Sure. Sponsors and big-money contracts—that’s what it’s all about. I always thought that by the time I had published my fourth book, I wouldn’t have to worry about what time it was anymore. I have never had any illusions of being Stephen King, but it certainly would be nice to at least make enough dough to work from home and see my family at night instead of wandering around stupidly inside of a concrete block in Minneapolis.
Oh boy. Being a writer is hard—even when you are famous.
Perhaps I should forego politics for a while—at least until someone starts paying me to cover them again. I used to get a check once in a while for my political wisdom and analysis; but those days are over and I’m afraid that my middle is growing as is the number of gray hairs on my head.
My family and most of my friends are Republicans—if you read this column, you can imagine how that makes me feel. It’s troubling in a way, because my fiction—$$$—has nothing at all to do with these nasty topics … and yet I insist on alienating and mortally offending half of my potential audience on a daily basis.
I never claimed to be a good businessman—and I wouldn’t want to be.
You see, these things are important to me—and ultimately, to everyone else. But no preaching tonight—I purposely didn’t read the papers and I’m not going to.
Recently, one of my aunts scolded me publicly on Facebook for my foul language and dim view of her politics. I sugar-coated it, but I basically told her to go fuck herself … and in a way, that makes me feel bad … but I take exception to anyone who presumes to censor me on my own website(s). I see dozens of posts every day that offend me deeply—yet I refrain from commenting because I think that it is rude to pollute someone else’s space with vehement rancor and ideology that they obviously do not agree with.
The next family reunion oughtta be interesting, eh?
I make no apologies for my beliefs. I am a progressive, forward-thinking, logical, objective Democrat who is sick-and-goddamned-tired of being told that I’m going to go to Hell for doing what just comes natural to me—or any other animal.
But that is not a subject that I care to get into tonight—look for my upcoming essay, Losing My Religion.
You know what? I’m going to post the first 25% of my new novel, Breakfast & Bullets in Bed right here, because that’s how much is available as a free sample. This is a good book—whether you agree with my politics or not.
I once knew a mounted cop who taught his horse a neat trick; he would ask it, “Does the job suck?”
And the horse would whinny and nod it’s head, flaring its gums like Mr. Ed.
After 13 years, if I have to keep pinning a badge to my chest every night, I think I’ll go crackers.
Piracy had been a big business for hundreds of years off the coast of the Americas; during what historians have dubbed “The Golden Age of Piracy,” one particularly ruthless brute ruled the waters off California unopposed.
Unlike most men of his ilk, he outgrew piracy—he was too old for it. He disbanded his crew and scuttled his ship, settling on the very coast that he had terrorized for so long. As unlikely as it was, he also had a family of sorts by then; he had become quite fond of one of the slave girls on his ship and she had borne him sons.
He was a rich man. It took considerable ingenuity to secret his treasure on his new-found property. He made a map for each of his sons and tried to live quietly, but his past came back to haunt him before he could properly enjoy his retirement.
Before they hanged him, they demanded to know where the millions in gold that he had stolen was hidden. He professed ignorance, saying that the treasure had gone down with his ship. His common-law wife repeated her husband’s lie. The magistrate took her for a simpleton and had pity on her and the children.
They lived simply for many years; it was only as adults that the pirate’s heirs received their maps and were allowed to seek their fortune. By that time, people had largely forgotten about the legend … and it would remain that way until a savvy college professor happened across the only remaining map over two-hundred years later.
After the Storm
Dan Sorensen was surprised to find out that he was going to have a new boss—another boss, rather. As unexpected as it was—Sarah Stackley had always been such a loner—it wasn’t unpleasant news.
My Sarah needs a guy in her life, the middle-aged man with the pompadour thought. And it sure will be nice having Mr. Smith around to look at. What a hunk!
Dan Sorensen set up another desk in Sarah’s office, installed a second telephone line, and added Emmanuel Smith’s name to the sign out front; it now read: STACKLEY & SMITH INVESTIGATIONS.
The workload had been light; they had hardly been to the office. Dan thought that they were like a couple of kids in love—which they steadfastly denied, of course.
“We’re not in love, Dan,” Sarah had said; “we just work together now. We’re partners.”
Which was true enough, Dan supposed, but he didn’t think that either one of them had slept alone in the last month. The envious assistant sure wished that he could meet a nice strong man like Emmanuel Smith!
April had given way to May and that was almost over, too; the rain in Bay Port City had finally ceased and Memorial Day weekend was fast approaching. Emmanuel Smith and Sarah Stackley had done very little work since he retired from the police department after twenty-two years; the former Inspector Smith needed a vacation after being a corpse cop for so long and then losing his partner, Al Conway, to a case that had only been “solved” in a very technical sense.
So they went sailing; they spent day after day out on John Sutherland’s new boat, which he christened the Sunset. The name was fitting enough—the vessel was his retirement gift, arranged by his former adjutant and the new chief of police, Thomas Flaherty. Poor old John Sutherland had spent thirty years on the force, the very idea of which drove Manny Smith crackers.
Sarah Stackley sympathized with the two men but had no first-hand knowledge of what it was like to be a cop—especially for so long. Sarah had been making her living as a private investigator for some time, but that was a little different.
“You’re lucky,” Manny told her; “your hair ain’t gray yet and ya drive a Cadillac and ya only got a little drinkin’ problem.”
Manny Smith had found that most people hire private investigators to do background checks and maybe a little surveillance now and then; thus far, he hadn’t solved a single jewel heist.
“I need a good whodunit,” he told Sarah Stackley. “To keep the blood flowin’.”
“Oh, Manny, just enjoy your retirement,” she said.
And so, they went sailing and spent the reward money from the Pearl Clevette case and drank and tried to see how many times they could screw in a single day. All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the spring, but they’d have to buckle down and get back to work when summer came.
“Why don’t we take a little trip up the coast over Memorial Day weekend?” Sarah suggested. “I know a great little bed & breakfast in Seaside Harbor—it’ll be relaxing and romantic,” she promised.
Archibald Stone hated Seaside Harbor. The little resort town was one-hundred miles north of Bay Port City and was a pretty good place for a mean old Irish gangster like himself to lay low, but sitting around all day in his safe house with nothing to do but play solitaire and smoke cigars was driving him bananas.
The fresh air and the clean living were starting to make him cranky.
“When’s the heat gonna die down?” he whined to one of his bodyguards. “My whole business is fallin’ apart!”
It was true. First Knuckles O’Malley and then Jimmy The Creep had been killed, leaving his interests in Bay Port City vulnerable to attack not only from the cops, but from Remo “The Bug” Benelli, as well. His old rival, Paul Santelli, was still fouling the air of his 8’ x 10’ cell with his unfiltered Pall Malls while he awaited trial on various charges ranging from extortion to murder; meanwhile, Remo had taken over and that was infinitely worse. Remo was not an imposing figure—his stature earned him his nickname—but he was meaner than the Marquis de Sade and enjoyed torturing people almost as much.
Then there was Vinnie Bourassa.
When that bastard Manny Smith pinned the murders of two cops named Dunn and Goder on his lieutenant, Jimmy “The Creep” Finnegan, the fuzz was forced to release Bourassa. Everything had been going so well: after Jimmy killed the cops, he drummed up a couple of bogus witnesses who hung the whole thing on Vinnie and three of his thugs.
Then it all fell apart.
Archie Stone sighed and sipped his brandy. He was sitting at the kitchen table, his favorite place in the whole house, which was right next to a pretentious bed & breakfast where everyone wore ties and played croquet and drank martinis all day long. The window was open. He could smell the ocean; he could hear laughter and the click of the croquet balls—he could also hear the seals barking.
The owners of the bed & breakfast, a middle-aged man and his wife, had named their establishment the Seal Rock Inn, presumably because directly behind it was a jutting stone peninsula that was home to an old lighthouse. At first this seemed like a picturesque amenity; however, the peninsula was overrun by a bevy of ill-tempered, smelly seals that polluted the otherwise tranquil environment day and night with their obnoxious woofing.
Archie had been tempted more than once to go out there and shoot the dumb beasts, but that would draw too much attention. He considered ordering his bodyguards to sneak down after dark and club the brutes to death, but why take chances? That kind of thing might work in the city, but the authorities in Seaside Harbor wouldn’t put up with such nonsense, no matter how much he offered to pay them.
Archie sighed again and had another sip of brandy. His head hurt. Manny Smith. Not only did that stupid cop get Bourassa sprung from jail, but he killed Jimmy Finnegan right before he did it. When he caught up with Manny Smith, he would make him pay. A smile formed at the corners of his mouth as he puffed contentedly on his cigar.
Maybe it’s not so bad, Archie thought; maybe Vinnie Bourassa will get together with his old number two, Michael Torrini, and they’ll start a little war with Remo Benelli. Maybe they’ll splinter the family so bad that I’ll be able to pick right up where I left off.
Archibald Stone looked out his window; he looked past the bed & breakfast, past the wretched seals, and stared at the ocean. He began making plans.
Vinnie Bourassa did get together with Michael “Two-Tone” Torrini; when he did, he gave him a severe ass chewing.
“How could ya let this happen?” he cried, wanting to smack Two-Tone in the mouth. “The old man put you in charge while I was in the can, and lookit what ya went and did! Ya let the cops cart him away and then ran and hid while that little shit Remo took over!”
Michael Torrini didn’t think that he was getting a fair shake, but what could he say? He had to admit even to himself that his one-time aspirations of being a boss now seemed implausible at best; it looked like he might be forever doomed to being nothing but a lowly thug, or at most, someone’s number two. As vicious as he was, he didn’t dare take on Vinnie Bourassa for the power … but he would back him.
“We kin fix this,” Michael Torrini said. “There’s guys who’re loyal to you—probably more ’an half—and I’m behind ya a hundred percent.”
Vinnie Bourassa was just glad that he wasn’t going to get stuck riding the lightning for a double-homicide that he didn’t commit—and strangely enough, he had a cop named Manny Smith to thank for it.
The two men were on a boat in the harbor along with the three soldiers who had been locked up with Bourassa for the murders of Patrolmen Daniel Dunn and Bill Goder. Vinnie still had his hooks into some of the local businessmen and there was a warehouse full of swag that only he knew about. It wasn’t much, but it would be the base of their operations—for now.
Vinnie Bourassa looked at his ragtag group of assembled hoods and said, “We’re gonna take care a this; we’re gonna get control a the family back. Until Mr. Santelli is released, I’m actin’ boss. First thing we gotta do is make a beef with the Commission, then we gotta go around—real quiet—and see who we kin count on. This is our town—not Remo Benelli’s. I’m gonna ship his head home to Chicago in a box. I think old Paulie would like that.”
Remo Benelli wasn’t worried about the syndicate, Chicago, or anyone else; he was having a ball running Bay Port City and did not intend to let the likes of Archie Stone or Vinnie Bourassa spoil his good time.
He just wished that his pal Anthony “Knives” Santuro was around to bask in the glory with him—but that sonofabitch Manny Smith had shot him like a dog in the lobby of the Friendly Fingers Palace, a seedy massage parlor that he had been trying to shake down.
Well, he would catch up with Manny Smith sooner or later … and the best part was that he had retired! He could kill the ex-cop and people would hardly notice—especially if he made it look like the old detective was dirty.
Swimming with the Sharks
Poor Manny Smith; he had more people looking for him than Osama Bin Laden.
Either he didn’t know it or he didn’t care, because he thought nothing of driving all over town with Sarah Stackley in her big black Cadillac; they toured the bars but always ended up at Nell’s Tavern long before closing time.
It was Thursday. They had similar plans, but first they were going to spend the day out on the water with John Sutherland. The ex-police chief had grown extremely fond of Manny and Sarah; he didn’t even mind that much when his friend got too drunk one evening and confessed the truth regarding his old partner, Aloysius Conway, and everything that went along with that dark tale.
“There, there,” he had said, patting Manny on the back like a baby.
After all, what did he care? He had seen a lot of weird shit during thirty years of police work—a homicidal homicide detective wasn’t all that strange, was it? If he had been able to go back and rub Al’s shoulders and soothe him, the kindly old man would have.
The Sunset was drifting lazily in the swells of Bay City Harbor; he could see the docks and the other boats and even a few topless women on the deck of a fancy fifty-footer. Sure wish I had a few of those, he thought, pouring himself another glass of rum.
Like most cops, John Sutherland was divorced; he was different than most in that he had only one ex-wife. He was retired; he had his boat; he had enough rum on board to kill an elephant—now all he needed was a couple of pretty young women … or one ugly one, as long as she was rich and wouldn’t live too long.
John Sutherland took another sip of his drink and shifted his binoculars from the sunbathers to the slip where he docked his vessel; Manny and Sarah were there, waving and whistling! He returned their gesture and headed for the bridge. He had trimmed the sails and cut the engine; he turned the key now and the boat roared to life.
“Hey, John!” called Manny Smith as he glided up to the dock. The change in the old detective was remarkable—he had lost weight, had gotten a tan, and he shaved every day now instead of just once a week. For the first time in ten years, Manny didn’t look as if he were only an hour or two away from death—and he had his arm wrapped around the reason for this transformation: Sarah Stackley, an exquisitely gorgeous woman with hair as black as Harlem and a figure that defied gravity. It was her and retirement that made Manny Smith appear to no longer be in the grip of some terrible terminal illness.
“How goes it, Manny?” replied Sutherland; he addressed Manny but stared at Sarah, trying not to appear too lecherous. She returned his smile, not minding at all. He’s such a sweet old thing, she thought. It was about as good as he could hope for—at least when it came to Sarah. She was loyal to the retired corpse cop—and whether she would admit it or not, John Sutherland knew damned well that she was in love with him.
John Sutherland was dressed in his usual outfit: yacht cap, white shirt, white shorts, and deck shoes. Manny Smith was dressed similarly; Sarah Stackley was radiant in a two-piece bathing suit and wraparound skirt. Looking at the beautiful woman was just about enough to drive poor old John Sutherland bananas; he steadied himself with a fresh drink and tried to remember that it was only a matter of time until he found someone similar who appreciated boats and rum, even if she didn’t like old guys all that much.
“Hello John,” purred Sarah Stackley, stepping on deck with some help from the old sea captain.
“Welcome aboard!” he cried, and then added, “Both of you.”
“Still swillin’ that rum, huh John?” Manny said. He had brought along a bottle of bourbon for the journey; Sarah preferred tropical drinks made with top-shelf vodka and lots of fresh fruit, all of which John Sutherland stocked in his bar specifically for her (and any other ladies if he were to get lucky one of these days).
“I’m afraid I’ve got a little head start,” John said. “I don’t even wear a watch anymore, let alone worry about whether or not it’s five o’clock.”
Manny cracked his bottle open and splashed some whiskey into a coffee cup that was balanced precariously on the transom. “How ’bout a drink, doll?” he said to Sarah, moving to go below deck.
“Sure, sweetheart,” she said.
Sarah nodded. “The usual.”
When Manny had gone, John Sutherland said to her, “How are you two? How’s Manny liking the private sector?”
Sarah lit a cigarette. “We’re doing fine, John; as for Manny, I think he likes being a private eye, except he misses doing real police work. He was just telling me that he needs a good ‘whodunit’—‘to keep the blood flowing.’”
John Sutherland chuckled. “I used to feel that way. A lot of guys, they would say that I was never a real cop—not really, ya know? I came on the force with a college degree and a lot of ambition, so I never spent a long time in the trenches. I moved up through the ranks quickly, but one of my stops was in the detective bureau. I liked that. I got used to solving mysteries; I was still close to the action when I made lieutenant, but I lost touch and started missing it when they promoted me to captain.”
“Do you still miss it?” Sarah asked.
He sighed. “Not really—not anymore. I miss being young, but that’s about it.”
Manny returned just then with Sarah’s drink; he handed it to her and said, “What’re you two talkin’ about?”
“Lost youth and missed opportunities, my boy,” Sutherland said, clapping Manny on the back. “I asked Sarah what you thought of being a private eye.”
Manny shrugged. “We haven’t done a heckuva lot yet—just a few routine things here and there. Things’ll pick up after this weekend, though. We’re goin’ away for a last hurrah before puttin’ our noses back to the old grindstone.”
“Oh?” Sutherland said, raising his eyebrows.
“Yeah. Sarah knows this little place up the coast where she says we kin relax and stay in the room a lot.”
“It’s this wonderful little bed & breakfast,” Sarah gushed. “It’s called the Seal Rock Inn.”
“Holy cow!” cried John Sutherland. “I know the place! In fact, I’m gonna be up that way this weekend for the Gold Cup Race.”
“The Gold Cup Race—it’s a tournament for sailboats and I entered this little beauty,” he said, slapping his vessel’s hull.
“Well shit, maybe we’ll see ya up there,” Manny said.
“I hope you like seals,” said John Sutherland.
An hour later they had tired of zipping around the harbor and were headed out to sea. Sarah Stackley had removed her skirt and was sunning herself on the deck at the front of the boat; Manny Smith and John Sutherland were standing aft, sipping their cocktails and admiring Sarah’s lithe beauty.
“Yeah, those goddamned seals make a terrific racket,” Sutherland said, shuddering as he pictured it.
“Sarah didn’t mention that,” Manny said.
John Sutherland shrugged. “Some people like them,” he said.
“Well, what’s the difference?” Manny said. “Anything to get outa town for a couple a days. I get depressed every time we get done sailin’ with ya; goin’ back to the city after bein’ out here is worse than goin’ back to school in the fall.”
“Why don’t you move?” John said.
Manny sipped his bourbon and pondered this. “I might, but this is all I’ve ever known. Besides, even with the reward money from that last caper, I can’t afford to quit workin’ entirely.”
“Is that what you’re hoping for? More big rewards?” John said.
“Nothin’ wrong with hopin’,” Manny remarked, “but I suspect fifty-thousand-dollar payoffs aren’t the norm—not even in this business. Still, I’m doin’ better than poor old Al.”
John Sutherland didn’t know what to say. Manny mentioned his partner often—it was obvious that he still thought about him. “How about another drink?” he finally said.
Manny handed his dirty coffee cup to John Sutherland and said, “How’s Flaherty liking bein’ the new chief a police? Does he still think it’s good to be king?”
Sutherland tipped his cap back and snuck another glance at Sarah Stackley. “You know, I haven’t talked much to Tom since he took over. I pick up the paper every now and then, but it’s kind of like you and the city: reading about all the trouble Tom’s having just depresses me.”
“Yeah, in a way I feel like I left things in shambles when I bailed on the department … but then again, gangs were never my strong suit anyway—not until they killed someone, that is.”
“Nonsense,” said John Sutherland. “I couldn’t wait to get out of there—those goddamned goons were making me crazy. We got out at just the right time, Manny. Criminals are always going to be there—it’s supply and demand. The war in Bay Port City is a perpetual one, I’m afraid; even when one family comes out on top, there will always be some new player stepping up to challenge them. Right now it’s looking like Remo Benelli might be the one who wins this next round; at the moment, he doesn’t even have any competition.”
Manny Smith frowned. “Archibald Stone’s down, but he ain’t out. That motherfucker is tough—and he’s smart, too. He knew when to hit the road … and he’ll know when to come home.”
Sarah Stackley joined the men a short time later and the talk turned to more pleasant things; she didn’t bother to cover up either, which John Sutherland appreciated more than a winning lottery ticket.
They managed to make it as far as several miles off the coast before they admitted to themselves that they were more bombed than Jackie Gleason and maybe they shouldn’t venture out any further. There was a strong breeze blowing in their favor so they hadn’t been using the engine; John Sutherland trimmed the sails and debated on whether or not to anchor, finally deciding to just drift with the ocean current.
“Why the Seal Rock Inn?” Sutherland said, boozily.
Sarah Stackley shrugged. She was reclined in front of the flying bridge, seductively eating vodka-soaked strawberries and rubbing her legs together like a cricket. Tropical drinks made her feel sexy; thinking about spending a long weekend locked away with Manny Smith listening to seals bark only added to the effect.
“I don’t care if they got seals,” said Manny Smith, “just as long as they got a room with a door and a lock on it and no phones. I hate phones. The goddamned things are always ringin’ and ringin’—”
Sarah interrupted her lover by hitting him in the nose with a pineapple chunk that was almost as bloated with alcohol as the cranky old detective.
Manny picked up the piece of fruit from the deck and popped it into his mouth; he munched on it contentedly and sighed. “This is the life,” he said. “There sure ain’t no phones here.”
The sun was setting, casting long shadows across the water when Sarah spotted a dolphin. She thought it was a dolphin. She was sure of it. In fact, there was a whole bunch of sleek shapes zipping around in the water. She tossed her drink aside and called to the men before jumping overboard, “I’m going swimming with the dolphins, love!”
“Eh?” said Manny, hearing the splash.
“What dolphins?” said John Sutherland; he peered over the edge of the hull and declared, “Jesus God!”
“What is it?” said Manny, feeling grumpy.
Sarah Stackley was so drunk that she couldn’t tell a shark from a salmon; she was merrily splashing around in the water and trying to hang onto the fins. “Weeeee!” she said.
John Sutherland ran for a life ring and a gaff that was lashed to the deck; Manny ran for the rifle that he knew John kept on board.
“Are you crazy?” Sutherland shouted. “You can’t shoot a shark!”
“Why not?” Manny said. “I’d light the bastards on fire, but they’re all wet.”
“This is fun!” cried Sarah; she got pissed off though when one of the “dolphins” nibbled on her leg. “Hey! That’s mean … you … you meanie!”
John Sutherland hauled her aboard with the gaff before Sarah lost a limb. The water-logged woman pouted because they had spoiled her good time with the dolphins and it was too dark and someone had spilled her drink and it seemed like everyone was picking on her. She was almost drunk enough to go on a crying jag until Manny Smith started planting kisses on her face and lips and she forgot all about being sad.
When he had assured himself that Sarah was indeed whole, Manny turned to John and said, “Maybe we oughtta head back. Bein’ out here at night is about as safe as wearin’ an Uncle Sam suit in Beirut.”
Despite his fantastic state of inebriation, John Sutherland expertly piloted the boat back into the harbor and slid silently up to the dock. The wharf was a scary place to be at night—it existed in darkness after the sun set and was home to a motley bunch of sailors, smugglers and all-around ne’er-do-wells who were likely to stick a harpoon in anyone who startled them by mistake. The three weather-worn investigators hardly thought about it, though; Manny’s only concession was tucking a pistol into his waistband before disembarking the Sunset.
“You comin’, John?” Manny asked his friend as he helped Sarah off the boat.
“Not tonight, Manny,” Sutherland said. “I’m going to go back out and drop anchor—I’ve gotten used to waterbeds!”
Sarah Stackley swung her arm around Manny Smith and they weaved their way drunkenly toward the car. They looked like what they were: a couple of tired, intoxicated, well-to-do day sailors just in from a long afternoon on the water—which made them rather attractive prey for the two river rats lurking in the shadows near the parking lot.
Arnold Ambrose and his pal Samuel Glover were a couple of mean drunks who spent the last few hours getting loaded on cheap wine and barbiturates. They talked it over and decided that a gram of cocaine would clear their senses and add a spring to their step, only by the time they came to this realization, they were out of money.
They would have robbed someone at the tavern they were at, but none of those people had enough money to make it worth their while. They tried briefly to hustle fruits at one of the gay bars, but they were both too ugly to score. Finally, they decided to go down to the wharf and see what kind of trouble they could find there. They were pretty well pissed off and fed up when the Sunset came slicing into the harbor. It never occurred to the imbeciles that there might be even more dangerous creatures than themselves prowling the night—men who killed for sport just as often as they did for gain. In that sense, they were lucky that it was only Manny Smith and Sarah Stackley who stumbled upon them.
As the couple approached, Ambrose and Glover stepped into their path, which was illuminated only by the dim glow of an aging lamppost.
Arnold Ambrose pulled a switchblade from his pocket and pressed the button.
“How much money ya’ll got?” he said, grinning stupidly.
Samuel Glover was grinning too, only he had temporarily forgotten about money—he was staring at Sarah Stackley’s breasts and thinking about committing his first rape.
Manny Smith looked at the blade in Ambrose’s hand. “Hey, I got a knife just like that one”—he smiled, recalling the night that he took it from a couple of muggers—“but I left it at home. I shouldn’t do that, I guess.”
“Don’t jive me, man,” growled Arnold Ambrose, brandishing the weapon.
Manny Smith noticed where the other man was looking and knew right away what he was thinking. “That ain’t on the menu, son,” he cautioned.
The hoodlums started toward Manny and Sarah; they stopped when Manny drew his pistol and shot Arnold Ambrose in the stomach.
“Uh!” he said. “Did you … did you just shoot me?” He clapped a hand to his belly and grimaced.
Manny shrugged and continued to point his gun at the two men. He was carrying just a .32 because his Colt was too cumbersome for sailing; if he’d had the .45, Arnold Ambrose would not be trying to guess if he had just been shot.
“I jist wanted some money, man! Ya didn’ hafta shoot me!” Arnold complained. He turned to his partner and said, “Come on, Sammy—let’s go home. This night is turnin’ out worse than my honeymoon.”
They were turning to go when Manny stopped them. “Hey,” he said.
Arnold and Sammy stopped.
“Leave the knife,” Manny said.
Arnold looked at the knife in his hand; he tossed it down and began to walk again.
“Jesus! What?” cried Arnold. His tummy hurt.
“Ya’ll got any money?” Manny said.
Sarah giggled, squinting her eyes closed and hiding her mouth with her hand.
“What?” Arnold said. “Are you crazy?”
Oh boy, Arnold thought, he is crazy! “No, man; we ain’t got no bread.”
Manny tightened his finger on the trigger. “You sure?” he said.
Arnold looked at the hole in the barrel of the gun and thought about his poor stomach. “I swear—that’s why we was robbin’ ya.”
“Yeah? Well, my lady friend here just got done swimmin’ with the sharks, so I ain’t in no mood to be dealin’ with the likes a you. Count yourselves lucky: the last two dudes I took a knife from went home naked.” Manny relented and the two men hobbled off into the night.
“Is he going to be okay, Manny?” Sarah asked.
“Probably—if he goes to a doctor. Most likely he’ll bleed all night and when he wakes up sober, he’ll drag his ass to the hospital in time for ’em to give him a transfusion.” Manny picked up the knife and admired it. “Here ya go, kid”—he handed it to her—“now you got one, too.”
“How sweet!” she squealed, kissing him on the mouth. She began bandying the knife about and said, “Let’s go to Nell’s for a nightcap—I wanna stab somebody!”
A Nightcap at Nell’s
Jimmy Nell was expecting them. Manny had always been one of his best customers; now that he had some money and more free time, he practically lived there. As for Sarah … well … Jimmy had been the one to introduce them. Jimmy did not let the fact that she slipped him a twenty to steer Manny in her direction, or that she was digging for information from the old detective, spoil his illusion of being a matchmaker. He thought they made a handsome couple, even though they refused to admit to anyone—least of all themselves—that they were anything more than pals, partners, and frequent lovers. Manny was hard to read, but he could spot the telltale signs of love all over Sarah Stackley. Jimmy had never been married—he didn’t regret the decision, either, except when he thought about what it meant to grow old alone.
The big-bellied Irishman was chomping on a cigar butt and polishing a glass when they came spilling into the bar. “Looks like you two been out on John Sutherland’s boat again,” Jimmy said, “or were ya drinkin’ at another bar?”
Sarah slid up to the counter and said, “We were indeed out with John. It was so beautiful! I went swimming at sunset with a school of dolphins—”
“Sharks,” Manny corrected.
“—and then the funniest thing happened! Manny shot someone!”
“Holy cow! What?” said Jimmy.
“Some guys tried to rob us—down by the docks?—and … well … Manny shot one of them in the stomach and made him give me his knife. See?” She pulled out the switchblade and popped it open; she waved it around and watched appreciatively as the dim light in the bar danced and glittered on the blade.
“Jesus God, Manny! Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time you went all over town shootin’ bad guys?”
“I only shot him once,” Manny pouted. “With a .32,” he added.
“I don’t suppose ya called the cops, did ya?” Jimmy said.
“Cops are overrated,” Manny said; “you and I both know that.”
Jimmy shook his head in wonder. “You’re gonna wind up in San Quentin yet,” he said. “I don’t suppose ya walked here, either. I bet ya’ll drove, didn’t ya?”
“I had to drive—I’m too drunk to walk,” Manny said.
“Laugh it up,” Jimmy said, but he poured them a drink anyway.
“We can’t stay, though,” Sarah said. “We just came in for a nightcap; we’re going on vacation in the morning. Yay!”
Jimmy took the cigar out of his mouth and looked at it; he tried to spit the flecks of tobacco off his lips. “Yeah?” he said. “Still goin’ outa town for the weekend, huh? Ya’ll are gonna miss my Memorial Day celebration.”
“Same as usual?” Manny said.
“What’s the usual?” asked Sarah Stackley.
“Dollar drinks and all the hotdogs and chili ya kin eat!” declared Jimmy proudly.
“Trouble is, the food he puts out on Friday is the same stuff he’s servin’ on Monday,” Manny said. “More people die a food poisoning from Jimmy’s Memorial Day blowout than we ever lost in a war.”
“Yeah? Well, you’re not invited,” said Jimmy.
“Save us some food, Jimmy—we’ll be back on Tuesday,” Sarah said.
“Oh boy,” said Manny.
They ended up staying for more than just the one drink, of course. “Can I talk ya into havin’ another quick one before ya go?” Jimmy had asked.
“Weeellll … I suppose if ya twist my arm,” Manny had replied.
And of course Charles Buckley, the hopeless old burglary detective, was there.
“You look … familiar,” he said, hiccupping.
“Hey Charlie. It’s me—Manny.”
Charlie looked at Manny stupidly, his eyes watering and going in and out of focus. “Well,” he finally said, “ain’t ya gonna buy me a drink at least?”
Manny Smith signaled Jimmy.
“Hi Charlie,” Sarah Stackley said, putting her hand on the man’s shoulder. “How’ve you been?”
“Well hello, pre’y lady,” Charlie slurred; he looked at Sarah as if for the first time.
“You shouldn’t drink so much, Charlie,” Sarah said. She felt silly because she was bombed.
Jimmy set a glass of vodka on the bar in front of Charles Buckley—with just one ice cube.
Charlie turned his attention back to Manny and said, “Ya know what they did this time? What they stole?”
“Well, I got this call to take a burglary report, see? When I get there, this lady is standin’ in her yard, jist bawlin’.
“So I says, ‘What’d they take, lady? Show me.’
“She showed me, all right. ‘They took everything,’ she wailed.
“And sure enough, they did. I walked through that house and you’d a never known that someone lived there. They even pulled up the carpet and stole the fuckin’ drapes.
“Well, the lady, she was at work all day. I asked the neighbors if they seen anything. ‘Sure,’ they says; ‘the movers were out there all day.’
“Kin ya beat that? They worked the whole live-long day—stole every fuckin’ thing in the place—and the neighbors jist thought she was movin’.”
“It’s brilliant in a way,” Manny said. “People don’t pay attention to the obvious.”
Emmanuel Smith had never worked the burglary detail, but he still knew what most people didn’t—that almost all burglaries occur during the day, when people are at work and it isn’t suspicious to see a stranger go up to someone’s door. Burglars generally do not like to meet their victims—who would want to prowl around a house in the dark only to have the homeowner wake up with a gun?
“I keep tellin’ my wife we need to git a watchdog, but she don’t wanna take care a it. She don’t wanna take care a me!” Charlie exclaimed.
Uh oh, Manny thought. I bet he’s just about drunk enough to start cryin’; he’s already feelin’ sorry for himself. Manny thought then about how a couple of months earlier he had been sitting at home contemplating getting a dog, himself—not because he was worried about security (who would want to break into his place?), but simply because he was lonely. Now he had Sarah—and although she didn’t live with him, she was infinitely more satisfying than a dog.
“How about some kinda alarm system?” Manny suggested.
“Too expensive,” said Charlie, gulping his vodka. “Honestly, I don’t know where my money goes!”
“Well, someone recently suggested that I move—I’m startin’ to think it ain’t a bad idea. I mean, when a person kin go to work and come home only to find that their fuckin’ rugs and curtains been stolen … well … I jist don’t know what to say about that.”
“There was a case once—not here—where this family went on vacation for two weeks. Well, they get home and they find some other family livin’ in their house! With their own stuff! Looked like they lived there for years.”
“Yeah?” Manny said, finishing his second bourbon; he hesitated and then signaled Jimmy for a third.
“Yeah. Funny thing was, they was the victims, too! Seems that some dude posin’ as a realtor sold these folks the house—after he pawned all the furniture and valuables. The poor people who moved in were illegals, so they had no credit. They thought they was gettin’ a good deal; paid the guy cash. Kin ya imagine?”
Manny Smith couldn’t imagine quite as good as old Charles Buckley; after all, he’d only been a cop for twenty-two years.
“What’re you fellas talkin’ about?” Jimmy said, handing Manny his drink.
“What else?” Manny said. “Police work.”
Jimmy Nell shook his head. “You’re retired now, Manny—ya should be talkin’ about sailin’.”
“Ya like sailin’, huh?” Charles Buckley said.
“I tell ya about it every night, Charlie,” Manny pointed out.
Charles Buckley shrugged his shoulders. “Guess I forget,” he said. “Maybe I’m gettin’ old.”
“How ’bout it, Charlie?” Manny said. When’re you gonna retire?”
“Retire? But if I retired, I’d hafta be home all the time!” cried Charles Buckley.
Jimmy laughed. “I doubt that,” he said. “If you pulled the pin, you’d be in here all day instead a just part of it. I imagine I’d be able to put in a pool at home, though.”
“Charlie’s gonna be one a them guys who stays on the job ’til he dies,” Manny said. “He’ll be filin’ a report one morning or havin’ his eighth cup a coffee and he’ll just keel over from a heart attack.”
“Manny!” said Sarah Stackley.
“I should be so lucky,” Charlie said.
“Where is everybody?” Manny said to Jimmy. “I thought there’d be more people here tonight.”
“There was a concert—some gender benders or glamour boys or punk rockers. Some damned thing. These young coppers nowadays, they like that sort a thing,” Jimmy said, picking up a glass to polish.
“Huh,” grunted Manny. “Poor fellas, I bet everyone’s gotta work this weekend. This’ll be the first time in my life I think that I kin actually have a real Memorial Day weekend.”
“Everybody’s got their priorities screwed up,” said Jimmy Nell. “People jist wanna go outa town and drink lotsa beer, but they forget what the holiday is really about.”
“Wha’s that?” slurred Charles Buckley, tapping the bar for another vodka. “No ice,” he said.
Jimmy poured his drink. “Memorial Day is about our fallen heroes,” Jimmy said. “Ya know, a lotta these kids masqueradin’ as cops these days wasn’t even in the service!”
And right on cue, the door to the saloon burst open and in swaggered a bunch of young, hotdog, blackglove, swashbucklers; they were wearing tight jeans, rock ’n’ roll T-shirts, and their fucking hair was more teased and sprayed than Dolly Parton’s.
“Oh boy,” said Manny.
“Jesus God,” said Jimmy.
“Huh?” said poor old Charles Buckley.
“What a concert!” shouted one of the young men, a kid named Brandon Hostetter.
“Outa sight!” cried another, his partner, Jeremy Johnson.
“I think they’re cute,” pouted Sarah Stackley.
Manny Smith watched as Hostetter and Johnson headed over to the snooker table. “Might as well buy ’em a pitcher a beer while I’m at it,” he said to Jimmy Nell.
Jimmy began pouring the beer. “I jist don’t get it,” he said. “These young coppers nowadays don’t even look human! Lookit that one there”—he motioned to a funny-looking cop who was wearing a wig and fake eyelashes—“he’s got fuckin’ glitter in his hair, for Christ’s sake!”
“That’s a wig, Jimmy,” said Manny Smith.
“A wig? Jesus God!”
“What’s wrong with a little rock ’n’ roll?” said Sarah Stackley; she stood up and started grinding obscenely to the jukebox, which was playing a twangy old number by Hank Williams.
“Holy shit!” cried Jimmy Nell. “Ya can’t do that—not to the Grand ol’ Opry!”
Sarah ignored the bartender. “Wanna dance, Manny? We’re on vacation.”
“Uhh,” Manny stammered, spilling his drink as his partner humped his leg.
“I’ll dance with ya!” said Charles Buckley, trying to stand up.
“Go home, will ya Charlie?” Jimmy said.
“Lemme buy another drink.”
Manny Smith was dragged out onto the dance floor by Sarah Stackley; she put on a pretty good show, resulting in a volley of catcalls and wolf whistles from the young men who had just returned from the concert.
“Why aren’t any of you dancing?” Sarah said to the assembled crowd.
“We can’t dance to this, lady!” one of the men said. The jukebox was belting out Willie Nelson—he might have been a pot-smoking hippie, but at least he was old.
Sarah Stackley was neither too old nor too young—she was older than the twenty-two-year-old kids masquerading as cops, but she was still younger than a pair or two of Manny’s underwear. It was tough being in the middle.
Finally, Manny had had enough. “I’m pooped, doll,” he said. “How ’bout we sit this next one out?”
Sarah relented. “Okay,” she sighed, lighting a cigarette.
“Hey Manny!” shouted Brandon Hostetter. “Git over here!”
Manny looked at Sarah; she shooed him away. “You go ahead. I’m going to talk to Charlie.”
“How’s it goin’, fellas?” Manny said, sauntering over to the snooker table.
“Good,” said Jeremy Johnson. “Thanks for the brews, Manny. Everything been workin’ out since ya retired?”
“You bet,” Manny said, thinking how strange it was that just a month ago these same two cops showed up to take him away … but he had John Sutherland’s influence and quick thinking to thank for getting him out of that mess.
“Yeah?” said Brandon Hostetter. “Whatcha been doin’ since ya pulled the pin, Manny?”
“Same old stuff: drinkin’, screwin’, and sailin’,” Manny replied.
Hostetter looked over at Sarah Stackley, who was propping up Charles Buckley and presumably coaching him with words of encouragement. “Ya got yourself a real fine lady, Manny.”
Manny considered this. He did, didn’t he? But the thought of commitment still scared the old detective more than walking a beat in Bangladesh. In lieu of answering, he sipped his bourbon and lit a smoke.
“Right,” said Jeremy Johnson, also staring at Sarah Stackley’s back; he shook his head as if to clear it and continued: “Well, while you been busy playin’ with your boat, we been doin’ police work. Just today we got a call about a purse snatchin’; we wasn’t even there yet when another call comes in … and then another. Well shit, by the time we rolled up, there was all kinds a pissed-off broads hollerin’ about how some shithead stole their fuckin’ bags. So we go cruisin’ around lookin’ for this cat; it only took about two minutes before we seen him strollin’ down the street with about twelve fuckin’ purses slung over his shoulder.
“‘Hey asshole!’ I yell. ‘Come here!’
“I thought he was gonna rabbit, but that dude just said, ‘Who, me?’
“So I says to him, ‘What’s the idea, stealin’ all these bags?’
“Ya know what he says to me?”
Manny shook his head.
“He says, ‘But Officer, I’m jist holdin’ these purses for my wives.’ Kin ya beat that?
“‘What’re you, a fuckin’ Mormon?’ I says, and I slapped the iron on him. Holy shit.”
“I kin dig it,” Manny said. “When I was new on the job, I just couldn’t get over the lies that people tell—and they expect ya to believe them! I caught a guy once in the backseat of a car with an underage girl—she couldn’t a been more ’an fifteen—and he says to me, ‘But Officer, she was chokin’ and I was jist givin’ her mouth-to-mouth!’
“So I says, ‘That mighta worked, mister, but ya got your mouth on the wrong set a lips.’”
“Holy cow,” said Brandon Hostetter. “Did I ever tell ya about the time we got the wienie-wagger floggin’ his dummy outside a the elementary school? He says, ‘But Officer, I wasn’t masturbatin’; I was jist passin’ by when my jock itch flared up!’ Then he wanted to show me!”
“I need another drink,” Manny said, excusing himself and returning to the bar.
“Hi, sweet thing,” Sarah Stackley said as he threw his arm around her. “You get tired of telling cops ’n’ robbers stories?”
“Yeah, it kinda reminds me a why I wanted to retire,” Manny said, sitting down on the other side of Charles Buckley. He raised his finger to Jimmy, who nodded and poured him another double bourbon. “How’s our friend?” Manny said, meaning Charlie.
Sarah rubbed Buckley’s back and said, “He wants to come with us the next time we go out with John.” She lowered her voice and said, “He wants to come with us this weekend.”
“Uh uh,” Manny said, shaking his head. “No way. I ain’t takin’ no boozy burglary dick along on our Memorial Day vacation.”
“I feel so bad,” Sarah said.
“We gotta toughen ya up, kid—he ain’t a fuckin’ stray, for Christ’s sake!”
Sarah pouted while Manny went to the bathroom. He splashed cold water on his face and peered into the mirror. How many drinks had he had? So much for a nightcap, he thought grimly. We’re gonna have a helluva time gettin’ on the road in the morning.
Manny Smith finished up in the men’s room and returned to the bar, where he was greeted by an awful commotion. Sarah Stackley was waving her new switchblade around, threatening several of the concert-going policemen.
“How dare you get fresh with me?” she screamed.
“Watch it!” someone yelled.
“She’s crazy!” cried another.
“She’s got a knife!” shouted a third.
“Where’s a cop when you need one?” another person said.
“You are a cop, ya dummy!”
“Shit! Where’s my gun?”
Manny Smith collected his wayward lover and bid Jimmy Nell a goodnight; Charles Buckley had slept through the entire incident. “See ya on Tuesday,” Jimmy said.
“But I didn’t get to stab anybody!” wailed Sarah Stackley.
“Let’s go home, doll,” Manny soothed. “You’re more volatile than a Molotov cocktail.”
“Oh, my achin’ head!” Manny Smith complained.
Sarah Stackley stirred in the bed; her eyes were glued shut with sleep and she thought dimly that she might vomit. “Ooooh,” she moaned. “What time is it?”
The alarm clock was ringing—it was until Manny smashed it with his fist, causing it to splinter into three pieces. The old detective looked at the twisted hands. “It’s seven,” he said. “I think.”
“Ooooh,” said Sarah.
“Why do we gotta leave so early?” Manny whined.
“We haven’t even packed yet. Ooooh!”
It was going to be a busy weekend at the Seal Rock Inn. The owners, Bob and Sheila Norton, had reservations for every room, plus a few hopeful couples on the waiting list. It was nine a.m.—checkout was at eleven. In two hours, the few guests from the previous evening would be leaving and there would be a brief lull in which to turn the rooms and prepare lunch.
Memorial Day weekend was always a big one for the Norton’s—besides the seals, theirs was a beautiful property. The previous owner had been a cranky, eccentric old recluse who was reputed to be a direct descendant of Patchy the Pirate, a notoriously ruthless brute who had terrorized the West Coast in the 1700s. When the old man died, it was not only discovered that he had no kin, but he had nothing to leave them. The property, including the lighthouse and the wretched rock that sat underneath it (and the seals, of course), was sold at auction for a song—sold to Bob and Sheila, who thought that the mansion would make a charming bed & breakfast.
Bob Norton had been a chef for many years—it was the only job that he’d ever known—and he eventually became the head chef at a five-star restaurant in Hollywood.
Bob hated it.
Poor old Bob Norton would come home every night and complain to his wife about all of the pretentious movie stars, film producers, and assorted fat cats who made his life miserable on a daily basis … and for running an entire kitchen, Bob was paid a pittance. And oh boy, was it ever expensive to live in Los Angeles!
Still, Bob and Sheila Norton managed to save some money and they were able to buy what they now proudly called the Seal Rock Inn.
And what about the seals?
“Can’t we do something about them?” Bob said to county commissioner, the mayor, and anyone else who would listen.
“Sorry, Bob,” they all said, “but they’re protected, you know.”
And so the seals stayed—shitting and barking and attracting large sharks.
“Oh boy,” Bob said.
But the cozy bed & breakfast was a success, despite the seals; the scene was so idyllic that people simply overlooked the nasty beasts until it was too late.
“Jesus Christ!” the guests would shout. “I can’t sleep! Can’t you shut those fucking things up?”
And Bob would shrug … and say, “Sorry, fella, but they’re protected, you know.”
Bob Norton looked like a chef: he had short, black hair that was neatly parted on the left; he was carrying around just a few extra pounds—a testament to his cooking—and on his face he sported a waxed handlebar mustache, the points of which nearly reached his eyeballs.
“You look ridiculous,” Sheila would say.
But what did she know? Bob reasoned. Sheila Norton had a face like Renee Zellweger, which is to say that she went around perpetually looking like she just got done sucking on a lemon.
Bob Norton was content to mostly let his wife run the bed & breakfast—she had a good eye for business, whereas he preferred to hide in the kitchen with his pots and pans and soup spoons. Occasionally, Sheila Norton would say something like: “We’re not running a fucking restaurant, Bob—we’re only supposed to serve breakfast, as the name implies.”
But Bob would only shrug; he was running a restaurant, whether old sourpuss Sheila liked it or not. And the guests weren’t complaining; in fact, they seemed thrilled to be able to take their meals in the grand old dining room rather than having to trek into town … and if they ever got hungry late at night, Bob would think nothing of getting up from his own bed and making them a snack, which they could enjoy either in their room or right there in the kitchen, with Bob babbling and drinking beer while they ate.
“Oh boy,” Sheila would say.
The Nortons made do with only three employees: a cook, a housekeeper, and a handyman; they did everything else themselves—them and their four children, who ranged in age from three to eighteen.
The oldest, Bob, Jr., did the most work—he might have had his father’s name, but he was his mother’s son. Junior helped Sheila Norton keep tabs on everyone else and assign chores, a role that was naturally met with a certain degree of resentment from his siblings.
Next in line was Nancy, a shy, yet pretty girl of fifteen, who often entertained fleeting crushes on some of the Seal Rock Inn’s younger male guests.
Patrick was eleven; he kept to himself when he wasn’t getting into trouble by snooping in the guests’ rooms and throwing homemade bombs at the seals and trying to emulate his heroes in the pulp detective novels.
The youngest child, Dolph, didn’t do much at all, except chatter merrily at the guests and steal their food and throw their things in the toilet when they weren’t looking.
“What a cute boy!” a guest might exclaim. “What’s his name?”
“Dolph,” Bob would say.
“It’s short for Rudolph. I never cared much for Rudolph,” Bob would explain.
“Then why name him that?” the guest might say.
And Bob would shrug. Dolph—a tenacious tike with a tendency for trouble, as he liked to think of him.
The handyman was an old grouch named Maxwell Hauser; he mowed the lawn, tinkered with the plumbing, and basically did whatever other odd jobs popped up. When he wasn’t otherwise occupied, Max fussed with the grounds and the lighthouse. “Landscaping—that’s what this place needs. Maybe a golf course—a small one, a course. And that damned lighthouse—if we could get it workin’ again, wouldn’t that be somethin’?”
The cook (who doubled as a waiter and bartender when they were busy) was a young man named Gregory Gerten. Like Bob, he too aspired to one day own his own kitchen (even if it was only in a seaside bed & breakfast), but the owner of the Seal Rock Inn doubted that the boy had the latent ability for such an accomplishment. Gregory Gerten had a heart of gold and a burning desire to learn, but alas, he was little more than a short order cook.
The housekeeper was a beautiful young blonde woman who filled out her maid’s costume rather well; her name was Jennifer Jacobson and she was the object of many of Junior’s fantasies. Jenny, as he called her, thought that Bob, Jr. was cute, but he was only eighteen and she would be twenty-three in the fall.
“But I like older women, Jenny!” he would cry, staring at her hungrily.
“Oh boy,” she would say. “Older women. You sure know how to sweet talk a girl, Junior. Oh boy.”
And so forth.
Archibald Stone felt like he was cracking up. Every day he had to put up with the seals and the sounds of people playing croquet next door. He abandoned his kitchen table full of cocaine and brandy and donned his disguise—a dark wig, tinted eyeglasses, a fake mustache, and a driver’s cap. Thus outfitted, the mean old gangster went outside and began driving golf balls first at the seals and then at the inn.
I’ll teach ’em to play croquet all day long, he thought, swinging his club and sending another ball onto the roof of the bed & breakfast.
“Jesus God!” shouted Bob Norton. “What’s that horrible sound?”
Archie Stone just grinned and set another ball on top of his tee.
Sheriff Randy Rademacher was cruising along the coastal highway, smoking a cigarette and trying to decide whether to have a pizza or a hero sandwich for lunch. He had been a cop for nearly as long as Emmanuel Smith, but he had spent his career is Seaside Harbor, which was a far cry from Bay Port City. Sheriff Rademacher had been down to the city a couple of times—he had stayed just long enough to convince himself that he was better off a hundred miles up the coast.
What a difference a hundred miles can make, he thought, flipping through the radio stations until he found a catchy number by Buddy Holly.
Randy Rademacher was in his second term of office. When the previous man had vacated the post, he thought that he’d throw his hat in the ring and see what happened; what happened was that he was elected sheriff by default—no one else wanted the job.
But it wasn’t a bad gig. He was honest and so were his two deputies—not that any of them were faced with much temptation. Randy Rademacher was paid a modest salary and he made his own hours, which he filled by driving up and down the coast, stopping every couple of hours to eat, and sleeping by the side of the road when he was done.
Being a three-man agency, Seaside Harbor did not enjoy twenty-four-hour police protection—not in the traditional sense. Sheriff Rademacher and his deputies took turns fielding calls at their homes when no one was on duty. (One of the deputy’s telephone had been out for an entire month and no one had even noticed.) If something really bad ever happened, there was always the California Highway Patrol to fall back on … or the National Guard.
Despite Randy Rademacher’s substantial girth, formidable sloth, and ever-deteriorating health, he craved a little action now and then. Sheriff Rademacher was a law enforcement burnout like Manny Smith, only for different reasons. He was bored.
Perhaps someone should have told Sheriff Rademacher to be careful what he wished for.