Thatcher picked up his cell phone, punched a number, and without greeting the answering party repeated what I told him, adding the name of our town. "Do you know Buddy's full name?" he asked. I didn't nor did Karen. He hung up and added, "It helps to know with whom we're dealing." He turned to Karen. "Now, let's talk about your injuries. Which arm did she injure?" He reached in his case and took out a small camera.

"She didn't really injure it: just squeezed and made it red. It's faded now."

"Show me how she did it, Karen. Like this?" He gave her arm a good hard squeeze.


"Ow! That hurts!" she said, pulling away and rubbing her arm.

"Sorry. See? It's still red." He took a picture, the sneaky bastard. Thank god he's on our side.

"Now, tell me about this pregnant girl," he continued, "not where she is; I don't want to know that."

Karen explained how Mary Ellen wanted desperately to have her baby and see it placed in a good home. No, she didn't want to keep it.

"Doesn't the girl have a say in the matter?" I asked him. "It's her baby."

Thatcher thought only a moment before answering. "Keep in mind, I'm not overly conversant with this branch of law, however it seems reasonable her mother could convince a judge an abortion is best for health reasons. She could enlist a doctor to testify and opine this minor child lacks judgment to make a rational decision. The girl is a runaway, at least officially. The boy friend is in jail." Karen hesitated, just enough.

"And he is the father, isn't he?" Karen shrugged. Old Thatcher was no fool. "Ah," he said, reminiscent of Dr. Mason. "I see. Might our buddy Buddy be involved? Don't answer that if you don't want to. Secrets can be good things on occasion; they keep us from having to lie. I get the impression you ladies do not consider this young girl's home a proper environment for her future wellbeing. Am I correct?" We nodded. "Let me see if I can do a little something about that."


Thatcher crossed the room and made a second, longer phoned call, out of our hearing range. When he returned, he had a smile on his face as he addressed Karen.

"I don't suppose you might somehow get word to this young lady, could you? A note left in the hollow of an oak tree or such?"

Karen returned his smile. "I could try."

"Tell your friend a long automobile will pick her up on the corner of this street in one hour." He turned to me. "Don't worry your head about the assault charge. We'd eat Ms. Murphy for lunch if she even tried." He shook both our hands and left. He wasn't in our house a full hour.

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