The rumors were true.
After forty-two years as Chief of Police in Creekwood, Sam was retiring. I had stopped by Daisy's Cafe that morning for coffee and mouthwatering blackberry cobbler. She had just brought my order, when Chief Sam walked in and approached my table.
Easing his 6' 4" frame into the chair beside me, he came straight to the point, "Frank, I have a job for you."
The Korean War had just ended and I was discharged from the Navy. Some folks called it a "police action" but for those who were there, it was war. I served aboard the USS MOCKINGBIRD (AMS-27), a minesweeper operating off Wonsan, North Korea.
Through long terrifying nights, I dreamed of returning home to the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains. I longed to return to that peaceful world and to the ones I loved, only then would I be happy.
My wandering mind again focused on what Chief Sam was saying, "Frank, you would be perfect for this job."
"Chief, I’ll think it over and get back with you."
"I've already spoken with the mayor and councilmen. They agreed you are the man for the job. Just say the word, it’s yours.”
For a week, I mulled over the responsibilities. As the only police officer in town, I'd be on call twenty-four/seven. But surely, there couldn't be much to do in a town the size of Creekwood.
My first day on the job was uneventful. However, on the second day I had my "baptism" as Chief of Police.
It all began before eight o'clock that morning. Daisy had just poured my second cup of coffee when the cafe's phone rang. I heard Daisy say, "Yes he's here, Aunt Myrt." She handed me the phone. I was soon to realize folks in town always knew where to find me.
“Morning, Aunt Myrt, what can I do for you?"
"You can pick me up for my appointment with Dr. Miller. My car won't start."
After dropping Aunt Myrt at Dr. Miller's clinic, I stopped by my office. Julie, my secretary, handed me a phone message from Miss Sally. Charlie's goats were in her garden eating the cantaloupes.
Back into the cruiser, I headed to Miss Sally's place.
Much to my relief, Charlie and I were able to put the goats into their pens before they destroyed Miss Sally's entire garden.
On my way back to town, Carl waved me down. "Chief Frank, can you help me? That old mare of mine is about to foal and she needs help. The vet over in Clay County is on vacation and won't be back 'til Friday.”
Fortunately, everything went well with the mare and she delivered a healthy colt. I'll have to admit I was proud when Carl named the colt, "Chief."
I soon learned this was a typical day in Creekwood.
On Friday nights, Pastor Bruce, of Creekwood Baptist Church, often kept me company as I made my rounds in my Plymouth cruiser. One Friday night, we got word Billy Taylor had left Roscoe's Tavern in his old Ford pickup, and was weaving in and out of traffic. Billy lived in the next county, but he came to Creekwood to collect leftover food from Daisy's Cafe to feed to his pigs.
One blast from the Plymouth's siren caused Billy to stop his truck. Getting out of the cruiser, I walked to the pickup. Billy opened the door and stumbled out.
"Billy, you’re in no condition to drive tonight. You're drunk."
"No sir, Chief, I'm not drunk."
"Well, Billy, look up at the sky and tell me if that's the moon or the sun up there."
Throwing back his head and peering up at the star-studded sky, Billy slurred, "How'd you ‘spect me to know? I don't even live 'round 'ere."
The next day, Pastor Bruce went to the city jail to see Billy. After reading scriptures from Romans and having prayer, the preacher told Billy he expected to see him in church on Sunday.
When Pastor Bruce walked into church Sunday morning, there sat Billy on the front pew waiting for the rest of the congregation. Billy became a faithful member of the church and often accompanied Pastor Bruce on visitations.
I thank God every day for Sam, Pastor Bruce, Daisy, Billy, and all the others who are part of my "family" in Creekwood. God answered the prayers of a once homesick soldier.
“He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.” Proverbs 16:20 (KJV)
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