First appeared in Dew on the Kudzu (2009) - read editor interview
“Hey, Morgan.” He jumped at the sound of my voice. “Is that a real badge?”
Morgan hoisted himself off the stool, stood at attention and snapped a salute. I struggled to keep a straight face. The missing button on his flannel shirt, the glass of beer in his left hand and the Boy Scout salute didn’t exactly shout Deputy Morgan to the rescue.
“That’s a ten-four, good buddy. The sheriff swore me in this morning. Good thing, too. Mildred was threatening to have me arrested for loitering on the couch.” He took a sip of his beer. “It’s not my fault my job got outhoused to Asia.”
“Outsourced,” I said. I saw the empty look on Morgan’s face. “You mean your job was outsourced to Asia.”
“Whatever,” he said with a wave. “My job still went in the crapper.”
Morgan got back on the stool, finished his beer and signaled to Ernie for another. I waggled a finger, and Ernie poured me one, too.
“What happened to Jake?”
“Sheriff fired him for drinking on duty.”
I scratched a phantom itch on my wrist and glanced at my watch: four fifty-five. Close enough to quitting time for Morgan, I guess.
“You know something, Abe? I like the way this badge looks on me. I think I’m going to run for sheriff in the next election.”
I choked on my beer and couldn’t stop coughing. Morgan slid off his stool, knocking it over, slapped me on the back a couple of times and told me to hold my hands over my head.
“Thanks,” I said. I grabbed a napkin and wiped my eyes.
“No problem, Abe.” He picked up the stool and climbed back on. “It’s all part of being a deputy. You need to be ready to handle any situation that comes up.”
“Arrest anyone yet?”
Morgan sat at attention and said, “We are not aware of any perpetrators who have perpetrated a perpetration at this time.”
“Wow. Very official sounding there, deputy. You should be the spokesman for the department.”
“The sheriff mentioned part of my duties might include being the press lesson.”
I watched a fly wade through a puddle on the bar and let Morgan’s comment sink in.
“Oh, you mean liaison.”
Morgan’s head swiveled on a non-existent neck, and he gave me one of his what-did-you-think-I-said looks.
“Well, I think you’ll make a fine press lesson.” Anything would be an improvement over the sheriff’s vocabulary, which consisted of variations on a grunt. “So, you think you might run for sheriff.”
“Yep. Sheriff Riley ain’t going to do nothing this year. Well, he’ll arrest someone if enough people complain. And if they complain he’s arresting too many people, he’ll stop. You know how them politicians are in election season.”
“I can see where that might upset a few people, especially all those malcontents, like the mayor and the city council.”
“Exactly,” Morgan said, pounding his fist on the bar.
“Well, I’m sure you’ll make a fine sheriff.” I raised my glass in a salute.
“Better than fine. I’m going to be the best damn sheriff this town’s ever had.”
I clinked his glass with mine and finally let my smile out of its dungeon. I planned on voting for Morgan. Heck, anyone would be better than the current sheriff.