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Teething Ring
written by "Causey, James"
...overtime in that damned lab. She scowled as Harry Junior, bored with the encyclopedia, began reaching for one of Big Harry's tomes on nuclear physics. One putterer in the family was enough! But when she tried to take the book away from him, Harry Junior howled so violently that she let well enough alone. At six-thirty, Big Harry called from the lab, with the usual despondent message that he would not be home for supper. Melinda said a few resigned things about cheerless dinners eaten alone, hinted darkly what lonesome wives sometimes did for company, and Harry said he was very sorry, but this might be it, and Melinda hung up on him in a temper. Precisely fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rang. Melinda opened the front door and gaped. This little man could have been Porteous's double, except for the black metallic tunic, the glacial gray eyes. "Mrs. Melinda Adams?" Even the voice was frigid. "Y-Yes. Why—" "Major Nord, Galactic Security." The little man bowed. "You were visited early this morning by one Porteous." He spoke the name with a certain disgust. "He left a neural distorter here. Correct?" Melinda's nod was tremulous. Major Nord came quietly into the living room, shut the door behind him. "My apologies, madam, for the intrusion. Porteous mistook your world for a Class IV culture, instead of a Class VII. Here—" He handed her the crumpled dollar bill. "You may check the serial number. The distorter, please." Melinda shrunk limply onto the sofa. "I don't understand," she said painfully. "Was he a thief?" "He was—careless about his spatial coordinates." Major Nord's teeth showed in the faintest of smiles. "He has been corrected. Where is it?" "Now look," said Melinda with some asperity. "That thing's kept Harry Junior quiet all day. I bought it in good faith, and it's not my fault—say, have you got a warrant?" "Madam," said the Major with dignity, "...

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