Everyone loves a parade, and the good folks in Maple Valley are no exception. When news quickly reached everyone that Sheriff Pete Terkinberry would soon patrol the three streets of town in a new squad car, excited anticipation of a parade swept like a wind-blown grass fire.
From one end of town to the other, neighbors gathered in the streets to watch the sheriff drive by in his new car. They waved, shouted, laughed, and a few cried. The dream of Maple Valley having its own police car finally came true.
The patrol car isn’t new. The Maple Valley council purchased it from the Chicago Police Department. It only has 61,000 miles on it, so folks here believe it was a good investment. Sheriff Pete is happier than anyone else. He’s been patrolling in his own car since he took office fourteen years ago when his father, Sheriff Wilton Chase Terkinberry passed away after thirty-four years as Sheriff of Terkot County.
Folks in Maple Valley are happy with any reason to have a parade. Believe it or not, last summer there was a parade because Hazel Wiklaten’s spaniel, Gertrude, had twelve healthy puppies. They were loaded into the bed of Berton Pilshur’s old pickup truck and before he reached the end of First Street, crowds of people stood on their porches waving as the twelve grand marshalls rolled by.
That parade went a long way to support rumors that Berton has eyes for Hazel. His wife Nellie passed away eight years ago. Hazel has been alone since her husband, Maxil Ned Wiklaten III, went on to his barn in the sky nine years ago. A year after Nellie died, neighbors saw Berton talking to Hazel over the fence. There’s been talk ever since.
With the arrival of the new police car, there seems to be more determination to find Sylvia Meisner. Certainly, with this fine new used patrol car, there won’t be any reason why answers to this year long mystery can’t be found. Sylvia is sure to come home now.
It’s good that the arguing over the cost of sending the sheriff and mayor to Chicago to pick up the new police car has ended. The vote to send the two officials was a tie. Since the mayor holds a higher office, he said his vote carried more weight, thereby causing the motion to pass. Well, that brought some of the folks attending the meeting to their feet. A few walked out. Nothing unusual for Maple Valley council meetings.
Poor Sylvia Meisner. Sylvia disappeared from Maple Valley almost a year ago. Poor Sylvia Meisner. She has missed so much in her little home town. Folks still talk about her. There are a few who believe they know what happened to her. Most don’t pay any attention to them, which makes the believers even more sure they know the truth.
After Vee Burthrap left Sheriff Terkinberry’s kitchen, she wandered around town as if in a daze. She bumped into Quintin O’Dillmotte and didn’t even say excuse me, which upset Quintin. He decided to give Pete a call and tell him about Vee’s rudeness.
“Yes, this is Pete, Quintin. What can I do for you?” Quintin O’Dillmotte has an odd voice. Everyone knows who it is when he calls. His voice sounds like a mixture of gravel and explosive diarrhea.
“I want to report an assault,” O’Dillmotte said loudly.
“What assault? What are you talking about, Quintin?”
“I was assaulted by Vee Burthrap over on First Street?”
“Vee Burthrap never hurt a fly in her life. What happened?” Sheriff Pete asked.
“I was walking along, heading back to the funeral home from Ya’ll Sit, after I ate my muffin and finished my coffee.”
“And?” Pete asked.
“Quintin! You said you were assaulted by Vee Burthrap. What happened?!” the Sheriff shouted.
“Oh! Right! Well, I was walking along, and all of a sudden someone ran into me. It was Vee Burthrap! She just ran into me and kept right on going. She didn’t stop, didn’t say excuse me, didn’t look at me. I was assaulted and I want something done about it.”
“Did she hit, push, shove, kick, or knock you down?” the sheriff asked.
“No, but she bumped into me really hard.”
Pete thought about the conversation he had with Vee in his kitchen when she insisted she knew what the letters D-S-L meant. “Don’t stop looking!” she shouted.
“Quintin, what time was this?”
“It was about ten minutes ago,” he answered.
“I think I know what happened,” Pete said. “Vee was at my house this morning.”
“What? Why was she at your house,” O’Dillmotte asked in a hush, as if he was about to hear a wonderful tidbit of forbidden gossip.
“She thinks she knows what D-S-L means. She came running in my back door without knocking and I was standing in the kitchen in my boxer shorts. She was hollering “Don’t stop looking! Don’t stop looking!”
“Don’t stop looking for what?” Quintin asked.
“Don’t stop looking for Sylvia!” Pete yelled.
“Oh! Oh! Don’t stop looking for Sylvia. Oh. She saw you in your boxers?”
“Yes, Quintin, she saw me in my boxers, but I’m not sure she noticed.”
“Why wouldn’t she notice? Has she seen your boxers before?”
“Quintin!! Of course not!” Pete yelled into the phone. “Let’s get back to the reason you called!”
“Oh, right. She assaulted me.”
“Quintin, Vee Burthrap did not assault you. She ran into you because she was thinking about her conversation with me and not watching where she was going. Does that sound about right?”
“Why wasn’t she looking where she was going?” Quintin asked.
“I think she was upset about talking to me,” Pete answered.
“Was it because of your boxer shorts?”
“Quintin, I have things to do. Are you finished?” the sheriff asked, exasperated.
“I just think it’s strange she saw you in your boxers,” Quintin said. “Don’t you?”
“Quintin, I’m going to say this slowly. You called me to report an assault. You said you were assaulted by Vee Burthrap.”
“No, you weren’t. She bumped into you. You were upset because she didn’t apologize, she didn’t stop and make sure you were alright. I’m quite sure she was thinking about Sylvia and about talking with me. Oh, and another thing, Quintin,” the sheriff continued. “I’m upset with you about telling Vee about the cookies we received before Christmas.”
“What cookies?” Quintin asked.
“Quintin, are you feeling alright? You sound like you’re sleeping. The cookies several of us recieved with the letters D-S-L on top. Remember?!”
“Oh, those cookies. Yes. I remember,” he answered.
“Do you remember me telling all of you not to tell anyone about it because I thought it would give us an advantage if people were talking about it even though we didn’t tell anyone?”
“Uh, I guess so,” Quintin answered.
“So, why did you tell Vee Burthrap?” Pete asked.
“I didn’t tell her,” O’Dillmotte said.
“You didn’t tell her about the cookies with the letters on top? She said you told her,” the sheriff said.
“Oh, I guess I did.”
“Right. Case dismissed, Quintin. Maybe you ran into Vee. Were you reading the newspaper while you were walking?” Pete asked.
“Yes. I always do. You know that,” Quintin answered.
Quintin O’Dillmottee decided to walk back up to the Ya’ll Sit for another cup of coffee. He was exhausted after talking with the sheriff.
“Good morning, Alvin!” Quintin said when he saw the mayor walking.
“Quintin, how are you?”
O’Dillmotte and Alvin Thrashborn stood along First Street.
“Listen, Alvin, did you know Vee Burthrap saw Pete in his boxer shorts?”