The town of Newsome, Saskatchewan has a secret.
Has had for a very long time. Forty years or so.
Umm…I guess it isn’t much of a secret if everyone knows.
And they do. Everyone living in the town that is.
Maybe I should get to the point…
People in our town have been disappearing. Not in huge numbers. And not all at once. But here and there.
Then, a few months later, another.
And all out of our town jail.
I am not making this up. Several of the people thrown in said jail for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to the more serious violent attacks, have, within hours—and some within minutes—disappeared.
Without so much as a hair of evidence as to where they have gone.
Consistently updated surveillance cameras have consistently shut down.
Staff coming and going who could have seen and reported were conveniently ‘held up’ (pun intended) either during their coming.
It really is a mystery.
I have watched our police chief, Rich Richardson, a guy I went to school with over half a century ago, slowly turn grey through the years as his efforts to find the culprit—or culprits—constantly come to naught.
It’s got to be embarrassing, really. I mean, he’s a smart guy.
After every disappearance, he offers his resignation.
But those of us on the board have turned him down. Even with this disgrace, he’s still the best our town has to offer.
All of this brings us to last night.
It started out as any other Friday night in our burg. Most families with younger children at home, enjoying Kraft pizza and the latest movies from the Blockbuster two-for-one weekend special.
The teenage crowd raising the dust in the gym at the high school dance.
And the twenty and thirty-somethings at Geo’s Bar and Grill downing the current beer-on-tap from Geo’s permanent bartending fixture, Elmo. (No relation to the Muppet character.)
Things should have been just fine.
Well, until Jeremy had his unfortunate interaction with Mic’s wife, Cecily.
And Mic got mad and things sort of…escalated.
Now, you have to know that Mic’s a good guy. Quiet. Hard-working. Dependable.
His getting bent over Jeremy’s free hands was…rather a departure.
Oh, he’s protective of Cec. But never to the ‘I’m-going-to-punch-your-lights-out’ point.
I have to admit that Jeremy, on the other hand, is one of those guys in every community (you know the type) that no one would miss. And was known for going a little far. This time, true to nature, he went a little far. He’d had a lot of Geo’s drink-one-get-one glasses of beer, after all.
And at least one or two shots of tequila.
So his judgment was…how shall I put this…questionable? And his balance? Worse.
Who knows? Maybe he hadn’t meant to run both hands down the front of Cecily from neck to knees in front of everyone.
He was falling over at the time…having just been booted in the behinder by Barry in a mistaken attempt to show how high he, Barry, could kick.
But the fact remains that Cec felt violated. And began to cry.
And Jeremy was definitely the culprit.
I really don’t blame Mic for reacting. I’d probably have done the same if I was married. Or attached, even.
Anyways, Mic grabbed Jeremy by the collar of his shirt and hauled him back to his feet. Then he hollered something in his native Romanian tongue that I really couldn’t catch.
It sounded smooth and profound.
There followed a moment of utter quiet. The kind you’ve heard happens immediately before a bomb drops. Even the rasp of the ancient jukebox stopped momentarily as the arm swung back and the inner workings spat out another record.
Just as the words, “Give me time…” by Boy George drifted out of the speakers, Jeremy raised his drooping head and blinked at Mic.
He seemed surprised to see him.
The scowl on Mic’s face must have been a give-away that something was amiss, though, because Jeremy immediately dropped his visor.
I'm sure you've already surmised that, though Mic is a peaceful guy, Jeremy isn’t.
And ‘visor dropping’ ie. lowering his brow threateningly, was usually a precursor to…
Jeremy swung one meaty fist at Mic’s unprotected face.
It connected, sending Mic stumbling backwards.
He knocked poor Cecily, standing behind him, right out of her Nikes.
Fortunately, he was able to grab his wife and turn slightly, taking the brunt of the blow when they hit the table loaded with drinks behind them.
The tabletop, sadly, wasn’t made for such treatment and snapped immediately off its frame with a ‘pop’, sending drinks into the air with a speed previously achieved only by NASA.
They rained—I do mean that literally—down on the suddenly gasping and shouting bystanders.
And Jeremy. He of the fists.
There was another moment of near silence, broken only by the sounds of, “Do you really want to hurt me…” pouring tinnily from the jukebox.
And that’s when Jeremy went berserk.
It took three of Geo’s’ regulars to subdue him. And that only when Abner—he of the 50-inch girth—sat on him.
Then Jeremy was concentrating on basically sucking in enough air to stay alive.
That’s about the time Chief Rich walked in. He shook his head sadly as he looked down at Jeremy pinned beneath Abner.
With a quiet, “Let him up, Ab,” the Chief leaned back against the bar and proceeded to pull paper and a bag of tobacco out of his breast pocket. Deftly, he rolled himself a smoke, then, lighting a match against the bottom of one boot (he is so cool!), he took a long drag. He spit out a strand of tobacco, then looked at Jeremy, who had by now been hauled to his feet.
Though a little blue around the gills, Jeremy appeared none the worse for the wear.
The Chief sighed. “Guess I’ll have to take you in, Jer,” he said.
Jeremy’s face went from zero to 60 in about half a second. Zero being tough and in charge and 60 being pants-wetting terrified.
“Chief! No!” he screamed.
“Well, I don’t know what else to do with you,” the Chief said. He looked around, obviously taking in the destroyed table, the catapulted drinks.
Boy George was still droning on in the background about someone making him cry, but everyone else was as silent as Civics class just after a teacher asks a question.
“From the look of things, you’ve been a busy boy,” the Chief went on.
“It wasn’t all me!” Jeremy screamed. He looked around a little dazedly till his eyes fastened on Mic. Lifting a muscular arm, he pointed. “Mic! Mic started it!”
Chief Rich’s brows went up as he, too, looked at Mic. “That true?” he asked him.
Mic grimaced. “He manhandled Cecily and made her cry. I just hauled him up off the floor.”
The Chief swung back to Jeremy and repeated the question. “That true?”
Jeremy’s eyes shifted to one side. Then back. “Well…”
The Chief shook his head again and sighed. “Come on, Jeremy.”
“No!” Jeremy turned and made a wild leap into the crowd, but bounced off Arthur and hit the floor once more. Let’s face it, no one’s moving that guy without his approval.
Chief Rich nodded to a couple of guys and they lifted Jeremy to his feet.
By this point, Jeremy was a berserk screaming and babbling…something berserk and screaming and babbling.
Again, Chief Rich shook his head. He turned toward the door. “Bring him along, boys.”
Two more of Geo’s’ regulars had to step in to help because by this point, Jeremy wasn’t making sense any longer.
And, being a heavy-duty mechanic, he is fairly strong.
Finally, The Chief snapped on a pair of handcuffs and poor Jeremy was dragged out the door and into the street.
The bar remained quiet and we could all hear Jeremy’s screams as he was dragged up to the police station half-a-block away.
Even when he and his captors had obviously entered the building and the doors shut behind them, the screaming went on—albeit faintly.
A few minutes later, the four guys returned, shaking their heads. “Poor guy,” one of them said.
“He’s a goner for sure,” said another.
Boy George had long been replaced by Michael Jackson, but, though the bar crowd was unusually subdued, I’m not sure anyone was listening.
People began to drift toward the exits by ones and twos.
I downed the last of my beer—the only one of the night, thank you Geo’s and your two-for-one drinks—and headed for the door.
“Night, Ol’ Ben!” someone called. I waved.
Once in the street, I looked around.
A few people were still in sight—clearly heading toward home, or some other ‘not Geo’s Bar and Grill’ place.
Jeremy’s screaming could still be heard. The stout walls of the jail held in everything except sound, obviously.
I sighed and looked up at the full moon, just reaching its zenith.
Then I scratched my forehead and turned toward the jail.