I had begun planning for that day since I began working for the local police department at the ripe old age of twenty one. It was ten days after my forty-first birthday when I hit my twentieth anniversary with the small town police department. I hoped no one made a big deal of the retirement. It was my plan to leave that Wednesday afternoon just like any other day and just not return.
"Mike, you leaving town?" the new chief asked.
"It's Michael Chief, and do I need to leave town?" I asked.
"Sorry Michael I had forgotten. You certainly do not need to leave town. I just thought you might want to leave. Most of the work has been moved to Sulfur Springs. By the end of the year there won't even be a police presence in this town anymore. Everything will be handled by phone."
"I haven't decided what I'll do, but it won't include the National Constabulary," I said. The country was changing and not for the better, I had decided.
"You do know that I am to be a sergeant on the rural constabulary," he said.
"That was the word that was spread around when the reorganization was first announced. Tell me, were you hired as chief here with the promise of the constabulary job?" I asked.
"There was no mention of it at the time," he said.
I nodded my head. I also remembered the roll out of the National Constabulary beginning ten years previously with the take over of several larger police departments by the Department of Justice. The DOJ invoked the need to take over the management in the case of emergencies. The emergencies were caused by racial unrest. The real cause of the unrest later came into question by the conservative media. Nonetheless the take over was approved by the liberal courts.
As I said before I had always planned to do my twenty and then retire, that decision was reinforced by the take over of all local police functions. The writing was scribbled on the wall with those early actions. All the actions and takeovers which followed, just reaffirmed what I thought from the first federal take over.
For the last six months the rural constabulary had been policing the county outside the town limits. We came into contact with them often enough. Those contacts were not always pleasant. Everything since the Sheriff's offices began shutting down was a pain in the ass. We had to call the rural cops for backup. They came when they felt like it, but were often unavailable. It make our work more dangerous which encouraged the towns to decide to close their own police departments at the end of the year. Since I knew that by then I would have been gone six months I didn't give rat's ass.
When the sun came up on my first day of freedom, I slept till 8AM. It was a good feeling. I should have been up with the sun, but the packing could wait. What did I care that I had promised to be out by Saturday morning. The house buyer had jerked me around about the closing, so I didn't feel I owed him shit.
Since I had the last of the estate sales the week before, I was down to dividing the leftovers into piles. One for Goodwill, one for the rural trash collection point, and one pile to move with me. That one would be quick and easy I expected.
I had already gotten through my normal breakfast of cereal, coffee and fruit. That morning I ate on the front deck. "How you doing Mr. Cain?" my neighbor asked from his car as he drove up.
"I'm moving right along John, how are you and your wife doing," I asked.
"Nothing much changes with us Michael. Louise tell me you are moving this weekend. I had no idea it was so soon," he commented.
"John, your wife only knows because she came to the estate sale. But yeah I'm moving on," I said.
"Did this National Police thing cause you to leave before you were ready?" John asked.
I knew it was none of his business but I answered anyway. "No John I always planned to leave after I completed my twenty. I finished twenty yesterday."
"So where you going," John asked.
"To be honest John, I don't have a clue where I might lite. First I'm going to visit the Pine Mountain Reservation. Then I'll just pick a place from a map, I guess," I replied.
"What about your family?" John asked.
"I got no family John," I said giving him a dangerous look.
"Yeah, I guess that's right. Well I better get on back to the house. Let me know if you need any help moving," he suggested.
While I washed my breakfast dishes I thought of Vicky and Sandra for the first time that day. I usually thought of them at least once everyday. Maybe getting it over early would be good for me, I thought. I knew he could always find Vicky and Sandra would be even easier to find.
Vicky had moved on and remarried, Her new husband was a bank executive. He could be easily traced Michael was sure, that is if he ever wanted to do so. Sandra he knew exactly where to find. She was doing a dime at the North Carolina Correction facility just outside Pilot Mountain. She had eight years to go. She was in for possession of illegal drugs with the intent to distribute. Also she had been charge with felony gun possession and assault.
"What are you going to do about it," Vicky had asked when she called to inform him.
"There is nothing I can do. Have your new husband, and her new father, hire a good lawyer," I had said.
"You always were a useless dickhead," Vicky said before she slammed the phone down.
Sandra took an abrupt left turn one year after Vicky left me for the banker. We had never been close at all after the left turn. She just refused to visit, or to see me when I drove to she her.
The truth is I got a friendly lawyer to look at her case. She told me that there was nothing I could do other than what I had told Vicky to do. So both the ladies in my life went back to ignoring me.
By the end of Thursday the house was an empty cavern. Well it wasn't all that large of a house but it was empty. Vicky and I and had no more financial dealing with each other, so I was free. The house had been sold and I had no debt at all. I did have a six year old small Ford truck, and a tiny pop up camper both of which were paid for.
On the downside my pension was small and my saving account was under five grand. I was going to have to add to the pension somehow, but not until the money from the house ran out. After paying off the loan I took out to settle with Vicky, and after paying off my other debts there was just fifteen thousand dollar in the sales account. Lumped together I didn't have enough money to pay for a house or even a piece of land to park the camper.
I really needed the job for which I was going to apply the following Monday. It was a job with the management team of The Pine Mountain Golfing Resort and Casino. I was applying for a job on the management staff of their security force. For the most part, the salary wasn't good in private security jobs. Even though I didn't have any idea what the actual pay was, I did expect that I could fold into my pension creating enough of an income to live. The work and responsibility should be fairly simple, so it would be a wash I hoped. The Pine Mountain Resort was about an hours drive from the Pilot Mountain corrections facility, which was also a plus for the job. All things together I hoped they offered it to me.
I was ready to leave the house on Friday morning, so I just drove to the Quickie Burger for a breakfast taco. I parked the truck and trailer in their lot then went inside to eat. I found the food acceptable, as I knew I would. I had eaten there at least once a week since Vicky left me.
The drive from the Quickie Burger to Granny's campground was four hours. It was a long highway drive for me, since I almost never went anywhere. I was definitely a homebody in those days. I stopped at Granny's snack bar before checking into the small camp ground. I had a burger and fries with a Coke at the counter of the snack bar. I actually had to stand up to eat which was not something I enjoyed.
The place was pretty busy even though it was still a weekday. Since it was the cheapest campground in the area, it had the least number of amenities. It also had the smallest spaces of any campground in the area that advertized on the internet. I had made the reservation, even though I didn't really believe I would need it. Standing in the over crowded snack bar, I was glad that I had done so.
Since I had prepaid with my debit card, and had the number of my space, I went right to it. I found it empty, however the trash can hadn't been emptied from the previous camper. Parking the light weight camper and hooking it to the electric power was a very short chore. It was one of those pop up things with canvas side walls. The fold out ends were both beds. In those days I slept on one and used the other to store things like clothes. I didn't expect to need any of the space, other than one bed, during the two day stay.
After getting everything stabilized, I drove to the bath house and filled my drinking water tank. I found Granny's had a shower house as well as toilets with running water. For my twenty dollars a day it was the least they could offer, I felt.
It was late Friday so I slept in the camper that night without air conditioning. The small unit had broken several years before. It had been for the ladies when we went to the beach. I didn't usually need it for the places I went. The air in the camper smelled of stale canvas but it was cool. The vents in the canvas allowing the box fan to circulate the air making it almost pleasant after dark.
.... There is more of this story ...