Chapter 3: The Ring
"Dangit Shawn," cursed Gus as they entered the Psych office. "You told me you were going to return that ring to your Dad's!"
"I was!" defended Shawn. "I just…didn't say when"
Gus clicked his tongue. Through all of the 30-something years that they had been friends, Gus could still barely tolerate Shawn's lack of responsibility.
"What are you worried about anyway?" said Shawn. "Technically, the ring is mine. Gamagama Spencer wanted me to give it to my future bride."
"That's not totally true and you know it!" said Gus, "According to the will it was to stay in your Dad's possession until he gives you his blessing. You should have asked him for it instead of taking it without his knowledge."
"What makes you think I haven't asked him?" challenged Shawn.
"Shawn, come on. It's you. When do you ever get your Dad's permission to do anything?"
"Ok, that's a fair," Shawn shrugged in agreement. "But…consider this. What if tomorrow, Jules and I are taking a stroll on the beach, and out-of-the-blue Foreigner shows up singing 'Waiting for a Girl Like You' at the same time that a shooting star streaks across the clear starry sky. I gotta be ready, Man!"
"Foreigner is playing in Miami tomorrow, Shawn" stated Gus in a deep and unsettling tone, steadily glaring at Shawn.
Shawn frantically attempted another convincing argument that didn't come. "So…ok then, what if…?" Wait! How do you even know that?"
"I follow Mick Jones on Twitter," Gus answered, momentarily forgetting his ire and turning his scowl into an enthusiastic grin.
"Really?" said Shawn eagerly. "I gotta look him up. Is Gimbel on there too? Ooo! What about Gramm?"
"Yeah, but Gramm left the band in- Shawn!" Gus yelled, suddenly aware that he was supposed to be angry at his best friend at the moment. "Don't change the subject on me!"
"You were the one who brought up Mick! I was just-"
"Shawn! What is wrong with you?! You know that you and Juliet are not ready yet." Shawn attempted to make an argument, but Gus spoke over him. "You don't need an 'emergency ring.' You and I both know that you are going to lose that ring before you even have the courage to actually give it to her, anyway. Either that, or she'll find it first and then you'll have a lot of explaining to do.
"Yeah, yeah…I know," Shawn admitted, finally getting serious. "Jules and I aren't ready. We just got back together, and I'm still trying to win her trust back after the whole 'I'm-not-really-a-psychic' thing. It is definitely not the time to bring up the subject of marriage. I guess I just was holding onto it because…I don't know. I don't know why I was holding onto it. I just…I know she's the one, Gus. I don't want to miss my chance."
"I know, Shawn. But if you really don't want to lose her, you can't mess it up by taking things too fast," said Gus. "You've gotta do this the right way." Shawn took in his friend's advice and nodded. He knew that Gus was right. He should have returned the ring long ago, or better yet, never have taken it from his Dad's drawer in the first place.
"Now you have to tell your Dad that you have it," Gus scolded
"I know!" responded Shawn, defensively. "I just couldn't say anything while Jules was standing there. I'm bringing it over to him right now." Shawn walked over to his desk and retrieved a silly putty egg. The ring inside jingled slightly when he picked it up.
"Really?" said Gus in disbelief "I thought we agreed that toys are not acceptable storage containers for priceless jewelry."
"This," said Shawn holding up the egg, "is not a toy. It is a container in which a toy is packaged so that it can be sold in a store. I simply chose to re-utilize it. The three 'R's, Gus. Recycle, Reee…tain, Re-utilize. I am just trying to do my part to save the planet. I thought you'd appreciate that."
"Reduce. Reuse. Recycle," Gus corrected. "And all I'm hearing are excuses."
"Don't worry Gus. I'm going to return the ring to my Dad right now. He is going to kill me, but at least we can get this whole ordeal straightened out before leading the case in the wrong direction."
"I don't get it, O'Hara. What is it that you see in that idiot?" asked Lassiter looking over to Juliet who sat in the passenger seat of his Ford Fusion.
"We are not discussing this, Carlton," said Juliet through gritted teeth. "Give it a rest."
Carlton continued as if he had not even heard his partner. "I thought you had finally come to your senses when you finally kicked Spencer out, but for some god-forsaken reason you took him back. Now, I know I'm not always the most….sensitive of people, but I could tell that whatever he did, you were hurting."
Juliet gulped and tried to keep from reminding herself of the betrayal she felt from Shawn's lie.
"Thanks for your concern Carlton, but anything that happens between Shawn and me is personal and is between the two of us." Juliet picked up a glazed doughnut from a box that sat in her lap and took a large bite. She hadn't eaten breakfast that morning and was now ravenously hungry.
Lassiter asked in as much as a caring voice as he could, which only came across as creepy, "What is it that he did to you?"
"None of your busssinessss," she droned looking steadfastly at the road in front of them and away from her partner. She continued to munch on the doughnut until it had completely disappeared into her mouth. She swallowed and wiped the sugar from her fingers with a napkin.
"Did he cheat on you?!" demanded Carlton. "Because if he cheated on you–"
"No! Carlton, he didn't cheat on me." Juliet turned to look Lassiter in the eye. "It wasn't anything like that." Juliet sighed and pleaded in a softer serious voice. "Just let it go, Carlton. Please."
Lassiter was immediately brought to silence by her tone, and accepted that he had overstepped his bounds. "Ok," he said simply.
Just as the two came to an unspoken mutual agreement not to speak of the subject any further, Lassiter pulled his Fusion in front of the Psych office and looked over to his junior detective who was gobbling down a second doughnut as if she were a starving child from Africa. "Sheesh, O'Hara! You'd think you hadn't eaten in a week!"
"That's almost true," she responded. "I've barely eaten anything for the three days and missed breakfast this morning. I'm starving." She finished the doughnut she was eating and took another from the box on her lap.
"Did you really have to take the whole box, though?" Lassiter asked looking at her strangely. "You know Dobson will throw a tantrum if he doesn't get his daily Boston Cream."
"I didn't know how many I would eat. Want one?" she offered.
"Yeah, sure…I'll take one," he agreed, taking a plain doughnut from the box carefully, unsure of how to handle Juliet's new appreciation for doughnuts. They both got out of the car taking their confections with them, and were about to enter the Psych office, only to be met with Shawn on his way out.
"J – Jules!" said Shawn, surprised to see the subject of the conversation he had just been discussing with Gus standing in front of him. The next thing he noticed was the tasty treat in her hand and then Lassiter standing behind her, with his half-eaten treat in his hand.
"Doughnuts! Lassie?" he said as he gave Juliet a quick hug and a peck on the cheek, trying not to get chocolate icing on his clothes in the process. He glanced to the tall detective and then back to Juliet. "Did you bring one for me? I mean, a doughnut, not a Lassie."
"There are more in the car. Whhyyy are you holding silly putty?" asked Juliet.
Shawn tried not to panic as he came up with an explanation and shoved the red egg into his pocket. "I…uuhhh…well you know my Dad lost his putty and I said he could borrow mine…sooo…I was just gonna, you know…bring it over to him….right now."
"Uh…Ok," said Juliet furrowing her brow curiously and then remembering that this was Shawn, let it go. By now she'd learned not to ask too many questions.
"Gus! Doughnuts in Lassie's car!" Shawn yelled to his buddy through the open office door, to which a cocoa-buttery black blur brushed by them and had the box of doughnuts in his hand in mere seconds.
Lassiter, getting frustrated, grunted, "Boys! This is not a social call and we didn't come to bring you dessert. This is serious."
Reminded of the reason they had come, Juliet's expression became stern. "Lassiter's right. The Chief sent us here to find out if there is anything you know about a suspicious man roaming the area…there have been several reports, including one from a young girl who witnessed someone trying to enter your office."
Shawn's and Gus's mouths dropped. They looked at each other seriously and shrugged, corroborating that neither of them knew a thing.
"I…I'm sorry, Jules. We don't know anything…"
Shawn turned around and checked the area around the door. At first he didn't notice anything strange, but then squinted closely at the lock which looked to have been scratched.
"Actually, wait…" he said holding out his hands, faking the action of absorbing the local energy, which he did only for Lassiter's benefit. "Someone was here. He was...picking his nose!...No that's not it….Picking his lotto numbers!....No, not that either... Picking up chicks? No... Picking...THE LOCK! Yeah, he was picking the lock…but I believe he failed."
"Weslock Brand, most secure knobs out there," said Gus in self-praise for his successful choice in office security.
"Yeah, that's nice buddy, but why would someone want to break into the Psych Office?" Both men and the two detectives shrugged and shook their heads. "First someone wandering around my Dad's place, then a break-in there. Now someone is wandering miles away around this area and trying to break into my office? What is going on here?"
"We get reports of suspicious strangers roaming different parts of town all the time," said Lassiter. "…especially near parks and beaches like both this and Henry's neighborhoods. It could just be a coincidence." Lassiter's speculation did little to convince any of the others though.
"Gus, you'd better go to Weslock and get another lock, and a dead-bolt, and one of those chain thingies," said Shawn.
"Weslock is a brand, not a store, Shawn," corrected Gus.
"Whatever! Just get this place secure. My collection of not-actually-rare Beanie Babies are in there for goodness sakes!"
Shawn pulled his motorcycle into Henry's driveway, took a deep breath, and entered his boyhood home. He found Henry starting to clean up the mess left behind by the mysterious black-suited man.
"Anything else missing?" asked Shawn trying not to show his guilt over the upcoming confession.
"No…No…Nothing," said Henry, obviously still perplexed over the strange events. "What could he possibly want with Mom's ring? It's starting to seem like he was just a guy looking for money and valuables. I doubt he would have any special interest in that ring. I'm sure it's worth a few bucks, but it's nothing special."
"Maybe…maybe…" Shawn mumbled
"What's wrong with you?" said Henry, noticing Shawn acting suspicious.
"Dad, I am indeed sensing that this dude had no interest in Grandma's ring," said Shawn putting his finger to his temple.
"Sensing? Really, Shawn?" Henry criticized. "You realize we are the only two people in this room."
"Sorry, it's a force of habit now," said Shawn impatiently. He put down his hand. "I'm 'suspecting' then"
"What makes you say that?" Henry asked.
"Because of this," said Shawn pulling the ring from his pocket and holding it up for his dad to see. Shawn looked shamefully at his feet.
"You? YOU? You stole my mother's ring?!" Henry yelled with anger.
Shawn flinched and responded feebly, "Technically…"
"No. Not technically!" Henry cut in, knowing where Shawn was going. You know the conditions of your grandmother's will. The ring is not yours until I give it to you with my blessing. You stole it. Plain and simple."
"Alright, Dad, I stole it," confessed Shawn.
Henry look satisfied and held his hand out to receive the ring, but Shawn hesitated.
"Dad, are you saying that you don't want me to marry Juliet?"
"What? I didn't say that." Henry paused and then asked in surprise, "Are you planning on asking her to marry you?" Henry had always been fond of Juliet and would have been thrilled to have her as a daughter-in-law, but he also knew that his son, despite being in his mid-thirties, was not ready for a commitment like that.
"No…Yes…I mean, I was…I almost did that time we went to Ojai, but the timing wasn't right. And the timing isn't quite right just now either. But someday, yes, I'd like to ask Juliet to marry me."
"You've had this thing since your Ojai trip?! That was more than a year ago!" Henry yelled.
"You really should have a better system to keep track of your valuables, Dad," Shawn suggested smartly.
Henry fumed, but resisted the urge to strangle his son. As he had always done since Shawn was a boy, he counted to ten and started speaking in a calmer tone. "Well son, when the time is right you let me know. I will give you my blessing and return the ring to you. But in the meantime, it's my duty to hold on to it."
"Haha. You said Doody!," chuckled Shawn.
Henry rolled his eyes while Shawn placed the ring in Henry's still open hand. "I am sure the ring is safer with me anyhow. I know how easily you lose things."
"You have noo…idea..," said Shawn to himself. He wouldn't even bother to tell his dad how he almost lost it for good at Ojai…or when Juliet unknowingly sold it to an 11-year-old boy thinking she was only selling him a Thundercat.
"I'll call the chief and let her know I 'found' the ring," said Henry. "Damn! That was our only lead."
"Not necessarily. Dad, there's something else you need to know."
"What?" said Henry preparing himself for bad news.
"Someone tried to break into the Psych office…I think. The evidence isn't strong but Gus and I are upping security just in case."
"Huh," said Henry to himself, shaking his head and trying to make sense of everything.
"Look…uh, why don't I stay and help you clean?" suggested Shawn. "Maybe one of us will come up with something."
Henry accepted Shawn's offer and the two of them got to picking up books and knick-knacks and placing them on the shelves. Henry picked up a small preserved mackerel in a frame that had been hanging on the wall - the first fish that Shawn had caught, and was reminded of the mackerels that he and Ed caught just days earlier. Then it came back to him. The vision of a man that he thought had been his imagination - a lanky man slinking almost unnoticed beside his boat.
Noticing his Dad standing still and staring intently at his first mackerel, Shawn smirked and had to say something. "Getting a little nostalgic over there?" he asked.
"No," he said without even turning to face his son. "I think I'm being followed. Maybe both of us."