The Hawk Run Chronicles: Welcome Home

by Skippy


The usual...

Feedback: Skippy


IT WAS GALEN'S habit upon arriving in the morning to stand at the front desk drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. He also skimmed computer files for anything worthy of attention, and…of course…he chatted with Darnell. He was doing just that when Maggie came striding in through the front door.

"Ain't you on afternoons, Marguerite?" he greeted her.

Maggie nodded her response and placed a plastic sandwich bag on the counter. There were two bullets in the little bag. "I dug those out of the front of my house," she said. "Someone shot at me when I stepped outside to get the newspaper."

Galen picked up the baggie to examine the slugs. "Two rounds fired?"

"No, sir. Whoever it was fired five or six times. The other shots went whizzing by me. Those two hit the house as I ran back onto the porch."

"Did you see anyone?"

"There were a couple of people out in boats this morning, but when the shots were fired, they looked toward that clump of trees just north of Cohasset Cove. I'm going over there to take a look, see if there are any shell casings laying around."

"It might be a good idea for you to get that vest Helen brought in yesterday. That Kevlar vest. If you're gonna have people taking shots at you, you should wear that. On or off duty."

She considered this for a moment before giving him a curt nod. "I'll do that. Thanks, Galen."

"You're welcome. And be careful."

Later that evening, as Maggie drove along Main Lake Road, someone shot at her again. The front tire of the motorcycle was hit, and she managed to lay the big Harley down in a controlled skid without doing any major damages to herself or to the bike. She did suffer a few cuts and bruises. Except for the front tire, the motorcycle was unharmed.

Patrice fed quarters into the juke box at the Lamplighter Lounge and stood there sipping her martini and humming along to "You Light Up My Life." She was giving thought to asking the bartender to dance when Nona came marching in to spoil her good time.

"I need a different gun," Nona declared.

Patrice shushed her, grabbing her arm to drag her to a booth. "Keep your voice down," she hissed.

"Why?" Nona laughed. "We're the only two people in here."

"You're forgetting the bartender and the cocktail waitress."

"Whatever. Can I have a different gun or not?"

"And you need a different gun because…?"

"That one I borrowed doesn't work right. Maybe it needs cleaned or something."

"Lawrence takes excellent care of those weapons. Which one is giving you problems?"

"That rifle. The one with the little brass nameplate on the stock. And I don't care if Larry does take good care of those guns, that one I borrowed does not work properly. I missed that damn cop both times I tried to shoot her. I want a better gun."

"You might have better luck if you would wear your glasses, dear."

"They make me look like a geek."

"Then invest in contact lenses."

"Look, Patrice," she frowned. "I want to get a better gun out of the cabinet. Can I do that or not?"

"Of course you may help yourself, dear. Just return the rifle before you take another gun, please."

"I can't. I threw it away."

Patrice choked on her drink. "Excuse me? Did you say you threw that rifle away?"

"Yeah, I did. It pissed me off, so I tossed it into the bushes. I'll buy one to replace it. Stop gobbling at me."

"I am not 'gobbling', whatever that means. And did it ever occur to you that someone might find that rifle? You've already caused problems by leaving that handgun where Bert drowned. You go back to where you ditched that rifle, Nona, and you retrieve it."

"The gun is no good. Why do you want a gun that doesn't work properly?"

"Just do as I tell you," she hissed, clutching Nona's wrist. "You go find that rifle and you return it to the cabinet in the den. Then you can take whatever gun seems to suit your purpose. Do you understand me?"


Darnell smiled to see Dukie come through the front door of the police station. "Hey, there, darlin'," she warbled. "What are you doing here?"

Dukie carefully placed a black plastic trash bag on the counter. "There's a 30-06 hunting rifle in there," she explained. "I found it out behind the diner early this morning. It was lying in that area where all those wildflowers grow. Close to the P&LE path."

"I know where you mean," she nodded. "You'd better come on back here, Dukie, and talk to Helen about this."

She buzzed open the gate. She escorted Dukie and the rifle back to Helen's office, and then returned to the front desk. She got there just in time to welcome Lawrence Huckabee to the office.

"I want to report a theft," he declared. "Someone broke into my home and took several valuable weapons from a gun cabinet in my den."

"Well, sir, you have a seat over there by the bulletin board and I'll go find an officer to take your complaint."

"I really don't have the time to wait around here for hours," he snapped. "Why can't you handle it for me?"

Darnell pulled a pencil from behind her ear and flipped open a steno pad. "Okey-doke, Mr. Huckabee. Tell me all about this theft."

DUKIE SERVED Maggie a bowl of soup and a glass of milk. "Navy bean today. I hope you like it."

"I'm sure I will," Maggie smiled. Just as she lifted the first spoonful to her mouth, her radio squawked at her.

"Hey, Maggie girl. It's me, Gracie. Where you at?"

With a sigh, she keyed the microphone to respond. "I'm at Dukie's, Gracie. What's up?"

"We got a call from LouDean Guitry. He's got a place over on South Lake. It seems somebody went and opened the pasture gate there, and now we have 20 or 30 goats wanderin' toward town. I'm gonna give the animal warden a call, but you better take a ride on over there, darlin', so nobody wrecks a vehicle trying to avoid a goat."

"On my way, Gracie. Unit four clear." She headed toward the door.

Maggie had little difficulty locating the goats. The animals had discovered an especially lush and tasty patch of grass in front of the Masterson estate, and all 27 of them were grazing contentedly there. She parked her motorcycle at the end of the driveway. She informed dispatch of her location, and settled back to await the arrival of the animal warden. She stood watching the goats, mindful of the possibility of snipers lurking in the shrubberies close by.

A car came down the road and turned onto the driveway. The driver's side window lowered and Demmie Masterson smiled out at her. "Have you quit your day job to become a goat herder, Officer Conover?"

"No, ma'am," she laughed. "These goats escaped from elsewhere. I'm just keeping them under surveillance until the animal warden arrives to take 'em into custody."

Demmie got out of the car. She shivered slightly and tucked a hand into the crook of Maggie's elbow. "A bit chilly this evening."

"Yes, ma'am. But just look at all those stars."

Demmie stood close to her for warmth, admiring the beauty of the night sky. The sound of gunfire intruded into the companionable silence and sent the goats skittering off in 27 different directions. A large crack blossomed across the rear window of the car.

Without flinching, Demmie asked, "Is that what I think it is?"

"If you think it's gunfire, yes, ma'am. Let's get you…"

A volley of gunfire erupted from a stand of trees to their left. One of the shots ripped into Demmie's thigh, and she crumpled to the ground. Maggie quickly dragged her over to the side of the car, out of the line of fire. "Don't you move a muscle," she said softly. She keyed the microphone clipped to her jacket. "Dispatch, this is unit four. Shots fired, 5210 West Lake Road. Roll ambulance this location. Mrs. Masterson has been shot."

"Rolling backup, four," was Gracie's terse response. "Ambulance en route."

Maggie sat down on the ground and eased Demmie's head onto her legs. "How we doin', Demetria?" she smiled down at her.

"It hurts like hell, but I believe I'll live."

"I'm glad to hear it. May I have your permission to examine the wound?"

"Of course."

Maggie inched Demmie's skirt up to her hips. "I think it's just a flesh wound. I don't think the bullet penetrated. It's too dark for me to see clearly, though." She shrugged out of her jacket and fitted it around Demmie's shoulders. Then she took a clean handkerchief from her pocket and gentle pressed it to the wound on her thigh. "Just try to relax. Help is on the way."

"Has the shooter escaped, do you think?"

"Well, that's something I can't be sure of. That's why both of us are sitting here behind this car. I don't want any more gunshots fired this way."

The sound of sirens reached them. Maggie helped Demmie to a sitting position. "Is your son at home, Mrs. Masterson?" she asked.

"Yes. I believe Honoria is with a friend of hers at the Lazy Daisy Motel. You'd better let her know what has happened, Maggie. She'll be livid if you don't."

"I'll drive on out there myself to break the news." She looked toward the house. "I believe that's your son running toward us. He no doubt heard the gunshots."

It was, indeed, Carl, and he dropped to his knees beside his mother. "What happened?" he frowned at Maggie.

"Someone shot at us," she replied. She explained to him her reason fro being there. "I've called for help, Mr. Masterson. The ambulance is on the way."

He examined the wound on his mother's thigh. "Any idea who did this?"

"Oh, yeah," Maggie nodded. "I'm pretty sure I know who's to blame. The question is, how do I go about proving it." She looked toward the road. "Here comes the ambulance. Let's help Mrs. Masterson to her feet."

The ambulance pulled into the driveway. Carl lifted Demmie in his arms and carried her to the paramedics. When she was comfortably situated, he turned his attention back to Maggie.

"I'm not sure where Honoria is," he frowned, "but she should be notified. Can you help me with that?"

"Mrs. Masterson has given me your wife's location," Maggie smiled. "You go on ahead to the hospital. I'll see if I can round up Mrs. Masterson Number Four."

When Maggie knocked on the door of room 12 of the Lazy Daisy Motel, an outraged and naked Honoria Masterson greeted her. She explained quickly her reason for intruding, then stepped out into the hallway while Honoria got dressed. Within 10 minutes, they were on their way to Lakeside Memorial Hospital.

Honoria paced the emergency room like a restless lioness. When Helen Burke came striding out of the treatment room, she pounced on her. "How is she?" she demanded. "How long will she have to stay? Does she need surgery?"

Helen took hold of her wrist to urge her toward a sofa. She sat her down there beside Carl. "Demmie has a superficial gunshot wound to the left thigh," she said to them. "The doctor is suturing the wound, and Demmie will be kept here overnight for observation. They're keeping her primarily because gunshot wounds can very easily become infected. She is relatively comfortable, and asks that both of you go in to see her as soon as the doctor has finished."

"Where's Maggie?" Carl asked. "Is she okay? I never thought to ask her if she was injured."

"Officer Conover was not injured. And she's over on West Lake Road, taking a look at the property to the south of yours to see if the shooter was kind enough to leave us any evidence. The most recent report I got from her indicates that you have a herd of goats on your front lawn. She called the animal warden, again, to go out there to round them up."

"She saved Demmie's life," Honoria declared.

"That's her job, Honoria. Do either of you have any questions?

"Do you know who shot my mother?" Carl asked.

"We have one or two ideas as to the shooter's identity. Until we have some solid evidence, though, there isn't much we can do about arresting anyone."

"Thank you for your help tonight, Helen. We appreciate it."

"You're welcome. You'll have to excuse me now, though. I'm going over to your place to see if I can help the officers find some solid evidence. I'll keep you informed."

Looking inordinately pleased with herself, Nona sat down with her brother in a booth at the Kasa de Kaffeine. She ordered coffee and pie and settled back, humming happily as she waited for her food.

"What has you smiling so prettily this morning?" Lawrence asked.

"I finally got that woman who killed Bert," she grinned.

"What woman?" he frowned. "And Bert's death was accidental. He drowned."

"Yeah, but he wouldn't have drowned if that duck hadn't been there, and the duck would not have been there if that Conover bitch hadn't taken it from you."

He leaned forward to take hold of her hands. "You shot a cop?" he hissed.

"Yes. So what?"

"Nona…where did you get the gun?"

"From that cabinet in your den. Patrice said I could take whatever I needed. The first one I took didn't work properly, so I had to take a few more."

"I reported those weapons stolen. I had no idea you took them."

"So? That just puts me in the clear. If somebody stole them, they can't say I shot the cop."

"Sweetheart, I need to know which guns you took. This is really important, okay? Tell me which guns you took."

"That rifle with the brass nameplate on the stock. That's the one that didn't work properly. I threw that one away, so I had to take the others. I took a shotgun, a .22, and that one I borrowed the last time. The one you used to keep in your desk drawer."

Lawrence groaned. "That's the gun you killed Maureen with."

"Yes. I took it because I was sure it worked the way it's supposed to."

"Where is that weapon now?"

" I think I put it in my dresser when I got home last night. Will you please let go of my hands? You're hurting me."

He released her. "Which gun did you shoot the police officer with?"

"The Beretta. The one I shot Maureen with. It's a very nice gun. I like the feel of it."

Taking a cell phone from his pocket, he punched in the number for Patrice's office phone. "We need to talk," he muttered when she answered. "We've got major problems. My office. Ten minutes."

Patrice perched on the front of her desk, her arms folded across her chest as she frowned at Nona. "You shot Demetria Masterson," she snapped. "Not that cop. Demetria Masterson. We'll have a lynch mob after us if they find out who's responsible."

"I was aiming at the cop," Nona laughed. "I think I need new glasses."

"This isn't funny," Lawrence declared. "This is very serious. It would have been a disaster if you really had shot the cop, but this is almost as bad. That Masterson family runs this town. If we are connected in any way to this incident, we'll end up behind bars."

"They can't prove anything," she shrugged. "Nobody saw me."

"No, you just left those guns lying all over town," Patrice snorted. "Guns registered to your brother. Guess who they'll haul in for questioning, sweetie."

"My brother didn't do anything wrong. They might ask him a few questions, but they can't arrest him for something he didn't do. He wasn't even in town the night I killed Maureen Stambaugh."

The intercom on Patrice's desk buzzed, causing all three of them to jump. "What do you want, Coral?" Patrice growled.

"Lieutenant Galen Miller is here, Mrs. Huckabee," the secretary replied. "He'd like to talk to Mr. Huckabee."

Lawrence tried to get comfortable on the wooden chair facing Helen's desk. He adjusted the knot of his tie; he fussed with the crease in his trousers. He sighed in impatience and crossed his legs. "Would you mind getting on with it, Captain Burke?" he complained. "I'm a busy man. I have a number of appointments today."

Helen smiled at him. "I'm busy too," was her reply. "I have a murderer to catch. And that brings me to the reason I had Lieutenant Miller bring you to my office today."

"You certainly can't think that I had anything to do with any murder," he laughed. "Who was murdered, if I may ask?"

"Don't you read the newspaper? Maureen Stambaugh was murdered two weeks ago."

"And how is that any concern of mine?"

"The gun used to murder Mrs. Stambaugh was used again in an attack against Mrs. Demetria Masterson last night. The gun is registered in your name."

"I reported the theft of three guns in my collection, Captain Burke."

"Yes, you did. You reported that theft just yesterday morning. However, the gun used to murder Mrs. Stambaugh and to wound Mrs. Masterson was not among those reported stolen."

This pronouncement caught Lawrence by surprise. "May I know what type of gun was used in those crimes?" he gulped.

"According to a forensics report from the Hawk County sheriff's office, a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun was used." She opened a desk drawer and took out an evidence bag. In it was a 9 mm Beretta. "This is the weapon in question. It is registered to Lawrence J. Huckabee. Is it, in fact, yours, sir?'

Lawrence picked up the baggie. "Yes," he nodded. "May I know where this was found?'

"Under a rhododendron bush to the south of the driveway on the Masterson property."

"I did not kill Maureen Stambaugh, Captain Burke. And I was in Cambridge last night, visiting a friend."

"I'll need to know your friend's name and address so that I can verify that statement."

He recited the information. Blotting a handkerchief against his upper lip, he asked, "Do I need my attorney?"

"It might be a good idea for you to consult an attorney," Helen nodded. "You're free to go now, but please stay in town until this matter is resolved."

Maggie tapped softly on the door to Demmie's hospital room. Honoria opened the door to her and smiled as she ushered her inside. Demmie was sitting up in bed, supported by a mound of pillows and wearing a lacy bed jacket. Every available surface of the furniture in the room held flowers.

"How are you feeling?" Maggie asked.

"I'm fine. They're keeping me an extra day. I'm diabetic, you see, and sometimes that means I have a problem with infection and healing quickly."

Maggie nodded, taking a few steps closer to the bed. "Yes. I just spoke to your doctor, and she explained that to me. I hope they turn you loose in time for the picnic," she smiled.

"Oh, I can guarantee that they will," she laughed. "Did you find anything when you searched the property along the driveway?"

"One or two things caught my eye."

"Can't tell me, eh?"

"No, ma'am. I'm sorry, but no. I can't."

"That's all right, angel. I understand. Can you tell me, though, if you are any closer to arresting anyone?"

"Yes, ma'am. Chief Burke is hopeful that we'll have sufficient evidence to present to the city prosecutor some time today."


"Do you need anything, Mrs. Masterson? Is there anything I can do for you?"

"I'm quite comfortable, Maggie, but thank you for asking."

"Then I'll be on my way. I just wanted to stop by to make sure they were taking good care of you."

"I'll walk out with you," Honoria announced. She took Maggie's arm as they stepped into the hallway. "Thank you for coming by," she smiled.

"My pleasure."

"And thank you for giving me my very first ride on a motorcycle last night."

"You're welcome."

"I wanted to walk you out so I could express my thanks, but I also want to apologize to you, Maggie."

"For what?"

"For the look I gave you that day in the bookstore."

Maggie understood immediately. She grinned at her. "No problem. I basically ignored you."

"Yes, I know. Just let me say, though, that if you ever do anything to cause my Lynnie pain, I will shoot you dead."

"From the way things are going lately, you'll have to get in line."

WITHOUT KNOCKING, Patrice stormed into Nona's office at the Kasa de Kaffeine. "Those fucking cops just arrested Lawrence," she snarled, grabbing the chair Nona sat in to yank it away from the desk. "They're charging him with Maureen Stambaugh's murder."

"He didn't kill her," Nona shrugged. "He's got nothing to worry about."

"You moron. Why did you leave that fucking gun on the Masterson property? We'd be in the clear if you hadn't dropped it there."

"One of those goats came into the bushes where I was hiding. It scared me," she pouted. "I dropped the gun and ran. It isn't my fault."

"Nothing is ever your fault. I want you to go over to the police station and tell them you killed that woman."

"You're out of your mind," she laughed. She brought her foot up and pushed against Patrice's abdomen, knocking her back against the wall. She grabbed her by the throat and punched her repeatedly until Patrice crumpled to the floor. "I've had enough of your bossy ways," she snarled. She gave her a few vicious kicks to the ribs before she went marching out of the office.

Helen entered the day room of the police station and walked to the podium at the front of the room. All 10 officers of the Hawk Run police force were seated there. She waited until Galen joined them, than addressed the group. "As you may know, there is a community picnic planned for tomorrow in Municipal Park. Recent events have me quite concerned for the safety of everyone in this town, and so I am going to ask all of you to attend the picnic in an official capacity. I want you in uniform and armed, and I want you to be alert and ready to move if any threat presents itself."

"I thought we had our killer behind bars, Chief," one of the officers commented.

"We have a suspect behind bars. Yesterday afternoon, Patrice Huckabee was beaten badly enough to put her in the hospital. Witnesses have stated that it was Nona Huckabee who attacked her. As soon as Patrice regains consciousness, we'll be asking her some questions. All of you are on duty until further notice. If you see Nona Huckabee, call for backup before moving on her. She is very dangerous. Any questions? Then you're dismissed."

Nona parked as close to the picnic area as she could, grumbling over the lack of conveniently located spaces. She took a gun from her purse and loaded it, then checked her appearance in the mirror on the visor. She gave her hair a few quick swipes with a comb and applied fresh lipstick before getting out of the car. She straightened her skirt and went striding down the path that led to the pavilions near the beach.

Sighting Galen Miller poking at hot dogs on a grill to the left of the path, Nona whistled through her fingers to get his attention.

"Is Conover around?" she called to him.

Galen fumbled nervously with the walkie-talkie on his belt. Nona took the opportunity to fire at him several times. He yelped in fright and dove for cover as bullets ripped into the wooden picnic table behind him.

"Jesus, what a moron," she muttered, continuing down the path. She came in sight of the pavilions and was quite perturbed to find all six of them occupied. "Just what the hell are all these idiots doing here? I'll never find her in this crowd." Undaunted, she hurried forward and began to search in earnest.

It was Dukie Velker's bright orange hair that caught Nona's attention finally. Pleased at finding someone she recognized, she headed toward that hair. Behind her, she could hear the sound of sirens and the growl of a motorcycle engine. She ignored all of it, intent on her target.

"Where is she?" she called to Dukie.

"Where is who, Nona?" Dukie asked in response.

"That Conover bitch. The one who killed my boyfriend."

"I thought the Looby Huckle duck killed ol' Bert. Maggie didn't have anything to do with his death."

Behind Dukie, members of the Kazoo Band were arranging platters and bowls on a picnic table. The group included Lynne, Vonnie, and Honoria. Demmie sat at a table behind them. Lynne whispered something to Vonnie, who then helped Demmie hobble toward safety. Honoria and the rest of the women stayed put. Nona hopped up onto a nearby picnic table to scan the crowd.

"Is that Conover bitch here?" she hollered, brandishing the gun.

"Be reasonable, Norman," Lynne said. "Shooting at people is never a wise course of action."

Honoria laughed and shook her head. "There's a good idea. Piss her off. That will guarantee us murder and mayhem."

"My name is Nona!" she bellowed, firing in their general direction. A platter of devilled eggs was the victim. She shouted in frustration, "I forgot my damn glasses!"

"Here comes the calvary," Dukie declared, indicating Maggie, who was sprinting toward them at a very impressive speed.

"I believe you mean cavalry," Lynne laughed.

Nona put her hands on her hips. "You people are unbelievable," she glowered. "I shoot at you and you stand there making stupid jokes. Don't you have an ounce of common sense among you?" She raised the gun once more and tried to take aim at Maggie. "Stand still!" she yelled.

Dozens of picnicking Hawk Runners hit the dirt. Just as Nona opened fire, Maggie came sailing across the table to knock her on her ass. One round grazed the right side of her head, leaving a neat but bloody part across the scalp. Before the police officers behind Maggie could react, Lynne, Dukie, Demmie, Vonnie, and Honoria all dove on Nona and rendered her quite effectively unconscious. Nobody noticed as the Looby Huckle Duck went bobbing past out on the lake.

THE DOOR of Maggie's hospital room stood open and Lynne, carrying a large and very colorful gift bag, entered. She smiled rather bashfully as she approached the bed.

"I'm so glad it's you," Maggie greeted her, relaxing against a mound of pillows.

Lynne leaned over to kiss her on the forehead. "How are you feeling?"

"Mostly tired. They won't let me go home until Thursday, though," she pouted.

"That's a very attractive haircut they gave you." She indicated Maggie's head, half of which was shaved. A long, neat row of sutures was clearly visible.

"Isn't it?" she laughed, running a hand over her head. "When I get out of here, I'm going to shave the rest if it off."

"That might be wise." She placed the gift bag on the chair beside the bed. "I brought you a couple of presents."

"Presents?" Maggie grinned. "For me?"

"Yes. They were intended originally for your birthday, which, as you know, is still several months away. I thought you could use a little cheering up, so, I brought them today."

"Birthday presents? You brought me birthday presents? Oh, Lynnie…" Big tears turned her eyes to fire opals.

Lynne lowered the safety rail of the bed and got in beside her to cuddle her. "If I had known it was going to upset you, I certainly would not have brought them," she frowned.

"I'm not upset," Maggie sniffled. "I never got birthday presents before. My parents didn't believe in such things. We never celebrated birthdays."

Lynne put her arms around her and kissed the top of her head. "Yes, you mentioned that to me a few days ago. How about Christmas? Did they celebrate that?"

"Only as a solemn religious holiday. No tree, no candy canes, no stockings. None of that."

"We'll have to have a traditional Christmas this year, then. I've had my eye on that magnificent blue spruce growing in front of Malvina Lassiter's house. I wonder if it would fit into your living room."

"I don't think so," Maggie laughed. "Besides, do you think Ms. Lassiter would let you cut down her tree?"

"Heavens, no."

"So it's theft you've been contemplating."

"Theft seems such a harsh word."

"Well, you couldn't call it borrowing, Lynnie. Borrowing means you plan to give it back."

"I would. I would give it back. Just as soon as Christmas was over."

"Once you cut a tree down, though, it's nearly impossible to replant it."

"I'd put it in a bucket or something."

Maggie studied her in amused silence. "You're a truly silly person."

"You may be right about that."

"And I adore you."

A long silence ensued while several lingering kisses were exchanged. In the middle of one such kiss, a nurse came barging into the room. She exited in haste when Lynne threw a bedpan at her.

"Do you want your birthday presents now?" Lynne laughed.

"Yes, please," Maggie nodded vigorously.

"Okay. After you have your presents, we'll take a nap."

"Both of us?"


"Together? In the same bed?"

"Yes. Don't give me that grin," she smiled. "No hanky-panky. This is neither the time nor the place for hanky-panky. Just a nap. Nothing fancier than that."

"Well…okay. But there will be the hanky-panky in the future, won't there?"

"You bet your ass, dearie."

"Okay. As long as that's understood. Now, gimme my presents. Please."

WHEN HELEN ENTERED Maggie's room later that evening, she found Maggie and Lynne comfortably situated in the bed together. A child's coloring book was on the bed table, along with a super-deluxe size box of crayons, and both women were working diligently to color a large duck pictured there.

"Hello, Helen," Lynne greeted her.

"Hello," Helen smiled. "I guess I don't need to ask how you're feeling, Maggie."

"I feel wonderful," Maggie replied.

"Yes, I can see that."

"These are my birthday presents. The very first birthday presents I have ever received."

"Is this your birthday?"

"No, not until October. Lynnie couldn't wait."

"Come in and sit down, Helen," Lynne said. "You aren't intruding. Honest."

"I was on my way to dinner and just wanted to make sure Maggie was okay." She moved a chair closer to the bed and sat down. "We released Lawrence Huckabee," she said. "And we'll be filing charges against Nona Huckabee in the morning. Also, I spoke to someone from the attorney general's office about 30 minutes ago, and they're working to bring charges against both Lawrence and Patrice. Things are wrapping up quite neatly."

"I'm glad to hear it, Chief," Maggie nodded.

"How much longer are they keeping you here?"

"The doctor said tonight and tomorrow. What day is this?" she frowned.

"It's Friday. Are you having problems remembering things?"

"Yeah," she sighed. "I have a concussion. That's why they're keeping me. And I can't remember when the doctor said I could leave."

"They probably want you to stay until Monday, but I'll go find out for you."

"Yes, okay," she nodded. "Nobody else at the picnic got shot, did they, Chief?"

"No, only a platter of devilled eggs, a package of hot dog buns, and you. And Galen skinned his elbow when he ducked for cover."

"I was worried. How did she get passed Galen? He was supposed to radio you if she showed up."

"He had problems finding his walkie-talkie."

"He was scared, wasn't he."

"Yes. That did have something to do with it." She stood up to leave. "Come see me on Tuesday, Maggie," she smiled. "We'll talk about getting you back on patrol. I've had hundreds of phone calls from people wanting to know how you are and when you'll be back on the job."

"Can't I just come back to work on Monday?"

"No. I want you to take a few days off to recover from that wound."

"Do I have to?"


"I'll find something to keep her mind off police business," Lynne smiled.

"I'm sure you will," Helen laughed. She leaned over the bed to kiss Lynnie on the cheek. Then she kissed Maggie on the forehead. "Get some rest. And I'm very glad that you decided to make the move back to Hawk Run, Maggie. You belong here."

"Yes, ma'am, I believe I do."


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