Big, dry snow flakes. Accumulating at a very fast clip. The roads already have a foot of snow. Traffic is nonexistent now. All the townspeople were in town earlier in the day stocking up on food and batteries. Being stuck in your home for a few days or a week is not too uncommon. When the boys get out the dump trucks with the blades on the front and start getting all these county roads plowed and sanded, thats when you can drive again.
Silverville has a 3 man crew for town maintenance and snowplowing. All 3 are sitting in the towns maintenance shop drinking coffee and playing cards. No real sense in getting out to plow as long as it keeps snowing as heavily as it is. The blades on the trucks don’t care if the snow is 2 feet thick or 3 foot thick. So cards it is, at least for a while longer.
But one business in town is bustling. Mannys, right on the edge of town is one of those one-of-a-kind bars that defy description. It used to be a double screen theatre, when it closed Manuel ‘Manny” Garcia bought the property. The middle of the place is one huge horseshoe shaped bar. One side of the building is devoted strictly to pool tables and small booths and tables. 20 tvs hang from the ceiling placed strategically for easy viewing. This is the Bar side of things. The other side of the place is set up as a family restaurant. Larger tables, brighter lights and less noise on this side. Amazingly both sides are kept pretty busy most of the time. A little busier on the family side with the breakfast and lunch crowd, busier in the evening on the bar side. Manny oversees it all. A large man with an easy laugh and generous to a fault. But if you push him too far, or disrespect a female, you find yourself on your ass outside of the bar. Mannys youth was spent in East LA. running with various gangs, Manny made a name for himself as a no nonsense enforcer. After 10 years in the penitentiary, Manny disappeared from LA never to be seen there again. He had hurt enough people, time for change. And here he was, just 10 years later, clean and respectable, owning a good business and being responsible. A very nice change indeed.
Jack rode the 10 miles into town on his snow machine, fresh snow all the way. Its been a week since Crank was over and Jack needed to get out of the house for a bit. Parking outside of Mannys alongside the other 20 or so machines, he noticed that this was todays mode of transportation. No trucks in the parking lot today. Just snowmobiles, covered in inches of new snow, and the occasional set of cross country skis or snowshoes leaning against the building under the eaves.
Walking into the first set of doors there is the ‘boot room’. This entrance into the bar is where you leave your muddy/snowy boots and coats. If you walk into Mannys with your boots on, all the patrons turn to you and yell ‘Boots!’ like your mom would. It only takes one of those to make you remember to change out in the boot room. A supply of slippers of all sizes are provided for those with cold feet. The little kids love the Elmo slippers. Its hard to keep them though. They tend to find their way home on 4 year old toes. Manny spends a lot of money each fall restocking the Sesame Street slippers. Jack slides into a nice set of sheepskin slippers and opens the next doors into the bar.
Amazing smells of big green chile burritos, the scent of alcohol, and the fragrance of warm bodies all wrapped in the nice sound of humanity in a good mood greet him. Before he was two steps in the door he hears “Jack, over here!”. He turns and sees Crank in a booth in the distant corner. Walking to the booth he sees a stunning young woman sitting there also. “Crank has a girlfriend” Jack thinks erroneously. “Jack, this is Abby Carmichael, Silverville Sheriff,” Crank says, and then turning to Abby, “And this is Jack Taylor, retired FBI and new citizen of Silverville.” Abby rises to shake hands and a small spark of electricity crosses through them as they grasp. The friction from the sheepskin slippers probably. “But a nice omen anyway” Jack thinks.
As soon as he settles, Manny walks over. Walks really isn’t the word here. Manny occupies space like a sumo wrestler. He moves with a deliberance. A shift in the force. Manny isn’t fat, he’s just BIG. He nods to Abby, “Sheriff,” then to Crank, “Coroner”. Crank pipes up, “Manny, you’ve known me what, 5 years now? Please, for the umpteenth time, call me Crank.” Manny gives a playful leer, He knows that bugs Crank, thats why he does it. He extends a hand the size of a skillet to Jack. “I’m Manny, nice to meet you.” Jack hides his hand in Mannys. “Jack Taylor, Nice to meet you.” “Just wanted to say hello, I’ll have Chris over here shortly.” With that Manny spins his gravitational force thru its axis and heads to the bar area where, with just a glance, he quiets a table of loud drinkers.
“Jeez, he’s huge” comments Jack. “That he is.” Abby says, watching Manny leave. “Crank tells me you were FBI.” “Yeah, 20 years. Worked my way up to a lead investigator and team lead. Retired about a year ago, moved here for peace and quiet.” “Quiet we got, peaceful is spotty.” Abby adds. Abby looks at Crank and gives a imperceptible nod. Crank starts “Jack, Abby and I need some of your experience. And since some of it may concern you directly, we would like to ask for some advice.” Abby interjects “All my budget dollars are tied up, Jack. I can’t pay you one red cent without there being some sort of inquisition from the accountants. But we, I, could use some help here.” Jack looks into her big brown eyes, gets lost for a moment, and replies. “I’ll do what I can.”