Production No. BPP-615
Hephaistos and Alberte
edited by: Debbie, Linda Maclaren, and Susan Williams
MEET THE CAST
"This is stupid." Jim set his coffee on the dashboard and watched as a pattern of steam crawled its way across the windshield.
"Come on, man, it'll help pass the time." Blair had wrapped himself around his coffee cup for the warmth, the unfastened Fargo hat flapping as he moved his head. Jim blinked as a long ago Warner Brothers' cartoon starring a bright-eyed, big-eared puppy popped into his head.
Shaking the image off, he cleared his throat and looked around the dimly lit street. "Okay, okay. It's red."
Blair grinned and shook his head. "Either play the right way..."
Jim sighed. "I spy," he recited impatiently, "with my little eye, something that is red."
Blair unhuddled himself and leaned forward to look out the windshield, his eyes searching earnestly among the deserted buildings, occasional automobile, and scattered litter along the sidewalks. Jim took another swallow of coffee to keep himself from grinning.
"Red... red... aha! The stripes on the broken barber pole over there."
"Oh. Um, the... whatever that is in front of the second door down on your side of the street."
"Nope. And it's an empty doughnut box. And it's pink, not red."
"Leave it to a Sentinel cop to be able to spot a single doughnut box in a pile of garbage," Blair grumbled.
"Hey, who spotted it first, Junior? I swear we'll make a decent cop of you yet."
Blair snorted and continued his search. "The milk crate in front of the old grocery store?"
"The Budweiser sign at the end of the block?"
"One of the stop signs?"
"Oh man, I know what you're doing. It's my shirt!"
"Okay. Your socks, then."
"My socks?" Jim looked briefly down at his feet, then back up at his grinning partner. "Sandburg, I don't wear--"
"Hah! Made you look." The grin deteriorated into a defeated sigh. "All right, all right. I give up."
Enjoying his slight victory, Jim took another slow sip of coffee to prolong the suspense before answering. "See that SUV parked on the right at the end of this block?"
"And the old bowling alley at the end of the next block -- the sign is in the shape of a bowling pin?"
A slight pause. "Yeah."
"And see the stop sign at the end of street beyond the bowling alley?"
A longer pause. "Yeah." Blair's eyes narrowed and suspicion clouded his answer.
"And see the red pick-up truck parked two blocks from that stop sign?"
"No, man, of course I don't!"
"Oh, well, that's a shame. The 'something red' is a National Firefighter's Association sticker in the rear window."
"Come on, Sandburg. What do you expect when you challenge a Sentinel to a game of 'I Spy'? Especially when he doesn't want to play."
Uh oh. Sandburg's expression morphed from annoyed partner to fascinated Guide in the space of two seconds. Jim knew that look. Jim dreaded that look.
"You can see a small sticker on a car almost five blocks away? At night? And the street lights aren't even lit down at that end, though the moon offers some light. Jim, this is--"
"Whoa, hold on a second, Dr. Frankenstein." Jim held up his hand and carefully observed the rearview mirror. "The night may be salvaged yet. I spy a bad guy in our midst.'"
Blair set his coffee cup down in the holder between them and fastened his hat. "Bannerman?" he asked as he slouched down and peered over the back of the seat.
"Right on the first try. He's going into the old Woolworth's building." Jim stopped Blair with a hand on his shoulder as he reached for the door handle. "He's alone, Chief. There's no need for both of us to get cold. You can watch the street and make sure we don't have any surprises."
"You sure, man?"
Jim nodded and opened his door. "Yeah. Bannerman may be a drug dealer, but he's an anemic, skittish little prick. My niece could arrest him using her lunchbox as a weapon."
Blair didn't really look convinced, but he sat back and resumed his coffee cup huddling. "Okay, Jim. Just be careful and call me if you need help. I mean it, man!"
"Give me a break, Sandburg," Jim mumbled as he swung the door shut. "What could happen?"
Simon sighed. Trust Ellison and Sandburg to go after a minor league drug dealer like Bannerman, and end up stumbling into a meeting of the cartel leaders themselves at their main methamphetamine lab. Followed, of course, by the explosion of said lab, set off by stray gunfire.
The explosion had been relatively minor compared to some they'd experienced. Jim had gotten off with a sore shoulder and bandaged hands, burned from patting out the fire on Blair's jacket. Blair was even luckier: singed hair and a few stitches in his left leg from a chunk of flying debris.
Now they were experiencing the morning after: sulky, sullen, sore, and on the receiving end of the patented Banks glare. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder, practically at attention, in front of Simon's desk. Simon himself stood facing them, hands on hips, glaring at each of them in turn. Sandburg was looking especially contrite.
The detective in question swallowed and glanced uneasily at his partner before resuming the story. "So then Bannerman showed up, just like Sneaks said he would, and entered the old, um..."
"Woolworth's," muttered Jim.
"Yeah, Woolworth's building. So, uh, Jim went in to arrest him."
"Alone." Simon aimed his glare directly at Sandburg.
"Come on, Captain," Jim cut in, scowling. "You've seen Bannerman. The guy weighs 120 pounds and doesn't have the balls to stand up to a mouse. How he became point man for this new drug cartel, I'll never--"
"The point being," Simon said, cutting in himself, "that the two of you didn't follow procedure. Again."
Blair ran his fingers through his hair and looked more at Simon's tie than his eyes. "Actually, Si-- Captain, it's a good thing I did stay behind, what with the cartel leaders suddenly showing up and all."
"Listen to me, Sandburg." Simon removed the unlit cigar from his mouth and leaned forward. "If you had gone in with Jim in the first place, you would have had Bannerman safely in custody and been on your way to the station before they showed up."
"Well, sure, hindsight and all that, Simon, but we had no way of knowing that Jim would be distracted by the--"
"That, Sandburg, is why you follow PROCEDURE!" Simon punctuated the last word by poking Blair in the chest with his cigar.
The captain almost felt guilty. Sandburg had been blaming himself since the incident happened last night; he wasn't the one who needed the lesson. Jim Ellison had a full-fledged, legitimate partner now and his maverick loner days should be a thing of the past. The best way to get that through his thick skull was through his partner.
"And when the second car showed up, what did you do?"
Again, Sandburg glanced quickly at his partner before answering. "I, uh, called for back-up."
"And then I went inside to get Jim."
"How many men were there, Sandburg?"
Blair mumbled, "Six."
"Against those odds, proper procedure required you to wait for back-up."
"But Jim was in there alone!"
Hook, line, and sinker. "Again, whose fault was that?"
Damn, the kid looked like he'd been slapped.
Jim finally rose to his partner's defense. "It's not Sandburg's fault, sir. I insisted on going in alone, and it won't happen again. May we go now?"
"No." Simon turned and walked behind his desk to sit down. "As your superior, I can't let this continued flagrant disregard for proper procedure go undisciplined."
Jim looked shocked. "Flagrant?"
Blair looked horrified. "Discipline?"
"Sit down, both of you." Simon had to admit he was enjoying himself. It wasn't often he had the upper hand. "I have special duty for the two of you today. Two special duties, actually."
"Sir...." Jim sighed. "We're this close to getting hold of Bannerman, and I'm sure once we get him in interrogation he'll give us the information we need to shut down this drug operation."
Simon smiled. "I agree. That's why Rafe and Brown are out looking for him now."
"Sit down, Detective! Even if you weren't in trouble -- which you are -- you'd be on desk duty with those injuries. Uh uh uh." Simon wiggled a finger as Jim started to say something else.
Jim sat down. Simon pretended to thumb through the folder on his desk during the ensuing silence, but he already knew everything in there.
"As you know, Cascade's Sesquicentennial is coming up next week, and the mayor and the City Council have planned an all-out celebration." Simon thanked God that Major Crime wasn't part of the program; at one point the mayor threatened them with putting on a show similar to the one they'd done a few months back.
"Oh man, it's going to be great! There's going to be a pageant, parade, music, fireworks--"
"I'm aware of the program, Sandburg."
"Sorry, uh, sir."
"As I was saying, the mayor has his heart set on having one descendant from each of the original five founding fathers up on the platform to be honored and perhaps even speak about his or her ancestor. His administrative assistant--"
"Eloise," offered Blair. At Jim and Simon's raised eyebrows he added, "Give me a break, guys. She's like, sixty!"
"Ms. Farber has done extensive research and was able to come up with four direct descendants still living in Cascade. She was unable to locate a fifth." Simon finally picked up the folder and held it out. Sandburg, of course, was the one who reached for it.
"I want the two of you to track down these four people and, acting as ambassadors of good will for the mayor, ask them -- no, convince them -- to willingly participate in Cascade's Sesquicentennial celebration."
Blair looked intrigued. Jim looked mildly ill.
"Hold that thought, Detective. I'm not done. Since you will be performing such a nice, safe, city-friendly duty, I'm also having you chaperone a ride-along for the day: the daughter of Councilwoman Elder. The girl apparently wants to be a police officer when she grows up. She should be here any minute now."
Jim looked deathly ill. "Captain, you can't--"
"I can, I will, and I have. Maybe next time you'll remember to follow procedure, Detective Ellison."
"Yes, sir." Jim sighed, heavily and dramatically, prodding his partner with a none-too-gentle elbow in the back. Simon's most frustrating detective team exited the office, not quite slamming the door.
Popping the cigar back in his mouth, Simon finally allowed himself to grin. Until last night, he'd had no idea when he was going to find the time to track down those descendants, and the celebration was looming on the horizon. Councilwoman Elder had been hounding him for weeks to let her daughter ride along with a Major Crime detective pair. And, bless their frustrating souls, Ellison and Sandburg had given him a way to kill two birds with one stone.
It was good to be captain.
Jim tried to slam the door on his way out of Simon's office, but Blair slowed the door's momentum with a swipe of his boot. Thanks for nothing, Sandburg. Now he'd have to hurl a coffee mug or punch the wall or something.
"Hey," came Blair's voice, sounding all sugary. "How are you doing?"
"How am I doing?" Jim glared at his partner as he yanked the chair from behind his desk and flung himself into it. What kind of an idiotic question was that? "What kind of an idiotic question is that? We're stuck tracking down the descendants of people nobody cares about and catering to some whiney--"
"--mama's girl who--"
Something in Sandburg's voice made him look up. And over. Sitting huddled in his partner's office chair was a little girl, no more than ten or eleven years old. She was wearing a simple plaid jumper and knee socks, and had long blonde braids down to her waist. Big brown eyes stared at him from behind even bigger round glasses.
Jim stared back and tried to think of something comforting to say. "Hi, there," seemed safe.
"Hi, there," the girl said back. A tentative smile wavered somewhere in her expression.
Blair smiled and leaned against his desk, oozing kid-charm that he wasn't even aware he had. "You must be... uh..."
"Jeannie Marie Michaelson." She held out her hand and Blair solemnly shook it. "Are you Detective Elson and Detective Sanbug?"
Blair blushed ever so slightly as he glanced at Jim. "Well, actually it's Ellison and Sandburg, but you can call us Jim and Blair. I'm Blair."
Jeannie brightened considerably. "Okay. Most grownups call me Jeannie Marie, but I really just like Jeannie."
"Jeannie it is." Geez, Blair was already wrapped around her little finger and it wasn't even 9 a.m. yet.
Jim smiled half-heartedly. He had figured the girl would at least be older, that they wouldn't be stuck frickin' babysitting all day. Still, she seemed like an okay kid. What the hell, get the day over with, make Simon happy, and get back on the Bannerman case first thing in the morning. It was a plan.
"Well, kids," Jim sighed. "What do you say we take this show on the road?"
"Oh, boy!" Jeannie pulled on her parka and grabbed a brightly colored kid-sized backpack. "Where are we going?"
"We're going to go interview some people for the Sesquicentennial," Blair explained. "I'm sure you've heard all about the celebration next week."
"Oh, sure! I'm in the pageant -- our class is doing 1940 through 1980. And I wrote a report on the Sesquicentennial for school! Want to read it?"
"I'd love to." Blair actually seemed to mean it. "I used to be a teacher, you know."
Oh yeah, this was going to be just loads of fun. "Come on, Sanbug," Jim said as he led the way to the elevator
Barely allowing the elevator doors to open before he strode through, Jim aimed his long strides at the truck parked at the far side of the parking garage. Determined to get on the road and get their punishment over with as quickly as possible, he practically marched at doubletime until he heard a voice calling from behind.
"Jim! Hey, Jim, give a guy a break, will ya?" Blair called, pain evident in his voice.
Jim turned to see Blair limping as fast as he could and immediately stopped to wait, contrite.
"Sorry, Chief, I forgot about your leg. You need to take it easy on those stitches."
"Now he remembers," Blair groused as he caught up, Jeannie practically skipping along beside him. "You're not going anywhere without me, anyway."
Jim clenched his jaw when he realized he didn't have the keys; clearing his throat, he tried to act nonchalant.
"Why don't you let me drive? The burns aren't that bad. I hardly notice them at all."
"Forget it, Jim. The doctor specifically said no driving until your checkup in a few days." He pulled out the big guns. "Besides, I'd hate to see what Simon would do when he finds out that you broke proper procedures again by ignoring doctor's orders on the job."
Glaring down at his partner, Jim recognized the mischievous gleam behind Blair's stubborn expression.
"I've got the keys and I'm not giving them up. Let's go."
Ending the discussion by climbing in behind the wheel, Blair waited patiently as Jeannie and a not-so-patient Jim got in. After they secured their seat belts, Blair handed the folder to Jeannie.
"Okay, Jeannie, you can help Detective Ellison navigate to our destinations today. Why don't you hand him the first report in that folder, and we'll be on our way. Oh, and since we have a civilian along, we won't be responding to any police calls, so why don't you find us a nice radio station to listen to?"
As the newest hit from the hottest young boy band belted out of the speakers, Blair started up the truck and pulled out of the parking garage. Jim was in full glower, but Blair studiously avoided looking his way. Oh yeah, this was going to be a long day.
One of our founding fathers was a traveling salesman named James Smith. Everyone called him "Acre" because he let people buy stuff from him by giving him land in return. He had shipments brought in on the paddlewheelers, and then he drove them all over the Puget Sound region with his wagon and six horses. He let people pay with other things, too, like furs and guns. His family owned lots and lots of land, and they became land barons. From the 5th Grade Report Cascade's Founding Fathers
by Jeannie Marie Michaelson
Blair parked on the circular drive in front of the old mansion, behind a silver, late-model Toyota. Climbing out, Jim marveled at the old home, a left-over from days gone by. Apparently he wasn't the only one impressed.
"Cool!" enthused Jeannie. "Did you know that the Smith mansion is on Cascade's historic register? It's the only one that the owners haven't let the Historical Society in to photograph, or given them any old pictures of the home or its residents. Isn't that weird? You'd think that they'd be proud of such a neat old place."
"Maybe they value their privacy," Blair said diplomatically.
Jim looked at the old house and could imagine one reason why the Smith family had denied the Historical Society's requests. It didn't take enhanced senses to see that the paint was old and peeling, the floor of the porch was sloping, and the grounds were only marginally maintained. Despite its impressive size and hints of past grandeur, the current residents appeared to have fallen on hard times.
"I can't believe that I'm actually going to see the inside of it," the girl continued, oblivious to Jim's glare at her excitement for what he considered a time-wasting task.
Stepping up to the intricately carved front door, Blair gestured at the old-fashioned bell pull for Jeannie to have the honors. After two hard yanks, Jeannie stepped back. A deep tone, somewhere between a bell and a gong, echoed from inside.
After waiting several moments, she tried again. Again the gong sounded for each pull.
Just as Jim was about to try looking through the windows, he heard footsteps approaching.
"It's about time. Someone's coming."
The front door opened to reveal a blond young man, dressed in jeans and a Rainier sweatshirt.
"I'm Detective Ellison with the Cascade Police. May we speak with Evelyn Smith?"
"Is there some trouble, Detective?" the young man asked with concern.
"No, no," Blair asserted. He stepped in front of his less-than-enthusiastic partner and held out his hand. "I'm Detective Sandburg, but please call me Blair. That's Jim and this is Jeannie, who's riding with us for the day. No one's in any trouble, I promise."
"I'm Jason, Jason Smith," the young man said as he shook Blair's hand. "Evelyn Smith is my aunt. Please come in."
They followed the young man into the foyer, then farther into a sitting room. Although well-kept, all of the furniture and decorations were clearly from another era. Jeannie's eyes lit up and danced back and forth in excitement, checking out the room and its contents. They accepted seats on two facing sofas.
"You have a beautiful home. Do you live here with your aunt?" Blair began.
"Yes. Since my stepfather, her brother, passed away a couple of years ago, Aunt Evelyn is the only family I have left. I stay here and help take care of things for her, and I'm also attending Rainier part-time." He perched uneasily on a chair nearby. "So why do you want to talk with my aunt?"
While Jim sat, looking around with a disinterested expression, Blair began his spiel. He explained the mayor's plans for the Sesquicentennial and the part that they hoped Evelyn Smith would play.
"And since Ms. Smith is the only remaining descendant of Acre Smith, the mayor and the Sesquicentennial Committee would be honored if she would attend and participate in the celebration." He pulled out the official letter of invitation and handed it to Jason.
Jason leaned back in the chair and carefully read the letter. When he was finished, he folded and returned it to Blair. He studied his hands for a moment before looking up.
"Well, I'm not sure whether this would work out for my aunt."
Jim finally spoke up. "Can we speak with her about it? Is she ill or something?"
Jason obviously considered his words carefully before answering.
"Not exactly. She's...well, she's...different." He rubbed a hand over his face, then cast a concerned glance at Jeannie before continuing. "I can trust in your discretion, can't I?"
"Of course," Blair assured him.
"Scout's honor!" Jeannie replied earnestly.
"My aunt has always been a bit different, a bit isolated. She went to a private women's college and received a degree, but she's never worked. She's also never married and has lived here all of her life. Other than attending church, she's barely been out of the house in years. She values the family home and her privacy above all else. To be honest, she only tolerates my being here because it eliminates having strangers around doing chores and stuff, and she only lets me do so much. I've taken a couple of psychology classes and my guess is that she's mentally ill, but she's never been dangerous to herself or others, just...odd."
Blair nodded sympathetically. "Have you tried getting her some help?"
Jason smiled sadly. "Oh, yeah, but when I've had someone come to the house, she would make small talk but politely refuse anything more."
"So do you think she'll talk with us? The mayor would really like her to attend; she won't have to participate very much."
"Well, she might. She's very proud of the family heritage." Coming to a decision, Jason stood and gestured them toward the hallway. "You might as well give it a shot. She lives in the west wing. And I have to warn you, she doesn't let me clean or do anything in her wing, so it's... cluttered."
They followed Jason down a lengthy, wide hallway, admiring the antiques and old portraits on the walls. They turned to the left when the hallway split, and came to a closed set of double doors.
Jason drew a deep breath, then knocked.
"Aunt Evelyn, you have some visitors. May we come in?"
At a murmured response, he opened the door and led the way in. Despite his warning, the room inside was still something of a shock.
They were in a large sitting room, also furnished with antiques and old family portraits. It was hard to identify the furniture, however, because it appeared that every available surface was covered with... stuff.
Shelves hosted multitudes of bric-a-brac, with no obvious style of organization. Stacks of newspapers and magazines covered several square feet of the worn but still beautiful carpet. The dimly lit far corners of the room appeared to be heaped waist-high as well. The seats of several mismatched chairs were piled high with books, pieces of lace, clothes, and just about anything else one could imagine.
They entered slowly, following the path between furniture and piles. There were three cats in plain sight, lying lazily on different surfaces; the reflective yellow eyes of others stared from the shadows. As they walked across the dimly lit room, they could see an elderly woman seated next to a stained glass lamp working on something in her lap.
"Aunt Evelyn? These people are here to speak with you."
The woman looked up, setting down the tatting that she had been working on. She appeared to be in her 60's or 70's, with upswept silver hair held in place with gem-encrusted pins. Her black, lace-trimmed dress was obviously old but clean, and a beautiful string of pearls encircled her neck.
As there was nowhere to sit that wasn't buried under a stack of something, the four visitors stood in front of her.
Blair again took the lead by making introductions, then handing the woman the letter and explaining their mission for the mayor. She seemed disinterested until he talked about the emphasis on honoring Cascade's founding fathers, and the vital and respected place in history of the Smith family, Acre Smith in particular.
Evelyn Smith read through the letter again, then held it to her chest. Her eyes closed for a moment, then opened with a gleam that hadn't been there before. "Gentlemen, I'd be honored to represent the Smith family at Cascade's celebration. That's Acre Smith right there, you know, right over the fireplace. Quite a handsome man, wouldn't you say?"
She gestured at the dimly lit portrait over the mantle, then looked about as if just noticing her surroundings.
"Dear me, where are my manners? Jason, dear, get some chairs for our guests. And could you sit and have some tea with me? Jason, if you don't mind."
Just as Jim was about to decline her offer, Blair interrupted.
"Why yes, thank you, we'd love some tea."
Ignoring his partner's scowl, he and Jeannie loudly admired the portrait of Acre Smith, then listened with real interest as Evelyn proceeded to tell them about the other family portraits surrounding them.
Forty-five minutes later, they said their goodbyes and finally left the house, much to Jim's relief. He sneezed loudly into his handkerchief for the fifth or sixth time, complaining about the dust.
"Oh, come on, Jim. It didn't hurt us to spend a little time with a lonely old lady. And I learned a lot, didn't you, Jeannie?"
"Oh, yes! And I'm definitely planning to take her up on her offer to come back and visit. Maybe she'll let me bring a camera and a notebook next time."
"And I noticed that you were asking her almost as many questions as we were, Jim. Not as boring as you thought, huh?"
"I was just making polite conversation," Jim grumbled as the got back into the truck. "It was kinda creepy, if you ask me. All those cats, all that garbage... how can anybody live like that?"
"Maybe, if we come back and visit her, and develop a relationship, she might let us help her clean some of it out," Blair mused. "I'd like to try."
"Yeah, well, play social worker on your own time. Let's go. We've got more descendants to 'convince,' and the day's not getting any longer."