The corpse, in life, had been a big man, tall, muscular, thick brown hair, full matching beard. He could have stepped straight from an episode of Grizzly Adams. Now in death, laying beneath the tall trees, he was no more than a crumpled piece of rotting meat. His strength, thoughts and strong-will, all gone, leaving a decomposing mess with most of the skull blown clean away by the executioner's bullet.
"One bullet back of the head." The M.E. stated the obvious. She was an elderly woman, small in stature; she had made Lisbon look tall. In normal towns she would have retired a good ten years ago, but this wooded backwater was not big enough to be considered a normal town so the elder woman, who would have looked very at home as a Halloween witch, without the need of makeup, was the M.E. and probably continue to be so until she herself ended up on the autopsy table.
Senior Agent Lisbon sighed deeply, the murder of a backwoodsman, she considered, should have been dealt with by the local police force, not CBI. Unfortunately, for her this backwoodsman had been killed in the playgrounds of a very mouthy council official. A part time hunter who own a lodge somewhere in the vicinity, and did not wish his bambi shooting to be spoilt by the worry that someone might be out to hunt human, hence the phone call she had received that morning informing her that the untimely death of John Barton was her case and please to solve it extremely quickly.
Lisbon looked back down at the mortal remains of John Barton that were stinking up a rather attractive logged space in the otherwise dense forest. She signed again. Normally she would have expected to solve the case pretty quickly except today had to be the day when Jane was refusing to help. She had only mentioned, calmly and quietly to him that her team were fed up of being no more than his stooges, the open mouth members of his private audience to wonder at the magic tricks and be overwhelmed by his amazing abilities. They were all highly trained CBI operatives, quite capable of solving cases and locking up the bad guys without all the showman tricks. He had to involve them in his thought process. To tell them his reasoning behind the sudden comments he made. That was all that was all she was asking, for Jane to involve them instead of pulling the rabbit out of the hat at the end of the show and wait for the applause.
He had not reacted as she had envisaged. She had expected some argument, some frivolous comment about no being able to explain how the tricks work. How his though process did not allow for input from others until he had worked everything out. She had arguments ready for any of these comments, but he had gone down a whole different route. Jane had broken eye contact with her looked briefly down at his shoes then straight back into her eyes again.
"Fine, if that is how you all feel about me…" he said, unsmiling, voice quiet, Lisbon held her breath worried that his resignation might be going to follow, "…then the next case, I'll just observe, you and your highly trained CBI operatives can solve it, I'll be no more than a shadow, a silent shadow." He then turned and left the office only stopping at the open door to add, without looking at her "Unless of course, it's a Red John case, I won't just observe with that murderous bastard."
Lisbon found she had been holding her breath whilst he had spoken and let it out in one long whoosh. The meeting had not gone as she had hoped and expected, she hurried out into the bullpen, Jane was not going to tell her what was going to happened, for god's sake she was his boss.
"Jane." Her voice was sharper than she had meant and the rest of her team stopped working and looked across, waiting. Jane was sitting on his couch, reading. He slowly looked up at her, his eyes humourless.
"You know that's not what I want." Jane shrugged.
"We rarely get what we want Lisbon."
"I want you to behave yourself."
"No Senior Agent Lisbon, you want me to change, to be different to the way I am. You indicated that I am no more than a nuisance most of the time, a reason for extra paperwork. A naughty schoolboy that has to be reigned in. Fine. You are all, as you told me, highly trained operatives, you solved cases before I washed up on your doorstep and I am sure you will solve cases once the tide of the life has swept me back out to sea. So dear Lisbon, next case, I'll observe, just to stop me getting bored, but I'll keep my thoughts to myself." Lisbon felt her temper rising, the rest of the team were openly watching, waiting to see how she would gain the upper hand in this latest argument.
"You wouldn't be able to Jane, your arrogance won't let you keep quiet, as soon as you've come up with a solution you'll need to blab, to show off." Patrick Jane smiled briefly and picked up his discarded book.
"We shall see, Senior Agent Lisbon, if I am capable of keeping my mouth shut, I may surprise you."
"The budget can't cover freeloading passengers, if you aren't going to help we have no use for you." Jane did not put his book down but continued to read.
"I'll pay my own expenses, I'll even chip in with gas money. Just think Lisbon how you'll be able to gloat if I am unable to keep my mouth shut. If you don't include me in the next case, how will you know if I am capable of being a silent shadow." Lisbon next argument was lost with the ringing of the telephone informing her of a murder in the hunting grounds where only deer are suppose to be slaughter.
"So can I haul his carcass out of here or does your CSI fellow need to take more pictures." The elder M.E. was asking. Lisbon nodded her agreement. There hadn't been much in the way of evidence, just blood and a body.
"His names John Barton, lives in a cabin about twenty minutes walk from here, no vehicular route, 31 years old, married, real loner, hardly seen in town." Rigsby started giving Lisbon the information he had gleaned from the local sheriff as soon as he caught Lisbon's attention.
"What does he do to earn a living?"
"Well if you believe the sheriff, he has no friends and no one takes enough notice of him to be considered an enemy."
"Father was the same." Sheriff Gilbert stepped forward, unlike most law enforcement officers, he was not the least put out by CBI taking over his murder case. Sheriff Gilbert was a lazy man and if someone else was going to do the work then he, for one, was not going to bleat about it.
"Father still alive?" Lisbon asked.
"No, old Tom Barton died about ten years back, tree fell on him."
"John's mother disappeared when he was about twelve, gossip thought old Tom maybe killed her and buried her out in these woods somewhere, but the body never been found so…"
"Did you bother looking for her?"
"Was new to the force then, wasn't my place, think the Sheriff back then made a few enquiries, the Bartons don't treat women very well so I expect she just did a moonlight flit."
"If nobody takes any notice of John Barton, how do you know how well or otherwise he treats woman."
"My wife told me."
"Your wife, she some kind of detective?"
"Best sort there is, she uses woman's intuition, and I'm not going to argue with that, if my wife say's the Bartons don't treat women well I, for one, am going to believe her."
"We might want to interview your wife."
"Go ahead, she'll enjoy the opportunity, Agent Lisbon, can I ask you a question?"
"Fire away." Sheriff Gilbert glance across to where Jane was seating on a fallen log.
"What's Blondie's job, he don't seem to be doing a lot."
"Yes, he's our observer."
"So he's getting paid to just watch you, my tax dollars are being wasted on a man in a grey suit who just watches."
"Something like that." Sheriff Gilbert nodded to himself.
"Suppose that was the brainwave of some high up in the government."
"Don't let him worry you Sheriff, 'cause he sure doesn't worry any of us. Now can you take me to meet Mrs Barton, someone had better tell her she's a widow."
"Sure only one problem Agent Lisbon."
"And that is."
"The only way to the Barton cabin is on foot, uphill."
"Well it would be, let me gather my team and you can lead the way." Lisbon walked over to where Jane was sitting on the fallen log - observing.
"What have you observed?"
"There's a dead body, rotting, shot and the sheriff could do with loosing a few pounds."
"Anything that could be useful."
"Ah Lisbon, I'm a silent shadow remember, it is for you and your highly trained operatives to figure out." Lisbon throw her hands up in frustration, she had hoped that once the excitement of a new case had tickled Jane's fancy all the silent shadow nonsense would be conveniently forgotten.
"Have it your way, Rigsby and I are going to interview the widow, would you care to come and observe."
"Does it involve walking?"
"Lots, all up hill and through the woods."
"No, I'll pass."
"Tough, you get to come, a shadow has to follow not go off wandering on its own." Jane slipped off his jacket and rolled his shirt sleeves up.
"Okay, fine, one silent shadow ready and rearing to go."
For a over-weight man Sheriff Gilbert set a fast pace following a well trodden path uphill to the Barton cabin. Lisbon and Rigsby easily kept up, Cho had been left down at the crime scene and Van Pelt was setting up the equipment in the corner of the Deercreek Sheriff's office allocated to the CBI team. Jane fell back slightly, but that was less to do with fitness and more to do with the observations he was making on the way. The Barton cabin had been made by John Barton's grandfather and added to by his father. It sat at the rear of the large cleared area with its back protected by a steep rocky outcrop. There was a line of washing blowing in the light breeze, whilst an unseen dog started to bark a warning of their arrival. Lisbon, Rigsby and the Sheriff began walking across the open grass in the front of the cabin as Jane appeared breathless from the trees. A single rifle shot rang out. All four dropped instantly too the ground.
"Sheriff. Rigsby. You hit?" Lisbon called out, her gun already pointing at the open window where she could see the rifle muzzle.
"I'm fine." Rigsby told her at the same time as the Sheriff confirm he was also in one piece.
"Aileen Barton you put that rifle down, these folks are the police and need to speak to you, urgent like." Sheriff Gilbert shouted as he stood up, leaving his own gun safely in his holster.
He turn to Lisbon. "Its alright Agent Lisbon, if Aileen wanted to hit you, you'd be bleeding, she's one hell of a shot." He turned his attention back to the open window where the rifle, much to Lisbon's relief, had been removed.
"You come out here Aileen and show these folks what a good girl you are." A plank door slowly opened and a girl who looked no more than eighteen stepped out onto the wide veranda, a rifle hanging loosely over her arm.
"John ain't at home Sheriff."
"Yeah I know that Aileen, that's why were here, can we come in and talk to you."
"John don't like me having visitors, 'specially when he ain't at home."
"Please miss, can you put the rifle down." Rigsby shouted. The girl looked quickly across at the tall agent dressed in a dark suit and fear swept across her face, her hand tighten on the rifle. Lisbon recognised the haunted look of a brow beaten woman and put her hands, including the one still holding her glock, in the air.
"Please Aileen, we don't mean you any harm, we need to talk to you about John, I'm sorry to tell you but he's dead."
"Dead. John." The girl turned her head to one side as if it would help her understand the words being said. "You sure, you sure it's John that's dead."
"I'm sure Aileen, took a good look, it's John alright." Sheriff Gilbert confirmed. Aileen Barton smiled and a large teeth-filled grin split her face making her look even younger.
"Well I'll be damn, that calls for a celebration, you folks come on in I got some coffee on and a fresh packet of cookies almost in date." Lisbon and Rigsby exchanged looks of wondered before both staring at the Sheriff.
"Well Agent Lisbon if Aileen's reaction to the news she is now a Widow don't prove my wife was right I don't know what will. Woman's intuition, got to believe in it. Especially…" the Sheriff look across at Rigsby and winked "….if you want a happy marriage."
Patrick Jane was still laying on the soft grass where he had landed when Aileen had fired her rifle. He stared up at the cloudless blue sky trying to find the nerve to look at his arm, or to be more accurate, the bullet wound in his upper arm. He had dropped to the ground as soon as the rifle sounded, clamping his right hand across the wound and waited. The conversation between the Sheriff and his CBI team carried easily to his ears, he hear Lisbon checking Gilbert and Rigsby were unhurt, but then nothing, she hadn't ask after him or he would have mentioned he had a slight problem. He lay trying to calm his panicking breathing and listen to the words exchange between the law officers and the late John Barton's wife. He heard the joy in the girl's voice on hearing her husband was dead, he heard the invitation to step indoors to celebrate and still Lisbon didn't call to him. Well fine. A sudden surge of anger at the way he was being ignore, filled him with enough strength to look across at the damage. The bullet had enter and exited leaving a three inch wound in his arm. He gingerly removed the pressure of his right hand and the blood flowed freely.
"Oh crap." Jane muttered, reapply the pressure of his hand and slowly sitting up. The scenery around him wavier slight and he waited until he felt less faint before standing steadily to his feet. A large dog of uncertain breed was silently watching him from only feet away.
"You planning on ripping me limb from limb?" The dog panted, made no move towards him.
"Look I've got enough problems without you giving me grief, so be a good dog." The dog seemed to understand and walked back towards the open cabin door.
"What is it, do I smell?" Jane called after it. He spotted the washing drying on the line and made his way carefully over to it. There were the usually mix of shirts and underclothes, pillow slips and a colourful array of tourist tea towels with the picture of towns from all over California. Jane took his time looking at the unexpected proof of someone who visited a lot of places, before choosing one of the older, thinner ones that he managed to tie tightly around the wound on his arm. The makeshift bandage slowed the bleeding and after wiping the blood off his right hand in the grass, rolled down his shirt sleeves and put his jacket back on. He stood looking at the build and shape of the cabin, carefully walked around to the back, then explored a number of attached lean-tos. They were full of the usually junk accumulated over the years. Old saws, rusting tools, a selection of different sized block and tackle. Chains of many thickness. Jane took a bottle of water out of his pocket and drank deeply as he mulled over the contents of the lean-to, there was a feeling starting in the pit of his stomach and it wasn't because of blood loss.
The sun was just being to set as Lisbon, Rigsby, Sheriff Gilbert and Aileen Barton made there way out of the forest and towards the parked SUV's. Aileen Barton had been extremely generous with her coffee and almost-in-date cookies but not so with the answers to Lisbon's questions. Finally Lisbon had had enough and threaten the grieving widow with being arrested for firing at officers of the law if she did not start being a bit more forth coming with the answers. This threat backfire spectacularly, as Aileen said she would enjoy a trip into town and just wait whilst she got her bag and coat. Lisbon had wondered briefly why her 'silent shadow' had not come into the cabin, but she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of asking. She was aware that the observer Jane was following them down the wood covered mountain side, but once again, he lagged further and further behind. By the time they got to where Cho was waiting patiently with the vehicles, he was no-where to be seen.
"Where's Jane?" Cho asked her. Lisbon nodded her head back up the mountain trail.
"Observing fallen trees last time I saw."
"Oh." Cho looked up the trail hoping for a glimpse of grey suit. Lisbon made herself comfortable in the driving seat of the SUV, Aileen Barton walked around to the passenger side and got in, Lisbon glanced at her, and realised she was a lot older than she first thought.
"If you don't mind me asking Aileen, how old are you?"
"Me, thirty four, last fall."
"You're thirty four, you don't look it."
"Well, truth told, I think I am, lost track a few years back, and now, well I suppose I'm just guessing."
"There's still no sign of Jane, you want me to go looking for him." Cho asked.
"No, our silent shadow can sort himself out. We have work to do."
"I'll wait for your observer Ma'am, if you want to sneak off and do things you don't want observed." Sheriff Gilbert offered.
"Thank you Sheriff, that's very kind of you." Lisbon turned to Cho. "Agent Cho…"
Cho reached for the door handle then looked up at the Sheriff.
"Radio in if there's any problem, it's getting dark, we don't want to loose him."
"Get in Cho, Jane will be alright."
"Yes boss, but there might be bears in there."
"Well then I pity the bears."
Patrick Jane studied the fallen log, he had counted five just off the trail and closely examined everyone, so with the time that took and the exhaustion he felt from being shot, it was almost a hour later when he emerged from the trees to the roadside where the SUV's had been parked. He knew Lisbon would have driven off without him, she was angry because he wouldn't play the game by her rules. Abandoning him at the side of strange roads, was one of her weapons. He was also pretty hopeful that the Sheriff had stayed to act as a taxi service.
"You took your own sweet time Mr Observer." Gilbert greeted him, feigning anger but secretly pleased to be away from the order giving CBI lady Agent.
"I was busy observing."
"Got to write a report when you get back, in detail, in triplicate?"
"Nah, too much like hard work, I report verbally. I can talk quicker that I can type. Anything for an easy life." The Sheriff smiled, thinking he had found a fellow lazy bones. Jane felt the tug on his baited hook and pulled his catch it.
"Tell me Sheriff," he smiled broadly "tell me about the Bartons, starting with the father."
Deercreek was home to about a thousand souls, most of them loggers and the family of loggers. There was one small hotel that catered mainly for the hunters who came every season and couldn't afford a hunting lodge. There was the usual mix of stores, the town council offices, the sheriff's office and a morgue that always got busy in the hunting season.
"You got some city folk visiting?" Jane asked as the Sheriff pulled up outside his office. It had taken over an hour to drive from the spot where John Barton had met with the hand of fate holding a .38 to the morgue where his remains now mouldered. In that hour Sheriff Gilbert had talked as if he was being paid a dollar a word. Jane knew everything about the Bartons, Deercreek, the towns history and any and all the most prominent citizens - including the strange elderly Medical Examiner. He also knew how Sheriff Gilbert had met Mrs Gilbert, why they didn't have any children and the names of all the hunting dogs he had ever own.
"Yes, how did you know?" The Sheriff was impressed.
"Those two black Cadillac's parked over there." Jane pointed to the expensive, but road dusty cars parked outside the council offices.
"Big land agent, wanting to buy up most of the forest here about, turn it into a big vacation spot. They've been here for over a month. Sort of got used to them, good people, mostly its just a woman, tall, impressive looking, god she could keep a man warm at night…." The sheriff continued along in the same vein. Jane had let the Sheriff run off at the mouth, asking questions occasionally just to keep the verbal flow going. The wound in his arm was violently throbbing and he wanted to lie down and sleep for at least a month.
"So Sheriff, Doctor Dorothy Kary, does she treat the living or is it just corpses that get her attention."
"Doctor Dorothy she treats the living, fine doctor, just don't call her Dottie, or Dot, made that mistake not long after I first met her. She got her own back though, injected me with the bluntest needle she had when I went for a flu shot, boy did that hurt."
"And where does the good doctor practise from?"
"Owns the oldest house in town, that big wooden job, looks like the gingerbread house from Hansel and Greta. Always used by the local doctor that house."
"So it was handed down to her."
"No, she came to town about six years ago, bought it from old Doc Peters - death by Peters we used to call him, terrible Doctor, only one we had so what can you do, Dr. Dorothy, brilliant, god knows why she's buried herself in a town like Deercreek."
"Did you ask her?"
"No, might make her come to her senses and leave, and she is one hell of a good doctor, even if she does look more like the wicked witch out of the Wizard of Oz."
"Well Sheriff Gilbert, thank you for the lift and invigorating conversation." Jane let himself out of the car and headed away from the Sheriffs Office.
"You not coming in Mr. Jane, continue observing your Agents."
"Nah, don't feel like it, I'll give them some time alone so they can get up to all the naughty things they don't want me to see." Sheriff Gilbert wasn't sure if the comment was a joke or not. "Okay Mr. Jane, might see you tomorrow."
"Oh probably, unless Agent Lisbon finds Barton's killer tonight, anyway thank you again." Jane walked carefully down the street, heading for the witch's house where he hoped Dr. Dorothy was as good as the Sheriff painted her.
As much as it pained Jane to admit, he needed the services of a Doctor and Dr. Dottie as he already was calling her in his own head, would have to do. The house he had been directed too, did look like the witch's house from Hansel and Greta, all carved weatherboards and turned posts on the veranda. Dr. Dottie was sitting in a chair on the veranda, knitting, she stilled the flying needles to watch him as he pushed open the half height gate and walked up the cobbled path to stand at the bottom of the three steps.
"Something I can do for you Mr. Jane?" Jane pushed his hands deep into his jacket pockets and looked briefly down at his shoes. "Need my services perchance?"
"Aileen Barton took offence to you visiting?""You're good."
"Take my advice Mr. Jane, never wear a grey suit when visiting the folk around here."
"They don't like grey?"
"They don't like bank officials, or tax men, they all tend to wear grey suits, law officers, detectives, they wear dark colours. Should have worn a navy."
"I'll remember that for next time."
"Better come on in then Mr. Jane, let me take a look at the damage."
Doctor Dorothy lead the way through the house pass rooms filled with overstuffed furniture and bookcases groaning under the weight of large books. Jane took in the thin layer of dust on everything and wondered, briefly, if he had made the right decision on his choice of medical assistance. At the back of the house the small woman disappeared through the final door and switched on a light. Jane hesitated, dreading what might be inside.
"You coming in Mr. Jane, or do I have to treat you in the hall?" Dr. Dorothy pulled open the door and revealed a brightly lit, extremely clean, modern examination room. The surprise briefly showed on Jane's features.
"What were you expecting Mr. Jane, cauldron, eye of newt, toe of frog."
"Well, sorry to disappoint you but, I prefer the modern approach to medicine." Jane looked around himself in amazement, he could be standing in the most modern ER department in California.
"So now your all surprised and happy, take off your clothes, waist up, and hop up onto the table."
Jane lay staring quietly at the white of the ceiling, as the strange witch looking doctor examined the bullet wound that started bleeding as soon as the makeshift bandage was removed.
"This will need stitches."
"You should also be put on an antibiotic drip overnight."
"Well it's your arm, injection and tablets then."
"Okay Mr. Jane, if you're ready then we'll begin."
An hour later it was all over, he was cleaned, stitched, bandaged and had two shots in his backside, one for tetanus and the other an antibiotic booster. Dr. Dorothy Kary was a thorough and careful worker, but her bedside manner was non-existence. She had not spoken one word as she had worked, her full concentration was on the wound, getting it clean and stitched, Jane was just the object at the end of the arm.
"Well you're done, try to keep it clean and dry, see me again if you get any problems, if not, get your own doctor to whip those sutures out in ten days. You're going to need a course of antibiotics. Put your shirt back on whilst I dig you out some." Jane sat up and reached for his bloody discarded shirt but the room began spinning, he didn't think he had made any noise but Dr. Dottie was beside him gently pushing him back flat.
"You better stay lying down for a while."
"I have to return to the Sheriff's office."
"Not for at least an hour your not, you'll just make a fool of yourself passing out. You stay lying there." From somewhere close she produced an oxygen mask and placed it over his nose and mouth. "Take a few hits of this. Try and sleep if you can." As she spoke the doctor pulled a hospital blanket out of a drawer and placed over him, finally a disposable bowl was put on the bed within easy reach and she dimmed the light. "If you think you might throw up, I'd be grateful if you use the bowl."
"I'm fine Doctor really."
"No you're not, your body's telling you to rest, so be a good boy and listen to it. If you don't do as your told, I'll turn you into a frog."
"Can't be a bit more inventive than that."
"I like to keep in character."
Jane slept, he hadn't meant to but his body had other ideas. He was woken by a cool hand lightly touching his brow.
"How do you feel?"
"Water or tea?"
"Tea would be nice." Dorothy remove the oxygen mask.
"You're a better colour now so I think we can risk you coming into the kitchen." She handed him his shirt and pottered about with her back turn whilst he slowly dressed, thankful that this time the room stayed put. "Right take it slow getting off the bed, if you end up in a heap on the floor I'm not strong enough to lift you, so you'll have to stay there." Jane doubted this, she looked extremely fit and strong for an old lady, but he took it carefully and was pleased to find his body was rewarding him for the sleep, by behaving.
The tea was brewed in a teapot and tasted like sweeten nectar. Jane drank a first cup down in almost two and savoured the second.
"So Mr. Jane, why have you been demoted from consultant to observer."
"You're very well informed."
"Yeah well, I do have a very good internet connection." Jane nodded.
"So you know quite a bit about me."
"You spent an hour sleeping, I spent an hour googling."
"My methods don't go down too well with Senior Agent Lisbon."
"Ah, that old problem."
"You've met Lisbon."
"Not to talk to about anything interesting, no I just know the type, all rules and regulations, uses your 'out of the box thinking' then expects you to fit neatly back into the box. God preserve us from normal people."
"I can hear more than a hint of anger in your voice."
"I know you've spent time with the local town gossip, dear Sheriff Gilbert, so what did he tell you about me?"
"You a very good doctor and he doesn't know why you stay here."
"And you, Mr. Consultant Observer, what have you decided?"
"Well, I admit to not being at my best today but here goes, E.R. doctor, somewhere rough and ready, New York, Chicago…"
"Chicago." Dorothy interjected.
"You're all ability and no bedside small talk."
"Patch them up, ship them out, wash away the blood." Dorothy smiled at the memories.
"You're making this too easy for me."
"Well I like you, it's the golden curls."
"So who forced you out, upper management?"
"Twenty five years I worked dealing with the flotsam and jetsam of the Chicago poor, drugs, shootings, I stopped being amazed by how evil people can be, grew a hard shell and just saw every patient as a problem that had to be solved. Got to be the one in charge and then, then it was decided that my approach was old fashioned and not in keeping with modern times, I needed to be a bit more touchy feely. Didn't matter that I was saving lives, I was supposed to ask them how their day was and keep the family informed…" she trailed off as she realised the anger she felt at the forced early retirement still bubbled beneath the surface, causing her voice to sharpen. "…anyway Mr. Jane, you, more than anyone, probably know what I'm talking about, they want to clip the wings of all geniuses, so I flew away and roosted here."
"Well the Sheriff seems to appreciate you."
"There my kind of people Mr. Jane, they don't want bedside manners just stitch them up and don't charge too much." Jane took the hint.
"How much do I owe you for the embroidery?"
"Nothing, I only charge people I don't like." She stood and took a long box out of a kitchen draw.
"Here wrap this around the bandage when you shower, you don't seem to be the sort to wash once a week in the creek." Jane look down at the sandwich wrap and thanked her.
Senior Agent Lisbon was attacking the steak on her plate with fierce angry stabs, she was hungry and needed to get food inside her but she was also extremely cross with her missing observer, it was now almost five hours since she had driven away from the murder scene and Jane had still not put in an appearance.
"I think its already dead." His voice speaking so close and unexpected, made her jump, knock the plate which in turn tipped over her glass of mineral water. Busy mopping up the flow before it could cascade onto the floor, gave her time to calm down slight or she would have stabbed her steak knife into him.
"Where the hell have you been." Jane opened his mouth to answer. "And if you dare say 'observing' I will shot you."
"If you already know the answer, dear agent Lisbon, why bother with the question." He looked around the empty dining room. "Where are the rest of your highly trained investigating team?" Lisbon growled. "Look Jane, I know your pissed off with me, I'm tired and just spent a fruitless three hours trying to get one decent answer out of the grieving widow, so less of the sarcasm." She returned to attacking her steak.
"Hum.." Jane watched and waited until she had taken a large mouthful of meat, before speaking again. "Lisbon, I didn't start all this silent shadow nonsense, you wanted to prove to me that I'm not really needed and you keep me employed under sufferance." Lisbon started to chew as fast as she could, not believing he had so got the wrong end of the stick. "So show me, it's a straight forward murder, solve it without my theatrics, you be the one to pull the rabbit out of the hat and I will stand and applauded." He turned and started to walk away from the table just as Lisbon finally finished her mouthful of food and could give vent to her exasperation.
"Jane you know damn well that isn't the case." Jane turned, ignored the comment. "Do I have a room?" Lisbon took a key out of her pocket and slapped it down overly hard on the table.
"You're paying the bill." She growled.
"As agreed." He pulled a money clip out of his pocket and peeled off two fifties and lay them gently onto the table as he retrieved the key.
"Gas money as promised."
"Jane…" Lisbon voice changed to that of a plea, this was going too far.
"We have an agreement. I, for one, am going to stick to it." He turned again to leave the small diner.
"Aren't you going to have something to eat?"
"I'm sure they have room service."
"The food here is very good."
"Maybe…" He turned and looked down at the only other person in the room, "…but I don't care for the atmosphere." He had reached the exit when he turned back one last time. "One question, if I may, Lisbon."
"Yes." Her voice sharp, still reeling from knowing he did not wishing to sit with her.
"Was the secret room empty?"
Lisbon had indigestion and the cause was sitting in front of her looking as if butter wouldn't melt.
They were back at the Sheriff's office, all five sitting round an aged conference table, four were one side and the trouble making fifth the other - us against him.
"Why the hell didn't you say something when we were still up that god forsaken mountain." Lisbon tried not to scream at her consultant but it was taking every ounce of will power to not pistol whip him.
"Man, that was just mean." Cho added.
"We can't go up there in the dark." Rigsby added. Jane looked from angry face to angry face, even Cho was pissed off with him, but he had a very good reason why the secret room he had spotted on examining the cabin, had slipped his mind, the bullet wound on his arm that was still gently throbbing. It was too late to mention his injury, that boat had sailed.
"I assumed you had discovered it." He thought to add a comment about highly trained investigators but decided against, for the sake of his own safety, after all they were armed.
"So why wait until now, when its dark, to mention it?" Rigsby did not really like the dark, not in mountains where there were bears and probably big foot.
"I only remembered it when I spoke to Lisbon and, well you know, curious about what you found in there." Lisbon sighed, difficult as it was to tell if Jane was lying, she had to believe him for the sake of the team. If any of them thought Jane had deliberately kept this kind of information from them so they would have to endanger themselves, then, well they would not be willing to work with him again.
"Okay, it slipped your mind, well somehow we are going to have to return to John Barton's home and look."
"Not tonight surely."
"Yes Rigsby, tonight. Where's Sheriff Gilbert gone…?" She started to look around to see if she could catch a glimpse of the law officer. Jane put his hand up to attract her attention.
"Senior Agent Lisbon."
"No you don't have to risk life and limb with us Jane, you're just a silent shadow." Her voice sounded weary and Jane felt a fleeting stab of guilt, they may be having a spat at the moment but this was still Lisbon who usually fought in his corner.
"No…that wasn't my question. I could always ask Aileen."
"Is that not helping in this investigation?"
"No, not the way I see it, I'm not asking if she shot her husband, or even if she knew who might have shot him, I shall just ask about the room."
Rigsby like the sound of this, anything that meant he wouldn't have to climb through forest in the middle of the night seemed a very good idea. Jane could see Lisbon was doubtful.
"Five minutes, one question."
"Five minutes, Cho take our Silent Shadow in to visit with the grieving widow.
"Um Boss." Van Pelt spoke up nervously. All eyes turned to her. "We couldn't keep Aileen. We had to let her go."
"So she could be anywhere." Lisbon couldn't believe how badly this case was going, no leads, a unhelpful widow and a completely useless Jane.
"I know where she is." Jane didn't wait for the usually encouragement. "I saw her going into one of the rooms at the motel when I was looking for Lisbon, room …" he stopped to trawl through his memory of useless facts noted and stored away that day "…3".
Cho knocked on the door of room 3, watching Jane closely as he did.
"You think I've taken this all a bit far." Jane seemed to read his mind.
"Yes." Cho knocked again.
"I'm just proving a point Cho, its not meant to be personal." Cho's answer was lost with the door being pulled open by a bath-robed Aileen.
"Yes." Her voice was as sharp as the rifle fire she had originally greeted them with.
"Hello Mrs Barton, I'm Patrick Jane." He smiled and Cho noticed, with sinking stomach, how Aileen Barton's face brightened as she bathed in his charm.
"What can I do for you Mr. Jane." She subconsciously held the door opened wider, invitingly.
"I realise this has been a very trying day for you Mrs. Barton…."
"Please Aileen, call me Aileen." Jane smiled again and Cho couldn't believe it when the bathrobe seem to fall open slightly.
"Aileen, your husband being murder and everything but could I just ask you one tiny question." Jane emphasized how small his question was going to be by holding his thumb and finger a small distance apart.
"Of course Mr. Jane, please come in." Aileen Barton stepped back from the doorway and beckoned him across her threshold. Cho went to follow but found his way blocked. "Not you." The rifle-shot voice was back.
"He's supposed to keep an eye on me, I sometimes don't behave, I promise he won't say a word, not one word will you Cho.." Cho opened his mouth to argue, thought better of it, and to confirm his silence, just nodded his head to promise. Aileen let him into the room.
"So Mr. Jane, the question, did I kill John, is that it." Aileen was closing up again. Jane tilted his head slightly to one side and looked closely at her. "No, I know you didn't do that Aileen." Cho made a strange noise in his throat as the words he wanted to say, stuck.
Aileen appeared happy that she seemed to have one law official on her side.
"No, I just want to ask you if the secret room…you know the one that goes into the cave at the back of your cabin…" Jane noted the change in Aileen's eyes, "you know the one I mean, is it occupied or has the girl gone, I'm only asking because well, it's dark out and I don't want to endanger my colleagues on a fools errand to rescue some damsel in distress if its already too late for the poor girl." Aileen chewed on her lip and slid her eyes to the left, unable to met Jane's intents stare.
"Rooms empty." She finally said.
"Thank you Aileen and my colleagues thank you, now their investigations can wait until daylight." Jane turned and walked back out of the still open hotel door. "Don't think of sneaking back up there tonight Aileen, you know, hiding evidence, someone will be keeping an eye on you."
"I ain't going nowhere Mr. Jane, John's business was John's business."
"Pleased to hear it, well goodnight Aileen, sweet dreams."
"How's your arm?" Jane stopped in the hallway, glanced at Cho to see if he had heard the questions, Aileen had spoken quite quietly, Cho had heard. "Where my bullet got you." Aileen added.
"You missed Aileen, which is a good job because if you had hit me, my colleague here, Agent Cho, would have to arrest you." Aileen looked worried.
"Funny that, I never miss."
"Must of been the shock, losing your husband." Jane hope she had forgotten the correct sequence of events up in the mountains, and how she had fired the rifle before being given the sad news.
"Yeah, that must have been it." Aileen slowly closed the door.
"So now we have to stay up all night keeping an eye on Mrs Barton."
"Nah, she has no intention of returning to her cabin tonight, she doesn't care what we find out about John Barton, she's just pleased he's dead."
"And the room."
"She has a hell of a motive to kill him." Jane stopped and looked at Cho.
"Are you trying to get my input on this, my take on the situation."
"I never wanted you to change your ways, I like the theatrics."
"Well thank you, and in exchange for those kind words, and as long as you don't tell Lisbon I blabbed, she didn't do it, the joy on hearing her husband was dead wasn't an act, she didn't already know, also, you heard her boasting of her marksman capabilities, which the Sheriff has also told me about. No if Aileen Barton has wanted her bully of a husband dead, she would have shot him from a distance. Who ever shot John Barton got up close and personal."
"Did Aileen shoot you?"
"Do I look like I've got a bullet in me?"
"You look tired."
"Well Lisbon dragged me up a mountain and back down again, you know I'm not one for exercise, of course I look tired."
"You would say if you'd been shot."
"I would tell you if I had a problem, cross my heart. Now shall we give Lisbon and Rigsby the good news or do you want to tease Wayne a bit longer with the thought of creepy woods and grizzly bears."
Three a.m. and Jane lay wide awake, watching a Laurel and Hardy film with the sound turned off. He was trying to teach himself lip reading. Hoping the concentrating required would switch other parts of his brain off and allow him a few hours sleep. So far it wasn't working. Finally he sighed and gave up, switched the TV off, dressed quickly and silently left his room to wandered down the corridor and out into the warm still dark to watch for the dawn. He found some plastic chairs hap hazardously dotted around a small patio area filthy with cigarette butts, where the few hotel staff must spent their breaks. He turned one to face the direction of the sunrise and sat to wait. Now he wasn't supposed to fall asleep, his traitor of a body put him into a light doze that the scrapping of a chair jerked him out off. A tall woman was sitting in another of the plastic chairs, the tell tale small red glow of a lit cigarette near her mouth as she too sat waiting for the sunrise.
"Insomniac?" Jane asked quietly.
"I thought you were asleep." She took another puff on her cigarette before throwing it to join the rest scattered like blossom around her feet.
"Sorry if I disturbed you." Jane smiled and the woman returned the smile. Jane had managed to notice in the every increasing light the fashionable short haircut, the well kept nails, the evidence of a plastic surgeons help in keeping her looking young although Jane guessed she was at least late forties.
"You must be one of the Cadillac drivers."
"And you, a CBI agent."
"Consultant, well observer this trip." The woman nodded as if she completely understood. Jane moved his plastic chair closer to the woman and held out his hand. "Patrick Jane, life long member of insomniacs anonymous." The woman laughed, shook his hand.
"Annie Brown, recently enrolled member, any tips how to cope?"
"Lots of naps."
"Oh don't think that would be very practical at the moment."
"Lot of work on?"
"Yes trying to sort out who owns what of this beautiful place, coming to deals, it all takes time."
"You from this area, your accent is…." Jane started, the woman's faced closed slight.
"No, I'm just one of those people who pick up accents if around them long enough, I don't mean to it just happens."
"Oh right, yeah, easily done." Jane stopped questioning as the sun started to make its appearance, they both sat silently watching the dawn breaking over the thick forest. There was no need to comment on the beauty in front of them, only the sound of Annie's chair scrapping on the patio slabs broke the silence as she stood up.
"Well it was nice speaking to you Mr. Jane, I hope you catch your murderer." Jane looked up, intensely looking into the woman's eyes.
"I doubt if we will Ms Brown, from what I can tell John Barton was a extremely nasty piece of work, who ever killed him was doing the world a favour, I shan't be putting too much effort into finding him…or her." Annie Brown just smiled and walked away. Sheriff Gilbert had been right about her, Jane decided as he watched the tall woman disappear into the hotel, she was an impressive looking woman who could keep a man warm at night.
Lisbon breakfasted with the rest of her team, everyone notice Jane didn't join them but no one had the nerve to ask, Cho, Rigsby and Van Pelt had all made a pact not to mention the latest battle raging between the two, knowing from past experience that bystanders could be injured with friendly fire.
Lisbon, knowing her troublesome consultant a little better than he thought she did, was not surprised to spy him sitting on the wall outside the sheriff's office, waiting patiently for them. He sprang off the wall as they approached and took up his customarily position behind Lisbon, smiling a cheery 'good morning' to the rest of the team.
"We have to return to Barton's cabin." Lisbon informed the Sheriff. "Is there anyway we can avoid walking."
"How good are you on a trail bike?" Sheriff Gilbert question. Rigsby's groan was loud enough to cover Jane's glee.
"We walk." Lisbon decided, choosing the lesser of two evils.
"Sheriff…" Jane began. Lisbon recognized the tone in his voice and feared the worse.
"Not now Jane." Jane ignored her.
"Do you have one of those dead body dogs, you know the sort that can sniff out a corpse?"
"We have a corpse Jane, or have you forgotten, just to remind you, we are looking for the live hand at the end of the gun." Sheriff Gilbert looked from one to the other, trying to work out which he should take notice off. Jane's intense stare decided him.
"Got an old hound, retired now, but in his day, boy he could track a corpse travelling on the back of a flatbed, as long as you don't need him for long, he's not as fit as he used to be but who is…" he patted his own fat stomach, "..you can borrow him for a while."
"Good," Jane smiled warmly, "wait for me at the same spot you did yesterday, after I've finished observing Bartons cabin, from the inside this time, I have a little job for him. Won't take long, ten minutes, fifteen at best."
"Right Mr. Jane, we'll be there."
"Jane…"Lisbon's tone was deadly, Jane turned his full force grin onto her.
"Don't worry Lisbon, this isn't to find out who killed Barton, I'm not going back on my promise, this is something more off at a tangent."
"And I suppose there is no point me even wasting my breath bothering to ask what." Jane just smiled again and shook his head.
The secret room was no more than a cave that had housed hibernating bears for hundreds of years before John Barton's grandfather has built a cabin slap bang in front of it. It had then become his root cellar and store room with a solid door leading from the cabin into the cave, then someone, Jane assumed John Barton's father, attached a roughly made dresser onto the door and, low and behold, a secret entrance to a secret room. Each member of the CBI felt the dread and horror as they looked into the empty cave, noting the mould stained mattress on the solid stone floor, the lidded enamelled bucket that was probably older than any of them, the tell tale scratches on the wall of many incarcerated people. Even Sheriff Gilbert who had accompanied them back up the hillside shook his head and whistled deeply. "Had no idea, no idea at all." He kept saying to no one in particular. Lisbon looked around for a final time, ordered that Cho arranged for forensics and then legged it as quickly as possible out of the 'horror film' murder cave. She noted, as she made her way back into the sunshine, that her silent shadow had fled after only a quick glance. She found him sitting on a narrow bench in the shaded part of the veranda. Jane was leaning forward looking intently at the worn wood beneath his equally worn shoes. Lisbon silently sat beside him expecting a comment, but he said nothing.
"He might have used it as a cold store for deer carcasses."
"You don't believe that." Jane still studied the wooden floor as if all the answers of the universe were carved into it.
"There's no women missing from these parts, I asked the Sheriff."
"He travelled to get them." Jane jerked up and waved his arm in the general direction of the clothes line still heavy with Aileen's washing. "Always brought the wife back a little souvenir, keep the little woman sweet…." he chuckled without humour, "….kitchen towels, most wives would strangle their husbands if after a trip away she was given a kitchen towel, but I suppose with Aileen, well, she knew what she was married to and….." Jane stopped talking again and rubbed a hand over his face.
"Headache, didn't sleep well... Aileen, she might have been the lucky one, Barton took a shine to her and let her live. Any idea about her history, where she's from?"
"Didn't ask, was more interest in whether she killed him, I know she wasn't too sure about how old she is."
"Stockhom syndrome, she fell for her capture." Jane stood up. "You don't need me up here, I'm going to head back…Sheriff." Gilbert pocked his head through an open window. "You bring that corpse dog you promised me?"
"Sure did Mr. Jane, he's down in the back of my truck."
"Well, if you're ready Sheriff."
"Do you need me any more Agent Lisbon." Gilbert asked, not wishing to incur the small woman's anger.
"I'll come with you Sheriff, there's nothing much we can do here until forensics arrive…Cho, Rigsby, time to leave."
They didn't speak as they made there way down the hillside, each lost in their own thoughts at what they had discovered in the back of Barton's cabin. Lisbon knew better that the ask Jane why he needed Gilberts retired corpse sniffing dog, one, he wouldn't of told her and two, she had a deep feeling in the pit of her stomach why, she decided to let the game play out anyway Jane wished. Jane. He worried her today more than usual. He looked pale and he admitted to having a headache, that in itself was rare. It was probably down to trying to keep in all his ideas and thoughts on who had killed John Barton. Lisbon smiled to herself, her silent shadow was finding it a lot harder to keep his big mouth shut than he had at first thought.
Lisbon's silent shadow was having no such problems, his headache was a side effect of the tablets he was taking to stop the wound in his arm festering. For all Dr. Dottie's careful work it still throbbed like mad and took all his concentration to ignore and continue to act as if all was well, when he would rather sit whimpering in corner feeling sorry for himself.
It was almost noon by the time they team reappeared through the trees to where the SUV's waited and Sheriff Gilberts sniffer dog dozed in the back of his truck.
"Okay Jane, bring on the show." Lisbon sarcastic comment failed to get a rise from Jane.
"There's a fallen tree about a hundred yards back." Jane pointed to the path they had only just walked down. "Could you get…." he waited.
"Bonny," Gilbert filled in.
"Bonny to do what ever she….."
"Bonnys' a boy dog."
"Oh interesting name for a male."
"Wife's idea." Jane nodded, not really that interested but staying polite.
"Okay could he give it a sniff for me."
"Sure thing Mr. Jane." Sheriff Gilbert got the fattest bloodhound Lisbon had ever seen out of the back of his truck and slow made their way up the path.
"Are we expected to follow?" She asked Jane, this was his party and he could set the rules. Jane just shrugged and fell behind the lumbering dog listening to the endearments Sheriff Gilbert was muttering to encourage the hound. Lisbon, Cho and Rigsby joined the follow-my-leader until they came to a fallen tree almost hidden in the undergrowth. Bonny was lead up to it where he snorted once then flopped down onto the floor with his nose press hard against the bark.
"Not up to the job anymore Sheriff Gilbert." Rigsby asked.
"No, that's his sign.
"Collapsing." Cho commented.
"Pointing." Gilbert corrected. Lisbon walked around the fallen log, taking in the size and length, trying to work out have heavy it would be.
"So your dog is saying there's a corpse under this log."
"Under this massive, unmoveable log."
"How?" There was a sigh from behind her.
"Lisbon, look up." Jane took her arm and twisted her gently around so she was facing one of the trees still growing. "See up there." He pointed to one of the lower branches.
"What am I looking at."
"The scarring on that branch, where the bark has been damaged and is growing over."
"Chains from a block and tackle made those marks."
"So you can read trees now." Lisbon was not convinced.
"Bodies buried in woods are usually dug up by animals and eaten, evidence laying all around, found usually by hunters or hikers correct."
"Put a fallen log on top of the grave, no animal can dig up a free lunch, body stays undiscovered, bad man continues with his evil hobby."
"Jane, you're trying to tell me that John Barton could move a massive log like this…" she indicated with her hands the length of the log.
"He was a big powerful man, right Sheriff."
"Sure was, same as his father, mother was pretty tall as well."
"And with the aid of block and tackle." Sheriff Gilbert made a play of looking at the log, even though he already knew the answer.
"Yeah, reckon he could do it."
"No I don't believe it, no." Lisbon was not convinced.
"Lisbon." Jane sat down on the log.
"Ah Mr. Jane, if there is a body under that wood, your sitting on a grave." Gilbert commented.
"The girl has been dead a long time, I doubt if she would mind." Jane informed him, he looked back at Lisbon aware of Cho and Rigsby standing silently behind her, but speaking as if only she were there.
"I counted seventeen of these fallen logs close to or on the path leading from Barton's cabin to this road, why would a logger leave the wood to rot, what is the point of putting all that effort in to felling the tree, taking the branches just to leave the bounty to nature."
"I…." Jane did not let her finish.
"Each one is a grave marker, and probably dotted around this woods is a lot more, John Barton was just carrying on the family business start by his dear old dad."
"No, the girls would have been missed."
"Why? There are thousands of runaways every year, look at all the faces on posters and the back of milk cartoons, some have started new lives, most, unfortunately have probably died. The country is full of homeless unnoticed women." Jane could see Lisbon was still not convinced. "How many Jane Doe's are there waiting in the morgue, waiting to be claimed and named?"
"Well…."Jane didn't let Lisbon continue.
"Multiply that by all the morgues in California and then by all the Jane Doe's still walking the streets that we just don't notice. Who is going to notice if one or two suddenly vanish and more to the point, who is going to care enough to ask why?"
"Better get a team in to shift that log Sheriff, see if my knowledgeable observer has a point."
"Think he might Senior Agent Lisbon, Ma'am, Bonny maybe old and fat but his noise still works fine and he ain't moved from that spot."
"Probably can't." Cho commented, not caring who heard. "Need the block and tackle to shift him."
"Well John Barton's outhouses are full of them, also spades, chainsaws everything needed to shift that log and see what is underneath." Jane mentioned helpfully.
"And are you going to be doing any of the manual work?" Lisbon asked sweetly, already knowing the answer. Jane smiled.
"Would love to help but the thing about being a shadow is, can't get a very good grip on the handles of tools."
It took the Sheriff, two of his deputies, Cho and Rigsby less than half an hour to shift the log and discover the corpse that lay safely rotting beneath. She, for it was a woman, the scraps of the dress she wore still clung around her bones, had been buried many years previous.
"Better get the forensics in." Sheriff Gilbert commented.
"Think your going to need the FBI, remember I counted seventeen logs." Jane commented, looking briefly at the corpse.
"You're saying John Barton…."
"Serial killer, son of serial killer, maybe even grandson, don't know about that, but dear Lisbon, I think not our case, FBI like the really bad ones don't they?"
Afterwards Lisbon couldn't work out why she had done it, maybe it was the overwhelming sadness she suddenly felt and the realization that these beautiful woods were full of decomposing girls whose lives had come to a cruel and torturous end, and no-one had noticed, no-one had cared. Or maybe it was the frustration of knowing that her silent shadow had done it again, spot light on him, big bow, look what a clever clogs I am, and he hadn't even needed to go back on his promise, he had made no comment on who might have killed John Barton, nothing he had said or done pointed in anyway to the murderer of a mass murderer. The frustration had become overwhelming at that point with Lisbon realising she still had to try and find whoever had taken the back of John Barton's skull off with a .38. With so much sadness, frustration and anger bubbling to the top Lisbon did what she usually did, she hit out at her punching bag, Jane, catching him hard on the top of his left arm.
Jane had never experience pain like it, even when Aileen's bullet had connect, that had burnt but this, as the stitches ripped, the pain shot through his whole body, he cried out in agony and collapsed to the forest floor as his legs turned to water.
"Stop mucking about Jane, I hardly touched you." Lisbon looked across at Sheriff Gilbert and his deputies and noted the looks of concern on their faces. "He's playacting, Jane's a showman, I honestly hardly touched him, Jane, tell them…" she looked back down at Jane who was still sitting in a heap on the forest floor trying desperately to breath through the pain.
"Oh for god's sake Jane, sometimes you take a joke just too far, this was what I was complaining about, the theatrics, they are just not….." Lisbon's lecture trailed off, there was blood soaking through the material of Jane's light grey jacket, the stain growing larger as she watched.
"Aileen didn't miss did she." Cho commented.
"She is a crack shot." Jane managed to comment through the pain that he was finally getting an handle on.
"So you lied to me."
"I didn't lie, just chose not to answer."
"What are you on about Aileen shot you, when did this happen? Why wasn't I informed?" Lisbon's anger was raising. Jane turned his face to look in Lisbon's eyes, now crouched to his fallen level. There was no twinkle, no humour in them, just pain.
"Yesterday when you gave the widow the sad news."
"But you said you were fine."
"No Lisbon, I wasn't asked."
"Yeah I…." Her voice trailed off as she played the incident through her memory, she paled as she realised that Jane was speaking the truth.
"Well you're not a child."
"Yeah, and I dealt with it, even visited a doctor, everything was peachy until some vicious b…" Jane was in pain and he almost called Lisbon something he would regret, "….you need anger management Lisbon."
"Jane I'm sorry, I'm really sorry." Lisbon could feel tears pricking the back of her eyes, she had caused real physical damage to Jane, she gave a half smile hoping he would show signs that he forgive her, but Jane's face was stone.
"Cho…" he called, not taking his eyes away from Lisbons "….I could do with your help, I seem to have a problem."