|Aren't little towns the cutest?!?!|
His name, while fascinating in its own right, has been changed to protect the innocent.
I went to review the properties of a county and got an immediate flavor of the town when I passed two sheriffs having a Little Debbie Snack Cake Break in the middle lane of the road, with their lights flashing.
I'd made the appointment with a woman but when I arrived at the county annex, which was roughly the size of a teaspoon, she said I'd be meeting with the judge. My mind goes to black robes, silver comb-over, and a deep voice.
I was right about the deep voice. Judge Bubba Butterstone stood up, dusted some hay off his hunting fleece, and led me back to his computerless office. We talked square footage, year built and maintenance routines, then toured the annex. I wanted to see the courthouse so he said he'd drive me over if he could smoke in the truck.
Fine by me.
Judge Bubba warns me there may be stuff in the passengers' seat and sure enough, a hunting rifle and a hunting vest are taking up space. He moved the vest, and invited me to share the seat with his rifle.
"Don't worry, it's not loaded. Oh, wait a minute. What do you know, it sure is."
So, I'm making sure my toes are out of the way, and then he says, "Why don't I just move that? You'll probably be more comfortable."
So he lifts it over my head and into the back while I shamelessly scrunch low in my seat, just in case.
As we head to the courthouse, he says, "The traffic was bad this morning."
"Oh, because of construction?"
"No, because of that convict that escaped."
"Yeah, a kid just got convicted of murder and escaped from the detention center last night."
This explains the cops and their Little Debbies. Apparently, they'd been stopping traffic to look for the murderer, and then found out that somebody's car had been stolen so they figured they should just look for that car instead of searching all the rest of them.
So we go to the courthouse, a stone building that volunteers are coating in Christmas lights. It was like a scene from a movie set in the South that you watch and think, "Maybe fifty years ago in a Thomas Kinkade painting," only it was real. It warmed the cockles of my heart.
Then, I ask about the jail.
So Judge Bubba says we'll just go look at it, and heads to the jail.
At first I wasn't sure this was a good idea, but then I figured the last place an escaped murderer wants to hang out is near the prison. Plus, Bubba rolled up the windows, so if there was a convict passing by, he couldn't reach in and grab the loaded rifle out of the back seat.
As we pass the news vans, the judge tells me not to let anyone know who he is and we won't get mobbed…by the two news crews.
I agree to this condition.
We go inside, and all these sheriffs are walking around looking pretty P.O.'d that somebody got out. When Judge Bubba tells them I want to see the sprinkler riser they all gave us that "I'm trying to track down a killer and you want to look at pipes?" look.
Hey, I would have done the same thing. (And I later found out that the criminal escaped via the sprinkler room, so it was a sensitive topic to begin with.)
So I just smile and get a phone number I can call after all the convicts are rounded up, and head out of dodge.
Just another day in Arkansas, y'all.