The cult section of the literary world

Flash Fiction Friday: All About the Sheriff

by Garrett Cook


Hey guys, sorry about the lack of flash fiction last week. To make it up to you, I’m offering you this super great portrait of Garrett Cook I drew, in addition to his amazing flash piece, “All About the Sheriff”.

-K. Alene

There is nothing to be known in this donut shop. But every day he comes in with his questions and his pliers and his high beaver count ten gallon hat. And he comes around and keeps on asking questions and twisting the fingers of local low-lives until everything they know comes pouring out. It’s inconsequential that it’s never what he needs. What’s he supposed to do? He’s the sheriff.

There was a time when this city was just a bare whitewashed wall that walked around with him, interposing itself between him and those he loved, in particular this one woman whose name he has forgotten, but if you ask the wall, it will tell you. You just have to know which wall to ask. And that information doesn’t come cheap.

In the beginning, she could sneak behind the wall, trick it into looking away, pole vault over it or approach him from the sides. It was just one wall and she was brave and beautiful and optimistic and used to men and their sad, secret places. Every man has them, after all. They could carry on their life and love almost as if it wasn’t there. But it was.

The first wall attracted a second wall, as walls often do. While it is hard to get around a wall that doesn’t want you getting past it, it’s twice as difficult getting around two of them. Physical contact becomes exhausting, lovemaking virtually impossible. That’s what the walls tell me at least. And I have no reason to believe they didn’t perform their tasks admirably.

Though the man who would be sheriff wasn’t getting any, the walls found time to breed and gave birth to twins. Walls grow up quickly. It was only a matter of days before the man who would be sheriff found himself in a box. The box had almost no cellphone reception, just enough to hear her pick up the phone, say his name, a name he has since forgotten and ask “is that you?” and God help the poor bastard, by the end of the week, he wasn’t sure. A week in a box that you know you’re responsible for does that to a man. Had he not known from the cellphone calls that there was a girl out there somewhere, there would have been nothing left of him.

At last, a door appeared in one wall. Was it the will of the man who would be sheriff? It’s difficult to say. What the man who would be sheriff knew was that he was grateful for it. He opened the door and walked out into a snowbound city, born during his seclusion. There was a cowboy standing in the street, face wet with tears red as a stoplight from misery.

The cowboy hugged the man who would be sheriff. He placed his cowboy hat on the man who would be sheriff’s head and a tin star on the man who would be sheriff’s chest. The cowboy turned, took a few steps, put his sixgun up to his head and blew his brains out. I meet a lot of people here in this donut shop and I haven’t met a single one that knew who this cowboy was or where he came from. There are some folks who are adamant that the cowboy doesn’t exist and others who will scream out “by the cowboy!” as an oath.

The man who would be sheriff found himself wearing a tin star and a high beaver count hat and wandering the streets of the city that grew around him during his time in the box. Petty crimes stopped at the sight of the desperate tinstarred gentleman whose loneliness was poison and whose fear turned quickly into a rain of lead that would cleanse the criminal souls of their impurities. And it wasn’t long before his loneliness and fear spread across this whole damn city.

There is nothing to be learned at this donut shop, although he comes here often enough. The criminal types that congregate here only know about crime. It’s what they do. They’re criminals after all. There is nothing that can be learned in this donut shop. I make sure of that and he could twist my fingers off and not hear a word he doesn’t already know.

I’ve seen her a couple times. Late at night when the criminals have left and the sheriff has already made his rounds. Yeah. The one he built the wall to protect himself from, the one he built the city to avoid, the one he’s still trying to find. She gets a lowfat muffin and a coffee and she tells me “don’t tell him that I came.” And I never do.


Garrett Cook is the author of the Murderland Series, Archelon Ranch and Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective. Find out more about him:

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