Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 9 Num. 72

("Quid coniuratio est?")


Small-town sheriff Andrew Taylor receives a letter from an ex-convict, informing him that he will be visiting the town soon. The letter is cryptic: it says only that the ex-con wishes to "settle a score."

Sheriff Taylor recalls that long ago he had shot the author of the letter, wounding him in the leg and causing him thereafter to walk with a limp.

Alarmed by the potential for danger to his associate and friend the sheriff, Deputy Barnard Fife conspires with a gas station attendant by name of Gomer Pyle, and with one Otis Campbell, an habitue of the local jail (Mr. Campbell appears to have a drinking problem), to secretly guard Sheriff Taylor. Noticeably absent from the plot is a local barber known as "Floyd."

The ex-con arrives by bus. He gets off the common carrier and limps to an unknown destination. Ominously, he carries a case containing what appears to be a rifle or shotgun.

Complicating things still further is the fact that Deputy Fife, although armed with a pistol, in fact has no bullets in that pistol (although he does carry one bullet in a shirt pocket.) The sheriff himself carries no weapon.

At home that evening with his son and an aunt who performs housekeeping chores for Sheriff Taylor, the phone rings. It is the ex-con saying he is coming to the Taylor residence to pay a visit. The aunt, Beatrice, promptly takes the sheriff's son and deserts the premises.

Unknown to the sheriff, secret bodyguards Pyle and Campbell are nearby.

The ex-con, limping and still carrying the apparent rifle or shotgun, arrives. He is a mean-looking fellow. The unarmed sheriff invites him in.

At this point, Deputy Fife arrives. He and his secret team peer in through the window. They see the ex-con pull a shotgun from the case he is carrying.

Thinking quickly, Deputy Fife pulls the electric fuses for Sheriff Taylor's home. Then, he, Pyle, and Campbell, carrying stout rope, rush in the back door.

But, in the meantime, the sheriff and the ex-con have exited via the front door. Inside the house, in the darkness, the deputy and his assistants bungle badly and end up in knots.

Outside, the sheriff fixes the fuses, the lights go back on, and he and the ex-con peer in through the window. They both laugh at what they see. It turns out that the shotgun was a present given to Sheriff Taylor as supposed "thanks" for helping the ex-con straighten up and turn his life around.

BUT, how is it that the ex-con, a felon, can have a shotgun to give to the sheriff? And what about this Otis Campbell fellow who, under the guise of being intoxicated, is "coincidentally" privy to police intelligence? And most especially, why is it that the "good sheriff" employs incompetent Fife as deputy -- is the sheriff afraid that a real deputy might catch on to something?

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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9