The Vacuum Detective
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The Walking Dead: Among the Ruined - Cottonwood Falls
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John Irving - Chase County Courthouse - General Public (Thursday, June 13, 2013)
"Yup! Looks like you're right Mrs. Laura. I'll make sure those boys don't step around here any more, you've got my word," Chase County's favorite (and only) Sheriff - John Irving - promised. Grizzled, sweaty and scowling, the officer made his way down the rocky slope to his golden cruiser. The Kansas sun beamed above them wildly this June which affected moral around Cottonwood Falls - so futile calls to the department were coming in more often than not. With a smile and a slight nod, he and deputy Gerald Joe hopped in the cruiser, sank into its ancient leather seats and made themselves as comfortable as allowed. The vehicle had outlived its prime for more than twenty years at this point, just like its owner John.
"Why you let that woman think them boys keep poisoning her flowers?" Gerald asked, wiping his bowling ball head with a raggedy old bandana his little girl made for him when she was seven (hard to believe he still had the damn thing).
Sheriff John shrugged and shook his head unknowingly. Those flowers kept dying because the poor old woman never watered them. Maybe his little lie was a form of sympathy for her husband's sickness - a hard working old man with guns of steel and a pristine mustache that made any man a little bit jealous. Without him able to man the farm her lands started rotting as soon as summer hit and she had no one else to do anything about it. The last thing John wanted was to aggravate her current state of wellbeing. In a way, his little white lies were a way to preserve the innocent and make everything seem alright - even if it wasn't. Fortunately those lies never seemed to bite him in hindsight.
"I just want to make sure she's taken care of."
The officers started their journey back to the Chase County Courthouse where residents gathered to attend the final public debate for tomorrows mayoral election. Current Mayor William Stan was facing off against veteran native Damian Wale. The race was close according to reports and John was still undecided on who he would give his vote. He had history with both men and knew them and their families personally. Over the years he's had the privilege to work side by side with William Stan and understands the man's resolve to preserve the heritage of Cottonwood Falls. He also had history with the mayor trailing back to his time in Wichita - we could say there were some favors owed.
However, residents were calling on change and Wale was called upon to get them done. John had admiration for Damian, the only man brave enough to challenge the powerhouse that was Stan. Stan didn't have more money than anyone but he had years of service under his belt. The years of service Wale had were in the military - an honorable feat, but was it enough to win him the position? John didn't know and he wasn't about to make a blind decision before hearing them out one last time.
Hence the cruiser road through the dirt roads and flint hills as they neared the town. The poor car had a shaky motor so it clanked loudly at slow speeds - not very efficient for stakeouts. At ten miles an hour they wheeled over the brick roads of their home town. Unlike most of Falls which was dirt roads and gravel, the town was modernized to appeal to tourists and younger crowds. Unfortunately pretty brick roads were as far as its advancements went. The only real attractions was the oldest operating courthouse in Kansas and a couple historical museums. Aside from that the view was limited to run-down shops in all directions, a couple cars from the seventies and old-timers with their war stories.
"Look, here we go!" Gerald uttered, sticking his head out the window and watching the large crowd fill the streets. Almost everyone in town was out there now, getting ready for their candidates arrival. John pulled the car over, parking in front of the general store so the two could join the party. "Gerald, get a hold of Sam and let her know to stay close to the radios. We'll call for backup if we need it. Hopefully we won't," John commanded, strolling slowly down the sidewalk and making his way closer to the podiums.
The crowd began to roar in cheer as the candidates rolled out and took their place on the podiums. Each individual was allowed to be accompanied by their family. Mayor Willam Stan was joined by his wife Sherry and his two children, Albert and Rachel. Mayor Stan and his family addressed the crowd with smiles and waves. John watched from a distance behind the crowd. He walked around upholding the peace and reading some of the flyers supporters brought. Judge Jennifer Holden took the stage to introduce both candidates, explaining the rules of the debate and how everything would pan out.
The silent nature of Cottonwood Falls showcased as the crowd started to grow quiet. People of all different shapes and sizes took to the center of town to watch the final debate. Election Day this year was bigger than it has been for a decade - there's real competition. In the back of his head John started to hear a bit of buzzing. It was very faint and it didn't seem like anyone else was noticing. He turned around and away from the crowd and started walking at a distance from the courthouse. He covered the sun with his head, burying his palm over his brow. His eyes squinted under his natural scowl to better see from a distance.
Far, far away, miles out appeared to be choppers in the sky - flying over the flat terrain. John couldn't really see them well, but there were close to five maybe six helicopters heading northbound. Lowering his hand he reached for his walkie, bringing it over his lips before speaking over to the department. "Hey Sam, anything going on in Manhattan or Topeka today? Over."
"No sir. Why? What's going on?" she responded over the radio. John bit his lower lip in question. He'd never seen helicopters fly over Falls before, this was a first. His sheriff curiosity took over so he strapped down his walkie, dug in his pocket for his cellphone and started dialing the City of Topeka. The phone immediately disconnected and didn't dial. "What the hell?"
John tried again - same outcome. He went to dial the Police Department in Manhattan - no connection. Looking over his cellphone he noticed he had no signal. No bars, no wifi, no nothing. Quickly he retuned to his walkie; "Sam, get a hold of the department over in Manhattan for me will you, I'm heading to the office right now. Over"
"Already tried sir. We've lost signal. I can't reach......anyone."