Monday, May 27, 2019

Seven Skinny Cows: Making evidence dissappear

“It raises the question, what are we going to do?” Milo said as he looked at the ten boxes of pills, each worth $60k at pre-Ebola street prices.

Nyssa looked at the boxes of pills speculatively. “You know, it might be decades before civilization gets back on its feet. That means no more pain meds for surgery or broken bones.”

“This stash is incredibly valuable.” Nyssa said.

"If it is counterfeit, how do you know it is any good?” Milo asked.

“The problem is that it tends to be too good.” Nyssa said. "People over-dose on the counterfeit pills. By the time it is smuggled into the States, fentanyl or carfentanil is cheaper than hydrocordon as far as bang-for-the-buck. The trade articles I read said that most of the counterfeit pills were either made with Fentanyl or some other souped-up, synthetic opioid. Most of the counterfeits have more zip than the real ones.”

“Well, we can’t just start passing them around like candy.” Milo said. “Somebody has to know that Duckworth had this kind of stash. With these kinds of quantities he was a wholesaler. He had suppliers and he had customers and none of them are nice people.”

“Let me think about this for a few minutes.” Nyssa said.

“You know, there is another problem.” Nyssa said. “Brittany and the kids can’t come back here. Ever.”

“It would be even better if she changed her name and left Kates Store. As long as somebody named Duckworth lives anywhere near here they will be a lightening rod.” Milo said in agreement.

“Hmmm.” Nyssa said thoughtfully. “I wonder if she could move in with Luke up in Pray Church and pretend to be his girlfriend, at least until we sort things out and come up with a better plan.”

“That would work but what if Luke already has a girlfriend. She might object.” Milo said.

“Can you keep a secret?” Nyssa asked. “Seriously?”

“Well, I should hope so.” Milo said, offended that Nyssa had to ask.

“Luke is gay.” Nyssa said. “Dad does not know. Mom suspects. There is no girlfriend to worry about.”

In fact, Luke was bisexual but there were not that many girls who found Luke all that interesting. It has just been far, far easier to tell Nyssa that he was gay so she would stop setting him up with all of her fellow nursing students.

Thinking through Luke’s living arrangements, “He has enough room. Do you think he will go for it?” Milo asked.

“Luke is a very private person. He will jump at the chance to shift the focus off himself.” Nyssa said. “Having a girlfriend with a ready-made family will be a lot easier for the people in Pray Church to understand than finding out that he is gay."

"Besides, he will have forty days while Brittany and the kids are in quarantine. They have to go into quarantine if we want to convince anybody they are from somewhere else." Nyssa said.

“OK, let’s say Brittany and family moves in with Luke and she takes her maiden name. That still doesn’t help us get rid of the drugs.” Milo said.

“And that is why our next stop is Christine Cherrystone.” Nyssa said. “Put one of those bottles in your pocket. We are going to take a walk.”

Christine Cherrystone was a witch.

She lived in a stone-faced cottage nestled in a hollow just east of a ridge. In the summer her house was a riot of flowers in the style of a Thomas Kinkade painting. In the winter the yard was a dreary, stick-filled space with cats beneath every bush.

Mobiles with every manner of Wicca paraphernalia dangled from the branches of every tree: crystals, pyramids, runes and effigies.

Widow Cherrystone was a mousy looking woman with naturally gray hair tied back in a bun. Surprised to have visitors, she invited her guests in.

Her house was festooned with bundles of herbs hanging from the rafters. Every horizontal surface was covered with antique, colored bottles or arcane jade carvings.

After the normal pleasantries, Nyssa came to the point. “The drug companies are not able to distribute drugs. I know that you have a garden of medical plants. Would you consider expanding it ‘for the duration’?”

“What kinds of plants are you thinking of?” Widow Cherrystone asked, timidly.

“Well, I know you grow poppies. What do you think of making tinctures for pain?” Nyssa asked. “And you grow fabulous foxgloves...maybe digitalis for heart medicine?”

“Oh, dear.” Mrs Cherrystone said. “Growing and harvesting poppies on that scale is a serious Federal crime! I am not sure I am willing to do that?”

“I have people who are not healing.” Nyssa said. “I have people ripping out their stitches because they are in pain.”

“I am not into Wicca, but I have talked to a few witches. If you are a white Wiccan, then you pledged to heal. I am a nurse and I need drugs to heal with. It is push-comes-to-shove time.” Nyssa said.

“I can get kids to help with the weeding. I can get a flat, fertile piece of ground tilled up for you. I don’t have the time, expertise or seeds to do what you can.” Nyssa said. “You can always plant the seeds and if things flip right-side-up in the meantime then we don’t have to harvest them.”

“You make some valid points, but I only have a little bit stored up until we can harvest in August. What would you have me do until then?” Mrs Cherrystone asked.

“I am glad you asked.” Nyssa said. “Would you consider making tinctures with what you have and enhancing it with other herbs?

Mrs Cherrystone mulled over the proposal. “I suppose I can synergize it with capsaicin and catnip, but it will still be pretty weak.”

“What if you added some Tylenot?” Nyssa asked. “We brought a bottle just in case you agreed to the proposal.”

Nyssa gestured to Milo to hand her the bottle.

Mrs Cherrystone opened the bottle and shook out some pills. She looked at them carefully and crushed one of the tablets between her molars and chewed it.

Then she looked at Nyssa accusingly. “These aren’t Tylenot, are they.” In the 1960s Mrs Cherrystone had a more than casual relationship with some very hard drugs.

“They have Tylenot in them. They also have synthetic codeine in them.” Nyssa said.

“Why did you lie to me?” Mrs Cherrystone asked. “That is not a good way to treat your business partners.

Milo answered. It was the first time he spoke. “There are still drug users and drug dealers around. That bottle you are holding has a street value of $10,000.”

“Nyssa thought...we thought that you could help us. We need the drugs for legitimate patients but we also don’t want to alert every bad person in central Michigan that we have them.” Milo said.

“We thought that if you dissolved it into a tincture you could standardize the strength and mask the source...killing two birds with one stone.”

“You would just give me this bottle?” Mrs Cherrystone asked.

Nyssa and Milo nodded their heads.

“And you would expect me to just give away my tinctures?” she asked.

“Well, no. Actually we want you to charge what the market will bear.” Nyssa said. “If you gave it away for free then we would have a drug problem when everybody needs to be on their toes and able to put in a full day’s work. In fact, it would be a good thing if you priced your tinctures on the high side.”

“Let me think about it.” Mrs Cherrystone said. “May I keep this bottle until I make up my mind?”

Nyssa knew she had made the sale. “Absolutely.” Nyssa said.



  1. Heh. Go find a copy of Jeanne Rose's "Herbs and Things." Just avoid anything over 3 turtles...