This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 1120 words.
I worked my last shift at the lumber yard the week before graduation. The manager told me I could come back and work for him anytime. “You did well, Clay. You’re a good worker, and always welcome back here”. I thanked him, and didn’t bother to say I would never be coming back. I had saved a decent amount of money, and was thinking about getting myself a different car once I started work. Mom and Dad were none too enthusiastic about my choice of career. Mom thought it was a waste of my law studies, and Dad had the same worries as the Sheriff. “But Clay, you know so many people in town. If you want to be a cop so badly, why not join the State Police in Renton?” They didn’t understand that I wanted to stay close. I needed to.
My parents attended the graduation ceremony, and insisted on the usual photos in the gown and hat. Inside, they were proud of me, I knew that. But they had asked a lot of awkward questions about why I had so few friends, and why I never got another girlfriend after Lauren. I was evasive with my answers. I couldn’t very well say that I just didn’t need people around anymore. Those few years had made me happy enough in my own company. Involving others in my life just complicated things.
No time was wasted in going to see Vince. He congratulated me, and shook my hand. Then he handed me a stack of forms to fill out, and warned me that there would be a background check, and I had to have my fingerprints taken. “If everything checks out, I will arrange for you to go up to the training school in Renton. But you will have to buy your own uniform, and a gun too. Hoogstraten is coming up for retirement soon, so I will bring him into the office for his last year. You can take his place out on patrol”. I took the forms to fill out at home, and as I walked to my car I thought of the cost of all that uniform, and a handgun. Looked like I wouldn’t be getting that new car after all.
It took over a month to process my application, and I got a letter with a start date two weeks later. I would have to live in the dormitory at Renton, and be away for twelve weeks. The cost of the training would be paid for by the Sheriff’s Office in Riverdale, and as long as I passed with no problems, I would get a contract to sign.
After my home town, Renton seemed big and busy. It wasn’t of course, and even though it called itself a city, it was no bigger than most large towns in the state. I just wasn’t used to them. The training school taught the basic course, so there were new entrants from the State Police, County Police, and another couple of would-be Sheriff’s deputies like me. We were looked down upon, as if we were small-town hicks, but that didn’t bother me.
It was more boring than I had expected. Traffic laws, arrest procedures, warrants, and lots of paperwork. There was also some PT, as well as being taught self-defence, and how to take someone down who was resisting arrest. First Aid, and how to call for assistance or an ambulance was all covered in one short morning session.
The latter half of the course was more interesting. Giving evidence in court, some role play outside, and then we got to training with our nightsticks, pepper spray, and finally the shooting range. I was only an average shot, according to the instructor. That didn’t bother me, as I had no intention of ever firing my pistol anyway. Besides, there was a shotgun in the patrol car, and I reckoned I could hardly miss with that. We all passed, and there was a low-key parade, where we received our certificates. I didn’t tell my parents about that, as there was no need for them to go all that way to watch me take some paper from the hand of a guy I hardly knew.
The day after I got home, I took my certificate into Vince, and he gave me a big smile as he shook my hand. “Welcome to Riverdale Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Farlowe”. Then he gave me a contract to sign and a typed list of everything I had to buy before I could start. I whistled when I looked at it. Summer shirts and slacks, Winter pants and a heavy coat. Hats for both seasons, and regulation shoes and boots. Then there was the leather belt rig to hold all the equipment, and last but not least a pistol and holster. I was wondering if I still had enough cash for all that, when Vince started talking again. “It takes around two weeks for the stuff to come from the supplier. Meanwhile, read up on what you learned, and go buy yourself a handgun. I recommend one of these”. He pulled out his .45 automatic, and slapped it on the desk with a grin. “Nice and heavy, so you can use it like a club”.
Dad wanted to take me to the gun dealer, but I drove out there on my own. I was going to be a deputy, and look out for myself. The last thing I wanted was my Dad taking over things like he always did. I settled on a .38 revolver instead of an automatic. If I ever had to use it, I didn’t want it jamming on me. When I told the guy in the shop it was for police use, he gave me a discount, and let me have one hundred rounds of ammunition for the price of seventy. Then he sold me a holster with a leather safety strap that went over the hammer, so it wouldn’t fall out if I was running. When I got home, I looked at the pistol in its box for a while, then put it away until my uniform arrived.
Now it all felt very real.
With time to kill until my stuff arrived, I felt the river beckoning. Most days, I would take a sandwich and flask down there, and just sit, thinking.
When I got back from training, Dad had told me that Old Man Henderson’s appeal had been denied. It had been in the paper.
I watched a heron fly away from the bank, and guessed he would die in jail after all.