by John McAuley
"Man, what the hell you doing living way out here? I bet the town's only hooker's still a virgin."
"Earl, that joke's as old as dinosaur shit."
Earl's a good guy and was a good partner for the six months we worked together. But he talks a lot. Not like Carl. Me and Carl could go a whole shift and be comfortable hardly saying a word to each other. We always knew who was going to drive, answer the radio...all Carl said when the round went through his bulletproof vest was, "Damn..."
Earl finished his drink and shook my hand, "Take care of yourself, I'll call you sometime and maybe we can go for a beer at that little bar you've been talking about," he said, before heading back down to Atlanta.
I doubt there are any hookers in Jellico; but there are two churches and Walden's bar. I like going to Walden's in mid-afternoon. It's peaceful, mostly old farmers sipping on cheap beer, talking about the weather and stock car racing. I've been going there long enough now that they nod at me when I walk in. Makes me feel like I'm socialising.
But Walden's is closed on Sunday's and I don't attend church. So I listen to baseball on the radio and drink until suppertime. Through my window I look at the field; there's only one tree out there. It's the quietest partner I've ever had.