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    Libby Drew
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Keeper of the Rituals - 13. Chapter 13


Blood brothers didn’t lie to each other. Some did, I’m sure, but not me and Chase. At twelve, the idea of untruth between us felt evil. Which was how the secret of my tribal gift came out, dragged by its teeth into the light of day. Afterward, Chase called it divine intervention. He was more fatalistic than me at that age. I credit Harry Dresden and the price of tuna.

I’d never talked about my gift before then, which wasn’t lying, I reasoned. My silence was simple self-preservation. If he found out, labeled me a freak, didn’t want to be my friend anymore, what would there be to live for?

“It’s not heavy enough.” Chase blew out a frustrated breath and began pulling the floating minnow trap back toward the shore in a slow, smooth hand over hand maneuver. “We need another rock.”

“It’s your bait,” I said, which today had been a blob of peanut butter wrapped in cheesecloth. “That can of tuna would’ve been better. Weighed down the trap.”

“If my mom notices one more can of her precious Chicken of the Sea missing, I’m grounded.” Chase had one eye squinted closed as he pulled the torpedo-shaped minnow trap toward us. “Besides, I read that peanut butter works better.”

I snorted. “In the latest Dresden Files book?”

“Hey. We agreed it was worth trying.”

“What’s this ‘we’ shit, white man? You wanted to try it. If it doesn’t work, we won’t have bait for tonight. And, if it snags in the muck -- I’m saying ‘if’, but it’s really ‘when’ -- you’re the one getting wet, not me. Just wanna make that clear.”

Chase’s retort never fully passed his lips (good thing, as it wasn’t polite, acceptable Becker language), because at that moment, our trap snared in a patch of reeds ten feet from shore. Chase yanked once gently, then again with less finesse, and the cheesecloth-wrapped Jif broke loose and spilled open, separating like cheese curds on the surface of the pond. This time, Chase’s curse rang out loud and clear.

I burst into laughter. “Way to go, genius.” I made a show of patting down my pockets. “Damn, I forgot my towel at home. Sorry. Enjoy your swim.”

“Funny boy.” Chase looked to the sky, uttered a deep sigh and tossed the rope aside. “Fine. At least hold my hand?”

The request flipped my stomach in a pleasant, unfamiliar way. One I didn’t understand completely, and I hesitated. Chase cocked his head. “Come on. I think if you hold onto me while I lean out, I won’t have to get wet past my thighs.”

It sounded fair. I still swallowed hard before nodding. We touched casually all the time. Why did the idea have my heart beating faster today? “Okay.” I shimmied across the gravel path to the bank and braced my sneakers against a root right at the water line. “Gimme.” I wiggled my fingers and Chase latched on. Squeezed my fingers and smiled.

“Thanks, Micco.”

I nodded, wondering if he felt the same as I did then: sparks of electricity in his fingers and slightly breathless. If he did, he didn’t let on. Just squeezed one more time, scooped up the rope and waded into the water. Water striders scattered as he plunged forward and reached for the trap.

“A little more.”

He was close. Inches away. I eased some of my body weight forward.

“Got it!” With a whoop, Chase snagged the trap with his fingers and yanked.

The alligator, startled, burst out of the reeds next to the minnow trap and lunged. Chase fell back with a cry as the large reptile chomped onto the rope and rolled underwater, pulling the trap and Chase with him.

I screamed. Fell face first into the shallows and emerged coughing and sputtering to see the creature break the surface a few yards away. Chase shot out of the water, shaking the rope out of his hand, and the alligator bolted toward him.

“No!” I cried, lunging for a connection and finding one. The alligator’s instincts clamored in my brain. Danger, fight, attack. “No!” I stood up, sliding in the slick mud, and held out both hands. Stop, I told him. Stop. There’s no danger here.

It worked. He paused a mere three feet away, watched us for several seconds, only his eyes and the tip of his snout exposed, then exploded into a rolling spin that sucked Chase under once more. His retreating tail caught my ankles, and I went down again myself, swallowing a mouthful of stagnant water. I surfaced dizzy from lack of oxygen and massaged my chest to ease the ache as I crawled, dripping and shaking, up the bank and over the grass to the dirt path.

He could have died. Chase could’ve died today. Twelve years old. On this perfect Saturday in April, under a cloudless sky. Two minutes ago he’d been laughing. He’d held my hand, even though it had only been for a few seconds. My heart squeezed tight again, and I choked, nauseated by the thought of losing him. Chase. Was he safe?

I stumbled to my feet, blinking slimy water out of my eyes, and spun to look for him. “Chase!”

“Here.” His hands found my arms, then my face, and he looked like a drowned rat, hair dark and matted, clotted with weeds, but his blue eyes were brilliant, a lighthouse beacon, and bore into mine. “Are you okay?” He shook me when I failed to reply. “Are you okay!”

“Yes. Yes.” I copied him, placed my own dirty palms against his cheeks. “You?”

He answered with a bone-crushing hug. I clung to him as well, eyes screwed shut as he whispered in my ear. “It’s okay. We’re okay.” I cried a little then, but not Chase. He never cried. But neither did the pressure of his arms around my back loosen, even slightly. “What did you do?” he asked, then shushed me when my breathing stuttered. “Wait. Not here.” He untangled himself from my embrace and took my hand to lead me up the path. “At home. I need to make sure you’re okay first.”

And he did. Thoroughly. I was made to shower the swamp off my skin, then he cleaned and disinfected the gashes I’d acquired and gave me borrowed shorts to wear. I waited, cross-legged on the floor outside the bathroom, orange Fanta between my legs, and braided back my damp hair while he took his turn getting clean. The incident hadn’t provoked an anxiety attack, but Chase had made me accept the drink regardless. He emerged in a cloud of steam, shirtless, still damp in places, and took my hand to pull me to my feet.

“Are we gonna tell your mom?” I asked. She was close by, gardening in the yard, humming and utterly oblivious that she nearly lost her son only an hour ago.

“Oh, hell no. Bring that,” he ordered when I tried to leave the can of soda on the floor outside the bathroom.

“I’m fine.”

“Jury’s still out on that. Anyway, I’m not sure I am. I may need a swig.”

We settled in his bedroom. It was far more luxurious and full of boy trappings than mine was, minus the usual game systems one might expect to find in an upper-middle class home. Chase’s mom believed in raising her child in the great, bright outdoors as opposed to the dark corners of the Internet. Probably even nearly getting eaten by an alligator wouldn’t have changed her tune, though it didn’t appear as though Chase was going to play those odds.

I watched his mom’s shadow move back and forth across his window blinds as she puttered around her herb garden. A typical Saturday afternoon, but not for long, because Chase was gearing up for a heart to heart. I knew him well enough by now to see it. The thought occurred to me to take the bull by the horns, to simply confess about my gift. I couldn’t. Too much to lose. What if he thought I was a freak? Or worse, crazy. After all, I’d given him plenty of evidence over the years that my head wasn’t screwed on right. I played the coward instead, head bowed while I waited for him to broach the subject. He did with forthrightness, as was his habit.

“What happened out there, Micco?”

I played dumb. “We lost the minnow trap.”

“Stop.” He delivered the gentlest of smacks to the side of my head. “You know what I mean.”

I did. And we never lied to each other. Never. “I… told him to go away.”

After a long pause, Chase blinked and asked, “The alligator?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

The curiosity behind that word, untinged by disbelief, brought a lump to my throat. “I just. It’s hard to explain,” I said. Chase nodded. Nested his chin in his palm and waited. He excelled at being patient. Could sit for hours while I stumbled through an explanation of a particular ritual and its meaning. Words had never been difficult for me, necessarily, but I often lacked eloquence. I could wish for it now, but it wasn’t likely to appear magically. Nothing we really needed ever did. So I tried my best.

“It’s my tribal gift. That’s what Billie says. I can listen to animals. Understand them. And they, most of them, understand me too.”

Chase digested this. Asked, “Do you talk to them?”

“No. Not like you and I talk. It’s different. It’s more--” I floundered for a moment. “Spiritual, maybe? Not like God. Like… thoughts. Feelings.” My throat locked up, too dry to continue. I popped the top on the Fanta can and took a long drink. “I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.”

Chase tipped my chin up with his finger. “Stop making it sound like a disease.”

“It’s weird,” I hissed. No matter what Billie said about being touched by the spirits, I hated being different.

“Micco.” The pressure on my chin grew insistent, so I raised my gaze to his. “It’s not weird. It’s amazing.”

I melted with relief, muscles unlocking like a ribbon being unraveled. “It is?”

He nodded. The smile that broke across his face took my breath away. “You’re amazing.”

We’re amazing, I thought as I exhaled the last of my anxiety. Amazing and perfect together. Billie said that all living things possessed a spirit, none worth any more or any less than the other. Some of those spirits were connected across time and space. This was the purest kind of love. Preordained and inexorable. That’s us. Yes, I loved him. It was the first time I may have realized the true depth and scope of my feelings. I loved him, and I would die for him.

Chase flopped onto his back. Folded tanned arms behind his head. “It’s like one of Billie’s stories.”

“Yeah.” I popped a potato chip into my mouth. “In the past, we could all speak to the animals. At least according to the myths.”

The chips were open between us, and I’d helped myself several times. Chase hadn’t taken a single crumb. “Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked, shaking the bag at him.

He shook his head. “How can I eat at a time like this?” I paused with a chip halfway in my mouth, and he threw his hands in the air. “I mean, this is like… you have a superpower, Micco. You’re like Superman.”

“Um. No, I’m not.” I was a messed up orphan lucky enough to have good friends.

“Are to.” His glare challenged me to disagree. “So why can’t I do this? Or even Billie? Why just you?”

Those were separate questions with vastly different answers. The last had no explanation that I knew. But the first two could be addressed. I laid down next to him. Rolled onto my stomach. “There’s a story. It goes like this. Many moons ago, the animals and Native People could talk to each other. They worked and played in harmony. The animals taught us many useful things. Otter showed us how to fish. Beaver taught us how to build warm, sturdy houses. Bear and Wolf showed us how to follow forest trails and Panther showed us where to hide when there was danger. Fox taught us how to enjoy life and laugh.”

Chase’s fond, encouraging smile egged me on. I changed the pitch of my voice. Got into the narrative.

“But after a while, the animals became frightened that they had taught us all we needed to know, and believed we would try to enslave them. One night, when we were all sleeping, they called a secret council fire and argued over the best way to kill us.”

“Uh oh.” Chase winced. “I bet the Great Spirit didn’t like that kind of talk.”

Chase knew his lore better than most Seminole children. But then, he had Billie and me to teach him. “Just listen. Only Dog disagreed. ‘Man has always been our friend. If war comes, I will fight with the Native People,’ Dog said. And you’re right, Chase. Their arguments grew so loud that they reached the ears of the Great Spirit, and their talk made his heart very sad. He said to the animals, ‘You have broken the friendship of the great council fires. As punishment, you may never again speak to man as you would a brother.’ Then he turned to Dog. ‘Dog has also broken the law of the fire, but because he refused to harm brother man, he will always be welcome in man’s homes and will guard his children.’” Exhausted by the day’s events, I laid my head on Chase’s pillow. We were mere inches apart, and I could see every fleck of dark blue in his pale irises. “And that,” I finished, “is why we say that animals can’t talk to us today.”

Chase stared at me for a long time. So long, my eyes grew heavy. “Do you believe the story?” he asked after a lengthy silence.

His nearness, the warmth of his body, compelled me to honesty. “I’m not sure.”

“Well, I do.” His eyes fell closed, and he nuzzled into the pillow next to me. “I believe every word.”

~*~

 

HURRICANE ARLENE: NOAA SPECIAL DISCUSSION 800 AM TUE JUN 20 2023

SATELLITE AND RADAR FIXES INDICATE THAT ARLENE HAS UNEXPECTEDLY TURNED DUE EAST AT AN AVERAGE SPEED OF 11 KNOTS. AN UNEXPLAINABLE RIDGE HAS BUILT NORTH OF THE HURRICANE, SHIFTING ITS DIRECTION. ARLENE IS NOW MOVING DIRECTLY TOWARD THE SOUTHERN GULF COAST OF FLORIDA. THE RIDGE IS FORECAST TO PERSIST AND ARLENE SHOULD MAINTAIN THIS GENERAL EASTWARD TRACK UNTIL LANDFALL.

SATELLITE IMAGES AND DATA FROM THE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT INDICATE THAT ARLENE IS BETTER ORGANIZED AND THAT THE WINDS HAVE INCREASED TO 110 KNOTS. IN ADDITION THE EYE HAS BECOME DISTINCT ON VISIBLE IMAGES AND IS SURROUNDED BY A CIRCULAR AREA OF DEEP CONVECTION. BASED ON THIS DATA ARLENE HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO A CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE THAT MAY STILL INTENSIFY FURTHER BEFORE LANDFALL.


~*~

I’m pouring a mug of tar-black coffee when a shrill beep sounds on my Midland weather radio. I stand with the pot in hand, steam rolling up over my face, and wait for the three long high-pitched tones to stop and the computerized voice to get on with it. My eyes are gritty, and I’m slow to react when the message begins to play.

“The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane warning for the following counties. Collier. Lee. Hendry.”

I spill coffee all over my freshly scrubbed counter. That’s the southern gulf. Since when are we in the storm’s crosshairs? Fumbling the pot back onto its burner, I leave the spatters where they’ve landed and head to the living room. There I stop and regard my laptop with a mixture of hate and suspicion. I don’t own a television, so there’s no other choice, really. I take a fortifying gulp of java and plop into the chair. The whisky still sits where I found it last night, and I use my index finger to nudge it across the table. Then I proceed to wake up my computer in the most cowardly way possible, by rebooting it. No Psychology Today articles for me this morning.

The NOAA site is at the top of my list of favorites. Weather, email, and local news is about all I use this contraption for. Maybe the occasional article on wildlife. The Atlantic graphical marine forecast map pops up and there’s Arlene, a tiny red swirl sitting in the Gulf of Mexico.

That little bitch.

The three-day cone looks vastly different than it did yesterday. The warnings for Taylor, Dixie, Levy, and Lafayette counties have been lifted. Replaced with watches. The storm is barreling due east. Right for us. I chug the rest of my coffee and click through to the special discussion. Get stuck on the words “unexplainable” and “unexpected.”

Nobody who lives in an area where hurricane insurance riders are mandatory should be surprised by nature’s unpredictability. Serves me right for putting so much faith in technology. I don’t reject the usefulness of modern tools. I’m just usually more careful about trusting them.

The sheer chaos that’s about to ensue, that’s most likely already in progress, overwhelms me. Just for a minute. Long enough to begin calculating the logistics of mandatory evacuations and shortages of staples like water, batteries, and medicine. I go cold when I consider my wolves and panthers. Martina and I had rolled the dice on hurricane preparations at the refuge. And we were about to lose big.

I can’t find my cell phone and curse my way through the house before I find it in the pocket of my jeans from the night before. The “9” and the “1” still fill the screen, waiting for me to add the final “1.” I wonder what would’ve happened if I had. Does Chase have this address flagged as well? Probably. Not that it matters now.

I punch in Martina’s number, hesitate for a second, then press send. Several rings later, her voicemail answers. Now I have to play a guessing game. Is she merely busy battening down the hatches or ignoring me? Both? Regardless, our volunteers will be in the process of evacuating north or to shelters. Sam is… gone. That leaves her and me, barely enough manpower to secure the animals’ safety if we had three days, let alone one. She can’t possibly reject my help.

I’m stuffing my feet into my sneakers when there’s a knock at my front door. Three harsh raps. I freeze, stare at the slab of wood and wish away the interruption, though no amount of fantasizing will help. There’d been only three, a nod to civility, but the forcefulness meant business. My guess is Special Agent Calhoun.

He calls out, verifying my hunch, and his tone carries the same polite menace the knocks had. “Mr. Garrett. Open the door.”

I don’t have time for this. How does Calhoun? A cat three hurricane makes an impression on most people. The guy’s a bit anal but hasn’t yet struck me as stupid. Maybe he hasn’t heard about Arlene’s change in track. I hadn’t until twenty minutes ago. I yank the door open, hopping on one foot while I tie my shoe. “Listen, Calhoun--”

I never get a chance to finish. A body pushes inside, knocks me off balance, and I throw an arm out to catch the wall before I fall. Unfortunately, my head makes contact first. A meaty hand grabs my shoulder. Steadies me when I slide sideways with a groan. I’d be glad for the help, but for the way the hand spins me face first into the wall. My other arm is twisted behind my back. Not ungently, but with purpose. A voice in my ear says, “Don’t move.”

I have no intention of doing so. It hadn’t been Calhoun manhandling me. I see him out of the corner of my eye, taking in the drama from the safety of the threshold. We watch each other as a set of handcuffs are fastened around my wrists. “What the hell is going on?” I ask through clenched teeth.

Calhoun’s expression doesn’t hold the level of smug satisfaction I expect to see. If anything, he looks troubled, though his next words don’t reflect that. “Michael Garrett, you’re under arrest for the murder of Samuel Kincaid.” He steps forward and drones a Miranda warning in my ear. My brain processes some of it. The right to remain silent. The right to an attorney. My eyes fall shut midway through. I’m dizzy. Spinning with a sickening, lurching tilt, not unlike when I overindulge on Billie’s moonshine. Calhoun is close. Too close. His warm breath on my face smells mint-fresh.

“With these rights in mind,” he finishes, “are you willing to talk with me about the charges against you.”

“No.” My voice is low, not as calm as I’d like, but I strive for a cooperative, non-threatening tone.

“Suit yourself. Officer Jenette, please escort Mr. Garrett to your vehicle.”

The sham politeness makes me angry. He’s been biased from the start. Positive I committed this crime. I don’t resist when Officer Jenette pulls me away from the wall, though I almost trip on my shoelace. Calhoun catches me when I lurch in his direction. “Easy now, Mr. Garrett,” he says.

His kind gesture pisses me off even more. “Listen, Calhoun,” I spit over my shoulder as Jenette guides me out the door. I’m prepared to say more. Far more. What stops me is the man who blocks our path. He gestures for Jenette to hand me over.

“I’ve got him. Please assist Special Agent Calhoun,” Chase says. Jenette’s hesitation dooms him. Chase wraps his hand around my free arm and yanks me away, down the two steps and into the yard.

I pull in a breath and gather my scattered wits. “I wasn’t—”

“Micco, close your goddamn mouth.” His lips barely move as he speaks. There’s so much repressed anger behind them, it’s a wonder the words don’t spill out in a shout. We get to the cruiser, and Chase opens the back door. “Don’t say another word, do you hear me? Not. One. Fucking. Word.”

It’s solid legal advice, but it feels personal. What little hope I nurtured for us last night evaporates, pushing me further adrift. I duck my head and slide into the car. Chase slams the door behind me without another word and stalks away. He doesn’t look any worse for wear, although he couldn’t have slept any more than I did. Six hours ago, he’d been sitting in the exact spot Calhoun is standing now.

Jenette had the good manners to leave his vehicle running, air-conditioning blasting, so at least I won’t die of heat stroke. Judging by the frenzied activity around my house, it might be the kinder way to go. My heartbeat stutters when I consider prison.

The cuffs press into my back, sharp and cold. Scooting forward on the seat helps, and it gives me a better view of the front porch, though that’s not necessarily a comforting sight. The panorama through the dusty window of the cruiser is every nightmare come to life, vivid and wispy at once, impossible to influence, terrifying and inescapable. People come and go through my front door. Not Chase—I haven’t seen him since he locked me in the car—but others, some in uniform, others plain-clothed, file in and out, carrying various boxes and bags. I recognize a couple of lower-ranking BIA officers, but Burke is nowhere to be seen. What I wouldn’t give for the sight of my old friend.

I squeeze my eyes shut on the ant line of strangers marching in and out of my home and dig for a happy, calming memory. My brain coughs up one of Chase, of course, and I latch onto it regardless of how inappropriate it might be. The two of us, fourteen years old. Our penultimate summer. Lying on our backs on the soft, sandy soil of the grove, fire licking at the air and shooting sparks into the sky. Chase whispering to me about the latest detective novel he’d been reading. His fingers are stroking the back of my hand.

My eyes fly open. I’ve never recalled that detail before, and for a moment I chalk it up to wishful thinking. But no, he had been touching me. I shift my wrist in the metal handcuffs, grappling for the memory of that sensation, and it comes effortlessly. How the calloused pads of his fingertips drifted over my knuckles one by one, trailing fine sand and warmth behind them. The act and its message, viewed through the twenty-twenty lens of hindsight, is unmistakable.

He had wanted me.

For one who’d never suffered fools gladly, I’d been an inexcusably stupid teenager. Perhaps an even more ignorant adult, considering my current circumstances. I tilt my head against the car window as raised voices emerge from my open front door.

Calhoun and Chase exit the house together. Their suits match today, down to the stripes adorning their ties, though Chase’s pale blue softens his ensemble while Calhoun’s choice of stark silver slashes against a light gray silk resembles the bars of a jail cell too closely for my liking. I doubt the imagery was intentional, though maybe I’m not giving the guy enough credit. As before, when he read me my rights, Calhoun vibrates with a restless energy, his body language more angry than satisfied. Chase, on the other hand, is the man in the iron mask, facade icy and expression blank. Calhoun and I stare at each other across the yard, and I prepare myself for the inevitable confrontation, but to my surprise he turns away and stalks toward my car. Chase follows, gait stiff, without so much as a glance in my direction. Not the serene, carefree boy I grew up with. Not at the moment. Perhaps not at all anymore.

They pause on opposite sides of the vehicle to slip on white latex gloves, then open all four doors and begin what I assume is a methodical search of the interior. My heart rate ticks up again. I’ve nothing to hide but feel violated, nonetheless. A shiver runs up my spine. A sour, sick feeling rises in my throat, and I’m suddenly anxious that my plight is about to take a turn for the worse. The possibility becomes certain when Calhoun pops my trunk, lifts the lid, then simply stares down into it for several seconds, fingers drumming on the dusty metal. Chase joins him and takes his turn studying what I can’t see. Finally, Calhoun turns and gestures to one of his lackeys. People explode into movement, scurrying forward, looking more like a colony of ants by the second, but Chase could be carved from granite. Not even his eyes shift, and a leaden weight bears down on my heart.

Calhoun must make a signal only law enforcement folks recognize, and like an obedient puppy, Jenette jogs over to his cruiser and stuffs himself behind the wheel. As he does, a gust of wind, the first of many, I imagine, sweeps through, lifting loose sand into the air. The papers Calhoun has clutched in his fist flutter wildly. We watch each other as Jenette puts the cruiser in reverse and backs into a k-turn. I crane my neck as the car swings toward the road and creeps away from the house. A sense of childish relief fills me as Calhoun recedes from my vision.

Of course, my view of Chase also fades as Jenette drives off. He becomes indistinct, though still an undisputable wall of dismay as he stares at the contents of my trunk. Just before Jenette makes the turn onto the road, I see two men join Calhoun and Chase at the rear bumper of my Neon. One holds a camera. The other, a plastic evidence bag.

Copyright © 2023 Libby Drew; All Rights Reserved.
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I hope you enjoyed the chapter. 
Thanks for reading!
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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23 minutes ago, 84Mags said:

I agree. In the state where I reside officers of the law are legally allowed to conduct a search without a warrant if the search is made in connection to an arrest. The police are allowed to look for weapons on the person and surroundings that may be used to harm the officer. Also, if there is a concern that the arrest will lead to the destruction of evidence a search can be performed.

Obviously, it’s a good way to not have to get a search warrant with only weak evidence and try to find find better evidence for a stronger case. 

 

The FBI is generally more constrained. I guarantee in those papers Calhoun had was a search warrant. You also have to cross all your t's.

Back when my friend was unjustly charged with a murder, he showed me a search warrant they used to search a house he owned. I looked at it and said it wasn't valid. They had gone to the judge at the end of the day and his clerk had already changed the date on the calendar, so the warrant was for the next day. They didn't find anything anyway, but the search was still illegal.

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Micco has to be one of the most underwhelming central protagonists…I am finding it difficult to break thru the cloud of miasma that surrounds him…

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On 12/10/2023 at 6:04 AM, drpaladin said:

@Libby DrewDid you get lost?

Yes. I am in retail hell. 

How anybody in this business can still be sane after December 25th is beyond me. 

I just got home. Will fortify with a glass of wine, then dig into my files for the next chapter. ❤️

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14 minutes ago, Libby Drew said:

Yes. I am in retail hell. 

How anybody in this business can still be sane after December 25th is beyond me. 

I just got home. Will fortify with a glass of wine, then dig into my files for the next chapter. ❤️

I had a friend who always came and took me on his Christmas Eve marathon shopping spree. The very last one I went on I was on crutches. I begged off after that.

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Another perfectly great chapter, the fear is thick poor Micco I have my fingers crossed for him!

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