Prevention Force

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Chapter 6

That evening ten cops go out to celebrate the successful containment of two violent acts. Hatch grabs Healy’s arm as they enter Trio. “Ooh I like this. I’ve never been here before.”

“It’s called Trio because it’s a restaurant, a bar, and a dance club.”

Spoct wears a clip-on bow tie. “The three Rs.”

Healy checks out Hatch’s outfit. He is famous for his clothes, which are works of art. His jacket has a vibrant pattern of rainbows. His shirt has images of cherries and his pants have plums. He is particularly known for his shoes, a stunning multicolor of zigzags, which competes with the other articles for attention. “You are a living breathing gallery.”

He humbly places his hand on his breast and giggles. “And looks at you. That is beautiful. Did you make that?”

“It’s a ruana.”

Spoct chimes in. “It’s a shawl.”

The top of it is tan and the bottom is blue, separated by a white sine wave. Liesl says, “It’s supposed to be an ocean wave. That’s the sand, and that’s the water.”

Smoob feels the stitches and says sensuously, “It’s simply gorgeous.”

Spoct adds, “It took her six months to knit.”

The cops take up three tables. Healy, Spoct, Hatch, and Smoob are at one.

Smoob reads the drink menu, giddy as a kid in a candy store. “Special edition barrel-aged whiskey. Hand crafted, pre-corked, thirty-year-old brandy! This is fancy. Ooh la la!” She laughs, asks Healy what she’s going to have.

“I don’t know if I feel like drinking.”

“Oh come on. This is a special occasion. How many times in your life are you going to encounter someone wielding a knife?”

Spoct says, “1.74 times.”

They look at him, confused.

“Statistically speaking.”

After a minute everyone knows what they’re getting, except Liesl who is still studying the menu like it was the SAT s.

Hatch says, “Come on, sug, it’s not a major life decision.”

Spoct says, “It’s only food.”

Liesl laughs. “Blasphemy!”

The waitress comes. Healy says, “Excuse me, I have celiac disease.”

Spoct puts his head on his paw. “We go through this every time.”

The waitress doesn’t speak English, let alone knows what celiac disease is.

Healy speaks louder and slower. “I can’t have any gluten.”

The waitress has a thick accent. “No glu-te.”

Spoct says to the others, “She gets sick every time we go out.”

“Not every time.”

“28.4% of the time.”

Liesl laughs, “Statistically speaking.” She orders snow peas with shrimp.

Spoct says, “I thought you were vegan.”

“That was last week.” She turns to the waitress. “Does the soy sauce have gluten in it?”

Spoct says under his breath, “Leave that poor woman alone. She doesn’t know.”

The chef comes out and the waitress talks to him in a foreign language. The chef says, “No gluten, okay.”

The waitress turns to Spoct. “You?”

“I’ll have her gluten. And bring me a big bowl of Nutrimush.”

Healy cringes. “How can you eat that stuff?”

“I love it. It’s the perfect food. 100% nutritionally balanced, chemically engineered to be the most delicious food in the world, and you can eat as much as you want and never get fat.” As he speaks he places a napkin over his glass of water.

Smoob asks him what he’s doing.

“I don’t want any germs in my water.”

Healy laughs, “You drink out of the toilet but are worried about germs?”

He shrugs. “We all have our little idiosyncrasies.”

Smoob says, “Speaking of which. Let’s talk alcohol.” She chortles wickedly.

Liesl’s face lights up. “I don’t need alcohol to feel good.” She sings, “I’m naturally happy!”

Spoct says, “If you could bottle what she’s on, you’d make a fortune.”

Liesl laughs.

Smoob says, “What about beer?”

“Beer is hops. Hops is gluten.” She throw up her arms in joy and announces, “I’m having coffee.”

Smoob asks Spoct, “What are you going to have?”

“I’m having sparkling water.”

“Oh come on. Live it up.”

“I’m not into alcohol. It’s bad for dogs.”

“That’s not true. I know a Basset Hound who is a complete alchy.”

“It’s bad for bears too. There is no up side to drinking.”

Smoob sneers. “Who brought Debbie Downer along?” The waiter brings her a full bottle of Pappy Van Winkle.

Hatch asks, “What is that?”

“Pretty good bourbon.” She opens it. They are all staring at her. “I weigh 1200 pounds. For me this is one drink.” She chugs the whole bottle and belches, shaking the room. The others are in awe. “Just one won’t hurt.”

“That’s what they always say. Next thing you know you’re lying at the bottom of a ditch.” Spoct projects into the center of the table a video about cirrhosis of the liver and drunk driving car crashes.

Hatch says, “Please. We’re trying to enjoy ourselves.”

Smoob says, “There hasn’t been a drunk driving accident in years.”

Healy says, “I’m not going to tune into your negativity.” She takes a sip of her drink and sparkles. “Coffee makes me happy!”

Hatch raises his strawberry daiquiri with umbrella. “Let’s toast. To the crime of the century!”

Healy says humbly, “I wouldn’t go that far.”

The food comes and they pig out. A second round is ordered. Smoob is tipsy and makes another toast,“To the prevention of crime.”

Someone starts reciting the police oath, and all the cops in the room join in.

“I will prevent crime.

I will never harm a client.

I will treat everyone with respect.

I will help everyone achieve 100% potential.

We are all responsible for each other.”

They cheer and laugh.

Spoct gets up and tugs Liesl by her ruana with his mouth onto the dance floor. The song playing is Let’s Twist Again by Chubby Checker. Spoct rises on two legs and does the twist.

Hatch and Smoob look at each other, and join in. Smoob’s enormity contrasts with her dainty, reserved dance moves. Hatch was a classically-trained dancer before joining the force and shows off his moves. Smoob hip bumps a guy, catapulting him smashing into a table. She winces. “Sorry, Ed.”

Healy and Spoct love dancing. Spoct varies between standing erect, and going on all fours. When he holds a paw over Healy’s head, that’s the signal for her to twirl, which she loves to do. They make funny gestures at each other in unison for key words in the songs. “You” is symbolized by pointing at each other in rhythm. “Sleep” is tilting their heads on their hands. “Searching” is looking around with one hand held over the eyes like a visor.

Spoct dips Healy, but she goes back too far and loses balance. She laughs and catches herself. Not to be outdone, Smoob picks Hatch up and holds him in her arms. He strikes a pose, “Ta-da!” and laughs.

Another officer, whom she’s told a million times she’s not interested in, comes over and asks to cut in. Liesl says, “I told you I’m married to my job.” He walks away. Spoct whispers, “Sorry, Charlie.”

Spoct busts a move. The others form a circle around him and chant, “Spoct! Spoct! Spoct!” He does Michael Jackson, and finishes with a break dance spin on his back.

Smoob’s turn.

“Go Smoob! Go Smoob!”

Later, people break into groups and relax. Healy is off in the corner at a table working on her phone, filling out the last details of the crime report.

It’s amazing how much trouble one little nitrogen atom can cause. She looks over the statistical analysis. One graph breaks down how much various factors contributed to the crime:



85% Brain chemistry

8% Social influence

3% Unexplained

2% Personal choice

2% Poor attitude

0% Education

3% unexplained? She doesn’t like leaving any loose ends. Her father always taught her to do a complete job.

Elizabeth comes over. “How you doing, kid?”

“You’re just the person I wanted to see.” Elizabeth works on the STAT Team. “I think there’s a problem with the analyzer.”

“You’re not still working are you? That’s not allowed. You’re supposed to be having fun.”

“I am having fun.” She scowls at her phone. “But something’s wrong. 3% of the data is unaccounted for.”

“Let me see that.” She looks at it a minute. “There’s nothing wrong with the computer. There always is a small amount of error. That’s normal.”

“That’s not the way I like to do things.”

“3% is considered insignificant. Officially speaking the case has been solved to a satisfactory degree.”

She shrugs. “Well, I guess if the department is happy, I’m happy. I was just wondering. There has to be some explanation for it.”

“That’s how statistics work. There is always an error. Let’s say you measure someone’s height. Maybe you held the ruler at an angle. Maybe the person was hunching down a little. Your measurement will vary, give or take an inch.”

“But there was a logical explanation why it varied.”

“Yes, but often we just don’t know what it is.”

“Well then let’s find out.”

“That’s not always possible. Sometimes the facts themselves change.The human body stretches and shrinks. There is no one exact answer to how tall someone is. It’s more like a range. But that’s okay, because if the error is small, it doesn’t matter. We consider it insignificant.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Liesl walks slowly away, her brain still trying to wrap around it.

“Now that it’s settled put your phone away and come back to the party.”

“Okay.” She stands up, but then sits back down, checks the analysis for the second violent crime. It also has 3% unexplained data. The wheels of her brain start turning. Hatch pulls her up by the hand to join the party. She stands among her chuckling comrades still pondering. Two cases. That’s no coincidence.

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