"What they hell we doin' down here?" Joe asked as he followed Levon into the rustic, busy restaurant.
"First off, Chicken knows everything that goes on down here," Levon explained, "and second, I'm hungry."
walked up to the counter and Levon sat down but Joe remained standing.
"Nice place, Levon," Joe commented sarcastically.
"I knew you'd like it."
Chicken turned around from what he was doing on the other side of the counter and saw Levon and Joe.
"Hey Levon," he greeted. "How's it going?"
"Can't complain," Levon answered.
"New blood?" Chicken asked with a nod towards Joe.
"This here's my new partner. Name of LaFiamma." Joe reached out to shake Chicken's hand and Chicken gripped Joe's
hand then planted his elbow on the counter, pulling Joe into the same position.
"Look, I didn't come here to play games." Joe said seriously as he looked Chicken in the eye. "I need to know about
"You want info?" Levon gestured to indicate that this was the price he would have to pay for the information.
"This is ridiculous," Joe complained as Chicken began to push Joe's hand. Joe held firm.
"Ooh … ooh," Chicken murmured as he felt Joe's strength. Both Chicken and Levon laughed as Joe strained to hold his
position. But, Chicken was the stronger, and after a few moments, he pushed Joe's arm down.
"Big deal," Joe murmured as he stood up and straightened the sleeve to his jacket.
"Wha'cha gonna have Levon?" Chicken asked.
"Hey, give me one Lundy," Chicken called to the man working behind him.
"So what about Paluto Limon?" Joe asked.
"I know I ain't heard about him in weeks."
"What's goin on here, Lundy?" Joe complained.
"You know that airstrip halfway to Sugar Land on I-10?" Chicken said quietly as he leaned closer to Levon. "You might
ask around there." Chicken then handed Levon a paper bag while Joe watched one of the workers drop a spoonful of chili
onto an order of french fries.
"You gonna have something?" Levon asked him but Joe just frowned and shook his head.
Later, Levon reluctantly pulled up at a drive-thru window and ordered Chinese take-out for Joe.
While he drove, Levon munched on the ribs he got at Chicken's and Joe used chopsticks to eat his lo mein noodles. At
one point, Joe frowned as Levon tossed a bone over his shoulder.
"You always liter like that, Lundy?"
Eventually they drove up to the airstrip that Chicken had told them about earlier.
"What are we doing here?" Joe asked as Levon stopped the jeep.
"Simple. You think Limon is behind all this. So we're gonna draw him out."
They got out of the jeep and walked over to a helicopter.
"How we gonna do that?"
"Just give it a rest, LaFiamma. You'll see."
Levon approached the man working on the helicopter.
"How do," he said to the man.
"Hello," the man answered. "How are ya?"
"You didn't hear about a chopper going down off shore today, did you?"
"Nah, a what?"
"We're missing a Huey. Must a left an oil slick. You didn't see one, did you?"
"Let me tell you, my friend," the man said with a heavy Cajun accent. "They got a half million miles of gulf out there,
cousin, and if you lost somethin' out there, it's lost."
"I figured you maybe knew someone who'd sell us another. You don't happen to know a fella name of Paluto Limon, do
"Limon? Who's that?" Levon reached over and slipped something in the man's pocket.
"Friend of General Grant's," he explained. "You'll find my number right beside Ulysses' picture on there." Levon
smiled at the man and then he and Joe returned to the jeep.
"So Lundy, why a chopper?" Joe asked.
"Limon fences them, doesn't he? Besides, I always kinda wanted one," he answered as they both got into the jeep.
"But you know, it don't make no never mind. This whole idea is just a waste of time."
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
"Lundy, how come it's so green here?" Joe asked as they drove along. "I thought Texas was a big desert."
"You been watching too many cowboy movies. There's a whole lot you don't know …..," Levon said as he turned and
smiled at Joe, "… about Texas."
There had been very little traffic on the road and Levon noticed a pickup pulled off to the side of the road. As they drove
by, he saw that a man and two young boys were in the back of the truck and he stopped.
"What's up?" Joe asked.
"Looks like a little calf rustlin' to me," Levon explained as he backed up and stopped his jeep next to the truck.
"Lundy, we're in the middle of a homicide investigation and you wanna bust some cow rustler?"
Levon walked over to the truck, showed his badge to the man and the man, in turn, handed him his license.
"Wha' cha doing with that calf, Felipe?"
"Better be careful, Lundy," Joe taunted, "this guy looks like a cow molester."
Levon stared angrily at Joe for a second then returned his attention to the man in front of him.
"The cow was already dead," Felipe explained.
"This calf belongs to Mr. Carver," Levon said. Joe slowly walked behind Levon to the back of the pickup and examined
"Well, Lundy, either, this calf committed suicide, or somebody persuaded him to die," he observed.
"Put a muzzle on it, LaFiamma," Levon told him.
"Señor, I was only trying to feed my family," Felipe explained.
"Worst kinda killer is a cow killer," Joe said ominously.
"Come here, boy," Levon demanded angrily. He walked away and Joe smiled and followed him. Levon walked around
to the opposite side of the jeep and leaned back against the fender.
"I know what you're gonna say, Lundy, and I agree with you," Joe said as he walked in front of Levon and stood next to
him. "There's a tree right over there. We could lynch him right now."
"LaFiamma, in the past few days, you done already showed everybody in Houston what a jackass you are. You working
the rural areas now?"
"I'm working a murder case. You're the one that wants to stop and play Wyatt Earp here."
"You don't know nothing about this. So don't stick you nose where it don't belong."
"It's all yours, Lundy."
Levon turned away and walked back to the pickup.
"I'll call for backup, ok?" Joe offered as Levon left.
"How long since you worked, Felipe?" Levon asked after he returned to the man in the truck.
"I don't work for six weeks."
Levon looked over at the two young boys.
"Well, seeing as how this calf's already dead," he decided, "you might as well feed your family. But at six o'clock
tomorrow morning you better have your butt down at the Basin shipyard, cause I know they're hiring. When you start
working, you make sure you pay Mr. Carver $10 a week till that calf is paid for. Comprendez, amigo?"
"I'll be checking on ya."
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
Joe jumped into the pool at his apartment. The water was cool and a pleasant change from the heat of the day. As he
swam back and forth trying to release the frustration of the day, a girl walked up to the pool. She stepped in and Joe swam up
to her. They swam and played in the pool for a while, then got out and talked a while, enjoying the cool evening as well as each other's company.
"Well, things'll work out and I'll be goin back home," he told her.
"I'm sorry you feel that way," she said quietly. "You're gonna miss a lot of nice things in Texas. I sure hope everything
works out for you, Joey." She shifted position and sighed.
"I gotta get some sleep," she explained as she stood up to leave.
"Maybe I'll see you again sometime, huh?"
"Yeah." He watched her walk away. He was alone.
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
Joe was home in his new apartment, busy cooking when the phone rang. Cooking was something they couldn't take
away from him, something that kept him connected with home.
"Yeah. Hey, Uncle, Mikey, how ya doin? How's Aunt Theresa?"
"She's fine. Joey, listen. ,,,"
"These bozo's finally got around to getting me a decent apartment. It's not too bad."
"That's good. Look, Joey ….."
"Hey, I'm making scaloppini. You would not believe how bad the food is in this cow town."
"Yeah, I know. …. Look …."
"I had to go all over town just to find a decent olive oil."
"Joey, will you forget about the olive oil? I got something important to talk about."
"Hey, come on. What could be more important than olive oil? They put lights in Wrigley Field?"
"They know you're in Houston ……….." Joe stopped stirring and looked away from the stove.
"You there, kid?"
"Be careful "
"Right." He turned off the stove and dropped the pan into the sink behind him. What he didn't see was the car sitting outside his apartment and the man sitting in the car, waiting.
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
"What are we doing at a rodeo?" Joe pronounced the word "ro-day-o" slowly as he and Levon walked through the
"You're in Texas. It's rodeo, son, ro-dee-o." Levon corrected.
"Yeah, so what?"
"We're looking for my snitch. A fellow named Isiah. You want a line on Limon, ask Isiah."
Joe followed Levon up a set of stairs to an empty area where Levon walked up to a man sitting alone and sat down next
"What you betting on, Isiah?" Levon asked. "Them critters with four feet or them funny looking ones with just two?"
"It's the off season, Levon," he told him. "I'm just out here refreshing myself with the roar of the frong."
"Well, why don't you refresh me with a line on Paluto Limon?"
"I be an entrepreneur, my man. I don't make book on threats to my holistic condition."
"Waste of time," Levon agreed.
"Hey, what do you hear about Mike Hail?" Joe asked impatiently.
"New boy, huh, Levon?"
"Real travesty what happened to that man. You suppose old Kip Cordon knows about his partner?"
"He got a graveside phone?"
"What they say is they buried him last month. Me, I know it isn't so. I'm standing out here when the Oilers played the
Vikings on a Sunday, I heard him laugh." Isiah laughed, imitating the sound of Kip Cordon laughing.
"You sure about that?" Joe asked.
"I know Kip's voice."
"Dwell on it, Isiah. You trying to tell us a dead man's laughing?"
"Thinking it might be his astral projection?"
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
"Cordon's body was badly decomposed. It had been out in the desert all that time," the man in the long white coat
explained. He was between Levon and Joe as they walked down the hall.
"It was accompanied by a complete report, in Spanish, by the Medical Examiner down in Mexico," he continued. "Now I
speak a little, I looked it over and it matched all of the local records. The blood group, teeth, and so on."
"But you didn't actually perform an autopsy, did you Doc?" Joe asked as they followed him through a door.
"It wasn't necessary son. He didn't die here, did he? Now, if you'll excuse me." He turned to the table they were
standing next to and pulled the sheet back.
"Ladies & Gentlemen," he began, "I am going to perform an autopsy on a twenty-seven year old male."
Levon and Joe looked around and realized that there were people watching them on the other side of a glass window.
They lost no time leaving the room.
"Now I want to talk to Cordon's next of kin," Joe insisted after they left.
"That tears it, LaFiamma, the man's seen the medical report and everything. If you want to go investigate something,
why don't we go investigate the infidelity? This whole thing is just a waste of time."
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
"Miss Cordon," Joe asked, "did your nephew ever discuss his work with you?"
"You couldn't shut him up," she told him. The elderly woman spoke slowly, her voice dripping with Southern charm.
"We took it with a grain of salt, of course. Kip was never married to the truth. It was part of his charm."
"Do you know what he was working on last August?"
"He might have mentioned it, but my memory fails."
"We appreciate your time," Levon said as he stood up impatiently.
"Did he ever mention a man named Enriquo Paluto Limon to you?" Joe continued.
"Uh, they did, when they came to see me."
"Well, who's they, Miss Cordon?"
"Well, … as next of kin, … the Mexican authorities sent me the casket. My nephew's business partner, Mr. Hail, was kind
enough to take care of things … the funeral arrangements, so I let him. Then, some weeks later, this family of …, well, they
came all the way from Mexico asking me if they could bring back their brother's .... what was left."
"They said the remains in the casket belonged to Limon?"
"I was startled, I admit."
"Did you tell the police about this, Miss Cordon?"
"I told Mike Hail."
"You told Mike Hail, huh." Joe looked up at Levon triumphantly.
"Cordon's out there," Joe insisted as they walked away. "He's alive. He offed Limon, sent him up here in a box, even
got himself a phony autopsy. Waste of time, right, Lundy."
"You shoot in a creek often enough, you're bound to hit a fish," Levon conceded. "Will you hold up a minute?" Levon
stopped and turned to face Joe.
"What's the matter, Lundy? Too fast for you? You want to kick back in that rolling microwave and rot your brain cells
listening to that sound?"
"Music, LaFiamma. Music. And for two bits and a dip of snus, I'll fix your ears where you can hear it right."
"What the hell is snus?"
"This here." He took a container out of his pocket and tossed it to Joe.
"Oh, for pete's sake," Joe said as he knocked it away. The container opened and some of the contents spilled out onto
the ground. Joe turned and walked away leaving Levon standing next to an elderly couple sitting at a table.
"You come back here and clean it up." Levon said as he watched Joe leave, then turned to the couple.
"Here let me buy you a buy you a drink," Lundy said to the people at the table. "Oh, It's a club, you gotta sign for it. I'm
not a member here, but, ….." He paused as he brushed off the man's hat. "It'd be nice," he mumbled as he turned to follow Joe.
Joe did not stop or return. He walked outside and down the steps directly to Lundy's jeep. After he sat down in the
he turned on the radio and began to change stations. He didn't see the white car that had been following them come
from behind a row of parked cars and pull up beside the jeep.
"Excuse me," the driver of the car said. Joe looked over at the man who was now aiming a gun directly at him. As Joe
reached for his own gun, a shot was fired and the man slumped over the steering wheel of the car. He looked back see Levon
steadily fire three more shots. Joe jumped out of the car and ran around to the passenger side of the other car while Levon
ran up to the driver's side. Levon reached inside the car to be sure the driver of the car was dead then put his gun back in its
holster and walked around the back of the car.
"You might have told me you had friends in town, LaFiamma," Levon said as he walked up to his jeep. "I wouldn't have
thought you were doggin it." He reached in and picked up the radio, but turned to look back at Joe before he made the call.
Joe looked back at his new partner silently. As Levon turned away, Joe was remembering something he had told Levon
earlier. "…I get in any situation, I wanna know I'm not gonna be there alone."
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
Levon was sitting at his desk in the dimly lit office with his feet propped up on his desk and he was talking on the phone
while he leafed through the papers in the folder sitting in his lap. Joe was sitting with hs back to Levon, staring straight
ahead, but not really seeing anything.
"All right then, I'm much obliged to you," Levon said before hanging up the phone.
"That dude was a real enforcer," he told Joe. "18 grand jury indictments against him. Cleveland, LA, Chicago." Joe
didn't comment and Levon returned his attention to the folder. He'd lost interest in the information in the folder, however, and
he glanced over at Joe again. Something had changed between them, Levon knew it and it looked like Joe knew it, too.
"You feeling all right?" he asked and, after a moment, Joe nodded his head slightly. "When you gonna notify your
face?" he asked then looked down at the folder again. The papers inside were mostly personal items like photographs and cards.
"I'm glad you were there, man," Joe said quietly. Levon looked up at him, mildly surprised.
"No big deal," he said.
"Sorry about your wife," Joe offered. Levon didn't look at Joe this time, he just continued to look at the papers in the
"Yeah," he said with a sigh, "sorry about your partner." He stopped looking at the folder and looked up at Joe. "You
ever think it might just have been his turn?"
Joe merely shook his head so Levon tried to concentrate once again on the papers in the folder. This time a card
caught his eye. It was signed with a lipstick kiss and the initials REH. He compared it to an invitation from Mike and Rose
"Can I hear what you got on the Hail case?" Lt. McLaren asked as she stepped out of her office.
Both the detectives got up and went into her office. Levon took the folder with him and he sat patiently on the edge of
her desk while Joe told her what they had learned so far.
"And so, Cordon ships the casket north and sets out to do business, Limon's," Joe explained. "Now Hail finds out,
Cordon ends up dusting Hail, ba ba bing, pushes the car in the water."
"So what's the next step? We wait for him to make contact about the helicopter?"
"That's assuming he does. Of course, he may not. In which case, we can probably kiss him goodbye."
"This infidelity that Hail's secretary mentioned, doesn't that help?"
"Nah, we asked around, it led up to nothing. It was a waste of time. I mean, we know the guy's out there, we just don't
know where or how to put the pressure on."
"Yeah," Levon said quietly while Joe was talking, "unless it was just a little too close to home …"
"If everything you say is true, then we are dealing with a very dangerous man here," the Lieutenant said.
"Yeah, with an ego as big as Texas." Joe agreed.
":……like if Mike Hail was investigating his own wife," Levon continued.
"What?" the Lieutenant asked as she realized what Levon had said.
"This is a file of Cordon's from sometime early last year before he supposedly died. This is a Valentine signed 'Love,
always, REH.' This here's a dinner invitation from Mike Hail and his wife, Rose Ellen Hail - REH. You know what I think? I
think Mr. Cordon and Ms. Hail have been steppin out together."
"How does it go?" Joe asked with a grin.
"Oh, if you shoot in a creek often enough, you're bound to hit a fish," Levon answered with a smile.
"Now we know how to put the pressure on Cordon."
"Tried to get in touch with Rose Ellen," Levon told Joe as they walked down the sidewalk. "She's gonna be outta town
till tomorrow night …."
"You wanna get something to eat?" he asked as they stopped in front of his jeep.
"No," Joe said abruptly. "Look, I'm just gonna walk around for a while. I'll see you in the morning." Levon watched Joe
walk away. If he knew him better, he might have asked what was wrong, but they were still strangers and maybe it was better
that way. He got into his jeep and drove away.
Joe walked away from the station slowly. The night was clear. It had been raining while they were inside and the lights
from the buildings made the damp sidewalks shine. He didn't walk aimlessly, however, he had a destination.
Uncle Mikey was standing at the window looking out at the city when Joe knocked. He walked across the room and
opened the door.
"I got your message," Joe said. "Welcome to Houston, Uncle Mikey."
"What happened to your face?" his uncle asked as he walked across the room.
"You know, I got in a fight." He looked around the room as he sat down. "You got a rough life, Uncle Mikey."
"So, how's Houston treatin you, kid?"
"Ah, you know. Me and my partner are closin' in on some big local operators."
"Look, I'm gonna get right to the point. I made a deal for you."
"What are you talking about?"
"You stay here in Houston and the hit's off. They see you in Chicago, and, well, you know what'll happen."
"I don't make deals with these people," Joe said impatiently. "They don't run my life. Who the hell ……."
"Now hold it right there," Uncle Mikey cautioned, sounding more like a father than a friend. "I didn't ask if I could make a
deal for you. I made it. Now you save those jokes for the local clowns, because, these guys don't smile."
"Uncle Mikey, I can't make any deals with these people."
"Joey, you're going to have to, cause once the life leaves your body, nothing can put it back."
As he walked back to his apartment, Joe didn't' really see the city. It was just brick and cement. It could have been
Chicago, only it wasn't. Everything he knew and loved was in Chicago and, now, he couldn't go back. He was alone in a city
he didn't understand.
When he reached his apartment, he walked by the pool. The girl he had met the other night was sitting at the edge of the
pool. She turned and looked up at him as he walked up behind her. He held out his hand and, when she reached for it, he
helped her out the pool. She stood close to him. They didn't speak. She put her arms around his neck and he pulled her
closer. They silently held each other for a while before he took her hand and led her to his apartment.
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
Kip Cordon sat in the small room slowly loading a gun as one of his men walked over to the door and opened it. Medina
entered the room and went directly over to Cordon.
"He wouldn't go for it," Medina man told him.
"Then try one of the other guards."
"No. It's this one or nobody. Look, Cordon, maybe it's not the right time to try this. I know it's a big deal, but we ….."
"Listen to me. Now I didn't kill Limon for nothin', and I didn't have you kill the Sanchez brothers for nothin'. Now we're
goin all the way with this one."
"Yeah, but it's just not …."
"Shut up," Cordon said as he stood up. "The Trenton Armory is shipping those air to air missiles and I'm not going to
He put the loaded gun in a holster that was hanging nearby and turned to the man. "There's a war going on down
south and I've got both sides willing to pay top dollar for munitions. And no two hundred dollar a week rent-a-cop is gonna
keep me from getting those missiles."
"You can't buy some guys."
"Look, this ain't Mexico and you ain't still working for Paluto Limon."
"Cordon, the guard wouldn't even talk to me."
"All right, everybody's got a weak spot. I just guess I'm gonna have to find his myself."
Cordon slowly drove the van into the shopping center parking lot. He carefully surveyed the area as he drove between
the lines of cars.
"Cordon, there she is," the man next to him said.
He pulled up behind a young woman carrying several shopping bags as she walked to her car. While she put the bags
in the back seat, he stopped the van directly behind her car. When she finished, she looked up to see the van stopped behind
her car so she walked over to the van and knocked on the window.
"S'cuse me," she said, "you all got me blocked in." While she stood there, two men slid open the side door and jumped
out of the van. She was startled and took a step back, but they quickly picked her up and forced her into the van.
Cordon drove the van up to the building and stopped in front of the gate. The guard stepped over to the van carrying a
"Authorization, please," he asked. Cordon glanced into the back of the van and one of the men pushed the woman they
had taken earlier forward. Medina, who was sitting in the passenger seat, put a gun to her head.
"Claire?" the guard said when he saw the woman. "Please just don't hurt her. I won't make any trouble for you."
"I'm sure you won't," Cordon said.
The guard stepped back and opened the gate.
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
Levon walked purposefully into Chicken's and up to the counter. Chicken immediately walked over to him.
"Chicken, you ain't never seen a man as hungry as I am," Levon said as he sat down.
"Ah, no. You ain't got enough time for my good cookin', boy, cause I got two hundred dollars worth of info I know
you want to buy."
"Wha'cha got?" Levon asked as he pulled his wallet from his back pocket.
"Word has it that Limon's boys knocked off that armory and that he is moving the bullets right now."
"Port of Houston."
Levon stood up and handed the money to Chicken then walked over to the pay phone. He took out a piece of paper and
dialed the number.
At the other end of the line, a phone sitting on a table next to two empty wine glasses rang and a hand reached over
and took the receiver off the hook and set it on the table.
"LaFiamma, talk to me boy." Levon yelled into the receiver. When there was no answer, he replaced the receiver
impatiently and left the restaurant.
"This is 12-14," Levon said into the radio as he drove, "put me through to Lt. Beaumont."
"Roger," a voice replied.
"Beaumont, here," the Lieutenant answered after a moment.
"This here's Lundy. I got a major crime for you."
"So, what do you have?"
"A boatload of cop killer bullets ready to float out of Houston harbor."
"You got a make on who we're going against?"
"Try on Paluto Limon's folks, all right."
"LaFiamma open up," Levon said as he banged on the door to Joe's apartment. "LaFiamma, I know you're in there. I
can smell the garlic."
Joe reluctantly got up to answer the door.
"Come on, come on!" Levon demanded.
"Hey, hey!" Joe yelled back as he opened the door.
"Throw your clothes on, boy, we got someplace to be."
Joe turned to walk away without answering.
"Here, you're gonna need this," Levon told him as he threw him a police jacket like the one he was wearing.
As Joe walked away, Levon looked into the apartment and saw the girl laying in the bed. He stepped inside and looked
in the direction Joe had gone.
"She come with the new lease?" he asked. "Welcome to Houston," he said with a smile.
"Come on, get a move on," he said as looked at his watch then looked over at the sofa bed.
"Howdy," he said and she slid down further under the sheet.
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
Cordon was standing on the dock next to a large yacht watching the activity going on around him. He didn't see or hear
car that drove up behind the building behind him followed by a police van. Lt. Beaumont and the Captain got out of the car
while several officers got out of the van as Levon and Joe came up to the Lieutenant.
"Thought you got lost," the Lieutenant said to Levon.
"Had to stop to pick up Special Agt. LaFiamma," Levon explained. "He's on loan to us from Chicago. He's a tactical
"Let's go," the Captain said.
The Lieutenant motioned for the men to move into position. The officers moved in turn from behind the building to
places behind crates sitting in several places on the dock. First Levon and Joe and then the Lieutenant followed.
"All units, hold your positions," the Captain said into his radio.
The officers watched as crates were being loaded on to the yacht. A man with a rifle was watching, but had not yet
spotted the police. As one of the officers changed position, he attracted the attention of the lookout and the man began
shooting in his direction. The officers returned fire. Several of the men with Cordon started shooting at the police while Joe
and Levon began to make their way towards the yacht. Some of Cordon's men were hit, a police officer was shot, and the
truck carrying the missiles was hit causing the missiles to begin firing randomly. Levon reached the dock as the yacht was
beginning to pull away and Joe jumped for the yacht as it began to move away from the dock. Levon got behind the
remainder of Cordon's men who had been left on the dock.
"Freeze!" he demanded. The men stopped shooting and turned towards him as the Lieutenant and several other
officers backed up Levon.
Meanwhile, Joe walked carefully around the yacht. As he stepped down into the cabin he heard the start up of an
engine. He looked through a window to see that Cordon had made his way on to a small boat.
"Damn!" Joe growled in frustration as he watched Cordon speed away.
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
One of Cordon's remaining men opened a crate of rifles and removed one. He was checking it as Cordon came into
"Where in the hell do you think you're going?" Cordon asked the man.
"Anywhere but here, amigo."
"Oh? It's getting a little hot for you here? Maybe you're afraid of dying, too? Well, you know there's two ways of dying,
there's rich and there's poor. See, that's no choice."
"Face it, Cordon. The job's blown, man."
"No, it ain'. Someone got wise and blew up half our shipment. Well, we still got four tons of missiles and a chopper
worth millions. If all goes right, we'll be out of this country tonight."
"You gonna sell that chopper to those guys, huh? We don't even know who they are. What if they're cops?"
"Well, if they're cops, they're the ones that ruined our day at the docks and I'll just kill them and take their money. And if
they're not cops, I just kill them anyway and I'll still take their money. That's the beauty of it, we can't lose."
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
"I want to congratulate you …," Lt. Beaumont told Levon as he and Joe entered the Major Crime Unit, "and, what was it
again, Special Agt. LaFiamma? … on what a great job you did. Both of you. And because you seem to have the inside track
on Paluto Limon's organization, I'm having you transferred into my Major Crimes Unit."
"But there is no Paluto Limon," Joe said as they followed her into her office. The Lieutenant walked around to the other
side of her desk and sat down.
"We believe Cordon killed Limon, then faked his own death, so he could take over Limon's business," Levon continued.
"Can you prove that?"
"But we haven't questioned Rose Ellen Hail yet," Joe said.
"Well, what are you standing around for?" the Lieutenant asked.
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
Levon and Joe finally tracked down Rose Ellen Hail in a recording studio. They waited patiently in the control booth
while she finished recording the song.
"Break my mind," she commented happily as she finished. "We get it that time?" she asked.
"Uh, huh," the man in the control booth answered. "There's two officers here who want to talk to you, Rose Ellen."
Rose Ellen entered the control booth and sat down.
"You know my private life is none of your business," she told the two detectives.
"If it involves your husband's murder, it is, Mrs. Hail," Joe told her.
"I had nothing to do with Mike's dying."
"Ain't nobody said you did," Levon corrected. "We think it was your boyfriend."
"What boyfriend?" she demanded as she turned up the music. "You know, P.I.'s are just like police, a lot of people don't
like 'em and there're a lot of people who might want to see them dead."
"Including their partners." Levon said. Rose Ellen smiled and held out her empty glass.
"May I have another?" she asked. Levon grabbed the glass from her hand and threw it across the room.
"You've had enough already. Look, I'm sorry. Why don't you just tell us where he is?"
"I don't know who you're talking about," she insisted.
"You listen to me, lady. If you didn't have nothing to do with killin' your husband, you don't have to be scared, but if
you're scared, you ought'a tell us, cause we can't help you if you keep it a secret."
"Why don't you people just leave me alone?" She turned away and pushed all the controls on the board in front of her
filling the room with the sound of the song she had just recorded.
"Come on, let's get out of here," Levon said to Joe.
"You should have pressed her," Joe told Levon as they walked to the jeep.
"It's Cordon we want, not her. You think she ain't calling him right now, telling him we come by."
"I hope so."
"Bet on it. And Cordon's gonna know his whole game is on the line here. And he's big headed enough to want run the
ball right down our throat. You wait and see."
"Come on, you don't think she's involved?"
"The woman ain't bad, she's sick, LaFiamma. I know. I used to live with it," Levon insisted angrily.
"Easy does it," Joe said, trying to calm Levon.
"I got a question," Joe said after they both had gotten into the jeep. "If Cordon calls, he gonna think we're after the
chopper or his hide?"
"I gotta think." Levon said after a moment, and then turned on the radio.
Joe picked up the small frame and looked at the picture of Lundy and an attractive young woman. Probably his wife, he
thought. Levon was sitting on the step to his small trailer sliding bullets into a rifle. The phone rang and Joe picked it up and
handed it to Levon.
"Yeah," Levon said into the phone.
"Have you boys been asking about a helicopter gun ship?"
"Who is this? Limon?"
"Man this thing costs a lot of money. You got 3 million dollars?"
"That's a little high, isn't it, partner?"
"Listen good. Be here in 30 minutes. You know the Galveston airport?"
Moments later the jeep was speeding down the dark highway.
"12-14 to base," Levon said into the radio as he drove. "We've made contact. Code 1."
"Wait for backup."
"No time, he's moving now."
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
"If only one of them comes in, just play it real cool until we grab the other one and if they both come in, just blow em
away," Cordon instructed his men as they waited.
Outside, Levon drove the jeep up to the building and stopped.
"Remember, I go in first," Joe said.
"Go ahead on."
Joe walked into the building and up to a door and knocked.
"Hey, is Limon here?" he called out.
Two men let him in, frisked him and took the briefcase. They then walked him over to another door.
"Where's your pal?" Cordon said as he opened the door.
Cordon reached to the side of the door and pulled Rose Ellen next to him.
"Is this one of them?" he asked her. She looked away, her face was bruised.
"One of the cops? You cops are dead meat." Cordon said.
"You wanted it all, didn't you?" Joe asked. "Limon's reputation, his business, your partner's wife. Is that the gun you
shot him with when he wised up, huh, Cordon?" Joe turned to Rose Ellen. "You had enough of him?" he asked her.
"Lets see if the chumps brought us anything real," Cordon said.
One of the men opened the briefcase and it exploded. Joe moved, grabbed a gun and pulled Rose Ellen away from
"Get outa here," he told her. She ran towards her car as Levon drove the jeep through the wall.
"Police!" he yelled as he jumped from the seat and took cover behind the jeep. He shot two men before they could
"Look out, Lundy!" Joe warned as he shot a man who had come up behind Levon.
Rose Ellen got in her car and started to drive away. Cordon ran to the helicopter and fired one of its missiles. It broke
through the back window as she drove out of the building and the car exploded in a ball of flame. Levon ran towards the
burning car while Cordon moved to a machine gun and prepared to fire at Levon. Joe shot Cordon ending his crime spree.
"Lundy!" Joe warned as he ran towards Levon.
Levon had already reached Rose Ellen's car and was trying to find a way through the flames. Every time he
approached the burning vehicle, the intense heat forced him to move back. Joe came up behind him and pulled him away.
"Lundy! No!" he yelled as Levon struggled to get away. "You can't save her!" Levon finally relaxed and stared at the
flames helplessly as he leaned back against Joe.
"You couldn't have saved her," Joe said quietly.
Joe walked past the police cars over to the jeep. Levon was sitting on the passenger side staring straight ahead so
Joe sat down behind the wheel.
"You all right?" he asked, but Levon didn't answer.
"You might want to notify your face," he said with a little bit of a smile. Levon slowly turned his head to stare at Joe but
he didn't have the energy to fight back.
- - - - - ooo - - - - -
Levon and Joe sat next to each other in front of Lt. Beaumont's desk. They weren't speaking; they didn't even look at
each other as she walked in behind them.
"I just finished reading through your crime reports," she told them. "I'm impressed. You two sure know how to get
"But …?" Joe asked.
"But, you seem to be butting heads throughout the entire investigation. I would like to know how you would feel about
continuing as partners." Someone came to the door and she walked over to talk to him. Levon and Joe quickly leaned
towards each other.
"LaFiamma there ain't no way in hell I'm gonna be your partner …"
"Now look Lundy, you're just too slow …"
They continued to argue, both talking at the same time, neither one listening to the other. They quickly realized they
were getting nowhere and abruptly moved apart. The Lieutenant finished her conversation and returned to Levon and Joe.
She leaned down and put one hand on Levon's shoulder and the other hand on Joe's.
"Well?" she asked.
"I don't think it'd work, Lieutenant," Joe said while Levon said, "No can do, Lieutenant".
"Good. You start work tomorrow morning … at 8 o'clock … both of you."
"So Lundy had a woman partner that made Lieutenant. And now he takes orders from her," Joe goaded.
"Just like you do LaFiamma, just like you do," Levon answered as they walked through the service garage and stopped
at Levon's jeep.
"Uh, huh. Let me drive," Joe suggested.
"You out'a your mind? You don't even know your way around this town."
"How do you expect me to learn?"
"I don't want no fender benders," Levon warned as he tossed him the keys and got in the passenger side.
Joe started the car and turned around to back up, however, the car moved forward instead, right into the back of a blue
and white. Levon jumped out of the jeep to assess the damage.
"What'd you do, sit at home and plan this, dipstick?" Levon asked angrily as he looked at the crumpled fender and
watched the steam rising from the engine.
"I'll pay for it." Joe snickered slightly as he stood on the other side of the jeep.
"With what? Pointy shoes?"
"Hey! I just said I'll pay for it. Be glad. You'll get a real car."
"What I need is a real partner."
"You and me both, pal"
"You better back off, boy."
"Why don't you back me off?"
"That's a dang good idea."
They both prepared to jump over the top of jeep to get at each other.
The fight was on.
- - - ooo - - - OOO - - - ooo - - -