| Liberties Taken on Copperhead Road
by Stardog Champion ©
Sheriff Benjermin Deane Petitte sat patiently in his squad car outside the rundown trailer that belonged to Debby Sanchez. It was a quarter till 2 in the morning, and Sheriff Petitte was certain Debby had already gone to bed, the entire trailer was awash in darkness. He continued to sit there however in his squad car, admiring the still calm of the night, finishing of a Camel nonfilter.
It was just another painfully slow night in his bucolic, West Texas town and the Sheriff was bored. When he got bored on his late night rounds, Sheriff Petitte's attentions tended to gravitate, every so often, to Debby Sanchez's trailer on the outskirts of town.
It didn't matter that Debby was probably asleep, Petitte reasoned. She would always be eternally grateful for the little favor Benjermin Petitte did for her and her family nearly 20 years earlier.
* * * * *
The unbearably hot and humid August night back in 1978 when Debby Sanchez's fortunes were forever connected to those of then deputy Benny Petitte's, started out as a simple dream and longing for freedom that went horribly wrong.
Deputy Petitte had pulled over a covered, beat up truck on the outskirts of Chickasaw for not having any tags on the back. Upon further investigation, Benny had found four very scared Mexicans hiding underneath the tarp, huddled together and praying.
The driver of the truck had gotten six months in jail for the indiscretion, even though he steadfastly denied knowing there were stowaways on the bed of his pickup.
The fate of the four members of the Sanchez family that were busted in the arrest took a more twisted and interesting route however. Procedure would have dictated that the arresting officer would have called for back up, the aliens would have been detained, processed, then eventually ushered back across the border only to try and enter the U.S. again later.
The three women and one man that the illegal 'cargo ' consisted of would have undoubtedly been sent back to the drug and poverty infested slums of Northern Mexico in quick order if it wasn't for the great sense of patriotism bubbling through the veins of the young deputy that sticky Texas night over 20 years earlier.
That illegal 'cargo" consisted of Marisslassius Sanchez, her cousin Emmanuelle, Emmanuelle's husband Juaquin, and Marisslassius's then four year old daughter, Delia, who would later change her name to Debby when she grew up and tried to make herself seem more "American".
* * * * *
As Petitte sat there in his cruiser, looking lustfully at the darkened windows of the trailer, he satisfiedly replayed the events of that night nearly 22 years earlier in his head.
Ben knew Debby would come to the door when he knocked and would certainly let him in as she had done hundreds of times before. After all, it was the good Sheriff who, when he was just a lowly deputy, had allowed those four stowaways under the blanket of that raggedy pickup to slip away 'accidentally" into the Texas night before his backup could arrive.
All it took for that little lapse of containment was a blowjob from both Emmanuelle and Marisslassius while Emmanuelle's husband and Marisslassius's Daughter were forced to look on as their four 'green cards" were validated.
Ben Petitte had then proceeded to make those four family members his pet project over the next 20 years, keeping them safe from deportation, pulling a few strings at some of the local industries to give the four a chance at steady employment, as long as the two women of the group provided Petitte with an occasional 'thank you" when the feeling hit.
* * * * *
1982 was a good year for Benjermin Petitte. His first son was born that February to his wife Ruby, then in June when Sheriff Benton retired, Ben, being the senior deputy, moved over to the big desk in the Chickasaw County Sheriff's office.
As the years wore on and Ben became more and more comfortable in the Sheriff's seat, he had steadily crafted quite a legacy for himself with the residents of the small poverty riddled town.
In 92, Ben's 10 year anniversary as the county's top lawman, another interesting thing happened to him. 1992 was the year that little Delia Sanchez had turned 18 and it wasn't long until Ben made the already jaded young woman part of his seemingly endless repayment plan.
On and off for the next 8 years, Ben would make these late night visits to Debby's trailer. As the Sheriff discovered the joys of sharing a bed with a young horny spitfire such as Debby, despite the fact that the young woman thought Ben Petitte was the devil incarnate, Ben found less and less use for the two older women that had been involved that night 22 years earlier and focused most of his libidinal outlets onto the young, nubile, and lithe girl.
Emmanuelle had quietly disappeared over the years and Debby's mother, Marrisslassiuss, had predictably died of a drug overdose soon after her Daughter had submitted to Sheriff Petitte's advances. Debby thought everyday of killing the man, but some eternal weakness, need for a job or sick desire for the affection he was giving her made Debby continually tolerate everything Petitte asked of her.
After turning 18, Petitte had pulled a few strings with an old running buddy at the Paliocious Slaughterhouse in town for a clerical job for Debby in the office and she had steadfastly gutted it out and was able to provide a nice, albeit modest, living for herself and her young son who bore a striking resemblance to the Sheriff himself.
"Yes..." Petitte said out loud to himself as he opened the door of his cruiser to make the short walk through the cluttered yard, "...She'll let me in."
* * * * *
William Alexander Southwick was a proud man, not always smart, but at the core of his being, he was a proud and faithful Husband and Father.
His Father had trained him to take over the cattle farm on which he was raised and Bill Southwick had faithfully and diligently worked it most of his adult life. When the plight of the small southwestern family farm began to take a severe downturn in the mid 80's under Reaganomics however, Southwick had to start hustling to make ends meet for his wife and baby daughter, Nadine.
Bill had tried a series of seasonal factory jobs each Winter, but could never seem to stick. So use to working in the wide open fresh air spaces of his fields all day, being cramped up inside a dark, noisy and confining factory all day just didn't agree with his constitution.
Over the course of a few weeks in the mid 90's, an idea began creeping into Southwick's head as he bravely fought the lingering bouts of insomnia that had befallen him.
He had been hanging around with several co-workers from one of the factories one night, playing poker and drinking when someone passed around a mason jar full of a clear white liquid.
Southwick took a long slow sip, knowing immediately what it was as soon as the first drops of it blazed down his unsuspecting throat. It was the first taste of moonshine Bill had swallowed since he was in his early 20's, many a moon ago. His uncle, Sylvester Southwick, had once made a potent brew in small quantities for just his family and close friends.
"I haven't seen any of this shit in years," Bill winced, preparing himself for another brutal swig from the jar.
"Damn a beer..." another drunken voice belched out. "There's still a market for the good stuff!"
"Still a market for the good stuff..." Bill said as he laid in bed whispering to himself, thinking about what those seven little words meant while his wife tossed and turned beside him. "Still a market for the good stuff..."
* * * * *
As Sheriff Petitte pulled his pants back up and finished looping his belt, he grunted a few words of exhausted approval Debby's way as the young Mexican woman tried calming her young son who had become flustered by the presence of Chickasaw's top lawman in his Mother's trailer at 3 in the morning. Although Petitte had made frequent stops there over the years, young Frankie was just getting old enough now where he began recognizing stranger's faces, and each time the Sheriff stopped by late at night, Frankie would cower in fear and confusion as Petitte went about his 'rightful duty'.
A half dressed Debby Sanchez held back her own tears as she ushered her son back down the narrow hall towards his room. Ben Petitte tried not to, but he couldn't help looking out of the corner of his eye at the two as they made their way back to Frankie's room. The Sheriff could see the hint of youthful innocence in Frankie's face, a look that reminded him of the way the boy's Mother had appeared over 20 years earlier when Petitte had first discovered her hidden on the back of the truck. Even though he didn't want to face it either, Petitte also saw the traces of recognition in the young boy's face that reminded the good Sheriff of the same face he saw in the mirror every morning as well.
Draping his hat back on top of his head, Petitte pushed open the loud, creaky screen door to the trailer and made his way back out into the sultry night. As Petitte approached the squad car, he began cringing immediately, his afterglow completely ruined when the crackling sound of the deputy on patrol that night trying to rouse the Sheriff on the radio. "Sheriff Petitte...come in...this is #4...come in....This is Dalton Vinford...Sheriff...you there?"
Ben contemplated for a moment to ignore Vinford's call, but there was something particularly whiny about his voice that made Petitte curious as to it's intent.
"Yeah...I'm here Dalton...what's cookin'?" Ben sighed.
"What's your 20 Sheriff? We got some stuff goin' down," Vinford spat excitedly.
"Don't worry 'bout where I am Vin....what's going on?" Petitte asked in the tone of a exaspirated Father with a troublesome child.
"Looks like we got a meetin' goin' on down here in the Southern part of the county Ben.....down near the junction of Copperhead Road and 843.....Looks like Bill Southwick again ..." Dalton said cryptically, hating like Hell the thought of having to perhaps arrest a longtime friend of his family. "Think I should move in Ben?"
Petitte paused for several moments, holding the receiver in his weathered hands. "Nahhhh....we'll wait....he probably only has a case or two tonight anyway...Summer's coming and business will be picking up. We can really nail him to the wall later," Petitte solemnly relayed his orders to his deputy, hating the idea as well of having to perhaps arrest a good man such as Bill Southwick who happened to just be in a tough spot financially.
"Go on home Dalton...get some sleep..I'll finish up patrol until first shift reports." Petitte groaned, as he hung up the receiver.
Ben Petitte yawned mightily as he turned the car's ignition to start, the tiring effects of his brutal, quick orgasm now combining with the fact he was running on only 2 and a half hours of sleep, causing his whole body to feel as if it was filled with oatmeal.
As he pulled out of the driveway, Petitte ground his teeth, trying to stay awake. The last thing Ben thought he would have to be worrying about as Sheriff of Chickasaw County in the year 2000 was shine running.
Moonshine had always been part of the culture in those parts, Sheriff Petitte in fact had a half full jug of it sitting right beside his Oreo cookie jar in the cupboard at home. In all honesty, Ben Petitte had little interest and energy to worry about stopping the small time commerce that the illegal whiskey market offered in his jurisdiction. On top of that, Petitte knew Southwick was a good man, and from what he had heard about Bill Southwick's situation, Petitte had guessed Bill had become a desperate man.
Over the past year, Petitte had caught wind that Southwick had built a small still down by the river and was making the whiskey in small quantities for a few select customers around the county, by no means anything bigtime.
The problem with anyone running shine in Chickasaw County wouldn't have been a problem though, if it wasn't for the fatal car accident involving Bubba McGowen a few months earlier. McGowen, a lifelong alcoholic and shine connoisseur on one of his binges, had broadsided the car that was being driven by the local preacher's 16 year old daughter, killing her and her high school sweetheart instantly.
Since that fateful wreck, the local chapter of MADD had stirred up quite a stink in the editorial pages of the paper and with the grassroots movements of small town politics, with the clear intent of cracking down on every form of alcoholic consumption in Chickasaw.
Since those ladies made it a point of going to the polls and 2000 was an election year, there was a real sense of pressure on Benjermin Petitte to at least seem to be committed to stopping the distribution of illegal spirits as his re-election neared.
* * * * *
Bill Southwick was neither a smart, far thinking or particularly patient man. What he was though was a hustler who had a tremendous dedication to supporting his family. In the end, even with the weight that comes with doing an illegal activity when you have a conscience, he decided to do it because he had a Daughter getting ready to start college and a wife to support. Because of the third mortgage on the farm and the downturn in the fortunes of the nation's farming industry, Southwick felt he had to do it just to keep a roof over the family's head as well.
Since his Daughter Nadine, who was now 18, had finished high school and was enjoying her last Summer vacation before starting nursing school at Sam Houston State in the Fall, Southwick felt that much more guilt sleeping in during the day and missing the fleeting opportunities to spend time with his Daughter before she left.
Old enough to be significantly up on the town's gossip, it hadn't taken long before Nadine Southwick had figured out what her Father was up to when he left the house just after everyone else had gone to bed. Soon thereafter, Nadine confronted her Father, looking for the truth.
Bill had told his wife Lorraine about what he was doing on the side. At first she was worried he was having an affair, but when she saw the amount of tax free revenue he was bringing home, she figured even if he was fooling around, it was well worth putting up with.
Bill thought it would be best though not to tell his Daughter, his pride would be crushed having to admit to turning to illegal activities to be able to put her through college. Nadine had always been an innocent, care free child in his eyes and even though she was a budding young woman, Bill tried keeping himself from seeing her any other light.
He was devastated and full of denial when Nadine had first confronted him with the question about his late night activites. He had however taught Nadine never to lie, no matter what, and after some initial temptation to do so himself, Bill finally admitted what he was doing under the radiant moonlight on the dustcovered backroads around his West Texas home.
Sensing his only Daughter was on the verge of leaving the nest, Bill felt a growing sadness with each passing day knowing Nadine would be leaving for college in three short months. That's why, when she had come to him with the question about what his late night trips entailed as he packed up his pickup for a shine run and offered to ride along with him just so they could share some quality time together, Bill Southwick just couldn't bring himself to say 'no'.
Bill knew having Nadine along riding shotgun, seeing her Father doing something in such blatant violation of the law, would fly in the face of every ideal he had tried to install in his Daughter. The clear example however Nadine took away from it was that her Father was willing to do anything, including breaking the law, so that his family could have a decent life.
Reluctantly, Bill invited Nadine along for the ride, knowing the opportunities to still see her as his little girl were dwindling quickly. Once she was off to school, her career and possibly starting a family of her own were not that far in the future.
* * * * *
Ben Petitte sat at his cluttered walnut desk, doodling on a series of scrap pieces of paper at a few minutes after 10, trying to decide if he wanted to call up one of the deputies to finish up the night patrol so he could go home to see his wife, or more likely so he could make a run over to Debby Sanchez's place for a much needed late night tryst.
In front of him on the loose scraps of paper, Petitte had laid out what he thought the important issues would be in his upcoming re-election bid in September.
Violent crime was down in his county over 50% over the last three years and every form of felony and misdemeanor was lowered across the board as well. The Sheriff's Office was running well under budget and all in all, Sheriff Benjermin Petitte felt he had the respect, if not the admiration of the residents of Chickasaw County.
Off to his left however, on one of the crumpled scraps of stationary, one little note to himself continued to pester him. The problem of illegal booze dripping in and out of his jurisdiction. This normally wouldn't have caused Petitte one minute of consternation, but with the MADD faction becoming more and more vocal, the Sheriff knew, somehow, someway, that 'drip' had to be addressed.
Slipping on his hat and grabbing the keys to the cruiser, Petitte lumbered out of the office to the sound of a Merle Haggard song blaring from the AM radio in the corner, wondering to himself what tonight's patrol would hold.
Two things Petitte took pride in knowing were the backroads of his county and the behaviors that good men exhibited when they were under stress. Always one step ahead in the 'cat and mouse' game of crime in Chickasaw, Petitte knew almost every detail and schedule that Bill Southwick worked under. Petitte also knew that Southwick knew that the Sheriff knew, but since there hadn't been a booze bust in Chickasaw in over 20 years, Southwick had an inflated sense of security that the powers that be in the county would continue just looking the other way.
So as Bill Southwick made small talk with his Daughter, his rickety old Dodge truck hiccupping its way up the narrow, dusty expanse of Copperhead Road for a rendezvous at Scott's Bluff, 20 miles to the South, he thought his eyes were deceiving him when the silent blue flashing lights of a slow moving patrol car appeared several hundred yards behind him.
* * * * *
"Ohhh...shhittt," Bill groaned, more from amusement and inconvenience than anything else when he saw the flashing blue lights.
"This isn't good...is it Daddy?" Nadine sighed in a voice much more tinged with worry than her Father's.
Bill Southwick looked over at his Daughter, sensing a healthy bit a fear beginning to ooze from her pores. It was almost two in the morning and as Southwick's rickety pickup lurched its way through the dark, humid Texas night with 11 cases of illegal whiskey covered on the bed. Bill reached over and placed his reassuring hand on Nadine's thigh, "Its going to be OK Honey...Its going to be OK."
"I think ole' Sheriff Petitte just wants to scare us a little," Bill continued, trying to calm his worried Daughter's nerves. "At least its the big guy and not one of his young punk deputies trying to make a name for himself."
Bill slowly eased his coughing Dodge off to the side of the road and when it came to rest, he gently switched off the ignition. Looking back behind them, both Nadine and her Father waited for Sheriff Petitte to emerge from his cruiser to let them know what was wrong.
Thankfully, Bill thought to himself, Petitte had turned on his lights without the accompanying sirens that would have attracted perhaps more attention to the scene than either man really wanted.
Bill jumped slightly upon hearing Petitte's car door slam shut behind him, and much to his chagrin, Southwick suddenly felt a strange sense of awkwardness overtake him.
Watching as the Sheriff's figure neared in the side view mirror, Southwick tried his best to get his charm prepared.
"Morning William," Petitte offered in a friendly, conversational tone.
"Morning Sheriff," Southwick quickly replied, feeling eerily like a child being called to the principal's office by being referred to as 'William'. It had been since his days in school since anyone had called him that.
Deftly tilting his hat back with two fingers, Petitte leaned in, a gnawed toothpick firmly entrenched in his mouth, and took a look inside the cab of the cluttered pickup. As soon as Petitte's dark brown, foreboding eyes fixed on the sight of Bill Southwick's Daughter sitting in the passenger seat, the Sheriff was briefly frozen with shock.
"Didn't expect to see you out here Missy...I always thought your Daddy made these midnight runs alone," The good Sheriff laughed sarcastically. "Don't tell me...you two are delivering girl scout cookies...right."
Bill and Nadine laughed awkwardly, trying to engender a little sympathy from the Sheriff by acknowledging his attempt at humor.
"Nah Ben," Bill replied, his voice suddenly dropping a few octaves as he tried to speak man to man with the looming Sheriff. "No girl scout cookies....she's 18 now Ben...she's all grown up. We're just spending some time together...she's headed off to college here in a month or two."
As Bill continued trying to make small talk, Ben Petitte's eyes drifted to the bed of the pickup where he stared for several moments waiting for Bill to finish talking.
Looking back at Bill Southwick with a bemused expression on his face, Sheriff Petitte surveyed both inhabitants of the pickup. "So how much you got back there?" Ben asked solemnly.
"Eleven cases," Bill answered truthfully. "Come on Ben...it ain't that much....can't you just...you know..."
Bill looked up at Petitte helplessly, trying to gauge if his plea was falling on deaf ears or not. Bill swore he thought he saw a sympathetic twinkle in the grizzled lawman's eyes, giving Southwick a burgeoning hope that Petitte would let him off with just a warning.
"Can't do it Bill...shines been a problem 'round here for too long. Remember Bubba McGowen's accident last year. I know you're just a small time runner, but I got MADD, tha state revenue board, the ABC board, my wife and every old bitty down at the church every Sunday breathing down my neck about doing something to stop this...you can understand that can't you?"
Bill Southwick sat there in his driver's seat, growing deathly afraid now as the Sheriff's unexpected words registered. Southwick knew of Petitte's wife's charitable endeavors, but Southwick also knew about Petitte's checkered past in relation to his loyalty to her.
Ben Petitte's womanizing was a thing of legend in Chickasaw, but as those facts danced on the tip of Bill Southwick's tongue, he knew he was in no position to bring up Petitte's character faults. After all, he had 11 cases of freshly made whiskey on the back of his truck and unfortunately for him, it was an election year. An arrest would look awfully good on the front page of the paper for the Sheriff in his re-election bid.
"Damn," Bill groaned, holding his hands tightly on the steering wheel, resisting the urge to lunge out at the Sheriff who was almost mocking him as he towered above the driver's side window, gazing in.
That was the moment things began happening so fast, it almost felt to Bill Southwick it was all happening in slow motion.
"Gotta take ya in Bill..." the Sheriff said with a sly, almost boisterous air.
Bill sat there and digested Petitte's words, at the same time fighting off the urge to reach out with his left hand and grabbing the throat of the Sheriff as he stuck it inside the rolled down driver's side window. Instead, Bill tried composing himself by staring straight ahead into the windshield, attempting to lose himself in the dark Texas night, desperately not wanting to show the Sheriff his anger, and worse yet, his Daughter his fear. All Bill Southwick could do was to simply sit there numbly, at the complete mercy of his circumstances.
Southwick could feel another plea for mercy beginning to bubble up in his throat when Petitte's booming voice spoke up again.
"What's your name little girl?" The sheriff calmly asked, temporarily ignoring Bill Southwick's presence in the truck, as he stared openly at Nadine's bare white legs.
"Don't you..." Bill heard himself start, before the surreal sounds from his Daughter's mouth echoed beside him.
"Nadine," She mouthed weakly, nearly on the verge of tears.
Bill shot an immediate, angry glance to his left, burning a hole in Sheriff Petitte, who continued to brazenly ignore him. A moment later, Bill swiveled his head to the right to look at his 18 year old Daughter cowering beside him.
Petitte's reputation for womanizing and manipulation was a thing of legend on the West Texas plains and the implications in the changing tone of the late night conversation caused an angry, bitter taste to seep into Bill Southwick's mouth.
"Don't answer him, Nad..." Bill tried to say before the Sheriff interupted him once again.
"It doesn't look like your Daddy has much of a choice here, does it young lady?" the Sheriff implied soberly. "I mean... with the bills...the mortgage...the farm...your college tuition...Hell I can certainly understand what would drive a man to do what's he's doing right now."
The Sheriff fixed his eyes on Bill Southwick right then as he continued to address Nadine. "It's got to kill you to see him like this...don't it Sweety?"
Nadine's Father had to take a series of slow, lingering deep breaths to willingly force his hands to stay snugly wrapped around the steering wheel, the urge to mortally maim Chickasaw's top lawman burning like hot coals in his blood.
"How badly do you love your Daddy, little girl?" Petitte cruelly inquired.
The Sheriff's question hung in the air for several seconds, the only sound filling the three participants' ears being the antsy sounds of the churping crickets in the field surrounding them. Finally Nadine, with somewhat more composure and courage than a few moments earlier, spoke up.
"I'd do anything in the world for him Sir...anything...I love him that much," Nadine said with a soft but firm confidence.
"No Baby...you don't know what he's asking.." Bill pleaded violently with his Daughter, a slow trickling tear dropping down his weathered cheek.
* * * * *
Although Nadine Southwick was young, she was far from naive. Perhaps nowhere did rumors travel faster in a small town than in the social circles of high school females. So the rumors about the indiscretions inside the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Department and the way you could get on it's 'good' side were quite familiar to those who frequented the backwoods of the county late at night, trying to ease the burden of big time hormones in a small, nothing to do, town.
Nadine, while not having directly dealt with Sheriff Petitte or his deputies in the past, she had heard plenty of stories about 'how he was'.
Now as she sat beside her Father in the cab of the sweltering pickup, being interrogated and subtly propositioned by Chickasaw's top lawman, Nadine fought back her tears of fear and prepared to do what she felt as a woman she had to do.
"So...what's it gonna be...?" Petitte asked cockily. "You know, the town's gonna have a field day when they see the picture of your pickup Bill, on the front page of the Gazette , and the cases of that there shine pilled up beside it."
"Look Ben...I'm pleading with you...I'll even cut you in..." Bill tried offering before the Sheriff quickly and forcefully cut him off.
"That sounds like a bribe to me Boy...you know what you're implying Bill," Petitte sneered, delightfully savoring his position of power.
As Bill Southwick slumped further into his seat, the reality of his fate becoming more and more clear, suddenly Nadine spoke up in a voice Bill hadn't quite ever heard before.
"A bribe's not want he wants Dad....he couldn't care less about any.... money," Nadine spat. "I think I know what he wants."
Sheriff Petitte's face brightened immediately from Nadine Southwick's innuendo. Tilting his gray Sheriff's hat further back on his head, Petitte intensely fixed his gaze on the young, voluptuous brunette offering herself up in the passenger seat.
"Do you know what you are implying little girl?" Petitte grinned. dropping his toothpick to the ground.
Almost an afterthought between the Sheriff and Nadine, Bill continued trying to lose himself in denial as the painful scene continued to play out. As the implications of his Daughter's offer slowly percolated in his craw, the grizzled middle aged farmer literally jerked in his seat when he heard the creaky, ungreased door of his Dodge open on the passenger side.
Turning to stop Nadine, Bill moved for her a second to slow. By the time his hand reached out, his 18 year old Daughter had lifted herself off the vinyl seat and had began her deliberate walk to the waiting police cruiser behind her Father's truck.
"Where are you going Nad...?" Bill sighed as the reality of the moment kicked him square in the gut.
Bill's left hand shot over to the door and he took the rusty latch in his hand to make an attempt to follow Ben Petitte back to his waiting car to somehow stop the two from doing what they were preparing to do. As he twisted his fingers around the latch, his gaze inadvertently fell down onto the side view mirror mounted on his truck.
A debilitating paralysis slammed into Bill's spinal column when he watched both front doors of the police cruiser open up behind him. He sat there watching helplessly as the shadowy figures of his Daughter and the Sheriff disappeared into the white and gold Sedan.
The loud thud of both doors slamming shut echoed vividly in the eerie silence of the Texas wilderness causing Bill Southwick to gulp and wince from the cauldron of complicated emotions rippling through his head.
Southwick desperately tried pulling his eyes away from the mirror, but he was simply unable to keep from fixating on the image of Nadine doing what she felt she had to keep her Dad from going to jail.
With all the strength Bill could muster, he was finally able to rip his eyes from the darkened view of the police cruiser and its two inhabitants. As he tore his eyes away, they drifted over to his right side, down onto the glove compartment resting innocuously beside him.
Bill bit his lip, closed his eyes and fantasized of the image of the loaded 44 Magnum that was sitting inside the truck's glove compartment. Since he had bought the gun for protection 6 years earlier, he had never fired it in anger, but as he felt his right hand being almost magnetically pulled in its direction, the complexity of his emotions bringing his fingertips flush against the snap of the opening, Bill Southwick stopped just short of opening the small door and in turn slamming shut a bigger one on the rest of his life.
When Bill's eyes returned to the mirror, his already tortured stomach rolled when he saw the vague and murky outline of what was happening inside the cruiser. Although it was a dark night and Bill's eyes weren't nearly as good as they had once been, the modest amount of light the moon provided was enough to illuminate the West Texas Plains for Bill Southwick's worst fears to be confirmed.
He could see Nadine in the passenger seat of the cruiser, her tender young face barely visible through the windshield. Petitte was seated beside her, towering over the young girl, the shiny medals on his uniform reflecting in the moonlight.
"Ohhh...mmmyyy...dddeeaarr...Goddddd," Bill sobbed roughly to himself, wondering how he'd ever live with himself after what was happening about 15 feet behind him. He knew that there was no way he could ever tell his wife and Bill also new that sooner or later all the guys at the bar he hung around with, as well as the whole town, would catch wind of the encounter. Rumors always seemed to spread about Petitte's conquests, mainly because the good Sheriff so loved to brag about them.
As Bill's heart thudded in his chest, almost on cue, Nadine's head disappeared behind the dashboard of Sheriff Petitte's police car. One tortured breath later, Bill saw Nadine's head bob back up only to drop down as quickly as it had appeared.
As Bill watched, Sheriff Petitte's head rocked backwards, colliding softly with his headrest. Bill couldn't help from angrily grinding his teeth together when he saw the Sheriff's pearly whites vividly apparent as Ben Petitte parted his mouth wide with sadistic satisfaction.
Bill Southwick simply couldn't watch anymore. Dropping his head down flatly onto the steering wheel, he covered his ears with his hands so that the only sensory input he was getting was the hollow sound of his wristwatch ticking off the long, almost endless seconds of that fateful Chickasaw County night.
* * * * *
Finally, Bill didn't know how long, the passenger side door to Bill's Dodge creaked open and Nadine lifted herself back into her Daddy's truck.
"Sheriff says we can go now," Nadine sighed meekly, the retching feeling of the vileness of her act clearly evident in his soft voice and spread messily across her tender face.
Bill raised his head slightly, far enough to see Petitte's police cruiser ease around and quickly disappear up Copperhead Road. He tried to turn his head to the right to look at Nadine but simply couldn't.
With all the energy he could muster, Bill turned the ignition to his Dodge over a couple of times until the old warhorse finally coughed to life. As it sat there a rumbled beneath him, Bill's confused mind couldn't lock onto what to do next. He focused his tearstained eyes straight ahead as he prepared to pull off, killing himself over and over internally for allowing himself to trade his own personal and physical freedom for the emotional prison he and his daughter would have to suffer with for quite a long time.
"Guess we better get that Shine down to Scott's Bluff..." Nadine whispered solemnly, doing the best she could to take their minds off what had happened so they could get on with what they had set out to do.
"I guess we better," Bill finally answered weakly, after what seemed like an eternity...
- THE END -
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