Woman Goin’ Crazy on Caroline Street: Simon’s Say

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So where the hell are they? I never had a team I had to worry about before – until Ellison hit my door closely followed by one undersized, over-thinking graduate student. Anyone else, I’d figure they’d stopped for something along the way, took a wrong turn, got caught in Cascade’s Friday evening congestion – with those two I’m pondering possible hostage situations at the Stop ‘n Go.

Damn, I can’t get Carolyn’s attention. She used to always know where Ellison was. Didn’t mean she was happy about it, but it was better than having GPS on the man.

From the shrug, I ascertain that the Ellison-Plummer early warning system has been permanently disconnected. Just when I would have sworn they were headed back together. Not that that would have been a *good* thing. Jim, on a day after one of their fights, was not a man you’d want to deal with.

But, hell, I was the one who sent her out to get the goods on what was going on when Jim tried to tell me about his senses. Who knew he’d end up in my office the next day rhapsodizing over the possibilities of reuniting? All I could figure was that it must have been one hell of a kiss.

Like what I know about relationships is worth anything. If it was, I’d still have a ring on my own left hand. What was it Plummer’s assistant used to call it? Mal amor? God knows, we all suffered.

Joel’s sidled up to me, and I’m about to get him to go track down the cause of the celebration when I see the Plummer radar go into point. Given a guess, I would truly have picked her to have enhanced senses before Ellison.

Speaking of enhanced senses, three steps into the door and Jim is obviously having one of those … episodes. Hell, it’s loud in here for me. You’d wonder what the Sandburg was thinking. The music off the dance floor is enough to wake the dead.

I’m not looking. This whole sentinel thing is way past "don’t ask / don’t tell" for me. Sandburg’s standing there, whispering, when there’s no way you could possibly hear him in this din. For a second Jim’s expression dissolves into that blank look, but then Blair pulls him out -- probably with a hand on Ellison’s arm or back. But I’m not looking. If I’m not looking, then I can’t see.

Shit. I’m not looking, but Carolyn is.

If looks could kill, Jim would have gone straight from that blank possum-in-the-headlights glazed stare to immediate roadkill.

And just when you need him to be, Sandburg is uncharacteristically oblivious -- all attention focused on Jim. Hands steadying, voice anchoring, Ellison the only person in the place as far as he’s concerned. Completely unaware there’s a laser battle going on over his head.

I know she doesn’t like the kid. Hell, to start with I shared her concerns, but surely he’s proven by now that he’s not going to leave Jim in the lurch.

By the time they’ve both stood down, Blair’s already bobbing again to the music. And Jim’s good-naturedly fending off his efforts to harass him onto the dance floor. When that meets the not-unforeseen dead end, he tries me, then Joel, then gets swept away by two of the forensics team.

Jim’s just a little too interested in the strobes and I do my Sandburg imitation and steer him so he’s got nothing more stimulating than ESPN to look at. He tries to position himself so he’s got one eye on the dancers but I’m on to that and swivel him back around. Sandburg can thank me later.

Sitting on the other side of the table so I can keep my own eye on the floor earns me a look of gratitude. I’m trying to convince myself it’s the perfectly normal behavior for a superior and that I’m not some kind of enabler in this weird Sentinel shit. Because what we got here, if this ever comes out, is one hell of a mess. I’d prefer to not spend my time until retirement patrolling Fifth and Bleaker or some other Godforsaken corner of Cascade.

No, Jim. I shake my head at him and point to the flat screen. Watch the TV, detective. I don’t want to have to drag Sandburg over here in front of half the building while you sit there drooling. I’ve got my eye on the grad student. And, hell, half the bar has its eye on Carolyn. She’s not exactly keeping it nice and polite with Brian Rafe. In fact, she lets those hands rove a little lower and I’m going to have to shut the place down for indecent exposure.

I swear, three years ago, this job was not this strange. I did not have Sentinels and observers and the head of forensics doing the friggin’ lambada with a patrol officer not ten feet away from me.

Could be I’m just getting irritable on my detective’s behalf. Ellison, hard to live with as he is, doesn’t deserve the show Carolyn’s putting on.

I’m too interested and Jim turns around. I’m expecting fireworks. If it were Joan – well, there’d be fireworks. But Ellison merely tilts his head, then looks back at me with an apologetic shrug. Like she’s still somehow his responsibility. But then Blair’s about taken the mambo horizontal over there himself, delightedly forming a ménage with two of Carolyn’s staff. And I always thought of forensic types as the accountants of police work.


Don’t know exactly why I didn’t just stay at the table when Jim started roaming, but here I am shadowing the man -- the whole flashing-lights-to-noise ratio probably has something to do with it. Plus, Blair being otherwise pleasurably occupied while Jim treads through the sensory deluge seems wrong to me. None of which makes any sense when you realize I’ve appointed myself babysitter to an ex-Army Ranger.

Oh, Christ. Carolyn’s coming out and Jim’s trying to go in the same narrow hallway. I should do the polite thing and back away, but Carolyn’s still got that dead look in her eye. It’s my managerial responsibility.

Jim’s voice floats back to me over the beat from the bar. "You know what they say - these days, if you fuck a uniform, you might as well quit."

Ellison would probably provoke a mother bear in her den. He does it to the kid, too, but shit, the kid never looks like that.

"I’m serious Caro. You don’t want to risk your career over this."

Maybe I should pull him out while there’s still some flesh left on his bones, but Plummer reveals she’s apparently going straight for the jugular and skipping the preliminary gnawing.

"Whereas if you fuck the observer …"

Oh, God.

"I’m not fucking anybody."

It’s not a good sign, is it - me trying to decide if Jim’s statement surprises me. It’s not that I thought … sure Jim came with a rep from Vice, but, hell, he and Caro were as passionate in love as they are in hate. Security probably still has the tapes to prove it. But he and the kid … well, if Sandburg was female it would have never *not* crossed my mind that Jim was sleeping with her.

"Could have fooled me. And you’d better be fooling Simon."

I’d forgotten Plummer could sound like that. So Bitter. Threatening.

"Simon knows everything there is to know and that’s a lot less than you apparently believe."

Fuck. This is why I hate this Sentinel stuff. ‘Cause I don’t know anything. Don’t want to know anything. Know too damn much all ready. Even the best solve-rate in the city isn’t worth this. She’s trying to leave, Jim. For once just let her go. Let her go.

"You want it wrapped up with a bow, Jimmy? Is that what you want? Well, let me tell you a couple things I don’t know if either of us realized before tonight – one is that Carolyn Plummer, who steadfastly refused to sleep her way up the ladder, is not at all averse to sleeping her way down. Do you really need me to spell out what James Ellison has learned?"

I watch Jim turn to look toward Sandburg. The expression on his face is poignant.

Leave him alone, Carolyn. He knows.