“Hi, Chief,” Chrissy, Lute’s secretary, said. A robust woman in her late 20s with curly black hair, she displayed more energy than hummingbird with a caffeine fix.
“The boss in?” Niles said.
“I’m in my office,” Lute said from the office behind Chrissy, “come on back.”
Niles walked into his office and tossed the envelope on his desk.
“What’s that?” Lute said.
“My insurance policies,” Niles said. “Take a look at them, make sure I’m covered, and see if you can save me some money.”
Lute poured the envelope onto his desk. “Have a seat and let me take a quick look.”
Niles sat in a chair in front of Lute’s desk.
“What’s the word on the streets about the police department?” Niles said.
“Very positive,” Lute said as he scanned through and shuffled the policies. “Folks seem to like and respect you. And that thing you did for Bobs was pure class.”
“I can’t say we’ll do that in all situations,” Niles said, “but the guy could have really used a break about then.”
“You had the nurse come out to see his daughter too?” Lute said. “Most cops wouldn’t do that.”
“There are people who should strive to bring communities together;” Niles said, “police, teachers, mayors councilmen, business leaders and owners, principals. Some people take on positions that offer community services as if it’s a job, it’s an avocation. How does one stop being a teacher when the last bell rings? How does a cop walk by a crime when his shift is over?”
“Sounds like New York has lost a heck of a good cop,” Lute said.
“You shove it down so you don’t go crazy,” Niles said. “Some guys develop a sense of humor, others lash out and become angry, and others just become numb.”
“What about you?” Lute said.
“All of the above,” Niles said, “but this here is what I always wanted to be.”
“Can you let me have a couple hours with these?” Lute said holding up the policies. “I can definitely save you some money.”
“Take your time,” Niles said. “They don’t come due till the end of the month.”
“Stop in tomorrow and I can have everything all set up for you,” Lute said. “Just sign some papers and you’ll be billed. When the old policies lapse, the new ones will be in force the same day. You won’t miss a minute of coverage.”
“One other thing,” Niles said. “I want to sell or trade in my car; funny, it’s starting to feel too citified for me. I need something that screams Maine.”
“You may have to go to Stockbridge,” Lute said. “However, there’s Gene Mason, just outside of town; he has a shop and usually has a couple cars for sale, but you’re just going to get something he’s worked on so he can sell it; mainly old beaters that still have a few miles left in them. They will definitely scream Maine. You might be best going to Stockbridge.”
“You know of anybody local that’s looking to buy a city slicker car?” Niles said.
“High school principal,” Lute said and started punching numbers on his desk phone. “Giving him a call.”
School principal, Edgar Ellsworth, met Niles at the police station an hour later. A half hour after that, Edger drove away in a one year old Cadillac.
Niles slipped inside the office and called Sid on the radio.
“Unit one,” Niles said.
“Unit one,” Sid replied.
“ETA from the station?” Niles said.
“Two minutes,” Sid said.
“Come to the station, over,” Niles said.
“Read you, over,” Sid said.
Sid drove Niles to Gene Mason’s Auto Repair. They slid from the cruiser and walked toward a three bay garage.
A muscular man with red hair and soiled hands walked from an open garage door of the auto repair shop.
“Gene Mason?” Niles said.
“Yeah,” Gene said curiously.
“I’m Chief of Police, Niles Quinn,” Niles said, “but Niles is fine with me.”
“Sure,” Gene said, “Is anything wrong?”
“No,” Niles smiled. “Didn’t mean to scare you, but I just sold my car and I’m looking for something that ain’t afraid to get dirty and if it gets a dent or two, it just means it has character. And by the looks of things you got nothing on the lot.”
“I just got done putting new plugs in a jeep,” Gene said. “Buddy of mine on the mainland brought it down here for me to work on. He got it at an auction and wanted me to give it a going over. Before I put new plugs in it, I had it down the road. I’m not going to tell you how fast I was going, fifth amendment and everything, but she ran good and I changed the plugs as a matter of courtesy and good will for a friend.”
“If Gene says it’s good, it’s good,” Sid said.
“You two related?” Niles smiled.
“What are we second cousins?” Gene said.
“I can never keep that stuff straight,” Sid said. “but we aren’t that close, I don’t think we’ve ever been at the same family reunion – maybe a funeral once or twice.”
“Let me give it a spin around the block,” Nile said. “Call your buddy and see what he’ll take for it. And if we can come to terms, I got a siren and two flashers back at the station, can you find some time to put them on?”
“I can do it first thing in the morning if you get them here early,” Gene said.
An hour later Niles drove back to the police station in a 10 year old patriot blue Jeep Wrangler with a hardtop. He wore a smile as broad as the span of the Verrazano Bridge.