Sam Clarkson had to come clean with Calum. Sam had reported him up the federal food chain, and if they arrived to pick him up soon, the investigation would tank. They met at the diner like usual, Sam with his egg-white frittata and Calum’s bacon and eggs.
“We’ve got a good partnership, here, Calum,” said Sam. Calum ducked his head to nod as he took a bite of eggs. “It’s not what I expected when I arrived.” Sam stared into his half-full coffee mug.
“You were expecting Barney Fife and Swastikas?”
Sam scoffed. “You have to admit, you’re all pretty racist around here,” Sam said.
“Bullshit,” said Calum. “We treat everyone like human beings—even a jackass like you.” He smiled to take the sting out of it.
“You’re still—hold on, I’m trying to open up to you.”
“Did you take your woman pills this morning?” asked Calum.
“See, that’s what I’m talking about. That’s sexist on so many levels.” Calum started to speak, but Sam cut him off. “Listen to me. In some ways things are worse than I thought, but they’re far better in others. I half expected you to tie up women and throw them in the lake to test for witches.”
“I’ll probably do that to Mrs. Cardigan if you wait long enough.”
“You’re hilarious. My point is, I’ve learned to respect you—at least parts of you.”
Calum’s chuckle was almost sinister. “I’m an all or none proposition. Look, I appreciate your Kumbaya, but we’ve got some leads to follow.” He signaled Tiffany for the check.
“I reported you to the feds,” Sam blurted. “They’re coming for you today.”
Calum’s eyes narrowed. “For what?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Your misogyny, your homophobia, your complete disregard for the law of the land.”
“My job is to bring justice and keep the peace,” said Calum. Tiffany set the check down next to him, and he handed it to Sam. “And I do that as much for homos and women as everyone else.”
“Then why do you call them homos?”
He shook his head with scorn. “What?”
“Look, I could explain it until I’m red in the face and you still wouldn’t understand, but the fact is, I’m sorry I reported you, and you have to lay low today so they won’t grab you.”
“In my own damn county?” said Calum. “I’m not going to hide from them on my turf.” Calum drained his coffee cup. “So if we’re such a good team, why’d you report me?”
Sam laid down some cash for the bill. “It was three weeks ago. I didn’t know you then. Sending me to help you with the serial killer was a lie. The whole reason I’m here is to bring you down.”
“But we’re good partners,” he drawled.
Sam’s frustration flared. He hated it when Calum’s ignorance made him feel stupid. “I switched sides, Calum. I’ve come to learn that you don’t have a hateful bone in your body, you’re just ignorant.”
Calum laughed. “So you were ignorant about my ignorance, but now you’re feeling the love.”
As biting as Calum’s ridicule was, Sam was heartened by it. “Something like that. I am sorry.”
“I don’t care, Sam. It was inevitable, really. Keep reporting what you’re supposed to.”
“I won’t do that anymore. I’d like to consider you a friend, and friends don’t report on each other.”
All right, then.” Calum arose. “Let’s get moving.”
“But the feds are coming,” said Sam.
“The killer’s not going to wait for us.”
Sam followed him out the door. “They’ll arrest you.”
“Not here, they won’t,” he said through clenched teeth. “This is my county, and these are my people,”
“They’re feds,” said Sam. “Everywhere and everyone is part of their jurisdiction.”
“They don’t have a clue what justice means here,” said Calum. “They’re looking in the wrong place, and if they insist on finding it, I will arrange the meeting.”
Sam couldn’t sway Calum from his irrational ways, and for the first time since he had known the man, Sam feared for Calum’s life.
“Don’t worry,” said Calum. “You ever see the movie Quigley Down Under, where the aborigines gathered around by the thousands to surround the authorities that wanted to hurt Quigley?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Well, it’s pretty certain that won’t happen here.”
Sam scoffed. “So what’s your point?”
“Nothing really,” said Calum. “Except I’m a lot prettier than Tom Selleck, don’t you think?”