Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, and Chapter 17
“Who was that?” Trout asked.
“That, my young friend, was our suspect,” Hanson answered.
“Wait a minute. Jim didn’t kill Caden?”
“Who didn’t kill me?” Caden walked back over to them.
Hanson audibly growned, “Don’t you want to celebrate with your wife?”
“No, She and Rebecca are in the study fawning over Mildred. As if she needed any more reasons to spoil that dog, now she thinks Mildred saved her life.”
“Didn’t she?” Trout asked.
“I think I had a decent share in the saving.” Caden said as Trout and Hanson shared a glance. “Anyway, it always made me sick how much Daisy spoiled Mildred, so I’d prefer not watch as it gets worse. So, back to the point, who didn’t kill me?”
“The person we were discussing did kill you, kind of,” Hanson said.
“I have three questions,” Caden began. “One, wasn’t it Jim who killed me? We have heard him admit it twice now. Two, how does one ‘kind of’ kill someone? And three, who is this person we are talking about?”
Hanson did want to teach Trout, but really didn’t want to have to explain anything to Caden. Yet as the deceased, he probably had a right to know. “Okay, so one, yes, Jim pulled the trigger. But if you two would pay attention you would notice things. For instance, we got Lung to ask questions, we got Mildred to save Daisy, and you got Daisy to feel sick. Spirits can influence the living for good or for evil.”
“Jim was told to kill me by some dead lady?”
“You could say that.”
“Eww, that’s just creepy. So again, who is this lady?” Caden asked.
“Oh, okay. That makes sense. Since I have never even heard that name before.” Caden said exceeding his usual sarcasm. “So some woman who I don’t even know exists wants me dead. You sure about this?”
“It wasn’t about you.”
“Hello? Earth to Detective Hanson. Of course it was about me. I’m the dead guy. She had me killed, who was it about?”
“Tom,” Hanson said.
“Tom? Are you kidding me?”
“Listen when people on earth want to hurt or get at someone, they think of murdering the person, taking the person out of their will, or punching them. Whatever it is, they direct it at the person.”
“Don’t talk, let me finish. But when dead people want to get back at someone they dont kill them. They know what death is like, they see that while it is miserable for some, for many it’s wonderful. No, when dead people want to harm the living they seek to kill those they love. Because both pain and happiness are far more intense for the living. They would rather try to orchestrate their victim’s misery in life than kill them.”
“Well, jokes on them. Tom didn’t even like me.”
“No surprise there,” Hanson said without hesitation. “But he did love Daisy.”
“I don’t get it.”
Hanson was tempted to again repeat his lack of surprise, but decided it was time to move on. “Caden, her trial is tomorrow. You are welcome to attend.”
“Sure, it will be fun to be at a trial for my murder. How do I get there?”
“Trout will pick you up.”
“Well boys, I think I’ll go join Daisy. Hopefully the fawning has hit a manageable level by now. See ya.” And with that, Caden headed towards the study.
“The trial is tomorrow?” Trout asked in shock.
“Yup. We move a bit quicker on the legal side over here. I’m not sure if it would be physically possible to be any slower.” Hanson said.
Trout was not going to defend the speed of the American legal system. “How are we going to trial tomorrow if we have no case?”
“We don’t? I think our case is very strong.”
“You let me work on this side. I need you to close out the case on Jim.”
“Okay...how?” Trout asked.
“I think our notes are very good. All that’s left is the close out with the Chief. Why don’t you go do that.”
“Wouldn’t you be better to cover that?”
“No, I have a few other things to do and it will be good for you.”
“I told him you’d meet him at the office in 2 minutes. You better go.”
“But, but...what do I...” Trout’s stammers had no audience. Hanson was gone.
Trout appeared in the office of Chief Grassly. Grassly sat on an office chair, but not behind the desk, because whomever had last been there had tucked it in too tight for the Chief to fit in. Luckily, another chair was left empty for Trout.
“Chief, Hanson said I needed to close out with you.”
“Sounds good, have a seat,” Trout did. “How was working with Hanson?”
What a question. Trout had a hard time even thinking of a response. Hanson had taught him so much, yet at the same time withheld so much. He expected a lot and offered little praise, yet he had grown to really appreciate him. It was less than a week ago he had met Hanson and yet couldn’t imagine doing this work without him. As this went through his head all that came out of his mouth was, “good.”
“Learn a lot?” The chief asked.
“Good. You know he’s the best we have.” Trout nodded as the chief continued. “And he likes you and thinks you're good.”
Now this was a surprise to Trout. “How do you know that?” He assumed it was something you told new people, true or not.
“I’ve received the notes and the case. When Hanson realized the key to getting the beats to focus on Jim was the dog he had failed to note Rebecca’s name, but you didn’t. It was your notes that allowed him to get Rebecca and Daisy together. That impressed him.”
“That brings up a question I have. Hanson seems able to port and quickly find anyone. How does he do it?”
“I don’t claim to know how Hanson does much of what he does but I do know this one. As a member of enforcement you are able to port to anyone as long as you can identify specifically who they are. We always say that you need a name and a relative. But Hanson is far better at using that then anyone else so don’t get discouraged if you can’t do it right away.”
Chief Grassly promoted a much more open atmosphere than Hanson and Trout decided to take advantage. “I know I’m supposed to be the one who is reporting out but I have another question.”
“I was reviewing the notes, and it said something about Hanson using some sort of authority, I can’t recall.”
“Bring it up.” The chief offered.
Trout wasn’t sure how but as he thought about it the part of the notes he was looking for appeared on his visor. “Here it is,” he read, “Hanson utilized the authority to pressure shift to create a distraction to alter a subject's behavior outside direct interaction of the case.’ I noticed it was flagged for internal review.”
Chief Grasly laughed, “Glad to see you are reviewing your case file. When did you have time to do that?”
“I’ve been sleeping less.”
“Taking after Hanson huh? Well, first I will say no one has more flags for internal review than Hanson. And while it definitely adds to my work load, it's not a bad thing. Hanson pushing the envelope has changed how we operate. I noticed that you influenced Mildred to save Daisy's life. Influencing the living is common practice but the idea of us doing that as enforcement outside of influencing beats was considered inappropriate until Hanson started doing it. He is the first to influence animals, and has perhaps gotten a little too creative in his use of that particular skill.” The incident with Justice the Lion was still on the chief’s mind, and unfortunately still in internal review. But that is a story for another day.
“At the time, when Hanson first influenced animals it caused a huge stir in the department,” the chief continued. “But in the end, it was decided that if everyone else has the right to influence them then why shouldn’t we?”
“And nothing has changed in how we operate more than going after the dead for their involvement in a murder.”
“You didn’t always do that?” Trout asked.
“No. Our focus was helping bring the living to justice. But I haven’t really answered your question. The specifics of the case you are asking about is when Hanson basically created a strong wind to distract Tom from using drugs. This is a difficult case. See, we are granted some very specific powers and influence in order to do our job. We already discussed that we can port to the location of any specific person, most people can only port to specific locations. Meaning it’s a lot easier to hide from others than from us. Likewise you have power to control limited aspects of weather.”
“I can control the weather?” Images of Poseidon rising up from the water flooded Trout's mind.
“Don’t look too excited, for one thing, most of us are not very good at it. Hanson, of course, being the exemption. Also, it is very limited, not only in scope but it can only be used when necessary to bring someone to justice. Any abuse of the power and it can be taken away.”
“Will it be taken from Hanson?”
“Possibly, that’s why it’s under review. If he’d done it for his own benefit or out of anger, he’d lose it for sure. But given it was for the benefit of someone else, and someone important to the case, I think he’ll be fine. Who knows, maybe ten years from now we’ll all be doing it.”
“Who decides? You said internal review, who does the review?”
“The committee of chiefs, myself and my peers do the initial review and then we take our solution to the board for a final decision.”
“Who is on the board?”
“The board is over everything we do in enforcement. It’s a group of mostly current judges.” He turned to the side and added, “But hopefully you won’t get as familiar with the process as your current partner.” The chief looked back at Trout and said, “But I do want to say ‘good work.’ You and Hanson ran a great case, got your guy and did so using the beats, so we didn’t have to bring anyone living in and that’s the goal.”
“Hanson said that we didn’t want to have to bring people in. How do we bring people in?”
“Well, we don’t like to do that. But if we fail to get any justice, and we feel we have a good case against someone, the crime is serious enough and we have evidence they may repeat the crime, we, with proper approval,” He was sure to add this last part, given that Hanson was training him, “can choose to bring them in.” He looked over at Trout who continued to look as puzzled as ever, so rather than make him repeat the question the chief added, “We end their life.”
“I get that, but how?”
“A lesson for another day. Bringing in people at all is another practice we owe to your partner. But something we are supposed to avoid at all costs. Our first choice is always allow the justice system of the living to run its course, no matter how faulty we may think their system is.”
“Are we involved in the beats’ court case?”
“We can be. We have lawyers who usually try to handle that part. Some of our detectives do not like to use the lawyers and when I say some, what I mean is Hanson, of course.”
“But the case on Jim is so cut and dry even Hanson might let our lawyers handle it.”
“What about this case tomorrow?” Trout asked.
“Besides the fact that Hanson has requested a trial tomorrow, I know nothing about it. Well that and that he and the defendant have refused lawyers. So, it should be interesting, Hanson’s cases always are.”
“Does he usually win?”
“That’s a tough question. He always gets his point across. However, Hanson does not always agree with the judge's sentence. But we will see what tomorrow brings. Congratulations Detective Armantrout, you are almost done with your first case.” The chief smiled as he shook his hand.
Trout tried to smile but it was a half-effort at best. “Chief, one more thing.”
Trout spoke softly as he continued. “My death. You might recall I was T-boned by a drunk driver.”
“Well, this idea that someone dead may have influenced the driver. Did you, I mean we, look into that?”
“Detective, the person who hit you was arrested on the scene. While we know, thanks to your partner, that dead people do get involved in murder, we only open up a case if there is a murder to investigate. I don’t mean to downplay your death, Detective, but there was no evidence that you were the victim of a murder, but rather of a woman’s poor judgement. Sometimes an accident, unfortunate as it may be, is just that.”
“That makes sense, but can I look into it?” Trout asked.
“You will be given a new case soon.”
“I mean on my own time.”
The chief laughed and shook his head. “You are like Hanson. You are free to do whatever you like on your own time, but be careful, this is a personal project, not an assignment. If you use the benefits or powers of enforcement for personal gain you will lose them, and potentially your position.”
“I understand, Sir.”
“I might be the Chief but you don’t need to call me Sir. Now I have another meeting, but I will see you tomorrow in court.”
Hanson had lied. Sending Trout to see Chief Grassly was not because he had any further investigation. The case he had against Stacy was not what needed attention. He had other plans. The mine had long been abandoned, the small home’s only remains were a few rotted logs. Only a trained eye would even recognize that they’d come from the once solid log cabin. But Hanson didn’t need the trained eye of his detective days to know how each one fit together, he had placed each one with his own hands.
The mountains were so peaceful and Hanson wished he could breath in the crisp fresh air. Here his mind was filled with peace and sweet memories. But it was once a place of intense pain for Hanson. There was a time that he swore he would never return, never face the pain. But now between each case he found himself coming here, back to collect the pieces of his soul.
“You’re back,” a voice came from behind him. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”
Hanson looked up as the man walked to him and sat down next to him on the log. “I can’t stay away.”
The men sat in silence for a while. Hanson finally broke the quiet, “It’s amazing to me, with all the crowded cities, no one has chosen to build any homes out here.”
“You know as well as I do that we both convince anyone who gets the idea of building anywhere close to this place that it would be a terrible idea.”
“People tried to convince me it was a bad place to build here also, but that didn’t stop me.”
“No one is as stubborn as you, Hanson.”
“That’s probably true.” Again silence filled the air as both men took in the trees, the flowers and memories of what once was. “Do you think it’s odd that we keep coming back to the place where we both killed someone?”
“I think I come looking for forgiveness,” the man replied.
“I’ve told you a hundred times, I forgive you.” Hanson said putting his arm around the man.
“I know you do. I just can’t forgive myself.”
Hanson thought before whispering into the breeze, “Me neither, me neither.”
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Here is Chapter 19