"The District" and the characters associated with it are
property of CBS and others. There is no
intent to infringe on copyrights. This
is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader.
Sleight of Hand
Mannion made it to the office before the rest of his
team. He needed to find some paperwork
before they all met for breakfast. It
was a typical Monday; traffic was snarled, and people were surly. He took a deep breath and looked out his
window for a moment and wondered if life would ever return to any sense of
normalcy. The Russian Mob seemed
determined to gain a foothold in his city like they had in Brooklyn. He was equally determined to prevent
it. It had cost him dearly – both
times. This time, they had missed
killing him on several occasions that he was aware of, perhaps a few more that
he was not aware of. They had taken
Danny McGregor out in one of the attempts.
Danny spent months in the hospital just trying to survive the injuries
he'd received. That was their first
known attempt in Washington. The bomb
they detonated on Danny had been meant for him and Sherry. It was a terrible irony that after all
McGregor had survived in Belfast; he had gotten blown up in America by
Russians. Mannion shook his head and
continued to gather folders. Something
pinched him around his waist. He gave
it a tug.
Mannion wore a bulletproof vest now. He had worn it since Sherry's murder. Joe had brought it up for him from the
Armory. He'd made a federal case out
of it, too. Mannion had steadily
refused until Ella heard the commotion in the office next to hers. Usually, she'd just call out – "You're
yelling again" to gain quiet, but not this time. She knew that something in their voices required her presence. She entered the fray as Mannion was telling
his immediate subordinate one more time that he could take that vest back to
Mannion caught sight of Ella out of the corner of his left
eye. She was just standing there with
her arms folded across her chest. Then
she entered into the discussion, "What do you mean you're not going to wear the
vest? Chief, what is it going to take
to get you to understand that the Russians among others really want you dead?"
"Aw, come on Ella, not you, too? You know I hate these things.
They are uncomfortable!" Mannion complained.
"Oh and I suppose they were built for comfort?" she shot
back at him.
She picked it up and weighed it in her hands before putting
it back down. It was a lightweight
white one that the patrol officers wore.
"Look, it's not the heavy SWAT one like last Christmas. Even I could wear this one."
"Well go ahead, because I'm not going to wear it!" he
Joe just looked on, knowing better than to get between these
two. Then again, he also knew, that if
anyone could get Mannion into the vest, it was Ella. She was one of two people he'd listen to on a consistent
basis. Ella moved in on the vest again
and picked it up. She thrust it toward
him. "Yes you are, and that's final."
"No, I'm not," he got louder.
"If not for your own bull-headed self, then what about my
Ricky? He adores you, Jack." was her
Mannion rolled back on his heels and blinked at her. He was still in disbelief as she shoved the
vest into his hands. She strode to the
door and called for Temple.
"The Chief is going to need an extra large tee shirt," she
commanded then shut the door. "That's
final," she directed toward Mannion who was holding the vest with both hands.
He'd been bushwhacked by that woman. Joe almost said something, then seeing the
look in Mannion's eye, kept his peace.
He quietly left the two in Mannion's office. Temple returned with a tee shirt, giving it to Ella before
beating a hasty retreat himself. Ella
on the warpath was not a happy sight.
Satisfied that Mannion had all the parts to accomplish the task of
putting on that vest, she turned to him and nodded before she returned to her
desk. Mannion was left with the
instructions that she'd be back in a few minutes to check on his progress. She meant business, and he knew it. Thinking about that day gave him pause for
amusement as well as sadness. His feelings
for Ella had grown since then.
Half an hour later, he joined his team at their favorite
diner, "DC's." Over time, Mannion had
added Joe to the breakfast crew, which was now composed of Temple, Nicky, Ella,
Joe, and himself. On occasion, Nancy
would join them. He slid into the large
booth. He passed Joe the first file
folder. "Here are some of the stats the
Russians accumulated recently in Brooklyn."
"Chief, are we going there again?" Joe complained.
"Joe, these guys are like a cancer. You have to get them before they get a good
foothold…" Mannion began.
"Nobody disputes that, Jack," Nick chimed in. "It's just that this seems to take up more
time than the everyday stuff of late."
Nick was other person whom Mannion really listened to in
addition to Ella.
Ella began, "Chief, it's just that with our focus on the
Russians, some of our more home grown criminals have been, well…"
"Okay, are you guys telling me I'm obsessed with the
Russians?" Mannion looked in her eyes
"Chief, would you like to see the 'Overnights'?" she
redirected the conversation.
Joe jumped on it, "Yes, Ella, let's see the 'Overnights.'"
Ella began, with her eyes on Mannion, "There were four
burglaries, two in Georgetown. One of
our cars hit a parked car as it came around a corner at high speed in pursuit
of an armed robbery suspect. No serious
injuries to our officers; they were treated at the scene. The suspects of the Liquor Store hold-up got
away. Our men did get a license plate
that turned out to belong to a car that was jacked earlier in the day."
Mannion drifted off.
Nick noticed and gently nudged him under the table. He picked back up on Ella's debriefing. "What else?"
"There was one other armed robbery, with the clerk getting
knifed in the eastern district. The
clerk is doing fine, treated at the hospital and released. There was one homicide – bar fight from the
night before, suspect is in custody.
And that is about it for a Sunday night."
Mannion nodded, "Thanks, Ella." He finished up his grapefruit.
"So how's Ricky?" he asked. "I
miss you bringing him to breakfast," he said with a quiet smile.
"He's fine. I think
he misses you, too. Why don't you come
over sometime for dinner? We're having
a big dinner Wednesday at church. You'd
be more than welcome. The Pastor likes
it when you come by. It makes him feel
like we're not totally forgotten."
"Sure, Sir. We'd
love to have you come," Temple added with a big grin.
It had been some time since Mannion had seen Temple smile
from his heart out. He reached out and
patted Temple on the arm, "What time?"
"The usual, dinner starts at 6:30, then we move upstairs for
a short service," Temple replied.
Mannion looked him in the eye, "If nothing major comes up,
I'll be there!"
"It would do you good, Jack," Nick reminded him.
"And why not join us?" with a partial smile Mannion baited
A cell phone went off in Nick's pocket. "Saved!" he laughed. "Nick Pierce," he began as he slid out of
the booth to talk in a corner.
"Some day…" Ella smiled, "That boy's going to get some
religion." She nodded her head in the
direction of Nick.
Mannion laughed, "And I'm sure I know who'll help him get
it, too!" He glanced down at his watch,
"Well, time to pay the check."
Nick was finishing his conversation as Mannion paid the bill
and left a tip on the table. "Need a
"Sure, I'll take one.
That was Helen York. She is on a
new fishing expedition," Nick answered.
"What now? Or should
I say, who now?" Mannion looked at his friend.
"I'm not sure, Jack," Nick began as they headed out the
door. "But I'm sure I'll be finding out
Mannion looked closely at his car. After the bomb, he was even more on alert than before. Ella rode back with Joe and Temple. Very seldom did he offer rides to his staff
anymore. Mannion figured if the
Russians took him out, at least the team would still be there to catch the guys
who did it. They had found and locked
up the guy who planted the bomb that ended Danny's career within a few
weeks. That was cold satisfaction to
Mannion. He'd lost a good man in that.
Then there was Sherry.
The Russians had intentionally killed her at a time when Jack was
nowhere near to protect her or even to lay his life down trying. They had distracted him, broken into their
apartment and murdered her. Sherry had
not gone down without a fight though.
She killed one with a service pistol before they killed her. The Russians must have known she'd be hard
to take down and had sent three guys.
Sufficient DNA from the other two were left in several rooms of the
apartment to make convictions easy.
They caught up with the perps in a Baltimore hospital. Now they sat in jail without bond, awaiting
trail. It had devastated Mannion. He had waited so long to reclaim his bride
only to lose her all over again. He
moved back to his boat. Nightmares
plagued his sleep, when he slept.
The week moved toward Wednesday without major incident. Nancy buzzed Mannion at his desk. Her voice was pleasant and reassuring. "Chief, you wanted me to remind you when it
was six o'clock."
Mannion looked at his watch and wondered where the day had gone. "Thanks, Nancy," he replied. He got up and shook out his suit coat and
put it on. He strode out the door with
his usual air of ownership. "See ya
tomorrow," were his parting words to his smiling secretary.
Nancy looked up, "Tomorrow, sir."
Then she looked over at Temple who was also packing it
in. McGregor's desk had been left empty
for a few weeks before Temple was paired up with another detective. This man was a British cop, too, on loan
from Scotland Yard. Normally, Scotland
Yard did exchanges with the federal or state police forces, but not this
time. Somebody felt that the experience
of a large metro police force would be a good addition to the growing body of
knowledge they accumulated across time.
They also had noted the recent successes London was having sine they had
begun to employ Jack Mannion's vaunted COMSTAT system. Still Nancy felt a twinge of remorse over
her relationship with Danny. She was
glad she got to meet James, Danny's son.
He looked so much like his father; it startled her the first time. She wished that…she stopped thinking about
it. It was just too much. Nancy shook her head and put her things together
and left. Joe and Ella had left an hour
before that. The building was now down
to its evening crew.
Mannion poked his head in the church basement door. Ella greeted him with a big smile as Ricky
ran toward him. Mannion caught sight of
the child and knelt down to catch him.
Ricky found himself lifted into the air. His laughter filled the dining hall. Mannion brought him back down to eye level and gave him a bear
hug, which was gleefully returned by the nine year old. Mannion then put Ricky back on the ground
and stayed down at eye level with him.
"You know I've missed you," the Chief of Police began.
Ricky's response was to wrap his arms around the big man's
neck and kiss him on the cheek. Mannion
responded in kind. He loved this child
as if he were his own. He knew that
here in this African-American Church he could be freer than he could anywhere
else in the city. He knew these people
were genuinely his friends. Their
relationship had started out rocky, but once they discovered he meant business
about making their streets safe again, they adopted him with warmth and
grace. As a result, about once a quarter,
Mannion could be seen attending this church with Ella, Ricky, and Temple. Mannion even admitted to enjoying the
preaching. Every so often, he and Ella
would have an ongoing conversation about the sermon for days following. Sometimes he surprised her with his
understanding of the Bible.
Dinner was a wonderful sight to behold. There were three tables piled high with
food, food, and more food. There were a
few single men, like Temple and Mannion, who were expected to come and eat
without bringing anything to the table.
It was part of the tradition.
Once Mannion had tried to bring food, but Ella spared him embarrassment
by catching him before he could get the deli plate in the door. Cujo enjoyed it later. This feast was all homemade – nothing store
bought was let in through the doors.
Once he knew the ground rules, he simply relaxed and enjoyed
himself. There were Thursdays when he
came late to work…overstuffed and overslept.
But the best part of Wednesday Night Dinners was walking Ella and Ricky
home. They lived two short blocks from
the Church Building. It gave him a few
moments alone with her, outside prying eyes.
The only eyes were protective ones.
Mannion knew that if some stranger was seen in the neighborhood, he'd
know about it within seconds. These
people protected him.
Tonight, the service was indeed short. A guest preacher came as the regular Pastor
was on vacation with his family in Alabama.
The guest was a local seminarian.
His style was still pretty rough and very intellectual. Knowing that he was a student, the
congregation urged him on even more strenuously. They gave it their all to make the boy feel welcome. Feeling their love, he kept his remarks to a
minimum. That gave Mannion and Ella a
few more moments at her apartment after Jack had tucked in Ricky. Jack read to Ricky, and then supervised the
child's bedtime prayers before turning out the light and leaving the door ajar
two fingers' width. Before turning to
Ella, Jack smiled to himself. It was
just like when he got home in time to tuck his own children in bed. He had long regretted not doing that often
enough. Beth was working through some
of her resentment and Jack Jr was in rehab.
Mannion blamed himself more than he ever blamed Sherry for those
Ella reached up and ran her hand across his back. Under his coat, she could feel the stiffness
of the vest she made him wear. "Penny
for your thoughts," she whispered as she put her arms around him and laid her
head on his back.
Mannion smiled, straightened up, and put his arms around
hers for a minute. Then he turned
around and faced her. He held her face
in his hands and looked at her. "Some
day, when I get the Russian cockroaches taken care of…"
He closed his eyes and kissed her and held her. He was always careful to keep out of sight
from the windows.
"I hate slipping around like this," he said. "But I will not have anything happen to you
or to Ricky because of being close to me.
I've got to go now. I can't blow
She walked with him to the door, "I love you, Jack."
He looked at her, wanting to stay and be with her, "Good
night, Miss Ella," he said with a smile.
She quietly closed the door behind him and began turning out
lights. Mannion walked quickly back to
his car, checking it, got in and headed home.
He always slept well on the Wednesday Night Dinners.
Early Thursday afternoon, Joe came in Mannion's office. "We've got a bank heist in progress, Chief."
Mannion looked up.
"Where?" he headed toward Ella's adjoining office with Joe. He was ready for a break to the monotony.
Joe rattled off the address, which Ella punched into the
computer console. In a few moments, the
buildings appeared on the screen. There
was a broad intersection in a rundown section of town. A dilapidated and condemned building stood
across from the credit union. Next door
to the credit union was a liquor store and on the other side a convenience
store. The credit union had taken quite
a chance with this location. Mayor
Baker had begged them to locate in this section. He had hoped that real money, instead of loan sharks and
pawnshops, would lure real business into this area. It was too soon to tell though.
At least that was the strategy that he and Mannion had discussed a few
months ago when the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony had been part of the local evening
news. Mannion felt partly responsible
"Joe, what do we know so far?" Mannion inquired as he stared
at the computer screen as he rubbed his face with his hands.
"The perps are still inside with hostages. The last count we got was one hostage
injured, possibly a heart attack, and three bad guys," Joe relayed.
"Okay, you stay here and hold down the fort, I'm going down
to the scene," Mannion began.
"Do you think that's wise, Chief?" Ella worried.
He patted the vest, "You made me wear this thing, may as
well see if it works," he retorted with a smile.
"That's not very funny, Jack," she responded.
"Ella's right, Jack.
It would probably be better if you stayed here and send me to the scene
instead," Joe added.
"Probably, but I'm going – and that's final," he concluded.
As Mannion headed back to his office, he remembered, "Ella,
you got that new comm gear? You know,
the digital stuff that the techo-wheenies were showing off three weeks ago?"
She nodded and pointed to a drawer in the filing
cabinet. She fished out the keys to the
cabinet from the desk drawer and tossed them to Mannion.
He pulled out three sets, "Here, you talk to me, and I'll
talk to you. Will that make you feel better? And, hey, I'll give one set to Temple."
"It won't make me feel any better, but I guess that is the
way it's going to be," Ella conceded.
Mannion thought he'd made a good compromise, and he left her
office adjusting the wireless earpiece and tucking the microphone into a secure
but hidden place.
"Can you hear me, Ella?" he said quietly as he left he
Most Metro Cops had grown used to their new Chief's
eccentricities and thought nothing of it if he seemed to be talking to
himself. They simply ignored it or at
least pretended to ignore it. Ella
smiled to herself as she listened in.
"I hear you just fine," she spoke into her microphone. "This is digital, so right now, only you and
I can hear one another. When you put
Temple on, it will just be the three of us.
It's supposed to be hacker proof."
"I just love it when you talk like that," Mannion was in his
car, heading toward the scene, "That means I can tell you anything I want?" he
said with a devilish smile.
"Anything within reason," she retorted with an equally
He settled down, "You know I really enjoyed last night. I can't say that there is any place in the
District that I'd rather be than there at your church."
"The congregation has taken to you, too, Jack… Jack, please promise me something," Ella
"Hmm, I'm here," Mannion spoke. "That didn't take long.
Traffic is pretty smooth for this time of day."
"Promise me that you'll try really hard to stay out of the
line of fire," Ella finished.
"I'll try. I'm
putting Temple on with us now," Mannion cautioned Ella.
"Ella?" Temple inquired into the mic that Mannion just
"That's right," she responded. "Tell me what you see," she continued as she stared at her
console of the buildings graphically represented there.
She knew that real life could look very different. Before Temple could give her the details, it
happened. Her heart stopped as two open
microphones picked up the sound nearly simultaneously. Ella lived in a rough enough neighborhood to
know the sound of gunfire when she heard it.
But what really caused her to panic was the next sound. It was a grunt and a thud. Someone she cared about was shot and on the
Lots of commotion was all she could make out for the next
few seconds. Her panic rose as she did
not hear Jack's voice. She could hear
Temple call out – "Sniper! Take cover!" Into a conventional radio, she heard him
call again, "Officer down, officer down!"
Somehow she found her voice again. "Chief," she began softly.
"Chief," she grew emphatic.
"Jack!" she called out.
A grunt was the response for the moment. Then she heard Mannion say weakly, "Ella."
She began to work the computer. "I'm sending the helicopter and paramedics your way."
"Get Joe on," was Mannion's reply.
She could hear him breathing hard. She pressed a button for Joe.
"How bad are you hurt?
He's on his way. Temple, how bad
is he hurt?"
Temple sounded steady, "Can't tell. We're pinned down for the moment."
She could hear a few more shots ringing out. The problem was she could not tell where
they were coming from, were the cops returning fire, or was it the sniper
Joe was right there. "I heard we've got a sniper and an
officer down," he calmly spoke to Ella.
"The Chief's been shot, I think. He sounds hurt, but I don't know how bad," she said to Joe.
She took the earpiece out and handed it with the mic to Joe.
Mannion heard every word.
Joe took Ella's earpiece and microphone. "Chief?"
"Joe, I'm hit, but I don't think it's too bad. It just hurts like fire, right in the middle
of my back. Look, I'm in the street and
can't move without attracting the unwanted attention of our sniper. He's in the building across the street from
the bank. Ella's got the chopper in
bound. I'm betting that we were set
up. It's Putin; I'm sure of it, "
Mannion said softly between grunts.
"Okay, let's say it's the Russians. What do you want to do?"
"Joe, are you any good a card tricks?" Mannion began.
The sound of the chopper could be heard closing in on their
location. It swung past the condemned
building looking for the sniper.
The crackle of a radio, "Got him. I've got a visual with our sniper," said the voice.
From the on scene commander, that district's Captain, "Well
- take him out, take him out!"
The sniper and the chopper exchanged fire for six or seven
rounds. While the sniper was engaged,
three other officers from the SWAT detail moved into the building. Other officers sealed off exterior
exits. Temple watched as the pool of
blood near the Chief grew ever so slightly.
He wanted to go out there and pull his Chief to safety like he would
have done for his Commanding Officer in the Marine Corps. It was too much for him; the old Marine
training kicked in. He was not going to
relive the death of Travis Haywood all over again if he could help it.
Temple raced out into the street, bent down and pulled
Mannion over his shoulders and brought him to the relative safety between
parked police cars. He began to pull
open Mannion's jacket, shirt, and vest.
Another officer had found similar courage and pulled out a medical kit
from the trunk of the Chief's car.
Sirens of the ambulance could be heard a few blocks off.
"The ambulance will be here soon, sir," Temple reassured
Mannion who was starting to get shocky.
"Ella, Ella," he whispered to himself, not realizing he was
talking to Joe instead.
Temple continued to work at a Marine's best "patch up your
buddy in lieu of real medical attention."
He had spent enough time with the Field Corpsmen to know how to stop the
bleeding in combat. As far as he was
concerned, this was combat and his CO was hit!
"Temple, make sure they take him to GW hospital," Joe
Temple knew exactly why.
He'd been a party to the conversation between Mannion and his Deputy
"I'll be meeting you there.
Here's Ella again," Joe concluded as he passed the comm gear back to her
before leaving for the hospital.
Temple waited for her to come back on the line, "Ella, I
think he'll be okay. He looks kinda
pale right now. Look the ambulance is
here, and we're taking him to GW." He
stopped for a moment to regain his breath, "The bullet did not go all the way
through. It's lodged in his back – not
sure how deep though."
Ella was speechless.
Even if she could not find her voice, her hands tapped out the proper
codes to send the right assets to the scene.
She might not go with Joe, but she'd be at the Hospital before they took
Jack off to surgery. What she did not
know was what Mannion and Nolan had planned.
Only Temple knew that.
Carefully, the paramedics lifted Mannion onto the
gurney. They had started an IV and
checked the dressing that Temple had applied to the wound in the middle of
Mannion's back. They tucked a pillow
under one shoulder to ease the pain he was experiencing and added some morphine
sulfate to the IV drip. Temple rode in
the back with his Chief. Both had
insisted. The paramedics were left with
The ER staff was prepared to receive casualties. The sniper had been located and
subdued. He was not dead, but he was
significantly injured. He'd fallen
through a floor, two floors actually, as he had attempted to evade the SWAT
members who were closing in on him quickly.
Both legs were broken; one had a compound fracture, and he was losing
blood. Then there was the Chief of
Police who had been shot in the back.
What the general staff did not understand was why both men were being
brought to them. Generally speaking, in
incidents like this, the ambulance crews tried to separate the warring parties,
but this was on the orders of the Deputy Chief who was at that moment standing
in the Senior Attending's Office. It
did not look like they were having coffee, but something was going on in there.
Dr. Clark was a man in his early sixties and well known for
his abilities in emergency medicine. He
would be caring for the Chief. He began
the scrub procedure in the farthest from the center treatment area. He called for two trusted nurses and sent
everyone else away. The first ambulance
rolled in with Mannion. Temple was
right at his side. The paramedics and
Temple lifted him from the gurney to the table in the ER. Temple was sent out. He hung back, just the other side of the
curtain, which was quickly pulled around.
The nurses began to cut Mannion out of what was left of his
clothes. Dr. Clark ordered whole blood,
antibiotics, and some other drugs that Temple had never heard of. Temple watched as bits and pieces were piled
up around the table. He could hear
Mannion being rolled on one side as Dr. Clark examined the bullet wound. He worked quietly and quickly. Once in a while, Temple heard the Chief
groan. He saw blood spill onto the
floor. Then he watched as the sniper
came in. The sniper was screaming his
lungs out – in Russian. Temple felt
that the Chief's suspicions were now fully validated. Joe Nolan kept his distance in Dr. Clark's office.
Thirty minutes to an hour passed as both combatants were
worked on for Temple it seemed like a short and long time all at once. Then Dr. Clark came out from behind the
curtain. The Chief's body lay on the
table with a bloody sheet drawn up over his head. Temple reeled back on his heels and swallowed hard. Dr. Clark walked passed him. The nurses gathered up what was left of the
Chief's belongings and put them in a bag, which they gave to Temple. They shook their heads. By this time, Ella had joined Nolan in
Clark's office. Temple watched as the
doctor told them something. Ella folded
into the chair. Joe just stood by her. Ella then got up with Joe's help and walked
to where Mannion lay. Temple joined
them. Her hands quivered as she drew
the sheet back. She broke down in
Temple's arms. He knew just how she
felt. It had not been so long ago that
Giselle had died, and Mannion was the one who held him. Temple and Ella had a long cry. Nolan wore his most worried face ever.
The sniper was continuing to howl. What appeared to be his family arrived. Dr. Clark brought them back to see if they could quiet him
down. The Chief's body, surrounded by
Joe, Ella and Temple, was in full view.
The monitors over his head all registered flat lines. The sniper's family looked over, and Temple
felt the urge to snatch the curtain closed.
He gave them a dark look and closed off their view.
Dr. Clark rejoined Ella, Temple, and Nolan.
"It's time," he said softly as he led Ella away from the
Two orderlies brought a black body bag and gurney and put
Mannion in it. The curtain was open and
the sniper's family could see everything again.
"The Coroner's Office is working faster than usual,"
Ella glared at him through her tears. "How can you say that, Joe?"
Joe looked away.
Nick had now arrived.
"Where is he?" he demanded.
Nolan nodded behind him.
Nick stopped the Coroner's men.
He unzipped the bag and looked at Jack's face. Nick reeled backward.
Temple knew what was going to happen as was ready to catch Nicky.
"Oh my God, oh my God…Jack," whimpered Nick.
The Coroner's men kept on with their task. Nolan and Temple escorted Ella and Nick on
out. The Press was outside and
bombarded Nick instantly. Nick was at a
loss for words. Instead of his usual
calm, Spinmeister self, he was edgy and hostile.
"What do you people want?
My best friend is dead, so what do you want from me?" he yelled at
them. He just kept on moving toward his
car, saying, "I don't want to talk to you people right now, okay!?"
In the crowd was one familiar face, Vicki Montgomery. She was shaken by the news. She got to Nick before he got to his
He twisted around and started to yell, then saw who it
was. "Monty, I'm sorry."
"He's gone? Really
gone?" she needed to know for her more than for a story.
"He's really gone," Nick choked back tears. "Get in," he opened the door for her and
drove off. "I need to get wasted-drunk
– want to drive me home later?"
The Deputy Coroner on duty was a middle-aged woman named Dr.
Daniels. For her shift it was
dinnertime when the crew drove up with Mannion. They wheeled the old gurney past her office. One wheel rattled.
"Whoa, there a minute guys.
What have we here?" she wanted to know.
"Chief of Police, doc," one replied.
"No kidding?" she responded.
"Nope. He bought the
farm this afternoon at some bank job," the other attendant volunteered.
Dr. Daniels snorted.
"Let's take a look." She
unzipped the bag and pulled it back off Mannion's face. Leaving the bag flopped open, she commented,
"This place is starting to resemble Tijuana or Columbia or some other Latin
dictatorship… This is not the city I
grew up in!" She moved away. "Put him on the table and cover him with a
sheet. I'll be in there in a few
minutes – just as soon as I finish dinner."
The attendants took Mannion out of the body bag and put him
on the steel autopsy table. They pulled
a fresh sheet from the laundry stack and covered him up. "I don't think I'll ever get used to the
docs around here…" began one.
"I know what you mean.
I think they could eat dinner off the dead man's belly if they had to…"
the other finished.
"Cold, very cold.
And I'm not talking about it being like a refrigerator in here either."
They were finished in a few minutes and left the area. Dr. Daniels waited for them to go before
heading to the back door and opening it.
Temple handed her a bag that contained a small vile, fresh syringe, and
a bag of Ringers Lactate with the necessary tubing. She held it up to the light and nodded. He followed her inside.
He rubbed his hands together.
She smiled, "You get used to it."
First Dr. Daniels drew the sheet away from Mannion's
face. Then she opened a syringe, wiped
the vile down with an alcohol prep pad.
She drew some of the fluid into the syringe and tapped it. She pulled back the sheet from Mannion's
arm. Next she wiped down the
heparin-lock in Mannion's right wrist.
Normally, the hospital would remove tubes unless there were questions as
to the cause of death. The Coroner
liked to examine the minute details in those cases. However, there would be no question here – pretty straight
forward – gunshot to the back, bled out – that's what goes on the Death
Certificate. There was a small squeak
as the needle went into the hep-lock.
The fluid was injected directly into his vein. In less than one minute, Temple saw Mannion's chest rise and fall
with a very deep breath. In less than
five minutes, Mannion muttered, "Why is it so damned cold in here?" Of course, his eyes were still shut.
Dr. Daniels supplied answers, "Well, Chief, it could be
because you're in the morgue, and we like it that way. Then again, it could be because you're lying
on a steel table in little more than your boxers," she suppressed a laugh.
Mannion eased an eye open then with a groan shut it
quickly. The doctor maintained one hand
on her patient.
"Other than cold, how do you feel?" she inquired.
"Like I just drank a quart of tequila and chased it with
half a gallon of rum!" he declared.
"Can I have a blanket, please?"
"Don't get much call for blankets around here… And the disorientation is perfectly
normal. It will pass in a few hours,"
she continued. She took his hands and
wrapped his fingers around the edge of the steel table. "Hold on to the edge of the table while your
helper here and I get you dressed."
Mannion peeked out to see Temple. "Good to see you, Temple."
Temple smiled broadly, "It's even better to see you, sir!"
Both Daniels and Temple started by putting socks on
Mannion. Then they got him part way
into a set of coveralls pulling them up around his waist. He was going to be immobile for a few more
hours. A white tee shirt was pulled
over his head and around his shivering body.
Then the doctor inserted the fresh IV.
Five more sheets were thrown over Mannion in an effort to help him warm
up. Three hours later as it neared nine
o'clock, Dr. Daniels made mention of the time.
"You know it's going to be hard to explain why the phone
company is here at all hours of the night.
How are you doing now, Chief?
You still feel like a drunken Sailor?"
Mannion had been sitting up for half an hour. Occasionally he'd open his eyes. He'd only fallen over twice.
"Let's see how well you can stand on your own, then."
Mannion, with help from Temple, got to his feet. He was still pretty wobbly, but Temple
commented it was only a short walk to the truck. Dr. Daniels shook her head.
As he headed out, Mannion looked back, "So how are you going to explain
the missing body?"
"I've got a cousin in the mortuary business who has already
collected you. The Death Certificate is
filed. Not to worry…just try and stay
alive, okay? I'd just as soon not see
you back again for a really long time!
I like the way you've made some of us feel safe to live here again,
Chief," Daniels affirmed.
With that, Mannion gave her a "thumbs up" and straightened
up and did his best to walk to the truck without looking too much worse for the
wear. It seemed odd, but he wore
sunglasses and a ball cap pulled down.
Temple turned over the engine and started off. Mannion sank back into the seat and side panel.
"This is a first – you're getting to drive!" he chuckled out
loud, eyes closed again.
Temple snickered, "And probably the only time, too. So how you feeling, really?"
"Like I'm at about 25,000 feet and descending. Where are you taking me?"
"The Mayor's, just like Deputy Chief Nolan has worked out,"
"Good. I need to see
Ella," Mannion stated flatly.
"You mean, she needs to see you," Temple responded.
Mannion opened an eye.
"Does she think I'm dead?"
"Oh yeah, in a big way, dead."
"Then that was no dream I had," Mannion reflected.
"When I was in the hospital, I thought I was having a dream
that Ella and you and Joe were there.
Ella was really broken up, but I couldn't tell her that I was okay," he
"That was no dream.
There was no time to tell her either," Temple told Mannion. "You love her don't you, sir?"
"Well, that was pretty direct, Temple," Mannion had both
eyes open now.
"Sorry," Temple grew quiet.
"Yeah, I love her.
And I wanted to protect her from the Russians," He had moved too
fast. Mannion closed his eyes again and
leaned into the door. "Oh, I think
we're down around 10, 000 feet and heading for a crash landing."
"You gonna be sick?" Temple's eyes grew large. He knew himself well enough to know that if
the Chief started puking, it would not be long before Temple joined in the
"I'll try not to, just you try and miss the cracks in the
pavement," Mannion cautioned.
Temple eased the truck around the back of the Mayor's mansion. Ethan Baker was out back waiting for
them. He took one arm and Temple had
the other. Mannion found himself in the
finished basement, or rather bomb shelter.
He took off the sunglasses and let his eyes begin to focus
again. Every so often he had to shut
his eyes. "This is nice – best looking
bomb shelter I've seen in a while!"
They all laughed at the relic of the Cold War. "Get me Ella down here, Temple," Mannion
turned to his detective.
"On my way, sir."
"Have her bring a laptop.
I'm going to need communications."
Baker spoke up as soon as Temple left, "Take it easy
Jack. You just got shot; escaped with
your life; now let your team do their work for once. Come on in here," he escorted Mannion to the bunkroom. "Now lay down. My wife Karen is an RN, and she'll be by to check on you every so
often. And if you think I'm rough on
you, wait 'til you try and cross swords with her!"
Lying on his belly, Mannion sank into the cot with a
groan. He drifted off to sleep within
seconds. Ethan pulled his feet up onto
the bunk and covered him up with an old, green, wool blanket. The next thing Mannion knew, he awoke to the
scent of Ella's perfume. Kneeling by
the bunk, she was crying again. He
struggled to get up and hold her.
"Shhh; shhh; shhh.
Don't cry, Ella. I'm okay. It's just a flesh wound," he tried to
console her. "I'm sorry I scared
you. And I'm really sorry it took so
long for you to find out."
"Oh it's okay," she sniffed back the tears. "It made it more believable for that Russian
in the bed next to you to think you were dead.
They were all eyes: Temple told me."
They held one another wordlessly for several minutes. Temple and Ethan moved off into another room
in the bunker. Mannion brushed his hand
across her face and wiped the tears away.
Then he kissed Ella passionately.
"I never meant for you to not know what we planned. I told Joe this would buy us maybe 72-96
hours to put Putin away. Or at least
get closer to cracking his whereabouts."
"Jack, the FBI is crawling all over the office," Ella said
before kissing him.
Her hands ran through his graying hair and across his
back. She found the wound and carefully
"The FBI, eh?" he breathed deeply enough to remind himself
there was an injury back there, arching his back.
"I'm sorry," Ella apologized.
"It's not you, believe me," he spoke tenderly. "Come on, let's get some work done before
the FBI has all the fun! And, yes – you
were right about the vest. It saved my
life. Thank you," he smiled.
She put her arm around the small of his back, and they
walked arm in arm into the main part of the bunker.
"So what did you bring?" Mannion inquired.
Ella presented the laptop, its dedicated connection to her
office console, and that digital comm set they had been using earlier in the
day before all the shooting started.
"Okay, we keep my whereabouts to the smallest number of
people possible. Who knows right now?"
Mannion wanted to know.
Temple ran down the short list of people who knew the Chief
of Police was alive, if not alive and well:
Joe Nolan, Dr. Clark and his two nurses, Dr. Daniels and her cousin,
Ella, the Mayor, his wife, and himself.
That was a very short list.
Mannion debated bringing Nick into the conspiracy, but the Mayor talked
him out of it. Nick was more useful as
a grieving friend. Tomorrow, Joe would
naturally come over to discuss what was next now that the Police Department was
without a Chief. That would give them
time to sit down and run strategies, especially with a link to Ella and Temple. Mannion was beginning to believe that he was
going to come out on top of Putin this time!
Very early the next morning, Deputy Chief Nolan swung by the
Mayor's mansion. Baker was expecting
him. Together they headed to the
basement where they found the Mayor's wife changing the dressing on Mannion's
When he pulled the shirt back on, Mannion turned and faced
Nolan. "Joe," he stretched out his
hand, "I want to thank you for the vest.
You were right, and I was wrong."
Nolan shook his Chief's hand, "No hard feelings, Jack, but
it was Ella who got you into the thing.
Thank her, not me."
With a grin, "Did that last night."
"Mmm, I'll bet you did," was Joe's cryptic reply.
Mannion slapped him on the back and they all sat down around
the table. "I figure we've got maybe
three or four days to make the most of my 'death' before the Russians slip back
into their lairs."
"I agree," Nolan nodded.
"We have to set them up somehow, at least into revealing Putin. Jack, you need to know that the FBI is
crawling all over the Department. Once
they got word of you being shot, they were down there. We might actually be able to use their help
Mannion looked away and sighed. He detested and distrusted the FBI. He pursed his lips and began, "You might be right. Are they the same agents as before?"
"I think so, plus a few on top of that," Nolan finished.
"Do we know what their game plan is yet?"
Joe looked at his watch, "I'm supposed to meet with them
at…nine this morning. I'll have Ella
'sit' in the meeting. As it's
happening, she'll feed you the notes back here." He patted where he would put the mic.
"Sounds good. Let's
get these guys this time!" Mannion said as they all stood up. "Ella has that comm gear as well as the secure
line to here."
Nolan turned to leave, "Nick and I will also be planning
your Memorial Service this afternoon for noon Monday. Any favorite hymns?"
Nolan smiled widely. He was
beginning to like this Chief and the deception.
Mannion thought for a moment, "Always liked 'Amazing Grace'
with bagpipes… How's Nicky doing?"
"Don't know. Haven't
seen him since last night at the hospital.
He was angry and hurt. He left
with Ms Montgomery."
"Now that's a name I haven't heard in a while," Mannion
mused. "I hope they can help one
another," he continued. "Take care of
"Will do, Chief."
When Nolan got to the office, the FBI was still pouring over
Mannion's office and Ella's. Ella was
growing in resentment for the unwanted intrusion.
"Chief Nolan, Chief Nolan, Joe," she called out as he got
off the elevator. "You have got to get
those people out of my office. I can't
get anything done with them there." Her
voice was full of annoyance as well as the secret they shared.
"I'll see what I can do," was his flat reply.
Before he got to Mannion's office, he noticed Nick. Nolan knocked, and Nick stood up. "Look, Joe, I can have my stuff out of here
in a day or so, like after the Service, if that's okay with you?"
"What are you talking about, Nick?" asked Joe.
"Well, you're going to want your own man, and it's not like
we have been fast friends or anything…" Nick started.
"You're not going anywhere.
I'm keeping you. I may not
always agree with you, but you do a good job.
Well at least you've always done a good job for Mannion," Joe
insisted. "So stop packing your gear
and start planning his Memorial Service.
I want to hear 'Amazing Grace' on bagpipes somewhere along the line,
Nick was dumbfounded.
All he could do was nod in assent.
That was one problem solved, Nolan thought to himself. Now if he could get the FBI out of Ella's
hair, life would be good again. Before
he entered the office, he paused at Nancy's desk. "Nancy, you still got the Chief's dog?"
Nancy broke down and cried with a nod. Joe hated it when she did that. He could barely handle Ella's tears from the
ER, but it would be days before Nancy would know that Mannion was alive.
"Well Officer Pares, when you regain your composure, you can
take Cujo over to the Mayor's. They
have offered to take him in since they know your landlord won't let you keep
Nancy could muster only a few more nods in between her
sobs. Joe opened the door to the
Chief's office and found two FBI agents inside together with the US Attorney
"You know Mr. Logan, the Chief's spirit will haunt you
forever if you take anything that does not belong to you…" Nolan warned as he
caught Logan admiring some of the antiques the Chief had collected.
Logan just snorted as he returned the Greek warrior's bust
to the table.
"You're glad he's dead, aren't you?" Nolan wanted to know.
"Whatever makes you think that, Chief?" Logan rejoined. "I always got the feeling that you hated
him. Now that he's dead, I'm surprised
you haven't started moving your things on into your new office."
Nolan took a few steps closer to Logan who moved back a
bit. "You've got your nerve. His body isn't even cold yet, and you've got
me moved into his desk?"
"No matter," Logan dismissed Joe. "It'll be a pleasure working with you, now!" Logan moved toward the door.
Nolan muttered under his breath, "I wouldn't bet on
it." Then he turned his attention to
the FBI. "Agents, how can I help you?"
"Chief," Agent Grace Curry spoke first. "We are pretty sure that the sniper belongs
to Dimitri Putin's bunch."
"Oh, you are, are you?" Joe was incredulous and dripping
with sarcasm all at the same time.
"What gave it away?"
Curry took a deep breath.
"You know Chief, he's really rubbed off on you," she began again.
Nolan broke in, "Then I'll take that as a compliment." He folded his arms across his chest
defiantly. "Again, Agent Curry, what do
"The same thing you want – to catch Putin and put him away
for all time," she responded, her arms across her chest.
Ella walked in from her office. "Then don't you think the two of you can work together for a
change instead of seeing who can best whom?
I've had about enough of the chest thumping from you all!"
Nolan knew she meant business and hoped that the FBI would
hear that tone in her voice. He could
not reveal that Mannion was still alive, but if he could just get the feds to
do their part, they'd have Putin before the whole house of cards that Mannion
had just constructed came fluttering down.
"Ella, I think we'll manage. Thank you," Nolan said.
Then he turned to Curry, "Now if we can sit down and share the
information we each have accumulated.
And if you will leave Ms Farmer alone.
She's got work to do, and your folks are deterring her."
Ella retreated to her side of the double doors after Curry
nodded that they were done with her.
Curry and Nolan put all the cards on the table for the first time. Nolan held the bullet that Dr. Clark dug out
of Mannion's back the night before. It
was Soviet sniper munitions. The rifle
itself was recovered as well. It all
tied up to the Russian Mob. Curry laid
out on the table the money laundering pieces they had pulled together so
far. She felt sure that they were only
a few steps behind Putin. They had targeted
Chief Mannion more out of vengeance than out of necessity. Nolan pointed out that this was most likely
the key thread to unravel the whole.
Putin was personally involved, and that could be his
undoing. Both agreed that more pressure
needed to be applied. As Curry left,
she asked about the Memorial Service.
Joe informed her it was scheduled for noon on Monday at the Washington
National Cathedral, Main Chapel. His
rosary and funeral would be tomorrow for family only at a small Catholic parish
back in New York where he and Sherry had been married the first time. The mortuary had already shipped his
cremains home. Curry thanked him.
"I think I'll check on Nick. I know they were close," she said softly.
"Yes, you do that," Nolan concluded. As they left, he switched off the light.
Ella was on the computer talking to Mannion. Joe had been wearing the new comm gear. She told him everything that transpired, the
blow-by-blow. She could not see him
smiling on the other end but could hear his amusement in his electronic
conversation. His typing needed work,
but that was a small thing in comparison to where her emotions had been in the
last 24 hours.
Before leaving for the night, Nolan stopped by her
office. "Anything?" he asked.
"Nothing new. He's
going over the information that Curry fed you, looking for I don't know
what. You going over to the Mayor's?"
Ella wanted to know.
Nolan looked at her, "Probably tomorrow. I'll take my wife as cover," he paused a
moment then continued, "You two have got to be the oddest couple I've ever
known. I don't know what you see in
him, but that's not for me to say," he smiled and left.
Ella blushed and smiled to herself. Nolan was right. She and Jack Mannion were an odd couple. Each had suffered tremendous losses that
seemed to cement them ever closer. Jack
had been there his first week on the job for her – first week, what was she
thinking, first day. He never wavered
in his enthusiasm or energy for putting Pablito away. He had made sure that her sister's killer was gone out of their
lives. He had lost Sherry, but somehow
he'd found a way to love again. Their
mutual encouragement fed the other. He
was not a man that she would have ever given second thought to, but now she
found it hard to not think about him.
She told him good night on the computer. He wrote back to take the comm gear home so they could talk. He was lonely in the Mayor's basement; he'd
buy the replacement batteries later.
Nolan and his wife paid the Mayor a visit Saturday. He left his wife to chat with Mrs. Baker as
he and the Mayor did "manly" things.
The wives interpreted that as cigars and fish stories in the den. They giggled together as Joe and Ethan
headed toward the den. They detoured to
the basement. Baker took dinner to
Mannion who was starting to get stir crazy.
His strength was returning as the drugs were wearing off.
"Did you bring it?" he asked Joe.
Joe nodded, "I'll leave it as we leave tonight. You know I've got real reservations about
this. Why expose yourself
"Are you kidding, Joe?
How could I pass up this opportunity?" Mannion teased.
Baker just shook his head, "Jack I've got to agree with Joe
on this one. This is the craziest thing
you've done yet – well short of going to Brighton Beach months ago. If you had stayed home…"
"Don't start," Mannion winced. "You don't think I'd go back and change it all if I could?"
Joe added, "You did what you thought was right. You wanted to catch the guys who murdered our cops as badly as
anyone on the force. And, when it's all
said and done, it turns out you were right on about every count that we've
tracked down so far."
"Cold comfort, Joe," Mannion replied with a deep breath.
The Mayor broke in, "Joe, we'd better get on back upstairs
before the wives notice we're missing in action."
"Did you get anything else out of the information that Ella
passed on to you?" Joe wanted to know before leaving.
"Nope. All we know
that we could use is that Putin is personally involved in my 'murder'," Mannion
shook his head. "I'm just not sure how
to use it, yet."
"It'll come to one of us," Joe added as he and Ethan went
back upstairs to join the ladies.
Ethan stopped off in the den and lit a cigar, "For effect,"
he told Joe as he waved it around their heads.
Nolan shook his head, "And you think I'm
infected with the way he," nodding to the basement," thinks!" They laughed.
As the Nolans drove away, the headlights lit up a small
black trash bag that had not been there before. A few minutes after they departed, Baker retrieved it and took it
In the closed off balcony of the Cathedral, Mannion hid
himself in the shadows. Ella had
slipped off to the Ladies Room fifteen minutes before the Memorial Service was
to begin. Mannion caught sight of her
in the stairwell. He came out of the
shadows and joined her.
"I can't believe you're doing this," she chided.
An enormous grin painted across his face, "Are you
kidding? Who else gets to go to this
own Memorial Service? With few knowing
I'm not dead, I get to really hear what people think!"
"It's not always about you, Jack," Ella began.
Mannion reached out and stroked her face, then he pulled her
close for a kiss. She did not feel the
vest under the janitor's uniform he wore.
She pulled back, "Where is it?"
He knew what she meant and looked away. "Ah, gee, Ella, I must have gotten up
without it this morning," he made his lame excuse.
"It had a big hole in it anyway…" he tried again.
"An even worse excuse.
You're lucky you don't have a bigger hole in you!" she fired back.
"Shhh. Nobody knows
I'm here. I'm just a janitor. Who wants to kill a janitor?" he asked. "Look the festivities are about to
start. You better get on back."
Ella started to turn away then reached out to him. He kissed her forehead. "It's going to be okay."
"Or not," she replied as they parted. She stroked his face and looked as if one
last time into his brown eyes.
He smiled back and winked at her. As she left, he moved back into the shadows. He had not noticed that there was one more
moving shadow up there with him. That
shadow was also dressed like a janitor.
"God, what an ego you must have, Jack Mannion," whispered a
thickly accented Russian tongue.
Mannion's eyes popped wide open. He spun around, looking for where the voice had come from. His eyes narrowed as he spotted the other
janitor. "Dimitri Putin, I presume?"
Putin came out of the shadows, hands extended. "Being in a Cathedral, out of respect for
God, I am unarmed. I see we came for
the same reasons," smirked the Russian.
The Russian was small in comparison to Mannion's frame. His hair was close cropped in a typical
military haircut. "We both wanted to
see how my handiwork played out."
Mannion snorted, "Well, I don't think you're going to like
it much. You're under arrest!"
The organ prelude began as the Chief's closest aids and
friends filed into the first few pews.
Nick sat on the end closest the center aisle. Nolan sat at the other end.
Nancy, Ella, Ricky, and Temple finished out the front pew. On the other side of the aisle were the
Mayor and his senior staff, complete with the "court jester," Bruce Logan. The Chief of Police's official portrait was
draped in black. There was a Hat and
Badge sitting on the table in front of the portrait. Nancy had made the arrangement herself. It was the least she could do she had thought. Nolan could hardly take her grief. He had read Nick's eulogy. That was hard, too. He'd be too glad when the deception was
over. The FBI agents filed in behind
Nick and Joe. If a cop was off duty, he
or she was there. The cathedral was
packed. Ella's church had also sent a
large contingent, which sat behind the Mayor.
"Oh Mannion, give it a rest and enjoy the show!" Putin
"Please, do give me a reason to beat the life outta you,"
Mannion moved closer. "Come on, do
"How can a dead man arrest anything?" Putin shot back. Then Mannion saw the other janitor in the
corner. Putin grinned, "You see?" he
said as he arched an eyebrow.
Putin's bodyguard was every bit as big as Mannion and twenty
years younger. Mannion pulled the
collar of his dark blue work shirt up and opened the cuffs. The younger man took that as a hostile move
and lunged toward the Chief.
"Nyet!" cried Putin.
It was too late.
Mannion and the younger man were locked in combat, metal folding chairs
scattered across the floor as two big men rolled around up there. The growing commotion in the balcony alerted
the crowd below. The organist was unsure
what to do next. So he kept on playing
hymns. Only Joe, Ella, and Temple knew
what had started, or at least they thought they did. Joe stood up and directed his comment to Temple, "Putin!" Curry overhead him and instantly knew.
She looked at Nolan, "He's alive isn't he?"
He glanced at her, "Yeah," as he moved out of the pew toward
the balcony and ran down the aisle.
"You held out on us!" shouted Curry. She was right after Temple.
"Not now!" Nolan shouted back.
The other officers made him a hole. Temple chased along after him with the FBI
in close pursuit, weapons drawn.
In the balcony, Putin grabbed one of the folding chairs and
slammed it down into Mannion's back. He
cried out. Ella put her hands over
Ricky's ears, and in the chaos moved the child out of the Cathedral. She got him over to her Pastor and his
wife. They had returned early out of
respect for Mannion. They surrounded
Ella and Ricky with all the protection they could offer.
Then next thing anyone knew, they heard the younger man
scream as he tumbled over the balcony railing on to the crowd below. Several uniformed officers restrained him,
after getting a couple of licks in.
With all the bumps and bruises of the fall from three stories up, who
could say which bruise came from where.
That left Putin to face Mannion by himself.
"Well now, Jack, may I call you Jack?" Putin began. His eyes flitted around looking for a way
past the larger man.
"You may not, Dimitri," Jack said as he moved in on his
Putin lashed out with a ferocious spinning kick to Mannion's
head. Mannion had half anticipated it
and the blow glanced off. That left
Putin's back exposed. Mannion launched
himself toward Putin. They crashed
through the few folding chairs that remained upright as they sprawled across
the floor. Putin was not through as he
struck back. Mannion was thrust
"Diplomatic Immunity," called out Putin.
"Diplomatic Immunity, my ass," responded Mannion who was
back on top of Putin. "I'm going to
tear your head off with my bare hands!"
Mannion had the Russian by the throat and was banging his
head on the wooden decking. Mannion's
voice reverberated throughout the entire Chapel.
Temple outran Joe by two steps and began to pull Mannion off
the Russian, "Sir, sir!"
Joe held the Russian as Temple wrestled the Chief.
Mannion shook Temple off, "I'm okay, I'm okay. Temple," he said as he regained his
composure. He smoothed his hair back
and patted Temple in the chest. "Let's
get this guy downtown."
The FBI agents applied the handcuffs to Putin who glowered
"Looks like you win this round, Chief," he said in a low
"Like you didn't try and kill half the town just trying to
get at me?" Mannion hotly replied.
As Mannion descended the stairs, Nancy grabbed him and bear
hugged him. Mannion had to smile. "I'm sorry, Nancy," he said sheepishly.
Others came up and hugged and clapped him gingerly on the
back. He accepted the adulation with
style and grace. Then with Mannion on
Putin's left arm, and Agent Curry on his right arm, they led him outside to an
awaiting police car.
Before Putin got in, he looked at Mannion then across the
street and said in Latin, "We who are about to die salute you."
Mannion thought about it a moment and then realized what
Putin had just said. He looked up at
the building across from the Cathedral and saw what Putin was looking at. He shoved Putin, but not in time. The sniper's bullet drilled the Russian
squarely in the chest. Putin fell
backward, limp, onto the pavement. The
rest of the group hit the deck as well.
The sniper vanished without a trace.
His face had been obscured in such a way that not even Mannion's trained
eye could provide much of a description.
Now they had another dead end.
Boris, who was still sitting in federal prison, waiting for
sentencing got a message to Mannion.
Mannion went down and talked to the former restraunteur. Boris stood up as the Chief of Police entered. He clapped his hands in mock applause. Mannion was unimpressed. They picked up the phones to talk.
"What do you want, Boris?
Why not talk to the feds?" Mannion wanted to know.
"My Bosses wanted this message for you not for them," Boris
began in his heavy accent. "They were
much impressed by how you took out Pulcovnik.
Not even the Taliban could do this thing."
Mannion was unmoved, "So they killed him instead? What's your point?"
"Putin made a mistake.
Failure is not tolerated. He got
personally involved in his own private war with you. Is the price of doing business.
You understand that, eh, Jack Mannion?"
Boris took a breath and continued, "Anyway, my Bosses have noticed that
your bite is worse than your bark, Mannion.
So, we are going to go where business is, shall we say, less resistant
to our overtures? We shall leave you
and your District for now." Boris was not finished, "My superiors also wished
me to convey their deepest condolences for your many losses of late."
That last statement infuriated Mannion who shot to his
feet. He wanted to go through the glass
and grab Boris by the throat, "My losses?!" he boomed through the glass.
Boris drew back, dropping the phone, glad for the reinforced
glass between them. He held out his
hands and mouthed the word: Sorry! Just business… He got up and left for the safety of his cell. Mannion was left alone. He closed his eyes and drew a deep breath
before hanging up the prisoner phone.