Act V

Jamie was hospitalized and treated for his gunshot wound. The next day Jim and Blair went to question him. They walked into the sterile room and found Sharita feeding him. Leaving the three men to talk, she left the room.

Blair addressed Jamie, “How are you feeling?” Jamie didn't answer him but looked away instead. Blair continued, “Look Jamie, you better start talking, man. Otherwise, you're going to get charged with something you didn't do and then we're not gonna be able to help.”

Jamie turned and glared at Blair. “I don't need your help, man. Just like Roy didn’t need your help.”

Jim saw a look of hurt cross Blair’s face. “You have two people who are willing to give it. Sandburg was ready to put his life on the line for you. You want to get charged with your brother's death and maybe Rock's, that's fine. Who are you trying to protect here anyway?”

Jamie decided that he had nothing else to lose. It wouldn’t hurt anybody now. “Look, Rock was using me as his bagman to help deliver his fake money. You know, at first, I didn't know what it was. I figured all those bundles were, you know, payoffs. One day, I took a real good look inside, and I knew what it was.”

Jim prompted, “You say something to Rock?”

Jamie answered, “Yeah. I told him it wasn't right using me.

Jim replied, “But you went along with it, and he cut you in.”

Jamie was tired and in pain. “Look, man, I needed the money, all right? I was so tired of Roy always having to give it to me. I knew it was wrong. It just kept eating me up inside. So later on, at the party, I told Roy what was going on.”

Blair jumped in, “Roy didn't know about it?”

Jamie stated, “No.”

Jim kept questioning Jamie, “Where did Roy get the bills that he gave to Sandburg?”

Jamie smiled to himself at the memory. “My brother loved to have cash on him, man. He always made Rock give him straight cash. When I told Roy that night, he got right up into Rock’s face. He was real upset. Next thing you know, Roy was dead.” Jamie was frowning by the end of his statement.

Jim could tell that Jamie missed his brother. “Why didn't you go to the police?”

Jamie responded, “Look, Rock said he'd make sure I'd go to jail for helping him pass that money. Then he said he'd go after Sharita. Rock killed him, man. I know it was. I wasn’t going to let Rock hurt my family. There was no way!”

Jim prompted again; “Do you know who killed Rock?”

Jamie looked past Jim and into the hallway. “I don't know. I was looking through his office for money. However, I swear to you, man, it wasn't me. I found him dead when I got there.”

Jim and Blair left the hospital and went back to the truck. “I don’t know where to look next, Jim. I want to clear Jamie, but don’t know how.”

“It’ll be okay, Sandburg. We’ll have to see who Rock was dealing with and follow it from there.” Jim wished he could make things better for his partner, but it would take a lot of work. “Wait, wasn’t there someone with Rock when we talked to him the other day?”

“Yeah. Jeffrey Collins I believe. Rock wasn’t really concerned about speaking in front of him about anything.” Blair had a gut feeling that they were moving in the right direction. “Thanks, Jim. We’ll get this guy….”

“Hold on a minute, Chief. We haven’t gotten him yet. Let’s tell Simon what we need to look for and then get something to eat. We need our strength to track this down.” Jim called Simon on his cell phone and had him start pulling strings to get documents into Collins’ past.

Jim and Blair met Simon back at Major Crimes after lunch. Simon was working on the Collins documents. They knocked and entered his office. Simon glanced up at his men, “This Marshall County marriage registry goes way back. Why am I looking at this, Jim?”

Jim folded his arms across his chest. “Well, I remembered something when I was a kid, sir. My father ran in certain circles and I called him up. I found out in the '70s, Rock Oldman's partner, Jeffrey Collins, made his fortune in the lumber industry. Now, he parlayed those contacts he made there into a high-profile marriage. Read on.”

Simon read aloud, “Elizabeth Fowler... Fowler? Why does that name sound familiar?”

Blair answered that question, “Bill Fowler, the pulp mill billionaire.”

Jim continued, “Right. Old man Fowler was chairman and CEO of Strand Paper in Michigan.” Jim smiled. “Ring a bell now?”

Simon returned the smile. “The same company which manufactures 100% rag paper for the US government.”

Jim answered, “Exactly. It's my guess Collins is our counterfeiter, and this is where he's getting his paper from.”

Simon looked up with a puzzled expression on his face. “Wait a minute, didn't you say Collins made a fortune?”

Blair smiled. “Yeah, he did, but he lost it all in the '80s on junk bonds. He didn’t know when to stop.”

Simon asked, “Any idea where he might be printing the stuff?”

Jim took a sip from his coffee cup. “Well, we checked around some of his business interests and one of them caught my eye.” Jim flipped through papers while taking another sip of his coffee. “It's a greeting card company in the Westlake district.”

Simon looked up at his best team. “So your theory is Collins had Roy killed to keep him from blowing the whistle on the counterfeiting ring?”

Blair answered, “Well, more likely, he ordered it done. I can’t see him getting his fingers dirty.”

Jim continued, “Right. Collins was probably afraid Oldman would roll over, so he had him killed. Roy’s death just shook too many things up. It wasn’t safe anymore.”

Simon stood up and picked up his phone. “We'd better catch Collins before he destroys the rest of the evidence and skips on us.”

Jim and Blair headed to the door to leave. Jim turned around. “All right, sir. We’ll be back in no time.”

Simon dialed a number into his phone and began contacting his other detectives. They would go to Collins’ house and keep watch.

Jim and Blair were heading out of the parking garage when Blair asked, “Are we going to Collins’ card company in Westlake?”

Jim replied, “Yeah. We got a unit standing by at his house.”

Rafe, on the radio, interrupted them, “Delta 4, do you read?”

Jim picked up his mic. “Ellison, go ahead.”

Rafe responded, “Yeah, Jim, its Rafe. Suspects were leaving the premises when we arrived. We're tailing them west on Capilano.”

Jim thought quickly about the roads in that area. “They must be heading for Highway 6. They make you?”

Rafe replied, “Not yet.”

“All right. Stay with them. Order a roadblock at the junction of I-6 and Welsh. We'll close in from this end. Ellison out.”

When Collins and his men met the roadblock, they were pissed. Collins ordered them to turn around and saw the unmarked police car that had been trailing him. Everywhere Collins turned, he was being boxed in. Collins ordered his men from the car to cover them. Machine gun fire echoed through the streets as Collins men traded shots with Cascade PD officers. Collins saw an abandoned rig sitting near him and ordered his men to secure it. “Get in,” he shouted to his men.

One of his men got into the cab, and Collins stopped the other one, “We need speed. Lose the trailer.” Once the objective was completed, the truck took off under a hail of bullets.

Rafe got on the radio and contacted Jim, “Jim, it's Rafe. Do you read?”

Jim and Blair were near the roadblock when Jim answered on his mic, “Go ahead.”

Rafe continued, “Suspects penetrated the roadblock. They headed north on I-6 in a blue diesel tractor.”

Jim watched as a semi-truck cab headed down the road from the opposite direction. He identified Collins as one of the passengers by narrowing in his eyesight. “All right. I got them. Get all available units to block off the exits of I-6.”

Rafe said into his mic, “Yeah. Copy that.”

Jim jerked the wheel of the Ford pickup and did a wide U-turn. He could hear Blair cursing under his breath at his driving. The cursing ended when Blair called out, “Whoa!”

Jim was on the tail of the truck when he was spotted by one of the men. “It's that cop,” he heard one of the henchman call out to Collins.

What happened next would stick in Jim’s memory for a long time. He was sure Blair would relive it as well. One of Collins men was hanging out of the truck and fired a machine gun at them. The bullets peppered the front of the truck. Jim returned fire as best as he could, but he was trying to drive at the same time.

Jim and the hired gunman stopped firing their guns at nearly the same time; Jim from a lack of bullets and the thug due to the gun jamming. Jim's feelings of glee changed to desperation when he saw the gunman disappear and return with a shotgun.

Blair screamed out when he saw what was happening. “Oh shit, what is that?”

Jim swerved again and pushed Blair down. “Get down! Look out! Son of a bitch. What's next, a bazooka?” Jim pulled up to the side of the semi and struck them with the side of truck. Jim lost some distance and ended up behind the tractor again. Jim looked over at Blair and saw his knuckles were white from the strain of holding on. “You all right?”

Blair replied in a tight voice, “I'm fine, I'm fine. Just keep us on the road.” That statement was punctuated when a blast hit the hood, causing it to fly up. In a direct refusal to keep them on the road, the truck veered off to the side. Blair shouted again, “Get back on the road!”

Jim responded, yelling as well, “Good god! Hang on!” Jim was even with the truck when his radiator began blowing steam. They hit the side of the cab then the two trucks split off onto different roads. The semi-truck cab continued straight, and Jim’s truck went up an inclined road, stalling out at the edge of a cliff.

Blair looked out his window and saw air. His window was facing the cliff edge, and he didn’t like the look of it. He started hyperventilating; heights weren’t his cup of tea. He leaned into the door to get it open. He failed. “My door's jammed, Jim.”

Jim could hear the panic in Blair’s voice. He didn’t have any better news when he tried his door. “Yeah. Mine, too.” Jim tried to restart the truck, but it only sputtered. “Come on,” he whispered to the truck.

Blair looked out the back window and saw the semi coming towards them on the road. Touching Jim’s shoulder, Blair asked, “Where's he going?”

Jim looked up and saw the truck on a collision course. He didn’t answer but bent down to the task of restarting the truck. He looked up ten seconds later and saw the semi looming closer. “They're making a run at us.” Jim leaned down and whispered to the truck, “Come on, sweetheart. This is no time for this.”

Blair couldn’t take his eyes off his coming doom, “Look, Jim, anytime we get out of here, that'll be all right with me.”

Jim replied, “I'm trying, Chief. Come on, sweetheart.”

Watching the semi barrel even closer, Blair cried out again, “Come on, Jim. Get out of here!” Blair’s plea was answered as the truck turned over.

Jim hit the gas and felt the truck jump forward. The pick-up ran along the cliff edge before he swerved off back to more sturdy land.

Blair looked behind him and saw the fast moving semi fail to brake and go off the cliff.

Jim stopped the truck, and the two men exited it. They went to stand by the cliff and saw the smashed wreck of the truck below. There was no way anyone could have survived from the pile of wreckage.

The next morning, Jim convened with Simon in his office to submit his final report.

Jim started, “We found out who the inside man at Strand Paper was. Turned out to be a night foreman.”

Simon sat on the edge of his desk. “Something's still bothering me, though. What happened with those ivory fragments found in Roy's skull?”

Jim answered, “They came from Atlas' cane, which turned up at Collins' place. He had his men kill Roy with it. He intended to frame Atlas, but never had the opportunity.” Jim paused and looked out at his desk where Blair was waiting for him. “Any word on Jamie?”

Simon followed Jim’s line of sight and saw Blair as well. “I put in a personal plea with the Feds. It must have worked. They're willing to live with probation for his role in the counterfeit ring.”

Jim smiled. “Sandburg will appreciate that. It's a good break for the kid. I hope he uses it. Catch up with you later.” Jim left Simon’s office and joined Blair at his desk. “Things will be all right for Jamie, Blair. Simon bargained for probation.”

Blair smiled and bounced on his toes. “See, you guys should have listened to me. I was right.”

Jim guided Blair out of the bullpen and towards the elevator. “That's not entirely true, Chief.”

Blair looked up at Jim with confusion. “What are you talking about? He wasn't guilty.”

Jim bopped Blair on the head. “What about the counterfeiting?”

Blair moved slightly away from Jim and smiled. “All right. Fine, so, we were both wrong.”

Jim replied, “So, where does that leave us?” He wanted to make sure he and Blair were okay. They had a long talk the night before, but both had fallen asleep before they could finish.

Blair punched the down button on the elevator panel. “That leaves us with you buying me dinner.”

Jim cocked his head at his partner. “Oh, really. How do you figure?”

Stepping into elevator, Blair replied, “What do you mean, how do I figure? You said you'd buy me dinner.”

It was Jim’s turn to be confused, “No, I didn't.”

Blair poked Jim in the ribs. “What's the matter with your memory? Yeah, you did. Last night before your old bones fell asleep.”

Jim caught on to Blair’s ploy but didn’t mind treating Blair to dinner. He had to play the game though. He smiled. “No, I didn't.”

Blair smiled himself. It was great to be able to finally relax. Blair threw a fake punch at Jim and said, “This one's for Roy.”

The End


Act IV