As Aberly predicted, it was well after dark before he and the Sheriff returned to Land’s End. In fact, the Judge was beginning to worry about his brother and had been considering getting a group together to go look for them, but just as they were preparing to head out, the pair returned.
The Judge spoke in a gruff tone to his younger brother, “I was worried.” Lance, used to his brother’s temperament, shrugged. “Had no signal way out where we were or I would have sent a message. The place was a long way out–six hours on ATV.”
The Sheriff glancing around at the crowd then said, changing the subject, “Well, it seems like since most everyone’s here, we might as well call a town meeting and I’ll fill everyone in on what’s happening all at once. Go gather whoever’s missing, Bufe and we’ll meet in the Town Hall.” Buford interjected. “Even Floyd? He’s still in the dark about his boys returning. I thought it best he remains that way until you gave the say so.”
Lance made a face of disgust at the mention of Floyd. “The man’s likely three shades to the wind at this time of night. I don’t see a point in including him…”
“Including me in what?” Floyd suddenly staggered into the group, a whiskey bottle in hand. The Sheriff sighed, having preferred to have waited to involve Floyd. “Something’s happened today, but I don’t think you’re in a state of mind to hear it right now, Floyd. Go to bed. I’ll fill you in tomorrow when you’re sober.”
Floyd scowled. “I ain’t drunk enough to where I can’t understand what’s going on? I’m a member of this town too and have a right to know what’s happening as everyone else.” The Judge suddenly interjected, before his brother caved in. “Get your ass to bed, Floyd. Lance said he’d tell you in the morning. Otherwise, I’ll have him toss your ass in a jail cell for disorderly conduct. We don’t need no drunken fool in a town meeting.”
Floyd glared at the Judge. “You ain’t got no right to toss me in a cell. I ain’t done nothing but join the crowd here to see what’s going on. I ain’t bothering no one or causing a disturbance, other than speaking my mind, which the last time I heard was my constitutional right!” The Judge glared right back. “Yeah, well in this town, Lance and I are the law and we both say you’re not in a state of mind to hear what Lance has to say. So, you either head off to your own place voluntarily or you spend the night in a jail cell. Those are your two options.
Before Floyd could argue anymore the Judge gave a directive to his brother. “Lance, please escort Floyd back to his apartment. If he gives you any trouble toss his ass in jail. Feel free to shoot him in the foot if you like.”
Floyd glared daggers at the Judge, but the Sheriff had already grasped him by the arm and was leading him away. Floyd jerked his arm away. “I can walk on my own!” The Sheriff murmured, but to where Floyd could still hear, “Barely.” Floyd continued to rant and rave all the way back to his apartment but he didn’t resist. Being in his own home was preferable to a jail cell and he knew that the Judge wasn’t bluffing. Either he stayed home or he’d be spending the night in a cell.
“This ain’t right and you know it, Lance,” Floyd said as he opened the door to his apartment and stepped inside. Lance nodded. “I know it probably seems that way to you Floyd, but trust me, this situation requires you to have a clear head. Get some sleep and tomorrow we’ll have a little talk. Alright? Don’t come back out, except on your balcony if you want some air. If I see you down on the street I will toss your ass in that jail cell. No warnings. Understand?” Floyd nodded before slamming the door shut in the Sheriff’s face. The Sheriff blew out a deep breath. He knew the man was furious in being excluded, but it was for the best, for everyone all around.