"Ah. Lisbon?" Jane signaled out the passenger-side window. Chagrinned, CBI Agent Teresa Lisbon spotted the weather-beaten sign for Pete's BBQ in her rearview mirror. She was already cranky, even more now that she realized she would have missed the location entirely if Jane weren't here.
Then again, she reasoned defensively, if she had come out on her own, she wouldn't have had Jane distracting her in his usual manner, and she probably would have found the place an hour ago and been following up on her notes by now. She sighed audibly, and slowed the SUV to a stop before putting it into reverse.
CBI Consultant Patick Jane was pleased to no end when his self-satisfied smile earned him a smirk from Lisbon's direction. As the big car pulled into the crumbling lot, Jane and Lisbon took in the vacant parking spaces and faded red awnings. A small square sign on the restaurant's front door read "CLOSED" in black letters.
They pulled up parallel to the Entrance, and Lisbon cut the engine. "I remember hearing good things about this place a few years ago," she said. "Hm," Jane grunted in polite acknowledgement, then swung open his door and hopped confidently out of the car. Lisbon locked the vehicle and stood near him at the front of the restaurant, where the Hours were professionally lettered on tinted glass doors. "Six to ten P.M., Friday and Saturday. Noon to four on Sundays," she read aloud. She glanced at her watch. "It's Five-fifteen on Friday night, and none of the staff are here yet..." She glanced around. "Jane?"
"Back here," he called out. His voice was muffled, and Lisbon heard a door creak open from the rear of the building. "Jane! Wait-" she called back, exasperated, and heard the door groan shut as she rounded the corner. The back of the property boasted more tired-looking asphalt and a recently emptied industrial garbage bin. It was overrun in places with feet-high weeds. A wooden gate with an iron latch stood slightly ajar, and Lisbon stepped around it cautiously. "CBI! Is anyone there?"
Patrick Jane's vested torso popped out from inside the restaurant's back door. "No one here but us, Lisbon." She stared at him, incredulous, and didn't bother to keep suspicion and annoyance from her voice.
"Jane - Did you break in?"
He appeared offended, but secretly gloated over her squeaky tone. "You make it sound so, wrong."
"But - "
Jane cut her off, letting the door fall nearly closed and stepping lightly off the small concrete porch. "That gate was already unlocked, and the only security camera they have is on the front parking lot. Did you hear any alarms go off when I opened this door?"
She glowered at him, hands on her hips. "Did you ever consider that you might have triggered a silent alarm?"
He beamed. "Oh, I hope so. Don't worry - if anyone shows up, I'll convince them that we had a legitimate reason to enter the premesis." He rushed on, seemingly deterred by her indignant posture. "Then you can score at least one interview and possibly a new lead. Or maybe rule something out."
He paused to give her a chance for rebuttal. Lisbon recognized that he was only warming up, and she tilted her head to signal him to continue. Jane looked around them quickly and said, after a moment, "I think there's an equal chance that no one will show up."
She frowned, then ventured slowly: "If there's no silent alarm, this Pete is either very trusting or very broke."
He appreciated her attempt to follow his logic, so he pretended to consider her theory. For two seconds. Then his natural superiority won out: "Well. Either circumstance would be unfortunate for Pete, but I think it much more likely that there is an alarm, and that someone intentionally failed to set it after stocking up this morning."
"How do you know someone was stocking up today?" she questioned. Jane threw a thumb over his shoulder at the building: "The dates on the cartons inside."
He could make her so crazy at times, with the manner in which he chose to let her know he was always one or two steps ahead of her and everyone else. Already she was out of sorts, but he was still preening for his own amusement.
Resolving to be calm, she reasoned aloud. "Restaurants get most of their business on Friday and Saturday nights. Even run-down ones. This place is only open on the weekends. We're here during normal business hours, and they're closed."
Jane watched her brow crinkle in puzzlement as she continued: "The garbage was collected recently, which supports what we've heard about their being open last weekend... They may have been preparing to open tonight, but the sign out front doesn't say why they're closed or when they'll reopen. That's pretty sloppy for a proprieter. Actually, none of this is making any sense."
"Ah," said Jane, and Lisbon realized she had arrived at precisely his point. "What made them suddenly shut the whole place down, on boom-town Friday night, with no explanation to their patrons?"
"We'll know soon enough," she muttered, and stepped past him with her cellphone in hand. "Boom-town?" she shook her head.
"What?" he asked innocently. She ignored him. "VanPelt said the owner was meeting us here." Jane had the grace to grimace and duck his head as she glared at him under one raised eyebrow. "Of course that was when were expected over an HOUR ago. Maybe he couldn't wait for us." She didn't look to see if her barb landed, but flipped the phone open and prepared to speed-dial junior agent Grace VanPelt.
"Or maybe..." Jane countered. She turned to face him. The wary tenor of his voice had her hanging up before the call could go through. "Maybe he arrived and never left."