THE DETECTIVES OF THE 9TH PRECINCT SERIES

 

IN THE BLOOD

 

 

 

“Steve.”

 

“Yeah Neal?”

 

“Why don’t you go home?” Neal asks.

 

“Oh, no, no I mean I don’t feel that bad….” Steve says as he sneezes. “….Besides I have work to do.” Steve sneezes again.

 

“You sound terrible.” Neal points out.

 

Steve blows his nose.

 

Neal makes a face. “And you don’t look so good either.”

 

“Thanks.” Steve replies as he sneezes again.

 

“You’re spreading your germs all over the office here. So what is all of that stuff?” Neal replies as he points to all the stuff lined up on Steve’s desk.

 

“This is Vitamin C and this is Wheat Germ, this is Zinc, and these are tea bags and this is Clover Honey.” Steve replies as he sneezes. “And an extra box of tissues.”

 

Neal puts his hand on Steve’s forehead. “You feel warm, are you running a fever? Because if you are then you’re contagious! And contagious means I can catch it and if I catch it I’ll take it home to Ruby and the baby and then Ruby will kill me for getting everybody sick!!”

 

“No, I’m not running a fever.” Steve replies.

 

“How do you know?” Neal asks.

 

“Because I took…my….my….my….” Steve sneezes again. “….Temperature.”

 

“Let me see the thermometer.” Neal replies.

 

“Why?” Steve asks.

 

“Because I want to take your temperature myself that’s why, now give.”

 

“Ah Neal.”

 

“Come on Steve, give.”

 

Steve makes a noise then he opens the desk drawer and he takes out the thermometer and hands it to Neal.

 

“Now be careful with that it has Mercury in it you know.” Steve points out.

 

“Steve I will have you know that I am a professional temperature taker, I have taken Joey’s temperature numerous times. Now open your mouth.”

 

Neal shakes the thermometer as Steve opens his mouth and he puts the thermometer under Steve’s tongue.

 

“Pffghjjtyyuipop.” Steve tries to say.

 

“Ssshhh!” Neal instructs as he counts down the time as he looks at his watch.

 

Steve waits patiently as he taps his fingers on the desk and when the time is up Neal takes the thermometer out of Steve’s mouth and he immediately sneezes.

 

“Bless you.” Neal replies.

 

“Thank you.” Steve says as he blows his nose. “Well?”

 

“It’s normal, 98.6.”

 

“See told ya.” Steve replies.

 

“I still think you should go home.”

 

“I can’t really; I mean look at all the stuff in my In-Box! And….and….all the stuff I have to organize and the other stuff I have to read thru and….and all my phone messages I have to return!” Steve sneezes again.  “I just have too much to do….”

 

Just then there is a knock on the door and it is opened by Brenda one of the clerks that work in the office and she’s carrying a sack.

 

“Oh hey Brenda.” Neal replies.

 

“Hi Neal.” Brenda waves.

 

“Hi…Hi…Hi…” Steve tries to say but he is stopped by sneezing.

 

Brenda pushes Neal out of the way of the desk. “Oh Steve you are so sick! Poor baby! Here I brought you some of my homemade chicken soup! It will make you feel better.”

 

Brenda takes the soup out of the sack and she sits it on Steve’s desk.

 

“Oh Brenda thank you so much. I would tell you that it smells great but I can’t smell.” Steve replies as he sneezes again.

 

“Poor baby! I have to go but make sure you eat it before it gets cold okay?” Brenda replies.

 

“Promise.”

 

“Bye Steve and I hope you feel better.” Brenda replies as she opens the door. “Oh, bye Neal.”

 

“Yeah bye….” Neal replies just as Brenda shuts the door. “…Brenda. Steve you know….”

 

Neal is interrupted by the door opening again and this time it’s Alicia and she is carrying a sack of her own.

 

“Hi Neal.”

 

“Hi Alicia.” Neal replies as he waves and smiles.

 

Steve starts to sneeze.

 

“Oh Steve you sound terrible! How do you feel?” Alicia asks.

 

“Oh I think I might be running a fever.” Steve says with a very stuffed up nose.

 

Alicia immediately puts her hand on his forehead.

 

“Oh you poor thing!!! Here this will you feel better.” Alicia says as she reaches into the sack and brings out a container. “I made you some homemade chicken soup.”

 

“Oh thank you Alicia.”

 

“And I also brought you some freshly squeezed orange juice.”

 

“Oh Alicia you squeezed the oranges yourself?” Steve asks.

 

Alicia nods her head. “Yes with my own two little hands.”

 

At his desk Neal coughs.

 

They both look at him for a minute then Alicia smiles at Steve. “I hope you feel better by Saturday.”

 

“Oh I’m sure that I will.” Steve sneezes again.

 

“Well I better get back to my desk. Now, eat your soup before it gets cold.” Alicia replies as she opens the door. “Bye Neal.”

 

“Bye Alicia. You know Steve I….”

 

Once again Neal is interrupted when the door opens again and this time it is Sara one of the meter maids and she too was carrying a sack.

 

“Oh hi Neal.” Sara replies.

 

“Sara.” Neal replies.

 

“Hi….hi….hi….” Steve sneezes at least four times in a row. “….Sara.”

 

“Oh my gosh Stevie you sound just awful! I heard that you were sick and so I brought you….”

 

“Homemade chicken soup.” Neal replies as they both look at him.

 

“Oh my gosh yes!! How did you know?” Sara asks surprised.

 

“I’m psychic.” Neal replies.

 

“Oh my gosh really!!! I had no idea that you were psychic!! Wow!” Sara replies.

 

“Sara….” Steve replies. “Can I have the soup please?”

 

“Oh my gosh yes I almost forgot!!” Sara replies as she laughs taking the container out of the sack. She then reaches out and moves a strand of hair off of Steve’s forehead. “Poor baby, I hope you feel better soon. Because Sunday we were going to….”

 

Sara leans over and she whispers something in Steve’s ear which causes him to sneeze and blush at the same time.

 

“Now eat your soup before it gets cold Stevie.”

 

“I will and thanks Sara.” Steve replies as he blows his nose.

 

“Bye Neal.” Sara replies as she waves at him.

 

“Sara.”

 

Immediately after Sara leaves Neal gets up and he locks the door.

 

“Hey what are you doing?” Steve asks.

 

“Stopping the tide.” Neal replies.

 

“Huh?” Steve asks.

 

“How did Sara know that you were sick, Stevie?”

 

“Well….” Steve scratches his head as he thinks about an answer. “….When I got here this morning I saw Becky….”

 

“You mean Becky the dispatcher?” Neal asks.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“The one with the big….” Neal replies.

 

“Neal!!!” Steve says loudly.

 

“I was going to say mouth Stevie.” Neal replies.

 

“Oh. Yeah that’s her and I guess she could tell that I wasn’t feeling well so I guess she just told….everybody.”

 

“So that is why you have been waiting around because you knew that all the women in this place would bring you soup!!”

 

“No I didn’t!!” Steve replies.

 

“Steve you old dog you!!”

 

Steve sneezes again. “Neal if it makes you feel any better none of those girls made this soup, it’s from the Deli down the street.”

 

“You know Steve for some odd reason that doesn’t make me feel any better! What I want to know is where is that Perry pipeline?”

 

Steve sneezes. “Perry pipeline?”

 

“Yeah that Perry pipeline that seems to be connected to all the women in this place!! You can’t even stub your toe without all the women hearing about it. Like last year when you had the flu! How did they find out about that?” Neal asks.

 

“Well I guess when I threw up in the hallway that was a clue that maybe I was sick!!!”

 

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself getting sick just so all these women would wait on you hand and foot!!!”

 

Steve laughs. “What?! I didn’t get sick on purpose you know!! Can I help it if I’m popular?!!! Well can I?”

 

Just then the door knob on the door was tried and when the caller found it to be locked they knocked on the door.

 

“Neal, sugar are you in there?”

 

“Ruby?” Neal replies as he goes over and he unlocks the door then Neal takes Ruby by her hand and he pulls her into the room and then into a hug. “Ruby? Is everything okay? What are you doing here? Where’s Neal Jr?”

 

Ruby kisses him. “Everything is right as rain Sugar and Ida is watching the baby and I came by to see Steve.”

 

“You came by to see….Steve?” Neal asks as he looks at Steve.

 

“You came by to see….me?” Steve asks as he sneezes.

 

“Yes Sugar you see Becky called me….” Ruby replies.

 

“Wait, Becky the dispatcher with the big….” Neal replies.

 

“NEAL!!!” Ruby and Steve say at the same time.

 

“Mouth! I was going to say the one with the big mouth!!! Anyway! Becky called you?” Neal asks.

 

“Yes she did. She told me that Steve was sick so I made some homemade chicken soup. It always makes Neal feel better when he feels pooky.” Ruby says as she takes a thermos out of her bag and she sits it on the desk and beside it she places some crackers.

 

“Ruby you really made homemade chicken soup?” Steve asks as he watches Ruby pour the soup into the cup of the thermos.

 

“Of course Sugar, this is my mother’s special recipe.” Ruby replies as she hands it to Steve and he takes a sip.

 

“Wow!!! Ruby! This is wonderful!! Neal!!! On my god have you tasted this?”

 

Neal crosses his arms over his chest. “Yes Steve I have tasted it.”

 

“Oh my god! I mean this is almost better than sex!!! Ruby! You should sell this you would make a killing!!!” Steve replies.

 

“Do you really think so?” Ruby asks.

 

“Oh yes! This is incredible!!” Steve replies as Ruby puts her hand against Steve’s forehead.

 

“Oh Sugar you feel warm, Neal you should’ve made him go home.” Ruby replies as she looks at Neal.

 

“I should have made him go home?” Neal repeats as he points to himself.

 

“Yeah Neal you should have made me go home!!!” Steve replies as he sneezes.

 

“Here Sugar grab your jacket and I’ll take you home, you should be in bed.”

 

“Oh okay thanks Ruby, its okay right Neal?” Steve asks.

 

“It’s positively fine, go home and go to bed and feel better partner.”

 

“Okay.” Steve sneezes. “What about the other….you know?” Steve replies as he gestures to the other soups on the desk.

 

“I’ll take care of them.” Neal replies as he holds the door open for them. “I love you Ruby see you later, okay?”

 

“I love you too.” Ruby replies as she kisses him. “Come on Steve let’s get you home.”

 

“Thanks Ruby, see ya later Neal.” Steve replies as he sneezes.

 

“Later partner and get better.” Neal replies.

 

“Thanks.”

 

After Neal watches them go down the hallway and out of sight he shuts the door and he goes over to Steve’s desk and he grabs one of the chicken soups and he carries it over to his desk then he sits down. He picks up the receiver on the phone and he dials the number.

 

“Yeah can I speak to Becky? Thanks I’ll hold. Hello? Hi there Becky, this is Detective Schon…no…I mean yes…no Steve isn’t near death’s door….was he running a fever….no I don’t think so….the soup….did he like the soup oh sure he loved it….what…no I didn’t mind that you called Ruby….Becky….Becky…BECKY!!!” Neal rubs his eyes. “No Becky I’m sorry I didn’t mean to yell…I called to tell you that Steve has left the building….what…no Becky he didn’t leave the building in an ambulance….what….no Becky Steve doesn’t have Mono….Becky just tell everybody that Steve has gone home for the day…what…no I didn’t call you a gossip….who said I said that you had a big mouth…that so isn’t true! Becky….just tell all the girls up and down the Perry pipeline that the Portuguese Casa-Nova has gone home for the day….what….no I don’t know if he will be back tomorrow….no Becky I don’t think flowers will be necessary…lookit Becky I have to go I think someone is being murdered and I have to go and investigate….No Becky I wasn’t trying to be funny….oh look Becky I have to go my other line is ringing….just tell everybody Steve has left the Precinct….okay….bye.” Neal hangs up the phone.

 

“You know Steve being sick reminds of a case where I was not too well myself….see how you like this one….this is Victor 7 and we are on duty!” Neal replies.

 

 

 

 

V7V7V7V7V7V7V7V7V7V7

 

 

Their day started early and now it had ended late, it was two-thirty in the morning and Neal had spent a couple of hours at Steve’s place after they got off of duty, which in reality they are never really truly off-duty, running down the day’s events over a beer or two and a pizza and now Neal was on his way home to Ruby, but he had a stop to make first. Soon after Ruby found out that she was pregnant the cravings began and for some reason, that is only known to Ruby, she suddenly developed a craving for a certain type of pickle and that pickle could only be found at a certain Deli, so every two weeks or so Neal stops by and picks up a large container of pickles. Luckily they were opened twenty-four hours.

After picking up the pickles Neal headed for his car which was parked up the street and in this part of town it’s not a good idea to linger too long so Neal was doing his best to hurry. When Neal got to his car he went around to the passenger side and he put the jar of pickles on the roof of the car as he got his keys out of his pocket, he was in such a hurry that he dropped the keys on the ground and when he bent over to pick them up is when he noticed the other pair of shoes come up behind him.


“Hey man….” The voice behind him said.


And from there things begin to happen fast. Neal looking to his right, raised up and he turned around and when he did so the man  that was behind him advanced on him and in the moonlight Neal saw the glint of something metal in the man’s hand. Neal raised his right arm in order to block the coming blow and instead he felt something sharp, pierce the sleeve of the shirt he was wearing and go into his forearm. With his left hand he reached over to his right side and he pulled his gun from its holster and that is when the lights went….out.

 


LATER THAT DAY OCEANVIEW GENERAL HOSPITAL:


 

“I can’t let you go anyplace by yourself, you know that right?” Steve asks as he sits at Neal’s bed side his chin resting in his hand.


“You know your bedside manner is atrocious.” Neal replies.


“That isn’t what she said!” Steve says as he wriggles his eyebrows which causes Neal to laugh. 


Neal grabs his head. “Oh don’t make me laugh, my head is killing me. What hit me, a bus?”


“The pickle jar.” Steve replies.


“Oh that is why I keep smelling vinegar!! Whew it is pungent!! Oh no that was Ruby’s pickles! She will kill me if I don’t….” Neal replies.


Steve holds one hand up to stop him. “Cool your jets I bought another jar of pickles for Ruby.”


“Oh bless you partner! Oh my god! Did anybody call her? Is she okay, I mean she’s pregnant and this could be a bad shock…?”


“The Captain called her and she is okay, the Captain told her that you have been mugged….”


Neal sits up quickly and he puts his hand on his back pocket. “Oh no my wallet….”


“….It’s gone I know. And he also took….” Steve replies.


“My watch!!! The one Ruby gave me when we got married!!!”


Steve takes out a pen and a notepad from his pocket. “How much money did you have in your wallet?”


Neal lies back against the pillow. “Hmm I had two tens and a five…. No wait I spent the five in the Deli.”


“What about your credit card?” Steve asks.


“Oh yeah….oh no I have to call the bank!” Neal replies.


Steve puts his hand on Neal’s arm. “Easy, Ruby is going to call the bank. You had your driver’s license….?”


“Yeah and my Social Security card and oh holy shit there was an extra key to the house in there too!” Neal replies.


“It’s alright we can get a locksmith over there right away, what else was in the wallet?” Steve asks.


“Hmm my police I.D. card of course and pictures of Ruby and Joey and you….”


Steve looks up. “You have a picture of me in your wallet?” Steve asks.


Neal shrugs. “Well yeah I mean you and I are in it together, it was at the Police Games last year, remember when we won and they took that picture of us holding the trophy?”


“Oh yeah that one.” Steve replies.


“Is it weird for me to have a picture of us in my wallet?” Neal asks seriously.


Steve smiles. “I won’t tell anybody, now the watch was engraved right?”


“Oh yeah it said ‘To my Sugar Bear, all my love, R.’ what?” Neal replies.


“Sugar Bear?” Steve asks.


“Well yeah that is her pet name for me, don’t some of your girlfriends have a pet name for you?” Neal asks.


Steve scratches his neck as he looks at the ceiling. “Yeah.” Steve replies.


“Well? What are they?” Neal asks.


“Neal I can’t tell you that, some of them are just too personal to repeat.”


“Ah come on I’m your best friend and I told you what Ruby calls me, so come on, be a good partner and give!”


“Oh alright, Vanessa calls me….”


Neal leans in closer to Steve. “Yeah?”


“….Her Portuguese Love God.” Steve replies.


Neal immediately starts to laugh. “Portuguese Love god?! Ow!!! Oh my head!!”


“Uh huh, lucky for you the mugger hit you on the hardest part of your body. So do you think you can identify this cat?”


“Yeah I’ll look for the mugger who has your shoes and my watch!!!” Neal replies.


Steve looks at his tennis shoes. “Really? He was wearing shoes like mine?”


“Yeah and he long stringy hair and he was wearing a…a knit cap, about your height and weight, maybe even skinner….”


“Uh huh, okay did you get a look at his face?” Steve asks.


Neal shakes his head as he rubs his neck. “Na, the streetlight on that corner is out, I was lucky to get what I did but I think I did see a tattoo or something on his arm. Who found me?”


“The manager of the Deli, he was taking trash out to the curb and he noticed that your car was still there. He went over to check and the rest is history. So….you haven’t mentioned the bandage on your arm there.”


Neal looks at it. “Oh this, it’s nothing. Joey would call it a boo boo.”


“That is an awfully big bandage for a nothing, so the perp had a knife, right?” Steve asks.


“Hmmm yeah he did, it was a switchblade.” Neal replies slowly.


“And how many stitches did it take?” Steve asks.


“Well, just a couple….”


“And you were going to tell me this….when?” Steve asks.


“Well….I….you know it’s not a big deal….” Neal replies as he shrugs.


Steve crosses his arms over his chest. “Neal….”


“Yeah Steve?”


“What to you…is a big deal?” Steve asks as he stands up and he leans on the handrails of the bed.


“Well I?”


“Huh Neal what is a big deal? If you had been shot like me would that be a big deal?” Steve asks.


“Yeah of course you almost died Steve!”


Steve leans in closer. “I did die! Twice! Remember?” Steve replies as he holds up two fingers.


Neal looks down. “Yeah I remember.”


“Chances are the guy that robbed you has done it before and somebody somewhere has seen this guy. That twenty dollars that was in your wallet, along with your watch can keep him well awhile but then after that….”


“He’ll have to rob someone else….” Neal replies.


“Bingo! And the next person may not be so lucky.” Steve replies.


“Shit!!! I can’t believe I was mugged!!! I mean I’m a cop! I should have seen it coming; it’s a bad neighborhood….”


“Neal let me point something out to you that you may have forgotten.”


“What?” Neal replies as he looks up at Steve.


“You’re human.”


“Oh.” Neal replies.


“You rest while I go and call the locksmith and then I’ll drive you home, how long did the Doc say you’ll be out of commission?”


“Oh he wants me to stay home tomorrow and come back the next day to see how my head is doing.” Neal replies.


“I’ll be back in a few minutes and Neal….”


“Yeah Steve?”


“It’s going to be alright. Later.” Steve replies as he opens the door and he leaves.


Neal looks at the bandage on his arm. “Yeah, it’s going to be alright.”


 

ROBBERY DIVISION THE NEXT DAY:

 


“So Jim let me get this straight, so there will be no misunderstanding, according to your records there is nothing that even remotely fits what happened to Detective Schon, no

arrests, no suspects, nothing, is that what you’re telling me Jim?” Steve asks.


“Yes Detective Perry, for the fifth time now that is what I’m telling you, we have nothing that fits what happened to Detective Schon.” Jim replies.


Steve looks around. “This is Robbery isn’t it?”


“Again for the fifth time, yes this is Robbery.” Jim replies.


“So tell me Jim how is it possible that there has not been another Robbery where the robber used a switchblade?” Steve asks.


“Because there hasn’t been that’s why. We have baseball bats, tire irons, broken bottles and syringes but no switchblades.”


“What about the description….?” Steve asks.


“Long stringy hair; knit cap, skinny, very skinny and wearing tennis shoes?” Jim asks.


“Yeah….”


“That sounds like you!!!” Jim replies.


“I beg to differ!! My hair is not stringy!! Do you have any idea how long it takes me to take care of this hair? I want to see all the suspects’ info that you have.”


“No problem just as soon as I see the request from your Captain.” Jim replies.


“Request? What request?” Steve asks.


“The request I have to have before I can let you see any suspect information.”


Steve looks around. “This is a police station….”


Jim rubs his forehead.


“….And you are a cop….” Steve replies. “….And I am a cop too!! Ergo….”


“Ergo?” Jim asks.


“….We should be able to share information without having to go thru all of this rig-a-ma-roll!!” Steve replies.


“Perhaps but we also have policies and procedures we have to….”


“Screw the policies and procedures! My partner was mugged at knifepoint buying his pregnant wife pickles for godsakes!!! He was stabbed with a switchblade! Now all I am asking

for is a little help.” Steve replies.


“I want to help you but I still need that request.” Jim replies.


“Damn it!! Alright! I’ll bring you that stupid request!!!” Steve replies then he turns and walks off.


“….In triplicate!!!” Jim yells at Steve.  


Steve hesitates for a minute then he continues to the door, he opens it and he leaves.


 

THE SQUAD ROOM TWO DAYS LATER:

 


Steve looks around the coffee area then when he doesn’t find what he’s looking for he opens the cabinets above the coffee pot and he looks there.


“Neal.”


“Yeah.” Neal replies from his desk.


“Have you seen my coffee mug?” Steve asks as he continues to look thru the lower cabinets.


“Coffee mug? What coffee mug?” Neal asks.


“Come on Neal you know which one, the one I’ve been using forever, it says ‘Cops Need Luv Too’.”


“Oh that one, I was going to tell you….”


“Tell me what?” Steve asks.


“Well I was washing a few things and I’m afraid that I dropped your coffee mug, sorry Steve I’ll get you another one.”


“You were washing a few things and you dropped my coffee mug?” Steve asks.


“Yeah.”


“Neal do you feel alright?” Steve asks.


“Yeah, sure I feel alright, why do you ask?” Neal asks quickly.


“Because as long as I have worked with you I don’t ever remember you washing any coffee mugs, ever. You usually leave that for Alicia.”


Neal scratches his head. “Well she had a lot of work to do so I thought I would help her. Sorry about the coffee mug.”


“Oh no problem, I guess I’ll use good old Styrofoam.” Steve replies as he pours himself a cup of coffee then he carries it back over to his desk. “Hey are you going to finish that muffin?” Steve asks as he reaches for the muffin on Neal’s plate.


Neal grabs it before Steve can touch it. “Yeah, yeah I am actually.”


Steve pulls his hand back. “Sorry man. So what did the doctor say?” Steve asks.


“He said my head was okay.” Neal replies.


“Did he say anything else?” Steve asks. “What about your stab wound?”


“That’s okay too.” Neal replies.


“So….everything is okay then?” Steve asks.  


“Oh yeah sure everything is just fine. We better hit the road, here you can drive.” Neal replies as he tosses the keys to Steve.


“You want me to drive?” Steve asks.


“Yeah, why not, let’s go.” Neal replies.


“Yeah, why not, let’s go.” Steve repeats as he follows after Neal.


 

A FEW DAYS LATER:

 


“Well Neal look at what we have here.” Steve replies as they enter the bar together and as they do so some of the patrons of the bar beat a hasty retreat out of the building.


Neal grabs a few peanuts from the bowl and he tosses them in his mouth. “Hey Ed don’t you think it’s time to change those peanuts, their stale.” Neal yells at the bartender.


“Can’t you two find some other place to haunt?” Ed asks.


“Oh now that isn’t nice Ed.” Neal replies.


“Yeah Ed especially since everybody we are looking for seem to end up here, why don’t you go in the back Ed and check the inventory.” Steve replies seriously.


“Yeah Ed and while you’re at it throw these peanuts away.” Neal replies as he shoves the bowl of peanuts into Ed’s hands. “Go!” Neal replies when Ed doesn’t move fast enough then they watch as Ed turns and he goes out the door that is behind the bar.

 

 “Hello there Felix the Cat remember us?” Steve asks as he moves around the chair that Felix is sitting in.


“Yeah Felix where have you been, we have been looking for you everywhere.” Neal replies.


“Yeah Felix you don’t write and you don’t call….” Steve replies.


“Why don’t you two go and pound sand?” Felix replies as he takes a sip of his beer.


Steve looks over at Neal. “Did you hear that Neal?”


“Yeah that was certainly rude wasn’t it?” Neal replies.


“Yeah Felix I mean is that anyway to talk to two old friends?” Steve asks.


“You two bozos aren’t my friends; actually you two are a pain in the ass!! What do you two want anyway? You better have a warrant….” 


Steve leans in closer. “Actually Felix we do have a warrant.” Steve replies as he pulls it out of his jacket pocket and he throws it down onto the bar.


Felix looks at it for a few seconds then he reaches out and he picks it up and as he gets to his feet he rips it in half and he throws the halves in Steve’s face.


“Screw you pig!!”


“Oh Felix you shouldn’t have done that man.” Neal replies.


“Yeah man that will probably mean even more charges.” Steve puts his hand on Felix’s shoulder. “Don’t make it rough on yourself man come with us….”


“I’m not going back to prison!!!” Felix yells and before Neal can say or do anything Felix reaches out and he grabs a hold of the beer bottle that was sitting on the bar and he breaks it and in one quick swinging motion he slashes Neal across the face, a glancing blow under his right eye.


Neal lets out a yelp of surprise as he grabs his face and then Felix turns and he begins swinging the jagged edge of the bottle at Steve who moves back out of the way.


“Felix!!! You stupid asshole drop that bottle!!” Steve yells as he pulls his gun out of its holster and he points it at Felix. “Don’t make me shoot you!!”


“Do it!! Shoot me!! I don’t want to go back to prison!!” Felix yells as he backs Steve into a corner and Steve was just about to change his mind and grant Felix his wish when Neal came up behind Felix and he grabbed him by his head and he slapped his headlock on him.  


“No!! You prick!! Let me go…!!!” Felix replies as he tries to fight against Neal.


“Nice language! Do you kiss your mother with that mouth!!!” Neal asks as he applies the headlock in earnest.


“Son of a….” Felix starts to say but doesn’t finish because by now the blood flow had finally been cut off to Felix’s brain and Steve was able to take the bottle out of Felix’s hand as Neal takes Felix down to the floor and after he puts the handcuffs on him Neal stands up to find Steve standing there holding a towel that he means to put on the cut under Neal’s eye and Steve’s close proximity causes him to jump.


“Neal you’re bleeding, hold still and I’ll….” Steve replies.


“No I’ll do it!!” Neal replies as he snatches the towel out of Steve’s hand and he places it on the cut. “Go and call it in I’ll stay with him to make sure he doesn’t die or something.”


“Neal that looks pretty bad maybe I should get you another towel.” Steve replies as he moves closer to him with his hand out.


“No! Don’t touch me!” Neal says loudly and with just a tad of hysteria to his voice.


Steve drops his hand and he takes a step back. “Neal….”


“Steve do what I say and go call it in.” Neal replies as he looks at him.


“If I didn’t know better that sounds like your pulling rank partner.” Steve replies.


“I am pulling rank, I’m the lead detective and I’m telling you….” Neal replies.


“You’re telling me?” Steve replies as he points to himself.


“I’m telling you to go back to the car and call it in….now.” Neal replies seriously as he looks Steve in the eyes. “You do know how to do that, don’t cha Steve?”


Steve is in shock not believing that he is hearing this condescending tone coming out of Neal. “Yeah I know how to do that.”


“Then go do it and while you’re out it just wait outside for them to get here, update the log book or something.” Neal replies.


“Sure boss.” Steve replies as he backs up. “I’m going to go now and call it in and come to think of it I think I’m going to ride back with them too.”


“I think that is a good idea.” Neal replies as he watches Steve cross the room and after he leaves Neal removes the towel from his face and he looks at the blood that is on it. “I think that is a good idea.”

 


LATER THAT SAME DAY THE DETECTIVE’S LOCKER ROOM:


 

Neal looks around the door of his locker when he hears the door to the locker room being opened then closed then locked. “Hey what are you….doing?” Neal stops when he sees that’s it Steve that had locked the door behind him. “Steve? What did you just do?”


“Well, what does it sounds like I just did?” Steve asks as he walks over to Neal with his arms crossed over his chest.


“You locked the door, why did you lock the door?”


“Very good Neal you ought to be a detective when you grow up.” Steve replies.


“You know other people are going to want to come in here and when they can’t get in and they find out that you and I are locked in here, they are going to think that something weird is going on! That you and I are doing something!!! Unlock that damn door!” Neal replies.


Steve glances up at the clock. “We have about an hour and a half before shift change so I think that maybe enough time.”


“Enough time for what?” Neal asks nervously.


“Enough time to find out what in the hell is going on with you.” Steve replies.


Neal shuts his locker. “There is nothing going on with me, I have to go.” Neal replies as he makes a move towards the locker room door but Steve blocks his path. “Come on Steve get out of the way.”


Steve crosses his arms over his chest. “Make me.”


“Come on stop being childish.” Neal replies.


“Come on Neal make me.” Steve points to his chin. “Hit me, hit me right here.”


“Don’t be a jackass!” Neal replies.


“What was that back there in Ed’s Bar? Huh? What was it? Come on Neal!” Steve replies as he advances on Neal and Neal finds himself walking backwards towards the locker.


“Come on Steve don’t do this.” Neal replies.


“Or you’re do what Neal? Huh? What? You’re hit me right? That is what you would usually do but for some reason I get a feeling that this time you won’t, but what if I was to hit you? Maybe give you a bloody nose? Huh?” Steve asks as he raises his fist.


“No!” Neal replies as he raises his hands to cover his face. “No Steve don’t!”


“Neal talk to me, tell me what’s going on. I know something is wrong so just tell me….” Steve reaches out to cup Neal’s face in his hands just like he has done a hundred times before but this time Neal stops him.


“No Steve don’t touch me, this cut under my eye, I don’t want to hurt you.” Neal replies as he looks at Steve.


“Neal, for god sakes what do you mean that you don’t want to hurt me? How can a cut on your face hurt me?”


“It’s not the cut Steve it’s my blood, it can hurt you.” Neal says with a serious tone.


Steve shakes his head. “I don’t understand….”


“You want to know Steve then I’ll tell you, I have something to show you.” Neal replies as he goes back to his locker and after he opens it he reaches up into the top shelf and he pulls out a few sheets of paper stapled together that he thrusts at Steve. “Here read it!!”


Steve takes the papers from him and he starts to read it and when he finishes he looks up at Neal. “Neal do you know what this says?”


Neal sits heavily down on the bench. “Yeah I know what it says I must’ve read it a hundred times at least.”


“Well Neal it’s not true!! This doesn’t mean anything, all this says is that it’s a possibility that you might have….”


“Hepatitis C.” Neal says slowly as he raises his head and he looks at Steve.


“Yeah Hepatitis C but how….?” Steve asks.


“That night I was mugged….”


“But I don’t understand….” Steve replies.


“….The mugger stabbed me….”


“….Yeah he stabbed you with a switchblade and it says here that to catch Hepatitis C you have to come in contact with the infected blood of the person.” Steve replies as he reads from the sheet then he lowers it to look back at Neal. “He stabbed you with a switchblade so I don’t understand how his blood could infect you….what? What did you just say?”


“I said that he stabbed me with a….syringe! He stabbed me with a used syringe Steve! When I went back to the doctor’s office he told me, he told me that the needle and the blood in it tested positive for Hepatitis C!!! It tested….positive. Oh my god Steve it tested positive.”


Steve slowly takes a step forward then he sits down on the bench next to Neal and he puts his hand on his shoulder.


“Why didn’t you tell me this before Neal? Why didn’t you tell me so I could help you carry it around?” Steve asks.


Neal shakes his head. “I don’t know why I didn’t tell you, I don’t know why. I guess it was because I didn’t want you to think differently of me or be afraid of me….”


“Ah Neal I could never be afraid of you and according to this just so long as we don’t exchange blood or have sex we should be okay.” Steve replies.


Despite the circumstances and the atmosphere Neal looks at Steve and he starts to laugh. “Jesus I can’t believe you just said that.”


Steve smiles as he puts his arm around Neal’s shoulders. “Made you laugh didn’t it?”


Neal nods and after a few moments of silence Neal replies. “Steve I’m scared. I mean I’m really scared. This thing is serious and when I think about Ruby and the baby and Joey, and you….” Neal looks at Steve.


“Does Ruby know?” Steve asks.


“Yeah she read the same thing you did.”


“And what did she say?” Steve asks.


“Don’t panic.” Neal and Steve say at the same time.


Neal looks at Steve. “Yeah she said don’t panic.”


“What did your doctor say?” Steve asks.


“I have to wait….” Neal replies.


“Wait? Wait for what?” Steve asks.


Neal takes a deep breath. “I have to wait Steve, wait for six to eight weeks before I can go back and have the blood testing done.”


“What? Six to eight weeks but why?” Steve asks.


“The doctor says it takes that long after somebody has been exposed to infected blood for it to show up, if it shows up. He gave me a date to go back and see him.”


“Eight weeks from now?” Steve asks.


Neal nods. “Yeah eight weeks from now, Jesus Steve I don’t know how I’m going to stand it.” Neal looks at Steve. “I…I have never been seriously ill in my whole life, I mean never. I

mean I have had the flu and stuff like that but this, how do I handle this?”


“First of all Neal you don’t know anything for certain….” Steve replies.


“It’s the waiting Steve, the waiting is going to kill me.”


“No Neal it won’t. I’ll be here to help you, next time Neal tell me okay?”


Neal nods. “I’m sorry Steve.”


“Did you really break my coffee mug?” Steve asks.


“No I just put everything in a box, after read all of this I got scared so I just put it all away. I mean we shared your coffee mug….”


“I understand.” Steve replies.


“So I guess until I find out for sure….” Neal replies.


“Until we find out for sure.” Steve replies as he corrects Neal.


Neal smiles. “Until we find out for sure I think it would be better if we didn’t share cups or glasses….”


“Okay I guess I can handle that.”


“Steve….”


“Yeah Neal?”


“What happens if it comes back positive? What do I do then? I mean how do I live….”


“We’re cross that bridge when we come to it and you’ll live like you have always lived….day by day. We’re handle this situation like we handle all the other situations….together.

Now let’s get you to the clinic because I think that cut may need some stitches.”


Steve stands up and he holds his hand out to Neal and when Neal takes it to stand up he then pulls Steve into a hug.


“Thanks Steve.”


Steve pats him on the back. “I didn’t do anything, come on let’s get you to the clinic.” Steve replies as they slip out of the hug and they walk to the door with their arms around each other. “And Neal….”


“I know it’s going to be….”


“Alright…” They both say at the same time.



 

THE NEXT DAY 1405 WEST HARBOR ROOM 1A MANAGER’S APARTMENT:

 


Stanley!! Come on open the door man!” Steve replies as he stands off to the side of the door frame banging on the door with the butt end of his gun.


“Yeah Stan we want to talk to you!” Neal replies as he stands on the other side of the door.


“Maybe he isn’t home.” Steve replies.


“Yes he is that piece of shit rust bucket car he drives is outside.” Neal replies as he points.


“Well maybe he walked up to the deli to get a sandwich or something.”


“Have you ever known Stanley to walk anywhere Steve?” Neal asks.


“I….well….no, Neal this whole thing is giving me the creeps.”


“Why is that?” Neal asks.


“I don’t know for certain but this whole thing smells fishy, I think something bad has happened to old Stanley. What say you give me a leg up so I take a look thru the transom up

there?” Steve replies.


“What makes you think something has happened to him?” Neal asks.


“Well for one thing can’t you hear the window air conditioning unit running?” Steve asks.


Neal looks around. “Well yeah so?”


“So, you know old Stanley is a tight wad he wouldn’t run that air conditioner that long and for another thing his trash cans are empty, today is trash day and old Stanley is a stickler for neatness.” Steve points out.


“Oh good point, okay here step into my hand.” Neal replies as he interlaces his fingers together.


Steve steps into them with one foot and Neal is able to raise him up just enough so he can look thru the dusty glass in the transom and into the living room beyond.


“Well?” Neal asks as he looks up.


“We better call the coroner.” Steve replies as he looks down at Neal.

 


AN HOUR LATER:

 


“Well boys just from a preliminary view I would say that he died from a massive drug overdose but after we get him back to the morgue and I do a tox screen on him then I’ll know for sure.” Sam replies.


“Alright Sam thanks.” Neal replies.


“Yeah Sam we’ll be in touch. Hey John make sure you get a lot of pictures….” Steve replies.


“Will do Detective.” John replies as he begins to snap away


“Robert make sure that you bag up all these syringes.” Neal replies.


“Sure Neal no problem.” Robert replies.


“But be careful alright.” Neal replies.


“Sure.” Robert replies.


“Hey Neal come in here and look at this.” Steve yells from the bedroom.


Neal goes into the bedroom to find Steve squatting down in front of the open closet. “Look what I found.”


Neal kneels down next to Steve and he looks to where Steve is pointing.


“Interesting no?” Steve asks.


“Interesting yes. Old Stanley had a safe.”


“Which is empty now and I am sure this is where he kept his stash and his money. What do you want to bet that old Stanley wasn’t alone when he died?” Steve replies.


“That he was given a push thru the gates of Heaven?” Neal replies.


“Yeah and whoever pushed him took his stash and the money.” Steve replies.


“And the info he might have had, that we probably could have used, went with him to his grave.” Neal replies. “Maybe whoever did this found out he gave us info from time to time.”


“Maybe. Stanley did like to sample his own product.” Steve replies as he stands up.


“Yeah there is nothing worse than a pusher who uses his own junk.” Neal replies.


“You know old Stanley had a lot of customers, especially the people that live in this building.” Steve points out.


“Yeah and I bet you a box of doughnuts that nobody saw anything! This apartment takes up the whole ground floor and the way it is situated nobody could see anybody coming into this apartment. And the front door was locked from the inside so whoever was here with him hauled ass out the back.”


“Uh huh. Let’s make sure that Robert has his boys dust this for fingerprints.” Steve replies as he takes his notepad out of his pocket. “Well I guess I better go and canvass this place, maybe somebody saw something.”


“I’ll go.” Neal replies.


“You will?” Steve replies.


“Yeah I need some fresh air.” Neal replies.


“Are you okay?” Steve asks.


“Oh yeah sure I’m just fine. See ya later.”  


“Yeah later.” Steve replies.

 


LATER THAT DAY AT THE MORGUE:

 


“Steve what are you eating?” Neal asks as they go into the Morgue.


“A ham and cheese sandwich, do you want some?” Steve asks as he holds it out to Neal.


Neal puts his hand on his stomach. “No thanks.”


“Morning sickness again?” Steve asks.


“I suppose so, why do they call it morning sickness when you’re sick in the afternoon too?” Neal asks.


Steve shrugs. “That’s a good question. Ask Ruby maybe she knows.”


Neal shakes his head. “Nah she doesn’t know.”


“I bet she does. Ruby is a woman and she’s pregnant….”


“Thanks Steve for pointing that out.”


“I mean women know all those wonderous and mysterious things that we as men know absolutely nothing about and morning sickness is one of those things.”


Neal scratches his head as he looks at the floor then he looks sideways at Steve. “Wonderous and mysterious?”


“Yeah. Are you sure you don’t want half of my sandwich?” Steve asks.


“I’m positive how can you eat that in here?” Neal asks.


“I didn’t want it to go to waste. Hey Sam.” Steve replies as he waves at Sam.


“Afternoon boys, late lunch Detective?” Sam asks as he comes into the room.


“I have to eat when I can.” Steve replies.


“Yeah Sam we didn’t want to keep you waiting, what did old Stanley tell you?”


Sam crosses over to the table where Stanley’s body was covered with a sheet and he grabbed the corner of it and he pulled it back to expose Stanley’s body. “In my external exam I found some very old injection sites, by old I mean they have scabbed over and healed. See.” Sam replies as he holds Stanley’s arm out to them. “These are six months old at least.”


“Wow maybe Stanley was trying to kick it.” Steve replies.


“Maybe.” Neal replies. 


“Then I found this.” Sam replies as he shows them Stanley’s other arm.


Neal and Steve move closer. “Is that what I think it is?” Steve asks as he points.


“Yeah doc is it?” Neal asks.


“Well what does it look like boys?” Sam asks.


“Well….” Steve replies as he turns his head this way and that examining it. “It looks like a….”


“Belt buckle.” Steve and Neal both say.


“Very good boys. It is a belt buckle. He tightened a belt around this arm and then he injected….”


“Wait doc there is something fishy about this.” Steve replies.


“Again with the fishy Steve?” Neal asks.


“Yeah. Doc which arm is that belt buckle mark on?” Steve asks.


“The left one, why?” Sam replies.


“Yeah why?” Neal also asks.


“Old Stanley was a southpaw that’s why.” Steve replies.


Neal and Sam look at each other then Neal looks back at Steve. “Stanley was a southpaw? Steve are you sure?”


“Sure I’m sure. Remember when we arrested him that first time and he signed his statement? He was left handed. He even told me when he was kid in school they even tried to make him write with his right hand but it didn’t work. So doc if somebody was a lefty wouldn’t it be a little difficult to wrap a belt around your left arm and inject yourself with your right hand?” Steve asks.


“Yeah doc wouldn’t it be?” Neal asks.


“Yes boys in my opinion I would think it would be.” Sam replies.


“So that means he was really helped thru those gates of Heaven.” Neal replies.


“Yeah he was shoved thru after somebody else injected him.” Steve replies.


Stanley here is a big old boy so it had to be somebody that he knew. Doc when you do the tox screen check for alcohol or something similar.” Neal replies.


“So you think that somebody knocked him out first?” Steve asks.


Neal nods his head. “Yeah I do. I don’t think old Stanley here otherwise would have gone quietly.”


“Alright boys it might take as long a week or more to get the tox screen back but I can tell you what killed him.” Sam replies.


“What?” They both ask.


“His heart just stopped. It was pumping so hard after awhile it couldn’t keep up and it just burst. Now using drugs can do that but in this case he had the beginnings of heart disease but it wasn’t advance enough to kill him, unless his heart was compromised by something….come on over here and I’ll show you.” Sam says.


They followed Sam over to the dissection table where a cloth covered bowl was sitting.


“This is what I was doing when you two came in.” Sam removed the cloth from the bowl to reveal a heart that he had been in the process of dissecting when Steve and Neal came in.


“Wow doc is that Stanley’s heart?” Steve asks with interest.


“Yes and see the left vertical?” Sam asks.


Steve looks over his shoulder. “Hey Neal take a look at this….Neal?”


The next thing they see is Neal running out of the room and from where they stand they can see him run into the men’s room with his hand over his mouth.


“Oh dear I didn’t realize that Detective Schon was ill.” Sam replies as he looks in the direction where Neal had run.


“Well he’s not really sick.” Steve replies as he looks where Sam is looking.


“What do you mean?” Sam asks.


“He has morning sickness.” Steve replies.


“Oh I see I didn’t even know that he was expecting.” Sam replies.


“He isn’t…I mean…she is….he isn’t….I mean….they are….expecting I mean. Neal is having….”


“Sympathy pains.” Sam replies.


“Yeah that’s it.”


“That is quite fascinating actually I would like to talk to Neal when he gets the time and when he feels better.” Sam replies.


“Try back in about nine month’s doc.”  



 THE NEXT DAY BACK AT 1405 WEST HARBOR ROOM 1A MANAGER’S APARTMENT:

 


“Hey Steve look what I found.” Neal replies as he comes out of the bathroom holding a bottle of pills.


“What is it?” Steve asks as he looks thru Stanley’s closet.


“Sleeping pills and a more than a couple seems to be missing. Find the belt yet?” Neal asks.


“No but I still need to check the dresser drawers.”


Neal puts the bottle of pills in an evidence bag. “Maybe it was the killer’s belt or….”


“….Or he took it with him.” Steve replies.


“Good point there partner.” Neal replies.


“Thank you. For somebody who was a tight wad he sure bought a lot of clothes.” Steve replies.


“Yeah old Stanley certainly liked his threads, what about this shirt?” Neal asks as he takes it out of the closet and he holds it up next to him.


Steve looks over. “No, hey do you hear that?” Steve asks as he looks around.


“Yeah, yeah I do it sounds like somebody trying to get in.” Neal whispers as he starts to take out his gun.


“Back door.” Steve replies as they make their way slowly and quietly out of the bedroom and up the short hall to the kitchen door. Neal flanks the door on one side as Steve makes his way over to the over side and he squats down underneath the bar. They watch as a figure at the back door struggles with the key in the lock then he finally manages to open it.


Stanley!! Stan….!!!”


When he crosses the threshold Neal sticks his foot out and he trips him and when he hits the floor Steve jumps and he is on the stranger like a duck on a June bug. Steve jumps on his back but he eventually turns him over as he sits on his chest straddling his arms.


“Hey!!!! Hey!!! What in the hell is going on? Who are you two guys and where’s Stan?” The stranger asks.


Neal squats down next to him. “We want to ask you the same thing, what are you doing here?”


“I own this place and I haven’t heard from Stan in a few days so I came by to check on him. Excuse me would you mind getting off of me!!” He yells at Steve.


“Not right now maybe in a few minutes. So you own this….this rambling wreck of a hovel huh?” Steve asks.


“I beg your pardon this is not a rambling wreck!!!” The stranger replies.


“Oh so it’s a hovel then?” Neal asks.


The stranger looks at Neal. “No! It’s Greek Revival!!!”


Neal and Steve look at each other. “Oh it’s Greek Revival!” They both say. “So what’s your name man?” Steve asks.


“Robert….Robert Howell.”


“I’m Neal but you can call me Detective….Detective Schon.” Neal replies as he takes his badge case out of his pocket and he opens it and he shows it to him. 


“Detective?” Robert replies.


“Yeah Detective and this stunning specimen of an individual that is sitting on your chest is my partner Steve.” Neal replies.


Steve shows him his badge as well. “Better known as Detective….Detective Perry.”


“We’re Homicide Detectives….” Neal replies.


“HOMICIDE?” Robert yells.


“Ssshhhh!!!” Steve replies.    


Robert looks back and forth between them. “Homicide!! That means somebody is dead! Who? Who’s dead! Where?”


“Robert we hate to tell you this but….” Neal replies.


“Yeah but Stanley is dead.” Steve replies.


Stanley!!! My, my Stanley? My manager Stanley? That Stanley?” Robert replies.


Steve finally gets up off of him and they help Robert to his feet and Neal straightens his jacket. “Yeah Robert we’re afraid so.”


“Oh my goodness that is why he didn’t answer his phone, I mean it isn’t like or it wasn’t like Stanley to not stay in touch with me.”


“So how long have you been trying to get in touch with him?” Steve asks.


 Robert runs his hand thru his hair. “Can I sit down?”


“Sure.” Neal grabs a kitchen chair and he takes him by his arm and he helps him to sit down. 


Steve grabs another chair and he sits next to Robert. “Are you going to be alright Robert?”


Robert nods. “I…I think so. It’s just the shock you know.” Robert replies as he looks at Steve.


“Yeah I know. When was the last time you heard from him?” Steve asks.


“A couple of days ago at least.” Robert replies.


Steve looks up at Neal. “That fits what Sam said.”


“Robert did you know that Stanley had a habit?” Neal asks.


Robert nods again. “Yeah, yeah I did but he told me that he had been clean for six months. I knew that Stanley had a past and that he had been in trouble and all but still he deserved a chance you know, everybody deserves a chance don’t you think?” Robert asks as he looks at Steve.


Steve puts his hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Yeah Robert I think so, how about you Neal?” Steve asks as he looks up at Neal.


“Yeah Steve I think so too. Robert did you know that Stanley was a pusher….”


Before Neal or Steve could blink Robert was up and out of the chair as he grabbed a hold of Neal and shoved him back against the wall. “No you son-of-a-bitch!!! He wasn’t a pusher!!!”


“Robert! Robert! Come on man cool it.” Steve replies as he puts his hands on his wrists. “Come on man let him go.”


Robert lets go of Neal so Steve is able to slip in between them.


Stanley was trying to get clean for his family.” Robert replies.


“Family?” Neal replies as he straightens his shirt.


“Yeah man he had a wife; he was trying to get back with her. The drug thing, his habit, had broken them up but he told me that he wanted to get clean for her. Jesus god this is all such a shock, Stanley dead and now you tell me that he was a pusher?” Robert replies.


“Robert sit back down, what’s her name?” Steve replies as he helps him to sit back down.


“Gina, her name is Gina.” Robert replies as he covers his eyes with his hands.


“Where does she live Robert?” Neal asks.


“I’m….I’m not sure, Stanley gave me a package once to mail to her and I think it said Los Angeles.”


Steve smiles at him. “Alright Robert we appreciate your help now just sit there and relax okay.”


“Relax? How can I relax? I mean Stanley was my right hand man, he ran this place! He did a good job of running this place now who can I find?” Robert replies.


“Well Robert, Steve and I we have a proposition we would like to run by you.” Neal replies.


Robert looks up. “A proposition?”


“Yeah man that is if you are in the frame of mind to listen?” Steve asks.


Robert looks at Steve.


“Robert trust us.” Steve replies as he puts his hand on his arm.


“Will it help you to catch whoever killed Stanley?” Robert asks as he looks at them.


“Yeah Robert we think it will.” Neal replies.


“Then….” Robert replies as he nods his head. “I’ll listen to you.”


“Alright Robert this is our idea….” Neal replies.

 


THE NEXT DAY AT HAMILTON’S PAWN SHOP:

 


Steve wandered around the store looking at various items, biding his time, waiting for the owner of the store Hamilton Green to finish with his customer then Steve heard the bell ring on the door as the customer left the store.


“Can I help you?” Hamilton asked as Steve approached the counter.


“Yeah I’m looking for something….specific.” Steve replied.


“Well how specific are we talking about man?” Hamilton asked.


“This specific.” Steve replied as he pulled a picture out of his pocket.


Hamilton looks at the picture then he goes over to the door and grabs the sign that says “Closed For Lunch” and he turns it to face outside then he lowers the blind on the door.


“Was that necessary?” Steve asks as he watches Hamilton go back behind the counter.


“I don’t want my customers seeing me talking to a white cop.” Hamilton says seriously then he smiles. “Even if he is a friend of mine.” Hamilton then reaches over the counter and

he shakes Steve’s hand.


“How’s your mom doing man?” Steve asks.


“She’s good and she wants to fatten you up.” Hamilton replies.


“If that is an invitation to dinner then I’ll be there. How’s the business going?” Steve asks.


“Thanks to you it’s doing great.”


Hamilton….” Steve raises his hand to stop him.


“Arresting me Steve was the best thing you could have done for me besides helping me get this Pawn Shop.”


Steve shrugs. “I know a few people that’s all….”


“Steve you and I both know that being an ex-con is tough enough but being a black ex-con is a double whammy, if it hadn’t been for you no body would have given me the time of

day.”


Hamilton do you have to sing my praises every time that you see me?” Steve asks as he smiles.


Hamilton shrugs. “Yeah man I do I mean I’m grateful and if there is anything that I can do to help….”


“I can use your help now, look at the picture and tell me if you’ve seen this watch before.”


Hamilton picks the picture up again and he looks at it. “Yeah I have seen this before.”


“Really? When was that?” Steve asks as he takes a notepad out of his pocket.


“It’s been at least almost two weeks now. I mean I couldn’t forget this watch if I tried its custom one of a kind and that is why I told that hype that brought it in to take a hike.”


“What did he look like Hamilton?” Steve asks.


Hamilton laughs. “Come on Steve you know we think all you white guys look alike.”


Steve laughs as he shakes his head. “Just give it a try okay?”


“Your height and weight, actually he was skinner than you, long stringy dirty looking hair.” Hamilton replies.


“Was he wearing a stocking cap?”


“Na man he was wearing a baseball hat I think it said LA Dodgers or something like that.” Hamilton replies.


“Any facial hair, like a mustache or beard?”


“Na man he had like stubble you know and oh he did have a tattoo.” Hamilton replies.


“A tattoo? Could you see what it said or was it a picture?” Steve asks.


Hamilton scratches his head. “It was a name, it was like Mary or Marjorie or Mae something like that, it was intertwined with flowers, and it was hard to see because it was it was sorta faded.”


“Good….”


“Oh and there was something else I guess that’s why I remember him so well….”


“Besides the fact he had a fancy engraved watch right?” Steve asks as he smiles.


“Yeah besides that.”


“So what was it about him Hamilton?” Steve asks.


“You know Steve I have seen just about every kind of person walk thru that door, good honest hard working people having to hock something they don’t want to and then they are a few people like this guy. I have seen other hypes before Steve but this guy….” Hamilton shakes his head. “….He was sick man I mean he was really sick.”


Steve looks at him. “You mean he needed a fix?”


“Na man but I am sure he needed that too but when I say that he was sick, he looked sick. He wasn’t well Steve.”


“Come on Hamilton don’t make me guess.”


Hamilton looked down at the counter then he looked back up at Steve. “His eyes man, the white of his eyes was yellow.” Hamilton replied as he points to his own eye. “I’m no doctor but I know that wasn’t normal, he was one sick cat Steve.”


“What did he say about the watch?” Steve asks.


“Oh you know the same old shit, he said he found it and I told him that I didn’t believe him and that I don’t deal in stolen goods. I do a legit business and for him to take his stolen watch out of here. You know I did call the precinct after he left.”


“You did?” Steve replied surprised.


“Oh yeah I mean I called Robbery you know and they said that they would send somebody out so I could give a report but nobody ever showed up.”


“Really, Hamilton can I get you to do one more favor for me?” Steve asks.


“Sure Steve what is it?”


“You know some of the other Pawn Shop owners don’t you?” Steve asks.


“Yeah I do.”


“Ask them if they have seen that watch for me Hamilton.”


“Sure Steve no problem you want me to call you at the Precinct?”


“No you can call me here.” Steve rips a page out of his notepad and he scribbles a number on it then he hands it to Hamilton.


“Okay cool man consider it done.” Hamilton replies as he shakes Steve’s hand. “Do you have time for lunch?”


“Soul food?” Steve asks.


“Of course man.” Hamilton replies.


“Then I have time.” Steve replies as he smiles.

 


TWO DAYS LATER BACK AT 1405 WEST HARBOR ROOM 1A MANAGER’S APARTMENT:

 


“Thanks Hamilton I appreciate it….” While on the phone Steve looks up when Neal walks in the room and he waves at him. “Alright man I’ll be talking to you and I’ll tell Neal that, later.” Steve replies then he hangs up the phone.


“You’ll tell Neal what?” Neal asks as he sits down at the desk putting his suitcase down beside him.


“That Hamilton wants you to come to his mom’s house for dinner, she makes the best….”


Neal puts his hand on his stomach. “Oh don’t mention food.” Neal replies.


“Again?” Steve asks.


Neal rubs his forehead as he nods.


“How was L.A.?” Steve asks.


“Hot, smoggy and boring.” Neal replies.


Steve makes a face. “Boring? How can L.A. be boring?”


“When your best friend isn’t there to see the sights with you.” Neal replies as he reaches out and he touches Steve on his hand.


Steve smiles. “When did you have time to see the sights in L.A.?” Steve asks.


“In the car going to Gina’s house and in the car coming back from Gina’s house.” Neal replies.


“So how did that go by the way?” Steve asks.


“Well I was expecting her to be a little more upset than she was so that threw me off from the get-go.”


“You mean she wasn’t upset?” Steve asks.


“Come to find out that old Stanley was still in love with her….”


“….And she wasn’t in love with him anymore is that it.” Steve asks.


“Bingo! She told me that she told him over and over that it was over but he wouldn’t take no for an answer he thought if he cleaned up his act she would come back to him. She said that old Stanley had been using for years but about two years ago is when he started selling and that, for her, was the last straw so she packed up her stuff and hauled ass to L.A. She got tired of Stanley’s promises that never went anywhere so she moved on with her life….”


“She found somebody else?” Steve asks.


“Basically and she told Stanley that too but he just didn’t want to or he couldn’t believe it so….” Neal replies.


“So….that’s kind of sad you know.”


Neal nods in agreement. “Yeah, see that is another reason why I wished you was there with me, you could have probably talked to her a lot better than I did.”


“Well somebody had to stay here and try to find your watch and these apartments don’t run themselves you know.” Steve replies.


“I know, so what did you find out about the watch?” Neal asks.


“I found out nothing, absolutely nothing. Hamilton called the other Pawn shops for me and a few of them either saw our guy with the watch or the other Pawn shops didn’t see our guy at all and the Pawn shops who saw our guy with the watch didn’t buy it from him, they all said it looked stolen.”


“Oh really imagine that!!” Neal replies. “What if their lying?”


“I thought of that so I sent somebody over from the precinct to check on their inventories.” Steve replies as he wriggles his eyebrows at him.


“Very good partner.” Neal replies.


“Thank you. You know while you were gone I was running some theories thru my head about your watch.”


“Go ahead I’m listening.”


“If our guy can’t get rid of your watch via the Pawn shops then he’ll have to try to get rid of it some other way.” Steve replies.


“Yeah and even though our guy is a hype he knows that that watch is expensive and it would buy him a lot of drugs, if he could sell it, no self respecting fence would take it because it’s engraved. You know we should put the word out on the streets with our connections….” Neal replies.


“I already did that.” Steve replies.


“Oh.”


“You said if he could sell it.” Steve replies.


“Yeah I did say that.” Neal replies.


“What if he can’t sell it thru the usual people what then?” Steve asks.


Neal thinks on this a minute. “Well then I don’t know exactly.”


“I know what I would do.” Steve replies seriously.


“What would you do?” Neal asks.


“Trade it.” Steve replies.


“Trade it? Steve are you crazy? Do you have any idea how much that watch is worth?” Neal replies.


“Yes Neal I do know how much that watch is worth and so does our guy who just happens to be a hype who can’t sell it and he needs the money for another fix so he goes to the one place where he can trade it, the one place he trusts, the one place he has bought his drugs from before….”


“Good old Stanley.” Neal replies.


“Good old Stanley.” Steve repeats as he nods his head.


Neal gestures around the room. “Okay so where is it? We didn’t find it….”


“Did you notice have tore up this place was as if somebody was looking for something?” Steve asks.


“Well yeah….so you think our guy may have killed Stanley to get the watch back?” Neal asks.


Steve shrugs. “I don’t know but somebody was looking for something.”


“So let me get this straight….” Neal replies as he shifts in his chair. “….Your theory is that our guy stole my watch and he brought it here to trade for drugs when he struck out with the Pawn shops, then, your saying he came back at some later time to get the watch back and Stanley refused so our guy killed him to get it back?”


Steve shrugs again. “Basically I think so yeah maybe I guess….”


“What sense does that make? Why would he want the watch back?” Neal asks.


“I don’t know.” Steve replies.


“And if our guy wanted it back so badly why wouldn’t Stanley give it back to him?” Neal asks.


“I don’t know that either.” Steve replies.


“Steve you don’t know much do you?” Neal replies.


“Ah Neal….”


“Steve, do you mind if I point something out to you?” Neal replies as he leans across the desk in Steve’s direction.


“No I don’t guess so.” Steve replies.


“There is nothing, not one sliver of evidence, no eye witness that can connect our guy to Stanley. So Steve what makes you so sure that the guy who mugged me and took my watch was the one that killed Stanley?”


“Neal remember when you were training me and you told me if there is nothing else, you are at a dead end and the only thing you have to go on is a gut reaction then act on it, isn’t that what you told me Neal?”


Neal scratches his head.


“Isn’t it?”


“I….well….yes I suppose that I did.” Neal replies.


“And how many times have you told me to follow my gut? Huh Neal how many times have you told me that?” Steve replies.


“Well….I.”


Steve pats himself on the stomach. “And how many times has this old gut been right Neal? Huh how many times Neal?” 


Neal rubs his eyes as he yawns. “Alright Steve I get the point.”


“Are you okay?” Steve asks.


“Yeah I’m just tired that’s all I didn’t get much sleep the last couple of days.” Neal replies.


“Thinking about things?” Steve asks.


“Yeah.”


Steve reaches out and he puts his hand on top of Neal’s. “It’s going to be alright Neal you’re see and I think you need a new hobby to take your mind off of things.”


“A new hobby, such as what exactly?” Neal asks.


“Remember when you told me that ever since you got the house you wanted to learn to do more house kind of stuff?” Steve asks.


“Yeah.”


“Well Mark needs a helper….” Steve replies.


“Wait Mark the plumber guy that works here at the apartments?” Neal asks.


“That’s him.”


“And he needs an assistant?” Neal asks.


“Yeah.”


“Steve I don’t know anything about plumbing.” Neal replies.


“That’s the whole point, you work with Mark and he shows you the ropes and that way you will learn how to do plumbing and in the meantime it will keep your mind occupied. Here

I even got you a work shirt!!” Steve replies.


Steve reaches behind the desk and he pulls out a work shirt and he hands it to Neal who takes it.


“Thanks….ah Steve.”


“Yeah Neal?”


“They spelled ‘Neal’ wrong; they spelled it ‘Neil’.” Neal replies as he shows the patch on the shirt to Steve.


“Oh so they did, well it’s no biggie….”


“No biggie?” Neal repeats.


“Yeah no biggie I mean, technically, we’re supposed to be undercover so if they spelled your name wrong then its cool, no biggie.” 


“Steve, you know, sometimes your logic just escapes me.”


Steve leans in closer. “To tell you the truth sometimes I even scare myself.”


“Uh huh.” Neal replies.


“Well you better get going partner.” Steve replies.


Neal looks around the room. “Get going where exactly?”


“To Mark’s office of course.” Steve replies.


“Oh of course.”


“I told him just as soon as you showed up I would send you over to see him and oh by the way I told him that you’re my cousin.”


“You told him what?” Neal asks as he laughs.


“I told him that you’re my cousin.”


Neal rubs his eyes. “Steve how in the blue blazes could I be your cousin?”


“You’re my cousin four times removed.” Steve replies as he holds up four fingers.


“Steve look at me then look at you.”


Steve then reaches across the desk and he pats Neal on the cheek as he says, “Yes Neal I know it’s a sad but true fact that you are from the ugly side of my family, now scoot I’ve got work to do.”


Neal takes a deep breath as he pushes himself out of the chair. “Mark’s office is upstairs right?”


“Yep right above me.” Steve replies as he points upwards.


“I’ll leave my suitcase here and I’ll get it later.”


“Neal….” Steve replies as he chews on the end of a pencil.


“Yeah?”


“Where are you, you know, going to be staying?” Steve asks.


“Robert told me I could stay in the vacant, furnished apartment two floors up, do you want me to stay here instead?”


“Yeah, well, that is if you don’t mind. Don’t get me wrong man it’s not like I missed you or anything like that….”


“Oh no of course not.” Neal replies smiling as he crosses his arms over his chest.


“…. It’s just that it’s a little creepy staying here by myself.” Steve replies as he lowers his voice to a whisper.


“Why are we whispering?” Neal asks as he whispers back.


“Because he might hear I don’t want him to know that I am creeped out man!”


“He who?” Neal asks.


Stanley of course.”


“Oh of course, Steve, Stanley is dead remember?”


“Yes I know but he was killed here in this apartment ergo….”


“Ergo?” Neal repeats.


“Ergo it’s haunted!”


“Haunted?” Neal replies.


“Yeah man haunted, this place has a high creep factor!” Steve replies.


Neal laughs. “Alright man I’ll stay here with you.”


“Good!!! See ya later?” Steve replies.


“Yeah man later.” Neal replies as he smiles then he turns and walks out of the room.   



A FEW DAYS LATER AT THE CORONER’S OFFICE:

 


Steve glances at the clock on the wall again. “Doc, you know Neal is usually pretty well, you know, prompt. I don’t know what could be keeping him.”


“Oh that is alright Detective it gives me a chance to catch up on some paperwork.” Sam the Coroner replies.


Sam opens up a file and he starts to read it when he notices Steve across the room fidgeting in his seat.


“Detective….”


“Yeah Doc?” Steve replies.


“I have a newspaper over here if you would like to read it?” The Doctor replies.


Steve gets out of his chair. “Oh sure thanks Doc. Oh hey look there’s a crossword puzzle! Can I do it?” Steve replies.


“Of course be my guess.” The Doctor replies as Steve takes a pencil out of the cup that sits on the Doctor’s desk then Steve sits back down in the chair.


“You know Doc Neal won’t me let do any crossword puzzles when we’re in the car together.” Steve replies as he studies the crossword puzzle.


The Doctor looks up for a minute as he says, “Oh really why is that?”


“You know I don’t really know why.” Steve replies as he chews on the pencil eraser and after a few minutes of chewing Steve says, “Hey Doc.”


“Yes?” The doctor replies as he looks up from his paperwork.


“What is a six-lettered word for organized opposition to authority?” Steve asks.


The Doctor thinks a few seconds then he says, “Revolt.”


“Thanks Doc.” Steve replies as he writes the word in the right spot.


A few more minutes pass then Steve says, “Doc.”


“Yes?” The Doctor replies.


“What is a six lettered word for shared?” Steve asks.


The Doctor taps his pen on the desk. “Common.”


“Oh yeah thanks Doc.”  Steve replies then he says, “Hey Doc….”


The Doctor then gets up from his desk and he goes over and he snatches the crossword puzzle out of Steve’s hand.


“Hey!!!” Steve exclaims.


“Now I know why Detective Schon won’t let you do these in the car!!”


“Ah Doc!” Steve replies.


Just then the door to the office opens and Neal comes into the room and as soon as he does Steve pinches his nostrils together.


“Sorry guys that I’m late but we had a plumbing emergency.” Neal replies.


“P….ewwwwww!!!! What is that stench?” Steve asks as he looks at Neal holding his nose.


“I don’t smell anything.” The Doctor replies.


“You don’t?!” Steve asks as he looks at the Doctor. “How is that possible?”


“When you have worked with dead people for as long as I have you become accustomed to noxious odors.” The Doctor replies as he goes back to his desk and he sits down.


“Neal what happened?” Steve asks as he continues to hold his nose together.


“The snake exploded….” Neal replies.


“Oh my god!!! That is just disgusting! How big of a snake was it?” Steve asks.


Neal waves his hand back and forth. “Not that kind of snake, the snake we used to clean out the pipes. We put the snake into the pipe and the pipe, well it just, exploded it was an odd thing actually Mark said that he had never had that happened before.”


“Oh. Why didn’t you change your clothes?” Steve asks.


“I didn’t have the time. When I realized what time it was I jumped in the truck and came over here. I didn’t want to keep the Doc waiting.” Neal replies as he gestures at the Doctor.


“Neal you really stink!!” Steve replies.


“Thanks a lot Steve.”


“Can’t you take your pants off?” Steve asks.


“No I can’t take my pants off.” Neal replies.


“Tell you what Detective,” The Doctor replies as he stands up again and he walks over and he takes an extra lab coat that is hanging on the coat rack over to Neal. “Take this extra lab coat of mine and change into that.”


Neal takes the lab coat from the Doctor. “Are you sure?”


“Yes I am sure. You can use the locker room down the hall.” The Doctor replies.


“Well okay I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Neal replies as he turns and he leaves the room.


A few minutes later Neal returns wearing just the lab coat and no pants and he gingerly sits down in the chair.


“Now I called you boys because I got the tox screen back on your victim.”


“So how many sleeping pills did he take Doc?” Neal asks.


“Yeah Doc how many?” Steve asks as he leans forward.


“None.” The Doctor replies as he reads from the file.


“None?” Neal repeats as he looks over at Steve.


“Yeah Doc none?” Steve asks.


“How did our bad guy managed to inject Stanley if he wasn’t given some sleeping pills?” Neal asks.


“He was given a blow to the back of the head.” The Doctor replies.


Neal and Steve look at one another. “But there wasn’t any blood at the crime scene.” Steve replies.


“He wasn’t hit hard enough to draw blood. He was hit at the base of the skull and that rendered him unconscious and then he was injected with just enough Heroin to kill him. Do you boys have any other leads?”


Steve takes a deep breath as he scratches his head. “No not really.”


“Yeah they couldn’t get any fingerprints off of the syringes.” Neal replies.


“Well since you mentioned the syringes that brings me back to another point.” The Doctor replies.


“What point Doc?” Neal replies.


“Yeah Doc what point?” Steve repeats.


“We tested the blood that was in the syringe and it wasn’t the blood of the victim.”


“No?” Steve replies as he looks at Neal.


“No the victim was blood type O and the blood we found in the syringe was AB Negative and another thing we found out was your guy has Hepatitis C.”


Steve and Neal look quickly at each other.


“So I see that I struck a chord, you two knew about this already didn’t you?” The Doctor asks.


Neal looks over at Steve as he says, “Let’s just say that it was a gut instinct Doc.”


Steve looks over at Neal as he smiles.


“I’m sorry boys that I couldn’t give you any more help.”


“That’s all right Doc.” Neal replies as he stands up adjusting the lad coat around him.


“Yeah Doc we have had less than that to work with.” Steve replies as he stands up.


“I want to caution you two about this guy of yours, from what we saw in his blood he is a very sick person. Don’t come in contact with his blood that is if you can avoid it, he is highly contagious.”


Steve walks over to the door and he opens it waiting on Neal to follow him.


“I’m afraid Doc it’s a little too late for that now.” Neal replies as he walks over to the door and he and Steve leave together leaving the Doctor looking after them and wondering.

 


LATER THAT DAY:

 


“Well Steve….”


“You don’t have to say it you know.” Steve replies as he hands Neal a dish to dry.


“Say what?” Neal asks.


“That I was right.” Steve replies.


“I wasn’t going to say that you were right.” Neal replies.


“You weren’t?” Steve asked surprised.


“No, what I was going to say you cooked an amazing dinner.” Neal replies.


“Oh well thanks.”


“And….”


“And….?” Steve replies as he looks at Neal.


“And that you were right.”


“Awww shucks.” Steve replies. “You trained me remember?” Steve points out.


Neal nods as he leans on the counter. “That I did. So what does that gut tell you now?”


“Well that this guy is a ghost. Nobody has really seen him, nobody knows where he stays, do you really want to know what my gut is telling me?”


“Sure.” Neal replies.


“That this is one case that we won’t solve. We have no where to look, we have nothing to go on, even our connections on the street have given us zilch, where do we go from here?”


“Steve you know what the bait and snatch is, don’t you?”


“Yeah, so you want to lure him out into the open, bring him to us. Neal you know that is always dangerous.”


“True but it has worked in the past and desperate times call for desperate measures.”


Steve smiles. “True, so what do we use for bait partner?”


Neal smiles back. “What do you think we should use for bait, partner?”


“The watch?” Steve replies.


“Bingo.” Neal replies.


“But we haven’t found the watch yet.”


“Our guy doesn’t know that does he?” Neal replies.  


“No. How do we start to bait the hook?” Steve asks.


“The same way we have for years, we use that ocean of humanity out there on the street. Spread the word, tell everybody and anybody that you found this watch and you want to get rid of it.”


“But what about the engraving?” Steve asks.


“You were able to remove it and if our guy wanted the watch bad enough the first time to kill Stanley for it then when he gets wind of the fact that the engraving was removed he will make tracks back here to get it back. You know how the street is Steve news travels like wildfire.”


Steve nods his head in agreement. “It sure does.”


“So do you want to run this up the flag pole and see who salutes?” Neal replies.


Steve laughs. “Yeah, Yeah I do. I want to get this guy Neal just mainly for the fact what he did to you. We have enough fear and worries in this job without some creep adding to them, you know what I mean?”


“Yeah, Yeah I do.” Neal replies as the phone in the office rings. “Uh oh it’s the bat phone.”


A few minutes later Neal comes around the corner pulling on his coveralls.


“That was Mark he needs my help with a plumbing emergency.”


“You know Neal you have really taken to this plumbing thing.”


“Yeah it isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be and who knows, when I retire this could be a back-up career.”


Steve laughs. “You retire? Never!”


Neal laughs as he retrieves his toolbox from the closet. “Yeah right I forgot we are never going to retire. Later partner.”


“Later man.”

 


TWO DAYS LATER NEAR THE ALL-NITE DELI:

 


“Hey man.” Steve replies.


The man drops the cigarette then he steps on it. “I got word that you wanted to see me so here I am. So what is the big emergency man?” The man asks.


“I got something for you that I want you to sell for me man.” Steve replies.


“So what is it this time?” The man asks.


Steve takes a Polaroid out of his pocket and he shows it to the man who takes it.


“Wow man you aren’t serious.”


“Oh yes I am. Don’t let me down man can you sell it?” Steve asks.


The man looks at the picture closer. “Hey wait man this is engraved!” He says as he shoves the picture back at Steve.


“Cool your jets man I took care of it.” Steve replies.


“Don’t play with me Steve.” The man replies.


“I ain’t man I ain’t, it’s cool. Have I ever let you down before?” Steve replies.


The man thinks about this for a minute. “No man you haven’t.”


“It’s cool then man?” Steve asks.


“Yeah man its cool.” The man replies as he shakes Steve’s hand.


“Our same split?” Steve asks.


The man studies the picture. “I don’t know man I mean this is some heavy merchandise, I’ll have to check. I’ll get back to you in a couple of days; can I contact you at the same place man?”


“No man I got a new gig at least for awhile anyway….” Steve smiles.


“Still the same old con man.” The man replies smiling as he shakes his head.


“You know me get in good then take them for all they are worth then leave them high and dry. You can get in touch with me here.” Steve hands him a piece of paper.


 The man looks at it as he laughs. “No shit! I’ll say that you have come up in the world.” The man replies. “I’ll contact you in a couple of days man, okay?”


“Groovy. Until then this is where we part company.” Steve replies as he turns and walks off across the street and after lighting another cigarette the man walks off in the opposite direction letting the waded up piece of paper slip thru his fingers down onto the dirty pavement below.   


Just a minute later from the darkness of the alley a figure dressed in dark clothing and wearing an old, grimy baseball hat with stringy hair raises its head from the garbage bags that he was using as his hiding place, only a few feet away from where the two men were talking.  The figure extricates itself from the mound of garbage then he slowly makes his way over to the piece of paper and he looks around before he picks it up, when he feels it is safe he picks it up, reads it then he puts it in his pocket then he goes back to the alley.

 


LATER THAT DAY:

 


Steve was standing in the kitchen in the dark by the back door holding a baseball bat over his head ready to strike. He had been asleep when he heard noises and thinking it might be their suspect coming to call he armed himself. Standing by the back door he heard more noises outside by the trash cans and then the door knob rattled and whoever was outside opened the door and came inside and that was when Steve swung the bat.


The person yelled and hit the floor and to Steve the voice sounded vaguely familiar.


“What in the hell are you doing?” Neal yells from his position on the floor.


“Neal?” Steve exclaims as he turns on the light to see Neal sprawled out on the floor.


“Yes it’s Neal! Who else were you expecting?”


“Our suspect that’s who, I didn’t hit you did I?” Steve asks as he helps Neal up.


“No I saw your shadow so I ducked just in time.” Neal replies.


“I heard all kinds of noise out there what were you doing?”


“First of all you told me that I couldn’t wear my dirty, stinky coveralls into the apartment right?” Neal asks.


“Right.” Steve replies.


“So I was outside taking them off when I tripped over the garbage cans and I was picking up the garbage and putting the garbage cans where they go, that was the noise that you heard. So you and Randy made the rounds huh?”


“Oh yeah he was worth the two hundred dollars….” Steve replies.


“Wait! Did you just say he was worth two hundred dollars?”


“Yeah I did.” Steve replies.


“Steve two hundred dollars? I can’t believe you paid some guy two hundred dollars that was all the money we had in our snitch fund!!” Neal says loudly.


“No there wasn’t two hundred dollars in our snitch fund, you owe me fifty dollars!! Neal in this town you can’t get a good actor for less than three hundred so we were lucky that Randy agreed to do this for us for a measly two hundred, I bought him lunch and dinner!! We covered every inch of this district and he did a great job too I might add.”


“Where did you meet Randy again?” Neal asks.


“Ah Neal you know where I met him.” Steve replies.


“Yes I know I know but I want to hear it again because of two hundred dollars I think I am entitled to hear it again.”


“Oh all right. I met Randy while I was doing the undercover thing as a male….” Steve replies mumbling the last part.


Neal puts his hand up to his ear as he closer to Steve. “What was that again? As a male what?”


“A male stripper!!! There is that better!!”


“Uh huh. So you think our suspect will have taken the bait already?” Neal asks.


“I think so yeah! Because if he knows he can now sell that watch he will be over here toot-sweet!!” Steve replies.


“Toot-sweet huh?”


“Yeah toot-sweet. That is why I was waiting with the baseball bat because I thought it was him.”


“Uh huh. So Steve the idea didn’t occur in that pretty head of yours that it just might be me coming home? Did it?” Neal asks.


Steve scratches his head. “Well, no not really.”


“Uh huh.”


“I was in cop mode.” Steve replies.


“Uh huh. Did you at least remember to leave me something from dinner?” Neal asks.


“Oh sure it’s in the oven.” Steve replies.


“Great. This idea of yours had better work all two hundred dollars of it.” Neal replies as he points at Steve.


Steve points back. “This bait idea was yours so don’t forget that you know!!!”


“Yeah it was but my idea was a free idea! I didn’t know that you were going to break into our piggy bank!!” Neal replies.


“Well isn’t that what the money is for, huh?” Steve asks.


“Why didn’t you just ask me first about this Randy guy?” Neal asks.


“At the time Neal I think your head was in a toilet in Apartment 3E that is why I didn’t ask you!! Don’t worry our guy will show himself I feel it in my gut, Randy and I dropped enough crumbs that Hansel and Gretel would be able to find their way here.”


“Hansel and Gretel huh?” Neal asks.


“Yeah Hansel and Gretel.” Steve replies. 


“Alright I trust you.” Neal replies.


“Thanks partner.” Steve replies.


“I’m going to grab a shower.”


“And I am going back to bed.” Steve replies.


“Oh you might want to check that light bulb out there it was flickering on and off.” Neal replies.


“Oh really.” Steve replies.


“Yeah I tapped on it and it came back on.”


“Oh okay yeah I’ll look at it tomorrow. Night partner.” Steve replies.


“Night.”

 


THE NEXT NIGHT:

 


Steve had walked to the store that was close by and before he knew it, it had gotten dark on him so he was hurrying back to the apartment office and when he got there he noticed the light bulb was out.


“Ah come on you stupid light!” Steve replies as he sits the two bags of groceries down by the front door then he reaches up and he taps on it hard but it still doesn’t come on. “You stupid light bulb you’re brand new!! Ah shit!!!”


Steve reaches into his jacket pocket and he pulls out the keys and he unlocks the door and he opens it and he goes in and he reaches for the switch to turn on the kitchen light when the door is shut behind him and he feels something sharp at his throat.


“Don’t turn on the light. Do you know what this is?” The man asks.


“Yeah man I’ve got a good idea.” Steve replies as he remains still.


“I know who you are.” The man replies.


“Really man that isn’t fair you know I don’t know who you are.” Steve replies.


“You don’t need to know all I want is the watch man and I’ll leave.” The man replies.


“Alright man alright just don’t hurt me okay?” Steve pleads.


“I won’t if you give me what I want.” The man replies as he puts the needle closer to Steve’s neck.


“Alright! Alright man! Listen man I have to turn on a light so I can see okay?” Steve replies.


The man thinks about this a minute then he says, “Alright. We’re near the stove I’ll reach out and turn on the overheard light alright?  Don’t move!!”


“Oh don’t worry man you got me scared shitless!!” Steve replies.


It was dark but since Steve came into the kitchen his eyes have become accustomed to the darkness. From the living room windows the streetlight that was directly on the corner was beaming some its light thru the window blinds so Steve could see well enough that when the man behind him reached out with his right arm to turn on the light over the stove Steve grabbed that arm.


Steve grabbed the arm with a tight grip and he effortlessly flipped the man over his head and he hit the kitchen floor hard on his back which caused him to let go of the syringe and then Steve got his ass into gear. He made an attempt to jump over him but when he did the man grabbed him by his leg which brought Steve down to the ground. When Steve landed he begin to kick at the man to get him to let go but instead the man drugged Steve towards him and then he jumped on Steve swinging.  Steve managed to block some of the blows and he was even able to turn the man over onto his back and now that he had the upper hand he needed to try to get away from him and get to the bedroom where his gun was.  


Steve hit him on his nose and when the man grabbed his nose in pain Steve got off of him and he made a break for it. Steve was stunned from the blows the man had inflicted on him so he was half walking half stumbling up the hallway when the man somehow managed to find his feet and he grabbed Steve from behind and once again they both fell to the floor.

At that exact moment Neal comes back to the apartment and he when he sees the bags of groceries that Steve left out by the back door he scratches his head then he hears Steve let out a yell…..


“Owwww!!!! You son-of-a-bitch!!!” Steve replies as he clocks the guy across the head.


“Steve?” Neal yells from the kitchen.


“Neal!!! Here in the hallway!!!”


Neal peers around the corner as he holds his gun up in the air and he can barely see two people in the darken hallway struggling so he reaches out to turn on the light switch that illuminates the hallway but nothing happens.


“Neal turn on the light!!!” Steve yells as he looks back over his shoulder.


“I did but it doesn’t work!!!” Neal yells back.


“Neal! Do something!!” Steve yells back.


Neal knowing that he can’t fire into the hallway because he might hit Steve holsters his gun and then he runs up the hallway to help his partner.

 


TWO DAYS LATER AT THE 9TH PRECINCT SQUAD ROOM:

 


“Okay well thanks Doctor we appreciate it, goodbye.” Neal hangs up the phone then he rubs his eyes.


“What did he say? When can we talk to him?” Steve asks from his desk.


“Try never.”


“Never?” Steve asks.


“Yeah he’s dead.” Neal replies.


“DEAD!?” Steve replies loudly which causes the other detectives in the squad room to look at him. “Are you sure he said that he was dead?”


“Yes positive.”


“But, but I didn’t think he was hurt that badly! I mean he was strong!! For a sick, skinny guy he was strong!! I mean look at the shiner he gave to me!!!” Steve says as he points at his eye then Steve sees the sad look in Neal’s eyes. “Neal man I wasn’t thinking….” Steve looks down at the desk for a minute then he says without looking up, “It was the Hepatitis wasn’t it?”


Neal nods as he bites his lip. “Yeah….his….ah his….liver failed.”


“Oh. But Neal that won’t happen to you.” Steve replies as he looks at him.


Neal smiles slightly. “You mean it won’t happen to us.” Neal points at Steve’s hand. “He bit you don’t forget that.”


Steve looks at his bandaged hand. “Yeah I’ll found that out in about a month but you….you’ll find out tomorrow. How do you feel?”


Neal shrugs. “Before I was ready to find out, I was ready to take whatever the Doctor was going to tell me but now….”


“But now?” Steve asks.


“But now I’m scared. I’m scared for both of us.”


“Que Sera, Sera.” Steve replies as he smiles holding up his bandaged hand.


Neal shakes his head as he sits back in his chair. “You just amaze me Steve.”


“I know I have that impact on a lot of people but why do you say that?” Steve replies.


“Because that strung-out hype, who had a contagious, infectious serious disease bit you and he bit you hard enough to draw blood because he wanted to take you with him. This thing we are carrying around with us may do us harm in the end and all you can say is Que Sera, Sera? That is what amazes me.” Neal replies.


Steve leans on the desk in Neal’s direction. “Neal after being shot three times, dying on the operating table, seeing and knowing that Heaven is a real place having that guy bite me is no big deal, if you know what I mean.”


“I see your point.” Neal replies.


“Well I guess this case is closed, the belt our guy was wearing matched the belt mark on Stanley’s left arm.” Steve replies.


“Yeah but we don’t know why he killed Stanley or where my watch is. Hell we don’t even know what our perp’s name is….or was.” Neal replies as he rests his chin in his hand.


Steve thinks a minute. “You know Neal it’s kind of sad don’t you think?”


“Yeah it is.”


For a few minutes there is silence between them Steve looking out of the window and Neal looking down at his desk then Steve gets up from his desk.


“Where you’re going?” Neal asks.


“To the Captain’s office to turn in our reports and then I think I’m going to go to St. Mark’s.” Steve replies.


“St. Mark’s?”


“Yeah I think I’m going to go and light candles for a few people.” Steve replies.


“Such as?”


“Stanley, our no-name perp and you of course.” Steve replies as he points at Neal.


“Me?” Neal replies as he points to himself.


“Yeah you man who do you thinks been saving your bacon all these years?” Steve replies as he points upward.


Neal pushes himself away from his desk then he stands up.


“Mind if I tag along?” Neal asks.


“If God don’t mind then I don’t either.” Steve replies as Neal comes and stands beside him. “Can I ask why you want to tag along?”


Neal scratches his head. “Well somebody has to light a candle for you, you know.”


“Just one?” Steve asks.


“Okay maybe two.” Neal puts his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “Come on let’s go partner.”

 


TWO MONTHS LATER:

 


Steve finally pulls up to the Deli where Neal has been sitting and waiting smoking yet another cigarette holding a big jar of pickles.


“I was beginning to wonder if I needed to send out a BOLO on you and my car!! What in the Sam Hill took you so long?” Neal asks as he gets in the car.


“I had to make a stop at the Precinct after I went to the doctor.” Steve replies.


“Oh I see how it is; you were making time with Alicia at the Precinct when you knew good and well that I was cooling my heels sitting out here waiting on you!! You know this isn’t

a good neighborhood.” Neal replies as he opens the jar of pickles and takes one out and he starts to eat it.


“Neal what are you doing?” Steve asks.


“What does it look like I’m doing, I’m eating a pickle.” Steve just looks at him. “I had a craving okay? So what did the Doctor say?”


“He said that the tests came back negative!! No hepatitis! I am healthy as that proverbial horse!!”


Neal pats Steve on the back. “That is wonderful news Steve!! Ever since the doctor told me that I didn’t have hepatitis either I knew you would be okay too!!! We really dodged a bullet!!!” Neal replies.


“You know I think lighting a candle every day at St. Mark’s had something to do with it too.” Steve replies.


“So why did you have to stop at the Precinct?” Neal asks.


“I thought you were never going to ask! You see when I was at the doctor’s office the thing went off!!!” Steve replies happily.


Neal looks puzzled. “The thing went off? What thing would that be?”


“You know the thing that you gave me that goes off when you call it!!”


“Oh!!! You mean the pager?” Neal replies.


“Yeah that’s it the pager!! Well anyway it went off and it was Alicia!!”


“So why did Alicia page you?” Neal asks.


“She wanted me to come back to the Precinct because she had something that she wanted to give to me!” Steve replies.


“She wanted to give it to you right there in the Precinct?” Neal asks.


Steve laughs. “No! Not that!! She had a package! Actually it’s for you.”


“Me? Who would be sending me a package?” Neal asks as Steve reaches behind the seat and he brings out a small package that he hands to Neal.


“Open it and find out.” Steve replies.


“Hey it’s already been opened!!” Neal replies.


“That’s because I opened it.”


“You know Steve that is illegal to open someone else’s mail.” Neal points out 


“It’s addressed to both of us….see.” Steve replies as he points to the package.


“Oh. So what is it?”


“Why don’t you open it to find out partner?” Steve asks as he smiles.


“Yeah good idea.” Neal opens the box and once he had that opened inside was a smaller box nestled in newspapers to keep it safe. Neal reaches inside and he takes out the smaller box and he removes the lid.


“Oh my god!!!” Neal exclaims.


“Uh huh!” Steve says as he smiles.


Neal looks at Steve. “Oh my god!!!”


“Uh huh!” Steve says again.


“OH MY GOD!!! IT’S MY….”


“….WATCH!!!!” They say at the same time very loudly. “Oh my god I can’t believe it!! When? What? Where? How?”


“You forgot who.” Steve points out.


“WHO!” Neal replies.


“Gina.”


“Gina? You mean good old Stanley’s ex Gina? That Gina?”


“Yes that Gina.” Steve replies.


Neal looks at the watch closely. “Why did she have it and who sent it to her?”


“That is another reason why I was late getting here; I called her to ask that very same thing.”


“What did she say? Come on give!!!” Neal replies.


Steve laughs. “Stanley sent it to her.”


“Why did he do that?” Neal asks.


“Remember when we came up with that idea that the watch had been altered and the engraving removed?” Steve asks.


“Yeah?”


“Well Stanley had the idea to do that….for real.” Steve replies.


“For real?”


“Yeah you see Gina owns a jewelry store and besides selling jewelry she also repairs it, cleans it and she can also alter it….” Steve replies.


“So old Stanley was going to go thru with it.” Neal replies.


“From what I can piece together our perp with no name mugged you and took your watch and when he couldn’t sell it at the usual places he went to Stanley.”


“How did he know that Stanley could help him?” Neal asks.


“That I don’t know but I do know that Stanley knew that Gina could help him with this so he sent it to her and it has been there the entire time. Gina told me that when she got it she took it to her shop and when she opened it she decided that she wanted nothing to do it with it, she had every intention of sending it back to Stanley but things at the shop got busy and she forgot about it until she read the story in the paper.”


Neal looks at the watch. “So she sent it back.”


“Yeah she sent it back. I am sure that good old Stanley told our no name perp that he sent the watch off to be fixed but maybe our guy got tired of waiting, or didn’t believe him so after knocking Stanley out he ransacked the apartment and when he couldn’t find it….” Steve replies.


“He got angry.”


“Yeah. He got into the safe and took whatever stash Stanley had there and he used it and he gave the rest to Stanley as a going away present.”


“You know we are probably going to have about a hundred unanswered questions about this case.” Neal replies as he looks at his watch.


“At least. Well at least we know one thing.” Steve replies.


“What is that?” Neal asks.


“That we are healthy.”


“True.” Neal replies as he nods his head.


“Do you still have your pocket knife?” Steve asks.


“Yeah sure.”


“Can I use it for a minute?” Steve asks.


“Oh yeah sure.” Neal replies as he digs in his pants pocket for it then when he finds it he hands it to Steve. “What cha want it for?”


“You’ll find out.” Steve replies as he opens it then he cleans the blade on his jeans then Neal watches as Steve takes the pocket knife and he cuts his palm with it drawing blood.


“Steve, are you crazy?!! What in the Sam Hill are you doing?” Neal asks.


“Remember when we were kids and we did this?”


“Yeah.” Neal smiles at the memory.


“So it’s your turn.” Steve says as he hands Neal the knife.


Neal takes the knife and he in turn cuts his palm with it also drawing blood then they clasp hands letting their blood mingle.


“Blood brothers?” Neal asks.


“Blood brothers.” Steve repeats. “And Neal do you know why we do what we do?”


“No why?” Neal asks.


“It’s in the blood Neal it’s….in the blood.” Steve replies.

 

 


V7V7V7V7V7V7V7V7V7V7

 

 


Neal sneezes.


“Bless you.” Steve replies.


“Steve what are you doing?” Neal asks.


“I’m spraying Lysol to kill the germs. There have been a lot of germs around here lately.”


“Will you stop….” Neal sneezes again. “It’s making me sneeze.”


“It’s the cold and flu season Neal don’t you watch the commercials on television?”


“I know what Lysol does it just stinks and it makes me….” Neal sneezes. “….Sneeze!”


“I hope you aren’t getting the cold that I had.” Steve replies.


“Me either.” Neal replies as he sneezes again.


“Well just too make sure that you don’t I got you a few things.” Steve replies as he takes a bag out from under his desk.


“What?” Neal asks.


“I got you some Vick’s Vapor Rub for your chest, Nyquil so that you can sleep, Aspirin for your headache and Pepto Bismol for everything else and some orange juice.”


“Wow you sure brought me a lot of stuff! Steve is this fresh squeezed orange juice?”


“Yes it certainly is with the pulp and everything.” Steve replies as he pours Neal a glass.


Neal takes a sip. “Wow this is really great! And you squeezed this yourself?” Neal asks.


Steve raises his hands and he wriggles his fingers. “With all ten digits!!”


Just then Alicia comes into the room carrying some paperwork which she places on Steve’s and Neal’s desk.


“Thanks Alicia.” Steve replies. “You know you look lovely today.” Steve replies as he winks at her.


“Ah Steve….I mean Detective Perry you say the sweetest things. Oh I see you found the bag that I left under your desk, did you like the orange juice?”


Neal as he’s taking a sip looks over at Alicia as Steve smiles and he laughs.


“You mean you made the orange juice?” Neal asks.


“Oh yes. Steve bought me a brand new juicer so I made him some orange juice with a lot of pulp just like you like it, right?” Alicia replies as she smiles at Steve.


“Oh yeah right, right.” Steve replies.


“Are we still going to lunch?” Alicia asks.


“Huh? Oh yeah sure, lunch. No problem.” Steve replies.


“See you later. Bye Neal.” Alicia replies.


“Bye Alicia. Steve you are a cad you know that don’t you? Taking credit for somebody else’s juice! You ought to be ashamed!”


“Ah come on Neal I bought the juicer so isn’t that almost the same thing?” Steve replies.


“I guess so. Can you hand me that bottle of aspirin?” Neal asks.


“Sure.” Steve replies as he reaches into the bag and he takes out the bottle of aspirin and he hands it to Neal.


Then Neal looks at the bottle. “Steve….”


“Yeah Neal?”


“This bottle of aspirin isn’t new is it?” Neal asks suspiciously.


“Define new.” Steve replies.


“New! As in brand new! Not open! Not used! When you buy a bottle of aspirin Steve it has that piece of cotton stuffed in the top and this doesn’t.”


“So what does that prove anyway?” Steve asks.


“It proves that you didn’t buy me a brand new bottle of unopened aspirin but that you gave me a used bottle of aspirin!! You’re giving me recycled drugs!! I bet all those other drugs in that bag are used as well.”


Steve looks in the bag. “Maybe.”


“Steve I am just flabbergasted!!!”


“Oh come on Neal! I didn’t want them to go to waste and I didn’t want to throw them away and I knew you were going to get sick.”


“Oh how did you know that?”


“Because it’s always been that way, I get sick and then you do or vice-er-versa. We share our germs.”


“That is just disgusting.” Neal replies.


“It’s the truth you know. We share this office, we share the car and we breathe each other’s air. We share the same cups, glasses, dishes and sometimes the same clothes….”


“Okay I get the point. You know I think I’m going to take my sack of used drugs and go home.” Neal replies as he heads for the door.


“Good idea partner you go home and go to bed and let Ruby take care of you.” Steve replies as he pours a glass of orange juice.


Neal looks over his shoulder and he sees Steve drinking the glass of orange juice and that causes him to back up and take the glass out of his hand.


“At least the orange juice isn’t recycled!” Neal replies as he takes the glass with him.


“Hmmmm.” Steve replies as he rests his chin in hand tapping his fingers on the desk. “I guess this is Victor 7 over and out.”









 

 

-30-

 

©LAB and SRP & JRNY FANFICTION 2007 to 2010. All rights reserved. Steve Perry and Neal Schon’s likenesses appear only as characters. Any resemblance to any one living or dead is purely a coincidence. This fictional story is for entertainment purposes only and for the complete enjoyment of the author and the readers. I have no permission from Steve Perry or/and the members of Journey to use their likenesses or names and this story is purely fiction and written solely for the love of things and people back in the day.  No real rock stars were injured in the writing of these stories and I put them back when I am finish with them.