Thank you for everything, Jon.  Jax’s mother tells him as she hugs him goodbye.  Jax’s father shakes his hand.  What are you going to do now, Jon?  I’m teaching an evening music appreciation class at the community college this summer.  That’s fantastic, Jax’s mother enthuses.  How did you come to that decision?   Jax’s father asked him.  Lana gave me the idea.  Rolf took care of the rest.  He’s going to help.  Jax’s parents look at each other.  Where are you going to live, Jon?  Toni is renting me her condo.  Well, good.  We love you, Jon, Jax’s mother tells him as she hugs him again, and then goes through TSA.

***

Don Ramon gets a call on his cell phone.  She’s done it again, Tia says without preamble.  Go to CNN.com and look at the breaking headlines.  Ramon does this in silence.  He breaks out laughing.  Brother, your woman is in jail again, he shouts.

Breaking News: Lana Radley arrested for shooting a mountain lion in national scenic area.

Portland, Oregon. Federal wildlife officials arrested Lana Radley at the home of rock musician Simon Barjona for the illegal harvest of fur.  The former NOPD officer turned private investigator, recently released for the alleged assault on her ex-boyfriend, guitarist Jaxton Ayers, was taken into custody without incident.

A local taxidermist contacted authorities with concerns about poaching.  The ladies were very polite, with Southern accents and mannerisms, the elderly proprietor admitted.  They presented a rolled up puma hide, and asked if I’d be able to make it into a rug for their apartment.  I asked them how they came into possession, and the man with them who looked ex-military said that they found it dead on the trail.  You take cash?  Their other companion, a bald man with glasses, asked me.  And he flashed a big roll of twenties at me.  I said sure, no problem, and got their information and took possession of the article.  And immediately contacted the authorities when they left.  I had no idea who they were.

Her companions claim that Radley drew and fired the single shot that killed the mountain lion from approximately twelve yards, using a Glock handgun, loaded with state of the art ultra lightweight nickel copper bullets that travel at extreme velocities and are designed to starburst on impact.  Her close friend and roommate Bettina Andrews admitted that none of them saw the animal crouched on a rock ledge overhead, and only the report of the handgun and then the animal falling dead in front of them alerted them to the danger.  Even in death, it looked so evil, she exclaimed.  Lana saved us from serious bodily harm and possible death, Simon Barjona, lead singer of megaband Slaughterhouse Five, insisted.  This wasn’t some Disney cartoon animal, asleep in a tree.  This was an alpha predatorix on the hunt.  I’m damn sure glad Lana was packing heat.  I don’t think anyone else would have been able to make the shot.  We owe her our lives.

Radley is said to have shot the animal behind the ear as it crouched to pounce on the unsuspecting hikers just ahead of her.  There were no witnesses, as the group was off-trail in a remote part of the Columbia River gorge.  The critter was huge.  It must have weighed two hundred pounds.  We drug it off the path so it wouldn’t frighten anyone else who came along.

Radley remains jailed without bond and faces up to a forty day imprisonment and a $50,000 fine if found guilty. Associated Press.

Raul puts his head in his hands. Don’t worry about it, brother.  You willing to drive?  Raul asks Ramon, I want to call Bettina.  Put it on speaker, Ramon says grinning, I want to hear this.

Can I call you back in five, Raul?  Bettina says when she answers the call.  Sure.

Raul?  You’re on speaker, Bettina.  Don Ramon is concerned about Lana.  Hello, Bettina.  Ramon says grinning.  You caught us driving to dinner at my fiance’s new house.  <silence>.  How is Lana, Bettina?  Raul asks.  Senator Johns is threatening to cut their budget next year if they don’t release her.  He’s flying here to pick her up in person.  Ramon laughs.  See, you needn’t worry.  She has friends in high places, he tells Raul.  What happened with the arrest?  Did she hurt anyone?  Of course not.  They were waiting for us at Simon’s place when we got back in from whitewater rafting.   We’d dropped the hide off that morning on the way to the put in.

Is there anything I can do?  Raul asks.  My dad is expecting you at church with us this next Sunday, and for lunch after.  Bettina announces.  How did she handle being arrested again?

She told us not to worry about her.  That we should each make a brief statement to the police...<flashback>  

"Tell them what happened.  Just the facts.  Don’t try to make your case to the person taking the statement.  They’re not the judge.  Keep it simple and don’t lie. We were hiking in a remote area.  You heard a gunshot and turned around to look at me, and then the wildcat fell dead on the trail.  You should probably draw them a map, Tim.  Please leave the patrolmen out of it.  We drug the dead animal off the trail, and then took the hide for a trophy.  They’ll make you repeat your statement over and over if you don’t flex your rights.  Ask if they intend to bring charges against you.  If they hesitate at all, demand to speak to an attorney and clam up.  Simon, please ask Riley for help.  Bettina, I don’t want you in lockup with me.  My mother is going to take it hard; I need you to talk to her.  Please tell her that the seeds of discouragement cannot grow in a grateful spirit.  Tim, I’ll see you back home"...<end flashback>

Did she talk to the cops?  They told us that they were taking us in for suspicion of poaching a mountain lion.  Lana told them that she shot the animal with her Glock.  They asked her where the gun was.  In the trunk.  They asked Simon to open it, and he told them not without a warrant.  I know my rights.  I’m calling my lawyer.  And they placed us under arrest, and put handcuffs on us, and took us down the station.  And it went like she said.  They asked me what happened, and I told them as little as possible, and asked if they were going to charge me with a crime.  The officer hesitated, and I told him that I wasn’t saying another word until I spoke to my attorney.

Good job, Ramon tells her.  What happened then?  Raul asks.  Riley came with his attorney and got us out on bail.  They wouldn’t let Lana go though, because she killed the critter.  We went straight to the press and let them know what happened.

So what’s next?  Ramon asks.  We’re waiting for the Senator to arrive.  How did he get involved?  Raul asks.  Kostamo, Bettina replies.

How is she holding up?  Raul asks.  Lana’s resilient, Bettina says.  How are you doing, Bettina?  Ramon asks.  I’m a mess.  Please have Sam call me later when she has time, Don Ramon.  Goodbye, Raul.  Thanks for calling.  And she hangs up.

Uh-oh, Ramon says worriedly.

***

Hello, my love, Ramon says as he kisses Sam's hand.  We’re saving our first kiss for our wedding day, he tells Raul, who doesn’t know what to say to this.  Have you heard about Lana?  He asks her.  Sam nods.  Check this out, she tells them, and shows them her laptop.  They see a Gofundme page for Predators 2.  The tagline: Lana Radley is transported to the Predators offworld game reserve.  Raul sees that it has already raised $187,456 in donations.  We can watch the first one after supper, Samantha says, I ordered it online.  Bettina wants you to call her later, Ramon says.  I think I’m in trouble, he admits.

***

The doorbell rings as Ramon and Samantha are watching the movie.  Raul opens the door to see Rolf and Jon with a bald girl between them.  Come in, Raul says.   Thanks, Rolf replies, and leads the way into the den.  Sam pauses the movie when she sees them come into the room and join her and Ramon on the huge couch.  I need your help, Rolf tells her.  Now?!?  I’ve got a collections problem; a rapper owes me money.  Do you know where he’s at?  Yes.  I’ll get changed, Sam says grinning.

You’re leaving me? Jenny protests.  Time for an attitude check, Miss Kaufman, Rolf tells her.  Look around.  You get to watch movies and eat ice cream with Jon at Jax’s place.  Do you have any idea how much that would be worth if it was an Ebay auction?  She pouts and doesn’t answer.

Rolf Asgaard, he tells Ramon, offering his hand.  Ramon Ortega, he replies with a grin.   You are the reclusive drummer who Lana Radley guards.   You have a talent for concision, Ramon, Rolf tells him.  This is Jenny Kaufman, and the artist formerly known as Jon.  Everyone bursts out laughing, even Raul, who is watching and listening against the wall.  What movie are we watching?  Jenny asks. Predators, it’s about alien warriors who hunt armed humans as a trophy sport. Rolf shakes his head no.  Find something else - suitable for Jenny.  What do you recommend, Jon?  Ramon asks.  He glances at Jenny, and then at Rolf.  Finding Neverland.  Ramon finds it on Netflix.  Now, he says, looking at Jenny, I am a gourmet chef.  What would you like me to prepare for dessert, Jenny, while you watch the movie?  Jenny looks at him.  I would like some apple crisp and ice cream please, like Bettina made for the CNN film crew.  I’ll call her for the recipe, Ramon says.  Ramon nods at Raul, who pulls out his phone and makes the call.  Bettina, my brother needs your apple crisp recipe.  Here he is.  Sam comes downstairs in a loose fitting outfit with her hair up.  Bettina, Ramon mouths.  I’ll call her back later, Sam says.  Do not let her watch what we were watching, Sam whispers to him.  He nods and kisses her hand.  Have fun, he tells her.  Bye dear.  I’d do the dishes when I get back, she says, grinning at him.

Sam turns around at the front door.  I’ve got this, Raul.  Don’t meddle with strife that doesn’t belong to you.  Raul stands in the doorway, and watches Rolf get in the passenger seat of Sam’s red GTO, and her gun it out of the drive.

***

Thanks, Sam.  She grins at him.  Thanks for asking.  I’ve been needing to work some stuff out for a long time.  What did you tell him?  To get an accountant.  Sam laughs.  You’re so funny, Rolf.  Ja Raph – did you tell him that sounds like a zoo animal?  Rolf grins.  Jon and I changed his name to Buck Neezy.  Sam shreeks with laughter.  You didn’t!  And he’s blowing up, so he’s stuck with it.

***

They’re all watching the movie, Raul tells Sam when she and Rolf get back in.  I’m going to take a shower.  I’ll be down in a little bit, Sam says, and heads upstairs.

Please join me, Raul tells Rolf.  Do you want something to drink?  I’m alright; I had some champagne at the club.  A water then?  Sure.  Have a seat, Raul says, gesturing to the dining room table.  They sit facing each other after Raul comes back with Rolf’s water.  Do you know who I am?  He asks Rolf.  I know your name, Rolf replies.  Samantha is now Don Ortega’s fiance, Raul says, and stares at Rolf, leaving the rest unspoken.  I understand; it won’t happen again, Rolf tells Raul.  I’m glad you dropped in though, Raul says.  I’ve been wanting to talk to you.  <pause>  It speaks well of you that you would show charity to a sick child.   <pause> Lana tells me that you are her partner in her private investigation firm.  Rolf nods.  How much to buy out your share?  Money isn’t a motivator at my level, Raul, just a way of keeping score.  Take it up with Lana if you’ve got a problem with us working together.  Raul runs a hand through his hair and then strokes his chin.  Why do you continue to keep company with her?  She almost killed your friend.  That’s between them.  What are your intentions, Raul?  Rolf asks.  We are going to start seeing each other when she gets back into town.  Do you have a problem with that?  Her business, Rolf states.  I do not approve of her working out of your house, handling your security.  Allow me to hire a replacement, at my expense - subject to your approval, of course.  Rolf makes a dismissive gesture.  Lana and I have been through a lot together.  You don’t build that level of trust and rapport overnight, Raul.  It’s rare, very rare.

Ramon and Jenny and Jon come over to the dining room table.  You’re back, Jenny exclaims, and goes over and gives Rolf a hug and sits next to him.  Ramon wipes his eyes.  That was an amazing movie; you should watch it sometime, he tells Raul.

What did you do with my fiance?  She brought me back safely, Rolf says grinning. Ramon grins back at him.  Did she solve your collections problem?  Rolf nods.  She made a lasting impression.  What did she do?  Jenny asks.  She pretended to be the jealous ex-girlfriend of the rapper.   He sent his goons to haul her away, and she put them on the floor.  Then the bouncers came at her, and it was like watching a Jason Statham fight scene.  Did she get hurt?  Jenny asks.  She got bruised up a little.  Why didn’t you help her?  She didn’t need it, and I’ve already proven that I know how to take a punch.  Everyone chuckles.  Rolf whispers something in Jenny’s ear, and she gets up and goes over to Raul and gives him a hug.  Lana is my hero, she tells him.  She speaks fluent Spanish, Ramon tells her.  I didn’t know that, Jenny admits.  You are close to death, Raul tells her.  If Lana were here, she would tell you to seek the friendship of God while you are still able.  How do I do that?  Jenny asks, sitting down next to him.  You must confess your sins and believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized. She’s too young to have committed a mortal sin, Jon protests, glancing up at Raul.  Unbelief is a mortal sin, Raul replies. She has knowledge of good and evil, and is walking towards sunset.  Prove it, Rolf tells him.  As a child, you ran around the house naked, without knowing any better. When you became aware of your nakedness, you left that Edenic state and will be held accountable.  Fear hellfire and eternal torment - for that is where you are headed without Christ.  Jenny looks at Raul with wide eyes and her mouth open. What is wrong with you?  Jon yells at Raul, glaring at him.  You’ve all been warned, Raul tells Jon.  Raul pulls out his phone, and scrolls through the screen.   He shows it to Jenny.  Here is Bettina’s phone number.  Call her.  She will tell you more if you do not wish to talk to me further.   Jenny pulls out her phone and punches in the number from Raul’s phone.

So are you staying around this summer, Jon?  Ramon asks him, changing the subject.  Jon nods.  I’m going to be teaching a night music appreciation class at the community college.  Why?  Ramon asks.  Lana gave me the idea, Jon says, and Rolf offered to help if it was after dark.  How come you don’t go out during the day?  Raul asks Rolf. The Bible reads the evening and the morning of the first day.  The day begins in the evening.  That’s an allegory, Raul replies, about using this life to prepare for the next.  Is that how it reads to you?  Rolf asks, then adds, nothing in Scripture is incidental or accidental.  He’s got you there, brother, Ramon says with a grin.  How does it read to you?  Raul asks Rolf.  I side with Irenaeus, not Augustine.  I don’t know what you mean by that, Raul admits.  How could you - with your theological precommitments?  You’re on the other side of the Tiber.  Raul stares at him.  Who are you?  He finally asks Rolf.

If you were to suddenly die, God forbid, who would be the best drummer on the rock scene right now?  Ramon asks.  Matt Grenier of August Burns Red.  Jenny and Jon look up the band on their phones.  Jenny shows the page to Raul, who shows it to Ramon, who gets up and brings Sam’s laptop to the table.  Which song?  He asks Rolf.  Whitewashed.  Ramon finds a concert cam on Youtube and everyone watches the drummer play.  Jenny gasps when she sees him do a drumstick spin mid tempo.  Can you do that?  Rolf chuckles.  He broke a drumstick, Jenny.  Put on their music video, Jon orders, I want to hear their sound.  Ramon clicks the mousepad a couple times.  How long did it take you to learn it?  It takes time, Jenny, Rolf admits.  What say?  Rolf asks Jon with a grin.  You do the death growl vocals.  Simon takes your place on rhythm guitar and does the cleans.  What are cleans?  Raul asks.  Actual singing, usually a voiceover at the end of a breakdown.  Jon says.  But who is going to play bass?  It’s just chug cording.  We can cover for Jax, and play something that he could do with his left hand in his sleep.  Jon breaks out laughing.  Let’s put something together this summer, Rolf says.  What are you going to call it?  Ramon asks.  I did not flee at Uppsala, Rolf roars in Old Norse.   Uppsala, Jon says in a death growl.  That gave me chills, brother.  Rolf tells him.

Sam comes into the room in her bare feet, still wearing the same clothes, and stands behind Ramon and tossles his hair.  Sam looks at Rolf skeptically and makes a nod toward Jenny.  These guys are straight edge, Rolf tells Sam; their lyrics are clean.  ABR is a Christian metalcore band.  What is straight edge?  Ramon asks.  Jon types it into his phone and then hands it to Ramon, who hands it to Raul and Jenny as the song finishes.

I just got off the phone with Bettina, Sam announces.  She grins at Rolf.  Guess what she just told me?  Rolf stares at her and then grins and chuckles.  Lana’s out of jail, Jenny exclaims excitedly.  Sam winces. No, sweetie.  Sorry about that.  She’ll be out soon, don’t you worry, and she goes over and pats Jenny awkwardly on the shoulder.  Just give her a hug, Sam, you won’t hurt her.  Rolf tells her.  Sam kneels beside her chair and wraps up Jenny in a hug and closes her eyes.  There, I’ve been wanting to do that ever since I heard that you were Rolf’s girlfriend.  Jenny blushes beat red.  Well?  Ramon asks her.  Bettina kissed Simon.  I just couldn’t help it, she told me.  Raul sees Jon’s face fall.  What did you do, Sam?  Rolf asks her.  Nothing, I swear, Sam protests.  It must have been Lana’s doing.  She’s the one who knighted him Valiant for Truth.  When did this happen?  Ramon asks.  Sam sits down next to Jenny and tells her the story.

***

Why would you ask him to guess?  Raul asks Sam, nodding to Rolf.  Sorry, Rolf, but I’m going to throw you under the bus on this one to keep the peace.  Rolf shrugs in response.  Rolf is gifted; he can read minds.  The first time we met, he freaked me out.  Tell me the story, Ramon says…

…and when he said begone, I didn’t need any encouragement.  <silence>  But get this, Ramon, Bettina can read his mind.  They’re actually able to talk to each other without speaking.  Jenny stares at Rolf.  Rolf blocks his eyes.  Jenny, Jon tells her and shakes his head no.  You didn’t stick around - so you don’t know the end of the story, Jon tells Sam.  He told Mike not to chase after you, that you were the most dangerous assassin that he’d never met.  And that his gift was why he lived alone, and he didn’t want it out there.  Then he asked Jax to give him a ride home, and they left right after you did.  Then Bettina went over and sat next to Mike and asked to see his hand and told him to close his eyes.  She started rubbing his hand and she encouraged him.  She told him that he’d done everything right.  And that it would all work out.  Simon said later that she gave him a neck rub when they drove back to Las Vegas, and that he still remembered every word that she said.  That it was like she put him in a trance.  What just happened? is what Mike asked after she patted his hand and told him to open his eyes.  No one says anything.

Is Lana gifted as well?  Ramon asks.  What do you think, Jenny?  Rolf asks her.  She nods solemnly.  Let’s go, Rolf announces.  I’m sorry, Rolf.  Sam says.  Don’t worry about it, Sam.  We’re good.  I’m glad we got to meet, he tells Ramon and Raul, and offers his hand across the table to each as he gets up.