Initiator: Donna Arganbright – Blue Reverie
Initiator Artist: Donna Arganbright
Artwork Title: Blue Reverie
Responder Author: Michael Barrington
Writing Title: Blue Reverie
Sherriff Sol Proudfoot walked around the 1962 Mercury Marauder patrol car, took off his greasy, finger-marked Stetson using its brim to wipe the sweat from his brow, then stuck it back on his head. A tall, heavy-set man wearing a khaki, perspiration-stained, uniform shirt, its buttons were strained to the limit as they struggled to contain his bulging belly. His heavily tanned, unshaven, and creased face, chiseled by nature after almost twenty four years in this harsh climate, was punctuated by a stubby unlit cheroot clamped between his teeth. He looked affectionately at the dust-covered vehicle with its faded white livery and Sheriff’s logo beginning to peel off. Then he gave a tire a hefty kick and felt guilty for doing so since it was one of only two vehicles the department possessed. He had two deputies, and long ago, after a forgetful evening at Clem’s Place, the only saloon in town, in a haze of intoxication they had christened the vehicle, the Alcoholic Malingerer. Later they more usually referred to it affectionately as AM: it was very old, a gas guzzler and never seemed to want to work!
Hanging Rock, deep in the Arizona desert, with a population of 1,423 according to the last census, had three churches, one convenience store with a gas station attached, a mechanic’s shop which also shod horses, no stop lights, and no school. Most adults worked at the 300-bed maximum-security federal penitentiary a half mile outside town. The Texaco oil company employed the remainder to maintain its equipment. Fly over the area, and you will see a checkerboard of “donkey” pumps, over a hundred of them, nodding in unison, pulling up millions of barrels of oil. Most locals called this pump the “thirsty bird,” as it resembles one continually bobbing its head up and down. Others called them “grasshopper pumps.” And it has been like that since the fifties, but nobody in Hanging Rock cared a damn.
Sol stood, stared, and reflected. The stupid bastard could have killed him, well maybe not killed him; after all, it was only a twelve-gauge shotgun, and he was standing forty feet away, but perhaps seriously wounded him. Instead, he had shot high and taken out the blue warning light on the patrol car. He’d known old Jed Foster all his life, who was nothing more than a cantankerous, foul-mouthed drunkard whom he repeatedly locked overnight in the ‘can.’ But this time he had driven away from the gas station without paying.
Sol had come out again to take another look at it. If truth be told, he hadn’t slept well since the incident, just worrying about AM. It was sentimental, yes, for sure, but it was also pride. He wouldn’t hesitate to give a ticket to a truck missing a taillight, so he always set an example and ensured his vehicles were totally roadworthy with all equipment working perfectly. And that was a constant challenge with AM. But he struggled with the thoughts of one day having to replace it.
Suddenly, the sound of squealing tires on the dirt driveway, then the slam of a car door, broke his reverie. Through the dust, he saw his deputy running towards him, a broad grin on his face and waving a shiny blue, round object.
“I got it, chief, I got it,” he exclaimed, “it was the only one in the breakers yard. We can now replace the blue lens on the damaged warning light.”
© 2023 Michael Barrington