The Sheriff of Eureka, Utah by Terry Freeman


Biographical Fiction by Terry Freeman



“Not long after that… after trying to get across the desert without my smokes… I told you ‘bout that, didn’t I?”

“You sure did, James.”

“So where am I then?”

“You were saying something about the preacher, thought you were there to cut the grass.”

“That’s it son, that crazy sumbitch sitting in his porch out of the sun, anyway I turn in off the highway because I see all these Chevys and Lincolns, real good cars all standing there in the sun, and it’s so hot it’s like the top of my head’s blown clean off… so I’m suited and booted as always, because I always say there’s trades round every corner just waitin’ on me, and I’m headed for Salt Lake, I think I’ll have a look at that Mormon Temple they’ve got in Salt Lake City, but here I am in Eureka, Utah and this crazy old preacher  he’s lookin’ at me and I’m looking at those cars in his lot., Chevy’s and all…”

“You weren’t planning on going home then?”

“Nah. What for? Home? Jeez, no way, forget about that shit. So, there I am and it’s like ninety in the shade only there’s no shade, but that car, jeez it’s a De Soto, powder blue, like six million horses pulling that motherfucker… and I’m getting out and walking up to this old preacher, and you know what he says to me?”

“No idea, James.”

“No, that weren’t it, son.  He says – ‘You better not be here to cut the grass, because if you’re here to cut the grass I gotta tell ya – ’ ‘Whoa there, friend, I ain’t here to cut no grass,’ I say. And I’m thinking how he’s a crazy old sumbitch preacher, he thinks I’m here to cut the grass when I’m standing there in a hundred-buck suit and ridin’ that big motherfucker of a De Soto, powder blue, it was – ”

“You said…”

“Said? That’s it, so I say to him, I’ve stopped to visit with you in your fine church, and I happen to see these fine cars standing in a line, and I just stop to ask if they are for sale?”

“‘For sale?’” he says. “‘For sale? Ain’t nothing here for sale even if you cut the grass every day for a year, my friend.  Ain’t nobody ever stops here except for askin’ to cut that grass, and I say to them if you ain’t here for prayin’ only cuttin’, then you better get your ass outta here ‘fore I call that Sheriff.’”

“‘Sheriff? What do you need a goddam sheriff for when I’m just askin’ if these cars are for sale.?”’ … Anyway, it’s too hot for fighting with some old preacher especially as he’s like two hundred and four and there I am in my suit and drivin’ that De Soto. So, I smile at him and wish him good day and tell him to take it easy, then I tell him if he can’t take it easy then take it any way you can. And with that I’m back in the car and on my way. But the strangest thing, that old preacher he must have been mighty pissed because next thing I know there’s a bigass State Trooper on my tail and he’s pickin’ over that De Soto and writin’ me up a ticket for a tyre and because he say’s I ain’t got no spare now I’m under arrest and the sumbitch he’s cuffed me, and he’s got them out to take me and that De Soto back to Eureka sheriff’s office and I’m stuck in jail!”

“Jail? – what you mean real jail, like San Quentin, and Johnny Cash?”

“What the – ? Nah, not JAIL, jail, but jail, like a tank, bars and a wooden bench. Anyway, that Sheriff he takes one look at me suited and booted – ”

“Hundred-dollar suited and booted, James.”

“Too friggin’ right, son, hundred-dollar suit and drivin’ that De Soto.  So, the tyres get fixed and the sheriff, well, he’s a good ol’ boy and he likes me in my suit – probably never seen a suit before – and he’s got me in the tank, but the doors open and he’s offering me beers and smokes and tellin’ me not to bother myself with that dumbass preacher because he’s crazy and in any case if I want to buy some cars I’d be better off talking with his son over in Laramie, Wyoming.  And did I know that this town, this Eureka, Utah, this town is owned by Mr. Bing Crosby? That’s all very well, I say but Mr Crosby don’t look the kind of fella who would go around throwing respectable folks like me in jail, especially ones in hundred – ”

“Yes, I know James, hundred-dollar suits and De Soto cars. But you know what I’d really like to know? Why are all those cars lined up at the church?”

“Funny thing, the Sheriff told me that an’ all. Seems the crazy old preacher makes the families leave the cars behind when their loved ones turn their toes up, instead of askin’ for his fee for preachin’ their funerals. Turns out he’s made himself a millionaire from dealing in cars, and that’s a good thing because he sure don’t get a lot of folks in that crazy church of his, only for gettin’ buried.  Only problem is, he don’t like folks stopping by and asking to buy them, the cars I mean.  Folks like me, chasing cars, he don’t like us much. Even in a suit, and driving a De Soto, like me.  And that’s why I ended up in jail and talkin’ to the Sheriff of Eureka, Utah”.




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15 January 2018