“Evening Ernie,” Francine’s voice crackled through the radio.
“Evening Francine,” Deputy Ernesto Miranda replied. “Sheriff Roy’s got you on dispatch tonight?”
“Norma Jean’s on maternity leave, so a few of us are covering for her. Could you handle a roadside distress call?”
“You mean like a flat tire? Isn’t that Garage 66’s wheelhouse?”
“The garage said they’re busy stripping two geolocation trucks for parts. Sheriff Roy wanted to know if you’d at least take a look while they were tied up.”
Miranda smiled. “Give me the address.” He welcomed the change of pace for the evening, and in another life he’d been responsible for maintaining several vehicles.
The woman standing next to her car at the edge of Dobbsnail Boot End looked as if she’d just had the worst day of her life. Miranda turned on his lights as he pulled his cruiser behind the sedan and exited the vehicle.
“Evening ma’am!” Deputy Miranda greeted the stranger.
“I call for roadside assistance and I get a cop. Great.” the woman spat.
“The garage guys are busy, so they asked if I could take a look at your vehicle. You’re welcome to send me on my way but it’ll be at least an hour before anyone else can get here.”
“Thanks” the woman replied nervously.
“Could I see your driver license ma’am? Just to make sure I’ve got the right person?”
The woman produced her ID from inside the car. Miranda stared at the name.
This night just got interesting, he thought. The woman wasn’t a local, and if this was who Miranda thought, she could use a bit of kindness right now.
Returning the card, Miranda asked the woman to pop the sedan’s hood. He inspected the car for a minute or two with a flashlight before radioing Francine.
“Francine, tell the Garage 66 boys we’re going to need a tow.”
Closing the hood, Miranda turned to the woman. “I have good news and bad. The bad news is you’re driving nowhere tonight. Your transmission’s shot, a rod’s thrown, and you need a new belt.”
“Great,” the woman moaned. “What’s better news than that?”
“You’ve got a free place to stay while you wait and the Garage 66 boys just got the parts you need in tonight. They’ll be along shortly to tow your car to their shop where they’ll fix it and get it back to you once they’re done.”
“Where am I staying? There’s no hotels anywhere near here!”
“I’ve got a spare room and bathroom in my house. I’m headed home now. You’re welcome to stay. Honestly, it’d be nice to have the company on Thanksgiving.“
The woman agreed. Collecting her things, she climbed in the waiting passenger seat of Deputy Miranda’s cruiser.
She woke the following morning to the sounds of Bob Dylan and smells of food emanating from a kitchen. Donning sweats from her knapsack, the woman entered the kitchen to find Deputy Miranda hard at work. He now wore a long sleeved flannel shirt, jeans, and an apron reading “Don’t Tase The Cook, Bro.”
“Morning ma’am, and happy Thanksgiving,” the deputy greeted her. “If you want coffee, there’s a Keurig on the far counter. Pods are there too, but don’t touch the ones marked “Black Death” unless you want to stay up for a couple days.”
She availed herself of a cup. While it poured, Deputy Miranda said, “Once you’re finished, I’d appreciate your help in here. Four hands will make this faster than two.”
“Not a problem, Deputy.”
“Call me Ernesto. Ernie if you want. I’m off duty.”
“Okay,” the woman replied as she sipped the dark, warm liquid.
“You’re a Dylan fan,” she said after a few minutes.
“His music’s good sometimes.”
Deputy Miranda continued as he strode around the kitchen with practiced efficiency. “Now on Thanksgiving there’s rules around here. We keep conversation to family, friends, and football. My boss says “faith” is an OK subject but I’m not really religious. Also I don’t really like to talk about work much. You good with all that, ma’am?”
“Sure,” the woman said, “What can I do first?”
“Throw those vegetables into the boiling water.”
Deputy Miranda left for a moment to use the telephone. The woman overheard him converse in Spanish with someone on the other end of the line. He returned in a few moments.
“Sorry, I had to ask my mom how much onion powder her recipe used.”
“Is it for something like tamales?”
Miranda stared his guest with a cold gaze. “It’s for stuffing. What do you eat on Thanksgiving where you live?”
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have spoken out of turn. You mentioned earlier you weren’t seeing family this year?”
“Both my sisters are stationed overseas and my parents can’t find their way here. Plus I’m working today.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sort of ‘on call’ since the Sheriff wanted today off and I mistakenly wagered with him over the spread on an Alabama game for it. A deal’s a deal.”
“Football. You’re a fan?”
“I’m more of an NFL guy. I like the Seahawks, but if there’s one thing my boss worships more than Jesus Christ, it’s Alabama football. Everyone watching the games in this town slows life down for a few hours.”
“And you said your sisters were in the military?”
“Naval intelligence officers. Both of them. My father’s a retired Marine, Mom was a field medic. I’m the only one in the family that skipped the military and went to law enforcement.”
“So you’re not originally from here, I take it.”
“Did the brown skin give me away?” Ernesto chuckled. “I was border patrol for years in Arizona until I transferred to the Sheriff’s Department here. The job’s quieter and easier in Mud Lick.”
“Why did you transfer?”
“Remember what I said about discussing work in off hours?” Miranda replied.
“Sorry, just trying to make conversation,” the woman continued, mixing cranberry sauce in a bowl. “Can I ask you one other question about your job?”
“One condition. I get to ask you a question about yours too.”
“Fair enough. What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever responded to on duty?” the woman asked, an interested gleam in her eyes.
“I’d tell you but you’d swear I was lying. Everyone says that unless they were there.”
“I really want to know,” the woman persisted.
Miranda ceased preparation on a batch of banana pudding. Looking his guest in the eye, he said, “I had to arrest an inebriated attorney in court after he scored an acquittal for his client who allegedly sexually assaulted a dog.”
The expression on the woman’s face was as if her brain had broken. “No, none of that sounds remotely possible.”
“Told you. Now my turn. What’s it like getting fired from your job on Twitter?”
Sidney Powell’s face turned beet red. “You don’t know how glad I am to be far away from that job right now.” she said quietly.
“Oh, I can imagine,” the deputy replied with a wry smile. “I’m used to an exacting boss with hard to read moods that seem to turn on a dime.”
“An attorney’s job is to do what the client wants,” Powell continued. “You know, we have to tell clients if something’s a bad idea, and then if they tell us to proceed we have to as long as it’s not illegal or unethical.”
Miranda nodded in silence. That didn’t seem right to him, but his guest was finally starting to relax in his presence.
“I’m told to go on Fox News and say certain things. I think personally those things are idiotic and I told my client as much. He tells me to proceed, I do my job, and he fires me in a statement on Twitter. It’s fucking humiliating.”
Miranda chuckled. “At least it’s over. You’re done with that job. Now you can tell everyone how much you hated that fucking guy, right? Isn’t that SOP for people who worked with the President? You turn on him and get a book deal?”
Powell bristled at the Deputy’s suggestion. “Some lawyers have standards. I’m one of them.”
“Fair enough,” the Deputy said as the duo finished their meal preparation. Removing his apron, he eyed his guest and said, “We’ll eat when we get back. If you want to stay in those sweats you’re welcome to do so, but I’ll ask you to stay in the car while I duck in our dispatcher’s house to hand off food. She just had a baby and doesn’t need to worry about food prep right now.”
Sidney Powell agreed to wait in the car while Deputy Miranda left Norma Jean turkey, rolls, stuffing, and cranberry sauce at the dispatcher’s front door.
When the duo returned to Deputy Miranda’s residence, Powell’s vehicle waited in the driveway.
“How much do I owe for the repairs?” she asked.
“You don’t ask any questions and it’s free. The Garage 66 guys owe me.”
And that night, as Sidney Powell fell asleep in the den of a Mud Lick Alabama Sheriff Deputy’s TV room watching football, she finally found the kindness of a stranger something worth truly giving thanks.