Back out on the wooden planks of the store fronts I have but one place to go before heading back home, the tavern to see Walter. Just as I’m about to reach Walter’s that’s when Luke, the sheriff, steps out his door and is now squarely in front of me, but facing the street. Luke is a pain in the ass type of personality—must come with the territory. His clothes neatly hang from his body. A large hat rests upon his head that is pulled down to just above his eyebrows, a look that I find irritating and overhanded. His boots are weather-beaten and loud upon the wood planks. He must have heard my footsteps approaching because he turns to say high as he rubs his eyes. His pale blue eyes settle upon me with a lonesome authoritative glare.
“How goes it Joseph?’
“It goes and it comes.” I say.
“Any trouble out there beyond Jacobs Pa….” and his voice trails off.
He knows Jacob was my dad and Luke isn’t much older than me so he knows how my mom and I got pushed to the outskirts of town and into that shack shanty of a rat hole that killed my mother. He knows my past; he doesn’t know me.
“Any problems at your cabin with anyone?” he finally comes back with.
“Things are as good as one could hope Luke.”
“Take it you’re still out there looking for your dad?”
I take it you’re still an asshole? I think to myself. “Until I find him or what happened to him,” I say. “Well Luke, keep the people safe around here I have to be getting on.”
“You take it easy Joseph and be careful out there. You never know who’s lurking in that forest out there, be it a man or a beast.”
I know Luke is acting his part as sheriff, but I also know it’s just that, an act. He cares as much about me as the wild dogs he shoots on the edge of town ‘to keep the townspeople safe’ he always says but I know better. Hell, half the town does. He’s a sad man who wears his badge proudly, a little too proudly. He has been known to let his title go to his head in situations that he has no business of being involved. Another lonely soul looking for something to hang his hat on I suppose.
His parents had been mill workers their entire lives before they both passed away some years ago. Luke was left to himself for a few years drinking and loosely holding on to his mill job until one day he decided to get his life back together. And where does one get their life back together? Caleb and the church are always waiting for the next poor soul to stumble in with the desire to improve their life and have no way of doing that themselves. I’m sorry, but those people annoy the hell out of me, it’s the ones who have always been a part of something bigger and better, and have the strength to change themselves, that I can muster some respect for.
Finally! The tavern doors are within reach.