I started off the morning with a long hot soak in the tub. Case is working and I probably won’t see him until the weekend. I eyed the pile of bills and decided to have breakfast down at the diner then come back and work on them.
That was my plan too- but then I saw Fin and everything was put on hold. Oddly enough, all he needed a ride. His bike was on the other side of town– I decided it was better to not ask any for any details and he wasn’t supplying any.
After dropping him off I decided to do the missing person’s check and see if there as anything new in the world of crime prevention.
There was a long line of people waiting around the front desk. The Sargent looked like he was at the end of his rope as everybody started crowding around him demanding his attention. I saw his expression as he looked at the line, which was starting to look more and more like a mob.
“Miller!” I looked up, surprised when he called my name. “You were supposed to be her an hour ago! They’re waiting, room G7.”
He tossed me a pass and then nodded behind him. “Best not to keep the man waiting.”
I nodded, looking properly chastised as I headed down the indicated hallway. Once I was clear of reception, I headed down another hallway, heading back to records– room G7 is the janitor’s closet.
I guess I’m back on the ‘good-guys’ list. Saunders smiled as I walked in. From the looks of things I had missed a natural disaster. I looked at him questioningly.
He just shook his head. “End of the month... “ He sighed.
I nodded and handed him the chips on the boys, but by now we both know its just a formality. He processed them, and shook his head. “Nuthin’” He sighed apologetically.
I nodded. “You never know...”
He nodded. “You heading over to the morgue?”
“You run some records over for me?”
I shrugged. “No trouble on my end.”
He nodded distractedly. “Appreciate it.”
I was about to ask him about it when I noticed the camera again. It wasn’t scanning the room anymore, it was fixed on him... us.
I looked at him questioningly.
He didn’t answer me, but his eyes said everything. It was a trap– someone wanted me to view the files– or have a chance to view them.
My mind was racing when my pager went off. I checked it and then looked sheepishly at Saunders. “Sorry... looks like I gotta fly...”
He nodded. I couldn’t help but notice the relief in his eyes as he feigned indifference. “Thanks for offering.”
I nodded and headed out towards the phones. “No prob,” I answered as I distractedly viewed the message and then cleared it. ‘10-33' the basic equivalent of a police 911. It means emergency... and be careful.
“Have a good one.” I called out as I hit the door. “Sorry.”
I let out a sigh of relief as I cleared the cameras and knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet.
It took a long while for things to straighten themselves out, but its clear now– it isn’t just the star in Tacoma that’s not happy with my– involvement in the Worthington-Hyde-Smythe case. Someone was setting me up to discredit me as a witness. Someone with enough pull and station inside the corp that everyone had to tow the line.
Saunders didn’t like it, but then again– neither did Det. Young. Saunders tried to warn me, and Young gave me the way out. I’m not sure how he rerouted the call, but I do know he was the source of the bogus page that let me walk out without the files.
Its amazing how close I’d come to being discredited or worse– and in such a natural way. Looks like somebody finally read my file. I didn’t get home until about 19:00 and by then I really didn’t want to do much of anything except sit with my back to a wall and watch the shadows.
It took me a good hour to shake the feeling. I finally sat down and started going through the bills. Most of them were the usual– electric, water... taxes. Then one that wasn’t even addressed to the boys. The name on the envelope was “Charles St. Anne.” It was for a storage facility in Auburn.
I filed the other bills and kept eyeing that one. Finally I opened it– it was the annual bill for a 25x50 storage locker at their facility. The renewal’s up in 10 days.
I’ve been trying to stay calm about it– I mean it could be nothing. It could also be absolutely everything I’ve been looking for. I won’t know until morning.
I showed it to Case when he called to see how I was doing. He agreed it might be nothing– but then again...
I got to the storage facility around 0930 but it didn’t really matter– no one could really help me since I wasn’t the ‘owner’ of the box. I was learning first hand how little the private investigator’s license was helping in the matter. I finally realized that technically this was potential evidence in a missing persons case and that I should call Det. Young since he was the chief investigator.
One phone call later and Det. Young was there was a search warrant. Of course since it was a police investigation I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the stuff until they’d had a chance to photograph, catalog and dust everything. Once forensics was on the scene, Det. Young started questioning me about what I’d found.
After I gave him the run down he grinned knowingly. “And you called me because...”
I nodded, knowing as well as he did that if I’d been able to get in on my own, I wouldn’t have called him on it.
He let out an exasperated sigh. “Miller...” He started. “You are going to drive me to an early retirement.”
I smiled. “I seem to have that effect on people,” I admitted.
He chuckled and shook his head. At least he’d found his sense of humor where I’m concerned. “You know you aren’t going to get to handle any of this until after the investigation is finished.”
I nodded, trying, and failing to hide my anxiousness.
“Just being this close to it and – not being any close to finding out what’s going on...” I tried to explain.
“I know– hopefully we’ll finish today and you can get to it tomorrow...”
I could tell by his expression it was going to be more like next week, and by then everything would have been treated with Luminal (3).
“C’mon Miller,” he said nodding towards the door. “I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.”
I looked up at him for a minuted and then nodded. All I could do around here is sit and mope– and wait. Better I wait somewhere where I’m not getting in the way, and potentially screwing up the crime scene evidence– even though so far this wasn’t really a crime scene.
Needless to say, it was a very long day.
Case was with me when I went to the facility in the morning. It turns out that the items had been stored there at least a month before the boys disappeared and no one had been there since-- pretty much a dead end clue wise.
Detective Young was waiting there with the keys. He handed them to me, but not before making me promise to tell him if I found anything interesting.
I nodded, knowing full well he’d taken inventory and probably bugged the room for good measure. I did find some interesting things though. Things I knew meant the boys had known that they were going to have to vacate the condo at some point.
The things they’d put there were personal. Irreplaceable items that meant everything to them. One of the first things I noticed was Matt’s Diasho. It was carefully wrapped in embroidered silk. Even the stand was wrapped. No, they’d known something was up and that it was only a matter of time before it caught up to them.
Still– they’d placed these things in a safe place, under an assumed name. I thought about that as I started going through Matt’s extensive CD collection. He loved the ‘Rock and Roll’ era of last century. Scanning through them one caught my eye and I had to laugh.
Case looked at me, waiting for an explanation. The CD was one of his “Best of”s... It was the name they’d used for the storage facility... Charles St. Anne... Charles.. Carlos... St. Anne... Santa Anna... Santana.
Sometimes the boys are just too clever for their own good. But at least it was a pointer to where I needed to look for the music. I had no doubt that the bars of music from Taco’s tag will be somewhere in the pile of CD’s.
I started with Santana. It was actually a nice choice to listen to while going through my brothers’ things. We listened to almost all his Santana as we went through the stuff and catalogued everything.
I can see why he liked their sound. It was hard to feel down listening to it and that was definitely a good thing going through everything the boys valued.
Some things were valuable others just sentimental, a few like the Daisho, were both. Bronze statues of a crusader, a conquistador and an Indian merged with comic books, photograph albums, magic items Alan had collected over the years... Andy’s collection of ‘old tech’ early 3D units, comm units... the first vid phones next to his collection of baseballs.
The next question was whether to leave the stuff here or take it back to the condo. As I debated Case rented the moving truck and started getting things loaded.
“Jess,” he told me. “If they were safe here– they aren’t anymore. If we know about it, it’s a good bet that whoever was after them knows we’ve found it. That means it will be safer back at your place... or mine.”
It made sense. Lord knows, I wasn’t really thinking about it. Just trying to get a handle on it, and hoping that something would be simple. But that would have been too much to ask for. Looks like I’m going to be making a lot of quiches and listening to a lot of music.
We moved most of the boxes into Alan’s room and the rest into the ‘study’ area. I was too tired and excited to sleep, but finally exhaustion won out.
I was up early the next morning sorting out the CDs and trying to figure out what to do with all their stuff. Case came out about an hour later and just looked at me.
“Jess,” he said softly. “You need to rest.”
I gave him a sheepish smile and nodded. “I know... but I’ve... waited so long for anything and now...”
“Now you have their stuff Jess– stuff, things... They’ve been in storage for over a year... cleaned magically to make sure there was no trace information for the forensic mages to find should someone find the locker. Its waited this long... It can wait a little longer.”
He was making sense– but lets face it, I wasn’t. I needed to find something– anything that would tell me what the boys were into but the boxes and crates weren’t revealing their secrets to anyone.
It took me a long time to admit it, but... you know the rest.
Case did too. He took me in his arms and just held me. “We’ll find it...” he said softly. “But its going to take time.”
I nodded finally then turned. “Want to make some quiche?” I quipped.
Case shook his head and chuckled. “You’re hopeless, you know that don’t you?”
I grinned. “I did have my suspicions...”
“Come on,” he urged. “Lets get dressed and go out and get something to eat.”
I’d like to say I was a charming dining companion, but I’d be lying. I was preoccupied at best. Still Case took it in stride. It wasn’t anything personal– just a puzzle dying to be solved.
Things have changed slightly at the station. There are now two motorcycles in the bay. Mine, and officer Smiley’s– excuse me– Medic Smiley’s
He arrived late last night and I can tell he's excited about getting to do some real work again. Let’s face it-- he really didn’t need any training on the bike, just the practical experience.
Mathis and Beauford were actually happy to see him joining our ranks– they’d noticed how overworked I was and now, or at least soon, that will be a thing of the past.
Our first few calls weren’t really motor calls, but we took them anyway. I figure the more practice Smiley gets the better off he’ll be when its just him out there. Not like I really need to worry, the man’s a natural.
When I wasn’t on a run, I was listening to Matt’s CD’s. Its weird, its like I’m rediscovering my brothers. I mean– I never really listened to Matt’s music before– now... now I’m trying to find him and I’m learning about him as I do.
I got a little bit of ribbing from the guys about it but then again, their tastes tend to run towards Plastic and heavy synth.
Tonight was a hairy one. Smiley and I were working more cases than I would have thought humanly possible. It was raining and it was as if everybody had forgotten how to drive. We ended up separating– I was confident Smiley would be able to handle the calls, and there’s always the com line to the hospital.
It wasn’t like we weren’t in contact with each other. I monitored his calls as I handled my own– offering advice about road conditions and things to look for.
By 2300 things had finally slowed down. It was a far cry from Fort Lewis. I think Smiley was realizing that too.
He rolled back into the sation about 20 minutes after I did. I toasted him with a glass of orange juice.
“To trial by fire,” I toasted as I handed him a glass.
He chuckled and took a sip.
I nodded. I’d been saving it for a special occasion and this seemed to qualify. “We now have three motor medics in this city.”
He looked at me for a moment and then smiled. “You mean...”
“I mean ‘you’ve arrived’.”
Mathis and Beauford nodded in agreement. I’m no longer the novelty– just one of group. I’ve called Citywide with my evaluation. We should hear back in a week or two. Till then we work tandem when we can.
If only we could get our clients to cooperate.
Well the clients definitely weren't cooperating, but the fates were. We'd just come back from what must have been our fifth call of the morning when Mathis came out with the newsfax, weekend section and holds it out for me to see.
I looked at him curiously as I stood up from the bike, wiping the grease off on my coveralls absentmindedly.
"Hey Miller-- looks like you aren't the only long hair resurgent fan..."
I was about to ask him what he was talking about when I saw the article he'd called up. There was a "rock and roll" festival downtown this weekend. Featuring live music and vendors it was being described as ‘a pleasant way to spend the afternoon strolling down memory lane.'
Hey, don't laugh, they pay people a lot to come up with that stuff.
Okay, so I had a good laugh over it myself-- but it might be a good way to figure out what the music is-- and it beats going through Matt's entire collection of CDs.
I read through the article. Turns out this particular festival has been running the first weekend in March for the last ten years. I'm beginning to realize the boys had timed these clues out so that I wouldn't figure them out until the right time. But how could they have planned my figuring out the cat tags?
I thought about it a long time and realized that I probably skipped a clue or two in there somewhere...
I'd been thinking about the clues I had and how they fit together-- or didn't fit. I wasn't at my best in the training exercise or the debriefing at O'Brien's afterwards. I kept thinking about the music, and how it fit in with everything else.
When I got home I started going back through their music... Until I remembered Santana. Turns out that was supposed to have been the first clue... The one that pointed to the cats. It was an old picture of me with the two of them. It had been carefully placed inside the CD insert.
The album was entitled “Dance of the Rainbow Serpent.” Now if that doesn’t sound like it comes from Aztlan... The clues had been there– I’d just found one of them ahead of schedule. From the looks of things, the first clue was supposed to be the bill.
The bill, that led me to the storage locker, the name on the locker that led me to Santana... The Santana CD that *should* have led me to the cats... and the music-- that should lead me to the next clue...
They do have everything timed out... and its getting very very frustrating, cause it means they knew I'd come... knew I'd wait... knew I’d play along.
I wish they thought they could have told me more...
I had trouble sleeping– no big surprise there. So I started going through the Santana CD’s again, looking at each insert. I found a song where the lyrics had been smeared. Listening to the song I found the following lyrics– were missing
...One more thing I want to say to you
Before you go away
Don’t you let ‘em, no!
Don’t you let ‘em, no!”
I’m really not sure if it’s a message, or just coincidence... hopefully... soon... I’ll be able to ask them.