Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Police (10/12/06)
By Teri Wilson
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Bobby Wade stared out the window of his office at the slim woman marching across the dusty parking lot.
Good grief, she’s so skinny she’s about to snap in two. I guess that’s what happens when all you eat is grass and twigs.
The office door slammed and Beth Logan parked herself into one of the rusty folding chairs across from Bobby’s desk. “Sheriff, I have an atrocious instance of animal cruelty to report.”
Here we go again. “Yes, ma’am.”
“There’s a farm down on Highway 6 with the worst barn conditions I’ve ever witnessed.”
“So, you’ve been inside the barn and witnessed the atrocious conditions?”
Beth shifted slightly in her metal seat. “Yes, sir. I have.”
“The owner of this farm invited you into his barn of his own free will?”
“Not exactly. Sheriff, many lives are at stake here. I don’t see how it matters how I know…”
“Oh, it matters. It matters a whole heck of a lot. You know I just can’t search a man’s barn without grounds. The word of a criminal trespasser is not sufficient grounds.”
“Sheriff, please. The animals are suffering. It’s a matter of life and death. Please do the right thing.”
Bobby’s head started to sweat under his cowboy hat. “The right thing is to spend my time protecting the law-abiding humans of this county. Hasn’t anyone ever told you it’s the humans who are in charge? Now, please leave.”
“I’ll be back, Sheriff. I just hope it won’t be too late.” Beth walked out of the office with tears in her eyes.
The Sheriff waited until she had driven out of the dirt parking lot before he grabbed his keys and climbed inside his squad car. He turned onto Highway 6 and headed home, his fingers lightly drumming along to the old Hank Williams tune on the radio. He’d only gone about two miles when he spotted a most unusual sight on the country highway.
It was horse. Standing alone, with its head hanging low, in the dead center of the road.
Bobby got out of his car and slowly approached the animal, all the while expecting it to run off like any normal horse would. But, as he neared the mare he knew something was horribly wrong. First, there was the awful stench. Even though the horse stood straight up in front of him, it reeked of death.
Bobby took a bandana out of his pocket and covered his nose and mouth. He coughed twice and then reached out to touch the horse. He could feel every bone in its body beneath his trembling fingers. Long streams of runny liquid flowed from the mare’s cloudy eyes. The Sheriff could have sworn he heard the animal begging him to put it out of its misery.
“Howdy there, Sheriff. Looks like one of my mares got out.”
Bobby was startled to hear the voice behind him and turned to see Jed Perkins, an old childhood friend.
“Jed, what’s wrong with this horse?”
“Nothin’, except she keeps gettin’ loose. A good beatin’ should cure that, right?”
The Sheriff felt the bile rise up in the back of his throat as the words of Beth Logan ran through his mind like a nightmare. She had never told him the animals she spoke of were horses. As a country boy, he had grown up watching John Wayne movies. The Duke would never neglect one of his horses like this. No, she had definitely not mentioned the abused animals had been horses. He would have listened. Bobby gulped.
I would have listened, wouldn’t I?
“Bobby, I’ll just be takin’ the horse back now.”
The Sheriff moved to stand between Jed and the mare. “Jed, I need to have a look inside your barn.”
Jed’s face reddened with anger. “What for? It’s my barn. I make the rules. I’m the boss of my horses. It says so right in the Bible.”
Bobby took a deep breath and uttered the words he never would have imagined himself saying before. “I don’t think God would approve of the way you’ve been caring for this mare, Jed. The Bible gives no man license to mistreat any of the Lord’s creatures.”
“So that’s the way it’s gonna be, huh?”
The Sheriff gently placed his hand on the horse’s neck. “That’s right. Now let’s go have a look in that barn.”
“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal...” Proverbs 12:10
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” Proverbs 27:23
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