Sheriff Tom Fields Meets Jake from Resurrection Garden by Frank Scully
The wind blew the mix of cold rain and snow against the office window. Sheriff Tom Fields shook his head and wiggled his cold toes in his boots. His big toe stuck through a hole in one of them. It was only mid-October but this was the first storm of the winter. The temperature was falling quickly and soon snow would cover the ground. Eighteen years since he and his family had come to this country. He’d seen some good winters and some bad ones. At least his corner office here in the County Courthouse was warm.
He watched a man walking against the north wind up the street. There were others on the street but something about this man caught his attention. He came on right to the courthouse door.
A few moments later a chime announced the man had opened the outer office door. Tom walked out to the hallway that led from the outer office back past his office to the stairs leading to the jail in the basement. The man took off his hat. The room was warm from a pot-bellied stove. A pot of coffee steeped on the stove.
“Help ya?” the clerk at the desk asked.
“Looking for the sheriff,” the man replied.
Tom,” the clerk nodded. “Somebody to see ya.”
Tom stepped forward and offered his hand. The man gave him a strong work- hardened hand and a smile. He knew he was going to like this man.
“I’m Sheriff Tom Fields. What can I do for you?” he asked.
“Name’s Jake Turner. I’m looking for a job as a deputy.” He held up the paper. “I see you got some openings.”
Tom did a new appraisal of his visitor. Clean shaven, fresh haircut and from the looks of it a recent hot bath. Too many scars and hard miles over rough roads to be pretty but he had made the effort to be presentable. A good start.
“Let’s go to my office and talk.” He led the way and once both were seated he took out a sheet of paper from one of his drawers.
“You new around here?” Tom asked.
“Yes. I rode up from Bismarck last week.” Jake replied.
“Carried a badge some along the way. I’ve been an Arizona Ranger, a railroad detective, served in the Army a couple times and done deputy work here and there,” Jake answered.
“Where you from originally?”
“Ohio. Born and raised on a farm. Left there when I was young and been knocking around since. Tried settling down but it never took.”
Jake grimaced. “Not something I like talking about. Lost everything I had several times. Flood once, drought another, than there was sickness. Sometimes it was simply making bad mistakes.”
“What brought you here?” the sheriff asked as he leaned forward on his elbows.
“I was just traveling. Looking for a place that fit, I guess. Stopped here to rest. Now the weather is changing and travel, at least by horse, won’t be good again till spring.”
The sheriff nodded and glanced at the window. Snow was falling faster now. He understood this man. The same had happened to him almost twenty years ago. This was not his original destination.
“I need some deputies,” Tom said as he turned back to Jake. “But I need men with good judgment and character. Got anybody can vouch for you?”
“Not around here.”
“Doesn’t matter. I can send a telegraph.”
“Contact Major Harken in the Army at Fort Snelling. He was my commander in Cuba. You can also send a telegraph to headquarters at the Arizona Rangers. Should still be some there who remember me.”
The sheriff wrote down the names and steepled his fingers in front of his face for a moment and let his gaze bore into the man. Tom liked that Jake did not flinch or get uncomfortable under the scrutiny.
“Before I send these telegraphs, is there anything I should know about you so I’m not surprised by their responses?”
Jake nodded. “Yeah. There are some stories that came out of my railroad days. They may not tell you about it but sooner or later someone might mention it.”
The sheriff waited without saying anything.
Jake drummed his gingers on his knees and glanced at the window. The wind was getting stronger. He rubbed his hands together and gave the sheriff a hard look before speaking. “I’ve been called ‘manhunter’ before for my ability to track down and capture fugitives,” he answered. He had to clear his throat before he could continue. “I’ve also been called ‘the executioner’ in a dime novel. I’ve killed a few but I’ve never wanted to. I prefer to bring them in alive and let the court do its job. I understand if you don’t want to hire me, and I’ll move on if you want, but I’d appreciate the job for the winter. I’ll do a good job, and I’ll move on in the spring before my reputation causes you any trouble.”
The sheriff rubbed the stubble growing on his chin and thought for a moment before scribbling some words on the paper.
“I’ve got a small town a few miles from here that I need to put a deputy in. Job is part time as most deputy jobs are but it comes with an office and a place to stay for you and your horse. Ain’t much but it will keep the worst of the weather off you. You can do other part time jobs to make some more money so long as you let me know where you are. Is that good enough?”
Jake nodded. “That’ll do just fine.”
Tom took a badge out of desk drawer and tossed it to Jake. “You swear to uphold the law, so help you God?”
“Good enough. First week you can work out of here to learn a bit about the county and all. You can bunk in the jail if you want and tell the livery your horse is on the county now. There’s a guy often needs part time drivers for his dray service, Isaac Jacobson. You can check with him for some work. Once I get answers back and you check out we’ll get you set up over in Tenbury.”
Later, the sheriff was back at his window watching Jake walk away. The clerk came in to drop off some papers.
“Taking a chance on that guy?” the clerk asked.
“Not really. I’ll send the telegraphs but I’m sure he’ll check out. My main problem will be to figure out how to get him to stay. There’s a lot of hard gristle to that man. We need more like him around here.”
Frank Scully was born and raised in a small town in North Dakota and received a Bachelor’s degree in History with Phi Beta Kappa Honors and a Juris Doctor degree in Law from the University of North Dakota. He then served more than five years as a Judge Advocate General Corps Officer in the U. S. Army in the U. S., Vietnam, and Thailand. After that he attended the prestigious Thunderbird School and received a Masters in Business Administration with honors. In his professional career he has worked as an executive with large aerospace and defense manufacturers and also owned his own small business.
Depending on the vagaries of the universe he has been well off at times and broke, but never broken, at other times. Blessed with an understanding wife who gave him twin sons, he has remained through it all a dreamer whose passion is writing stories that will entertain readers.
Resurrection Garden, a mystery novel, is the first of five books Frank has under contract with MuseitUp Publishing.
You can visit Frank’s website at www.frankjscully.com.