Act IV

Simon's Office – 4:20 pm

"Serena says there's no hope of getting anything off any of the tapes," Jim admitted as he settled into a chair across from Simon's desk. "Even with all that sophisticated equipment, it's gone forever."

"Brown's report is pretty sketchy, but Dan figures the video store owner's been dead a couple of days," Simon grunted as he read.

"Nothing on the note left with the tapes," Blair sighed. "No fingerprints. Letters were cut from magazines and stuff, so there's no handwriting."

"All it said was 'hell of a game, ain't it, Jimmy?' I gotta figure it's either Mick or Aaron Foster." Jim rubbed both eyes.

"Mick Foster would be about your dad's age," Blair frowned. "I can't see him being physically able to kill either McCain or Smith." He looked at Simon. "Anything from Forensics on the knife Henri found?"

Simon nodded, finding another manila folder. "Interesting little piece. The handle is made from the bark of a tree found only in Spain." He glanced at Jim. "I'm assuming it's the same scent you've been picking up at the crime scenes."

Jim wearily nodded. "I still have a reaction to it, but not as severe." He glared warningly at his partner, who refused to look at him.

Simon watched the byplay but kept quiet. "We got one fingerprint on the knife. Brown ran it through every database we have before getting a match from the military. Turns out it belongs to a Scott Jeffries." He opened another folder. "Scott Jeffries went AWOL from the Army about 30 years ago." He glanced at the two men across from him. "While he was stationed in Spain, there were three unsolved murders while he was there."

"The same MO?" Jim's blue eyes narrowed.

Simon nodded. "Carbon copies. Jeffries was a prime suspect. But he went AWOL with his five year old son before he could be arrested." He flipped through the folder. "According to his military records, Jeffries grew up on a farm in Minnesota with his father. When he was twelve, the bank repossessed the farm. His old man was so upset, he ended up hanging himself."

Blair slowly nodded. "That's why he goes after businessmen. I mean, they represent the people responsible for the loss of his home and his father's death."

Businessmen. Like Bud…Dad?

"That's what the military shrinks figured," Simon agreed. "The killings didn't even start until after Jeffries got turned down for a promotion."

"Any record of him after he went AWOL?" Jim asked.

Simon slapped the folders shut. "None. Probably changed his identity."

"What about Mick Foster?" Jim frowned. "Why would McCain want to talk to him about Bud…Heydash's death?"

"Maybe he was interviewing everybody he could," Blair suggested.

Jim shook his head. "His assistant felt McCain put a lot of importance on that interview. Even to the point of making a lot of copies of the interview tape." He leaned back in his chair and stretched his arms over his head. "So, we're figuring Jeffries changed his identity and moved here. Then something triggers another killing spree."

"So why did he stop?" Blair asked.

Simon shrugged. "Why do any of them stop? It happens."

"I think it was Wayne Hollow," Jim mused. "When he was accused and arrested, he became the perfect fall guy. Then when he committed suicide, Jeffries was off the hook."

"And laughing at the authorities the whole time," Simon growled. "Probably went somewhere else and killed again. Henri's going to check on that as soon as he finishes the check on Mick Foster." He looked up at the knock on his door. "Come in."

Rhonda smiled as she entered. "The Army finally faxed that picture you were waiting on." She put the paper on Simon's desk and left.

"Now we have a face for Mr. Jeffries," Simon nodded.

Jim and Blair got to their feet and leaned over the desk. Seconds later, Jim straightened up. "Simon, I remember this guy. He changed his name to Mick Foster."

"What?" Blair looked at Jim in surprise.

Jim slowly nodded. "I remember his kid, Aaron. We…we played against each other in a championship football game when we were kids. Sorta like a peewee league."

"Find him!" Simon ordered.

Aaron Foster's Residence – 5:47 pm

"Aaron Foster! Cascade PD! Open up!" Simon followed up his yell of warning with several knocks on the door. Looking back at the Kevlar-clad officers, he nodded. "Break it down!"

Two SWAT officers broke down the flimsy door. Simon glanced around but saw none of the neighbors even remotely interested. Probably see too much of this for it to be a surprise. He saw Blair, safely behind a police car, anxiously looking towards the house.

As the door went down, Jim followed the SWAT officers, silently directing them. Weapon extended, Jim carefully helped search the house although his hearing had already told him no one was inside. Shouts of "clear" echoed throughout the small house as rooms were searched. As soon as he reached the hallway, however, his sense of smell started warning him.

Jim carefully opened a door to a small, filthy bedroom. "We've got a body!" he yelled. He stepped into the hallway, gagging from the odor. "Mick Foster."

Simon glanced past him, hand over his mouth. "You sure?"

Jim nodded, heading towards the front of the house. "I recognize that birthmark on his neck" He walked back to the front room to see Blair kneeling by a leaning bookcase. "Sandburg, what…"

"Jim, look at this!" Blair held up a crumpled photograph. "Isn't this the photographer who got in your face at the dump?" He reached for a notebook with papers hanging half outside the binder.

"Yeah," Jim nodded. "The older man is Mick Foster. This must be Aaron." He frowned. "He's changed from when he was a kid."

And you didn't? Blair silently glanced up, then returned to his reading.

Simon joined them, trying to keep from gagging. "Doesn't look like he died from natural causes." He saw the picture in Jim's hand. "That's the reporter from the dump!"

Jim nodded. "Since our dead body is Mick Foster, aka Scott Jeffries, this must be Aaron. Our killer," he grimly added. "Including his own father."

"According to this, Aaron was a regular down at Social Services," Blair read from the notebook. "He was in and out of the system as an abused child, diagnosed as a violent abuser himself." He looked up. "This is textbook, man. Behavior is a combination of genetics and environment. His grandfather hangs himself. His father is a serial killer." He handed the file to Simon. "Kid never had a chance." He ignored Jim's snort.

"Yet, he sure took care of his old man." Simon flipped through the notebook. "Wonder what set him off?"

"Probably McCain," Jim surmised. "He was asking questions. Maybe Mick Foster said something he shouldn't have."

"But why kill his father? After all this time?" Blair asked.

Simon closed the notebook. "Think about it. Your old man is an abusing son-of-a-bitch and a serial killer. He's pulled it the con job over on people in positions of authority. Now somebody comes along threatening to reveal all. And maybe your old man gave something away. He's more of a liability now than a threat."

"Why taunt Jim?" Blair puzzled.

"I found Bu…the last body," Jim guessed with a sigh. "Now I'm tracking the new strangler. Besides, Aaron and I had problems as kids."

The silence was broken by the ringing of the telephone next to the armchair in the living room.

"Speak of the devil," Jim grunted. He walked across the room towards the phone.

"Are you sure?" Simon half-joked.

"As sure as I know Sandburg's algae shakes reek to high heaven," Jim dryly replied. He picked up the receiver. "Hello, Aaron."

"How did you know it was me, rich boy?"

Jim nodded at Simon who stepped onto the porch to arrange for a trace on the call. "Not that hard. Just followed all the road signs you left. We're supposed to be here. You're supposed to call. So what's next?"

"You'll have to wait and see," Aaron snarled.

"Yeah, well, that's nice, Aaron, but why don't we meet and talk about it?" Jim suggested.

"Talk?" Aaron snickered. "What shall we talk about, Jimmy? Want to talk about your Army medals? How about your wedding to the beautiful Carolyn Plummer? You know, it's too bad that didn't work out. She looks quite lovely. And a commendation from our esteemed mayor! My, my…you've just about had it all, haven't you?"

Jim ignored Blair's questioning, concerned look and pulled his cell phone from his pocket. Holding the receiver of the telephone between his shoulder and jaw, he dialed the cell phone. "You like pictures, huh?"

Aaron sighed. "I just hate getting a call when I'm talking. But I hate missing calls even more. Hang on, bigger name on the other line."

Jim heard a click and quickly put his cell phone to his ear.

"Hi, Jimmy. Long time no hear from," Aaron snickered.

"You son of a bitch," Jim angrily seethed. "If you hurt my father, I swear to God, I'll kill you with my bare hands." He threw the receiver to the telephone to the floor and started walking towards the front door.

"You don't threaten me!" Aaron screamed. "You're in no position to do anything, rich boy, but suffer!"

"This is between us!" Jim shouted. He was aware of Simon's startled look. "You leave my father out of this!"

"You know where I'll be," Aaron quietly said before disconnecting the call.

Jim angrily snapped the cell phone shut. "The bastard's at my dad's house!" He was barely aware of Simon yelling orders as he ran towards his truck.

Blair barely managed to get inside before Jim had the truck in gear. Dirt spun from the rear tires as he floored the accelerator.

"Jim!" Blair scrambled for the seatbelt. "Take it easy! You can't help your dad if you wrap us around a telephone pole!"

"My dad knew about my senses as a kid," Jim seethed. "He's the reason I repressed them all those years ago!"

Blair looked at his partner in confusion, not understanding what that had to do with their mad rush to the elder Ellison's house.

"There's no way in hell Foster's gonna hurt my dad before we settle things between us!" Jim raged. He viciously turned the steering wheel to the left, taking the corner on two wheels.

"Ow!" Blair grabbed the back of his head that had smacked the passenger window. Looking out the back of the truck, he could barely see Simon's car trying to catch up.

Jim threw his partner a quick look of apology.

"Hey! Keep your eyes on the road, okay!" Blair shouted. He closed his eyes, trying to calm himself.

Four blocks from his father's house, Jim cut the revolving lights and siren. Gradually slowing, he stopped in front of the imposing white house. Behind him, Simon's car came to a screeching halt.

Jim quickly got out of the truck, unholstering his weapon. "Stay here, Sandburg," he ordered.

"Jim, he could be aiming a gun at you right now!" Blair warned, getting out of the truck. "Listen! What do you hear?"

"Sandburg! Stay here!" Simon ordered as he joined them.

Jim looked at Blair with sad eyes. "I can't make it focus, Chief, and I don't have time to try." Nodding at Simon, he trotted up the walkway.

Blair ran a hand through his curly hair and walked to the driver's side of the truck. In the distance, he could see the approaching police cars.

Slowly Jim turned the doorknob, sighing when it easily opened. The two men flanked each other as they silently climbed the steps. Once on the main floor, Simon pointed upstairs. Jim nodded covered him as Simon carefully started up the stairs to the second floor.

Then Jim turned around and began searching the main floor. He desperately tried to force his hearing but each time he did, he felt a stabbing pain in his temples. When he reached the pantry, he heard a soft noise coming from the pantry. Weapon pointed, he quickly opened the door, only to hear a frightened shriek from the cowering woman.

"Please! Don't hurt me!"

"God, Sally." Jim lowered his weapon and reached for the woman. "Sally, it's me. Jim…Jimmy. It's okay now." When he gently touched the woman, she looked up, tears filling her dark eyes.

"Oh, Jimmy…Jimmy…"

Jim drew her to her feet and into his arms. "Simon! Down here!" Rubbing the woman's back, he murmured, "Did he hurt you? Are you okay?"

"He didn't see me," Sally sobbed. "I heard a crash…something falling. This man was fighting with your father. He hit him then…started going through all the rooms. I managed to stay away from him, but I couldn't get past him to the door. So I hid."

"You did the right thing," Jim soothed her. "Sally, this is Captain Banks. He's going to help you out."

"Jimmy…your father…" Sally begged.

"It's okay, Sally." Jim gently patted her cheeks. "I promise."

"Upstairs is clear," Simon quietly said as he led Sally towards the front door to meet the incoming officers.

Blair passed the sobbing woman, eyeing her with concern, then followed Simon back up the stairs. They found Jim in his father's office staring at papers on the desk. "I don't believe it's all about that game," he muttered, disgust on his face.

"What are you talking about, man?" Blair asked with a frown.

Jim silently pointed at the desk.

"Too late. 14-13." Simon growled. "What the hell is going on?"

"It's the score of the football game," Jim recalled.

"What game?" Simon demanded.

Jim absently patted Blair's shoulder, noticing the concern on the younger man's face. "A game we played at Manleo field when we were ten. Bud…" He took a deep breath. "Bud's body was found in the woods next to the field right after the game."

"Where you saw Mick Foster," Simon slowly nodded.

"I gotta go, Simon." Jim turned towards the door.

"I'll have backup coming." Simon reached for his cell phone.

"No!" Jim argued.

"I'm not sending you in without backup!" Simon snapped.

"I'm going with him," Blair pointed out. He wasn't surprised when he was ignored.

"Simon…just give me some time before you send in the troops," Jim pleaded. "He wants me. If we send in half the department, he's gonna kill my old man."

"A few minutes, Jim," Simon quietly agreed. "That's all I can give you."

Jim curtly nodded and ran from the room, Blair trotting after him.

"You should stay here, Chief," Jim yelled as he sprinted for his truck.

"You know better than that!" Blair yelled back, climbing into the front seat.

Jim grimly nodded. "Yeah, I should," he muttered.

Woods Behind Menleo Field – 6:22 pm

William Ellison stumbled over a half-buried tree root, but managed to stay on his feet.

"Don’t even think about trying anything!" Aaron Foster warned. He jabbed William in the back with the edge of his knife. "It won't mean a thing to me to kill you, old man."

"What is it you're wanting?" William asked, even as he stumbled again.

"Just a reunion visit with a childhood chum," Aaron snorted.

William stopped and glanced over his shoulder. "You won't get away with this."

Aaron sneered. "You know, Jimmy had that same arrogant tone of voice even as a kid. A real chip off the old block." He shoved William forward. "Old man, I've gotten away with more than anybody will ever know about."

"Jimmy knows about you, Aaron." William allowed himself a smile when he heard Aaron's hiss of anger. "And you won't get away from him."

Aaron reached down for a thick broken tree branch about two feet long. "Maybe I don’t want to get away from him, old man." He swung the branch, bringing it hard against the side of William's head.

With a groan, the elder Ellison fell to the ground, unconscious.

Breathing hard, Aaron stood over William. He fondled the knife in his hand, toying with the sharp blade. "I really ought to give Jimmy a surprise." Laughing softly, he shoved the knife into the sheathe hanging from his belt.

He leaned down and dragged William to the foot of a nearby tree. Then, standing over the body, he reached into his pocket. "Have it your way…have it your way…" he softly sang.

Manleo Field – 6:32 pm

The sun was fading in the western sky as Jim braked to a stop at the field. A quick look around the field showed it to be empty. Jim began running towards the woods.

"Maybe you're wrong," Blair warned as he tried to keep up.

"I'm not!" Jim argued. "This is where he wants me!" He put on a burst of speed as he reached the tree line. Memories of finding Bud's body flashed through his mind. Looking over his shoulder, he yelled, "Sandburg! Wait here for Simon!"

Not waiting for an answer, Jim ran deeper into the woods. Relying on a memory that he now implicitly trusted, he quickly found the tree where Bud's body had rested. He stumbled to a stop, seeing a crumpled body lying under the tree.

"Dad?" Jim whispered, seeing the red stain on his father's chest. "God, no…" Crouching next to the body, he reached out to his father. "Dad? Dad!"

William's eyes slowly opened, and he looked around in confusion.

"Oh, God." Jim closed his eyes in relief. "Thank you, God." His sense of smell detected the ketchup he'd mistaken for blood. Damn bastard!

"Jimmy?" William tried to sit up. He looked even more confused when he stared down at the ketchup on his shirt.

Jim carefully helped his father to a sitting position. "Take it easy." Angered at the small flecks of blood in his father's hair. He could easily see where his father had been struck.

William's blue eyes widened as the memories came back. "He's crazy, Jimmy. He wants to…"

Suddenly hearing another heartbeat, Jim stood and whirled around, weapon drawn to see Aaron standing a few feet away, knife pointed at him.

"You had everything, rich boy!" Aaron yelled. "I had nothing! NOTHING!" He waved the knife from right to left. "Even the game. My old man beat me up because we lost to a bunch of rich boys."

"That was a long time ago, Aaron," Jim softly spoke. "Come on. Give me the knife."

Aaron's dark eyes glittered. "Sure." Flipping the knife, he threw it at Jim and ran away.

"Jimmy!" William shouted in horror.

Jim easily ducked to one knee, feeling the knife slice the air next to him. He rose to run after Aaron.

"Jimmy, no!" William got to his feet. "Let him go! Let the others take care of him!"

Jim threw his father a sad look. "This is what I do, Dad. This is how my…gift helps others." He saw Blair running towards them. "Help him, Chief!"

Blair looked from William to where Jim had been standing, then shook his head. He trotted to where William stood, looking after his son. "Are you okay, Mr. Ellison?"

William sighed and leaned against the tree. "I'll be fine."

Blair repressed a smile. Like father like son, hmmm? He slipped an arm around the older man's waist. "Come on. Let's get out of here. It's getting dark."

William snorted. "And neither of us can see as well as Jimmy, right?" He smiled at Blair's expression. "You know about his…gift, don't you?" When Blair didn't answer, he patted the younger man's shoulder. "Jimmy said someone helps him with it. You're his partner. It's not such a lucky guess."

Blair uneasily eyed the older man for a few seconds, then grinned. "Come on. If we don't hurry, we're gonna miss Jim thumping ol' Aaron."

Simon and backup arrived just as Aaron then Jim ran from the tree line.

Aaron saw them and changed direction.

Much as he had twenty-five years earlier, Jim easily followed. With one eye on the parking area at the far end of the field and one eye on Aaron, Jim put on a burst of speed and tackled the escaping murderer.

"Game's over, Aaron," Jim grunted as he brought Aaron's hands behind his back and cuffed him. He roughly brought the other man to his feet.

"Ellison!" Simon barked. When Jim looked at him, he reached for Aaron. Shoving him towards two waiting officers, he asked, "You okay? What about your father?"

"I’m fine," Jim nodded. He looked past Simon to see his father, arm around Blair's shoulder and Blair's arm around William's waist, walking out of the trees. "Dad should get checked out, but I think he's okay."

Simon nodded as Jim walked towards his father and friend.

Blair smiled at Jim as he released William and went to join Simon.

"Jimmy, thank God you're okay." William hesitated, then reached out to touch his son's arm. After a moment, both men hugged.

"Glad you're okay, too, Dad," Jim murmured. For a brief second, he relaxed in the embrace. Then he pulled away. "Come on, let's get you checked out, okay?"

"I'm fine," William assured him. "I don't need to go to the hospital."

"Humor me, Dad, okay?" Jim chuckled. "I really don't want to have to explain a later hospital stay to Steven."

"Steven, hmmm?" William's blue eyes twinkled. He leaned against his son who put an arm around his waist as they walked towards Jim's truck.

Behind them, Blair and Simon followed. Eyes twinkling, Blair put his arm over Simon's shoulder. "Isn't that beautiful?"

"What are you doing?" Simon grumbled. He shook Blair's arm off his shoulder. "Get off me!"

"Come on, Simon," Blair cajoled. "How about a little brotherly love?"

"Do I look like your brother?" Simon snapped.

"Well, maybe from a different mother," Blair admitted.

"Don't you start with me, Sandburg," Simon warned, pointing a finger in the younger man's face. "Ellison may put up with your New-Age nonsense, but I'm not about to do so!"

"Aww, Simon…c'mon," Blair chuckled, putting his arm over Simon's shoulder once again.