· Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge:
It’s Thursday, August 22, 1927, in Hutchinson, Kansas, the day after Harvey E. Albrecht killed himself, and the day before his funeral. His daughters, Pearl and Jewel, can’t sleep.
“Are you still awake?” asked Pearl to her sister.
“Wide awake,” said Jewel, who was in the bed next to her.
“I was just thinking about us, how our lives have changed forever,” said Pearl. “I was prepared to distance myself from daddy, but I wasn’t ready for this.”
“It’s hard to believe,” Jewel responded. “We knew he took his troubles out on mother, but I never thought he’d hurt himself.”
“Mom blames herself,” said Pearl. “We need to assure her that daddy wasn’t thinking right.”
“Cora’s been so good for mama,” said Jewell. “Watching the two of them together, who would believe they’ve only known each other for a week?”
“We’ll be moving back home after the funeral service tomorrow,” said Pearl. “I wonder, do you think mom and Cora will stay in touch? Delbert and I are going to keep visiting the sheriff. He’s a good man.”
“I’m going to help mom with expenses,” said Jewel. “We’ll need to figure things out. We’ve got a new reality.”
“I wonder what she’d say if I quit school?” asked Pearl.
“‘Don’t,’ is what she’d say,” said Jewel.
“I might be able to work more hours at Rorabaugh-Wiley’s,” said Pearl. “I like modeling, and the money can help us.”
“We’re better off than a lot of people,” said Jewel. “Sheriff Brown was an orphan at age six. He was adopted.”
“He’s proof that losing your parents isn’t the end of the world, but I hope mom lives a long and healthy life,” said Pearl.
“I was called a harlot today because I was wearing nice clothing and lipstick,” said Pearl.
“Do you even know what the word harlot means?” asked Jewel.
“Of course, I know,” said Pearl. “A whore, a prostitute; that’s proof I learned something at Vacation Bible School.”
Jewel laughed. “Being Brethren means being modest,” said Jewel. “So when we wear fashionable clothing, we confuse people.”
“Agreed,” said Pearl, “but I’m confused about everything lately. Dad beats up mom. She files for divorce. He kills himself. He goes to heaven. And I’m a harlot, not fit to join him?”
“Pearl,” said Jewel, “you’re not a harlot!”
“I wonder if Charles Lindbergh, Jr. is a Christian?” asked Pearl. “I don’t hear anyone questioning him about his religion. He’s allowed to have a worldly goal.”
“He’s a man,” said Jewell. “The rules are different.”
“There are a few women pilots who are daredevils,” said Pearl. “Are they going to hell?”
“That’s a question for Brother Luckett,” said Jewel. “He gave you time to ask questions yesterday, but you weren’t in the mood.”
“I think I know what he’d say,” said Pearl. “That modesty is an outward sign that we value God’s way of life; that we should fade into the background, serving the needs of others, asking Jesus to take center stage.”
“I’m hungry,” said Pearl.
“Hungry or worried?” asked Jewel.
“Both,” answered Pearl.
“Do you think Cora would mind if we found a snack in the kitchen?” asked Jewel.
“She’s told us to help ourselves to anything,” said Pearl. “She said to pretend the sheriff’s residence is our home.”
“Let’s go downstairs,” said Jewel. “Last one down is a rotten egg!”
“We’ve got to be quiet or we’ll wake mom, Cora, or Fay,” said Pearl.
“I want a bowl of cereal!” said Jewel as she headed out the guest-bedroom door.
In the dark, the two girl’s quietly tip-toed down the hallway and the stairs to the first floor. Jewel started to laugh before covering her mouth.
“Shhh!” said Pearl.
In the kitchen, Pearl quickly found two bowls and spoons. Jewel stood before the ice box, holding the Corn Flakes, when they both heard a nearby sound. They held their breath. Was it a prisoner escaping? they thought.
Just then, Fay walked through the doorway and said, “Who wants a slice of Cora’s cherry pie?”
“Sheriff, you scared us!” said Pearl.
“Not my intention,” Fay commented.
“Are you hungry?” asked Pearl.
“Or worried?” asked Jewel.
“A bit of both, I imagine,” Fay said. “The funeral service tomorrow . . . I mean this morning . . . is on my mind because I know it’s a hard time in your young lives.”
“Sheriff,” said Pearl, “you and Mrs. Sheriff have been like angels to us. You came along just when we needed you, and I don’t think that was an accident or a coincidence.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Fay, “but you girls are deserving of love and care; your mother too.”
“You’re easier to talk to than Brother Luckett,” said Pearl.
“We’re all different in our own ways,” said Fay.
“Sheriff Brown,” said Jewel, “Do you mind if I ask you about when you were a child?”
“Not at all, if it will help you,” said Fay.
“After your parents died, how did you cope?” asked Jewel. “Were you mad at God?”
“I don’t know that I was mad, but I was bewildered,” said Fay. “I questioned how a good God could allow bad things to happen.”
“Me, too!” said Pearl. “I almost asked Brother Luckett, ‘Why would God create Adam and Eve, if he knew they were going to sin?’ He had to know, right?”
“Girls,” said Fay, “you both know scripture better than me. You have a minister who can explain the Bible to you, and don’t forget your mother; she’s quite knowledgeable about Jesus, and she has His spirit.”
“How were you able to cope?” Jewel asked again.
“There were a combination of things that kept me from driving the train off the track,” answered Fay. “I had two brothers and two sisters who were in the same boat as me. We were split up, but we were able to visit one another on special occasions. You have each other and you have your mother. Right now, your world may feel like it’s tumbling down, but there are brighter days ahead. Give yourself some time to heal.”
“Thank you, Sheriff,” said Jewel. “You make sense.”
“I got adopted by a loving family,” continued Fay. “You still have a family to count on, to lean on; you can love one another.”
“Did you have a scripture that gave you strength?” asked Pearl.
“Yes,” said Fay. “It was a Christian children’s song. It gave me hope when I was weak. You know it. It can help you, too. Let’s sing it together.”
In a little boy’s soft voice, Fay started singing. The girls joined in with a smile.
“Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.”
Until next time, happy writing and reading.