The Sheriff Knows Best

Wednesday, September 10, 1997
Early Evening

Have you ever heard high-schoolers complain that the football players never get in trouble? Well, imagine going to school with the Sheriff’s sons. Mr. Garrison never used threats or brides, he used persuasion. “My boy didn’t fail that test because he’s a dummy, he failed it because he’s not applying himself. Make him work. Make him take that test over and over again until the information is engraved in his brain. Make it so that he’s haunted by that test, so he never wants to take another test more than once again.” Or how bout, “Excuse me Deputy, I admire your intentions, trying to punish my boys for drinking and all, but do you really think a night in the drunk tank is going to enlighten them? They grew up at the station, they’ve seen all this. Instead, why don’t you crack down on the people putting alcohol into our children’s hands. They can’t drink if they can’t access it. Go be proactive, it’ll get you places.”

As I walked down the hallway of the Sheriff’s station, I heard Brant’s voice echoing from behind Sheriff Garrison’s cracked door.

“Who put the photos in the car?” Sheriff Garrison asked his son.

“I don’t know,” Brant said. “What do I do?”

“You find her. You be the hero that this town knows you are.”

“What if she’s already dead?”

“Jesus Brant,” Sheriff Garrison paused before continuing, “Then you bring her killer in.” I heard Brant’s footsteps approaching the door and I quickly sat on the bench next to me, so as not to hover. “And Brant,” Sheriff Garrison added, “She has a daughter. A rambunctious, intelligent 2-year-old. So you do what you gotta do, but you keep telling yourself – she has a daughter.”

Brant rarely slumped. I knew so many tall guys who had zero confidence. Their posture was horrible, so they appeared to be a much shorter than they actually were. Brant, however, held his body high and proud. It was one of the many things that I was attracted to. That day though, his head and shoulders pointed towards the floor. He noticed my shoes and scaled his gaze upwards until his grimace met my face. “What are you doing here, Mer?” he asked.

“I thought it’d be best to get all the help we can.”

“It’s my case, not my dad’s case.”

“I’m not trying to argue. I don’t want to step on your toes. I just want to make sure that we’re not missing anything.”

“So do I, babe. Trust me. I’ll make this right. Just have patience.” With this he began to walk down the hallway and beckoned for me to come with him. I remember thinking – What could Sheriff Garrison really do anyways? Brant knew more about investigations than I did.

And then, Sheriff Garrison called out from his office, “Meredith, dear, are you coming in or not?”

Brant didn’t want me to go in. He put his arm around my waist in that kind of ownership manner that always made my heart tingle. But even Brant couldn’t expect me to disobey the Sheriff. If the Sheriff wanted to talk in his office, then I must oblige.

I’ve been called naïve, and I’m that sure some of that characteristic was demonstrated through my actions that week, but my trust in Sheriff Garrison was not one of those times. He conveyed a type of unreadable expression as he listened to my theory about the drug plot and the man at Dani’s door. It was impossible for me to know his true intentions.

“Meredith, I suggest you stop whining about Brant’s refusal to take you seriously. This is a dynamic that has been plaguing the two of you since grade school. Instead, why don’t you take matters into your own hands. If you think there’s another suspect out there, then go find him. Of course, I must advise that you stay at a safe distance so as not to end up like Danielle, God forbid. In the meantime, I’ll talk to my son.”

He was enlisting me as his private eye, making sure that I collected the clues that his son refused to acknowledge. He wanted to have access to every aspect of the investigation so when the time came, he could do what was necessary to protect his family.

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