Beta Read by BethB
Written for PetFly by:
Teleplay by: David H. Balkan
Story by: Rich Tabach
internal thought in italics
Juggling groceries and my dry cleaning, I'm fishing for my keys in my
purse when the phone starts to ring inside my apartment. "I'm coming!" I yell,
and promptly drop the groceries and the keys. When I finally have everything picked up, I
enter to a flashing red light on my message machine.
Setting everything down on the kitchen table, I push play. Carolyn Plummer's voice comes through the speaker. <Hey, Bulldozer, just calling to check up on you. Guess they have you working the graveyard shift, huh?">
Yawning, I smile as I hang up my coat. "Actually, Caro," I say to the machine, "I was attending a lecture on birth and death rituals in aboriginal cultures with Blair." It was one of those 'it isn't a date' dates we'd been on lately. I'm all for Blair's wanting to take things slow, (some of the disasters he's told me about would have turned me off dating for life), but it's been a month now, and frankly, I would enjoy a little more speed. And a bit more than kissing. Hell, a lot more than kissing.
Carolyn's voice continues, <I would have saved this call for the weekend, but I just got some news I thought you should know. > There's an ominous pause, then she says, <It's Warren Chapel. They transferred him to Conover three months ago. He's in Cascade, Cassie. I thought you needed to know. I'll call you on Sunday, okay?> There's a beep, and the message ends.
I stand there, staring at the machine, my blood turning to ice water.
Heart pounding, breath roaring in my ears
hide, I have to
he's coming for me
nowhere to hide
nowhere to run
he's coming! Eyes cold as death, staring into mine
oh, God, pain! I
And wake myself up. I lie there, staring at the ceiling, nightgown soaked with sweat. Jesus, Cassie, it was just a dream. It wasn't real. He can't hurt you, he can't hurt you, he can't hurt you, I chant silently to myself. He's locked up in a maximum-security mental hospital. You're safe; you're perfectly safe.
But try as I might, I can't go back to sleep.
After my rough night, my first call of the day is to a homicide on the
docks. I give the scene a cursory going over, knowing Dan Wolf from the ME's office is on
his way. When he arrives, I leave the body to him, and walk Jim and Blair, who caught the
case on the department end, through the scene.
"We'll try to get some prints, but I'm not very optimistic," I'm saying, as we walk toward where the victim was found.
"Got an ID on him?" Jim asks, which is a far cry from our first meeting, when he yelled at me for looking for ID before the detective arrived. It's nice to know things are slowly changing for the better around here.
"It's Ben O'Doyle, the union guy," I answer, coming to a halt behind where Dan is examining the body.
"Whoever did it knew what he was doing--a couple punches to take him out of action, then a bullet in the heart," Dan says, looking up at us briefly.
Jim squats next to the ME. "Any ideas on the gun?"
Wolf nods. "Judging from the exit wound, it could be a .357 or a .45. Whoever did this didn't need the gun." He points to the DB's neck. "Look at the bruising on the throat. My guess is the windpipe is crushed. He would have asphyxiated."
A chill runs through me, and I have to look away. "Maybe the killer was putting the victim out of his misery," I say, more to myself than the others.
Jim stands up, shrugging. "Well, whatever the reason, there's no loss of motives. O'Doyle was accused of whacking a union rival. You guys do the math."
Blair speaks up for the first time, his eyes on me instead of the body. "Yeah. I remember that case. He got off."
Footsteps echoing in a darkened hallway. They're coming closer and there's no place to hide. Flash of light on metal, the muffled sound of a shot my own voice screaming
A touch on my arm pulls me out of the memory. I glance to the side to see Blair looking at me, concern on his face. "People don't always agree with verdicts," I say. I shudder, fear wrapping itself around me. I have to know, I have to. "Uh I've got to go. I've got some work to do."
It takes all my self-control to walk away slowly instead of breaking into a panicked run. I can feel Blair's confused gaze on my back all the way to my van.
A few phone calls and a short drive later, I'm sitting in Conover's
parking lot, trying to force my fear down enough to go in. Deep breaths, girl. Deep,
calming breaths. I am calm. I can do this. I am calm. I am in control of my fear. My fear
does not control me. Chanting my mental mantra, I go inside.
After I'm through the security check, I'm met by the head of the institution, a man named Burke. He's seems rather mild-mannered for the work he does, but perhaps a bland personality is what's needed in a place like this. "Thank you so much for seeing me on short notice, Dr. Burke. I realize you're probably quite busy."
He starts down a long hallway, and I follow, a uniformed guard trailing silently behind us. "Well, when I get a call from the local police department saying it's urgent, I tend to make time." He switches subjects to the reason I'm here. I'd given him a little background on our case over the phone. "Now, we keep him segregated except when he's in group therapy, but that's a couple times a week. Otherwise, he's pretty much by himself."
"What about visitors?" I ask.
Burke shakes his head. "No visitors. He doesn't have phone privileges either, and all of his mail is screened."
We come to a stop at a gated doorway, and the guard with us knocks on the wall and calls out, "You got company, Warren. Try to act like a gentleman."
A shudder runs through me, and I take a deep breath, trying to steel myself for coming face to face with a man I haven't seen in nearly two years. I am in control. I am in control.
The gate opens and we go through into another hallway. There's a single cell at the end, a thick, glass wall separating the occupant from the outside world. I fight back another wave of panic.
"Harris will be watching you on a closed-circuit monitor," Burke tells me.
I'm supposed to find that reassuring how? If he can't get out, then why is the camera necessary?
"If you need anything, just call," Harris, the guard, says.
"Thank you," I respond.
Burke wishes me good luck, then leaves with the guard.
Swallowing hard, I walk over in front of the glass. Chapel looks up at me. He's not a big man, but the force of his personality, his suffocating evil, fills the room. He reminds me of a huge river rat, with his hair slicked back in a ponytail and his crooked teeth the rodent's sharp incisors.
"How's life in the Bay area, Cassie?" he asks slyly. "Still hanging out in the clubs off the square?"
That delivers a blow to my carefully created fašade. It's the first time he's ever admitted that our previous meeting wasn't a chance encounter, that he'd been stalking me. Straightening my shoulders, I cover, saying, "Gave up the club life. Too many late nights and early mornings."
He blinks at me slowly, then says almost gleefully, "Life is full of little ironies, isn't it? You're here in Cascade. So am I."
How in the hell does he know I live in Cascade now? Again, I push down the fear as he goes for the jugular.
"How's the shoulder? Still bother you on rainy days?" He takes a step toward the glass, and I can't help it, I take one back.
Mentally shaking myself, I try to take control of the situation. "Someone is killing again. They're using your signature."
The corners of his mouth turn up in an approximation of a smile. "Who was killed?"
"He was a union boss tried for murder."
"And the courts let him off. Tch, tch. Was he killed with a .45 -caliber bullet?"
He looks thoughtful, and I can't tell if it's because he's genuinely surprised by my news, or if he's just trying to convince me he is. "What about the gun? Was it chrome-plated?" His eyes glitter eagerly, and I realize he's getting off on what I'm telling him, whether he had a hand in it or not.
"I don't know. I don't have it yet."
"Pity." He sighs. "Well, it certainly sounds like me." He moves closer to the speaker set in the glass, lowering his voice. "How do you think I'm doing it?"
I won't boost his ego by letting him think I suspect it's him. "I told you it was someone else, someone who knows about you."
Chapel shrugs, an infinitesimal lifting of his shoulders. "Possible, but not likely. This kind of a thing can't be duplicated. It's too intimate--like DNA--one of a kind." The last is said with a bit of a leer, and he knows I can't miss the sexual connotations.
I can, however, choose to ignore them. "So how are you doing it, Warren, huh? Are you sneaking out in the middle of the night?"
It's his turn to ignore my questions. "The man who was killed, his name was O'Doyle, wasn't it?"
"You could have read that in the newspaper."
Chapel leans closer to the glass separating us. "He likes expensive shoes--tasseled loafers. They're made for him in Milan. The shoemaker's name is sewn in the instep." He gives me a moment to digest that, then continues. "Did I read that, too? Hmm? Well, you better check and see. In the meantime worry about tonight, say, 9:00." Turning his back on me, he walks over to his cot and sits down, signaling he's through with our conversation.
I manage to hold myself together long enough to get out of the building, but by the time I reach my van I'm a basket case. The sudden release of pent-up adrenaline is giving me the shakes. Putting a hand on the hood to steady myself, a wave of nausea sweeps over me and I'm retching onto the pavement. Damn him, damn him. I swore I wasn't going to let him psyche me out, and he's done it again. All I can think about is running as far and as fast as I can away from him, away from Cascade.
Blinking back tears, I get in my van and leave Conover with a squeal of tires.
Sitting beside Jim at his desk, ignoring the usual noise of the bullpen, I
try and concentrate on the textbook I'm reading but my mind keeps wandering back to this
morning, and Cassie's strange behavior at the crime scene. She looked
realize, and I immediately feel a pang of guilt for having kept her out late last night.
But tired doesn't explain her reaction to the dead guy. She seemed really rattled by him. I go over the memory again. No, it wasn't the body that upset her. When Dan started talking about how the guy was killed, that was when she started to get distracted. Like she was remembering something, but what could it be? Another case?
"Well, when she gets back would you have her return my call as soon as possible?" Jim's voice interrupts my musing. "I need that ballistics report." He hangs up the phone and looks at me, as if I'm to blame for Cassie being unavailable at the exact second he wants her for something. "She said she had some personal business to attend to. Nobody knows where she is."
Personal business? In my experience with women that can mean anything from a shoe sale to a gynecologist's appointment. I look up to see Cassie entering the bullpen, a determined, but frightened look on her face. Getting to my feet, I say, "Cassie?"
Ignoring me, she stops in front of Jim. "I think I know who killed Ben O'Doyle."
"What? Welles, we just got this case this morning, hell, the ballistics haven't even been finished--"
"He was shot with a .45," she snaps, then glances around the room. "Is Captain Banks here? I only want to have to say this once."
"I think he went to the break room," I supply helpfully.
"I'll go get him," Jim states, giving me a look as he leaves that clearly says, 'find out what's going on'.
Cassie's hands are shoved in her jacket pockets, and her gaze keeps darting around the room, as if she's looking for something. When I step in closer and lay my hand on her arm, I can feel her shaking. "Cassie my god what's the matter? What's wrong?"
For a moment she looks like she's going to confide in me, her hand covering mine where it rests on her arm, her fingers squeezing tightly. "I'm " she starts to say, then Jim returns with Simon and she moves away.
"You have some information for us, Welles?" Captain Banks says. She nods, and follows him into his office, Jim trailing after them.
I stand there for a moment, turning Cassie's odd behavior over in my mind. She's scared, I realize, but of what?
"You coming, Chief?" Jim sticks his head out Simon's door.
"Yeah," I answer, crossing the room. The first chance I get Cassie alone, I'm going to find out what's got her so spooked.
Sandburg enters Simon's office and closes the door behind him. He perches on the edge of the conference table, his gaze never leaving Welles.
She's leaning against the credenza, staring out the window at the rain, her arms folded across her chest. Outwardly, she seems calm, if somewhat distracted, but I can hear her heart pounding.
Simon settles into his desk chair. "All right, Welles. Let's hear what you've got."
Cassie doesn't answer right away. Taking a deep breath, she states, "His name is Warren Chapel. He killed three people in San Francisco." She hesitates before continuing, her tongue darting out to wet her lips nervously. "I uh, I worked the case. The newspapers called him 'the avenging angel' because all of his victims were men who had committed well-publicized crimes and had walked on a technicality. Chapel would first inflict physical punishment and then put them out of their misery with a single gunshot to the heart--a .45 from a chrome-plated automatic. I just found out that he's been transferred to Conover as of three months ago because of overcrowding. He knows things he shouldn't. He knew O'Doyle's name. I didn't tell him who the vic was."
Simon removes his cigar from his mouth. "He could have found that out, Cassie. He could have read it in the papers, saw it on TV."
She shakes her head vehemently. "No. He told me that O'Doyle liked Italian loafers and that the shoemaker was from Milan and that the shoemaker's name was stitched in the instep of the shoe. I went to evidence. It's just as he said it would be. He warned me that something is going to happen tonight; he even told me the time--9 p.m."
The captain's still not convinced. "Yeah, he could have found that out, too. Come on, Cassie. He is playing with you. Conover is a maximum-security institution. There is no way he could get out or even contact someone."
Blair moves from the table to stand by Cassie, his hand coming to rest on her shoulder. The tension seems to flow out of her then, and she leans into his touch. Blair speaks up for the first time. "Simon, what if he's not playing? What if he somehow is involved?"
For once I find myself siding with Welles. I speak up in her defense. "Captain, I don't think we can leave this to chance. From what Cassie's said, all of Chapel's victims were high profile. I think if we spend some time going over trials where the accused walked, then we can make a list of likely victims.
"I already did that before I came to talk to you," Cassie says. Reaching in her pocket, she pulls out a copy of a newspaper article. She hands it to me.
One glance at the man in the photo and I know she's made a good choice. I give the clipping to Simon.
I nod. "Yeah. This prince, as you can see, was accused of white slavery and murder, but he walked on a technicality, something about evidence obtained in an illegal search."
The captain looks at the three of us, considering his options. Finally, he says, "All right, tell you what: why don't you put a surveillance team on him? But you wrap it up at midnight. I still think we're chasing our tails here."
"We might be, Captain, but thank you." I turn toward Cassie, who's gone back to staring out at the rain. "Thank you very much, Welles."
She tears her attention away from the window to meet my gaze. "You're welcome."
Blair gives her hand a squeeze and says in a low voice, "We'll talk later." At her nod, he exits the office.
I give her one last look before I do the same. Despite Sandburg's best efforts, she's still tense. There's something she's not telling us, but I don't have the time to pry it out of her now.
Parking my van around the corner from Bellini's house, I glance at my
watch. Eight p.m. Well, this'll be one of the longest hours of my life.
Sighing, I turn up the volume on the police radio. I can't believe I'm doing this. I'm already way too personally involved, but I have to know. Has my worst nightmare come true? Is Chapel killing again? And if so, how long until he comes after me?
My hand goes to my shoulder involuntarily. They say the body doesn't remember pain. Whoever they are, they lie.
I pull out a pair of binoculars, and study the house. All's quiet. Too quiet, maybe. I wish Blair were here. I could do with some conversation to keep myself from freaking out. That, and I'm beginning to feel like I owe him the truth.
He knows there's something going on with me, but so far he hasn't pushed. Just let me know that he's here for me if I need him. But I can't help seeing the worry in his eyes when he looks at me. He cares and it's been so long since I've felt that from someone I don't know how to deal with it. But I'm going to have to, and maybe even admit to myself that his feelings are returned.
Blair's fidgeting. I can tell there's something he wants to say, but to
his credit, he's managing to keep it in longer than the norm for him. After a patrol car
cruises by for the tenth time tonight, he finally cracks. "I hate stakeouts."
I chuckle. "You're not having a good time? Come on. Just relax. Think of it as a meditation."
He shakes his head, laughing with me. "How can I think of it as a meditation when my stomach's all in knots? I think of it as anticipation. Is something going to happen? Is something not going to happen?"
I shrug. "I think of it like baseball, Chief. When the pitcher releases the ball, you don't know if it'll be a strike or a home run, or something in between. You just have to be prepared to go in any direction."
He seems to consider my sports analogy for a moment, then says, "You know, if Chapel does show up, he's better than Houdini. Simon's right--you don't walk out of Conover."
Now he's piqued my interest. "How do you know that?"
He gives me a teasing look. "Well, I've got some history there."
Oh, this is way too easy to pass up, and I don't. "I'm sure you do." I laugh at my own joke.
"Well, it's not what you think," he replies with a grin.
Before I can ask what he means by that, my cell phone rings. "Ellison."
<Yeah, Jim. It's Simon. I just had a visit from Bellini's lawyer. We've been served with a cease and desist order signed by Judge Weaver. Surveillance is over. He feels our protection is an infringement upon his client's privacy. Evidently, his client has a problem with the police. Bottom line is if we don't leave, we're in violation of a court order.>
Damn it. I glance at my watch. "Captain, it's almost 9:00. Can you buy us some time somehow?"
Simon takes his frustration out on me. <I've used up all my chips. Now pull the damned plug!> There's a loud click as he hangs up.
I'm reaching for the radio when Blair asks, "What's going on?"
"Simon pulled the plug--court order." I click the microphone on. "This is Detective Ellison. The stakeout has been officially terminated. All units are requested to disperse. Thank you. Good night."
I put down the binoculars at Ellison's announcement. No, damn it, no! I
consider my options. I'm not here officially. I could just go up to Bellini's front door
and tell him what's going on, tell him he's in danger.
I take another look at the house through the binoculars. Something's moving along the garage wall. It could just be the wind in the bushes--or it could be Chapel. A long shudder rolls through me. I don't want to do this. I don't want to face him again.
But someone else's life is in danger, and the cops are leaving. Picking up my Sig Sauer from the passenger seat, I chamber a round, then slide it into the holster clipped to my belt.
A patrol car turns the corner and cruises toward me. I duck down in my seat until I hear them pass. Taking a deep breath, I get out of the car, and start toward Bellini's house.
Jim starts the truck, but he doesn't look happy about it. "I've got a
bad feeling about this," I tell him.
He shrugs. "Yeah, well, tell your rabbi." He pulls the truck away from the curb.
He's just as reluctant to leave as I am, though, because he circles the block slowly. A familiar blue Toyota van is parked on the street behind the house. "Hey, what's she doing here?" I ask.
Jim parks the truck behind Cassie's van and reaches for the door handle. "Stay here, Chief. I'll handle this."
"Jim," I start to protest, but he's already out of the truck before I can finish. "Take it easy on her!" I call, knowing he can still hear me.
As I start up the driveway to the house, all the lights go out. Shit! I
break into a run, pulling my weapon, but I have no idea what I think I'm going to do if I
find Chapel. Worry about that if it happens, Cassie. You get caught up in it now,
you'll get killed.
Reaching the house, I creep along the side of the garage until I come to a door. Broken glass crunches underfoot, and I can see the window in the door is broken. Fear twists my stomach, but I push the door open and enter, gun drawn.
It's pitch black inside, and I fumble along the wall until I reach another doorway. Steeling myself for whatever lies ahead, I turn the knob.
When I reach the driver's side window of Welles' van, I look inside. It's
empty. Damn it, Cassie. What in the hell are you up to? Automatically I extend my
hearing toward Bellini's house; it's the only place she'd have a reason to go.
I don't hear Cassie, but someone yells, followed by the sounds of a struggle. Racing toward the house, I draw my gun. By the time I reach the front door, the fighting has stopped. There's a moment of utter silence, then the muffled noise of a gunshot.
Kicking open the door, I run inside, but it's too late. Bellini is lying on the floor of what looks like a study. There's no sign of anyone else. Damn it!
I'm leaning over him, checking for a pulse, when Blair appears in the doorway. "Jim, what oh god ."
A few seconds later, Cassie runs up behind him. One look at the body, and she's hiding her face in Blair's shoulder. He puts an arm around her as the grandfather clock chimes nine times.