Sheriff Pete walked into the Ya’ll Sit Cafe on Monday morning, just like he does every week. Something felt different. He didn’t know what it was, but he had the eerie sense he should sit by the door instead of taking his usual seat at the counter.
“Good morning, Hannah!” he said.
Hannah Cloverton looked up but said nothing.
Pete noticed a few people turned to look at him. He knew them and nodded. Nothing.
He picked up a copy of the Maple Valleyan and was surprised to see his name on the front page. “Questions Swirl Around Sheriff Terkinberry” the headline read in bold letters. “What is this?!” he almost said outloud.
Hannah startled him and Pete dropped the paper face down. “Do you want to order, Sheriff Terkinberry?” Hannah asked.
Pete saw a stranger in his friend’s eyes. “Hannah, you haven’t ever called me ‘Sheriff Terkinberry’. What’s going on?”
“Would you like to order now?” she asked.
“Yes, Hannah, I’ll have the same thing I’ve had every Monday morning since the first time I came in for breakfast twelve years ago.”
“What would that be, Sheriff?” Hannah Cloverton asked.
“Hannah, what is going on? Are you okay? Is something wrong?” Pete asked.
“No, sir, why do you ask?”
“Why do I ask? Are you kidding me? You just called me ‘Sir’!”
“Sheriff Terkinberry, would you like something to eat, or not?”
“Yes. I’ll have two scrambled eggs with onion, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, and coffee. Please,” Pete said, perturbed.
Hannah wrote the order down as if she hadn’t heard it a hundred times before and might forget. She left without saying anything more and returned to the kitchen.
Pete picked up the paper once again and started reading.
“Questions regarding the behavior of Sheriff Pete Terkinberry have residents of Maple Valley concerned. A confidential source told this reporter, ‘Sheriff Pete Terkinberry allows people to see him in his boxer shorts.’ This reporter asked, point blank, ‘How confident are you that Terkinberry wears boxers? Could you be mistaken?’ My source responded, ‘I don’t make mistakes like this.’
“Outrage has swept across this town. With tourist season just a few weeks away, shock, dismay, and horror are words that have been spoken in the wake of this devastating news.
“Questions roar in everyone’s mind. Will Sheriff Pete Terkinberry resign? Will he be removed from office? Will the town council act quickly enough to repair the tattered remains of this battered community.
“This reporter has been on the front lines of news for several months. I can tell you, without equivocation, this has shaken Maple Valley to its core.
“I’m on the scene for you. Derk Quimberz, reporter, The Maple Valleyan.”
Someone grabbed Pete Terkinberry’s shoulder and shook him. “Pete!! Pete!!”
Pete opened his eyes and was surprised to see his own bedroom, with Alvin Thrashborn standing over him.
“Are you alright?! You were yelling about someone named Derk Quimberz! Who is that?!” Alvin asked.
“What are you doing here?!” Pete yelled.
“Don’t you remember? We were supposed to go fishing this morning. I banged on the door but you didn’t answer, then I heard you yelling, so I came in. Your door was unlocked.” Alvin said.
“It’s always unlocked.” Pete said, sitting on the edge of his bed, trying to find his way through the fog.
“Get up, we have an appointment with several big bass,” Alvin said, walking out of the room.
“Who is Derk Quimberz?!” Alvin yelled from the kitchen.
“I don’t know! Some reporter who doesn’t like boxer shorts!”