Rhoades To Justiss

The thing about being the Sheriff of a county with just enough citizens to fill a ‘Cabela’s’ or ‘Bass Pro Shop’ in Dallas, (on Black Friday), is that…you tend to know folks. I was familiar with the green John Deere lawn mower/tractor and its operator hugging the bar ditch on FM34…We’ve met. Reserve Brody had clocked the tractor at approximately 15 mph towing a shopping cart filled with, what appeared to be, several cases of Keystone Light beer. I thought to myself…this is gonna be good. So, I decided to let my new reserve officer, Skip Brody, take charge of the traffic stop. This would be the first of reserve officer Skip Brody’s many encounters with one of Sweeter County’s most colorful residents.

It was not unusual for the Mayor to call and discuss county business, but those calls generally came through to the main line at Grace Falls City Hall. So, when my cell phone burred in the top pocket of my official Sheriff’s jacket that day, I was surprised to see the display read that Mayor Bernard Hobbs was on the line. Before he spoke, an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach set in. Maybe it was woman’s intuition or maybe it was the Doc’s Corner early bird breakfast and black as mudd coffee turning on me. Either way, my gut was telling me something, but I didn’t exactly know what.

I hit the talk button and gave my go-to greeting. “Sheriff Walker.”

“Justiss, Mayor Hobbs here.” And without so much as a how do ya’ do?, the Mayor, true to form, got right to it. (I suppose his time doesn’t permit for easy courtesies.) “My wife’s nephew, Skip, received his officer certification at the Round Rock Texas Training Academy. I think your department would be a great fit for his reserve. What do you think?”

“Well actually, Mr. Mayor, I’m not sure this is a good ti…”

As usual, he cut me short, “Great—Justiss, I know that under your personal training,” Emphasis on “personal”, the Mayor went on. “I’m sure he will prove to be a fine officer. I’ll let him know you’ll be expecting him on—How’s first thing Monday morning sound?”

Realizing this was not a request, I responded with, “Yes Sir. Looking forward to it, Sir.”

As Sheriff of Sweeter County Texas, it is my job and duty to see to it that my officers are properly trained as well as personally familiar with our counties citizens. Never let it be said that, Sheriff Justiss Walker is not hands on in her training methods.

“Looks like you got the tiger by the tail now, Officer Brody. Stay with ‘eem.” Forming my hands to a makeshift bull horn as to be heard over the yelps and girly screams coming from the tussle going on in the bar ditch between my new reserve officer and the uncooperative and likely impaired, farm equipment operator.

“Ooopf…look out! Ya’ almost had ‘eem that time.” (For some reason, when I find myself in these precarious situations, my redneck speak comes out.)

Reserve officer Brody found himself in a loose headlock and seemed to be having trouble verbalizing his current situation. He looked up at me with wide eyes that spoke volumes on his behalf and mouthed, “What the hell.” Then, finding a labored voice, “Aren’t you going to help me, Sheriff?”

“You just about got it under control. See, officer Brody, Dilbert here can get a bit squirrely when he’s on a mission. And I’d say given the time he’s giving you…he’s on a mission to get that beer home to his wife before it gets hot. When she ain’t happy, believe me, there’s nothing to be happy about in that household.”

Crackle…”Dispatch, this is unit one…again. Officer Brody is attempting to obtain the subject. Over.”

Crackle…“‎Unit one, this is dispatch.” Dispatch, being Maddie Mae, Sweeter County’s dispatcher/county office manager and all things Grace Falls, continued with a curious tone. “The subject?…Dilbert? Over…?”

Crackle…Crackle…Crackle…“Dispatch, this is unit one. Affirmative. The subject’s name has been confirmed to be one Dilbert…Eugene…Rhoades. Officer Brody has discharged his taser and now has the subject…well, somewhat obtained. Over.”

….Crackle…Crackle…Crackle “Unit one, this is dispatch, could you repeat that, please. Over.”

Crack…”Dispatch, this is unit one. Officer Brody has tazed the subject and now has him obtained. You copy? Over.” Crackle… Crackle…

I attempted to follow the scuffle with my eyes, and stifle a full blown belly laugh at Dilbert Rhoades on his back, twitching and rolling back and forth with his hands and feet in the air like a flipped turtle on the side of the dirt road trying to right itself.

“Just go with it, Dilbert. It only hurts more when you fight it—Try and relax.” I advised utilizing my make-shift ‘bull horn’.

“D-d-damit…Sh-sh-sheriff…g-g-get this asshole off me!” With a bit of verbal difficulty, Dilbert Rhoades attempted to plead with me.

“No can do there, Dilbert. He’s the officer in charge and you failed to follow his instructions.”

…. Crackle… Crackle…”Umm yeah…Unit one, this is dispatch. Officer Cole would like to speak with you for a moment.” There was a slight pause. Then, “Sheriff, he requests that you call him on his cell phone.” Another pause. Crackle…”Also, I have a few questions myself. Over.” Crackle

That was reserve officer, Skip Brody’s first day on the job. I ordered him to let Dilbert Rhoades go with no more than an impeding traffic ticket. To say that reserve officer Brody was disappointed with that order, would be an understatement. I explained to my new reserve officer that under our current DUI law, a tractor is not considered a motor vehicle. It falls under the implements of husbandry category, and therefore, although Mr. Dilbert Rhoades appeared to be drunk as ‘Cooter Brown’…what he had done…was not illegal. However, doing 15 mph on a 45 mph farm road, did fall under the impeding traffic law. Dilbert was quite vocal in pointing out that there was literally no one on that farm road at that particular time to impede other than the Sheriff’s Department.

All’s well that ends well though. Reserve officer Brody and I, just to be on the safe side, did escort Mr. Rhoades to the DIY renovated school bus he and his wife, Tami, called home. After all—he was pretty drunk.

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Officer Brody Meets Dilbert

“Looks like you got the tiger by the tail now, Officer Brody. Stay with ‘eem.” Forming my hands to a makeshift bull horn as to be heard over the yelps and girly screams coming from the tussle going on in the bar ditch between my new reserve officer and the uncooperative and likely impaired, farm equipment operator.

“Ooopf…look out! Ya’ almost had ‘eem that time.” (For some reason, when I find myself in these types of situations, my redneck speak comes out.)

Brody found himself in a loose headlock and seemed to be having trouble speaking. He looked up at me and mouthed, “What the hell.” Then, “Aren’t you going to help me, Sheriff?”

“You just about got it under control. See, officer Brody, Dilbert here can get a bit squirrely when he’s on a mission. And I’d say given the time he’s giving you…he’s on a mission to get that beer home to his wife before it gets hot. When she ain’t happy, believe me, there’s nothing to be happy about in that household.”

Crackle…”Dispatch, this is unit one…again. Officer Brody is attempting to obtain the subject. Over.”

Crackle…“‎Unit one, this is dispatch.” Dispatch, being Maddie Mae, Sweeter County’s dispatcher/office manager and all things Grace Falls, continued with a curious tone. “The subject?…Dilbert? Over…?”

Crackle…Crackle…Crackle…“Dispatch, this is unit one. Affirmative. The subject’s name has been confirmed to be one Dilbert…Eugene…Rhoades. Officer Brody has discharged his taser and now has the subject…well, somewhat obtained. Over.”

….Crackle…Crackle…Crackle “Unit one, this is dispatch, could you repeat that, please. Over.”

Crack…”Dispatch, this is unit one. Officer Brody has tased the subject and now has him obtained. You copy? Over.” Crackle… Crackle…

I attempted to follow the scuffle with my eyes, “Just go with it, Dilbert. It only hurts more when you fight it—Try and relax.” I advised utilizing my ‘bull horn’.

“D-d-damit…S-s-sheriff…g-g-get this asshole off me!” Stuttering, Dilbert attempted to plead with me.

“No can do there, Dilbert. He’s the officer in charge and you failed to follow his instructions.”

…. Crackle… Crackle…”Umm yeah…Unit one, this is dispatch. Officer Cole would like to speak with you for a moment.” There was a slight pause. Then, “Sheriff, he requests that you call him on his cell phone.” Another pause. Crackle…”Also, I have a few questions myself. Over.” Crackle

That was Reserve Officer, Skip Brody’s first day on the job. I ordered him to let Dilbert Rhoades go with no more than an impeding traffic ticket. To say that Officer Brody was disappointed with that order, would be an understatement. I explained to Reserve Officer Brody that under our current DUI law, a ‘tractor’ is not considered a motor vehicle. It falls under the implements of husbandry category, and therefore, although Dilbert appeared to be as drunk as ‘Cooter Brown’…what he had done…was not illegal. However, doing 15 mph on a 45 mph farm road, did fall under the impeding traffic law. Dilbert was quite vocal in pointing out that there was literally no one on that farm road at that particular time to impede other than the Sheriff’s Department.

All’s well that ends well though. Reserve Officer Skip Brody and I, just to be on the safe side, did escort Mr. Rhoades to the DIY renovated school bus he and his wife, Tami, called home. After all—he was pretty drunk.

‘Ole Doc Doherty

‘Ole Doc Doherty by T. Jaye

Ole’ Doc Doherty, now in his late eighties, is well respected in Grace Falls, Texas, and was the only Veterinary Doctor in Sweeter County for over fifty years. Before Butch Packard came to our little slice of heaven from Oklahoma City and opened Packard Family Clinic fifteen years ago, most residents went to ‘Doc Doherty for everything from sniffles to stitches. Not just because he was the only doctor for miles, but also because he was, well, a bit unconventional.

‘Doc’s “home remedies for sure-fire healin’…”

The remedy to eradicate a toothache, according to ‘Doc, was to place a slice of onion on infected area, bite down, hold for a few minutes then for good measure, gargle with a shot of whiskey.

For chronic hip and back pain, you were prescribed a daily juice glass of one shot of apple cider vinegar, one shot of local honey and a shot of whiskey.

The child with the “sniffles” should be given lemon and local honey for a recommended three to five days, twice a day. “Hot Toddies” for the rest of the household for the duration of the virus.

Doc was also known, from time to time, to suggest to young mothers with a colicky baby, to mix up some lemon juice, honey and a splash of, yep, whiskey, administer with a dropper and if that didn’t work, his advice was for ‘Mother’ to take two healthy shots for herself followed by an afternoon nap.

The best cure for insomnia…a stiff shot of whiskey just before bedtime.

If you found yourself lacking of enough funds to cover the cost of his services, that was ok because ‘Doc would run you a tab and you just paid it when you could.

Many of the older folks of Grace Falls still can’t bring themselves to trust a “young city fella.”  (Can’t teach an old dog new tricks…as they say.) So, they still turn to the old Vet for their everyday ailments. Most times when the affliction is found to be more than just the “sniffles and such”, ‘Ole ‘Doc Doherty refers them to ‘Doc. Packard.

Justiss and The Sanitation Mystery

I had often wondered how the self appointed crew boss of my little spread, being Tig, was able to maintain two acres of fenced yard all by herself…until this morning.

With eight rescue dogs taking full advantage of the acreage, it was a mystery as to why I never seemed to have to pick up after them. Not that I’m complaining…one less thing.

I observed Tig’s underling, in dropped jaw and mixed emotions, Ziggy, my long haired rescue weenie dog, assisting Tig in the maintenance duties of the property. My personal sanitation crew of two was clearing the yard one turd at a time.

From this day on, Tig is not the only rescue dog of mine not allowed to lick me in the face.

One more mystery solved.

Ms. Maddie Mae

Walking into the Grace Falls City Hall building, I was feeling pretty optimistic about the day so far. Fair coffee, damn good breakfast and all the juicy weekend gossip from the coffee drinkers down at Doc’s Corner Cafe, until…

Without looking up from the stack of papers being aggressively shuffled from one pile to another, “Sheriff”, was my greeting this fine sunny Monday morning from Maddie, the oldest, hardest working and only dispatcher/ Office Manager in Sweeter County. Maddie Mae James has been with the Sheriff’s / City Hall office for over thirty five years. She’s seen the good, the bad and the ugly come and go.

After three years, six months and fourteen days with the department, I’m still Maddie Mae’s trainee. One of the first things I learned was tardiness is not just inconsiderate, but rude. Another was that when I am addressed simply as ‘Sheriff’, not ‘Juss’ or, in mixed company, ‘Sheriff Walker’, I’m in the outhouse for sure.

“Well good morning to you too.” I responded with a wink.

“You’re late.”
The wink didn’t work this time.

“It’s only 8:20.” I said that because my day usually begins at 8:30 am. I’m early.

“You forgot didn’t you?”

“Pppff…No… I didn’t forget…”

“Your trainee is here. He’s waiting for you in the break room.” Maddie said with irritation in her voice.

“Shit. I forgot.”

“I know… That’s what I said.”

“Can I get a cup of coffee?” I asked.

“Sure. Get me one too while you’re at it.”

Elvis Lives

When I need inspiration to write…I read. When I need to focus without distraction…I have Elvis Presley on in the background!
Elvis Presley was the original catalyst of diversity.
In 1957 Ed Sullivan didn’t want Elvis to perform ‘There Will Be Piece In The Valley’ (Elvis’s mother’s favorite spiritual song) on his TV show.

The way Elvis felt the beat of the music…so do I feel the beat of Life!