Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Heller and Shannon: Plans aborted. Plans born.

Doctor and Professor Faith Turner, M.D. sat down heavily in Dr. Theodore Fuimaono guest chair. “Level with me. How bad is it?”

“Total loss of enervation below both knees and below Lon’s left elbow. There appears to be some nerve function to the pinkie and ring finger on his right hand” Dr Fuimaono said.

“Bruised nerves?” Doctor Turner asked.

“Cut” Fuimaono replied “but the situation isn’t hopeless. There have been some amazing advances in stem-cell…”

“Cut the crap, Teddy. That is my department. Those “amazing advances” are in very young animals with no response after secondary sexual characteristics manifest.”

Doctor Turner was not at her best. She had flown into San Francisco and never turned on her phone and left orders at the front desk to not disturb her. For such a small woman she could be extremely intimidating.

She had no sooner awakened and turned on her phone when it blew up. She got back onto an eastbound jet, dehydrated and jet-lagged and flown back to Detroit Metro.

She had looked at the imaging and the reports. Now she wanted to talk to the humans.

Teddy was nearly as large of a man as Lon was. He looked down at Faith. “Patients need hope, especially when they have been as completely broken as Lon is. You don’t have to believe it. But he does.

“By the way, the Hospital Admin has you on Family Medical Leave. Anything you want, you ask and it is yours. We are family. We stick together” Fuimaono said.

“Thanks. But work is my therapy. I may be asking for more hours because, for now, I don’t have a home to go back to” Faith said. “The insurance company said they will put me up in any hotel in town.”

Twenty minutes later, she walked into Lon’s room. Hearing the door open-and-close, Lon moved his eyes to see had come in. As soon as he could make out that it was Faith, tears welled up in his eyes and he started weeping soundlessly.

“There, there, Babe. Its going to be all right” Faith crooned. “We have the world’s best doctors working on you and I promise that I will be with you every step of the way.”

The tears flooded down the side of Lon’s face.

He had been SO CLOSE to moving to the cabin in the Caribbean that Faith knew nothing about. It was on the island where he had been currying the favor of the local law-enforcement officials. They had been amply rewarded for being deaf and blind.

He had been moving assets and funneling them through accounts where he could take his skim from a distance.

He had been SO CLOSE. SO CLOSE! $21 million dollars for the property down the drain. No naive, vacationing beach-bunnies from Europe. No drugs. No parties. All gone.

And he was going to be bound to this...lizard with the coke-bottle glasses and the grating voice.

He listened to her drone on and on about stem-cell this and porcine that. SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. The tears continued to flow…. 


Danny DelVechio was paid a stupid-large amount of money because he was very, very good at what he did. He choreographed the food at the largest casino in Michigan. He did it 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

He had an other-worldly ability to sense when a problem was developing and nipping it in the bud. This was one of those times.

"Hows comes I don't smell no bacon" he bellowed as he bulled his way through the main kitchen.

Danny delegated to a team of chefs. Nobody in Michigan delivered so many meals or kept so many square-yards of buffet table stocked. Gamblers who have food readily at hand never have to leave the table, their thrall and adrenaline-high is never interrupted.

Danny pulled up to the modified pizza-oven that cooked rashers of bacon by the hundred-weight on a continuous assembly line. His cook was already screaming at the hapless lads whose jobs it was to feed the assembly line.

There. Was. No. Bacon.

Danny had all of his suppliers on speed-dial. In a thrice, he was screaming into his phone "How come you didn't ship no fucking bacon!" into his phone.

The supplier on the other end screamed back "How come your fucking check bounced. I got bills. I get cut off when I can't pay them. No BACON. No SHRIMP. No PRIME RIB until you pay the bill!"

What the hell? That had never happened before. Danny called his expediter. "We gotta get bacon and shrimp or our ass is grass. Get on it. And then find out why the checks to our meat supplier bounced" Danny directed his "fixer".

Danny, and Danny's boss had no way of knowing that this was an advance tremor of the earthquake that was about to hit them. By 4:30, word would spread like wildfire that the paychecks had not dropped for the maids, cooks, truck-drivers and dealers associated with the casino and its suppliers. Second-shift started calling in. No pay. No workers.

Danny's casino would not be an isolated event.


Normally, Ken Aarons would not have driven all of the way from Novi to the Cracker Barrel restaurant on the west side of Lansing but one of his former clients, Clayton xxxxx had called him and personally vouched for the seriousness of the situation.

The couple seemed like a mismatch. The young woman, Shannon, did most of the talking. She was a titian-haired woman with Rubanesque proportions. The young man was quiet and went by the initials of L.R.

They wanted to talk business right from the get-go and Ken said there would be time to do that after eating. One does not talk serious legal business in a public restaurant.

He learned that they were both employed and had lucked into a windfall. They seemed smart and were just a bit on the paranoid side. For instance, neither had brought their cellphones which was unusual for people their age.

Just talking in broad generalities, Shannon said she thought they needed two weeks of his time and asked about his hourly rate. She didn’t blink an eye when he said $400 an hour.

Shannon responded “So a $30,000 retainer would be cover about two weeks?”

“Closer to nine working days, but yes, close” Aarons said.

Shannon had already priced out lawyers and $400 an hours in the middle of what established lawyers with good track records were charging.

“I hope you take crypto” Shannon said as she pulled a thumb-drive out of her purse.

Aarons looked over the top of his glasses. Shannon was obviously somebody who didn’t believe in wasting time on pleasantries.

“Let’s settle up the bill and then we can talk business in my van” Aarons said.

Which is how the three of them found themselves sitting in Aarons’ seven year-old minivan with the A/C running. “How do I know this crypto is any good?” Aarons asked.

“Which bank do you use?” Shannon asked.

Aarons told her “Chase Bank”.

Shannon said, “There is a branch three miles east of here. We walk into together and you deposit it. I can walk you through it.”

Impressive. Very, very impressive.

After hearing Shannon’s plan, Aarons said “You know you can get messengers much cheaper than what I have to charge.” He wasn’t planning on turning down the business but he wanted to see how they reacted.

“This is a test to see how quickly you can get the work done. We have more work for you if you perform adequately” Shannon said. L.R. nodded in silent agreement.

They went to the Chase branch on M-43 and Shannon walked him through turning the account information on the thumb-drive into a deposit.

Back in the van, Shannon gave him almost seventy, meticulously labeled thumb-drives and a list with names and addresses.

Aarons balked a little bit. “You will be paying me a hell of a lot to drive around”

Shannon said “One of the reasons we picked you is because you are in the Detroit area. Nearly all of the charities receiving these donations are down there.”

Scanning the list, Aarons saw that was true.

“You might as well drop off the donation to the Michigan American Legion while you are in Lansing” Shannon suggested. They were another two miles east of the Chase branch.

Aarons drove the couple back to their vehicle and then drove the the American Legion. The financial guy was a nervous looking man with a pronounced widow’s peak and was disinclined to humor Aarons but Ken could be very persuasive when he put his mind to it.

Both men were surprised when the amount of funds in the account unlocked by the thumb-drive yielded $3.5 million dollars, enough for $10k for every AmL post in Michigan.

Looking at his watch, Aarons saw he had enough time to hit the Interfaith Homeless charity in Jackson before it closed. He asked his new best-friend with the widow’s peak if he could call ahead to the Jackson charity to “grease-the-skids”. Aarons was suddenly motivated to squeeze as much Shannon and L.R. work into his already-full schedule as possible.


  1. Shannon’s hair, titan or titian? And I’m very curious about how the auspicious attorney Aarons is going to cover his tracks and those of his clients as the source of the donations. Hoping that getting rid of the money doesn’t prove to be more problematic than acquiring it.

    1. The "Rubenesque" description threw me a little-- like "curvy," it's a euphemism fatties use to tap-dance around the issue. I imagined Shannon to be more optimally proportional.

      I'm still really enjoying the story, and I hope I never get on Joe's bad side.

    2. I am playing with the contrast between the two. There have not been many sequences where the two of them are together. This is Mr Attorney's first impressions: Laurel-and-Hardy, Mutt-and-Jeff.

      Their descriptions morphed a little bit since the beginning although Shannon has always been "comfortably upholstered".

  2. Great catch on the hair color. Thanks.

    He is going to play it straight. He doesn't know that the money is deeply tainted. Probably would not have taken the job if he knew.

    If he suspected and took extraordinary steps it would look stinky.

    When walking through Hell, keep whistling and don't stop walking.

  3. And the ripples in the pond spread further and further out. Really enjoying this effort.

  4. A lawyer as your delivery driver. Attorney-client privilege. Heller and Shannon continue to surprise me.

    The ripples from the casino - this seems strangely prescient, for some reason...

  5. Very interesting Joe, I'm on the hook for sure.

  6. I'm surprised you didn't go with a second lawyer, using the first as a cutout so that the delivery boy doesn't know who the client is.

  7. Joe, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your MWF vignettes, starting with Crystal and Clayton. Every episode leaves me wanting more and heading to Eaton Rapids Joe is the first thing I do on those weekdays. You have writing talent galore! Thanks for keeping an old retired sailor busy three days a week. P.S. I read those Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday posts too..

  8. Well, last month I didn't pull a 5-figue paycheck, but I did better by taking care of the grandkids. I haven't had time to read much, so I've just been binge-reading The Adventures of S & H. Great stuff. ERJ, you ought to think about embellishing your retirement with some sales rather than giving us all free ice cream. Seriously. I'd pay for it and be happy to do so.

  9. He has 3 books listed on Amazon.

  10. I'm a bit confused. Is Ken Aarons a lawyer or something like a private detective? If he charges $400 per hour, then working 2,000 hours a year, he'd be looking at $800,000 salary. If so then he's a bit of an oddball driving a 7 year old mini van. Impressions count so if he is a hot shot lawyer then he'd need to dress and look the part with a high end, new(ish) car.

    Phil B

    1. I read this as Ken being a lawyer with an independent practice, so while he bills $400/hour when he has a client, he isn't billing anywhere close to 2000 hours in a year.

      $400 is on the high side for a generalist, but I'm assuming the Heller & Shannon universe has seen even more inflation than ours.

    2. Ken has overhead. He has rent and equipment.

      If Ken has word-of-mouth traffic he doesn't need a BMW.

      A plain-vanilla vehicle means he is less obvious going about his business. Everybody and their dog will see the BMW 7-series. He shows up in a minivan and the apartment building might think the air-duct cleaner or piano tuner is visiting.

      He might also be a normal guy with kids who play soccer or lacrosse or go camping.

      Starting at $400 an hour means he can give discounts veterans or elderly people or new parents when he cranks out a "boiler plate" will.

      An advertised rate of $400/hour keeps some of the bottom-feeders from calling.

  11. More unexpected turns.

    $400 per hour is really not that expensive for a lawyer. And if he has an independent practice, he is not getting 2000 hours per year of billing. This new client must look pretty good.

    He is bound to start wondering about his new clients after he pops open a few more of these 3-million-dollar charity contributions. Shannon and Heller need to be very careful about their tradecraft. So far, so good.

    Where are the ripples going to spread?

    I can hardly wait for the next episode.

  12. What is Shannon's relationship with Fred and the credit union? Not vacation (too soon). Fred stood by her. I cannot imagine Shannon doing anything less.


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