Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ghosts, Part 5

If there are always heroes, there are also always villains. Now those people who choose evil for its sake alone are rare and easy to recognize. They do a lot of damage, and you put them down like a mad dog. You don’t torture them, no. You kill them as quickly and as merciful as you can, but you do kill them.

But most aren’t like that. Most people who do evil -- sometimes terrible things -- they always have reasons, justifications, excuses. Police Chief Devene Cotting of our fair town of Clement, for instance, always found the law was a bit too confining. Law requires evidence, law requires work, and law requires you protect everyone, not just the skin color you like.

Clement was larger back then and could afford Cotting and two part-time deputies. Nowadays the county sheriff handles our town if we need him, but mostly we don’t. Too few of us left to do much stealing or carrying on or anything else. See, the life went out of our town forty years ago, and Clement never recovered. Sometimes I think a big fire would be the best thing. Finally put Clement out of its misery.

Anyway, back then, Cotting ran Clement like it was his private whore. A big brute of a man, he strutted around Clement and really thought he was God’s gift to the world when he wasn’t worth a good gob of spit.

Unfortunately, after Nate and Bettie finished telling their poison tale to Jacob and Mattie, and after Jacob and Mattie had searched desperately for Simon Simple and Davey, Cotting was who they called on that phone over there. See, the Watts couldn’t afford a phone, so Jacob ran the half-mile down here to call the police. Back then, old man Fisher owned the store.

Even then, Jacob didn’t tell Cotting the terrible things that Nate and Bettie had said Simon had done to Davey. Jacob still hoped they were wrong, but he was already losing faith in Simon. He was starting to fall. Not his fault. Every father wants their children protected. Every father suffers and blames themselves when their children are hurt. No, it wasn’t his fault at first. The best thing evil does is take good impulses and turn them inside out and upside down. The difference between a saint giving his life for others and a fanatic taking the life of others is razor thin.

Cotting hung up the phone at his two room police station. “Ronald, get your ass in here! That idiot up at the Watts place run away with their boy.” He spit a wad of chewing tobacco at the trash can and missed, the brown wad joining the pile on the floor. “God only knows what he’s doing to him. They should have put him away years ago.”

Officer Ronald Wellans wandered into the room. Cotting regarded him with contempt. Ronald was lazy and slow, but he didn’t give Cotting any lip.

“Where’s Larry?” Cotting asked.

“He called in sick,” Wellans said, leaning against the doorway.

“Drunk, you mean,” Cotting said. “You go over to his house and get him out of bed. Gather up some people and head up to the Watts place. That idiot doesn’t have the brains to go far.”

Wellans yawned.

“GO!” Cotting yelled, his round face getting red.

Wellans sighed and went.

Cotting circled around his desk and opened the gun case. He took down his deer rifle. He looked through the scope. If he got lucky, he might bag himself an idiot today. He couldn’t stop himself from grinning as he thought about it. He had only killed one other person in his life, and that had been his miserable brother. This promised to be even more fun. He headed toward his truck, whistling a little tune.

Copyright 2015 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

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