The animal which the Egyptians worshipped as divine, which the Romans enerated as a symbol of liberty... has displayed to all ages two closely blended characteristics - courage and self-respect. - Saki.
"Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. " - Mark Twain
A police investigator came to the house and told the family that the lawyer did not die from the fall, that he was killed by poison mixed with chocolate. He asked to search the house for chocolate and was refused. Helen said that she didn't keep any in the house.
"We'd like to search the house anyway, ma'am. You never know."
"The only way you'll search this house is if you have a warrant," Helen replied.
The officer had to admit he didn't have a warrant. The requirement of a warrant and the prohibition against "general warrants" (warrants to come in and search for just any old thing) is a much maligned requirement of a free society. The officer seemed to hate it with a passion. He must have been either a Democrat or a Republican.
He glared at her balefully. He seemed to wish he were wearing mirrored sunglasses so that he could tap them, but it was midmorning in November and the front porch was shaded, so he wasn't wearing sunglasses. "Ma'am, it's my experience that only criminals stand on their 4th Amendment rights."
"Really? There's no one else who does not want strangers invading their home?"
"Ma'am, if you'd been in Desert Storm as I was, you'd be more careful about using the term 'invasion'. In any case, I'll need to speak to everyone in the household. Would you kindly have them come to the door?"
"No?" He made an extra effort to look surprised, although he knew perfectly well that government agents were not entitled to have their every whim obeyed by citizens. It was a request, and Helen had every right to refuse it.
"In that case, I'll ask you a few questions now."
"I'm not answering any questions," Helen replied.
"Why not?" he asked. "Do you have something to hide?"
That was actually a question, and since Helen had already said she wasn't going to answer any, she said nothing.
"I'll want to talk to each member of this family. Kindly get them."
"No one in this family will talk to police."
This time the officer was so genuinely surprised, his eyebrows seemed to want to disappear into his receding hairline. He leaned on the officiousness throttle. "If each member of your family has decided, as you have, to shield the guilty and shirk their responsibility as innocent law abiding citizens to submit to the whims of law enforcement, then I'll need to hear that in person from each of them."
"You are free to do so. But you'll have to get in touch with them yourself. I'm asking you to leave. You have no right to be here. If you remain, you'll be trespassing."
The officer started to steam, very slightly.
"Kindly leave, or I will make a citizen's arrest for trespassing," Helen continued. "And you will, under [look it up] be required by law to right up the citation, although I expect you'll decline to take yourself into custody."
The cop made a sudden move; I suppose he was trying to scare Helen into thinking he was going to shoot her. But he simply took a business card from his pocket and held it out to Helen. "May I ask that you take my card and give it to your family? You don't have to take the card if you don't want to," he said with exaggerated courtesy. "This is just a polite request."
Helen took the card. "Thank you."
The officer nodded curtly and left.
Helen went back into the house and walked into the living room.
* * *
The entire family was there waiting for her. Apparently, they'd been listening in on the intercom. Elliot and Brooks had recorded the entire conversation and taken reaction shots of the family.
"Are you sure there are not chocolates in the house?" Peacock asked.
"Well, you all know I'm trying to lose weight and since I'm the only person here with a sweet tooth, remember you all kindly decided to refrain from bringing sweets into the house," Helen said.
"But did we all comply with that?" Peacock pressed. He gave Madeline a worried look. She was either a consumate liar or so self-obsessed that she had forgotten about the chocolates in the morning room. Perhaps both.
Margaret turned to Kath£€€ [I might change her name to Cha-Ching, using the cent symbol for the c's]. "You don't have any chocolate, do you?"
"No," she replied. I knew she didn't. Amphetamines and Valium, yes. Chocolate, no. "Anyway, even if I did. It woudn't matter," she said. "I came here after the lawyer was poisoned." She's quite a bit smarter than she seems.
"So, why don't we want to talk to police?" Madeline asked. "There isn't any reason not to, is there?"
"No, there isn't," Helen said. "But there isn't any reason to talk to them either. I know I didn't kill anyone and I don't know anything about it. So there's no reason to talk to me. They'll make up their own minds anyway."
"There was no reason for them to ask to search the house," Peacock added. "That chocolate could have come from anywhere. I mean, it was Halloween, for heaven's sake."
* * *
Elliot and Brooks went into town. "Well, I think it's good to maintain good relations with local authorities," Brooks said, meaning that he wanted to get some footage at the police station. Plus, we should get a media release from the cop.
"Plus we don't have anything to hide," Elliot added.
"And, uh," Brooks said. He and Elliot traded looks. "We have another place to visit in town too. Elliot looked at me and smirked.
"Are you going to get in trouble for recording him without notifiying him?" Crystal asked.
"No," Helen broke in. "Since one person being recorded was a law enforcement officer, it wasn't necessary. [Explain this more and have Helen rant a bit about how the law was intended to help police act against citizens. I need to portray Helen in the earlier chapters in such a way that this sudden Libertarianism doesn't seem out of character.]
* * *
I was proud of Helen. That woman has certainly fortified her backbone since our relations have been repaired. She exhibited a cat-like love of liberty and disdain for officious authority. Unfortunately, when her fortitude met its most important test, it failed her. Our house was about to be visited with its worst misfortune. We'd had vicious murder in the home and lost a well-respected and intelligent member of society. Also a lawyer dressed as a clown had been killed.
Elliot and Brooks came back. Elliot was filming and Brooks came up to Helen. He was carrying something in his pocket. I knew exactly what it was.
"Helen, I know you've been upset by recent events and we know about your love of cats and your wish to help our feline friends," Brooks said.
He held out a hateful little ginger kitten.
Helen took a step back, eyes locked on the kitten. I could tell she conflicted. "Well, my Mr. Kitten likes being an only cat. I just don't know about this."
"It's okay," Brooks shrugged. "I guess we can take him back to the pound. He still has a few more days. Maybe someone else will adopt him."
Helen looked at him questioningly and Brooks gave Helen a piece of paper that he'd had ready.
"This was on his cage," he said.
Helen looked at it. It said, "Male stray. Intake date: November 2. Destruction date: November 7."
Elliot went in for a close-up of the tag, and then a close-up on Helen. Her face was wrung with pity and she wavered.
"Look," Brooks said. He held up the kitten and showed that the vile thing was even wearing one of Helen's collars.
If only Winston Churchill were still with us, he might have found the right words. Never, never, never surrender.
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