Summary: In a strange town, Adam is in jail facing charges for his behavior. The behavior was completely out of character for Adam, and luckily the sheriff is willing to listen and to investigate.
Word Count: 1100
It was a bright sunny day as Sheriff Del Burke walked into the back of the jail and saw his prisoner finally beginning to stir. It was dark back there so Del opened the back door of the jail to let in some light. Then he unlocked the cell and sat on the stool just inside the door as the man in the bunk turned to him and swung his legs over the side of the bunk. It was about then that he noticed he was naked and grabbed the blanket again to cover himself.
“Well, now, good to see you waking up. This would be a good time for you to tell me what happened last night. Right now, I have you on charges of drunk and disorderly, and lewd and lascivious behavior, and we ain’t found one stitch of your clothes yet neither.”
“Sheriff, I have no idea what happened. I went with the Widow Jenkins because she said she needed some work done and had asked if I could help. I met her at the restaurant yesterday when the stage got in, and we talked for quite a while. She and I seemed to like a lot of the same books. We had a good talk. Then she said she needed some work done so I went with her to help her out because my next stage connection wasn’t until this morning. I don’t even know what the name of this town is. I was supposed to sleep in a bunk at the depot. I had nothing but time so I patched up the roof for her, fixed the corral gate, and mucked out the stable. It was very hot by then, and she offered some lemonade. I sat on her porch and we talked. I must have downed at least two glasses of lemonade, and that’s the last thing I remember.”
“Now, you know how far-fetched that sounds?”
“I know, I know. We were talking about books, but then she said how she regretted not having any children before her husband passed away, and next she asked me if I was ever going to marry and have children. I think I told her I would like to do that, but hadn’t found the right woman yet. That part is very clear, but it all starts to get very hazy after that. I think I had a dream about getting married and having my wedding night.”
“Well, mebbe I oughta go talk to her and find out why you shucked all your clothes and was staggering down the street buck naked last night. The judge will be in his chambers in a coupla hours. It would be good to have a few answers by then.”
Leaving a tray of food and coffee in the cell, Del locked it again and promised to be back soon. He pointed out the covered bucket in case the man needed it. It was warm already but he walked to Widow Jenkins place on the edge of town. When he got there, she was already hard at work. She had a kettle over an open flame and was stirring the contents when he walked up.
“Good morning, ma’am.”
“Good morning, Sheriff. I bet I know what brought you here.”
“Well, ma’am, over to the jail, I got …”
“Oh, he was so wonderful yesterday. Then this morning I woke up and he was gone, but his clothes are still here. I’ll just go get them from the bedroom. Won’t take but a minute.”
Soon, the Widow Jenkins was handing the stack of clothing, boots, a gunbelt, and a hat to Del.
“Thank you, ma’am. Ah, could I ask if that man harmed you any?”
“Oh, no, Sheriff, he didn’t harm me at all. He made me feel wonderful, about three times if I remember correctly. It was like a dream.”
Embarrassed by her candor, Del needed to change the subject fast. “Now what is it exactly that you’re cooking there?”
“Oh, it’s a special ingredient for my lemonade. I can’t cook it in the house. The fumes just make me want to go to sleep and have wonderful dreams, but then I wake up, and the day is so hazy.”
“Ahh, yes, now he says he had some lemonade, and then he can’t remember what happened next.”
The Widow Jenkins began blushing at that, and Del cleared his throat. “Sheriff, I did tell you he was wonderful. I don’t think it would be ladylike to go into any more of the details, now do you? He’s not complaining, is he?”
“Ah, no, ma’am, he isn’t.”
“Well, I wouldn’t think so. He had a very pleasant night too.”
“I think I got a pretty good picture of what happened here. Good day to ya.”
“Sheriff, good day, but be sure to stop by for some of my lemonade some time. All the men who have it seem to enjoy it immensely. Although one of these days, I am sure to have some good news from one of them, and then I won’t need the lemonade ever again.”
Del tipped his hat, and then walked away as fast as he could without actually running. As he walked back to the jail, Del was thinking back to all the men over the past year who had been caught naked and claimed they had no idea how they got that way. Usually they were strangers in town like this current man. This one though remembered far more than the others had so Del had a pretty good idea now what had happened. He walked back into the jail and handed the clothing to the man in the cell. Once the man was dressed, the Sheriff told him he was free to go if he climbed aboard that stage and never came back.
“Thank you, Sheriff. I have to tell you, I won’t ever be back here.” He took the clothing and dropped the blanket so he could dress. Within a few minutes, the man dressed all in black walked to the stage depot to climb aboard the stage even if it wasn’t supposed to leave for another hour. He thought the people in this town had already seen enough of him, and he wasn’t taking any more chances.