Encounter With a Lawman in Kent Haruf's Fiction Country: Hats Off to Sheriff Ken Putnam

So I’ve just driven 900+ miles to reach the (shopping mall) mecca that is St. Louis, Missouri, and leaving Colorado I was tooling along at the wheel of my ultracool Subaru Forester (well, let’s say it’s nicely functional, which isn’t really that cool, is it?), and perhaps I wasn’t watching my gauges as well I should have, and perhaps I was trying to make better time than I should have, but one way or the other, I found myself with the dreaded flashing red-and-blue lights in the rearview mirror, ready to bow down and accept an expensive speeding ticket and go on my way, shamed and in DOT debt (is that a word?). In walks Sheriff Ken Putnam of Cheyenne County, Colorado. This is the part of the state made mythic (and important) by one of our best novelists, Kent Haruf, most famous for his recent trilogy Plainsong (1999), Eventide (2004), and Benediction (2013). Like a character out of one of Haruf’s novels, Putnam was a good man, polite and respectful, and pointed out that driving even five miles over the speed limit would result in a fine of over $90. But he was letting me off the hook, this time. I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t in Cormac McCarthy country, where more than likely the man who pulled me over would be a crazed hitman/killer (a la Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men) with a pneumatic cattle gun in his hand, ready to punch a hole in my head. This good man shook my hand and sent us on our way, where we later saved a turtle (or is that tortoise?). Thanks, Sheriff!
Plus we liked his hat.

And here’s the tortoise we saved. The little armored beast was trying to cross the road (or was it The Road?), or maybe trying to commit suicide. One way or the other, we picked him up and carried him into a field, where he’s now wondering who were those strange people, and causing some slow mayhem, no doubt.

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