Goats and Chickens
by Peg Keeley

Part 5

Danny pulled up in front of Coopers already knowing something was wrong. The surveillance car was gone and no one was at the house. Danny felt on the verge of panic.

Steve knew Danny was just barely keeping it together and he also had begun to feel an animal-like primal fear in his gut. It was dark now, there would be no moon tonight.

The dispatcher came on the radio. "Central to Williams. Patch through from Kono."

"Go ahead," Danny said, praying for any shred of hope. Okay, God, this one is on your turf. If you can do anything we need it right now.

"We tracked Coopers out to a cane field, at mile marker 15 off highway 1. They left their car and went on walking from there. Uri is following them, but my radio is out." Kono's voice was high and fast.

"Kono did you see anyone?"

"No, we never were close enough to the car. Seemed pretty full when it left Coopers. Couldn't make out anyone."

"We're on our way," Danny replied.

Ronny moved slowly around the old barn lighting the black candles. They had relocated mass to this more remote location since the old farmer had found their closer meeting place. Walter -- they referred to him as Erunious here -- had planned to pray a death curse on the old farmer tonight. The stars were right he said for his greatest power. She knew that meant a trade. Angels of darkness always wanted something in a trade. Nothing was free. Willow had just arrived and finished placing candles and herbs around the black altar. Willow was planning to bring a curse tonight against the LaFebres. Ronny doubted Erunious would allow her to though since the LaFebres were covered by the Enemy. In the corner were three black sacks that moved and kicked with cat cries, hen squawks, and other animal sounds. Tied to a post was the goat. She knew this high black sabbat would last most of the night. A new member to replace Cooper needed to be introduced. That would include further sacrifice. And there was unrest in the coven because of Connie's flight with her newborn. Ronny shivered and wondered what Erunious would demand from her since Fahn held her to blame. She had witnessed Erunious forcing himself on other girls during mass -- it always happened. She ran a hand down the black satin drape Fahn had wound around her and knew Fahn intended on giving her to him tonight.

She moved to the corner where her mother, pale and weak knelt, black robe drawn tight about her, mumbling a chant. "Mother," she whispered, "you won't let them bleed you tonight, please."

Her eyes opened for a moment, then closed without comment.

"Please, mother, so many sacrifices have been brought," her voice trailed off as she saw Lonnie, nearly mummified in a black shroud, with only his face showing, so deep in a drugged sleep he was barely breathing, his skin cold and damp, nearly as pale as her mother. Fear gripped her and silent tears began to fall.

Uri carefully made his way along the way it looked the Coopers had gone. His small pen light readily illumined the cane pushed to the side where they had passed. Up ahead was a forty by forty one room cabin. There was cloth thrown over the windows, but through cracks, he could see flickering light and hear mumbling chanting voice. It felt like a cold hand had just reached out and gripped his chest with fear. He suddenly realized how real Kono's fear had been.

Kono met Steve and Danny, the three of them returned to where he'd left Uri and they began to follow the same trail. The moonless night seemed pitch black. "What are we gonna do with these witches when we get there?" Kono asked.

"Arrest them for the murder of Chuck Yakamura," Danny replied.

"Just like that?"

"Of course just like that." But inside he recalled the warning of Goethals and the Bible passage.

Euronius was present. Everyone was silent now as he called the elect to a time of worship. He ignited the fire that burned behind the altar, then the incense pots. He walked through the room between the black garbed worshippers gently swinging the incense pots and murmuring a chant to invoke the spirit world. As he walked, his voice got louder and faster. At the right moment, Willow grabbed into one sack and pulled out a screaming rat by the tail. As it wormed and writhed attempting to free itself, Euronius accepted it, got a fierce grip on its neck, then held it aloft for a moment before throwing it alive into the altar fire. It shrieked for just a moment.

Outside, Uri had gotten close enough to smell the incense. He could identify the odor at once -- belladonna.

Euronius' voice was clearly audible as he called out a name. He threw something into the altar fire and bright green flame exploded towards the ceiling. He studied the smoke pattern, clearly displeased.

Willow handed him the next animal sacrifice.

Uri watched through a knothole in the wall transfixed as Euronius held the flapping chicken before him, then, pulling a golden knife slit the bird from top to bottom and sprinkled the blood across the altar and the floor. The body was tossed into the altar fire where the scent of burning meat was already mixing with the toxin of the belladonna.

"The father spirit is not pleased with us," Euronius announced in a deep clear voice. "We have failed. To be great in power requires we give a great sacrifice." His gaze fell on Ronny. "You. It is you who must give up a sacrifice."

She stood there, open-mouthed, hand tight around the small crystal pendent.

"We would beg great vengeance upon Connie and the newborn she would attempt to hide," he shouted. "Great vengeance comes at a great price. The pure sacrifice of birth has been denied the spirits and they demand atonement."

A man walked to the corner and scooped up Lonnie and carried him to the altar.

Uri, from his vantage point could only tell the form on the altar was human and he remembered Chuck. He glanced around quickly, wishing Kono would return and realizing he needed to go it alone. "Just another bust," he mumbled to himself.

Euronius watched with a look of affection on his face as the man carefully pulled back the black shroud from around the silent, drugged boy. In candlelight, his pale skin looked ghostly white, his peaceful face angelic. Euronius placed a tender hand on the soft skin of Lonnie"s chest. "This is the acceptable sacrifice," he whispered. "We shall be rewarded with new power, new visions, great riches. Our sacrifice shall carry forth all our woes." He gestured to Willow who pulled a small cat from the sack.

Uri made his way to the door, his gun drawn, heart pounding in his ears. He cast one look back in hopes Kono would appear. He held his breath, trying to pile up his courage, then burst through the door, gun first. "Five-O! Freeze!"

Euronius looked up in surprise from pouring the cat's blood over Lonnie's chest. In one quick motion, he hurled the body towards Uri, distracting him, and tossed a handful of powder into the fire. A poof of an explosion hid him from Uri's view momentarily. In that flash, Euronius picked up the three-foot long fire poker that had been beside him and hurled it like a spear at Uri.

The poker hit Uri in the left shoulder, slamming him into the wall, piercing the shoulder just below the collarbone and imbedding through the wall behind four inches. Uri gave a scream of pain as he was impaled against the wall, unable to move. His gun had dropped from his hand to the floor.

"You hear that?" Steve whispered as they all stopped walking a moment.

"Somebody yelled," Kono uttered in fear.

Danny, bathed in dread for his son, motioned them to hurry up.

Euronius carefully left the altar and walked up to Uri who watched him in fear and terror, trying to keep from crying out again in pain. "Who are you?" he demanded coldly.

"Motsey," Uri answered with a wince. "Five-O."

"Five-O," Euronius whispered quietly. "And are there anymore out there like you?"

"Unfortunately not."

"Hum." He turned back to his coven and arms wide, smiled. "You see? The spirits wish to bless us. Another gift offering has been made. We shall be invincible!" He broke into a loud emotional chant that the others quickly began to repeat.

Ronny stared at the turn of events in mixed horror and fascination. For a moment she hoped they would sacrifice Motsey instead of Lonnie, but she could quickly determine that wasn't the case when Euronis walked back to the altar and motioned Willow.

The mass continued where it had left off, only punctuated by animals cries of terror and Uri's attempts to not cry out in pain from where he was pinned to the wall. A woman in black moved over to Uri after a few minutes with a small golden bowl that she held under the wound to catch the dripping blood of which there was plenty as the dying man slowly bled out.

Steve, Danny, and Kono had arrived outside the cabin. They did not need to look inside to know by the sounds and smells they had found the coven meeting place. Steve took the flip-phone off his belt and called HPD. Help would be coming, but that would take time.

"Now what?" Kono whispered.

"We haven't got time to go back for re-enforcements, that's for sure," Steve remarked.

"Like any other bust," Danny muttered wishfully.

"I'll take the front," Steve offered, "you each window." He paused. "And keep your heads about you. There is no power in this charade, just fear tactics."

"Them fear tactics are pretty convincing," Kono whispered.

They split up accordingly and McGarrett moved around to the door and waited a few moments for them to get into position. He noticed the poker tip through the splintered wood but had no way to know Uri was pinned to the other side.

The dark priest looked around his coven of followers malevolently. "We have shown our true desires. My sweet Saffron, you shall join me in the bonding of our worship. But first, our sacrificial offering must be complete." He picked up the golden knife and poised it over his head, aimed at Lonnie's chest, now bloodied by several animals. The woman with the bowl carefully made her way to the altar and poured the several ounces of Uri's blood into a challis. Euronius, one hand high, lifted the cup with the other and drank the blood.

On a mental count of five, McGarrett kicked through the door. "Police!" he shouted. At the same moment, there was shattering glass and Danny and Kono burst through the windows.

Danny recognized the form of Lonnie on the altar instantly, but had no time to commit to the feelings of horror at seeing his blood covered body. His gun hand shook.

Euronius burst into a loud peel of laughter as most of the coven members cried out in fear. "Fear not, little flock! The power is ours! These mortals are helpless before us!" He swung his arms wide throwing a handful of powder into the fire. Thick smoke bubbled out enveloping the room.

Kono fell to the floor, gasping for breath. Something was choking the air out of him. He'd lost his gun and scrambled to find it desperately. One of the coven members struck him over the head and he collapsed unconscious to the floor.

As the smoke swirled, Steve felt the overwhelming panic of a situation gone bad. He stepped back, gun still before him, and collided with Uri against the wall. . Steve gave a gasp of shock upon seeing Uri, his lifeless eyes staring into the thick smoke "Uri!"

Something black moved through the fog to Steve's left and he began to turn. For an instant, the kind grandmother-like face was visible, a gentle smile on her lips. He paused. Her movement was swift has she drove the knife deeply into his left side. Gasping in stabbing pain and horrific surprise, he stumbled back against Uri's body again, then, as she twisted the knife and pulled it free, felt his knees buckle beneath him. He stumbled to the floor, still staring at the face whose quiet expression had never changed. Blood was streaming from his wound through his hands. I shall die in the line of duty after all -- but at the hand of this old woman. He lost consciousness.

Danny felt disoriented and confused by the billows of pale smoke. He wanted to keep the wall at his back. Where was it? He had not moved, or had he? We wrestle not against flesh and blood...

Euronius was suddenly brilliantly clear before him in stark light as the smoke screen began to fade. "Much more equal, are we not?" he said to Danny.

Danny dared not tear his gaze away from the witch for even a moment to assess what had become of the others. All he was sure of what that they were no longer standing. "You are under arrest," he uttered, trying to sound braver than he felt. The smoke had cleared enough for him to see Motsey impaled on the wall. He forced his total concentration to Euronius.

"And you will take me with what? That?" Euronius laughed. "Your gun operates on the laws of physics that govern mortals." His voice began to change to a hideous unearthly quality. "I am not bound by the rules of you puny beings." He gave a broad grin. "Observe. I occupy a mortal -- any mortal. This one...." He pointed towards Willow and the voice suddenly came from deep in the throat of Willow. "…or this one."

Danny quickly shifted his weapon to her.

"Pull the trigger -- go ahead," the menacing voice whispered as Willow dropped a seductive shoulder. "She shall die, but I shall live." Willow gave a sharp little yelp and fell back. Then the voice came from Ronny's mother who stepped forward, wide-eyed and animated in spite of her obvious fraility. "You are unable to defend against me. The boy is mine now. He is mine. You are too late!"

Euronius' hand started a downward plunge. Danny shifted his aim back and fired. The priest staggered backward, dropping the knife, gripping his hand.

"You see!" The voice came from Fahn who stood near the fallen Kono. "They are mine, all mine!" She suddenly snatched up Kono's dropped weapon and aimed it at Danny.

He fired first. The woman was thrown backward from the lethal injury. My God, I just shot and killed an old woman!

Ronny, is if in a trance stepped forward, picked up Euronius' knife off the floor and stepped up to the altar. "Will you shoot a child"" the voice whispered. She paused, gripping the knife, then looked back over her shoulder at Danny. She slowly raised the weapon over Lonnie.

Satan cannot stand before the Truth of God. Danny reached inside his jacket and yanked out the small New Testament. "Stop!"

Ronny's eyes wide and glistening from the belladonna stared back. A wicked smile curled her lips. "Do you think you can overcome me with that?" You know nothing of the Enemy."

"Dear God, save us!" Danny shouted, trying to recall Goethal's words and meaning them with all his heart. "Lord Jesus Christ!" For a moment in spite of the situation, his mind flashed back to a childhood Sunday school room and a teacher praying with him. Jesus loves me, this I know…

Ronny's eyes narrowed.

"I take a stand against all the working of the Devil!" He thought desperately to remember the rest of Goethal's prayer. …for the Bible tells me so…little ones to Him belong…

There was a deep hideous laugh. "You are nothing. I can take you and your boy by a mere thought!"

"God help us!" ..I am weak, but He is strong

The smile faltered on Ronny's face. An animal-like hiss issued from her mouth. A male member suddenly jumped to his feet, screaming out as if in pain, then started to convulse. Quite suddenly, everything seemed to stop. Ronny fell to the floor like a sack of flour, three other members also fainted. The heavy feeling of oppression was suddenly lifted. There was not great rush of wind or of demons screaming. The candles still flickered and the incense was still burning, but something ominous was gone. The man who had been seizing now lay still amongst the other four on the floor. Euronius cowered in the corner by the wall clutching his bleeding hand looking almost comical in his priestly garb, Fahn's body beside him. The other four members, Willow, her mother, Mrs. Moony, and the old woman who'd stabbed Steve stood around the room, looking from Euronius to Danny and then each other.

Danny leveled his gun on Steve's attacker who still held a bloody knife in her hand. "Drop the knife, ma'am," he commanded.

She did so.

"Against the wall, all of you," Danny ordered, trying to find firmness to his voice, but the overwhelming events were still unsettled in his mind. For the first time he comprehended that Steve was on the floor, blood staining his shirt.

Kono moaned and rubbed his head. "Danno, what happened?" He got to his feet, trying to clear his vision.

"Somebody beaned you," Danny muttered, still keeping his focus on the group and aware that they outnumbered the Five-0 people. "Keep them in the corner." He handed Kono his gun.

Kono, still rubbing his head took a threatening stand before the coven members.

Keeping the New Testament in his other hand, Danny crossed to Lonnie first. It took a moment, but he determined none of the blood staining his chest to be from him. His skin was cold, clammy and extremely pale. Even in the candle light Danny could tell the boy's lips were blue and his respirations shallow.

Euronius, trying to regain some of his compsure growled, "You don't know what you're meddling with."

Danny gave him a level look. "I could say the same for you. This is over. You are being charged with the murder of Chuck Yakamura and the kidnapping of Lonnie Williams. Those are just for starters. My guess is it will be a long time before you're conducting your -- services -- again."

Danny moved over to Steve and knelt next to him. The blood from the knife wound was beginning to pool on the floor. Danny looked for something to use to apply pressure, but found nothing.

Steve's eyes opened slightly. "Danno? Lonnie safe?" he whispered.

"I think he'll be okay. Pretty heavily drugged."

"Uri?" he whispered through white lips.

"Save your strength," Danny advised, and glanced over at the body of Uri limp against the wooden pole that impaled him to the wall. He shook his head.

Steve was aware of Danny's gaze lingering on Uri. Why Uri instead of me? He was young, I am dying anyway. I could have died here and made it simple for us all. He gritted his teeth against the pain.

"Hang on, Steve. You're going to be all right," Danny assured him.

Am I? Not likely.

Sirens could be heard in the distance as the backup approached. In just moments, officers and medical people were on the scene, pictures flashing, handcuffs clicking onto the wrists of the coven people. Two EMTs began to work on Steve.

One medic glanced at Danny. "De ja vu," he muttered. "I worked on this guy two months ago with a gunshot to the chest. Some people live through anything."

Some people, but not him, Danny thought suddenly recalling the reality of Steve's future.

Kono, relieved of his guard detail stepped close to Danny who finally had the time to focus on the attention the medics were giving Lonnie. "Danno," Kono patted his arm. "Who'd have thought…"

"Yeah," Danny said quietly as the woman he'd shot was slipped into a rubber bag. Why do I feel she was innocent? She was used, just like the rest of them.

"It was supposed to be silly superstition," Kono voiced. "That's what everyone said."

Not quite everyone, Danny thought. He gazed through the shattered window towards the rising sun.

The coffee was welcome. Danny sat hunched forward in the chair next to Lonnie's bed waiting for any indication of change in his son, inhaling the aroma of the freshly brewed coffee.

"Dan." A hand touched his shoulder.

"Rev. Goethals," he replied recognizing the voice before he looked up.

"How are you?"

He sighed. "Much wiser than I was last week."

He gave a soft smile. "You have discovered that our world is not just what is seen."

He sighed. "I don't know what to do with what I have experienced," he answered. "Does anything change?"

Goethals shrugged. "I guess that is up to you. Do you want something to change?"

He smirked. "I want Uri back alive. I want Steve to stay alive. I have lots of things I'd like to see change. If God is so interested in us, why does He did put us through this?"

"Maybe we put ourselves through these things," Goethals suggested. "God created everything, so you expect this Supreme Being to be your genie in a bottle? To come at your beck and call?

"I don't know what I expect. It was more simple before."

"No it wasn't," Goethals said gently. "You were just ignorant before."

"Is this where you're supposed to say 'You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free?'"

Goethals issued a soft chuckle. "I don't have to -- you already said it."

There was a murmur and Lonnie stirred in the bed. "Dad?"

Goethals patted Danny's arm and left. Danny rose and leaned over his son. "Lonnie? How do you feel?"

"Tired. I had some really scary dreams. Except they weren't dreams, were they?"

Danny hesitated, not sure of what to tell him. "I don't know, Lonnie. You were given some drugs -- those things can mess with your mind a bit."

He sighed. "There were scary things. They were ugly and smelly. There was one inside of that man."

Danny listened more closely a little surprised he had any recollection of the events at all.

"I was kind of there, but I wasn't there," Lonnie whispered. He stopped talking for a moment, then added. "I remember Ronny -- she was so afraid. And one of those things was with her." He shivered. "Is Ronny okay?"

"She will be." Danny knew this was the wrong to tell Lonnie his friend was in psychiatric inpatient care. But does she need psychiatric care if the demons here real instead of imagined? "What else do you remember, Lonnie?"

"They killed Mr. Motsey," he whispered, sorrow in his tone. "And Uncle Steve…." He stopped talking.

"Steve is all right," Danny assured him.

"No he's not," Lonnie whispered.

Danny's eyes narrowed.

"There was a man there -- he was really big and strong."

"What man?" Danny asked. Is he referred to Euronius?

"He had a sword," Lonnie's voice was filled with awe. "He was in front of you, like he was protecting you. Where did he come from? Did you see him?"

Danny barely managed a slight shake of his head. He knew Lonnie had been unconscious during the rescue. How could he know the details?

"I think he was an angel, Dad," he whispered. "But he wasn't all fluffy like Christmas. He scared the ugly things away. Then he went to Uncle Steve and put his hand where the lady stabbed him." Lonnie closed his eyes and Danny thought the boy had gone back to sleep, but Lonnie suddenly looked at him again. "Uncle Steve has cancer, Dad."

Danny swallowed hard. "Why are you saying that, Lonnie?" he managed to utter.

"Because I know that."

"Who told you? I didn't tell you. Did Steve tell you?" Danny found alarm growing in his heart. Why put Lonnie through this before it is no longer unavoidable.

"I don't know," he murmured. "The angel?"

"Lonnie, there wasn't really an angel, it was just a hallucination from the drugs. It was all a dream, a bad dream," Danny attempted to reassure him.

"It seemed so real," he whispered.

"Well, dreams sometimes are that way," Danny replied. "But that doesn't make them real." Is this real? How did he learn all this stuff? The subconscious? There has to be a rational explanation for this.

Lonnie slowly closed his eyes again, and this time he really did drift off to sleep.

Danny sighed and rubbed a tired hand across his weary face. I just want things to be simple again.

"Mr. Williams," came a quiet voice.

He turned towards the doorway and recognized Dr. Andes the doctor in charge of Steve's care. He stepped out into the hallway, forcing himself to become more alert.

"How is you son?" Andes asked.

"Doing well. It'll be a little time, but he's going to be all right," Danny replied.

Andes motioned to his colleague beside him. "This is Dr. Beck, he's been seeing Steve for his liver cancer."

Danny nodded and shook the man's hand. "Is Steve all right?"

"That's what we wanted to talk about," Beck said, mild discomfort in his tone.

Something is wrong. Has the cancer created additional problems? I know the knife wound was to the liver. No, I'm not ready for Steve to die right now!

"As you know, Steve was bleeding from a knife wound that pierced his liver. We took him to surgery and found it best to remove a small portion of his liver," Andes started, glancing at Beck. "He should heal without a problem."

"Then why are you both here?" Danny asked, doubt on his face.

"Because -- " Beck added. "We found no cancer."


"The cancer was gone," Beck repeated.

"You mean you all messed up the tests before," Danny corrected. My God, Steve has been torn up by this -- we all have and it was a terrible mistake! How could they be so careless! What they have put us through--

"No, Mr. Williams," Beck insisted. "We have double checked it all-the blood test, the biopsy, everything. There was a mass there, a malignant mass -- and it is gone."

Danny crossed his arms, awash in relief and doubt. What if this is the mistake? "So how do you explain this?"

They both shook their heads. "There is no logical explanation," Andes replied.

I am supposed to be happy, Steve is going to be okay -- really okay. How do I explain this? Why do I need to explain this? Lonnie knew -- he knew about the events of the cabin, he knew about Steve's cancer. He saw an angel -- my entire life's experiences tell me this is not happening. Yet -- it is.

Steve heard the sounds first -- beeping, hissing, distant voices; then the feel of slowly rising to the surface of reality from the depths of the drugged unconscious. He knew what it was like to come out of anesthesia. There was always that pillowy softness that suddenly yielded way to mild disorientation, pain and nausea. He half opened his eyes.

"You are in a hospital, Mr. McGarrett." The very young nurse's voice was a high soprano; like a laser piercing his semi-conscious state. "Take a deep breath for me."

He obeyed, his stomach twisting in nausea.

The blood pressure cuff tightened on his left arm, cutting off the circulation briefly before it slowly began to deflate.

"What time?" he whispered. I need to get oriented. What happened? Where's Danno? Lonnie?

"It's about seven o'clock," she answered, "at night."

He opened his eyes, grateful that the room was not starkly lit. The lighting was indirect, offering him a moment to adjust. "Dan Williams," he uttered through the sore throat of recent intubation.

"Your friend is outside," she replied. "Give me just another minute here." She continued her duties for longer than Steve thought necessary, then turned away.

Moments later, the curtain of the recovery cubical parted again and Danny stepped to Steve's bedside. "How do you feel, Steve?" he asked, hating himself for asking such a stupidly routine question.

Steve managed a brief smile. "Better."

Danny hesitated. Does he know? What do I tell him? "Did the doctor talk to you?"

He shook his head slightly. "Not yet."


"Lonnie, okay?"

"He will be."

"I had the strangest dream," Steve murmured. He paused. What will Danno think? It must be a drug effect -- but it seemed so real.

Danny waited, frozen to the spot. Did he see what Lonnie saw? His head swam in confusion.

"I was down…there was this … man … don't know him … civilian. Did someone come into the scene?"

Danny did not answer.

"You were there…" Steve paused recalling the odd hallucination. Was it s a vision? What do I call it? "Everyone else down --- you had that little Bible. The man stood between you and something … something black. I could not quite see it -- shadowy. It fled. Lonnie was laying there, the man touched him." Steve stopped again. He squinted at the recollection. "He came, knelt down, touched me -- burned like fire. Said 'you will live.'" He took a slow breath. I would be insane to ask the question. "Danno…."

Danny flexed his jaw, trying to remain in control, but was quite suddenly overwhelmed by emotion. "The cancer is gone," he managed to utter through the lump in his throat. He tried unsuccessfully to blink back the tears. "They say it's gone," he repeated, the wonder of the event just beginning to catch up with him.

Steve's eyebrows knit as he considered it all. What did I see? It was not a drug induced hallucination. After all my running all these years -- how could I possibly become one of those miraculously healed? I'm no saint -- not a holy person. I don't even believe in God -- at least I didn't think I did. "They made a mistake."

Not sure whether Steve was referring to the first diagnosis or the second, Danny shook his head. "No mistakes -- either way." He forced a smile. "Aren't we supposed to be happy about this?"

Steve gave a quiet smile. "Hard to accept. Humbling, you know."

I guess it is that. Someone with the strength of character Steve has to be completely helpless and rescued by some anonymous divine act. Divine? Danny's mind raced to define this experience by different terms.

Steve watched his Danny's face, detecting the struggle to understand. "Danno, maybe we don't have to try to understand this. Maybe we're not supposed to understand it. Just accept it." Acceptance? Yes, and that's really all there is to it. A gift of life and I will awaken and appreciate every morning for as long as it lasts.

Danny gave a single nod. Steve's right. Accept it and move on - perhaps we can accept life on the same terms we were trying to accept death. "I guess so," he replied, not certain how else to reply. "I'm going to head back down to Lonnie in a minute."

"I'll be all right," Steve assured him. I really will be all right. "Danno," he called him back.

"Yes, Steve?"

"See if that lady out in St. Louis Heights still has her pups."

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