the Goliard

To No Avail Slaps the Tale - A Jordan Dane Mystery
* Chapter One
* Interlude One
* Chapter Two
* Chapter Three
* Chapter Four
* Chapter Five
* Chapter Six
* Chapter Seven
* Chapter Eight
* Chapter Nine
* Chapter Ten
* Chapter Eleven
* Chapter Twelve
* Chapter Thirteen


To No Avail
      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 least.

"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 pouting.

"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"

"You sure?"

"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 my tires."

"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 Marshall!"

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 of yoursh."

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 interesting.

"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 coffee."

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 album.

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 time.

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 her better.
"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 him.

"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.

Chapter Six

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