Friday, October 18, 2019

Overread at Booth 2: from #MadCarnival - "Friday Afternoon at the Station"

October, 1935
Luddington, Iowa

Police Station

Sheriff Jerry Latham
Deputy Frankie Cook

Frankie is reading last month's Dime Detective, while the Sheriff is reclined in his chair, which squeaks against the weight of his back.  His hat is pulled down over his eyes, but he is facing the front window, which looks out onto the street into the window of the barber shop on the other side.  The Sheriff assumes this pose so that he can rest his eyes, but can immediately open them should ever anyone step inside.

In his half-slumber on a quiet afternoon, he tries never to fold into a full sleep.  When he does sleep, he often dreams the sweet, spicy smell of horseradish.   Then, in the dream, the smell dissipates, and he is surrounded by the bodies of dead soldiers, his brothers, men he barely knew.

"What time we heading out to the Mad Carnival, Sheriff?" says Frankie.

"In about an hour or so," replies the Sheriff.  "Good to take a look around, make sure everything is on the up and up.  You know, sturdy and not going to fall down on anybody."

"Wow, Sheriff, I didn't know you were an expert on such things."

"I'm not.  They don't know that.  We'll just go out there and act like we do and from their reactions, we should be able to tell if THEY are experts on such things."

"You're pretty smart, did I ever tell you that?"

"On occasion, Frankie, yes you have."

Frankie puts down the Dime Detective and stands up and hikes up his belt higher around his waist.  Then, he walks toward the door and notices the schoolmarm, Eliza, headed toward the Church.

"School's out," he says, idly.

"We might want to get started then," says the Sheriff.  "The kids will be running over to the field to get first tickets into the circus."

"Do you think those Germans will come down?"

"You mean the folk from Lewiston?" asks the Sheriff.

"Yeah, do you think we'll have to worry about 'em?"

"What's to worry about?  The only person who ever has a problem with them is Farmer Talbot, and he's always half in the sauce and railing on about little green men from Mars!"

"Well," says Frankie, looking out the window as though expecting to see Eliza come back out of the church, "they're just strange folk, you know, they never really come down into town except about once a month or so, and they're just so ... well ... foreign."

"Frankie, their people been here since '94.  They are certainly not 'foreign'."

"You know what I mean, Sheriff, well, you fought the Krauts in the Great War, you more than anybody know what they're like."

"I know what Krauts are like and I know what the Dusseldorfs and the Niehauses over in Lewiston are like and neither group are alike in the slightest.  That's what I know."

"You're a good man, Sheriff."

"You don't have to say that, Frankie."

"I kind of think of you like a father, sometimes."

"Don't say that, son.  Half the time I don't even like talking to you all that much."

"See?" Frankie says, "You’re JUST like my father!

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