Alma gasped, the shrill sound of the cell phone ringing had startled her.  The vibration alerted her to its location in her pocket.  Twisting to pull the phone out to see who could be calling at this hour, Alma looked at it for a moment trying to remember putting the phone there.  She couldn’t.
It sounded again, the vibration in her hand made her grasp it tighter.  The name ‘Sheriff Paul’ in bold letters light up it’s screen.
“What could he want?”
Harlan had shut off his own phone at the start of the last round of chemo.  The diagnosis was out.  His term as mayor was completed. He’d even resigned as pastor.  None of that told her he had given up fighting until he shut his own cell phone off.  He was retreating.  ‘Preparing others to make decisions without him,’ he’d told her when she’d discovered the fact.
The doctors had warned her that he might make some drastic decisions, behave out of character.  That she herself might make some, and that neither of them might be prepared or able to immediately accept those actions.  He had.  Shutting off the cell phone wasn’t’ the first or last.  It was just the one that told her he had stopped fighting.
The people, friends, colleagues, church members, none of them were deterred by Harlan’s withdrawal.  They had just taken to calling Alma.  Telling her they would like to speak to Harlan.  She had told Harlan that was what would happen.  He didn’t listen.  She had been right.



Wayne was on the road to meet Leighann at the cabin. His phone rang and (head of hospital security) came up.  Wayne pulled over at the next side street and returned his call.
“Wayne, I wanted to let you know that I just got off the phone with Paul.  Are you sitting down?”
Wayne’s mind raced at all the possibilities (HofHS) could be calling with; it couldn’t be Dylan, that call would have come from Paul.  Truth was he couldn’t fathom what (HofHS) would be calling to tell him. “ Yes, I am.  What’s up?”
“I am sure that Margie called you and told you Harlan passed away tonight?”
“Yes, she did.  Does this have to do with Margie?”  Wayne was trying to remain calm.  Maybe something had gone wrong with the discharge and transport.
“No, no, Wayne.  Margie is fine.  This has to do with Harlan.  His body left the hospital but never made it to the funeral home.  I mean, T.J. came and got it, took it to the home but it was gone when he got to the home. If T.J. hadn’t said he went back for coffee before leaving, you could say it vanished.   T.J. said he didn’t notice it missing until he started backing up to unload.  I thought you were Harlan’s attorney and would want to know.  Paul will be going by to see Alma, but thought you might like a heads up on this.  Give you some time to prepare before you talk to Alma.”
Wayne’s mind was trying to piece the sequence of events that (HofHS) had laid out.  It just didn’t make sense, at first.  As he thought it through, he interrupted (HofHS).
“Are you saying that someone took the body out of the funeral home vehicle?”
“On the hospital property?”
Wayne almost breathed an audible sigh of relief along with a chuckle.  It wasn’t funny.  Wayne’s thought was some how the transport of his father-in-law to the cabin.


On the ride to the cabin, Margie waved between guilt and anger.  Guilt at keeping their father’s location and health from her only sibling, and anger that Daniel had made choices that put her and their father in this very position.
Dad was resting comfortably and would remain so until another treatment next week.  The therapy could be lifesaving, or in her father’s case ending with his reaction.  The risk for him outweighed the choice of a slow and painful demise.  He will either survive his reactions to the medications and have a potential of several more good years with his family, or it might kill him.  Those were terms he was content with.
Margie herself had trouble from day to day, depending on how well he was tolerating the side effects.  If it weren’t for Wayne she would be a complete wreck.  He had, as in the past, stepped up at the last minute to be her rock.
“Lee- he’s starting to wake up.”
“I will be there in a minute.”  Margie just wanted a few more minutes in the fresh air.  Last night was nerve straining. Getting Daddy from the hospital and out to the cabin, with none the wiser.  Using Harlan’s death as a cover, if only she could have gone to Alma and expressed again her thanks and sorrow for all they had done for Dad.  To let Alma know that regardless what the outcome, she would always be there to help Alma in anyway she could.
Margie went back into the cabin by the lake, her family’s vacation home. Through the hall to the livingroom now set up as a makeshift hospital room.  (Male Nurse Supervisor Name??)  was checking Danny’s vitals and marking them down. Margie thanked him for his help again.  They were so lucky that Harlan had put them in touch with MNS,  his military background proved crucial in pulling all the ‘covert’ abduction of her father’s plan together.
Her father’s plan, what had possessed him to do all this?  He and Harlan had spent too much time together Alma had said.  They were like young men again, pulling a big prank. Only this prank could have dire consequences that no one could foresee; what if Daniel had found another buyer, one who wasn’t his uncle.  So many last minute changes could have come about even in the last twenty four hours.


Going back to when Daniel was sitting waiting for an appointment with a man.
Theo finished his call with his brother.  Their conversation a bit of business  and catching up.  Theo was not pleased about the conversation on many levels.
Theo sat and waited while the many thoughts turned in his head.  He watched his nephew sit sweating and nervous in the adjoining room.  Theo had agreed to learn what he could from his brother’s son.  He had hoped that given time, Daniel would rethink his mission and make a better choice.
Daniel sat contemplating other ways of turning the business his father had established into cash to maintain his addition.  The labor and slow turnover of value into cash concerned him.  He needed more that what was readily available at any one time.  He had believed when he first learned of the prognosis that taking over his father’s control and ownership would assure him his need would be filled.
Daniel’s father took him under his wing, took his youngest child, his only son at his word that he was ready to step up and take over the role of a son as should be in his father’s eyes.  Danny was so proud of Daniel, a son who he had watched weaken in character each year.  Making choices out of spite and rebellion at first, then out of desperation to support his addiction.  Having spent money and time on program and rehabs until finally he realized he couldn’t fix his son.  Daniel’s interest in taking over for his father during treatment was thought to be  a sign that he had turned the corner.
Danny was not blinded by his joy to see his son’s interest was merely for his own personal agenda.  His decision and attention to details lacked and the business began to suffer.  The family Danny had worked hard to build with both his employees and customers suffered.  Daniel never looked to himself as to why the decline in profits, he just wanted to get rid of the sinking ship for as much money and as quickly as he could.
Daniel began to look to competitors willing to purchase the territory his father had carved out.   No one wanted to buy him out.  Not with his father still alive, and most all believed that in the end Margie would be the one to inherit and all would be made rights.  Daniel was just not his father’s son, so they bided their time with the foolish son.


Dylan finally made it home, before finally calling it a night to get a couple of hours sleep before getting back on the case tracking down leads, he returned a call to him mom.
Her phone rang, but was quickly answered.  Straight to voicemail.
“Hello, you’ve reached Margie Thomas.  Please leave your name and number at the tone.  I will return your call as soon as possible.  Thanks! Bye.”
“Mom, it’s Dylan.  Listen I am on a case.  How’s Pop doing? I know I should have stopped by, it has just been a wild night. I am going to sleep a bit, will call you when I wake up.  But call me anyway if something happens with Pop, ok?  Love ya, Mom.”

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