After another successfully solved case, the district attorney J.L. Mc Cabe invites his assistances Jake and Derek to a little private party…but the evening takes an uninspected twist.
District attorney J.L. Mc Cabe was able to carry another big success into his book of spectacular solved cases. Happily whistling he made his way back from the court to his office. In his wake, his best detective Jake Styles and Derek Mitchell who would be his replacement as soon as Mc Cabe would decide to retire.
"What the hell is wrong with both of you? You nearly fall asleep while going!" Mc Cabe grunted.
"Can it really be true that two young fellows like you, full of sap, are creeping after an old man like me? It looks like you both are shortly before retirement! Come on, I'll invite you to 'Ollie's' to mark the occasion! How does it sound?"
"Well, it sounds as if you are shortly before dying from hunger J.L.", Jake answered with an innocent look.
"That would explain your brisk pace…normally it is YOU, who trots after us!" Styles added.
"You are kind of cheeky, Jake!" The heavy weighting man countered. "But to be honest, I am nearly starving!"
"And I am dying from tiredness, now that we talk about honesty!" Jake answered sluggishly and yawned loudly.
"Tired? From what are you tired anyway? Did you pull an all-nighter again? You should really try to organize your chaotic private life, Styles", Mc Cabe countered with an evil grin on his face.
"What are you talking about? I even don't know what a private live is!" Jake complained.
"I spent the last five nights to chase the guy you brought behind bars today! Without Derek's computer investigations and my irrelevant investigations, you wouldn't stand here today as the shining star! I think Derek and I deserve a few leaves of your Victory Laurel's! Don't you feel the same?"
"I agree – for once – Jake and therefore you and Derek are invited for dinner tonight!" J.L. answered.
"Derek, would you just participate the conversation or are you dumb? Normally you are chattering like a goose!" Mc Cabe teased the young blonde.
"Well Sir, this is very generous of you and I am really overwhelmed and kind of speechless, Mister Mc Cabe, Sir!"
"Oh, thank you Derek. That is really music to my ears and balm for my maltreated soul! Jake, you should follow Derek's example and treat me with more kindness!"
"I would prefer a few days off J.L." Styles answered. "Believe me I would sleep around the clock and…
"Holidays, I don't want to hear a further word about holidays, Jake! You had a few days off recently!" Mc Cabe clattered.
"Sorry? My last holiday is nine month ago, J.L.!" The dark haired investigator answered.
"You must be wrong Jake. I remember it as if it was yesterday. You visited your family because your sister got married and you unnecessarily had to play the best man! When I only think of the wimp who acted in your place, my blood starts to boil!"
"J.L., my sister got married two years ago. Nine months ago my nice has been christened and that was definitely my last holiday!"
"Anyway, we have lots of unsolved cases und holidays are canceled until further notice! If you gentlemen would get a move on now! Max has been alone in the office far too long and as much as I know him, is totally starved out as well. I hope he didn't nibble at the furniture again! Hurry up now!"
In front of Mc Cabes office, they met a man, obviously an employee of the cleaning company that was engaged to do the office every day.
"Good evening!" Mc Cabe greeted him, unusually cheerful.
The man looked up startled and murmured: "Um yes, good evening Sir."
"Have we met before?" Mc Cabe wanted to know.
"Oh no, Sir…it's my first day…today. I substitute a colleague who suddenly fell ill." The man answered hastily.
"Oh, that is very laudable. I wish there were more people of your kind! Are you done with my office?"
The man only nodded, not looking up.
"That's good…MAAX…MAAAX…come over here! Max is my dog but you already met him?" J.L. asked the man.
"Oh yes Sir. He is really an extraordinarily nice dog!"
This comment raised Jake's hackles and set his antennae quivering. Something in this scenario was shady… really rotten. There was a lot to say about Max but he wasn't definitely a beauty! This guy couldn't have seen him in the flesh! Consequently he could not have been in J.L.'s office…so he wasn't a thief but surely not an employee of the cleaning company as well.
Jake's brain operated at full stretch. Within seconds he realized the true intention of this guy…
Pulling his weapon out of the waistband of his trousers, the young investigator launched himself on Mc Cabe and shouted: "Get down everybody!"
Two shoots nearly simultaneously rang out and the assassin silently went down.
Jake pulled himself together and dove headlong over the guy and kicked away his weapon as far as he could.
For a fraction of seconds there was not a sound to be heard…then the employees of Mc Cabe's office dared to leave their shelter.
Mc Cabe was the first one who regained his composure and he asked with a quivering voice: "Somebody hurt?"
Derek stood there horrified, his back pressed at the wall…numb and white-faced.
Lizzy, Mc Cabe's secretary crept out from under her table sobbing silently.
Two policemen who had seek refuge in the small coffee kitchen stood in the doorframe not able to realize what just had happened.
The only one who didn't move was Jake. The young man lay on his side next to the assassin, his own weapon still in his hand.
J.L. felt the panic raising in his body and knelt down next to his investigator. The older man carefully rolled the young investigator onto his back. Then Mc Cabe took the weapon out of Jakes trembling hand and put it aside.
Style's eyes were close. He was pale as death and sweat dripped off his forehead.
"Jake…what's wrong? Are you hurting…did he hit you? He didn't hit you?"Mc Cabe asked with a strange voice. Then he turned around and shouted towards the two policemen: "Bring this bastard out of here!" He nodded into the direction of the obviously death man half under Jake's body.
The policemen did what the district attorney had told them and brought the body into another room.
"J.L….are…you okay?" Derek…the other's…?" Styles whispered.
"We are all doing well. Where did he hit you Jake?" Mc Cabe carefully moved Jake's jacket aside and unbuttoned the younger mans blood soaked shirt with trembling hands.
An ugly, massively bleeding wound hit Mc Cabes panic button.
"Good Lord! Jake…"he said nearly inaudible. Then he yelled; "Call an ambulance, immediately!"
Lizzy hurried straight to the next phone and did what her boss had ordered. The others slowly retired from their fearful rigor and gathered around the two men on the floor.
"Derek look if you can find some towels and brig them here! Don't look at me that way…just do what I told you!" Mc Cabe gave Mitchell a sharp look.
Styles groaned in pain and the district attorney immediately rivet on the injured man.
"Jake, help is on the way. You have to hang on a little longer. Do you hear me?" The older man squeezed his detective's hand.
"J.L…I'm not feeling so hot…it hurts and…and I'm a little…dizzy"
"Jake, you lost some blood but you have to stay awake!"
"I am…cold J.L."Mc Cabe pulled of his Jacket and spread it over the injured man.
"Is it better now Jake?"
Styles nodded and closed his eyes.
"Jake, listen…you are not allowed to sleep! Not now!" Mc Cabe patted Jakes cheek. "Derek, what the hell takes you so long to bring these goddamned towels?"
Mitchell was immediately on site – still pale but Mc Cabe knew that there wasn't the right time for pity – not for Derek and especially not for Jake.
"Press the towels against the wound on his flank as strong as you can. The stronger the better! Derek do you understand me?"
The blond nodded and followed Mc Cabe's order. But this activity brought out loud protests from Styles and the injured man tried with astonishing force to keep Derek away from torturing him.
"Jake…please. We have to stop the bleeding! I know it hurts but I have to do it!" Mitchell patted Jakes hand.
"Can you do…me a …favor?"Styles whispered exhausted.
"Just ask kid."
"Can…you…sent them all…away? It's…awfully…awkward…" Jake moaned.
"Leave the room…all of you! What are you waiting for…go out! Stop Derek, you stay here! Where the hell is the ambulance…they should already be here!"
"Jake, don't talk…you have to save your power", J.L. tried to calm down the hurting man.
"J.L….please! It's important!" Jake answered weakly. "Do you remember…George Carlysle?"
"Oh yes, how could I ever forget him? What are you driving at son? Carlysle is right where he belongs to – behind bars, for the rest of his life! He will never rape or kill again!"
"I…I….set him…up…not legally" Jake opened his eyes and tried to focus on J.L. Then he turned his head to Derek.
"Forgive me…that I involved you…I'm…sorry"
"Don't…"Mitchell's eyes were filled with tears and he squeezed the hand of the wounded man.
"Jake listen, it was my decision to help you to arrest him. I have taken it of my own free will and I would do it again without hesitation. We wanted to take him off the streets and that is exactly what we did!"
"J.L…you have to promise… that Derek won't….have difficulties…"Styles stared at Mc Cabe with glassy eyes.
"Calm down Jake, nobody will have difficulties. Carlyse is issued with a final sentence. Sometimes the end justifies the means and I am proud that you did what you did…you and Derek."
Jake closed his eyes again. He felt dizzy and kind of weightless but then he suddenly remembered.
"Boss…just in case…that I don't…make it….I hadn't…time to pay my…telephone bill…in my…car…glove…box…"
Mc Cabe was aware that Jake was not far away from losing consciousness and his last plea gave him the chance to keep him awake.
"Damned Jake, what kind of payment moral is that anyway? I am ashamed… what will the others think if my best investigator doesn't pay his bills? And how the hell shall I reach you around the clock when your phone is out of order because you haven't paid the bill?" Mc Cabe shook his heavy head.
"That's the first thing on my list of priorities as soon as you are out of here…I go and pay it …tomorrow morning, first thing!" J.L. answered with tear filled voice.
Jake gathered all his strengths and stared at his boss: "Forget…the stupid…bill…I'm going to lose…my mind…does he hit…my head…as well?" He murmured.
"Fortunately not", Mc Cabe whispered. "Now try to rest, I hear the sirens son."
Only a few minutes later the paramedics arrived and while they supplied the injured man with oxygen and infusions, Derek helped his boss up from the floor.
"I go with him!" Mc Cabe snorted as the paramedics had loaded Jake on a stretcher.
"I am sorry Sir but we have strict regulations. By the way we can't afford to lose precious time. We bring him to the L.A. County!" With these words they carried the injured man out of the office at a run.
"Derek, you are driving!" Mc Cabe ordered after he had regained a small amount of his usual statehood.
When Mitchell and Mc Cabe arrived at the L.A. Community, they had to learn that Jake was already on his way to surgery – that was all that they were told.
"Derek, you go back to the office and try to find out as much as you can about this guy who wanted to kill me…who shot at Jake. As soon as you got something, come back here and make a report."
"Sir…back to the…office…now?"
"Derek do you think you can manage it?"
"Of course Sir! If you have news from Jake, would you call me in the office?"
"You can take it for granted Derek! Now hurry up!"
Mc Cabe heavily fell down on a chair in the unfriendly waiting area – he hated hospitals and he hated the whole situation! Jake injured, Derek totally off his chops and he himself trying to fight a losing battle to convince himself that everything would be okay! Jake…whom he loved like a son, fighting for his bare life…this thought raced through his mind like a racecar on the speedway. Why had Styles risked his young promising life? Just for the glory? Surely not! Just to be in the newspapers and the news? Ridiculous! Just to save the life of a grumpy old man? Unimaginable!
A nice young nurse served him a cup of nasty lukewarm coffee but Mc Cabe was grateful for every distraction.
After two long hours, Derek came back and told his boss about the facts he had found out in the meantime.
"His name was Paul Matthews, a small-time villain. Minor trickeries but he was in prison for fifteen month because of check fraud. I am sorry Sir, but that's all we found out so far. Did you get news about Jake…Sir?"
"They didn't breath a word…I am going nuts Derek!" Mc Cabe answered in sheer despair.
"What does it take so long? They could really send someone out to tell us how he is doing!"
Derek took place next to his boss. It was the first time since the shooting that the young man had the time to collect his wits. He cleared his throat: "Sir, Jake saved your life today…he saved all of our lives Sir! He did not hesitate for a second…I don't know how I would have reacted?"
Mc Cabe shook his head: "Jake really is the only person on earth I know, who acts like that! So selfless and God help me…so goddamned moronic! I am deep in dept to him!"
Both men waited silently for news about the condition of the injured investigator and the minutes creped like in slow motion.
When the heavy door of the surgery finally opened after two more hours, Mc Cabe was shortly before a mental breakdown.
"How is Jake?" He stormed at the doctor driven by the ghosts of his panic.
"He tolerated the surgery quite well…by the way, I am Dr. Jonas!" He extended his hand to Mc Cabe.
"Your detective is a lucky guy! The bullet indeed caused damage to the muscles and the surrounding tissue but luckily it didn't hurt major organs. Mister Styles had lost a lot of blood but everything is under control. With time and rest he will be up on his feet in a few weeks."
Mc Cabe let out a sigh of relief: "Can I see him? I'd like to stay with him!"
"Mister Mc Cabe, I totally understand your concern but he won't be wake up before tomorrow morning and he is in the best hands! Do yourself a favor and go home and try to calm down. I know it was a hard day for all of you. We will inform you as soon as there is the slightest change in his condition…I promise."
"You don't understand Dr. Jonas…Jake saved my life today! I'd like to be there when he wakes up!"
"Okay in this special case, I think I can take the responsibility…follow me."
"Derek, you go home and try to get some sleep. If there is something new, I'll call you!"
Jake shortly woke up twice in the night but he was too befogged from the heavy medication so he nor realized that he was in a hospital, neither the fact that his boss sat beside his bed.
Early in the morning the injured man opened his eyes and looked around in surprise. When he saw Mc Cabe sitting there, he hoarsely whispered: "J.L….what's wrong….what are you doing…here? Did you stay the whole night? You are…looking…awful!"
"Oh I can give this compliment back to you son – without exaggeration!" Mc Cabe answered and tried to keep back the tears of relief. "How are you Jake?"
"You mean on a scale from one to ten?" Jake asked and tried a grin.
"Yes on a scale from one to ten!"
"I had…better days. Let's say 3.5…but the fact that you're here…makes it a four!"
Mc Cabe carefully squeezed the injured man's hand.
"Did you already found out…who the guy was?"
"Only a small time villain Jake but let's talk about it when you are feeling better."
Styles nodded and closed his eyes.
"Why did you do that?"
"I'm really…sorry…I…I didn't want to kill him but…it happened so fast. I didn't want to kill him!" Styles murmured.
"Oh Jake, that's not what I was talking about."
"But now…he cannot tell us…who…who hired him…"
"We will find it out. But why did you throw yourself in the line of fire? You have still got all your life in front of you Jake! You put it at risk for me without hesitation! Why…just tell me why!"
"Oh…J.L…the chance that your replacement could be a…mean, ugly…grumpy…moody slave driver…" Jake closed his eyes again…"made my decision…quite easy!"
"Jake Styles, you are an impertinent guy without respect! Do you know that?"
"That's why we. ..live in such a…harmony, J.L.."
Mc Cabe squeezed the younger man's hand a little tighter: "It looks as if you really like me - a little bit - son."
Styles nodded: "To tell you the truth…I like you…much…very much! Couldn't imagine a life…without you…old…warhorse!"
"Jake…I wish you were my son!"
"Yes…I wish I were…sometimes."Styles whispered nearly inaudible.
"I paid your telephone bill…you remember?"
Jake opened his eyes again: "You know…what? You really don't need…enemies when you have a friend like yours…" then the young investigator closed his eyes and fell into a deep healing sleep.