STREETS
by Henry Wyckoff
A Highlander/Sentinel Crossover
September 1998



Chapter 10

It didn't take all that long for Latro to recover from his little bout with pain from near where one bends at the hip. He didn't know how long he'd been out, but he figured he'd soon blow Methos away, even if he had to hit the guy in the back. Reaching for his rifle, he found . . . that he must have lost it somewhere.

The sight of some homeless man beating his fists against the wall must have been common. What mustn't have been so common was the sight of a homeless man wearing a trenchcoat, beating his fists against the wall, and shouting to himself, "Dammit! Where the hell did I leave that damned rifle!?"

* * *

A few miles away, a cop slowly opened his eyes. Then he screamed. He and his partner were lying in a dumpster. "Bill? BILL! Wake up! We're in a dumpster!"

Bill didn't open his eyes, but he wasn't dead either.

The next thing Giuliani discovered was that his personal radio wasn't there. Neither was his gun. Or his wallet. Or his badge. Bill's was gone too.

The lid opened and some bum looked through. Then he spat through his toothless mouth and mumbled, "Can't even find decent trash in a dumpster nowadays . . . "

"Hey!" Giuliani screamed. "Help us out!"

The old man smiled wickedly, "It's going to cost you. A lot."

"How about some cheap wine from the liquor store?"

"More."

"A trip to Sizzler."

"Nope."

"What the hell do you want?"

The old man smiled again, "I want you hook me up with a two-bit whore!"

Giuliani didn't know if he could put any human being through that horrible experience. Not even a hooker so bonked out on heroin she couldn't even find the door. "Sure. I know who to call."

"You suuure do!"

At least the bum did help him and his partner out. The guy was pretty strong for a wasted wino. The car seemed to be all right . . . except for . . . (in a previous job, he'd worked phones and forms for an insurance company, and he was visualizing the repair order that the insurance probably wouldn't cover) . . .

* Two new back doors.
* Two new front-door windows.
* One new of everything underneath the hood.
* Two new tires.
* Adjustment of car frame and total wheel realignment.

"The Captain's going to love this . . . " At least the spare radio in the glove compartment worked, even if the car radio didn't. "Unit 45 to Cascade base. Unit 45 to Cascade base. Do you copy?"

There was some static (it was a cheesy radio after all -- what did you expect from technology from the lowest bidder?), but dispatch got through. "This is dispatch. What's your 20?"

"In an alley. We were taking a drunk to the tank, but," he tried to remember what had happened next, "something happened. It wasn't an accident, whatever it was, but all I can remember is waking up in a dumpster. My partner is still out -- needs an ambulance. The car is trashed too."

"Are you all right?"

"I just have a splitting headache, but I can walk. I'll check and see where I am . . . I don't believe it! I'm a block away from base!"

"Hold your position. We'll get an ambulance and another unit your way."

"10-4 to that. Unit 45 over and out."

"WNQI-349 over and out."

Giuliani fainted.

* * *

Captain Banks got the message.

"Sir? We got a lead on a possible suspect."

"Huh?" He looked up from his papers to see a floor officer, a beat cop who handled paperwork and wouldn't get out much until his leg wound fully healed.

"A man was picked up after causing a disturbance in a bikers' bar."

"So?" Banks was irritated.

"Officer Giuliani -- who made the pickup -- woke up in a dumpster with his partner and managed to radio in."

"And?"

"The news isn't good. The boys on the scene say that whoever it was kicked out the car doors like they were balsa wood. Somehow, the car was forced to drive into an alley, where it crashed full-speed into a wall. Caved in the front worse than a cow could."

"Didn't anybody report the crash?"

"Nobody listens nowadays, so nobody noticed until a bum happened along looking for trash. The bum helped them out on the condition that they hook him up with a hooker."

"No pun intended . . . "

"Of course. I work hard to slip those in." Banks glared at him, so he continued. "The man left one souvenir for us to remember him by. A handmade job by the looks of it. It's a sawed-off rifle that fires lead balls. You know, like muskets?"

Banks nodded. Disturbing. If an immortal wanted a gun, he'd steal it or buy it, and he'd use the modern items. He couldn't for the life of him remember a weapon like this used before. "Fingerprints?"

"All over that baby -- most are smudged, like he was jacking off with the thing. They're being run through the international system, but it takes time . . . "

"I know." He smiled grimly. "Tomorrow, you'll have to do without me."

"Captain?"

"I'm going to a party."

* * *

Joe lit a cigar, the first he'd had in a long time. This was a special occasion.

"Paulo?"

"Yes?" he lifted his head up from his hands.

"I think we should get your mind off things. What do you think about going to a party? You know, drink some wine, throw those metal balls around on the lawn . . . "

"You're talking about an di'Anno's party, right?"

"Yep. Everyone else is going to be there, even if Pierson isn't. A good way to judge the battlefield by finding out who's moving around -- see who knows what and who doesn't. I can tell you this much; anyone who isn't asking questions doesn't know a thing, and the people asking everything under the sun, except about Pierson, know far too much."

* * *

Jim decided to ring up Blair, who'd finally taken his advice to buy a pager of his own . . . set on silent mode.

"Come on, Chief . . . you can read extinct languages . . . just remember how to use a phone."

* * *

Latro shook his head. At least he could remember that he was heading to Jim Ellison's -- and already knew where it was. Right close by.

* * *

Blair looked at Methos. "Excuse me. Have to make a call."

"It's Detective Ellison, isn't it?" Methos didn't have to ask. Somehow he knew. Or he was good at rolling the dice.

Blair saw no point in lying. "Yes."

A few beeps later and he reached Jim on his cell phone. "Jim? What's with the 911 code?"

Jim's voice was very soft, so that Blair could barely hear him. "Hey Chief, what do you know about Slavic and Middle Eastern languages? Know any?"

"You know my specialty is primitive cultures. I share your views on taking hostages, but I'd hardly call that being --"

"Save it, Sandburg! I'm tailing this old man who's talking with an accent. He doesn't have the body language of a Muslim, and I can't tell if he's Middle Eastern or Slavic."

"Describe him."

"Well . . . " Jim focused in on the man, sitting about a hundred feet away. "He has his hair cut short, but not as short as mine. He has a beard . . . but it looks younger than his moustache. Probably never cut his moustache in his life. It's a wonder any food can go down his mouth! The guy is old . . . but he doesn't look old."

"Hmm. Does he have tan or pale skin?"

"Pale. Very pale."

"That might be a clue. Can you approximate his accent?"

"Like I said, I couldn't tell if it was Slavic or not. But he also talks to himself in some other language. It sounds like even worse gibberish if I try to imitate it."

"Try."

Blair was right. It sounded like gibberish. "I can tell you this much. It's not Slavic and it's not Arabic."

Pierson spoke up. "Perhaps I can help. I speak many European languages."

Jim just about spit out the coffee in his mouth. "Blair? Did I just hear Adam Pierson in the back, there?"

"You did."

"Put him on. We'll sort out the rest later. Trust me, we'll be talking!"

A slight pause. "Detective Ellison. This is Adam Pierson. I was meaning to find you, but it appears you caught up with me first."

"Save it, Pierson. Just tell me if this sounds familiar." He tried it again.

If Pierson's mind had been a jaw, it would have dropped. "I'd have to hear it from the other guy himself, but it sounds to me like you're an American tourist trying to speak Georgian."

"What did I say?"

"I don't know. I can only recognize it, just like you could recognize French, but not understand it if you don't speak it."

"I hear you . . ." Jim sighed. "You know, a lot of people are interested in your health?"

"That's all right. As long as they don't want to kill me."

"Don't push your luck."

Pierson laughed and handed the phone back to Blair, who wanted to talk to Jim some more, but he found the line dead.

* * *

Latro smiled as he sat on his very fragile perch. Sure, it was more feet from the ground than he cared to count, and turnabout was only fair play, considering what he'd unexpectedly done to Pierson, but the view was quite nice. Especially into Jim's apartment.

He thought it ironic how nobody ever bothered to look out a window if it was the second story or higher.

If any of them had bothered to look, they'd have seen him there, at the edge, smiling and listening through the open screen. Good thing he'd showered not that long ago.

* * * *


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