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 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 said something.

"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 creek water.

"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 say?"

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 grew impatient.

"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 sheepishly.

"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 least."

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 was.

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 felt like.

"The keys?" She questioned.

"Not sure." Chester said.

"Service revolver?"

"Don't know."

"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 the peace."

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. That's all."

Chapter Eleven

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