Sampler: A Leprechaun’s Lament by Wayne Zurl
August 6, 2020
The simple job I thought would be a walk in the park, became a nightmare I never saw coming.
What does a cop do when a routine chore turns into a nightmare?
When a simple investigation into a man’s background sends him crashing into a stone wall at the end of a blind alley, does finding his subject murdered simplify the job?
Sam Jenkins handles a case that spans the decades and the globe from his little police department on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”
Sampler: A Leprechaun’s Lament
I think about the little guy often. Murray McGuire looked like a leprechaun. He played darts like a pub champion and drank stout like a soccer star. If you worked for the city of Prospect and found problems with a piece of office equipment, Murray would work tirelessly to remedy your troubles.
But after I interviewed him for thirty minutes, I could have cheerfully strangled the little bastard.
Thanks to Murray, I’ll always look over my shoulder with a modicum of trepidation. I have dreams about a beautiful redhead I could do without. And I remember an incident best forgotten every time I see a turkey buzzard.
For days, I thought of Murray as the man who didn’t exist.
Monday, October 2, 2006
I dialed a number at the William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower on 8th Avenue in Nashville and reached the local Office of Homeland Security. After a brief shuffle, the operator connected me to a woman with information on how local government agencies could obtain grants to pay for enhanced security—one of the “bennies” of our Patriot Act.
“Do you foresee a problem in Prospect, Chief Jenkins?” she asked.
“Not specifically. I just thought your idea of conducting background investigations on civilian employees who work with a police department was a good one.”
“Oh, we’ve said that?”
“Yes, ma’am, and I like your thinking. I also believe there’s grant money available to finance these investigations. With a small police department like mine, there’ll no doubt be a necessity for overtime.”
“Oh. You’re looking for financial assistance, not personnel to conduct the investigations.”
“Correct. If you’ve got the cash, I’ve got the cops.”
Wendy Clabro chuckled. “You make it sound like you’re leading a band of mercenaries.”
She had a nice voice. I wondered if she looked as good as she sounded.
“I’m willing to work for nothing,” I said. “To protect and serve is enough reward for me, but I like to take care of my officers as best I can.”
“Should I really believe that?”
Oh, yeah, great voice.
“I’m a cop, would I lie to you?”
“Chief, you sound like an All-American hero. I’d enjoy meeting you some day.”
I was looking for grant money not a personal relationship.
“Call me Sam. Everyone does. I’m here Monday to Friday, nine to five or by appointment. There’s always fresh coffee, and my desk officer tells me I have a nice smile.”
Sometimes I have difficulty controlling myself.
“Your desk officer?”
“She’s a shameless flirt.”
She laughed again. “I hear it’s beautiful in the Smokies this time of year. Maybe I’ll stop by one day—just to see where the grant money goes, of course. But right now, I’ll bet you want me to send you the format for making a grant proposal. I really don’t see a problem getting you an approval.”
“Just what I wanted to hear, Ms. Clabro. Thank you.”
“Please, Sam, call me Wendy.”
I gave her my email address and thanked Wendy Clabro for her help and encouragement. We chatted for a few more minutes and I ended by telling her she was doing a fine job keeping Tennessee and all of America safe for democracy. I dropped my telephone back onto the console feeling confident I could still schmooze my way around the bureaucratic system, and glad I sounded younger than I often felt.
But the simple job I thought would be a walk in the park, became a nightmare I never saw coming.
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