The Uber drops off Bettina at Lana’s parents house.  She hears music coming from inside as she walks up and rings the doorbell.  Lana’s mother comes to the door and motions her to come in.  I’ve got something on the stovetop.  Come into the kitchen, Bettina.  She walks in the small house and sees Simon and Lana’s father playing cards, listening to the vinyl record player.  When did he get here?  Bettina asks, shocked, as Lana’s mother stirs a dish.  About half an hour ago.  He told us that you were driving separately.  What are they doing?  Having a “tea” party. Simon brought over a six pack of beer.  What game are they playing?  Cribbage.

How are you doing?  Bettina asks Lana’s mother, who looks down and shakes her head sadly.  Bettina rubs her arm.  Toni promised to deliver a note from me.  Lana should have it now.  What did it say? That I love her.  And how jealous I am of her sleep clinic.  Lana’s mother grins at Bettina.  Do you want to help me dish up?

***

I cried when you drove away this afternoon, Bettina admits when everyone is seated at dinner.  I’m not strong like Lana.  Lana’s parents look between them.  I got pulled over for driving too far under the speed limit on the way back to Jax’s. Did you get a ticket?  Bettina asks.  Just a warning.  I told the officer that my best friend was in a coma at St. Catherine’s.  And that the girl I admired most in the whole world had put him there.  What did he say?  Highway don’t care.  Speed up and keep it between the lines.

If your best friend is a whoremonger, what does that make you?  Lana’s dad asks. A cannibal.  Simon responds.  Lana’s dad throws back his head and laughs, while Bettina and Lana’s mother look at each other.  I believe Jax was drugged and taken advantage of, Bettina tells Lana’s mother.  Simon nods.  We’ll find the ones who did this.  And then you are going to owe me an apology, which I will collect on.  I said if, Lana’s dad responds.  That’s a conditional clause.  I was talking about taking my money at cribbage, Simon responds.  Lana’s dad laughs and beams at Simon.

It won’t matter, Bettina.  Lana’s mother tells her.  Lana cannot take him back; it’s gone too far for that.  I know, Bettina sighs.

How are things with Rolf?  Bettina looks down and shakes her head no.

What about this club owner who I see driving you around town?  Lana’s mother asks.  He’s a quiet and thoughtful man, but I don’t approve of the way he earns his bread, Bettina replies.  He did tell me that if there is anything that he can do for Lana or her parents that I have only to let him know.  Tell him I want grandchildren, Lana’s mother says with a smile, and she and Bettina snicker.

Simon gives Lana’s mother a puzzled look.  But you don’t have a TV, he blurts out.  Lana got me a tablet and a wireless modem so I can listen to sermons around the house.  I watch you on Youtube, dear, she tells Bettina.  Bettina’s father nods.  The internet is the printing press of the 21st Century.  There is no excuse for ignorance now.  Lana got me a laptop and showed me how to turn the images off so I wouldn’t defile my mind.  How do you that?  Simon asks.  Go to Preferences and set it to Text Mode, Lana’s father replies.  You can find out how to do it on Youtube.  We pay the monthly subscription so we don’t have to see the ads, Lana’s mother says.

Have you heard from Lana?  Her lawyer stopped by, her father replies.  How is she?  Bettina asks, and then starts to choke up.  She won’t let me visit her, she sobs.  Lana’s mother gets up, goes over, and hugs her.  She cannot talk inside, Bettina.  She’s reading her Bible cover to cover.  Bettina nods, and wipes her eyes, and Lana’s mother goes back to her seat.

Is she eating?  Simon asks.  She’s fasting until Jaxton gets out of his coma, her mother replies.  Bettina puts down her fork.  No, Bettina.  Lana’s mother tells her. You need your strength.

Her attorney is very smart.  Lana’s father tells Simon.  She asked that Lana be placed on suicide watch while she’s in custody.  They had to do it because Lana wasn’t eating.  So there’s an officer with her 24/7 watching her.  Simon nods.  How is your friend?  He’s off sedation; we’re all waiting for him to wake up to a world of pain.  What my daughter did was wrong, Lana’s mother tells him.  If his parents can bear to hear it, we’re sorry for what happened.  Simon nods.

Bettina cleans her plate.  She looks at Lana’s mother.  Is it really true that I won’t get pregnant while I’m breastfeeding?  Simon looks at her with his mouth open. Only if you nurse your child on demand, Lana’s mother says.  But how does that work when I’m sleeping?  Child cries, you put him on, and go right back to sleep. But won’t I roll over on my baby in my sleep?  Lana’s mother gives Bettina an incredulous look.  It happened in the Old Testament, Bettina exclaims, and King Solomon had to judge whose child it was.   Bettina, they were whores.  Simon stares at Lana’s mother in shock.  The bad mother was likely drunk or stoned when it happened.  She gives her husband a look, and he gets up from the table and gets the family Bible and puts on his reading glasses.  And reads the story aloud.  What happened to the lying whore mother?  Simon asks earnestly.  Bettina breaks out into peals of laughter, and Lana’s parents join in.  It just sounded so funny, coming from your mouth, Bettina says, as she giggles, and puts a hand on Simon’s shoulder.  We aren’t explicitly told, Lana’s father tells Simon.  What do you think happened?  I think he had her slewn and gave the good mother a bag of gold so she wouldn’t have to prostitute herself anymore and she became an innkeeper, Lana’s mother declares.  Simon nods.  Works for me.

========================================================

Hello, Raul. I want to apologize again for not being able to drive you to Lana’s parents, Bettina.  It was probably for the best; Simon showed up.  How are her parents?  A lot better than I expected, Bettina admits.  We had a good time of fellowship.  Oh, I passed along your offer to her mom, and she said she wants grandchildren, Bettina says chuckling.  <Silence>.  Your meeting didn’t go well? Bettina asks in a serious tone.  What did you tell her parents about me?  Really? Bettina takes a long sigh.  Here’s the play-by-play.  She asked me what’s the story about the club owner that she sees driving me around town.  And I tell everyone that you’re a quiet and thoughtful man, but I don’t approve of how you earn your bread.  And then I told everyone what you said.  If there was anything you could do for Lana or her parents that I had only to let you know.  And that’s when Lana’s mother said that she wanted grandchildren.  We both cracked up.  That’s all that was said about you.  Now goodbye.  She disconnects and looks at her phone, waiting for him to call again.

The phone rings twenty seconds later.  I’m sorry.  Raul says.  Apology accepted. Bettina replies.  How’s Lana?  Still not accepting visitors or talking.   But I found out that she’s fasting and reading her Bible cover to cover.  Is it true that she’s on suicide watch?  Yes, her attorney demanded it.  Now there’s someone watching her 24/7, so they cannot put up a false witness or abuse her.  That’s very clever, Raul admits.  How are you doing, Bettina?  <Silence>  I miss my friend, she says softly. How is Jax?  Simon said it best: he’s going to wake up to a world of pain.

I have an answer to your question, if you still want to know, Bettina.  Yes, she replies without hesitation.  The Redline was laced with Niacin.  I knew it, Bettina whispers.  Niacin is more commonly known as Vitamin B3.  An overdose isn’t harmful, but does cause the skin to flush and tingle.  He came into the office and she told him that she spiked his drink.  With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him…

I don’t understand.  Bettina murmurs.  The placebo effect combined with the power of suggestion allowed her to remove his inhibitions.  You set him up, Bettina cries.  His free will wasn’t violated, and the outcome wasn’t predetermined.  He lacked integrity in the moment of choice.

It’s horrible what you’ve done to him, she cries.  He would have never done that if he wasn’t lead to believe that he was under the influence of a drug.

For what it’s worth, I concur, Bettina.  The game was rigged, but he still could have won.

He hears her sobbing into the phone and ends the call.

***

Bettina calls Rolf’s number.  To her surprise, he picks up on the third ring.  Yes. She sniffles.  Rolf, come home.  What’s wrong, Bettina?  I know what happened, she says in between sniffles.  It’s awful what they did to him.  Tell me.  They spiked his drink with Niacin.  Rolf mutters something in Old Norse.  And breathes heavily into the phone.  Do they get to live?  Rolf asks her.  Their foot shall slide in due time, Bettina says.  I don’t want Kostamo to hurt them.  Rolf laughs.  Fine, we’ll have it your way.  See you soon.