by Lyn Townsend
Written for PetFly by:
Teleplay by: David Newman and Gail Morgan Hickman
Story by: Brad Markowitz
~~~~~~~~~~ Act I ~~~~~~~~~~A thin plume of smoke rose lazily from the crushed metal of the prison van. The blown out tire had sent it careening out of control until the trunk of a large tree halted its trajectory. A hammering from within smashed open the back door and a thin disheveled man with lank blond hair staggered out. He wore prison issue overalls and his hands were shackled in front of him. A pain-filled voice echoed from within the confines of the van.
"Weston, man, get me out of here. I think my leg is broke."
"I’m going to see what the situation is," Weston said as he crept carefully to the side of the van and risked a quick look around the corner. He smiled at the sight of the young guard slumped half out of the cab and hurried forward to remove keys, gun and cigarettes from the dead man’s pockets.
Pete Johnson, the prisoner still trapped in the van, continued to moan in pain as Weston paused to listen to the music still blasting from the radio.
"Hey man, I love this song," Weston said. "You like Angie Ferris?"
"I don’t care about her," Johnson said, fear beginning to merge with the pain in his voice. "Just get me out of here. Don’t you leave, Weston."
Weston knelt to unlock the handcuffs restraining his wrists, continuing to reassure the other man that he would not leave him behind. "I’ve got Moseley’s phone. I’m going to call for help, man."
"Weston? Man, I smell gas!" Pete Johnson began a futile struggle to free himself from his bonds.
"You smell gas?" Weston bent lower and eyed the slowly dripping fuel. "Sure you do."
The imprisoned man was begging Weston for help now, his panic palpable. Ray Weston stood and lit a cigarette, then tossed the still burning match into the growing puddle of gas. Johnson seemed suddenly to realize his fate and screamed Weston’s name once more before his terror was swallowed up by the massive roar of an explosion. Weston walked away as the sky rained pieces of metal and bled a fiery haze.
Jim Ellison looked over at his companion and frowned. Blair was seated next to him at his desk, his eyes fixed on the computer screen in front of him, earphones firmly in place. The young man bounced up and down, nodded his head and occasionally sang small snatches of song as his fingers flew over the keyboard.
"Do you mind?" Jim asked. When there was no reply except for a rather disturbing wail that Jim assumed was supposed to be a guitar solo, he leaned over and nudged the other man in the ribs. The response was instantaneous. Blair swung the chair toward him and popped the earphones out and rubbed his ribs, scowling at the other man.
"Ow! What did you do that for?"
"You wouldn’t answer me," Jim replied. "Would you mind turning that…thing off while you’re working?"
"The Walkman?" Blair picked up the cassette player. "It helps me to concentrate."
"Yeah? Well, I can’t concentrate with you bouncing all over the place like that," Jim replied peevishly.
"Jim, you should try it some time. It really helps. Tell you what. Here, give it a shot." Sandburg offered the earplugs to the detective, then grinned. "Guess you don’t really need these, huh?"
"Exactly." Jim turned back to the report on his desk. "Now, can we get back to work here?"
"Ellison. Sandburg. My office."
The two men pushed their chairs back at the captain’s summons and made their way across the room. Jim motioned for Blair to shut the door behind them and waited while Simon introduced a fourth man to them as Warden Nichols. The captain indicated a file on his desk.
"It’s the file on Ray Weston," Warden Nichols explained. "One of our prison vans blew a tire and crashed on its way back from court yesterday. The two guards and another prisoner were killed. Weston made his way to a nearby farmhouse and stole himself a pickup truck."
"What’s he in for?" Jim asked.
"Jewelry store robbery," Simon answered. "He murdered the owner. Five years ago, right?" At the affirmative nod from the warden, he continued, "Life sentence."
"He’s a major league psychotic," the warden added.
Blair had wandered over to the table, and was leafing casually through the files. "Oh man, you are not kidding," he said, picking up a defaced photo from the stack.
"What’s all this?" Jim asked, looking over his partner’s shoulder.
"Well, these were on Weston’s prison cell wall. There’s two more walls with the same. Floor to ceiling, all defaced," Nichols answered.
"And who is she?" Jim asked, looking perplexed.
"It’s Angie Ferris. The singer. You’ve never heard of her?" Blair looked at Jim in surprise.
"As far as I’m concerned the last group worth listening to was Santana," Jim replied, defensively.
"They’re okay, but Ferris has a good sound. She’s got a sort of pop-rock-gospel-classical thing going. Very socially conscious. Her last album did some really big numbers," Simon put in. He warmed to his subject, seemingly unaware of the bemused expressions on the faces of his men. "She had this one hit was just slammin’. It had this bop-da-bop…." The captain illustrated his point by drumming his fingers on the desk, then stopped, looking embarrassed at his lapse. "My son listens to her, okay?" he offered lamely.
Blair grinned widely. "It’s all right. I really dig it, you know, when the older generation gets into new stuff."
"So this Weston is a fan, I take it?" Jim asked, anxious to get back to the case.
The warden nodded. "He was obsessed. He once even stabbed another inmate over her picture on a magazine cover."
As the warden spoke, the phone rang and Simon moved to take it. When he hung up, his face was grim. He passed on the information that the stolen truck had been found abandoned on the waterfront. At least they knew now that Weston was in Cascade. Jim mulled over the fact that an escaped prisoner would want to get out of the state as quickly as possible. Unless… "Is he obsessed enough with her to track her down to get close to her?" Jim looked at Nichols.
Nichols nodded. "He has the classic profile of a stalker according to the psychologist," he answered.
Simon held out a slip of paper. "Here’s her address. I’ve spoken to her manager and after some argument, he’s agreed to tell her security people to back off from this one and let the PD handle it." The captain grinned. "He has, of course, offered us his total cooperation."
"I bet he has," Jim said. "Thank you. Come on, Chief." Jim led the way out of the office, aware that Blair was still grinning over Simon’s antics and now that they were out of the captain’s presence, he indulged in a snort of humor himself.
Angie Ferris’ apartment building was opulent and Blair was obviously impressed as he followed Jim to the front door.
"Wow! I guess a few million albums these days buys a pretty nice lifestyle," he said, looking around.
As they stopped outside the apartment door, he stilled Jim with a hand on his arm. Loud music with a heavy emphasis on bass and drums emanated from within. "Oh, wait. Do you hear that? That has got to be from her new album. We’re getting a sneak preview here, man. What do you think?" he asked Jim, already bouncing on his toes to the beat.
Jim grunted non-commitally. "She’s no Aretha Franklin." Shaking his head at Sandburg’s exuberant behavior, he rapped loudly at the door. The door opened wide enough to reveal a dark, young face. Jim grimaced at the volume of sound and raised his voice to be heard.
"I’m Detective Ellison and this is Blair Sandburg."
Blair acknowledged the youngster with a wave of his hand; his body keeping time with the beat of the music. The girl looked apprehensive as she asked them what was wrong.
"Could you turn your music down, sweetheart?" Jim asked.
"Oh, sure. Come on in." The girl opened the door wider and ushered them into the spacious apartment, before turning to lower the volume on the sound system.
"Thank you," Jim smiled. "My hearing’s a little sensitive." Before he could say anything further, an imperious voice rang out from the staircase behind them.
"Pam? I thought I told you never to let anyone in here without my permission."
The girl grimaced at the two men, then faced her mother. "I’m sorry, Mom."
Angie Ferris strode down the stairs and looked both men up and down, her arms folded in front of her. She was tall and thin, her clothes casual but obviously expensive, her shoulder length hair brushed back from her face. She glared at Jim. "I want you to leave right now before I call the police."
Jim opened his wallet and flashed his badge at the singer. "I’m Detective Ellison, Cascade Police Department. This is Blair Sandburg."
"Hi," Blair said, smiling widely.
Angie looked doubtfully at the longhaired young man before her. "Are you a cop too?" she asked.
"Actually, I’m a consultant to the police." At the disbelief on her face, he pulled up his own ID and waved it at her. "Really."
Jim did not want to frighten Pam and was relieved when Angie sent her daughter to her room. Once she had gone, he pulled Ray Weston’s mug shot from his pocket and held it up. "Mrs. Ferris, have you ever met a man named Ray Weston?"
Angie’s eyes flicked quickly over the photo. "No," she said firmly.
Jim explained Weston’s history to her and the fact that the escapee had seemed to be obsessed with her, but Angie insisted she did not know him and would not have seen any mail from him, the latter being handled by her publicity department. The detective was convinced that Weston would appear and asked for her permission to leave an officer with them. Angie balked at the suggestion, insisting that they were safe enough with the security she already had. Jim argued further with her but Angie stood her ground, then interrupted him as her phone rang.
"Hello," Angie looked suddenly nervous and Jim dialed his hearing up. The strains of one of the singer’s songs echoed from the receiver as Angie repeatedly asked the caller to identify himself.
Jim walked quickly out to the balcony and looked over the concrete wall. Finding the source of the music, he piggybacked his sight to his hearing and tracked down to a red truck parked at the curb. He wondered briefly where Weston had picked up this truck, knowing that the first vehicle had already been found abandoned. Focusing his sight into the cab in the hope of seeing Weston more clearly, Jim’s sight rested on the CD cover sitting on the dash and he recognized Angie’s face. Sensing Blair moving to his side, he straightened up.
"What’s going on?" Blair asked.
Jim pulled his cell phone from his pocket and pushed it into the observer’s hand. "Call for backup," he instructed as he headed back inside. "He’s here."
"What?" Blair said in surprise, but he automatically opened the phone and began to dial.
"How do I call the guard downstairs?" Jim said urgently.
Angie looked confused for a moment but hung up the phone and picked up a remote control. "There’s a video intercom in the lobby."
She watched in horror as a grainy image appeared on the monitor and Weston brutally bashed the security guard before disappearing out of camera range.
"Oh my God," she whispered, her voice now tight with fear.
Jim headed for the front door, turning to speak to Angie again. "All right, I want you to join your daughter in her bedroom and stay there, please." Angie headed for the stairs as Blair came back into the apartment. "Sandburg, lock the door behind me."
Jim shook his head. "No arguments, Sandburg. Lock the door."
Blair sighed and nodded. "All right," he agreed.
Jim headed down the hallway to the elevator, grimacing as the doors opened to reveal the lifeless body of the security guard. The detective headed for the stairs and made his way down. Pausing at the ground level, Jim extended his hearing once more and soon zeroed in on the quiet snick of a gun being cocked. Carefully he crept around the corner and came up behind the prisoner, leveling his gun at Weston’s head.
"All right, drop your weapon. Nice and slow."
Weston started at the voice but then bent slowly to drop his gun to the ground, not looking around. Jim relaxed slightly, relieved that the man was going quietly, then snapped back suddenly as Weston jumped up from his crouched position, whirling to knock the detective’s gun from his grasp.
Before Jim could react, Weston had his arm pulled around behind his back and then Jim’s head exploded in agony as the killer slammed him face first against the wall. Jim felt his knees buckle as Weston repeated the action then threw him to the ground. Jim had not had a chance to turn his senses down and every blow Weston struck felt magnified a thousand times.
With his vision beginning to gray out, Jim put all his energy into getting up off the floor, to at least have some chance at defending himself. He pushed himself up on shaking arms, and then the breath was driven from him as Weston delivered a brutal kick to his chest. Trying to ignore the pain coursing through his body, Jim managed to haul himself upright, only to stagger back as Weston attacked with a series of open handed slams and then a roundhouse kick that propelled Jim off his feet. He felt the impact of the window at his back and raised his arms to protect his head from the shower of glass that cascaded around him.
His training kicked in automatically despite his waning consciousness, and he managed to tuck himself into a ball as he hit the ground. He felt a boot touch his shoulder as Weston stepped over his prone body. Finally, the pain in his head overtook everything else and he gave in to the welcoming darkness.
~~~~~~~~~~ Act II ~~~~~~~~~~Jim swatted at the annoying buzzing that hovered just above his head. He stilled as a hand grasped his and the noise slowly coalesced into words.
"Jim? Come on, man. Open your eyes for me, huh?"
Jim grunted and slowly opened one eye to find Blair Sandburg’s worried face inches from his own, the observer’s other hand patting frantically at his cheek. He closed his eyes again, then pushed himself into a sitting position with his partner’s help.
"Weston?" he ground out as he rested his pounding head on his knees.
"Long gone," Blair answered. "Simon’s on his way and an ambulance. Don’t you think you should lay back down until they get here?"
Jim pushed Blair’s restraining hand away impatiently and staggered to his feet. "I’m fine, Sandburg. Where’s Miss Ferris? I thought I told you to stay with her."
Blair stepped away slightly and hooked a thumb back over his shoulder. "She’s still upstairs. I told her to stay there while I checked out what was going on. I got worried when you didn’t come back up."
Jim registered Blair’s pale face and forced his anger back, knowing the observer would assume it was directed at him. "Why don’t you go back up there and try to keep her calm. I’ll wait here for the backup."
As Blair opened his mouth to speak, Jim held up a restraining hand and tried to smile. "I’m fine, Sandburg. Just pissed off that I let him get the drop on me."
Blair nodded; not appearing totally convinced he turned and headed back inside.
Jim slumped back against the wall and cradled his aching head in his hands, wincing as the sound of sirens grew louder.~~~~~~~~
Jim watched morosely as the security guard’s body was loaded into the coroner’s van. Simon Banks patted the detective’s shoulder.
"Come on, Jim. Don’t take it so hard. There was nothing you could do," the captain said.
Jim shook his head, wincing as the movement set off renewed pounding in his skull. "I should have anticipated Weston might already be here, Simon. I really screwed this one up." He massaged his throbbing temples.
"Look, man, I want you to go and see a doctor."
"No, I’ll be fine. I’ve got to get back inside in case Weston comes back."
Simon looked surprised. "What? Are you kidding me? With what just went down, he’s probably halfway to Mexico by now."
"Simon, this guy is crazy. Coming back is just the kind of thing he’d do."
Simon sighed, then nodded. "All right, but I’ll leave a man here with you, just in case." He looked around. "Where’s Sandburg?"
"He’s upstairs with Ferris and her daughter," Jim replied.
"How’s she doing?"
Jim stopped at the front door of the apartment building. "How do you think? The detective walked back inside and stepped into the elevator, still berating himself for letting Weston get away. His head thumped painfully and his face bore shallow, stinging cuts from the glass window. Jim was convinced that Weston would be back, the warden had said that Weston had the classic profile of a stalker.~~~~~~~~
A tense Angie Ferris turned to him as he walked into the penthouse. "Would you please get your friend out of my face? Pam and I are leaving."
Jim glanced at Blair who shrugged ruefully.
"To go where?"
"Reno, LA, China. As long as it’s someplace else," Angie answered.
Jim tried to placate the angry, frightened woman, knowing that if they left Cascade, the police would be unable to protect them and more importantly that it would lead Weston away from the city. He was sure the escapee was obsessed enough to find a way to track Angie down.
Angie however seemed to see a different agenda. "That’s what this is really about, isn’t it?" she said coldly. "You don’t give a damn about us. You’re just using us to catch him."
Jim was prepared to concede the last part. "I want Weston back in jail," he said evenly. "Don’t you?"
"What I want is just to be left alone," Angie retorted.
"Well, then, help us get Weston off the street and out of your life."
Angie stared at him for a moment, then relented. "I don’t like this for one damn minute. All right. Let’s say I agree to do this, will you be the one to protect us?"
"Me personally?" the detective asked.
"You kept him away today. Look, if I’m going to entrust my life and my daughter’s life to someone, you’re the one."
"Ma’am, there are plenty of good officers I can place here," Jim replied. "I’m going after Weston."
Angie shook her head and crossed her arms over her chest. "Uh-uh. I want you here or the deal is off."
Jim tried to get her to change her mind, impatient to get back to the chase and start tracking down Weston. Angie Ferris appeared to be a woman used to getting what she wanted and after a few minutes’ futile argument, Jim caved in. "All right. It’ll be me and Blair, and I’ll post a man downstairs." All three looked up as Pam came padding down the stairs.
"Where are we going?" the teen asked.
"We’re not going anywhere," Angie answered, placing a comforting arm about her daughter’s shoulders, "but there is nothing to be afraid of."
Pam looked up at her mother, fear beginning to show on her face. "Mom?"
Angie glared at Jim, her jaw set firmly. "Right?"
Jim stared back at her, an equal amount of resolve evident in his gaze. "Right," he answered.
Jim sat on the couch in the living room and concentrated on trying to will the pain away – and wishing that he could will away the anger just as easily. Weston was turning out to be a dangerous son of a bitch and concern gnawed at his stomach. There was something terribly wrong with this case but his pounding head refused to allow him to pinpoint it.
Attempting to distract himself from his uneasy thoughts, Jim looked over to where Blair and Pam sat immersed in one of the girl’s history books. The two had hit it off right away, Blair’s natural exuberance and genuine friendliness putting Pam at ease.
"My teacher showed us a movie once where these people went all the way up the Amazon in a canoe. Did you do that, too?" Pam asked.
"Uh-huh," Blair answered; looking pleased to have found an attentive audience. "And I almost got eaten by a crocodile."
"No way," Pam breathed, her wide eyes almost popping from her head.
"Way," Blair confirmed, grinning happily.
Jim sat back and let the conversation wash over him.
"You’ve done some really cool stuff in your life," Pam said, settling herself on the floor next to Blair. "I wish I could do some cool stuff like that."
"What are you talking about?" Blair asked her. "Your mom, she’s a big star. Most kids would think that was pretty cool."
"Well, it isn’t," Pam complained. "She won’t let me go to any of her concerts or anything. She says she wants me to have a regular life." She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, right."
Jim knew that Blair hadn’t had a whole lot of material possessions in his life, nor did he seem to need them. From what he knew of the observer’s nomadic lifestyle with his mother, Naomi, he suspected that Blair would have been just as happy with a mother who stayed at home more often. Blair’s obvious admiration for Angie seemed to be as much for trying to give her daughter a normal life amidst the trappings of stardom as it was for the singer’s talent.
Jim’s wandering attention snapped back as Angie came into the room, holding a plate of cookies, and Pam turned her complaints directly on her mother. Her voice was cut short as a pager sounded. Jim reached into his pocket but stopped in surprise when Pam told him it was hers.
"It’s Jessica," she added, reaching for the phone.
"No phone today. You have homework to do, young lady," Angie replied.
Pam tried to argue some more but Angie stood firm, insisting that the girl do her homework.
"Okay, but Blair’s helping me with my social studies," Pam said, looking hopefully at Blair.
"And what about math? You have a test tomorrow, remember?"
"Is it okay if he helps me with that too?"
Angie looked uncertainly at Blair. "Honey, I don’t think we should be bothering him."
Blair stood up and smiled at them both. "It’s no bother. I don’t mind at all."
Flashing her mother a triumphant grin, Pam led the way out of the living room.
Angie turned and headed toward the kitchen. "I’m going to make some coffee," she said over her shoulder. "Do you want some?"
Jim roused himself and stood to follow her. "That sounds great." He leaned up against the kitchen counter. "Ten year old girls with beepers. I’ll never understand that."
"I guess you don’t have kids," Angie replied. She turned then to face him. "I know I spoil her but it’s not easy being my daughter. Always under glass."
"I take it her father’s not around?" Jim asked quietly.
Angie shook her head. "I got pregnant after high school. The boy who was the father didn’t want to have anything to do with me, so I raised her on my own," she said sadly.
Jim thought again of Blair and Naomi. "Must have been tough."
Angie shrugged. "I managed somehow. Maybe that’s why I’m overprotective. I want to keep her out of the world that I grew up in."
"Well, I don’t know too much about kids, but it seems if you protect them too much, they won’t be prepared for the way things really are."
Angie opened her mouth to answer as the phone rang. She picked it up and spoke into the receiver. As she paled noticeably, Jim extended his hearing to pick up the other side of the conversation, recognizing Weston’s voice instantly. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed, requesting a trace on the call.
Jim could see that Angie was growing more panicked as she tried to reason with Weston and he hoped she would be able to stay calm long enough for them to trace the call. He wasn’t able to hear Weston’s side of the conversation, having to pull his hearing back while he spoke to the technician on his cell phone.
Angie turned to him and held out the receiver, her eyes wide. Jim could see that her nerves were stretched thin and she was just barely containing her fear. "He wants to talk to you."
He took the phone, covering the receiver with his hand as he let the technician know what was happening. Lifting Angie’s phone to his ear, he spoke. "Yeah?"
Weston’s voice came to him, his tone cocky. "I just wanted to apologize for having to beat up on you like I did. I had to take care of myself. You know how it is."
"Maybe we can talk about it in person," Jim suggested.
"Yeah, maybe we should. Look, you do me a favor and keep an eye on that pretty little lady for me, okay? ‘Cause I’m sure we’re going to be seeing each other real soon."
Weston ended the call and Jim cursed softly. Speaking into his cell phone, he waited for the technician to get back to him.
"Did you get a location?"
"Sorry, Detective, not long enough."
"Ah damn it! Okay. Thanks anyway for trying." Jim hung up his phone and had just turned back to Angie when his cell phone rang again. This time it was Simon. ‘Finally’, Jim thought. ‘We’ve caught a break.’
Weston had been spotted on a security camera stealing a gun from a sporting goods store. He’d shot the owner and stolen his wallet. A few minutes ago, the desk clerk at a motel, just a short distance away, had contacted the police, saying that a man matching Weston’s description had just checked in.
It took Jim a few minutes to convince Angie that she would be safe without him there. Her hysteria was growing and although he understood her fears, he knew that he didn’t have time to be gentle with her. They were so close to getting Weston now and Jim wanted to be in on the bust. Finally, his temper beginning to fray, he grasped her by the shoulders and shook her a little. "Look at me," he said firmly. "If I catch him now, this whole thing will be over."
Angie didn’t look convinced. "What if he comes here?"
"There are police everywhere tonight and Blair’s going to be here with you." He forced himself to keep the impatience from his voice. "Everything is going to be all right. I’ll be back in half an hour."
By the time Jim arrived at Steele’s Motel, Simon was waiting with a backup squad of several men. The captain sent two officers to watch the back entrance of the motel and motioned silently for the others to cover them. Approaching Weston’s motel room with caution, Simon reached carefully for the door handle and whispered his intentions to Jim.
"I’m going to go in high."
Jim had already turned his hearing up to try to ascertain whether Weston was in the room. When Simon turned the handle, the sentinel heard a soft click. Not having time to shout a warning, he pushed his captain roughly to one side and threw himself to the floor as a shotgun discharge echoed painfully in his skull.
Taking a scant moment to recover, Jim signaled to another policeman to break down what was left of the door. Rushing into the small room, they quickly scouted the interior and found no sign of Weston.
Jim regained his feet and bustled in behind Simon. He stopped and stared at the scene before him. "What the hell…?" The detective’s surprised gaze took in the evil looking shotgun resting on the chair. Its barrels faced the door and the trigger was rigged to the door handle. Jim looked around the room and frowned. "He’s gone. Shit!" Before anyone could react, Jim had sprinted from the room. If Weston were missing, the obsessed man would be headed straight to Angie Ferris and Jim’s partner.
Blair laid his textbook down on the couch next to him and rubbed at his weary eyes. He hadn’t expected to be sitting up all night and after spending the last several nights studying and marking assignments into the wee hours, he was totally exhausted.
He knew, though, that Jim was relying on him to keep Angie and Pam safe and if that meant going without sleep for another night, he was prepared to do it. Simon often reminded the observer that he wasn’t a cop, but Blair was determined to pull his weight in return for his ride-along status and be a capable backup for Jim. He was not going to let his partner down now.
He had just picked up his book again when Angie entered the room. "Hey, Blair. Can I ask you a favor?"
Blair smiled up at the pretty singer. She seemed to be acting friendlier toward him now than she had when they first arrived.
"Of course," he answered.
"I have to pick one more track for my album," Angie said, holding out a collection of tapes. "Would you listen to these demos and help me decide?"
"Are you kidding me?" Blair asked in surprise. "It would be an honor," he assured her.
"The best way to hear this is with headphones," Angie said as she plugged a set into the sound system.
Blair shook his head and sat back down on the couch. "I’ll just listen to it this way." He indicated his ears. "If anyone comes, I won’t hear them with headphones on. I’m supposed to be watching out for you. Jim would be really mad at me if something happened." He lightened the comment with a grin. "Trust me, you don’t want Jim mad at you."
"What could happen?" Angie pressed. "There’s a guard downstairs, you’re sitting here in the living room, the doors are all locked. Hopefully, by now, your partner has caught by Weston."
"I can listen fine like this," Blair insisted.
Angie looked angry for a moment, then sighed. "Okay," she relented. "Just listen to them all and tell me which one you like."
"Okay, great," Blair agreed.
Blair woke to the sounds of shouting and splintering timber and jumped to his feet in fright, his book sliding from his lap to lay face down on the floor.
Blair looked at his partner and the uniformed officer accompanying him. "What the hell is going on?" he asked.
Jim stepped over to Blair’s side, holstering his weapon. "Where’s Angie?" he asked.
"She’s back in her studio," Blair said, feeling more bewildered. "Jim, I’m sorry I fell asleep. It can only have been for a minute or two."
Jim glared icily at him. "Check the kid’s room," he ordered. "Mikey, go with him."
"It’s upstairs to the left," Blair offered in a small voice. He felt mortified beyond belief. Jim had trusted him to keep Angie and Pam safe, and he’d let him down. He’d fallen asleep on the couch like a two-year-old.
""She’s gone," Blair said, walking out of Pam’s room to join Jim in the hallway.
"So is Angie," Jim answered.
"Damn it Jim, I don’t know what happened. I was just talking to her fifteen minutes ago." Blair looked
desperately at his partner.
Jim stared back at him, the muscle in his jaw twitching madly. "Yeah, well, she’s not here now."~~~~~~~~~~ Act III ~~~~~~~~~~A thorough search had revealed empty hangers in both bedrooms, which meant it was doubtful that Weston had
been involved in their leaving. He hardly would have given Angie time to pack.
"All right," Jim said. "What happened after I left?"
"I was sitting on the couch reading a book. Pam was asleep; Angie was in her studio. I’m sorry I fell asleep, Jim. Everything just caught up with me, I guess."
Jim shook his head and patted Blair’s shoulder. "Don’t worry about that now. Anything else?"
Blair began to shake his head, then stopped and looked up. "Wait a minute. I don’t know if it means anything, but I saw the red light for the phone on while I was listening to Angie’s demo tapes."
"So somebody was making a call." Jim looked thoughtful.
"Pam was asleep, it had to be Angie," Blair answered.
Jim smiled and clapped him on the back. "I’ll make a cop out of you yet. Let’s check out her office."
Blair grinned at his partner’s retreating back and trotted quickly after him. The anthropologist picked up the small writing pad sitting next to the phone in Angie’s office. He ran his fingers softly across the top page.
"If she was using the phone, she might have written something down and if she did, there’d be an imprint on the page underneath." He motioned to Jim. "Give me your fingers. Use your fingers. See if you can read it. Concen…"
"Give me that, Darwin," Jim pulled the notepad from Blair’s hand with a snort of derision and picked up a pencil from the small cup on the desk. Bending over the desk, he scribbled the pencil lightly over the top page. "Easy," he announced, holding the finished piece up to Blair. "You don’t need heightened senses for everything."
Blair grinned weakly and squinted at the figures made visible by the pencil rubbings. "138 Cliffside."
"That’s an address," Jim said.
"Isn’t that the road going out to Olympia Bluffs?" Blair asked.
Jim nodded and fished for his car keys. "We’re going for a drive."
By the time they reached the street they were looking for, the storm that had been threatening all day had blown in with a vengeance. Rain tumbled down, trees bent almost double from the onslaught of the wind, and lightning skittered angrily across the black sky.
"Big storm," Blair said. He sat, hunched forward, squinting out of the front windshield, shivering despite the heat pouring from the vents. He pointed to the right with his finger. "There it is, 138."
The wind sliced through their clothes as they stepped out of the truck and Blair pulled his jacket more closely about him.
"Stay out here while I check out the house," Jim shouted, bending close to Blair’s ear to be heard over the worsening storm.
"Isn’t that trespassing?" Blair shouted back.
"Best to see who’s here before we announce ourselves," Jim reasoned. "If you see anything, call me."
Jim tapped his ear with the fingers of one hand. "Just call."
Blair raised his eyes heavenward and then nodded frantically. "Oh! Right, right, right, right."
Jim turned away, shaking his head, and moved stealthily toward the house. He moved carefully around the front exterior, pausing now and again to peer into the darkened windows. He spun around rapidly at a noise from the nearby bushes and brought his gun up to aim in that direction. He lowered it just as quickly as his sentinel sight made out the startled features of a deer.
An explosion of gunfire sounded to the side of him at the same time as a white-hot fire streaked across his
upper left arm. The force of the bullet pushed him into the fence and he grunted in pain as he struggled
to stay on his feet.
He felt the blood trickling down his arm and the fiery pain appeared to eat its way into his flesh. He forced
himself to stand upright as he heard rapid footsteps approach.
"Oh my God," Angie gasped.
Jim squinted and held up a hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the flashlight. "Thanks," he said tiredly. "Do you greet all your visitors with a gun?"
Blair started at the sound of gunfire and ran headlong for the house, his fear for Jim momentarily outweighing his concern of coming face to face with Weston. His feet skidded on mud as he rounded the corner and he grabbed at the wall to regain his balance. Just up ahead he could see Jim walking slowly toward the house, an attentive and pale Angie Ferris hovering anxiously at his side.
"Jim!" Blair shouted over the wind. He rushed forward, not noticing the mud and water that splashed around his ankles. Reaching out for his partner, he maneuvered himself next to him and pulled the detective’s arm over his shoulder. "What the hell happened?"
"It’s just a scratch, Sandburg," Jim assured him. "Angie thought I was Weston."
Blair shot the woman an angry look. "Yeah, well, if she hadn’t run off, she would have been safe."
"Not now," Jim said. "Let’s get out of this weather, then we can talk."
Once inside, Angie ushered Jim over to the couch, then rushed off for first aid supplies. Blair stood as she returned and fixed her with a steely gaze. "I’ll do it," he said.
Angie looked shaky and close to tears. "Please, let me. I feel so bad about all of this. I’m so sorry."
Blair’s anger faded a little at the woman’s distraught face and he nodded and turned to Jim. "I’ll go check on Pam. See how she’s doing."
"Thanks, Chief," Jim said, smiling wanly.
By the time Angie had finished bandaging the deep gash in Jim’s arm, he had managed to get the remaining details of their escape from her. The house belonged to her manager and Angie figured she and Pam would be safer if no one, including Jim, knew their location.
"Well, if I could find you, Weston could," Jim said. Angie merely nodded and tied off the bandage on Jim’s arm. The two looked up as Blair walked into the room, trailed by an open-mouthed Pam.
"I don’t believe you," the young girl said, shaking her head at Blair.
Blair grinned, obviously enjoying himself. "I’m telling you, it’s the truth."
"Jim, Blair says that when Indian women used to give birth to a baby, they’d eat the…the…what is it called?"
"The placenta," Blair supplied.
Pam nodded. "Yeah. Is he lying to me?"
Jim smiled at the young girl. "I don’t think so," he said. "Usually if Blair says something, it’s true."
Blair grinned as Pam wrinkled her nose. "That is so disgusting," she said.
Angie stood up and gathered the first aid equipment together. "I don’t know about you two, but Pam and I are going back to sleep. We’re upstairs. There’s an extra bedroom down here." She pointed off to the right hand side of the room. "I have a couch in the living room, extra blankets and pillows."
Jim smiled back at her. "We’ll manage, thanks."
Angie led Pam up the stairs, then stopped on the first riser and turned back to Jim. "I’m really sorry about your arm," she said softly. "But I’m glad you’re here. Goodnight."
Blair waved and watched the two ascend the staircase before turning to Jim. "I parked the truck out front," Blair offered. "How’s the arm?"
Jim rubbed absently at the bandage. "I’ll survive."
Blair looked at him for a long moment before speaking up. "So, is there something going on between you two?"
"No," Jim answered, his glare telling Blair the discussion was closed. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed Simon’s number, filling him in on their location.
As he hung up the phone, Blair tried again. "All I was talking about was…"
Jim held his hand up impatiently for silence and Blair obeyed instantly, recognizing the familiar tilt of Jim’s head that indicated he was extending his hearing. Concentrating on the conversation upstairs, Jim listened as Angie set about getting Pam settled for the night.
"Mom, why are those policemen staying with us?" Jim heard Pam ask.
"It’s nothing, baby. Don’t worry."
"Why won’t you tell me anything? I’m not stupid. All I have to do is ask them."
"It’s Ray Weston. He’s escaped from prison."
"The police think he might try to hurt us," Angie said. "That’s why they’re here."
"But Ray would never do anything to hurt us," Pam objected, sounding upset. "He’s our friend."
"Pam, I know you like Ray, but he’s not everything you think he is. He hurts people." Angie paused for a moment. "He killed Andy, the security guard."
"I don’t believe you!" Pam shouted.
"Pam, listen to me. You can’t tell anybody that we know Ray or we’re going to be in big trouble. Okay?"
"Okay," Pam replied, her voice blurred by tears.
Jim turned to Blair, his face dark with anger. "Wait here," Jim told the other man brusquely.
Blair nodded and settled himself on the sofa to wait.
~~~~~~~~~~ Act IV ~~~~~~~~~~Jim watched Angie leave Pam’s room and moved from the corner. He crossed his arms across his chest as he glared at her. "I think we need to have a talk," he said with barely suppressed rage. "And this time I want the truth."
Angie nodded and led the way to her bedroom. She sat on the edge of the bed and nervously began to tell her story. "I grew up in Spokane. When Pam was born, I dropped out of school to take care of her. It was hard and lonely. And then one day, I met Ray. He was 25, he was smooth, he was good-looking, he was charming and he adored Pam. I was young and dumb and I fell in love." Her gaze dropped to the comforter and she began to smooth the surface with her fingertips.
"What happened?" Jim prompted when Angie fell silent, caught up in her memories.
Angie looked up.
"One night, we went to this little grocery store," she continued softly, her voice beginning to tremble. "One minute he was the most charming man in the world. The next minute, he pulls out this gun and robs the place. I mean, I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing."
Tears started to streak down Angie’s face as she explained how Weston’s crimes and brutality escalated when he robbed a jewelry store and a clerk was shot. "As soon as I could, I went to the cops. My deal was that if I testified against him, they would not file charges against me and the case would be sealed. When they dragged Ray out of the court, he was screaming about how he was going to find me someday."
"Does Pam know about this?" Jim asked softly.
Angie shook her head. "Ray was like the father she never had. She loved him. I told her that he’d been sent to prison but that’s all. I never thought I’d see him again." She stood and looked up at Jim. "I’m not proud of what I did. I’ve tried to live a good life. I’ve even tried to make up for it with the message in my music."
"So why did you lie to us today? To save your career?" Jim fought to keep the sarcasm and anger from his voice.
"I was afraid that Pam would find out about my past."
Jim shook his head and walked to the bedroom door. "Get some sleep," he said, not turning around. "Blair and I will be downstairs if you need us."
Ray Weston picked up the cell phone from the dashboard of his most recently stolen car and punched in a number. He smiled as Pam’s familiar voice spoke.
"Hi. You’ve reached Pam’s voice mail. If you need to beep me, just dial in your number followed by the pound sign. ‘Bye."
Weston punched in his number and settled back to wait.
A loud crack of thunder startled Blair from a restless slumber and he rolled over in the bed and squinted at the small clock on the bedside table. One a.m. He could hear the muffled movements of someone moving through the house and threw off the bedclothes. Swinging his legs to the floor, he walked to the doorway and stood warily for a moment, relaxing as he recognized Jim’s familiar figure walk past. Blair stepped into the living room and yawned, scrubbing at his red rimmed eyes. Jim stopped his pacing and looked at him.
"What are you doing up?"
"The thunder woke me," Blair answered. "I heard you moving around out here and…"
Jim shrugged. "I just wanted to check on the locks and, you know, make sure everything’s okay."
Blair eyed his partner appraisingly. "You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, I’m fine."
Blair refused to be convinced. "Come on, Jim. Talk to me."
Jim sighed tiredly. "Oh man. It’s my arm. It’s killing me."
Blair looked at him with a worried expression. "I thought it was only a flesh wound?"
Jim looked embarrassed. "It is," he assured him. "I’ve been hurt much worse, believe me. I’ve never felt pain like this before though."
Blair began to pace, thinking aloud. "All right. Let’s calm down and think for a second. You had your senses on full alert outside. Your body becomes an open receptor for any stimuli that comes your way. In this case, it just happened to be a bullet."
"Yeah, I know," Jim replied impatiently. "I just want it to stop."
Blair nodded slowly then smiled. "Let’s try something. Take a seat. Come on, Jim, take a seat," he reiterated when the detective hesitated.
Slowly Blair led Jim through a series of relaxation techniques. "Close your eyes." He spoke evenly. "Concentrate."
Jim sighed and sat up. "It still hurts," he said peevishly.
Blair glared at him. "You have the attention span of a gerbil," he muttered. Getting comfortable again, he continued. "Now, close your eyes and relax and let’s travel to that part of the brain where your senses converge."
Jim spoke with his eyes still closed. "What is this? Fantastic Voyage?
Blair groaned. "Look, Jim," he said in his best teacher’s voice. "If you don’t want to cooperate…"
Jim held up his hands. "Okay, all right. I’m converging." He settled back in the seat and took a couple of slow deep breaths.
"Now picture a dial."
"Now imagine yourself turning it down. Sort of like the volume control on a television set." He waited in tense silence as he watched Jim’s brow furrow in concentration, then smooth out in relief. Jim’s eyes opened and he smiled as he rotated his arm.
"It worked?" Blair ventured hopefully.
Jim nodded and stood up. "Yeah, it just feels like a scratch now."
Blair’s eyes shone with excitement. "Jim, this is a major breakthrough."
"Yeah, it’s great," Jim answered absently. "Why don’t you head back to bed? I’m just going to keep an eye on things out here."
Blair hesitated for a moment, then nodded, disappointed that Jim obviously did not share his excitement over the importance of a pain dial.
Blair turned at the bedroom door.
"Thanks," Jim said. "Let’s get this wrapped up, then you can do some tests on this pain dial thing."
Blair grinned happily. "All right. Goodnight."
Jim watched his partner leave and shook his head. He rotated his arm a few more times, amazed at how much the pain dial analogy had worked. He settled himself on the sofa then leaned forward as something dug into his back. He pulled his gun from its holster and set it on the coffee table in front of him within easy reach. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, falling into a light doze.
Weston flipped open the phone as soon as it rang. "Yeah?"
The voice on the other end was hesitant and youthful. "Who is this?"
"Pam? Is that you?"
"Ray? Oh my gosh! Ray! I can’t believe it’s you!" Pam squealed.
"Oh baby, it’s so good to hear your voice," Weston replied. "I’m so glad that you put your beeper number in your letters."
"Ray, some policemen came to our house today. They said you escaped from prison."
"There was an accident," Ray answered. "I managed to get away."
"They say you killed some people," Pam said, beginning to cry. "They say you killed Andy, the guard where we live."
"That’s a lie, baby. That’s a lie," Weston crooned. "The police are trying to frame me."
"But mom says it’s true, too."
"I have never lied to you, Pam, and I’m not lying to you now."
Pam sobbed softly. "I don’t know who to believe."
"If I could just see your mom, baby, I know I could straighten everything out."
"That’s not a good idea, Ray," Pam cautioned. "Mom doesn’t like you anymore."
"That’s because she believes all the stuff the police are saying about me. That’s why I need to see her."
"But those policemen are staying with us and if they see you, they’ll arrest you."
"Okay, Pam, listen to me," Weston said in soothing tones. "Now, the only thing that kept me going when I was in prison was knowing that I had a family waiting for me out here, okay? I want to be a family, Pam, only this time, I want to marry your mom and I want to adopt you so you can really be my daughter. Why don’t you tell me where you are and I’ll just come right on over," he wheedled.
"138 Cliffside Drive," Pam whispered.
"Okay. Look, now listen close. This is what I want you to do."
Pam hung up the phone and climbed out of bed. Quietly, she crept out of her room and down the stairs. Turning toward the back entrance to the house, she moved sure-footed through the kitchen, her way lit by shafts of moonlight shining through the window. Reaching the back door, she lifted the latch, then made her way back upstairs.
The detective woke as a particularly loud crash of thunder rattled the house. He stood and picked up his gun, aiming it toward the stairs as he heard footsteps pad quietly down. Angie stopped at the landing, holding a shirt in her hands. She walked over to him, holding the clothing out.
"Your shirt got pretty messed up," she offered. "You could wear this."
"Oh, that was really nice of you. Thank you," Jim said graciously.
Angie hesitated a moment. "I owe you an apology for what I did. I’ve been hiding my past with Ray for so long, I didn’t know who I could trust. I’m not trying to excuse what I did. You and Blair tried to help me, and I lied to you. It was selfish and stupid."
"And dangerous," Jim added.
"Yeah," Angie nodded.
Jim’s eyes twinkled. "And self destructive."
Angie could only nod.
"Irresponsible," Jim continued. "And arrogant."
Angie’s eyes flashed with anger for a moment before she caught the joke. "What I’m trying to say here is, for some reason, from the moment I met you, I trusted you."
Jim looked doubtful. "You trusted me so much you ran away."
Angie frowned at him. "Look, you just don’t understand. I’ve been taking care of myself for so long, I don’t know how to let anybody else in. I don’t let anybody get close."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," Jim agreed. "Neither do I." He looked toward the bedroom. "At least not until I partnered up with Blair."
"It’s an unusual partnership," Angie said. "I mean he’s not a cop."
"It’s a long story," Jim said.
Jim held a hand up to hush her as his cell phone rang. He spoke briefly to Simon, his jaw clenching harder by the second. He flicked the phone closed and glared at Angie.
‘This is all getting very old,’ he thought tiredly. "We need to talk to Pam."
Pam was reading in bed when Jim knocked on her door and asked for permission to enter. "Pam?"
"What is going on?" Angie asked impatiently.
Jim turned to face her. "Your daughter’s been writing to Weston since he was in jail," he explained.
Angie staggered back in shock. "Oh my God! How?" She looked at Pam, her eyes blazing. "I want the truth."
Pam began to cry. "Mom, I didn’t do anything wrong," she protested. "Ray called one day from prison and we talked. Then he wrote me some letters."
"I never saw any letters," Angie replied.
Pam dropped her head. "They came to Brittany’s house ‘cause I thought you might get mad. Mom, he wants us to be a family again, like before."
Angie approached her daughter and placed her hands on her shoulders. "Pam, don’t you understand? He’s a killer."
Pam pushed away angrily and stalked to the window. "I don’t believe you!" she cried.
"Pam?" Jim attempted to gain control of the situation. "Has Ray been in contact with you since he got out of prison?"
"Why do you guys hate him so much?" Pam hedged.
Jim tried to placate the distraught girl. "Honey, we don’t hate him but he’s done some terrible things."
"You’re lying," Pam shouted. "I don’t believe any of you." Sobbing furiously, she ran from the room, oblivious to her mother’s entreaties to return.
Jim turned to look at Angie. "Could Ray have contacted her since you’ve been here?"
"I don’t see how…" Angie said, doubt evident in her voice. She screamed as the lights suddenly went out.
~~~~~~~~~~ Act V ~~~~~~~~~~Blair jarred awake at the cry from upstairs and fumbled for the bedside light. When it remained dark, he reached for the candle left on the table in case of a power failure and lit it. He pulled himself quickly out of bed and headed out the door, trying desperately to clear his sleep fogged head.
"What’s going on?" he whispered.
He didn’t have time to register pain as a brutal blow crashed against his head and he dropped like a stone to the ground.
Jim heard Pam’s frightened cry as he came warily down the stairs, his gun at the ready. His heart lurched as he saw the terrified young girl crouch by Blair’s motionless body and shake him, begging him to wake up. Blair’s head lolled under her hand and Jim’s enhanced sight could see the bruise already darkening his forehead, a stream of blood oozing from the gash.
"Oh my God! Pam, honey, are you okay?" Angie cried from behind him and he reached out an arm to ensure she stayed back.
As they reached the foot of the stairs, Weston stretched out and grabbed Pam, dragging her toward him until he could secure her in front of him, a strong arm against her throat.
The girl cried out in fright and began to struggle futilely against the suffocating hold. Jim brought his weapon up to bear on the con. "Let her go, Weston," he commanded.
"Or what, huh?" Weston jerked his arm cruelly against Pam’s throat. "I don’t think so."
"Ray, what are you doing?" Pam squeaked out.
Weston jerked her again. "Shh!" He looked up and grinned at Angie. "How you doing, Angie? Long time, no see, huh, baby?"
Angie held out an imploring hand. "Don’t do this, Ray. Please."
Weston adjusted his grip on the frightened child, growling at her to be quiet. "I told you I’d get you back for what you did to me," he said. "I’ve been watching you, baby. I’ve been keeping track of your success. Every time I heard that song, I wanted to kill you."
"I said, let her go, Weston," Jim said again.
Weston grinned evilly. " Or what?"
Jim kept his gun trained on Weston, trying not to betray the movement behind the murderer. His mouth dry, he fought to concentrate on Weston’s words, knowing that even with sentinel sight, there was no way he could take the other man out while he was using Pam as a shield. The girl was terrified, moving around and struggling to escape his grip. Jim was worried that if he fired, he’d hit the girl instead. If he could just get her to calm down…
Weston’s smile grew wider as he took aim at Angie. "Say good-bye to the pretty lady."
There was a blur of movement as Blair rose up under Weston’s gun arm, pushing it up and back. Pam screamed as the gun went off. Still holding her in one arm, Weston slammed a sickening punch to Blair’s midriff, doubling him over. The gun slammed hard against Blair’s temple and he sprawled in a heap on the floor, blood streaming from the reopened gash above his eye.
"Mommy! Run!" Pam screamed.
Jim grabbed hold of Angie’s arm and pulled her to cover around the corner. "Stay here," he whispered. "I’ve got to go check on Blair."
"No!" Angie objected, holding fast to his wrist. "Ray will kill Pam if you go out there."
Jim looked up as Pam cried out once more.
"Shut up!" Weston said angrily. "I’ll kill her," he threatened again.
Jim closed his eyes as he listened to the little girl beg for her life. He knew what his decision would have to be.
"You hear me?" Weston called.
Jim sidled along until he was positioned up against the wall that led to the front door.
"Hey!" he said loudly, stepping out from the wall.
Weston looked up in shock and Pam took the opportunity to tear herself from his grip to run screaming back to the living room. Jim launched himself bodily at Weston sending them both careening out the open door where they tumbled down the steps.
Weston regained his feet first and jabbed out a fist that caught Jim in the face. He stumbled backward, catching himself on a scaffold, loaded with tiles. The scaffolding gave way under the detective’s weight and he looked up in time to see a shower of sparks as the frame impacted power lines. Jim tried to duck out of the way of the deadly onslaught of cascading roof tiles but was driven to the ground as one struck him a glancing blow to the head. His head exploded in a profusion of blinding light and he crashed to the ground and lay still.
Weston grinned evilly and stooped to pick up an iron bar. Hefting it in his hands, he moved slowly toward Jim’s motionless body. Angie watched in horror, then tried to still the tremble in her voice as she called out to the killer.
"Ray! Don’t! Please. I love you, Ray."
She froze in fear as Weston turned toward her. He smiled through the wet hair dripping in his eyes and then slowly raised the bar above his head. As it began its downward trajectory, Jim rolled and brought both legs up to drive forcefully into Weston’s chest.
With the breath driven from his lungs, Weston doubled over, his hands grasping at his heaving chest. Jim saw the opening and lashed out again with his feet, sending the killer stumbling backwards to crash against the teetering scaffolding. Weston reached a hand out to right his balance then arched up, his body convulsing as sparks ignited around him. He jerked several times more, then slumped over the fallen scaffolding; his dead eyes wide open.
Jim struggled to his feet and tilted his head back, allowing the rain to wash the blood from his face and clear his pounding head. Slowly, he struggled up the verandah steps; not bothering to cast a backward glance at the body sprawled lifelessly on the scaffold.
He reached for Angie as the shock and tension of the last few days shredded her tenuous control and she collapsed against his chest, sobbing hysterically. He held her gently, his impatience to get back to check on Blair countermanded by his concern for his charge.
After a long moment, she calmed and lifted a tear stained face to smile weakly at him. "Thank you."
Jim nodded and squeezed her shoulder. "Let’s go check on Pam and Blair."
Jim breathed a sigh of relief as he pushed the front door open and saw Blair on his feet in the hallway. Blood coursed down his face from the gash above his eye and he wiped at it futilely. His skin was ashen and he looked ready to fall down.
Pam’s frightened features relaxed into a smile as she saw her mother and she ran to her to be enveloped in a loving embrace. "I’m so sorry, Mommy," Pam sobbed as she tightened her grip on Angie’s neck.
"Oh baby," Angie soothed. "It’s okay. It’s all right. It’s all right."
Jim watched the pair for a brief moment, and then his attention was drawn abruptly back to Blair as, with a small ‘Oh!’ of surprise, the younger man slid slowly down the wall.
"Blair!" Jim hurried to his partner’s side and tilted his head back. Dazed blue eyes flickered then opened, struggling to focus on Jim’s face.
"Take it easy, partner," Jim said, gently applying pressure to the oozing wound.
"Dead. Everything’s okay. That was quite a chance you took back there."
"Couldn’t let him hurt Pam," Blair whispered. He winced and closed his eyes.
"Angie," Jim called over his shoulder. "Take my cell phone and call for an ambulance."
Blair stirred at the words. "No, I’m okay. Really."
"Hospital, Chief. No argument. You took two blows to the head and this gash is going to take some stitches."
Blair sighed and relaxed against the wall then reached up to wipe at the blood oozing from several cuts on Jim’s face. "You look like you could use some medical attention yourself."
"At least I can use my pain dial," Jim said softly. He grinned and winced as the movement aggravated his aching jaw. "You could be right, Sandburg. We’ll let them take a look at both of us."
"You’re the boss," Blair assented.~~~~~~~~~~ Epilogue~~~~~~~~~~Jim smiled at Blair as they entered the bullpen side by side. Blair had been admitted for overnight observation for a concussion and Jim had just been down to pick him up from the hospital. The anthropologist’s face was still pale, the bruises and cuts on his face from Weston’s blows standing out starkly. Blair’s energy was back though and he bounced on his toes as he interrogated Jim some more.
"How’s the arm?" Blair asked.
"I think I’ve finally got the pain dial thing under control," Jim answered.
"Great!" Blair said. "Another chapter for my dissertation."
Jim groaned theatrically and ducked Blair’s swipe to his head. They both looked up as Simon exited his office with Angie.
"Hey Jim, guess what? Angie’s agreed to perform at our police association benefit next month," Simon announced.
"That’s terrific," Jim agreed.
Angie smiled up at him. "Least I can do," she admitted. "Considering all that you guys have done for me." She finally tore her gaze from Jim and turned to Blair. "This is for you," she said, holding aloft a cassette tape. "It’s my new album."
Blair’s bruised features split into a blinding grin. "Before it’s released? Thank you," he said. "This is great."
Blair started as Simon placed an arm around his shoulders. "Hey, Sandburg. I got a tape player in my office. We could give it a listen right now, if you want. That is, if you don’t mind sharing with a member of the older generation."
Blair allowed himself to be led toward Simon’s office. "Absolutely not. You see," Blair continued, smiling up at the captain. "I knew we’d find some common ground sooner or later, Simon. You don’t mind if I call you Simon, do you?"
The captain grimaced and moved his hand from Blair’s shoulder. "Actually, I do."
Blair let the smile drop. "Sorry, sir."
Jim watched his friends go then turned back to Angie. "How’s Pam?" he asked.
"Recovering," she replied. "I guess we both are."
"I saw the media statement you made about your past. I was impressed."
Angie shrugged. "It was time for the truth. And it was time for Pam to meet her real dad. He lives in California. We fly out next week to meet him. We’ll see how it goes."
Jim nodded. "I hope it all turns out."
"Thanks. I have to go pick Pam up from school. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime?" Angie asked hopefully.
"I don’t think that would be a good idea," Jim answered, smiling apologetically as he escorted her to the elevator.
"Oh?" Angie looked nonplussed.
"Regulations," Jim explained. "But it’s been very nice meeting you. Maybe I’ll catch one of your concerts sometime."
"I’d like that," she answered. She grasped his hand quickly as the elevator doors opened, then reached up to place a kiss on his cheek. "Thank you," she whispered. "For everything."The EndPlease remember to send feedback to our authors. Feedback can be sent to: [email protected]Next week’s episode: Deep Water by Melinda Holley, Megan O’Shaughnessy and Vision