"The Annual Fear" 3... by Rolly A. Chabot
Well we are in a new setting and somewhat isolated near a wonderful lake living in a small but well appointed cabin. Hope you were able to find the way here. Smiles... if you get lost there is a pay phone on the third tree to the left... hope it works... no cell coverage here as far as I could find.
Arrived late in the day after an 8 hours drive through the mountains and got a fire going and of course found my way to the lake and managed a good sized trout. The water is glacier fed and ice cold. Needless to say I am right at home here and will be doing a fair bit of writing and of course some fishing. There is plenty of bear sign in the area so will need to keep my eye on them.
Gather around and hopefully the Internet stays connected long enough to get this uploaded. Cuddle in close and know that you are all loved dearly...
Chapter Three: “The Judge”
Wally’s gruff voice came over the radio “Yards to Sidon, Yards to Sidon. Come in.”
“Dan reached for the microphone on his lapel, “Go ahead, Sidon here.”
“Better get your butt down here and make the call looks like we are going to loose 11th street bridge as well, that Redwood off your farm that took out the center street is creating a jam of crap here. Whoops! I mean the debris, oh hell! You know what I mean.”
“Be right there Wally” keep everyone off please and better get more barricades in advance. Hate this time of year. I think the town should shut off all the lower reaches of town. Always the same is it not?
“Right, Wally laughed and I will be the first to bring that up at the community meetings. Now that would create a stir? Better check in on the old Judge as well as he was a hold out like usual, stood his ground saying haul me away in a boat if you need to or a meat wagon cause I’m not leaving.”
“Will do, that old buzzard as much as I love him he is the same every year. Maybe I can talk him into packing up and coming out to the farm till this passes. He likes it out there. Him and old Jake get along well.”
“Good luck with that one. Then came a crack and a loud noise followed by some cursing. No need to hurry now Dan, we lost this one too. There goes the town street budget for this year, get ready for pothole season as there will be no cash left over for repairs now.”
In the background Dan could hear the orders being barked out, “Three there and get me two there, get the signs up the hill on both sides. Gus better load all the barricades we have left and start over to Evansberg. What a bloody mess. Dan, better get over to the judges cause the waters come up close to two feet in three hours. If the town does not make a decision soon I think I will start running the loader through some of these shacks. I hate my job, I hate my job,” he ranted on. Dan can you call Lester over in Evansberg and see if he can spare some barricades have him post people on that side till we get there”
“Will do, I think I better call a meeting and declare this a state of emergency, you with me on that call?
“Done, just get it in the works and I will start closing off all the streets coming down here, only emergency vehicles allowed. Chase anyone else out of there.”
Dan flipped through his planner, Mayor Wanda Webber answered on the second ring, “Mayor Webber here.”
“Wanda, Dan Sidon here, we have a situation happening and it is not looking good. The river is rising and we have already lost the Center Street Bridge and the 11th just went as well, I would like to call a state of emergency.”
“Done she answered in a soft voice. On one condition you come over to the house for dinner one night soon. I have a few things I would like to talk over and maybe show you a few more?
The flirting had been going on for the past few years, there was little or no doubt Wanda was after him. Wanda was a great looking lady, mid forties, flaming read hair, a knock out dresser and a figure that had turned many heads in her time.
She had made several attempts to lure him into a relationship but none could take the place of his Beth. It was tempting but he knew the demands would be great. She would not be satisfied with anything simple. It would have to be full blown and filled with passion.
Wanda had always gotten anything she wanted, that was until she met him. There had been much speculation about them, mostly gossip that had started at a New Years party after a passionate kiss she had given to him. At first the kiss had stirred his desire he had set aside, then it repulsed him remembering the soft gentle kiss Beth would give. Wanda’s kiss had been a signal she was ready, willing and very available.
“Food is good but what follows well I’m just a little too old for that anymore Wanda, keep looking and find yourself a young one who can look after all the need.”
“I would look after you real good Dan” she whispered into the phone.
“ I know but thanks Wanda, but I think I will pass. I have enough on the go already.”
“So there is hope after all, you know I always get my way Dan the Man and the man is who I want. That fence you have around you will crumble someday.”
“Well we all have our dreams Wanda, where mine lead you will never know. Now back to the purpose of this call, we have lost both bridges and are in trouble. I think it is time we seek some outside help, those are your calls as you are the Mayor here.”
“I will make the calls, give me a few minutes as I’m soaking in a nice hot tub filled with bubbles. Would be nice to have my back washed Dan.”
“Make the calls Wanda, I need to go and check on the Judge, the old boy refused to leave town again and the river is still rising. Oh! Get a long handled brush, they are on sale at Jerry’s Hardware, I hear they are great for scrubbing backs.”
The phone went dead before he finished. That should get her off his back for a while at least. He had been warding off her suggestions for two years. He was running out of patience.
Heading north Dan turned at Pine Street and as he pulled up in front of a smaller well built home. The judge was outside turning flowerbeds in his yard. As he seen the cruiser pull up he jammed the shovel into the bed and headed towards the front door, stopped and shouted at Dan “Forget it, this is my home and I refuse to leave, even if you are here to take me away.”
The “Judge” as many knew him had sat on the County Courthouse Circuit for many years. It was the judge who had passed sentence on him, on Russ and Burt as well. It was the Judge who had the final say if he could get the job as Sherriff when the position came open.
Great respect had been established with the Judge over the years. “Not here to run you off Judge, just here to see you are OK is all. The river has come up several feet and still rising, both bridges are out; things are heading to be the worst year ever. How about you make us some coffee and let’s have a chat about life, been a long while since I sat with you.”
“Well I suppose but I have stated my case and not willing to move. Try and force me and I will whip the living daylight’s out of you.” He raised his fist in a defiant way. The judge had made his case.
Dan stepped into the living room; the walls were covered with awards and memorabilia from years of serving on the bench. Pictures of the past one always stopped to look at. The Judge had made a name for himself, three pictures of him standing with three different Presidents, Nixon, Johnston and Regan. Pictures of his youth, he was considered to be a top-notch athlete in his day in college and beyond.
One picture stood out as he recalled the judge shaking a fist at him a few minutes ago. The caption below read “State Golden Gloves 47-49”.
Judge came around the corner and said, “Remember that picture if you decide to try and arrest me, someone will be getting a whipping and it will not be me. Still as fast as a cat, as he hunched over his shoulders and tossed a fast jab or two toward Dan.
Dan feigned left then right and if both punches had been intended he would have been squarely smacked by both of them. The old boy still had it in him.
He held up both hands saying, “I’m a lover not a fighter Judge.”
“Been doing any of either this past while, I know all about the fighting part, I took the wind out of that sail many years ago, the Judge laughed. I hear rumor that witch Wanda is after you, man stay clear of that one Dan. She will suck you dry and dump you faster than a hot potato at a camp cook out. Something about that broad I cannot stomach, take away all the fancy trappings and I still see something less than a lady there. There is far too much city in that girl for this country. She is up to something and I just know it after all the years I spent on the bench. Some people you know have good intentions, hers well something is amiss there.”
“Not sure Judge and nor do I care to find out, I just keep running every time I get the chance.”
“Well keep running you are far too good a man to get caught up with the likes of her. The only reason she was elected was because all the men in this town thought they might get a chance at her. A shame when you think of it man. I mean married men running off in their minds of the fantasies she can raise. I think you should carry out a full-scale investigation on her Dan. I have always been able to spot a liar when I see one, they have a special stink about them and I can smell that one a mile away.”
Dan shrugged his shoulders and said “Well Judge I can do that for you, now tell me about you. Been catching any big ones lately, see you down at the river early in the morning and late at night. He pointed over to the far wall where the Judge had several stuffed fish hanging. That is if there any left in the river after you been in there.”
“Plenty of them left, they have gotten smarter is all with all the fishing going on, one time a man could fool them but they are getting smarter. The river is so dirty now there is no sense in even thinking about fishing. Just need to wait it out I guess, this time of the year wears me out with all the waiting and all. I really like this new catch and release thing the State put in place, the river will live on for years with that law. I hear you busted a couple lawmen last year for poaching and attempting to take them home.”
“Sure did Judge, they had three in a duffle bag, I watched them catch them and toss them into the bag. I was standing up on Rigger Point watching with binoculars. They came in and introduced themselves, wrap around sunglasses and all. I was waiting for them to leave town but they had the nerve to come in and introduce themselves at the office. Mouthy kind you know, flashing their badges like they were looking for some kind of special treatment.”
“Know the type, seen them many times come in on out of State cases. He lifted his fist again and said, this is what they need, just a bunch of punks really. I hear tell they were gunning for you after.”
“After they had a little visit and made all the snide remarks about small town justice and all I arrested them just at the edge of town. I asked to open the trunk of the car and again the badges came out. Giving me comments like, Brotherhood and respect for the badge and all. Well I threatened to shoot the lock open before they finally opened it and the evidence was there. Wrote them up on the spot I did and the new Judge Jeff Teteman who is a fisherman as well threw the book at them.”
“I hear they got the max of the law tossed at them and lost their license’s, gear and the car. That’s why I put you on the job Dan, honest as the day is long and not a man to mess with.”
“Know something Judge, never really thanked you for the investment you made into my life. It is something I learned from you, invest in another and the blessings will return to you over and over again. Thank you for taking a chance on some kid up river.”
“Dan, your Dad and I went a long way back, he was a good man, a man who stood on his morals and his faith. We never had a bit of trouble from him. When my Rosie and I first came here we never had a thing, every couple of days there would be a box of vegetables and some deer meat on the doorstep when we got up in the morning.”
“One night I sat up all night waiting till early in the morning and it was your dad who set that on our step. I asked him about it a few years before he passed away and all he said was God provided extra and him and your mom insisted they share.”
Dan lowered his head as a few tears filled his eyes, it was the first he had ever heard about the generosity. He knew his dad had done much good in town, helping people where he could often anonymously. He looked up at the Judge and it was the judge who stood placed a hand on his shoulder and said “Miss them don’t you Dan? Make you a deal, let me stay through the flood and I will adopt you.”
With that said he jumped back and started to spar into thin air. Fail to do so and you will meet these two in a dark alley some night.”
Dan stood stuck out his hand and said “You have a deal dad, thank you again for all you have done for the family. You are a special man and it would be my honor to be your son. If things get out of hand here at the house I want you too know you have a place at the farm to stay till the river drops.”
Now it was the Judge who had tears in his eyes, “My pleasure Dan never did have any children. Rosie and I could not for one reason or another. A few miscarriages and we just stopped trying. Thank you for taking on the mantle. If the water starts running into the basement I will open the windows and call you and you can come and take me away.”
“Deal” Dan said as he walked towards the door. He stopped and turned. You must miss Rosie Judge as much as I miss my Beth. You and I are much alike in many ways, what say once the water clears we go down and do some fishing together, like father and son?
“Best offer I have had in a long while son, love to teach you a few things about stalking the big ones compared to the little ones you always catch. They laughed and he pulled the judge in for a hug.
Just as he reached the cruiser the judge called, “Have a look into her past Dan, something tells me there is something hidden there. Far to smooth for my liking and stay clear of the claws she has hidden, trust me they will come out someday and the dark side she has will be revealed.”
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