Sheriff Porter 49
I got back to the motel with a big bag filled with small swimsuits. It never bothered me to be naked, but the small swimsuit did bother me. Just crazy I know, but that the way life is crazy.
Osborn hadn’t returned, when I settled into the room. I went onto the Internet to look at pictures of the barge houses. None looked like what I was going to do, but they gave me ideas. I knew I wanted to get everything dry and painted to prevent more rust. I also knew that I wanted to get the three cargo containers cable tied to the deck to make them solid. I figured I would go with two forty foot containers on the deck and one twenty foot container on top of them. Then tie the whole thing down. The barge would have to be self contained, so the utilities would be an issue. The conversion was not going to be anywhere near as inexpensive as the box house in County Seat.
I still had to find a place to park it or moor it as Ev told me. I was leaning toward buying a lot but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be tied to one place. I kind of liked the idea of moving it around maybe going to Florida in the winter.
My phone rang about 4 PM. It was Osborn. She and Ron were going out to dinner. Her advice to me was, “Don’t wait up.”
“Not a problem,” was my response. I really wasn’t upset at all. As long as I could reach her by phone within a couple of hours I was fine. I had no idea how she expected me to be, but I really was good with her hanging out with a guy all day and night. Hell I wished it was me.
At 5 PM Ev called me. “Hey Sylvia how do you feel about living on the other side of the bay?”
“You mean on Jefferson Island?” I asked.
“No, in the mouth of the Tomahawk river. There is an old marina there that is up for sale. You could own a place to moor your houseboat, and twenty other slips as well. Place would pay for itself in a few years,” he said.
“I don’t know, I’d have to have someone look at the numbers,” I said.
“Well it’s not mine, but it is across the river from my place. I would really like to see someone clean it up, and keep the riff raff out of it. I think the bank owns it to be honest,” he said.
“Tell me what you know and I’ll take a look at it tomorrow,” I promised. It was on the same side of the river that the motel was on. I decided that I would drive down and take a look after dinner. Dinner was from a paper bag in the parking lot of that terrible fast food restaurant.
After dinner I found the marina without too much trouble. It was rundown and the office had a sign that it was being managed by the bank. It was in forced foreclosure. The marina property looked about the size of a building lot in most rural towns in the south. It sat along a paved county road, which probably made it worth more than a building lot. The property consisted of a bait and tackle shop and a dock with twenty slips. I noted there was plenty of space for the houseboat along one side of the dock and if we backed it in maybe we could work it in so it used less space. Unless I bought a place on Jefferson Island, one place was as good as another. I had preferred the motel’s view but I knew all along that view was going to be expensive. Of course you couldn’t move a motel to Florida in the winter either.
I left the marina after copying all the pertinent information. I planned to call my account manager at the Investment Company to have him find out what the details were on the property. After that short call I intended to go where the adults hung out and have a drink.
When I asked at a New Wales restaurant, “Where can I go to have a drink and meet people?” The suggestion from a young waitress was, “For gritty you should try the ‘Net and Wench’ and of course the ‘Hunley’ bar. If you want more class, there are the lounges at the big motels on Jefferson Island.” I thanked her before leaving a large tip on my way out.
I could have paid a million bucks for a house on the north end of Jefferson Island, but I really didn’t want to live beside anyone, who could afford a house up there. So I decided to try the Net and Wench for a drink, but first I went back to the motel and changed. I also was checking for Osborn, who wasn’t to be found.
I took yet another shower and dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and a red tee shirt. I would have worn shorts, but I would most likely have been chilled before I arrived back at the motel. I carried a sheriff’s fatigue top to use as a jacket.
When I got to the Net and Wench, I found that I was over dressed. Most everyone in there wore their work clothes. The smell of fish was just too heavy for me. I left immediately and headed for Jefferson Island. It was over the long bridge across the bay. I found the Holiday Inn and then their lounge. For that place I was not over dressed. As a matter of fact I might have been a bit too casual, but since no one commented I went right inside.
I sat at the bar and looked a little like a grunge. At least I think that was what they were calling it. Like Osborn, I had relaxed a lot since I wasn’t responsible for anyone other than myself. I had the derringer in the wallet type holster that I carried in the back pocket of my jeans. My derringer was the .22 mag instead of Osborn’s 9mm. It would just piss my attacker off, according to The Brit. I had put that size round to good use previously, so I wasn’t worried. Besides odds were I would never need to use it at all. It was a bit uncomfortable to sit on the derringer, but it was handy.
I ordered a bourbon and coke from the blond bartender. She had three or four other people sitting at the bar, plus the waitresses to deal with, so I didn’t expect her to stand and talk to me. She didn’t ignore me either, but the most I got was a glance now and then.
After half an hour I went to the ladies room. I passed by a table with three men, who smiled at me. No doubt they were all married and down for an insurance conference or some such thing. On the way back to the table one of them reached over and touched my arm. I stopped.
“You really are quite lovely,” he said. “Could we buy you a drink?”
“Probably you could buy me coffee, if one of you wants to drive down to the pier. That’s where I’m headed,” I replied.
“How about all of us buy you a coffee,” the boldest of them said.
“Are you guys that poor? That it takes all three to come up with a buck for coffee,” I said and walked away. Since nobody followed me out, I figured I would be springing for my own coffee.
It wasn’t yet 9 PM when I walked onto the fishing pier. The snack bar was on the Pier but over the end with dry sand underneath. I bought the $2.50 sized coffee so that I could stay a while. Then I walked out and found a seat with a view of the shrimp boats sailing around the South end of the Island and into the bay. Probably later some of them would go up river a small distance to drop anchor for the night. I had seen a few other docks closer to the mouth of the river than the one at which I was looking.
“You must like the view, I am sure the coffee doesn’t bring you here,” the man said. “He was dressed in clean jeans and a heavy sweat shirt. He was also very tall and out weighed me by at least a hundred and twenty five pounds. He was built and carried himself like a boxer.
“Actually it is the coffee as much as the view,” I said. “I spent some time in the military so old stale coffee reminds me of my misspent youth.”
“Yes I remember those days myself,” he said. “They call me EZ.” He extended his hand to me.
“The call me bitch usually, EZ. Now and then someone calls me Sylvia,” I said.
“I got a feeling not to many people call you bitch,” he said. Then added, “Sheriff.”
I gave him a curious look, then he pointed to my fatigue jacket. “Oh that, well that is a past tense.”
“Were you really the High Sheriff?” he asked.
“More like the low Sheriff. A fake scandal ran me out of office,” I said. Then I added, “I got an apology though.”
“Oh how much is an apology worth on today market?” he asked.
“More than you might think,” I said. “So I’m on a recovery vacation. What do you do?”
“I’m in property management. You might call it extreme property management. I go in and reestablish order in failing property and then keep it straight. There is some money in run down property but you have to run a hell of a lot of it.”
“Really,” he might be just what I needed, but it was way too much of a coincidence. So how long you been following me?” I asked.
“Damn you are smart. How did you know?” he asked.
“Ev points me to a failed marina. It needs a lot of revamping, and you show up five hours later. I would have to believe in the Easter Bunny to buy that one.”
“Yeah, Ev is my Uncle. He is helping me get started managing resort property.” He looked down at the table.
“Well this might turn out to be a good thing. At least you know I’m no idiot now,” I said.
“Yeah and I know, from having checked you out on the Internet you don’t take a lot of shit. Talk about coincidence you hit the lottery at the same time you drop a lawsuit against the State government. That is a stretch,” he said.
“I got the apology that was all I really wanted. I did agree to resign with a clean record though,” I said.
“It must have gotten boring up there,” he suggested.
“It pretty much had,” I replied. “So did you look at the marina?”
“I did just before dark. I don’t have access to the financial, but I would bet there are more than half those boats moored there, and paying no rent.”
“Did Ev tell you I was going to be bringing a Barge house there?” I asked.
“Yeah. If there is enough riverfront you can turn it side ways against the bank and out far enough not to run aground and still keep a few spaces on that side of the dock,” he suggested. “You would still have all the spaces on the other side of the dock.”
“I could set everything up self service, ice vending machines, solar lights and close that bait shop. You would need to check it once a week and replace the batteries in the solar lights when they wear out, about twice a year. Of course also you would need to keep the crap off the dock when I’m not in residence. I probably wouldn’t enforce it anyway, just be a whistle blower.”
“So you would want me to serve as a contractor?” he asked.
“Exactly, now your contract would be half the rental fees. So it would be to your advantage to collect them all, and to keep the crap down to a manageable amount,” I said.
“So we have worked out a deal sitting here over coffee?” he asked.
“I guess we have as soon as I buy it,” I said.
Edited by Walt