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Chapter Nine:The Fair Grounds
“This couldn’t be happening at a worse time.”
The Sheriff nodded is head in agreement.
“The county fair always takes place this time of year. Can’t be helped Fredricks.”
“You forgot about it, didn’t you Sheriff?”
Rex nodded his head once again.
“C’mon Rho, let’s go make sure no one kills themselves.”
Rho snorted and followed after Rex as he began treading across the fair grounds.
The Ridge County Fair was one of the biggest events in Montana and one of the most anticipated. People traveled from all over to attend the fair or compete in the rodeo. Ridge County was even voted number five in the “Top Ten County Fairs” in Montana State. The townspeople in Wolf Ridge prided themselves in making sure no one left unsatisfied during the week of the fair. Seeing as how the fair grounds were three miles down the road, it was guaranteed everyone would come through at one point or another. The local economy depended on the business visitors brought. Without their money, there was no Wolf Ridge. That’s how it’s been since the fair started; before, Ridge was a ghost town.
The Sheriff, however, could do without all the people. Fairs meant alcohol and alcohol meant idiots in his mind.
“And here we go again.”
He exasperated. Rho looked up to his face at the sound of his voice.
“You hate it as much as I do boy.”
Rex said to his partner.
Rex had less than four hours of peace before the chaos of the fair started. Rides were in the final stages of installation and food was beginning to be cooked. Rodeo cowboys would be pulling in at any moment, cramming the area with horses and calves.
“Soon, the air will be thick with the scent of fried butter and cow shit.”
“Are you always this optimistic Sheriff?”
Rex turned at the sound of a voice.
“Crystal was it?”
“I’m honored you remember my name.”
She stated with a mock curtsy.
“Are you always this sarcastic?”
“Lately I have been.”
Crystal chuckled darkly.
“Anything I can do for you?”
“Just thought I’d say hi. You looked so bored out here by yourself.”
Rex turned away from her and began walking away but stopped when he realized Rho wasn’t following him. He looked back and saw his partner licking Crystal’s face while she patted his over-sized head.
“You aren’t supposed to pet police dogs.”
“This is not a dog. I mean, look at him!”
Crystal gripped Rho’s head between her hands.
“He’s a hybrid. Wolf-Dog. Either way he’s a county deputy. C’mon boy we got work to do.”
Rex patted his leg, beckoning Rho over. Rho cantered to Rex’s side and sat on his left boot. Rex reached down and scratched behind Rho’s ear.
“Hey, I heard you weren’t supposed to pet police dogs.”
“Yeah? Well I’m the Sheriff so I can basically do what I want.”
Rex smirked right back.
“Touche Sheriff, Touche.”
Crystal flicked her right hand out and sauntered away from the two.
Rex called after, the case suddenly coming back to him. When he noticed Crystal pausing, he pulled out the photograph of Jarrod Carmickle from his inside jacket pocket. As he reached her Rex held the photo up in front of her face.
“You know this man?”
He could already read the recognition in her eyes. He was right.
“Tell you what, ride with me on the Ferris Wheel and I’ll tell you if I know him or not.”
Rex couldn’t help but let a small chuckle slip from his lips.
“You do know him.”
“How would you know?”
Her eyes squinted as she asked him.
He looked at her.
She stepped closer to him, the piercing color of her eyes growing ever brighter as the space between them shrunk.
Rex was left…stunned as he watched her retreating form.
“What did I just do and why?”
Rho looked up at his master and tilted his head ever so slightly at the questions.