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“Well, Martha’s more than willing to take care of you.”

Dan pointed at her mockingly. “Nothing, is better than ol’ Martha.” Dan hesitated a moment. “Besides, I’ve got Mac to take care of me.”

“That old pooh! You need a woman to keep you in line.”

Kelly quickly vanished. Dan turned back to the message and walked over to the phone.


Dan drove back to the office after lunch. When he walked in, Mac had his back to the door while he busily thumbed through a girlie magazine unaware of Dan’s presence.

“Any good pictures in there?” Dan asked.

Mac practically jumped out of his chair. “Don’t do that,” he said quickly, putting the magazine in the drawer. He turned to the desk and grabbed the message pad. “The medical examiner was looking for you earlier.”

“She left a message for me at home. I talked to her already.”

“What did she want?”

Mac was like an old woman who had to know everything. But the sad fact was everything he knew, he passed on. So Dan had to be careful in what he shared with Mac. In the old days, it did not matter but given the current state of affairs with privacy laws and all, it was not wise to share sensitive information with the town gossip.

“It was business.”

“You ain’t going to tell me?”

“In time you will know.”

Mac tossed the notepad to Dan. “Murphy called again. He wasn’t happy with what you told him.”

“So what’s new?” Dan shrugged. “Give me some good news.”

Mac hesitated for a moment while scratching his head.

“I dropped Junior’s shirt off.”

“How long will it take?” Dan asked.

“I told them you needed it yesterday.”

Dan walked over to the desk. He picked up the paper, but then turned back to Mac.

“You keep on them until I have the results.”

“Jake isn’t going to like me pestering him.”

Mac looked up as if a light bulb went off. “That reminds me. Junior’s papa is on his way in.”

“Might have known he’d be stopping by when he got wind of where Junior is.”

“Says he is bringing a lawyer. Claims he has a witness that says you beat-up on Junior before bringing him in.”

“I never touched the boy.”

Mac held up his hands. “Only repeating what they tells me.”

Dan took off his hat and then slammed it on the desk. “That’s just great.”

“You know how people are.”

Dan plopped down on the chair. He picked up the paper and searched for Kay’s article but then remembered he would never read an article written by her again. It was hard on him when he was under stress. He tended to think of her more because she had been his tranquilizer. No matter how much the job threw at him, she was there at the end of the day to help him unwind. She never let her job at the paper interfere with being there for him. But that was no more and it was times like this that he desperately missed her.

* * *

Dan had a pen in hand doing paperwork when the door suddenly swung open. John Youngblood, a tall nicely dressed Native American in a business suit walked in with Albert Ruben, a short, typical-looking attorney. Ruben was as round as he was tall. Dan set the pen down and stood up. He had been waiting for Junior’s father and now, seeing Albert Ruben, he knew why he had not been there sooner. Ruben was a bottom-feeder and Dan wondered how many attorneys John called before he found one who would take the case.

Dan offered John his hand, but John just stood in front of the desk with arms crossed.

“Sorry you feel that way,” Dan said.

“You beat up on my boy. Then hold him in custody on some trumped-up charges and you can’t understand why I feel this way?”

Dan looked at John. “This is serious business.”

John stepped closer to Dan, but Albert stopped him. “John maybe you should let me do the talking.”

Dan quickly held up his hands. “I never touched the boy,” Dan argued as he stepped away from his desk and then turned to John. “I don’t care what that motorist thought he saw.”

“Did you read him his rights?” Albert asked, as only a lawyer would think to ask that at a time like this.

“I haven’t charged him with anything yet,” Dan snapped.

“Why is he here then?”

“His shirt was covered in blood. We’re having it checked out right now.”

“Whatever you find will be inadmissible in a court without Miranda,” Albert said mockingly.

“That’s only a formality,” Dan said, realizing his mistake. He was angry with himself for an instant.

Albert stepped forward. “It’s the law. That’s what protects the innocent.”

“Innocent, my ass!” Dan snapped. “It was a good call,” he stammered as his jaw muscles tightened.

Albert laughed when he realized the screw-up. “If you don’t release Junior immediately, I’ll go to the press,” Albert argued, while moving around the room as if giving a summation. He stopped and raised his hand and then shouted out. “Police brutality,” he said turning to Dan before continuing. “And on top of that, trumped-up murder charges to cover up your wrong doing.”

John stepped between Albert and Dan as the situation seemed to be getting tense. He turned to Dan finally.

“Look, Dan, Junior wasn’t involved in this murder. Christ, you saw the boy.” He pointed to the cellblock door. “He wouldn’t hurt a flea.”

“It’s not my call,” Dan said.

“Can’t we work out something?”

“You’re right about the boy. I don’t think he did it. But I’m sure he knows something.”

“I can’t let you keep him.”

“Can you protect him?” Dan asked in a voice only a father could muster up.

“What do you mean?”

Dan did not answer right away. He let John think about it for a moment. Albert appeared speechless for an instant.

“Just what I said,” Dan finally responded. “If Junior didn’t do it, and knows something, do you think the killer is going to want him walking around talking about it?”

“I didn’t…” John said, but then paused.

Albert cut John off. “The fact remains. You can’t hold him.”

John motioned for Albert to be still. John thought hard about what Dan had just said because it did make sense.

“Albert, maybe for Junior’s sake we should leave him here. I can’t be with him every minute of the day,” John said, running his hand through his hair in frustration. “Damn, I didn’t even know he was out of the house last night until I got the call this morning.”

Dan watched John closely and then turned to Albert for his reaction. “You saying what I think you’re saying?” Dan ased.

“Maybe you’re right. This is the safest place for him. You can’t charge him with the evidence you have.”

Dan’s eyes narrowed somewhat. He did not appreciate the reminder that he screwed up, but at the time Junior was not a suspect.

“That doesn’t mean something else might not come up. I’ll read him Miranda until I’m blue in the face.”

John shrugged. “Let the chips fall where they may. I want him safe for now.”

Albert glanced up at John and shook his head. “I don’t advise this, John.”

“I can’t afford to hire someone to watch him,” John turned to Dan. “How bad was it with the Ames boy?”

Dan quickly glanced at the cellblock door and then turned back around to John. “You don’t want something like that happening to your boy.”

John looked at Albert. “Then it’s settled.”

Albert shook his head in disagreement. He walked over to the door and opened it. “This is totally against my advice,” he mumbled as he walked out and slammed the door behind him.

“He does have a temper for such a little guy,” John said and then turned back to Dan.