Shiva's Messenger

Reflections of the Ferryman

Chapter 7 – Shiva’s Messenger

Reflections of the Ferryman

There was room in the drive behind the two prestigious cars but Romero parked on the street instead. He pressed the doorbell and received an almost instantaneous response. Watson’s nose must have been behind a curtain. The young Columbian was ushered into the living room.

The lawyer already does quite well for himself but he obviously yearns for more. The whole house was luxurious and very well kept. Watson’s wife, whose striking face he could see in a picture on the mantelpiece, had done a nice job of decorating. They could be standing in a page pulled from a home décor magazine. Seated on the stuffed leather sofa was a balding, overweight, middle-aged man: he wouldn’t have been pictured in any stylish publications.

An enameled coffee table held a bottle of cognac, three brandy snifters and a huge ashtray. Four legal documents were arranged with caliper precision around a golden penholder.

“Mr. Romero Escobedo,” Watson began a formal introduction, “I’d like you to meet my very dear friend and business associate, Dr. Frank Thomson. Please call him Frank or just Doc.”

“I’m pleased to finally meet you.” Romero extended a hand still wearing leather driving gloves. “I’ve heard many things about you.” None of them were complementary.

“All good things, I trust.” Frank Thompson’s hairline appeared frontally assaulted by the opposed team of male pattern baldness. The few remaining hair follicles were protected behind defensive halfbacks of protruding ears leaving a tonsure like laurel wreath made of steel wool. The man obviously cherished what was left and allowed it to grow long and bushy. The wild tufts at his temples gave the doctor’s head an apparent football shape, with his joined eyebrows as the stitching.

Watson motioned everyone to sit. The lawyer took his seat on opposite end zone of the sofa from Frank. That left the large leather upholstered chair as Romero’s bleacher seat.

The host poured cognac into the three snifters. They talked casually for the first few minutes. William and Doc each had several belts of liquor while Romero deferred. Instead, the Columbian in the audience attempted to steer the conversation to Dr. Thompson’s medical practice and his other exploits. Frank wet his mouthpiece with some alcohol and tooted his own horn.

“So I gave the guy the purgative,” in expounding some unsavory anecdotes, with himself in the lead role, Doc intentionally portrayed himself as moderately reprehensible, “and she had the aphrodesiac. Then the girl spent the night in my bedroom while her fiancé was back at the hotel seated on his toilet.”

“That’s interesting Frank.” Romero commented on the last story told but it was also to himself. Due to my being a drug lord, he believes that the worse person I think he is: the more I’ll like him. Doc Thompson was making the evaluation far too easy.

“Shall we get on with business?” Romero ended the small talk. Please cease the color commentary now Frank! The newest player had enough marks posted on the plus/minus board, for the ringer to happily zero the Doctor’s balance.

“Here are the corporation’s papers that we first discussed.” Watson picked up the first legal sheaf. It was impeccably printed and bound with a brass stud.   “Please read and sign.”

Romero took the proffered document and swiftly perused it. Picking up the pen, he affixed his signature on each line indicated with a ‘sign here’ sticky.

“This one is the agreement for our partnership in your venture with a commission schedule.” Watson was almost trembling with anticipation. He handed the second document to Romero then stood to access a safe hidden behind a painting. “I’ll get the cash. As you’ll see, we managed to raise 1.5 million. With the half price rate you offered, that doubles our minimum.”

“Bill said these contracts were comforting.” Thompson asked as the lawyer worked the combination dials. “But I don’t understand how having my signature on this should bring me ease.”

“It’s not for your benefit.” The Columbian appraised the query as not showing remorse but selfishness. “It’s my blackmail against your staying faithful to our verbal agreement. You will have to ask William to explain why it’s reassuring.”

“The banks complained about parting with this much of their cash float but we do have sufficient local stature.” Watson heard the exchange and changed the subject. He planned to discuss later how the client’s request for incriminating proof showed the intent was for a long-term arrangement. It was yet one more encouraging sign of the deal’s legitimacy.   “We both counted it but you may too.”

“There’s no need for that.” Romero set the case down flat on the coffee table and snapped open the clasps. It was full of neatly wrapped bundles of Canadian banknotes. “I’m certain it’s all here.”

Romero closed the case and set it down beside his chair. Picking up the pen again, he began to sign where indicated on the partnership document. That copy and the next two were signed in a rapid succession. When finished, the Columbian leaned back on the leather upholstery to watch both other men autograph their own death warrants.

As the men were signing a subtle shift was occurring within the protégé’s thoughts. It’s like a two for one Tuesday sale at the victim supply depot!   Prior to now, Romero’s persona believed in his ability to deliver the drug cash. His in-character performance improved in the same way a method actor’s would.

The assassin shifted his thoughts effortlessly from his breath’s rhythm, to the cadence of his heart. On entering the realm of spatial consciousness, he could feel the weight of the Ruger nestled snugly next to his armpit. The room took on ethereal quality along with a sensation of time traveling in a slow-motion thunder of seconds. The Columbian cocaine baron methodically removed his driving gloves and he slipped them into his pocket.

“Gentlemen,” Romero began to slide his right hand under his jacket but was interrupted by the rich melody of a door chime.

“I’ll get rid of whoever that is.” Bill was also surprised by the interruption. “It’s probably a salesman or canvasser. Peddlers tend to gravitate to this affluent neighborhood.”

Neither Romeo nor the Doctor spoke during the brief absence but Frank Thompson suddenly didn’t feel as confident as he had in the moments before. He nervously looked about and avoided letting his eyes rest on the young man who was now a source of disquiet.

When Watson re-entered the room a short moment later. He was ashen faced and closely followed by a uniformed police officer. Though shorter than William by at least 4 inches, the Mountie still outweighed him owing to the pickle-barrel shape of his upper torso. A service sidearm was held loosely but aimed at the lawyer’s back.

“Sit down.” The officer pointed with the barrel of his handgun and paused while Bill apprehensively took a seat on the sofa. “I’m fully aware of what this meeting is about and I’m here for my take.”

“Sergeant Roberts is the local detachment commander,” Watson offered. “I don’t know where he’s gotten his information.”

“I have my sources.” Roberts offered a hackneyed cop phrase. In fact, he’d heard from Irene Smith, the Administration Officer for Watson and Associates.

This type of thing never happened in Creston and Roberts had been thrilled by the disclosure. It was an Irish Sweepstakes pay off, with a ticket gained on the Scotch. It couldn’t have come along at a more opportune time in his life. He had his retirement plans to consider. The clever sergeant wasn’t about to miss this chance to capitalize on his position. The Columbian cartels have prospered because they know bananas ripen better with the correct fertilizer on the appropriate palms.

“So am I in or do we all take a drive downtown?” Roberts loved melodramatic police tripe and always wanted to have an opportunity to say that particularly cloying banality.

“This is an interesting development.” Romero spoke wryly and he targeted his next statement to the two men on the sofa. “It’s your town so it’s mostly your decision. Do we cut Sergeant Roberts in for an equitable share, or not?”

“I vote yes!” Dr. Frank Thompson spoke first and confidently. The appearance of the law was actually a minor comfort for him as in the last moment he entertained doubts about the drug lord.

Sergeant Roberts turned towards Watson to add the weight of his ominous presence to the barrister’s decision process.

“I say yes also.” William was rattled by the jolt of this rock on the smooth road.

Romero moved as the policeman swiveled. His gun slipped quickly out from underneath his jacket and stuttered twice in rapid succession. He paid this graft with two ounces of the heavy metal of lead in lieu of gold. Two smallish wounds showed on the Sergeant’s left temple. Officer down. The young killer mentally added a final bit of police jargon as massive internal damage beyond the visual marks crumpled the policeman’s corpse to a heap.

“Motion carried.” That was rather easy! The first kill since his father had been without the slightest hesitation. Romero swung his gun to face the sofa.

“In fact, I’d like to table another ballot.” There followed another double-punt from the Ruger’s suppressor. Frank Thompson’s head kicked back over the uprights of his two ears. Two blood red scores were posted above the one long dash of his single eyebrow. Touchdown! The body remained seated but with eyes staring vacantly at the ceiling. Doc’s lifetime clock had run down to zero and his team’s spirit would now be watching the soul’s instant replay.

“Who agrees that we give Dr. Thompson his rightful share of the take right now?” Romero turned the gun to face Attorney at Law William Watson, Esquire.

“W-Why?” Watson sputtered in shock. Disposing of the cop demanding payment for a crime license, he could understand. But he couldn’t comprehend what motivated Romero to also shoot the doctor, unless he was next? One look at the deathly resolve on killer’s face and a perfect view down the black hole of the muzzle added up to a sum that William hadn’t ciphered into the equation. Uncontrollably, his bladder let go.

Why is a very good question and the answer will surprise you.” Romero was cool as a concrete slab in a shady arbor. “You are a greedy man. Who gets hurt for your personal gain doesn’t matter to you. Drugs ruin people’s lives but that wasn’t important, as long as you got your piece of the profit. Your friend the good doctor was just as unscrupulous as you. He knew the harm cocaine causes, yet was eager to reap the financial rewards of complicity. I would’ve had to kill the policeman regardless but I was comforted to find he wasn’t just an innocent man doing a dangerous job. The RCMP doesn’t need corrupt opportunists like Roberts.”

“Why me? Why here?” William had several quick rejoinders for the jury foreman’s surprise verdict.   “Many people are immoral.”

“More good questions that I’ll be happy to answer.” Though Romero continued to move and gesture normally as he spoke, the gun remained as immobile as a bronze statue. “Here is as good a place as any for a lesson to be taught. The societal value of Cindy Smart practicing medicine again, greatly outweighs any money you and Dr. Thompson could make at her expense. My motives aren’t complicated. Only my methods are.”

William Watson recalled the malpractice case. He’d made a lot of money and got plenty of free publicity out of ruining Dr. Smart’s career. Thompson had helped him fudge the medical testimony. Looking back, he realized there were many other things in his life that he should have done differently. Now sitting on his Chesterfield in a puddle of urine, the time for atonement was past.

The condemned lawyer studied the killer’s dispassionate face. The elements of the sting fell neatly together—just slightly too late. “Your name isn’t Romero and you probably have never even been to Columbia. You might not even be Spanish.”

“No, Romero’s not my name.” John dropped the persona and the accent with it. “I’m neither part of a cocaine cartel nor a Latino.”

“We’d still be here now,” The lawyer looked sadly at his money, “even if I had flipped the coin and won.”

“That offer was my dice roll and it came up snake-eyes when you refused it. You crapped out and it also gave me Dr. Frank Thompson as a side bet windfall. Now I don’t have to assume a doctor persona, to meet him at a medical seminar.”

“Have you killed Jessica to keep her silent?” The lawyer tried a new tactic. His life was all in on the table against the highest trump of the gun. Perhaps a reprieve could be found in a push with a wild card of feigned concern for another’s welfare.

“Dealing Jessica as my queen of hearts forced me into playing a dangerous bluff but I can’t regret that.” John saw through the ploy. “My time spent with her was more rewarding than the cash or Frank combined. Your worry for Jessica sharply juxtaposes with scheming to manipulate and demean her. If Cindy Smart wasn’t motivation enough, Jessica Ellis taught me the true measure of your character.”

“Who are you?” William folded his hand and asked to see the winning hand even though he had no chips left to call it.

“I’m Shiva’s Messenger.” On seeing a puzzled expression, John added. “At your final destination you’ll understand perfectly.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Even a cold wetness in his trousers was bliss compared to the prospects awaiting him. “I haven’t lived a very good life and I’m sure where I’m headed won’t be pleasant.”

“You don’t have to fear death or what’s beyond it.” John’s consoling voice was as unwavering as his gun hand. “We all go to a better place, no matter what we’ve done. I’ve been there and back, so I know this to be true. That is also comforting to me because I can hasten your mortality while still retaining my morality.”

“Can I talk you out of it somehow?”

“We both know how this conversation has to end. I doubt you would enjoy your continued existence very much, even if I allowed you to live. Two dead people are in your home and you’re the focal point of the drama. But I’m not speaking with you now to negotiate for your life. I’ve only given you an opportunity to prepare yourself.”

“Thank you.” William couldn’t quite rationalize why he’d just thanked the man who was about to kill him. Somehow, it seemed appropriate. He thought about the inevitability of his death. There was no way to dismiss the specter. It was now upon him. Would it be a good place—even for him? Why would the messenger lie now, when he had dropped his other pretences?

Glancing one final time at the murderer, the lawyer thought about his money in the case. He’d paid a dear price for a smooth crossing of the River Styx. But as his fear of the unknown ebbed away, he felt the Ferryman was delivering a fair exchange.

“I’m ready now.” William Watson looked back down the barrel of the handgun. He briefly registered the first muzzle flash but was oblivious to the second.

John ejected the magazine and refilled it with six loose rounds from his pocket. The clip slammed home and the Ruger dove back into his holster. Nothing had been fingered without gloves in this house and he now put them on again. As he collected his six spent casings, he considered other things he may have handled. In the law office, he’d used public door handles where prints were now obliterated. With all documents, he’d only touched the edges. If Jessica were to allow her body dusted in any number of places, his jig was up. That thought produced a smile.

After picking up the briefcase full of money, he took one final look at the bodies of his victims. He hadn’t balked as his dream at the springs foretold. His kills had been both effortless and without the slightest remorse. My mind’s gem produced a pure laser beam. In his heart, John believed he had done the right thing. His father killed while retaining his honor and so had the assassin’s protégé.

“I’m not exactly sure where I pulled Shiva’s Messenger from but it is appropriate.” John explained the name to the unappreciative dead. “Operation Shiva was originally postmarked at Dallas in 1963 and I’m the letter carrier tasked with delivering the overdue reply.”

Since he was wearing his gloves again, there was no problem locking the door of the beautiful upscale home behind him. A police unit was parked in the drive where it blocked the path of both luxury vehicles. He climbed into his own sports car and drove away.

“Those two can’t phoque with you anymore.” As he passed the convenience store, he saw lights in the apartment above. “Good bye, Doctor Mom. Go back to the career you love and deserve.”

“Where to next?” John wondered as the BMW Z5 wheeled out of the town of Creston and headed for the Trans Canada Highway. “Now that’s an exceptionally good deception: they’ll see where I’ve been but even I don’t know where I’m going.”


Oddly enough, none of the three dead men were reported as missing. The bodies went undiscovered until Saturday afternoon. A neighbor grew concerned about the parked police car and called the detachment. Finally, a patrolman peeped in the windows and that saved Lenore Watson from witnessing a grisly scene on return from her shopping weekend.

An event of this magnitude doesn’t remain a secret very long in a small town. Irene Smith came forward immediately on hearing the news, relating the probable drug connection and of her reporting it to the recently deceased detachment commander. While that tidbit pointed at a potential suspect, it also raised speculations regarding the officer in question.


The police department issued one “cannot comment until confirmed” after another. The local newspaper covered the story on the front page for four issues in a row: that’s a long time for a weekly. The story even got some airplay that lasted a couple of days in the rest of the country. Then it was over and forgotten, everywhere but in Creston.

“There are still uncomfortable shadows in here for me as well.” Jessica noted Cindy’s eyes roaming the office that was previously William Watson’s. The young lawyer had moved swiftly in making an offer on the business. The Widow Watson was eager to keep the practice operational with herself as a silent partner, as her husband had drained all funds from their accounts before he was killed.

“The only specters I’m concerned about might be lurking in yellow striped pants.” Cindy had also been quick about capitalizing on her opportunity. The town had been left critically short of medical practitioners. She arranged an appointment with the lawyer on a sham of reestablishing her professional corporation but that could wait until her more pressing issues were resolved.

“I’m already intrigued.” Jessica went to the sofa with her very first new client. The other accounts were included with the package along with the office fixtures. “I’ve found myself occasionally driving behind you, so I know it’s not regarding speeding tickets.”

“Was that you honking?” The doctor saw the results of crashed cars and piloted her vehicle with due caution—and then some.

The casual ease between the two women might seem odd to people in larger centers. Their acquaintance was only to the depth of a nod and a smile in a grocery aisle. Yet each could likely recite accurate histories of the other, from the casual chats with a web of shared contacts in a small town. Jessica’s aunt was a cheerleader with Cindy in high school. Cindy’s late husband’s nephew was also the young lawyer’s previous boyfriend. Ironically, Doctor Smart had even treated a teenaged Jessica Ellis for late-onset Measles.

“As seen in the perspective of life’s rearview mirror,” the doctor got to the critical topic after the pleasantries were finished, “many mysterious details fit together in a previously unimaginable way.”

Cindy told the tale of Roger, from a collapse in the store to the odd offer of repayment at parting. Being wanted by the law would make him as leery of a hospital as a Jehovah’s Witness. Perhaps the young fugitive had even known the store’s proprietor was the physician he desperately needed. He had called her ‘Cindy’.

“The only thing I can truly attest about him is that his Measles were defiantly not a put-up job.” Cindy finished the elucidation.

“This puts you in a situation.” Throughout the retelling, Jessica had noted many similarities between Roger and Romero. The key one being that probably nothing was factual about him either. “Have you spoken with the police?”

“Not yet and I’m of mixed feelings about whether I should.” As a wise precaution Cindy wanted legal advice first. Who better could she ask than a lawyer currently in the same tenuous situation? “I’m to understand you are also wavering in stance. At first people were suggesting you suffered from Stockholm syndrome but recently your accounts reflect a suitable suffering at hands of a murderer.”

“Psychological trauma to a point of sympathy with captors isn’t treated with pills so I’m not going to trade medical advice for free legal services.” She retorted to Cindy’s obvious awareness that the response to casual queries Jessica gave, had changed intentionally. Many people, especially those prone to gossip, didn’t accept that a pleasant seeming man could commit a horrible crime.   The victim had inserted some fictitious sinister elements to avoid the invariable follow-up questions.

“Nor would I ask.” Cindy smiled. “I’m here mostly to compare what we know, to ascertain if my Roger was also your Romero. If the two personalities mesh, I have some difficult decisions to make.”

The two professional women, one older and the other younger, talked through some shared impressions. The similarities in sense of humor, overall body type, hair length, facial features and amicable personality traits swiftly emerged. On the converse side were the accent, skin and hair color along with numerous other differences.

“If Romero was only pretending to be a Latino, the performance was masterful.” Jessica recalled how he spoke in Spanish with one waiter with the apparent ease of a native tongue. “Even in the night, at particularly intimate moments, he still had the inflection.”

“Skin could be darkened at a tanning booth over the elapsed week.” Cindy recalled his base tan and imagined it intensified. “Did you notice lighter colorations—uh—anywhere?”

“He didn’t wear swim trunks at the beach.” Jessica smiled at a blush of embarrassment on her client’s cheeks. “Retrospectively, his palms didn’t match but I discounted it as a racial peculiarity. I’ve seen people of African decent with a marked difference on their hand’s flipped sides. That calls to mind his hairs color. Romero’s was black as midnight—everywhere. As his doctor, did you ever catch a glimpse of Roger’s—nether regions?”

“I would’ve seen that prominently even if I was his accountant.” Cindy’s abashed discomfort skyrocketed and she regretted where the word ‘prominently’ was placed. “He had an aversion to clothing. His sun-bleached hair in a light brown tone matched as if natural.”

“A nudist tendency is another similarity.” Jessica also recalled the day on the mountain where Romero stalled putting his clothes on until the last possible moment. “He was so close to the highway that a turned face in a passing car could’ve seen.”

“Should I take my evidence to the police?” Cindy took a deep breath for a possible plunge into a law-enforcement piranha pool. Their discussions still hadn’t concluded linkage—with all certainty.

“I’ll take your last words as your own musing. If you bluntly ask me the question you were pondering, my professional ethics would dictate advising disclosure—even if I personally felt you’d be much better off remaining quiet.” Jessica worded a careful answer. “You have compelling reasons for not mourning the deaths of Watson and Thompson. I also don’t miss William and personally, I found Frank creepy. On his frequent visits to Bills office, his eyes on me almost caused him to walk into walls. The only time I saw him medically, it bordered on a groping session in a theater’s back row.”

“I often heard that about him with attractive female patients.” Cindy’s mind though was more on her present dilemma. “I suppose my civic responsibility—”

“You didn’t allow me to finish.” The lawyer interrupted. “You and I each benefited from the killings. Anything we officially say will be used in evidence.”

Could be used,” Cindy corrected, “if we had complicity.”

“Maybe, but the officer’s death hugely changed the situation. The police are slavering for any conviction to avenge the loss of one of their own. Even pinning an unwarranted accomplice tag would help slake the bloodlust.”

“The street talk is he was dirty,” Cindy offered, “but was he?”

“Irene Smith informed Sergeant Roberts personally. Cops, like wolves, tend to operate in packs.” Jessica digressed to answer. “So why would he be there without any backup? He went stealthily in like a ‘graft-y’ fox. That’s not officially confirmed and it won’t be.”

“An investigation would still prove my non-involvement.” She caught the stressed keyword but Cindy decided against further talk on the tangent course.

“The reverse is far more likely. Police never investigate as per any dictionary definition of the word. They play a matching game to draw lines connecting a crime with a suspect—with their crayons.”

“I’m not sure I understand.” Cindy’s expression could’ve asked.

“After a blaze, a fire department investigates and studies every detail. Sometimes it’s arson but on other occasions something else like electrical was the cause. If police methodology investigated fires, it would always be determined as arson because that’s all they want to find. A shorted junction box would be discounted as if not seen, because it doesn’t support the desired firebug theory.”

“Even if the police think it was arson they still don’t have a fire starter.” Cindy countered.

“If a bystander says ‘I had a match but only lit my cigarette’, the police just hear the ‘I had a match’ portion.” A factor in Jessica’s choosing her profession was her once seeing an older cousin wrongfully convicted. “Police supply the crown council with material and it’s always in support of a guilty verdict. The role of police is to get convictions and objectivity cuts the chances of putting a perp in the slammer—even if the perp didn’t perpetrate.”

“If I go to the police they’ll start trying to prove I requested the murders.” Cindy was certainly glad now that she came to Jessica before making a costly mistake. She was relieved that she hadn’t even told her mother. That would’ve meant the whole town would know by the day after.

“Aggressively so because a cop is dead.”   The lawyer added.

“What will I say to the police when they come to me?” The doctor had another thought and with it a worry. “I can’t lie.”

“I don’t think you need fret that.” Jessica chuckled, as she was about to show her further contempt for RCMP abilities. “Here, the death of the officer even helps your situation. A real investigation might attempt to ascertain if your benefiting was a translation of your complicity. Even if by some miracle one of the officers thought to look deeper, he probably wouldn’t. They don’t want to see if Officer Roberts was guilty. The police knew I was with the killer before he acted and I’ve been a beneficiary but the surveillance on me stalled at my cleavage. If they haven’t contacted you yet, I doubt they will.”

“They did check out your alibi, didn’t they?” Cindy mused.

“They didn’t ask me for one.” Jessica’s eyes suddenly went wide. “Oh my God! With everything else I never thought of that!”

“What?” The doctor started.

“He left it on purpose!” The young woman’s mind up-shifted. “The policeman wasn’t expected but Romero handled the situation. The graft element complicated the situation but that’s not the pivotal piece in the police investigation—or lack thereof.”

“What is the important part?” Cindy urged as the girl paused.

“Romero left the signed contracts at the crime scene.” The whole town seemed aware of each fact but in this instance Jessica had first-hand knowledge. She was shown the documents and asked to confirm Watson’s signature and the company letterhead. “Why did a Columbian drug lord, if he was that, leave his name in evidence? If it was just a million dollar sting, as is more likely, why would a con artist leave the incriminating papers either?”

“He forgot them in haste or panic?” Cindy offered a guess.

“Romero was neither jittery nor rushing. I felt some information was missing about him, as you did, but at the very most I might’ve expected it to be a wife and kids at home in Columbia.   That makes me judge him as a consummate professional. He wouldn’t overlook contracts and in fact, why did he even bother to get them signed? Why didn’t he just shoot, grab the money and run?” Jessica’s admiration for the criminal soared to a still higher plateau. “Roger or Romero, intentionally supplied the proof for yours and my benefit. He took the blame onto himself by leaving an irrefutable motive.”

“I’m not comfortable with the motive.” Cindy wasn’t referring to the contracts but to the other implied reason. “I’m not happy about my blessings being at the cost of three lives.”

“We can’t be certain that was foremost in his mind.” Jessica could empathize as she felt a tiny pang of that too. “He also walked away with a lot of money but maybe that wasn’t all of it either. I don’t know about your Roger but my Romero had depths of strata that I wasn’t even close to core sampling into yet.”

“If we can see several reasons then the investigators can too.” She swallowed the main motive issue for now but as a ruminant cow would, Cindy’s mind intended to later chew it like a cud.

“The RCMP aren’t any smarter than their horses.” Jessica felt the assessment may even be insulting to the mounts. “They often can’t fathom a single motive. It’s up to the trial process to ascertain that. A stallion’s hoof tapping out the value of pi is more likely than police following all tracks from a multifaceted scenario. Not asking for my alibi shows the police are trotting along a line of placed carrots.”

“You display an awfully harsh opinion of law enforcement.” The doctor allowed many to slip by but the equine IQ merited comment.

“My plea is guilty as charged.” Jessica grinned grimly. “A path to my career swerved around the easier route of starting off in crown council. I couldn’t stomach the RCMP on a daily basis. We should get together over a lunch and I’ll tell you horror stories.”

“I accept and gladly.” Cindy felt the same growing rapport that Jessica displayed in her invitation. “So, our session is done and the advice is to just shut up and enjoy the boon?”

“Doctor Smart, that is an excellent piece of advice that you just gave me.” The lawyer intentionally misinterpreted the non-definitive question as a statement. “Jessica Ellis will personally follow it.”

“The physician will take her own prescription as well but Cindy Smart expected her legal bill would absolve her of that decision.”


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