This chapter of my blog fiction is a week late for good reason...
Last week was the publication of my e-book "Dark Excursions: third set" and it did sort of eat up my time...
by John L. Harmon
Sheriff Benjamin Straker and Chief Deputy Clyde Woodhouse sit silently in the parked SUV. Their eyes stare at the sturdy brick wall of the Sturgeons Police Headquarters in front of them, both contemplating what Ms. Floridia Minch had reported. Her uniquely informative words echo in the surrounding stillness.
A large white van, plain as the day is long, pulled right up into the Widow Waterbottom’s cracked driveway.
“I’ve seen that white van, Ben,” Clyde admits in a hushed voice, as if they are under surveillance in the SUV. “On the way to Stickler Woods.”
“I saw it then, too, Clyde,” Ben confirms in a similar tone while gripping the locked steering wheel. “And once before, on the way back from Lake Pontoon.”
She was a buxom blond, but there was professionalism about her. An air of authority, like a teacher. Very beautiful.
“The blond woman…I, well, I…” Clyde loses his words, but finds new ones. “I think she was the one driving.”
He was a four-eyed, dark-haired hippie! Though even with that hair he was surprisingly clean.
“And the man…” Ben starts, not finishing his thought, certain the man must be the one from the bar.
They were wearing lab-coats and performing tests or collecting samples, like in those absurd crime programs. Except it was odd the way they worked, in unison but somehow opposite.
Neither Ben nor Clyde knows what to think about that piece of information. After a few more minutes of sitting in the dark SUV the law enforcement duo exit the vehicle, Ben grabbing an item from the backseat before shutting the door, and enter Headquarters to find Officer Leslie Johns waiting for them. Ben had reported in immediately after exiting the house of Minch, so Leslie’s quick readiness is not a surprise.
Attired in light blue, like Clyde, she is standing at the front counter with a determined smile on her face. Her voice is like sweet maple syrup, “I’ve put out the APB for the surrounding counties. Officers Cartwright and Norris have been called in to aid in the search for the white van in town.”
“Excellent work, Leslie,” Ben commends, pleased with her efficiency, even if he deems it unnecessary, “but Clyde and I can search Sturgeons with you.”
“With all due respect, Sheriff Straker, you and Chief Deputy Woodhouse have been on duty most of the day and nearly all weekend, so go home and get some sleep. I’ll report in when we find something.”
Ben, after a brief deliberation, realizes the need for sleep outweighs the need for action. He also realizes a good sheriff spreads responsibilities throughout his trustworthy force. “Clyde, you can go home and I will rest in the employee lounge. Leslie, make sure someone wakes me when you’ve found the van.”
“Will do, Sheriff Straker.” Forever the professional, Officer Leslie Johns gives a nod and turns to leave, her short brown ponytail swishing in an arc. Chief Deputy Clyde Woodhouse follows with a wave, eager to check the hits on his online dating profile within the privacy of his own home.
Sheriff Ben Straker, as he makes his way to the employee lounge, feels an overwhelming sense of pride in the men and women who serve and protect Sturgeons. Lawrence handpicked each of them, including Miss Whiffle who thankfully didn’t stay all night working, and they make quite a team. Ben is certain that together they will find out what the hell is going on and prevent further disappearances.
Entering the lounge Ben makes himself comfortable by taking off his boots, unbuttoning his shirt and placing the beige hat on the back of an old beat-up brown couch. He situates himself on the couch, head resting on the cushioned arm, and opens the item he grabbed from the SUV.
It is Lawrence’s decades-old high school yearbook. The first thing he locates is the former sheriff’s senior picture. Even though it is of a younger Lawrence, he is still recognizable; his reddish-orange hair is obvious even in black and white.
“What was your reason for this?” Ben asks the picture, not expecting a response.
After a moment of silence and a sigh, he flips through the pages. Stopping every so often at a familiar name in sports, the school newspaper crew, a science fair spread, the drama club, and the chess club, he continues to ask the same question.
Tired, and growing frustrated at the seemingly meaningless gift, or whatever it is, Ben puts the yearbook on the floor and closes his eyes. Somewhere in his subconscious, between wakefulness and the swirl of sleep, he sees crisp blue eyes behind thick black glasses, intensified by a becoming smile.
“Samuel Dwyer,” he mutters before falling into the sandman’s limbo.
Click CHAPTER ELEVEN to continue.
Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,
Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,