There'll Be A Hot Time ..." is my latest venture into Knight territory.
It's actually a lot of little stories.
If you're a TV fan, you may catch a few 'veiled' references to the past.
Standard Disclaimer :
The characters of Sgt. Levon Lundy, Sgt. Joe LaFiamma, Lt. Joanne Beaumont, Sgt. Carol O'Brien,
Sgt. Esteban Gutierrez and Sgt. Nat Holliday belong to the creators (Michael Butler and Jay Bernstein)
and owners (Columbia Pictures, I think) of Houston Knights
There'll Be A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight
by Arrow © November, 2001

Hot.  That was Sgt. Levon Lundy's first thought as he opened his eyes to the early morning light.  He didn't get up right
away, choosing instead to just listen for a few moments to the sounds outside his window.  He could hear Fooler, his
horse, walking around the corral and he smiled as he got out of bed.

"Damn!" he whispered as his feet touched the floor.  His partner was going to be in a rotten mood due to the heat.
That Chicago boy was never going to accept his new home.

"Oh, well," he thought, "just another fun day in Houston."

> /\ <

Sgt. Joe LaFiamma was already sitting at his desk when Levon finally got there.

"Mornin', Levon," he said brightly as Levon reached his own desk.

"Howdy," Levon answered cautiously as he stood in front of his chair.  His partner in a good mood was a bad sign.

"It looks like it's gonna be a slow day," Joe told Levon, "but the Lieutenant's not in yet, so I suppose that could
change."  Levon sat down and stared across the two desks and through the branches of the bonsai tree at his cheerful

"Okay, where's my partner?" he finally asked.  Joe shrugged and looked down at his hands a little sheepishly.

"I just decided that I live in Houston now so I might as well get used to it."  He shrugged slightly once more as he
watched Levon lean back in his chair to stare at him.

> /\ <

Lieutenant Joanne Beaumont felt something was wrong as she came through the double doors.  The office was far too
quiet.  She immediately looked over at the desks of Sgt. Lundy and LaFiamma.  They were sitting at their desks but
there was no arguing or teasing.  She had been about to open the door to her office, but changed her mind and walked
slowly over to the two detective's desks.

"Hi," she said tentatively as she looked first at Joe then at Levon.  "Everything okay?"

"Just fine," Levon said.

"Great," Joe said brightly.  She quickly turned her head to look at Joe again.

"Got anything new for us?" he asked before she could say anything.

"No," she said slowly.  "I'll let you know if anything comes up."

"We'll be here," he assured her.  She glanced at Levon as she turned slightly but, since he had no explanation for his
partner's change in behavior, he just looked away.  She walked back to her office, hesitantly taking one more look at
the two detectives before opening her door to enter.

As the Lieutenant closed the door behind her, Sgt. Annie Hartung quietly rolled her wheelchair up to Joe's desk.  She
tossed a folder onto the desk.

"Sorry, Joey," she said, "the bullets from the gun match the ones taken from the victim, but the fingerprints on the gun
don't match your suspect."

"Are you sure, Annie?" he asked.

"Am I sure?  No.  I just came all the way up here because I didn't have anything else to do."  She turned her chair
abruptly and began to leave.

"Annie?" Levon asked cautiously as she quickly moved away from them.

"Guess you guys are on your own on this one," she finished as she left.  The normally quiet double doors seemed to
slam behind her after she pushed them open and disappeared down the hall.  Levon turned to Joe.

"What'd I say?" Joe asked.  Levon merely shook his head.

>> ---------- >

"Feels like there's gonna be a storm," Levon said as he got into the Jimmy.

Before he opened the door, Joe looked up at the sky.  There were no clouds.  The sky didn't look any different than
normal.  It was Levon's town, though, and maybe he hadn't been here long enough to see the signs.  He shrugged and
got into the truck.

"You may be right," he said as he shut the door.

"I sure hope the storm breaks this heat," Levon said as he first rubbed his eyes then wiped the dampness from his
forehead.  He looked over at Joe who didn't appear to be affected by the heat.

"It's the humidity, Lundy."  Joe didn't look at Levon as he answered, he just stared straight ahead.

"Yeah," Levon mumbled as he started the engine then eased the truck into the city's traffic.

> /\ <

They had not gone far when Levon suddenly pulled up alongside a smoking trash can and quickly got out of the truck.
He grabbed the small fire extinguisher he kept behind the seat and ran over to put out the smoldering fire.  When he
was sure the fire was out, he tossed the extinguisher back in the truck.

"Someone must've tossed in a lit cigarette," he said as he slipped behind the wheel.

"I don't think so," Joe said calmly as he nodded.  Levon looked ahead and noticed several wisps of smoke appearing
further down the street.

"Call it in," he told Joe as he started the engine.  "We'll drive down the street and see if we can catch up with
whoever's starting them."

Six trash cans had been set on fire but there was no sign of who might have been responsible.  As a matter of fact, the
people walking down the sidewalk seemed to take no notice of the smoke or flames.  Joe and Levon tried asking a
few people if they had seen anything, but could find no one who had seen the fires being set.

> /\ <

The fires had been extinguished, the fire truck had gone and even the curious bystanders had returned to their lives
before the two detectives silently decided they had wasted enough time trying to gather information.  Frustrated, they
returned to Levon's Jimmy.

Levon got in and closed the door with a sigh.  He put both hands on the wheel but hesitated before starting the engine.

"Where were we going before we found the trash cans?" he asked Joe.  Joe looked at him blankly for a second before
closing the door after he got in the truck.

"Uh, we were going to talk to Grady to see if he might slip up and tell us something we can use ... since his
fingerprints weren't on the gun."

"Oh, yeah.  Do you suppose there's a chance he didn't do it?"

"No," Joe answered, matter-of-factly.

"Right," Levon agreed as he turned the key.

>> ---------- >

Levon eased the Jimmy around the corner just as the clown came running out of the restaurant.  Complete with frizzy
purple wig, big red nose and huge floppy feet, he ran down the sidewalk.  As he ran past the truck, Levon saw a man
come out of the restaurant.  He was holding his head.

"Someone stop that clown!" the man yelled then leaned back against the front of the restaurant.  Joe jumped out of
the Jimmy almost before Levon had stopped and ran after the fleeing clown.  Meanwhile, Levon went to look after the
other man.  As he came up to him, Levon saw that the man's head was bleeding.

"What happened?" Levon asked.  The man looked at Levon as his legs gave out and he slid down to the ground.

"I'm a police officer," Levon explained.  "Did he do this to you?"  The man nodded.

"I was getting ready for the lunch crowd," he explained, "and he came barging into the restaurant.  He demanded to
see someone named Lorraine.  When I told him there was no one here by that name he sort of went crazy.  He
grabbed a lamp from one of the tables and hit me with it then ran out."

"Just be still.  We'll get you some help." Levon went back to the Jimmy and called for an ambulance.  He was walking
back over to the man as Joe returned empty handed.

"I lost him," Joe explained.  "He just disappeared around a corner."  Joe looked down as the man sitting on the ground
in front of him moaned.

"This is gonna take a while, isn't it?"  he asked as he looked back at Levon.  Levon just sighed.  A long day just got

>> ---------- >

The air in the office was heavy as Levon walked over to his desk.  Joe was by the window talking to Sgt. Nat Holliday.
His jacket was tossed carelessly across his chair and the shine on his shoulders and forehead told Levon that the heat
was finally getting to him too.  When he saw Levon sit down, Joe returned to his desk.  He decided not to ask Levon
why he was scowling.

"We're running the prints from the gun but we haven't found a match yet," Joe told him instead.

"It's almost worse in here than it is outside," Levon complained.

"The air's on the fritz.  They're working on it."

Levon rubbed his head.  He was getting a headache.  He opened his drawer to look for some aspirin as Sgt. Esteban
Gutierrez came into the unit.

"Good morning, my friends," he said brightly.

"What's good about it," Levon asked as he pulled a small bottle out of the drawer.

"Absolutely nothing."

Joe chuckled and Levon tossed the bottle on to his desk.

"Esteban, do you want something?" Levon asked.

"You know we have an arsonist out there?"

"Don't tell me ...," Joe said, "... trash cans."

"Exactly.  After the six you found, he hit several more times.  The total is up to 48 right now."

"And no one saw anything," Joe added.

"Naturally." Esteban turned to leave, but hesitated.  "I'll tell you one thing.  If we have to start staking out trash cans,
I'm going back to Matamoros."  As he left, he passed Lt. Beaumont coming into the office.  Levon left his desk to get
some water and when he returned the Lieutenant was dropping a folder on his desk.

"What's this?" he asked.

"The clown's yours," she said.

"No way, Lieutenant," Joe argued.

"You two were first on the scene."

"So?" Levon asked.

"So, there's some sort of bug going around.  Half the building's empty.  Sorry."

"Hey," Joe said to Levon after the Lieutenant had returned to her office, "didn't your grandmother teach you to
share?"  Levon picked up the bottle of aspirin and tossed it to Joe.

"First we get stuck with a dead accountant and now we've got to find a ballistic clown," Joe complained.  "What's
going on here, Lundy?"

"The Lieutenant just told you, everyone's out sick," Levon explained after he swallowed the aspirin.  "And Oscar
Danforth may have been only an accountant, but he was a respected Houston businessman and a personal friend of
the Chief."

"Ah," Joe scoffed as he opened the aspirin bottle.  He took out a couple tablets and tossed them into his mouth.   After
he closed the bottle, he reached for his coffee cup to wash down the aspirin.  As he swallowed, he grimaced.

"Coffee's cold," he said.  "Let's go talk to Grady, since we didn't get around to it yesterday."  Joe stood up and Levon
reached for his hat.

"Do you really think he's gonna tell us anything different?" Levon said as he stood up too.

"No, but anything's better than sitting around here."  Levon chuckled to himself as he followed his partner.

>> ---------- >

"Does this happen very often?" Joe asked as they drove through the afternoon traffic.


"This weather."

"We have hot spells here and there, but it does seem to be warmer than usual."  The crackle of the radio interrupted
their conversation and Joe answered.

"Joe, it looks like your clown has struck again," Lt. Beaumont said.  "A patrol car responded to a call at Vincent's Bar
and Grill.

"We're on our way, Lieutenant."

> /\ <

Levon pulled up behind the ambulance.  As he and Joe got out they could see a man sitting on the ground with a
paramedic next to him.  One of the uniformed officers noticed them as they walked past the police car.

"Hi, Levon," the officer said as he walked towards them.  "When I called this in, they told me you'd be stopping by."

"Hi, Parker," Levon said.  "What's the story?"

"The manager was just getting ready to open up when a man came in looking for someone.  He didn't like the
manager's response so he hit him over the head with a water pitcher.  You're not gonna believe this, but ..."

"The assailant was wearing a purple wig and a big red nose, right?" Joe asked.


"And was looking for Lorraine?" Levon continued.

"So the APB you put out yesterday was for real?"  Levon and Joe just stared at the officer.  "I thought it was a joke,"
he explained, trying not to laugh.

"Don't I wish," Levon muttered as he walked away. he officer looked at Joe.

"Sorry," he said.

"It's okay," Joe answered and followed Levon.  The paramedic stood up as first Levon and then Joe walked up to him.

"Is he okay?" Levon asked.

"Yeah, he's fine.  Probably broke his sense of humor though."  The paramedic chuckled as he picked up his things and
returned to the ambulance.  Joe and Levon did not laugh.  The restaurant manager started to stand up and Joe
reached over to help him.

"Sir," Levon asked, "do you have anyone working here by the name of Lorraine?"


"How about a customer who may come in regularly?"

"Not that I know of."

"Do you know anyone by the name of Lorraine?" Joe asked.


"How about the guy who hit you?" Levon asked.  "He didn't happen to look at all familiar, did he?"  He knew it was
probably a waste of time to ask but he did it anyway so he wasn't really surprised when the man just looked at him in
silence.  Luckily, Joe turned away so Levon wouldn't see him chuckle.

>> ---------- >

Levon leaned back in his seat as he stared out through the windshield of his truck.  He took his hat off
and wiped at his forehead with the back of his wrist.  He then breathed a heavy sigh.

"I think it's hotter today than it was yesterday," he said.

"There's something happenin' here that I don't understand," Joe said quietly.  Levon turned slowly and
looked at him.

"I feel like I'm in some sort of fifth dimension," Joe explained.

"Don't get all spooky on me, LaFiamma."

"Don't you feel it?"

"It's the weather.  It's fixin' to storm.  All you feel is the heat and humidity."

"Maybe," Joe said as he turned away with a pout.

"Any unit in the vicinity of 216 Lawndale.  See the woman regarding a possible kidnapping."

"We're close," Levon said as he started the engine.  Joe picked up the mic.

"92-14, responding."

> /\ <

Levon stopped the truck in front of the pretty little house and he and Joe hurried up to the front door.
Joe knocked and a young woman answered the door.

"Ma'am, I'm Sgt. LaFiamma.  This is my partner Sgt. Lundy.  You called about a possible kidnapping?"

"No possible about it.  The man kidnapped my son," she said indignantly.

"May we come in, Ma'am?" Levon asked.

"Oh, of course."  She opened the door to let them in and led them into the small living room.

"What exactly happened?" Joe asked.

"My son and his friends were playing outside and the Reverend came up and asked them if they would
like some pizza.  Well, of course, they all said yes.  And he took them to the church."

"Are they there now?" Levon asked.

"No, they're all home."

"Ma'am, I don't understand," Levon said.

"Now, I can understand his calling.  But he had no right to just come and take my boy like that.  I take
care of my son.  He should have asked first.  I just don't understand why ...."

"Just the facts, Ma'am," Joe interrupted.  She took a breath.

"Tommy, come here," she called and a young boy came into the room.  "Tell the officers what the
Reverend did."  The boy looked up at his mother for reassurance.

"It's all right," she told him.  "Just tell them."  He turned and looked evenly at Joe and Levon.

"He baptized us."

> /\ <

"I had to save the children," the tall man explained as he stood on the steps of the little white church.
He looked at the two detectives as if it was the obvious answer.

"Reverend," Levon began, "you lured children to the church to baptize them?"

"I had to save the children," he repeated.  "Haven't you seen the signs?"

"Signs?" Joe asked.

"Right here.  Right now.  We stand at the middle ground between light and shadow ..."

"Reverend," Levon said.

"... between science and superstition ..."

"Reverend," Levon repeated sternly.  The man stopped and looked at Levon.  Levon looked back at the
man and sighed.

"Reverend," he continued patiently, "I don't think anyone is going to press charges.  Just don't do it again."

>> ---------- >

Levon closed his front door quietly and moved into the dark room.  He walked through the darkness and
instinctively reached over and turned on the desk lamp. The yellow light made the dampness on his forehead glisten. 
Even though the sun had gone down, the heat remained.  He tossed the mail in his hand on the desk without looking
at it.  When the low rumble of thunder broke the silence, Levon walked over to a window and looked out into the night. 
As he watched, a second roll of distant thunder echoed in the sky without any sign of the preceding lightning. 
Levon sighed wearily as he watched the sky.  He hoped the storm would come soon.

>> ---------- >


Joe nearly collided with a man in an orange jumpsuit carrying a ladder as he came into the Major Crime
Unit.  The man paid no attention to him as he continued down the hall.  Joe walked past the Lieutenant's office and
stopped at his desk.

"What's going on?" he asked.  Levon slowly looked up at his partner.  Joe was dressed in jeans and a
T-shirt and his eyes looked like he hadn't slept.

"They're working on the air conditioning," Levon explained.  "You all right?"

Joe finally sat down at his desk.  He leaned back in his chair and studied Levon.

"Just couldn't sleep," he explained.  "How 'bout you?"

"I didn't get much sleep either," Levon admitted.

"LaFiamma, you're in luck," Nat Holliday said as he sat at the computer.  Joe turned around to look at

"We got a match on those fingerprints," Nat explained.  "They belong to a guy by the name of Burt
Montana.  He was picked up six months ago.  He had 142 outstanding parking tickets."

"Parking tickets?" Joe asked.

"Yeah.  But he managed to disappear from the courthouse somehow and hasn't been seen since."


"It gets better.  Two months ago all the fines were paid."

"So he paid his parking tickets and then killed a C.P.A.?"

Nat just shrugged in reply.  Joe turned back to his desk impatiently.

"I still think it's Grady," he said to Levon.

"I don't disagree with you.  But how do we prove it?"

"I guess, since his prints are on the gun, we should try to track down Burt Montana."

> /\ <

Levon stopped his Jimmy in front of the run-down old hotel.  A few men stood around the open door.  Their clothing
was tattered and well-worn and they watched apathetically as Joe and Levon got out of the truck.  There was no
reaction from the men lingering around the door as the two detectives went inside.

The stagnant air inside the building was made even more repugnant by the heat and humidity.  The man sitting behind
the front desk did not look up when Joe and Levon walked across the small lobby and up to the desk.

"Excuse me," Levon said after waiting a few seconds.  The man stopped reading his newspaper and slowly looked up
at Levon.

"We're looking for Burt Montana," Joe said.

"So?" the man said and returned his attention to the newspaper.  Joe reached over and grabbed the man's shirt,
pulling him half-way across the counter.  Levon put his badge up to the man's face.

"I guess you didn't hear.  We're looking for Burt Montana," he said.

"He's gone," the man said.  Joe let the man go after a moment.

"What do you mean by 'gone'?" Joe asked.

"He moved.  A couple weeks ago."

"Where did he move to?"

"I didn't ask.  He didn't say."

Levon looked over at Joe and sighed then looked back at the man.

"You don't have any idea where we might find him?" he asked.

"He works at an office building.  He cleans up at night.  He used to tell me about the fancy accountants that work

>> ---------- >

"Fancy accountants?" Joe mused as they returned to Levon's truck.  "Looks like Burt was there the night Grady killed
his partner."  Joe stopped at the passenger side door while Levon walked around the front of the truck to the driver's side.  He and Joe looked at each other through the open windows.

"Paid parking tickets.  New place to live.  Mr. Montana also seems to have come into some money," Levon said.   They
looked at each other for a couple seconds before getting into the truck.

"Chicken's?" Levon asked as he started the engine then pulled away from the curb.

"Sure," Joe answered without any enthusiasm.

"We could go somewhere else."

"Nah.  Not really hungry anyway.  It's this heat."

They had not driven far when a sound behind them made Levon glance up at the rear-view mirror.  A semi was
bearing down on the Jimmy.

"He's moving a little fast," Levon commented.  As if in reply, the truck's air-horn blew a warning.

"I don't think he has a choice," Joe said.  Levon stepped on the gas as the semi came dangerously close.  At the first
chance, Levon turned out of the semi's path.  The Jimmy slid around the corner and jumped a curb.  Levon managed
to stop his truck just short of a pawn shop window.

Joe jumped out and ran back in time to watch the semi skid unsuccessfully at the end of the street.  The trailer tipped
over and slid across an empty parking lot on its side.  Dust and smoke billowed around the truck as it came to a stop
without hitting the group of stores that edged the lot.  Joe was the first to run up to the semi as the driver climbed out
of the cab.

"Are you okay?" he asked and the driver nodded.  "What happened?"

"The gas pedal stuck."  He was breathing hard as he looked first at his over-turned truck, then at the empty parking
lot.  No one had been hurt.  Damage was minimal.  It could have been worse.

Levon drove up in the Jimmy and got out to check on the driver.

"He's okay," Joe assured him.  "The Jimmy?"

"Okay," Levon said.  The three men looked at each other, silently acknowledging that luck had been riding with them
all that day.

>> ---------- >

It was late afternoon when Joe and Levon finally made their way to Chicken's.  Shortly after they sat down, Chicken
ambled up to their table.

"What do you know, Chicken?" Joe asked.

"It's too damn hot," he said.

"Don't you know it," Levon agreed.

"There's something strange in the air," Chicken said.

"What do you mean?" Joe asked.

"The weather.  It's not normal."

"It's just building up to storm, Chicken," Levon insisted.

"Maybe.  But there's been a lot of strange happenings going on lately."

"Tell me about it," Joe said sarcastically.

"Got something particular in mind, Chicken?" Levon asked, ignoring Joe's comment.

"My diswasher stabbed one of the cooks with a fork."


"Real nice young man.  I've known him since he was little.  One of my cooks mentioned he was putting the forks in
wrong and he stabbed him with one of the forks."

"Chicken, shouldn't you have reported that to the police?" Joe asked.

"Oh, he wasn't hurt bad.  And the young man was real sorry.  Said he didn't know what came over him."

"Chicken," Levon explained, "it's just this weather.  It's got everyone on edge.  Tempers are short."

"I sure hope that's all it is."

>> ---------- >

The detectives were quiet as they rode through Houston's city streets.  Not wanting to sit in the stifling office, they
wearily patrolled their city.  Strands of Joe's normally neat hair stuck persistently to his damp forehead.  Occasionally,
Levon would wipe away a drop of moisture that formed at his temple then rolled down the side of his face.  The
moisture laden air was hard to breathe and even talking was an effort.

"Stop!" Joe said suddenly.  Levon pulled the Jimmy over to the curb.

"Back up.  I think I saw something down the street we just passed."  Levon eased the truck carefully back across the
intersection and then turned down the small side street.  The street was quiet.  A small restaurant was about halfway
down the block.

"You're gonna think I'm crazy, but I thought I saw ..."

"Fuzzy purple hair?" Levon finished the sentence for him.  Joe nodded and Levon stopped the Jimmy in front of the
restaurant.  They got out and walked up to the front door.  They were a few feet away when the door burst open and
the clown ran out through the open door.  He was moving fast and he ran between Joe and Levon easily pushing them

"This guy is beginning to get on my nerves," Joe said and he and Levon turned to pursue the clown.  They chased
him down the small street and round a corner.  He occasionally pushed a pedestrian out of the way or knocked
something over to slow Joe and Levon's progress but they didn't stop.  Eventually they began to reduce the distance
between them and the fleeing clown.

After a couple blocks, the man turned into a small park.  As he ran across the grass, a group of children saw him and
quickly stopped what they were doing and began to run towards him.  The clown heard the children calling and looked
towards them.  When he heard their laughter as they came running up to him, he slowed down and eventually came to
a stop.  The children quickly surrounded him.

As Joe and Levon ran up to the group, the man turned and looked at the officers.  Even through the make-up, the
resigned look in his eyes was evident.

"Sorry, guys.  The clown can't play today," Joe said as he grabbed the man's arm.  The children moaned in protest but
quickly went back to what they had been doing.

"Still looking for Lorraine?" Levon asked as he and Joe escorted the man out of the park.  A patrol car drove up and
when the officers got out.  Joe handed the man over to them.

"Book 'em, Dano," he said with a smile.  The officers chuckled and took custody of the clown.

>> ---------- >


All the alarm did was tell him it was time to get up and get ready for work.  Joe had been awake since before dawn.
The darkness had done little to lower the temperature and that made the rising of the sun merely a prelude to another
unbearable day.  The air conditioner in his apartment barely made the room livable.  The humidity made the air heavy,
although Joe was still not convinced that it was only moisture.  He reluctantly rolled out of bed and headed for the

He showered quickly and got dressed, opting once again for jeans and a T-shirt.  At least he wouldn't feel all wrinkled
by the time he got to the office.  As he downed a glass of orange juice, a low rumble made the glasses in his cupboard
rattle softly.  Was the thunder louder than yesterday?  Maybe it was closer.  He hadn't heard the telltale crack of

"I hope you're right, Levon," he said out loud.

>> ---------- >

Joe came out of the elevator slowly.  He walked down the quiet hall and into the office.  The double doors were open
but the office was empty.  For a moment, Joe felt like he was in the wrong place but his bonsai tree was sitting on his
desk and Levon's Stetson was sitting on the corner of his desk.  Joe sat down with a sigh.  Obviously, the air
conditioning had not been fixed.  The air wasn't just hot, it was thick and heavy.  He held his palm out in front of him
and slowly closed his fingers into a fist.  He then chuckled to himself because he had been sure that when he opened
his fist there would be something in his palm.

"Here, you'll need this," Levon said as he set a bottle of water in front of Joe.

"Where is everybody?"

"Well, almost everybody is out sick," Levon explained.  "The Lieutenant's talking to the Chief.  Right now, we're the
only ones here."  Levon sat down across from Joe and picked up a folder.

"Oh, Nat was here earlier," he said.  "He left to go take care of his grandfather.  The heat is hitting him pretty hard."
He tossed the folder to Joe.  "Nat found out that Oscar Danforth had no family so he left the building to his partner."

"Thomas Grady," Joe added.

"You got it.  Also, the partners each took out a million dollar insurance policy naming the other partner as beneficiary."

"So Grady's financial status has been greatly improved by the death of his partner."

"There ya go," Levon said with a smile and a nod.

"All we have to do is find out how Burt Montana figures into all this."

"The world has gone crazy, my friends!"  Both Joe and Levon turned to watch Esteban march through he open doors.

"Is someone still setting fires in trash cans, Esteban?" Joe asked.

"No.  That has stopped.  However, it has recently been reported to the Houston Police Department that the trash cans
are now disappearing from the city streets."

"Someone is stealing trash cans?" Levon asked.

"So it would seem.  And since these trash cans represent a sizeable investment, they have asked the stupid Mexican
to find said trash cans."

"Esteban ...," Levon began.

"Well, this Mexican is going home.  I am going to see my family before I go crazy, too!"  With that ultimatum, Esteban
turned and marched away.  Joe and Levon turned to look at each other silently.  Levon sighed.  Joe shrugged.  A
couple weeks ago, Esteban's outburst would have been funny.  Not today.

Lieutenant Joanne Beaumont entered the office shortly after Esteban left.  She looked tired.  Her normally perfect
attire was slightly crumpled.  Levon would not have been surprised to learn that she had not gone home last night.

"Hi, guys," she said as she reached their desks.

"You okay, Joanne?" Levon asked.

"Yeah," she said, but her voice was tired.  "I've got something for you.  A Dr. Metcalf runs an out-patient clinic over on
Palmetto.  We got a call that there may be a riot over there."

"What?" Levon asked.

"Lieutenant?" Joe complained.

"Just check it out," she said with a wave of her hand.  "Please."  She turned with a sigh and went into her office,
quietly closing the door behind her.

> /\ <

Levon stopped his truck on the side of the street opposite the small medical building.  The building's parking lot was
indeed full of people, but they seemed to be quiet and calm.  Joe and Levon left the truck and walked into the crowd.
They began to realize that there was actually an informal line that started at the front door and weaved its way back
and forth across the parking lot.

They moved slowly through the people who seemed to be waiting patiently.  They eventually reached the front door,
but as they attempted to enter the building a few people tried to stop them.

"Hey, wait your turn!" a man yelled.

"Yeah, we were here first!" another agreed.

"Police officers," Levon said as he took out his badge and held it up for them to see.  At the sight of their badges, the
people standing near the door moved back a little.

"You leave Dr. Metcalf alone!" a woman demanded.

"We're just going to talk to him," Joe explained as he and Levon slipped through the door.

Joe and Levon followed the line of people inside the bulding to the entrance to the small out-patient clinic.  Once
inside the clinic, they saw a man standing behind a counter talking to the first pesron in line.  Behind the man, it
looked like temporary shelving had been set up and it was filled with various bottles that appeared to be medications.
There were also some packages that were definitely not from any pharmaceutical company.

"Dr. Metcalf?" Levon said as they reached the counter.  The man handed something to the person in front of him then
looked over at Levon.  He studied him for a moment, noticing the badge hanging on his jacket pocket, then glanced at Joe.

"What can I do for you, officers?" he asked as he returned his attention to Levon.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm helping people."

Joe and Levon turned to the people inside the clinic and began to gently move them out into the hall.

"Folks, could you please wait outside a few moments while we talk to the doctor?" Joe asked.  As they ushered the
people through the door, the sound of irritated voices filtered into the hall.

"I told you it was too good to be true!"

"They're here to stop him!"

Joe and Levon quickly shut and locked the door to the clinic.

"You can't do that," the doctor protested. "This is my clinic."

"Doctor ...," Joe began.

"I am a doctor.  I can ..."  Persistent pounding at the door covered whatever the doctor was saying.  Levon saw a
phone and jumped over the counter to call for backup while Joe watched the door begin to weaken from the onslaught.

"This is gonna get ugly, Levon," Joe said.  Levon jumped back over the counter to stand next to Joe.

"I know," he agreed.  He turned back to the doctor.  "What were you thinking?"

"These people need help.  They're in pain.  Most of them have no money and the system denies them what they

"So you're just giving it all away?" Joe asked.

"I paid for it.  I can dispense it as I please."  They could hear the crowd outside now.  Word had obviously spread and
the once quiet crowd was quickly turning into an angry mob.  The door was about to give way as the people on the
other side pounded and pushed on it.  Levon pulled his gun and fired into the ceiling.

"Go home!" he yelled.  At the sound of the gun, the pounding stopped.  The angry voices became silent and, after a
few moments of shuffling, no more sounds were heard from the hallway.  Joe and Levon waited a couple seconds
before moving towards the door.  Joe glanced at Levon before attempting to open it.  Levon stood behind him, his gun
still in his hand, and nodded.  Joe unlocked the door and opened it enough to look into the hall.  Satisfied the hall was
empty, he and Levon left the clinic.

The hall was empty, but they could still see the crowd waiting outside.  Something flew through the open door and hit
Joe.  Levon turned to see Joe fall to the floor.  It was all the diversion the crowd needed.  Levon never saw the faces
as the angry mob stampeded into the hall.

> /\ <

Levon groaned and opened his eyes.  He was lying on a cot in some sort of medical office.  In the center of the room,
Joe was lying on a table and Dr. Metcalf was leaning over him.

"Hey!" he said weakly and attempted to move.  Pain slowed his progress.

"Don't get up, my friend."  At the sound of his voice, Levon realized that Esteban was standing at the foot of the cot.

"Do what your friend says, Sgt. Lundy," the doctor said without looking away from what he was doing.  "You're pretty
banged up.  Mostly cuts and bruises, but you'll be sore for a while."

"What about my partner?" Levon asked as he put his feet on the floor and sat up anyway.

"Except for this cut on his head, same as you.  He'll be fine."  The doctor finished his work then straightened up and
looked over at Levon.

"I'd give you something for pain, Sergeant, but my supplies seem to have disappeared."

"Disappeared?" Levon said.  The doctor looked at him evenly.


"Esteban," Levon asked, "what are you doing here?"

"You called for backup.  I'm it."

"Is the crowd still out there?"

"No. The place is empty, inside and out.  Except for you, LaFiamma and the doctor."

"Guess that means that all the evidence is gone too."  Levon chuckled softly and rubbed his eyes.  He could feel
another headache coming.  Joe groaned and Levon stood up slowly and walked over to him.

"You're okay, partner," he said quietly.  Joe opened his eyes and look up at Levon.

"Did we win?" he asked.  Levon laughed.

"Not this time," Levon said.  Joe smiled and looked around the room.

"Esteban," Joe said as Esteban appeared next to Levon, "thought you were going home."

"I changed my mind."

>> ---------- >

Lt. Beaumont immediately came out of her office when she saw the three detectives.  She watched Levon and Joe sit
down at their desks painfully.  She glanced at Esteban, who nodded a silent greeting, then returned her attention to
Levon and Joe.

"Are you two all right?" she asked.

"Fine," Levon mumbled.

"No problem," Joe echoed.

"What happened?"

"Dr. Metcalf was dispensing prescription medications at no charge," Joe explained.


"His patients lost their patience and we were in their way," Levon finished.

"And what about Dr. Metcalf?"

"I would imagine that the good doctor will be closing the clinic," Esteban said.

The Lieutenenat looked from one face to another.  Esteban didn't appear to be joking.  Joe and Levon were obviously
not in a joking mood either.  She decided that she had gotten all the story she was going to get on this one.  She
decided to change the subject.

"Have you had any luck finding Burt Montana yet?" she asked.

"No," Joe said, "we thought we'd see if he shows up for work tonight."

"Are you sure you're up to it?"  She looked first at Levon, who merely nodded, then back to Joe, who shrugged.

"Okay," she said and returned to her office.

> /\ <

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