The Case of the Angry Mountain
"Sergeant, you are going back to the hospital," Ironside insisted.
"Chief, I am fine. I don't need to go back to the hospital. All I would do there is rest. I can do that at the cabins. Besides, I would like to do a little fishing while I am up here."
"Randall is not going to go for that. If you won't go back to the hospital, then I want you, Eve and Mark on a plane in the morning back to San Francisco."
"He is not the only one that should be going back to the hospital," Katherine said, interrupting the disagreement between chief and sergeant. "I can think of at least two others."
"So can I," Della agreed.
"They would not keep me in the hospital," Perry pointed out. "Not for a bum knee. However, they would probably keep Bob."
"Not if they had a chance to talk to Sister Agatha. She would tell them he is the worst patient they have ever had and to send him home as soon as possible if they don't want their nurses to quit." Mark wheeled Ironside up to the fire in the main cabin. "She is the only one that can tolerate him."
"How would you like to be demoted to... "
"To what, Chief? I don't have much to worry about. You are too fond of eating."
"I can cook for myself," Ironside growled.
"Maybe, but you would not have anyone to stay up with you half the night. No one to complain about the coffee to and no one to snarl at in the morning when you have not had enough sleep... because you have stayed up half the night."
"Faced it, Bob," Perry said. "You would not give all that up."
Ironside ignored them and turned back to Ed. "Alright, you don't have to go back to the hospital but you three do have to go home in the morning. And Ed, I want you to take a few days off and take it easy."
"Okay, Chief. You will not get any argument from me," Ed replied.
"That'll be a first," Ironside grunted.
"Now Robert, that is enough," Katherine said. "This is a celebration. Perry won the case. The killer is in custody and Milt is free. Ed, Eve and Mark have earned the right to stay. You can find a way to explain it to the commissioner."
"That's right, Bob. They have and we want them to stay." Milt said. He looked at Mason and Ironside who had worked to clear him and said, "I can't tell you how much it means to me that you and Perry have taken part of your vacation saving my neck and putting the two men that assaulted Barbara behind bars." Milt walked over to Ironside and put his hand on his shoulder.
"Does it mean enough that Perry and I can now start our vacation without you getting into any further trouble?" Ironside growled.
"How did you ever stand working with him?" Perry asked with a grin.
"Bob Ironside is like an allergy that won't go away. You don't have to like it but you get use to him," Milt explained.
Everyone laughed. Barbara came into the living quarters. "Dinner is ready. In honor of Uncle Bob, we are having his favorite meal, chilli."
"What about me? I was his lawyer. I got the charges dismissed. What about my favorite meal?" Mason complained.
Barbara shrugged. "I didn't know what your favorite meal is. So it is chilli."
Della helped Perry to his feet. When he tried to hobble on his own, she handed him his crutches. "Not so fast, Counselor. You are not moving around without these."
Perry knew better than to argue with Della when she was looking out for his welfare. He took the crutches from her and walked over to the table with them. When everyone was seated, Barbara brought out the chilli.
Paul looked at the huge pot and grumbled, "Why is it every time we are around the chief, we have to eat this stuff?"
"I don't care what we eat," Mark said. "I didn't have to cook it."
"Which means we can actually eat it," Ironside remarked.
"Do they go on like this all the time, Katherine?" Della asked.
"I haven't been around them that long, but from what I have seen... yes."
Ironside reached for the chili pot and drew his arm back in pain. Katherine took his bowl from his hand. "Let me do that." She dished up a bowl and set it in front of him.
Ironside smiled and said, "Thank you."
"Why can't he be that nice to the rest of us," Milt questioned.
"Because you are not a beautiful woman," Perry said with a smirk.
"He is always nice to me," Della said.
"I rest my case," Perry said as he dished up a bowl of chili.
"What time are we fishing in the morning?" Milt inquired.
"We should be there by five," Ironside said.
"Five?" Perry questioned in disbelief. "We won't catch a thing. I doubt even the fish will be up that early." That brought out a laugh from everyone.
"Fish are not as lazy as some humans I know." Ironside looked directly at Mason, leaving no doubt who he was talking about.
"Lazy? I kept up with you step for step in this case," Perry protested.
"Not a very difficult feat since I cannot take a single step," Ironside countered. Even Della was laughing at Perry's expense.
"Take the wolverines for instance. I was left to deal with those nasty tempered beasts while you took a swan dive off that cliff."
"Doesn't look like you had much of a problem with them," Perry observed. "They didn't have a chance once they discovered your temperament is more nasty than theirs."
Della and Katherine looked at one another. "Is this what we have to look forward to for the next two weeks?" Katherine asked.
"Wait until they get out there in the morning. It will be a race to see which one of them can catch the most fish," Della sighed. "Everything is a contest with these two."
"Okay, I'll tell you what. Della and I will challenge you and Katherine. Whoever catches the most fish gets to sit back and watch the other two clean and cook the fish," Perry suggested.
Ed chuckled. "You may be in trouble, Perry. The chief is pretty good at catching fish."
"You have never seen Della fish. Perry and I have to tie her up in order to beat her in a contest." Paul warned them.
"Than it should be an evenly matched contest," Eve said.
"Don't count on it," Mark said. "The chief hates to lose. He will probably force Star-Kist to round up the fish to jump on his line to keep him from arresting Charlie Tuna for going on a fishing expedition without a license." Everyone started laughing again.
"The die has been cast," Perry said. "I sure hope you can cook, Katherine. I would hate to have to eat fish that Bob cooked."
"She can cook," Ironside said. "But she is not going to be cooking any fish."
"How would you know whether I can cook? I have never cooked for you," Katherine said.
"I am a detective. I just know."
"I hate to be a kill joy," Milt interrupted. "I have something to say and I wanted to say it while everyone is still here. I was a cop all of my life. Seeing that justice was served was what I did. I knew Bob would jump in and search for the truth and by extension, Ed, Eve and Mark. Then Perry, Della and Paul. I just don't know what to say… for what you did for me but more importantly for Barbara."
In typical Ironside fashion, the chief barked, "I just did my job, Captain. Nothing more, nothing less."
Perry and Della smiled. They had come to know Robert Ironside quite well. He would go all out to help a friend but was unable to accept thanks for doing so. "You are welcome," Perry said. "On behalf of all of us."
"I just want everyone to know that your stay is on the house. There will be no charge for the use of the cabins."
"Well, in that case I think Della and I will retire to our cabin for the evening. We will rest up for tomorrow's fishing contest," Perry said. Della got up. She thanked Barbara and Milt for their hospitality and left the cabin.
"As usual…" Paul muttered.
Eve smiled. "Would you like to go for a walk?"
Paul smiled back at her. "I certainly would." He put his arm out. Eve took it and the two of them also left the cabin.
Ironside backed away from the table. He motioned for Ed and Mark to join him. They both got up and went over to him. "I am assuming both of you made reservations to fly back to San Francisco in the morning?"
Ed nodded. "Eve made the reservations for all three of us tomorrow morning."
"How would you like to stay on?" Ironside asked.
"What about the commissioner?" Ed wondered.
"Well… you are already here and you might as well stay for a few days and enjoy yourselves."
"Gee, thanks Chief!" Ed said. "I could use some down time."
Mark eyed his boss with skepticism. "What's the catch, Chief?"
Ironside mocked hurt. "Why does there have to be a catch?"
Ed squinted. "Mark's right. Okay, Chief, what's the catch?"
"No catch. I thought the three of you might like to hang around and enjoy the mountain air."
"And what is it going to cost us to enjoy this mountain air?" Mark looked directly into Ironside's eyes. Ed did the same.
"No cost, but now that you mentioned it, I will need for you to do one little favor," Ironside said. He held his thumb and index finger up with the tips nearly touching.
"And what would that favor be?" Ed asked.
"Tomorrow if Katherine and I …"
Barbara sat down beside Katherine. "How are things going with you and Uncle Bob?"
Katherine smiled. "Very well, thank you."
"I am happy. He needs someone like you. Someone who is not scared of him… who will keep him in line." She grinned.
"I don't know about keeping him in line. Robert is not a man that can be controlled. Besides, if the truth be told, I would not be interested in a man that I could control."
"I still think you are good for him." Barbara lowered her eyes. "I never did thank you for your kindness at the hospital. I really appreciate what you did."
Katherine took her hand. "You are welcome. How are you doing… really?"
Tears appeared in her eyes. "I am coping. My dad thinks I should see a therapist. He has been pretty insistent so I gave in and have an appointment in Boise next week."
Katherine squeezed her hand. "Your father is right. I am happy to hear you are taking his advice. I am sure he has chosen a very good doctor."
"Actually, it was all Uncle Bob's idea. He chose the doctor. My father was supposed to convince me to go." She looked up at Katherine. "I think it is a good idea too."
The two of them turned to the gruff voice behind them. "Barbara, if you will excuse us, I think we will call it a night."
Barbara bent down and kissed Ironside on the cheek. "Goodnight, Uncle Bob."
Ironside and Katherine left the cabin. She stepped behind his wheelchair and pushed him toward their cabins. When they arrived, Otto stood up, his tail wagging. Ironside patted his head.
"Well, goodnight, Robert," Katherine said as she headed toward her cabin.
"Just a minute, Katherine."
She stopped and looked back at him. "Yes."
With his wheelchair in front of his cabin, he looked at her. "Would you like to come in for a while?"
Katherine smiled at him. "Yes, I would like that very much." She walked back to him. He opened his cabin door and wheeled backwards in order to allow her to enter in front of him.
Otto attempted to follow them in. "Stay here, boy," Ironside told him. The dog laid back down and Ironside followed Katherine into his cabin.
He wheeled over to the fireplace and put another log on the fire. Ironside then wheeled into the kitchen, grabbed two glasses from the cupboard along with a bottle of wine. Wheeling back to the couch, he set the bottle and glasses on the table. He then removed the arm rest from the wheelchair and transferred to the couch.
"Katherine, Would you like to join me?"
She smiled and sat down beside him. Katherine watched as Ironside poured wine into both glasses. He handed one to her and picked one up for himself. "What shall we drink to?"
"Why don't we drink to us?" Katherine said.
Ironsides smiled. "To us." They touched their glasses and drank from them.
"How is your shoulder, Robert?"
"It is fine," he answered.
"You don't lie well."
"Whose lying? It is fine...at least as much as it can be under the circumstances."
"I hope you got a tetanus shot."
"I did, although it was not necessary."
"You were attacked by wild animals. Who knows what they may carry?"
"Tetanus is not exactly what you need to protect you from a wild animal."
"I suppose not but it is better then nothing."
"I am fine, Katherine. It will just take time to heal." Ironside stretched his arm across the back of the couch and rested it on her shoulders. "At least I have one good arm."
"I thought the wolverine also bit that arm."
"It is not anywhere near as bad as the shoulder."
"You probably would have been better off if you had stayed home and not come on this vacation in the first place."
"I am glad I came. Milt would not have had my staff to do the investigating or Perry to defend him. Nor would I have gotten to spend time with you."
"I will have to thank Della for inviting me to join you," she laughed. "What are your plans when you get back to San Francisco?"
"There are always cases to work on. The commissioner sees to that. However, I hope to be spending quite a bit of time with you." Ironside took their glasses and set them on the table in front of them. He turned her face toward him with his index finger.
"I would like that, Robert. I would like that very much."
Ironside leaned toward her and kissed her. "Thank you."
"For sharing my vacation with me."
"No, thank you." She looked into his eyes as he kissed her again. Silence prevailed while they watched the fire dance in the fireplace. Before long both of them were asleep in each other's arms.
Della laid in Perry's arms. "Now this is what we should have been doing since we got here," Perry said.
"You don't think we should have stayed longer with Robert and his staff?"
"I don't think Bob wanted us around. I bet he and Katherine were out of that cabin shortly after we were. He wanted to be alone with her."
"You mean the woman that he was going to ignore per a certain attorney."
"Alright, I admit it. You were right about them. I already admitted I was wrong."
"I just want to be sure you admit that matchmaking can work sometimes."
Perry tighten his arms around her. He laughed. "You are an incurable romantic, young lady."
"I prefer to think of myself as someone who wants everyone to be as happy as I am with you." Mason kissed her. "I don't think anyone could be as happy as we are."
"I hope that Robert and Katherine will be." She was silent for a moment and then said, "Perry, what about your knee?"
"What about it?"
"You have done some major damage to it."
"Yes, I know. When we get back to Los Angeles, I will have it looked at."
"You are going to need surgery."
"That will mean a day or two in the hospital."
"You aren't going to try to put it off, are you?"
"Probably. We have a lot of trial work waiting for us. I may have to put it off for a while until we catch up."
"I think you should take care of it immediately. You can always turn some of the cases over to other attorneys until you are back on your feet."
"If it will make you happy, I will get help with the less important cases."
"It will. I don't want you having trouble with that knee for the rest of your life."
"That will never happen. I will get it taken care of and that will be it. It will be fine."
"I hope so, Perry. What worries me is that the doctor said there is quite a bit of damage to that knee."
"It will be fine, Della. You will see. Now can we forget about my knee?" He rolled over on top of her. "There are much more pleasant things we can do than discuss Bob Ironside and my knee."
"Such as?" She smiled and ran her finger down the dimpled line of his grinning face."
"Such as this." He covered her mouth with his in a passionate kiss as his hands began to roam.
"Ed, can you give Robert a hand getting into the Jeep?" Katherine asked the sergeant.
Paul stepped forward and helped Ed lift Ironside into the Jeep. Milt Stein came out of the cabin and loaded the last of the fishing gear.
"Prepare to be beaten. Barbara and I have been fishing in these parts for some time now. None of you have a chance to catch more fish than us."
"We never did discuss who cleans and cooks the fish if Milt and Barbara win," Della said.
"You both will clean and cook them," Milt said. "Paul can be the referee... the official counter."
"Oh, that is really fair," Ironside grumbled.
"Bob, you are not suggesting that Paul would cheat in our favor, are you?" Perry asked.
"No, I am suggesting he can't count," Ironside replied. Everyone laughed.
"You will have to do without me. I have other plans," Drake said, looking at Eve. "And I can count."
"I will count them," Milt said.
"Oh, that is really fair," Mason spoke up.
"Perry, you are not suggesting that Milt would cheat in our favor, are you?" Ironside imitated his brother.
"No, I am suggesting he will cheat in his own favor," Perry said.
Another round of laughter sounded. "We will all count them," Della suggested.
"Well, let's get going," Ironside growled. Daylight is being wasted."
Paul watched with Ironside's staff as they drove off. "Is the picnic basket loaded?"
Eve smiled. "Yes, it is. I'll get it and we can be off."
"You two are going on a picnic?" Ed asked.
"We thought we would take in the sights and well, we have to eat." Paul grinned at Ed. Eve came out of her cabin with the basket and she and Paul left.
"Well that leaves us," Mark said.
"Why don't we get some target practice in?" Ed suggested.
"I would rather go fishing with the chief."
"Mark, there is the small matter that we were not invited," Ed said with a smile.
"Do you want to take bets on who wins?" Mark asked.
"It better be the chief or I would not have agreed to his proposal," Ed replied. "What he has planned is... well..."
"Cheating..." Mark finished for him.
"You said that not me," Ed grinned.
"Paul says Della catches more fish than he or Perry."
"Mark, have you ever known anyone to catch more fish than the chief?"
"No but there is always a first time," Mark said.
"For someone to beat Robert T. Ironside? Bite your tongue. You better not let the chief hear you talk that way," Ed laughed.
"I can't believe we agreed to this." Mark said.
"If we did not, we would have had to fly back today."
"Wait until Perry finds out what he is up to."
Ed chuckled. "Wouldn't you know the chief would find a way out of it if he does lose?"
The buckets were filling up with fish. Ironside looked into each of them. It appeared that his and Della's had the most fish but he could not be sure since not all the fish were the same size.
Perry watched his brother. He smiled. Bob was so competitive. The man could not stand to lose at anything. He was confident that he and Della would win. No one caught more fish than she did. He was sure of it.
He looked into Bob's bucket. It did appear that he had more than Della but Perry knew that she had caught some very small ones. He was glad that Bob had not insisted that they determine the winner by the pound. They would be in trouble.
As the day wore on, Della and Robert continued to add to their buckets. It was clear that Milt and Barbara were out of the running. They had not caught any where near as many as the other two teams.
The timer that Milt had set went off. "That is it folks. It is three o'clock. Time to go back and count the fish."
"I like my fish cooked so that it falls apart," Perry said to his brother.
"Well, than I suggest that you cook it so that it does," Ironside said with usual gruffness.
"I will not be the one cooking the fish."
Ironside turned and looked at his brother with a twinkle in his eye. "I can say with all certainty that it won't be Katherine or me."
Perry frowned as his brother turned his wheelchair away. He picked up his fishing pole and placed it into the Jeep.
"Come on Perry!" Ironside shouted. "Let's get back and count the fish."
Perry got into the Jeep beside his brother with difficulty. "You are that anxious to get started cleaning the fish?"
"No, I am that anxious to see you clean them," Ironside responded.
"Not a chance, Bob! Della caught a ton of fish. There is no way you won!"
"I caught as many or more then she did. Your bucket did not look to me like it contained as many as Katherine's."
"Wishful thinking, Chief Ironside!" Perry grinned at his brother. "I can't wait to taste that fish after you cooked it."
Katherine, who was sitting beside Della whispered to her, "Are these two going to keep this up for the next two weeks?"
"Just wait until they start playing poker," Della said, "if you think this is bad."
"Who do you think won? Perry or Robert?"
Della laughed. "I noticed you didn't mention either one of us."
"Frankly, Della, I don't care who caught the most fish. I am only interested in eating it."
Della laughed. "Before we can do that, we are going to have to find out who is going to cook it."
"Quite frankly, I hope it is a tie." Katherine smiled as Della chuckled.
The Jeep pulled up in front of the main cabin. Everyone came out of the cabin to greet them.
"Who won?" Mark asked.
"We don't know yet," Barbara told them. We have not counted them yet.
"The chief won," Eve said excitedly.
"Don't count on it," Perry called out.
"My money is on Della," Paul added.
"Not mine," Mark said. "I will put money on the winner, which will be the chief."
"What are we waiting for?" Milt called out. Let's count the fish. Barbara and I will do it since we are out of the running."
Milt and Barbara started unloading the fish from the back of the pickup truck they had ridden in.
"Look at all that fish. Someone is going to be eating fish for weeks," Eve said.
"Would you like to bet it is gone before we head home. We are going to be eating it for the next two weeks," Paul groaned.
Barbara and Milt began counting the fish. They blocked everyone's view so that the final result would be a surprise. After ten minutes they turned toward the group.
"You better start the fire, Bob. You have some cooking to do," Perry laughed.
"That is what you think," Ironside grinned. "There isn't even the slightest chance that I will be cooking any fish."
"Come on, Milt, who won?" Paul asked."
"Yea, I would like to know who is cooking tonight," Ed said, looking at Eve and Mark.
"Okay, we have a tentative count. It was very close so we don't have a clear winner," Barbara said. "Dad and I have a different tally. She paused for a dramatic effect. "We will count them again to verify the winner."
Mark gave Otto a silent command.
Barbara and Milt turned back to the fish to see Otto gobbling down as many as he could before someone stopped him. He was eating them from Perry and Della's bucket.
"Bob, you did that on purpose!" Perry protested. "You ordered Otto to cheat for you."
Ironside was grinning from ear to ear. "I admit nothing."
Reminder : I do not own the Ironside or Perry Mason characters. They are the creation of Collier Young and Erle Stanley Gardner. Nor am I making any profit from this writing.
I do not have any legal training. Please forgive any legal mistakes in the courtroom scenes and accept this for what it is intended... entertainment.
Thank you to all those for reading and especially those who left reviews. They are much appreciated.
Special thanks to lemmonpig for her work in proofing.