Prevention Force

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Chapter 10

The whole squad gathers round the one-way mirror, watching the stars of all the commotion sit in the lounge, cleaned up, and relaxed by the cozy fireplace.

Hatch says, “Look at this, the Three Stooges.”

The joyful captain says, “I can’t believe it, a bank robbery! I never thought I’d live to see it.”

An older cop says, “Back in my day we had bank robberies all the time. That was before Rich Uncle.”

“That’s what I don’t understand. Why didn’t they just go to the depository?”

The tall client’s body builder physique stretches his bathrobe. He has a big nose with a large bump on the bridge, and long straggly dirty-blond hair that is always in his face and mouth. His manner is childlike. Large innocent eyes look around as he sips hot cocoa.

The one with an average build is in pajamas and slippers. He has neatly trimmed hair, and the stiff posture of a stockbroker.

The short one has curly black hair and a scowl on his face which resembles a Neanderthal.

The team observes their behavior. The Neanderthal gives the body builder a dirty look.

“What? Don’t blame me. It was your idea.”

Neanderthal puts his head down.

Hatch’s face is against the glass watching them intently. He bites his fingernail with a sour look. “This is gonna be a tough nut to crack.”

The Captain says into the microphone, “Proceed with the neurological exam.”

Phil, wearing a white lab coat, nods. Muscles doesn’t even notice when Phil gently taps him on the head once with a glass wand with a little ball at the tip.

The computer Inside the control booth makes a pleasant bing. A long list of test results scrolls by:

Biochemical:

1: Dopamine Normal

2: Noradrenaline Normal

3: Adrenaline Normal

4: Serotonin Low

5: Acetylcholine. Normal

6: Kryptopyrrole Normal

7: Homocysteine Normal

A great amount of information rolls down the screen:

Neurology:

1: Orientation to place Normal

2: Memory Normal

3: Recent Memory Normal

4: Digit Span Forward Normal

5: Arithmetic Normal

6: Ability to Abstract Normal

7: Speech and Language Normal

8: Visual Spatial Skills Normal

The captain says, “His neurobiology, biopsychology, chemistry, and electro all look okay.”

Phil taps the stockbroker on the head. He maintains his dignified composure. Then Phil touches the probe to the Neanderthal, whose face expresses disapproval long after the quick tap is over.

The Captain reads the analysis. “Not much to see here, but I bet the psych workup will tell a different story.”

Hatch says, “We’ve got three piles of hot mess.”

Smoob comments in aristocratic accent, “I rather doubt it’s even possible to make sense out of it. Why would a person steal?”

Spoct adds, “I’ll sit here all night tracing every causal link if I have to.”

The Captain pets him on the head. “You’re a good boy.”

He wags his tail.

Healy looks anguished and shakes her head.

The Captain stares at the subjects intensely. “This is no ordinary case. Every stone is going to have to be turned.” Her eyes search their souls for answers. “Don’t let their cool exterior fool you. These people have deeply hidden issues.”

Healy says, “If they didn’t we would be out of a job.”

The Captain says, “Let’s see what their educational profiles turn up. It’s usually the education.” A poster on the wall reads:

It’s the Education, Stupid

“Okay who wants to take Muscles?”

Hatch hops up and says grudgingly, “If I must.” He smirks and strolls toward the door.

“I want a thorough understanding of his emotional needs and any and all mental hang-ups.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Spoct hops in front of the Captain. “Me. Me.”

“Okay, take number two.”

He trots out.

* * *

Hatch sits down in the leather chair next to Muscles, “Do you mind if I have a seat?”

“Go ahead.”

“That hot chocolate does look yummers. That’s the good stuff. I think I’ll have one too.” He bounces up and fixes himself one, stirs it, and licks the spoon. “Okie-dokie.” He gets comfortable, sitting on his legs like he’s getting ready to dish gossip with a best friend. Hatch has that natural talent for building instant rapport. In less than a minute they’re chatting about hobbies like buddies. Muscles is easy going. Hatch concludes pretty quickly that he is easily influenced, and his involvement in the robbery was that of a follower. This substantially reduces his share of the responsibility.

Hatch’s face tightens. “We do need to talk about the g-u-n.”

Muscles smiles in pain and his face reddens. There’s something likable about the guy. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Dude. Honestly. We just wanted to make some quick money.”

“Why didn’t you just come to us and ask?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t really think it through. ”

“Bank robbery? Surely you knew better.”

“We weren’t going to hurt anybody. It was just something to do for excitement.”

Hatch is a little ticked. “Well it was exciting.” He giggles. “I’ll give you that.”

“I was just going along with the others.”

“But why a gun?”

“It was supposed to scare people. I only fired into the air.”

“It was very dangerous. Someone very easily could have been hit by accident.”

Muscles feels remorse. “I know. I really screwed up.” He shakes his head and hangs it in his palms, realizing the enormity of the mess he’s in.

“Look. It’s not that bad. Luckily no one was hurt. The money’s been returned to the bank.” He pats his hand. “You’ll have to undergo therapy of course, meet with me three times a week for at least six months.”

He nods compliantly.

“We should have you back to 100% efficiency in no time.” He smiles charmingly. He looks over his file. Nothing particularly noteworthy. He had autism as a child, but it was corrected with an implanted chip. “What did you plan to do with the money?”

“I don’t know. Mostly buy scratch-offs and energy drinks.”

“Scratch-offs? If you needed money that badly why not just go to the dispensary.”

“I don’t take handouts.”

“And energy drinks? Eww. Don’t you know how terrible those things are?”

“Yeah, but I’ve got to do something. I’ve been clean from beer, e-crack, and mushrooms for over fourteen years.”

“You quit drugs. Good for you.” Hatch gives him a look of deep disappointment and he asks again in disbelief, “A machine gun?”

Muscles shrugs. “Lu gave it to me.”

* * *

Spoct interviews number two. “I’ll be your coach.” He leads him to another room. “We can have a little more privacy in here.” A cozy den warmly decorated with a pleasant view. He gets behind the desk and offers him a seat. The man tries to look stoic, but a little shame can’t help but leak out.

“It is my job to make sure that you are restored to maximum personal actualization. Anything you need. Anything you require to enhance well being and productivity, you need to tell me, and I’ll get it for you.”

“Thank you.” He picks a piece of lint off his robe.

“So tell me what is troubling you?”

“I’m in jail. Isn’t that enough?”

“You’re not in jail. You’re at the police station. No one said anything about jail. Why did you feel a need to rob that bank?”

“It wasn’t a need. It was more of a spur of the moment impulse.”

“How often do you have such impulses?”

“Only when I drink a whole bottle of tequila.”

“Ah yes the tequila. Your blood alcohol level was 18%.” He winces.

The man acknowledges how messed up it was with a sorry laugh. “Normally I’m not even a drinker. It was just one of those things. It started out with just one.”

“It usually does.”

“Then we got loose, and once the ball was rolling, it was all downhill from there.”

“It certainly was. Of course there will be alcohol counseling.”

“I’m not really alcoholic, but okay. I understand I have to pay for what I did.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that. That makes things easier.” After a battery of tests and questions about his childhood Spoct sighs and looks him in the eye. “What am I not getting? You’ve had a good upbringing. You went to excellent schools. You have a great job.”

“I trade futures on the international exchange.”

“All your basic needs are met.”

“It depends what you define as basic. I have a reasonably well-diversified portfolio.”

Spoct peeks at his bank statement--$138 billion. “Okay, money isn’t the problem.”

“One can always have a little bit more.”

Spoct makes a note, Greed. “You seem well adjusted.”

“I told you it was a combination of stupidity and tequila.”

“No. You’re not stupid.”

“We’ll I guess that just leaves the tequila to blame.”

“Yes, but you were the one who decided to drink it. And you were the one who chose to rob the bank. We need to examine these choices in detail, and we will.”

“At the time it seemed like the coolest funnest thing in the world. The other guys were doing it. I know it sounds stupid. I wish I could take it back.” He drops his head.

“I believe you. It’s not about casting blame. It’s about restoring wholeness.” He makes a few more notes. “We need to trace things back to their source. When did the idea to rob the bank first come up?”

“We were sitting around, drinking. We were talking a whole bunch of garbage. It’s hard to remember anything clearly.”

“Let me help.” He puts the recollector on his head. On the screen comes the scene of the three men sitting around a bar table on which a bottle lies empty and a second stands full. They are sloshed. The stockbroker titters continuously. “I’m the king of the world!” He waves his glass around, spilling half of it on the short man, Lu.

Lu says, “Hey watch what you’re doing, stupid.”

The stockbroker ogles him with a numb face. “I’m not stupid. You’re stupid.”

Lu slurs heavily, “I’m not stupid. You’re stupid.” He bangs his glass on the table.

Muscles, catatonic, breaks out laughing.

“Guys. Guys. I just had a brilliant idea.” Lu drops his head on the table and laughs.

The stockbroker palms his back. “What? What? What? What? What?”

Lu keeps giggling into the table.

“Tell us.”

“Okay. Okay. Okay.” He snickers. “I have a brilliant idea.” His face plops down on the table again.

“What is it?”

Muscles perks up enough to say, “Tell us, Lu.”

“Okay. Okay. What do you say, the three of us--” Lu teeters from dizziness. “We put on masks, go into a bank, and stick it up?”

“Genius!” The stockbroker laughs like it’s the funniest thing in the world.

“So you’re in?”

“I am so in!”

“What about you?”

Muscles looks like he’s going to say something then barfs all over the table.

The video ends.

Spoct says, “Okay. I’ve seen enough.” He nods knowingly and writes in his report, “Lu,” and circles it in red.

“That’s enough for now. I’ve scheduled counseling sessions, which should keep you busy for the next year. Now what do you say we go to the men’s shop and pick you out some brand new clothes?”

“I appreciate the offer, but I have my own outfits.”

“Suit yourself.”

* * *

Spoct puts his paws on the captain’s desk, taking a human pose and speaks, “The little one was the ring leader.”

“Lu Rivers. We’ll see what comes out of the therapy. I’m guessing it was trauma. Healy, you take him.”

“You got it, Chief.” Walks to the door.

“And do a complete Freudian analysis?”

“Freud?”

“Call it a hunch.”

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