Bryce walked through the open French doors and gore assaulted his senses. Blood everywhere. Entrails, bone fragments, and pieces of flesh lay strewn about the floor, the walls, the furniture.
“A bloody mess, hey Bryce?”
“Yeah,” he nodded to Jenkins, busy recording the scene. “Where’s the Chief?”
No feelings emanated from Jenkins. He busied himself with the job at hand. Bryce recognized it as a defense mechanism shared by many who worked in Homicide or other divisions where human tragedy could easily overwhelm a cop if left unchecked.
Jenkins had seen it all over the years, several times over. Approaching retirement, his gray hair topped a wrinkled face. His stomach betrayed a paunch, and he walked around with his head permanently bent slightly downwards.
Bryce glanced at an ornate mirror hanging on the wall. He stood an even six feet tall. Stout, with close-cropped brown hair, he worked out regularly and stayed trim despite leaving his prime years behind. His permanently crooked nose (broken four times) punctuated a no-nonsense face. Lines started to seriously make their presence known, especially around his eyes.
Pushing forty now, he reminded himself, staring at his reflection. Just one year away.
Jenkins nodded toward the adjoining room. “Chief’s in there.”
Bryce stepped carefully around the corpse and walked between puddles of blood through another doorway.
The Chief stooped his head, listening to Miller’s explanation of the murder weapon. Miller waved his hands around as he talked.
“What I said. It’s the only thing explaining that mess out there. Israeli made. It’s not gunpowder-based. It’s energy propulsion. Latest thing on the market. Costs a fortune, too. Requires a batt pack and special ammo. It’s loaded with highly frangible bullets that have an exploding core. And I mean highly frangible. You saw what they did to the body. Black market stuff. I don’t even know where somebody could get it. Last I heard you could only find things like this in the Middle East. That’s gonna be our murder weapon if we can locate it. Hi, Bryce.”
Bryce idly wondered how Miller managed to pass the physical year after year. A good forty pounds overweight, bald and double-chinned, Miller would not put the best face on the department if he appeared on the evening news.
It seemed likely Miller did not care. He and his partner Jenkins were nearing retirement. Both seemed increasingly dispassionate about their work as time marched on.
The Chief towered over the other two men. Dark skinned, African American. Sharp eyes with a Machiavellian glint peered out from a remarkably handsome face. He was as much politician as cop. This was probably a good thing, Bryce considered, since rumor had it the City Manager was searching for an excuse to fire the Chief.
The Chief’s presence came as no surprise, considering the high class neighborhood. This would be all over the news soon, and the Chief would be taking charge of the media. Calm and reassuring, he would make certain the citizenry knew his department was taking every possible step to bring about justice.
The City Manager, on the other hand, would not be making a public appearance until the following morning after he showed up for work. Bryce felt the political calculations behind the Chief’s move in calling a press conference tonight.
“Detective Bryce. Glad you’re here.”
The Chief was not glad to see Bryce, the greeting merely a formality. No one in the department was ever truly glad to see him.
“Detective, we’ve got a suspect. The wife. We need your … abilities.”
Bryce sensed the distaste so tactfully hidden behind the Chief’s words. He nodded.
“Where is she?”
“The library. Down the hall to your right. You can’t miss it.”
Detective Miller resumed his speculations concerning the high tech handgun and illegal ammunition as Bryce found the door to the hallway and left the room.
He found the library, and a uniformed female officer doing her best to console a crying woman. The shelves were filled with older volumes. He noted several titles from the 19th century, collector’s items all.
Probably worth a small fortune, he thought.
The officer turned when Bryce came in. Her eyes grew wide in recognition and he sensed the fear within her, along with deep trepidation.
“It’s alright, Officer. I’ll take over from here.”
Her relief swept over him. Almost immediately a faint sense of disgust replaced it as she hurried from the room. Bryce ignored her feelings. He was used to it.
“Ma’am, I’m Detective Gerald Bryce. I realize this is a hard time for you, but I need to ask you some questions.”
She looked up. Blue eyes, shot red from crying. Long, curly blonde hair. All the womanly pieces were in place, everything in proper proportions. Mid to late thirties, he decided. She took care of herself. Fit, trim, well-toned.
She extended a thin, long hand, artificial nails painted red.
“Desiree Lamont, Detective. I’m sorry I’m such a mess.”
An odd thing to say at a time like this, thought Bryce.
He sensed her sincerity concerning her looks. He squeezed the hand lightly, then retrieved his police computer from a coat pocket.
He held the computer in his left hand and surreptitiously activated the record mode feature. The stylus would not be needed, but he kept it in his other hand as a prop.
“Now, Mrs. Lamont …”
“Please, call me Desiree.”
His eyebrows squeezed together and the lines on his brow creased. He felt it again. Sincerity. Here was a stab at openness. Perhaps even kinship. An odd experience for him, especially since making detective several years ago.
“Desiree. Could you explain to me in your own words exactly what happened here tonight?”
“Well, I came home at eight o’clock and I walked into the living room and …”
He zoned out, absorbed in his own thoughts, waiting for her feelings to wash over him. How many perps had he winnowed out since joining the force? Close to two hundred now. His abilities as a detective were invaluable. Everybody knew that, from the Chief on down. Yet, shunned by his fellow officers, he found himself something of a pariah. Not a single person on the force he could call a close friend.
He gave up long ago trying to socialize after hours. No one wanted to be near him. He was a freak. Worse than their revulsion was the fear he sometimes sensed in them, most of them, when he was near. Fear he could discern their secrets somehow, and tell everybody.
For a while life had been tolerable so long as Melody had been with him. He could sense her love, and coming home after work made the long hours and high stress worth everything, just to spend some time with her.
Then came promotions, longer hours, calls in the middle of the night, more stress. A miscarriage, marital discontent, and her feelings toward him changed.
He could not handle the changes well. His ability to understand her feelings turned into a source of argument, then fear, then hatred. Finally, divorce left him completely alone, and heartbroken.
As word spread of Bryce’s remarkable abilities within the force, rumors spread. More than half the department’s personnel had been divorced, but his divorce was said to be a direct result of his power.
“Wife couldn’t take it,” they whispered. “He knew everything she was thinking. Drove her nuts, she had to leave.”
An exaggeration, of course. He could not tell what anyone was thinking. But he could certainly feel their emotions. The emotions others felt toward him hurt most of all. Fear. Disgust. Hatred.
To fight all the negative aspects of his life after the divorce, he threw himself into his work more than ever. And suspect after suspect fell thanks to dogged detective work combined with his power.
“… And then, I saw his body. It was on the floor, and there was blood everywhere. It was horrible!”
Desiree broke down sobbing.
He caught it. Something. Genuine grief flowed from her, especially from the memory of her husband in a bloody heap on the floor. But something before that flashed through, faint but discernable.
She looked up, wiped her tears and composed herself. Her head tilted as the looked at him.
“You’re not interested in that, are you?”
“I’m sorry, Desiree. I don’t want to sound like I’m not interested. I hate to do this, especially right now, but I need to continue asking you some questions. Was your husband involved with any other women?”
“What? Well, yes. There were affairs. He was a powerful man and women are attracted to that.”
“I see. How about yourself? Any other men in your life?”
“No, no. Nothing like that. There are times I wish there were.”
He sensed the truth. And along with it, a trace of desire. For him.
He gulped. That was unexpected. He shoved down the slowly rising tentacles of lust within him.
“Now please don’t take this the wrong way, I have to ask. Do you stand to receive any money now that your husband is dead?”
“What? Yes. Well, I mean, of course there are insurance policies and there’s the matter of the estate, and … Yes, I mean yes.”
Indeed. He could feel it. There’s a lot of money involved, he thought. Even more than she verbally acknowledged.
He could sense her anticipation. The sum must be truly enormous for her emotion to transmit so strongly.
“Have you had any arguments with your husband lately? Any particularly nasty spats?”
The strength of her feelings snapped his head up.
“We had one recently. I won’t lie to you. It was bad.”
“Did it have to do with money?”
There again, sweet anticipation swept over him.
“No. It had to do with his upcoming trip to Europe. Charles didn’t want me to go with him.”
Got her, he thought. He sensed deception. Time to burrow.
“Are you sure that’s all there was to it? Let’s talk about this some more.”
“Detective,” she put her hand lightly on his arm.
Something passed between them. Something electric. He shot her a look, his brows furrowed. She smiled back.
“Let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about you. I’m … interested in you.”
She was intent, he could tell, on changing the course of the conversation. Grief no longer flowed in the mix of emotions streaming from her. He felt her concern … for something.
There’s definitely an attempt to hide something here, he thought. There was something else, though, something he could not yet put his finger on …
She stood up suddenly, and stretched. She caught him looking, then tilted her head and held his gaze for a moment.
“Are you a lonely man, Detective?”
He blushed, startled. In his innermost self, in the deepest part of Gerald Bryce, lurked an emotional beast locked up and hidden away from public view. Loneliness. He had nobody to turn to, nobody to confide in. Nobody to love, or love him back. The divorce still hurt after all these years.
“Desiree. Your husband was murdered tonight. We really need to continue with your statement.”
She sat down again, and scooted the chair closer. She cupped her chin in her hands, studying him.
“You know, Gerald, I don’t think we’re all that different, you and me. I’ve been lonely for years myself. Oh I know what you’re thinking. How can a woman be lonely when she’s surrounded by all this wealth? When she’s married to a rich man like Charles Lamont?”
She leaned back and her eyes drifted as she slipped into memory. He sensed sadness, mixed with regret and bitterness.
“I was his trophy wife. I made him look good. I attended all the functions and performed my wifely duties. He had other women for other things. I suppose they were better than me in that way.”
Bryce snorted, involuntarily. He rather doubted it. She doubted it too, he could tell.
She smiled at him, as if reading his mind and acknowledging the compliment.
“Anyway, he liked variety. Over time our marriage grew cold.”
She stopped, and looked at him again with a critical eye, squinting lightly.
“I grew lonely, just like you. Eventually I realized he no longer loved me. In fact, he no longer cared for me at all. I was just an ornament. A decoration by his side. My demands for his time and attention were nothing more than a nuisance.”
She sighed, stretched, and looked off in the distance again.
“I grew tired of trying to make him love me. In time we grew to hate each other. The fact he hated me made me hate him all the more. Hatred is one of the most powerful emotions, certainly the most vicious. It’s the diametric opposite of love.”
“I thought apathy was the opposite of love.”
Her eyes came down and locked with his. She scooted her chair closer again, licked her lips, and drew very close to his face.
“I don’t think we are all that different, Gerald Bryce.”
He felt he was being sized up, as if she were weighing matters and coming to a decision. She stood up suddenly.
“Detective, can I show you something?”
He stood up with her. Out of habit and the latent suspicion all police carry, he put the stylus away, freeing his right hand in case he needed to retrieve his gun. He sensed anticipation in her, not always a good thing with people in his line of work.
“Certainly, I suppose. What would you like to show me?”
She walked to one of the bookshelves and removed a red, leather bound book. Activated by this hidden switch, the shelf drew back into the wall and rolled slowly to the left. The door to a large safe appeared in the recess behind the trick shelf. She stooped to a microphone in the safe’s door and spoke softly.
“Desiree Lamont. Three, nine, seventeen, eight, sixty-two.”
The bolt snicked back and the door swung silently outwards. He sensed her avoiding something in the back of the safe. The feeling came in faint, but he noticed it.
She pulled out a thick sheaf of papers and returned to the table with a sparkle in her eyes. She tossed the sheaf on the table.
“Do you know what these are, Detective Bryce?”
He glanced at the top sheet. An official paper artifact of some kind. He read, “Bank of Zurich,” printed in gold leaf at the top. It reminded him of old corporate stocks.
“Why don’t you tell me?”
“These, Detective, are gold certificates. They are one of the last physical manifestations of money redeemable at any bank in the world.”
Her voice lowered and her lips drew close to his ear. She trembled with excitement, and he could feel it course through her thoughts, her words.
“This is fifty-eight million credits.”
She nodded. “Mine now, of course. He didn’t know I knew about them. You see, Charles has been liquidating assets for some time now. He had a particularly fetching strumpet in the south of France he’d been dreaming about running away with. He wanted to drop all his responsibilities here, say goodbye to me and my demands, and spend the rest of his days with her.”
Their eyes locked. A strong temptation swept over him. He struggled to push it down again.
“Why are you showing me this?”
She paused before answering, giving him another long look.
“You see, I’m lonely too. I’ve been lonely for a long, long time. And now I’ve got nearly sixty million credits and no one to spend it with. No one who understands.”
His mind filled with one glorious emotional mix. Lust, excitement, adventure, pleasure, wealth. It could all be shared. With her. He had trouble discerning which emotions were his and which were hers. They all churned together.
Suddenly, it clicked. He realized what she had been hiding. He struggled to control his emotions, particularly the elation at discerning her secret. Instead, he feigned interest. Intrigue. He threw in a little lust, just to be safe.
Then, with no emotional inflection at all he said, “Desiree, will you excuse me for a moment? I’ve got to speak with the Chief.”
She put the gold certificates back in the safe, closed its door and reset the bookcase as he walked out.
The Chief waited outside the door, just as Bryce had sensed.
He motioned for the Chief to follow. They walked outside.
“I think we’re out of range now, Chief.”
“Out of range?”
Bryce nodded. “Book her for first degree murder. We’ve got probable cause with fifty-eight million credits in gold certificates stuffed in a safe behind the bookcase. Throw in attempted bribery of an officer of the law. I’ve got it recorded on the handheld here.”
He held his computer next to the Chief’s and transmitted a copy of the recording to it.
“She’ll have a strong alibi. We might be able to find surveillance video showing her in the house at the time of the murder, but there won’t be any for the room it occurred in. Also, she won’t have gunpowder residue on her hands, due to the electronic nature of the weapon. My guess is the murder weapon is in the hidden safe.”
The Chief’s eyebrows raised.
“You’ll need a warrant to get in there. It’s hidden behind the bookcase. The red leather bound book in the middle trips the hidden door. It’s a voice activated combination, tuned to her vocal print. I bet the recording will do the trick. Just play it back at the safe’s door once you have that warrant.”
Bryce paused, and drew a deep breath. “But that won’t be your biggest problem, Chief.”
“And what would that be?”
“She’s an empath. She’s going to be able to sense the emotions of anybody who interrogates her. And she can play them like a harp.”
“Like you, huh?”
Bryce nodded. “Like me. Better, even. She’s a master at manipulating emotions. I just read them off people. She’s … she’s something more.”
“Did she figure out you’re one, too?”
Bryce nodded again. “I think so. She was able to ferret out my deepest feelings and start using them to her advantage. She recognized what I am when she got deep enough.”
Long and awkward silence followed. Finally the Chief broke the spell, clasping Bryce’s shoulder.
“Glad you’re on my team, Bryce. I’m also glad you use your powers for good. I’ll take it from here. Probably get Detective Jenkins to book her, he’s about as emotional as a fish.”
Bryce watched as the Chief headed back inside the mansion, then turned toward his car. Grief, regret, and most of all loneliness swept over him as he walked.
He finally found someone like him. Someone who shared his abilities, someone who understood what he had to go through every day. And she turned out to be bad. Evil. A murderess and a thief. That hurt more than not knowing if he would ever find someone else out there like him.
I could have gone away with her, he thought. Escaped to Europe. Fifty-eight million credits would go a long way. She’s attractive, too. We could have had quite a relationship.
He put these thoughts aside for more realistic ones. Eventually she would have noticed the one inescapable emotion that would have overcome all the others inside him. Guilt.
She would have known he felt guilty about leaving his responsibilities, his job, no longer using his powers for good. He would have felt guilty for leaving Melody behind, even though they were divorced. He would have felt guilty for not turning Desiree in, no matter how good their life together might have been.
She would have known as surely as he would. There would be no hiding it from either one.
And then what? Would she murder him, too? Make it look like an accident? Find somebody else to spend the remaining money with?
“Sucks being good sometimes,” he muttered as he reached his car.
Several news vans floated down outside the police line. Reporters jumped out wearing helmet cams, chattering excitedly to audiences back home.
The front door to the mansion opened, and Desiree Lamont walked out in hand restraints with Jenkins and Miller right behind her, directing her toward a squad car. She looked at the cams, then turned her head as she swept the grounds. She caught Bryce’s eye, and shot pure anger and rage into his mind.
He took an involuntary step backwards from the force of the emotional blast.
Then Jenkins had her at the car, pushed her head down with his hand, breaking her line of sight. He shoved her into the car, and shut the door. It floated up in the air, turned and headed downtown.
The Chief came out and the reporters turned their cams on him. He stood on the front steps to make a statement, reporters crowding around him shouting questions.
“Then again,” Bryce muttered softly as he opened his car door. “Being good’s not so bad.”
That last look toward him must have been very similar to the one she gave Charles Lamont, he thought. Right before she killed him.
Bryce walked into Precinct Headquarters the following morning. He had slept well enough, but his dreams were troubled by images of Desiree Lamont, and gold certificates swirling in the wind.
A vid screen on the wall showed video from the day before of Lamont walking to the squad car in restraints. A breathless reporter’s voice recited the latest details of her husband’s murder and her arrest.
Jenkins waved at him. Bryce walked over to the desk Jenkins shared with his partner, Miller. Bryce’s own desk stood nearby.
“Found the weapon in the safe just like you said it’d be. Tech boys ran the recording of her voice saying the combination and it opened right up. They said something about it being an older model safe. Apparently newer ones aren’t as easy to crack.”
Bryce nodded. It felt good to have his hunches confirmed.
“She’s lawyered up. Not going down without a fight. All we have is circumstantial. Looks like the DA’s going for it, though. Murder one.”
Bryce nodded again. “Circumstantial should be good enough.”
Unless she can manipulate the emotions of the jury somehow, he thought. No doubt I’ll be called to testify. I better keep an eye on the entire trial, though. Just in case she tries anything.
The door to the Captain’s office opened. He stuck his head out, looked around.
“Bryce! Get in here.”
Blue eyed and freckled, with a ring of dark orange and light gray hair circling a bald top, Captain Justin Wilton also neared retirement age like Jenkins and Miller. Several extra pounds gathered around his midsection, betraying years behind a desk.
The Captain held the door open for Bryce, closing it after he entered. A woman stood up and stretched out her hand. About five foot eight, Bryce reckoned. Slim. Attractive. Straight blonde hair.
“Bryce, this is Emily Parker. She’s your new partner.”
Bryce shook her hand. It was warm to the touch. She projected curiosity toward him. No horror, no revulsion. No worries he’d uncover her secrets.
Refreshing, he thought. But then, she doesn’t know me yet.
“Parker is transferring here from San Francisco,” the Captain said to Bryce.
Turning to her, he said, “Bryce hasn’t had a partner in months. Go easy on him.”
Parker flashed a smile, showing perfect white teeth.
She looks younger with makeup, Bryce thought. She must be about 30. It’s hard to gauge, though. Could be 28, could be 32.
Her blonde hair isn’t natural, either, he thought. He could see darker roots, and she hadn’t colored her eyebrows. She was pretty. High cheekbones. A simple gold band on her left hand indicated her martial status.
“Come on, I’ll show you around.”
They left for lunch together. Bryce had spent the morning showing her the department’s computer system, and discussing procedure. He’d made the rounds and introduced her to everybody.
He could read their skepticism. Nobody thought she’d last long as his partner.
He couldn’t blame them, either. Nobody had lasted very long as his partner.
“You have any dietary restrictions? Vegetarian or anything?”
“No. I like hamburgers.”
“Okay. I know just the place.”
He took her to an alley between two large buildings where somebody had wedged in an old dining car from a train. Who the owner had bribed at the city to let him get away with it was a mystery. Nobody complained too much, though, because the burgers and fries were excellent. And try as they might, health department inspectors could never find many violations on their frequent visits.
A sign at the front read, “The Dining Depot.”
He held the door open for her. They went inside and grabbed a seat at one of the tables. A vid screen nearby showed an anchor reading the news.
“The latest Janus has opened, extending the string to another planet. Scientists have not yet decided on a name for the new world, but are excited to begin exploring and cataloguing its life forms …”
Bryce tuned it out. He ordered a bacon cheeseburger and fries, all the way.
“Everything on it but jalapenos. Unsweet iced tea to drink.”
The waitress nodded, turned to Parker.
“I’ll have the same thing.”
They sat back in their chairs while waiting on the food. Bryce absently scanned the lunch crowd, keeping an eye out for visible threats or violent emotions emanating from the customers.
Sensing none, he relaxed. The waitress returned with their tea.
He shifted his focus to Parker. He took a sip of tea. She wanted to ask. He could sense it.
Finally, she did.
“So, you can read minds?”
He smiled, put down his glass.
“Is that what they told you? No, of course not. Nobody can read minds. I can’t hear what you’re thinking.”
“But you can make extremely good guesses, right? I’ve heard the stories.”
“I can sense emotions. Most people can sense emotions one way or another. Facial expressions. Body language. Tone of voice. I can sense those as well or better than the average person.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. He could sense the skepticism.
“You’re selling yourself short. They say you can determine a suspect’s guilt by spending a few moments talking with them.”
He nodded. It was true, more or less.
“Emotions seem to broadcast from people, like a radio signal. And I’m able to tune them in. Like I said, better than most.”
He shrugged. “It’s a gift. Or a curse. I’m not sure which, yet.”
“We’re learning so much about the universe every day …”
She nodded at the vid screen, where the news anchor continued talking about the new planet opening along the string. The screen switched to a graphic, showing a giant ring in orbit. A spaceship approached, entered the ring, and disappeared in a flash of light.
“… And yet, I don’t think I’ve heard about your ‘powers’ before.”
He nodded. He’d had this conversation at least a dozen times.
“I think there’ve been plenty of people who’ve been acutely sensitive to emotions down through the ages. I don’t think it’s been recognized as a ‘power,’ as you put it. But certainly it’s been used to advantage. I suspect many fortune tellers, oracles and swindlers shared my ability. As well as, I would hope, some psychiatrists and social workers.
“I’m sure there are others like me. But, I suspect most people keep it a secret. Or, perhaps they don’t even think of it as special or noteworthy. They’re empathic to a higher degree than those around them, but they chalk it up to their own personality and don’t consider it a ‘power.’ And those with this power, skill, whatever you want to call it, tend to use it one way or another in life. Some of them might be counselors, others might be con artists. I choose to use mine for police work.”
He paused, and took another sip of iced tea.
“If you’re good at it, like I am, you can become very skilled at figuring people out. You understand what they like, what they don’t like. You can even stumble across their deepest, darkest secrets.
“But until you learn to keep your mouth shut around friends and coworkers …”
He grimaced inwardly at some bad memories.
“… they tend to become afraid of you. So, people like me don’t typically let the world know what we can do. If we’re smart.”
She nodded, letting his words soak in.
“So, that’s why everybody in the department hates you. You weren’t smart.”
“Yeah. Eventually everybody wonders if I know they cheated on their wife last night, if I know they falsified their last police report, if I know they drink too much when they’re off the clock, and so on.”
“Well? Do you know all those things about people?”
He drew a deep breath, and let it out in a long sigh.
“Yes. I know all sorts of things. And I know now, after several years in this line of work, to keep my mouth shut about it. Most of the time. Unfortunately, it took me a while to learn that. And so, everybody in the department thinks I’m a ‘mind reader,’ and they avoid me like the plague. They’re all afraid I’ll tell everybody their secrets.”
“So why not leave? Go to another city. Start fresh.”
“Why bother? My reputation would catch up to me eventually. Law enforcement is not a very big pond, really. Eventually somebody would hear about what I can do, and I’d wind up with the same set of issues in the new place.”
The waitress brought their burgers out, set them on the table along with tubes of mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup.
After several bites, Parker looked up, and wiped her mouth.
“This is really good! It’s going to wreak havoc with my diet, though.”
“We’ll go someplace healthier tomorrow.”
At the end of the day, he said goodbye to Parker and they went their separate ways. She left first. She went home to her husband, flying her personal car out to the suburbs.
The day had been productive but uneventful. Bryce finished his report on the Lamont case, taking time to show Parker how to file notes and reports. He showed her how his recording of the conversation with Desiree was stored on the department’s secure server, and accessible to other investigators.
They chit-chatted throughout the day while he worked on the report and she learned the system. She told him her husband was a software executive. He had gotten some kind of promotion, so they had to move from the San Francisco Bay area to Texas. No kids. Evidently they were wealthy enough that she didn’t have to work if she didn’t want to.
“I’d go crazy staying at home all day. Besides, I feel like I can make a difference doing police work. You know?”
He nodded. He knew. Despite the drudgery of the job, the endless paperwork, the political and social pressures, he had not yet burned out. He still held the notion that what he was doing made a difference somehow.
Evidently, she felt the same way.
Saying their goodbyes, she headed home to supper with her husband. Bryce headed toward Marti’s, near his apartment.
Marti’s was a pub run by Marti and her husband Mack. As soon as Bryce walked in the door, Marti grabbed a frosted mug and began filling it from the tap of a local craft brew, Bryce’s favorite.