Novation Productions Season Six Episode Five
Snips And Snails And Puppy Dog Tails
The dripping sound of raindrops on leaves and dirt was interspersed with the resonance of metal moving rocks and earth. A dark figure stopped his digging movement momentarily to pull the coat tighter around himself, pulling his hat down to keep the rain out of his eyes.
The man looked down at the freshly dug hole. It was barely four feet deep and he'd already found what he was looking for. He sighed deeply, sadly, as he shook his head and pulled a tarp toward him, and placed the items from the hole onto it. When he was finished, he tied the plastic sheet reverently and placed it next to other similar parcels.
Using care, he took the tarps, one by one, back to the small pickup truck, placing them on the bed of the truck and covering them with a larger plastic sheet. The shovel was placed next to the mound in the back of the truck, secured so it wouldn't slide around before the tailgate was closed.
He stood staring at the bundles in the back of the truck, a pensive expression on his face. The solution was distasteful, but necessary. As he closed his eyes and bowed his head, the rain pattered against the plastic, sounding like the gentle cries of a mourner.
"We'll show them this time, my brothers," he said in a voice rough with emotion. "We won't be shoved to the back pages or just get a few seconds of the late night news. From now on, it's going to be the lead story and the front page of papers." He moved to the cab and got in, gunning the motor to life and taking off down the dirt road. He looked into the rear view mirror, checking for anyone following him as well as to make sure the load had not shifted. A smile creased his face. "And you, brothers, will be the reason why."
Hank Johnson nodded at the cantina operator as she handed him the steaming hot cup of coffee, then he looked at the distant construction site. Right now, it was just a giant hole in the ground, fifty feet or so deep and several hundred feet wide, situated between two buildings on a somewhat level area. When it was finished, Calverton Medical Hall of Rainier University would finally be a reality, housing medical and psychiatric schools.
He rotated his shoulders, tight from the morning workout he did before coming to the site, as he moved away from the cantina, sipping the hot liquid as he squinted at the overcast sky. It had rained the night before, making the ground barely workable. A sigh slipped from his lips as he shrugged and finished the coffee. The project was already behind schedule due to weather; he just wished the conditions would begin to work in their favor for a little while. The crew was going to have to work their collective asses off to get the job done on time and get the bonus checks, but money could work miracles.
A slap on the back broke into his reverie. Turning, he noted a fellow construction worker, about as tall as he was, but several pounds heavier, also savoring a cup of coffee.
"Hey, Jerry," Hank said and slapped Jerry Morris on the back in return. "What are you doing here on time on a Monday morning?"
"My old lady said it was time I stopped laying around the house and got back to work."
"As if you worked here," Hank grunted as they made their way to the skip loaders, earth movers and giant shovels.
Everyone knew Jerry was the local troublemaker and jokester on the crew. If there was a way to get out of work, Jerry would know it. Not that he didn't pull his weight when the need arose; he just tried to make sure the need rarely took place.
"Look who's talking," Jerry replied with a smirk. "I don't sit on some nice little pillow seat and pull levers. I'm down in the hole, working."
"Ladies! Let's get this show on the road! Time waits for no one!"
Hank looked up and saw Artie Harris, the small, stout foreman, standing by the equipment, arms crossed over his chest and a grim expression on his face. Hank could see the strain of being caught in the middle on his face. There had been complaints coming from the front office on the delays that couldn't be helped; and complaints from the workers for being forced to work so much harder on the days when they could work. No matter what, Artie couldn't catch a break.
"We're already four weeks behind because of this damned rain; I don't intend to fall further behind because of malingering," Artie continued, glaring at Jerry pointedly. "Quit dragging your asses and get to work."
Jerry waved a careless hand at Artie. "Ah, shove it, Artie."
Hank shook his head. Jerry did whatever he could to rankle the foreman. One day, he was sure it would get his friend fired.
"No, Jerry," Artie bellowed, "you get shoveling it. Now!"
"Can it, smart ass," Jerry snorted from behind Hank.
Hank shook his head as the two men continued to snip at each other. Other workers who had arrived after Hank and Jerry were slowly making their way to their respective work areas, all eyes watching the foreman and the noted troublemaker, perhaps hoping for more fireworks.
Then Artie gave Jerry a rather evil grin. "That's why I'm the foreman, Jerry. 'Cause I'm a smart ass. Now, get yours to work."
"We're on it." Hank hid a grin as he watched Jerry slowly slip into the hole, then made his way to his excavator. "Just tell the suits to loosen their ties, do their jobs and let us do ours."
Artie shook his head and moved away from the site to the trailer where he worked. Hank could see the shoulders of the foreman start to relax a little. He knew Artie knew the crew would do their best to get the job done on time, and right to collect those promised bonuses; just sometimes they had to remind the foreman.
Hank climbed into his excavator, shifted the levers and moved the giant shovel, shifting a large amount of dirt from the hole in the ground to the waiting truck. The scoop returned to the excavation, plowed into the black earth, then lifted and headed back to the truck.
"Hold it!" Jerry's voice sounded from deep within the hole, shrill and terrified. "Hold it! Hold it! Hold it! Hold it! Hold it! Stop !"
Hank stopped working; everyone stopped.
For a brief instant Hank thought Jerry was pulling another of his well-known pranks. Looking over the dash of the cab, Hank glared at his friend, hoping his anger would be evident enough to get Jerry to admit his joke so they could get back to work.
One look at his friend's ashen, scared face changed his mind. He secured the levers and crawled from the cab. Moving closer to the edge of the hole he looked at where Jerry's trembling finger was pointing.
Hank frowned a moment at the object staring at him from the shovel, then closed his eyes, shook his head, then looked again at the shovel again. It was still there.
A skull with empty eye sockets sat on top of the pile of dirt. Looking further into the man-made chasm showed several other bones as well.
"Get Artie!" Hank bellowed at one of the other workers joining him at the edge of the hole. "Now, damn it!"
He returned his stare to the sight in the giant opening, hoping it would disappear when Artie showed up. It didn't.
"All right, what's that jokester done now?" Artie demanded hotly, glaring at Hank.
"Look!" Hank pointed at the evidence. "Just look!"
Artie's glare followed Hank's demanding finger. The color drained from his face.
"Aw…shit." Artie swore as he pulled out his cell phone. "Shit! Shit! Shit !"
"No one said there was a graveyard here!" Jerry babbled as Hank helped the trembling man from the hole. "Damn it! Didn't someone check to make sure?"
"Of course we did, you jackass," Artie snarled at the man. "And the university has been here for damn near a century. I can damn well guarantee you this ain't no damned graveyard!"
"Then what –?"
"What the hell else do you think?" Artie snapped, then turned his attention to the cell phone. "Get me some cops here…. Where? At the university! Why…? Because I have some damned bodies here, that's why! Now get me some cops!"
The damp morning did little to stop the small group of Native American students from marching in front of the Anthropology building, their placards raised and their chants breaking the silence of the morning. The protestors made sure the sign for the Native Arts Masks exhibit was easily visible by the campus news photographer who had been assigned to cover the excitement.
The exhibit had been housed by the university for nearly sixty years, since the early 1940's when the Quileute tribal council had approached the university to help save their treasures. The tribe loaned a series of masks to Rainier in exchange for funds to help the small tribe modernize its facilities. The university had been eager to help and, after several discussions and debates, a contract had been drawn up and signed. The tribe received the much needed money and the school claimed some of the best examples of mask art in the Northwest.
But to the consternation of several generations of Quileute, the contract had never included anyone from the tribe, or even another tribe, to be in charge of the exhibit. The elders had explained to the younger members that no one had the credentials needed for the position. It had satisfied one generation of the tribe, survived the protest of another, but the current group was determined to correct the perceived error.
Harry Payne, one of the most active members of latest generation of Quileute, was standing on the steps of Hargrove Hall, his arms crossed over his chest, nodding approvingly as he looked over the small protest group. It wasn't the largest, and it wasn't the loudest, numbering only forty or so protestors, but it was annoying the hell out of the administration, and that was good enough for him for the time being.
At least they were listening to him this time; when he'd tried to prove that the university was sitting on ancient Quileute lands, he had been summarily dismissed. A few of the older administrators had actually laughed at the thought of the school on Indian land.
Twenty years ago the contract for the masks had been renewed with only a nominal increase of payment to the tribe to reflect inflation but without any changes in the care of the masks in spite of the protests of the Quileute in 1980, his father among them. He was determined to succeed where his father's generation had failed with that perceived injustice.
Two other young Quileute joined the tall, slender leader on the steps. Both were sons of other protestors, and like Harry, both were interested in seeing this contract with the school changed. Mike Coe, slightly taller than Harry and more muscular, handed a placard to Harry and looked at the crowd.
"You know, twenty years ago, the attention this little protest of ours is garnering would have made it a bust," Mike snorted. "Hell, forty years ago we would have been laughed off the campus. Where are the reporters to cover the protest? Where are the cameras to telecast it to the world?"
"Times change," Harry shrugged noting the sign. "The way folks protest have changed. Used to be any sit-in, march or protest would get the public's attention and make the administration take notice. Hell, even a well-worded letter would have the administration trying to find ways to pacify the dissenter. Now, it takes that and more to get their attention and make them take notice of the protestors. We just have to change with the times. Right, Jack?" He looked over at the third young man, shorter than he by a head, but as slender.
"There's change and then there's change," Jack answered softly, frowning at his sign. "I'm not so sure about some of these sayings." He pointed to his sign: 'Rainier: Thief of Time.'
"Don't let the sayings get to you. They're supposed to get to the administration," Harry reminded him as he looked over his placard's comment: 'You stole before; never again!'
"Tell that to my grandfather," Jack returned. "Hey, trade me signs."
"Your grandfather giving you a hard time?" Mike looked at the slender man.
"Well, he does consider this to be a slap at him and his judgment. I mean, he was one of the original negotiators."
"So you tell him that it was good then, but not any more," Mike suggested. "Just like I tell my grandfather."
"How well does that work?" Jack looked back at Mike.
"About the same as with your grandfather," Mike laughed. "Difference is I don't care if Gramps approves or not."
"Difference is you're not in line to inherit his position," Jack countered.
Harry hoisted the placard to his shoulder and moved down to join the small crowd. "No, the difference is he doesn't care that he's not in line to inherit, Jack. Of course, he and his grandfather aren't as close as you and yours."
"Granddad raised me when my folks were killed," Jack said tightly. "Doesn't mean we're close."
"Doesn't mean you're not," Harry said as he started walking.
"No, I suppose it doesn't," Jack sighed.
As the two joined Harry in the march, Harry noticed the arrival of a small blond man about twice their age walking toward the hall. Harry maneuvered himself so that he was blocking the slim man's way. The man stopped walking, holding his briefcase tightly in his fist.
"Hello, Professor Grant," the young Indian said, smiling at him.
"Hello, Harry," the professor sighed.
"Ready for the meeting?"
A deeper sigh escaped the blond's lips. "I'm always ready for meetings, Harry. The question is, are you ready to listen to reason?"
"Sure." Harry grinned at the man as he stepped aside. "I'm just waiting to hear something besides the standard lies and fairy tales we've been fed."
Shaking his head, the professor walked into Hargrove Hall.
Harry checked his watch as most of his fellow protestors dropped away. Classes were beginning and while everyone wanted to support his cause, they weren't willing to sacrifice their GPA for it to succeed. Most of them were here on some sort of scholarship or other; if they didn't keep up their grades, they'd lose the scholarships and be forced back home, disgraced.
"We meet here in one hour," he said to the remaining protestors. "Bring some friends with you. We need all the voices and bodies we can get."
As he walked past the construction site for the new medical hall, he saw the workers standing around pointing at the excavation site, murmuring low and looking somewhat alarmed.
"Hey, what's up?" Harry asked one of the workers, a short, stout man, standing near by.
"Dug up some bones," the man answered perfunctorily. The scowl on his face seemed etched into his features. "Can't do anything until the cops say it ain't a crime scene. Damn it," he swore, "that's gonna set us back even more than we are. And we were finally starting to catch up with the schedule."
"Bones?" Harry looked at the man.
"Yeah, a lot of them."
"Sorry about your problems," Harry said as he moved away.
Pulling out his cell phone, Harry quickly made a call. "Mike, get everyone you can over to the construction site now! … I know they have classes, but this is important! … Trust me on this, Mike. It'll be worth it."
The blond man stopped in front of his office and stared at the lettering on it. Professor Joshua Grant. North American Indian Studies.
Shaking his head he entered it. Of course the small crowd in front of Hargrove Hall was upset. Here was a man who had no Native American blood in him and he was lecturing and teaching others, including them, about their heritage. No wonder Harry Payne and his friends didn't really want to listen to him.
He sat down heavily behind his desk and checked the notes and messages left for him by the department secretary. The administration wanted to know why the hell he was discussing the contract for the mask art now when the agreement still had two more years to run. It was a question he was beginning to ask himself as well. Granted, other deals were looked at and renegotiated before their due date, but it was rarely done for contracts such as this.
After going through the messages and separating them according to importance – his perception, not the callers' – he turned to check his planner to see what he could possibly put off and what he could not.
The meeting with Harry, of course, was one he couldn't put off. Not that he wanted to; the subject was very important to him. He'd done a lot of work making the exhibit what it was, including securing more pieces from other local tribes. To be called a thief by the young Indians on campus had hurt. He might not be Indian, but that didn't mean he had any less respect for the objects or their history.
Dr. Grant was pouring himself a cup of coffee from his small Mr. Coffee when the phone on his desk rang. Why did the damned phone always interrupt his first cup of the day?
"Yes?" he answered, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice.
"The construction crew found bones on the campus, Grant," Chancellor Marie Edwards stated brusquely. "This is going to –"
"They found what?" He found himself sitting down in his chair, then leaning back and rubbing the bridge of his nose, trying to figure out why she was calling him about this.
"The foreman said they have to wait until the police clear it before they can get to work again."
"Well, that's probably true," Grant sighed as he leaned forward to rummage in a drawer for a bottle of aspirin he was sure he had stuck in there.
"And now Harry Payne is trying to say it shows the campus is built on Indian land. Is that likely?" Chancellor Edwards' words were clipped and angry.
Grant let a groan slip from his lips. The reason she was complaining to him was now evident.
"No, it's not likely. We can prove the Native American lands were not around the campus; everything we have shows they were all further north." Grant took the found aspirin bottle and opened it, popping two pills in his mouth and swallowing with a sip of coffee.
"Payne also said this could show that there was a transient camp on university land, whatever the hell that is." Chancellor Edwards' tone got chillier.
"Harry Payne said what?" Grant found himself sitting upright in the chair. What was that crazy protestor trying to do now?
"He said it was proof this campus was built on a transient campsite and could cost the university millions in reparations!"
Grant squinted at the bottle and tossed it back into the drawer. No sense in overdosing on the medication, even though it might be less painful than the headache building behind his eyes.
"Is that possible?" the chancellor demanded.
"Well," he said carefully, "anything is possible. But, I find it highly unlikely that it's a transient camp. Especially after all the research that's been done to prove to certain individuals that this was not Indian land."
"How can you be sure that it's not Indian land?" Edwards' angry voice blasted his eardrum.
"Because," Grant answered patiently, "as far back as the university has been building and excavating on this land, there has never been a single find to suggest otherwise. That's how I can be sure. If you don't believe me, check the original survey maps when the government procured the land for the university. The closest known campsite shown was miles from here."
"Well, something sure as hell as been found now!" Edwards' voice got angrier. "Check it out, damn it!"
"All right," he sighed. "I'll look into it."
"Now! Damn it!"
"I'll be at the site in five minutes," he told her.
"Make it sooner!" The slamming of the phone in his ear echoed the sharp, hot demand of her voice.
The two men walking around the park were trying not to be too conspicuous. It was, however, a losing battle.
The older-looking one had blond, thinning hair combed to cover a balding spot, which did little to help his appearance. His brown eyes darted furtively around the area, even though there were few folks in the park at this time of the morning. He straightened his plaid sports shirt and looked at the younger man with dark hair and black eyes then shook his head.
"Thought I told you to wear something that wouldn't be noticed, Homer," the older man growled. "I have a feeling that purple and green will definitely be remembered."
"Back home maybe," Homer replied, "but the salesman said it was the trend here."
"Have you seen anyone else wearing purple and green, Homer?" the blond growled.
"Well…" Homer shrugged and shook his head. "No. Not here, not yet. But maybe we're in the wrong place, Arlo."
"You think so?" Arlo snorted. "You sure you saw him walking here?"
Homer nodded. "Yeah! I mean," he went on, "I was watching him and saw him walking here three days in a row. I mean, I didn't think those kind of dogs walked in the park." He looked around the park, seeing signs of activity increasing. "You sure you want to try and grab him here? Especially with these folks around?"
Arlo took a deep breath and looked at his little brother. "Well, when we tried at the arena, we didn't get him, now did we? And they've increased security, so trying there again would be pretty stupid."
"Yeah, I suppose so," Homer agreed.
"This is our best bet to get that dog," Arlo continued. "It's the top champion Papillon from the East, more points than the West Coast champion. And that is what you wanted, right? A top champion stud?"
"More points than the West Coast champion?" Homer's eyebrows raised in amazement. "You're sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure." Arlo rolled his eyes. "Didn't you check him out?"
"And Mama thinks you inherited the brains in the family." Arlo shook his head.
"So he's got great blood lines right?"
"Of course," Arlo said patiently. "He's got magnificent blood lines."
"Mama will be so pleased," Homer sighed. "Magnificent blood lines for her puppies."
"Terrific." Arlo rolled his eyes again. "Just remember to hang onto the dog this time, okay?"
"I had a hold of the dog the last time," Homer whined.
"You didn't keep hold of the dog or we wouldn't be here, now would we?"
"It's not my fault that he tried to bite me and peed on my leg."
"Just don't let the dog bite you and don't worry if he pees on your leg," Arlo ordered. "We can get the damned pants cleaned. All little dogs pee when they get nervous or upset. Just like some people."
Homer stared in shock at his brother. "Are you implying…?"
"Who me?" Arlo blinked at his brother innocently. "Imply that you peed your pants when the security guards nearly caught us? Never. Of course that wet spot on your pants was a bit high for the dog to be peeing down your leg…."
"I did not!"
"Look, just grab the damned dog and don't get scared of it. You're bigger than he is."
"I got a better idea, Arlo." Homer stuffed his hands in his pockets.
"And that would be?"
"You grab the dog." Homer nodded. "I'll take care of the dog's walker."
Captain Simon Banks filled his coffee cup with the latest brew from his cousin. Sniffing the aroma carefully, he nodded and took a sip. Much better than the last blend his cousin had sent him. There were times when he felt like his cousin's guinea pig. This, fortunately, was not one of them.
Sitting down behind his desk he noted the tower of files that needed his signature. Obviously his men were working hard and getting cases solved. It certainly made him look good. Then he looked at the new case pile. It seemed to be as tall as the case closed pile. Someone certainly thought the Major Crime division could work miracles.
He picked up the top file and read through it. A small frown crossed his face. This didn't seem to be a Major Crime case. Since when was it a major crime to steal bodies from a graveyard?
Simon closed the folder, getting ready to send it back to where it belonged, when he caught sight of a yellow sticky note. The mayor's handwriting was unmistakable. "The Founding Fathers want this solved ASAP!"
Well, that answered that question. It became a Major Crime case when the victims were the ancestors of some of the leading families of the city. Great-great-grandsons didn't take kindly to great-great-granddad or great-great-grandmom getting disturbed.
Simon looked out the window and sighed when he remembered Ellison and Sandburg had been on stakeout the night before and so wouldn't be in until later today. This case probably couldn't wait those few hours. He could almost guarantee the mayor would be on the phone before long wanting to know a team was on the case.
Trouble was, every other team had a full plate and wouldn't appreciate another case being handed to them. And he couldn't blame them. All of the Major Crime detectives were working hard on the cases they had to get them solved in a timely manner and handed over to the DA to be prosecuted.
Simon rubbed his eyes and took another sip of the cooling coffee as he continued to consider workloads, trying to determine who was going to get the short straw.
Brian Rafe and Henri Brown entered the bullpen just then, both laughing, probably over some joke Henri had shared with his fellow detectives in the break room. In their own way, they were as different from each other as Ellison was from Sandburg. With Ellison and Sandburg, the difference was that of the conservative cop and the college student; with Rafe and Brown it was the original Odd Couple: Rafe was Felix and Brown was Oscar.
And, Simon recalled as he looked at the completed files in front of him, they had turned in the paperwork on two cases they'd recently wrapped up. And they'd done it without any fanfare or acknowledgement from the press.
Leaning back in his chair, Simon savored another swallow of the flavorful blend. Hmm. Two odd-couple teams. Perhaps it was time to let the other shine. It would certainly take the spotlight off Ellison and Sandburg and let them relax a little. Rafe and Brown were just as good; they'd just never been given the chance to be in the spotlight much.
He smiled as he made his decision. Walking to the door, he hid the grin and bellowed, "Rafe! Brown! My office! Now!"
Suzanne Tomaki walked toward the construction site. Dr. Joshua Grant was already there, staring into the giant hole in the ground. She had to admit, the man had made good time coming from Hargrove Hall. But then she recalled the phone call from a very agitated and angry chancellor to her about the problem, if the woman had given him the same sort of rant as she had given Suzanne, he might have felt his academic career depended on him being here and as soon as possible.
She moved passed the small, persistent group of chanting Indians that had previously been marching in front of Hargrove Hall and were now protesting behind the yellow plastic ribbons. She noted with some pride her small security force was keeping them from crowding too close to the tape.
She moved easily under the strip and walked toward Grant. She nodded a greeting and stared down at the people milling around. A man examining the remains looked up from his task momentarily, then nodded at the technicians to finish the job of bagging the evidence and made his way up the incline, Serena Chang right behind him.
"Suzanne Tomaki," she introduced herself to the medical examiner, "Chief of Campus Security."
"Dan Wolfe, Chief Medical Examiner," Dan introduced himself. "Serena Chang, head of Forensics."
"We met several years ago." Serena nodded at the security officer.
"Yes, the spider bite." Suzanne nodded.
"Joshua Grant, head of North American Indian Studies," Grant said stepping up to the ME and holding out a hand. "If this doesn't turn into a crime scene I have to prove it's not a Native American Indian camp."
Dan Wolfe took the hand and shook it, then turned his attention back to the hole in the ground. "So that's the reason for the crowd on the other side of the barrier."
"Yes." Professor Grant rubbed a hand through his short hair.
"So," Suzanne asked, "what have we got?"
"Well," Dan answered, "there are the bones of at least three people. Might be more and it's still too soon to say if these are just partial skeletons or not. I won't know until I lay them all out."
"Anything else?" Suzanne asked tightly. For a once quiet university, Rainier was certainly changing, and not for the better either.
"Well," Serena held up several bags of what looked like wood pieces, "these were scattered around the bones. It's hard to say, but these may be pieces of native art, maybe masks."
Suzanne watched as the body bags made their way out of the pit and toward the coroner's wagon. She noted that Grant's attention seemed split between the large black bags and the smaller evidence bags. He obviously wanted to study both.
"How old?" Suzanne asked softly.
"The bones or these?" Dan waved his hand at the bagged items.
Dan shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Hard to tell. They aren't fresh; that much I do know. I'll know more once I've seen them in the morgue. I'll have a forensic anthropologist check out the bones as well."
"You use anyone in particular?" Suzanne asked.
"Mark Tate, unless he's really busy."
"He's always busy," Grant snorted.
"Ah, but sometimes he's busier than others," Dan said mysteriously. "He knows how to be 'too busy' to help out if the case doesn't really interest him. The police might pay per case but this university pays his salary and he can bury himself around his lab better than I can in my morgue."
"I've heard he loves a mystery," Suzanne noted.
"I'm counting on that." Dan grinned. "Might help to move my request to the head of his list."
Suzanne frowned. "Should I call him?" she asked. "Let him know what's going on?"
Dan's grin widened as he glanced at the crowd milling around the construction site. "With all this hullabaloo, I'm betting he already knows what's going on."
"He does seem to know about things that happen here on campus. Wonder how he does it." Suzanne sighed. "I could sure use his contacts."
"Comes from being a former radical," Dan chuckled.
"Really?" Suzanne raised an eyebrow at the medical examiner. "And how would you know this?"
"Who do you think was marching next to him?" Dan laughed.
"You?!" Suzanne looked at Dan in awed amazement.
Dan grinned at her.
Suzanne shook her head. "Will wonders never cease?"
"I certainly hope not."
"Perhaps I can help you with the masks," Grant suggested. "Dating them, identifying them. That sort of thing. It could save us all some time."
Dan seemed to be studying the professor.
"He is the expert on campus," Suzanne pointed out. "You'd probably be calling on him anyway to try and identify the masks."
"And if this is a native site, and not a crime scene," Grant added, "we'll need to start looking into who the bones belong to. They'll need to be repatriated at some point."
Dan shrugged and looked at Serena. "It's up to you," he said.
"You'll be able to do more than I will," Serena stated, handing several bags to Joshua after noting which ones were being given to the professor.
Grant looked at the fragments in the bags being held by Serena, especially the larger ones. He stepped back and looked at Dan, Serena and Suzanne. "After I get them cleaned I'll be able to tell something about them. But I'll need my lab and time. Right now, I couldn't tell you anything about them; there's too much dirt."
The crime photographer climbed out of the pit. "I'd better get this muck off my shoes before I get in the car or my wife will kill me," he muttered.
"Get everything?" Dan asked the man.
"In triplicate," the photographer affirmed.
Grant looked from the fragments in his hands to the hole in the ground. "You know, if this does turn into a transient camp and not a crime scene, I'll need photos of the discovery. Do you think I could get copies? I think any crime photos will be as detailed as the ones I'd have taken if I'd have made the discovery."
The photographer shrugged after looking at Dan. "Don't see why not. Just fill out the paperwork necessary to make the officials happy."
Suzanne listened to the chanting in the background as the small protest group tried to halt the photographer's departure. She smiled with pride when two campus officers and one city uniformed officer moved the group back out of the way. Then she turned to the two men.
"You know," Suzanne said, watching the group of protestors, "we need something to appease this crowd before it gets out of hand."
"I can't lie to them." Grant shook his head.
"Neither can I," Dan added.
Suzanne frowned and pointed to the wooden pieces in the bags dangling from Grant's hand. "Can't you tell them anything about the pieces?"
"With this muck on them, I couldn't tell you if these pieces were from some art class at the turn of the century or from an Indian craftsman from the last century, or even earlier," Grant told her. "It could be a mask or it could be something abstract."
Suzanne's attention was drawn to movement near the yellow plastic ribbon. A student ducked under the tape and started toward the site. Taking a second look, Suzanne noted it was the ringleader of the protest, Harry Payne. He tried to dodge the nearest security officer unsuccessfully, winning an approving nod from the security chief as she moved to intercept him. He deftly stepped behind Harry, grabbed his right arm and twisted it behind his back. She saw the officer whisper in Harry's ear and Harry snort in response.
"What have you got, Professor?" Harry demanded, pointing at the specimen bags with his free hand.
"Possibly some mask pieces," Grant admitted.
"So what are you going to do with the relics, Prof?"
The sigh escaped the professor's lips. "Harry, there's no proof yet these are relics."
"No proof?!" Harry pulled free from the security officer's grasp but stayed put. "What do you want for proof? A hand-painted autograph?"
Suzanne noted with some dismay that he had pitched his voice so the crowd on the other side of the tape could hear him.
"It might help," Grant answered, moving to stand closer to the protestor. "Harry, right now, there is too much dirt on the specimens. There's no way to tell the age or the tribal origin of the pieces in this condition." Suzanne watched the protestor roll his eyes and Grant wait patiently until he had Harry's, and by extension the crowd's, attention, then went on in an authoritative voice. "If I've told you once, I've told you hundreds of times, dating relics takes time if it's to be done correctly."
"Even now you could take a guess at the age and tribe," Harry countered. "You just don't want to admit there's a possibility that this is a Native American site, because that would rock the administration's little world."
Suzanne pressed her lips together as Grant took a deep breath and exhaled. "First we are going to find out if these are relics or not. Then we are going to find out to whom they belong. Belonged. Only then will we know if this is a Native American site or not."
"And the bones?" Harry continued.
"Bones?" Josh asked the student.
Suzanne closed her eyes briefly in defeat. She had been hoping to keep the knowledge of the bones from the dissenters until they had more information from the medical examiner about them.
"I heard they found bones here as well."
"We don't know a thing about them," Grant admitted calmly. "So the medical examiner is going to try to find out if they are old or not. If they aren't, well, then it will be up to the police. If they are, he will try to determine if they are Native American or not. If they are, then we'll try to figure out what tribe they belonged to, if that is possible, and they will be returned to their people according to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act."
Suzanne watched the crowd absorb the information. Some seemed to be listening to the professor, but the majority seemed to be waiting for Harry to determine their next move.
"And how long is that gonna take?" Harry demanded.
"As long as it takes, Harry," Grant answered as he started back toward his office, Suzanne walking along with him. "No more. No less."
"And what about the exhibit?" Harry grabbed Grant's arm.
Suzanne watched as Grant glared at Harry, ready to render assistance as needed. Grant pulled his arm from Harry's grasp and stared at the young militant.
"I believe we have an appointment in an hour," Grant's voice was tightly controlled. "Not before then and definitely not out here."
Grant moved away from the protestor toward the distant Hargrove Hall. Suzanne moved to stop Harry from following the professor. Harry shifted his glare from the professor's back to Suzanne, who glared back at him. Then he picked up his sign and rejoined his small group in chanting.
"Protect our rights! Rainier, thief of time!"
Suzanne Tomaki sighed softly as the crowd continued to chant loudly. Glancing at the group of protestors, she was relieved it was still small and containable. They were much louder than she'd prefer, and definitely louder than the Chancellor wanted, but so far they weren't causing too much trouble. However, if the crowd got any larger, her small security force would need help to contain any trouble.
Suzanne looked at the leader, Harry, staring back at her, his glare full of anger. As she watched, he defiantly turned from her steady gaze to turn his attention to Dr. Grant. He raised his fist in the air, then turned back to the crowd, rallying them to louder heights. Suzanne pursed her lips and turned her attention to the departing professor as well. Perhaps Dr. Grant could use a little help with this meeting of his; someone who could keep the two of them from doing each other some serious harm. Suzanne pulled a small cell phone from her belt and dialed a number.
Sharon Hawks walked up the stairs of the precinct police station. She was right on time she noted. Which was just as well, since her supervisor was a colossal pain about punctuality. He was a pain about a lot of things, actually. Still, as long as she did her work, and did it well, there was never a problem to speak of.
As she sat down at her desk, she had to wonder how someone could really mess up in Community Relations. For the most part, she and her associates wrote pieces to be given to the press, or wrote speeches for police officers to give to the news reporters. Occasionally the CR staff interacted with the public to diffuse situations. She couldn't ever recall it being terribly strenuous.
She looked at the closed door of her boss, probably the strangest choice imaginable for any position in Community Relations, much less leading it. Every time he made an assignment, he made it sound like a crime that needed solving. The rumor mill intimated that Captain Arthur Haines was a very unhappy man after a bitter divorce and departure from the Seattle PD. He had come to Cascade hoping to advance his career and instead found himself as the head of Community Relations. The rank and file in his department soon learned what he thought of the division in general and the folks who worked there in particular. It wasn't complimentary – the exact word he had used was 'loser' – and as a result the department didn't have the best of morale.
Sharon picked up a file from the clutter on her desk, opened it, glanced at the contents, and had started to write when the door opened and the tall, stout captain stepped out of the inner office. His brown hair was coiffed just so; his suit was tailored to show him at his best. He looked good, and if he would just get over not getting a position in Homicide, Bunco, Robbery, or even Major Crime, he'd probably be a better cop. He'd definitely be a better boss.
"Hawks! My office!" Haines barked.
Sharon put the pen down carefully and got up to walk into the small office. She took the seat on the other side of the institution desk and waited for Haines to sit down as well.
"Seems there's a protest on the university campus that might turn ugly," Haines began without preamble. "We, of course, don't want it to get ugly."
"I understand." Sharon nodded. The university she'd attended had never been politically active, but she had heard of the problems that had existed on more active campuses from her grandfather and grandmother. "I'll do my best to do whatever needs to be done. Could you tell me the problem?"
"Bunch of redskins headed for the warpath over some bones and relics found at the construction site." Haines looked at the woman intently.
Sharon pursed her lips. "Sir, I will not repeat that statement, and I would suggest that you not repeat it either, especially not in front of a reporter. Not if you don't want a reprimand for making a derogatory remark."
"Noted." Haines tone was sarcastic when he answered her. He eyed her closely, carefully, almost predatorily for a moment, then asked in a silky, deceptive tone, "Sure there's not another reason it's rubbing you the wrong way right now?"
"Sir?" Sharon looked at Haines, confusion on her face.
"Well, you are an Indian, after all," Haines began.
Sharon shrugged. "I suppose you're right. But my family has been living off the reservations since before my great-great-great-grandfather's time."
"Doesn't change the fact that you are an Indian," Haines persisted.
"No, it doesn't," Sharon agreed, wondering why she was explaining her family history to the man. "It doesn't mean I'm going to side with them either." Sharon looked at Haines, meeting his gaze unwaveringly. "Sir, I'm a good cop. I'm good at Community Relations and I've excelled at negotiations and mediation. I'll do my job."
Haines let his eyes shut, then opened them and stared at her. "See that you do, Hawks. I don't want to hear you've made matters worse."
The morning was crisp and clear, a welcome change from the drizzle that had been the norm for anyone who frequented the park. Jim Ellison was one of a number of park goers who relished the break in the weather. He held Libby's leash loosely as they began their run in park. Libby excitedly took the lead, setting a quick, demanding pace.
Jim kept up easily with the brown and white wire-haired fox terrier. He didn't often run with the dog, but every now and then, when Blair found himself buried by paperwork that just couldn't be put off, Jim would get to run with her in the park. It made his own workout more enjoyable too.
The two ran by the Mr. Tube Steak vendor as he was setting up for the day. Jim grinned as he saw Libby slow momentarily then continue with the run. Even she could tell the hot dogs weren't quite ready to eat.
A flurry of color off to his left at the far side of the park caught Jim's attention. He stopped and turned to look directly at what had caught his attention, his eyes immediately refocusing for the distance.
A man in a garish purple shirt and green pants was tackling a well-dressed man at the waist. Another man in a plaid shirt and brown pants was tackling the man's legs. The victim was soon in a heap on the ground.
"Call 9-1-1," Jim shouted to the hot dog vendor as he took off toward the disturbance, Libby right at his heels. "Tell them there's a mugging going on in the park!"
"What the –?!" The vendor started then took another look at the racing figure. "Holy sh –!"
Jim was marginally aware of the vendor talking breathlessly to the dispatcher. He picked up his pace as he heard how long it would take for Patrol to get to the park.
Jim and Libby continued to move as fast as their legs could carry them toward the scene of the apparent mugging. Jim could clearly see the two men now wrestling against the third who was gamely trying to fight them off. The victim had managed to get upright, landing some well-placed punches against both men and was now on his feet again. Then the dark-haired man in the purple shirt landed a well-placed punch on the well-dressed man, then shoved him to the ground and ran off toward a bright green minivan parked at the edge of the green belt with something clamped under his arm. The blond-haired man stumbled a moment, then regained his footing and followed the other, jumping into the rear seat of the van.
Jim found himself unable to follow the two men when he suddenly started to sneeze. Not just a simple little sneeze, but a severe, hurricane force series of sneezes. When he finally stopped, the perpetrators were driving away and the sound of the patrol car was heard in the distance.
Wiping his eyes and clearing his nose, he sniffed the air trying to identify the offending odor. It wasn't sage, though it might be related to it, he speculated as he sneezed again. Whatever the hell it was, he wasn't likely to forget it.
Jim tried to focus on the disappearing license plate but his watering eyes simply would not cooperate. Still he caught the first three digits of the plate as the van finally disappeared into traffic.
Jim turned back to where the man was being aided by some passersby as the EMTs joined the now present uniformed officers. Seeing the man was being treated, Jim nodded to one of the uniformed officers and gave him a brief report, including the partial plate he had managed to read.
"We'll get this out right away, Detective." The officer nodded as he closed his notebook. "Good thing you were here. Don't think we would have gotten this much information otherwise."
"Such as it is." Jim shrugged. "I'll get a report to Burglary later today."
"No problem, sir." The officer grinned at him.
Jim glanced down at Libby as she began to whine. He knew their run had taken longer than usual; she probably was eager to get home and fed.
"All right, Libby." Jim assured the terrier. "You guys need me for anything else?" he turned to the officers.
"No, I think we got everything we need from you." The senior officer shook his head.
Jim waved to them as he started off at a trot to get back into the rhythm of his morning run. Libby looked up at him and Jim chuckled as she started to move faster.
As the two disappeared, the officers turned back to the victim. He was sitting on a bench seat, groaning and holding his head in his hands. The obviously expensive suit was rumpled and dirty; the man himself was battered and already starting to bruise from the beating he'd received at the hands of his attackers. The brown hair, once coiffed to perfection, was now askew and matted.
"Medea," he moaned when he finally looked up at the officers. "They took Medea."
"Medea?" the senior officer asked. He glanced at his partner with a worried look.
"Medea!" the man affirmed. "They took her!"
The older officer inhaled deeply and pulled out his notebook again. "Okay, tell me about Medea. Chuck, you'd better call the captain."
Suzanne stared at the scene around her with a feeling of dread. If the mediator from the PD didn't arrive soon, she was going to have to call for a small riot squad to keep peace on her campus.
It didn't help that the more politically active members of the student body had somehow heard about the bones being found at the construction site and had added their mass, and voices, to the small band of protestors. Still they were remaining peaceful, if rather loud.
The argument on the steps of the Hargrove Hall however, was fast moving to blows. If it had just been Harry Payne and Professor Grant, she would have been less worried about a fight breaking out. Harry and the professor would normally just yell at each other until one or both lost their voices. But Mike Coe was there as well; and he was a hothead who sometimes spoke with his fists as well as his voice, and could incite others to do the same.
She looked across the crowd once again and saw a small, dark-haired woman, smartly but conservatively dressed move through the crowd. Must be the negotiator the PD was sending over, Suzanne thought as she saw the woman dodge around a protestor and duck under another's placard. Hopefully she could defuse the situation.
Sharon Hawks walked up the stairs of Hargrove Hall. She had heard the chanting from across the walkway, even before she could see the throng of protestors. They were peaceful, so far, though the chants were a bit irritating and unnerving. She was hoping she wouldn't need to do much of anything; that the crowd would remain as peaceful as they were right now. Being vocal was not the same as being violent and unruly.
Sharon frowned as she read the placards: Return Our Heritage! Betrayed! Another Promise Broken! When Do We See the Profits From Our Ancestors?! Reparations Past Due! She could see where the situation could get out of hand.
Then she saw the argument at the top of the steps. Four men were yelling at each other; and one of the younger ones was looking as if he could lose his temper and strike out at the older man, a professor, judging by his more conservative dress.
She studied the four men. The oldest one was blond, small and slender. The three younger men were all Native American. One was tall and slender, seemingly the leader; the one with the temper was tall and muscular; the third was small and slender like the older man, and though adding to the verbal melee, he was seemingly the quietest of the three.
"What about the bones that were found this morning?" the angry tall student challenged.
A voice from the crowd picked up the words and soon the chant, instead of "Reparations past due!" became "Return our ancestors' bones!"
Sharon straightened her shoulders, moved closer to the older man and stared at the three younger men. "What about them?" she asked wondering how they had found out about them so quickly.
"Why haven't they been returned to the reservation yet?" the tallest young Indian demanded.
"Because, Harry," the blond man said almost wearily, "we still don't know if they are Native American or not."
"So when will we know?" the first man asked, turning his attention to Sharon.
"We should know in a few hours," Sharon told him. The shouts behind her indicated the displeasure of the crowd. She moved so she was facing the crowd as well as the three men. "I know you want this to be done sooner rather than later, but I also know you want the truth, and that takes time. Unfortunately, they are not the only bodies in the morgue."
The third young man who had been quiet until now snarled, "So like always, the Native American is pushed to the back of the line, right?"
Sharon gave him a second look. He might be the quietest of the three, but he was just as angry and volatile.
Sharon shook her head. "No, of course not. First the medical examiner will determine if the bodies are the victims of a crime; if not…."
"If not," Harry cut her off, "we get to sit on our asses and while Native Americans wait to be returned to their people."
"It shouldn't be that long." Sharon tried to sound sure instead of placating.
"Don't patronize me, Apple," Harry sneered.
"Apple?" Sharon frowned at the man.
"Yes, Apple." The other tall man moved closer to her, looming over her.
"Mike…." The blond shook his head.
"Whether I'm an 'Apple' or not doesn't change the facts. Look, I'm not trying to be patronizing." Sharon looked at the one identified as Mike, her gaze steady. "The truth is, yes, if the deceased are not crime victims, then there will be a bit of a wait. Unfortunately, there are other bodies at the morgue that must take priority."
"So how long you gonna make us wait?" Mike crossed his arms over his chest.
"No longer than necessary," Sharon started. "But –"
"More hogwash from the establishment and the Apples who serve it," Harry shouted her down.
The crowd took up the chanting again, getting louder and louder. Sharon looked at the crowd, then at the three Native American men who were standing there, looking rather pleased with themselves. She pressed her lips together, then tried to speak to the crowd. As soon as her mouth opened, however, the shouting from the crowd increased in volume.
As Sharon looked over the crowd, she noted a small Asian woman wearing a campus police uniform. Their eyes met for a moment, then the officer turned away. Taking out a cell phone, policewoman walked away from the gathering crowd.
Sharon sighed and let the crowd shout their anger and displeasure. When Haines heard about this he was going to be really upset with her.
Michael Rollins, Cascade Police Commissioner, leaned back in his chair and looked at the tableau in front of him, doing his best not to appear bored with the entire proceedings, and to remain civil to the two men who occupied his office. His morning had been busy enough when he first came in. Then Denton Smith, the man who had bankrolled his political career, had called him, demanding he clear his schedule to handle a serious problem.
"Sit down, Andy," Denton said patiently. "You're not doing yourself or anyone else any good."
Rollins managed to keep from rolling his eyes as MacDee turned to Smith and growled a response he couldn't make out.
"Andy, please, at least for a little while," Denton urged. "You're not doing your ankle any good. And if you can't walk, you can't show Midas or Medea."
In answer, MacDee sighed and sat down, his hand now clenching and unclenching.
"Michael, you simply have to do something." Denton stared across the desk at him. "You see the state that Andy is in. He was attacked in the park for heaven's sake!"
There were times when Rollins wished he owed folks less for sitting where he was, especially ones as powerful as Denton Smith. He caught the scowl from Smith as Rollins smothered another sigh when MacDee resumed pacing. Denton Smith was old enough to be his father, and sometimes, such as now, Denton acted as if he were indeed Michael Rollins' father. The displeasure Denton Smith showed because Rollins was bored with Andrew MacDee was very evident.
"Yes, you have to do something." Andy nodded vehemently, turning to face the desk. He pointed a shaking finger at the commissioner. "Now! You have to get Medea back."
Rollins kept his attention trained on Smith. "What exactly is all this about? All I've gotten is fragmented stories and none of it makes any sense."
"There have been – incidents – at the arena," Denton started to explain.
"So I've heard and so you've told me." Rollins nodded. "And the arena security has been handling it so far, with no need for the police to get involved. I know the security company; they'd call us in if we were needed."
"It's bigger than that now," Denton told him.
"Really? How?" Rollins asked.
"They kidnapped Medea!" MacDee shouted.
"Kidnapped?!" Rollins let his eyes move from MacDee to Smith. "Who's Medea?"
"Two men created a disturbance at the arena," Smith continued calmly. "It looked like they were trying to steal some dogs."
"I've read that report," Rollins repeated. "Now who's Medea and when was she kidnapped?"
"Well, two men – hooligans really –loosely matching the description of the men who were trying to steal the dogs, all of them Papillons, tackled Andy and stole his dog, Medea, in the park earlier this morning."
"So let Burglary handle the case," Rollins said patiently.
"You do understand that every dog that was nearly stolen, and the one that was, are championship dogs. Top champions."
"Yes, I understand that. But they are still dogs, Denton," Rollins answered.
"Expensive dogs," Denton explained tolerantly. "And famous in the dog circles." He stood up and walked to stand by MacDee, looking even more overbearing and fatherly. "You know, it's been fifteen years since the national AKC has had a show here."
"Yes, I know." Rollins leaned back to look up at the man.
"We want them to come back here more often. Yearly, if we can convince them to put it in their schedule. They bring in business. A lot of business. Incidents like this are not going to make them want to return any time soon."
"Denton, the security firm at Cascade Sports Arena is a damned good one," Rollins countered patiently. "They kept the dogs from getting stolen at the arena, didn't they?"
"So far," Smith admitted grudgingly.
"And Burglary is good at their job," Rollins continued, watching as MacDee started his pacing and hand wringing again.
"They may be good, but they haven't discovered a thing yet," Smith refuted. "And now Medea's Pride of Sorcery has been stolen."
"Him!" Andrew MacDee suddenly shouted excitedly, staring at the commissioner's wall intently.
Both men turned to look at the agitated man. He was pointing at a picture on the wall. Denton said, "I recognize that picture from several years ago--an old friend's son was named cop-of-the-year."
"That's him!" MacDee continued, nearly jumping up and down in excitement.
"He was one of the men who stole your dog?" Rollins asked incredulously. Granted, the man had been involved in that fraud fiasco a year ago, but still….
"No, no, no, no, no!" MacDee shook his head and rolled his eyes. "He was there in the park when they kidnapped Medea!"
"He was?" Smith frowned and looked at his friend.
"Yes!" MacDee turned back to the picture and touched the glass over the detective's face tenderly. "He ran after the two men. I bet he would have caught them if he hadn't been hit by a sneezing fit. And if he'd had a car, I know he would have caught the men who took my Medea."
Rollins closed his eyes and rubbed his head. The migraine, which had been simmering ever since Smith and MacDee had entered his office, exploded full force. Then he looked at the picture MacDee was worshipping. Smiling, he reached for the phone and hit a speed dial button.
If he was going to have a headache over this stupid little incident, he was going to share the wealth. And he knew who was going to share it with him.
Jim waited until they were in the hall and at the door to Blair's apartment before he took the leash off of Libby. The sound of the excited dog's yips was sure to have alerted his partner that they were back. If not, the fact that Libby was scratching at door would.
"How was the run?" Blair asked as he opened the door and continued to pack papers into his backpack.
"Not bad." Jim reached for the brush kept near the door and gave Libby a brief rub down He was rewarded with a tongue across his face and a wagging body. "Someone got mugged in the park; Lib and I chased the perps, but they got away."
"Just remember, Libby's not a police dog," Blair reminded Jim.
"I know that," Jim answered as he headed up to his apartment. "But you need to tell her. She sort of takes after you."
Blair looked at Libby. "You are not a police dog," he told her in a half-stern voice.
Libby looked up at Blair and wagged her tail answering with a small "woof."
Jim appeared at the top of the stairs and grinned. "I think she's telling you that even though she's not a police dog, she's a guide's dog."
"That's bad Jim, even for you," Blair groaned.
"So, when will you be at the station?" Jim asked.
"Translation: when will I show up to help you finish the paperwork?" Blair supplied. "I have an entire morning in the stacks planned that might run into the early afternoon. Sorry, you're on your own with the paperwork. And I'm late as it is. Can you feed Libby? Correctly?"
Jim sighed and wiggled a finger at Libby. "One correctly-fed dog, coming up."
As the dog trotted up the stairs Jim gave her a wink. He'd make sure to sneak some sort of treat into her regular food. He could have sworn Libby winked back.
Blair watched the dog disappear up the stairs, thought about repeating his command, then shook his head as he walked out the door. The day Jim Ellison stopped feeding Libby treats was the day Jim Ellison stopped eating at Wonderburger forever.
He closed his apartment door and made his way to his car, thinking of the research he was doing in the stacks. Urban myths were really interesting; almost as fascinating as sentinel mythology. And who knew when something he was studying would be useful? He'd already been able to use some of his urban mythology on a case. One he'd rather never think about again, actually.
As the car door closed, his cell phone rang. Sighing, Blair pulled it out of his backpack and answered it. It better not be Simon calling him away from his one research day.
"Blair? This is Suzanne Tomaki at the university. I was wondering if you could come by here today?"
"Well, I'm on my way there now," Blair answered. "I'm going to be at the library in the stacks."
"Could you possibly stop by Hargrove Hall first?"
Blair closed his eyes, seeing his research time being eaten away. He easily heard chanting and yelling in the background. "Yeah, I guess so."
"There's a protest here, as I'm sure you can hear," Suzanne went on. "And it's getting out of hand."
"Suzanne, I'm not a mediator. That isn't my area of expertise," Blair protested weakly.
"I need your help." Suzanne sounded desperate.
"Okay, okay, I'll try," Blair answered her unspoken plea. "I'm just saying it's not my area of expertise and I don't know that I can do anything to help that a trained expert couldn't do."
"I have an expert," Suzanne responded. "It's not working. I need your help."
"Well, okay." Blair rubbed his nose and mentally kissed his research goodbye. "I'll be there, if you think I can be of any help."
"Meet me at Hargrove Hall, Blair," Suzanne said. "And please hurry."
"I'll be there in twenty minutes," Blair told her "Bye."
Cutting the connection, Blair shook his head and stared out the window. He was right. A perfectly good day in the stacks shot to hell and back.
Simon sat back in his chair and put the latest report he was reviewing into the completed stack. Hopefully the rest of the day would remain nice, quiet and uneventful. He could use a quiet day to catch up on paperwork.
The phone ringing did not help his mood. A phone ringing this early in the morning was not a good sign as a rule. And the fact Rhonda had not been able to block the call or otherwise divert it made it even more foreboding.
"Yes, Rhonda?" he sighed.
"Commissioner for you," Rhonda told him. "He sounds a bit…cranky."
"Just what I need," Simon groaned. "A cranky commissioner. Very well, put him on."
"Banks, we have a problem," Commissioner Rollins' voice sounded loudly in his ear.
"We do?" Simon asked.
"Yes, we do."
"Okay," Simon agreed with him.
"It's a … kidnapping."
Simon frowned. Kidnapping. That's what it sounded like he said. Of course it also sounded like the commissioner was coughing.
"Who's been kidnapped?" Simon pressed on.
"Medea," Rollins answered. "Well, specifically, Medea's Pride of Sorcery."
"Excuse me?" Banks asked. Surely he had heard wrong.
"A prized dog from the dog show, one Medea's Pride of Sorcery, was kidnapped, according to the owner."
"You want me to worry about a dog being kidnapped? Or rather, stolen?" Banks asked, incredulous.
"It's not just any dog," Rollins said. "It's a championship dog. And this is just the latest in series of incidents involving the national AKC show which is here this week. When the dog was taken, a very prominent person was injured."
Simon removed his glasses and looked for the bottle of aspirin in his desk. He was going to need a few, he realized. First a stupid grave robbing case, now an even dumber dog theft case. And both of them sent to his teams because of political ramifications, not because they really were major crimes.
Simon felt the invisible band around his head tighten. The problem of who to put on another crackpot case was back on his plate again. Looking at the roster, he noted that Megan and Joel were up next. They should be able to handle the case without it bothering the rest of their caseload and without offending any one.
"Oh, and Simon," Rollins interrupted his train of thought. "I want your cop of the year heading the case."
"Ellison," Rollins commanded. "He's on the case. Got it?
Simon bit back the groan as he answered the commissioner. "Yes, sir."
"Call me when he's found the dog," Rollins said, then hung up.
Simon reached over the aspirin bottle and grabbed the bottle of ibuprofen. So much for a nice, uneventful day.
Jim walked into the bullpen, a smile on his face and a spring to his step. He barely noticed the harried expressions on the other officers' faces as he hung up his jacket.
The snap of a pencil brought his attention to Megan's desk where the Australian was working on a report. She looked up from the paper and glared at the sentinel. "Bugger off Ellison," she snarled. "You've no right to be so damned chipper this early in the work day. Especially when most of us have been hard at work and have nothing to show for our labors."
Jim raised an eyebrow at the woman, then turned to look at Joel in askance. "What…?"
Joel shook his head and chuckled. "Don't ask, Jim. And if you're smart, you'll stay out of her way. Way out of her way."
"You're supposed to be my partner," Megan complained. "So why are you warning him?"
"I warn him about you the same as I warn you about him. Be thankful he's chipper, especially since Blair isn't around. A grouchy Ellison without Sandburg is not a pretty picture." Joel continued to chuckle as he walked out of the bullpen.
"Hey!" Jim sounded hurt.
"Still should be a law about being so bloody chipper so early in the work day," Megan grumbled.
Jim ignored his coworkers and sat down behind his desk, preparing to get started on the pile of paperwork that was threatening to avalanche from his desk to the floor and beyond. It would have been better to do this work with Blair at his side, but then, Blair really needed to get some research done. Not that he understood everything that Blair was researching; there were times when he wondered if even his guide understood everything he was studying.
He checked the files on his desk and his smile grew even larger. Somehow, his partner had managed to get a sizeable portion of the paperwork done the day before and had left it on his desk for him to sign off. This left him with a lot less work to do than he had originally thought he had.
A messenger from another department walked into the bullpen and, after a brief stop at Rhonda's desk, proceeded into Simon's office. Jim ignored the messenger. He was probably delivering a case that had somehow been bumped to Major Crime and that meant someone was going to get another problem handed to him or her. It was hard to remember who was up next, and he sure has hell hoped it wasn't him since Blair wasn't here. Jim hated to start a case without him.
Jim sighed when he remembered the report he needed to fill out for Burglary. He had promised he'd get it to them as soon as possible. It wasn't going to be a long one, or a complicated one, thankfully. There was little he had to say about the incident. Of course he could mention the crazy scent that had sent him into a sneezing fit. He doubted it would help anyone but another sentinel. At least he could report the strange scent now; something he hadn't been able to do several years ago.
"Ellison! My office!" Simon's voice sounded in the bullpen.
Jim shrugged, put down the file he was checking and walked toward Simon's inner sanctum. Stopping at the coffee machine, he filled his empty cup, then sat down in a chair across from Simon's desk.
"Where's Sandburg?" Simon asked.
"At the university, doing some research," Jim reminded him. "And no, I'm not going to interrupt him. He doesn't often get a whole morning in the stacks any more, but he should be here later this afternoon."
Grumbling, Simon got up from behind his desk and checked the bullpen. "All that means is you're going to be working this case with someone else."
"Now wait a minute. I said he'll be here later this afternoon," Jim reminded Simon.
"Then when he comes in, I'll have him join you. But until then, you'll be working with Connor."
"Simon…." Jim began.
"Connor! My office!" Simon commanded, ignoring the detective.
"Simon, I'm a big boy. I can work cases by myself. I used to work all my cases by myself," Jim reminded his captain. "And anyway, she and Joel are working together."
"Yeah, right. I let you work alone and you zone, it's my ass that's gonna get ripped apart by a very angry Sandburg!" Simon glared at his detective. "You'll be working with Connor. Joel can help me with some of this paperwork."
"I don't need a keeper," Jim grumbled as Megan walked in.
"What's up, sir?" Megan settled into the other chair stiffly and looked at Simon as he sat back down.
"New case has been handed to us and you, Detective Ellison, have been asked for personally," Simon told them.
"Must be nice to have fans, Jimbo," Megan smirked. She quickly sobered when both Jim and Simon glared at her. "So why am I here?"
"I don't need fans," Jim all but snarled. "Sir, with all due respect, if you're going saddle me with someone, couldn't it be someone else? We don't work well together."
"Work together? You and me?" Megan looked at him then at the captain. "Unfortunately, sir, he's right. We get along like sparks and petrol. Unless Sandy is around, that is. Where is Sandy by the way?"
"At the university doing research," Simon told her.
"Remember when you had us pretend to be married?" Jim asked. "Remember that little fiasco?"
"I don't remember any fiasco," Simon said blandly. "You got the job done."
"But sir, if Sandy hadn't been there," Megan added, turning a fierce look on Jim, "you'd have been investigating another murder."
"More like a double homicide," Jim countered, giving her his version of an icy glare.
"Sandburg's not here," Simon told them, "and won't be for the rest of the morning. So you two will have to behave yourselves. Get along!" he bellowed. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Perfectly sir," Megan sighed in defeat.
"But sir…" Jim whined.
Simon stared at Jim. "Quit whining. It's unbecoming for a former detective of the year."
Megan smirked at the sentinel but sobered when Simon turned his stare onto her.
Jim watched as the captain opened a folder situated in the center of his desk.
"Seems someone has been attempting some kidnappings and finally succeeded," Simon told them. "At least that's how it is being viewed right now."
"Kidnapping?" Megan frowned. "Wouldn't that make it a federal case?"
"Well, no. Not exactly," Simon shook his head. "And, the victim is one," he paused as he read the report, "Medea's Pride of Sorcery."
"Excuse me?" Jim reached over and took the folder from Simon.
"Doesn't sound like a person's name." Megan tried to read over Jim's arm and was rewarded with the sentinel hunching over the folder as though it was an exam paper in high school. "Sounds more like a pony's name."
"Actually," Simon said apologetically, "the victim is a dog. A Papillon to be exact."
"A dog?" Megan looked at Simon incredulously.
"Bitch," Jim responded absently as he read the report.
"Now see here, Jimbo –" Megan turned angrily toward the detective.
"Correct term is bitch." Jim looked up calmly. "Dog is the male, bitch is the female. Medea's Pride of Sorcery is a female, so therefore a bitch."
"Oh." Megan looked at him in surprise.
"And since when is dog-napping, or even dog theft, a case for Major Crime?" Jim put the folder back on the desk.
Simon leaned back in his chair. "When the police commissioner says it is. And when the dog, uh, bitch, in question is an AKC champion."
Blair parked the Volvo and walked toward Hargrove Hall. He could hear the shouting of the crowd as he rounded the corner to the front steps. He blinked and looked at the crowd, then at the disturbance at the top of the stairs.
Suzanne Tomaki waved to Blair from in front of the Hall's entrance and motioned him to join her. Blair moved through the mass of chanting bodies to stand by the campus security chief.
"What –" began Blair.
"Shh," Suzanne told him. "Listen."
"Look," a small woman was saying to a former student of his, "we should really take this discussion inside."
Harry Payne, his former student, crossed his arms and demanded, "Why? We're doing just fine here, as far as I can see."
"To avoid a riot," the small woman said patiently.
"Riot? What riot?" Harry countered. "I don't see a riot. How about the reason you want to go inside is to hide the fact that you can't really do much for us?"
"Look –" the woman began again.
"Or," Blair walked toward the group and stood by her side, "we could be doing it to hide the fact that you're still the same crazy redskin you were in Anthro 101."
Harry turned to Blair and shook his head. "Nah. You know you can never hide true genius. Now a crazy kike who still looks and dresses like he's from the sixties – that we might have to hide."
Blair looked up at the taller man, seeing a myriad of emotions flashing in his dark eyes. Blair moved toward Harry as Harry moved toward him, stopping just inches from each other. Then Blair's arms wrapped around the former student pulling him in for a hug that was, from the squeezing he was getting from Harry, reciprocated. Blair felt the brotherly slap on his back from the student just before he and the man broke their embrace.
"So, what is it this time, Harry?" Blair stood back and looked at him.
Harry shook his head. "You haven't been following campus politics lately, have you?"
"Well, I've been a little busy lately," Blair confessed.
"So I've heard," Harry nodded and shrugged. "So, is everything okay now?"
"With me?" Blair asked. Harry nodded. "Yeah, everything's back on course with me. But what about you? What is all this?" He waved a hand at the crowd.
"It's nothing new, Blair," Harry said, pacing in a tight circle. "It's still the same thing. This is Indian land."
"Harry," Blair tried to reason with the grad student, "the entire continent was once Indian land. That's no longer true. I can't change that for you, much as I'd like to."
"I know, Blair," Harry told him. "And I know that if things could be changed back, you'd find a way to do that. But, this is a special place," Harry went on. "I can feel it. I know it is."
"But knowing and proving are two different things," Blair reminded him. "If we can't prove it, there's nothing more we can do."
"But if we could prove it –"
"Only we can't," Blair reiterated.
"But if we could," Harry pushed on, "we could make the university pay the tribe for using the land. Or," he looked at the chanting students, "we could get the university to waive tuition for the Indian students."
"What the –?" The woman moved to step between the grad students.
"Oh, hi," Blair turned and flashed his brightest smile at the unknown woman. "Blair Sandburg. And this is Harry Payne. He's trying to prove that Rainier University is built on Indian land so that he can get reparations for his people … when he isn't trying to get the contract for the Indian relics renegotiated ahead of time. Now, I would love to prove the former true, because God knows the Indians deserve to get something back from the white man but –"
"But," the older man who'd been standing in the background moved in, "no one has been able to prove it conclusively."
Blair looked over at the man, recognizing the professor of North American Studies. Joshua Grant had been butting heads with Harry ever since the student had started classes at the university. Harry wanted the university to admit it was built on Indian land, and Grant had been forced to prove time and again there was no proof to support Harry's claim.
"Because no one will investigate anything that even hints at the possibility, Prof," Harry completed.
"We have, Harry," Grant countered. "There's never been any proof of this being Quileute land. Or any other Northwestern tribe."
"I repeat, we need to take this inside," the small woman pointed out.
"She's right, Harry," Blair told him. "We need to take this inside."
"Damn it, the student body has a right –"
"Yes, Harry, they do have a right," Blair agreed. "But they deserve more than just a free-for-all, which is about all they're getting right now. They can get that on reality TV and probably a whole lot better than what they're getting here."
"Just who the –" the woman began.
"Dr. Blair Sandburg," Suzanne replied. "I asked him to join us. Dr. Sandburg, Sharon Hawks."
"You asked for him to join us?" Sharon demanded. "Why? Why didn't you go through me?"
Suzanne straightened up and crossed her arms. "My campus, my call. Not yours."
"Look, Harry," Blair said, "right now, the only thing this crowd is hearing is a lot of arguing. Nothing more, especially as long as neither side is agreeing to anything. It's not helping them and it could incite a riot. Besides, Josh Grant won't get a fair shake and you know that."
"Really?" Sharon stared at Blair.
"So what?" Harry asked belligerently. "The Indians haven't been getting a fair shake for a long time."
"Whatever else you might think," Blair replied soberly, "Josh Grant has been helping your people. He doesn't deserve to get shafted, any more than your people do."
"So," Sharon continued, "what do you say to taking this to the room that Professor Grant reserved? Then, once we have a tentative agreement hammered out, we can talk to the students and maybe get some more input?"
Mike moved up and looked at the group. "The student body deserves to hear everything. Let's bring them all in!"
"Mike, the room's not big enough for everyone and you know it," Blair glared at the student. "However, perhaps a few representatives would work. What about that?"
"It could work," Jack spoke up. "I know you do your best with a large crowd, but this could work."
"Quit trying to sound like your grandfather, Jack," Harry growled. "He grates on my nerves. When you sound like him, you grate on my nerves."
Jack hung his head. "Sorry. Just trying to help."
"Why not choose a couple of your friends? That would make your group three to our three." Blair stopped and shook his head. "Which is still really three to one since Sharon and I are just here to mediate. You'd still have a majority."
Harry looked at Blair and then at the now silent protest group. "Damn you! You're good. Damned good." He laughed. "What did you say your minor was, Sandburg?"
"Don't think I mentioned it," Blair grinned back. "But, it's Psych."
"Not bad, Sandburg," Harry chuckled. He sobered. "Okay, we'll do it your way. Mike and Jack, you're with me. Come on. We're gonna make these white folks pay out some bucks."
He led the two students into the building, Grant following them. Blair watched as they disappeared and turned to look at the crowd. He was pleased to see the majority of the crowd start to wander off. The core group would remain, he knew, but they were peaceful. And they were small enough for the campus security to handle.
Sharon turned to Blair, anger in her dark eyes. "Just who the hell are you and what the hell are you doing here?"
"I told you," Suzanne stepped between the anthropologist and the police officer, "this is Dr. Blair Sandburg."
"You work in Community Relations down at the station, right?" Blair held out a hand to shake hers.
"So you said," Sharon glared at the security chief. "Why did you call him here?"
"Because, he's an anthropologist, like Harry, Mike and Jack and he can help you when they start to throw out anthropological terms."
"I'm sure Professor Grant would have kept me informed." Sharon's jaw jutted up proudly.
"Besides, he's a police consultant and I thought you could use his expertise."
"I appreciate the offer, but I don't need any help," Sharon continued to glare at Suzanne. "If I need help, I'll ask for it."
"You're going to need backup in there with those three," Suzanne warned her.
"And if I need it, I'll call for it," Sharon said coldly.
"I know you thought things were getting out of hand earlier, but…"
"No buts about it," Suzanne cut Sharon off. "I saw a situation getting ready to become a riot. I saw a mediator/negotiator not doing much of either, and the situation getting worse." Suzanne shook her head. "Now, it was call in Dr. Sandburg or a riot squad. Which one will look better for both of us, Ms. Hawks?"
Sharon pressed her lips together and glared at Suzanne, then at Blair. Blair felt sorry for her. He knew about her boss and about the rash of transfers from Community Relations to other departments. That she was still there said something about her fortitude and her talent. He couldn't blame her for being upset; he'd have been upset if he'd been in her position.
"I don't have to like it," she told Suzanne.
"I'm not asking you to," Suzanne told her. "I'm telling you to use his expertise and get this settled."
Brian Rafe followed his partner through the manicured lawn to the pristine cemetery. The curator of Olde Towne had told them to just go and see for themselves. He was too upset at the destruction that had been done to view it again. That made both partners happy; the less the scene was trampled underfoot by civilians, the better for police.
Once they reached the graveyard, they followed the path to the back of the yard where the graves had been dug up.
"Whoever did this wasn't too particular about how they dug up the bodies," Henri noted.
"No, they weren't."
Rafe continued to walk around and look over the entire cemetery. He paused to read a few of the tombstones, noting a couple of names that were familiar to the local population. He made another circuit, and then joined Henri at the back of the cemetery.
"Notice anything funny about the graves that were disturbed?" he asked Henri.
"Yeah," Henri nodded. "They're all at the back of the graveyard."
"Note the names on the headstones?"
"What names?" Henri snorted. "The stones are pretty badly worn."
"But look around," Rafe pointed out.
"You mean the well-kept graves and stones at the front of the yard and in the center, which probably have been replaced?" Henri snorted. "Yeah, I've noticed." He walked around.
"Yes. I've even recognized a few of the names."
"So that would mean that probably the commoners were in the back of the yard, right?" Henri mused.
"That's the way that I see it. Makes you wonder what the robber was really after, doesn't it?"
"Rather doubt if it was jewelry," Henri said.
"Doubt it myself. I mean, why steal the bodies if one had the jewels?"
"So what were they after?" Henri looked at his partner.
"We discover that, we'll discover the guy – or guys – that dug up these poor souls."
"I don't think we'll find anything here," Henri sighed. "How about we go and see what Forensics has discovered about the evidence they found around the disturbed graves?"
"Sounds good to me, partner."
Megan leaned forward and took the folder from the desk.
"Someone has been trying to kidnap AKC dogs?" Jim shook his head.
"Kidnap or steal, one of the two," Simon nodded. "Apparently someone has been trying to get a dog at the Cascade Sports Center. They were stopped every time by the security firm. So they apparently decided to try elsewhere." Simon put his glasses on the desk. "They succeeded at the park today."
"The park? Today?" Jim stared at his captain.
"The park, and today," Simon confirmed. "It seems the owner, Andrew MacDee, likes to walk in the park with his dogs."
"He took a show dog to the park?" Jim's tone was incredulous.
"Yes, he did." Simon huffed. "So what?"
"Most show dogs don't get walked in a regular park, especially before a show," Jim frowned. "It messes up the coats and pads, and costs the dog points."
"You seem to know something about show dogs."
Jimmy sighed silently as his father continued to talk to his associate after dinner. He didn't really enjoy these get-togethers; there were other things that a teenager his age wanted to do on a Saturday afternoon than go to a dinner dressed up in his best clothes. The only thing that was saving this afternoon was that the man had brought out some pups that his prize Chesapeake Bay Retriever bitch had recently had, and the pups were enjoying investigating every inch of the Ellison boys when they weren't wrestling amongst themselves.
At first Jimmy hadn't been too interested in the pups; watching pups playing together was not exactly entertaining to any teenager. Then one pup wandered away from the litter and started sniffing Jimmy's dress shoes. After the sniffing, the small teeth started to gnaw on the toe of the shoe. From the toe the energetic pup moved onto the shoestrings. Of course, Jimmy wasn't just sitting there; he was moving the shoe away from the pup only to have the pup pounce on the shoe and attack it with fresh vigor. Soon the two were playing together as a shy grin crossed Jimmy's face.
William and the man walked onto the terrace where the dogs and the boys were playing. He noted with a secret pleasure that Jimmy was actively playing with, and enjoying playing with, the animals. Actually one animal, William mentally corrected, but this was the most animated Jimmy had been since Bud Heydash's death. Since, William added to himself, he'd told his son to quit pretending things or people would call him a freak. Since then, he couldn't ever recall that Jimmy had been – alive, unless it was during a sporting event.
William looked at his friend and pointed to the pup. "Is it for sale?"
"Next week," his friend said. "They're not quite weaned yet."
"I want it," William said.
"You want the papers?"
"Of course," William nodded.
Jimmy stood up guiltily and tried to disengage the pup from his shoe, unsuccessfully. The shoe was probably ruined, which would mean he'd have to buy a new pair, and it would probably come out of his allowance as well.
"Having fun?" William repeated.
"Yeah, sort of," Jimmy admitted carefully.
"Think you can take care of it?"
"Sir?" Jimmy stared at his father, not daring to hope.
"Well, a dog is a responsibility, you know," William continued. "He's a little young to leave his mother, but as soon as he's weaned, he's yours."
"Sir?" Jimmy held his breath.
"He'll be your responsibility," William continued. "I don't expect to find him piddling in the house, or chewing on the furniture, or any other shoes," he looked at the scratched dress shoes on his son's feet, "or getting out of control. If you can't control him –"
Jimmy dropped down to the ground and picked the pup up, hugging it to his chest. He was rewarded with a wet rough tongue cleaning his face.
"Just remember," William's voice broke in, "if you don't control him, I'm selling him. Do you hear me? Jimmy? Jim?"
"Jim?" Simon's voice broke through Jim's unsettling reverie.
"Sorry, sir," Jim answered shaking his head. "Just – remembering something."
"No sir." Jim cleared his throat. "Now, about the case?"
Jim caught Simon looking at the sentinel, frowning momentarily. "According to Burglary, two folks tried to steal a dog from the Cascade Sports Center between the shows for the Toy dog division."
"Toy Division?" Megan's eyebrows raised slightly.
"Toy Division," Jim supplied. "The smaller dogs. You know; those cute yappie ones that most women like?"
"Oh, and I suppose someone like you would prefer the big hunting dogs, right?" Megan snorted.
"That would be Sporting Dogs, not 'big hunting dogs'," Jim grinned at her. "And yes, those are my favorite. Although I do have a soft spot for the Terrier group as well, probably because some of the terriers were first grouped with the Sporting Division."
"What else do you know, that I don't, about show dogs and the shows?" Simon demanded.
"I know a little about them," Jim admitted, a ruddy color crawling up his neck.
"I'd say you know more than a little bit." Jim got redder as Megan looked keenly at him, and dropped his eyes. "What? Did your father show dogs when you were a lad or something?"
"Or something," Jim said darkly.
Jimmy was in the kitchen trying to get a taste of his birthday cake which Sally was staunchly defending.
"Not until dinner tonight," she told him, tapping his hand with the spoon. It wasn't an accident that some of the frosting landed on his hand as well. "Now go on, you and that mutt of yours, outside. It's too nice a day to be in here bothering me."
"You like Champ as much as I do." Jimmy licked the chocolate from his hand and found a scrap of meat to toss to his gangly pup.
Right now the poor thing was much as Jimmy had been a year or two ago: all feet and stomach and not terribly coordinated. The pup grabbed the meat and swallowed it, then looked up at both the humans, eagerly awaiting more. Sally turned her back as Jimmy found another piece to toss to the pup, slightly missing the dog's mouth, sending the pup scampering around to find it and inhale it much the same way that he had the first morsel.
The pup was returning eagerly, which meant at a lope, to Jimmy's side as William walked into the kitchen. The result was a collision of man and beast, with the beast yelping as William's foot landed on Champ's paw.
"I thought I told you to keep that dog under control!" William roared.
Jimmy grabbed the leash from the table and whistled softly to the pup. Instantly the dog was sitting at his side, waiting to be leashed. He walked with the dog out to the backyard and tethered the pet to the long line.
"Do you know where I've been for the last hour, Jimmy?" William tore into his eldest son as soon as Jimmy re-entered the kitchen. "I've been with your principal. Again."
"Pops, I didn't start –"
"You were fighting!" William snapped. "Brawling! Like a common hooligan!"
"There were three guys bigger than me beating up a kid younger and smaller than Stevie," Jimmy protested hotly.
"You. Were. Fighting." William repeated. "You were called into the principal's office. Damn it, Jimmy; don't you understand that you have a reputation to maintain?"
"I only know I saw a kid getting the snot beaten out of him just because he wouldn't fork over his lunch or his money to a group of thugs and bullies."
"Jimmy, I do understand you wanting to stand up for your younger classmates, but you have to find a better way than fighting. It doesn't become you."
"Or you," Jimmy muttered.
"No, it doesn't become me either," William agreed. "You need to learn a better way. One that becomes both of us."
Jimmy straightened and braced himself for whatever punishment that his father was going to mete out for his latest infraction.
William looked out the window, bringing Jimmy's attention to the pup racing around the yard, having managed to slip off the tether. "You and that dog need some strict disciple, I see."
There was a slap as William's hand came down hard on the counter, and papers were left behind. "That is an AKC registered dog, not a pound mutt. It's about time he started acting like one. And about time you started acting like an Ellison." Pointing to the papers, he added, "It's about time he started to prove he's worth the money I paid for him. You and he will be joining the Greater Cascade Dog Club. They hold shows every six months. Be prepared. I want blue ribbons and trophies."
Jimmy glared at his father but bit his tongue. As far as punishments went, this wasn't so bad. Not as bad as being denied going to a Jags game with his dad. At least he wasn't going to be vying against his brother for anything.
He took Champ to the club, and together they trained for Obedience class. It seemed that Champ was a shade small for Conformation, something that hadn't set well with William at first, until a judge told him that neither was considered more important than the other.
While he and Champ had been training, he learned that his father had signed the two of them up for several other shows in surrounding towns. Looked like the punishment part of all this was finally rearing its ugly head. No more free weekends for a while. As long as it didn't interfere with his games, though, Jimmy didn't mind. He was enjoying working with Champ.
Now, though, it was time to see if that training had paid off. This was his first show. Fortunately his father was out of town and therefore not going to be in the audience. Actually it would have surprised him to see his father at this event; he rarely if ever was there for any other event he was involved in.
It was therefore a shock to see his father in the front row. For a second he froze. It was one second too many, and he faltered with his dog. As a result of the falter, he found himself being waved to the second-place position. From his position in the ring, he could see the glare his father was throwing at him. There would be hell to pay when they got home.
Jimmy exited the ring with the others in his class and was met by one irate William Ellison.
"I said blue ribbons, Jimmy," he snapped.
"Congratulations, Jimmy," a second man stepped up, slapping Jimmy on the back. "I knew you could do it! Bill, I'm surprised to see you here. Thought you had a business meeting out of town."
"We finished early," William supplied. "Thought I'd watch my son in action."
"Second place in a group this size is no mean feat, Bill." The man beamed at the boy and pup. "Especially for a first time out. Keep up the good work, Jimmy; you and the dog will be champions in no time."
"As I said, I know a bit about the dog shows," Jim continued, his expression still forbidding. "I know more about them than I care to remember."
"I – see."
Simon studied the hooded expression on the detective's face. He hadn't seen such expressions since the time Jim had had to interact with his brother and again with his father. Both times had been extremely emotional for the man. At least then, he'd had Blair to help him through the emotional crises. Now, he was going to have to share with someone else, if the man would, that is.
"Here's what we have on Andrew MacDee, the dog's, er, bitch's owner and on Medea's Pride of Sorcery," Simon handed another file to Jim.
Jim scanned it, then handed it to Megan. "Thanks. I'll hit the streets and see what I can find out. See what kind of bets are being made now on the outcome of the competition. I might be able to find out something about the two men since I actually seemed to have caught a portion of the snatch. Megan," he turned to the woman, "you go talk to the man, see if you can find out something that's missing from this report."
Megan closed the file and looked back at Jim. "You out on the streets by yourself and me interviewing a man in a hotel room is hardly watching your back."
"I can do this by myself."
"I'll go with you to the site and you can tell me about these dog shows," Megan continued, seeming to ignore his comment.
"It will take twice as long," Jim ground out.
"I am not about to get Sandy ticked off at me, thank you very much," Megan responded primly. "So it takes a little longer. At least you'll be safe and the captain and I will be whole and hearty."
"Look, I'm the lead in this case –" Jim started to argue.
"So lead." Megan smiled. "I'll follow.
"Just not too close, if you don't mind," Jim growled.
"Close enough to keep you out of trouble, Jimbo." Megan continued to smile at him.
"Sir," Jim turned to his captain, seeking help.
"Detectives," Simon put his glasses back on and glared at them, "you are not paid to argue among yourselves. You are paid to detect. So detect."
Sighing, Jim stood up and saluted the man with his index finger. "Yes sir." His tone was one of resigned defeat. "Come on, Connor, we've got a bitch of a case to solve."
"Funny Ellison," Megan smirked at the detective. "But don't give up your day job yet."
The meeting in the conference room was less than pleasant, Blair noted somberly. Harry and Grant had been at each other's throats ever since the door closed. Mike and Jack had tried to get words in, but were quickly drown out by Harry's snarl. Sharon Hawks had been taking in everything the two had been saying. Blair could tell there were times when the terms were more than a bit foreign to her. Ever since they'd moved inside, the argument had moved to the contract concerning the relics that the tribe had put on exhibition with the university.
"It is not a given that the University is going to get to pay the same amount for the next two years," Harry insisted adamantly.
"Why not?" Sharon finally was able to ask. "That contract was signed in good faith by both parties eighteen years ago, and the term of the contract was for twenty years."
"Yeah, well," Mike smirked. " Perhaps one of these fine professors could tell you about contracts between the white man and the American Indian. Every damned treaty has been broken."
"That's past history," Sharon tossed back at him. "As far as I can see, the University has never broken a contract made with the Quileute."
"So far," Jack qualified.
"Never," Blair frowned at the younger Indian. "And you know that, Jack."
"So, quit borrowing trouble," Sharon concluded.
"Look," Harry stared at the police mediator, "the Indian never had to borrow trouble. It was brought to us all the time."
"That's the past, Harry," Blair glared at his former pupil. "I know you know that. Ms. Hawks and Josh are here in the present. And they aren't bringing the trouble here."
Harry glared back at Blair, then raised his eyes to the ceiling and sighed. "I know they aren't. But the university governors are a different story."
Josh pulled out a set of papers and placed it in the center of the table. "This is the original agreement with the Quileute to be allowed to show the relics. And here are the two renewals." He flipped to one page. "This shows that there was no increase in yearly rental price to the tribe, yet I can show you where the university did increase the money paid to the tribe, and they have paid more than what was originally agreed to."
Mike snorted. "The University showed the pieces to the public and charged admission fees for them. It was due us."
"The extra money was in addition to those times," Josh countered.
"It would seem the university has been thinking of your tribe," Sharon pointed out.
"Except they haven't had too many shows this year," Jack pointed out.
"In fact there's been one and only one show early this year," Mike added.
"Public taste has drifted from Native American to Egyptian again," Blair reminded them. "The museum and the university have done what they could to get public interest back to the artifacts."
"Yeah right," Harry barked out a harsh laugh. "They haven't worked that hard otherwise there'd have been more shows. But more shows means more money they'd have to pay the tribe."
"Putting on a show that no one will see is irresponsible, and might have cost the tribe even more monetary loss," Sharon argued. "You can't force the public to see stuff they don't want to see."
"She's right," Jack grumbled. "Unfortunately. Hell, not even the reservation kids want to see the artifacts again."
"All right!" Harry exploded. "Let's take a break from that for now."
Blair started to breathe a sigh of relief and hope he could get out of the room and get to the stacks.
"What about the bones?" Harry demanded hotly.
"Bones?" Blair raised his eyebrows in surprise.
"The bones found at the construction site?" Grant groaned.
Sharon muttered just loud enough for Blair to hear, "The construction crew found some bones and possible artifacts at the construction site this morning."
"Really?" Blair turned to Josh, tempering his excitement. "What do you know about them?"
"Dr. Wolfe took the bones to the morgue to try and date them, then find out if they are Native American or not," Sharon supplied.
"Those bones and the mask artifacts will show that the University was built on Indian land without permission," Harry put it. "I'll bet we'll be able to show this is part of some religious meeting area for the tribe. Did you see the mask pieces?"
"No," Blair shook his head, "I haven't. Josh? Anything to this?"
"Maybe," Josh shrugged. "Maybe not. I haven't been able to study them yet."
"You just don't want to admit –"
"This is an old topic with you, Harry," Josh cut him off. "As I recall, it got you into trouble as an undergrad. Haven't you learned anything at all in all this time?"
"Yeah," Mike cut in. "That you Whites will do everything to keep us Indians from what is rightfully ours."
"Has there been anything to support this claim?" Sharon looked at Josh, then at Blair.
"Absolutely nothing," Josh shook his head. "There have been no finds, no treaties, no nothing. Indians were here, of course, before the Europeans and Americans came, but nothing that indicates any kind of continuous activity here. Or that there had been any kind of treaty with the government and the local tribes. Nothing to show it was a religious area either. Nothing."
"Well, until now," Jack suggested.
"But we don't know that for sure, do we?" Blair questioned.
"We will when the bones and masks show this was an Indian settlement," Harry insisted.
"If that is proven," Josh maintained, "it will be discussed between the tribal council and Rainier as well as State officials. Probably even some federal representatives. "
"So no one's been able to study the masks yet?" Blair asked.
"Professor Grant hasn't deemed it necessary to study the masks until he gets word from the medical examiner about the bones," Harry said sarcastically.
"Well, I can't very well be here and in the lab studying the masks at the same time," Josh snapped back. "And my assistant is out sick this week. You know that. The ceremonial masks of the local tribes are her area of expertise."
"And that's my fault?" Harry tried to sound innocent.
"I didn't say that," Josh began.
"You might as well have said that!" Harry protested, getting up to pace around the room. "Because the truth of the matter is I do want to know about the masks and the bones. I want to know now! And I want a new treaty for the tribe!"
"Well what you want and what you can get are two totally different things," Sharon sighed.
"It's an old line," Jack looked at Sharon. "But that's okay; we're used to those old platitudes being tossed at us."
"And they get the same thing that they've always gotten us," Harry added. "Which is nothing."
"So," Blair said thoughtfully, "you'd rather have the masks checked out right now than continue this meeting?"
Harry stopped his pacing and stared at Blair. The internal battle over which crusade to pursue was evident in his dark eyes. Then he crossed his arms over his chest and stared down at Blair and Josh.
"Yes," he said with finality. "I'd rather have the masks studied and prove that this is Indian land. Once that happens, it will lead to a renegotiation of the contract. Maybe it will light a fire under that old man in the ME's office to get the bones dated and authenticated as Native American and returned to their burial site."
Blair sighed and shook his head. "Dr. Wolfe is the medical examiner of the city. That means he takes care of all bodies, but crime victims come first."
"Unless," Harry pointed to Blair, "someone with a lot of clout, political clout, tells him to do otherwise. If those masks prove to be authentic, which could indicate that Rainier is the site of a transient camp, I'll bet that he'll get the word to find out about those bones."
Blair turned to Josh and rubbed his forehead. "You know, there are times when I wish his minor had been something other than Politics."
"Hey," Harry shrugged with a grin, "you have your goals, I have mine."
"Point," Blair conceded. "Look, Harry, for the most part, Dr. Wolfe ignores the political crap and does what he can to get the evidence to the police and the DA so they can prosecute criminals. That's his job. That's what he cares about: getting justice for people who can no longer get it for themselves."
"Then this should matter to him the way crimes do," Harry leaned over the table, eyes sparkling with intensity.
"Exactly, why?" Sharon aped. "Right now I don't see that it matters to anyone but you three."
"Why?" Harry stood up and raised his hands in exasperation. "Because he's an Indian that's why. He may not be Quileute, but he's from around here. Those bones are screaming for justice as much as crime victims do. If that doesn't matter to him, it makes him as much of an Apple as you are."
Blair caught the faint flush on Sharon's neck. He turned to Harry and snapped, "That's enough!"
"Now you see here," Sharon retorted at the same time.
"Back off you –" Harry countered, pointing a finger first at Blair, then at Sharon.
"I said enough and I damn well meant it!" Blair stood up and aimed his finger at Harry. "There will be no name calling or this meeting is over. Period!"
Megan was checking through the folders while Jim maneuvered the truck through Cascade toward the Cascade Arms Hotel.
"So, according to this, this show is really important to the city." Megan lifted the folder slightly.
"Yeah," Jim nodded. "It's been awhile since a AKC national show has been here."
"Politics," Jim shrugged. "You know, politics is politics no matter what the arena. There was some sort of rift between the local and national chapter over god knows what, and as a result the national chapter made sure not to hold shows here for a while."
Megan looked over at Jim. "And you know this because?"
Snorting, Jim shook his head. "When one is a member of a certain class of society, one gets involved in all sorts of things."
"Like AKC shows?"
"Yes, like AKC shows. Unfortunately."
"I see," Megan nodded.
Jim stopped at the traffic light and looked at Megan. "My father got me a pup after –" Jim caught himself and took a deep breath, "– after a mentor of mine died. It was an AKC pup of course. No mutt for the Ellison clan. But of course, the dog couldn't just be a pet, something for me to play with, or whatever. It had to prove its worth. It had to be a championship dog or else."
William looked at the ribbons on his office wall. His chest swelled with pride. In the two years Jimmy and Champ had been showing in the Obedience class, the dog and boy had brought home plenty of prizes. There had not been a show Jimmy had been entered in that hadn't produced a ribbon.
Still, his face creased in a scowl, the last few shows had been either red or white; not the blue that he craved. He paced around the office, looking out at the back yard where boy and dog were playing fetch. Granted, Jimmy was busy in school; holding a 3.75 grade point average and participating in football, basketball and track. It left very little free time for Jimmy to be with Champ which was why – the scowl deepened – what free time they had should be spent practicing to get first place instead of playing silly games.
William checked the latest entrance paper that had arrived several days before. He had pointedly placed it at Jimmy's place at dinner that night. He'd found it the next morning on the floor; somehow Sally had missed it when she'd cleaned up the night before. Or, he frowned, Jimmy had made sure not to toss it until after Sally had retired.
He heard the kitchen door slam shut and the sound of feet pounding up the stairs. William walked out of his office and stood at the foot of the stairs, waiting patiently for his eldest son to come back down. It wasn't long before Jimmy was flying down the stairs. He came to an abrupt halt when he saw his father standing there.
"Something wrong, Pops?" Jimmy asked, his tone sullen. Obviously he was still hurt over the change in summer plans. Well, the boy shouldn't have messed with his prize car.
"Why aren't you and Champ signed up for the show next weekend?"
"Pops," Jimmy's tone was patient but nearly desperate, "I'm on the football, basketball and track teams, in case you've forgotten." He glared at his father. "They take up a lot of my time."
"Watch your tone, son!" William glared back at his son. "You do remember what I said about that dog, don't you? He's not here to eat me out of house and home. He has to prove his worth and he does that by winning shows."
"He's won plenty already," Jimmy said stubbornly. "He needs a break, same as I do."
"I've stopped making you go out of town," William pointed out, trying to show his fairness in the matter. "But I do insist that you keep going to the Cascade shows."
"Pops, I didn't realize that the show was next weekend," Jimmy tried to console his father. "Besides, that's the weekend that –"
"Sign up, Jimmy." William handed the form to his son. "Deadline is coming up."
"But, Pops, that's the weekend that –" Jimmy tried again.
"I'm not repeating myself," William turned on his heel, heading back to the office, refusing to listen to the excuse his son was trying to give him. "Sign up, Jimmy. And," he paused at the door to the office, "I want a blue ribbon. Or else."
"So you know about shows and such because you were showing dogs as a lad?" Megan looked at Jim with a fond smile.
Jim rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I was showing a dog. In Obedience, not Conformation. Champ, my dog, wasn't quite up to specifications for Conformation."
"Champ?" Megan looked at Jim.
"Yeah, well," Jim shrugged. "His official name was a mouthful and damned snooty, if you know what I mean. Champ just sounded better. Fit him."
"So what happened?" Megan asked.
Jim's face shuttered again, and all emotion was removed. "Life happened." He pulled into the hotel's parking lot. "Let's get this over with, shall we?"
Arlo looked at the two dogs that were not getting to know each other better. In fact – he looked at his bandaged hand – if he hadn't interfered, Mimi would have been bitten by the show dog, and vice versa. He'd tied the two dogs up just out of reach of each other, trying to get them to at least start to get friendly toward each other.
Homer was nearly crying as he watched the dogs growl at each other. "They don't like each other, Arlo," he looked at his older brother. "They hate each other."
"Tell me something I don't know," Arlo grumbled. "Thank god that both the mutts had their shots."
"Are you sure Mimi's in heat?" Homer stared up at Arlo.
Arlo rolled his eyes and stared at his brother. "Yes, I am sure she's in heat. I had the vet check her out before we started this, remember?"
"Then shouldn't Midas be all over her?" Homer asked, turning his soulful eyes back to the two growling dogs.
"Yes, he should be. He nearly was, remember?" Arlo stuck his hand under Homer's nose.
"Not the way he should have been," Homer sighed sadly.
"I know, I know," Arlo growled. "And if I hadn't pulled the two of them apart they would have had a piece of each other's hide."
"Mama would have been upset if either dog had gotten hurt," Homer added.
Arlo rolled his eyes again as he tried to remember why he'd agreed to help his brother instead of doing what he wanted to do for his mother's birthday. Then he remembered it had been his mother's wish for her birthday that had made him decide to help his younger brother. Of course, Mama had always preferred Homer over Arlo, probably because Daddy seemed to favor Arlo over Homer.
"Still, he's not acting like Mimi's in heat," Homer went on. "You sure he's still…." Homer's eyebrows raised as he looked at his brother.
Arlo glared at his brother, then at the two dogs. "Yes, I'm sure. He's a show dog. That means everything works. And I do mean everything."
"Couldn't prove it by the way he's acting around Mimi," Homer said sadly.
"I can see that, you dope!" Arlo snapped.
"Uh, Arlo, you don't think he's…well…you know…" Homer held his hand limp-wristed.
"No!" Arlo snapped. "he's not."
"But, Arlo," Homer whined, "he's not…well…he don't seem…I mean…he's not showing he's…interested…in Mimi at all."
"He might still be a bit upset about the way we borrowed him," Arlo snorted. "After all, we did interrupt his morning walk."
"Oh, right," Homer nodded. He sniffed and wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Or maybe he don't like your aftershave."
"My aftershave? What the hell does that have to do with how he's reacting to Mom's mutt?"
"Mimi isn't a mutt! You take that back!" Homer hissed.
"Sorry, she's not a mutt," Arlo shook his head. "But what does my aftershave have to do with anything?"
"Well, it does smell kinda funny," Homer said.
"It smells just fine," Arlo retorted, his injured pride echoing in his tone. "The store clerk who sold it to me said it made me smell manly."
"I guess she should know," Homer said, still wrinkling his nose. "You think that maybe it's making Midas there think there's another male trying to get Mimi's attention?"
"No." Arlo snorted. "We'll give Midas a little more time to settle down. But if he doesn't start getting interested soon, we're going to have to take him back and try for another one."
Homer nibbled his lip and stared at his older brother. "It's not gonna be easy to get another one, Arlo. You know that."
"I know! I know!" Arlo snapped. "But we only have so much time to get this whole thing taken care of."
"But what are we gonna do?" Homer whined. "We told Mama we'd bring Mimi back with a litter sired by a champion dog." He looked on the brink of tears and Arlo found himself closing his eyes and counting to ten to stop from hitting his brother. "That's the only thing she wants. And if she knew that they were sired by Midas, well…."
"You told her," Arlo corrected his brother as he continued to stare at the two dogs. "I didn't."
"But you said you'd help," Homer continued to whine.
"I know that too," Arlo grunted. "Should have my head examined for promising that."
"Arlo…" Homer looked at his brother with big hurt eyes.
"I'm working on it," Arlo told his younger brother. "We'll give Midas some more time to get to know Mimi. If they don't get together by then, we'll return Midas and try for another dog."
Homer studied the dog thoughtfully. "Maybe we should put a little Viagra in Midas' food."
Arlo raised an eyebrow. "Why not?" he finally shrugged. "He sure don't seem to want to function naturally. Maybe a little help will get this over with."
Andrew MacDee found himself pacing in his hotel suite. It seemed to be the only way to expend his nervous energy. He could only comb the small black-and-white dog so much before the animal got upset. He couldn't afford to get Midas upset before the semi-finals; not if he wanted the dog to walk off with best of division and best of show awards. Walking, however, let him expend energy and let him be with Midas without upsetting him.
He stopped pacing briefly to look over at his friend, Denton Smith. Smith was frowning again. MacDee shook his head and resumed walking. He knew Smith thought he did nothing but show the dogs; and he had to admit his actions did little to counter that opinion. It was hard to explain to the man who bred and showed dogs as a business, and only a business, how the dogs were a part of his family. MacDee and his wife, who was mercifully still in New York taking care of a new litter, had no children of their own; the dogs had become their children.
The only thing holding MacDee together was knowing the man from the park was on the case. That he was a family friend of Smith's only enhanced his value in MacDee's eyes.
"Andy," Smith finally said. "Sit down. You're wearing a rut in the carpet."
MacDee sighed, but stopped pacing. Midas was panting. It was time to stop to let the dog rest.
"I can't help it, Denton," he sighed again. "I'm worried about Medea."
"I know," Denton nodded.
"No, you don't," MacDee shook his head as he joined Denton on the sofa. "This could ruin her chances in the ring. If I get her back, that is. This could cut down her point value."
MacDee closed his eyes. The two-year-old bitch was just starting to hit her stride. Any little thing could make her fault and lose valuable points.
"I understand that," Smith patted MacDee's shoulder. "But I've seen Medea, Andy, and it takes a lot to ruffle her."
The knock at the door made MacDee jump up and stare at the door. "Do you think that's a ransom note?" It didn't matter the cost; nothing mattered except getting his pup back.
"Andy," Smith shook his head. "We don't even know if she was even kidnapped. It could be room service."
MacDee's valet emerged from kitchen of the suite and walked to the door, opening it after the second rap on the door. He led two people into the room.
"Sir," he introduced the people to his employer, "a Detective Ellison and an Inspector Connor."
MacDee found himself moving into the tall man's personal space, grabbing his hand and pumping it enthusiastically. "I'm so glad to finally meet you," he gushed. He looked at the woman standing by him, a smirk on her face. "So glad to meet you too," he grabbed her hand and pumped it just as passionately. He turned his attention to the tall man. "I just know you'll get Medea back for me."
"Jimmy," Smith moved over to the trio and smiled at the man. "It is you. Thought it might have been when Andy pointed out your picture in Rollins' office." MacDee saw the man stare at Smith as Smith took the hand he'd recently shaking. "It's good to see you again."
"Mr. Smith," Ellison's voice was rough as he straightened up. "It-it's been a while."
"Oh come on, don't stand on ceremony with old friends," Smith grinned.
MacDee was surprised to see the detective glare at his friend with anger. He looked at the smaller woman as she stepped between the two men and held out her hand. She'd obviously seen the hostility sparking from the tall man's eyes. MacDee wondered what had happened between the two men. Later, he decided as the woman shook Smith's hand, he'd find out what had the taller man so irritated.
"Good afternoon." The woman turned from Smith to him and held out her hand. She had a strange accent. "Inspector Megan Connor. We're here to try to get your dog, er, bitch back."
"I know," MacDee nodded, smiling briefly at the woman.
He found himself turning his attention back to the tall man. It wasn't very polite of him, he knew, and if his wife had been there, she'd have kicked him for his behavior, but he just couldn't help it. She wasn't a dog person; he was. He understood.
"Could you tell us what happened?" Megan asked.
"I told those other police officers, and the other detectives what happened," Andy frowned as he looked at the inspector. "Don't they do reports or something that you can read?"
"Yes, but –"
"Besides," Andy peered up at Jim, "you were there; you can tell –"
"We need to hear things from your point of view, sir," Ellison told him with a smile. MacDee found himself returning the smile. "I didn't get as close a look at the perpetrators as you did. In addition, you might remember something that you didn't tell the other officers in retelling the event."
"I see," MacDee nodded. The detective made sense. "Yes, of course. Well," he began, "I was walking in the park with Medea – I walk each dog there, every other day." He knew that others frowned on this practice, but it made the dogs feel less like trophies and more like dogs. He never could convince others of that. "This morning, as I was walking Medea – it was her turn – these two men jumped me. One went for my waist, the other grabbed Medea. I think she might have bitten him. That won't force her into a quarantine, will it?"
MacDee stared at the detective worriedly. It was his one big concern. He wasn't sure how the folks in quarantine would treat her.
"That would be up to Animal Control," Jim stated. "Though, since I'm sure you can prove she's had all her shots, there shouldn't be a problem."
"I just don't need to have her quarantined while I'm trying to show her, if you know what I mean," MacDee sighed.
MacDee blinked when Midas, who'd been sitting by his side suddenly looked up at the two strangers, then got up and walked over to them. He watched as the dog sniffed their legs, starting with the man, then moving to the woman's. He felt his lips twitch when the woman's leg began to twitch. Definitely not a dog person. She must think Midas was going to pee on her leg, and was getting ready to kick Midas. His lips curled into a grin when he saw the glower that the man gave her.
MacDee stared in surprise as the man dropped to one knee and held his hand, back side toward the dog, letting Midas sniff it. He knew that Midas would never have peed on either person. Midas licked the fingers, looked up at Ellison with his keen sharp eyes, as the man's fingers slowly curled around the dog's ears, scratching with an experienced touch.
Midas looked up to the man, then over at MacDee. MacDee looked back at his pet and nodded knowingly.
"He likes you, Detective Ellison," MacDee noted. "He likes you too, Inspector Connor," he was quick to assure her, then turned back to Ellison, "but he really likes you, Detective. He doesn't let too many people touch him."
He saw the Midas let the man scratch the other ear, lick the hand, then move back to sit at his heel.
"Now about Medea –" MacDee began again as the man stood up.
"I understand, Mr. MacDee," Ellison nodded. "But I have no say over what the folks in Animal Control will do."
"I'll take care of it, Andy," Smith promised. MacDee saw Ellison frown a moment. He probably didn't like it that Smith was throwing his political weight around. Perhaps that was what irritated the detective. "As Jimmy said, there might be a formality, but I'm sure we can see that it doesn't interfere with the show."
MacDee continued to describe the attack in the park, clarifying certain points as the detectives asked questions. He concluded, "I only saw the garish purple shirt and green pants on the one who tackled me. I'm not sure if the other one wore a brown shirt or not."
"That's perfectly understandable," Megan said. MacDee noted that she was keeping a close eye on the detective, probably to make sure that the detective's temper didn't get the better of him.
"So now what?" MacDee asked.
"Well, we have what we need here." Ellison dropped down and patted the dog one last time then stood, and shook his hand. "We'll check the arena next. See if we can find out a bit more about these two people."
"We follow whatever turns up." Connor trailed Jim to the door.
"Jimmy," Smith put a hand on Ellison's arm. Ellison stopped and looked at the arm, then at the man. "Don't be a stranger."
"I'll tell my father that you said hello." Ellison's tone was cool, nothing like it had been when talking to him or to Midas. He removed his arm from Smith's grasp.
"Yes, of course," Smith agreed.
MacDee shook his head as the detective walked out the door, leaving the valet and his associate behind.
Blair glared at Harry, Mike and Jack. The fury in his voice was unmistakable.
"Calling people names and yelling at the top of your lungs won't prove anything," Blair continued, his face flushed with the anger he felt.
"Sorry." Harry shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at the floor. "Temper got the better of me. As usual."
"I know." Blair continued to stare at Harry. "I've told you before, that's one thing that will ruin things for you no matter how righteous your cause."
"I got the message," Harry glared back at Blair.
"You know, I was under the impression you and Grant were discussing a contract that still has two years to run," Blair went on. "And now you've linked some bodies found at the construction site to the contract. Doesn't make much sense from where I sit."
"Because they are related," Harry insisted. "It proves the university is hiding facts about the land from us and that the university is trying to shaft us."
"Not until the evidence verifies the bodies are in fact Indian and that Rainier was indeed a transient camp and Rainier knew it," Blair countered.
"Even then," Sharon put in, "the contract should be our only concern. It's the only thing you really have to negotiate over."
"Typical response," Mike grunted.
"Right now," Sharon continued, "we're all a bit testy," she paused momentarily as both Harry and Blair snorted, "and could probably use a break. It's nearly lunchtime. Why don't we get something to eat, stretch some cramped muscles, get a little air and come back for round two?"
"Food is not a panacea," Jack grunted.
"No, but perhaps by the time we do all that, we might have some answers for you," Sharon smiled at him.
"Carbon-dating tests take a while," Grant added, "as you all well know. The results might not be ready even then."
"Sounds reasonable." Jack looked at the other two.
"C'mon Jack," Mike snapped at Jack. "Quit caving in."
"It's not caving when it might help us," Jack countered.
"But –" Harry started.
"But nothing, Harry," Jack turned to the group leader. "She's right and you know it. You want answers and she can't pull them out of thin air. Testing takes time and right now we're holding up the testing which is adding to that time. Longer we keep them here, longer it will be before we get answers."
"Damned if he isn't right, Harry," Mike grudgingly agreed. "So is she, unfortunately."
"All right already," Harry threw his hands up in exasperation. "We'll do it her way. But," he looked at Sharon's relieved face, "don't think you're gonna get any other concessions out of me."
"We can always hope," Blair grinned at Harry.
"In your dreams, Sandburg," Harry grinned back. "And only in your dreams."
Blair sighed and leaned back in the chair as the three grad students filed out of the room. He looked over at Sharon and saw her do the same thing, while Grant just lowered his head to the table.
Blair stood up and walked around the room and pulled his cell out of his backpack. He knew he'd never get to the stacks today. After hitting a speed dial, he waited until he was connected to the voice mail. "Jim, uh, I'm tied up at the university, and not in the stacks either. I'm helping Community Relations with a little problem here. I have no idea how long this will take. The way things are going, I probably won't make it to the station at all and I'll probably be home late to boot. So feed Libby for me, would you? And this time, feed her proper food, okay?"
Megan had to trot to catch up to Jim at the truck.
"All right, Jim, what'd you sense?" she demanded as she waited for him to open the door.
"Nothing," Jim said tightly as he got into the truck. "There was nothing to sense."
"Posh!" Megan snorted as she got in the truck. "You were sniffing; I saw you."
"Just wanted to be sure that whatever got me sneezing wasn't from the victim," Jim explained. "And there was nothing."
"I see," Megan nodded. She looked over at Jim, seeing the fists clasped around the steering wheel and his jaw clenched tight. "So, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," Jim repeated, his tone sharp and angry.
"Riiight," Megan sat back in the seat as she buckled up.
"Stop it Connor," Jim glared at her, his eyes full of anger. "You're not Blair."
"Not trying to be," Megan returned coolly. "So, who's the bloke that knows you?" Jim turned his head away from her and stared out the window. She saw his hands get even tighter on the wheel. "Jim?"
"Remember the dog I told you about?" His voice was soft. "The one Dad got for me?"
"Champ? Yeah," Megan nodded. "So, Denton Smith is the bloke your dad got the pup from?"
"So if he's such a family friend," Megan frowned, "why the cold shoulder and attitude?"
Dan Wolfe placed the last of the bones on a table, then stepped back.
After the phone call he had recently received from Blair, he was determined to get answers about these bodies. It was important to find out if Harry Payne's claim had any merit, or if, as Blair had suggested, the young man was simply grasping at straws.
He had a total of three bodies here. Three complete bodies, each one laid out perfectly. In spite of the action of the giant excavator, there was little damage to the bones themselves. He could see a few old breaks in a few of the long bones, all well healed.
As Dan walked around the tables he found himself holding his breath. Even though they'd survived the excavator and the removal by the Forensics folks, it was plain to him that they couldn't tolerate too much more handling. As he continued his walk around the tables he noted a lack of insect activity. Well, if they were crime victims, the criminal as well as these possible victims was long dead.
Dan's meandering stopped as Robby Cartwright walked in and handed a clipboard to the pathologist. "Sorry sir," the technician shook his head. "We just couldn't find enough marrow to get a good DNA sampling."
"Don't be sorry, son," Dan shook his head. "You didn't steal the marrow."
"It's not helping you get the answers you need for that lot on the campus though," Robbie said.
"I can still get answers, son," Dan patted him on the back. "I just need to follow a different path."
"Sir?" Robbie frowned in puzzlement at the doctor.
"It's my problem now," Dan smiled as he escorted the technician to the door. Once he was alone again, he walked around the tables again and stared at the bones. "Okay my friends, just what were you doing on the campus? You sure weren't auditing classes. And you sure weren't camping out there."
He walked over to a phone, grabbed a stool and sat down. Looking at the bones, he punched in a few numbers and waited for the phone at the other end to be answered.
"Hello, Mark," Dan said.
"Well hello yourself, Dan," Mark's voice sounded in his ear.
"You free this afternoon?"
"Me? Free?" Mark snorted. "Are you kidding?"
"Nope, but if you're not free, I'm going to have to get someone else to help me with my mystery."
"The bones found on the campus?" Mark's voice sounded eager.
"Yeah," Dan let the word drawl out. "Sure you can't give me a hand?"
"I'll be there in ten minutes." Mark sounded eager. "Well, ten if I can get through afternoon traffic."
"I'll be expecting you," Dan smiled at the phone.
Rafe and Brown were sitting at Rafe's desk, reading the notes of the Forensics technicians and looking at the evidence carefully.
"We have precious little to go on here," Brown sighed miserably.
"Well," Rafe picked up a cement cast, "we at least have this shoe tread.
"Which could match one of a thousand shoes in Cascade," Brown shot him down.
"Ten thousand," Rafe qualified. "But what would it be doing in Olde Towne Cemetery?"
"Good question." Brown furrowed his brow at the thought.
"And what's this?" Rafe picked up some chips. He sniffed it. "Cedar wood?"
"Painted cedar wood," Brown read the report.
"Pretty old wood at that," Rafe read over Brown's shoulder. He looked at some fibers. "And something shredded as well. Only, according to the report, it wasn't found in the graves, only by the graves."
"Wish I knew what that meant," Brown sighed.
Rafe held up the fibers and stared at them. "Didn't I read somewhere that the Native Americans around here used cedar bark for just about everything?"
"You did?" Brown's eyebrows raised in surprise. "You're beginning to sound a little like Sandburg there."
"That's where I read it," Rafe snapped his fingers. "It was in an Anthro book that Sandburg had lying around here." Brown rolled his eyes. "Yeah," Rafe went on, "they shredded the bark and used it for a lot of their daily needs. Even made the hair for their ceremonial masks from it."
Brown stared at his partner. "Think the graves might have been for some Indians?"
"Only if they were converted," Rafe shook his head. "The cemetery was consecrated ground. Only Christians were allowed in; heathens weren't. Same with suicides and murderers. Didn't you notice an area walled off?"
"Oh," Brown shook his head. "So, if they were converts, what would this stuff be doing there? I mean, they wouldn't bury heathen stuff with converted Indians, would they?"
"I guess," Rafe shrugged. "I mean, I don't know."
"Bet Hairboy would have an answer," Brown sighed. "Wonder where's he at, anyway. Haven't seen him all morning."
"He's at the university," Rafe answered. "In the stacks, doing some research, from what I heard."
"Damn," Brown shook his head. "He's never around when we need him."
Rafe looked at Brown, then stood up and headed toward the door. "So why don't we go to him?"
Brown leaned back in his chair and grinned, then stood up and joined his partner. "Why not? Ellison always did; look how many cases he got solved."
"Exactly," Rafe nodded as they headed toward the elevator.
Megan stared out the window, watching the traffic for a few minutes. Jim was still tight, still not very communicative. He'd totally ignored her comment about the family friend. His jaw had worked overtime while they'd driven toward the Cascade Sports Arena. Finally she shook her head and looked at Jim.
"So there was some sort of dustup between the national chapter and the local chapter," Megan summarized, "and the national one decided not to come here for number of years."
"Think I said that," Jim said. His voice was still edgy, but at least he wasn't snapping any more.
"And your friend Smith," Megan asked, "was he part of the rift?"
"Happened after my tour of duty in the ring," Jim admitted. "I wouldn't know. I just heard a few things after I got back."
"So why the bad blood between you and Smith?" Megan asked.
Jimmy looked at the white ribbon that had been pressed into his hand. He knew that he wasn't working well with the dog; perhaps he should have listened to his father and spent more time practicing with Champ. It just felt so good to be able to play with him, have fun with him. He scratched the dog behind an ear as the dog pressed his head into his leg.
William came out of the crowd and glowered at the boy and the dog.
"I said blue," he snarled at his son. "Not red and sure as hell not white!"
"Pops, Champ did his best," Jimmy tried to defend the dog.
"But you didn't," William berated his son. "I warned you…"
"Pops…" Jimmy stared at his father, fear evident in his blue eyes.
"Well, Jimmy, good to see you in the ring." Denton Smith came up behind the boy, slapping him on the back, then holding out his hand for William to shake. "Tough break out there, but the competition was really stiff this time." He looked at the dog staying close to Jimmy. "Damn, Bill, if I had known that that pup would turn out so good, I'd have kept him for myself. Any good in the hunting field?"
Jimmy felt himself put a hand protectively on the dog's head; the two times his father had taken them out hunting, they'd barely managed to avoid the wrath of Ellison. Probably the only reason he hadn't been reamed out was because neither had had hunting classes. Champ had been operating purely on instinct; Jimmy had been watching his father and trying to emulate him. In all probability, hunting would be the next set of lessons that would be heaped onto his already full plate.
"Not bad," William admitted. "Not the best either. Both need a bit more training in the field."
"You've got yourself the makings of a fine dog, Jimmy," Denton grinned at the boy. "Keep up the good work. I'll see you at the club tomorrow, Bill."
"Right." William forced a grin at the man.
Jimmy watched Denton leave with a sinking heart. He looked back at his father and saw the scowl replace the fake grin. "There's another show in three months in Seattle. See he brings home the blue. Or he won't be coming home."
"Bad blood?" Jim raised an eyebrow. "What gave you that idea?"
To Be Continued In Part Two On March 17th.
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