Thursday, November 21, 2002

GraniteRants Short Fiction: Jagged Gritting Teeth (Part II)

Sheriff Earl Warren slopped around the golden egg yolk with a piece of Texas Toast. Damn! Another broken egg shell. This was not turning out to be a great breakfast. Minutes before, he had gotten his uniform shirtsleeves smudged with some apricot preserves left on the Formica countertop. Don't they wipe the counters in between serving customers? You would think they would, wouldn'tcha? But for all the inconvenience, Earl wasn't going to start eating someplace else. Afterall, this kind of thing was par for the course at the Iron Griddle, and it was the best place in town to maintain visibility, keep smiling with the townfolks, and secure another 2 year term as Sheriff come election time. Visibility and name recognition, those were the keys. He was nicknamed "Chief Justice" and was often kidded as to what he may really know about the Grassy Knoll and all. His response was always the same, "Got no time for pondering conspiracies when there's plenty of Oswalds to catch." People would chuckle, give him a hat tip for his service to community, and mark their ballots where his name was printed every 2 years. Yes, they would say. He does a damn fine job rounding up them Oswalds.

"Hell, someone needs to take a moppin' to the mensroom. Leaky fixtures flooding the damn floor in there. Why do we continue to eat in this dump, Earl?" thundered the flannel shirted Bunyan of a man as he sat down on the circular barstool, the kind only to be found in greasy spoon diners and Norman Rockwell paintings. Though truthfully, it was pretty clear that this particular diner would not have wound up on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. No freckled faced runaways with the hobo bandana on a stick would ever step foot in the Iron Griddle. Not with Chief Justice Earl Warren parked on one of them stools.

"You know why! It's cheap and you can't beat the chili dogs come lunchtime, " replied the Sheriff, who after having said that began to immediately plan his next meal. Would a chili dog hit the spot? Don't know, have to think about that one.

"Yeah, you're right about that. Can't beat them chili dogs. Though they could use a bit more spicin' to them. Cayenne, some Tabasco or something. I do like the liquid smoke flavorin' though. Real sophisticated like," nodded the hulk, "Think it needs more spicin', Earl?"

"Everything needs a bit more spicin', and saltin', and such. I got no tastebuds left. Too many hard whiskeys and Cee-gars. But what's life without those things, right Walt?" reflected the middle aged Law Enforcer. Yessir he hadn't paid much attention to his health, but why change now? No way to say no to the Chili Dogs, salt, and "spicin" as Walt called it. Walt was the maestro with the smoker and the barbecue. He would preach for hours on the magical qualities of oak, hickory, apple wood and the wonderful tastes that resulted. He was known for his Tri-Tip. Smoked for hours, rubbed in a secret blend of peppers and spices (Walt never mentioned that the secret was in two kinds of black pepper - fine ground for flavoring all the way through and coarse ground for flavoring the char). "You going to be grilling this weekend?" asked the Sheriff.

"I'd like to Earl, but not with that tire fire burning down at Rusty's. Can't have a barbecue if all you smell is burning Firestone. We'd have to move my rig upcountry. And that may be impossible since my trailer needs some brake work. I'd say the barbecuin' is on hold until that mess burns itself out. By the way, how's your investigation coming along into that? I'm surprised you guys haven't thrown the book at that snaggle-toothed circus freak! I mean, what the hell was he doing standing on top of a pile of burning tires anyways? Sounds really fishy' to me and I should know being a Bassmaster's Cham-pine and all..."

"Yeah, yeah Walt. We're still checking out that Oswald. Can't really talk about the investigation though. You know Walt, protocol and all," offered the Sheriff. Keeping professional and with integrity also ensured those electoral wins.

"I hear you, Earl. But that guy is spooky. Fruitcake. Those jagged teeth alone are enough to know he's a nut. And guilty too. Rusty said when he smelt the fire, he saw that guy standing atop the smokin' pile. His arms were outstretched and he wasn't a-movin'. Even with the smoke floatin' all around him and the flames reachin' higher even. Like he was in some kind of trance or something. Rusty said it was a Jesus Christ pose. All the more reason to lock him up, I say. No place for a blasphemer in these parts, " authoritated Walt, the big man; a trucker - built like a Peterbilt.

"I know, I know Walt. The Department is investigating. Don't think that we're not. Odd things have explanations to them. Even a crazy guy with messed up teeth standing atop a pile of smoking tires. Whatever it is, we'll find out what we can about him and what he was doing standing fearless in amongst all that toxic smoke. The Chief Justice gives you his word!"

And with that Sheriff Earl Warren nodded his head, paid up his bill, said his good-byes, and exited the Iron Griddle. Yes, he thought to himself, a chili dog would taste mighty nice at lunch.


Post a Comment

<< Home