A gaggle of Cole’s former police officers, now Grover County Sheriff’s deputies, buzzed around the room that had once served as Cole’s office, packing up and moving out their ex-boss’s belongings. Three deputies carried out the stuffed heads of Cole’s tiger, bear, and wild boar.
Cole stepped out into the main floor, carrying an open cardboard box filled with his possessions. As he did, the officers clapped until Sheriff Hammond whistled loudly.
“That’s enough of that,” Hammond said. “I don’t care what you all did before but there will be no applause for losers on my watch.”
Cole glared at Hammond. “You don’t think the Mayor will turn on you one day?”
Hammond chewed on a piece of gum. “The Mayor plays ball. I play ball. That was always your problem, Cole. You never knew when to sit down and shut up.”
Cole did not feel like prolonging the pissing match. He walked on, only to soon find that Maude was following him, gas tank in hand.
“What are you doing?” Cole asked.
“I only work for the Sitwell Police Chief,” Maude said. “If he’s not here anymore, then it’s time for me to retire.”
“Noble,” Cole said. “But stupid. I can’t let you do this.”
“You’re not letting me do anything,” Maude said. “You think you can stop me?”
The old lady turned around and faced the room full of officers. “This is bullshit! This has nothing to do with the investigation. This is all about sandbagging Cole because that Mayor can’t stop himself from getting behind the wheel while he’s snookered!”
“That’s enough lip outta you,” Hammond said.
“Aww, go sixty-nine the Mayor, flatfoot,” Maude said. “And the rest of you. Are you all going to take this lying down?”
Rusty, who had been standing in a back corner, gulped and stepped forward, joining Cole and Maude.
“This isn’t right,” Rusty said.
“Deputy Yates!” Hammond shouted.
“Cole,” Rusty said. “You say the word and I’ll walk out this door with you.”
Cole stood there silently and said nothing.
“Oh thank God,” Rusty said. “I mean I don’t want you to go but shit, I got overdue bills up my ass, I’m nowhere near retirement age, I’d be throwing away years of contributing to the pension fund.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Cole said.
“I won’t,” Rusty said. “Thanks Cole.”
“Pussy,” Maude said.
“Shut up, Maude,” Rusty said.
“Know your place, Deputy Yates,” Hammond said.
“Yessir,” Rusty said as he fell back.
As Cole and Maude reached the parking lot, they found Sharon and Gordon saying their goodbyes.
“It’s not a problem,” Maude said. “You deserve to run lead on this.”
“This isn’t how I wanted it to go down,” Gordon said.
“I know,” Sharon replied. “Buck up. Finish this and before you know it, we’ll be back together in Miami in no time.”
Sharon and Gordon embraced. Cole winced.
“He’s definitely plowing her,” Maude said.
“Thanks Maude,” Cole said.
“Sorry,” Maude replied.
Sharon noticed Cole and smiled at him sheepishly. “I’m sorry about all this. Looking back, maybe it wasn’t right for me to take on an investigation involving your town. I should have recused myself.”
“No,” Cole said. “It has nothing to do with you. The Mayor’s punishing me because I stood up to him and he’s punishing you to get to me.”
Sharon sighed. “America loves to put assholes into office.”
“That it does,” Cole said.
The exes stared at each other for awhile before Cole stepped away. “Goodbye then.”
“Cole?” Sharon said.
Cole stopped in his tracks. “Yeah?”
“What are you going to do with the rest of your day?” Sharon asked.
“The gun range crossed my mind,” Cole said.
“Want to give me a ride down to Miami?” Sharon asked. “Gordon drove me up here.”
Cole felt this was a ridiculously bad idea but he could not help himself from saying, “Sure.”
“I’ll get my stuff and be back and five,” Sharon said as she walked away.
Maude shook her head.
“What?” Cole asked.
“Pussy,” Maude said.