Chords and Codes

(Ironside, Season 1)

The theft of a violin is the least of the problems Ironside has to face this time.

Disclaimer: I don't own Ironside.

Chapter 1: Peace and Challenge

When Ironside came back from the commissioner's office, Mark and Ed were clowning around with Eve. Pleased, the Chief stopped at the door for a moment. He was glad that the trio had come to a relaxed relationship. That hadn't been self-evident at the beginning: The three young people were from very different backgrounds. For ex-convict Mark, straight cop Ed had represented the enemy. Against all odds, rich but nice and charming Eve was the binding element between the two. And working for the Chief was what connected all of them strongly.

He liked them a lot. And he considered himself lucky to have such a team: Smart, professional Ed; beautiful, resourceful Eve, and strong and highly promising Mark. All of them were loyal to him and eager to learn from him as much as possible. They were his pride and even more: his family. But of course he couldn't show them what they meant to him. His usual grumpiness coming to the fore, Ironside wheeled himself down the ramp, passed Eve and stopped at his desk.

"What's that ruckus all about? Isn't there any work to do?" he asked them sternly; but nobody fell for it. Eve, who was more daring than her colleagues, bent over his shoulder and asked: "And why, Sir, don't you hide your smile, if you're so annoyed about us?..."

The phone interrupted her and spared Ironside an answer. Because she was next to the phone, Eve answered it: "Chief Ironside's office?"

"Eve – it's Clarissa. I'm so glad it's you. I need you and your famous Chief. My Stradivarius has been stolen!"

"No! That's horrible! Please come here and I will see what we can do for you!"

Clarissa had already ended the call.

Clarissa Delongpre was a high-society girl like Eve, and equally friendly without a trace of snootiness. Ed had to force his eyes away from her. She was very slight with long, dark hair framing her delicate face – a fairy-like vision. He had troubles concentrating on her story:

"I put my violin – a genuine Stradivarius – into my locker at the gym. Of course I usually don't take it with me when I go there, but I had to go to an orchestra rehearsal right afterwards, and I couldn't imagine that somebody would do a thing like that."

Since she had no idea about who could be behind the robbery, Ironside decided to take a look at the crime scene first. A team of forensics experts had already been sent there.

"Eve, you come with me and Clarissa. Mark has to go to school right now. Ed – the Commissioner told me that the drug dealer you arrested yesterday gave the name of his supplier. Try to track him down. It's all in that file over there."

Ironside couldn't overlook Ed's long face. Since Eve and Clarissa had already left, he addressed his Sergeant: "You don't expect me to send Eve after a potentially violent drug dealer so you can be with a pretty young lady, do you?"

"No Sir," Ed answered stiffly and started reading the file.

Eve wasn't used to driving the paddy wagon but she managed quite well. When they arrived at the gym, where Clarissa was taking some classes, the forensics experts were already at work.

"There's nothing distinctive except for one set of fingerprints and we're sure they're the ones of the owner of the locker."

"That would be me, Sir," Clarissa announced.

"I'm sorry, Miss, but there's not much to go on. The door was most probably broken open with this crowbar here." He showed them the tool. "It was lying on the floor. You can see traces of green paint on it which comes from the locker. But there are no fingerprints. Either it's been wiped clean or the thief wore gloves. I suppose the latter. I'd say it was brand new, it was just used for this job. But you can get an object like this anywhere, it's impossible to track it down."

"Thank you, you've done a good job," Ironside praised the team.

When the men had left, Eve said: "You were very nice towards those colleagues – but their information doesn't really help much, does it?"

"My dear Eve, it's helping a lot! For once, we know that this theft was planned. You don't just happen to carry a crowbar with you. The thief knew what he was looking for and where he would have to look for it. And then I'd say that he or she was probably no professional. Professionals usually don't leave their tools behind if they don't have to. And besides - a professional would have found a more subtle way to open the locker. So we have to search for the thief in Clarissa's circle of friends and family. Clarissa – who knew that you own a precious violin and that you would take it to the gym today?"

Clarissa was very surprised. "My family and one or two of my best friends; and some members of the orchestra maybe, those who knew that I attend a gymnastic course on Thursdays."

"Please write down the names of the musicians you think knew of the gym class. Was there anybody particularly interested in your violin?"

"Well – yes, now that you ask me. Actually there is somebody: Mr. Janowski. He's the conductor of our little orchestra and my violin teacher. He's always admired the Stradivarius. He's not a very nice person, you must know – sometimes he says that the instrument should belong to somebody who would be able to play it to perfection, and that that 'somebody' isn't me. But he's eighty-four years old. I can imagine that he would like to own my violin, but I can't imagine that he could break into a locker. I'm not even sure if he would be strong enough to do so."

"Why do you keep him as your teacher if he's so rude towards you?" Ironside thought that Clarissa could hire any teacher she wanted to have.

"You see, he's basically just a poor old man. He's Polish, and he came here during World War II, I think. Because of his unkind behavior he probably never had many students, and he has no retirement plan at all. But he's not a bad teacher, and when he was younger, he certainly was a very good violinist."

The Chief was touched by Clarissa's obvious sympathy towards the old man. "So we suppose he didn't steal the violin himself, but it's imaginable that he had somebody do it for him? Or at least he might know something. Let's pay him a visit!" At that, Ironside set his wheelchair in motion. Eve helped him, pushing him towards the exit of the gym.

author's note:

Thank you, my dear beta-reader lemonpig73, for your overtime!

Thanks to all you kind reviewers!