BODY SLAM

BODY SLAM

Lieutenant Castillo got right to the point after Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs entered his office.

"How much do either one of you know about professional wrestling?"

Rico chuckled. "You mean, aside from the fact that it's fake?"

"Hey man, don't knock it 'till you've seen it in person. Rick Flair, Randy Rhodes, the Macho Man…those guys put themselves through the ringer for their fans."

"Unfortunately this is no laughing matter." Castillo handed Sonny and Rico a pair of folders. "These are the medical examiner's findings in the death of Joey Mitchell, better known by his ring name, The Flying Missile."

"Hey, I've heard of this guy." Sonny looked through the typed reports and at the photos of a young wrestler. "I heard he was going to get signed by the WWF."

"He was found in his hotel room, dead from a drug overdose. The medical examiner said he overdosed on a new type of steroid that apparently causes the brain to seize up. Before that, the user goes insane."

Sonny had heard of professional athletes taking steroids, something he'd never done when he played football. These days, however, steroids had crept into major league sports like a virus-the combination of the lure of big money and college diplomas was often too much for some young athletes to ignore.

"Before he turned to wrestling, Mitchell was a football player in college. Sonny, that's where you come in-see what you can find out from his former teammates."

"What's my job?" Rico asked.

"Mitchell had a younger brother, who's trying to get into college on a football scholarship." Castillo looked at Rico. "I need you to act as a scout-find out what he knows about where Mitchell got these steroids from."

Rico nodded, but he was troubled. Lying to a kid with a future-even if it was necessary for their jobs-was something he'd never gotten used to.

"It's something that has to be done," Crockett reminded him as they drove to the Mitchell residence in Rico's car. "Undercover work is never easy when good civilians are involved, pal, but it' what we do."

"Yeah, I know." Rico sighed. "It's just…when you see a kid that has a chance of making it, and then we have to build his hopes up and bring them down again…"

"When the time is right we can explain it to him." By now they had reached the Mitchells' suburban home. "Come on; partner…its show time."

Joey Mitchell's mother turned out to be a strong-willed woman while the younger Mitchell, a kid named Jason, quickly struck up a friendship with Tubbs.

"So you two want to help my son get into college as soon as possible, is that right?" Mrs. Mitchell looked at them with suspicion; Sonny had to admire her resolve to protect her surviving son.

"Yes, Ma'am, we think Jason here has a lot of potential with the Florida State Seminoles," Tubbs cheerfully replied.

"But that's not the only reason I'm going," Jason interjected. "I really want to study medicine-maybe I can help athletes get off their addictions to the stuff that killed my brother."

"Yeah…I was really sorry to hear about that, man." Tubbs rested a hand on Jason's shoulder. "But you have to think about the future, right?"

"I know what my son's future is going to be-and it's not going to be based just on his athletic ability. He's got a mind; I want him to be able to show the world how he uses it."

"Hey, Mom, they don't need to know how smart I am."

"Well, Florida State does. This is your chance to avoid making the mistakes your brother made." Mrs. Mitchell looked at her watch. "Well, I have to get to work. I'm sure you gentlemen can show yourselves out when you leave."

When she was gone, Jason looked at Crockett and Tubbs. "You guys aren't really football scouts, are you?"

"No, we're not," Sonny admitted.

"We're Miami vice," Rico added. "We're trying to find out where your brother got the drugs he was using."

"Yeah, I figured as much." Jason sat down. "You know…Joey was a good guy. He was just always so competitive; he wanted to keep that edge. I don't know much about who his supplier was; he never got into that part of it. But he did say he was getting a line on a new supplier because he didn't like the way the old one did business."

"Well, then that's where we'll start. It was great meeting you, kid." Sonny shook his hand. "And you know, we weren't kidding. I used to play back in my day, and from what I've heard, you've got the talent to make it."

"Without drugs," Rico reminded him.

"Yeah." Jason looked at a framed photo of his brother in his old football jersey. "It's just too bad Joey couldn't learn the same thing."

Izzy Moreno had always liked sports, especially when he could make money by not actually having to play them. At that moment, he was deep into the art of trying to sell Dolphins tickets when a pair of hands grabbed him from behind.

"I swear to you, I know nothing about your wife…oh, it's you, Sonny and Ricardo, and to what do I owe this most unfortunate interruption of my business activities?"

"Hawking season tickets isn't a business activity, Izzy." Sonny grabbed the tickets from Izzy's reluctant hands. "I take it you heard about that pro wrestler who died earlier this week?"

"Oh, yes, the late Joseph Mitchell…very sad, but, as they say, what does that have to do with me?"

"You've got a line into every sports scam from here to Tallahassee," Tubbs pointed out. "What we want to know is, do you know anyone who's been selling a new class of steroids?"

"Hey, I stay away from artificial body stimulants." Izzy flexed nonexistent muscles. "All of my physical attributes are the product of finely honed training and mental concentration."

"It's mental something, all right." Sonny took Izzy aside. "Look, a good kid's brother died from this stuff. If you know anything, maybe we can keep you out of jail where they take a liking to guys with finely honed bodies, if you get my drift."

Izzy swallowed. "I get your point. Okay, there's this one guy, he sells mostly to college kids. His name's Archie. From what I understand, he runs his business out of a motel on South Beach."

"Okay, take off…without the tickets," Sonny admonished Izzy as his longtime informant quickly darted away.

The motel as Izzy had described it was in one of the more run-down areas of Miami. Trudy and Gina were providing backup out front in their usual guises while Stan Switek provided what he had referred to as the electronic play by play.

"OK, we're up and running. Sonny and Rico are with Archie now." Switek carefully watched his monitor as the two detectives met with the steroid dealer.

"Got it." Gina nodded at her partner as she spoke into her mike. "Everybody stand by."

Inside the motel room, Archie was haggling with Sonny and Rico over the terms of their "Deal." Archie was a slightly overweight man in his late forties who claimed to have tried out for the Dolphins back in the Seventies. "So, from what our mutual friend Mr. Moreno tells me, you guys are the ones to go to when it comes to dealing quality product in this town." Archie burped and took a swig of beer.

"If you've got the good, we can deliver," Sonny reassured him. "Of course, we'll need to see the cash…then we can do business." Sonny meaningfully patted the briefcase they'd brought with him that contained "Samples" from the police crime lab.

Archie nodded and reached into a duffle bag-but came up with a semiautomatic pistol instead of the expected cash. "You guys didn't think I was dumb enough to go into business with someone else, did you? I've always been a one-man show…"

"Get down!" Sonny and Rico dove for cover behind a couch as Archie started to fire-and was then thrown back against the wall by a sniper's bullet.

As Archie's body slumped to the floor, uniformed police officers followed by Gina and Trudy rushed in. "You got him, Zito," Gina said through her mike. "Good shot."

"You can say that again," Crockett said as he and Tubbs both looked at Archie. "So much for your steroid business, pal," he said softly.

Some time later, Sonny and Rico were back at the Mitchell residence. "Part of me knew that Joey was into early on-I just didn't want to admit it." Jason shook his head. "Joey was always a hero to me."

"He still can be," Rico said. "What's important is to try and remember the good that was there before the bad took over."

"Yeah, Joey always had a big heart. That never changed." Jason shook Rico and Sonny's hands. "Thanks. Maybe now my brother can be at peace."

"At least his dealer won't be selling any more of that junk to other kids." Sonny patted Jason on the shoulder. "Take care, man-and remember us when you start winning Superbowls!"

"Didn't you once want to try out for the Dolphins?" Rico asked as they climbed into Sonny's white Ferrari and drove off.

"Yeah, but I wound up being a cop instead…what the hell. I'd probably have wound up doing TV commercials anyway."

Rico laughed. "You on TV-now that would be something to see!"

Sonny's laughter echoed along with his as they drove off into the Florida sunset.

THE END