answered only to themselves and Colonel Martin. If I really wanted to do something worthwhile maybe I should shoot Martin.
Even if I did that someone else would step up to do the dirty work for the world. Swamp Dogs were just willing to do things, things that others knew needed doing, but had too much to risk. Well maybe I suddenly had too much to risk as well. Maybe it was time to really retire. Problem was I did it for a different reason. I was an adrenaline junkie, if I went too long without the fix, I would probably become one of those mass murders. Walk into a movie theater and take out a bunch of people.
“Fucking yuppies,” I said and took Dog to bed with me. I was surprised that I slept so well.
I was up at five and woke Osborn. “Come on get dressed we are going to run.”
I waited for her outside I wore a light sweater under the fatigue top. We ran for five miles in the twilight. I was surprised that Osborn came running into the parking lot only a couple of minutes behind me.
“Come on, lets go eat fucking powdered eggs and burned bacon,” I said.
“Damn you make it sound so appetizing,” Osborn said.
“Just wait,” I said with a smile.
A minute after she put the first forkful of eggs in her mouth she asked me, “Was that really an egg once?”
“Yes, it’s a shame to do that to an egg. Please don’t try a glass of their milk. The sad thing is some of these people think that shit is food,” I replied.
“God what the food must be like where they come from,” Osborn said.
“That’s how you are supposed to think of the food Osborn. Just don’t say it too loud. Yes, it is better than some of the crap from where they are from, but they don’t realize their food is crap,” I said.
Liam walked into the dining room after an hour of Osborn and I drinking coffee and making plans. “Martin is ready for you, just you Sylvia,” he said.
When I went down the hall to the office section of the administration building, I found Martin waiting for me in a small plain office. “Come on in Sylvia and congratulations on your lotto win. You did know that was how they were hiding the payment?” he asked.
“I didn’t know and I don’t give a crap,” I said. “For me it was all about the apology.”
“Do you really believe that?” he asked.
“Yes and of course getting Morris’s ass in a sling,” I said.
“Now that I can believe. You really did have enough money, and the little businesses you own are doing quite well. Especially that sandwich shop with the handcuff for a logo. Nice touch.”
“I thought so,” I said.
“But fifteen million isn’t anything to sneeze at,” Martin said.
“Well it means I don’t need to work for you,” I said
“Sylvia, it has nothing to do with the money, and you know it. However I will admit you are special. Something about the way you solve a problem is nothing short of brilliant. Vera Cruz and then this Fred and Ginger thing, I always knew you were special.”
“So lets stop stroking my ego and get down to it. What do you have in mind?” I asked.
“Well I can’t offer you anything that you can’t do for yourself. Well there is one thing, my lifetime of contacts. Where else can you fine the puzzles like Fred and Ginger, or how to fight pirates off, and still keep the missiles on schedule. Certainly not in Warren County,” he said.
“Well now you have stated the obvious, and you are beginning to bore me,” I said. That shocked him for sure.
“So you tell me, what you are going to do, if you don’t work for me?” He asked.
“I’m going to lay on a beach somewhere and work a couple of divorce cases a year. I think I’ll buy a race car to scratch my death wish itch,” I said.
“I think you have the right idea, but instead of the race car, work a couple of things for me. No more pirate ship protection. We have found a new revenue stream. Now and then things will go wrong, and you can help us put them right,” Martin said.
“So what does doing your investigations pay?” I asked.
“You aren’t in it for the money,” he reminded me.
“Honey life is a game, and money is how we keep score,” I said. “So how much?”
“You get to name your own price as you are going to do now for Fred and Ginger,” he explained.
“One thousand for the babysitting, another five thousand for bringing Fred back, five more for breaking Ginger’s finger. I will give you the accomplice I rather enjoyed that one,” I said.
“I suppose you want cash?” he asked.
“Sure,” I agreed.
I met Osborn outside. I opened the envelope and removed a thousand dollars. “Here this is for the work you did yesterday.” She looked amazed. “Don’t get used to it, but you earned it,” I said. “Now pack your stuff and meet me at my house when you are ready to move in.”
“It won’t take me more than a few hours to pack up what I have. It’s a furnished place,” Osborn said.
“I should know, but I don’t. Where do you live now?” I asked.
“In a little garage apartment downtown,” she said.
“Oh really, I used to live in one of those,” I said smiling.
“I know,” she said with an innocent smile.
I had the place straightened up, but not really clean when she arrived. She mostly had linens and clothes. A couple of small appliances but nothing else. “Okay Osborn here is the problem. At the moment there is one bedroom forty feet long and eight feet wide. It had a clothes bar at that end and a bed beside it. I can pretty much arrange half of it for you but unfortunately the doorway is cut at almost thirty feet from the end where I have my bed.
To make this work I will have Tomas come and add a wall half way down, but then I’m going to have to walk through your space to get to mine. So is that going to be a problem?” I asked.
“Absolutely not,” she commented. “You know you don’t have to add a wall there. We can buy a screen or two and make a false wall. I’m not going to do anything I’m ashamed of and you needn’t be ashamed of anything you do.”
“Then we just need to go tonight and buy you a bed,” I said.
“I can certainly afford it now that I’m not paying rent, and I just got paid,” she said.
“Well let’s go shopping. I think they sell mattresses and box springs at the Plaza. I don’t want to drive all the way to Dobson just for a fucking bed,” I replied.
The place we bought her bed also had some cloth shower curtains that were very heavy. Three of them side by side would be more than enough for the bedroom. If I bought them we could be finished with it tonight. Well the curtain had to wait a day because we had no rod. Tomas could do her a clothes bar at the same time.
We slept that night in the same room and I could hear her breath. It was a new experience for me as an adult. I mean to sleep in a room with a woman and not share a bed. I did really like Osborn. She was like my kid sister, who looked up to me. Well our business involved guns but there were similarities to a lemonade stand. I had no idea what those similarities were, but there had to be some, I thought.
Edited by Walt