9/30/22 (Minor editing this morning. Sometimes I miss or auto correct kicks in correcting what was originally right.)
We’d come to this place for years to honor our missing friend, we continued on the weekend and days off from the workplace tradition. Nothing out of the ordinary as usual today. The jukebox, blasting in the back with the smells of pizza, burgers, and fries, along with beer and other alcoholic drinks, coupled with some cigar and cigarette smoke, stays heavy in the air like a thick fog. Though there is one exception: a missing person. The police kept the case quiet for reasons we don’t know for the past five years. Even the townspeople aren’t talking about it. Years after Gordon went missing, we decided on a little together for our weekend pool party of sorts. This one, however, is a bit more of an important one. It’s the Golden Billiards pool tourney. We come in and set up everything like always during the tourney, take our seats and wait. When Lucas notices something odd in the tourney award glass case. Something incredibly odd and familiar. We can’t ask around right now since the games are about to start. So we grab our cue sticks on standby for our turn, paying close attention to each player’s moves as the clanking of cue to billiard ball rolls across the table and the background sound of darts hitting the boards right behind us seems to distract some players. Though that feeling is still nagging at me to the point I feel a bit itchy like I’ve gotten into poison ivy, so I make my way over to Lucas. After some quiet talking between ourselves, we agreed that when it’s not our turn or the games are on break, we’d interview people. You know, like those old detectives like Sherlock or something. Our turns are still a way off, so we got started immediately with the people we’ve known for a long time.
Fred joins me in the back where it’s not as noisy where I start right off with the big question. What happened that day? Just like that, they start off with the hearsay mumbo jumbo and I’m getting nowhere fast and by the end of the conversation, I’m still stuck at the same question with the answer.
On to number two! The same question was asked slightly more clearly, thinking maybe I’m not being very clear in my questioning. This time I made some headway like I’ve struck gold. Someone’s seen him leaving here the night they’d gone missing with a man nobody can ID. Giving out free drinks most of the night. Though they didn’t see them leave together and just my luck, it’s my turn for the table. I grab my cue and head to the table with a quick detour over to Lucas. It’s your turn, buddy. I do have some information of my own which I’ll share later. But, I hope regardless you have even more luck than me. I’d better get to the table before the judges get into a tizzy and start throwing stuff.
Crapola, my turn to start talking to people! It’s all on me now, I guess. He’s goin’ be mad at me if I can’t get anybody to talk. I ain’t the best at comunicatin in any given conversation and such. Plus, herein lies another problem Ralph wasn’t able to tell me who he’s been talkin too. We’re gonna chance either way. No choice now. I walked up to this guy who I think works at the plant where Ralph works. Now I don’t know’em personally but heard a lot about them through Ole Ralph. Well, that was an interestin converse. Not very sure if it’s true or if it even helps in our own lil’ investigation. But they did see him just before he’d disappeared at work and about an hour after work. Gordon didn’t seem to be behaviorally out of the ordinary.
Which is hard to tell sometimes as he can be a bit on the peculiar sided. Whether Ralph wants to admit it or not. There are days Gordon doesn’t always say where he’s goin’ or meetin. Even if Ralph encourages it like a mother hen. Though if you ask me, I’m not too keen on wantin’ to know the ins and outs of someone goin’ to say the outhouse. Anyhow, someone’s seen him talking to some guys at the local eatery, not the pool hall.
They couldn’t make out totally what they said. However, a waitress I’m interviewing now clues me in on a talk he was having with a group of guys Ralph and I don’t know. Sheesh, friend cheatin on friends Ralph ain’t goin to like that. She could only catch certain words as she passed by their booth as she served. Some things like another city and maybe a job of some sort. Not really sure! As I’m chattin’ with ms lovely waitress, I spot some oddball who looks like he’s got on a really bad mask or one of those bad cosmetic surgeries. I want to get Ralph’s attention, but he seems to be on a roll. Though his luck is usually short-lived when it comes to pool. Just as I’m lookin back at the strange character, the guy’s lookin’ back at me as he begins to walk out the pool hall. I can almost swear that guy is familiar, and that suspicion is confirmed when they smile. When it hit me in the head. It’s none other than Gordon. I bolt toward the door as it’s still swinging. The owner still hasn’t gotten the latch fixed. I don’t see Gordon at all as I look all around. How the heck does a grown man disappear so fast like that? I ponder to myself while running all around the outside of the pool hall. I’m even checking the dumpster and nothing. Why the heck would he run off like that? What did he do? I flop my Goin Flyin navy baseball cap on my jeans as I head back in and I hear the buzzer timer. Oh, thank you, lord I’m being called towards the pool table now. Before I go on with my shots, I whisper to Ralph everything I’ve learned.
He’s now looking like a cross between mad as heck and a sick, scared cat. This can’t be a good sign, I think to myself as I head to the table for my turn.
I decided while the other members were playing, I’d take a quick look outside around the grounds for clues instead of interviewing this time. I’m hoping I’ll spot something in the way of a clue, any clue.
When I spot a note on the hood under the right windshield wiper of my pickup truck. I carefully unfolded it with great trepidation that I may know what’s in it somehow, as it is in Gordon’s handwriting and from what it’s saying. Gordon is in deep trouble and not from me. How on earth can the sheriff be in on it? Then I spotted the most important clue of all that told me everything I needed to hear from him. Gordon’s been set up. Now it’s up to me and Lucas to prove it once and for all, but with it being the sheriff, we don’t have any other police in this small place. Unless I can find a trustworthy deputy. As I mentally utter those words as I read on, Gordon’s given me the name of just such a deputy that can help us. I scramble back as I’m watching all around and behind me, hoping I’m not being watched by that old sheriff because by now he knows what I know. I don’t let the door slam this time as I go back inside sneaking quietly through the crowd of people watching the tourney. When I noticed someone that was at the tourney five years ago. Sheriff Bulldog is a nickname he’s earned rightly so. But in this case it’s more descriptive of his even more contemptible nature. The deputy by sheer irony here too watches as he brushes past me sticking something in my back pocket.
It’s my turn now so I make my way over to Lucas casually putting the notes I snuck out of my left blue jean pocket into his side front pocket as I kept an eye on the sheriff the entire time. Guard these keep them out of sight from the sheriff and the deputy for now. Don’t look at them either, wait until we can get out of here. I’ll explain everything later. I said heading towards the billiard table with my cue in hand. That’s when the sheriff becomes surprisingly loud taunting us all over our way of playing the game. As I’m making each move I’m also paying close attention to where the Sheriff is and how close he’s getting to Lucas.
When he gets too close for my comfort I throw the match flinging the eight ball towards the sheriff on purpose in the hopes it’ll distract him and the crowd long enough to get Lucas away and as such I’m summarily disqualified for the bad move.
I skedaddle out quickly before the natives start throwing their beers or worse at me. Once I catch up to Lucas we are approached by the deputy soon afterward. Who decides for our safety to pretend to arrest us right in front of everyone, Sheriff included. Lucas makes it look the best when he starts fake arguing with the deputy. Only he can at times become too convincing and now is one of those times with a risky move that almost gets him punched in the nose. He roughs us up outside in case I’m only mildly roughed up. Lucas on the other hand does take a fist to the nose but it’s not what breaks his nose. He lands against the edge of the car breaking it right in the middle. As the deputy drives on he fills us in on something Lucas may have done to tick off the Sherif and where he’s been all these years. I started scolding him for keeping his friends in the dark all these years. When he said it bluntly!
Do you really want to see your friend actually dead now? Look, we have a chance right now to catch and arrest the Sheriff once and for all on the other disappearances and not to mention the corruption charges. That’s only half of the crap he’s done to this town in the years he’s been in office. If you think I’m sounding like I’ve got my own personal against him. You’re right I do! I won’t say who I’ll just say it is personal. The only thing you need to know is you need to help me right now catch and trap him once and for all. I’ve got the FBI on their way now. They should be here within the hour. Until then we just need to keep you and me and your friend alive long enough.
The deputy goes silent after browsing into the mirror. I turn around to see something aimed at the window when the deputy yells to get down. That’s when Lucas and I heed the warning and duck so fast we looked like a disappearing act. The first two shots missed us totally, only grazing the passenger side.
The third one thankfully we think jammed before he could fire and that’s when we hear sirens in the distance and unmarked black cars approaching surrounding the sides blocking him off. We pulled off to the side and waited while they forcefully pulled him out of the car. After he’s placed inside, Gordon steps out of another vehicle. He’s alive and well the dang fool is alive and well. Yes, Lucas ended up hit again. Gordon says oh no reason. I think he’s still upset over that remark Lucas made years ago about his dart skills.
After a long talk at the old stomping grounds, we figured out the sheriff is a rather jealous man and also greedy. It seems that he’s set up our friend for the things that he’d done lying to the FBI putting our friend in danger. Only the FBI was in the know already about the sheriff’s dealings so they hired Gordon to fake death going into witness protection all this time until they could nab the sheriff in the act for all the corruption and disappearances. Who were all related in either being a former co-worker or friend of his who turned on him and attempted to the authorities and that can only last for so long before you’re eventually caught and jailed?