The Chief - Cover

The Chief

Copyright© 2011 by Robert McKay

Chapter 7

On very rare occasions it's a good thing that government can't blow its nose without taking forever to study the matter. If the people in Red Hawk had made a decision as soon as they got my letter, and called me right away, I'd have had to tell them that I wasn't ready to go yet – I had too much to wrap up in Albuquerque. But we did have time – they'd have to study the matter, and probably have at least one full city council meeting about it, and they'd no doubt want to talk to whoever was running the police department to see if he thought it was workable, and even after they made a decision one way or another it would take time to officially respond.

Cecelia had time to get things ready. She didn't do everything that she would do if we did go to Red Hawk, for until we knew for sure there wasn't any point in it. But she got us right up to the point where just a few mouse clicks or phone calls would have everything ready. She'd talked to the contractor about the possibility of not having to charge through the remodeling at full speed. She'd put together a list of people who would cooperate in looking over our property and making sure that if things broke they'd get fixed, and if someone decided to break in or vandalize the place there'd be a report of it. She'd talked to Dr. Chalmers at Darlia's school – before it was over there was a meeting with all three of us, Dr. Chalmers, and a couple of Darlia's teachers – and he was willing to allow her to pursue a detached study program via computer, with our supervision and only two trips back for what he promised would be "rigorously stiff examinations." There was a moving company on tap to transport the few big items we were taking, and since I knew Red Hawk better than Cecelia I'd arranged for a furnished rental house to stay off the market for three months while the city council fluttered. I had also put in motion preparatory steps for both Cecelia and I to get Oklahoma gun permits, though if what I'd demanded went through the police department would do the heavy lifting on that.

And we waited. Darlia kept on going to school, and getting great grades as she always has. I kept on vegetating, sitting around the house with a book and my music, or going into the study to work on something related to my service as one of my church's elders, or going out to walk for hours on end. However little I'd worked as a PI over the years, I'd never gone so long without doing something with a case, and it was interesting. I had plenty to keep me from being bored, whether it was preparing and preaching a sermon, reading a Nero Wolfe mystery, meeting with the elders to explain what might be going to happen, sitting in my church office counseling someone, going to the firing range with Cecelia and Darlia for our monthly shooting, or whatever. About the only thing I didn't do much of was "honey do jobs," for there's little that Cecelia can't do for herself, whether it's lifting a 50 pound sack of rice, climbing on the roof to locate a leak and then replacing the two loose shingles, clearing a plugged toilet, or digging up the flower beds.

Although she does like to get me to do a lot of digging. What I know about flowers you could write on the point of a pin and have room left over, but we've both found that I enjoy getting out with a shovel and turning the soil over so that she can plant her seeds and bulbs come spring. In this case, though, she was uprooting a lot of stuff, getting the ground ready to lie fallow for a year if it came to that. The perennials she let be, knowing that when we came back – if we ever went – she'd need to put in a lot of work getting them back in the sort of shape she likes, but the rest of the flower beds, and the cedar boxes that sit at the edge of the patio in back, she had me turn over thoroughly, and then she went through and pulled out every scrap of root and leaf she could find. Probably something would be growing there when we came back, but for a while at least it would be clean soil.

We were pretty much ready, and just sitting around waiting, when the Ides of March came and went. It was three days later that the phone rang. I was sitting in the study at the time, working on an exposition of Hebrews 6:1-8 that the elders had asked me to prepare, so I reached and picked up the phone.

It was Roger Dunn. "You made it tough on us," he said.

"That was sort of the idea," I told him. "You'll remember I wasn't real thrilled with the notion when you called."

"And it took you long enough to decide to do it with conditions. It took us a while to decide too. But you're hired."

I wasn't surprised, exactly, but it wasn't what I'd been most expecting either. "Well, shoot," I said, "I guess all these preparations we been makin' here are gonna be for somethin' after all."

"Yeah, I guess so. When will you be able to start?"

I swiveled to the computer and pulled up the calendar – the paneling in the study is so nice that I just don't want to keep sticking pushpins in it. "Let's see, today's Wednesday, an' we gotta finalize with Darlia's school ... call it the 30th, the last Monday in the month. Will I be able to swear Cecelia in right after the mayor swears me in?"

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