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A Thanksgiving Story

My grandfather loved telling stories, especially on Thanksgiving when he had a large and captivated audience. In continuing with his tradition, I offer you a story of my own on this Thanksgiving day.

This is "A Sheriff's Tale".

The weary, grey-haired sheriff had made his decision. It was time to turn in the badge. Too many years had taken their toll, and he was too tired to go on. He had come to town several years earlier when it was at its lowest point. Enemies had looted and pillaged the poor villagers and there were talks the town would just throw in the towel. Then, HE appeared out of nowhere and began assembling this dominant power on the plains.

Within just a few years, no one escaped the town. Many would try, but they would not leave without first experiencing the fight of their lives. Buffaloes, Cornhuskers, Cyclones and Sooners found that trying to ambush this little city - this little apple - in the middle of nowhere was not as easy as it used to be. Even a streak of Tigers found there was no answer to what the old sheriff would throw at them. No matter how hard they tried, the gangs that descended upon the town looking to take what they wanted were now being turned away with a fierceness they had not seen before from the weak village. Even the nasty birds to the east that occasionally swooped in were being beaten back, often with merciless results.

Then, just as quick as the sheriff had come to town, he had decided he had done enough. The village was strong and stable, able to stand on its own. A new sheriff would have the types of benefits he never had when he first arrived all those years before. Now, young fighters from all points of the region were willing to come to this little dot on the map and help the townsfolk defend the city gates. Aside from that, the sheriff was willing to hang around town and offer some help when it was needed. He had grown to call this place home, so he decided to sit back and watch the village continue to thrive.

However, things were not going to proceed as well as everyone hoped. The new sheriff was brought in quickly with much fan fare, although few had ever heard his name. The townspeople were frustrated and confused.

"Who is this man?" they would ask. "Where did he come from?"

Although there were many questions to be answered, the young sheriff quickly silenced his doubters by thwarting off a herd of dangerous Longhorns. He began to win many admirers, and an ease began to settle over the village. He would wear hats that seemed out of place, yet no one said much. He began to settle in comfortably to the place that had seen too much turmoil for anyone to rest easy.

Soon, it began to unravel. The same packs of Cornhuskers, Tigers, and birds that the grey-haired sheriff had learned to dispatch with ease were now becoming too much for this younger, new sheriff to handle. Small groups of villagers began to grow uneasy. Others defended him, saying he just needed more time. "Just wait," some of them begged. "It will get better."

Sadly, it never got better. More and more began to ransack the small town, each coming with a wave of destruction worse than the one before. The mayor and his new assistant began to hear the worst of it. Angry farmers and ranchers lined up at the mayor's door, asking that he run this young lawman out of town. The mayor stood staunchly behind his desk and wondered what to do. He was planning to retire, as well. He no doubt longed for better days, when the grey-hair was defeating attackers with relative ease.

Wait! That's it. Why couldn't he bring the old sheriff back into the game? Certainly that's what everyone would want. There was talk that many of the townspeople would move if a change wasn't made soon. The mayor was growing desperate. His ride off into the sunset was beginning to grow tarnished with each of the young sheriff's mistakes. A meeting was quickly called and the underachieving newcomer was dismissed from his post. No longer would he drag the town into a downward spiral.

The villagers began to wonder aloud who the next sheriff would be. Certainly the mayor would reach out and attain another young candidate. Only this time, he would come decorated with medals and achievements from his previous posts. The village deserved better, and the mayor deserved just as much.

Within days an announcement would be made on the front steps of the courthouse. Hopes abound with who would take over the defense of the once proud community. The villagers were abuzz with assumptions and guesses as to who the mayor had hiding inside. Was it that hot shot in Texas? Many had their hopes high that the spectacled wunderkind would make his way back home and re-store justice to his hometown.

As the tension amongst the villagers began to grow, the doors to the courthouse began to open. A silhouette appeared in the doorway as the sun began its arc across the sky. Mouths stood open, toes were tipped, and necks began to strain for a better look. The figure slowly lowered himself down to the first step. Here he was, the man that would revive the tradition of dominance, the leader of a now frustrated following. The light climbed up the figure's body and.....

The village stood in stunned silence. Some had seen it coming, yet it still seemed surreal. There he was, looking the same as he did just a few years earlier. But, this time, there was a different fire in his eyes. This time, there was no weariness to his voice or posture. Doubts would soon be cast along with some cheers, but none of that seemed to matter now. The fact was as simple as could be. HE had returned.