The Sheriff stepped out in the hall and motioned Barton into his office. He shut the door and stared at Barton.
Now the sheriff thought well of himself, and considered himself a good lawman, but he also knew that Barton wasn’t gullible or dishonest.
“Well Barton, what’s your opinion?”
“I think your deputy is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.” Barton nearly shouted.
The Sheriff was surprised. Barton rarely showed his temper.
“Sheriff, I was on west balcony of the clock tower when the robber ran out of the store. His wasn't wearing a shirt; just overalls.”
“And…?” asked the sheriff.
“Go in and see that Nevin is wearin'.......long sleeves. Did he have time to change his shirt before he was arrested?
Sheriff, have Nevin roll up his sleeves. See how he resists and makes excuses. Then we can talk some more.” Barton said.
The Sheriff did as Barton challenged him to do, and came back in a few minutes.
“I saw the scars on Nevin’s arms, Barton. He didn’t want to show me, and wouldn’t tell me how it happened.
But why does this matter?”
“It matters, because I saw the robber come out of the store. He had no shirt on, and I have never seen Nevin show his bare arms to anyone. Even with his face and head covered, I know that Nevin could not have robbed the store.
And he sure wouldn’ta let people see scars that could show who he was. You think?”
The sheriff thought and then spoke, “Hmm, I also saw the holes, where he claimed he wore the badge, so that puzzles me.
But how did Nevin’s arms get so scarred?”
“That’s his story to tell, Sheriff, not mine.” said Barton. "Nevin is 'shamed of how it happened."
“Well, Barton” said the Sheriff, “You need to make a written statement about what you saw, so it can be added to what we already have. I’m glad you were in the clock-tower this morning.”
“Yessir, Sheriff. Me too.” Said Barton “I appreciate you hearin’ me out. Nevin hasn't seen many good things in his life.
He don't need this."
The Sheriff put Barton with a different deputy to take his report.
As that was happening, Mr. Gimble came in and wanted to speak with the Sheriff privately.
In his office with the door closed, Mr. Gimble said he told his wife and daughter that Nevin had been arrested,
and the girl looked worried and began to cry. She then confessed what she had done over the past couple of years.
So Mr. Gimble said that he was no longer certain that it was Nevin that did the crime, though the description fit Nevin.
The Sheriff then took Mr. Gimble back to his store and spoke with the clerk who saw the robber, and confirmed that the robber was sleeveless and that he saw no scars on his arms.
He also talked to the weepy daughter and her shamed, distraught mother.
The Sheriff then walked down the street to the police station, to talk to the Chief of Police.
They had a conversation about what happened and made plans to deal with the deceit;
for when an innocent man is arrested, a guilty man stays free to commit more crimes.
The Police Chief was to bring the deputy to the County Fairgrounds north of town, where the three of them would meet and discuss the events of the day.
When they got back to town, they would notify their law officers and other jurisdictions that they were still looking for the robber.
Eric J. Rose
PS: Before alarm clocks, I've read that people used to drink a certain amount of water just before they went to bed, so their bladders would wake them up at a certain time. This does not apply to this story, but it is interesting