As I drove into town the next morning, I could sense that this was Saturday. This is the day the town lived for. From the time the sun rose in the sky, there was a sense of excitement in the air. Saturday was the day when all the people for many miles around came to town, most of them arriving after mid afternoon. They came for a variety of reasons among which were, buying groceries, taking care of business, see a movie, talk with family and friends they hadn't seen in a week or more.
For most folks the festivities would end with the drawings in the park. As evening fell, the park would be filled with people.
Kids running, old men playing checkers, and lot of folks talking in groups, catching up on gossip and news. There would sometimes be music, and then finally the drawing would begin.
The merchants of the town would give away things, such as groceries and clothing. A large part of the people present were poor, and a chance to win these things was very important to them. Once the drawings were done, the town would begin to empty pretty quickly.
No sooner had I sat down in the Cafe, when Lacy Beth walked in, and joined me for breakfast. No more than ten minutes had passed when the door opened, and I saw Lacy's eyes tighten. That was followed by Cindy Mae walking up to our booth.
“Well, John David, I was going to have breakfast with you, but it appears someone beat me to it. Looking at Lacy, she said, “So, Lucy how are you this morning? Did you get a good nights rest?”
Lacy answered, “I'm fine Candy. Actually no, I didn't get a lot of sleep.” Looking at me, she continued, “I was up late working on a skirt.”
“My, my”, responded Cindy, “I didn't know you were so talented.”
Lacy Beth smiled and with exaggerated sweetness said, “Well there's a lot about me that you don't know. ”
Cindy's temples were turning red as she replied, “You don't like me do you?”
“Not – one - bit”, came back Lacy's deliberate reply. “You are as phony as a three dollar bill. You've done everything you can to try and steal John David, but it's not going to work. Once he looks beyond your dyed hair, your empty smile, and your cleavage, he will see that you are the dishonest, greedy little tramp I've known you to be ever since you infected this town with your presence..”
“Cindy stepped closer to the table and said, “Maybe I should just slap your face.”
“I've got a better idea”, replied Lacy as she jumped to her feet. “Let's go out the door, and down the alley. One of us walks back, and sends for the doctor for the one that can't.”
“Whoa!”, I half yelled.... “ Now if we were out in the country, I might throw you both in the swimming hole, and let you go at it . However, I'm the Sheriff, and I can't let you fight in town. Cindy Mae, you came in here looking to stir up trouble, and you got it. Be thankful it didn't go any further. You would stand a better chance fighting a panther as Lacy Beth. Now be on your way, and go cool off.”
After Cindy left the Cafe and headed down the street, I turned to Lacy and said, “Now, it's your turn. Might as well cool off and drop it. I can't have you two fighting in town. I'd have to put both of you in jail for the night, and I've kind of got my heart set on coming to your place tonight and seeing what you look like in that skirt... O.K. ?”
She gave me a smile, and said, “O.K. John David, I'm not going to let her ruin our evening.”
“Good. Well, I've god a busy day ahead of me. Meet you here about six for supper? Then we can go across to the park for the drawing.”
“That's fine”, she said. I've got an appointment at the beauty shop, need to buy some new shoes, get some groceries, and then bake a pie. I'll see you at Wanda's at six.”
As she started to get up, I grabbed her wrist, and said, “Wait a minute. I need to tell you something.” When she sat back down, I leaned close and said, “I'm worried that the killer might try to kidnap you or harm you in retaliation against me, or to use you to pressure me to drop the case. So, starting tonight, unless you refuse, I want to sleep on your couch at night until this thing is settled.”
“Huh, a likely story indeed”, she responded with an impish smile on her face. “But,story or no story, You can stay. Seriously, I appreciate your concern. Now about that couch......We can discuss that....”
“Fair enough”, I replied. “However, there is one more thing. I wanted to tell you so that you didn't get nervous if you saw somebody following you around. Albright Jennings is going to be somewhere around you most of the time when I'm not there. You know him as well as I do. When he is around, you will be as safe as humanly possible. Just make sure you stay in his sight.”
She thanked me, then went out the door to begin her day. A few minutes later, I did the same.
My feet would need a good soaking when this day was over. I lost count of the number of trips I made up and down Main Street, not to mention the close side streets and alley ways. Most folks came to town on Saturday looking forward to the break from the week's hard work, and a chance to talk to people, so things went pretty peaceful most of the time. However, there is always the exception, so it pays to be prepared. By and large the best way to avoid problems is to give the people the impression that a lawman might come around the corner at any minute. That's why I made it a point to not fall into any kind of pattern as I went around town.
One time I might walk from one end of town to the other. The next, I might walk out of a particular store, go half a block, then turn right around and go back into that same store. Then every so often to throw another possibility into the mix, I'd jump in my truck and take a spin around town.
However, it was as much fun as it was work. I got to see a lot of folks that I hadn't seen for awhile, and catch up on how they and their folks were doing. Besides that, it really gave me a good feeling to sit back and see so many honest hard working people who didn't have much, having an opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves.
The day passed quickly, and without incident. Six p.m. arrived, and Lacy Beth was already in the Cafe talking to Wanda when I walked in. As Lacy walked to meet me, Wanda said, “Good Luck.”
After we sat down, I asked, “What was Wanda wishing you good luck about?”
“Oh, just girl talk”, she answered, with a glint in her eye.
I looked at Lacy, and said with mock indignation, “Hey, I thought you were going to wear that skirt today!”
She laughed and said, “I would have, but if I walked down the streets of Jubal in that skirt, the proper ladies of this town would either have a stroke, or insist that you arrest me. However, if you prefer, I'll change into it when we get to my place.”
My answer was
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