No Avail Slaps the Tale - A Jordan Dane Mystery
Slaps the Tail - Chapter Five
Town Marshall Chester
Rhimes was marking tires. It wasn't what he wanted to be doing
particularly and, as a result, he wasn't giving it much thought.
Just walking along nodding hellos and spritzing little yellow chalk
splotches on treads so he could walk by again later, nod some more
hellos, and make sure no splotches remained. Lingering marks
indicated the vehicle had exceeded the two-hour limit and was
therefore overstaying its parking welcome as per a new town
ordinance. If Chester found an infraction not involving a car owned
or driven by anyone he knew and felt friendly toward, which covered
most locals in town as well as a good number of the regular seasonal
visitors, he would write a ticket that would eventually add
twenty-five small to the town coffers.
Of course the splotching system was imperfect, Chester knew, since
any of the hedonists forever lolling on the bakery porch who felt
like socializing or sunning themselves beyond the allotted time
granted them by the parking ordinance would simply wander over and
rub his splotches off with a shoe or bandanna the minute he turned
the corner. He suspected this happened quite frequently and often
the splotchless cars he found on his return visit seemed amazingly
similar to those he had marked two hours earlier. This was fine with
Chester who also knew the world to be an imperfect place. And
sometimes not even a place as scenic and laid back as Telluride
could make a fellow forget it.
Marking tires wasn't glamorous work, Chester realized, but he did
get to stroll about in the fresh air and natural grandeur chatting
amicably with folks. Many of the folks Chester saw regularly were
thought to be leading interesting, glamorous lives, and would
sometimes share with him the intimate details thereof. Chester was
aware that most of these same people were only talking to him
because they considered things he had done in his own life to be
glamorous and interesting. He begged to differ with that assessment
for the most part and he certainly didn't feel as if he'd done
anything all that interesting lately. Lately, he had been content
with vicarious living through the townsfolk and visitors he met on
his rounds, many of whom, if they knew who he was, themselves envied
the life he had lead. Or something to that effect.
He had marked the last tire of the eight occupied spaces in front of
the bakery, when he found himself in an alley conversing with the
undeniably interesting but far from glamorous Loose Leg Lenny.
"Do you belong to that animal?" Chester had inquired of
Lenny, indicating by pointing his splotcher in the direction of a
blue eyed, speck faced cur with a frayed rope around its neck. They
watched together as the dog sniffed about the porch for morsels. It
was a dog, Chester was thinking, that appeared far to relaxed and
had an unhindered by human accompaniment look of mischief in its
eye. He was also thinking that he may have hauled this particular
hound in on a previous occasion but there had been so many he
couldn't remember for sure. Chester was not a man or an officer who
kept very concise records and especially not as far as canine priors
were concerned. Dog catching was the part of his job he enjoyed the
"He don't belong to me," Lenny said. "But he is a
friend of mine."
It was one of those mornings when Lenny exuded inebriation from his
very pores and, it seemed to Chester, in an active and not a
hungover way. Chester looked casually about and didn't see a bottle
anywhere near where Lenny sat in the alley propped against the
bakery wall soaking in the sun. He did reluctantly notice Lenny's
white underbelly, which was exposed below a rolled rusty T-shirt.
"Hey you. Get yer hindquarters over here," Chester said,
addressing the pooch with mock authority as he mounted the porch's
worn wooden steps and nodded to the lone sun worshipper, a natty
dreaded woodsman who hoisted a Styrofoam cup in return and gave him
a "Howdy Sheriff.". The dog, who
had retreated shyly beneath one of the picnic tables, bolted at the
sound of Chester's voice, springing gracefully over a railing and
scampering off down the alley. He apparently had a better memory
than Chester regarding the previous times they had crossed paths.
"Don't run little buddy. Yous only making it worsh for
yourshelf," Lenny cried after the dog with the effort causing
him to loll away from the wall and over onto his side. "Heesh
always had a problem with authority sheriff." Lenny explained
straightening himself out supine so he was prone on his back in the
gravel. He began gazing about like a baby searching for meaning in
the cloudless sky.
Chester stood over him casting the long shadow of morning. "I'm
not the sheriff, I'm the Goddamned Marshall. The Town Marshall as
you well know. And it's a little early to be lying in alleys ain't
it Lenny? Hell, I ain't even given the first round of parkers out
yet. I'm just marking the tires now."
"Thash all my little buddy was probly fixshing to do. Jush mark
off a few tires. And now you gone and run him off. We was about to
break fast together. Shoon as the bakersh tossed out the day
olds." Lenny rolled over on his side now, and seemed to be
"I didn't run him anywhere," Chester said defensively.
"I just asked him to come over where I could get a better look
at him. Would it have killed him to sit still for questioning."
"Heesh a free spirit Deputy. Jush like me. Weesh don't shit
still for nobody."
Chester frowned down at the prone drunk and suddenly had a clear
memory of pulling Lenny and the speck-faced cur into jail together
previously for being involved in a public disturbance of some kind.
If this was the hound's second offense, Chester was required by town
ordinance to either send it over to animal control in Montrose or
let Balzac deal with it. Mostly he opted for neither and snuck what
animals he could out to Jordan Dane's in hopes that, between them,
they might find them a decent home. This wasn't legal of course, but
enforcing the law, it turned out, wasn't a very big part of
Chester's job as Town Marshall.
It wasn't improving Chester's morning any however, to have one of
the town scofflaws lying in an alley pointing out that he and the
random dogs he was supposed to be rounding up were basically walking
around town performing similar territorial functions. As he
continued frowning down at Lenny, an idea came to him. Perhaps he
could get Jordan to train one of the brighter mutts that came
through the system to mark tires for him. Maybe have it drink some
fluorescent elixir and then make the rounds. And train another
mongrel to drop off tickets maybe using a little doggy mail pouch
that Chester would design himself. Put the offending hounds on work
release. This new two hour parking ordinance was just ridiculous
enough to have Chester contemplating such things. Maybe he should
get a dog of his own and train it himself. An old Coon hound.
"Are you sure that isn't your animal down there," he asked
Lenny finally, when he noticed the dog peeking at them around a
dumpster near the end of the alley.
"I told you it weren't"
"Naw he ain't."
"Are you damn sure?"
"Why you keep ashin me that?"
"Cuz dammit Lenny, if you says it is your hound and at least
pretend he's under some form of voice control, then I don't have to
run around chasin' him just to hand him over to Balzac so he can
take him out for shotgun practice. And if you say you are up early
lookin for your dog instead of just lying around in this alley here,
then I don't have to haul you into jail for bein' drunker than usual
before noon. You're both off the hook. And I can go back to marking
"Sounds like fashinating work Constable McChesher. Marking up
people's tires. Ish clear to me now why you quit that singing
career. Fact, comes to think of it, you never splained that decision
to me no way suffishintly. Whyant ya buy me a beer somewheres and
tell me more about it."
Chester leaned over menacingly and placed a yellow splotch directly
on Lenny's midriff. "I am not a constable, I'm the goddamned
Lenny lifted his head off the ground, straining to examine his
stomach. "Don't have to go nowhere now." He finally
chortled, pointing to the yellow chalk on his belly, his eyes
twinkling up at Chester and creasing with mirth. "I got another
two hoursh before I have to roll over. Lest one them Honeys from
inside the Baky comes over and wipes me off. You mush know that's
what they been doing all this time, a wipin them marks off as soon's
you gone. Ya cain't be as stupid as you look on that old album cover
Chester regarded Lenny without humor and glanced over at the now
crowded bakery porch to make sure nobody was listening to the abuse
he was taking from a chuckling layabout. None of the porch dwellers
appeared to be paying any attention to them as if the scene was
common enough that the front page of the Daily Lode, their
fingernails, or something down in their backpacks was more
"On your feet," Chester finally said grudgingly. "I'd
rather buy you a beer than have you taking up good alley space and
showing your gut to these poor people trying to enjoy their
Sitting in the Silver Dollar, Chester sipped a decaf watching Lenny
and the other characters nurse their morning long necks and wondered
why a beer had sounded so good to him when he ordered the last
round. Boredom, he suspected. Crime fighting wasn't all it was
cracked up to be in a town where most of the crimes involved drunks,
dogs, and parking. He supposed there were illegal things going on
relatively close by, things that he could be investigating if he
chose to turn over a few rocks, but victimless crimes had never
interested him much. He was doomed to preside over an idyllic
victimless town. Dogs and drunks. The Drunken Dog, Chester thought.
Now that would be a decent name for a tavern. Or maybe a comeback
Lenny was chewing on a stogie stub he'd found somewhere and ambled
over to the jukebox casting a devious and mischievous eye Chester's
way. Chester knew what was coming. "(Love is just a) Quarter
Turn from Gone," by Chet Rhimes. Straight out of the where is
he now file.
Chester's cellular phone rang from somewhere on his belt and when he
located it he was glad as always to find that it was Jordan.
Especially when it distracted him from listening to his own voice
emanating from a tinny jukebox.
Sometimes the roads you've traveled
Look just like the road you're on.
When love is just a quarter turn from gone.
He covered his odd ear in annoyance mortified suddenly with the
knowledge that when he had written those lines he hadn't traveled
any roads to speak of. And the only person he'd likely ever loved
was on the other end of the phone now and had been in diapers at the
No, he said into the mouthpiece, he hadn't seen Rosemary Rosewater
around town anywhere.
Chester could tell Jordan was in her Subaru because of the rattle
and hum. He walked out the side door and stood in the street to hear
"Well the last time anyone up here on the mesa saw her was last
night when she was trying to break up a dog fight with Ira Gold and
nobody has seen either of them since." Jordan was saying.
"I'm heading over to talk to Sherman Proud at the moment and
take a look at one of his wolves. Says one's missing and the other
got mauled last night. Must have been some battle. I saw the blood
in the road myself."
Was Ira Gold man or beast? Chester was trying to put the name to a
face and once he had was trying to remember if he'd encountered Ira
Gold, Ira Gold's bus, or the Rosewater Range Rover on his rounds
that morning. Why was Ira Gold in a dogfight? Chester lamented
miserably that he'd probably been too engrossed by yellow splotches
and tire treads but he didn't recall seeing either of the cars or
Ira. He definitely hadn't seen Rosemary. Then again, his rounds that
morning hadn't taken him past the Gump garage where he suspected the
Carpenter had been living recently. Rosemary seemed to be spending a
good spell of time associating with that character, the reason for
which Chester was sure he wouldn't want to guess. One of them, he
imagined, was up to something he should probably be investigating,
victimless or not. And more than likely both of them.
Chester promised Jordan he'd come right out to the Mesa after
stopping by the cages behind the station to pick up a few animals.
After striding back into the bar and wincing at his own singing to
the delight of the long neckers, he paid for another round of their
beers and swung out the front doors of the Silver Dollar. He
stretched, placed his sunglasses on his nose and looked through them
to find the speck faced cur looking up at him from where it was
sunning itself on a bench. It seemed, as always, to be grinning at
"How about coming with me you little cuss," Chester said,
lunging for the animal only to have it dart between his legs and
through the swinging doors into the bar. Chester ambled off up the
street looking forward to seeing Jordan and wondering what kind of
mess he'd find out on the Mesa.