"Yeah, Mac, I know. It's just so frustrating. Pete hasn't been seen since last night, it's almost noon and we don't have any solid leads." Jim Reed rubbed his hand through his thick crop of dark hair.
"I know how you feel, Jim. But something will break soon. Cliff here's the best there is. He's got twelve years' experience with this type situation. He wasn't just a random choice to head up the search team for Pete. If anybody… "
"Wow, that was strange." Officer Smith sat behind the desk, a puzzled look on his face. He placed the telephone receiver back on the hook as he spoke.
"What's up?" Mac questioned.
"That call.; Smitty nodded toward the now silent phone. "This guy said, 'How many bullets does it take to kill a pig?' He didn't wait for an answer, just said, 'One'. Then laughed this loud insane laugh and hung up."
"Is that all he said?" Detective Stinson became suddenly very interested.
"Yep. That's it," Smitty replied.
"Were you able to discern any recognizable background noises, Smith?"
Smitty thought for a moment. "No, sir."
"Okay, Smith. I need you to log that call. Make a record of when it came in and exactly what was said."
Smith reached for the proper form as Stinson continued, "I'll send someone with the equipment to set up the phone to record any future calls. It's a long shot. Even if this guy calls again, he probably won't stay on the line long enough to get a good trace, but maybe we can pick up on some sounds or something." He turned to Mac and Jim. "I need to go to my office and work out a few details. I'll send a man over to take care of the phone. Don't worry, Reed, we'll get your partner back." He smiled sympathetically.
Jim nodded slightly in Stinson's direction as he watched him walk away.
Mac nodded toward his office. "Jim, let's go to my office and go over everything step by step again. Maybe we missed something."
"Okay, Mac." I don't want to go to your office. I want to go find Pete.
"You wanna grab a cup of coffee first, Jim?"
"No, I don't think… well, yeah on second thought, I will. Pete always says you think better with a cup of coffee in your hand." Jim managed a slight smile for Mac and headed toward the break room. "I'll meet you at your office."
Mac sat behind his desk. "Okay, Jim, tell me again about last night."
Jim turned a chair around backwards and straddled it. He crossed his arms and laid them across the back of the chair, resting his chin on them. "There's really not much to tell, Mac. Pete and I talked in the parking lot for a few minutes. He said he was tired and was going straight home, grab a shower, eat a bite and hit the sack. He got in his car and then remembered he had to make a quick stop to pick up his cleaning on the way home. That's about it. I watched him pull out of the parking lot and head in the direction of his apartment. Then I went on home, myself."
"And, this morning?" Mac prodded Jim to continue.
"I knew something was up when Pete didn't show up for roll call this morning, so I tried to call. When I didn't get an answer, I went to his apartment. I knocked loudly several times, but Pete didn't come to the door. I keep a key to Pete's apartment. I've had it since that time he spent a week at the lake. Anyway, I let myself in. No sign of Pete. But everything was neat and tidy. You know Pete - a place for everything. His cleaning was in the closet and his bed was made. Which could mean he made it this morning or he never slept in it. I know where Pete keeps his firearms. I checked -all where they're supposed to be. I didn't notice anything unusual. That's when I contacted you. You sent Stinson and his men to investigate. They did a thorough search inside Pete's place. There were no signs of forced entry or any kind of struggle. His car was parked where he always parks. The hood was cold, so it hadn't been driven. Stinson thought since Pete and I are partners and friends, I might notice something his men missed. He asked me to look around. I walked through the apartment again. Unfortunately, I couldn't come up with anything. I will say this, though, I really feel like whatever happened to Pete did not happen inside his apartment. That's it, Mac. Not much to go on." Jim put his forehead down on his arms and shut his eyes. After a brief moment he looked up at Mac, "I know Pete's alive. I just feel it. But, I can't figure out what's going on. You know, a motive or something. I've been wracking my brain trying to go over every case Pete and I have handled recently. Nothing sticks in my mind as out of the ordinary."
The phone on Mac's desk rang, jolting the two LAPD officers.
"MacDonald," Mac barked into the phone, aggravated at the interruption.
"Yes. This is MacDonald, how can I help you?"
Jim watched Mac as he listened to whatever the caller had to say. "What was that about?" Jim asked, noting Mac's look of disgust as he hung up the phone.
"Same kind of call that Smith got earlier. This time the caller asked, 'What do you get when you cross an LAPD officer with a sharp knife?' His answer was, 'a stuck pig.' That's all he said. Then he laughed a crazy laugh and hung up." Mac reached for a pen and wrote word for word what the caller had said. He checked his watch and jotted down the time the call came in.
"I think this guy has Pete, don't you?"
"I think it's a definite possibility," Mac agreed. "And, will be a good lead if we can just zero in on where the calls are coming from."
"I wonder if Stinson's man has the phone set up yet," Jim stated hopefully.
"I don't know." Mac stood up. "Let's go check it out." He walked to the door and opened it for Jim.
Pete Malloy leaned against the wall. He bowed his head, resting his chin on his chest, and waited for the dizzying wave of nausea to pass. He sat on the floor in an old run down cabin. His right wrist was handcuffed to a metal bed rail. "Could I have a drink of water?" Pete asked with no emotion in his voice. He had too much self-respect to let his captor in on his suffering.
"Water? Sure, pig. I'll give you some water." Pete's abductor walked to the kitchen area of the small cabin. He took a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water. He quickly returned to the bed, held the water high in the air and slowly poured it over Pete's head. He laughed a strange creepy laugh, then walked over to a raggedy-looking couch and sat down.
Sadistic creep. He probably thinks that bothered me. Actually, it feels good. Pete leaned his head back against the wall. Water trickled from his neck, down the front of his shirt and onto his chest. The shock of the cold water caused the dizzy feeling to fade.
"So, what's your plan?" Pete questioned, making no mention of the water.
"My plan is simple. You're going to suffer and you're going to die. Just like my brother died.;
The kidnapper got up from the couch and went into the kitchen. He returned a few seconds later with another glass of water. "Here. I don't want you dying on me too soon. Like I said, I want you to suffer."
Pete took the glass in his left hand. He drank the water and sat the empty glass on the floor. He stared at the opposite wall. Pete licked the corner of his mouth. The blood that had oozed there earlier was now dried and caked. He raised his hand and used his thumb to scratch off the dried blood. Pete thought about last night. Much of it was a blur to him. He remembered taking trash to the dumpster outside his apartment. The next thing he remembered was waking up handcuffed to a bed with this strange man staring at him. In Pete's mind, a large void needed to be filled between the dumpster and the bed. He tried hard to remember but kept drawing a blank.
He had several injuries but no memory of getting them. His lip was split and swollen. His head ached and he felt a tremendous knot on the back of it. He had severe pain shooting under his breastbone. He had not been able to look under his shirt, but he assumed from the pain that his chest and side were bruised, probably from being kicked. He knew that pain. He had felt it before. He was almost certain he had one or more broken ribs. He couldn't open his right eye and it throbbed constantly. He kept fighting dizziness and nausea; he attributed that to eating nothing since yesterday.
Pete sat deep in thought, still trying to sort through the haze and jumble of how he had gotten there. He glanced over at the strange man. Who is this guy? His face is slightly familiar, but I don't know him. And what was that he said about his brother? Think, Malloy, think…get him to tell you who he is.
"You mentioned your brother." Pete kept his voice low and neutral. "How'd he die?" Pete braced himself for the kidnapper's possible wrath.
"Pig, you've got a big nose. Stick it somewhere else." The kidnapper walked over and lowered himself into a squatting position at eye level with Pete. Pete could easily have reached out with his left hand and caused his captor to topple. Instead, he made direct and even eye contact with his good eye.
"Andy Scarpetti talks when he's ready. You'll find out about my brother when I say. Not before." Scarpetti stood and started to walk away. He turned back and gave Pete a long menacing stare, but said nothing.
Pete looked down at the floor. So, you're Andy Scarpetti. Now all I have to do is figure out where I know you from and what I have to do with your brother's death.
A little before 2:00 in the afternoon, Jim stood in the parking lot of Pete's apartment. The immediate vicinity around Pete's place had been sealed off with bright yellow tape, designating it an official crime scene. He couldn't actually go inside the apartment, but he hoped to find some overlooked clue in the surrounding area.
All the neighbors had been questioned. They had been extremely cooperative, but of little help. No one had seen or heard anything out of the ordinary. Jim's gut instinct told him to question them all again, to make them remember something. He wanted to force answers out of someone. His training as a police officer told him to find another avenue to travel. To look where he hadn't looked before, to approach the problem from a different angle.
He walked around behind the apartment complex. The area offered little in the way of clues. A few parking spaces, a grassy area with some playground equipment and two dumpsters for tenant garbage. Jim walked slowly over to one of the dumpsters. He reached up with two fingers and massaged his temple, trying to ignore the growing pain shooting up the back of his neck and into his head. He knew time was running out. If this had been a kidnaping for ransom or if the abductor had wanted to make some kind of deal, arrangements probably would have been made by now. No contact of this kind had been made. He rolled his head on his shoulders, drew in a deep breath and looked heavenward. God, help me find something to help Pete. He opened the dumpster and his nose was immediately violated by the smell. The stench filled his nostrils. Flies swarmed around him. He quickly shut the door of the dumpster and took a step back. As he did, he looked down and noticed three small stains on the concrete. He bent closer and examined them. They were reddish brown and definitely had the appearance of dried blood.
Jim hurried to the car Mac had assigned him. He keyed the mic, "This is 1-L-15. Request 1-L-20 meet me on Tac 2."
"1-L-15 roger. 1-L-20 meet 1-L-15 on Tac 2."
"L-20 to 1-L-15, go ahead, Jim."
"Mac, I'm at Pete's place. I found some stains by a dumpster. I'm almost sure it's blood."
"Roger, L-15. I'll get someone from S.I.D. right on it."
"Roger, Mac." Jim replaced the mic. He stepped out of the car and returned to the dumpster to wait for S.I.D.
Steve Burke, from S.I.D. arrived a few moments later. Jim showed him the bloodstains. Burke collected the samples he needed and left immediately for the lab.
Jim returned to the station. He spotted Mac coming out of the break room. "Hey, Mac, Steve Burke showed up at Pete's and took some samples. He's got them at the lab now. Anything else going on?"
"No, Jim, not much. By the way, Jean called a few minutes ago. She wants you to call her."
"Okay. Thanks, Mac." Jim made his way to the nearest phone.
Jean Reed answered on the first ring. "Hello?"
The sound of his wife's voice always had a calming effect on Jim. "Hi, hon. It's me. Mac said you called. Everything okay?"
"Any word on Pete?" Jean asked hopefully.
"Jim, I got the strangest phone call earlier. I think it might have something to do with Pete."
Jim Reed perked up. "Okay, Jean, tell me what they said. Exactly." Jim took his notepad and pencil from his pocket.
"Well, it didn't make much sense, but it scared me. I answered the phone and a man said, 'Mrs. Reed?' I said, 'Yes' and he said, 'What do you call an LAPD officer without his pig partner?' It caught me off guard and before I could say anything he said, 'Jim Reed'. Then he laughed and hung up."
"Did you recognize the voice? Did he have any kind of accent or anything?"
"No. It all happened so fast, I honestly wasn't paying that much attention at the time," Jean apologized.
"What time did he call?"
"Well, let's see. I had just put Jimmy down for his nap, so I guess about 1:30."
"Okay. Jean, if you get any more calls like that, please pay attention to everything that's said. This is really important. We've gotten some strange calls here too. We're sure they have something to do with Pete. I've gotta go now. Call the station if you need me. I'll be home later."
"All right. Goodbye."
"Hey, Jean." Jim hoped he could catch her before she hung up.
"I love you. Keep the doors locked. Okay?"
"I always do. I love you, too."
Jim hurried to Mac's office. He pushed through the slightly opened door. "Mac, that lunatic called my house. He came off with another one of those sick riddles. It really shook Jean."
"We need to let Cliff know about it. He may want to set up your phone at home too. I'll call him now," Mac said reaching for the phone and dialing Stinson's extension. Mac spoke briefly with Stinson, then hung up and turned to Jim. "Cliff wants to put a tracer on your phone at home. You need to call Jean and tell her we're sending a man named Mike Downes to set it up. Tell her he'll be there within the hour." Mac opened his mouth to say something else but a knock on the door interrupted him. "It's open."
Officer Smith entered. "Sarge, I'm on seven now, but I wanted to let you know another one of those strange calls came in. This time he said, 'How do you tell a live pig from a dead pig?' The answer was the dead pig is wearing badge 744." Smitty shook his head and frowned in disgust He noticed Jim stiffen slightly at hearing this definite reference to his partner. "Hang in there, Jim. We'll find Pete."
Pete sat on the floor. He shifted but could find no position that eased the knife-sharp pain cutting into his side. Scarpetti had been on the phone most of the day. Pete couldn't hear much of the conversations, but he knew some of them were about him. Scarpetti? Andy Scarpetti? Why is that name familiar to me? I didn't arrest him. I'd remember that. His face…I've seen that face before. Where? What good's it gonna do me to remember anyway? …Knock it off Pete. Keep your head. Try to stay one step ahead of him mentally. Try to anticipate his next move … his next move will probably be another phone call or he'll stick his nose back in that newspaper he's been read…That's it! That's where I've seen that face…John Scarpetti must be his brother. They sure look alike. John Scarpetti was killed by a cop a few years back. I remember there being a lot of media attention. Scarpetti's face was plastered all over the front page.
"You think they'll find Pete?" Officer Ed Wells asked his partner, Bob Brinkman. They were seated at a table at Duke's Longhorn, a well-known restaurant frequented often by LAPD officers.
"Yes, I think they'll find him and you need to be thinking the same way, Ed," Bob Brinkman scolded. "We've got to stay positive."
"Yeah, yeah. I'm just sayin', if somebody has Malloy and they want to negotiate they would have made contact by now." Ed Wells tore open a sugar packet and stirred it into his coffee.
"Hey guys, did I hear you say Pete Malloy is missing?" Duke, the owner of the restaurant, questioned.
"Yeah. He hasn't been seen since last night," Brinkman supplied. Duke had known Pete for years as a patron and a friend. Brinkman felt safe talking to Duke about the situation.
"Any clue where he is?"
"Not really. We've gotten a few strange phone calls, but so far we don't have much to go on."
"What kind of phone calls?" Duke's girlfriend approached the table wiping her hands on a towel tucked in her apron.
"Well, I haven't actually answered any of them, but I've heard it's some strange man with these morbid riddles," Ed Wells offered.
"Riddles?" She turned to Duke. "Show them that paper you found this morning."
"Oh that's nothing. Just a prank."
"If you've got something that might be helpful, why don't you let us decide if it's important?"
"Okay, sure. I found it in the mailbox this morning. It's in my office. Be right back."
Duke quickly returned with an envelope. He handed it to Wells.
Wells opened it and carefully held the contents by one corner. A single sheet of paper with words cut from a newspaper read, 'What's better than a roasted pig covered in Bar-B-Q sauce?… A roasted pig covered in his own blood.'
"We'll need to keep this." He turned to Brinkman. "Hey Bob, go get me an evidence bag out of the car."
Brinkman went to the car. He returned quickly with two bags. "Here, Ed. You can use one for the envelope."
"I'll let you know if I find anything else," Duke assured the two officers.
"Thanks." Brinkman smiled at Duke.
"Okay and listen, let me know when they find Pete, will ya?"
"Sure, Duke. Thanks again," Brinkman nodded. He waited for Ed to pay his tab, then he settled up and the two officers left the restaurant.
"Maybe we should take it in and let the Sarge have a look at it," Brinkman suggested as Wells drove away from the restaurant.
"Well, of course we're going to take it in, Brinkman. What'd ya think, we're just going to hang onto it until we singlehandedly solve the case? Clear us and show us code six at the station."
Wells and Brinkman arrived at the station just as Sergeant MacDonald was leaving. "Hey, Mac, hold up a minute. We've got something you need to take a look at," Bob Brinkman called from the unit.
Mac stood in the parking lot by his car. "Whadda ya got?"
Brinkman handed the bag containing the paper to Mac.
Mac studied it for a moment. "Where'd this come from?"
Wells told him the whole story. "We figured it had something to do with Pete. You know it fits those hinky calls we've been getting."
"Okay, guys. I'll handle it from here. I'm taking seven now. My wife called and said she found something in our mailbox at home that I need to see. Wouldn't surprise me if it's the same type thing." Mac got in his car and headed home.
Later that afternoon, Jim ran into Mac coming up the hall at the station. "Anything new happening, Mac?"
"Yeah, Jim, I've got something I need to show you." Mac motioned Jim to follow him into his office.
Jim took a seat across from Mac.
"This was left at Duke's. And Mary found this one in our mailbox at home." Mac laid the two pieces of evidence in front of Jim.
Jim looked at them. He knew without asking they were about Pete. Before he picked them up he questioned Mac. "Were these checked for prints?"
"Yeah. I sent them to the lab for a complete series. So far, they haven't found anything useful. No readable prints on either one. They don't have postage, so the guy must have left them sometime last night or this morning."
Jim picked the first one up cautiously. He looked at Mac before he opened it. This whole ordeal was wearing on Jim. He knew with every tick of the clock they were no closer to finding his friend. He opened a bag and carefully withdrew a single sheet of paper. It contained the revolting riddle that Wells and Brinkman had brought in from the restaurant. He contemplated it a moment and then he looked at the one Mac's wife had found. He stared in disbelief. In words cut neatly from the newspaper was a menacing poem. Direct and to the point it stated, 'Violets are blue, roses are red … if someone doesn't find him soon, Pete Malloy is dead'.
A knock on the door interrupted the two officers.
"Come in," Mac invited.
Steve Burke from S.I.D. stuck his head in the door. "Stinson asked me to let you know we got the results on that sample we found by the dumpster. It's blood. Same type as Malloy's. I sent someone back to check the dumpsters for possible weapons. All he found was rotten garbage. I'll let you know if we come up with anything else." Burke closed the door quietly behind him.
Jim tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling. The ironic thing is, the one man that could probably help me sort all this out is the man I'm looking for. Where are you, Pete? He took a couple of deep breaths before he spoke. "What now, Mac?"
"I don't know, Jim. You can't think of any screwballs you and Pete busted that might fit this jokes and riddles deal?"
Frustration had pushed Jim to the brink of exploding. He leveled an exasperated stare at his superior and more sarcastically than he intended blurted out, "No Mac. I guess Pete and I just always let Batman handle all the Riddler's capers."
"Reed, I'm just trying to do a job here. I suggest you do the same." Mac stared him down, forcing some degree of rank and professionalism back into the conversation.
"I'm sorry Mac. I'm just …"
"I know, Jim," Mac's tone changed to one of understanding and compassion.
Another knock on the door interrupted any further comment Mac might have made. "Yeah, come in," Mac called, his voice clipped.
Jerry Woods opened the door. "Excuse me, Sarge, I just talked to Smitty out at the desk. He asked me to let you know he just got another call." Woods fished in his shirt pocket for his notebook. "The call was recorded but I wrote down what the guy said, 'What's blue and quiet and dead all over? An LAPD pig'. Smitty said it was the same guy that called earlier."
Mac closed his bright blue eyes. He massaged the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger. "Okay, thanks, Woods."
"Sure, Sarge. No word on Pete, huh?"
"Not much yet," Mac supplied with a tone that let Woods know he wasn't up to a long detailed conversation.
Jerry Woods reached out and gave Jim's shoulder a slight squeeze, and then he left the office.
Mac rubbed his face pensively. He looked at the clock hanging on the wall. "Watch was over forty minutes ago, Jim. Why don't you go on home and try to rest."
"Home? I don't want to go home. I want to find my partner. Every minute we waste is one more minute this headcase has to kill Pete."
"Look, Jim, I understand where you're coming from but…"
"No, Mac, I'm not sure you do," Jim interrupted.
"Yes, I do. Pete and I have been friends for years. This isn't easy for me. I'm frustrated and don't know where to turn next. But let me give it to you straight. And I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Cliff Stinson's a good man. He's got us doing everything we can. But right now we've exhausted all our leads. We're just going to have to wait until this guy shows himself or something else surfaces." Mac's voice was stern but sympathetic.
"I know, Mac but I just can't…"
"Can't what, Jim? What are you going to do? Go door to door all over Los Angeles? And, we don't even know if he's still in Los Angeles. Think about this: Pete doesn't have any family here. On the outside chance this guy wants to cut a deal, who do you think he's going to contact? You or me or maybe he'll call the station. You need to go on home, Jim. All we can do now is wait."
Jim drew in a deep breath and blew it out slowly. "All right, Mac. I guess that makes sense. I'll go on home. But you call me if you hear anything. No matter what time it is."
"That goes without saying, Jim." Mac stood and opened the door. "Let's get out of here."
Jim and Mac started down the hall in silence. They had only gone a few feet when Cliff Stinson came around the corner.
"Mac, Jim." Stinson nodded a greeting. "Have you got a few minutes? I had one of the men working on the case put together a tape of the calls we've been able to record so far. I thought maybe we could try to come up with some type of pattern based on what the caller said and the time the call came in. I get the feeling this guy is baiting us, like he almost wants to be found."
"Yeah, but I'm afraid if we don't turn something soon, this idiot's going to run out of riddles and Pete's going to run out of time," Jim fretted.
"Well, Jim, it's been my experience that kooks like this get off on the thrill. He feels like he's in charge of the situation. He'll pump out the riddles and make his sick phone calls for as long as he can. This guy gets some kind of weird rush from doing this. The calls might start coming in more frequently. Which could work to our advantage. The more the guy calls, the better the chance that he'll slip up and give himself away. I've also learned from past cases that more calls doesn't necessarily mean the suspect is any closer to killing his victim."
Stinson's last statement made Jim shudder.
"Jim, I'm just saying all this to make you aware of possible scenarios. Many times, for these sickos, the thrill comes from stringing us along, not from the actual killing. But there's no way to predict how this particular case will go down."
Jim only nodded. He understood what Cliff was saying, but none of it made this any easier.
"Anyway," Cliff continued, "Why don't we go back to your office, Mac, and see if we can come up with anything."
They spent the next hour pouring over evidence. They listened to the taped calls and concentrated on the written phone logs and notes that had been found.
"I'd say he's got Pete in a remote area," Cliff Stinson offered.
"Why do you think that?" Jim questioned anxiously. "Did you hear something on the tape?"
"No. It's what I didn't hear. These calls came in at different times, but there's never any noise in the background. No matter how closely you listen, you never hear traffic, or a plane flying over, or anything. Just total quiet. It's just a guess and really not much help at this point, but I'd bet they're somewhere isolated."
"Which means Pete could be dead for days and we'd still be wandering around in circles searching." Jim's anxiety continued to grow.
"Jim, try to stay focused," Cliff Stinson suggested. "Conjuring up the worst only wastes time. Use that energy to try to come up with something we can use."
"Yeah, okay, Cliff." Jim took a deep breath. "I don't see any kind of pattern here. It's just a bunch of morbid riddles thought up by some crazed guy spouting them out at random." Jim paced back and forth in front of the window.
"Looks like you're right, Jim. But we have to check things from all different angles." Cliff Stinson gathered up the evidence. "Let's call it a night. You both know how to reach me at home."
Jim drove to Pete's apartment. He had no reason to be there and he had no intentions of going inside. He just sat in his car outside the apartment building and thought about his life since he had been partnered with Pete Malloy, about how much Pete had taught him, about how many times Pete had saved his bacon, about true friendship. At that moment, Jim determined that he would find Pete - no matter what the cost.
Jim sat in the still-quiet car for what seemed an eternity before he finally started the engine and made his way home to his family.
He pulled in the driveway and got slowly out. He knew it would be a long night. He hoped it would be a night filled with answers.
"Hi. You're a little later than usual," Jean greeted him at the door with a kiss. "I kept your dinner warm for you."
"Thanks, sweetheart. I'm not very hungry. Maybe I'll eat later." Jim dropped his tired body into a chair.
"No word on Pete?" Jean stepped behind his chair and gently massaged his neck and shoulders.
"No. Jean, what am I gonna do? I've got to do something. Pete needs me and I can't even piece together some stupid clues to find him. I can't just sit here and wait for this psycho to kill my partner."
"I don't know, Jim. I wish I could make all this go away and that Pete would just magically appear." She bent down and kissed Jim on top of the head. "I've been trying all day to think of something that I missed when that guy called. I almost wish he'd call back just so I could listen more carefully this time. We can't give up hope. We just have to pray that Pete is alive and safe and that we'll find him soon. Maybe those riddles don't mean anything. Maybe they're just another way this sicko gets his thrills. Maybe they're not supposed to make sense; maybe they're just meant to scare us."
"Maybe," Jim answered in a voice barely above a whisper.
"Why don't you eat something? After you eat, you can take a hot shower and try to relax a little."
"Yeah okay," Jim agreed. He didn't want anything to eat and he knew he wouldn't be able to relax, but he didn't have the energy to argue.
"Well, how 'bout it, Pig? You ready for some slop?" Andy Scarpetti stood and walked toward the kitchen.
Pete braced himself for what he knew was coming. He imagined food being thrown at him, or worse yet, garbage being dumped over his head. He stared straight ahead without answering.
Scarpetti walked over to where Pete sat handcuffed and stared down at him. He said nothing, just leaned forward slightly and dropped a paper plate beside Pete. It held two hamburgers. One of the burgers bounced slightly when the plate landed, causing the top bun to roll off. Pete looked at the plate then at Scarpetti.
"Go ahead, eat it. But keep in mind, it might be your last meal." Andy Scarpetti laughed a strange haunting laugh and walked away.
Pete stared at the food for a moment. His pride told him to leave it untouched. His common sense told him if he had any chance for escape or survival, he would need his strength. He reached out with his free left hand and retrieved the bun that had bounced off and ate both burgers ravenously. He knew he'd be pressing his luck and would more than likely invoke an explosion of violence if he asked for a drink, so he swallowed hard a couple of times and leaned his head back against the wall.
A little past midnight, Jean stood in the kitchen doorway observing her husband. He paced back and forth, allowing an occasional labored sigh to escape. She watched, unnoticed, as he walked to the sink and stood looking out the window into their neatly manicured backyard. She knew he searched for something well beyond the confines of their fence. She stood silent for a moment and noticed a slight tremor in his broad masculine shoulders as he leaned against the counter.
"Jim, darling, why don't you come to bed?"
Jim turned to face her. "I can't sleep." He walked over and slid into a chair at the table.
Jean joined him at the table. She sat down across from him and took his hand in hers. "Jim, what do you think is going to happen? I know you don't know anything definite, but how do cases like this usually turn out?" She didn't wait for him to respond. "I'm just so worried about Pete. I couldn't bear it, if anything happened to him. He's been such a good friend to you, and Jimmy adores him."
Jim looked into her eyes. "I want to say something brave and sound confident and assure you that we'll find Pete, but the truth is, I don't know. We don't have many clues and time is definitely not on our side."
"Well, I know one thing for sure." Jean smiled at her husband. "Pete's got the best looking for him. You'll find him. I believe in you."
Jim stood up. Still holding Jean's hand, he pulled her up with him. "Let's go to bed. I guess I can worry lying down as well as I can sitting up."
Jim stared at the ceiling of his bedroom for what seemed like forever. He listened to the steady, even breathing of his wife. He turned over on his side and tried to block out the thoughts that raced wildly through his mind. He tossed and turned until finally in the early hours of the morning sleep mercifully beckoned and he submitted.
Pete sat very still. His entire body ached. He felt stiff and sore and he could find no comfortable way to position himself on the floor. His right hand had long since grown numb from being handcuffed in one position for so long. He flexed his fingers, causing a tingling sensation to shoot through his hand and arm. He spoke slowly and carefully, "You know, I don't know what you're planning or when you're going to do it, but if you turn yourself in right now they'll go a lot easier on you. Kidnaping and assault are much lesser charges than cop killing. If you give up, they may try to make a deal with you."
Andy Scarpetti got up from the couch and walked to the bed. He stood, towering over Pete. "Well, my suspicions have been confirmed. You really are just another big dumb pig. You don't get it, do you? There will be no negotiations. I don't need any deals. I already have what I want. I want you to suffer and I want you to die. And that's what's going to happen. I'll kill you and dump your body and no one will be the wiser. Now, why don't you stay quiet, before I get mad and hurt you?" Scarpetti turned suddenly and grabbed a ball bat from the couch. With the same suddenness, he brought the bat crashing down on Pete's legs. It hit hard across Pete's shinbones, barely missing his kneecaps.
Pete let out a loud anguished cry. The pain was intense. He felt sure he would vomit, but instead his head dropped forward and he spiraled into unconsciousness.
Pete slid the bat down off the bench and took a seat in the dugout beside Jim. "This is great, huh Jim? Sunshine, fresh air, I love it." They were at a community softball came, sponsored by the LAPD. "That was a great catch you made earlier."
"Thanks. I think your single could have been a double, if you'd get the lead out and hustle around the bases."
"I'll have you know, I'm pacing myself."
"Oh. I thought you were old and lazy."
"Well, that too." Both men laughed.
"Hey, Reed, you're on deck," someone called.
Jim Reed's dream came to a halt with a loud ringing in his ears. He untangled Jean's arm from around his chest and reached for the alarm. He turned it off, but the ringing continued. He looked at the illuminated face of the clock. 4:30. Finally, he realized the ringing came not from the clock, but from the phone. He grabbed the receiver, "lo." His first attempt was inaudible. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Hello."
"Officer Reed, I think I have something you want."
Buddy, all I want is to go back to sleep. "Who is this?" Jim rubbed his eyes, trying to force himself to be more alert.
"Let's just say it's someone very close to Pig Malloy. At least for now, anyway."
"What do you want? We'll try to deal with you. Just let Officer Malloy go unharmed."
"Well, now, you see I can't do that. It doesn't exactly fit into my plans," the caller said smoothly and calmly.
"What are your plans?" Jim listened carefully for any clue he might hear.
"Oh, let's not talk business right now. I called because I thought you might like to say goodbye to your friend."
Jim's heart raced. Still not fully awake, he tried to comprehend all that was happening. After what seemed a very long time, a shaky, strained voice came on the line, "Jim."
"My God, Pete is that you?" Jim felt as if he were in a time warp. Things seemed to be spinning around him, but he had the sensation of moving and speaking in slow motion.
"Jim, this guy means business. Brother, you don't want to mess with this one. Listen, Jim, take care of my fish for me. Their food's on the table in my hallway."
Click. "Pete! Pete, are you still there?" Silence and then a dial tone.
Jim swung his legs over the side of the bed. He sat there for a moment, not sure what to do next. Fish? Pete doesn't have any fish.
Jean switched on the lamp by the bed. She moved over and put a hand on Jim's back. "Did you talk to Pete?"
"Yeah," Jim mumbled, still trying to sort everything out.
"Thank God he's alive," Jean whispered. "What are you going to do now?"
"I'm not sure." Jim reached for the telephone. He dialed Mac's number and listened to several rings before a sleepy female voice answered, "MacDonald's residence."
"No. This is Elizabeth."
"Elizabeth, this is Jim Reed. I need to speak to your dad. It's important."
"Yes, sir. Hold on just a minute."
Mac's voice came on the line. "Sergeant MacDonald speaking."
"Mac, it's Jim. I just talked to Pete."
"Where is he? What'd he say? Is he okay?"
"No, he's not okay. I don't know where he is. But he did tell me to feed his fish. He said the food was on the table in his hallway. Mac, Pete doesn't have any fish. It had to be a clue. There's got to be something about that table that will help us find Pete."
"Sounds like it. Did he say anything else?"
"Just that the guy that has him means business and that we don't want to mess with him."
"Okay, Jim. We need to check that table as soon as possible. I'll call Cliff and update him. I'll have him meet you at Pete's. I'll also call Pete's landlady and let her know you're coming."
"Right, Mac. I'm on my way."
Jim was the first to arrive at the apartment. He stood outside Pete's door waiting for Cliff Stinson. He noticed a small, frail figure approaching. "Good morning, Mrs. O'Brien."
"Hello, Officer Reed. Are you any closer to finding Pete?"
"Yes, ma'am. I really believe we are. We have more information now, so I think we'll find him soon."
"Oh, wonderful! That is good news. I've been so worried. I'll be in my apartment if you need me." Mrs. O'Brien hurried back to her apartment, her pink slippers scuffing as she walked.
Cliff Stinson pulled into the parking lot. He stepped out of his car. "Sure do wish we could train the bad guys to do their thing in the middle of the afternoon," he grumbled as he broke the yellow tape and unlocked Pete's door.
They stepped inside Pete's living room. Jim flipped on the light and walked straight to the hallway. He stood for a moment and just looked at the table. Well, Pete, I hope I can clue in on whatever you were trying to tell me. He looked on the table first. Nothing out of the ordinary - a lamp, a couple of magazines, an unpaid bill, a picture of someone Jim didn't recognize. He opened the drawer. The contents were neat. He thumbed through some papers and found a stack of newspaper clippings. He read the headline of the first, 'LAPD SPONSORS BAR-B-Q'; he looked at another, 'POLICE OFFICER FOILS ROBBERY SUSPECT'.
"Look at this, Cliff. This must be what Pete wanted me to find. The answer to who has Pete must be in one of these old news clippings." Jim gathered up the articles. He turned off all the lights and Cliff secured the door. The two men agreed to meet at the station and dissect the articles.
Jim arrived at the station first. At this time of morning, a skeleton crew manned the station with most officers out on patrol. He poured himself a cup of coffee before entering the locker room to change into his uniform.
He stepped out of the locker room and met Cliff coming down the hall. "Let me grab a cup of coffee, Jim, and we'll get started. Meet me in the interrogation room at the end of the hall."
Cliff entered the room to find Jim with the articles spread out on the table. There were about thirty articles, all related to police work in some way. They decided to start by reading each headline and briefly skimming the contents. If the story might be related to Pete's abduction, it went into one pile. Articles that couldn't possibly have any importance would go into another stack.
They had separated about half of the articles, when Mac appeared at the door. "Ten minutes 'til roll call, Jim. Morning, Cliff. What's going on in here?"
Jim explained to Mac that he thought the newspaper stories were what Pete wanted him to find. "I'm not sure what it is we're looking for, but I know it's in one of these stories. We're trying to sort through them now. It's a long process. We don't want to overlook anything."
"Jim, come on to roll call. Afterwards, we'll come back here and I'll help you."
Jim stood up and stretched. He hadn't realized how long he had been sitting there or how tired he felt. "Cliff, can you handle it alone for a few minutes?"
Cliff Stinson didn't look up from the article he was reading. He only nodded and waved Jim off.
Jim followed Mac to roll call.
"Any word on Pete?" several of the officers asked.
"We've had a good break in the case. Jim spoke with Pete briefly earlier this morning. We're working off a clue Jim picked up when he talked to Pete," Mac explained. "I may need some of you to check out a lead. I'll let you know." Mac went over the day's agenda and assignments. He dismissed the officers to their watch.
Mac and Jim returned to the interrogation room. "Mac, right now, we're trying to separate the articles. This is the stack that doesn't work" Jim placed a hand on one of the stacks. "Like here's one about the Policeman Bill program, and this one's about the Police Olympics. Luckily, this stack is bigger. Hopefully we can narrow it down to just a few possible suspects."
Forty-five minutes later, they had come up with what they thought were four possibilities. "Samuel Link serving a ten year sentence," Jim summarized. "I remember this guy. A 211. Pete arrested him and he went berserk, swore he'd hunt Pete down. Kept saying he couldn't stand being locked up." Jim picked up another article, "I don't remember this one - some guy named, Damon Lutrell shot and wounded by a cop during a stand off with police. Pete and I weren't involved, but you never know . . . . This one's about a man named John Scarpetti. You name it; he was into it. Drug trafficking, gun running, and extortion to name a few. An officer named Riley Dunn killed him in a warehouse shoot out, where Scarpetti was unloading a rather large supply of guns. And this last article-Tony Bigalow ran a prostitution ring. He's just bad news in general. Seems to have a personal vendetta against cops." Jim nervously straightened the four carefully chosen stories. "What now, Cliff?"
"Jim, why don't you head down to Records and pull these four cases. See if you can come up with current addresses. I'm going to check the tapes and see if any more calls have come in. By the way, how long would you say the call lasted when you spoke with Pete this morning?"
Jim shrugged, "Felt like forever, but I'd say less than a minute."
"Hmm," Cliff Stinson contemplated. "Probably not long enough, but I'll definitely have someone check to see if we were able to get a trace."
Jim stood and walked toward the door. He stopped in the doorway, deep in thought.
"What?" Mac questioned.
"Probably nothing. But I just remembered when I talked to Pete, he called me brother. That's not something Pete normally calls me. Maybe we're looking for somebody's brother."
"Could be," Mac agreed.
By 9:30, Jim had come up with four addresses. He, Mac and Cliff sat in Mac's office planning the quickest way to investigate. "Samuel Link has a brother. He lives on High Pine Drive," Jim read off the card he had scribbled the information on.
"Mac, who can you send to cover it?" Cliff asked.
"That's Jerry Woods' district. I'll send him over to check it out," Mac decided. "Next?"
"Damon Lutrell. No brothers. Last known address is on Bel Gravia Way."
"I'll check that one." Mac took the card from Jim and shoved it in his shirt pocket.
"John Scarpetti has a brother named Andrew. Address is an apartment on Kingsford Drive. I'll go there. And, Tony Bigalow's last address listed is a house over on Highlander Court. Can you send someone, Mac? It'll save time if we each only have one place to check."
"Sure, I'll send Sanchez. Let's go. The quicker we do this, the quicker we can eliminate the ones that aren't suspects. Then we'll be that much closer to finding Pete."
"Yeah," Jim sighed. He had been so busy finding the addresses; he had momentarily pushed his anxieties out of his mind. "I just hope we're not too late."
Mac stood on the porch of a modest home on Bel Gravia Way. He rang the doorbell. A slender young woman appeared at the door. "Yes?" she asked through the screen.
"Ma'am, I'm Sergeant MacDonald with the Los Angeles Police Department. I'm looking for Damon Lutrell."
"Damon's at work. What's this all about?" The woman continued to talk through the screen. "Listen, Damon hasn't been in any kind of trouble since he was shot a few years ago. He's really turned his life around."
"That's good to hear," Mac answered sincerely. "Ma'am could you tell me where Mr. Lutrell was Monday night?"
"He works a swing shift at a factory. Monday he worked from 10 that night to 7:30 the next morning. This morning he started day work. 8:00 to 5:30. Damon's not in any trouble is he?"
"I don't think so. I'm just checking on a few things for a case I'm working on. I'll contact you, if I need anything else. Thank you for your time." Mac tipped his hat at the lady on the other side of the screen.
"Yeah, sure whatever." The woman turned away, closing the door behind her.
Mac started his car and backed out of the driveway. He had just turned off Bel Gravia when dispatch came over the radio. "1-L-20, 1-L-20, meet 1-Xray-43 on Tac 2."
"1-L-20 roger." Mac switched to Tac 2. "This is 1-L-20 to 1-Xray 43, go."
"Mac, I checked out that Link over on High Pine. He's a brother to Samuel Link. His name is Michael Link. His parishioners call him Father Mike. We only talked for a minute. He said his brother Sam is the black sheep of the family and that he visits him and prays for him often. I don't think this is the guy we're looking for."
"Obviously not. Thanks for checking, Woods."
"Roger, Mac. Let me know if I can do anything else."
"1-L-20, roger. Switching back to frequency 1."
Mac returned to the station. He headed for his office but Juan Sanchez stopped him in the hall. "Hey, Sarge, I'm here booking a deuce."
"This early in the morning?" Mac raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, this guy was in his own time zone. But I did have time to check out that Tony Bigalow over on Highlander. His sister was there. He doesn't have any brothers. She said he hasn't been home since Sunday."
Mac felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck.
"Yeah," Juan continued. "Bigalow had a head-on collision Sunday morning. He's recovering at Rampart General. He's in a full body cast. I guess we can mark him off the list."
"Right," Mac agreed. "I hope Jim is having better luck than Woods and you and I did."
Jim Reed stood in the hallway of an apartment building on Kingsford Drive. He knocked on the door of # 8B for the second time. He waited and started to knock a third time when a bald man with a potbelly stuck his head out of a door down the hall. "He ain't there."
Jim turned to speak with the man. "Sir, does Andrew Scarpetti live here?"
"Yeah, I guess so. I manage these apartments. Andy Scarpetti pays the rent for 8B. He leaves a check in my mailbox every month, never late. But I haven't seen Andy in a while. He's a real private type." The bald man formed his words around a cigar hanging out the right side of his face.
"Sir, I'm Officer Jim Reed. This is important. Would you have any idea where I might find Mr. Scarpetti? Maybe a work place or something?"
"Last I heard he's a mechanic at Jackson's Garage over on Wilshire. He had a girlfriend that used to come around, but I haven't seen her lately. Her name's Gloria Davis. She lives on the corner of Westmont and Hill."
"Thank you, sir," Jim nodded at the man.
"Sure." The bald man chewed a tighter grip on his stogie and went back inside his apartment.
Jim decided to try the girlfriend first. He drove to the corner of Westmont and Hill.
"1-L-15 code 6 at 1100 Westmont Blvd." Jim absently hung the mic back in its holder as he viewed his destination. A modest white house with faded green shutters. He walked up the flower-lined sidewalk and stepped up on the porch. Ringing the doorbell produced an immediate response. A thin woman with auburn hair and tired-looking eyes opened the door.
"Yes?" She stared hard at Jim, taking in his features in detail.
Gloria Davis only nodded and continued to study Jim.
"I'm Officer Jim Reed with the Los Angeles Police Department. I'm looking for Andrew Scarpetti. Would you know where I …"
"No," Gloria Davis interrupted Jim. "I haven't seen Andy in almost a year. I have no interest in Andy Scarpetti. I can't help you." Before Jim could say anything, she quickly shut the door in his face.
Jim raised his hand to ring the bell again, but abandoned the idea. He decided instead to go to Jackson's Garage.
He drove to Wilshire Blvd. and parked in front of the small privately owned auto repair shop. He exited the patrol car and approached a tall, friendly-looking gentleman. "Hello, are you the owner?"
"Yes sir, Ed Jackson. How can I help you, officer?" Jackson wiped his hands on a greasy rag before extending his right to Jim.
"I'm looking for Andrew Scarpetti. This is his last known place of employment. Does he work here?"
"No. Not since about two weeks ago. Andy came in one afternoon and picked up his check. Said he wouldn't be back, didn't give a reason. Kind of a shame. Andy had his quirks, but he was a good mechanic. I have a home address on file, if that'll help. I believe it's over on Kingsford." Jackson turned to go into the small office area.
"That's okay, sir. I have it. Scarpetti didn't say if he had a new job lined up when he quit, did he?"
"No. Like I said, he just walked in one day and said it was his last. No notice and no reason. Sorry I can't help you more. Andy's not in any trouble, is he?"
"I don't know. Well, thank you for your time, Mr. Jackson." Jim shook his hand again and left.
Jim drove back to the station. He had debated going back to Gloria Davis' house but decided to check on the other leads instead. If the other three possibilities turned out to be dead ends, he would return to the house at the corner of Westmont and Hill and lean a little heavier on the occupant.
He ran into Cliff Stinson coming up the hall. "Have you heard if any of those other leads panned out?"
"I haven't talked to anybody, but I saw Mac and Sanchez talking earlier. Let's go find Mac and see if they came up with anything."
They found Mac in his office.
"Any of those leads amount to anything?" Jim asked hopefully.
"No, Jim." Mac quickly filled them in. "I guess that Scarpetti guy didn't work out for you either, huh? Well, let's look at the newspaper articles again. We just missed it, that's all."
"Scarpetti quit his job a couple weeks ago. He didn't give a reason. I tried to talk to an old girlfriend of his, but she refused to cooperate. I'd like to try again with her. Just a hunch," Jim shrugged. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in Mac's office window. His starched uniform shirt and polished badge seemed in conflict with the exhaustion he felt. He was numb.
"Absolutely," Cliff agreed. "I'll go with you, if you think it will help."
"No. Just check those newspaper articles for anything we might have missed. I'll go talk…"
Bob Brinkman tapped on the window glass, interrupting Jim. He held his thumb to his ear and a little finger to his mouth. "Phone call," he mouthed to Jim as he hurried on up the hall. Jim nodded and picked up the extension.
"Hello, Officer Reed. What time is it when the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the ten?" Before Jim could respond, the caller supplied the answer. "Time to get a new partner." No laughter this time, just a sharp click and then a dial tone.
Jim dropped the receiver onto the phone. "That was him. We've got to do something soon. We're almost out of time. He's going to kill Pete tonight at 10."
"Exactly what'd he say, Jim?" Cliff asked.
Jim repeated the message. "This guy might be crazy, but right now he's got the upper hand. If we don't find Pete soon, he'll die tonight. I've never been more sure of anything in my life."
"Well, then we'll just find him. Right, Cliff?" Mac turned to Stinson.
"Definitely! Jim, you get back over to that girlfriend's place. Put a little more pressure on her. Stress the urgency of the situation. Bring her in for questioning if you need to," Cliff instructed. "We'll go through the articles again. We'll find Pete. He's a good cop. Too good to lose."
Jim drove quickly to Westmont and Hill. He sprinted up the sidewalk, determined to get more than a door in his face this time. He would get answers. He leaned heavily on the doorbell. No response. He knocked. Nothing. He stepped off the side of the porch, intent on finding a back door, when a short fat lady hung two chubby arms over the fence and said, "Hon, she ain't home. She left earlier. She was carrying a suitcase. I guess she's plannin' to stay away awhile."
Jim's mouth dropped open. He felt as if someone had kicked him in the chest. "What?" he exclaimed.
"Yes. I watched her from my front window. She loaded a suitcase into the trunk of her car, got in and drove away. I'm Ophelia Madison. Is there a problem?"
Jim regained his composure. "Mrs. Madison, did you talk to Miss Davis before she left?"
"Well, no. I don't want to seem like a nosey neighbor, so I just watched from my window. I didn't actually come outside and speak to Gloria."
Jim resisted rolling his eyes and continued, "Mrs. Madison, this is very important. Do you have any clue where she might have been going? Does she have family she would visit?"
"Oh, I am sorry, but I just don't know. Gloria and I aren't close. We speak when we pass, but that's all. I don't know much about her personal life. Is there a problem?" She repeated her earlier question.
"I'm not sure. Thanks for the information." Jim hurried back to the car, ignoring Ophelia Madison's whimpering little huff at not getting details.
Jim sat in the car, rage boiling within him. "Damn!" He slammed the sides of his fists into the stirring wheel. He slumped lower in the seat and laid his head back. I don't get it. I'm a good cop. I go by the book. I play by the rules. Why can't I catch a break? I take one step forward and two steps back. I'm no closer to finding Pete now than I was two days ago. I just keep hitting one brick wall after another.
Jim sat very still for a moment. He stared out the window. And that little pity party I just had did nothing but waste time. I'm not going to find Pete by listing my problems and feeling sorry for myself. Jim grabbed the mic, "1-L-15, have 1-L-20 meet me on Tac 2."
"1-L-15 roger. 1-L-20, 1-L-20 meet 1-L-15 on Tac 2."
"This is 1-L-20 to 1-L-15, go, Jim."
"Mac, Gloria Davis left town," Jim stated flatly.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. A neighbor saw her put a suitcase in her trunk earlier today. She didn't know where Davis was going. Mac, we're running out of time and leads. What do we do now?"
"I'll contact D.M.V. and get a make on her car and a license number. We'll put out a broadcast. Someone's bound to spot her. Just hang on, Jim."
"Oh right. I should have thought of that. I guess I'm not thinking too straight," Jim replied.
"Have you eaten today?"
"Uh, no I guess I forgot that too."
"Take seven and meet me at the station. I'll take care of getting out the broadcast about Gloria Davis."
"Roger Mac. Thanks."
Jim hurried back to the station, although he didn't know why. He wasn't hungry and the station only provided another place to sit and wait and worry. But Mac had been adamant about seven, so Jim stopped by the vending machine on his way to Mac's office.
Jim entered without knocking. "Any word on Gloria Davis yet?"
"No, Jim, but the broadcast only went out 10 minutes ago," Mac stated tiredly.
"I know, Mac. And I know you're doing all you can. But you know me. I can't stand to wait. Have we had any more phone calls?"
"No. Is that the best you could do for food?" Mac asked, eyeing the chocolate bar Jim held still unwrapped.
"Just not hungry." Jim sat down and glanced at his watch. "3:45! I had no idea it was so late. Mac, how are we going to find Pete? Isn't there anything else we can do?" Jim shook his leg nervously. He passed the candy bar from one hand to the other until it bordered on melting.
"Nothing productive, Jim. All we can do is wait and stay positive." And hope we're not too late.
Jim stood up and tossed the uneaten candy bar on Mac's desk. He walked over to the window and gazed out, not really looking at anything.
Mac watched the young police officer with admiration. He thought about the days when Jim, as a recruit, fresh out of the academy had been partnered with a seasoned veteran. That first week all Pete Malloy could find to say about his new charge was that he wore the uniform well. Pete had been hard on Jim, pronouncing him green as pond water. He hadn't cut him any slack and it had paid off. Jim Reed had developed into one of L.A.'s finest, in every sense of the word.
Mac stared at Jim. You hang in there, Jim. I don't know how, but we'll find Pete. You two have a special bond between you that the average Joe Citizen could never understand. That Fraternal link that lets you anticipate what the other is thinking and feeling. The academy doesn't teach that, Jim. Not all partners know that exceptional sense of brotherhood. We'll find Pete. You have too much still to teach each other. Too many experiences left to live. "Uh, Jim …
Startled, Jim turned quickly. "Yeah?"
"You've been at it all day. Why don't you go home?"
"No, Mac," Jim sounded tired, but his voice offered no pleading or compromise. "I'm staying here until we get word that someone spotted Gloria Davis. But, Mac, what if she's just another dead end? What if she doesn't know where Scarpetti is? What if Scarpetti doesn't even have Pete? What if we've wasted all this time on another empty lead? What then?"
"If Gloria Davis Doesn't provide the answers we're looking for, we'll look somewhere else. And we'll keep looking until we do find the right answers. Now, Jim, I really think you should go home."
"I told you I'm staying here. I don't know how to explain it, Mac. But somehow I feel closer to finding Pete when I'm here. Like maybe the few miles from my house to the station could mean the difference in getting to him in time. I know it doesn't make any sense, but it's just something I feel. So I'm not leaving." Jim walked over and sat down on the edge of Mac's desk.
"All right, Jim. Maybe I'll hang around awhile too. But you are going to eat something…and that's an order! Let's go see what we can scare up out of the vending machine. And, try to pick something with a little more substance than chocolate." Mac opened his door and ushered Jim out into the hall.
Jim decided on a slightly dented can of beef stew. Mac opted for chicken noodle soup. They sat at a table in the break room and ate. Jim hadn't realized how hungry he had grown or how weak he felt until he started eating the stew. He finished it quickly.
"Want another? I'm buying," Mac offered.
"No, thanks. I'm fine," Jim rejected Mac's offer with a wave of his hand.
Tony Oliver, a new recruit, entered the break room as Mac slurped a noodle off his chin and into his mouth. Oliver, a tall handsome young man with a strong jaw and angular features, pretended not to notice Mac's slurping. "Excuse me, Sergeant MacDonald, Officer Reed."
Mac looked up as Oliver approached their table. "New blood is always so refreshingly polite. But like everything else, that too will end soon." Mac winked at Jim and then smiled at the young officer. "What is it Oliver?"
"I'm working the desk with Officer Smith, sir. He sent me to find Officer Reed." Tony Oliver turned to Jim. "There's someone here to see you."
The last thing Jim wanted now was a visitor. "Any idea who it is, Oliver?" Jim stood up and pushed his chair in as he spoke.
"She said her name is Davis. Gloria Davis."
Jim felt his heart jump slightly. Thank God. Maybe this is the break we've been waiting for. After only a moment, he gathered himself together and asked, "Tony, did she just walk in or did an officer bring her in?"
"No, sir. No one brought her in. Like I said, she walked in and asked to see Officer Reed. That's when Smitty…Officer Smith told me to come find you. She's waiting in the lobby," Tony Oliver prompted, motioning Jim toward the door.
Jim hurried out the door, Mac closely behind. Gloria Davis stood in the lobby. She nervously fidgeted with her purse strap. Jim made eye contact with her from across the room, "Hello, Miss Davis. You asked to see me?"
"Yes, sir. I don't know where to begin." Gloria Davis pulled a wrinkled tissue from her purse and started to shred it.
"Why don't we step over here and have a seat." Jim directed her to a bench. And why don't you get your act together and tell me where my partner is, before I wring your nervous little neck?
"Thank you." Gloria Davis took a seat on the bench. "When you came to my house looking for Andy, I panicked. I didn't lie. I really haven't seen Andy in almost a year. But I know what he's capable of. I know what kind of monster he can be. I don't know why you're looking for him, but it must be something bad. I don't wish the kind of pain Andy dishes out on anyone. After you came to my house, I left. I have a sister in Bakersfield. I planned to stay there a few days, but as I drove, I thought about what Andy might do. I knew I had to come back and talk to you. I couldn't live with myself if I thought I could have helped someone and I did nothing. Why are you looking for Andy?" Gloria Davis looked up at Jim with honest concern in her eyes.
"I think he might have abducted my partner. What did you mean when you said you know what Andy is capable of?" Jim readied himself for the worst possible answer.
"Andy Scarpetti is a strange, sick man. He's not stable. When we were together, he appeared the perfect gentleman one minute, and the next with no warning he'd become violent. He brought me roses once and for no reason he took them away from me and beat me in the face with them," Gloria Davis confided with open embarrassment. "He's a puzzle buff. You know crosswords, riddles - stuff like that? Well, I never really cared for that kind of thing. Andy used to get furious with me because I didn't take an interest. He'd call me stupid and…well, I could go on and on. But, the point is he's a vile, evil person and if you really think he has your partner, then I'd say your partner is in trouble. He may even be dead, if that's what Andy set out to do."
At that moment, Jim hated Gloria Davis for not talking to him earlier. Her refusal to help initially had further jeopardized Pete's chances for survival. But Jim also felt a rush of overwhelming relief that she had come back at all. He could find no balance for the two emotions he felt, so he just put them both on hold and simply did his job. "Miss Davis, do you have any thoughts on where Andy Scarpetti might have my partner?"
"Well, not really. But I do remember hearing Andy talk about a cabin he and his brother John had. Do you know about John?" She paused waiting for Jim's reply.
Jim nodded and she continued. "I've never actually been there. I wasn't welcome into that part of Andy's life. I think the cabin is somewhere off Laurel Canyon Road. About ten miles out Laurel Canyon you turn off onto a dirt road. I think the turn off is near a small grocery called Hank's. From what I've heard Andy say about it, the cabin sets back in a wooded area and is very secluded. I think that dirt road will take you right to it. Andy and John spent a lot of time there, before John was killed. I don't know if Andy has been back since."
"Thank you, Miss Davis." Jim stood, giving Gloria Davis the clue that he did not intend to waste another second.
"I am sorry I didn't talk to you earlier and I do hope you find your partner in time," Gloria Davis offered as she stood to leave.
"Thank you. So do I." Jim turned to Mac, leaving Gloria Davis to find her own way out.
"Let's go Mac." Jim bolted for the door.
"Slow down, Jim. Let's come up with a plan before we just take off. Let me call Cliff." Mac grabbed the nearest phone and pressed Cliff's extension. After a brief conversation he hung up and turned to a very fidgety Jim, "Cliff's going to meet us in the parking lot. I've already got tear gas in my car if we need it."
"What about SWAT?" Jim asked impatiently.
"Let's assess the situation first. If it looks like we need them, we'll radio it in. Let's go."
As the two officers headed for Mac's unit, Jerry Woods, Bob Brinkman and Ed Wells were in the parking lot, talking. "What's the rush?" Wells questioned.
"We think we've got Pete," Jim threw over his shoulder as he entered the passenger side of the car.
"Great!" Jerry Woods exclaimed. "Can we back ya up? We'd like to help."
"Yeah, okay, Woods. You ride with Wells and Brinkman. We don't want this to turn into too much of a caravan at this point," Mac instructed as he stepped into the car on the driver's side. "Switch to Tac 2 and stay there. We'll advise as necessary."
"Roger, Mac." The three back up officers piled into 1-X-Ray-17 with Ed Wells behind the wheel.
Cliff came sprinting up to Mac's car. He quickly climbed into the back seat.
Mac led the way out of the parking lot. From the station, it was about a fifteen-minute drive to the turn off for Laurel Canyon Road. Once on Laurel Canyon, they concentrated on finding Hank's Grocery and the dirt road that might lead them to Pete.
After only a few minutes, Jim spotted the store. "There it is, Mac!"
"Got it, Jim." Mac turned onto a winding stretch of dirt and gravel that appeared not to have been traveled for some time. Ed Wells fell in behind the leader.
They had driven about a mile when Mac spotted a small crude cabin nestled in a thickly wooded area. Mac stopped the car a good distance from the cabin. Ed Wells pulled in beside him.
The officers stepped cautiously from their cars. "What's the plan here?" Ed Wells asked.
"Mac, these are your men. You deploy them where you think they're best suited," Cliff suggested.
"Jim, you try to get a closer look. Circle around behind the cabin and we'll cover you," Mac instructed.
"Roger, Mac." Jim's heart beat rapidly. He made his way around through the trees. He ran in a crouched position up to the window on the north side of the cabin. He stood beside the window with his back against the building. He withdrew his gun from the holster and held it steady at his side. He peered in the window. His trained eyes quickly took in the scene. In just a brief moment, Jim had seen all he needed to see. He returned to Mac and the others.
Jim nodded, confirming the unasked question. "Pete's handcuffed to a bed. He's in bad shape." Jim hesitated, drawing in a breath. "I'm not sure if he's alive."
Cliff interrupted, "I'll go ahead and radio for an ambulance. It will take them awhile on this road." Cliff stepped over to Mac's car.
"Go on, Jim. What else is happening in there?" Mac urged Jim to continue.
"Scarpetti is sitting on a couch. There's a couple of half empty bottles of scotch on a table next to the couch. I'd say he's been drinking pretty heavy. There's a small caliber handgun, probably a .22, on the kitchen table. It's about twenty feet from Scarpetti. I saw a rifle of some kind leaning against the wall in the far corner over by the bed. From the front door the couch is to the right, the bed is further back, but almost directly in front of the door. The cabin is open - pretty much one big room. There's a back door leading out into the woods. There's a pickup truck parked behind the cabin. And the cabin's front door isn't locked. I could see from the window it's opened just a crack. Maybe to let in some air, or maybe Scarpetti doesn't realize it."
"Okay. Here's how we'll do this. Woods, you and Brinkman cover the sides. Wells, you and I will go in the front door. Jim, I want you around back…"
"Around back? No way, Mac. I'm going in the front door," Jim argued.
"Mac, that's my partner in there."
"Which is exactly why I don't want you going in. You're too close to the situation, Jim. Besides, if Scarpetti decides to make a run for it, he's most likely going for that truck or he'll take to the woods for cover. You're the best man I've got on foot, Jim. Trust me. I know what's best."
Jim did trust Mac, but he didn't agree with his decision. He considered arguing further, and then resolved that getting Pete out alive outweighed his preferences. He would adhere to Mac's call. "All right, Mac, I'll cover the back."
"Then, let's do this," Mac instructed.
They carefully approached the cabin. Jerry Woods and Bob Brinkman took their assigned positions on either side of the cabin. Jim made his way around to the back. Mac and Wells slipped silently up to the front door and flanked it; Mac on the left and Wells slightly squatting on the right. The door opened back to the left. Mac gave Wells a questioning look. Ed confirmed his readiness with a definite nod. Mac turned his body inward a little and kicked open the door. "FREEZE!" Mac commanded as he drew his gun in the direction of the couch and a very startled Andy Scarpetti.
Scarpetti contemplated trying to get to the gun on the table. Instead, he made a split second decision to make a break for it. He placed his right arm on the back of the couch and flipped himself up and over. He landed on his hands and knees behind the couch, crawled two or three steps and then continued at a dead run to the door at the back of the cabin.
Jerry Woods watched with keen eyes from the south side of the cabin. He observed through the window as Scarpetti ran for the back door. "He's coming your way, Jim," Woods shouted.
Jim stood ready. The back door of the cabin opened suddenly and Scarpetti crashed through.
"FREEZE!" Jim trained his gun on Scarpetti.
Andy Scarpetti zig-zagged a few steps and took off at full speed into a thick stand of trees. Jim followed with matched speed. After a long run through another small grove of trees, Jim tackled Scarpetti and wrestled him to the ground. "It's over, Scarpetti." Out of breath, Jim heaved a sigh. He pinned Scarpetti to the ground with a knee to his back as he cuffed him. Once the cuffs were secured, he patted Scarpetti down, checking him for weapons.
"What tipped you off, cop?" Scarpetti, even more winded than Jim, asked between gasps for air. "Which one of my clues did you pick up on?"
"Actually, it was the clue that I picked up from Pete, this morning when we talked on the phone." Jim couldn't resist letting Scarpetti know they were one up on him.
"What clue? What are you talking about?"
"Never mind, Scarpetti." Jim stood and jerked Scarpetti to his feet. "You have the right to remain silent…"
Inside the cabin, Ed Wells hurried to the bed. He knelt on the floor and felt Pete's neck for a pulse. Pete's eyes fluttered open.
"Hang on, Pete. We've got an ambulance on the way."
Pete stared blankly at the man standing over him.
"Pete, it's me Wells. You're going to be okay."
"Oh…good," Pete attempted to string together a coherent sentence. "…thought I was dead…this was Heaven… you were an angel… disappointed," Pete slurred.
Ed Wells didn't know quite what to make of this, so he just patted Pete on the arm and used his handcuff key to free Pete from the bed rail.
Mac approached. "Let's not move him. We don't know the extent of his injuries."
Pete struggled to sit up straight. "Don't think I can walk… Legs are in bad shape." Pete drew in a couple of quick breaths.
"That's okay. I'll just insist that the ambulance guys come all the way in and get you. They need to earn their money, same as the rest of us." Ed's attempt at sarcasm fell wasted on Pete's ears.
"Good," Pete agreed earnestly. Pete's eyes darted around, searching the room. "Jim?"
Cliff Stinson stood at the front door. Mac glanced over at him. Cliff nodded.
"Yeah, Pete, Jim's here. He just apprehended Scarpetti around behind the cabin. It's a 4. Everything's going to be all right. I hear the ambulance now." Mac stepped closer to Pete.
Pete stared at Mac for a moment, before closing his eyes.
"In here. Hurry," Cliff Stinson called to the ambulance attendants. They walked quickly to the bed. After checking Pete briefly, they lifted him smoothly and placed him on a stretcher. "We're taking him to Central Receiving. Anybody want to ride in with him?"
"Where's Jim?" Mac asked Woods.
"I'll get him," Wood's offered.
"Okay, tell him that we'll take care of transporting the suspect. Send him to the ambulance. I'm sure he'll want to ride in with Pete."
Jerry Woods stepped out the door and met Jim leading Scarpetti toward the cabin. "Pete's in there." Woods gestured toward the ambulance. "I'll take care of this guy." Woods took the prisoner by the arm.
Jim hurried to the ambulance. He climbed quickly into the back and took a seat across from Pete. He leaned forward and spoke very quietly, "Hey, Pete."
Pete opened his eyes. He raised his left arm and tapped Jim gently on the chest with his knuckles. He managed a slight smile and then closed his eyes. Satisfied, Jim felt himself relaxing. His partner had survived; that's all that mattered. They would talk later.
Early the next morning, Jim made his way down a corridor at Central Receiving. The doctors had convinced him to go on home shortly after the ambulance had arrived with Pete the night before. They assured Jim that Pete would recover completely and that he would probably sleep through the night. There was nothing more for Jim to do.
Jim stopped in front of the door to Pete's room. He felt a strange mixture of excitement and relief building inside him. He had not been able to talk to Pete and he was anxious to get some details from his friend. He pushed the door open. "Mornin', Pete!"
"Jim, hey it's good to see ya." Pete propped himself up a little higher on the pillows.
"So, what'd the doctors say? How bad are ya?"
"Well, lets see. I'm a little dehydrated." Pete lifted an arm indicating an IV replenishing his fluids. "I've got two cracked ribs, a black eye, a slight concussion, and several cuts, scrapes and bruises. Luckily, my legs are only severely bruised, not broken. Scarpetti hit them both with a ball bat. And, I've got a broken big toe."
This amused Jim. "He broke your big toe?"
"No. I think I stubbed it on the dumpster," Pete replied sheepishly.
"Weren't you wearing shoes?"
"Nope. Maybe I better start at the beginning. Monday night I turned on the game and crashed on the couch. A little after midnight I noticed this rank smell. Turned out to be my garbage. I had on a T-shirt and a pair of sweats. I grabbed the garbage and took it to the dumpster. That's when Scarpetti jumped me from behind. He hit me in the back of the head, probably with the ball bat. The next thing I know, I wake up handcuffed to a bed. He must have worked me over pretty good because when I came to I felt like a truck had rolled over me two or three times."
"That's rough, Pete. I talked to Mac this morning. He said Scarpetti turned on like a faucet last night. He talked a blue streak. Seems he's been stalking you for a couple weeks. He found out where you live and just waited outside every night for the opportunity to grab you. He really did his homework. He even saw you talking with Mac once and followed Mac home. Then he went there later and left some of his sick poetry. He told the detectives that he just picked you at random. He said he wanted to kill a cop to avenge the death of his brother."
"Man, that's one sick individual," Pete remarked. "I wonder why he didn't go after the cop that killed his brother."
"He couldn't," A voice sounded from the doorway. "The cop that killed John Scarpetti is dead." Mac walked in, followed by Cliff Stinson. "Riley Dunn, a real decent guy from Foothill Division. Took his family on a vacation three months before he was scheduled to retire and had a heart attack while he was deep sea fishing."
"Oh yeah. I remember hearing about that," Pete nodded. "Happened before you joined the force, Jim. I wonder why Scarpetti waited so long to seek his revenge."
"I guess that's something we'll never know. Hey, Pete, you know Cliff Stinson, don't you? He headed up the investigation."
"Sure." Pete smiled. "Thanks, Cliff."
"My pleasure, Pete. Glad things turned out the way they did."
"Listen, Pete, Cliff and I better shove off. We just wanted to stop by and check on you. Enjoy your day off, Jim. See ya both later," Mac said as the two men stepped out into the hall, closing the door behind them.
"I'm just curious, Pete." Jim took a seat in a chair next to the bed. "All those newspaper articles I found at your apartment - why'd you save them? You don't seem like the pack rat type."
Pete smiled a far off smile, as if he were remembering something from the past. "Do you remember Peggy Adams?"
Jim thought for a moment. "Oh sure. Good lookin' blond with the nice legs. I remember you two dated for a while. She worked for that wealthy real estate broker. What ever happened to her?"
"She married that wealthy real estate broker. But when we were seeing each other she got this big idea that she'd make a scrapbook for me about police-related things. She cut out the articles and got together a few more mementos, then the plan just sort of fizzled like the relationship. I stuck the articles in the drawer and forgot about them. That is, until this happened. I guess the Man upstairs brought them to my mind when I needed them." Pete shifted uncomfortably.
"Yeah," Jim agreed. "Maybe Peggy Adams is your guardian angel. So, when do you think you'll get out of here?" Jim asked, changing the subject.
"I'm not sure. But hopefully it won't be too long."
"Yeah," Jim agreed.
Pete noticed a goofy grin spread across Jim's face. "What's on your mind, Reed?"
"Oh, I was just thinking. You know all those riddles Scarpetti came up with? Well, he missed a good one. What's big and barefoot and smells like a garbage can?" Jim paused for effect. "It's Super Pig," Jim sang out.
"Uh huh." Pete pretended to not be amused. He rested his head on the pillows and closed his eyes. "Hey, Jim," Pete said without opening his eyes.
This caught Jim off guard. It was out of character for Pete. "Uh…who's there?" Jim played along.
"Tanks for finding me."
"Ugh," Jim moaned. "Pete, what say you leave the lousy jokes to me?"
"Good plan, partner," Pete agreed. "You've got a better knack for it."
Jim laughed, then shook his head. It was good to have the same ol' Pete back.
Author's note: Big thanks to Cathy for her patience and encouragement.