Slaps the Tail - Chapter Ten
"I suppose I should use a
phone," explained Chester
Rhimes to the two people who greeted him as he darkened the door of
the Proud/Rosewater residence for the first time. He was aware of
the spectacle of himself and gazed about the property distantly until somebody
"Go ahead and use the red line Marshall." Sherman said
after a long moment had passed. Chester squinted in and saw that he
was pointing to a restored antique booth containing a shiny red
rotary that had been built into the entryway. Always aware of the
lines of authority, Sherman was one of the few in town that had
addressed the law officer correctly from the start. Chester eyed the
unit but remained on the stoop peering in as he still dripped with
"What have you been into?" Jordan wanted to know
immediately approaching Chester, grabbing his elbow, and ushering
him back out into the sunlight like a truant caught sneaking from
the schoolyard. "Don't tell me you went in and tried to unclog
that culvert. I was just telling Sherman about the flood down there.
I take it you noticed it? Sort of a weird thing wouldn't you
Chester wasn't looking at her and kept turning back towards the house and muttering
about the phone.
Jordan stepped back at arms length and eyed him closely for a moment
before saying, "Here, take my cellular. And
don't electrocute yourself let me dial. Who are you needing to call
so badly anyway?"
Chester had been afraid he'd have to make that decision eventually.
In the face of it, he couldn't really think of anyone he wanted to
talk to. He stalled and scuffed his boots in the dirt until Jordan
"What's the matter with you anyway? Where did you park?
Hello." Jordan used a forefinger to lift his chin.
"Down by where the creek was overflowing." Chester replied
"And you slipped and fell in and didn't want to get the jeep
wet so you walked on up?"
"Well not exactly. I kind of..."
Sherman appeared next to them suddenly holding what looked to be an
army issue woolen poncho that he held out to Chester. "Maybe a
dip in the ol' hot tub is what you need Marshall Rhimes. It's right
up around on the deck there and I just cranked it up to about 180
degrees F Heit. Let me throw that uniform in the dryer at
Chester didn't see how taking a hot tub could possibly be a wise
move at this juncture but couldn't think what else to do either and
had allowed himself to be led up onto the expansive porch and to the
redwood tub's steaming edge before balking. "Need need to get
ba ba to the jee jee, " he managed through chattering teeth.
"Nonsense." Jordan lifted his drooping hat from his head,
placed it on her own, grabbed the lapels of his uniform shirt and
unsnapped it to the belt with one motion. "That jeep's not
going anywhere. What we need to do here is get you warmed up. Now
git cher butt in that tub and give me the keys. I'll run down and
bring the Jeep up to the house for you." As she was saying this
she undid the clasp of his gun belt with one hand while relieving
him of his walkie-talkie with the other. Tossing the belt over a
post, she placed the squawker on a rail. Chester looked woefully at
the sopping holster wondering suddenly where the gun that went in it
Sherman had returned holding an empty laundry basket and stood by as
Jordan detached the badge and placed it on the rail before tossing
in the uniform shirt. At Jordan's prodding, Chester kicked off his
boots, stepped out of his trousers numbly, and sat on the side of
the tub trying to stop his hands from shaking long enough to peel
off his soaking socks.
"Dry trousers don't do a man any good with wet skivvies."
Sherman pointed out matter of factly. He stood waiting with the
basket at arm's length looking off to the side and whistling.
Chester, wondering how much more embarrassing the day could get,
peeled down the paisley drawers, dropped them into the basket with
his toes, and clambered over the side of the tub. Sherman marched
off into the house with the dripping basket.
Although Chester considered just staying underwater until the dull
roar of the Jacuzzi's motors swallowed him into darkness, he
eventually sputtered to the surface to find Jordan standing tubside
holding his hat. Returning it to his head she stood inspecting him
curiously as if he was some peculiar toadstool that had sprouted up
after a rain, which was about what Chester
"The keys?" She questioned.
"Not sure." Chester said.
"I better get down to that jeep before somebody comes along and
calls you in as missing on your own radio. Not that I don't like
seeing Ernie but we might as well leave one of you in town keeping
Ernie was Balzac.
As Jordan turned to head off the deck and down the driveway, Chester
thought about calling after her and coming clean about what she was
likely to find when she got to the bottom but Sherman stepped
between them with two bottles of cold beer and handed one to Chester
before he could get the words together. Chester took the bottle and
examined the label lamenting again that he hadn't stayed in town
with Lenny. After clinking long necks, Sherman dropped from
Chester's view, apparently to go to his stomach on the deck.
"Back spasms." He explained when Chester eventually peered
over the edge to find him prone on the planks. "So what brings
you up this way Marshall? Funny because the wife was just playing
one of your old albums the other day. Like I think I told you when
we were introduced initially, I can't agree with all the lyrics but
I will admit some of the tunes are catchy enough."
Chester sank back in the water before he could hear Sherman say - "Just not the kind of thing we would have hoped folks were
listening to back here while we were doing the job over there.