Sheriff Porter 132
I waited two days to call the auto maker’s CEO on the private number Martin had slipped me. “My name is Sylvia Porter, I understand you have a problem,” I said.
“It looks as though we have a huge inventory shrinkage problem. We also have labor relations problems simmering,” he said.
“Well I’m not a labor relations specialist, but I might be able to help with the shrinkage problem. The best and fastest way to find out what is going on is to come into the plant as a simple worker, but one who has access to the whole plant. So tell me, do you think your present security is turning a blind eye to the thefts?”
“The thefts are so great there is almost certain to be someone in the security chain helping the thieves,” he said.
“Then we do have a problem. I can invent a new me, but you have to get me hired. It would put up all kind of red flags, if you took a hand in hiring me for a low level position, so it will need a special kind of back story. I’ll work on it for the next few days and lay out the details. You and I will need to meet. If it looks okay, we can go from there.”
“What’s your price?” he asked.
“If I find out who and how, I want five percent of your last years loss. If I can’t then just pay the expenses of the operation. My fixed overhead is a thousand a week then there will be a cheap apartment to go with my cover. Fifteen weeks should be enough time to break this. There are times it might not be pretty, so decide do you want to stop the theft, or to put people in prison?” I asked. “Don’t answer now, wait till we meet.”
“Alright after the first of the year I’ll meet you. We have a family cabin on Lake Watusi,” he suggested.
“Fair enough I’ll start work on the cover biography. Email me the time and directions to the meet,” I insisted. Then I gave him my email address.
I guess I was a little surprised when Wilson came in to announce that the Restaurant was opening that night. I had heard nothing about the final days of preparation. I hadn’t really wanted to be involved, since my building was complete and the fixtures for the restaurant purchases. Mel had signed over half her profit to pay me back the loan and to pay her rent for the upstairs apartment. Whatever she arranged with Wilson was of no interest to me.
I was glad to see the place up and running, so I agreed to help with the grand opening. “I’m going to ride the trike as much as I can.”
It is getting chilly for sure,” Wilson said.
“Yes, I can imagine,” I said. “I would pull a banner behind the Canary but I think it is a little to underpowered for that. It is also shut down for the duration of the winter.”
“I guess you can act as the official greeter, if you come down this afternoon about five,” Wilson informed me.
“Sure why not,” I said.
The restaurant had a pretty good opening. It wasn’t great, but we were in it for the long haul. Mainly Mel had kept her overhead down, so the odds were good she would make it on some level. She might not be ready to franchise it, but it looked like a good opening to me. The place was half full most all night. Occasionally it was even almost full, so I considered it a success.
I helped transport more hot dogs from Mel’s kitchen to the buffet where people were served from the grill cook. All the dogs were grilled before they were served. It was a fairly efficient system. Wilson played cashier and since he was good with money, I expected it to be an honest count. I noticed a couple of very well built young men with scars in the face at one point. I immediately thought of the Swamp Dog crew. Since they came and went in the swamp, I didn’t know any of them and that would not have been unusual. Hell they could just as well have been fishermen.
We closed down and cleaned up from ten to midnight. I left Wilson and Mel to go upstairs and to bed. “Wilson, before I leave I need you to spend some time tomorrow working on a new background for me. Something close to my own life but not the Sheriff part. Some private security type background. Minimum wage kind of work history, but lots of it.”
“Right Boss I’ll be in at noon and start on it if you aren’t around,” Wilson suggested.
“Good that will work,” I said. I turned my attention to Mel when I shouted back to her, “Good night Mel.”
“Good night Sylvia,” she said. I could have put her failure to say thanks to her being tired, but she was always like that. She just expected someone to take care of her, and so far it had worked that way for her. I didn’t want to dwell on it because it really pissed me off at times.
I went home, then fell right in bed. I was exhausted from all the trike riding, staying on the move pretty much all day, and the few hours of lifting and carrying pans about the restaurant had all worn me out. It was a different kind of exercise. Like the men with all the muscles on those TV game shows. They look great, but have no stamina.
I had learned long ago that a bulky body is a liability on a ten mile walk through the hot dry desert. It just caused them to dehydrate faster. Dehydration was the killer in the sun. I had seen a lot of pretty boys pass out on their first few days in the field. I had also seen some scrawny ugly little fuck who carried a B.A.R. just walk away and leave his pretty ass to die.
I stayed around town and helped Wilson build the fake ID and the bogus biography information. Every call to check previous employment would go to one of Wilson’s several telephone accounts on the internet or onto the cell server. He would have to be several people for several months. I was pretty sure he could handle it. On December 30 we pretty much had the background information ready. I hopped into the candy cane pickup truck and headed for County Seat.
When I got there, it was 8 PM on the night before the big New Years Eve party. First I opened the box house and was extremely glad Jeremy had checked it after me. He had put a couple of air fresheners in the box. The box was tiny compared to the Barge but it would do as a getaway cabin. Maybe it would even make a good hideout.
I had to turn the heat on and then go to Hardee’s for coffee. I figured I needed about an hour to warm up. I might well take several hours to really get warm but the air should be warm enough not to freeze me in an hour. I wouldn’t have any water until I went out and opened the three foot deep valve. The valve should be an easy turn. I had done it a few times before when I came back for a visit.
The valve wasn’t a problem. As a matter of fact the box house came back to life just as it was supposed to. The walls were still ice cold but I slept fairly well. The day of the party I went into town to see what had changed. The new owners renamed the donut shop to City Blue Donuts. The cop motif was pretty much gone. I thought it lost some of its charm, but the new owners obviously didn’t think so.
The courthouse was a sub office of the state police. The jail was run by the Department of Corrections. It was the plan for all local law enforcement. I knew it, but I didn’t go public with it. It just wasn’t a problem for me at that time. Since I was no longer involved with law enforcement, I kept quiet.
The pub wasn’t open so I checked in on Jeremy’s store. He was closed for the holiday. Looking through the window I noticed the building looked almost empty. The big going out of business sale had been a success it seemed. I was glad he wouldn’t be moving a lot of inventory with him. I wanted it to be mostly local crafts. If that didn’t work he could go with antiques from the area as well. Only as a last resort would I agree to do that.
I drove to the box house but I didn’t stop at the house. I went on up to the trailer where the gasoline Trike was stored. I checked but the gas didn’t look just right, so I drove to the convenience store for a fresh gallon and the four ounces of 2-stroke oil to mix with it. When I returned home I made quick work of prepping the Trike. It took a few quick pulls on the starter, but it was soon up and running. It was spiting exhaust fumes into the air at a furious pace. I didn’t bother taking it out for a test. I just turned off the gasoline tank’s petcock and waited for the carburetor to empty itself. When it was all ready I removed the gas line to let the tank drain. When it was finished I turned off the small electric furnace which had run to keep my hands from getting stiff from the cold.
I went into the box house and found it reasonably comfortable, so I took a quick shower and washed my hair in tepid water. I was dressed and ready for the party by 6 PM. I drove the candy colored pickup to the traffic square in County Seat. I parked it across from the State Police office. I thought it was strange to see my old deputy sheriff’s car repainted with the new design of the State’s local patrol division. More big brother government, I thought.
I even read somewhere that Apple was making the computers for the government. I could still remember the famous Apple super bowl commercial. The one where the chic with the shaved head threw a sledge hammer into the screen of a computer showing images of Big Brother. I guess they figured they couldn’t beat them, so they would join them. I walked from the truck to the pub and found the doors decorated with a wreath. Not at all like The Brit I thought.
He was religious of course, I expect he was catholic. He would never have decorated anything. It just wasn’t like him to show that kind of emotion. Even though it was probably an impersonal way to show his holiday spirit, I just couldn’t see him doing it. Jeremy must have insisted on it.
“Well hello everyone,” I almost shouted in greeting to the assembled group. The group at the least was an eclectic bunch. Carpenters and killers sharing the warmth of the pub on New Year’s Eve.
“Sylvia,” Jeremy said rushing to me. “Happy New Year girl.”
“And Happy New Year to you,” I said. I continued on to the end of the bar where The Brit and Martin were chatting. “So anyone here going to wish me a Happy New Year?” I asked.
“If you insist. Happy New Year Sylvia,” The Brit said smiling.
“Since I’m on this side of the bar, I don’t have to be so proper,” Martin said hugging me. “Happy New Year.” There were a few people who I remembered from the great escape and hunt down of the Russian. They came over to join in the well wishers.
Edited by Walt