Sheriff Porter 125
“That’s my truck,” I said to the owner of Herro’s Auto Repair shop. I had taken time to shower and change so I didn’t look or smell too bad. “So what’s the word on it?”
“The word is you bent the valves, blew the head gasket, and when we pull it, we might find the pistons have been scored,” he said.
“So how long and how much,” I asked.
“It the pistons aren’t scored probably under a thousand, if they are you would be better off with a different motor,” he said honestly.
I was speechless. “I’m going to need a minute to think,” I said. Maybe I should just go back to County Seat and get my motorized tricycle, I though. That’s when I thought about the riding mower in parts on the floor of the hanger and the poor truck presumably all in pieces outside the shop. I had nothing mechanical except Wilson Honda to get me around. I had to make some decisions but in the funk I was wallowing in, they would most likely be the wrong ones. Of course I had enough money so that if I lost some due to stupidity I could just consider it a stupid tax and move on. Some folks didn’t have that luxury. I tried to live as if I didn’t have the safety net. But sometimes with or without the net you had to just roll the dice and hope you did the right thing.
I used the cell phone to get an estimate of the truck’s worth. I could replace it with one just like it for about $10,000, more or less. “Do the repair,” I said. Hell I liked the truck, and I had those lock boxes install under the seat. Plus it had that trailer hitch. “I want you to do it right,” I added.
“Give us a week, and we will have it and I assure you it will be right,” he said.
“While you have it check it out completely,” I insisted. “I mean from the wheels to the windshield.”
I rode the bike away headed for home. I stopped at MrBJ’s for a biscuit and cup of bad coffee since it was on the way. Again I sat outside at a concrete table to eat. It was almost lunch time when I got back to the barge. I could tell Wilson wanted to talk to me, but he wasn’t quite ready to tell me whatever it was he had on his mind.
He came up to the deck with his laptop. “You ought to look at these,” he advised.
I took the laptop from him. The picture in the website was an electric hub motor. “Most of the trips we make we could make on something like this. It would cut down on our carbon footprint,” Wilson said.
“Okay Wilson where did this come from. It isn’t from you and it isn’t from Mel, so what girl is this from,” I asked. I thought it was a reasonable question.
Lois from the TV crew spent the evening with us last night. She was preaching how bad carbon emissions are for the environment,” Wilson said. “I just thought now would be a good time to make a change with the truck dead and all.”
“I’m having Herro do major surgery on the truck. I will think about this. How did you happen to meet that TV crew?” I asked.
“Mel had to be interviewed and be briefed on how to act,” he said.
“I thought the big draw was they weren’t actors,” I said.
“Lois just gave her a few tips, not a script or anything,” Wilson said.
“Right,” I said with a smile. “So are you two ready to talk restaurant?” I asked.
“It’s not me you need to talk to. It’s Mel of course,” he said.
“You do know she is half your age and this just won’t work,” I said.
“I don’t care if it works or not. I’m having a blast now, so that’s all that I care about. I could have a stroke tomorrow and end up brain dead, so yeah I’m trying to have all the fun I can.” He looked at me as if I cared.
“Good for you Wilson. Just be careful she doesn’t break your heart,” I said.
“Okay, if it will make you feel better I’ll go slow,” he said.
“Let’s get her in to talk restaurants,” I suggested. Wilson went to fetch her while I checked out the electric hub motor for bicycles. If they did what they said they did, offer a viable alternative to the automobile especially in my present location, probably not so much at County Seat. I couldn’t use one on a stake out, but I could ride it to Jefferson Island. Truth is it would be a novelty. I technically owned the Ranger and the Honda and Wilson had his old Econo box, if times really got desperate. Still it was something to think about. At the moment I was royally pissed at gasoline engines. I could see me going to all electric vehicles. To me hybrids were the worst of both worlds.
“Here we are,” Wilson said.
“Good, it’s time you decided on a restaurant concept Mel,” I suggested.
“I know but Wilson and I have been everywhere and looked at everything and we just can’t find the right concept,” she said.
“You agree with that Wilson?” I asked.
“Yes we have seen a lot of places this last week, but we just can’t decide,” he agreed.
“Okay, here is how it is going to go. I am going to buy the three building as a lot. The one on the corner will be the pub. The one next to it, a store to sell local arts and crafts like the old men’s boxes. The third building will be a restaurant and since you can’t decide, I have decided for you. It will be a gourmet hot dog restaurant. So now Mel, if you want in I will make you the managing partner.”
“Of course I want in. I promise I will do a good job for you,” she said.
“Well you and Wilson can start right now. Do your research and discover all you can about gourmet hot dogs and toppings. Then you two can conceptualize the restaurant’s layout and decor. We don’t want a hot dog stand and we don’t want waiters in suits and ties either. So work on it,” I explained.
“I think it just might work,” Wilson said.
“It damn well better. I’m gonna have a million bucks in that block,” I said.
First thing I did was negotiate and buy the buildings. How much did I spend? Let’s just say more than I wanted to and less than the owner hoped I would. The corner building had once been a bank according to the old men. There had been a safe but no vault.
“You know that damn safe might still be in the basement,” the oldest of the old men suggested.
It turned out the basement had been flooded and pumped out ten times at least since the building had been a bank. Finally the building owner had dug a huge sump in the basement and installed a sump pump. The safe was on rollers and had been rolled to a spot in the corner of the room. It had, of course, been flooded as well as the floor. The space was declared unusable by the county health inspector. I supposed we could store barrels or kegs there.
Before I laid out the pub I called The Brit. “Allen,” I said when he came to the phone. “How would you like an all expense paid vacation on Jefferson Island at the Rum Runner Hotel?” I asked.
“And what do I have to do for it?” he asked skeptically.
“Design a pub for me. I’m going to open one down here. You know me. I want to save all I can. When I can’t save I want to replace with something classy. So bring Jeremy with you,” I added with a laugh.
I think we can get away this weekend. Give me two days to warn Jeremy since his antique store isn’t all that busy right now. I think he has made a friend who can mind the store,” he said.
“Oh my, a friend,” I suggested with a rather perverted tone.
“Not like that, it’s a gentleman about seventy. If you don’t hear otherwise expect us late Friday evening,” he said in closing. I had all the keys by Friday at noon, so I put Wilson to work making a floor plan.
I slept that night to the sounds of Wilson and Mel. If he heard me moaning alone, you can imagine what the sound of the two of them was like. I could have made an audio sex tape without any problem whatsoever.
They finally went to sleep after midnight, and I did as well. I left a message on his phone that he had to meet me at noon. I also ask if he paid my ‘house call’ mechanic. I didn’t tell him that I ordered a trike with a hub motor for both of us to run around town. He would find out soon enough.
I pedaled the old trike out to the hanger to check on the riding mower. It seemed perfect so I towed the plane out and put her in the air. I rode around looking at the boats on the river and the ones in the bay as well. I really didn’t do well over the Atlantic. I had a basic fear of going down at sea. I don’t think I could swim ten miles to shore. When I landed I put the plane away then headed for home.
Thirty minutes later, after a ride in the Honda with Wilson driving, I found myself giving Wilson the basic tour of my three recently purchased buildings. His job for the afternoon was to draw a floor plan of each.
“My god, all we need is a body and it would be like old times,” Wilson said.
“Yeah, fuck the thing with Mel up and we might have one,” I said with a laugh. “Where is Melody by the way?”
“She is home doing basic research on the hot dog,” he said. “I personally don’t think there is all that much to hot dogs.”
“That’s because you are not a chef,” I said.
“That is for sure, but then neither are you,” he said.
“My best tool in the kitchen is the drawer full of take out menus,” I said.
“Yeah that’s my specialty as well. But tonight Mel is going to cook for us. I told her there wasn’t shit in our kitchen but she said not to worry.
“While we are here, I think I will walk down to the warehouse to see how the old men are doing,” I suggested.
“The TV crew is there so be careful,” Wilson said.
“They know not to film me so that shouldn’t be a problem,” I stated. “Unless your friend Lois told you something I should know.”
“I didn’t tell her a thing, but they got hold of your testimony during the hearing up in County Seat. It pretty much goes back to when you were a rookie deputy,” Wilson informed me. “I was trying to decide on the right time to tell you. I didn’t want you to get ambushed.”
“Did they ask you about me?” I asked.
“Several times, but I never said a word I promise,” Wilson said again.
“Wilson with this kind of asshole you always say something, even if you don’t realize it. Not commenting on a remark, they claim, is the same a confirming it,” I observed.
“You aren’t going to kill Lois are you?” Wilson was kidding, but I was glad Lois wasn’t present to overhear it.
“Not her, you maybe,” I said.
“Come on Sylvia, I warned you about Mel visiting her and being interrogated her. I tried to stop it. Mel didn’t tell her anything. Hell she didn’t even realize that Lois was trying to get something on you.”
“Well there is nothing to get,” I replied. “In the words of the world’s biggest liar, ‘ there is no there, there’.”
Edited by Walt