Redhawke.org
Most Wanted
Most Wanted
by Melinda Holley

Beta Read by Dotty and Yvonne
Written for PetFly by Robert Bielak
Rated PG
internal thought in * *


~~~~~ ACT I ~~~~~

ABANDONED WAREHOUSE – 3PM

John Borders squinted at the bright light that shone in his eyes. All he could see was the form of a man sitting behind a table perhaps thirty feet away. He was startled when the man spoke with an electronically altered voice.

"Are you still drinking? Drugs?"

"I’ve been clean for three years," Borders answered.

"Do you know why you’re here?"

Borders shrugged. "Sorta."

"The job I have for your is very special. It required a high level of expertise…your sort of expertise."

"What’s the payoff?" Borders asked.

"You’re here to answer questions. Not ask them. I’ll tell you what you need to know."

Borders shrugged again. "Whatever you say."

~~~~~~~~

OUTSIDE J.D.’S 24 HOUR PHARMACY & VIDEO STORE – 7:30 PM

Lindsay Conkle stuffed the small prescription bag into her purse and pushed the stroller out of the pharmacy. Sinus problems weren’t something she’d wish on her worst enemy…maybe. She hurried down the street, glad she only had four blocks to walk home.

Her baby son, Tyler, made gurgling noises as the cooler air hit his face. Lindsay stopped and reached down to adjust the blanket her son insisted on trying to push away. Finally tucking it around the now-irritable infant, she straightened up. Startled, she saw a man in a trench coat and fedora hat pulled low across his forehead staring at them from across the street.

Lindsay quickly turned around and walked back towards the pharmacy. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the man pacing her but staying on the other side of the street. Reaching the corner, she saw a police car approaching. Waving her arms, she caught the patrolman’s attention.

"What’s the trouble, miss?" The young patrolman’s eyes quickly checked the surrounding area.

"There’s a man following me," Lindsay nervously explained, pointing over her shoulder.

The patrolman got out of his car and looked around. "I’m sorry. I don’t see anyone."

Lindsay whirled around to find the man gone. "He was there. I swear. He’s stalking me."

~~~~~~~~

CAPT. SIMON BANKS’ OFFICE – 8:02 PM

"I was scared," Lindsay explained, wringing her hands. "I live alone. Well, it’s just me and Tyler."

There was a sudden squeal of laughter from the infant in the stroller. Blair Sandburg sat cross-legged in front of the stroller, making faces at the baby. Tyler reached out one chubby little hand that immediately grabbed a handful of Blair’s curly hair.

"Ow..ow…easy, little guy." Blair quickly but carefully detached Tyler’s hand and checked the fingers for strands of hair.

The baby giggled and kicked his heels. Then reached out again for Blair’s hair.

"Did this man say anything to you? Make threats of any kind?" Jim Ellison asked, trying to repress a smirk at his partner’s antics.

Lindsay shook her head. "He never got that close."

"Why did you tell the officer that he’s stalking you?" Simon Banks gently asked.

Lindsay hesitated. "I haven’t seen him in fifteen years. Then he started calling."

"Who?" Simon asked, exchanging a look with Jim.

"My father," Lindsay quietly answered, clasping her hands on her lap. "Harry Conkle. *The* Harry Conkle."

"Number nine on the FBI’s Most Wanted list." Simon leaned back in his chair. "Wanted for killing two policemen a couple of years ago in a Colorado bank robbery that he masterminded."

"I can see why you’re worried." Jim grimly nodded.

Tyler squealed again, pounding one little hand on the tray of his stroller.

"Not the glasses…not the glasses." Blair quickly unwrapped Tyler’s fingers from his glasses. Folding the glasses, he put them in his pocket. Tyler’s little hands reached for his shirt pocket.

Blair laughed. "You’re a persistent little thing, aren’t you?"

Jim exchanged a glance with Simon. Both men smiled in amusement.

"Tyler, no, honey." Lindsay patted her son’s arm to get his attention. "Don’t bother."

"It’s okay," Blair happily replied. "He’s so alert." He smiled encouragingly at the baby.

*We better get that baby outta here before Sandburg wants to do some testing on the poor kid.* Jim gave his partner a warning look that the younger man ignored.

"Harry’s changed. The man I knew as I child wasn’t capable of killing anybody," Lindsay sighed, looking back at Simon.

"You haven’t seen your father in…what?…fifteen years?" Jim asked. "Then he just called?"

Lindsay nodded. "A few months ago. Just after Tyler was born. He wrote first then started calling. Said he wanted to see us."

Blair looked up from where he was letting Tyler bend and twist his fingers. "Nothing strange about that. I mean, he wanted to see his daughter and grandson." He looked back down, smiling with delight when he saw that Tyler had folded Blair’s fingers one over the other. "Good boy," he praised.

"Harry Conkle? A family man? Give me a break." Lindsay bitterly shook her head. "I was ten when he left us. Never got so much as a cheap birthday or Christmas card after that. My mother died two years ago. You think he even showed up at the funeral? No." She took a breath to control her emotions.

Blair exchanged an apologetic look with Jim and then went back to playing finger games with Tyler.

"Anyway, when he called last week, he sounded so angry," Lindsay continued. "He said he was coming to Cascade and he didn’t care if I hung up on him or didn’t answer his letters. He was going to see us one way or the other. *That* scared me."

Simon stood. "I’ll have a patrolman take you home, and we’ll arrange for around-the-clock protection, Miss Conkle."

Lindsay sadly nodded. "He’s not my father anymore. He’s just a stranger. Can you understand that?"

Simon silently nodded. "Say good-bye to your little playmate, Sandburg."

"Oh." Blair looked embarrassed at he got to his feet. "Sorry."

Lindsay smiled. "That’s okay. Tyler’s very friendly." She rolled the stroller towards the door where Jim opened it for her.

"I want you two on the first shift," Simon ordered.

"Captain? Shouldn’t we be out on the street?" Jim questioned.

"We have a chance at nailing one of the Most Wanted." Simon shook his head. "And that best chance is covering Miss Conkle’s house."

"Yes, sir." Jim nudged Blair’s arm. He gently pushed his partner into the bullpen.

"Hey, Jim." Blair looked over his shoulder as they walked towards Jim’s desk. "Can we stop at a toy store on the way? I’d like to get a little something for Tyler."

*Let the testing begin,* Jim sighed.

~~~~~~~~

ACROSS FROM LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – 11:27 PM

Blair sat in front of a darkened window, staring at Lindsay’s apartment through binoculars; a bag from Gibson’s Toy Store sat by his feet. Books, paper, and several chewed-on pencils littered a nearby desk. On the other side of the room, Jim finished his double-bacon cheeseburger and triple thick chocolate shake from Wonderburger.

"I hate stakeouts," Blair muttered. He irritably glanced over his shoulder. "Man, that smells!"

Jim slurped his milkshake through his straw then looked at Blair. "Could be the material you’re working on, Chief."

Blair glanced at the desk and sighed. "I’ve got to get that ready for tomorrow." He hopefully looked back at Jim.

*That’ll teach you to make one comment too many about my dinner.* Jim crumpled the burger wrapper and tossed it into the nearby bag. "You’re not going to practice that lecture out loud, are you?"

*Maybe. I’ll let you think about that for a while.* Blair looked back through the binoculars. "You don’t think Lindsay and Tyler are in any real danger, do you? I mean…why would a father hurt his own child? His only grandchild?"

Jim shrugged. "It happens," he bitterly pointed out.

Blair hesitated. "I mean…you and your dad didn’t have the best relationship in the world, but you never thought he’d kill you or anything." He looked over his shoulder when Jim remained silent. "Right?"

Jim forced a smile. "You never know. I imagine I drove him crazy more than once." Then he genuinely smiled. "Actually, more than once." Slurping the last of his milkshake, he tossed the empty cup into the Wonderburger bag and walked into the kitchen to dispose of it.

Frowning, Blair turned back to the window and looked through the binoculars. He saw Lindsay undressing through the shades. "You know…sometimes this stake out stuff isn’t too bad."

Puzzled by Blair’s sudden increase in heart rhythm, Jim walked back into the living room. Then he glanced through the window towards the apartment across the street. "Uh-huh. Just what have you got there, Junior?"

Still watching through the binoculars, Blair answered, "She’s put Tyler down for the night. Hopefully. And she’s heading for the shower."

Jim took the binoculars from Blair’s hands. "You know we have Peeping Tom laws in this city, Sandburg. Go work on your lecture."

"But, Jiimmm," Blair mock-whined with a grin. "We’re supposed to be watching out for her. Don’t you remember the shower scene from Psycho?"

Jim reached out and pulled Blair up from the chair by the window. "I don’t recall Norman Bates using binoculars." He placed the binoculars on the windowsill.

"Oh, I get it now," Blair chuckled. "Some of us don’t *need* binoculars." He picked up a pencil and some papers from the desk.

"Work, Sandburg." Jim pointed at the desk.

~~~~~~~~

ACROSS FROM LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – 6:09 AM

Jim nudged Blair awake at the sound of a knock on the door. Hand on his gun, he eased the door open. "Hey, Rafe. Henri."

Henri yawned and waved a hand as he sauntered into the living room. "Morning, Hairboy."

Blair yawned from where he sat on the couch, rubbing his eyes. Blearily, he looked up at Henri and then sleepily waved in return.

"Anything going on?" Rafe asked, sitting a breakfast bag on the table. He carefully removed his coat and hung it over one chair.

"Nothing." Jim grabbed his jacket and Blair’s backpack. "Let’s go, Chief. Time to let somebody else have all the fun."

"You’re all heart," Henri grumbled as he opened the bag of food.

The two were silent as Jim drove back towards the loft on the other side of Cascade. Finally, Jim shook his head. "Must be tough growing up with your old man on the FBI’s Most Wanted list."

Blair nodded as he searched through his backpack. "Maybe I was lucky not knowing who my father is. I might not like what I find out." Grimacing, he looked through his backpack again then groaned. "Oh, man…noooo…"

"What?" Jim looked over in surprise.

"My notes for the lecture," Blair grumbled. "I must have left them back at the stake-out." He pleadingly looked at his partner. "I *really* need those this morning."

"It’ll take twenty minutes to get back there," Jim protested even as he eyed the on-coming traffic.

"I’ve got to do that lecture at nine!" Blair anxiously pleaded.

Jim sighed. "What the hell. I should have known better. You can’t remember anything when you first wake up." He saw a break in traffic and turned left. Cutting through a deserted parking lot, he headed back towards Lindsay’s apartment. "Maybe there’ll be a leftover biscuit or something." He eyed a smiling Blair. "And I don’t want to hear a word about it, either."

Blair held up his hands in silent agreement.

~~~~~~~~

LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – 6:27 AM

Lindsay smothered a yawn as she reached down to get a squirming Tyler from his bed. "You can’t be a baby who likes to sleep in, huh?" she ruefully asked. Turning around, she gasped and clutched her baby close to her chest. "How did you get in here?" she demanded.

Harry Conkle smiled. "Hello, Lindsay." He held up a lock pick. "I’ve had a lot of practice getting past locks, remember?"

~~~~~~~~

ACROSS FROM LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – 6:45 AM

"Hey, guys. It’s us. Sandburg and Ellison. Open the door." Blair softly called as he knocked on the door.

Jim frowned, his nose twitching. "I smell some sort of gas," he identified. He cocked his head to one side, listening for heartbeats inside the apartment. "Their heartbeats are slow." He pulled Blair back and to one side. "Watch out."

Bracing himself, Jim kicked in the door. Immediately drawing his gun, he looked inside to see Henri and Rafe lying unconscious on the floor. Henri’s cell phone lay by his outstretched hand.

Blair covered his mouth as he opened the window in the living room then ran into the kitchen to open that window.

Jim coughed as he checked both unconscious men. "They’re out cold," he said as Blair returned. He tossed Henri’s cell phone to the younger man. "Get an ambulance and back-up here *ASAP!* I’m going to check Lindsay’s apartment."

Running across the street, Jim found the front door unlocked. "Lindsay!?"

Gun extended, Jim quickly checked the small apartment. *Idiot. You should have checked for heartbeats!* Muttering to himself, he headed back across the street.


~~~~~ ACT II ~~~~~


CASCADE PUBLIC BEACH – 6:52 AM

Lindsay sat in the front seat of the Buick with a sleepy Tyler on her lap. She stared out at the water, aware there were no other cars in the parking lot. "What do you want?" she finally asked.

"I told you," Harry gently answered. "I want to talk with you. You’re my kid."

Lindsay snorted. "I haven’t been your kid for fifteen years."

"Look…I’m leaving the country," Harry explained. "I have something for you and the baby." He held out an envelope.

Looking at it, Lindsay could see the money inside. "I can take care of my son myself. I don’t want your money."

"Lindsay, let me help," Harry pleaded. "You’re not even married."

Lindsay finally looked at her father with cold eyes. "So he’ll grow up fatherless. It’s a family tradition."

Harry uncomfortably looked away. "Some things can’t be helped."

"And some things can," Lindsay bitterly replied. "You chose your life."

"Fine. Hate me if you want, but don’t short-change your son." Harry put the envelope on the seat between them. "It won’t hurt to take this money for him."

"And tell him it came from his grandfather the bank robber? The cop killer?" Lindsay argued.

"I didn’t kill anybody, Lindsay," Harry denied. "I was set up."

"It doesn’t change the rest of it." Lindsay shook her head. She soothingly patted Tyler’s back. "You know, the saddest part was mom telling me…on her *deathbed*…that she still loved you."

"I can’t change the past," Harry sadly spoke. "But I can help your future." He slid the envelope closer to her. "It’s not much but…"

"I don’t want your help! I don’t want your money!" Lindsay yelled. "And I don’t want you anywhere near my son. I don’t even want him knowing you exist!" She caught her breath, then continued. "Do you think it was easy listening to other kids when I was growing up…bragging about what their fathers did? ‘My daddy’s a lawyer.’ ‘My daddy’s a doctor.’ What was I supposed to say, *Daddy?* That my daddy robbed banks? And you have the gall to think that offering *money* is going to change any of that? I’d prefer Tyler not have to go through all that when he hears other people talking about their grandfathers." She shook her head. "Whatever I *might* have wanted from you ended a long time ago when you couldn’t give it." She took a deep breath and stared out the side window. "You told me if I came out here and listened to what you had to say that you’d leave us alone." She looked back at her father. "Are we done?" she coldly asked.

Harry sadly sighed. "Yeah, I guess we are."

~~~~~~~~

ACROSS FROM LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – 6:59 AM

Blair worriedly watched from next to Jim’s truck as Rafe’s gurney was loaded onto the waiting ambulance. Henri had been taken away just moments before. He saw Jim talking with driver of the ambulance and walked towards them. Then Jim nodded and backed away as the driver got into the ambulance and started towards Cascade General Hospital.

"What did he say?" Blair eagerly asked.

"Paramedics said there must have been some kind of knockout gas that came up through the vents," Jim replied.

"So while we were watching Lindsay, he was watching us," Blair groaned. "Oh, man…he’s got Tyler."

Jim angrily nodded, then reached for his ringing cell phone. "Ellison. Where? Are they okay? On my way." He looked at Blair. "They’ve found Lindsay and the baby. They’re fine." He smiled at Blair’s look of relief. "Come on, Chief. Let’s grab your notes. I’ll drop you off at the loft and head in."

Blair groaned again as he followed Jim towards the apartment. "Maybe I can get somebody to cover for me."

Jim glanced over his shoulder with a grin. "I’ve seen your handwriting, Sandburg. Nobody else is gonna be able to read your scribbling."

"Oh, like *my* handwriting’s hard to read!" Blair protested.

~~~~~~~~

SIMON’S OFFICE – 11:20 AM

"All Conkle did was talk with her?" Simon raised his eyebrows and leaned back in his chair.

Jim nodded as he perched on the couch. "According to her it was ‘father and daughter stuff.’" He shrugged. "As she put it, it was the ‘all the usual lies.’ There’s no love lost there."

Simon frowned. "Maybe. That much bitterness usually hides a lot of disappointed love." He slid a file across his desk. "Thought you’d be interested in this. Quite a few informants are reporting the same thing."

Jim frowned as he read the reports. "Somebody’s bought a lot of C-4."

"Enough to blow the biggest bank vault in town," Simon agreed. "And somebody’s been making inquiries about people with certain special talents. Drivers. Explosive experts."

"Individual recruits," Jim mused. "Not a team." He slowly closed the file.

"And that’s Harry’s M.O. Since he’s in town, the FBI is going to want in," Simon pointed out.

"C’mon, Simon," Jim protested with a frown.

"I know." Simon raised both hands. "I want us to make the collar, okay? But we can’t play fast and loose with this."

"Can you at least stall them?" Jim asked. "Lindsay thought Harry’s car might have been a rental. We can split up the agencies between Joel, Megan, and me. Take pictures in and show them around."

Simon slowly nodded. "You could get lucky," he admitted. "I can give you until mid-afternoon. Then I have to make the call."

~~~~~~~~

ABANDONED WAREHOUSE – 12:01 PM

David Carter winced as the bright light nearly blinded him.

"You’re late."

Carter scowled in the direction of the electronically distorted voice. "Yeah, well, traffic was bad."

"Unacceptable. This operation depends on split-second timing. Our interview is concluded."

"You mean I came all the way down here for nothing!" Carter indignantly yelled.

"I said, our interview is concluded."

David scowled, stepping closer to the table he barely saw. "You wouldn’t like it if I shoved that light up your…"

"There’s a shotgun under the table pointed at your gut. You can leave in one piece or leave with a very bad stomachache."

Carter scowled. "Nice knowing you." He turned and walked away, hoping he wouldn’t be shot in the back. He sighed with relief when he left the warehouse without incident.

~~~~~~~~

OUTSIDE MOUNTAIN LODGE MOTEL ROOM #117 – 2:28 PM

"The manager saw him come back a little while ago," Simon muttered. "One way in and one way out." He motioned at the nearby SWAT team.

"Stay down, Sandburg," Jim quickly ordered as he followed Simon and the SWAT team.

Blair peeked over the hood of Jim’s truck as the SWAT team broke down the door and the officers swarmed inside the hotel room. Minutes later, the SWAT team came back outside, their weapons lowered. He cautiously stood and then walked towards the hotel room.

"Gone!" Simon yelled as he and Jim looked around the hotel room. "This guy should be named Houdini!" He glared at Blair who hesitated in the open doorway.

"There’s something screwy about this, sir." Jim paused at the entrance to the room’s bathroom. "First the auto rental clerk sees his face then Harry forgets to put down a fake address." He shook his head. "Harry’s too smart for that."

"But he was here," Blair protested. He stepped aside as both men exited the room. "The manager saw him."

Jim glanced across the parking lot and down the street. Narrowing his eyesight, he saw Harry Conkle walking towards the hotel with a small bag of groceries. Just then, Harry noticed the hotel parking lot was full of police cars. "Maybe not, Chief. C’mon!"

"Ellison!" Simon yelled.

Harry dropped the bag of groceries and turned to run.

Blair barely managed to close the truck’s passenger door before Jim had accelerated out of the parking lot. "Call Simon," Jim ordered. "I’ve got Conkle in sight."

Blair fumbled with getting Jim’s cell phone out of his pocket. As he called Simon, he wondered if he should mention his previous talks with Jim on road rage and careful driving. Glancing at his partner’s set jaw, he decided this was neither the time nor the place.

Jim brought the truck to a literal screaming halt outside an abandoned warehouse. He looked across the truck at Blair and remembered the two dead cops in Colorado. It was on the tip of his tongue to tell Blair to stay in the truck when he remembered a solemn silent promise he’d made months ago to not knowingly put his guide in danger by leaving him behind. "Stay behind me, Chief. And stay close."

A little surprised, Blair quickly obeyed.

Gun drawn, Jim led the way into the warehouse. He caught sight of Harry in the dim light and piggybacked his hearing in that direction. "C’mon," he whispered to Blair. Letting his senses guide him, Jim led the way deeper into the warehouse to where they found Harry waiting for them.

"Cascade PD!" Jim announced, gun pointed at Harry. "You’re…"

Harry tugged on a nearby dangling chain. The floor beneath Jim and Blair opened up.

Blair squealed as they fell fifteen feet into a pit.

Drawing his own gun, Harry walked over and calmly stared down at them. "Gentlemen." He pointed his gun at them. "Put your gun on the floor and stand back up." He waited while Jim slowly obeyed. "You guys Feds?" He threw Blair a puzzled look. When Jim shook his head, he frowned. "I’m impressed. I wasn’t sure the local cops could find the trail I left."

"Well, we’re smarter than we look," Jim retorted. He glanced at Blair to make sure the younger man was okay. Blair was looking up at Conkle with a worried expression.

"You guys are after the wrong man," Harry said.

Jim snapped his fingers. "I must have missed that memo."

"Jim, it’s not nice to irritate the man with the gun," Blair muttered under his breath.

"Look, I’ve been pulling bank jobs and armored car heists for over twenty years," Harry proudly pointed out. "In all that time, no one…cop or civilian…has gotten hurt. I’m damned proud of that. I’m not some dumb strung-out stick-up punk. I’m a professional."

Jim stared at Harry. "And that’s your defense?"

"That Colorado job wasn’t mine," Harry protested.

"Right. The cops just shot each other?" Jim snorted.

"Jim!" Blair hissed.

"The guy you’re looking for is Jack Cryss," Harry confided. "We partnered up a couple of times, but it didn’t work out. I’m a professional thief. Jack’s a killer. Since we went our separate ways, he’s been pulling heists using my M.O."

"How convenient," Jim drawled.

"Well, why don’t you just turn yourself in, and we’ll help you prove it," Blair suggested.

Harry smiled at Jim. "He’s new at this, huh? The Feds won’t care. They’ll hang all those jobs on me *plus* those two cop killings and close the books. All nice and tidy. Right?"

Not having a high opinion of the Feds, Jim didn’t reply.

"I’d need some concessions," Harry added. "Charges dropped. Guarantees that family will be taken care of."

"Twenty years of stealing other peoples’ money, and you want concessions?" Jim scoffed. "It doesn’t work that way, Conkle."

Harry briefly smiled. "I’m the only one who can help you nail Cryss. He’s here to pull off another job."

"I thought you said you went your separate ways," Jim accused.

"He follows me so he can pin these jobs on me," Harry patiently explained. "He couldn’t very well frame me for a job in Cascade if it can be proven I’m in Miami, now can he?"

"We’ll take you to the D.A.," Jim offered. "You can take your chances with him?"

Harry shook his head. "Sorry. The wheels of justice grind too slowly for me."

Jim folded his arms across his chest. "You got somewhere to be anytime soon?"

Harry again half-smiled. "You might say so. The cancer eating my insides has got me on a clock."

Blair caught Jim’s eyes then looked back up at Harry.

"Even if I believed your story, I don’t have the authority to make those decisions," Jim finally spoke.

"Then I guess we’re through talking." Harry turned around and walked away.

~~~~~~~~

SIMON’S OFFICE – 4:59 PM

Simon angrily shut the lap drawer of his desk. The sudden noise startled Blair who started to say something but then closed his mouth.

"This guy is making the whole department look like a bunch of fools!" Simon raged.

"He’s good, sir. But we’ll get him." Jim rigidly stood next to Simon’s desk. He wasn’t happy about the way Harry had trapped them in the warehouse.

"After all, the Feds have been after him for twenty years and haven’t caught him either," Blair hesitantly pointed out, hoping to make Jim feel a little better.

"So we’ll all cry in our cups because we’re bringing in the Feds," Simon snapped.

"Can’t we…" Jim began.

"Uh-uh-uh." Simon shook his head. "I do the talking now. It’s a joint operation right now. But if we screw up again, the Feds will take it from us."

"What about what Harry said? About the cancer?" Blair quietly asked.

Simon looked from Blair to Jim in confusion. "What?"

Blair stared at his partner. "Jim! You were there! You heard the man. He’s got cancer!" He got to his feet, his hands waving in front of him. "He said he was being set up. We’re after the wrong guy!"

"How long have you been with us, Sandburg?" Simon chuckled.

"Three years," Blair answered.

"I’ve been here over twenty," Simon pointed out. "And if I had a dime for every time a perp told me I was after the wrong guy, I’d be retired…living near the Canadian border and fishing for trout. Not Cascade lowlifes."

"Look, if Harry’s this awful cop killer, why didn’t he kill us when he had the chance? Or Rafe and Henri?" Blair demanded. "If fact, he actually went to a hell of a lot of trouble *not* to kill us."

"Sandburg has a good point, Captain," Jim quietly spoke.

"You can ask him that question when he’s caught," Simon shrugged. "Better yet, *I’d* like to ask him that question. So, I’d like you to do some good police work. Am I clear, gentlemen?"

"Perfectly, Captain." Jim nodded. "Come on, Sandburg."

Blair waited until they’d reached Jim’s desk before he spoke. "You *could* have backed me up in there, you know."

Jim rubbed the bridge of his nose. "You saw Simon’s mood. I wasn’t going to get anywhere with that line of thought." He sat down behind his desk and began going through his phone messages.

Blair sat down and leaned close to him. "But you believed him, didn’t you? I could see it in your face."

Jim put down the messages and looked at his partner. "Right now, I don’t know what to believe, okay?" He swallowed back his impatience. "How do you think people like Harry last so long? You don’t think they just tell people they’re guilty, do you? These guys would sell their mother’s souls to beat a rap."

Blair caught Jim’s eyes. "I’m not stupid, Jim. Yeah, I know part of Harry’s success is that he’s a good con artist as well as a good thief. That doesn’t mean he isn’t telling the truth." He settled back in his chair. "Do *you* think he’s scamming us?"

"Until I have some sort of proof, I’ll go with the house odds and say ‘yes’ on that one, Chief," Jim answered.

Blair sighed and nodded. "What now?"

Jim’s eyes narrowed. "What the captain ordered. Good police work. Let’s see if we can’t beat Harry at his own game."

~~~~~~~~

ABANDONED WAREHOUSE – 8:01 PM

"At exactly 2:10…no sooner no later…I blow the vault door. Then I walk slowly back to the truck and wait," George Lewis carefully recited.

"What would you do if one of the others accidentally dropped bag of money at your feet?"

George squinted into the bright light. "Nothing. I do my job. Everybody else does theirs."

"Very good. You may go now."

George slowly smiled. "That means I’m in?"

"You’ll do."

"Give me a call," George said as he left.

Behind him, a man stood from the behind the desk and turned off the bright light. "You’ll do just fine," Jack Cryss murmured.


~~~~~ ACT III ~~~~~


OUTSIDE LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – 9:00 PM

Harry Conkle stood at the edge of the crowd watching Lindsay being taken from her apartment on a gurney. The paramedics quickly and efficiently loaded her into the ambulance and quickly drove away.

"Was that Lindsay?" a nearby woman asked the man next to her. When he nodded, she shook her head. "I hope she’s okay. I wonder if someone has Tyler? Maybe he’s at the sitters’? I hope so."

~~~~~~~~

CASCADE GENERAL HOSPITAL – PARKING LOT ‘B’ – 10:11 PM

Harry dialed his stolen cell phone and waited. "Yes. Good evening. I’m calling about a friend who was just admitted. Lindsay Conkle? Can you tell me her condition?"

"I’m sorry, sir. You’ll need to speak with the doctor." Megan O’Connor looked up from where she sat at the nurse’s station and nodded at Simon who quickly turned and walked away.

"Can you tell me what room she’s in?" Harry asked. "I’d like to send some flowers to cheer her up."

"I’m sorry, sir. She’s in isolation and not allowed visitors or flowers. You can check back later to see if there’s a change in her condition."

"Thank you." Harry closed the cell phone and stared at the hospital.

Thirty minutes later, Harry walked down the hall of the third floor isolation wing dressed in surgical scrubs and mask. Consulting a clipboard he carried, he eyed the deserted hallways. A nurse got up from the nurses’ station and, clipboard in hand, headed down the hallway.

Harry paused at the nurses’ station and consulted the room assignments. ‘Lindsay Conkle – 315A. Geraldine Foxe – 315B.’ Finding the clipboard for Geraldine Foxe, Harry read where morphine had been administered to the elderly woman an hour before. *She should be out of it by now.* Then he confidently walked back towards the elevators towards Lindsay’s room. Opening the door, he glanced inside.

Lindsay lay on the bed with her eyes closed. Blankets covered her while several monitors quietly beeped in the background. An oxygen mask covered her mouth. A curtain separated Lindsay’s bed from the morphined Geraldine Foxe.

Harry stood beside the bed and gently brushed her hair back from her forehead. "Oh, Sunshine…what happened, honey?"

The curtain was suddenly pulled back to reveal Jim sitting on the bed, gun drawn. Simultaneously, Simon threw open the hospital room door.

"She’s fine, Harry. You’re under arrest."

Simon smiled as he handcuffed Harry’s hands behind his back.

"You’re looking very spry for someone who received morphine an hour ago, Ms. Foxe," Harry jibed.

Lindsay quickly sat up and pulled the oxygen mask from her face.

Harry sadly looked at his daughter. "I guess their reward money is cleaner than what I offered, hmmm?"

Seeing Lindsay flinch, Simon pushed Harry towards the waiting officers. "Get him out of here."

Jim stood beside Lindsay’s bed and put a hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay?" He really wasn’t surprised when Lindsay didn’t answer.

Simon walked away when his cell phone rang.

"We’ll take you home," Jim offered.

"Jim. Outside." Simon ordered as he disconnected his call.

In the hallway, Simon called to the officers standing with Harry waiting for the elevator. "Wait right there." Turning to Jim, he quietly spoke. "I need you to get down to Sixth and Laramie. The Sixth Avenue Bank was robbed. From what we know, it sounds like one of Harry’s jobs."

"The alarm just went off?" Jim murmured.

Simon nodded.

"Simon, Harry was right. He is being set up here. He couldn’t possibly have committed that robbery," Jim muttered with a shake of his head.

Simon walked with Jim towards the elevators. Dismissing the officers, the two men herded Harry into the elevator.

"Looks like you were telling the truth after all," Jim confided.

"So you believe me *now?*" Harry scoffed.

"A bank just got robbed," Simon explained. "And the M.O. has your fingerprints all over it."

"You interested in helping us now?" Jim asked.

Harry slowly nodded.

"I’ll take Harry to the Sixth Avenue Bank," Jim offered. "Can you stall the Feds?"

"With the best of them." Simon nodded. He eyed both men as the elevator door opened. "Don’t make me regret this. Either of you."

"I won’t try to escape if that’s what you’re thinking," Harry promised.

Simon grunted. "Yeah, that’ll help me sleep at night." He looked at Jim as they walked towards the hospital’s front doors. "Your partner did a little digging this afternoon." He smiled to himself when Jim briefly closed his eyes, then looked at Harry. "He checked on your friend, Jack Cryss. He doesn’t have a record."

Harry shrugged. "That’s because he’s never been caught. No arrest. No fingerprints. No mug shots. He recruits a new crew for each job. The guys talk into a spotlight and hear an electronically altered voice. So even if *they’re* busted, they can’t identify Cryss. And they don’t know any of the other guys on the crew so they can’t rat *them* out either."

"Clever," Jim admitted.

Harry smiled. "What can I say? He learned from the best." He looked over his shoulder at the hospital. "What about Lindsay?"

"My partner will take her home," Jim promised. *Then I’m gonna have a talk with him about his independent investigations.* He chuckled to himself. *Not bad, kid. Not bad.*

~~~~~~~~

LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – MIDNIGHT

"Slept through the whole thing," Blair chuckled. He and Lindsay stood next to Tyler’s crib watching the peacefully sleeping baby. "He’s even cuter when he’s sleeping."

Lindsay sadly smiled. "He has his father’s eyes."

"What happened to his father?" Blair hesitantly asked.

Lindsay shrugged. "He took off. I don’t know where he is and don’t care." She sighed. "After my mother died, I made some bad choices…especially about relationships." She glanced at Blair then back at Tyler. "But I wouldn’t take any of them back because they gave me Tyler."

Blair silently watched as she fussed with Tyler’s blankets. Once again he wondered at the choices a young Naomi had made…or had been forced to make. Then he followed Lindsay to the living room. As they sat on the couch, Lindsay dropped her head into her hands.

"I’m still not sure I did the right thing," she murmured. "Turning Harry in."

"Whether or not your father hurt or killed someone…he’s still a bank robber," Blair explained.

Lindsay looked at Blair. "And he’s still my father."

"Yeah," Blair sadly sighed.

"I didn’t even realize I cared until he was there by my bed calling me ‘Sunshine.’ He used to call me that when I was little," Lindsay explained. "He was worried about me," she added in a surprised tone of voice. She leaned back and rested her head on the back of the couch. "My mother never stopped loving him. She used to pray he’d change. But he never did. I guess both thought there was always time."

"Oh, man," Blair muttered. "Uh…Lindsay…when you and your dad talked the other day? It was just about the money, right?"

Lindsay nodded, looking at him in confusion.

Blair took a deep breath. "Look, maybe I’m out of line here. I don’t know if Harry wants you to know but…he’s got cancer, Lindsay. He’s dying. He told us yesterday."

"What?" Lindsay whispered, stunned to tears. Then she shook her head. "Harry doesn’t always tell the truth, you know."

"I don’t think he’s lying. But it’s up to you if you want to take that chance." Blair took a deep breath. "I never met my father…never got a chance to know him. You and Harry have a chance to resolve things." He met Lindsay’s eyes. "If it were me, I couldn’t let that chance pass and live with the results."

~~~~~~~~

SIMON BANKS’ OFFICE – 8:22 AM

"Where’s Harry?" Simon asked as he poured coffee into his mug. He sniffed with satisfaction then sipped the hot liquid.

"At a safe house," Jim reported. "Joel and Megan are watching him right now."

"What about the bank job?" Simon asked, sitting behind his desk.

"Harry called it right down the line," Jim eagerly explained. "The bank manager confirmed all of it except the end. He couldn’t see what happened then because of the smoke bomb."

"So basically Harry gave us his own M.O.," Simon pointed out.

"Except for the C-4," Jim pointed out. "They didn’t blow the vault. Harry says Cryss doesn’t know this model. But Harry does."

"So they didn’t get into the vault itself?" Simon leaned back in his chair. "Wonder how badly he wants what’s in there?"

"Sir, we need Harry," Jim argued. "He can get inside Cryss’ head. Just forty-eight hours."

"I got the FBI to give us 24," Simon answered. "That’s all I can get, Jim." He stared at the detective. "Just make sure Harry hasn’t gotten into *your* head."

"Understood, sir. Thank you."

~~~~~~~~

JIM’S TRUCK – OUTSIDE MEADOWS MACHINE SHOP - 9:20 AM

Jim looked at the man next to him. "You know, Harry, twenty years is quite a run. What did you do with all that money? It’s expensive to stay hidden."

Harry chuckled and nodded. "Most of it’s gone."

"Was it worth is?" Jim asked, checking the traffic around him.

"There were good times," Harry admitted.

"That wasn’t the question," Jim quietly pointed out.

Harry sighed. "No, it wasn’t worth it. Took me a long while to realize it, though."

"Let me guess. About the time you saw your doctor," Jim cynically guessed.

"Funny how that works, uh?" Harry snorted. "I blew my whole life. Big time. I promised Claire I’d take care of Lindsay. But she doesn’t need a father now."

"You never stop being a parent," Jim said after a few moments of silence. He remembered his tenuous relationship with his own father. "You should just talk with Lindsay."

"I tried," Harry pointed out. "She can’t forgive me for being who and what I am."

"Never too late to change or try," Jim argued. "It won’t hurt if we arrest Jack Cryss." He opened the truck door. "There’s our guy."

The two men approached the slender pock-marked man who had walked out of the machine shop’s back entrance.

"Hey, Eddie!" Jim called out.

Eddie Kalach turned around. "Ellison! Always a pleasure, man."

"Nice to see you, too." Jim coldly smiled. "What can you tell me about a lot of stolen C-4?"

Eddie kicked over a nearby barrel into Jim’s path and ran back into the machine shop.

"Not a good idea, Eddie," Jim grunted as he dodged the barrel. Opening the door, he yelled, "Eddie!" Glancing at a couple of startled workers, he yelled, "Police! Where’s Eddie?"

Both men pointed towards the front of the machine shop.

Jim quickly ran, dodging workers. He saw the front door open and glimpsed Eddie running. The front door slammed behind him. "Damn it, Eddie," he muttered. He flung open the front door and stopped in surprise.

Eddie lay on the sidewalk rubbing his jaw and staring up at Harry.

"Nice work," Jim complimented in surprise as he reached for his handcuffs.

"I gave you my word," Harry shrugged.

~~~~~~~~

LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – 10:41 AM

"Look who’s all clean and pretty!" Lindsay laughed as she came into the living room, carrying Tyler.

Seeing Blair, Tyler squealed and held out his arms.

Laughing, Blair took the baby who immediately wrapped all ten little fingers into his hair.

"Tyler! No!" Lindsay gently patted Tyler’s fingers. "Turn loose."

Tyler stared at his mother…then giggled.

Blair sighed and patiently stood, holding the baby while Lindsay removed the baby’s clutching fingers. "What is it with you and hair, little boy?" he asked.

"I’m sorry," Lindsay apologized. "He’s never done that before."

"It’s okay." Blair grinned. He held the baby away from his body, saving his hair from another grab. "I’ll tie it back." Putting Tyler on the floor, he got the bag from Gibson’s Toy Store. "Maybe you’ll like this better." He sat on the floor with Tyler and began pulling out the soft brightly colored blocks.

Lindsay started for the kitchen then stopped at the knock on the door. She came back and picked up Tyler while Blair went to the door.

Blair looked through the peephole then smiled at Lindsay. Opening the door, he allowed Jim and Harry to enter.

"We…uh…were heading downtown and Harry wanted to see Lindsay," Jim explained. "Since it was on the way…" He shrugged.

Blair looked at Lindsay. "I need to talk to my partner for a minute." He gently pushed Jim back until the two men were in the hallway. He smiled at Jim’s confusion. "I told Lindsay about Harry. I figured they needed some privacy." He patted his pockets until he found a hair tie and began pulling his hair back. "Little Tyler just *loves* pulling my hair."

Jim smirked.

"Not a word, man," Blair warned. "Not one word." He glanced back at the closed door. "So how’s it going?"

"Thanks to your little investigation, it looks like we may be able to nail Cryss," Jim wryly answered.

"Yes!" Blair pumped a fist into the air.

"I’m going to get some uniforms down here to relieve you," Jim decided. He gently tugged Blair’s ponytail. "Before you lose any more hair."

Inside the apartment, Harry stared at Tyler. "Can I hold him?"

Lindsay hesitated and then handed Tyler to her father.

"Oh…look at this guy," Harry smiled.

Tyler looked at him for a moment and then happily gurgled.

"It’s been ages since I’ve held a baby," Harry admitted. He glanced at Lindsay. "You said your mother never stopped loving me. Well, I never stopped loving her either."

"Too bad you couldn’t have told her that," Lindsay bitterly accused.

"I did," Harry answered. "At the hospital just before she died."

"No way." Lindsay shook her head. "The whole place was under surveillance."

"So is your apartment," Harry pointed out. He hugged Tyler to him. "I saw you graduate from high school. Watched you walk across the hospital parking lot to visit your mom. I’ve been around…just not there for you."

"If you cared so much for us, why did you leave?" Lindsay angrily demanded.

Harry sighed. "It was just going to be for a little while. Then months stretched into years. By the time you were old enough to know what was going on, we didn’t see the good that could come from having to explain to your friends what I did for a living." He saw the angry look on his daughter’s face. "I don’t know how. But I swear I’ll make this all up to you."

"Don’t make promises you can’t keep," Lindsay ordered.

~~~~~~~~

SIMON BANKS’ OFFICE – 11:37 AM

"Eddie can’t stop talking, but we’re missing a few pieces," Jim sighed.

"I don’t give a damn about Kalach!" Simon snapped. "I just got off the phone with the Feds. Where’s Harry?"

"At his daughter’s," Jim explained. "Sandburg’s with him. I’ve got a couple of uniforms scheduled to arrive about one. He’s on our side now."

"Well, the Feds don’t buy that," Simon grunted. "They want him in now."

"What about our twenty-four hours?" Jim angrily demanded.

"They changed their minds," Simon answered in disgust.

"Simon, we are close on this one," Jim argued. "I can feel it."

"Look, we really don’t know that Jack Cryss exists, let alone if he’s still in town," Simon pointed out.

"Why would Harry lie?" Jim asked. "We know somebody else hit the Sixth Avenue Bank."

Simon leaned back in his chair and rubbed his forehead. "I’ve strung them out as much as I can. The FBI is in charge now. It’s out of our hands. Feds in. Us out. Bring him in, Jim."

"Yes, sir." Jim nodded.


~~~~~ ACT IV ~~~~~


LINDSAY CONKLE’S APARTMENT – 12:04 PM

Jim started to knock on Lindsay’s door when he smelled something. "Oh, not again." Pulling out his gun, he kicked in the door. He found both Blair and Lindsay unconscious, lying on the living room floor. Running towards the window, he raised it then dragged both Lindsay and Blair closer to it.

"Chief? Sandburg!" Jim lightly slapped Blair’s cheek. "C’mon, buddy, wake up now."

Lindsay groaned and opened her eyes.

Jim reached out one hand to help her sit up and then focused on Blair. "Sandburg! Wake up!"

"Wha…?" Blair’s blue eyes flickered.

Jim pulled his partner into a sitting position and took a deep breath to calm himself.

"Tyler?" Lindsay looked at the playpen. "Where’s Tyler?"

"Chief, you okay? You with me here?" Jim asked rubbing his partner’s back.

"Yeah," Blair muttered, rubbing his eyes.

"Tyler!" Lindsay stumbled to her feet and staggered towards the bedrooms. "Tyler!"

~~~~~~~~

SIMON BANKS’ OFFICE – 1:33 PM

"This doesn’t add up, Captain." Jim frowned. "Why would he kidnap his own grandson? He wouldn't take that baby on the run with him. Harry travels alone."

"I’ll tell you what adds up."

Both Jim and Simon stared at the neatly dressed two FBI officers who stood at the corner of Simon’s desk.

"We have a cop killer on the loose," Agent Robert Franklin coldly explained. "A cop killer who should have been in a cell. And now he’s kidnapped a baby." He glanced at his wristwatch. "As of *now,* Agent McCallum and I are in charge of this investigation. Everything will be run through us." He glanced at Jim. "I assume that’s not a problem. After all, it was *your* partner who was gassed. Wasn’t it?"

Simon inwardly sighed at the angry look on Jim’s face. He glared towards the door at the sound of a knock. "Come in!"

Rafe opened the door only enough to stick his head inside. "Sorry, Captain." He looked at Jim. "You’ve got a call. They said it was urgent." He met Jim’s eyes and slightly tilted his head. "The exceptionally urgent kind," he gently stressed.

"Go ahead." Simon nodded.

Jim followed Rafe, who waited until Simon’s door was closed. "Line three. He didn’t give a name. But it’s an electronically distorted voice."

Jim glanced back at Simon’s office to see their captain arguing with the Federal agents. "Thanks, Rafe. Try to trace it." Sitting at his desk, he picked up the phone. "Who’s this? . . . Well, if it doesn’t matter, why the distorted voice? . . . Fine. I’ll be there." He glanced at Rafe when the call was disconnected.

Rafe shook his head and hung up his own phone.

"Tell Simon I’m interviewing a witness on the Tyler case." Jim grabbed his jacket.

Rafe snickered. "He’s a cute kid. Henri and I watched him the other night when you guys were at the hospital. He kept patting Henri’s head." He glanced at Simon’s office. "Just in case I’m asked in private, where are you going?"

"Job interview," Jim replied.

~~~~~~~~

ABANDONED WAREHOUSE – 2:00PM

"You come highly recommended."

"I earn my pay," Jim curtly answered.

"I see that you have a background in the military. That will come in handy. Precision movement and timing are of the essence."

"For what?" Jim asked.

"I'll ask the questions. Your job is to listen and answer."

Jim narrowed his eyesight to cut through the glare and saw Harry standing behind the table.

"Are you familiar with all kinds of vehicles?"

"If it’s got tires or treads, I can drive it," Jim bragged.

"Good. I'm going to give you a set of instructions. Memorize them. Leave it all in your brain."

Outside the warehouse, Jack Cryss listened through open cell phone he’d placed on the desk. He glanced over his shoulder to where Tyler sat in a car seat. "Your grandpop’s a real pro, kid."

Inside the warehouse, Jim recited, "I take Route 40 and drop off the bags. Then I go back to the motel and wait to be contacted."

"Exactly. Welcome to the team. You can go now. I’ll be in touch this evening."

Jim silently left. He glanced around as he got into the truck but saw no one. He slowly drove away.

Inside the warehouse, Harry turned off the spotlight and picked up the cell phone. "It’s done."

"I don’t like him," Cryss replied.

"You don’t have to like him. You want inside that vault? I pick the team," Harry firmly answered.

"I want to check him out."

"Be my guest, if you can afford the time," Harry offered.

"I don’t want any screw-ups," Cryss warned.

"You mean like spending five grand on C-4 when I could buy all I need for a couple of bucks?" Harry needled.

"You know, it’s been fun working with you again, but I can do without your smart mouth," Cryss snapped.

"You keep up your end, and I’ll keep up mine. I pick the team. You just make sure my grandson is safe," Harry warned. He frowned when the call was disconnected.

~~~~~~~~

MAJOR CRIMES BULLPEN – 3:07PM

Blair looked up from Jim’s desk when the detective appeared. He scooted his chair away so Jim could sit down. "What’s this I hear about a job interview?" he teased.

"I’ve been recruited as the driver for the next bank job," Jim quietly explained.

"You’re kidding!" Blair’s eyes widened.

"Oh, it gets better." Jim nodded. "Harry was the recruiter. He was behind a spotlight, but I saw him." He saw Blair’s puzzled expression. "Harry’s just a puppet. Cryss is pulling the strings."

"*He* gassed us and took Tyler." Blair quickly put the pieces together. "To force Harry to go along with him. Oh, man…he better be taking care of that baby." He tapped Jim’s arm. "But he’s already been framing Harry for his heists. Why screw with a winning plan?"

Jim stared at Blair. "If Harry’s dead, he’ll take the blame for all of Cryss’ robberies. Cryss gets off free with all the money."

"Man, I do *not* want to believe that Harry kidnapped his own grandson and is scamming us on this," Blair moaned.

"One way to find out, Chief." Jim shrugged. "We go through with the robbery."

"The Feds are going to love *that.*" Blair grinned.

"We’re not telling them," Jim decided. He looked into Simon’s office and tried to gauge the man’s attitude. "And I’m not telling Simon until the last minute either."

"What?!" Blair hissed.

"As soon as I tell him, he’s obligated to notify the Feds," Jim pointed out. "If I tell him just as it’s going down, his first obligation is to the take-down. Notifying the Feds becomes a distant second."

~~~~~~~~

OUTSIDE SIXTH AVENUE BANK – 6:59 AM

"Good morning, Mr. Ginzberg."

The bank manager, Jonas Ginzberg, looked at the guard who greeted him. Then he stared at the man sleeping on the sidewalk, his back to them. "Who’s that?"

"Just some wino sleeping it off."

"Get him out of here!" Ginzberg ordered.

The guard walked over to the wino. "Come on, fella. Time to rise and shine."

Just then, two men in masks and trench coats appear behind Ginzberg. One of them shoved a gun into the bank manager’s back and spoke in an electronically altered voice. "Don’t move!"

Ginzberg gasped and thrust his hands into the air.

The bank guard had spun around when he heard Ginzberg gasp. The wino scrambled to his feet and put a gun into the guard’s back. Silently, he took the gun from the guard’s holster.

"Open the door."

Shaking, Ginzberg obeyed, his key ring jingling against the glass door.

"Down!"

Ginzberg and the guard immediately lay facedown on the floor.

"Thirty seconds!"

One of the robbers went towards the back. Opening his bag, he began placing the C-4 against the vault door.

"Sixty seconds!"

Taking shelter, the robber blew the vault door. He and the third robber immediately began grabbing money and tossing it into their bags.

"Ninety seconds!"

The two robbers appeared, carrying their bags.

"Four. Three."

The two robbers calmly walked out the front door. The leader backed out, drawing a small canister from his pocket.

"Two. One."

The robber threw the canister against the wall. It began smoking, and he walked out the door to the Ford Expedition sitting by the curb.

"Go."

Jim carefully drove away, catching sight of police cars pulling up in front of the bank just as he turned the corner two blocks away. "I’m impressed. No shots fired."

Beside Jim, Harry pulled off his mask. "Cut the chatter. Just drop them off."

Three blocks to the northeast of the bank, Jim slowed down. "First drop off."

The robber casually got out of the Expedition and walked towards a small car parked in an alley. Jim gently gassed the Expedition and drove away, turning left at the next corner.

As the robber unlocked his car, Henri and Rafe appeared from behind a dumpster, their guns drawn. "Freeze!" Henri ordered.

Six blocks west of the first drop off, Jim pulled to the curb. "Second drop off."

"Thanks for the ride." The robber got out and walked towards his car in a nearby parking lot next to a 24-hour adult movie theater.

Jim pulled away from the curb and turned right.

The robber fished in his pocket for his keys, not paying attention to the man and woman who were hugging while leaning against the car next to him. As he put the key into the car lock, the woman turned around and pointed a gun at him.

"Cascade PD! Don’t move!" Megan brusquely ordered.

"I’d do what she says," Joel Taggart advised as he approached with his handcuffs. "She’s been complaining that those shoes are killing her."

Nine blocks to the north of the second drop off point, Jim pulled over to the curb. His truck sat parked across the street.

"Sorry," Harry apologized. "It was the only way. Cryss was watching my every move."

"Can you handle the rest?" Jim asked as he got out of the Expedition.

Harry coldly nodded. "Cryss has my grandson."

Jim crossed the street to his truck as Harry drove away.

Fifteen minutes later, Harry drove the Expedition into a deserted warehouse. He got out and began transferring the money from the back of the vehicle to the trunk of a nearby Buick.

Cryss approached carrying Tyler in his car seat. Setting the car seat on the floor, he smiled. "Thanks for your help, Harry. Did I mention this was my last job?"

"Good for you." Harry closed the trunk lid. "I’ll take my grandson and be on my way."

"Can't let you do that." Cryss pulled a gun from his shoulder holster. "I don’t need a scapegoat anymore, and I *really* can’t let you do anything stupid like turning yourself in. See, I know about the cancer. Man in your position starts listening to his conscience."

"You think the cops will figure I committed suicide?" Harry laughed. "You’re crazy."

Cryss shrugged. "They’ll put the blame on one of your crew. Classic double-cross. There’s nothing to tie me to any of this."

"You learned real good. I’ll give you credit for that." Harry slowly raised his hands. "Let me call my daughter. Let her know where her son is."

Cryss shook his head. "Somebody’ll find him sooner or later. I hear this place is scheduled to be torn down in a month or so." He aimed his gun.

"Jack Cryss! Drop your weapon! Cascade PD!" Jim yelled from the back of the warehouse as the cops quickly approached.

Cryss grabbed the car seat and fired a shot at Harry.

Harry grabbed his chest and fell to the concrete floor.

"Stop!" Jim yelled at Cryss.

Cryss threw the car seat at Jim who dropped his gun to catch the flying baby.

Tyler let out a squeal of displeasure as Jim caught the car seat and fell to the floor.

Cryss turned around and ran into a punch thrown by a furious Simon Banks. He fell to the floor, dazed.

"Who do you think you are, throwing a baby like that?!" Simon yelled. He grabbed Cryss by the lapels and pulled him to his feet. "I ought to throw you around a little!" He shoved Cryss at two approaching officers. "Handcuff this son of a bitch, read him his rights, and get him out of my sight!"

"Tyler…" Harry gasped, trying to sit up.

"Easy, he’s okay," Jim assured him as he walked closer. He got Tyler out of the car seat and held him where Harry could see him. "He’ll be fine, won’t you, sweetheart?"

Tyler angrily screamed.

Jim frowned, then sniffed. Then he nearly choked. "Let’s get you to your mother real quick, okay?"


~~~~~ EPILOGUE ~~~~~


CASCADE GENERAL HOSPITAL – ROOM 209 – 6:42 PM

"Just how did you smuggle that baby up here, Sandburg?" Simon muttered.

Blair grinned. "Professional secret."

Simon, Blair, and Jim stood in the doorway watching as Harry reclining in his hospital bed, played with a giggling Tyler. Lindsay stood next to the bed, smiling at the antics of her father and son.

"I’m proud of you, Dad," Lindsay murmured.

Harry’s face reddened. "Great. Now I can’t even bit…" He glanced down at Tyler. "I mean…complain about the time I’ll do." He slowly smiled. "What hurts is the restitution I’ll be hit with. I wish I could have saved something for you and Tyler."

"What about the reward money?" Blair looked at Simon. "I mean, she *did* help us catch him."

"Yeah, Simon, there’s got to be some way to work this out for Lindsay," Jim agreed.

"And Tyler." Blair bounced on his toes.

"It would be for Tyler’s education." Lindsay looked at her father and son. "I’ve got what I want."

"I’ll see what I can do," Simon promised. "Harry, I know it’s the Federal correctional system, but they have good doctors. They’ll take care of you."

"I’m not worried about the cancer. I can fight it." Harry grinned. "I’m afraid the prison food will kill me."

"Then Tyler and I will have to bring you some good home cooking." Lindsay smiled.

Harry stared up at his daughter in surprise. "You mean…you’ll come and visit?"

"Just try and keep us away," Lindsay softly promised.

Simon jerked his head, indicating they should allow the Conkle family some privacy.

Blair glanced once more at the baby on Harry’s lap. *Lucky kid.*


~~~ The End ~~~

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