"Sylvia Porter?" the older man in the deputy uniform asked.
"Yes sir, I'm Sylvia Porter," I answer rising to my feet.
"Come on it," he said leading me into his basement office. Sheriff substations often end up in the basement of court houses, or so I'm told. For sure in counties with such a small population base, it has to help with the costs. The land mass of Warren county is huge but the population is small. When I got the request for an interview, I did a lot of research.
"Silvia, I'm Jim Webster. I am the chief deputy. For all intents and purposes I run the department. The Sheriff is not much of a hands on guy." he informed me. "He is more a planner and politician."
"I see, I'll try to keep that in mind, if you hire me," I said.
"Well you finished third in your class at Salem academy, that is a real plus. You also have four years of Military Police experience. Of that two tours were in Afghanistan," he said.
"It was the Air Force, so the experience was mostly sentry duty. Gate and airplane guarding was about all I did. Not much combat there, but a lot of walking back and forth. I did some CID work between deployments." I informed him.
"Well that's a lot more than most of our applicant have done. Frankly Sylvia I'm surprised you are even considering us," he said.
"Chief Deputy Webster, the economy is in shambles and you are one of the only places that agreed to interview me frankly. I think most want men, even though they can't say that," I said.
"Our problem is similar, but opposite. We have been sited in a report by a women's rights group. They say we don't have any female deputies. So we are under pressure to hire women. You would be our first, but not our last I assure you. We have ten deputy slots in the department and two of them need to be female."
"I see, so a more qualified male might be passed over to hire me?" I asked.
"Actually that is true in theory, but you are at least as qualified as any males who applied. However, I do worry about your ability to take care of yourself out there. We work alone and if you have a problem, it is a long time before help can reach you." Webster smiled at me as if hoping I would back down.
"I will certainly keep that in mind, when I speak with persons of interest," I suggested. "Fortunately I'm not all that prissy. I do not mind getting down and dirty, I have done that a few times," I admitted.
"If we should hire you, when could you start," he asked.
"The day after I found a place to live. I am staying with my mom till I find a place to work. She lives in Avery about fifty miles east of here. Commuting isn't really an option."
"Yeah, I can see that. I'll tell you what Sylvia, if you want the job it's yours." Webster said.
Since he was going to be my boss, I took a better look at Webster. He was at least six feet tall but certainly not much more. He might have been twenty or so pounds over weight. His hair was gray and thin. Except for the uniform he was just a typical middle aged man. Webster was close to or maybe even past sixty but not to far from it in either direction.
"Yes, I definitely want the job. I'll start looking for a place to live immediately," I said.
"There is an old motel on main street. It is just outside the downtown. I know the woman who operates it. I'll give her a call, if you like. You two can work out a deal while you look for a place," Webster suggested.
Ten minutes later I was standing in front of a woman I guessed to be 40 to 50 years old. "Hi there I'm Sylvia Porter. Deputy Webster suggested I come by," I said ... I was absolutely sure that Webster had called her.
"Yes, he just got off the phone," the woman said. Then she added. "I am Jennifer Wilson. I own this place. So how long will you be staying?"
"To be honest I don't know. I have to find a place to live." I said.
"I will make you a deal, so that you don't have to rush. In exchange for a discount you walk through the lounge in the parking lot. Just so that the lounge customers know that a Sheriff's deputy is keeping an eye on the place.' Miss Wilson said.
"What kind of discount?" I asked.
"A hundred bucks a week. That includes everything," she informed me.
"That sounds reasonable. You have a deal," I said. Since I had a few hundred dollars left in my savings account, I paid her for the first month.
After I left the fifty year old motel, I drove my ten year old Toyota back to my mother's house. "Well mom I got the job in Warren County," I said.
"You knew when you left, that if you didn't do anything stupid, you had the job," mom said.
"Yeah I know, but now it's official. I have to start as soon as possible. I rented a place to live up there, so I will be moving tomorrow," I explained. After talking to my mother I loaded half a dozen small boxes with clothes. I also had a pile of clothes on hangers. Most of the clothes I owned at that time had been purchased since I was discharged from the Air Force. Not quiet everything was new, but most of it was reasonably new.
I said goodbye to my mother early the next morning. I was on the road over an hour before I arrived at the motel. After I hung up all that I could, and filled the drawers with all they would hold, I still had two boxes left. I stacked them in the corner. I knew that the room was too small, but it would do for a while.
After I was all moved in I drove to the courthouse. I entered the sheriff's office. "Hi," I said to the clerk behind the counter. "I'm Sylvia Porter." She didn't seem to recognize the name so I added. I need to see Chief Deputy Webster,"
"Oh yes, you are the new deputy. Welcome," she said. Her greeting was pleasant but not very warm. She was obviously being reserved. "Have a seat and I'll let him know you are here."
I nodded then sat in a metal chair while I waited. It took over fifteen minutes for Webster to make it out of his office. "Well Miss Porter are you ready to start?" he asked.
"Yes sir I am ready to get started," I replied.
"Good then we need to get you sworn in. Come with me.," he demanded. I followed him down the hall to the clerk of court's office. The clerk administered the oath, then wished me luck.
"Thank you," I said as I turned my attention to Webster."
"Come with me and we will get you a uniform," Webster said.
I followed Webster to the supply room where he asked my sizes, then he discovered that since the sheriff's department didn't have any women's uniform, I had to try on the men's shirts. Since I'm not shy I stripped down to my bra and tried on the top. I found that I wore a men's size medium shirt. I knew that my waist size was thirty inches so that wasn't a problem. I was going to need to have th length adjusted.
The pistol he issued me was a .40 shield Smith and Wesson. I was more than a little surprised to find so small a sheriff's department with such a modern weapon, but I was glad to see it.
"Seems, I have everything. So where do I get the pants shortened?" I asked.
"I have no idea. Have a seat and I'll have Gail make some calls," Webster said.
It took the receptionist Gail three calls, but she spoke to me over her desk, "Deputy Porter, take the uniforms to the shopping center out at the highway. There is a dry cleaners in the parking lot and they will do the alterations for you."
I said thank you, then I loaded the car with the uniforms. I put the pistol in with the pile of shirts and locked them into the trunk. The receptionist informed the woman at the dry cleaners that the uniform trousers were needed immediately. It was just noon when I dropped them off. I was told, by the black lady, to come back at five and they would be ready.
I called Gail when I left the dry cleaners. She checked with Webster, then told me to come in at 7AM if I had a uniform. If not call Webster to let him know. "I understand and I'll handle it," I said.
When I got back to the motel, I found the message light on the phone blinking. "Hello," I said after I picked it up.
"Sylvia it's me Jennifer. Could you come to the office please," she said.
"Sure," I said. I walked the short distance to the office. "So what can I do for you?" I asked.
"This is Sarah. Sarah runs the small lounge in the middle of the parking lot," Jennifer explained.
"Nice to meet you Sarah. So what's the problem?" I asked.
"There is a man who comes in and tries to bully everyone. I'm afraid someone is going to be hurt," Sarah said.
"Well here is your problem, I can run him out, but he will just come back. I can't arrest him, if I could you would call the Sheriff and would have done it before now. So what do you want me to do?" I asked.
"Come down when he is there and convince him to behave. If you come in a dozen times when he is there. he will get the idea and move on somewhere else, I think," Sara said.
"It might work that way," I replied. "Then again it might not. I will sure as hell give it a try for you."
When I stopped for the uniform pants, I went to have dinner at the diner. I could have stopped at the fast food place in the shopping center, but I chose to eat a real meal instead.
I was back in the motel and watching TV on line when the phone rang. "Hello," I said.
"It's me Sarah. My problem customer is here," She said.
"Okay, I'll be right over," I agreed. Before I left the room, I put the pistol in the waist band of my jeans, then pulled the cut off sweatshirt over it. When I walked into the lounge, I was ready for anything, I thought.
"So I assume the big guy is your problem customer?" I asked. She informed me that he was indeed. "Okay, let's just watch him. Do not do anything different from what you normally do." I demanded.
I did not want to hear him whine about entrapment. She nodded and I sat at the bar having a coke. I did not want his lawyer question me about how much I had to drink. If I did this I wanted it to be a clean arrest.
It took about an hour before he started getting loud. I didn't go after him at first. I did not want it to seem as if I was laying in wait for him, even though I was. The man approached a woman who was dressed very sexy. He began trying to convince her to let him buy her a drink. She was very polite when she said, "No thanks."