The River: Part Nine

This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 1209 words.

Trying on the uniform made me feel very grown up. Especially the hat. I bought myself some mirror-lens sunglasses too, to complete the look. Driving into work wearing the belt rig and the pistol in the holster felt strange that first day. Vince seemed amused to see me looking like that, and raised his hands. “Oh my Lord, look what we have here! Deputy Farlowe, all growed-up and looking for all the world like a real po-lice-man”. He opened a drawer and handed me two bright badges. One was to wear pinned to my shirt, the other to go on my hat. They looked just like the badges worn by Sheriffs or Marshals in western films, and I didn’t hesitate to get them fixed on.

I spent the morning with Hoogstraten. He showed me where all the forms and paperwork was kept, and how to lock somebody in one of the cells if I had to. He seemed pleased to be off patrol, and was exceptionally friendly. I had brought a sandwich for lunch, and Vince told me I would be riding with him that afternoon. “You can drive me around, Clay, get the feel of things. I reckon you should be good to go by next week, then you can try things on your own”.

Once we were out in the car, I saw the other side of Vince DeWalt. he talked a lot about taking no nonsense, and making sure people knew who was boss. “Anyone talks back to you, Clay, don’t be scared to give them a good whack with your stick. I’ll always back up your side of things”. He told me to drive out to the gas station on Forest Road. That was on the road to the Country Club, and he said if we sat in the car out back we would be sure to catch some speeders there, late afternoon. I asked if he kept the radar gun in the trunk, and he roared with laughter. “Radar gun, boy? We don’t need no radar gun. We say if someone was driving too fast, and that’s the end of it”. I could see that studying law had been superfluous. We operated by a different set of laws.

Vince DeWalt’s laws.

After ten minutes sitting supposedly out of sight, Vince sent me in for coffee and donuts. I poured two coffees into styrofoam cups, and went up to the counter. Bernice looked at me funny, and I realised she hadn’t recognised me. “And two donuts please, bear claws”. As she put them into a paper bag, Bernice grinned. “So it’s you, Clay. Didn’t know you were working with Big Vince now”. I offered some dollar bills in payment, and she put her hands on her hips. “Come now, you know you boys never pay”. I felt embarrassed, but had learned another lesson. Cops in Riverdale don’t pay for stuff. I hadn’t known that, but wasn’t about to argue the case with Bernice.

Forest Road was quiet, and I saw Vince check his watch a few times, shifting his weight in the seat. A convertible went past, music playing on the car radio, the driver with a big smile on his face, and a girl in the front passenger seat with her head thrown back, laughing at something the driver was saying perhaps. Vince slapped my thigh. “Get going, Clay. He’s your first speeding ticket”. The limit was forty, and I guessed the driver wasn’t doing a great deal over that. But I did as I was told, and pulled out behind the car, turning on the lights and siren. Expecting a chase, I got up a good speed, and felt the short thrill of going too fast on a road I knew well. I soon caught up to the convertible.

He stopped the car so quickly, I almost ran into the back of him. Following procedure, I called up on the radio, advising Milly I was stopping a car, and asking her to check the plates with County. She sounded surprised. “Are you still with Vince, Clay?”. I confirmed I was, and the Sheriff started to chuckle. “No need for all that, Clay. Just get up there and give him a ticket”. I put on my sunglasses, and approached the car with my hand close to my holster. We had been shown this many times during training, and it felt pretty cool to actually be doing it for real.

The guy driving the car was still smiling. He looked to be about thirty, though the girl with him was a lot younger. “Is there a problem, officer?” I stood up straight, and removed my notebook. ‘Licence and registration please, sir”. He handed them over without hesitation. I reckoned he was used to being stopped like this. “You were driving over the forty limit for this road, so I’m afraid I am going to have to give you a ticket for that”. He just shrugged.

After writing everything down, I filled out the speeding ticket, gave him a copy, then reeled off how he should pay, and how long he had to do so. The girl was staring at me as if I was something in a cage at the zoo but the guy didn’t seem at all bothered. Vince suddenly appeared at the passenger side. His booming voice made the girl jump out of he skin, and startled me too. “Out the car! Let’s see if you have been drinking. Get round the front”. The driver had stopped smiling now. From his address, and the shiny new convertible, I guessed he was pretty wealthy and had probably been at the Country Club earlier. He got out quickly, and walked to the front of the car to stand next to Vince.

What happened next was obviously for my benefit. The guy may have had a drink before, but he certainly wasn’t drunk, and didn’t even smell of alcohol. The Sheriff made him close his eyes, then touch his nose with one finger, then another. Then he made him stand on one leg, as he timed that with his wristwatch. The girl was starting to look scared now, probably wondering how she would get home if her date was arrested. Vince continued to speak loudly. “Now, walk that white line at the side of the road there. One foot in front of the other. Nice and slow now”. The driver did as he was told, and Vince walked behind, urging him on. “That’s the way, keep going just like that”. After ten paces or so, I saw the Sheriff’s cowboy boot extend, as he tripped the man. He fell to his left side, extending an arm to stop himself ending up in the scrub.

As he got up, rubbing his hands to shake off the road dirt, Vince was grinning at him. “I will put that down to you falling. I don’t reckon you’re drunk. But I don’t want to see you speeding in Riverdale again, you hear? Off you go now. Take your sweetheart straight home”. When we were back in the car, the Sheriff turned to me with a serious look on his face.

“Like I said, Clay. You have to show them who’s the boss”.

29 thoughts on “The River: Part Nine

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Jennie. I am pleased to read that you have set the place and period in your mind. That pleases me a great deal. In fact, I have no set period in mind, just the time before computers and cellphones, so far at least. The clue to the approximate time period is in a car that Clay buys in a later episode.
      As for place, it is definitely below the Mason-Dixon line, but not specified. Perhaps more west than deep south? 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome, Pete. I’m just starting to read Part Ten. You really have this nailed. The time frame is definitely not 1940. It may be 1970, but my instinct is still 50’s or 60’s. I thought a lot about the location. There are way too many clues to the south, like how the sheriff talks. This could Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma… even my home state of West Virginia. Back to Part Ten…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. No doubt there is cronyism in the police departments of small southern towns. And big southern towns and…towns. Ha! Just kidding ya’…
    I like where you are going with this, Pete. It feels authentic. You’ve captured the parlance well. This is what I’m feeling…Well written Pulp fiction with tinges of noir–southern noir at that. That’s my wheelhouse. Love it.
    –Pam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Pam. I have over 60 years of watching American films and TV shows to work with, but I am trying not to ‘parody’ the genre. In my mind, it is not unlike ‘Electra Glide In Blue’, but different! 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) “Cops in Riverdale don’t pay for stuff.” Apparently, free stuff doesn’t include summer shirts and slacks, winter pants and a heavy coat, hats for both seasons, regulation shoes and boots, a leather belt rig to hold all the equipment, a pistol and holster, and, most importantly, cool-looking cop shades.
    (2) Farlowe is comprised of two words: “owl” and “fear.” A wise cop must be observant, and he must preserve and promote the public’s fear of the law. But another anagram of Farlowe is “a flower.” A rookie cop has to grow into the job; he has to be tough towards lawbreakers, while at the same time come across as sensitive towards the unfortunate victims of a crime. In short, Clay needs to be molded, so let’s hope that with Vince DeWalt, he finds himself in good hands…
    (3) “Anyone talks back to you, Clay, don’t be scared to give them a good whack with your stick.” Another word for a “stick” in these rural communities is “country club.”
    (4) Clay has chosen to be the town deputy so that he can look into the murder of Donna and Melanie. He’s not exactly pursuing this mission under the radar.
    (5) According to truckers, highway patrol officers always ask for “Smokey the Bear” claws.
    (6) “You were speeding in a forty limit, so I’m afraid I am going to have to give you a ticket for that”. Since when does a copy apologize for issuing a ticket? Of course, most drivers do apologize for breaking the speed limit, and many even beg for leniency. Of course, women leverage their cleavage…
    (7) Trip/Trooper/Trap advice: When on a trip, beware state troopers who set up speed traps!
    (8) Falling in the scrub curbs one’s enthusiasm. And it hurts to boot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to be honest and say I’m slightly torn about Vince. On the one hand, Clay’s by-the-book fairness was getting absolutely no respect, but then, abuse of power is never a good thing. I mean, if Vince does this for a relatively minor case like this, than what other circumstances has he shown people “who’s the boss?” I’m hoping Clay winds up being a better officer than this.

    Liked by 1 person

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