Sheriff Porter 50
“How do you feel about dating employees?” EZ asked.
“I never dated an employee,” I said.
“Okay, how do you feel about dating guys you just met?” he asked.
“I have done that a few times,” I said.
“Well I’m not an employee yet, so how about we go to a piano bar I know on the mainland?” EZ asked.
“What kind of music does the Piano bar play,” I asked.
“What do you like? Better still what do you hate?” he asked.
“I hate fucking Jazz,” I said.
“I hate fucking Jazz too,” he said. “So how about it?”
The Piano bar was in what used to be the dining room of a railroad hotel in New Wales. Someone had rescued the hotel for a B&B. The owners added the piano bar to draw some local business as well. The lady who owned the B&B and her daughter played the piano. They were both very, very good. The mother played show tunes and light comedy music, while the daughter did a lot of classic rock. In other words the music was great fun. They served drinks and a couple of different sandwiches with a railroad theme.
I had a glass of wine but nothing more. I didn’t even like wine, but it was something to buy. I wanted to support the efforts of the mom and daughter team. The two of them had a derby hat they put on when doing a song made famous by a man. That was so they could sing it just as it was written, and performed originally. It made perfect sense. Of course the place was packed.
There were lots of breaks in the music for conversation. I really did hate when the evening came to an end. I knew it was over when mom said, “Well we are shutting down the music but there are rooms for rent upstairs.” She then gave us a very salacious look.
The daughter said, “Oh mom,” and pushed her off stage.
“EZ, I need to get back to the motel, where we are staying,” I said.
“We?” he asked.
“Yes I am staying with my partner in the Private Investigation Business,” I said.
“Your partner, how is it he let you out alone?” he asked.
“It’s a she, and she is out with her boyfriend at the moment,” I said with a laugh.
“How would you like to come home with me?” he asked.
“Not tonight, but ask me again,” I said.
“Does that mean you aren’t going to let me manage your property?” he asked.
“You need to ask me about that later as well. I don’t even own it yet,” I said.
“I know that’s why Ev put me onto you. It was to make owning it more attractive and a good deal for me as well,” he said.
“Well that part of it worked. Call me tomorrow afternoon, if your wife will let you,” I said and laughed again. Yes I had seen his wedding ring.
He noticed where I was looking. “Sentimental reasons, plus some of it is for business reasons. These days women who owe back rent want to take it out in trade. It happens more than you would think,” he said.
“No I would believe it. I will tell you what. You have 24 hours to clean your apartment or house. I will come there for take out pizza and stay at least for a while. I want to see where you live, and who you live with,” I said.
“Do I get to see who you live with?” he asked.
“Yeah, but on the third date,” I suggested. “You probably won’t be an employee before we work in three dates.” He walked me back to my candy cane truck parked on the street.
“I meant to ask you something,” he said.
“Oh what is that?” I asked.
“With all the money you have, why are you still driving this old truck? It is a ten year old piece of crap,” he said.
“Hey it’s a fucking classic. To be honest I haven’t had time to buy anything else. The Barge House has taken most of my spare time.”
“Well tomorrow you and Ev can do a walk through and you can go shopping for a car on Monday,” he said.
“I don’t think so. I have to get the marina questions answered Monday. Then I have to start working on a plan for it,” I said.
“Why do you need a plan? Don’t you have people for that?” he asked.
“They are there to do what I don’t want to do. I want to do this,” I said. “I like to tinker.” I kissed him quickly and drove off. I wondered how much of that was being rich and how much was liking me for me. Crap, I thought, the rest of my life I will wonder about that, I guess.
When I got home Osborn was still out. I decided to stop worrying about her. If I have a job for her to do, I would worry about her being in contact then. Otherwise let her have fun, I decided. As long as I knew she was safe I wouldn’t worry. There was a message on the phone, “Don’t worry mom. I’ll be home late,” Oz.
I slept until 6 AM since it was relatively early when I came home the night before. It was the also the day I got my barge so I was excited about that. I forced myself to leave Osborn sleeping, when I started my run through the streets of Watch Tower. It was just as beautiful as I remembered from the day before. I stopped after several blocks to use my phone, not to make a call but to make pictures for Jeremy. I had promised to send them. I also had need of them for my own reasons.
I hadn’t found anywhere for breakfast, so I went straight back to the motel room. I decided that we needed a coffee maker. I wrote it on a small pad I kept to make notes to myself. I had lot of things floating around in my head during that period in my life. I decided the one shot coffee maker would fit the bill again.
“Hey Oz you going to get up today at all?” I asked.
“Sure just not now,” she said.
“I’m going to wait for the barge to come in. How about going to buy us a one cup coffee maker. Be sure it is one that uses regular coffee, not those special cups.” I waited for some response from my half asleep partner. “Did you hear me?”
“Yeah one cup coffee maker, regular coffee got it boss,” she said. “There is two hundred dollars on the dresser don’t spend it all. Do put some gas in your car though with the change.”
I drove over the bridge to the Tugboat Shipyard. I pulled through the gate with a bag of biscuits from a drive through window of a breakfast house on the mainland side of the bay. I sat in the parking lot while I tried the bacon egg and cheese concoction. It was just adequate nothing special. I was disappointed I had no idea whose home they were styled after. It sure wasn’t any where I had ever lived. The area needed a Hardee’s badly, I thought.
The office of the shipyard was closed on Sunday but the tug boat terminal was open. After I finished my breakfast I went inside. There was a sign that said Dispatcher. It sat on the large desk of a man with a computer, and a few other items on it. “Not what I expected of the Dispatcher,” I said.
“You must be Sylvia Porter. I heard from the Captain of the River Warrior an hour ago, they are on the Intercoastal Waterway homeward bound, three hours or so out. They reported no problems and they are headed home. Should be here by noon as promised.”
“Well since it is 10 AM, I think I will get a cup of coffee and then come back and wait,” I said. An hour later I was sitting in the parking lot again. I didn’t bother going inside I had a great view of the docks from the parking lot. So good that I saw the barge when it was so far out it was almost indistinguishable. As it grew close I was even more excited. Then my excitement changed. I said aloud, “Oh my fucking god, what have I gotten myself into.”
The barge was covered in rust. Even thought Ev had assured me that it was just surface rust and meant nothing, it didn’t look like nothing to me. Then there were the three containers. They were covered with rust spots between the different colors of paint. One of the two forty foot containers sitting on the bottom was red and one was blue, while the twenty foot one sitting in the top and in the middle of the other two was rust colored. They just looked terrible. The doors of the containers were closed, or they would have looked worse, I was sure.
I just sat there and wanted to cry. Things looked so bad at the moment. It did look modern industrial and huge. But I knew that it wasn’t. I tried to remember what Ev had told me about the barge. It was like an industrial pontoon boat I think. There were two different compartments in the hull. So one of them could flood and I would still have a floating barge. They were also flat bottomed so they were shallow draft. Too top heavy for the ocean but perfect for the shallow water of a river or the Intercoastal Waterway.
Because of the dimensions of the barge and the containers it looked like a giant rusty squarish wedding cake. I might buy a couple of mannequins for the roof, and dress them like a bride and groom I thought. I smiled at the idea. It was the only smile I had looking at the rusted mess. Poor Ev, he was really going to have his work cut out for him.
I was sitting in the parking lot on the verge of tears when Ev pulled in. He was driving a pick up truck which looked even older and more beat up than mine.
“So what do you think Sylvia?” he asked.
“Ev if there was a way to erase the last few days I would, and just start over. But since I can’t do that where do we start. By the way here,” I said handing him a check for the $17,000 I owed him.
“Thanks, well first we need to inspect it together. They should be tied up in an hour or so. How about going down to watch it dock,” he suggested.
“Sure. By the way I busted you for EZ,” I said.
“Yeah he told me you knew. He is a good kid, and he has the start of a good business. It’s a niche nobody else is filling,” Ev said.
“Is he your son or something?” I asked.
“Nephew but he is like a son. His dad left my sister when he was three. He sent his child support, but saw the kid maybe one or twice a year. EZ spent a lot of time on the boats, but he didn’t take to the water. Did a hitch in the Marines. Two tours in Afghanistan, then he came home. I was drinking with some friends on mine when the one of them said he was having trouble getting a tenant out. The Motel he had turned into efficiency apartments was turning into a drug dealer’s paradise. EZ heard it and a business was born. I want you to buy that marina and I want you to clean it up. This river is kinda like home to me. So yeah I sent EZ to help you.”
“Okay I get it. First of all lets settle this house barge thing, then we can work on the marina,” I suggested.
“Yeah let’s do that,” Ev said.
Edited by Walt