Blood Red Moon
The entire restaurant joined in the toast, as the table of 5 tossed back the individual shots of Ouzo. It was literally liquid fire, 46% proof alcohol distilled from grapes, anise seeds and berries and it was a must for anyone dining at Nico's, the traditional Greek restaurant just blocks from CBI HQ in downtown Sacramento. The restaurant owner, Kostas Tsekouras, watched the agents from his place behind the bar and smiled to himself. They were regular customers, these CBI folks. He watched them every time, had become familiar with their ways, their personalities, their tastes. He was a restauranteur. It was his job to keep them happy and therefore, coming back.
He watched as they downed the after-dinner shots, and he studied their reactions. The Asian man squinted his eyes as the liquor hit, broke into a sweat and shook his head, but kept it down. He was the designated driver, Kostas could tell. It was his first taste of alcohol all night. His loss. He was predictable in his dining, preferring to order the moussaka every time. A man of routine and integrity and patience.
The big, burly man downed the Ouzo in one shot as well and banged his fist on the table several times, but Kostas could tell he liked it He had a huge appetite, that one, ordering 3 lamb gyros this time, and finishing with the baklava. A man of strength, appetites and passion. He loved the red-haired woman, Kostas could tell. Kostas was also a man of passion. He understood the burly man well.
The red-haired woman gasped as the Ouzo burned its way down her lovely throat. She laughed until her eyes watered, and the burly man seemed naturally attentive to her distress, passing her his glass of Coke to wash the fire down. She was a beauty, but no shrinking violet, and she always tried something different on the menu, frequently the chef's special. Tonight it had been the yemista with a salad. She had an appetite too, but was conscious of her shape. Kostas could appreciate that.
The smaller woman handled her shot very well, her green eyes growing large as the liquid hit her tongue, but she fought the urge to gulp down her ice water, and Kostas could tell she was a tough little thing, probably as stubborn as a Greek, and he liked her for it. She was frequently the designated driver, not given to much drinking. That meant she was strong willed and self-controlled, probably the boss. Kostas smiled to himself. The small ones in life were often the toughest. He admired strong women.
The blond man was another story entirely.
He had put away a Scotch before dinner, two and a half glasses of dry red Aegean wine and was responsible for ordering this round of Ouzo in the first place. He had also ordered appetizers to share with the entire table, and had beamed when they had picked and tasted and enjoyed everything he had provided. He also usually varied his menu, choosing the Htapothi sti skhara tonight, the grilled octopus, and Kostas noticed that while he enjoyed sharing his meal with the others, he also more often enjoyed making them uncomfortable, slurping up the tentacles and suckers tonight with great zeal. The last time, it had been the kokoretsi, the seasoned lamb innards, which he had gone into great length to dissect and discuss. He was frequently here late at night at the bar, alone, watching people and drinking and talking to the waiters, but the only thing Kostas knew was that his name was Patrick. He was, as they said in Greek, a closed book.
The man named Patrick turned to throw a wink at Kostas, so the owner reached for 5 new glasses and the Ouzo bottle began to pour out a second round when he heard the sound of a cell phone ringing. The tough little woman with the great green eyes sighed and rose from the table, swaying a bit as the Ouzo worked its magic, but she shook off the blond man's hand as he reached to steady her. Kostas grinned. They were in the dance, he knew. Advance, retreat, parry, strike. Neither was pursuing, both waiting for the other to make the first move, defensive and wary but willing, and Kostas shook his head. That was not the Greek way. She would be having his baby by now, if they were Greek.
The small woman came back to the table, spoke to the group and three of them let out a long drawn out groan. Kostas could tell they had just finished work, but were being called back. They were CBI agents, after all. Something bad had just happened, somewhere in California. He watched them stand, watched the burly man take the red-haired woman's elbow and together, the four of them headed for the door.
The blond man turned and strolled over to the bar.
"Thank you, Kostas. That was a wonderful meal." He pulled out several large bills from his wallet. "I especially enjoyed the octopus."
Kostas smiled. "You enjoy many strange things, Mr. Patrick. I'm sorry you did not get to enjoy your second round." He pocketed the bills, not bothering to check. The man was always more than generous.
"Ah, well." He pulled out another large bill, passed it discreetly into Kostas' hand. "Make it one for the house."
"Thank you, sir. We shall see you again soon?"
"I do hope so. You never know. Good night." And he too turned and strolled for the door.
Kostas smiled again, pulled out many more glasses, and began to pour.
They'd had time only to stop back at the CBI HQ to grab perpetually-packed overnight bags from their lockers and barely made it to the airport by midnight. It was a Red Eye flight to San Francisco, full of course, and they were scattered across the plane, Cho at one of the emergency exits, Van Pelt and Lisbon two rows behind, and Jane seated next to Rigsby across the aisle, yet another row back. The lights were dimmed, the Ouzo still strong in their veins, and the only thing on anyone's mind that late at night was sleep.
Except of course, for Patrick Jane.
He tried to be quiet, really he did. He had ordered another Scotch, hoping the extra liquor and the hum of the engine might just lull him off to sleep. He had brought his advanced Sudoku book, the Kakuro, and had burned through the puzzles at lightning speed. He'd read the in-flight magazines, did the LA Times crossword, all the while listening to Mozart's Requiem on the in-flight headphones, but all of that had only taken him just over an hour. They still had another to go. He glanced over at the women, then turned his gaze on Rigsby.
The man was snoring softly, head inclined in Jane's direction. Jane tapped him on the shoulder.
"Rigsby, wake up."
"What? Who? Mom? What?" Hazel eyes fluttered open.
"Wanna see a magic trick?"
"Wanna see a magic trick?"
Rigsby looked around the dark interior of the plane. "You…you woke me up to show me a magic trick?"
"Yeah. Wanna see it?"
He grunted, rolled his eyes. "No, I don't wanna see a magic trick. I wanna go back to sleep."
Jane grinned. "Come on. It'll be fun. You'll like it. Do you have five dollars?"
"What?" Now Rigsby was fully awake, and irritable. Like a bear. "No way! I'm not giving you five dollars!"
A little white head bobbed in the seat in front, and turned to shush them both.
"Come on," insisted Jane. "It's part of the trick. Take out a five dollar bill and write a wish on it right now."
"Yes. A wish."
Rigsby stared at him for a long moment. "You're whacked, you know that?" But he did reach into his pocket and pull out a fiver. Jane handed him a pen.
"Okay, don't let me see. But write your wish down across the top."
"I wish to go back to sleep," Rigsby mumbled, but the slow growing grin on his face said otherwise. "There. Done."
"Good. Now fold it in half, and in half again."
Rigsby did as he was told.
"Now give it to me."
The big man looked up skeptically.
"I told you, it's part of the trick. No moolah, no magic. Hand it over, Greenspan."
The fiver passed into Jane's fingers, and quickly disappeared into his suit pocket.
Jane leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes.
"That's not funny," growled Rigsby.
"Ah ah." Jane held up a hand. "Three, two, one, go…"
And from the row ahead and across the aisle, Grace Van Pelt rose out of her seat and disappeared down the corridor to the washroom. Jane opened his eyes.
"Abracadabra," he grinned as he slipped out of his seat and into Van Pelt's across the aisle, next to Lisbon.
Rigsby leaned back in his seat and smiled. On the top of the five dollar bill, he had written: "I wish I could sit next to Grace, not you." The flight was packed. When Van Pelt returned, he would get his wish. Magic.
Patrick Jane nudged Teresa Lisbon.
"Wanna see a magic trick?"
One green eye opened.
They had only one hour left before they landed in San Francisco, but it was going to be a very long hour indeed…
End of chapter 1