"And he said, 'Don't look. Listen'. Don't you find that curious, officer? Wouldn't it be easier to look for a bomb?"
"It does seem curious, ma'am, but the important thing is they actually found the bomb, however they did it."
The elderly woman's hands flittered nervously in her lap. "Heavens, yes."
The patrol officer gently covered her hand with his own. "Is there anything else you'd like to add to your statement, ma'am?"
"Oh, no. Not at all. Just tell those two young men that they're heroes. Heroes, I tell you. I don't know...I can't think about...I think...I really need to go hug my grandchildren."
The officer stood and gently guided the woman to her waiting family.
"Yeah, the kid saw the scarf bunched around the suspect's hand and tried to find Ellison, who was up in the choir loft."
The other officer sighed.
"Hey, it's a rookie mistake. He'll learn," his partner said earnestly.
"He better. Mistakes like that can be costly."
"Yeah, but I'm pretty amazed that he spotted the scarf at all. The kid must have eyes like a hawk. Plus, he put two and two together. Come on, Murphy, you gotta give him credit for that, at least."
"Sure. Okay. Whatever. Let's just finish getting people's statements so we can snag a late lunch."
"What about the metallic taste in the mud?"
Carolyn Plummer looked up from her report, startled. "You tasted it?"
Blair swallowed hard and shot Jim a nervous look. "Uh, yeah. I didn't contaminate your sample or anything, did I?"
"No. It's just that the iron oxide we found was so minute it would have been almost impossible for you to taste anything..."
"Hey, Kevin. Miserable night to be out, isn't it?" Blair smiled in greeting as the uniformed officer approached.
The young blond officer returned the smile and grimaced as a gust of wind blew down the alley. "Don't you know it. So what are you doing back here with us average Schmoes? Aren't you usually where the action is?"
Blair shrugged. "Usually, but the take down happened just inside Eastern's jurisdiction and they're trying to take the case from Jim."
"What? Are they suicidal?"
Blair laughed. "I'm telling you, man, their Detective Roberts is taking his life in his hands."
"Anything we can do to help?"
Blair quirked an eyebrow at the young officer. "You serious?"
"Hell yes, I'm serious. I was the one who spotted Caviness and called it in. I'm up for review in two weeks and it certainly wouldn't hurt to have those points on my sheet, you know? I'll lose 'em if Eastern gets it."
Blair clapped his hands together once, rubbed them together and took a step closer to the officer. "Okay, look. Jim thinks Caviness ditched his weapon while he was running. Basically, if we can find it, we can weight the scales a bit in our favor."
"Why isn't Eastern out looking then?"
"They're calling in units now, but once they get here they'll still have about ten blocks to cover."
The blond grinned conspiratorially. "So where do we begin looking?"
Blair shared the grin, then looked innocently at the officer. "What makes you think I have an idea where to look?"
"Don't give me that shit. You always know."
Blair's grin widened. "Okay, I do have an idea, but we're going to need help."
Kevin nodded then turned and shouted down the alley. "Murphy!"
"What?" an annoyed shout came back.
"Come here a sec."
"Hale, so help me, if you're yanking my chain...Hey, Sandburg. What's up?" the older officer asked as he drew closer to the two men.
"Sandburg wants to try his voodoo."
Blair laughed. "My what?"
"You know. That thing you do."
"I do? Voodoo?"
"Will you two quit with the comedy routine already?" Murphy growled.
"All I said was I had an idea."
"So share it already," Murphy said, cutting his partner off before he could speak. "I'm mildewing out here."
"Okay, dazzle us, kid," Murphy said as the three of them stood in the alleyway where the footrace had started.
Blair nodded nervously. "Alright. I think Caviness probably got rid of the gun pretty early in the chase because neither Jim nor I could remember him with it when he was looking for an open door at the warehouse."
Hale nodded encouragingly. "Go on."
Blair started walking down the alley, the beam of his flashlight bouncing on the muddy pavement in front of him. "Right. We know that he didn't get rid of it in this alley because Jim was right on his tail. If Caviness had tossed it, Jim would have seen it."
"Makes sense," Murphy conceded.
Blair turned into the next alley. "Jim slipped in the mud here, but he still had Caviness in sight."
The small group walked quickly down the short alley. As soon as they turned the corner, Blair stopped. "Here. He had about ten seconds in this alley by himself before Jim was on his heels again."
Murphy nodded. "Kev, you take the right. I'll take the left."
As both officers moved toward opposite walls, Blair remained rooted in the center of the street and shined the spotlight on the broken cement of the alley floor. He could barely make out the various shoeprints in the mud. He sighed quietly, wishing, not for the first time, that he had Jim's enhanced vision. As far as he could tell, all the prints looked the same.
He slowly walked forward several steps, then saw a small skid in the mud and stopped. Blair frowned. When given a choice, Caviness always turned right, which indicated the murderer was probably right-handed. If Caviness had dropped the gun, it would simply be a matter of releasing it and letting it fall where it may or letting the natural momentum of his pumping arms toss it to his right. The skid seemed to indicate that he might have thrown his stride off a bit by pitching it to the left.
Blair swung his flashlight to the left. Even with the rain, he could see the fresh chip on the brick wall across from him. "Kev. Murphy," he called out, then moved to investigate.
Both officers jogged toward him.
He pointed to a five foot section of wall. "We need to check here."
Neither officer questioned him. They just moved forward, flashlights pointed toward the ground near the wall.
Less than a minute later, Kevin shouted, "Got it. You got your digital, Murphy?"
"I never leave home without it," the older cop wisecracked.
"Told you, voodoo," the blond teased.
Blair rolled his eyes and stepped back next to the Kevin as they watched Murphy take snapshot after snapshot. "Are we still in Central?"
Kevin grinned brightly. "Of course."
"Cool." Blair shivered slightly, trying to ignore the damp hair plastered to the back of his neck. "Hey, finding the gun will give you a couple more brownie points, right?"
"But I didn't find the gun!" Kevin protested.
Blair rolled his eyes, pulled out his cell phone and hit the speed dial. "Jim. Officer Hale found the murder weapon. Uh-huh. Yeah, it's in Central. Yeah. Murphy's photographing it now. You got it. Sure. No problem." He closed the cell phone and grinned at the taller man. "Can I catch a ride to the precinct with you guys? Jim says to tag the gun and hightail it out of here before Eastern can locate us."
"You got it, Blair. But I didn't..."
"Shut up, Kevin."
The blond looked over at the older officer, who stood with the pistol hanging from a pen. "But Murph..."
Blair stepped forward, held out an evidence bag and let Murphy drop the gun into it.
"Shut up, kid," Murphy growled, although his eyes twinkled with amusement. "Come on, boys, let's get the hell out of here." Throwing a companionable arm around Blair, he guided him back toward their patrol car. "Say, got any idea where we can get an anthropologist of our own?"
Charles Daggett, Captain of Patrol, leaned forward in his chair. "Look, Banks, we aren't trying to expose your little secret or anything, but it's obvious that the kid has some sort of heightened senses and is teaching Ellison how to hone his during investigations. All we're asking is that he give a seminar or something for the beat cops."
Simon Banks blanched.
"Hell, even my men want to sit in on a meeting or two," Joseph Addler, the Homicide Captain, said, nodding his head in agreement.
"Look, Simon. I know your stats have always been good. But one doesn't have to listen to the PD scuttlebutt to know they've gotten better since Sandburg started riding along with Ellison. And hell, we've all seen Ellison successfully applying his techniques so there's no doubt they work. All we want is to give our guys an advantage over the criminals, because you know as well as we do that every little edge counts on the street. Besides, we're all essentially on the same team."
Simon cleared his throat. "Uh, of course. We are indeed." He coughed again. "The kid...uh...Sandburg's pretty busy, so it might take a couple of weeks for him to put something together. So far he's just been...field testing with Ellison, so I don't know if he has any sort of definitive outline. We'll probably be putting him on the spot."
Daggett and Addler smiled brilliantly in triumph, realizing that Banks was acquiescing.
"No problem. I'll have Tim Wilson call his wife and get Sandburg's schedule at the university. We'll try to schedule the seminars for about four to six weeks from now. I'm pretty sure we can reserve a conference room up on eight for a couple of days. I'll have my assistant look into it. Don't worry about anything, Banks, we'll do all the legwork on this one." Addler stood and held out his hand.
"Sounds good." Simon shook the offered hand, along with Daggett's, feeling as if he had stepped into some sort of surreal movie. "I'll ask Sandburg this afternoon to put something together."
"Excellent," Daggett said happily.
Simon waited until both captains were out of his office before he collapsed in his chair. "Dear God," he whispered to himself. How in the hell were they going to get out of this one?
He looked up just as the source of his ulcer entered the bullpen. With a feral grin, he pushed himself out of his chair and headed for his doorway. "ELLISON! MY OFFICE!"
Blair's heart fell into his stomach. "That's not funny, Simon," he whispered.
"Do I look like I'm laughing?" the captain countered, frowning.
"If it's any consolation, kid, Jim's secret is safe."
"What?" Blair barely breathed.
"They think you have heightened senses and are just instructing Jim in how to use his better."
Blair couldn't stop his eyes from blinking as he tried to absorb the information. "Me? I...I...Why?"
"That's probably my fault, Chief," Jim said quietly from the next chair.
Jim shrugged. "You know I haven't been real careful about hiding my abilities. And when we get into a situation where someone notices, you have a tendency to step forward and either take the heat off me or misdirect the conversation at hand. I guess...I guess we should have expected something like this."
"Oh my God, what are we going to do?"
"You're going to give a seminar," Simon said, breaking into the quiet conversation before him.
"What? Are you crazy? I can't just...I can't..."
"Deep breaths, Chief. Easy does it."
"We don't really have a lot of choice," Simon added, not unsympathetically. "Unless you want to out Jim."
"Calm down, Sandburg," Simon said quietly. "No one's going to be outed."
"Blair, didn't you tell me that over sixty percent of the population possessed at least one sense that was more attuned than the rest of their senses?" Jim asked, laying a hand on his friend's forearm.
"Yes, but not necessarily heightened."
"True, but not all senses are created equal. Besides, when I met you, you had hundreds of documented cases where one to three senses were heightened. So it's not really that uncommon of a phenomena...having a heightened sense, am I correct?"
"I guess you could look at it that way."
"So, if we cop to my having better than average hearing and eyesight and your having better than average senses, we could pull this off. We can sell this whole thing as I'm helping you with your dissertation on closed societies and you're showing me how to use my senses to focus on clues during investigations."
Blair nodded slowly. "Yeah, that might work. Plus anthropology employs a lot of the same techniques as forensic scientists use."
"Exactly," Jim said with relief. "Tell them what they already know, but tweak it toward using their senses to pay attention to details. Who knows, maybe one or two of them have a sense that's higher than average and you can help them like you've helped me."
"So we got a plan?" Simon asked, his gaze moving back and forth between the two men.
"I think so," Jim said, nodding with a smile.
"Good, then get the hell out of my office. Oh, and Jim," Simon called out as they reached his office door.
"Try to be a little more discreet in the future, okay?"
Jim nodded emphatically. "Yes, sir."
Blair looked over at his easel and checked to make sure his marker was still there, then looked down at his notes and swallowed hard.
He didn't like making the men and women of the department think he was the special one in his partnership with Jim, but he also understood Jim's reluctance in letting the world know about the full extent of abilities. However, if his colleagues thought they knew a little bit about what was happening, they'd be able to look after Jim when he couldn't and maybe Jim wouldn't feel like such a freak. And who knew, maybe what he had to say really could actually help them a little bit with their investigations.
He took a deep breath, looked at the back of the room for his partner and returned the smile directed his way. With his courage bolstered, he greeted those in the conference room. "Good morning. As most of you know, my name is Blair Sandburg. I'm here today to talk to you about taking advantage of your senses during the investigative process...."