The characters are property of CBS & others, and no
infringement of copyright is intended.
The sole purpose of this story is for the entertainment of the reader.
season one and several months after "Sleight of Hand." Danny has returned from
rehab in Ireland
Not on the Guest List
Nick's pager vibrated silently. He reached down and shut it off.
Vicki leaned over to try and catch a glimpse. Nick looked at her and smiled.
"Well, are you going to answer it?" she asked, returning the
smile. "It is your boss after all."
"This won't take a minute," he excused himself from the
table. "Loved the show," he tossed her
way to take the sting out of what he knew was coming next.
Henri's was one of the first restaurants in the District to
ban cell phones and pagers in the dining area.
If you had to talk, you were going to talk in the lobby and not disturb
other patrons. Henri's was a chic,
dimly lit French affair that Vicki had wanted to go since her food critic at
"DC Magazine" had come back raving about the place. Nick moved into the lobby of the restaurant before pulling his
cell phone out of his pocket. He looked
at the dial, and then pushed the speed dial for Jack Mannion. The phone rang once.
"Mannion," was the answer on the other end; Nick could hear
lots of agitated voices in the background.
"Whatcha need, Jack?
Vicki and I just got seated for dinner at Henri's. Do you know how long it took me to get these
reservations?" Nick said quietly. "And
this is a Monday night, too!"
"Sorry, Nicky, it's business…" Mannion began.
"Oh no, Jack, I mean we just sat down!" protested Nick.
Mannion was silent on the other end for a moment. He cared about both people at the other end
of the phone. "Nick, I don't know how
to break this to you, but Congresswoman Helen York just turned up dead."
Nick was stunned and leaned back into the wall. He regained his composure, "How? When?"
"The details are sketchy right now. When was the last time you heard from her,
Nick?" Mannion wanted to know.
Nick stood there a minute trying to catch up with all that
was swirling around him, "I don't know, Jack.
Uh, I guess it was back, uh, when the Russians took a pot shot at
you. You remember she called me when we
were all at DC's for breakfast."
"Yeah, I remember," Mannion said. "She was starting a new investigation. Did she ever tell you what she was investigating or whom?"
"No. I never got
back to her. You got shot, and the
world seemed to come unglued all at once.
Vicki and I got together and I, well, completely forgot about Helen,"
Nick reflected. "But that was months
ago…" his voice trailed off.
Mannion paused and then continued, "Get on in to the office,
Nicky. I need you here now."
Nick knew that sense of urgency in his old friend's
voice. There was going to be no dinner
with Vicki at Henri's tonight. There
probably would be no dinner with Vicki anywhere for some time to come, he
reasoned, well, at least not until something broke their way on the case of a
dead member of Congress.
"I'm on my way, Jack.
Let me drop Vicki off at her home first, unless you want her at the
office…" Nick started.
"No," was a quick, strong reply, "I don't want reporters
around here just yet. They are crawling
all over the morgue right now," Mannion cautioned. "Just get on in here."
Nick hung up and headed back in. He slipped into the chair next to Vicki.
With as much honest feeling as he could muster, "I'm sorry,
Vicki. But you know we're going to have
Vicki had known it when she saw who was at the other end of the page. She knew Jack Mannion well enough to know
that he would hardly interrupt his friend's evening for something
frivolous. She tried not to sound too
much like a reporter, but if the Chief of Police was calling his Public Affairs
Officer at a little before eleven o'clock, it was something a reporter would
want to know.
"What is it?" she inquired, as she looked Nick in the eyes.
Nick took a deep breath, "In the car."
They rose together.
Nick spoke to the Maitre D' and passed him cash for some later day. He got their coats and headed for the
car. The valet brought it around and
Nick opened the door for Vicki. Months
ago Vicki may have had a crush on Jack Mannion, but Nick had made all that
evaporate. She enjoyed the way Nick
lavished attention on her. He never
seemed preoccupied when they were together the way Jack had. Jack's faked death had brought them
together. She made a mental some day
soon to thank Jack for that. Nick
pulled away from the curb and headed toward Vicki's home. Traffic was light at that hour.
"So what is it?" Vicki picked up the unfinished
Nick brooded about it a moment. "You can't tell Jack I told you this," he began.
Now she knew it would be a really juicy story. She regretted having left her pager on the
countertop. She knew it would be
buzzing when they got back.
"I promise, but you know if it's this big, my editor will be
trying to get hold of me anyhow," she raised her eyebrow.
"I know. But you did
not hear this from me.
Congresswoman Helen York is dead," Nick told her.
There it was. It was
all he knew. He also knew that Vicki
was going to start pumping him for more.
"That's it?" she demanded.
"How did it happen? When and
where did it happen? Natural causes, accident,
or murder?" all the reporter's questions tumbled out at once.
"I knew it; I knew it.
I knew you would do this," Nick ran his hand through his hair. "I can't tell you. And…"
Vicki interjected, "Forget taking me home; take me with
"I can't, and you know it.
Jack would kill me. He'd kill us
both," Nick responded matter-of-factly.
"I know, but you know I had to ask," Vicki smiled. "I'll just let you drop me off, then I call
my editor…" she did her thinking out loud for him as a courtesy for the tidbit
he'd just given her.
Nick drove up to her apartment and parked. He opened her door and escorted her to the
main door. Vicki smiled at Nick and
leaned over to kiss him on the lips.
Nick put his arms the rest of the way around her and kissed her
"Call it a down payment," he said with a smile as he ran his
fingers through her deep red hair.
Vicki hurried into her apartment to find her pager. As she had anticipated, it held a
message. She fumbled with the numbers
to her editor. Excitement pulsed
through her entire body. It had been
years since she'd covered a murder case.
Montgomery here," she began.
"What took you so long to answer my page?" he demanded.
"Sorry, long story.
The short of it is that I accidentally left my pager at the
apartment. What have you got for me?"
"Nothing now! I had
to send out Phil Roberts…" Jim Holt began.
"Send him out to what?" Vicki knew if she worked fast, she'd
get the story back.
"A dead Congresswoman, that's what! You blew it, Vicki!" Jim bellowed.
"Let me fix it then, Jim.
Please. I know people at MPD,
you know," Vicki tried.
Jim ground his teeth.
"And that's why I wanted you on this story, too!" Jim mellowed out just a bit.
Mannion looked up and then behind Nick to see if Monty had
come with him. "You alone?"
"Sure Jack. I
dropped Vicki at her place," he responded as he dropped himself comfortably in
the chair. "So what do we have so
far? What do you need me to spin?"
"Right now, it's pretty quiet," Jack began. "It wasn't that way when I paged you
"And earlier? How
many bridges did you burn?" Nick laughed.
Jack had to smile as he leaned back in his chair. He nodded, "Sometimes I think you know me
too well. But I didn't burn any tonight;
came close a couple of times though.
And you'll be pleased to know that all the reporters I've seen tonight
still have their fake hair and stuffed shirts, too."
"So what happened anyway?" Nick wanted to know.
Jack rubbed his face and eyes, "I got the page around
nine-thirty. Patrol and our divers
fished her and a car out of the Potomac around nine. Some fishermen actually found her. When they pulled her out, making a positive ID was
difficult. Her face was pretty messed
up, and it wasn't her car that she was found in. One of the patrolmen had worked the Capitol area and thought it
sort of looked like her. It was the
Coroner who made the initial ID based on dental work about half an hour
ago. Coroner thinks she was half-dead
when she hit the water. The ME has not
fixed a time of death, but for now it looks like she'd been in the water a
while. The Coroner is in the middle of
the full autopsy now. Dr. Daniels
promised to call me as soon as she finishes up. Of course, the tissue samples will take more time, but we should
have a preliminary cause of death any time now. I've put McGregor and Page on
the case," Mannion looked at his watch.
He had time to continue recounting the events that brought Nick into the
office at such a late hour.
Then Mannion told his Press Liaison what had just
transpired. He had called Danny
McGregor's cell phone to tell him they now had one very dead
Congresswoman. Within the hour, he and
Temple were back in the Chief's office.
"Gentlemen," Mannion had told the detectives, "We fished
Congresswoman Helen York out of the Potomac tonight around nine. Here is what we know for now. The car she was in is over at Impound. It was not her car. It had been stolen three days ago;
Georgetown Substation took the report.
I want you and Forensics to go over it with a fine-toothed comb. The Coroner will send over the autopsy
findings as soon as they are typed up.
We're going to get several iterations of the report. For now, you need to know that we believe
that she was alive but badly beaten before she hit the water. The ME found injuries not consistent with a
car crash and enough water in her lungs to suggest that the actual cause of
death was drowning. Get digging! Nick will do his best to keep the press off
your backs, and I'll keep the politicians off."
Temple spoke up first, "Sir, have we secured her home and
gotten permission to look around?"
Mannion handed him paperwork, "Done. But the US Attorney was not a happy camper
when I went looking for it either. So,
do what you need to do quickly before he pulls out on us."
McGregor thought a moment, "Sir, we'll start there then work
backward to the car. As you're fond of
saying, let's see 'where the property leads us.' Come on, Temple; let's stop by Forensics and pick somebody
up. By the way, Chief, do we know where
her car is?"
"No we don't," Mannion said. "It was not at her apartment.
And you'll find two uniformed officers there waiting for you."
With that the detectives had departed the Chief's
office. That had been a half hour ago.
Mannion continued his previous train of thought, "So, Nick,
how's Monty?" as he propped his feet up on the desk.
"She's fine, Jack," Nick said nodding his head downward,
telegraphing his discomfort at the question.
"Aw Nicky, you know you can talk to me," Mannion offered
with the wave of his hand. "What did
you tell her?"
Nick fidgeted and sighed.
"Not much, only that there was a dead member of Congress. And that she'd have to go her own route on
this one." Then he laughed, "When we
left for the theatre, she had left her pager at her place. It was bugging her all night…well, that was
until we sat down and the play started."
"What did ya see?" Mannion made more time while waiting for
the phone to ring, and he let Nick off the hook. He knew how persuasive Monty could be.
"A revival of 'The Sound of Music'" Nick told him. "You thinking of taking Ella?"
"Actually, I have tickets for the Sunday matinee for all
three of us," Mannion replied as the phone rang. "Mannion," he answered.
The Coroner was on the other end with the initial
observations about the dead Congresswoman York. Mannion took notes as Nick moved around to read over his
shoulder. When Mannion hung up, he
looked at Nick.
"I'm sorry, Nicky. I
know that you were friends at one point," Mannion said.
"That was a long time ago.
And the more I knew her, frankly the less I liked her," Nick returned to
his seat in front of Mannion. "She was
blood thirsty and unattached to anything human. Everything she did had 'politics' or 'profit' written all over
it. I'm not even sure she had a soul!"
Mannion was about to speak when Deputy Chief Joe Nolan
entered the office. "Why wasn't I
notified, Chief? I thought we'd gotten
past all that!"
Mannion stood and offered his hand and a smile to his number
two. "Joe, glad you're here. Well, you were on vacation with your
family. I didn't want to butt into that
– at least not until we had something worth butting in for," Mannion was
disarming. "Let me tell you what we've
got so far, since you're here now."
Nolan stopped; this was not the old Mannion he used to
loathe. Ella had made subtle changes in
his style that no one else could have forced.
Joe sat in the other chair next to Nick who had returned to his
seat. He listened intently as Mannion
laid out the few details that everyone was sure of.
Nolan asked, "Which detectives have we assigned to the
"McGregor and Page," Mannion responded.
"Why not call in more seasoned detectives? Maybe put Page on with one of them?" Nolan
wanted to know. "What about Captain
Hunter? He's got the best clearance
rate of any cop in homicide."
"Why not Danny and Temple, Joe?"
"McGregor is still nursing his injuries from the attack on
you. And, well, Page is too green for a
case of this magnitude, Jack," Nolan reasoned.
"This is going to have attention from the Hill on down to every DJ on
the airwaves, especially PJ Hawkes.
This is going to get ugly, and we need to at least look like we've got
half a chance of solving it."
"No, we will solve it with McGregor and
Page. And, I'm not taking Hunter out of
IA again. I'm not about to demoralize
McGregor and Page by telling them that they are not good enough to solve a
politically sensitive case. Joe, you
know I don't work like that," Mannion stood up. "Now let's see where they go with this. Join us for breakfast in the morning at DC's? We'll talk more strategy and additional
assets if we need them."
Nolan gave a curt nod and left. Nick got up and headed for the door, too. Before exiting, he asked, "Need me any more
"No, I'm heading home myself. Got to get Cujo out before he pees on the carpet," he smiled as
he shut out the light.
Nick wondered about his longtime friend. He knew that it would not be long before
Ella and Jack were married. What he
could not wrap his mind around was why the couple wasn't already living
together, either on Jack's boat or Ella's apartment. Mannion had already given him the morality lecture on the
problems of sex outside marriage and what kind of signal would it send to
Ricky, not to mention his own daughter, Beth.
When Nick had protested that Sherry moved right back in with him,
Mannion countered that in the Eyes of God and according to the Church, they
weren't really divorced. Neither had
sought an annulment. Nick just shook
his head after he'd gotten in his car and headed out of the parking lot. Mannion was five minutes behind him.
When Mannion had taken Cujo for his last walk of the night,
he checked his phone messages. There
was one from the cleaners, his brown and blue pin-strip suits were ready for
pick-up as were five, no six, shirts.
There were two solicitations one for long distance and another for
something else that he'd paid no attention to.
The final message got his undivided attention. It was Ella's voice telling him that if he got in before midnight
to give her a call, she'd be up.
He checked the time then reached for the phone. She picked up on the second ring. He couldn't help smiling as he pulled his
tie off and undid the cuff links as he balanced the phone between his shoulder
and chin. His overcoat and suit coat
were already put away. "Hey," he said
softly. "I just got in and according to
my watch I have ten minutes to spare on that midnight drop dead time."
Ella laughed softly.
Mannion pulled off his shoes and undid his vest and shirt. "I'm glad you called, ten minute window or
not. Ricky is really looking forward to
the show Sunday after church. What kept
you out so late tonight anyhow?"
Mannion stopped undressing and sat back in an overstuffed
chair. Cujo jumped up in has lap and
tried to lick him on the chin. "You
sitting down, Honey?" he paused then continued, "You remember Congresswoman
York? Well, she ended up in the Potomac
"You bet I remember her. She raked us
all over the coals months ago on that stupid witch-hunt against the Mayor and
the 'Pumpkin' tapes. And, after all she
put everyone through - it all came to nothing.
She was not exactly on our guest list.
But I am sorry she'd dead. I can imagine it's going to be hard to thin out the suspects off
a very long list of possibilities," she paused a moment. "Jack, this is going to get in the middle of
our plans, isn't it?" Ella's voice was concerned.
"No, it's not.
Nothing is going to get in the middle of our plans. I put Danny and Temple on the case. It's going to get in the middle of their
plans," Mannion said confidently.
Ella was unconvinced as they said good night to one
another. Mannion finished what he was
doing and slipped into bed. Cujo jumped
up to continue sharing affection with his master.
"Look here, little buddy, in short order, this is going to
be a non-starter. You're going to be
sleeping on the floor in your basket again," he mentioned to the dog. He picked Cujo up and put him in his
basket. "Might as well start getting
used to it now."
Ella greeted the team with multiple file folders, including
the Overnights and the first rough draft of the autopsy findings. Mannion resisted the temptation to take over
that file; instead he gave it to McGregor.
McGregor yawned several times during breakfast as he squirmed to try and
get comfortable. Danny's painkillers
were only beginning to kick in now.
McGregor bore a nasty scar across his cheek where the door had hit him
as it blew off the Chief's staff car.
The Russian Mob had intended to kill Mannion and nearly succeeded in
killing one of his detectives instead.
When McGregor was tired, he also walked with a noticeable limp. He had landed funny on his hip and shattered
the bones. The orthopedic surgeons had
done a pretty good job of putting McGregor back together. After many months of physical rehab back
home in Ireland, he was almost good as new.
At the time, nobody knew if he'd ever return. Still, he would go off in metal detectors for the rest of his
life. Temple and Danny each had the
other's back. Shared grief and trials
had forged their partnership.
Temple kept a close eye on his partner. They'd been up most of the night, going over
the Congresswoman's apartment with the Lab boys. Today, they'd start on the car she'd been found swimming in. Mannion wanted to know if they had anything
new. McGregor suggested that the
Chief's office would be a better place to discuss what they had put together so
far. Temple held several small evidence
bags in front on him. One contained an
address book; another held computer disks with unexplored files. All had been dusted for prints; they found
nothing unexpected. York's home computer
was already back at Ella's office.
Mannion asked Ella to duplicate the disks just as soon as they returned
to the office. Nick seemed to drift
"Nicky? You still
with us?" Jack reached out and tapped his arm.
"Huh, yeah - sure, Jack," he replied. "I just need to talk to you later," he said
nervously afraid of offending his friends around the table.
Mannion looked at him with a question mark on his face,
"Okay, Nicky. Later."
McGregor handed folders with the detectives' initial notes
to Mannion and Nolan. Nolan browsed
through. "Interesting that she was
found in a stolen car, and her own car has gone missing. Who'd be stupid enough to ride around town
in a car with Congressional plates? It
should turn up here soon."
Temple agreed, "It should, you'd think. A champagne colored Lexus with Congressional
plates should be easy to find. But
until late last night, we didn't even know that was what we were looking for."
McGregor's cell phone announced itself. Danny reached in his pocket and answered it,
"McGregor. Yeah, uh-huh. Let me write that down," he pulled out a
small notebook and scribbled in it.
"Got it. Thank you," he
Turning to Temple, Danny said, "Well, that was until
now. Come on, Temple, let's go over the
Congresswoman's car." He turned to the
Chief, "They found it, sir, over in some seedy end of town."
Mannion and Nolan looked pleased as the detectives scooted
out of the booth and headed out the door.
"Now, that's more like it," Nolan said with satisfaction.
Mannion nodded and smiled, "See Joe, these guys can handle
the case, just fine."
"There was a question about that?" Ella raised her eyebrows.
Mannion and Nolan did their best to say yes and no at
opposite ends. Then realizing the humor
of it, Nolan told Ella about the conversation from the night before. Ella nodded in approval. Breakfast was over, and the team headed off
to the office.
"Nick, you want a ride?" Mannion offered.
"No thanks, Jack.
I've got my car, got errands to run later today," Nick smiled.
Ella and Mannion walked out together. He opened the door for her, and then got in
to drive away.
Ella began, "Jack if this isn't going to interfere, let me
ask you some questions."
"Shoot," he smiled as he pulled out in traffic.
"On the last minute plans…" she began.
"Whoa, it's not that I don't care, mind you. Just let me say that before I say something
stupid and get myself in the doghouse with Cujo. Remember I wanted us to elope in my priest's study; you were the
one who insisted on a church wedding for all our friends. So this is your baby; you plan it. You just tell me where to show up and
when. And I'll write the check. But as for planning, it's, well, it's not a
guy thing, okay?" Mannion looked over for approval or disapproval.
"If that's the way it's going to be…"
"Yeah, that's the way it's going to be. Look, Ella, I care about the marriage not
about the wedding. The marriage is
where you'll have my undivided attention.
I love you, you know that, but I can't spend time thinking about wedding
plans," Mannion continued. "I've got
more important things to work on."
"I think you're starting to dig that hole you were worried
about falling in," Ella cautioned.
He glanced over at her then back to the road, "I guess I
should shut up while I'm still behind then huh?" His eyes twinkled with the hint of a grin.
She found that irresistible in him. "You're playing with me, again, aren't you?"
He pretended not to hear, "Well, looky here, we're at work!"
"Your timing is impeccable, Jack Mannion," Ella teased back.
He leaned over and gently kissed her on the temple and
caressed her cheek with his nose, and then he whispered in her ear, "I love
you." Mannion straightened up and
declared, "Now let's go to work and catch some bad guys!"
McGregor and Page pulled up in a run down neighborhood. There was the champagne Lexus, minus some
exterior parts, parked at the curb near the liquor store. There was a rooms-for-rent place on the
other side of the street. Broken glass
and needles littered the sidewalks.
Temple picked up the radio and called for Forensics. They got out and without touching anything,
began to give the car the once over.
There were no broken windows and the stereo system was still all
there. Only the two fancy wheel covers
had gone missing on the side of the car next to the curb. Temple talked to a
couple of kids who were out playing, never mind that they should have been in
school at that hour. McGregor noted
that the driver's side window was down enough to make an unlawful entry
easy. Temple told his partner that
according to the kids, the car had been there for a day or two. Other than that, nobody knew anything. Neither had they seen anything. The Congressional Plates had acted like bug
repellant. Nobody wanted to touch it
too much. Forensics arrived and began
to dust it outside for prints.
The Police tow truck lifted it on to the flatbed and
deposited forty-five minutes later next to the car in which the Congresswoman's
body had been found. There they sat,
twin pieces of evidence. York's
fingerprints were all over the inside of her own car. Hers and a billion other people's were on the outside. That was to be expected. However, her prints were nowhere on the car
in which she'd died. It had been wiped
clean. Not even the rightful owner's
prints could be found. The real owner
was an older Black man who worked for the City in the Sanitation Department. McGregor's sick sense of humor found that
mildly amusing and wondered if the killer did, too. That she had no prints on the car told him that she was
incapacitated when it went into the water.
Temple studied the photos from the area around where the car entered the
river. There were no skid marks for two
hundred yards of the presumed impact area.
The river had some current to account for, but even then, there was no
evidence that this was an accident.
That made it murder.
Danny sent Temple to interview the owner of the car while he
went over the interiors of the vehicles.
Temple tracked Pete Greene down at the Georgetown Police
Substation. Mr. Greene worked in this
section of town and had reported his car stolen at the Substation days
ago. Now he wanted to know what they
had found. Temple approached him.
"Mr. Greene, I'm Detective Temple Page. I understand that your car was stolen?" he
Somebody ripped it off last Friday.
And these guys haven't done anything to find it yet. I live on the other side of town and really
needs my car to get to work. Transit
makes it hard to get from the Black side of town to the White side without
several transfers and a bunch of wasted time," Greene complained.
"Yes sir, I understand.
I want you to know that we've found your car…"
"Good, when can I get it back? You know insurance just don't cover the cost…"
"Uh…I'm not sure you're going to want it back, sir," Temple
hunted for the right words.
Greene wrinkled his face up in a frown, "Whachu talkin'
about, son? Not want my car back!? Of course, I wants my car back!"
"Sir, it's like this.
It was fished out of the river last night and is evidence in an ongoing
murder investigation," Temple continued.
"Oooh," Greene reeled backward.
Instinctively Temple reached out and grabbed him. "Here, come over here, sir. Let me explain." He moved the older gentleman to a corner bench seat in the lobby.
"The river?" Greene was incredulous. "How'd it get in the river?"
Temple tried to ease the older man's anxiety. "We're not sure just yet. What can you tell me about the theft in the
Greene leaned back and thought for a moment. "I went to work like usual last Friday. Drove my car, parked it where I usually
do. Then when I got off work at five,
it was gone," he recounted it plainly.
Then he looked at Temple, "Son, that was my only way of getting
around. My wife's got diabetes, and so
we make more than a few doctor trips.
These rotten boys make life so hard for an old man. I would never have thought they'd steal an
old car like that one. It's eleven
years old! And I've devoted my entire
life to this city…" he began to drift off.
"What makes you think it was 'rotten boys' that took your
car, Mr. Greene?" Temple probed.
Greene looked up, "I dunno, just reckoned it was them
thievin' again. Probably took it for a
joy ride or somethin'. It wasn't worth
nothin'. Then on top of it, when I
reported it to these officers, they just scribbled a few things down and said
they'd get back to me. But they never
got back to me." Greene just shook his
head in despair.
Temple tried to reassure the man, "If you want, I can take
you to see your car. It's kind of a
mess though. You might want to go ahead
and file for the insurance. I'm not
sure anything could be salvaged. I'm
going to get a copy of your initial complaint and put it with the rest of my
investigation. If there is anything I
can do to help you, sir, please let me know.
Here's my card."
"Oh, I don't needs to see my car. Where do I tell the insurance man to go see it?" Greene was
resigned to his loss.
"Here, let me put it on the back of my card," Temple
scratched out the Impound Lot's address and number. "Please tell him that he should call ahead. The address and phone number are here. I'm awful sorry this happened to you."
Both men rose and as Greene started to leave, he turned back
to Temple, "You said something earlier about a killin'. Who was it that got killed in my car?"
"A member of Congress," Temple said flatly as he turned to
search for the car theft report.
"Mmm. Mmm. Mmm," was all Greene could utter as he shook
his head leaving the Substation.
Nick slipped into Mannion's office. The Chief was nestled behind the big desk
pouring over requisitions and other paperwork.
He motioned Nick into a chair.
One last signature, and he pressed the intercom for Nancy. "Nancy, I've finished signing all that stuff
you needed done yesterday. Wanna come
get it off my desk before it gets lost again?"
Nancy popped in and greeted Nick as she collected the
paperwork, "Anything else, Chief?"
Mannion raised his eyebrows and shook his head no, "Can't
think of anything right now. Thanks,
She turned with a smile and left.
"So Nicky, what's on your mind?" Mannion wanted to know.
"Jack, I don't know if this is worth anything or not, but…"
Nick chewed nervously on his lip.
"Why, Nicky, I've never seen you so nervous. You'd think it was you getting married in
two weeks not me," Mannion laughed as he leaned back in the chair and put his
feet up on the desk. "Come on, out with
it, Nicky!" he encouraged.
Nick scratched his cheek and rubbed his nose before
restarting. "It's the Helen York thing,
Jack. You remember when I was going to
'fix' things when she was after the Mayor and was going to get to him by going
after you and Ella?"
"How could I forget," he chuckled. "She thought Ella and I had something going on the side just
because I gave her a washer and dryer last year."
"By the way, why did you give Ella a washer and dryer,
Jack? You never did say," Nick puzzled.
"That's because I didn't want Ricky to feel
embarrassed. Ella had just gotten
custody, not even finished the adoption paperwork. Ricky was literally living on the edge. You know the story of Pablito killing Ricky's mom then wanting to
kill Ricky as the only witness to it all.
Well, Ricky started wetting the bed.
Is it any wonder? I mean, the
little guy was only 8 at the time. Ella
was doing laundry at all hours of the night when her machines died on her. It was starting to interfere with breakfast,
COMSTAT, and what we were doing here.
At the time, it was purely self-defense!" Mannion finished retelling the
story with a flourish. "Now if you
breathe a word of this," he leaned forward with a smile.
"I know. Ella will
kill me!" Nick laughed. "Seriously,
Jack it was about that incident. I was
beside myself thinking that Helen's committee was going to skewer Ella and you
over a washer and dryer just so she could hang the Mayor out to dry. So I did some snooping around. I found out that her objective was more the
profit motive that it was for the good of the people. Her dead boss, Congressman Reese had a really sweet deal going
with the 'dot com' crowd. They had made
it possible for the Internet firms to set up shop without worrying about taxes,
including their workers. In exchange
for that favor, the firms sent loads of soft money through a lawyer named," he
pause a moment and pulled out his Palm Pilot, then he went on, "Steve
Cooper. Cooper was the hidden
middleman. When I confronted her about
the soft money, she did not deny it.
She seemed a little embarrassed, but it really was no biggie."
Mannion was putting all this down mentally, "But under the
current rules, soft money was legit, even if it seemed tainted by influence
peddling." Mannion smiled, "You know
it's ironic, that here this woman was trying to destroy an honest Mayor over
the very same sin she was involved in!"
"There's more, Jack," Nick paused to see how his boss would
Mannion nodded, "Keep going, Nicky. Let's see if we can tie it all together."
"This Steve Cooper character also gave her insider trading
information. That was what I was going
to use to get her off you and Ella. At
the time, I could have cared less about Ethan Baker," Nick pulled out more from
his hand held.
"Go on," Mannion encouraged.
"There was this stock for a company called Orb Ventures dot
com that was selling for $3 a share.
Cooper told York about it. She
invested a ton of money in the company just before it went up 3000
percent. Jack, she made a fortune
overnight based on insider trading. She
did not deny it either. After the
hearing when the Mayor came clean about Poo Kim being his daughter, she and I
never saw one another again. Do you
think that maybe Cooper had something to do with her death, Jack?"
Mannion's eyebrow was raised. He pulled his feet back down before speaking, "Nicky I want you
to run over all this again with McGregor and Page in your office. It may be a key; then again it might be
nothing but old news. But give them the
lead and let them run with it."
Ella knocked then entered Mannion's office from hers. She handed Nick a cup of coffee as she
picked up Mannion's empty cup to refill it.
She casually remarked, "So got any leads on who killed
Congresswoman York, yet?"
"Thanks, Ella," they said in concert.
She filled her own cup and sat down. She handed Mannion the file with the next
generation of autopsy findings.
She continued, "I looked through this when it came in. Pretty messy death. She must have made somebody really mad to
have been killed this way."
Mannion sat up, "Ella, what did you just say?"
"Huh, Chief?" was her reply.
"You said that York must have made somebody really mad
before she was killed," Mannion repeated.
He flipped through the autopsy file. He studied the photos and the findings.
Mannion muttered, "She was beaten half to death. Her face was bloodied before she was pushed
into the water. Internal injuries, her
right arm was broken, spiral fracture to the humerus …"
"What's that mean, Jack?"
"Mmm, it means her arm was twisted so hard it snapped," he
replied as he continued to pour over the folder's contents. He continued, "Some evidence of sex within
hours of her death. Hairs found for
analysis. No telling if it was
consensual or forced. But a condom was
used, mild allergic reaction of tissue to latex…"
Nick winced and squirmed.
Ella reached over and gently rubbed his back, like a mother comforts a
child. Mannion left his absorption in
the file and looked up.
"Hey, Nicky, if, uh, you don't feel comfortable…" he
"No, Jack. I'm
okay. It's just that," he looked over
at Ella knowing that disapproval was a moment away, "uh, we had a short affair
thing, you know."
Mannion looked away then back at Nick, "I knew about
it. I think I yelled at you once or
twice because you put her interests above our departments."
"I remember that well…it was one of your better butt
chewings," Nick gave a nervous smile.
"But it was over long before now.
Months ago. I'm sure there is
nothing left of me or mine at her apartment."
"Yeah, well, go see Danny and Temple," Mannion
directed. "Here and take this with
you. They're going to need it more than
I do right now. Get Nancy to make Joe a
"Jack," Ella started after Nick left, "I know you don't want
to be bothered with the details, but I do want your input on the guest list at
As if on cue, the phone rang, Mannion smiled, "I planned it
that way," he winked. Picking up the
phone, "Mannion... Yes, Mr. Mayor.
We've got two of my best detectives on the case. I know, Ethan. I am not about to give anyone the appearance that we are either
more interested in her murder than any other citizen of this city, neither are
we less interested given the relationship of the past."
Mannion nodded some more.
Ella saw that as her cue to leave.
The Mayor would be bending Jack's ear for some time.
"Uh-huh, Mr. Mayor.
Uh, I can brief you over the phone with what we have or I… Yes sir, I can come over. Give me about twenty minutes to get what my
detectives have come up with this morning, and I'll be there shortly. Yes sir.
Thank you, sir," he said as he hung up.
Mannion pushed away from his desk, grabbed his overcoat and
started out the door. "Nancy, I'm going
down to City Hall. Are Danny and Temple
"Yes sir, I think so.
I saw Danny a few minutes ago at his desk. He was arguing with the computer," she said with a wry grin.
Mannion caught sight of McGregor as he turned the corner
with a fresh cup of coffee in his hand.
Danny put the cup on his desk and picked up a pair of folders. He walked over to the Chief.
"What have you got this morning, Danny?"
"We've got no prints on the car her body was dumped into the
river in. You've seen the newest
autopsy findings. Temple is on his way
back from interviewing the man who owns the car she was dumped in. He had reported it stolen from his work on
Friday. It went missing some time
between eight in the morning and five in the evening. The old man figured it was 'bad boys' taking it for a joy ride. Not much help there. Forensics is still going over the guts of
both cars looking for anything. But I'd
say that car was cleaned up before her body was stuffed inside. There wasn't even any glass on the driver's
seat. The other windows were broken out
to make it sink faster. Glass was all
over the back seat and passenger side.
Forensics thinks that entry was made by breaking the driver's side
window. Then they stole the car. A bit of an amateurish car theft if you ask
Mannion nodded, put his hands in his pockets, and frowned,
"An amateur car theft combined with a very professional job of body
disposal. An interesting twist, don't
you think, Detective?" He patted Danny
on the shoulder, "Thanks, Danny. Keep
pulling it apart." He smiled, "Be like
a cat with a ball of yarn. The more you
unravel, the more we know what's in the ball. " He turned to leave, "Oh yeah, Nick needs to talk to you, too. He's in his office."
Danny hung around Nancy's desk for a moment longer. "You do know that I wanted to stay and do
the rehab here. You know - once they
put Humpty Dumpty back together again," he laughed.
Nancy looked at the Irishman, and she nodded before sitting
back down, "It was important for James to see that his Dad was going to be okay."
Danny sighed, "My wife wants me back, too."
Nancy looked at the pile of paper on her desk.
Danny continued, "But I'm not sure I want her back
though. I do want James to come to
America, and she may be the price of admission."
Nancy still made no reply.
She just kept sifting papers.
Danny licked at his lips and decided it was time to find Nick. "Well, I'll be going now. I think the Chief said Nick was in his
As he left, Nancy pulled out some tissues and headed for
Before he could get to his car, Vicki caught Mannion. "Jack!" she called out.
"Trapped like a deer in headlights," he volleyed back with
"How have you been, since your 'death'?" Vicki began light
before moving in for the real questions.
"I've been meaning to thank you for that, by the way. I have really enjoyed Nick's company as a
result. I bet you never thought of
yourself as a matchmaker," she said with a smile as she took Mannion's
arm. "Let me walk you to your car."
Mannion offered no resistance. Instead, he offered her some information, "All I can tell you
right now is that Congresswoman Helen York appears to have been murdered some
time over the weekend. Everything else
is speculation. You understand, right?"
"That's it? That's all
the whole Police Department knows?"
Mannion looked at her, "Monty, let's not start with the
badgering again. I've got to brief the
Mayor. Go see Nicky for the official
press release. You know the drill as
well as anyone. Open cases are not
public information. This is a really
big open case, okay?"
He got in the car and rolled the window down.
She asked one last question, "Any suspects yet?"
"Other than maybe your grandmother? No," Mannion teased her
as he turned over the engine. "Gotta
go, now, Monty. Sorry!"
Vicki was left standing in the parking lot. She shook her head and went inside to look
for Nick. Danny was inside talking to
him when she arrived. She opened the
"Not now, Vicki. Can
you give a few more minutes, please," Nick made more a statement than a
"Sure, sure. I'll
just wait out here," she motioned over towards Nancy's desk.
Nancy was still in talking to Ella when Vicki wandered
up. The top folder was the freshest of
the autopsy findings. She looked around
to see if anyone noticed her presence.
Feeling like the coast was clear, she opened the folder and did a quick
take. God had blessed her with a nearly
photographic memory. Now she was hoping
not to remember what she'd just seen.
The file began with the photos.
It was horrendous to her mind.
She was on the verge of puking when Nancy came out. Vicki tried to look nonchalant and smiled. It was still hard for Nancy to see clearly
through wiped away tears, but she thought that she might have caught Vicki in
the act of spying on her desk.
"Can I help you, Ms Montgomery?" Nancy sniffed back new
tears. "You just missed the Chief. He went to City Hall."
"Yeah, I know. I
caught him as he was leaving. No, I'm
here to see Nick. Gee, and it's getting
close to lunch, too," Vicki tried to deflect the conversation.
Nancy looked at her watch and wondered what time reporters
ate lunch. It was only ten thirty in
"If you want, you can sit over there," she pointed out
chairs lined up on the wall in front of her desk.
"Uh, yeah, thanks.
Hey how's Danny doing? I hear he
got really banged up when the Russians blew up the Chief's car," Vicki asked
Nancy was catapulted to the verge of tears again, "He's
fine, but he says his rugby days are done.
Look, I've got to get some work done," she commented as she ducked her
head back down.
Mindlessly, she moved papers around her desktop. Instinctively, Vicki knew that she'd said
something wrong. She just wasn't sure
what it was. But she knew that it had
nothing to do with the story of the year.
Vicki sat quietly as Danny finished with Nick. In thirty minutes, he came back out, having been joined by Temple
about half way through.
Ella had duplicated the disks she'd been given at breakfast. She gave the originals back to Danny and
began to explore the files she found there.
She promised Danny the hard drive's contents perhaps later that day. Most of the files were password
protected. It would take some time to
let software crack the passwords so she could have unhindered access to their
contents. She had let Mannion know that
it would be later today before she could get anything off the disks for the
investigation. Now the first of the
passwords yielded to the program she was running on it.
It was a list of accounts with a large flow of cash
transactions. There were only a few
problems to resolve. Whose money was
it? Where were the accounts
located? And most importantly, if they
were not York's why did she have the information? Ella printed out the contents of the file and put a copy on
Mannion's desk with a note. The
original she gave to McGregor and Page. Neither of them quite knew what to do
with it. Basic police work did not
include, what looked at the moment like, money laundering analysis. They were heading into uncharted waters
together. When Mannion returned from
the Mayor's office, he concurred with the initial guesswork.