“Going Home”

badgeAn excerpt from Chapter Twelve of Ronnie McBrayer’s Wild Wild Walton:

“Ms. Celia, how you know ’bout all this stuff,” Bobby asked. “Was your daddy a cowboy or a lawman or somethin’?”

“That’s a very perceptive observation, Bobby,” Celia answered. “No, my father wasn’t, but my husband was. He was sheriff of Walton County, Florida for a time, so I got to hear and see all he heard and saw. Plus, and you boys won’t believe this, but… no, I won’t even tell you. You won’t believe it, so I’ll keep it a secret.”

The boys couldn’t stand this tease. They begged and squealed, pleading with Celia to tell them her mystery. Finally, having milked all the drama out of them, she relented.

“Alright, alright, I’ll tell you,” she began. You won’t believe it, but I was Sheriff of Walton County, Florida too!”

The boys exploded with laughter, reacting exactly as Celia had said they would. They didn’t believe her. She sat there, graceful and composed, as they had their fun guffawing and pointing, rolling around on the ground like little fools. Once they settled back down, Celia pointed at Charlie and said, “Son, fetch my handbag for me from the table.” He did as he was told, and, once in her hands, Celia quite deliberately reached in and produced a large, golden, five-point star. On it was inscribed the undeniable words: “Sheriff, Walton County, Florida 1938-1939.”

Stunned silence filled the room. Without a word, Celia handed the heavy badge to Bobby with the instructions to examine it, and then pass it along for the others to see as well. This took several minutes, and when the badge finally made it around the circle and back into Celia’s possession, she spoke.

“You see there, boys: A lady can be a sheriff just as quick and sure as a gentleman…

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