My thoughts immediately went to Judy. Maybe she had put a love note on the pickup. I didn’t recognize the handwriting but had no problem reading, “You are being watched all the time. Don’t do anything foolish. Your friends wouldn’t like it.” I quickly scanned the street in both directions. The absence of a lurking menace didn’t keep my hair from standing up on my neck. How long ago had the note been tucked into the wiper? Was it right after going into the saddle shop? Or was it recently? My uneasiness grew the longer I stood there in the open. My feeling of vulnerability lessened slightly as I hopped into the pickup and touched the pistol I kept in the middle compartment. The cold steel of the forty-five gave me reassurance of protecting myself. But it hadn’t protected Judy the other night.
I shook off my tension as I rolled down the street checking for a tail. No vehicle was on the street at that hour. The crowd parked in front of the bar were the regular hard cores that would be there until closing. A little town like Spearfish in western South Dakota is pretty quiet most of the year. On a week night the streets rolled up around ten at night.
On the way home, I went past Judy’s. Judy’s and Laurie’s vehicles were parked in the driveway and the house lights were out. So I assumed they were safe and sound. Since her mishap and the continuing threats, I never felt good about Judy unless she was in sight and I knew she was safe. The whole situation was getting under my skin. I was mad at Art Kennedy and Pinky and Broken Glass and Rawlins. Rawlins tonight was a special target of my irritation. What was he doing to solve the situation?
Rolling into my driveway, I was glad my yard light came on automatically. Since my troubles of the last year, a little security was welcome. There were no dead bodies in parked cars like happened last fall. The little old trailer house looked welcoming in the warm light. I parked my old pickup next to the new diesel. The new one was soooo shiny and the old one was so beat. But I felt more at home in the old beater. It was just more me. It had been fun driving the new outfit for a while, but I always felt self-conscious when I drove it.
After the work session, I didn’t feel like a Jack and Coke. The absorption of the night’s work had taken much of the day’s edge away. A short visit to check on Dan and Biscuit and I was off to bed. The alarm was going to come too soon.
Friday morning at work was mundane except the GRAB meeting with Junior. I hadn’t had any new requests to speak of so it was mainly a rehash of the previous week. Junior was in a great mood and was ready to hand out some bucks. We went over the request for the community theater again. Junior said, “If this wasn’t such a good cause I would throw this one out. Do you know that wife of yours called me three times this week reminding me that they need those funds.”
I corrected him, “Ex-wife.”
He chucked and said, “And I bet you’re glad of that.” He fidgeted with the paperwork for a little bit and finally added, “Cut them a check for ten thousand, Mitch. But don’t give it to Emily. Why don’t you give it directly to that fella from the college who is helping them out.” That was Junior’s way, show people he was in charge. Normally I don’t like his manner, but in this case I agreed with the strategy.
“Okay. I’ll do that on Monday.” Whatever flak fell on me from Emily would be well worth it. “You never formally denied the request for funding the name change of Sandpoint, Idaho to Orville City.”
Junior chuckled and said, “You’ve got to give that guy brownie points for effort. But his request doesn’t fit with our community theme. Why don’t you send him a thousand anyway.”
I thought it was a good time to slip in the request from my Lion’s club. Junior seemed in such a good mood that it was sure to get approval. I crossed my fingers and gave it a go, “Have you given some more thought to the request from the Lion’s club for playground equipment? It is a community project and a non-profit group that is local.”
Junior gave me his kind mentor look and said, “I thought we discussed the fact that there may be a conflict of interest with that request since you belong to the Lion’s club.”
I started to get ticked. Just because I was in the club had nothing to do with it being a valid request. But before my anger ran away with me I had an idea. “We could even put a plaque on the equipment showing it was donated by the bank. You know something large in brass that would last.”
Junior was about to say no but then my idea took root. “I wonder how much we would have to donate to get the whole park named after the family. You know change it to Dunbar Park. Or maybe Dunbar Memorial Park. Now that would be a heritage.” His eyes were getting that greedy pig stare that he used to have so often. But it was strange to see that look connected with giving away money. “You know, Mitch that is a great idea. I am really glad we moved you over to Vice President of Public Relations. You have some wonderful ideas. This bank is really going to hum when you are president. I think I’ll help you with the park idea if you don’t mind. I can talk to the mayor and the city council members. I know all of them personally.” He beamed a self-satisfied smile in my direction. “Will that work with you?”
I nodded my head which was the only safe thing to do with Junior when he was having one of his grand ideas. “And of course we will need a lot more than a few thousand in playground equipment. Why don’t you go back to your Lion’s club and see what other ideas they may have for the park.” Our club had hoped to get a plaque recognizing the club for their efforts on the equipment. I wondered how this would go. Basically Junior was proposing a lot more work for our club with the recognition going to the bank. But the end result had some major park improvements for the community.
Junior went on for a while naming the council members and when he might be able to take them to lunch or see them at the club. He had forgotten any other agenda items in his good mood. When he started to get up to leave already to go hunt down the mayor, I said, “We have one more item that is unresolved. Do you remember the request from the little girl about helping her father? You asked me to get some more information on them.”
Junior looked a little puzzled at first. Readjusting his grand thoughts of a Dunbar Park to the business at hand was an effort. I pushed the printed request to him. He browsed and then said, “Oh, yes. The little girl asking for work for her dad. Why doesn’t he go out and find something on his own?” Apparently the fountain of good will had run its course with Junior for the morning.
Just like the Lion’s Club request, I wanted this one approved. “If you remember, her dad came home from deployment in the military and is having a difficult time adjusting.” Junior was ready to cut me off and move on to his talk with the mayor so I rushed on. “I did some investigating like you asked. They are living in a trailer house that looks like it should have been condemned several years ago. They could really use some help.”
Junior was ready to end the meeting. His impatient manner changed to one of craftiness. “If the man needs some work, why don’t you have him work on that bat issue at my home? You know I can’t get anyone to clean out that bat guano in the attic above the family room. I’ve been trying to get that done for ages. The smell is getting to where I can’t even use the room anymore.” Junior gave me one of his challenging stares. “Well, I’m out of here. See you next week.”
Great! Junior wanted an easy fix to his bat shit. Cleaning up guano was the dirtiest job anyone could tackle. It wasn’t that he couldn’t find someone to do the work. Junior wasn’t about to pay what any sane person would charge for doing it. I had a contractor customer that had given Junior a quote to clean up the bat guano. The contractor said Junior had a fit and offered half of what the bid was. Now Junior was thinking he might get the job done for a lot less at the expense of a veteran that needed help. Well, that was Junior. But it didn’t help Letty’s dad. Did I have the ethics to allow me to help Junior take advantage of a veteran who was struggling?