The rising sun found Jim, Blair, Simon and Federal Agent O'Hara in Simon's
office. O'Hara was explaining Blairs arrest. We didn't realize he was one of
Simon chewed on the end of his unlit cigar, "Didn't think you boys would go through this much trouble over a $100 bill. Is something going on?"
O'Hara handed the bill to Simon to examine. "Yeah. When it come to one of these."
Jim had seen the bill when he had arrived to pick up Blair from the federal building. "It's a fair printing job. A pro might be able to spot the imperfections, but your average John Public wouldn't."
O'Hara continued, "Most counterfeit currency's made on rice paper, but that one's made on 100% cotton rag."
Simon looked up from the bill. "I thought only the US government could get that."
O'Hara responded, "Yeah, well, so did we. What we're looking at here are average counterfeit bills printed on real paper."
Blair spoke up, "Where does the US get their supply of cotton rag from?"
O'Hara took the bill back. "Only one place in the world -- Strand Paper Corporation in Michigan."
Simon moved to sit behind his desk and pick up his phone. "Perhaps we should give Strand a call, see if we can get an employee list."
O'Hara stepped forward. "Counterfeiting is federal jurisdiction, Captain."
Simon looked up at the agent. "Is that how you want to play this, O'Hara? I thought this could be a joint investigation."
O'Hara regretted having to make this decision, but his superiors wanted to keep it internal. "I'm sorry, but we prefer to work alone. Now, Mr. Sandburg, can you remember where you got this bill?"
Blair realized that he would have to cover their tracks. There was no way the FBI was going to take this away from him. He had to help Jamie, and that would mean staying involved. "Yeah, Chinatown, Blair paused. It could have been that new mall in the marina. I was shopping the other day. I travel about town, so I guess it could have been anywhere."
O'Hara handed Blair his card. "If you think of anything else, would you give us a call?"
Blair crossed his fingers behind his back. He could see that Jim was looking at him strangely. "Absolutely."
O'Hara walked to the door and opened it, "All right then. Good day, gentlemen."
Jim followed O'Hara to the door and locked it behind him. "All right." Facing Blair, he said, "Nice bit of footwork, there, Chief."
Simon was puzzled. "Footwork? Did I missing something?"
Jim looked Blair in the eyes. "Yeah, Sandburg got that bill from Sweet Roy. It seems that Roy owed Blair back from a past escapade, and it has landed our little trouble magnet into trouble.
Simon crossed his arms across his chest and focused on Blair. So Sandburg, you were finding trouble long before you started working with us. Thats nice news to know.
Blair swallowed. It was nothing, Simon.
Before Blair could get himself into more trouble, Jim pulled him towards the door. Come on, Sandburg. We need to go talk to Jamie again."
Jamie saw Sandburg and the cop enter the club for the second time.
"What?" He asked, exasperated. He was getting tired of this. Couldn't they see
he wanted to be left alone?
Blair approached first. "One of the bills that Roy gave me in the locker room after the fight was counterfeit."
Jamie could feel his heart pounding in his chest. They knew! "So what you telling me for?"
Jim moved forward. "Well, since the blood we found in your trunk is a perfect match for your brother's, the DA's close to pinning a murder rap on you."
Sweat beaded on Jamies upper lip and forehead. "Hold on, man. What about Atlas? I mean, everybody knows he had it in for my brother." Jamie had to do something.
Jim pointed his finger at Jamie. "Atlas has an alibi. You're lacking one of those at this point."
Blair continued, "The evidence of counterfeiting brings up a new line of investigation which Jim used to buy you a little time with the DA. Why don't you return the favor and just tell us what you know." Blair really wanted to give Jamie a chance. Jamie's next statement blew that out of the water.
"I don't know nothing," Jamie insisted, starting to walk away. He turned around suddenly. "I don't know why you keep beating this dead horse."
Jim could hear Jamie's heartbeat going a mile a minute. "Jamie, can you think of any reason why Roy might have gotten involved in counterfeiting? Was he unhappy with the way his career was progressing? Did he need extra cash or anything?"
Jamie said with intensity, "No! He worked too hard to get where he was. No way he'd mess around with fake money."
Jim heard the heartbeat slow a little. He was telling the truth. Jamie himself had to know something, though. "You sure about that?"
Jamie lowered his head in misery. "I'm not sure about anything anymore." Jamie left the room.
Jim let Jamie walk off. "Let's just have a word with Rock and Mr. Collins." On their way to the office, Jim and Blair found their way blocked by the same two men that were in the club the other day.
"Is Rock in?" Blair asked. "We need to see him.
Muscle-bound guy number one responded, "Just who is 'we'? Rock is a very busy man."
Jim took out his badge and held it up. "Cascade PD actually. We need to talk to Rock." Muscle-bound man number two opened the door for them. Jim and Blair walked in to the room and saw Rock and Collins talking to a boxer.
"Come on, Tiger," said Rock. "What are you sweating the fine print for? It's just a standard contract. You get to keep half of everything you earn after expenses, for life. You in or you out?' Rock saw Jim and Blair enter. To the boxer he said, "Go grab a coke. Think about it."
Jim put his arm on Blair's shoulders, indicating he should stay back. "Do you mind if we talk alone?"
Rock pointed to himself and then Collins. "We got no secrets. Ask away."
"Before Roy died, Jim began. He passed a counterfeit $100 bill. We think it might be connected to his murder."
Rock looked over at Collins then back to Jim, "Give me a break. Roy was straight as an arrow. There is no way he would do something like that."
Jim responded, "Well, maybe you could keep your eyes open. We think the bill might have passed through here."
Blair jumped in as well, hoping to stir the waters a little. "They arent very hard to spot. They're not very good."
Rock responded quickly, "Okay, if one turns up, I'll let you know. Now, if you'll excuse me, I got a fighter to sign." Rock dismissed the partners and went to the door. He opened it and called out, "Hey, Tiger, get in here!"
Before leaving, Jim said, "Thank you." He didn't miss the eye contact between manager and sponsor.
Jim and Blair stopped at a hot dog vendor to get lunch after leaving the
club. Blair said, "I don't get it, man. Jamie used to be such a great guy. What do
you make of it?"
Jim took a bite of his hot dog. "Well, when I mentioned the funny money, I heard his pulse rate do a tap dance."
Blair defended Jamie yet again. "He was just working out, Jim. Of course his pulse would be racing."
Jim sighed. Blair was only kidding himself. "Or lying."
Blair looked down his meal and found he was not hungry. "You know what I don't get? What was the blood in Jamie's car? They used to be sparring partners, Jamie and Roy. I mean, couldn't the blood have been on a towel or some of the boxing clothes?"
Jim replied, "It's possible, but the evidence is piling up and incriminating him either way, Blair."
Blair looked at Jim. He was still unwilling to believe bad of Jamie, "I thought part of being a cop was keeping an open mind."
Jim looked at Blair. My mind is open, Chief. I just hope yours is."
Blair returned Jim's stare, challenging him, "To what, Jim?"
Jim retorted with the answer that Blair didn't want to hear, "To the possibility that Jamie is the killer." Before Blair could respond, Jim's cell phone rang. Jim answered it, "Ellison."
"Jim, it's Simon. I just got a report of an explosion behind the alley at Rock's gym. It could be nothing, but you ought to check it out."
Jim looked up at Blair and indicated with his head they would be returning to the truck. "All right, we're heading over there." Jim hung up and spoke to Blair, "Let's go. We're headed back to the gym."
Jim and Blair returned to the gym and found it blocked off by fire trucks
and police cars. Flashing their ID's, they headed to the back alley, where the fire had
been. Rock, Jamie, and another boxer were on the other side of the street watching. Jim
looked back before entering the building and saw the three men. Rock left, heading back
inside the gym. Jim guided Blair inside the building.
Jim started coughing as soon as he entered the building, "Oh, man." Jim circled around the room looking for clues. He followed a scent and saw a pile of ash residue. The smell was familiar. "What have we here?"
Jim walked over to a shelf and felt the residue. It's paper. This feels like money. Jim put a sample of the residue into an evidence bag. He would drop it off with forensics and have Serena do a full work-up.
While the police were investigating the building across the alleyway, Rock
entered his office in the gym. He sat down at his desk, and Jamie stepped out of the
shadows. Rock jumped at the surprise. What the hell are you doing here?
Jamie moved closer to Rock. Cops say I'm going down for Roy's murder.
Rock backpedaled, They're just messing with your head, man. Dont believe what they tell you.
Jamie didnt let Rock get far. Who killed him, Rock? Who killed my brother?" He took a step closer until he was almost touching Rock. Was it you?
Rock held up his hands to keep Jamie at bay, Don't be stupid. You know I wouldnt do that. I loved Roy. He was going to make me a lot of money.
Jamie ignored Rocks statement. 'Cause he found out what was going on. Jamie grabbed Rocks collar. Is that why you did it?
Rock tried to pry away Jamies hands. Get your hands off me.
Jamie shook Rock. So you killed him, right? Huh? You better tell me. I want to know what happened!" Jamie shouted in Rocks face. Jamie froze when a gun barrel was stuck into his stomach.
Rock watched Jamie back off. He had to salvage the situation. Now, look, kid. You've got to keep it together. Go up to my place in the mountains. Rock dug in his desk drawer and gave him a set of keys. Take your girl. Get off and then get drunk. It's been a tough week. What do you say, huh? Lets leave this office on friendly terms?
Jamie backed from the office, still aware of the gun that was displayed. Not till I find out the truth. My brother deserves to have his murderer found. Jamie left the office, leaving Rock frantically dialing the phone.
Jim, Blair, and Simon were in the break room talking about the case. It
had been a rough day. Jim poured himself a cup of coffee. Forensics confirmed the
ash was 100% cotton rag. It's my guess that someone was trying to burn counterfeit
Simon took a sip of his coffee. Why would anybody burn counterfeit money?
Moving back to the bullpen, Blair responded, Well, bad counterfeit, sir. That's the information we had just given Rock Oldman before the fire started. Id say thats a good indication hes involved.
Simon asked, Anything else prove Oldman is tied into this?
Jim replied, We traced ownership of the burned building to a shelter company he owned. The building appeared to be abandoned. In actuality, it was fortified for extra security.
Simon really wished he could smoke his cigar. Things were getting complicated on this case. So why does a successful sports manager suddenly turn to dealing with counterfeit money?
Jim motioned him to his desk where the files were. We did a little checking. It turns out Oldman owes the IRS half a million dollars in taxes.
Blair continued the thread. He had helped with the research after all. He's probably financing tax payments in counterfeit money.
Jim picked up again, There's another thing, sir. There were five-gallon cans in the burned building that contained this highly flammable chemical called oxalic acid. It's used in printing -- as in money.
Simon dug out his cigar. The case was becoming clearer. Bring the bozo in.
The next morning, Jim and Blair parked in front of the boxing club. Blair
still couldnt believe what was happening; why Roy had to die. Roy was just
about to hit it big. Rock killing him would be like killing the golden goose.
Jim shrugged. He didnt know how the motives were working in this case. Unless he felt Roy was going to leave him.
But you said when Atlas tried to get him to jump ship he wasn't interested, stated Blair.
Jim replied, Maybe not in signing with Atlas, but maybe there was somebody else. Jim and Blair entered the gym doors.
Blair said, Well...I don't know about that. I mean, loyalty was really important to Roy, and Rock was with him through the thin years. I dont believe he would do that. The pair entered the main room and found it empty. Blairs voice cut the silence, Where is everybody?
Jim held up his hand when he heard a rapid heartbeat and ragged breathing. Sshhh." He saw Rock's office door open and Jamie come out. Jim saw the recognition in the young mans eyes before he ran off.
Jim started after Jamie and called out his name.
Jamie saw the two men and knew they were there to arrest him. He just knew it. With what he found in the office, they wouldnt give up until he admitted guilt. He couldnt allow that. He had to find Roys killer. Jamie exited out the back door and found a pallet to put underneath the knob on the other side. He felt the door move a bit, but it held. He headed out to find a place to hole up. He needed supplies. He would call Sharita. She would bring him some things.
Jim tried opening the door, but it was jammed shut, He's got something wedged on the other end of it.
Blair didnt understand what happened. Why is he running from us? Doesnt he know we only want to help him?
Jim sniffed the air. There might be a reason back there. Jim pointed to Rocks office. I smell blood. Jim led the way to the office and opened the door. Rock was lying on his desk. He was dead.