2008-02-15

Unnamed police drama. Chapter one.

Sheriff Baker placed his legs up on the table and yawned, stretching his aging arms wide. It was looking like a good morning, but it was probably his last good morning ever. This thought rattled him slightly.

The coffee was good, as it always was. The donut was, well, typical. The donut shop in town hadn't been doing too well since the owner died last month. In the age old fashion, he dipped the donut in the coffee and brought it into his mouth. Coffee and donuts – it was what police did, or at least what all those TV shows and films showed what police did. He didn't care. He liked it.

He was savouring the coffee-laced dough when the door opened. Ed Jakes, an African American, entered, carrying his usual briefcase and wearing his typical suit. Baker didn't get up.

“Well, look who it is. It's the Feds.” he said.

“Morning sheriff. Don't get up. May I come in?” he asked.

“Course you can” Sheriff Baker said “You only walked outta here past midnight last night.”

“That's the truth” he said, and sat down opposite Baker.

Ed Jakes was an assistant director in the FBI. At 60 years old he was the same age as the county sheriff opposite him but was leaner, meaner and younger looking. His G-man suit was freshly pressed. His skin and clothes and professional demeanour immediately put him at odds with the town outside. He spied the donut and coffee and shook his head.

“You know Sheriff, you're a walking talking stereotype having that stuff for breakfast.”

“It ain't breakfast, it's, well, let's say it's morning tea. You know, like the Queen has.”

Jakes laughed. “How's business?” he asked.

Sheriff Baker smiled and puffed up “Wouldn't ya know it? I gave out a parking ticket this morning.”

Jakes grinned. In the last few months of getting to know the Sheriff he had gotten to like him, despite all that had happened. Then he remembered what he had been doing before walking into the Sheriff's office, and his grin faded.

“You hear there was a shooting this morning?”

The Sheriff's eyes dropped. “Yeah, heard it in my prowler before I turned the radio off. Bad?”

“Pregnant teenager. Black girl. Shot in the head out the back of the supermarket.” Jakes replied.

“She dead?” Sheriff Baker asked. Jakes nodded and Baker shook his head.

“Shit” Baker declared. “You know, 20 years ago when citizens were murdered there was some sort of outcry. These days. Well. This county seems to be some crazy western town. Nobody'd think it was the 21st century. Any idea who the shooter was?”

“Well, who knows? I had a look at the body and it looked like a typical 9 millimetre entry wound. The brick wall behind her had two bullet holes in it. I had a look. The bullets went in further than the usual semi-automatic pistol which means they had the muzzle velocity of a sub machine gun. They were AP rounds as well. At a guess, I'd say someone with an MP5 fired a three round burst at her from close range.”

“MP5? There's only one people round here who use them.” The Sherriff said.

Jakes nodded.

The Sheriff continued. “And if the girl was killed by Intech security, they ain't gonna release the body for no one. Probably not even the family.”

Jakes nodded again. “Comes with their territory. I suppose they're just pissed that the county isn't renewing the contract.”

The Sheriff shook his head “Well, we'll see about that tonight.”

Jakes paused and then picked up his brief case. He opened it and brought out a manila folder, thick with documents inside.

“So. Is this a social visit or do you have something for me?' Baker asked.

“Every visit is a social visit with you Sheriff Baker. Here.”

Jakes handed the Sheriff the folder. The Sheriff put his donut and coffee on the table and sat upright as he took it. He opened it immediately and began to read.

“I like that picture of me,” the Sheriff presently said. “It makes me look thin”

Sheriff Baker continued to read. Every so often he would turn a few pages over. Sometimes he would turn back. After a couple of minutes he closed it up and put it back on the table. He picked up his mug of coffee, leaned back and put his feet back on the table again.

“Anything missing?” Jakes asked.

“No. It's all there. Even stuff I didn't know. You even got that bank account number in Bermuda right. I kept getting the last two digits wrong. So. How long?”

Jakes took an intake of breath as he considered. “Well if you don't co-operate, you'll probably spend the rest of your life behind bars at county.”

“Hmm.” said Sheriff Baker “And if I do co-operate?”

“Probably about twenty years in a Federal Prison. Interstate. Medium security. Private cell.”

“Do I get a Television?”

“Well that'll be up to the warden obviously. But at least you won't get raped by some of the guys in county you put away.”

Sheriff Baker was silent for a moment.

“Well, twenty years is life for someone like me I suppose. I might as well enjoy it at the Federal Government's expense”. Sheriff Baker re-dunked his donut in his coffee and consumed the rest of it.

“Is that a 'yes' Sheriff Baker?” asked Jakes.

“Mhhh Huhhh” the Sheriff nodded, moist crumbs falling from his full mouth.

Jakes produced a pen and handed it to Baker. “Last page. Where the X is.”

Sheriff Baker sat back up again, took the pen and opened up the folder again to the last page.

“Well, I better check the fine print. Don't want to discover I signed a document that has hidden interest charges or some such” Baker said as he pulled out his glasses. After another minute of careful reading he signed it.

“Couldn't understand a damn word anyway” he said, handing the pen back.

Jakes took the pen and returned it to his pocket. Baker returned to his horizontal position, coffee mug in hand as Jakes took the folder back.

“Do you think the townsfolk will approve?” asked Jakes.

“Well who knows?” Sheriff Baker mused. “Five years ago. No way in hell. Give me liberty or give me death and all that stuff. These days?” Baker shrugged. “There may be a few people waving the constitution around, but they ain't the ones who've lost loved ones. Yet.”

“That's what I figure” Jakes nodded “What we're doing is very unusual. To be honest I thought that, in West Virginia of all places, people would start talking about Waco or Ruby Ridge.”

“Well they did. For a while. Then they started to notice that it wasn't the government who was 'wielding the sword' and taking away their rights. Intech have tried their best to frighten people about you feds, and it would've worked 2 or 3 years ago. Now? If Senator McCarthy were alive today he would be saying we've turned communist.”

“Thankfully that's hardly what we're going to do.” Jakes comented.

“Yeah. That I know - now. So, when's the meeting?”

“Seven o'clock tonight. Town Hall obviously. It'd be good if you went. You are still Sheriff for another 24 hours.” Jakes suggested.

“Nah. I'll only get in the way. Mayor'll be there won't he? You're not arresting him are you?”

“No not yet. We have some evidence against him but, to be brutally honest, we need him where he is. He'll be more effective as mayor than sitting in jail.”

“Unlike me of course!” Sheriff Baker laughed “Someone had to take the fall I suppose. In many ways I'm glad that it was me.”

There was a pause. Jakes put the folder back into his briefcase and put it back on the ground.

“Two more things before I go.” Jakes tapped the table. “First. This building. Did Intech ever use it?”

“Nope. As soon as the contract got signed they did everything from HQ. We got rooms and cells here full of dust. If you guys get the contract you're welcome to the place. Is it up to FBI standards?”

“Of course not, but we'll spend a bit of taxpayers money to renovate it. Second question.”

“Shoot.”

Jakes paused. “You okay?”

Sheriff Baker knotted his eyebrows in confusion.

“What you talkin' about?”

“You spent twenty years here...”

“As Sheriff. I was here longer as a deputy.”

“Are you okay - you know. In your head. Your heart.”

Baker paused and looked into the FBI man's eyes. “Strange questions comin' from you. You asking me about my mental health? Is that it?”

Jakes nodded.

“Hmmm. I suppose I should be glad you asked. I suppose I should also say it's none of your damn business. But you've been good to me Director Jakes. You've been honest. You've done what you said you would.”

Sheriff Baker inhaled loudly as he thought.

“I take full responsibility for all that I've done. I was stupid, greedy and na├»ve – characteristics that shouldn't typify a 60 year old man, let alone a county sheriff. But in these last 6 months Director Jakes, I been reading the Bible a lot and praying. I sinned. I sinned against the people of this town and this county. I sinned against the people who've died in the last five years and some of their blood is on my hands because of what I failed to do. I can't deny that. But I also sinned against God. And the only thing that's kept me going, what's keeping me from taking my own life is the joy I feel. Do you believe in God director Jakes?”

“As a matter of fact I don't.”

“Well that's a pity right there. But then. Well. I'm the one who's joyful in the Lord who's the one going to prison. You're the unbeliever, but who's done the right thing. Even I know that ain't right.”

“So do you feel anxious. Depressed. Anything like that?” Jakes continued.

“Not any more. I did more weeping and gnashing of teeth before you Feds turned up. One of the reasons I believe God sent you all was to save me, amongst other things. So. No. I'm fine. Obviously a little sad. But I'm not going to cut my wrists or blow my brains out. That's for sure.”

Jakes stood. “That's good to hear. Federal prisons do have first rate counselling services. You may need it some time. It's no shame to admit it.”

Baker nodded. “I chose to face my sins and all my wrongdoing the day you walked in here and read me my rights. I chose not to be silent. I can assure you director Jakes, if I need some professional help for my head, my pride ain't going to get in the way any more.”

“Well. I'll see you later.” Jakes said as he turned to the door.

“See you in court” Baker responded with a grin.

Jakes walked out.

---------------------

Notes:

I imagine Sydney Poitier as Jakes and Jack Nance as Sheriff Baker.

Intech is a fictional company in this story and is not related in any way to any real companies called Intech.

Yes, TD Jakes was the first name in my mind for the FBI guy.

The story takes place in the fictional "Gerrold county" in West Virginia. It is on the western border with Kentucky and shares borders with the real counties of Wayne and Mingo.

The story is set in the year 2013.



© 2008 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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4 comments:

Alex said...

One problem.

Bermuda does not (and probably never will) allow non-residents to open accounts... Cayman or Vanuatu would be better jurisdictions if you want to have some fun and be a bit more believable.

Switzerland works too because of banking secrecy laws.

One Salient Oversight said...

Well, it may not be Baker's bank account - it may be that Intech has an account there.

I did think of the Caymans, but it, like Switzerland, was too stereotypical for me to use.

Alex said...

If Intech had a local office they may be able to pull it off. Even so, a tall order.

If you want to bake noodles then Jersey Trusts are all the rage. Better yet, the Bahamas... just ask Sheikh Fahd.

Laura said...

Typify... I've been to that part of West Virginia and I never met anybody who used that word.

It's an interesting place to set a story -- it's kinda creepy up in them hills.