Production No. CVT-709

written by:
Emerald

edited by:
Antoinette and Eagle Eye

MEET THE CAST

Parker's Jewelry and Antiques

Jacob Parker barely glanced up as he heard the bell over the door signal the arrival of a customer. He carefully finished adjusting the prong on the diamond ring he was repairing before setting down his tools. "Let me know if I can show you anything."

A deep and familiar voice responded, surprising him. "I've got a burning love for some diamonds."

"Excuse me?" The elderly man blinked at the blurry figure before removing the heavy magnifier he was wearing. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust before he could clearly see the man standing in front of him. Jet-black hair, combed into a pompadour and set off with strong sideburns. He wore a leather shirt and leather pants. An acoustic guitar set off the ensemble and helped conceal the small revolver currently pointed at Parker's mid-section.

The man just smiled, one side of his mouth crooked higher than the other. "You heard me, Big Boss Man. Hand over the diamonds. The ones in the safe, not the low quality crap you have in that case over there."

When he pointed to the still life behind Parker's head that hid the wall safe, Mr. Parker knew that he was not dealing with an amateur. He removed the painting and began to spin the dial even as he felt the familiar pain tighten across his chest. His knees buckled as the safe door swung open. Unable to utter a sound, he pointed to the bottle of nitroglycerin tablets on his workbench.

Also silent, the man emptied the trays of loose diamonds into the sound hole of his guitar. As he turned to leave, he picked up the bottle and tossed it into the elderly man's lap.


The Bullpen

"Here." A soft thwack sounded as Rhonda dropped a stack of files on Ellison's desk. "We stopped using form 82-12 over three months ago. These have to be redone using 82-18."

Behind him, Blair gave an amused snort. "Told you so, man."

Jim ignored him as he addressed the willowy blonde. "Come on, what's the big deal? I just used up the forms that I had in my desk. It's not like there's any difference." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he knew it was a mistake.

"No difference? Form 82-12 is blue. Form 82-18 is green; this is so it isn't mistaken for 83-79. You of all people should be able to notice that." She picked up one of the new forms and waved it under Ellison's nose.

"Umm, what's an 83-79 for?" Rafe's question momentarily distracted the angry woman.

"You, I'll get to in a minute." Without taking a breath she turned back to her original victim. "As for you, don't even think about taking those old forms and running them through the copy machine onto green paper. I know what to look for."

Jim tried to look offended. "Rhonda, would I do that to you?"

In answer she placed another stack of forms on his desk. "Changing the paperwork after a case is closed requires form 79-334 to be filled in triplicate. One copy is attached to the new form, one copy is attached to the old paperwork and one copy goes into my files. Captain Banks will have to sign off on it too." A third stack appeared on his desk. "For the cases that are still open, you'll have to use form 9437-22."

"In triplicate?" Jim ignored the snickering that came from his partner's vicinity.

"Of course." After giving Ellison a sweet smile she turned her attention to his partner. "All right, Blair, let's talk about your paperwork."

"My paperwork? What's wrong with my paperwork?" Now Sandburg's desk had its own stack of rejected papers. Blair began shuffling through them, determined to prove Rhonda wrong.

Rhonda began to explain. "When you are using form 5497-D the arresting officer must initial each and every..."

"...item listed on the indicated line. Yeah, yeah, I know that, I read the notice. Blair paused, waiting for Simon's secretary to realize her mistake.

"You read the notice? That's great, Blair." She raised her voice to be heard throughout the bullpen. "It would make my life so much easier if everyone would read the notices when they came through from Records." Rhonda dropped her voice again as she continued to question Sandburg. "Did you read the addendum?"

"Umm, addendum?" Sandburg ignored the snickers that now came from his partner.

Rhonda, too, ignored the other man. "Initials must now be in a contrasting color ink to be more visible on the originals. Sorry, Blair, but at least that's an easy fix." She gave Ellison one last sweet smile before moving on to Rafe's desk.

Sandburg was very glad he didn't have to raise his voice to be heard by his partner. "What's got her all wound up?"

Jim glanced around, then leaned across the desk before answering. "Vice got hit with an internal audit yesterday. Rhonda found their secretary in the ladies room crying."

"That bad?"

"That bad. Our audit is in less than two weeks. Simon's even more wound up about it than Rhonda."

Blair thought about it. This was a lousy time for crime to slow down in Cascade. Beside him, Jim turned his focus towards Simon's office and grinned, catching Blair's attention. "What?"

"A robbery just got bumped up to Major Crime. Simon's on the phone with Captain Marks." Jim slowly closed the file folders on his desk. "If we don't want to spend the next two weeks in paperwork purgatory..."

"I've got it, man."

Simon stepped out of his office. "Heads up, this has just been kicked up to us from robbery. Who's next up on the roster?" A wave of bodies moved forward in unison, but the team of Ellison and Sandburg were ready. By the time Rafe and Brown were detangled from the tall, blue-eyed man that they had collided with, Sandburg had the case notes securely in his grasp. Simon just shook his head at the eagerness of his team and returned to the safety of his office.

Megan pointed a finger at the men as they left. "You ever play hockey, Jim? That was a pretty slick move."

Ellison gave her a snappy salute as he shoved his partner out the door.


The Truck

"What have we got, Chief?" Jim waited for an answer as Sandburg studied the paper in his hand.

"Well, either Simon has had way too much coffee this morning, or I need new glasses, because the only part I can really read is Parker's Jewelry and Antiques at the Cascade Mall. It's something to do with diamonds, I guess."

"We'll find out soon enough then." Jim pulled out of the department garage and immediately slammed on the brakes. He and Blair stared at the man jogging across the driveway and into the station lobby.

"Didn't that guy look just like Elvis Presley?" To double check, Blair took off his glasses and wiped them on his shirttail.

"He's a little young for Elvis, but yeah, Junior."

"Weird."


Outside Cascade Mall

The collection of black and whites surrounded an ambulance and marked the center of the action. Jim pulled the truck as close as he could. Both men automatically moved towards the figure on the stretcher. A familiar uniformed officer met them. "Detective Ellison, Detective Sandburg, I'm glad you're the ones handling this one." Further away, her partner was handling the growing crowd.

"What have we got, Lynn?" Blair prepared to take notes as Jim moved closer to the victim.

"The old man is Jacob Parker, he had a heart attack during the robbery. You're not going to get much out of him; he must have been hallucinating or something. The wall safe was empty but according to Parker's son, there was over $100,000.00 in loose diamonds stored in there. No other witnesses, forensics is sweeping the place now."

"Thanks." Blair closed his notebook and moved beside his partner, as the victim was loaded into the waiting ambulance. He noticed that Jim was rubbing the bridge of his nose, a sure sign that the older man was developing a headache. "Did you get anything out of him?"

"Nope, unless you believe that he was held up by a ghost with a guitar."

"A ghost with a guitar? OK, I'm not going to ask for the details about that one. Let's see what Serena's got." Blair just shook his head as he followed Ellison.

Parker's Jewelry and Antiques was one of the larger stores in the north end of the mall and had entrances from both the mall and the parking lot. Jim stopped to talk to the technician who was finishing up on the exterior door.

"Tell me we got lucky." Jim had a hopeful look on his face; this was the kind of case that attracted attention from both the brass and the media and he did not want to have to publicly admit that his eyewitness had fingered a ghost.

"Sorry, detective." The young forensic technician gave an apologetic smile. "There's only one set of prints on the door, and I think they belong to the victim."

"Only one set of prints on the door to a business? Doesn't that strike you as a bit odd?" Jim focused on the glass door and could see nothing that had been missed.

Officer Jessie Buxton, now finished with crowd control, walked up in time to hear the exchange. For once she had the answer for the detective who seemed to know everything. "Actually, the mall has a contract to have all the exterior glass power washed every Wednesday before opening."

Jim nodded; this was not shaping up to be his day. "Could the perp have been wearing gloves?"

The technician thought about it for a minute. "It's possible, but I really don't think this door was used. I think some part of the victim's prints would have been smudged if someone else had used the door after him."

Sandburg joined in on the discussion. "So our guy is bold enough to come in through the mall entrance? Why? The parking lot isn't that busy, so why take the chance?"

"Who knows? According to Mr. Parker, he was robbed by the ghost of Elvis Presley, complete with guitar." Jim moved through the store, Sandburg at his side. Officers Buxton and Crowder remained outside to keep the few remaining spectators away from the crime scene.

"Wait a minute." Blair reached out and grabbed Jim's arm. "Did you say Elvis? The guy outside the garage..."

"Yeah, I know. We've just got to face it, Chief. It's just going to be a weird day." Jim's voice trailed off as he looked past his partner.

"Jim?" Sandburg followed his Sentinel's line of sight and stared at the image he saw outside the store. "I think our day just got a whole lot weirder."


Inside the Cascade Mall

Across the mall from Parker's Jewelry and Antiques was the food court. At the table nearest the walkway sat a heavyset, middle age Elvis Presley. Two tables down sat a younger Elvis wearing a western shirt and cowboy boots. Coming out of the bookstore was Elvis in his signature cape. Another Elvis, this time in a Hawaiian shirt, was sitting on a bench, strumming a guitar.

Inside the jewelry store two dazed detectives looked back at each other. It was Sandburg that broke the silence. "I think I'd have preferred the ghost."

"That's only because you don't see them." Relaxing now that his sanity was no longer in question, Jim couldn't help but grin. "Besides, how many of them can there be? Let's start with him." Ellison pointed to the Elvis with the guitar. "Maybe we'll get lucky." He marched out into the mall, ignoring the mutterings about flying pigs.

"Excuse me, sir, we'd like to ask you a few questions." Jim pulled out his badge and made sure the other man could see it.

The young man gently placed his instrument on the bench beside him. "Baby, what do you want me to do?"

"How about you tell us your name your real name for a start."

Jim's demeanor seemed to deflate their suspect. "I'm Edwin Hodgkin, from Kid, Montana." He pulled out his wallet and handed over his ID. Jim glanced at it before handing it over to Sandburg, who was taking notes.

"Well, Edwin, what time did you get to the mall this morning?" Ellison couldn't help but grin at the real name he had been told.

"I'm... I'm not sure. Here." Hodgkin pulled out a city transit receipt from his pocket and handed it over. Ellison looked at the computer generated time stamp. This particular Elvis was still on the bus when the robbery took place.

"All right, thank you." Jim handed the paper back and waited while Sandburg handed back the ID. "That's all we need, thank you for your help." The two men moved on to the next closest Elvis, this time the middle aged Elvis.

Jim studied the flashy rings on the man's hands as Sandburg questioned him. Finally he had to compliment the man on the quality of the fake stones.

Elvis just grinned. "Seeing is believing."

Another Elvis coming out of a nearby shop was also questioned. In real life he turned out to be Reginald Montgomery, a plastic surgeon from Detroit. When asked his age, he replied, "I was born ten thousand years ago."

Ellison charged down the walkway, bent on catching up with another dark-haired man in a rhinestone studded jumpsuit. Blair reached out and snagged his sleeve. "We can't question them all; we don't even know how many of them there are."

"So let's find out how many there are. There can't be that many."

Blair took a good look at his partner. The taller man didn't sound annoyed at all. "All right then -- stop, look and listen. What can you tell?"

Jim stretched out with all his senses, using his friend as an anchor. The distinctive voice seemed to echo all around him, until he realized that he was hearing it from every corner off the mall. Sight almost made him dizzy, as he seemed surrounded in a life size slide show of the man's life. He recognized the smell of stage make up and spirit gum. At last there was one image that made him smile. Bingo.

"Come on, this way." Without waiting for a response, Jim began moving towards the south end of the mall. Blair turned back and shrugged at Serena before following.

"You've got to be kidding." The object of Ellison's quest was now close enough for Sandburg to see, and he slowed down in amazement.

Jim knew the moment his target became visible to the other man. He reached back and snagged Blair's arm, pulling him along.

"I'd rather have done paperwork. Really, Jim, we could go back to the station and..."

"Are you chicken?" Jim watched his partner squirm.

Blair stopped just short of stamping his foot. "No, I am not chicken, I just think we need riot gear before heading into that... that place."

"I'll put you in for a bravery commendation. Now come on, we don't have all day." Jim grinned at Sandburg as he dragged the younger man into the temporary headquarters of Elvis International, the home of the world's largest Elvis Impersonators Convention.


The Office of David Hayes, Director of Elvis International

"Mr. Hayes, these detectives are here to see you. They say one of our Elvis's is in a little bit of trouble." With a suggestive wiggle the platinum blonde in the white halter dress turned and left the room. Jim couldn't help but stare at her retreating form until his partner whacked him on the arm.

"Having 'Marilyn' as my secretary is one of the best perks of this gig." Hayes shared a knowing smile with Ellison as Sandburg just rolled his eyes. "Now what can I do for you gentlemen?"

Sandburg cleared his throat, drawing Jim's attention back into the room. "One of the jewelry stores in the mall was robbed earlier this morning. The suspect was an Elvis Presley look-alike."

"You're accusing one of my impersonators of being a criminal?" Hayes stood behind his desk and glared up at the two detectives. "Next, you'll be claiming that the convention is involved somehow."

Ellison moved closer, interrupting them. "Nobody is accusing anyone yet. We're just asking for your cooperation. Just how many participants do you have for this convention of yours?"

"We still have people arriving, but we expect registration to hit 700 by the time we officially open on Friday." He gave a wave at the stack of boxes behind his desk. "That's one impersonator for each song the King recorded. Cascade will have a record breaking event, gentlemen." Hayes seemed rather pleased with himself.

"That's a lot of people. Tell me, do you know each of them personally?" Jim seemed to be headed somewhere with this, so Blair didn't interrupt. In fact, he was more than happy to stay in the background on this one. Something about grown men dressing up as a deceased, drug-addicted singer gave the younger man the creeps.

"Not personally, no. You have to understand, detective, the type of men we have here are not capable of doing such a thing. To even accuse them is an insult to the memory of Elvis."

"Oh, brother." Sandburg's sub-vocalization was enough for sentinel ears.

Jim smiled and put on his most diplomatic face. "Then you'd want to help us clear them as quickly as possible."

"Nice try, detective. If you want a look at our records, you'll have to get a warrant." Hayes stood up; indicating the meeting was over. "Now, if there isn't anything else, I have a great deal to do before our opening ceremony tomorrow."

"We'll be in touch." The unspoken 'with a warrant' was obvious in Sandburg's tone.


The Truck

"Man, this is too weird." Blair gave a dramatic shudder as they pulled out of the parking lot. "Why aren't you freaking out?"

Jim didn't say anything as he eased out into mid-day traffic. His silence got Sandburg's attention. "Oh, Jim, don't tell me that you are one of those closet Elvis fans?"

That got a response. "Didn't Naomi listen to his music?"

"Naomi? Are you kidding? Can you see her swooning at the feet of any man, especially one that was that conservative?"

Ellison snorted at that observation. "He was not conservative, Chief."

"Maybe not to Ed Sullivan, but to Naomi and the people she hung out with, he was pure white bread." Blair took a good look at his partner. "What do you remember about his music?"

"When I was a kid, before things happened, my mom had a convertible. Dad wasn't too thrilled about the car, but for her birthday he had this really great sound system put in it. We used to drive up and down the coast with the top down and the music full blast."

"Elvis?"

"Always. Dad hated Elvis, so it was our secret. I think she had every 8-track he ever put out."

Blair bit back a smile as Jim began to unconsciously hum Long Tall Sally. "So, tell me, what kind of music did your dad like?"

Jim barked out a laugh, then smothered it before answering. "Dean Martin, all the way."

The younger man managed to choke out "I'm sorry" before he began laughing. Before Jim could think of a way to defend his father's choice of music, his cell phone interrupted them.

"Ellison... yeah, Simon, we're on it." He tossed the phone to his partner and executed a U-turn at the same time.

Blair fumbled with the phone as he waited for an explanation.

"Silent alarm at another jewelry store. Looks like our boy's still at it."

"Great." Blair flipped the lights on and prepared to take down the King.


Rings, Etc. Custom Jewelers

The Sentinel paced restlessly. There were too many people in and near the small store for him to properly use his senses, and over half of them were reporters. A theft the size of the one that morning was big news, and the herd of journalists were still on the scene when the second robbery occurred. Most of the media knew to stay out of Ellison's personal space, but a new face in the crowd didn't seem willing to back down.

"Detective Ellison, are the police ready to make a statement in regards to this rash of robberies?" Any other questions the pushy reporter may have had for him were interrupted by an equally pushy junior detective.

"Listen, you people have managed to totally destroy this crime scene. Fingerprints, footprints, trace evidence, you've managed to trample it all." Every news crew on site captured Sandburg's words, and every reporter was suddenly focused on him. Further out in the mall, the murmuring of the crowd switched from 'stupid cops' to 'damn reporters'. Ellison raised an eyebrow at the suddenly defensive reporters, but let his partner continue to take the lead.

"The people have a right to know." Another member of the media tried to justify his actions.

"Of course they do." Anyone who knew the young man could see that Sandburg was on a roll. "The public also has the right to expect to be safe while shopping, and the owners of these jewelry stores have the right to conduct business without threat. You are the ones that don't have the right to take that away from them."

For the first time since the swarm of reporters had arrived, they were silent, and Sandburg wasted no time. "You people want to know what goes on during an investigation? Guess what, you're going to find out firsthand. Fingerprints, shoeprints, hair samples and clothing fibers need to be collected from each and every one of you so you can be matched against the evidence found at the crime scene. I suggest you line up in an orderly fashion."

As the senior reporter at the crime scene, Don Hass stepped forward to protest Sandburg's decree. "You don't have a warrant; you have no right to demand..."

"You mean that you're not volunteering to help clear up the mess you caused?" Blair jabbed a thumb over his shoulder. "Do you want all those potential witnesses to see you destroy a crime scene and then walk away just because you believe the Constitution gives you the right to?" As usual, he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.

Hass was enough of a gambling man to know when he'd been had. The rest of the reporters quickly came to the same conclusion and quietly lined up behind him. The two detectives and the uniformed officers moved slowly away from the group. In the center of the activity, Ellison could hear Serena's muttered threats of retaliation against Sandburg and him.

"All right, Einstein, you obviously have a plan. Spill it." Jim glanced behind him; the crowd seemed uninterested in their departure.

Buxton and Crowder both grinned at the two men. Lynn's grin grew even wider. "Slick move, they're so busy covering their own butts, they've forgotten about everything else."

Sandburg returned the grin and bowed to the ladies. "How many jewelry stores are there in the mall?"

Jessie thought for a moment. "There's four of them."

Jim knew exactly where his partner was headed. He focused on the mall map further down the corridor. "Buxton, you and Crowder head towards the one at the north end of the mall. Sandburg and I will head for the other one. Let's see if we can catch him in the act." Without waiting for a response, he began jogging down the walkway.

They were close enough to see the store they wanted to check on when Jim abruptly stopped. "Damn it."

Blair instinctively recognized the look on his Sentinel's face. "We're at the wrong store, aren't we?"

"It's going down right now. Let's go!" Jim took off running leaving his shorter legged partner pressed to keep up with him.

Ellison could see Lynn Crowder searching through the mob of people already gathering outside the exclusive jewelry store. Dozens of the Elvis impostors roamed the corridors. Inside, angry voices were drowning out the calm reassurances of Jessie Buxton. As they came closer, the uniformed officer merely shrugged her shoulders. Jim acknowledged the failure on his way into the store.

"Why are you still here?" The middle-aged man was obviously agitated with what he perceived as a lack of effort by the Cascade PD. "He was dressed up like Elvis Presley. How hard should it be to track someone like that?" He stormed past the three officers and out into the mall. "Oh, my. Perhaps it will be a little harder than I thought."


Mac's Seafood Grill

"Are you sure we have time for lunch?" Blair glanced at the wall clock in the lobby. Interviewing the last two robbery victims and setting up surveillance at the remaining jewelry store had taken them into late afternoon. "Simon..."

"Simon's got meetings with the brass all afternoon. We won't be able to brief him for another hour at the earliest. Besides, we're bringing him a piece of Mac's peach cobbler."

"Soothing the savage beast, Jim?"

Whatever retort the other man had planned was halted by the arrival of the waiter. As they followed him to their table, Blair glanced down at his feet. "Hey, Jim," the younger man's voice was sentinel soft. "Take a look, he's wearing blue suede shoes."

Jim managed to stifle his cough as they sat down. The waiter gave them a strange look as he recited the specials of the day. "Today we have crawfish served with fried potatoes, our own clambake, and hot dog with our own homemade chili." Both men opted for their favorite clam chowder and sourdough bread and began to review the case so far.

"Seven hundred suspects, Jim. How are we going to narrow it down from that? Our victims couldn't tell us anything beyond that it was Elvis Presley. The DA's gonna love that."

"Let's see what the sketch artist comes up with. Chances are they'll remember more when it comes right down to it. What I don't understand is why the mall merchants didn't know about this convention. You'd think something this big would have been brought to their attention." Jim absently stirred his chowder. "You know what's really strange? All those boxes in Hayes' office were marked Seattle."

"Then why isn't the convention there?"

"One more question for our next visit with the man."

Blair laughed. "You just want to see his secretary again."

"And you don't?"

"Come on, man, if she were still alive, she'd be old enough to be my grandmother." Blair grabbed the check and headed for the cash register, Jim only a few steps behind.

"Thanks for that image, Sandburg."


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