One could describe Lumby as one would describe, with unreserved fondness, one’s own small town in our vast and diverse country: quaint, with enough quirk to make it interesting. It is a town that holds strong to the belief that the oldest apple tree in the country is firmly rooted on the corner of Cherry Street and Farm to Market Road, and a town that reacted adversely when one of its more entrepreneurial youths put the tree up for auction on the Internet a few years back.
It is also where, one winter, the Chatham Press distributed its annual calendars, which inadvertently showed the preceding year’s holiday dates, so although the twenty-fifth of December remained sacred, most other significant religious and historical celebrations were off by as many as six days. The residents of Lumby, though, decided that it might be interesting to be out of sync with the rest of the country for just one year, so for the next twelve months, followed the written word to the letter.
And finally, Lumby is a town in which the greatest pastime is reading the Sheriff’s Report in the local paper.
9:42 a.m. Woman from Hunts Mill Road reported a bat hanging on her screen door.
10:55 a.m. Lumby resident requested that her grass be measured by front walk.
1:13 p.m. John Morris reported two dogs trying to down a steer. He shot at them, chasing them off.
1:15 p.m. Reverend Olson reported three bullets going through stained glass windows at Holy Episcopal.
3:39 p.m. A Lumby caller reported that two draft horses had wandered into his pasture.
4:17 p.m. Caller reported that aluminum ladder stolen yesterday had been returned bent.
6:43 p.m. JoEllen McKee, 44, was arrested for orderly disconduct at Jimmy D’s. Bond: $115.
10:01 p.m. EMS responded to a report of a man having a diabetic reaction and in a semi-conscious state.
10:22 p.m. Received report of a burning bush on fairgrounds property. LFD dispatched.
11:22 p.m. Pickup vs deer. Pickup wins.
11:58 p.m. Moose damages car State Road 541.
Sheriff Dixon is as steadfast and dependable as the paper in which his name appeared that day. For more than a dozen years he has been the patient guardian of the residents and activities in and around Lumby. A brick of a man, with a tall, solid body and square shoulders, he demonstrates as much kindness toward the innocent children as he does firmness toward those who jeopardize the tranquility of the town.
In his younger and, as he readily admits, more foolish years, his only focus was his career advancement during the years he spent in the Seattle police department. He ultimately became the youngest lieutenant in the department, spending most waking hours at the downtown station. When not in uniform, he dedicated his few nonworking hours to either police study or physical improvement. He was, overall, a very disciplined and focused man.
Until he met Anna, who came into his life one summer when she was in the fish market, smelling salmon. Within weeks they were good friends, and they became inseparable by the end of the summer. In late August, Anna returned to her hometown ten hours away to continue teaching, leaving Simon alone and, for the first time in his life, unmotivated.
During the following year, when Simon visited Anna in her small town, he came to embrace Lumby’s pace and “unique way of life,” as Anna called it. That second summer Simon asked Anna to marry him, and they began to plan their future together. Job prospects looked limited after Simon’s first conversation with Sheriff Dumont, who explained that the “Lumby police department” was, in fact, one person who worked part-time until just two years prior.
However, Simon was quickly able to get a position in Wheatley, a small city south of Lumby, and bided his time until Dumont retired. During those first three years he and Anna bought a small home off Loggers Road and had a son and then, eighteen months later, a daughter, who has the same dirty reddish-brown hair and dark brown eyes as her mother.
Within a year of little Sarah’s birth, Dumont announced his retirement, and Simon accepted the town council’s offer to become Lumby’s second sheriff in its unblemished history. And so Simon came to learn patience from two new forces in his life that he held dear: his children and the quirkiness of the residents of the small town of Lumby.
“And how are you this morning?” Simon asked, walking into the station shortly after seven a.m. that early spring day.
“Fine, Sheriff,” Dale answered, as he does every morning. Dale Friedman was hired four years prior, doubling the town’s police resources from one to two.
“Anything to report?”
“Rob Steadman called a few minutes ago. Seems there are two goats locked in the bank vault that are enjoying a breakfast of ten- and twenty-dollar bills. Can’t get them out until the vault timer allows entry at nine.”
Simon smiled, shaking his head as he occasionally does when he hears about some of the town’s stranger mishaps. Patience and humor.
“Principal Harris called earlier to report that the nine-foot catapult built by Mrs. Escher’s tenth-grade class had been moved from the back parking lot to the football field.”
“Who would want a catapult?”
“Probably the same kids who took six chickens from Bill Henry.”
“Let me guess: catapulting chickens over goalposts?”
“Seems so. Bill Henry said that all his chickens have been returned, mostly defeathered and shook up, but alive.”
“One other. Cindy Watford called to complain about the electricians from Rocky Mount. Seems after they did some work in her house yesterday, each time she turns on the kitchen light, the doorbell rings.”
“Poor woman,” Simon responded. “That must be driving her nuts. Would you call Chris and have him go over and fix it?”
“Already done,” Dale said.
“Great. If that’s it, I’ll be across the street if you need me.”
Directly across from the police department is the Chatham Bank, best known, or perhaps only recognized, for being the smallest bank in the state, with reserves of slightly over twelve million dollars. Simon loved this time of morning, when the school buses were beginning their routes and town merchants swept the sidewalks on the main street. Within a month, the store owners would plant spring flowers in the raised beds that line the road, and the town would be vibrant with colorful blooms and waving banners hung from awnings.
Simon was proud of the town and its residents. Although Lumby lacks the economic benefits of some of its neighboring towns, the little community has steadily grown while keeping the same values as had been instilled by the town’s ancestors a hundred years before.
Simon was equally proud of the role he had in Lumby. He had done a good job. During the twelve years that Simon had protected Lumby, only once did his integrity fall short. Had the monastery fire never happened, had “private” conversations that told him to back off never taken place, he would have a spotless record. Even though that was a year ago, he was still haunted by the events of that week, especially this time of year, when the winter was releasing its cold grip.