Act IV

Bear Island Ferry

Cars moved up and down the ramp, directed by ferry workers. Bustling groups of happy couples and excited families walked along the dock. Jim and Blair were directed into a parking slot in Jim's truck. Jumping out of it, they walked over to Finkelman, right where she said she'd meet them. A large briefcase was in her hand. Blair eyed it with some trepidation.

"It's a good thing I got through to you," Finkelman said angrily. "Sabin's expecting me to bring Joe Brock."

"Uh, why does he want to do this on a ferry?" Blair asked, looking around at the happy travelers. Not exactly a place he'd expect nefarious business deals to be going down.

Finkelman made a face. "Because he's planning on taking the cash and getting off the ferry before it leaves. If this was going down the way he planned it, we'd be transferring the Freon to another truck, then turning in the rental on the other side."

"Smart." Blair looked at his partner sideways. He almost sounded like he admired the crook.

Finkelman smiled wolfishly. "Except he doesn't expect to be wearing cuffs."

"Come on, let's do it." Jim said impatiently, moving rapidly toward the ferry, Blair and Finkelman trailing in his wake. They didn't see the Brock brothers behind them, in Joe's car, waiting to board the ferry.

Cascade Hospital

Amy frowned at Simon as she adjusted his IV pole and checked the fluid level. "Okay, you'll be all set in just a minute."

Simon looked petulant. "I said I don't want it."

Across the room, Joel opened the curtains, letting in bright sunlight. Simon squinted. Taking advantage of his distraction, Amy started to inject something into the IV line.

"What is that?" Simon asked suspiciously.

"It's just something to calm you down for the ride in the ambulance," Amy soothed.

Grabbing the tubing, Simon pulled at it. ""No! I don't want to be calm!" Exhausted from his failed effort, he fell back on the bed.

"Don't touch that!" Amy scolded. "I'm here to help you, you know. Pulling out an IV is not a good idea."

"Simon," Joel started, "We have to get you out of here."

"Why?" Simon asked Joel. He turned to Amy. "Why?" When they exchanged looks but didn't answer, he sighed. "Will one of you please tell me what is going on?"

Joel looked uncomfortable. "We think somebody's trying to kill you." Instead of laughing at him, Simon looked pleased.

"I knew it! It's them. They think I can identify them."

Joel leaned forward. "Who?" he asked intently; "Who are they?"

Simon shrugged. "I don't know, Joel. I'm just starting to remember … I overheard a conversation." He frowned in concentration. "Two people. They were…planning to murder someone in the hospital. A doctor."

"Are you sure?" Joel flushed at Simon's glare. "I mean, you have been pretty doped up, man."

"You just said someone was trying to kill me," Simon pointed out.

"Yeah," Joel agreed. "But it could be anybody with a grudge. You've made a lot of collars Simon. Made a lot of enemies."

Simon shook his head. "No, it has to be them. It was a man and a woman. It sounded like they were doctors, too. The person they were going to kill was going to turn them in for something."

All three fell silent as the door swung open and two orderlies wheeled in a long gurney.

"Hey!" Simon protested. "What's going on?" He grabbed Joel's sleeve. "Look, Joel. I am not leaving this hospital until I find out who those people are and what exactly is going on."

Joel's brow creased in worry. "Come on, man."

"I'll be fine," Simon assured his friend. "There's another life at stake here. I've got the whole police department looking after me, but I’m the only one who can save whoever this is."

Joel looked unconvinced.

Bear Island Ferry

Sabin jumped out of the truck, motioning to his three bodyguards. He pointed at two of them. "You guys stay here with the truck. Al," he nodded at the third man, "you're with me." The other two men nodded and crossed their arms against their chests.

Sabin and Al went looking for their new customers.

"Sabin should be here by now," Finkelman said, checking her watch. Beside her, Blair shifted uneasily. Jim stiffened.

"Looks like we've got company." He pointed to the Brocks, visible through the ferry's large windows, moving out on the deck.

"Who are they?" Blair asked, as Finkelman sighed, rubbing her forehead with one hand.

"The Brock brothers. Joe and Rick," she said with disgust.

"What the hell are they doing here?" Blair demanded, his voice rising with alarm.

Jim shrugged. "Dunno. Stall them as long as you can. I'll go make the buy and collar Sabin." He held his hand out for the briefcase, but Finkelman wrapped her arms around it protectively.

"No! Sabin's mine. Besides, the Brocks'll want to make sure I still have the money. I'll hold onto it until you make contact with Sabin and find out where the Freon is." She motioned to Blair. "Come on."

Blair sent one eloquent glance in Jim's direction before wordlessly following Finkelman down the room to the door at the other end. Jim kept one ear open in their direction as he walked the other way looking for Sabin.

"I hope you've learned something in your last two years with Ellison," he overheard Finkelman say to his partner. Jim smiled, knowing that Blair had learned a lot more than Finkelman could suspect.

"You have a plan, right?" Blair demanded.

"Yeah," Finkelman said promptly. "We improvise."

Blair sounded disgusted. "Oh, that's just great."

They turned the corner to see the Brock brothers standing in front of them, facing the other direction. "Where are we meeting him?" Rick asked unaware of their new company.

Finkelman sighed and walked up to Joe. He turned when she tapped his shoulder, his face clouding with anger. "What the hell are you trying to pull, Trudy?" He grabbed the briefcase from her hands and shoved it at Rick. He raised his hand as well as his voice, glaring at the woman standing in front of him. "Well?"

"Hey, hey, hey, take it easy," Blair said, jumping to stand beside her and making calming motions. Joe turned the glare on him.

"And you would be…?"

"Arthur Sabin," Finkelman inserted smoothly, before Blair could even open his mouth.

Blair shot her a wild glance, then composed his face into what he imagined a drug dealer might look like. "Yeah, that's right," he said, trying to sound tough. "It's about time you two showed up. I was getting ready to tell your girl here to go fish." He carefully didn't look at Finkelman. "Now, come on." He led the way down the hallway.

Jim stood surveying the crowd inside the ferry, looking for Sabin, hoping that he hadn't had second thoughts and bolted. He was startled by a knock on the glass window behind him. Whirling around, he saw Sabin and one of his thugs staring at him. Sabin motioned for him to stay where he was. Jim crossed his arms and waited as the drug dealer and his man walked into the room.

"Glad you could make it, Brock," Sabin said mockingly. "Where's your little girlfriend?"

Jim shrugged. "Where's the Freon?"

Sabin imitated his technique. "Where's the money?"

Jim's eyes narrowed. "It's downstairs. Don't worry."

"No games," Sabin warned. "Go get it. You've got five."

Jim raised his eyebrows. "Well, I would really like to see the Freon first."

Impasse. Both men stopped and took stock of each other.

"You know, you're a very interesting man to figure out," Sabin said slowly. "First you send a woman to do your business, and then, all of the sudden you get this huge set of…uh…" He swallowed his words, interpreting the promised mayhem in Jim's deceptively mild gaze.

"If you want to get off the boat before it sails, you don't have much time," Jim pointed out. "Now, do you want to argue, or do you want to get paid?"

"I don't argue," Sabin said flatly. "You give me a sec?"

"Yeah, sure." Jim turned to look out the window, ignoring the other man. Sabin walked over to his bodyguard and started talking softly. Jim tilted his head and listened.

<Listen to me, Al. I want you to go look for Trudy,> Sabin instructed in a harsh whisper. <I bet she's got the cash, okay?> Al nodded and moved off. Sabin looked over to Jim and spoke loudly. "Hey, tough guy. Let's go."

"Okay," Jim said easily. He followed Sabin as he headed in the opposite direction from where he'd sent his thug.

Cascade Hospital, Simon's Room

"Now, the woman said the doctor was set to testify at some sort of board..."

Amy, sitting beside the bed keeping an eye on her patient, sat up straighter. "Medical Review Board," she said. "It meets today." She frowned as Simon moved suddenly and caught his breath at a stab of pain. "Please, let me give you something."

Simon shook his head. "No, no. I want to be alert to figure this out."

Joel rubbed one hand across his chin. "Look, Simon," he said, worry in his eyes. "They've already made two unsuccessful attempts to kill you. What makes you think they haven't committed the other murder yet?"

"Then it would be too obvious. If the doctor is set to testify, they'd want to make it look like an accident, right before the review."

"Or a suicide?"

Simon looked thoughtful. "Yeah. Whoever the intended victim is, he or she is implicated somehow, so the killers want to make it seem like the person got cold feet. Why don't you talk to the hospital administrator. See if you can get names for everybody that's supposed to be at this Review Board."

Amy looked doubtful, but Joel agreed.

Bear Island Ferry, upper deck

"So just what the hell is going on here?" Joe Brock asked his face red with fury.

"Just relax," Blair said soothingly. "He'll be here."

Rick was tilting his head to one side, looking Blair over from the woolen cap on his head to the worn hiking boots on his feet. "Joe, you know…This guy…he sure sounds a lot different in person."

Joe nodded. "There's something fishy about this whole setup."

Finkelman sighed. Blair admired the weary resignation that seemed to come off her in waves. "Look, what will I do with a truckload of Freon?"

"Not a thing," Joe agreed easily. His eyes narrowed. "But fifty grand? You could do a whole lot with that." He looked at his brother. "I think its gone bad. Let's get the hell out of here."

Rick looked at Blair one more time. "Yeah," he agreed, turning to follow his brother. Blair exchanged a glance with his temporary captain, and she moved to follow them. Blair trailed after her.

"Joe, Rick…wait…"

Neither of them saw Al come on deck after them.

Bear Island Ferry, lower deck

"So, you satisfied?" Sabin asked, watching as one of his boys pulled the door shut on the truck. He crossed his arms across his chest and raised both eyebrows expectantly.

"I'm satisfied." Ellison pulled out his cell phone. "Just hold on and I'll get you your money."

Sabin nodded, pulling out his own phone as it rang. After one suspicious glance at the taller man, he moved to the opposite side of the truck to take the call. He missed Jim's phone beeping, although one of the hired thugs noticed. "Yeah." He paused, obviously listening. "Okay, keep an eye on her. I'll be right there." Sabin rounded the truck, looking less than happy.

Jim waved his own phone vaguely. "The call didn't go through. I'm gonna have to try again."

"There's no more time," Sabin said grimly, nodding to his man, who immediately pulled out a gun.

Jim's mouth dropped open. "What's going on here?"

"Oh, the boat's leaving," Sabin said with a scowl. "I'll have to get the money from your girl myself, but don't you worry about anything. Tommy here is going to keep you company." He saluted the detective mockingly as he vanished into the nearby stairway. "Nice doing business with you."

Turning to Tommy, Jim smiled ingratiatingly. "I still have to make that call."

"Forget about it." Tommy loomed convincingly, poking his gun menacing into the side of his seemingly unarmed victim. Jim tensed, a breath of sound warning him that he had a chance at turning the tables…

The ferry's whistle blew; Tommy started in surprise. Jim put all his weight behind one powerful punch, which laid the thug out neatly. Ellison grunted in satisfaction as Tommy lay unmoving on the deck. He pulled out his handcuffs, watching the ferry parking doors close.

Bear Island Ferry, Parking level

The elevator came to a stop, discharging its tension-filled passengers. Blair got off first, followed closely by Finkelman and the Brocks. Joe looked towards the closed doors and swore.

"Look Joe," Finkelman said apologetically, "It's too late to get your car off the boat."

"What about him?" Joe demanded, pointing to Blair, "How's he getting off?"

Blair raised his head and tried to look arrogant. "There's still time for me to walk off."

Joe snorted. "Okay, so where's the damn Freon?"

Blair opened his mouth, desperately trying to think of a plausible lie. "Saved by the bell," he muttered under his breath as his cell rang. He pulled it out and flipped it open. "Hello?"

Jim's voice came over the line. "I'm on the lower car deck, just outside Section B."

Relief washed over the anthropologist, and he tightened his grip on the phone. "You've got some explaining to do, pal," he tried to make his voice menacing. He couldn't help looking sideways at Joe to judge how well he was succeeding. "You want to work for Arthur Sabin, you've got to stop screwing around."

Jim's voice was relaxed, almost amused. Blair could have strangled him. "Now listen to me, Bogie. Are you doing okay up there?"

"Fine," Blair said, wishing that Jim was beside him. "We'll be right there."

"The real Arthur Sabin is up there looking for Finkelman somewhere, so be careful."

Blair rolled his eyes. "All right, fine." He hung up, fixing his best imitation-Ellison glare on the Brocks. "This way." Everyone followed him toward the stairway. No one noticed as Al got off the elevator, opened his cell phone and dialed.


Act V