The New Sheriff in Town

Bobby and I were cruising down the road, Bobby at the wheel, the radio blasting. We were on our way to Florida to meet up with some people we had heard about in a commune. The rural Georgia landscape past in a blur. “Hey Bobby,” I said, “you’d better slow down. All we need is to get caught by some redneck sheriff.”

I looked at myself in the rearview mirror. My scraggly beard, peace sign necklace and tie died shirt, pure hippie. Yeah, a Georgia sheriff would not like me, I pondered. It was 1970, and we were into the flower child lifestyle big time. Bobby and I had known each other since grade school. We had been ordinary kids back then, but we came of age in the time of the drug culture, the sexual revolution and Woodstock, and we were part of the scene. At first it was really just posturing, trying to fit in at college. But as time past we got more into it, and now it was just who we were. A part of the lifestyle that doesn’t get talked about much anymore was the spiritual side, so to speak. Alternative religions, the occult, witchcraft, the Charles Manson type stuff. Bobby wasn’t into that so much, but I was. I had read books on it, hung out with some pretty spacey types, experimented with the occult. It was pretty cool stuff. I learned about casting spells, incantations. And you know what? It worked. I was pretty good at it. More than once I had tried a spell, and gotten results. There was this one time when we were in a bar and this Marine type came up to us, started shooting his mouth off about Hippie scum, how he was going to kick our ass. I remembered a little something I learned. I said an incantation, and he doubled over, sick as a dog, puking his guts out. It was all he could do to drag himself outta there. It felt good. I felt powerful. No one would mess with me if they knew what was good for them.

So anyway, I had heard about this commune down in Florida, really into the occult stuff, and I talked Bobby into going with me. He was really just along for the ride, figuring he could score some dope and get high. But I was going to really learn more witchcraft see just how powerful I could get.

“Bobby, you hear me?” I said. “Slow down man!” It was only a moment later when we saw the flashing lights in the rearview mirror. “Fuck man!” Bobby said, as he eased off the accelerator and slowed down, pulling on to the shoulder. The sound of the gravel grinding under our tires was like the sound of our life grinding to a halt. Now we were in big trouble. We watched in the mirror as the cop got out of his squad care. He was a sheriff, right out of central casting. A pure redneck southern cop, with a bulging belly and mirrored sunglasses, a cigar clenched in his teeth. He walked up to the driver’s side window and leaned in.

“Well, lookie what we got here,” he said, grinning at his catch. I got me a couple a hippies!”

“Afternoon officer”, Bobby said with extreme politeness, no doubt wishing he didn’t look like he just stepped out of Woodstock. “is there something wrong sir?”

“Git on outta the car, long hair,” the sheriff said. Bobby slowly emerged from the car, and the cop pushed him against it. Bobby knew the position; feet spread, hands where the cop could see them. “You too, git out slowly and come over this side,” the cop said to me. I did as ordered, taking my place next to Bobby. The sun beat down relentlessly. I don’t know if it was the heat or our fear, but we were sweating like pigs as he began to frisk me. I tried to think of an incantation to stop him, but in my fear my mind was a blank. He got a little rough, shoving me against the car.

“Hey man, we’ve got rights,” I protested. “We were just speeding. That’s all!”

“I doubt that’s all you were doing,” the cop said. “I bet you hippies are just loaded down with drugs.”

I looked over as he began to frisk Bobby. From his hand he produced a small bag with white powder, dropping it into Bobby’s pants pocket. “Bobby, he’s planting something on you!” I said. Without thinking, Bobby turned to struggle. In an instant the sheriff’s gun was in his face.

“If you don’t want your brains splattered off this old car, I suggest you turn right around, buddy!” the sheriff said. Bobby resumed the position. The sheriff slowly pulled the little bag from Bobby’s pocket. “There now, you see, I was right all along. You boys are in big trouble. He dangled the bag for us to see. “ I’m going to make you do serious time,”He growled.

The two of us were near tears as the sheriff pushed us into the back of his squad car. We sat in silence as he drove us back to the station. He took us into a holding cell in the back of the station. “You might as well get used to a cell, you two are going to be living like this for a while.” He waddled his fat ass out to the front office, leaving us locked in the cell.

“Shit man, what are we gonna do?” Bobby said. We are so dead! Do you know what they do to guys like us in prison?” I sat and fumed in silence. “ I don’t suppose you got any magic to get us out of this one?” he said. He meant it as a taunt. He was angry and lashed out at me. “I’m thinking, just shut up a minute. Let me get my head around this.” I said. Just making the sheriff sick wasn’t going to do us any good. I needed something more powerful. Then suddenly I had an idea. I felt the little silver ring on my finger, the one I had bought in a curio shop in Haight Ashbury the month before. I twisted it around my finger, remembering the words of the man who sold it to me. He said it held great power, but to use it carefully. The consequences could be dire if I didn’t. Could it work? I wondered. “Ok, I’ve got a plan” I said. “Listen carefully.” I whispered the plan to Bobby. A few minutes later we were ready.

“You ready?” I said. “Ready” bobby replied, as he layed down on the floor. “Sheriff!” I shouted. “Come quick! I think my buddy’s really sick!!” The sheriff came back, seeing Bobby on the floor, writhing and flailing his arms and legs, moaning, putting on quite an act.

“Aw hell, you hippies and your drugs”, the sheriff said in exasperation as he opened the cell door and lumbered over to Bobby, kneeling down. I knelt down too. As the sheriff reached out to grab Bobby’s arm, I acted quickly, shoving the ring on the sheriff’s fat finger. It barely fit. The sheriff suddenly grew stiff, his eyes wide. It was working! I reached over and put my hand on the sheriff’s chest and closed my eyes. I could feel his heart pounding, then felt my own, thumping away, gradually beating in sync with the sheriff. I felt light headed. There was intense heat where my hand was in contact with his chest. I felt like I was floating, moving towards his heart as if I was having an out of body experience. “NO!” the sheriff cried out, as our minds merged and he knew my plan. In an instant our minds separated again, as we moved into our new homes. All at once I was staring at my old body. I looked down at my fat belly, wearing a cops uniform. I was the sheriff! I looked at my old body, his eyes wide with fear, as the former sheriff looked at me, realizing what had happened. He was absolutely still, in shock. I stood slowly, adjusting to balance my newfound girth. I smiled at Bobby.
Drew, is that you? He said. I nodded.

“We’d better get out of here, I said, before he comes to his senses. We made our exit and locked the cell door. I looked back at my old self, as he rose to his feet, then lunged at the bars.

“You mother fuckers! I don’t know how you did this, but you won’t get away with it!” he shouted.

“Yeah, what are going to do about it, tell everyone that you switched bodies, that you’re the sheriff?” I taunted. “I don’t thing that defense will hold up in court!” Bobby laughed as I said it. We walked back out front, as he continued to rant.

“I’ll get you, I don’t’ know how but I will! He sounded frightened, naturally, his voice cracking as he cursed us. We closed the steel door that separated the holding cells from the front office, muffling his rant.

“That was amazing!” Bobby said. “When you told me your plan, I thought you’d lost it, man. But it worked! We’re free! All we gotta do is get the hell out of here…and…he stopped, looking at me. I had sat down with a grunt at the sheriff’s desk, absent mindedly picking up the sheriff’s cigar and re-lighting it, billowing a cloud, feeling it soothe me. “Drew? You ok man?” I rubbed my temples. Thoughts were filling my head. The sheriff’s thoughts. I wasn’t just in his body, I had his mind. “Drew, you’re starting to scare me.” Bobby said.

“I’ve just gotta get control of this,” I said. “I’ll…be ok…in a minute.” I felt so confused. I could feel the sheriff’s thoughts swimming in my head.

“Drew, I just realized something.” Bobby said. “You look like the sheriff now. You are the sheriff. How can you change back? I mean, if you switch back he’s just going to throw you in prison. If you don’t…you’re stuck as him, you can’t just run off with me!” I looked up at him and sighed.

“Don’t you think I though of that? I did what I had to do.”

“Holy shit, man, you saved us. You gave up who you were to save us.” He said.

“I saved you.” I corrected him. “As for me, I don’t know if this is exactly saved. I guess this is what I get for dabbling in the dark arts eh?” I patted my fat belly and took a long drag on the cigar. I felt tired and heavy, 20 years and 80 pounds added to my life.

“There’s got to be something we can do,” Bobby began. “Maybe we just take him out to the middle of nowhere, no gun or anything, then switch back. Yeah, we could tie him up or something…”

As I listened to Bobby and watched him, I felt a wave of contempt come over me. Fucking hippie, I thought. His kind makes me sick. I oughta lock him up…NO! I told myself, fighting the urge. That’s the sheriff talking. He’s your friend! “Bobby,” I interrupted. “You gotta get out this county, get as far away as you can. I’m trying to fight it, but I’m afraid I’m going to do something terrible if you stay. I’m not sure how long I can control these thoughts I’m having. I’ll drive you out to the car, and you get the hell away. Do you understand what I’m telling you? You gotta git outta my county!” I said it in a thick southern accent, the sheriff’s accent. Bobby looked at me in horror. “OK man, whatever you say. But you can fix this, right?, we’ll meet up later when you swap back, right?” I didn’t say anything. I stood and walked him out to the squad car. I drove him out to the highway and he got in the car.

“You listen here, buddy,” I said as I leaned in the car window. “ You get outta my county and don’t you ever come back, you hear? We don’t take kindly to you hippie types around here.” As I said it I meant it, the sheriff’s words and thoughts taking over. He nodded slowly, staring at me. He pulled the car away and drove off. I felt a lump in my throat as I watched him go. But he had to go for his own good. I drove back to the station, chomping on my cigar. This car was so familiar, I felt like I had spent a thousand hours in it. It all seemed so right. I’m turning into sheriff Roscoe Taylor, I thought, knowing the man’s name. My name now. I walked back into the station and looked around. It looked familiar too. I went back into the locker room and looked in the mirror, studying my pudgy face with a cigar clenched there, my bald head, my big gut. I rubbed my clean shaven face, feeling my loose double chin. What had I done? What had I become?

The new thoughts in my head were beginning to organize themselves. Memories. Opinions. Skills. I knew everything about this sheriff. I was married, my wife’s name was Mary Lou. We lived in a little house on the edge of town, no kids. I was 42 years old. I knew everything. I went back to my desk and plopped down, and called the judge. I told him we had a live one, it was time for a little trial. I figured it was all I could do for now, play along and keep the old sheriff at bay. At least in a prison cell I would know where he was until I could come up with a plan. The judge said we’d put him on trial in the morning.

It was getting late, quitting time. Without thinking about it I got my hat and walked out down the street to go home. I knew where to go. I walked up to the house, through the gate in the picket fence and walked in the door. “I’m home” I called out. “In the kitchen dear” a familiar voice called back. Mary Lou was making dinner. I walked in and saw her there, a slightly heavy middle aged woman. I could remember how pretty she was when we married. She walked over and gave me a peck on the cheek. “How was your day?” She asked. “Busy,” I replied. “I picked up one of them hippie types, drug charge.”

“Oh those damn hippies, with their drugs protests and all” she said. “ I don’t know what this world is coming too. The world’s going to hell in a handbasket, I think. Thank goodness the town has you to keep them from taking over.” She placed a plate of fried chicken and biscuits in front of me. I knew it was my favorite. I dug in, tasting the juices in my mouth. It tasted damn good as I wolfed it down. We talked about our day, then finished dinner. I retired to the living room, lit up a fresh cigar and turned on the TV. I felt like Roscoe Taylor. It disturbed me that I felt pretty good, too. I looked at Mary Lou as she thumbed through a magazine. I felt something. An urge. My cock jumped a little. Should I? I thought. Yeah, she’s my wife, why the hell not…I walked over to her and began to rub her shoulders. “What are you doing, dear?”she said, puzzled. I moved my hands down to her breasts, gently rubbing them. “I just thought, you know, maybe we could go upstairs,” I said. “Why sweetie, it’s been ages! What’s come over you?” She stood, fingering my chest. “I just want to get acquainted…re-aquainted,” I said, correcting myself. I led her upstairs, as we undressed each other, fondling each other as I felt my flaccid member slowly firm up. She laid on the bed, and I lowered my girth down, gently, moving my hands over her body. I moved easily, doing things she had never felt as she giggled in surprise. After all, there was still a bit of Drew in me, a child of the sexual revolution. She looked so familiar to me, like I had done this all before. Soon I was plunging into her, feeling my cock explore her as my fat belly gently slapped against her. I was experiencing middle age sex with a twist of hippie free-love instincts. I felt myself cum, then pulled out, exhausted as I had stretched this body to its physical limits.

“That was wonderful!” she cooed. “Where’d you learn to do things like that? What’s come over you?” I was panting, trying to catch my breath. “Don’t know, I guess I always had it in me,” I replied. “Well don’t hold out on me anymore, you hear me?” She giggled. She was happy, and I felt good doing it for her. At least someone was getting some benefit from my new situation.

The next day the hastily assembled trial was put on. It was a true kangaroo court, a public defender who was an old buddy of mine, knowing full well that this guy wasn’t going to get a fair trial. We all knew that. In no time the Judge passed sentence, the maximum amount possible. The man in my old body glared at me the whole time, grinding his teeth, not daring to say what had really happened, for fear of being labeled insane. After the sentence was read, they escorted him out. “Mother fucker!
He shouted at me. “I’m going to get you for this, if that’s the last thing I do!”

“We’ll put that in the record, so the parole board knows not to let you out any time soon,” The judge said coldly. It was over. I went back to the station and did paperwork. I felt so normal. This was all the way it should be. It was getting harder to fight the sheriff’s thoughts. By throwing that boy in jail I was the same kind of cop he had been, no better.

Time passed. I tried to think of a way out of this. But my thoughts were clouded with the sheriff’s. I kept putting it off. My days were spent cruising the streets, hanging out with my buddies at the tavern, sitting at home with my wife. My senses were hightened as I felt, tasted, saw my world in my new body, settling in. I was biding my time, wishing I could think of how to get out of being this fat redneck sheriff. Yet sometimes it felt so normal I nearly forgot. Then one night I awoke in a cold sweat, staring at the darkness. If I have the sheriff’s thoughts, he has mine! He knows about how to use the ring! Damn why didn’t I think of this before? What if…shit! I tossed and turned the rest of the night. First thing in the morning I drove to the prison. I asked to see the prisoner, Drew Reynolds. I was led to the visitor’s room, a wall divided with a glass panel, prisoners on one side, visitors on the other. I sat down and the guards brought him in. His sat down across from me.

“Who the hell are you?” He said. I took a deep breath. Was I too late? “Drew…It’s me.” I said “You know. You do know me, right?” There was a flash of recognition in his eyes. Wait a minute. I think I remember…holy shit, you know, don’t you? You’re a part of this! You know about switching bodies! Shssh…I said. Not so loud.

“Thank god, you can help me. I’ve been telling them. I’m not Drew Reynolds! One minute I’m taking this guy to his cell, the next minute he gets this ring on my finger, and all of a sudden I’m him, I’m a goddam prisoner! I was a guard, now I’m a prisoner! No one believes me, but if you know, you can help me!” He looked at me with pleading eyes. I fell back in the chair. I was too late. The old sheriff had already made his move. “What was his…your name before? I asked. I mean, when you were the guard?”

“Lenny Sykes,” he answered. That’s my real name, that’s who I was. “But I haven’t seen him around anymore. I don’t know where he is! But you’ll help me, right?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t see how. At least no now.” I said. I stood to walk out. “NO!” he shouted. “Don’t leave me here! You can help me. Please!”

My heart sank as I left, knowing that the poor man was trapped in my old body. He was a prisoner now. All I could do was go looking for a certain prison guard, in the hope he hadn’t swapped out of that body, too. I asked the warden about Lenny Sykes. He hadn’t seen him in days, he hadn’t showed up for work. He gave me the man’s address. No one was home. I asked around and no one had seen him for a while. One of his neighbors said he saw him acting pretty strange, then he disappeared. Without him, I could do nothing. I looked all over for him. Days and then weeks passed. I had lost him. After a while I gave up. There was nothing I could do. Besides, the way he had threatened me, the thought of meeting him outside the walls of prison didn’t thrill me. I lost my nerve and stopped looking.

One day a few months later, I was out in the garden. It was Saturday, Mary Lou had gone to the supermarket to get groceries. As I puttered with the tomato plants, I heard a rumbling noise and looked up. A man on a motorcycle approached, roaring his muffler as he slowed to stop in front of the house. He was a big guy, a thick bushy beard, clad in black leather. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. This was the kind of guy that wasn’t welcome in my town. But I was at home, out of uniform, no gun handy, no defense. The big man opened the gate in the picket fence and walked towards me. He had a big grin on his face as he looked me over.

“This here is private property Mister!” I said, trying to sound authoritative despite lacking my uniform or weapon. The stranger looked over at the house, around the property, still smiling.

“I know it well,” he said. “I used to live here. Don’t you recognize me, sheriff?” He said in mock innocence. I looked at him, puzzled. The man walked closer, just inches from my face. “I used to be you, my friend.” I looked at him in shock.


“That’s right, I’m the former Sheriff Roscoe Taylor. I’m the man who’s body you stole.”

I was terrified, quivering in fear. “I…see you’ve stolen someone else’s body now.” I said, gazing into the eyes of the biker.

“More than one,” the biker chuckled. “Believe me, more than one.”

I was shaking. Surely this man was here to kill me. “Listen, I’m sorry,” I said. “Ever since it happened I’ve been looking for you. I went to the prison, I was going to offer to swap back, but you had already, you know, escaped,” I stammered to explain. “I followed the trail but it went cold. If I could have found you, I would have switched with you.” I looked down at the biker’s hand, spotting the silver ring. “Look, we can switch back right now. Please, just don’t hurt me. You can have your old body back, your old life.”

The biker laughed. “Shit, he said. You think I want my old body back? You’d like that wouldn’t you, get out of that fat ol’ fart sheriff’s body, ride off into the sunset on that motorcycle? You have no idea how much fun I’ve been having. You opened up a whole new world for me. I can be anyone I want now. And I have been.”

“I met the prison guard you swapped with. He’s rotting in jail because of you!” I said.

“Yeah, just the way you left me there to rot,” he growled.

“But you framed me, you deserved it. He was an innocent man,” I argued.

“No matter. He served his purpose to me. First I swapped with the prison guard. But he was kind of a loser. I had no interest in spending my days guarding a bunch of prisoners and I didn’t want to be around him, ranting at me like a crazy man, claiming I stole his body. So I swapped with a rather ordinary salesman that came to the door of my house one day. At least it was better than being a prison guard. It wasn’t so bad, I stayed him for a little while. You know how it is, once you take over a new body it feels like yours. You start thinking like him. But I wanted to experiment. He had a mighty pretty young girlfriend. A real looker,” the biker explained. “Well, I don’t know what came over me, but I just had to see what it was like. So I swapped with her right in the middle of having sex. It was kind of interesting, seeing how it is on the other side of the bed, if you know what I mean. One minute I was Al Lansing, salesman, the next thing I know I was Mandy Salinger, his girlfriend, feeling his cock inside me! While “he” was trying to figure out what the hell happened, I wriggled out from under and knocked him out cold, leaving the old girl in her new man’s body.”

As the biker told his story, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But he continued.

“So anyway I drove away, drove a good long time. I got a job as a waitress in a town down in Columbia county, got to feel what it was like to be a Mandy Salinger. Me, a girl, believe it or not. I was kind of a slutty one, played the field if you know what I mean. I gotta tell you it felt pretty good, feeling a man’s cock inside me. In a woman’s body I had a woman’s needs. I felt like a woman. Then, wouldn’t you know, I got knocked up. I’m a man, deep down, and there’s no way I was going to deal with that. Besides, I wanted to get back to manhood before I got too comfortable with being a woman. There were regulars at the truck stop where I worked. Some biker types. I started thinking maybe I’d give that life a try. The gears started turning, and I had a new plan. One day I made sure I was all pretty and eager for em, flirting like crazy. I didn’t look pregnant yet, I still looked hot. There was this one guy that stood out. I got excited just looking at his rugged, muscular build. I seduced the macho young biker and became him, the man you see before you. I gotta tell you there’s no greater feeling, him pumping into me, as I slipped the ring on his finger and all of a sudden I’m him, he’s looking at me all shocked, right in the middle of it…this tough biker…he’s suddenly a woman and I’m him, and I’m the one shooting my load! “She” just layed there, trying to figure out what happened, just like the last time, and off I went, riding that fucking Harely. That biker’s gonna be a woman for the rest of his days, have a baby.” He chuckled. “Man, the look on her face. she’ll get used to it… So I’ve been enjoying the biker’s life for a while now. I kind of like it. But then it occurred to me. Maybe I ought to ride on out and see you, thank you for my new life,” he said.

I continued to listen in awe to the biker’s bizarre story. The former sheriff had the magic now. He could be anyone he wanted. I looked down at my body, lamenting my fat gut, the realization that I was going to be this way the rest of my life. I had done this to myself, I had started the ball rolling. Now there was a trail of others, all trapped, like me, in bodies not their own. What had I done? Why had I ever dabbled in the dark arts? I looked at the biker with contempt. “So, you’re just going to spend your life, bouncing from body to body, taking other’s lives?” I said.

“Oh, I’ll settle down eventually, I reckon. I keep my eyes open. Maybe someday I’ll find me a handsome rich young man, you know, someone with who has it all, and take over his life. In the meantime I’ll keep having fun. If I play my cards right I could live almost forever. Hey, maybe I could even be president some day, he laughed. The way I see it, I deserve it. I’m not the one who started this, but I’m gonna finish it. Anyway, I just came by to thank you, sheriff, for all you’ve done for me. Say hi to Mary Lou for me won’t ya?” He slapped me on the back. “You know you oughta lose some weight, old man,” he said, and turned to walk away.

“You listen to me, I shouted. I ever see you in my county again, I’m gonna find a reason to arrest you. I’m gonna get you locked up where you belong, take away that ring and make sure you stay locked up, you here me?” I was shaking with rage.

“You don’t have to worry about seeing me in this shit hole again sheriff, besides, you won’t know me if you see me. I’ll be someone else!” The biker said, laughing as he drove off in a cloud of dust. He was like a god now, all-powerful, and I had created him. .
I was devastated. I thought of all the people that were already in this mess; how many more that were to find themselves involuntarily becoming another, all because of me? But I realized that I had my punishment. I did this to stay out of prison, but I was now a prisoner in the body of Sheriff Roscoe Taylor, a life sentence. I walked inside, went to the bathroom and stared in the mirror. I rubbed my pudgy face, studying the crow’s feet at my eyes, my bald head and fat belly. This is who I am now, I have no choice, I said aloud.

As time went by, I gradually adjusted. It wasn’t so bad really. I was the town sheriff after all, I got to be a big fish in this small pond. More and more I thought like the sheriff. I tried to be a better man, I really did. But this body and mind are hard wired to be a certain way. I’m just the occupant, my soul stuck in here. I even tried to lose weight, get in better shape. But I couldn’t do it. At every meal this body craved rich fatty food. I loved the feel of stuffing my face, feeling the heavy food fill my gut. This body needed that food. It needed those cigars. All I could do was watch myself consume everything this body wanted, knowing I couldn’t stop. My bitterness at my own predicament gradually made me mean, just like the old sheriff was. I got to like hassling hippies and lowlifes, bullying anyone who got in my way. In my off time I would sit in my living room and watch TV with my plump wife, puffing my cigar, patting my full belly. It felt good whether I wanted to admit it or not. I had my friends, rednecks like me, and I grew to like them, think like them. Day by day I turned more into Sheriff Roscoe Taylor, almost forgetting my old life, accustomed to my sentence in his body. I made peace with it as I watched my body slowly age.

Sometimes when I thought of him, out there swapping bodies at will, I felt disgusted. Yet I also envied him. That could have been me. Would I do anything different from what he did, once I found I could be anyone I wanted to be? Often when I met a stranger, I would look them over and wonder. Were you always who you are, or did you cross paths with a man with a silver ring? I always looked at their ring finger, too, looking for that ring, wondering if I would ever see the original Sheriff Taylor again, in whatever form he had taken.

I never did. I’m long since retired now, living in a nursing home. Mary Lou died a few years back, she never knew. It’s a wonder I made it this far considering my unhealthy lifestyle. I never saw Bobby again, either. At least one of us maybe got to go on to live a normal life. So I’m writing down my story, hoping that when I expire, which shouldn’t be too long now, someone will believe me. I’m sure he’s still out there somewhere, still young and powerful, taking whatever body he wishes. Watch out for someone who tries to slip a little silver ring on your finger.