Sunday, July 5, 2020

Lessons from COVID and preparing for the next...

Human security in Africa: Assessment and capacity-building to ...
Digging with a mask after war impacts took out this African towns water supply. Disaster often increases the need for work, unfortunately not our ability to pay for it.

For many of us COVID-19 was a wake up call. Not necessarily about our handwashing techniques, the use of masks, or how teleworking may dominate our future, but a wake up call to how fragile our economy and even our political system is. There are many examples of the scriptures about a people who do not believe they could be destroyed:

“We will not believe thy words if thou shouldst prophesy that this great city should be destroyed in one day.” Alma 9:4- People of Ammonihah to Alma.

“And it came to pass that the jews did mock him because of the thing which he testified of them;'' 1 Nephi 1:19- Speaking of Lehi’s prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem.

Of course there are many more, Noah, Jeremiah, Samuel the Lamanite… the list goes on and on.

And perhaps you could add us. But hopefully COVID has opened our eyes a little. I firmly believe that COVID’s greatest mission may be a simple warning. A way to show us that we need to be prepared for things. Because I strongly believe COVID-19 is not the greatest challenge I, or our society, will face in my lifetime. We need to be prepared for worse.

So, how do we prepare:

  1. I have always been a supporter of The Church of Jesus Christ stance that you should have a 1-year supply of food. And I did...did being the key word. My storage had dwindled some and the number of people and the amount of food they consumed had increased. I was far from a true year supply of food. We need to take the council prophets have given us for years seriously and get a true 1-year food supply.
  2. Our supplies should carry more than just food. Okay for some weird reason toilet paper this time was the big one. But if you can’t live without it then you should store some, but it showed us a broader point. There are things that aren’t food that we may not be able to get in disasters and we should store those too.
  3. Pay off debts and have some money saved. This has been the council for years and we would do well to follow it.
  4. Live on far less than you make. We have grown accustomed to lifestyles that are not sustainable, the food we eat, the homes we live in, the cars we drive, the boxes of stuff from Amazon, and the electronics that provide endless entertainment. Learning to take a step back and realizing that we can go without them and then doing it will be great preparation. It is far better and honestly easier for us to do it now, when it’s a choice and we can see what works and doesn’t, than wait until we are forced by circumstances. Another thing that can help this one is:
  5. Find fulfillment through self improvement, service and spending time with family instead of things and increased lifestyle. Many of us, if not all of us will go through a time in the near future when our lifestyle as measured by the world will be significantly reduced. We can prepare today by changing what we value. The best things in life are truly free. If you find your entertainment through service there will always be entertaining things for you to do. But if you only get it from Hollywood and high end dining, you may struggle. In fact, if you really want to find happiness in a disaster the number one thing you can learn to find joy and fulfillment in is...
  6. Hard work, learn to do it now. No matter how bad things get there will always be work to do. It may not be the work you want to do, and you may not get the salary you want but there will be work, much of it manual work. This has been a huge eye opener to me. I am not good at, nor do I do enough manual labor. I need to prepare by spending more time on the weekends in my yard weeding, trimming, digging, planting, building, painting, and harvesting. As well as, (Hopefully Jeanine doesn't see this, she might hold me to it) in the house cleaning, washing, cooking and picking up. It’s the type of work that is excellent for my mind, my body, and my ability to care for myself in hard times.
Bottom line is when we think of preparing for a potential disaster we often think of food storage and paying off debt and saving money. And that is good, we need those things. But in addition we need to change our lifestyle as well. We need to eat less and better, spend less and wiser, and work more and harder. Think about it, no matter how bad things get, the people who learn to live on little, find joy in things money can’t buy and are willing to work hard, will get by far better than the guy with 100 buckets of wheat who has never made a loaf a bread, hates hard work, and isn’t healthy enough to do it anyway. I firmly believe if we lived in the way the Lord would have us it would be sustainable as a way of life, through good and even the worst times. If COVID gets these lessons into my mind enough that I actually follow through with them then I will look back, as hard and horrible as it was, and be grateful for what it taught me.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Parable of the Gift Cards

The Best Gift Cards For 2020 And How To Save Money On Them


Scott was a serial entrepreneur. And he knew how to catch a fad. Purple, Serta, Sleep Number, mattress companies were popping up offering high end mattresses with huge margins, there was even one selling mattresses made out of parts of avocados. He decided that the right thing to do was mix a new craze with an old one. Hollywood had taught him that nothing sells like nostalgia, look at the box office: Star wars, Ghostbusters, Beauty and the Beast. For him the obvious answer was waterbeds.

He quickly got with his manufacturing contacts and within a few months Ocean Rest was born. But clearly nostalgia has its limits and while he was making a living the beds weren’t flying off the shelves. The Christmas holiday was fast approaching and Scott decided to get in on the gift card business. Why would you buy gift cards for $25 or $50 dollars for a $2,000 item? Even the optimist in him didn’t think he would sell a lot, but on the bright side because of that many that were sold would never get redeemed. So, he would sell a 10 cent piece of plastic for $25. That was the kind of business he could get into.

He dropped some money on a graphic designer and when he got them back he had to admit, they were very cool looking. He bought a few hundred and distributed them around at some stores. A few days later his phone rang. It was from his friend, Sai, who owned the local hardware store. “We would like 200 more gift cards.”

“What?”

“You heard me, the 20 you gave us flew off the shelf. We project we could sell 200 more this holiday season.”

“Sai, you’re very funny. But I’m not making 200 cards.”

“Suite yourself, but I’m serious. They like your cards.”

He and Sai often played pranks on each other so he ignored the call until all the others started coming in. “We will take 100 more.” They all said. Something about that card. And after he filled those orders the calls for 1,000 more came almost as fast. People all over the country were calling asking to get his cards. Soon Wal Mart ordered 10,000. For some reason everyone wanted one.

Scrolling through his facebook feed one day he saw it, a woman holding one of his cards saying, “Can’t wait to give my parents their waterbed gift card for Christmas. The day I punctured theirs and flooded the room they will never forget. They are going to lose it when they get this.” And they started popping up, memes, jokes, memories all with his card. Clearly, $2,000 was too much to have a nostalgic experience, but $20 wasn’t.

As the cards came off the shelf the money started pouring in. First thousands, then tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and ultimately millions. Making gift cards felt like printing money.

“Dad, I don’t know what to say.”

“The polite thing to say is, ‘Thank You’.” Scott said as he sat with his daughter and their family on Christmas.

“But Dad, I can’t accept this.”

“Of course, you can, it's your Christmas Gift.”

“But my home...paid off.”

“I know you and Billy are doing okay but think about how much easier things will be without the mortgage.”

And Scott was also generous with his extended family. Aunts got boats and Uncles got trucks to pull them with. But Scott wasn’t worried it seemed the money poured in faster than he could spend it. So, he just kept spending.

But all crazes die, and when this one died, it died in two phases. Phase 1 was when people stopped buying the cards. The money slowed down and Scott began to scramble. In addition to gifts he had bought many nice things for himself, and the beach condo had a steep HOA, and the water bill at his new mansion with the lazy river, equaled most people's house payment. Things were getting very tight, he even wondered if he would have to sell one of the six new homes when Phase 2 hit.

In Salt Lake another young entrepreneur’s wheels were turning. The world was flooded with $20 gift cards for water mattresses that were almost worthless to those who held them. People would gladly cash them in for pennies on the dollar.

Scott was excited when he got the first order for 15 waterbeds. After all, he could use the money. But then he noticed how they were paid for, all with gift cards. He wouldn’t see a dime, he already had and spent the money for these. This was painful, but he had to deliver. Then another order for 20, then 30. The young man in Salt Lake was buying $2,000 waterbeds with worthless gift cards and selling them for $500 and turning a decent profit.

One by one the six homes were sold. Pouring all his money to fulfill orders that didn’t bring in a cent. It was staring at a computer in his daughters basement at an order of 100 mattresses that he realized the game was up. He didn’t want to declare bankruptcy but it was his only option. In desperation he called a number he had looked up sometime ago.

“Hello, this is Anash, did you want to order a mattress?”

“Anash, this is Scott, owner of Ocean Rest. I can’t do it.”

“Do what?”

“I can’t fill any more orders. I’m bankrupt, I can’t afford to sell you any more mattresses.”

“But that doesn’t make sense. You were paid in advance for these orders. Paid one gift card at a time. You should have money to spare. Getting paid in advance of the orders is an advantage, how could you not have the money?”

Scott knew Anash was right, he knew money today is worth more than money tomorrow, but he also knew why in his case, that hadn’t been the case. “I didn’t expect people to use the gift cards. I assumed most would get lost or thrown away. At least, I guess that is what I assumed. I probably didn’t really think about it enough. I’m sorry, but you have to stop.”

“I can’t, I have orders to fill. I’ve taken another 50 since I sent you that last order yesterday.”

“Then it looks like we're both going out of business.”

----------------------------------------------

I think this parable needs some explanation. Scott is you and me. It’s all the citizens of the United States and the gift cards are $100 dollar bills. Since the great recession the demand for $100 dollar bills has skyrocketed. As demand goes up they simply print more. They now print more $100 dollar bills than $1 dollar bills. There are several reasons for this. Many countries knowing that large bills are often used in crime stopped printing large currency bills. The Euro for instance discontinued their 500 Euro note for this reason. The US dollar is also amazingly stable, so it is seen as a safe place to store your money if you are overseas.

So with all this printing of money why are we not seeing inflation. And isn’t having the world use our currency a good thing? We are not seeing inflation because much of the money isn’t going into circulation. We get to essentially spend it for goods and services and then it goes into someone's mattress or in some cartels shed. Is this good for us? Like Scott and his family members it is, in the short run. We get the world's goods and services and what do we have to provide in return? Nothing, or practically nothing, a 12 cent piece of paper.

The danger is that just like Scott, this game will die and die in two phases. Phase 1 will be when the demand for $100 bills stops. When people in India, China and drug cartels no longer want to use $100 bills as their preferred source of money storage. That will be painful, because no more buying goods and services for practically nothing. But it is nothing compared to the pain we will feel in Phase 2 when people decide to begin to liquidate the bills they have. There will be massive inflation. That is when we will be forced to make goods and services and get nothing in return. Just like in the story the pain will be shared by both us and those who hold our money.

What should we do? We need to realize that we can’t keep printing money without consequences. The decision to print or not print money is based on keeping inflation low, because deflation would also cause economic pain. The best way we could control this is do what Europe and other nations have done and discontinue the $100 bill. It would be a tough decision. It would be like Scott deciding not to sell gift cards when they are flying off the shelf. But we need to. Because the only other option is actually to use good times to save money and prepare for the payback when it inevitably comes. And unfortunately I don’t see us as a nation doing that.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Llewellyn Hanson- Dead Detective- Chapter 18

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16, and Chapter 17

Coming Soon

Here is Chapter 19

Llewellyn Hanson- Dead Detective- Chapter 17

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15, and Chapter 16

The conversation went well into the morning and now Hanson knew he needed to get back. Hanson ported to Caden’s. Trout was already there speaking to Caden in the living room. Daisy was standing in the living room as well, pacing back and forth while taking deep breaths and saying, “I can do this, I can do it.”

“She can do what?” Hanson asked.

“We don’t know,” Trout admitted.

Turning to Caden Hanson asked, “What did she and Rebecca talk about last night?”

Caden put on a weak smile.

“You fell asleep didn’t you?”

“They were looking at scrap books, what do you expect me to do?” Caden asked.

“What I asked you to do,” Hanson stated.

As she continued to breath deep Mildred came up and licked her hand. This caused Daisy to jump, I almost forgot. Mildred, I need you to stay hidden for a while. She took her into the study and shut the door. No sooner had she done so then the doorbell chimed. The three dead men in the room all ported in front of the window at the same time. Hanson thought back to how nice it was when these two only ported when he wanted them to. Being smashed together brought them all back to when they rode in Jim’s corvette and looking out the window, there it was. And standing on the porch was Jim.

“Oh great,” Hanson complained, looking at Caden. “She’s going to confront the murder herself. This should give him a chance to finish the job the coffee failed to do. This has all the makings of a bad horror film.”

“Don’t blame me,” argued Caden. “I didn’t know she was going to invite Jim over.”

“Of course, you didn’t, because while she was planning this you were sleeping.”

Caden stated, “Sorry, I’m human, I need sleep. What’s the big deal?”

“First off, you are dead, you don’t need sleep. And second, the big deal is, she will say, ‘Jim did you dog nap Mildred and give it to Rebecca?’ and he’ll say, ‘you know about that?’ She will replay, ‘yes, I know about that and am going to call the police.’ ‘No you won’t,’ he’ll say. ‘Yes I will,’ She’ll reply. After a good holsome debate he’ll pull out a gun and then Daisy will be pushing her namesake up out of the ground.”

“You don’t even know if Jim brought his gun.” Caden optimistically offered. As the words left his mouth Jim, still waiting for the door, tapped his jacket, clearly verifying for himself that his gun was still there and ready to go.

Caden seeing this joined in Hanson’s concern with a simple, “uh oh.”

Daisy was about to open the door, when Caden yelled, “Don’t let him in Honey.” The thought, like last time, clearly got to her. Daisy stopped her reach to the door knob and paused, before saying, “No, I can do this.” Then she grabbed the door and opened it.

“Would it kill you to listen to me just once?,” Caden yelled.

Hanson whispered to Trout, “In fairness to Caden, she didn’t listen to me on this one either.”

“Good morning Jim, thanks for coming,” Daisy said as she motioned him in.

“Well you mentioned it was important, and if it’s important to you then it’s important to me.”

Caden was letting out all his frustration on Jim, punching him over and over, but he had learned by this time it was worthless, he simply didn’t know what else to do.

Jim calmly asked, “I smell coffee, you had any coffee yet this morning?”

“No, but would you like some?”

“No, no, I’m fine.”

“You don’t mind if I go ahead and have some?” Daisy asked.

“Oh no, you go right ahead,” Jim said with a smile.

After getting him to sit she went and poured them both a cup. She walked back to the living room, “I poured you one, just in case you change your mind.”

They both sat and set their cups down. They sat quietly for a second and Jim asked, “Aren’t you going to drink your coffee?”

“In a minute, it’s still a little too hot. Well Jim, I wanted to call and talk to you about the other day.” She paused, “I shouldn’t have said some of those things.”

Jim smiled, Caden did not, “Of course, you should say those things, and a lot worse, why are you apologizing to this guy?”

Hanson ported back into the room, which was a surprise to both Caden and Trout who had missed that he had left. Hanson had a peace about him that was not there when Jim first entered and with a smile said, “Caden, calm down, I think your wife knows what she is doing.”

“Getting herself killed, you mean?” Caden asked.

“I don’t think so,” Hanson said.

“And why is that?”

“You’ll see.”

“Always so mysterious with you,” Caden replied.

The argument would have likely continued but Daisy spoke and they wanted to hear so even Caden shut it. “Jim, my point is...perhaps,” Her delivery was excessively slow, but Jim simply assumed apologies were not her strong suite. “What I mean to say is…” She was in the middle of yet another long pause when the doorbell rang. “Oh, I wonder who that could be.” She stood, went to the door and once opened she revealed quite the congregation. There was Captain Driggs, Tom in handcuffs, Detective Lung and smiling behind Rebecca, with a big smile on her face. And unseen to Daisy, the dead contingent of the party, Stilton and Barbara.

“This had better be good.” Captain Driggs whined as he was let in.

“Oh Jim, look who is here. Why don’t we all have a seat in the living room.”

As the group trickled through the door, Jim finally recognized Rebecca and all the color drained from his face. He looked as dead as so many others in the room. He quickly stood up, “I don’t want to interrupt this meeting, and I have a very busy morning. It was good to see you all, but I must be off.” He started heading for the door, but Daisy cut him off.

“No, stay,” Daisy was now the one with the smile on her face. “I want you to get to know Captain Driggs and Detective Lung.”

“Why?” bristled Driggs.

Daisy ignored him. “You of course, already know Tom and Rebeeca.”

“Hi Jim,” Rebecca said with a huge grin.

“Yes, but I really have to go,” Jim was determined and made a clear motion to the door, he would shove Daisy if necessary. She stood her ground and as he came in contact and prepared to shove, Detective Lung grabbed him by the shoulder and said, “You better stay and have a seat.”

Soon they were all cozily sitting in the living room. The two large wingback chairs that faced the love seat and couch were filled by Daisy and Rebecca. The love seat was occupied by Jim and Lung, who had decided he better stay close to this guy. This left Captain Driggs and Tom, who was forced to sit next to the large blood stain, which became the lone empty seat. Caden decided it was the right spot for him and sat down. This left Trout, Hanson and the Worthlin’s standing behind the loveseat and couch.

“Well before we start why don’t I get each of you a cup of coffee,” Daisy said as she went to the kitchen and poured out 4 mugs.

As Daisy was in the kitchen Rebecca spoke up, “Well last night Daisy and I were talking.”

“It’s a shame Caden wasn’t listening,” Hanson said in a half cough.

“And we thought it would be good if we all got together and talked through a few things.”

“Can you just get to the point and tell me why we are here?” Driggs continued his whining.

“We will get to that.” Daisy said as she walked back in and handed out the coffee.

“Hanson,” Caden called out. “And you thought my wife was going to get shot. Looks like she has it under control to me.”

Hanson chose not to engage. Except for Caden’s side remarks, he was very pleased with how things were progressing.

“Well, let's begin by making sure we all know each other. Captain Driggs and Detective Lung you got to meet Rebecca today.”

“Yes, she barged into our office this morning and demanded we show up with Tim here,” Captain Driggs throughout.

Daisy ignored the name error and continued to smile as she spoke, “But you haven’t met Jim. Jim why don’t you introduce yourself to the detectives.”

“Hi,” was all he could muster.

Hanson was watching Jim very closely. He was trying to get to Lung that the man was armed. He noticed that Jim's eyes glanced around intently from person to person.

“I see Jim is being shy,” Daisy added. “See Jim is the CEO of Canine Hope, the organization that gets the majority of my husband's money according to his will.”

Detective Lung sat up and took notice after that tidbit of information. “See Detective,” Daisy turned her attention to Lung, she could see he was the one who was prepared to listen. “Three weeks ago, my dog Mildred went missing.”

“You called us over here over your missing Dog?” Captain Driggs had found just the excuse he needed, “I’m sorry lady, your missing dog doesn’t make your brother any less guilty.” Jim was really starting to like this Captain Driggs. The lug next to him he could do without, but this Captain seemed like a great guy. Any crook would be happy to have him on their case. “I’m sorry but we need to leave.” He stood with these last words. Deciding exiting was a movement he could get behind, Jim stood as well.

Detective Lung joined in as well by standing, but he brought the exit party to an abrupt end. He shoved Jim back into his seat, “You will be staying here,” then turning his head and fixing his eyes on Captian Driggs said, “and so will you.”

“Subordination,” Driggs said, but not with much force. Lung only increased his stair on Captain Driggs eyes and the Captain backed down, with a turn of the head and a bend of the knees, he was back in his seat.

Seeing he had gotten things to where they needed to be, Lung turned to Daisy, “Please continue, Mrs. Mason.”

“Thank you. So, as I was saying 3 weeks ago my Mildred went missing but last night she came home.”

“Oh joy,” Driggs muttered.

“See, she has been with Rebecca.” Rebecca nodded to add volatility to the story and Daisy continued, “But how Rebecca came to get Daisy is a very interesting tale, “Jim do you care to tell the officers?”

All eyes turned to Jim.

“Clearly, I don’t know,” Jim tried.

“That’s funny because you gave her to me,” Rebecca offered.

Detective Lung stared at Jim.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Jim said. “I found the dog. How was I to know it was Daisy’s?”

“You told me you rescued it from an abusive owner,” Rebecca was getting angry as she spoke.

Hanson continued to note Jim’s every movement and saw Jim’s eyes watching closely as Tom who with handcuffed hands raised the mug to his lips. A smile cracked over Jim’s lips as he continued to lie, “I found the dog nearly starved wandering the streets, we were fairly confident it came from an abusive home.”

“And a place that prides itself on proper animal care, including installing chips, didn’t bother to check for one. One they had installed?” Daisy added. With no shortage of energy.

The back and forth continued but Hanson knew what needed to be done.

“Caden, you must insist to your wife that she’s sick, very sick.”

“What?” You are the only one that might be a bit off kilter. My wife is fine.”

“She’ll listen to you.”

“She hasn’t so far.”

“I could tell you were getting to her both times you told her not to open the door. I am convinced if you really try you can convince her she is sick.”

The group was yelling at Jim and Hanson could see he was debating if he should go for his weapon. He simultaneously was trying to convince Jim that he was more likely to get away if he didn’t reach for his gun and trying to continue to warn Lung about it’s presence.

“So, how do I make her feel sick?”

“Tell her over and over that she is. Focus on how awful her stomach feels.” Caden gave Hanson a look. “Look Caden, you might not like me, but helping me has always worked out, I need you to trust me. We don’t want this thing to get ugly.”

“Fine,” Caden walked over to his wife and almost mockingly began to repeat in his best hypnotist impressination, “You feel very sick, very sick indeed. Look into my eyes and you will begin to feel sick and queasy. Then you will throw up. The room is spinning.” Caden stopped, “This is ridiculous.”

“Keep going, and mean it,” Hanson demanded. He could see Jim begin to reach into his jacket.

“Honey,” Caden’s voice turned to honesty. “I’m afraid you need to be sick, really sick. Queasy like never before.”

The yelling went on and finally Driggs yelled above the crowd and said, “This is silly, I won’t be silenced by my junior partner.”

This took Lungs focus off of Jim and it was all Jim needed, “He reached into his jacket grabbed his gun and was moving it out when Daisy grabbed the attention of the room, “I don’t…” she put her hand over her head and looking down said, “I don’t feel so good.” Silence fell over the group. And Jim smiled as he relaxed his hand and allowed the gun to settle back into his jacket pocket.

Caden was shocked, “It worked.”

“Keep going,” instructed Hanson.

“Right, you feel tired and sick and need rest.” Caden continued

“I’m sorry everyone, but I suddenly feel really odd.” Daisy said as she continued to hold her head and stomach.

Jim pulled his empty hand out and began to laugh. “You guys want to know the truth about Mildred?” No one responded, as they were all perplexed by Jim’s sudden change in behavior. “Yes, I broke into your yard and took her. I had planned to poisen her, just like I did to your other stupid dog, but when I found out Rebecca here was desperate for a Dalmation I decided to take her, so I could squeeze some money out of her. Worked like a charm.”

“Why kill the dogs?” Lung asked.

“You know dogs. They make it very difficult to quietly sneak into a house and shoot somebody.”

Caden looked strangely at Jim. “I hate this guy, after all, he did kill me. But I’m starting to feel bad for him. He’s got to be the dumbest criminal on earth.”

Hanson looked up at Caden, “Let’s just hear him out.”

“That’s right. I snuck in here on that night. I made sure Tom was working, I had planned to shoot both you and Caden in bed but Caden heard me and came down stairs. I hid in the safe until he fell asleep. Then decided I’d kill him. It was so easy to just stick the gun with the silencer to his head and pull the trigger. I then dropped the note I had prepared with your husband's handwriting as a template. I knew I could come back and kill you if I needed more money.”

Lung stood up, “Jim you are under…”

Jim shoved him down, “I don’t think so,” and pulled out his gun. “Nobody moves,” he yelled as he stepped back away from everyone.

“I have been telling you about that gun since you got here,” Hanson said in desperation.

This thought turned up in Lung’s mind, and he realized that he should have known this guy could be armed. This only added to his embarrassment and he wished he hadn’t been so casual in making the arrest. Jim’s willingness to openly confess had led him to assume he was prepared to come quietly. But despite his extreme embarrassment he became the first to speak, “So you plan to shoot all five of us.”

“No. I plan to watch you for the next little while as you all slowly die.”

Rebecca joined in, “I’m no expert on life expectancy but that may take a while, even in my case.”

“Very funny Mrs. smarty pants. But you all drank the coffee, I saw it. I snuck in here two nights ago and filled that coffee so full of poison. So, trust me, I’ve had some experience in the matter, you all don’t have much time left on this earth.”

All of their faces went completely white, suddenly none of them felt very good. Lung picked up the coffee to smell it, hardly believing it could be true. The only person who reacted differently was Daisy. Suddenly she didn’t feel so bad. It was her turn to start laughing, “The coffee. You poisoned the coffee.” She sputtered out between a belly aching laugh. “My hand,” she looked down at the bandage. “That explains it. You poisoned the coffee.”

While Jim was staring at this woman he assumed was having a mental breakdown before she died, Hanson pushed the thought as strongly as he could to Lung, ‘the coffee now.’

Lung threw his coffee onto Jim’s face and Jim instantly cried out in pain as he tried to wipe it away. Lung did not just grab for the gun but wisely did a full body tackle that sent him and Jim sprawling onto the floor. The gun went off and put a nice hole in the ceiling. Lung fully on top of Jim quickly took the weapon and then spun him around as he slapped the cuffs on. With his face shoved into the floor Jim got out, “It doesn’t matter, you’ll all be dead soon enough.”

The gun shot had stopped Daisy’s laughing, but once she and everyone else realized Detective Lung had everything under control. She picked the laughing up where she had left off, “I think we will all be just fine.”

“Yes, do fill us in,” Tom said to his sister. Whether or not they were about to drop dead seem to preoccupy most of the thoughts of those in the room.

“I made coffee last night, and when Mildred showed up she wouldn’t let me drink it. She bit my hand to stop me. I didn’t know what had gotten into her. She threw the coffee, the pot I made and the whole can on the floor. This was a new can.”

We may all have moments when someone delivers bad news, but news that the people you confessed to murder to, who you thought were almost dead, are all actually quite healthy and likely to live for at least long enough to be witnesses at your trial, may top the charts of personal bad news. And Jim felt it.

The rest however felt a much different sensation at Daisy’s announcement. The world was full of springtime and rainbows for the rest. And it was with particular glee that Lung read Jim his rights. And even Driggs was smiling as he took the cuffs off Tom.

Tom could only think of one thing, “Where is Riley?”

“She is upstairs,” Daisy said with a smile and Tom bounded upstairs. It had only been a day since he had seen her, but having lost and regained his freedom and thinking he had lost his life only to find it very much still his, made this reunion particularly poignant.

As the officers walked out with Jim, Trout spoke up, “Wow, that worked out rather nicely. I guess our work is done.”

“Not for us it’s not,” Hanson spun around and in the corner where Trout had not noticed her sat a woman. “Hi Stacy, I knew you wouldn’t miss it.” Anger filled her whole body as she disappeared.

Here is Chapter 18

Llewelly Hanson- Dead Detective- Chapter 16

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13Chapter 14, and Chapter 15

Hanson ported back to Caden’s home where he saw Trout and Caden both anxiously sitting on the sofa watching a Pixar movie with Riley. “Glad you two are so busy.” Caden and Trout both turned, “Did I miss anything?” asked Hason.

Caden answered quickly, “No, this is pretty much the beginning.” Trout could see from Hanson’s glance that his question was not about the movie.

Embarrassed to be caught watching a Trout rather sheepishly answered the real question. “Daisy bandaged her hand, cleaned up the kitchen, and got out a new can of coffee, that’s about all that happened.”

“She wasn’t too hard on Mildred was she?” Hanson asked.

Caden spoke up, “Are you kidding me? If she’d found out that Mildred was the one who shot me she’d forgive her. She may be perplexed about why Mildred attacked her but she’s long since forgiven her.”

As they spoke Daisy came in and told Riley it was getting late and time for the TV to be turned off. Riley complained a little but was no were near as upset about the movie being cut short as Caden was. “If I would have known it was this good I would have watched it when I was alive.” But Daisy ignored his pleadings and escorted Riley up stairs promising to read her a story.

“How long will Daddy be in jail this time?” Riley asked.

The child’s sincere question touched everyone and Daisy held back tears as she said, “Don’t worry about that, the police will figure out pretty soon that’s your Dad's innocent, and then he’ll come home.”

“If he doesn’t, will I have to go back to the foster home?”

Daisy embraced her, still trying somewhat unsuccessfully from holding back the tears. “No, you’ll never have to go back. You can stay here as long as you like.”

They held each other close and it was Caden’s turn to begin to have some glistening substance roll down his face. “I should have let her stay.” He said looking up at Trout and Hanson then he added, “Why am I telling you guys?” He turned to Riley and Daisy adding himself to their embrace, “I should have let you stay, I'm so sorry.”

From behind Trout and Hanson appeared someone they had not realized was there; it was Barbara Worthlin, Daisy’s mother, she approached and embraced Caden. He turned and embraced her saying, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she said. Also with a glistening face.

“Aunt Daisy why are you crying?” Riley asked.

“You know, it’s because I’m happy.”

“Happy?”

Daisy was surprised as Riley was, and she said it out loud as much to have herself hear it as anyone else, “I’m truly happy, for the first time in the last few days I feel like things are going to be alright. It must be because of you and Mildred. You two are really helping your Aunt. Now let’s go read a story.”

“You know I feel better too,” Caden said as he wiped his face. “What is this stuff?” He asked as he looked at the glistening substance that was now on his hands.

Barbara spoke up, “They are your spirits tears. Your spirit has fluids in it just like your physical body, and much like your physical body you cry to show strong emotion.”

Trout would have asked Hanson if that was true, but he was also crying and witnessing the phonomenum for himself. Hanson was less moved and was off from the group looking out the window. “I hate to break up the family blabber fest but our friend is happily more persistent than I gave her credit for, and things are about to get interesting.” There was a knock on the front door.

All those dead present moved their congregation to the window to see what Hanson was looking at. Rebecca sat knocking on the door. “Oh no, the lady who stole Mildred.” Caden called out.

“Glad she made it,” stated Hanson.

“I don’t get you,” Caden said. “First you help me find my dog and then you keep slowing us down so the dognapper has a chance to catch up, and here she is, no doubt to take Mildred back and you are ‘glad she made it?”

Hanson ignored Caden as Daisy rose and said, “Riley you run up and get into bed, I’ll be there soon,” and then went to the door.

“Don’t open it,” Caden called out. Daisy paused as she reached for the door knob. There was another knock. “Don’t do it Honey. She is going to take Mildred.” You could tell it was getting to her. She took her hand away and put it to her chin.

Then she shook her head, reached for the door and opened it.

“She never did listen to me,” Caden said.

“Hello,” Daisy said as she opened the door.

“Hello my name is Rebecca. My Dalmation got away from me and I lost her somewhere in this neighbor…” She trailed off because as she spoke Mildred walked up to Daisy’s side. “That’s her, you found her.”

“I’m sorry, you must be mistaken. This is my dog, Mildred.”

Rebecca was not the kind of woman to call someone else a liar, especially to their face, but she could tell this was her lost Dora. As noted earlier, Mildred’s spot pattern was not a common one. The only person to speak out during this long awkward pause was Caden. “That’s right Honey, you told her whose dog it is, now throw her out.”

Hanson turned down to Caden, “I have a place I can port you that you can’t get out of, so unless you stop it, that is exactly where you will find yourself.”

“I think you are lying,” Caden said. Hanson turned back to Daisy, daring Caden to try it. Caden fell silent. Clearly he wasn’t so sure whether or not Hanson was lying.

“Mrs…” Rebecca started.

“Daisy, Daisy Mason.”

“Mrs. Mason, my dalmation has one black and one white ear just like the one by your side.”

“How coincidental? So does my dog, this dog, Mildred.” It was a perfect line, and perfectly delivered. Caden bit his tongue to keep from cheering.

Both women sat for a bit feeling the other was in the wrong and would have angrily parted if Hanson didn’t get involved. Luckily, he could influence without having to actually vocalize the thoughts. And it was based on his suggestion that Daisy said, “When did you get your dalmation?”

“About three weeks ago.”

“Well, that explains it. My Mildred turned up missing three weeks ago, and came back today. Thank you for taking care of her, where did you find her?”

Rebecca was not sure what to say but attempted to find the right words, “Um, it doesn’t really explain it. I got my Dora from a rescue organization, Canine Hope” she grew a little more quiet as she added, “because she was abused.”

“Canine Hope?” Daisy asked with a bit of rage beginning to flair inside her.

“Now, you see why I was so anxious for these two to meet.” Hanson threw in.

Rebecca now worried if this was the previous owner and wondered if Canne Hope rescued the dog against her wishes. Rebecca could tell Daisy didn’t seem to like the organization much. “Yes, you are familiar with them.” She tried to ask it innocently but could tell things were about to get ugly.

“Any chance Jim was involved?” Daisy asked.

The way the question was asked she worried for Jim’s life if she answered in the affirmative, but she was not a very good liar. “You know, I think, now that you mention it, that may have been his name, but my memory is not perfect. But if it’s your dog, I better go.” She wanted to get her dog out safely but she also wanted to get herself out safely. But as a last ditch effort she tried, “Unless for everyone’s safety you want me to take her.”

“What do you mean everyone’s safety? Questioned Daisy taking a step forward.

Rebecca took a step back and said, “I happen to notice the bandage on your hand, that’s all.” It was becoming more clear just how abusive this woman was.

Daisy was a bit defensive about the fact that the dog she had loved for years had turned on her but something inside of her, in this case Hanson, kept saying, this woman is also a victim in this, she is losing a dog she fell in love with. Daisy knew how hard that could be. Plus, she was beginning to have some serious concerns about Jim and the information this woman had may be of value. With all this in mind Daisy took a breath and said, “I can tell you are worried about Mildred, I understand, she’s an easy dog to fall in love with. Why don’t you come in and let me show you how she will be taken care of?”

Rebecca wasn’t sure she liked the phrasing but while she wasn’t sure she should trust Daisy, she decided Daisy wasn’t likely to be a murderer or anything and came in.

Mildred was happy to see her new friend and jumped by her side. “Hey girl,” Rebecca said. Only two steps in Rebecca began to think she had misjudged Daisy. Not only did the dog seem very happy but when she conjured up in her mind the home of the dog abuser, whomever it was, she envisioned pizza boxes and beer bottles on the ground. Not a living room that fit on the cover of better homes and gardens. That is exactly what the living room she now found herself looked like. “Have a seat in the living room and I’ll get you a cup of coffee.”

Hanson leaned into Trout as he asked, “You are sure she threw out all the poisoned coffee?”

Before Trout could respond Caden jumped in, “Unfortunately, Yes.”

Rebecca sat down, and noticed the photo on the mantel, with Caden, Daisy, Munchies, and Mildred. Along with the urn for Munchies, this further made her feel that she had misjudged her. Daisy was walking to the living room from the kitchen with two cups of coffee as Rebecca turned from the mantel to the kitchen she saw the couch covered with a large blood stain. Maybe, pizza boxes and beer cans weren’t the worst thing. Daisy saw her eyes get big and knew why. “Oh, sorry about the stain, my husband was shot there a few days ago, and I probably would have replaced it but I’ve been in jail.”

Rebecca now thought perhaps she had not judged Daisy harshly enough, and wished she had refused the invite to come in, but it was too late and when Daisy said, “take a seat,” She did so, after checking for blood stains, of course.

Hanson assumed that once these two sat down they would instantly put the pieces together and once establishing Jim was behind the dog napping of Mildred that they’d be off to the police and he’d quickly be suspect #1. And while their early conversation was full of promise the last 30 minutes were much less exciting. What Hanson had failed to account for was the two women had one thing in common, a deep love for Mildred. The conversation began with Daisy trying to prove her love and care for the dog. This quickly led to scrapbooks of Mildred coming out, beginning with photos of her as a puppy, which led to home videos. Both women loved talking and learning about Mildred. Rebecca quickly realized that Daisy was so good to Mildred that she must have not killed her husband, or that if she did, he must have had it coming. But while Rebecca hung on every word, the rest did not and Caden, Trout, Barbara, and even Mildred quickly fell asleep.

Hanson assumed at some point they’d get back to the fact that the whole reason they ever met was because they had both been duped by Jim, but that was clearly not happening anytime soon.

He woke Trout up, “You can go home if you like.”

“Sorry for dozing off.” Trout said as he jumped up. “Miss anything?”

“Yes, the thing your internet is full of, cute videos of puppies. You head home, meet here tomorrow at 8.”

“Thanks,” he said and ported home.

Hanson would have loved to stay and find out if these two were half as good at detective work as they were about reminiscing about dogs but he had other work to do. He looked over at the snoring Caden, “desperate times,” he thought as he aroused Caden.

“Don’t drink the coffee,” Caden yelled, waking from a dream.

“I won’t.” Hanson responded. “Listen Caden, if you are willing I could use your help.”

“Me, you need me? ...Again. Funny how you seem so nice when you need something, and then back to threatening to port me to timbuktu when you don’t need something.”

Hanson was not one to gravel, so just stated what he needed. “I need you to listen to your wife and Rebecca and see what they figure out about Jim and what they plan to do about it. Are you willing to listen and report back to me?”

“Well, I don’t know. I have helped out an awful lot. What’s in it for me?”

Hanson wasn’t one for games, “Will you do it or not? If not, then I will have to stay.”

“I can do it.” Clearly Caden was ready for Hanson to make an exit.

“Thanks.” Hanson said as he disappeared.

A few minutes later Caden was again fast asleep.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Hanson arrived in a nice apartment. It was on the third floor and looking out into the midnight sky and the familiar view of the Chicago skyline. A woman sat in a rocker across the room also looking out the window.

“Who are you?” She kindly asked.

“I’m Detective Hanson, I’m investigating the murder of Caden Mason.”

Concern passed over her face, she turned from Hanson back into the night sky, then hung it back down shaking it slowly, “This is about my mother isn’t it?”

Hanson nodded, the two had a lot to talk about.

Here is Chapter 17

Friday, June 12, 2020

Llewellyn Hanson- Dead Detective- Chapter 15

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, and Chapter 14

The room was completely unchanged from when Hanson last saw it. Still curled up in the corner the woman sat exactly where he had left her. Hanson hoped he would have time to do more investigation into this woman’s identity but he was as out of hope as he was time. With only 30 minutes left before Chief Grassly showed up and let her go, he decided his only chance was to reason with her. Something that was not his forte.

Not only that, he only had 5 or so minutes before his presence was required to help Trout and Caden. So he got started, “Hello.” He tried to be calm and kind. Tried being the key word. She sat in silence and did not respond. “Listen, maybe, I can help.” He thought if he could just get her talking he could find out something about her. “What can I do to help you?”

She raised her head from where it sat between her knees. She looked directly at Hanson and said, “Let me out of here.”

“I’d like to, if you could tell me who you are. I’d be happy to let you go.”

Her head returned to it’s placement between her knees. She was again shut down. He wanted to take another run at it but time dictated otherwise and regrettably he had to leave.

----------------------------------------------

Standing on the porch Hanson could see Caden 100 yards away as Mildred bounded past him now in a full on sprint, headed for home. Trout appeared next to Hanson. “Where’s Rebecca?” Hanson asked.

“Caden dodged through another backyard a few blocks back and I haven’t seen her sense.”

Hanson looked disappointed.

“You could thank me,” Trout offered.

“Why?”

“You said, Don’t let Rebecca catch Mildred, and I didn’t.”

“I also didn’t say loose her.”

“I can only do so much,” Trout said.

“I noticed,” Hanson said.

Caden appeared next to them. “Sorry we didn’t stay still like you asked, but I didn’t want to.” His face was filled with a cheesy grin.

Hanson ignored him and chose rather to use his own influence to get Mildred, who was now on the porch, to bark. Hanson was happy to hear Mildred begin barking. He really didn’t want to ask Caden for anything, ever again.

The door barely opened when Daisy’s screams of joy filled the air, “Mildred, you are home. I can’t believe it. Where have you been girl?” Mildred jumped into Daisy’s lap. Daisy let the force knock her over as Mildred licked up tears of joy while Daisy embraced her. Mildred was the closest thing to a child Daisy had ever had, and Daisy thought they would never embrace again, by itself this would have been enough to send her emotions on the ride of their lives, and when combined with everything else it was too much. Crying for joy was not new for Daisy, but she had never sobbed for joy, but there was a first for everything. “Riley, come see who’s back.” She called out as best she could between sobs.

Riley came down the stairs and knelt down to pet Mildred. The scene was perfect enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face, but the three ghosts in the room faces were filled with sheer terror. Even with their poor sense of smell they noted the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Looking into the kitchen they saw what was causing the smell, a pot full of coffee and next to it a cup already poured.

Trout and Caden started towards the kitchen. Hansen beat them by porting. Looking into the cup he said, “It’s full, if this is her second cup we are already too late.”

“She never drinks two cups in the evening,” stated Caden. “So what do we do now?”

“Don’t let her drink it,” stated Hanson.

Caden turned to Trout, “Your buddy here is a real Sherlock.” Then turning back to Hanson asked, “No kidding, how?”

“Mildred. That’s why she is here.”

“You want Mildred to drink the coffee?” Caden asked.

“No. But she has what we don’t, a body to move things, and a voice. If she loves Daisy the way most dogs love their owners she will not allow Daisy to be harmed. So Caden, you need to convey to Mildred that the coffee is poisonous, she will do the rest.”

“Are you sure about this?” Caden asked.

But there was no time to debate if Hanson’s plan was going to work because Daisy was now standing and wiping her eyes as she began to head to the kitchen.

“Mildred the coffee’s poison, if Daisy drinks it she’ll die,” Caden yelled.

The effect was instantaneous. Mildred began to bark and jump running between Daisy and the counter.

“What’s wrong girl?” Daisy asked.

Mildred now turned to the counter and pointing her nose directly at the coffee pot began a deep growl combined with barking.

“Good girl.” Caden encouragingly cheered on Mildred.

“It’s just coffee girl,” Daisy said, kneeling down to pet and try to calm Mildred. She’s never gotten mad about coffee before.” Daisy said to Riley.

“It’s okay see,” Daisy picked up the cup and the barking and growling intensified. Hanson, Trout and Caden all gasped as she raised the cup to drink.

“See you soon, Honey.” Caden called out.

But before the cup reached her lips Mildred leapt into the air and bit down hard on Daisy’s arm. Instinctively Daisy cried out in pain as her muscles released the cup and it fell towards the tile surface, smashing upon impact.

Blood oozed from the wound as she tried to cover it with pressure from her other hand. “Mildred, Why?” she cried. The physical pain couldn’t compare to the emotional pain she felt by the betrayal of her most trusted companion on earth. She ran to the bathroom to clean the wound and apply bandages.

“You better have her finish the job, before Daisy gets back and puts her out.” Hanson said to Caden.

“Get the coffee girl,” Caden yelled. With another leap Mildred jumped on the counter, turned her head, bit the coffee pot by the handle and flung it to the floor with a crash, glass and coffee covered the floor. Then with a wag of the tail Mildred sent the open can of coffee grounds to join the smashed pot and coffee on the floor.

Daisy ran in half bandaged to see what was going on.

Trout said what all three were thinking, “That is quite a dog.”

Caden was too proud to speak.

Hanson could not enjoy the victory, he was aware of the time, it was 8:13.

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The room remained the same, the woman still crouched in the corner. There was no sign of Chief Grasley but Hanson knew he wouldn’t be far behind. The Chief was a man of his word and he knew if he said 8:15, then he’d be here at 8:15. Hanson chose not to speak, but took a seat right next to her. She didn’t acknowledge him. The chief appeared. “Hello Hanson.”

“I need more time.”

“Do you have more information?”

The pause was painful but finally Hanson admitted, “No.”

The Chief took a deep look into Hanson’s eyes and shook his head. He really did hate to do this. Hanson wanted to believe it was because the Chief understood that he was right, that this woman was involved, but Hanson knew that more than that the Chief was disappointed that Hanson had put him in this situation. “Mam, I want to apologize to you. There was never any reason to detain you and you are free to…”

Before the Chief could finish she ported away. “Now Hanson…” But looking around he realized he was alone in the room. “Hanson, you sly dog,” he laughed to himself.

----------------------------------------------------

Hanson quickly looked around, cars blazed all around him in the busy intersection. He was quickly thrust into the air, by the gust created by the passing vehicle. The force caused him to be pushed away from the woman whom he had been sure to be barely touching when she ported from the room. They were much like two plastic grocery bags pushed about by the gust of each new vehicle. As the wind swirled them about Hanson’s eyes caught hers. Her eyes were filled with absolute disgust and anger, “How could you?” Hanson saw her lips mouth as she ported away. She got away, but it didn’t matter. The street signs brought instant recollection to Hanson. He now knew why she looked familiar. He knew where he was, knew who she was, and most importantly what she’d done.

Here is Chapter 16

Monday, June 8, 2020

Llewellyn Hanson- Dead Dectective- Chapter 14

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, and Chapter 13

Hanson appeared with the middle aged woman into the middle of a small room. It was concrete on all four sides with no doors and no windows. She kept disappearing only to reappear into another corner of the room. Her anger and frustration grew with each time she disappeared and reappeared. Soon she started screaming, first it was simply yelling and then actual words, “Let me out, let me out. You can’t do this. Why can’t I get out?”

Hanson stood silently watching, he sought to get looks and images of her from every angle, after a while the yelling abated and he spoke up for the first time, “You can try forever, but you are never porting out of here.”

“How come?” She asked.

“Because you can’t port out of this room.” Hanson said.

“There's nowhere you can’t port out of.” She yelled.

“Actually there is. This room.”

“I’ve never heard of that.”

“Surprise,” Despite the joke Hanson said this as stoically as he said everything.

“Who are you?” She asked.

“I’m Detective Hanson, from enforcement. And who are you?”

“Cleopatra.”

Hanson assumed she was joking, but just in case did some quick investigation on his visor. There were many images of Cleopatra after her death and it was very clear she was indeed joking. “No, really, who are you?”

Silence followed, “You don’t want to tell me?” More silence. “Do you know Caden Manson?” She looked up but continued her silence. “What about Thomas Worthlin? What were you doing outside his apartment tonight?” The silence continued. And the more questions he asked the more he gave away. He realized there was little point in moving forward but didn’t want to lose her until he figured out who she was.

He ported into a messy office of his precinct. The Chief knew that when Hanson showed up unannounced it was usually for permission to do something he shouldn’t. And not even borderline stuff, he just did that. So for him to ask permission meant it was likely very bad, “What Hanson?”

“I am detaining someone.”

“Okay. Who?” The Chief asked.

“Do we have to start with that question?”

“Hanson, who are you detaining?”

Hanson rolled his eyes. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know. You want me to sanction an extended detention of someone and you can’t even tell me who it is?”

“Yes.” Hanson smiled with as much charm as he could muster.

“Hanson, aren’t you always telling me how the beats are too sloppy?” Hanson didn’t care to respond. “Well, since you can’t tell me who this person is, can you at least tell me why you detained them?”

“She’s up to something,” Hanson said. Verbalizing the situation made him realize how flimsy his evidence was.

“So, what exactly is she up to?”

“Not sure. But trust me, it’s something. She has been at every crime scene associated with Caden’s murder we have been to.”

“That’s not a crime.”

“I’ll figure it out.” The chief looked at him in a way that gave the answer, so Hanson added, “Trust me.” He knew it was weak but he needed time and he knew if she got out now he might never get her again.

“You are asking me to allow you to detain someone for basically no reason except that you think she’s up to something. Is that right Captain Driggs?”

“HaHa very funny. I am not as bad as he is and you know it.”

“Sounds like something he’d try to pull.”

“Fair enough, but I just need a little time.” Hanson begged.

“Hanson everytime you ask me to back you up for skirting the rules it puts me out on the same flimsy limb you are out on. When that branch breaks we both fall down.

“Just a little time,” Hanson begged.

“How long?” The Chief asked.

Hanson wanted to say, “until I figure it out.” But figured the Chief wanted something a bit more measurable, “Six hours.”

“Three.”

“What?” He hadn’t expected negotiation or he would have started at a higher number.

“Three, at exactly 8:15 PM tonight, Central Time Zone, if you don’t have a much better reason to hold her besides some suspicion that she is up to something, I am personally lifting the hold you have on her. After I apologize to her and hope she is a kind understanding person who won’t make a issue of what we did.”

Hanson knew that this woman was anything but kind and understanding but thought mentioning it wouldn’t help his cause. “Okay, three hours.”

“And Hanson.”

“Yes Chief?”

“Get a good reason. I really don’t like apologizing.”

It was now a race against time as he ported to Trout. The only thing going for him was he now had hundreds of mental images he could use as photographs to ask every dead person associated with Caden if they knew her. Then once he figured out who she was he could worry about what she was up to. He was convinced she was involved and that with her meddling stopped this case would go significantly smoother.

------------------------------

Trout was sitting in Caden’s living room with a fearful look in his eyes. “Trout, where is Caden?” Hanson asked.

“His study,” his fear didn’t dissipate with seeing Hanson and why he hated to waste time he went ahead and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“They arrested Tom.”

“They found the drugs?”

Trout nodded.

“That’s unfortunate, but it will work out.”

“You don’t understand, they released Daisy.”

Now Hanson understood Trout's fear. The coffee. Hanson groaned inside. He didn’t have time for this. He had been so excited to finally get a hold of the mystery woman that he forgot about the possibility of Daisy being released and then enjoying a cup of death. As much as he hated to see the woman go free he admitted saving Daisy would have to take priority. Momentarily he debated porting back to the Chief and begging for more time given the circumstances, but he knew it would be in vain. Only wasting time he didn’t have.

“Where is Daisy?”

“She went to pick up Tom’s daughter but then she’s likely coming back here.”

“Let’s go talk to Caden. I’ll need him.”

“Don’t think he will be much help.” Trout said.

“Why not?”

“You’ll see.”

In the study Caden was sitting in his chair whistling. “Caden I have an idea to save your wife but I’ll need your help.” Hanson said, as they walked in.

“No.” Stated as quickly as he was used to hearing Hanson responding.

“I know you don’t think I can do it, but I think it will work.”

“No, it’s not that. I simply don’t want you, or anyone else to save her. I want her by my side. I miss Daisy.”

“What?”

“Told you so,” Trout threw in.

“I’m dead, the dogs are gone. Now is a perfect time for her to die. What could be better than her rejoining me? So let her drink the coffee.”

Both men who stood in front of Caden empathized with Caden. They both greatly wished that they could be reunited with loved ones themselves but empathy didn’t change the fact that they both knew the right thing was to save Daisy. “Caden, I understand how you feel, but this is not Daisy’s time to die.”

“And how do you know that?” Caden asked.

Even though he was a spirit, Hanson hated to get spiritual but at times he knew he needed to. “I simply know. And so do you.”

As much as Caden missed his wife, he knew Hanson was right.

Why he continued to think about it Trout added, “And you don’t want that dipstick, Jim, to get all the money do you?”

And while Hanson’’s spiritual approach moved Caden, there was nothing that moved him quite like money. “Okay, I’m in.”

------------------------------------------------

Hedges bordered the well manicured lawn where they now found themselves. The backyard looked like any other in suburbia. “What’s this place?” Caden asked.

“This is Rebecca’s backyard,” Hanson replied.

Trout recognized the name had played a role somewhere in this case but couldn’t recall where. He was going to ask who she was but Caden beat him to it, “Who the dickens is Rebecca?”

“You’ll see, help me find a decent break in the bushes.”

“What do you need a break for?” Caden asked.

“I need a place a dog could get out of.” Hanson replied.

They looked around and quickly discovered the hedges were not the only barrier, there was a block wall along the back and a chain link fence along the front and sides. Both were too tall to allow a dog to get out but Trout pointed out a gap between where the block wall and chain link came together. It was less than a foot but they figured a dog could squeeze through.

“Why are we doin this?” Caden asked. Which pleased Trout, it saved him from asking the same question. But as was often the case Hanson was not quick to oblige.

“You’ll see.”

Hanson walked over to a back door, it had a small doggy door at it’s base.

Hanson turned to Caden and commanded, “Call for Mildred.”

“Mildred? My dog?”

“Yes. Now, call for her.”

Caden wanted to ask why but Hanson’s over directiveness won out and Caden called out, “Here Mildred girl, here.”

A beautiful dalmation dog came bounding out of the door.

“Mildred it’s you.” Caden ran to the dog and tried to hold her, however dogs when happy do not sit still and as Mildred jumped, smiled and pranced she threw Caden all over the place. Neither minded and both happily continued their reunion.

Trout watched in shock. “Dogs can hear us and see us?”

“No,” Hanson stated clearly, “but they, like all animals, are much better at sensing us. In life people talk about a sixth sense. It’s the ability to sense us, our influence and presence. This sense is stronger in some people than others. But almost universally it’s stronger in animals. And animals can especially sense those they were close to in life. That’s why we had to bring along Caden.”

“But if she can’t hear Caden, but can only sense him why didn’t she come out until Caden called her?”

Caden calling her made him think about her, mentally reaching out to her. She could feel that reach. The vocalization was just a tool I used to get his mental processes going. His speaking is a form of trying to influence her, even if she can’t hear him. And just as she can feel that reach, we can too. Proximity does matter but you will feel the living reach out to you at times.

Trout thought back to nights with his wife and kids and wondered if he had felt them reaching out to him.

“Enough deep thoughts for now, we’re in a bit of a rush. Caden, tell Mildred about the gap in the fence and encourage her to go to it.”

Caden was lying ten feet from Mildred, she having thrown him there after his fourth attempt at holding her. Caden walked towards the gap, “All right girl come here, lets go to the fence.” Mildred followed behind Caden.

“Are you going to tell him that she can’t hear him?” Trout asked.

Hanson smiled and said, “Nah.”

Mildred quickly located the gap in the fence. Hanson continued his instructions. “Get her to bark.”

“Speak, girl speak.”

Mildred began barking. After a time Rebeca appeared at the back door. “What is it girl? Come here.”

“Okay,” Hanson instructed, “get her to go through the fence.”

“Through the fence girl,” Caden commanded.

“Come here.” Rebecca continued to call. Mildred frooze for a time not sure who to follow but in the end longevity won out and Mildred slipped through the fence.

“Do you know how to get back to your house from here?” Hanson asked Caden.

“No idea. I don’t know where we are.”

Trout you guide Caden. I’ll keep coming back and forth to tell you when to slow down or speed up.”

“How am I…” Trout began to ask. But Hanson interrupted.

“Use your visor.” Hanson said a bit exasperated.

“I’m not sure I understand what I am doing.”

Hanson spoke quickly, “Get Caden home with Mildred.”

“Then why slow down?”

“We don’t want to lose Rebecca, but do not let her catch Mildred.”

“What? But?” It was too late Hanson was gone.

Trout stood with Mildred by his side and Caden sprawled out on the ground, again being thrown there by Mildred after he tried to hold her again.

Rebecca was kneeling 3 feet away on the other side of the fence, cursing the gap and trying to call for Mildred to come back. Trout could see the conflict in Mildred so he said, “Caden keep telling Mildred to stay.”

He did and she did. Looking down at his visor he thought of trying to get a map to Caden’s home and instantly the route not only appeared but he knew how to get there as if he’d always known; the map became part of his body of knowledge.

“Let’s go out to the street and hang a right.” Rebecca was getting off her knees and walking back to the house. No doubt to come around and grab Mildred. “We better hurry.”

They began to run as best they could as Caden called for Mildred to follow. Running was not Trout’s forte in life and the lack of a body didn’t make him any better. Each step lacked the necessary friction to really move and he felt like he was running on an ice rink without sufficient gravity to make him fall.

Trout realized this was not going to work. He grabbed Caden and ported 100 feet ahead in the direction they wanted to go into the neighbor's yard. Caden called and Mildred quickly came. However, the delay allowed Rebecca to get to her front door and was calling Mildred. Not only was she calling she was running to catch her. Trout quickly ported another 100 yards out into the road.

Trout was terrified to see Rebecca run between where they had ported and where Mildred sat scratching her ear. “I hope that dog really loves you. Give her a call.”

“Here girl,” Caden called. Mildred ran straight past the outstretched arms of Rebecca towards Caden.

“What has gotten into you Dora?” Rebecca called out as she gave chase, but she was no match for Trout’s porting, Caden’s command’s and Mildreds speed. They quickly got far ahead of her. She gave up and headed back home.

That's when Hanson reappeared. “I think you’re okay to stop.”

“Stop?” Caden yelled. “I’m not stopping until I get Mildred back home.”

Hanson was in no mode, more did he have time to argue. Turning to Trout he asked, “does he know the directions?”

Trout looked back over to Caden, hating to talk so directly about someone in front of them, “I don’t think so,” he muttered.

“Good, don’t tell him and stay here.” Hanson said and then instantly disappeared.

“Can you believe that guy?” Caden sputtered out. “You aren’t going to stop are you?” He said looking suspiciously at Trout.

“I kind of have to.”

“You don’t have to do nothing.”

“Exactly,” Trout agreed.

“What is he going to do to you?” At this point Mildred began marking a bush.

“For one thing, he could stop training me.”

“What’s he know that you don’t?”

“Alot.”

“Fine, but I’m not happy about it.”

“Understandable.” It was the middle of the day and while traffic was light through this suburban neighborhood a few cars drove by.

“How far are we anyways?”

“Only a few miles.”

“A few miles, boy I should have walked around more, I don’t even know my own neighborhood.”

Hanson again appeared. “Okay, let’s start up again.”

They stood up and Caden decided it was his turn to run the show. “I don’t think so.”

“What?” Hanson questioned.

“You pop in and out of here telling us to go or stop. I’ll go when I feel like going.” And he sat back on the grass.

Hanson was not impressed, “Fine, but that Toyota Corolla that just turned around down the street is Rebecca on her way to grab Mildred.” They looked and saw as the Toyota caught sight of Mildred and began to speed up.

“What?” Let’s go!” Caden yelled and began to call out for Mildred even as He and Trout ported in the right direction and Hanson once again disappeared.

Rebecca was no match for Mildred and Trouts porting but with a car she could get ahead of them and then get out and wait for Mildred.

Trout began to port across the street to zigzag back and forth to avoid her. After a few times of the car getting ahead and Trout zig zagging to avoid it, he decided it was time for a new game plan and moved to cutting through yards, hoping to lose her and her car. He was convinced it had worked when who should again appear but Hanson, “Wait here.”

“No problem, buddy.” Caden quickly said. Hanson didn’t have time for Caden’s sarcasm and quickly disappeared again.

As soon as Hanson was gone Caden started walking away, “See ya, Trout.”

“Where are you going?” Trout asked.

“I don’t need to wait anymore. I recognize this street. Me and Mildred are going home.”

Trout was tempted to point to Caden that he should have said, Mildred and I, but decided now wasn’t the time. Rather he wondered if Caden could go even if he did know the way. Without porting it would be very slow going. Quickly he saw that Caden had surpassed even his ability to port and he was soon on his way. Trout decided he better at least follow. 3 Minutes later Hanson appeared.

“I thought I told you to wait.”

“You did. Unfortunately Caden figured out where we are and took over.”

“If we ever finish this case I am going to kill that guy.” Hanson mused but then added, “but it was probably for the best, we need to rush now.”

“Wait why all this stop, go, stop, go?”

I’ll explain later, make sure he keeps moving and that Rebecca doesn’t get the dog.” Hanson again disappeared.

Trout began to look forward to being senior detective, when whenever an impossible task seemed to come up he’d assign it to his junior and then port out of there. But such a dream would have to wait for the future, because up ahead was the Corolla.


Here is Chapter 15