Incident at Black Rock by WaltD (G, Wildcard)
Title: Incident at Black Rock
Prompt: Nick, LaCroix, Janette; Killing never solves anything, but it keeps people out of your, hair while you think about what to do
Summary: A robbery and murder in Toronto prompts memories of an earlier incident to Nick.
The characters in Forever Knight were created by James Parriott and Barney Cohen and are the property of Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star.
She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Just-a 5'9, beautiful, tall
- Long Cool Woman, the Hollies
At the 96th Division, Nick had just walked into the bullpen:
Captain Cohen called out to Nick from her office, "Detective Knight! Please come in here."
Nick thought, Oh, oh, now what? He entered her office with some trepidation. He gave the Captain a quizzical look.
"Oh, don't worry, it's nothing serious, I just needed your attention. There has been a break-in at this club you frequent, the Raven? I believe you know the owner. A dead body has been found in the basement. Dr. Lambert will meet you there. Let me know what you find out."
Nick came into the Raven and straight over to Janette DuCharme, the owner-operator of the tavern/bar/vampire oasis.
"Nichola'," she turned and spoke to him, "I do not need this. I've had to hustle everyone out of the basement rooms and half of them are still upstairs." Janette offered her special patrons (i.e., the vampires) small rooms in the Raven's lower floors.
"What happened, Janette? It isn't like you to call the police."
"Oh, my dear, if *I* had had anything to do with it . . . . It's that damned new alarm system. These thugs broke through one of the basement walls and set off the alarms. It was all I could do to get the refugees out of the way before policemen, and firemen, and EMT persons began showing up."
Janette led Nick to the basement stairs and they walked down together as she continued to fill him in. "I believe they were trying to break out of one of the city's underground service tunnels and mistakenly broke into my space. I am going to have to have those walls re-enforced. Here," and she pointed out the body lying on the floor next to the open hole in the wall.
Natalie Lambert, the night-shift coroner, had already arrived and was examining the body.
"I have already given a statement," Janette said coolly, "and I will leave you in the good hands of your friend, the doctor".
Natalie looked up from the floor, "Your friend doesn't seem to be too pleased at the intrusion to her premises."
"No, she wouldn't be. Janette has very specific ideas about her rights. But, what happened here?"
Natalie stood up, finished jotting down some notes on her notebook, "It's not an accident; he was shot in the head. Murder definitely. And, apparently involved in something: note the jumpsuit and tool-belt. No idea about what he was up to, but somebody else didn't like what he was doing. It wouldn't have been . . . ."
"Uh, no. If Janette, or one of her 'tenants', had done this, they wouldn't have used bullets and we'd never have heard about it. The alarm would've been put down to a glitch in the wiring. Doesn't look like there's much to go on here, any idea where the tunnels lead?"
"You're asking me? No offense, but that's way out of my line of work. Check with the constables, they've been going in and out of the opening since I got here. By the way, where's Schanke?"
"Vacation. Myra finally conned him into going whale watching." Nick chuckled.
Nick looked over at the constables, chose the one with the most dust on him figuring that he had been in the tunnels connecting the basement of the Raven with wherever they led. He looked at the man's badge, "Hey, Dedricksen, where do these things lead?"
At the Division:
"Hi, Cap," Nick said, and quickly corrected himself, "Uh, Captain." Amanda Cohen was not the type to appreciate the informality of "Hi, Cap!" Nick quickly continued, "Not much to go on. There were more than a couple of persons in the tunnels, Officer Dedricksen and some of the others are tracking down where they may have come from."
Captain Cohen said, "I have some information on that, Knight. Two blocks over and three blocks down, a high-end jewelry store. Its vaults were broken into. The crew seems to think that by coming up out of the underground a few blocks away that they'd be able to get away clean. It seems they were right except for the detour into your friend's basement. Robbery will have prints and other forensics for us as soon as possible, but we aren't the priority here. The homicide would seem to be unrelated, but check it out."
"Perhaps a falling out for having wasted the time to break into an enclosed basement," Nick offered.
"Could be. Let's see if we can get any names from the fingerprints at the robbery scene. Did Natalie find anything useful?"
"No. Just the standard stuff."
[The interior of a minivan – the van was stopped on a dark floor of a seemingly deserted parking garage – it was very quiet outside the van.]
"Did you have to kill him, Bobby? You know I hate that."
"Perhaps, kiddo, but it was that or he would have set off more alarms and cut our get-away time even more. I still say that we're in a tight spot. We need to get out of the city, not hole up in some warehouse. Besides, I was hungry and wanted to get home."
Jimmy raised his eyebrows towards the ceiling.
"Now, stop complaining," Bobby said, "I bought us a little time; they're going to be tied up finding out who your friend Pete was. While they're distracted with that, try to use what little time we have constructively and see if you can get us out of here."
"Yeah, but geez, did you have . . .." Jimmy stopped short after seeing his friend's expression. Some things are better off left unsaid.
"He was my cell-mate, I liked him."
Bobby said, "He was a klutz. Maybe I ought to shoot you, too. They'll track you down soon enough to ask about him, and if your alibi ain't fixed, they'll be right after me." Bobby was looking like he was contemplating lifting his gun, pointing at his 'friend', and getting it over with.
Jimmy opened the van's side door and jumped out, "Maybe we can disguise this thing, and just drive off? We can take the decals off anyway," and he started pulling the magnetically applied signs from the sides of the van. He was sweating. It wasn't that hot.
Two officers from the Robbery division were in Cohen's office when Nick got back to the station house.
"Ah, Nick, we may have some answers here," Captain Cohen said.
Nick came into the office, and nodded to the two gentlemen.
The first said, "We identified the dead man. He was partners with a couple of other felons, and a couple of mean ones they are."
"Your victim – if that's the word," said the other detective, "– was Peter Fortescu, a known safe-man. He and two of his acquaintances pulled off the jewelry heist but apparently got lost in the underground tunnel system. We suspect that one of his pals shot him for getting them lost in the tunnels. And, maybe, to shut him up. Won't make much difference when it comes to trial. Testimony would've been nice, but you go with what you got, right?"
Nick nodded, and Captain Cohen said, "Thank you, gentlemen. We appreciate your sharing. I'll have Doctor Lambert send over the ballistics."
The officers left her office and she turned to Nick, "This was too simple, I think. Do you have any ideas about what actually happened?"
"I think it happened exactly as they suggested, Captain. I don't know how they got all that lost underground. It does seem strange, though."
"You don't think that perhaps your friend, the owner might not be involved somehow?"
Nick looked at the Captain thoughtfully for a minute, "I've known Ms. DuCharme for sometime now. She is scrupulous in following the law. Besides, if the rumors are true, it would have been more likely that they were trying to break into the Raven to steal her jewels. I understand she has a few very nice pieces."
Captain Cohen said, "I'm sure you do know. Are you certain she didn't have anything to do with it, or the man's death?"
"Captain, I can vouch for her. She has no need of robbery. Her assets are substantial. From what I know, she could have bought the jewelers outright. It certainly would have been less hassle."
"I'm concerned about finding the man dead in her basement."
"Captain, I assure you if Janette – uh, Ms. DuCharme - had wanted to, she could have quite easily restrained the men breaking in."
"You know this, hmmm?"
"Ah," he smiled, "Yes. She wouldn't have needed to shoot them. She has, um, considerable resources to call upon."
"A nice, diplomatic way of putting it, detective."
"I can interview her officially if you would like," Nick offered.
"Just to dot all the I's and cross all the T's, that might be nice. And just be sure that is all you do." She smiled knowingly at Nick.
At the Raven:
"So, Nichola'. You have to interrogate me, no? Will you put the screws to my thumbs?" Janette said to him, looking at him the way that only old lovers do.
"Janette! This is serious. *I* know you wouldn't have shot the man. There's a small suspicion that you may have been behind, that *you* were the instigator of, the jewelry store robbery."
"Ha-ha-ha-ha, oh, Nichola'," she laughed knowingly while holding herself closer to him, "you know me better than that."
"I do, Janette," he said, putting his arms around her, "but they don't."
She pushed him away and turned from him. "Do you seriously believe that I would rob that store then shoot the man?" she said petulantly.
"Of course not," he said pulling her back to him, "you wouldn't have shot him, would you?"
"Kill him, yes," she licked her lips. "How dare he break in here, but 'shoot', no."
They broke their embrace. Nick said, "However, it is interesting that they should have tried to break in here."
Back at the Division:
"Detective Knight," Captain Cohen called out to him, "they caught the two clowns who robbed the jewelers. They were caught in one of the downtown parking buildings near the store. They were slugging it out with each other. The 'smarter' of the two has lawyered up – Thank the Americans for 'Miranda' warnings –", she shook her head, "anyway, they were advised that the crown would take down anything they said and use it against them.
"The other is singing a full concerto. He's terrified of the other man, wants any deal he can get so that he doesn't end up in the same prison. His friend shot Fortescu because he broke into the Raven's basement trying to find a way out of the tunnels."
Nick shook his head this time. "Do they take stupid pills before they pull one of these heists?" he asked.
"Sometimes, I think so. Anyway, this leaves your friend, Ms DuCharme, off the hook."
"I'll be sure to let her know that, Captain. Thank you," Nick replied.
Back at the Raven:
Sitting together at a table in the back, in a quiet, dark corner.
"You know," Nick said, "it was a possibility from the police point of view that you had hired the men to rob the store. No, no. Now, it is conceivable. They knew they didn't have anything to go on, so that's why you weren't questioned."
"How sweet of you, Nichola', to defend me so," said Janette.
"On the other hand, Janette, you could have killed him just to delay things and give you time to come up with a reasonable explanation. It would have given you time to think."
"Ha-ha-ha-ha, oh, Nichola', it would have given me time to remove my charges from the building. You make me laugh though. It's one of your endearing qualities. But as you say, I would not have 'shot' him, and I have no need of stealing jewels."
Nick thought to himself, it's not like we haven't killed before to delay things.
Incident at Black Rock Crossing
[Previously, (see the FK episode, "Father's Day") Nick had run away from LaCroix. Janette had arranged for Nick to be smuggled from France into Canada, where Don Constantine had helped him to get to Los Angeles. LaCroix had forced Janette to tell him what had happened, and he and she had followed Nick to the New World and traced him, via Constantine, to L.A. The trio are returning eastward by train.]
And I can't wait to get on the road again.
On the road again
- 'On the Road Again' - Willie Nelson
[The interior of a train mail car, the last car in the long row – the train has stopped in the middle of nowhere – there is considerable noise outside.]
"Did you have to kill him, LaCroix? You know I hate that."
"Perhaps, mon cher, but look at him, he is obviously a member of the gang outside and not a typical clerk. His clothes indicate that clearly. It was that or he would have raised the alarm and called attention to our, may I say, somewhat tight spot? Besides, I was a bit hungry and wanted a nosh."
Nick raised his eyebrows towards the ceiling.
"Now," LaCroix said, "stop complaining, I have bought us a little time. Use it constructively and see what you can come up with to get us out of here."
"Here" was in the mail car of the east-bound train the trio - Janette was with them – was taking from Los Angeles to Chicago. They had taken refuge in the mail car when the train had been stopped by Arizona bandits. Nick thought that sort of thing had stopped in the late 1890s, but things hadn't seemed to have improved by the early jazz age.
"I thought this sort of thing ended when all these places became provinces, states, whatever they are called in this god-forsaken place," Janette complained. She added, "Why do we not just hypnotize them, LaCroix?"
"Too many," Nick replied.
"I can answer for myself, Nicholas," LaCroix said, and he turned to Janette and said, "Too many, my dear." Nick just frowned with an exasperated expression on his face.
"LaCroix, we could just open a window or the trap door on the roof and fly out."
"We could, Nicholas, but, it will be dawn soon and it would be preferable to retire to our state room for the day."
Janette added, "Hah! Little closets, they are. Besides, all our things are there, we would have to replace everything. I am so tired of doing that. I swear one of these days I am going to stop travelling period. Settle down and buy a tavern – if I keep the lights low, I can stay there thirty years before having to move on."
Nick was pacing back and forth, "Is there anyway we can get a count of them? Know how many we have to deal with? Oh, doesn't matter. Janette, you stand in the doorway and entice one of the robbers in. LaCroix, you stand behind her and whammy him as soon as he gets to the door. With your voice it should be easy. I'll stand on the other side and conk 'em if the whammy doesn't work."
LaCroix looked askance at Nick, "Why do I think this is improvisation?"
"Oh, like I picked the train 'cause I thought it was going to be robbed?"
"Why," complained Janette, "must I act the whore?"
"Oh, Janette," Nick said, "please! You're much prettier than I am and more likely to attract their attention and distract them long enough for LaCroix and me to do something."
"He has you there, my dear," LaCroix said to Janette. He had a bemused look on his face.
"Per'aps, so", she replied, "but I do not like it." She did not have a bemused look.
Nick bent over the hapless mail clerk LaCroix had so unceremoniously dispatched earlier and took a knife disfiguring the dead man's neck. To Janette, he said, "Janette, hide behind the crates over there". To LaCroix: "We blame the clerk's death on the robbers." There were three of them on the floor. The whammying had worked on each, Nick thanked, well, perhaps, not 'goodness', but whoever one thanks in situations like these. "If we're lucky we can sneak Janette back into her room, she can tell the authorities that she locked the door and wouldn't come out."
"Well, all right. Should I faint for the 'lawmen' as well, Nichola'?" she said irritated.
Nick interrupted with, "That might be a good idea." Janette turned and stalked away the three feet which the confined space allowed her. "The less they question us, they less we have to deal with, the better. Better yet, LaCroix, you escort her back to her room to deal with her 'vapors' and hold her sweet, little, Victorian hand – that'll get you both out of the way, and the upcoming sun."
LaCroix said, "You know how I hate hiding out, Nicholas. Especially when there are things to be done. Is this the best you can come up with?"
"What, LaCroix? What can we do? There's still a half dozen people out there who may be shooting or looking for suspects; the marshals could very easily take us in for statements which could last till well after sunrise. Oh, I know, you're so good at hypnotizing mortals, YOU stay and talk to them and I'll escort milady to her suite."
Janette put her arm through his and smiled at that, "I like that plan much more, mon cher. You are, of course, correct that LaCroix is more capable at hypnotizing than you are, but also, he has a background of command where they will obey just because he has much authority. You have," and she looked at 'Nichola' seductively, "other talents."
LaCroix didn't say anything, but one could see that he not only agreed with her, but was pleased with her comment. She continued with, "Contentment, if I am the weak, little, Victorian waif, I shall need the consolation of a young, 'andsome, man." She gave Nick another of her most sultry looks. Fortunately a marshal came into the mail-car at that moment or otherwise Nick might have gone up in smoke over the intensity of her gaze, let alone any impending sunlight.
LaCroix took control, "Ah, gentlemen", and he explained how they had run into the mail-car when they realized the train was being stopped and robbed, then they had lured several of the thugs into the car one-by-one and fortunately for all concerned the constabulary had arrived in time to chase off the remainder of the hooligans, etc., etc.
Janette murmured to Nick, "I think I do not need to hide behind the crates nor do I faint?" while she poked him in the ribs.
LaCroix nodded at them and asked the lawman, "Let my son take my daughter to her room, sir. It's been a fearful and tiring ordeal for her. My son will know how to keep her calm and composed."
Later, after their statements had been given, and the marshals convinced, one way or another, that there was nothing more to be gained from talking to them, and that it would certainly be so unfair to detain such a pretty lady and her entourage a moment longer than was necessary, Janette said to her two companions, "You know I do not like playing the helpless female."
Nick said, "But you do it so well –" She hit him with something heavy; he didn't see what it was. LaCroix laughed.
Nick added, "You still could have just whammied the clerk."
"I told you, Nicholas," LaCroix said, "I was hungry anyway, and there wasn't time."
Coming back to the Present:
He smiled at her, "You're absolutely right. However, it does put the place on the radar, mon cher. And you want as little attention as possible. We know that your involvement is an unreasonable assumption, but some may have made it. And even though nothing came of it this time – well, it's in their heads now, and there are too many to whammy.
"Still, there is another possibility," Nick added quietly but firmly.
"You have a number of very nice and very valuable pieces of your own. You don't think they may have been thinking of 'shaking you down'?, I think that's the expression."
"They would be most foolish to try such a thing. The alarm going off scared them away, which is what saved their miserable lives. Had my 'guests' had a minute more time, the two remaining burglars would have been someone's justified lunch!" she said with some heat.
"Truly, Nichola', it would have been to my advantage to kill these burglars. It would have given me time to clean up, remove any evidence of a break-in, call the alarm company to report a malfunction in the system, and then, you know, I would never have bothered with your police."
"True enough. But, you aren't sufficiently suspicious, my sweet," Nick continued. "Someone could have put them up to it, you know."
"But who would do such a thing?"
"None of the vampire regulars. I'd like to think that over the years we've learned the true value of such baubles. One of the humans then. Have there been any new people coming in?"
"Oh, Nichola', there are always new people. Some lost, some out of place, some seeking a new thrill. It's interesting to give them that thrill once in a while if one can constrain one's self and not take too much, and, of course, modify a memory."
Nick told her, "It wouldn't hurt to beef up your security a bit more."
"Ah, well, I can see that I might need a little help with that, monsieur. Do you know anyone who could help a poor, simple, single lady with such intricate and complicated matters? I'm sure I could show some proper appreciation." She glowed in his direction. Had he been even a bit closer to his goal of becoming human again, he'd have broken out in a sweat. Janette licked her lips. She stood in front of him, looking up at him.
"Are you trying to bribe me, Janette?"
She intertwined her arms with his.