007 Tuesday, June 16, 1926, Interview with the Sheriff
Fiction in 1246 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
A man, standing over six feet tall and weighing in over 275 pounds with a small bottle of Coke-a-Cola buried in his huge hand, a pistol on his hip and silver star on his left breast smiled and said. “I’m Sheriff Matthew Gilbertson. Everyone calls me Matt or Sheriff. You must be the Aida Calkins Tom told me about.
“That is me, or at least I think I am Aida Calkins,” replied Mrs. Calkins. “All I know if there was a robbery where I worked yesterday morning. I don’t know where that is. But I do remember the man with the pistol saying ‘if anyone calls the police we will kill her.’ He pointed the gun at my head. He took a large case full of money and me. He pushed me into an auto with a big man already in it and the next thing I knew it was night and they pushed me out of the auto next to Tom’s gas pumps.”
“That’s all you know? Asked the Sheriff.
When Mrs. Calkins nodded her head, he asked, “Would you like one of these?” holding up the bottle of Coke-a-ColaTM.
Again Mrs. Calkins nodded and said, “Yes, please, that would be heavenly.”
The Sheriff cocked his finger and said, “Come with me.”
Sheriff Gilbertson lead Mrs, Calkins down a well-worn path from Tom’s house to the gas station. Once inside, she could see that what she took for a Coke-a-ColaTM machine the night before was an icebox painted red with a Coke-a-Cola advertisement stuck to it. The ice box had a coin slot jury-rigged to the door handle so that when you put a nickel in the handle would pull the door open and the nickel dropped into the interior of the door. The Sheriff dug deep into his pants pocket and pulled out a handful of change. He selected a nickel and put it in the door handle, opened the door and Mrs. Calkins could hear the coin drop. “If Tom patented this,” the Sheriff said pointing to the lock, he would become a rich man. Inside the box, Mrs. Calkins could see the small block of melting ice and a few dozen bottles of Coke-a-ColaTM. “Tom set this up a few years back when he realized that old Nathan was drinking all the Coke-a-Cola. He said his Dad was pissing away their profit margin. Well, I tell you word spread and he goes through more of that bottled stuff than any place in the county. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sells more Coke-a-ColaTM than he does gasoline. People come out on hot days just to buy a Coke-a-ColaTM from that coin activated icebox. Every one of them says. ‘Who would have thought it?’ Tom did,” said the Sheriff chuckling. He reached in the box, pulled out a bottle of Coke-a-ColaTM, shut the door, popped the cap on the bottle with an opener fashioned from a bottle opener screwed to the door and said, “You sure that is all you remember?”
Mrs. Calkins held the cold bottle in her head and resisted the desire to rub it against her forehead. ‘Wyoming in June is warm,” she thought. Responding to Sheriff Gilbertson’s question of what she remembered, she nodded and said, “I am afraid so. I should know more, but I think I am Aida Calkins and I think I worked in a bank as there was lots of money in that bag. I know I sat next to a big man and he opened the door and pushed me out, The took me when the place I worked opened, I know that. That would be before 9:00 A.M, probably closer to 8. I felt that I was in the car with them for only a matter of minutes, yet, June days are long and it was definitely dark when they kicked me out of the automobile. Somehow I am missing more than twelve hours and only remember who I think I am.”
The Sheriff cocked his finger again and lead her out of the station to one of the Model Ts sitting by the pump. “Show me how they kicked you out of the Motel T,” he said, pointing to the nearest one marked SHERIFF inside a silver star painted on the door.
Mrs. Calkins shook her head. “It wasn’t a Model T. It has a back seat and back door.”
The Sheriff said, “So, you think you were in a Model TT?”
“I don’t pay attention to what automobiles are called,” replied Mrs. Calkins. “It definitely had a back seat and doors back there.”
“Tom tells me he was stuck by the amount of light,” said Sheriff Gilbertson. “Can you tell me if the robbers had more than one car?”
“I only knew about the one,” replied Mrs. Calkins. When they left there was only one.”
“The thing is, Tom knows automobiles and he saw too much light. The other thing is four doors on Fords are not common—it would be a fairly new automobile,” said the Sheriff with a frown. “I have never seen one. Maybe we should go back to the house and let Doc Emerson talk with you.”
“O.K.,” replied Mrs. Calkins.
Walking back to the house the Sheriff said, “I saw what you did for Thora. Thank you. She looked beautiful. I think Tom was more than surprised.”
“It was my pleasure and the least I could have done,” replied Mrs. Calkins. She paused and then said, “I showed up here in the middle of the night, she made tea and talked with me until I calmed down. She gave me a bed, clothes and even left a note for me to find the coffee when I awoke. Yes, It was the least I could do for her. She is a natural beauty. Why is it they waited to get married?”
“She was hired to take care of Old Nathan,” replied the Sheriff. “That was three years ago. She took real good care of him. She and Tom wanted to wait until the old man no longer needed her so he could have all of her attention.” The Sheriff gave a little laugh. “Anyone who saw Tom and Thora together knew they were in love. I suspect the old man knew as well. But, they are married now.”
“If his father was 98 why is his son so young?” asked Mrs. Calkins.
“Nathan had 15 boys from five different wives,” replied the Sheriff. “All but Tom were like their old man, stubborn and cantankerous as all get out. They all ran away at about 15. When Tom’s mother died, he had to stay to help the old man. I do believe he is like his mother and not like Old Nathan.
As they entered the house, Mrs. Calkins said, “Thank you. Which is Dr. Emerson.”
“I’ll introduce you,” said the Sheriff. He walked over to a man seated at the kitchen table drinking a tall glass of amber colored liquid in ice. “Doc, this here is Aida Calkins, Mrs. Calkins. She is missing some time yesterday and most of her memory. See if you can help her find both.”
Dr. Emerson pointed to his glass, “Would you like some unsweetened peppermint tea?”
“I’d much rather have the ice and a washcloth to put on the back of my neck,” replied Mrs. Calkins.