RAWLINS’ PASSIVE AGRESSION
Rawlins’s gruff voice rang out, “Don’t shoot.”
From the dark Judy was screaming, “Mitch, help me!”
I thrashed trying to free myself to help Judy. But somebody was holding me down and I couldn’t get away. My left arm was being held and the room was dark. I couldn’t see who was holding me. It must be Pinky or Broken Glass. I had to get to Judy. What was Art doing? Was he going to shoot Rawlins? I rolled away from whoever was holding my arm in an attempt to get free but whoever it was rolled with me. When I rolled, I crashed to the floor with someone on top of me. I kicked and punched with my free hand but my punches were absorbed by what I figured must be a fat gut. He stayed on top, smothering me.
My heart raced and pounded in my chest overriding any other sound. It was so loud I couldn’t tell if Judy was still calling for me. How was I going to get free? I pushed with my free hand and the weight on top of me lifted off and fell to the side and at the same time my arm slid free.
I woke up sitting on the floor in my darkened living room. The overturned recliner was broken where I had pulled my arm free from falling in a crack. No one was screaming. Judy and Rawlins were not there in the dark. Pinky and Broken Glass were all in my imagination.
I sat panting, heaving my chest with every huge breath, trying to calm my heart. Yes, it was a nightmare. I struggled upright and shuffled to a light switch. Once I was able to see clearly again, I surveyed the living room. The recliner was on its side, the lamp was knocked over, but there was very little other damage.
When I went to bed, I left the lights on and put my forty-four magnum on the night stand in easy reach. If there were any real nightmares coming again that night, I was not going to be unprepared.
Thursday morning came after a fitful night of tossing and turning. A check of my phone as I picked it up from a recharging stand showed a text from Rawlins, “I’m busy. Catch you later.” I tried once more to call him and was put through to voice mail again.
I swung past Judy’s house on the way to work but her pickup was gone. A quick drive by the Title Company let me spot Judy and Laurie as they walked together to the front door. For some reason I had chosen to drive the old pickup this morning. Judy recognized the growl and turned as she opened the door and gave me an enthusiastic wave. I felt a huge relief seeing her about her daily duties. A giant sigh of relief welled up from deep within my gut. Knowing Judy was okay helped me calm my fears from the long night. As I stepped out of the pickup in the bank parking lot I heard birds singing. The morning hellos from my coworkers sounded pleasant not grating. Did I mention it was a relief to know Judy was safe?
My, “Good morning.” to Mary Beth must have been overly cheerful. She said, “Somebody must have had a good night.”
I looked at her in surprise. If there was one thing that did not happen, it was a good night. “Maybe it is just an exceptional morning.” I gave her a smile as I headed to my office with a cup of coffee.
Charlie smiled as I came out of the Employee Break Room and blocked the hallway. “Well? Are you going to tell us about the funeral?” Apparently Mary Beth and Charlie had been waiting for me to come to work.
Mary Beth helped to sandwich me in the hallway. “So give. I hear it was something special at the graveside.”
I had hoped to keep them in suspense for a while but I could see they wanted a recap now. “You could say we had a real hair raising experience.”
Mary Beth punched me lightly in the kidneys and said, “None of that, cowboy. We hear you were an eye witness.”
“I certainly got my eyes full.” I recapped the graveside service leaving out my part in the eulogy. “And then Frank, with his long arms, reached out as Lady Godiva rode past and relieved her of her hair. So if anyone got a revealing close up, it was Frank. The only one closer to the action was the lady herself. Funny thing is she showed up for the funeral reception after the grave side rights, with some clothes on, and instead of being angry with Frank, she seemed to take a real interest in him.”
Charlie asked, “So did Frank take an interest in return?”
“I think I will just leave that question for Frank.”
“In other words, yes.” Charlie had his answer as far as he was concerned and so he headed back to his office.
Mary Beth added, “I wonder how Laurie is going to like the shoe being on the other foot.”
I shrugged my shoulders not wanting to get drawn into that discussion. But there was another discussion I wanted to have. I tapped on Charlie’s door and asked, “Do you have a minute to discuss Duke Corver?” He nodded so I took a seat signifying that this was a significant discussion not a casual conversation. “Last week we turned Duke down at Loan Committee, right?” Charlie didn’t answer knowing I didn’t expect an answer. “I don’t know about you, but it bothers me when we can’t help out one of our long-term customers with a reasonable request. And so I have been thinking on that for a while and I have an idea I would like to run past you.” Charlie sat and listened. He’s good at that.
In the end he said, “It sounds like it might work. And I think what you are really asking me is if any of this is against bank policies. As long as you keep it at an arm’s length transaction and document the values, I don’t think you have any bank problems. You may have another issue to deal with but I have an idea on that end.”
I felt a lot better after talking to Charlie. It helped me to make a decision. After you have chewed on something for quite a while, it always helps to come to a conclusion. Now, I had to see if I could pull it off. I typed up an outline of Charlie’s suggestions and put it in my pocket so I would have it ready when I needed it.
With Judy in danger, I was not willing to wait on Rawlins any longer. So I called the Sheriff’s office and was told he was busy. I tried his cell phone and got his voice mail. I texted him, “Call me NOW!!” I thought about dialing 911 and asking to be patched through but wondered if I might be breaking a law. I would save that maneuver for later, if necessary.
About the time I got done with that, my ex-wife, Emily, sashayed in to my office. “Mr. Mitch Tobin, have you processed the check for the theatre group? I am having lunch with Chris and I wanted to hand him that check while we are eating.”
As usual Emily caught me off guard. “Check? Chris? Can you tell me what you are talking about?”
That got me the ‘dumb shit’ and the ‘scornful’ look all in one. I hadn’t had that double effect stare in ages. I was sooo thankful not to be married to this lady any more. “Mitch, I know you presented the Community Theatre request last week. Junior told me so.” She spit the next out slowly biting one word at a time. “Now where is the damn check?”
“Junior did listen to the request.” I held up my hand to slow down the response I knew what was coming. “But Junior didn’t approve it. He might. But he hasn’t yet. So until he does, no check.” Although it is probably unprofessional, I really enjoyed delivering this message. It is hard to be professional with your ex-wife.
Emily bit off her answer. “Well, I will just call Junior and he’ll tell you to cut that check right now.”
I smiled as I said, “You know Junior better than I do. How do you think he takes to being pushed on something?” I could tell by her face she knew the answer. “My suggestion to you is to wait until tomorrow when we meet on the pending requests for GRAB. I think Junior will approve the Community Theatre request then. Of course that means no present for Chris today, unless you are thinking of giving him something else.” She knew exactly what I meant and didn’t appreciate it at all. It’s funny that she was promiscuous but hated having it pointed out. Picking on her now was a lot more fun than when we were married. It wasn’t me personally that was making a decision contrary to her demands, it was the bank and even better than that it was the owner of the bank.
My response was not making Emily happy. She was, however, a good tactician and decided to leave things alone. As she got to the door, she turned around and gave me her panther snarl. “I understand you meet with Junior Friday morning. Have that damn check ready by noon tomorrow.” That exchange with Emily was probably the only time I felt like I came out on top.
The feeling of victory lasted only a short time until the metal clinking of nose and ear ornaments announced Amy Pierson. She stuck her head around the corner of my office door. “Hey, Mitch. Are you like busy, you know? I wanted to like, you know, give you a copy of the ad, you know.” With that she threw the paper on my desk with the ad copy circled. “How do you like it? You know, it’s like I put in color at no charge, you know.”
Amy stopped, obviously inviting a positive comment. She was so eager it was hard not to give her the desired reinforcement. I took a minute and actually looked at the ad. It was well done and the color made it pop. “Nice job, Amy. This turned out very well.”
“Well, you know, I tried. The bank like, you know, does a lot of advertising with the paper.” For once she didn’t let her mouth dribble on. When I didn’t say anything else, Amy asked, “Is Susie around. I need to see her, you know?” I pointed down the hall and Amy left without trying to sell me any new ads. Something was wrong with this picture.
Next Susie Wilks hit me on the J Link and said, “I’m just letting you know. I’m going to take my morning break now with a short errand outside the bank.” That was unusual for Susie. I looked through my glass wall and saw Susie putting on her jacket as she walked out the front door with Amy. They were in hush mode, whispering to each other. It looked like a serious conversation.
I tried calling Judy but got Laurie instead. Laurie said, “Judy is tied up with a customer. We do have a title business to run. I’ll let her know you called.” She hung up without saying goodbye. Was I ever going to get some time with Judy? This was getting past old and on to ancient aggravation.
Since I was already on the phone, I tired Rawlins again. Busy signal. Does the man ever pick up his phone?
Charlie had an early lunch which gave Mary Beth a chance to look through his office. She came to me and said, “Take a look at these.” She laid travel brochures on my desk. “They cover most of southern Utah and northern Arizona. I think Charlie may actually be planning a vacation.”
“Well, I’ll be damned. He may be doing just that.”
Mary Beth continued in an excited voice. “The two on top are of Moab, Utah. I didn’t think Charlie had any interest in four wheeling and back country trails unless it was on a horse.”
I said, “You haven’t seen him out hunting. He really gets into the rough trails with his ATV.”
“I better put these back in his office before he gets back from lunch.”
If there was one thing I was going to get done today, it was a conversation with Rawlins. I tried his office one more time and got his front desk. When they asked who was calling I started to blurt out my name and then got an idea. “This is John Many Hawks. Please patch me through to Sheriff Rawlins.”
The front desk officer said, “Good morning, John. Do you have a cold? Never mind, I’ll send you through to the Sheriff right away.”