Act III


At one o'clock, Blair was eyeing the red spot on Jim's face with undisguised curiosity as he stood with his partner in Simon's office. Jim had refused to tell him what had happened, but Blair was pretty sure it had something to do with Lila. Jim was talking, so Blair focused his attention on what he was saying.

"They were killed with a weapon with a triangular blade, dipped in a toxin similar to curare," Jim explained, waving the folder Blair had retrieved from Forensics during lunch.

"But it's from a plant in Southeast Asia," Blair added, "which would suggest our killer is from the same geographical area as our victims."

Simon asked, "Where does that leave us with Boz Tate? Washington isn't the Far East."

"We've got him under surveillance, Captain. But I've checked with some of my snitches, and it looks as though Monk Number Three has gone to ground." Jim was acting like his usual, confident cop-persona.

"We got to find him before the killer does," Simon stated, frowning.

"We're going to do our best, sir," Jim said.

Tilting his head as he examined the red mark on the left side of his detective's face, Simon asked, "Jim? What happened to your face?"

Yeah, Jim, I'd like to know that, too, Blair thought.

"Just a little misunderstanding, Simon. I'll catch you later. Let's go, Chief." He turned and left Simon's office.

Misunderstanding. Blair snorted silently as he stood to follow his partner out of the office.

Simon spoke up. "Sandburg, hang on a second. Shut the door."

Blair paused, glancing after Jim. He really didn't want to be left alone with Simon. Who knew what kinds of things the man might ask him? Sometimes it was hard, trying to know how much he could tell Simon without risking hurting Jim. But he didn't really have much choice about talking to Simon right now, did he? He shut the door and turned toward the captain.

Frowning slightly, Simon asked, "What's going on with Jim?"

Blair looked out through the windows of Simon's office toward Jim, then back toward Simon, thinking furiously. What can I say? What can I say? "Uh... nothing." Blair said. Oh, great obfuscating there, Sandburg.

"Blair, you're an awful liar," Simon said shaking his head slightly and chuckling softly.

"Um, well, there is something going on with his senses." Maybe honesty is the best policy here. "I mean, all of sudden, they're just going haywire and he's seeing this new woman and I think they're somehow connected." Minimal honesty, anyway.

"Connected how?" Simon asked. "You think it's maybe like with that woman; what was her name? Laura? With the pheromones?" The captain's eyes narrowed slightly.

"I don't know yet, sir." Well, that's the truth.

Simon studied him for a long moment. "All right, keep me informed."

Whew. "All right, I will." He left the office, trying not to look too eager to escape.


Jim glanced up as Blair walked out of Simon's office. Before he could grill his friend on what Simon had wanted, his phone rang. He reached out and snagged the receiver. "Ellison."

"Jim, it's Lila. Can we meet and talk? Please."

"Where?" Jim asked.

"There's a Chinese garden by the Art Museum." Lila said. "Meet me there in half an hour."

"All right." Jim hung up the phone. Turning to Blair, he said, "Chief, do me a favor?" He handed Blair a hangar on which hung the jacket he had been wearing when he had been attacked at the Summit Hotel; the jacket was covered with a plastic bag. "Run this over to Forensics. See what prints they can pull off the lapel." Two birds with one stone, Jim thought grimly. I can get the search started on who attacked me at the hotel, and keep Sandburg from tagging along at the same time.

Blair looked at the object in the bag. "Isn't this your jacket?" he asked, confusion on his face and in his voice.

"And put a rush on it." Jim left the bullpen without another word.


The elegance of the Chinese garden served as a backdrop for Lila where she stood, waiting. The pond encircling the red gazebo reflected the white walls and red railing of the building on the other side of the water and the yellows and light greens of the various trees and bushes surrounding it. The beauty of the setting made Jim wish he had other reasons for meeting Lila here.

When he joined her, he asked quietly, "Would you mind telling me what's going on here?"

She looked at the mark on his face, reaching out to touch it gently. "Oh, my God, Jim. I'm so sorry."

He pulled away from her touch and looked past her. He didn't want her sympathy; he wanted honesty. "Just talk to me." He returned his gaze to her when she began talking.

"My fiancÚ is very wealthy." Lila turned away from Jim and moved to look out over the large pond. "You see, the fear of kidnapping is very real to us." She glanced over her shoulder at Jim. "That man who attacked you, Lo, is his bodyguard. He thought you were assaulting me." Turning, she walked toward Jim again, her body language pleading for him to understand. "He was just trying to protect me."

"I just wanted to talk to you," Jim said, shaking his head in disbelief. "I should throw him in jail for assaulting a cop." He was amazed that Lila seemed to think it was justifiable for this bodyguard to attack people for no reason.

"He didn't know you were a policeman, Jim," Lila tried to explain.

"So he just goes around and whacks people who come close to you, huh?" Jim could hear the amazement in his voice. He backed away a step. "This is nuts. I must be out of my head. I don't know what I think about sometimes. You've got a fiancÚ and--"

Lila put her fingers on his lips.

He moved her hand away. "Maybe we should just leave it the way it was," Jim said bitterly. "Take care of yourself." He turned and left her standing alone.


Jim returned in time for the interrogation of the third monk. Having forced his mind squarely back on the case, he remembered to get the Melonhead CD from Evidence so he could bring it with him. He intended to confront the prisoner with it. He swung by the bullpen to grab Blair, who was waiting impatiently for him.

By the time Jim and Blair entered the observation room Simon was already there. They watched through the one-way glass as the third monk, younger than the two who had been killed, but similarly dressed in Buddhist robes, sat in the interrogation room. Officer Chou stood next to him, speaking with him in Chinese.

After glancing over his shoulder and acknowledging their presence, Simon said dryly, "Now, this is what I call fine police work. An hour ago, Monk Number Three walks in off the street, turns himself in."

"Just like that," Jim said, looking thoughtfully at the man in question. "Why?"

Simon looked at the detective, one eyebrow raised. "What? Are you kidding me? He's scared, afraid he's going to end up like his buddies, wants us to keep him alive."

"What's his deal?" Blair asked.

"Well, he and the man we found in the park were brothers. The first victim was their partner. Now, he," Simon nodded at the monk sitting in the interrogation room, "didn't see who the killer was, but he's certain that they were sent by the Shang Syndicate."

"Why are they killing their own people?" Jim asked.

Simon snorted. "Well, these yo-yos decided they were going to go into business for themselves. They set up a private deal with one of the syndicate's distributors here in Cascade but, of course -- surprise, surprise -- the syndicate found out about it and sent in a hit man to take them all out."

"Hmm," Jim responded thoughtfully, absently tapping the Melonhead CD, encased in a plastic evidence bag, against his palm.

"Shall we?" Simon asked, gesturing toward the door.

"Hmm," Jim repeated.


They walked into the interrogation room.

The monk looked up at the interlopers with raw fear in his eyes.

Jim held out his hands in a placating motion. "Tell him we're not here to hurt him," he said to Officer Chou.

The translator spoke quickly.

The monk relaxed a little, but remained vigilant, his eyes darting back and forth between the three newcomers.

"I'm Detective Ellison. I'm trying to find the people who want to kill you."

Chou translated as Jim spoke. As he listened, the monk studied Jim's face.

Jim set the CD on the table and pointed to Tate's picture, which was printed on the back of the case, next to the "melon head." Turning to Officer Chou, Jim said, "Ask him if this is his distributor."

Chou repeated the question in Chinese.

The monk became excited, nodding, smiling eagerly, and replying in what was obviously a positive manner.

Jim straightened, picked up the CD and turned to Simon, who had a satisfied look on his face. Simon said, "I'll call Judge Perlman for a search warrant."

"Thanks, Chou," Jim said to the officer as they left.


Four weary hours later, Jim could see Simon was on the phone in his office. Not wanting to disturb him if it was a personal or private call, Jim turned up his hearing for a moment, just long enough to determine whether or not to wait before interrupting.

"Believe me, Commissioner, we're doing everything we can.," Jim heard Simon say. "Our search of Melonhead Software turned up a chemical lab that's used to process heroin."

Hmm, doesn't sound too private or urgent. In fact, I bet Simon would appreciate being interrupted. Jim grinned and raised his hand to knock.

"No, sir," Simon continued. "No. Tate was not there. He must have gotten wind of our bust and took off. We believe he's trying to leave the country." Jim knocked on the door. He could hear Simon say, "Hang on a second, sir…. Yeah, come on."

Jim stuck his head in. Simon was looking at him from behind his desk, his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone, a questioning look on his face.

"Excuse me, Captain. I got word from a forger who owes me a favor. Tate is picking up a fake ID and passport tonight in an alley behind the Red Dragon Club in Chinatown. I'm on my way there, sir."

Simon nodded. "Great."

Jim ducked back out the door and closed it behind him. As he moved across the bullpen, he heard Simon's voice as he continued his conversation. "Good news, Commissioner. Tate should be in custody within a few hours."

Jim just hoped he could fulfill Simon's prediction.


It was dark in the alley at this time of the evening. Garbage spilled out of dumpsters and trashcans, and graffiti littered the walls. Light from the few streetlights that still worked glinted off puddles that lay, stagnant, amid rotted cardboard and potholes. Rustles in the darkness suggested the presence of others, either two- or four-legged, in the area.

Jim hunched down, leaning back against the trashcan he was using as his backrest. Speaking into the walkie-talkie he held, he said, "This is Ellison. All units are to remain in position until I notify you."

Blair, who was sitting next to him, shifted uncomfortably. "These clothes are nasty," he said, plucking at the offending garments irritably. "Where'd they come from anyway?" He and Jim were both dressed as bums as cover for their surveillance duty. Tate was due to pick up his fake identification in this alley, and they were there to catch him.

"You don't want to know," Jim said, enjoying Blair's discomfort.

Scratching and wiggling, Blair said, "Ooh. Oh, man. I think there's something moving in here."

"It'll help you get into character," Jim said mildly.

"I'll tell you something -- my character dresses better," Blair retorted.

A newer-model sedan turned into the alley.

"Hold on," Jim said. He focused his sentinel vision in on the driver and verified that it was Tate. Speaking into the walkie-talkie, he announced quietly, "Our man is here."

Tate got out of his car and walked around toward the front of the vehicle.

"All units, be prepared to move in," Jim said into the microphone, from their position several yards away from Tate.

Another car came down the alley from the opposite direction.

Jim said to Blair, "Stay put."

The second car drove past them and parked next to Tate.

Jim spoke into the walkie-talkie again. "Our delivery boy is here with the documents." Scanning the scene with his sentinel vision, Jim looked up onto the fire escape above Tate and saw a slim figure wearing black motorcycle leathers. He got a visual sensory flash off something the figure was holding. He winced and lowered his head, gasping.

Responding instantly to Jim's distress, Blair said, "What's wrong?"

"My head," Jim replied. He rubbed at his temples.

As Jim was struggling to get control, he saw Tate get his new ID and passport, then saw the second car leave. The black-clothed figure descended the fire escape ladder and went over to Tate.

"Tate, look out!" Jim cried, trying to warn the man.

But his warning was too late. The figure stabbed Tate in the neck and ran away, in the opposite direction from Jim and Blair, disappearing out of the mouth of the alley. Staggering to his feet, Jim headed toward Tate. The man was sliding down the front of the car toward the ground, gasping and holding his neck, as he slowly suffocated as a result of the poison on the blade.

Jim shouted into the walkie-talkie. "All units move into position! Assailant is heading south on Fourth, armed and dangerous." Letting off the button on the radio, Jim said to Blair, who was still further down the alley, "Sandburg, call an ambulance!" Then Jim took off after the assailant.

As he ran, he could hear Blair hurrying down the alley, talking on his cell phone as he moved. "Hello? Yeah. I need an ambulance on Fourth and Main, in the alley…."

Act II

Act IV