Saturday, September 17, 2011

Diffle County Report: Murder and Deer Sausage - 2nd in a Series

Part 1:
In Pennsylvania We Eat Our State Animal

Written By Rick Fisher

Aunt Carol was stirring the crockpot when Big Don arrived home.  "Honey, the phone has been ringing off the hook for the past hour."  The phone rang as she spoke.

Big Don picked up the receiver and barked "Hello!"  After 10 minutes of answering “Yes”, “No”, and “No, thank you”, Big Don hung up the phone.  "Well, that was a producer for The Nancy Grace Show on CNN. Nancy wants me to be on her show tomorrow night.  Told them,  Thanks but no thanks."   Don shook his head as he sat down for dinner. "I'm thinking we might have to barricade the highway by tomorrow morning."

"NANCY GRACE?!  YOU WERE ON THE TELEPHONE WITH NANCY GRACE?!?!?!  Aunt Carol dropped a spoon, then she dropped the bowl of Deer Sausage Soup. Then she ran out of the room. Don didn't have to worry about the phone ringing the rest of the night.  Aunt Carol took care of that. By midnight, every living person ( and a few near-dead ones) in Diffle County knew about Linda Malone being found dead in Fletcher's Pond.

After cleaning up Aunt Carol’s mess, Big Don helped himself to three bowlfuls of her world famous Deer Sausage Soup (which is a variation on a Dutch recipe created by the Women's Auxiliary of the Friendship Hook and Ladder Company of East Greenville). The meat was perfectly smoked and the soup tasted delicious- “Never better!”, Big Don said out loud, a happy old grin on his face.

“Hey Auntie, is this Father Figure’s sausage?” Big Don hollered to the living room, then murmured to himself “I doubt it is, this is much sweeter and juicier.” Aunt Carol hollered back from the living room.  “Squirrel brought it over. Such a sweet, yet odd little man!’  Don was too busy chomping down soup to offer his affirmative reply.

Aunt Carol kept the phone lines humming half the night. Some folks swear they saw phone lines smoking on the telephone poles.  Big Don finished dinner and then headed upstairs for an early bedtime.  Tomorrow was going to be a long day.  “I don’t know how I do it!” Don chuckled to himself a short while later, just before falling asleep.

The next morning, Big Don had to drive across Bernie Sharp’s sheep farm to get to Maruice Candelharp’s driveway. From there he crossed Beaver Dam Rd. to enter Creek Lane, which is really nothing more than a dirt trail. He then drove his truck through a thicket of blackberry bushes that had overgrown the trail’s end, his truck climbing up the shoulder and onto the pavement of N Fletcher Road which led directly to the rear of the Grinold Township Municipal building.

The State Police had closed the main highway one mile North of Creek Lane, and one mile South of the Township building after 75+ news vans, satellite trucks, and thousands of rubbernecked lookie-loos in cars and trucks of all sizes descended on the pond. Big Don pulled into the township building, having avoided all the congestion.

When he got out of his truck, he was immediately surrounded by reporters.  “Are you in charge here?  Do you have any comment on the Malone murder?  Are you going to provide us with regular updates?  Is it possible to get an interview with you live on our news program? 

Big Don kept walking, a blank look on his face.  “Sorry folks, I’m just here to pick up a permit.”   The reporters melted away, realizing they had the wrong man.  Big Don walked inside and greeted the makeshift police department assembled in the meeting room, then walked out back to the township garage.  The big trucks were lined up, snow plows firmly attached, ready for the coming winter.

At the back of the garage, four worn-out lazy-boy chairs were waiting, though three were already occupied.  Larry, Squirrel, and The Kid were lounging and talking about Linda Malone, each one arguing the merits of the case.

“Thanks for the deer sausage, Squirrel. Aunt Carol made her world class sausage soup. I’m still feeling it.”  Big Don burped.  

Squirrel smiled.  “No problem, Big Don. I had plenty extra.  Tell her to save me a bowl of that soup.  Never had it before.” 

State Police Captain Jonathan Jenkins walked back into the garage. He had been up all night managing the media circus while searching for evidence.  His usually crisp uniform was wrinkled and his tie was stained with tomato sauce, his salt and pepper hair disheveled from a 3 A.M. attempt to nap in one of the lazy boys.

Big Don leaned against a work counter and greeted Captain Jenkins, "Hi John. You look a little tired. Are you close to catching the killer?  I will want my township building back eventually.”

Captain John managed a grin.  “We have some evidence, found some ATV tracks on the lake path. The path leads back to State Game Lands and the parking lot on Carter Hill Road.  We found more evidence in the parking lot. We made a cast of the ire tracks and I have men walking every square inch of the woods in between. We have no idea why someone would have chosen this location to dump her body.  It’s a missing piece in the puzzle, the mot-.”

Captain John paused, realizing he didn’t know everyone in the room. He turned to Squirrel and, without smiling said, “I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Captain Jonathan Jenkins, Barracks Commander of the Pennsylvania State Police.”  

“Nice to you, Captain.” Squirrel managed to say.  They did not shake hands.

Captain John looked at Squirrel and frowned. “Everything I just said is confidential, understood?  My words never leave this room.  I’ve known these boys a long time.  It only takes one screw-up to get yourself kicked off the need-to-know list.”  Captain John turned to Big Don.  “Don, we are holding a press conference in about 30 minutes.

"Need to Know List," Larry repeated, like a parrot.

"Don, we’d like a local official to answer a few general questions about Grinold Township,”  said Captain John.

"Local Official", Larry repeated.

Big Don smiled and nodded.  “I think we can find someone for that.”   Captain John thanked him gave a general wave, and a longer than normal stare at Squirrel before walking back to the office area.   

Big Don sat down, yawned and stretched. “Well kid, we can do it with you or without you. Squirrel, looks like you made a lifelong friend at the State Police barracks. Better not drink and drive.”   Squirrel shrugged, his gray-blue eyes slightly larger than normal.

"Do it with or without you", repeated Larry

The Kid shook his head repeatedly. 
“I’m not going up there, Don. No way.  I’m just a Township employee.”  The kid squirmed in his chair, adjusting the John Deere cap on his head.

“I will tell you what to say.  Remember that time you needed a gift for your girlfriend and we helped you pick it out?  Don was smiling so hard, his face was about to crack.

“HELP ME OUT?  You told me to buy new equipment for bow hunting.  That she would appreciate the fresh meat.  She was furious!”   The Kid kicked at some dirt on the floor.

"Help you out.," said Larry, as he read the Diffle County Daily Reporter.

“We didn’t think you’d actually go through with it.”  Big Don laughed out loud.  “OK, here is what you’ll say.  Grinold Township has been around longer than most can remember.  We have clean water, beautiful lakes and streams, plenty of hunting and fishing.  Now, if you need more information than that, Diffle County has elected officials who need votes. Go talk to them.”

The kid shook his head.  “I ain’t goin’ up in front of those cameras, Big Don.”

Thirty minutes later, The Kid, also known as Timothy Westin, Grinold Township Public Relations Director, talked for 30 minutes about hunting and fishing in Grinold Township.  Most of the reporters had already left by the time The Kid was finished with his speech.

Afterwards, Captain and Big Don had a private talk in Don’s office.  The only unusual thing in the woods that the police observed was a deer had been killed and gutted not far off the ATV Trail. Hunting season was at least two months away. Big Don didn’t think much of that until he burped.

Smoking Deer Sausage

All characters are fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, incidental, and not meant to hurt, harm, nor offend your tender sensibilities.  
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