Sheriff Mac, Owls and Cougars
Sheriff Eachann (Mac) Hector was respected by each and every individual and all cultures in and around Slokey County. It was almost as if every living person had been birthed with an understanding that anything said against the man would be blaspheme. To some he almost had divine status. He preferred to be called “Mac” but only those who had known him for a while called him by that name. Just about everyone else called him “Sheriff.” Those with Indian blood knew him as “Dark Horse” but that name was never spoken outside of intra-tribal or Cherokee Indian family conversation.
The only publicly known information about Sheriff Mac’s past came to light during his first run for election and there was so little information that his only opponent in the election liked to say “A vote for Eachann Hector is a vote for a ghost.” The only information about his past that ever came from his own lips was when, during the first election, he said, “My ancestors were Scottish descended from the ‘Painted People’ of Easter Ross in the Northern highlands of Scotland. They moved to Slokey County in the 1890s.”
Within weeks of taking office after the first election, the sheriff hired a public relations officer. She was by all accounts one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the county. Her simple elegance and refined demeanor drew instant attention. She walked like a puff of smoke. When she appeared publicly to represent the S.O., all work would stop. All attention was directed to her. Men and women alike would pause their present task to watch and listen. The sheriff hired her away from a public relations firm in Atlanta. Under Alabama law, the sheriff of the county is allowed to appoint three employees that do not have to jump through the hoops of the county personnel board. She was the first person he hired. Her name was Elizabeth Cane.
From all appearances it looked as if Elizabeth was the only spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff never did interviews and never allowed himself to be photographed or videoed. That’s not to say he did not speak for himself. He did, but by way of action; not words. There was seldom a funeral or wedding the Sheriff did not attend. He was an Eagle Scout leader, coached football and volunteered for most religious and nonreligious organizations in the area. He could be found all over the county visiting families and just hanging out with young and old alike.
There was one brief article published about Sheriff Mac in the Slokey County Telegraph newspaper. A new reporter recently graduated from the school of Journalism at Auburn asked the Sheriff to comment on allegations that he was biased in his hiring practices; that he gave unfair preferential treatment to applicants with Cherokee Indian Blood. The sheriff’s reply was “Find a man or woman in Slokey County that is not Cherokee and the Sheriff’s Department will hire ‘em if you like.” That reporter took a job in St. Louis shortly after the article was printed.
Years later, in the Sheriff’s second term, rumors circulated that a recent forest fire was caused by a moonshiner’s still. WKUL FM radio station in Cullman Alabama sent a reporter to the scene of the fire and asked Sheriff Mac about the rumor. “There are not any moonshiners in Slokey County,” was the Sheriff’s response. Later, when microphones were off and the fire under control, the Sheriff and radio reporter were cleaning the smut from their faces at the water wagon, the reporter introduced himself as Lee D. Forest and asked the Sheriff “How can you be so sure there are no moonshiners in the county; have you looked?” “Don’t have to. The owl lets us know what’s going on.”
Lee was stunned. He knew what the Sheriff’s statement meant. According to Cherokee beliefs of the creation story, the owl and the cougar were the only two animals able to stay awake for the entire seven nights of the creation. Because of this, they are nocturnal in their habits and have superb night vision. Active primarily at night, the owl finds its prey in darkness. Flying noiselessly the owl could locate the enemy and forecast by their haunting hoots whether there would be victory or defeat.
Lee talked with his station manager the next day and it was decided that the subject of their next “open mic” call-in talk show would be “What Do You Know About Sheriff Mac.”