Sheriff Roy Templeton regularly worked a patrol shift despite holding the title of Mud Lick’s top cop. He strongly believed the best way for a cop to serve a community involved maintaining a connection to the people. That belief saw the Sheriff out one Thursday night cruising for any signs of unusual activity.
The first call of the evening was rather mundane. An irate man from Kentucky badgered two Dairy King drive-through employees over something he kept referring to as a “goddamn triple cheese with extra cheese” while his Canadian passengers giggled in delight.
A voice crackled to life in the cruiser while Sheriff Roy managed some paperwork. Apparently Deputy Miranda volunteered to work dispatch this evening covering for Darlene who’d taken time for maternity leave.
“You up for taking another call tonight, Sheriff?”
“We don’t get the option of declining calls while on patrol, Deputy.”
“All due respect, Sheriff, you do.”
“Deputy, what’s the issue?”
“We got a call that sounds like a domestic disturbance at Ratt’s Pizza.”
“I’m five minutes out, Deputy. I’ll take it.”
Ratt’s Pizza was a Chuck-E-Cheese knockoff pulled from a Hunter S. Thompson LSD dream. The owner, one Earl Dickey, saw the potential in the business model but not in paying for the franchise. As a result, the mascot on Ratt’s Pizza was a crude mash-up of Chuck E. Cheese and Mickey Mouse. Inside, the animatronic band was replaced by a live karaoke bar. The other half of the pizzeria was full of games dispensing tickets for various prizes.
Sheriff Roy found the two argumentative parties in this section. Earl was engaged in a war of words with an official looking woman wearing some kind of identification on a lanyard around her neck and carrying a clipboard.
“Alright, what’s the problem, people?” Sheriff Roy barked to quiet the duo. As the woman turned, the Sheriff saw her ID badge read, “Donna Bixenspan, Health Inspector.”
“It’s good to see an authority figure here, Sheriff,” Ms. Bixenspan replied. “Please take this man into custody immediately.”
“Hi Sheriff!” Earl called out.
“Evening, Earl,” the Sheriff returned. Fixing his attention on Inspector Bixenspan, Sheriff Roy said, “I’m the law in this town, and I decide who gets arrested. What crimes did this man allegedly commit?”
“Mr. Dickey is in violation of Executive Order 37-A and creating a public health nuisance by keeping this dining area open.”
“What’s Executive Order 37-A? Forgive me, but you bureaucrats are coming up with so many new restrictions and orders weekly it’s hard for me and my people to keep up.”
Inspector Bixenspan huffed with indignation. “Executive Order 37-A requires essential employers to take employee temperatures via contactless thermometer and log the temperature at the beginning and end of each shift. Furthermore, this man is leaving this play area open and creating a health nuisance by inviting children to congregate here. He should be arrested.”
“That’ll be my decision on further investigation,” the Sheriff repeated. He then walked over to Earl Dickey. “Do you dispute anything Inspector Bixenspan here said?”
“Well we ain’t got the play area open, so I dispute that,” Earl began, “But she’s right about the temperature stuff. We couldn’t even get one of those thermometers on the Amazon so for the time being I had my staff working on the honor system until we could get one while we managed takeout and delivery. They all know if they call in sick right now they won’t get faulted!”
“Your honesty is appreciated, Earl,” Sheriff Roy mumbled through gritted teeth. Returning to Inspector Bixenspan, the Sheriff said, “Well Earl here admitted to violating the executive order, but under the circumstances I think this merits a citation, not arrest.”
Bixenspan nodded. “I concur.”
The Sheriff took a notepad out, scrawled something on it, and handed it to Earl. The paper read “You fucked up, Earl. Do Better.—Sheriff Roy.”
“Will do, Sheriff!” Earl said, folding the paper into his shirt pocket.
“That’s it?” Inspector Bixenspan asked incredulously.
“No,” Sheriff Roy replied. He turned to Earl and said, “Get one of those thermometers double quick so I don’t have to come back here again over this, okay Earl?”
“Yessir, Sheriff!” Earl replied heartily.
A shocked Inspector Bixenspan followed Sheriff Roy to the parking lot. “Your ‘Citation’ is a vulgar note and an admonition to do better? Is there no respect for law and order here?”
Sheriff Roy turned on the woman with a fierce gaze. “We have plenty of respect for law and order in my town. What we don’t tolerate much are people like you walking into an innocent business demanding compliance with your made-up ‘orders’ and telling people like me to put decent folks into jail because they won’t jump on command.”
Inspector Bixenspan bristled. “I am a duly authorized Health Inspector! I demand respect!”
“And so does the Pope, but if you look close enough he doesn’t get much play in these parts,” Sheriff Roy replied. “Now if you’ll excuse me. I’ve got real work to do.”
“You goddamn misogynistic bigoted pig!” Bixenspan sputtered in outrage.
Sheriff Roy circled Inspector Bixenspan’s vehicle long enough to get a good look at the license plate. As he left he radioed the tag number to Deputy Miranda and asked any officers spotting the vehicle to administer a “Wellness Check” to the driver.
“You sure you wanna go there tonight, Sheriff?”
“Well, life’s full of assholes, Deputy,” Sheriff Roy mused. “Tonight I’m ashamed to say I’m feeling like one myself.”
And Sheriff Roy cruised into the night, searching for a bigger fish than a “health inspector” to fry.