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Strength of a Bear

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Once again, the Ursane family was enjoying their front porch. Daniel shared a song he had composed about his father; it would be part of the requiem he was writing. He planned to have his uncle, who he thought had the better singing voice, sing it at Randall’s funeral.

“Do you have anything planned?” He asked his sister.

Shelly shrugged. “I don’t think a soccer game in which I crush the opponent team is appropriate for a funeral.”

Daniel and Carla chuckled. “You should do the eulogy. You are well spoken, have a nice voice, and can write a fitting farewell.”

“Maybe you could do a fighting demonstration using Det. Selah as you practice dummy,” Daniel offered facetiously.

“I hope never to see that or any ZPD cop ever again,” Shelly groaned.

As if cued by an unseen director, two police cars stopped in front of the house; one was Burgess County and the other PoA.

“Ugh, spoke too soon,” Shelly sagged then brightened. “Heh, Tom!” She waved at the Burgess County deputy.

Deputy Flynn exited his cruiser waving back to Shelly as Det. Williamson exited his.

“May I speak with you, Ms. Ursane?” Williamson called standing respectfully by the front gate.

“Of course, please come sit. Would you like something to drink?”

“Mom, they are cops on business; you don’t offer them a drink.” Shelly rolled her eyes.

“One must always be cordial. Danny, get the pitcher of sun tea and five glasses.”

“Heh, back atchuh, Shelly. I’ll help, ya, Dan.” Flynn took the porch steps two at a time and followed Daniel inside.

Carla introduced Shelly and Williamson. “What do you want to talk about?” she asked after everyone had a glass of tea and was seated.

“First, all the test results are in. Amongst all the debris that was cleaned out of your ex’s wound was a piece of claw.” He saw Carla clasp her paws. He pulled out a photo. “It’s the right index claw off a male Asian Sunbear in his 20s to 30s. The same DNA as the claw was found in the hairs around the wound site. Through the particulates, we were able to narrow down where your ex-husband was that day; where he was last seen alive, The Canopy.”

“Isn’t that an RFD nightclub?” Shelly asked.

Williamson nodded. “I spent this afternoon questioning the employees there. They confirmed what he ate and drank what the coroner found in his stomach. They said Randall was at the club from noon to about 3 p.m. when a male Sunbear walked in and started arguing with him. The bartender said they were there for about an hour. He said that when Randall walked out apparently angry, the other bear followed him, equally angry.” He pulled out a photo. “Do you recognize this bear?” The photo was a very grainy still from a CCTV.

“Hey, that looks like the bear we saw with Dad’s girlfriend the day we picked up She-who-makes-loud-noises?” Daniel said.

“That is not the bird’s name,” Shelly countered. “It’s Barulhenta.”

Carla shook her head at the two but looked at the picture carefully. “I believe Danny is correct.” She looked up at Williamson. He was grinning from ear to ear. “What now?”

“I will pay a social visit to Ms. Bian Nguyen.” Williamson pocketed the photos, finished off his tea, thanked Carla, and left.

“Now, we’ll see this case solved,” Flynn said leaning back to enjoy his tea.

“What will they do?” Daniel asked.

“Check her DNA against the suspect’s. If it matches, that narrows down their search. If that doesn’t pan out, they will question Ms. Nguyen about boyfriends and acquaintances. If it still doesn’t bring results, they check the DNA against the database of known criminals.” Shelly rattled off.

“Very impressed,” Flynn said. “There was always an excellent chance that the suspect would be acquainted with Ms. Nguyen even before you identified the bear in the photo.”

“I think we should celebrate,” Daniel announced. “Thor: Ragnarok is opening Thursday. Anyone up for Friday night movies?”

“Oh, mam yeah! I’ll get the tickets. I’ll make dinner reservations and we’ll make an elegant night of it.” The three 20-somethings were talking at once.

When Shelly looked at her mom expectantly, Carla shook her head. “Spidermam was my limit for action movies. You know I like rom-coms. Anyway, I can relax quietly after a week at work.”

“Aw, Mrs. U you’re being an old fuddy-duddy,” Flynn teased.

“Yes, I am. I’m allowed,” she smiled at him.

His phone beeped and he started. “Oh, mam, I lost track.” He stood. “I think you’ll see the end of this fairly soon. Thank you for the tea. I’m still holding out for a rhubarb pie.”

Shelly threw a paper napkin at him. “Get out you mooch!”

“Aye-aye lieutenant!” Flynn executed a snappy salute, spun on his heels, and headed for his cruiser. “See ya Friday at 5 pm.” He waved from his cruiser then left.

“That bozo Selah isn’t off the case two days and a rookie detective solves it,” Daniel shook his head.

********

The young adults were gone by the time Carla got home on Friday. They were going to dinner at Dos Amigos: Ristorante Mexicano then catching the 7:30 showing. That would put them home around 10.

Carla had picked up a fish pierogi from Podanski’s Deli. She tucked it into the fridge and spent the evening on the front porch waving to passers-by and sipping tea. The air coming in from the ocean smelled of fall leaves and salt water but still held the warmth of late summer.

When she was alone, she missed her children. But now that they were here, she realized she missed her alone time. She went in as the sun began to set and heated up her pierogi and ate it with a salad.

She then poured a glass of wine, ran a hot bubble-bath, put on some soothing music and soaked and sipped the cares of the past month away. As the water cooled, she climbed out and dried off then slipped into loose fitting PJs and a robe and headed downstairs to watch some TV.

She fell asleep during a BBC comedy, “The Vixen of Dibley.”

Barulhenta squawking in the hallway woke her. She poked her head out the front door and saw nothing that would alarm the bird. She went back into the living room, turned off the TV, and told the bird to hush its fussing it was probably just the kids coming home.

“EEEEOOOOEEEEOOOOEEEEOOOOEEEEOOOO,” the bird keened as Shelly and Daniel had taught her if someone was outside.

Carla was on the stairs and reached over to hush the bird and listen. She heard a board creak outside the kitchen door. Her heart began to race. She hurried back down the stairs to get her phone, which she left sitting by the sofa.

Her paws were shaking as she heard something slam against the kitchen door. She dropped the phone and hurried to bar the door into the room. Just as she picked up her phone, there was a crash and the kitchen door gave with a shattering of glass.

Barulhenta started squawking with alarm. Carla was shaking so hard she could barely hit 911.

“I know you’re in there, bitch.” Carla cringed at the familiar voice of Det. Selah.

“Why are you doing this? They’ve arrested Bian’s brother for the murder; he confessed, just today,” she responded hoping beyond hope he might see reason.

“I’m going to beat a confession out of you if I have too. I KNOW you killed your ex, framed an innocent mam, and destroyed my career.” he was throwing himself against the living room door. The straight chair wedged under the knob was creaking and cracking. Suddenly he stopped, and she heard his hoofsteps heading out the front door.

Carla followed the sound and saw him glaring in the window at her from the front porch. He threw himself against the glass and started climbing in. Carla threw the chair holding the door shut at him and bolted into the hallway and up the stairs.

She was at the top of the stairs when she heard Daniel yell. “Leave my Ma alone.” She and her assailant spun at the call.

“Danny, no!” She cried out just as the Selah growled and jumped for Daniel.

Daniel was bigger but not a fighter. He staggered back at the impact and just managed to push his attacker off.

Selah drew back his hoof and swung at Daniel’s face.

“Don’t touch my baby!” Carla bared her teeth and leapt at the former officer. She slammed into his back knocking him out the front door, down the porch stairs, and into the yard.

He rolled and was half-way up when the mother bear charged him, rising to her full height; her teeth gleaming in the moonlight; roaring in anger and her claws bared as she came at him.

The series of thoughts that ran through his head happened in the instant before impact. He had watched this meek and mild she-bear. He was now the recipient of the full wrath of an angry mother bear. He screamed in pain as the claws dug into his chest and the teeth bit down on his shoulder.

“Ma. Mom. Ms. U.” There were voices calling her from far away. Paws were clutching at her arms and around her chest pulling her away. The screech of sirens pierced the red haze that had engulfed her, and she sagged back.

Shelly’s tear-stained face was in hers. “Mom, stop, stop, Danny’s okay.”

“I’m here Ma, I’m all right. Those FCDC lessons paid off. He never laid a paw on me.” Daniel took her paw and kissed it.

They were both crying; no all three were crying. She hugged her two children to her.

“You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney,...” Carla looked up and saw Tommy Flynn reading a card, mirandizing Selah, who was laid out on a stretcher as EMTs stemmed the flow of blood.

“Little Tommy Flynn,” she chuckled. “He was such a troublemaker. To think he’s such a good police officer now.”

Daniel and Shelly pulled Carla to her feet and got her into a chair on the porch. An EMT checked her over; both she and Daniel refused to go to the hospital.

“Aw, Shell, you tore your pretty dress,” Flynn said sadly as he climbed the porch steps. He leaned against a post.

“I didn’t know you cared,” Shelly teased.

Flynn shrugged. “I care about all my peeps. Someone tell that bird she can stop squawking.”

Everyone laughed. “She’s doing what you wanted her to do; acting as an alarm.” Carla said. She studied the young deputy for a bit. “Come by tomorrow about 5; I’ll have that rhubarb pie for you.”

He grinned, revived by the promise. “Is there plywood in the garage?” he asked studying the broken window.

It was after midnight before all four had shuttered the broken window and kitchen door. Carla wouldn’t let Tom drive home and called his father to come get him.