Notes: Book used for proverbs is A dictionary of American proverbs by Wolfgang Mieder (editor)
The commotion was heard by the other men and Vin and Ezra decided to go and see what was going on. They entered the room and were staggered to see the damage Chris had done.
Vin stepped forward with his hands out in a placating gesture. Buck tried to warn him off with frantic hand signals.
"Chris, calm down. Whatever's wrong can be sorted," Vin said as he reached Chris. He put a hand on his arm to try to stop him doing any more damage.
"If one more person tells me to calm down, I'll knock his head off." Chris snarled, shrugging off Vin's hand and pushing him away with some force. Vin rebounded off the wall with a grunt. He leant back against the wall. His legs buckled under him and he fell to the floor. Ezra dropped to his knees beside him immediately, while Buck turned to Chris angrily. He put a hand on Chris's chest and pushed him away.
"God Chris, get a grip will ya? Who else you gonna hurt? Sit down over there before I do something I'll regret." When Chris showed no signs of obeying, Buck shouted, "Sit down!" He pushed him into the remaining whole chair and stood over him. Chris looked shocked as he realised what he had just done.
Ezra stayed beside Vin, who had his eyes tightly shut against the renewed pain in his back. His breath came in short gasps as he tried to control his emotions and the onslaught of pain that each breath produced.
"I'll get Mr Jackson," Ezra said, watching Vin with concern. He stood and left the room quickly. He returned soon afterwards with Nathan who sat beside Vin and started looking at his back.
"He's opened up the stitches again. Help me get him upstairs Ezra will ya?" Nathan flicked a glance towards Chris, while shaking his head. Whatever had got Chris riled up so much that he would hurt Vin, albeit unintentionally?
"Most certainly, Mr Jackson," Ezra said. They lifted Vin to his feet carefully and helped him leave the room at his own pace. When they had eventually negotiated the stairs, Nathan sat Vin down on one of the beds. Vin was out of breath and in a lot of pain. Nathan taped the wound on his back shut and passed him some pain killers and put him to bed.
Back downstairs, Chris was angry and upset with himself for hurting Vin. Buck had made him a strong black coffee to try and sober him up. However, he thought hurting Vin had sobered him up quicker than any potion could.
Finally Chris spoke, "I'm sorry Buck. Thanks for always being around when I lose it."
"That's okay, Chris, but I think it's Vin who needs an apology."
"I know. I'll speak to him in the morning. I think I'll get out of everyone's hair and go to bed. At least you'll get some peace and quiet." He stood slowly and made his way upstairs.
Buck sat alone in the room and thought back over the last few days. He wiped a hand over his face and sighed deeply. There was a knock at the door and Ezra came in. He had seen Chris leave and wanted to know what was going on.
"Bucklin, is he alright? What's happened to put him in such bad humour?"
"Mitchell was innocent. Chris got a letter from the eyewitness, whose name is Sellers, admitting to lying at the trial. He was blackmailed into giving evidence by Chris's boss and the murdered woman's husband. The woman was actually murdered by her husband after a blazing row about her infidelity. Chris's boss, the husband's friend, was there when he did it and they cooked up the deception between them. Gallagher, the husband, had evidence that would have ruined Sellers. It was something to do with him dealing in prescription drugs. Sellers was a well respected doctor apparently. Gallagher used that to get him to lie on oath about Mitchell. Mitchell was known to Sellers, who suggested fitting him up. Sellers had supplied Mitchell with drugs and he knew he also had a criminal record, for petty crimes mostly, but he had shown violent tendencies before. It was just a matter of him being a prime candidate for the role of fall guy. It all boils down to someone knowing someone else who could be set up."
"My, my, what a tangled web they weave," Ezra commented.
"Let me tell you everything I know, then you can help tell the others. Gallagher and Kirby, Chris's boss, returned to Gallagher's home after having been out for a drink together. Gallagher's wife was on the phone when they arrived and Gallagher heard enough of the conversation to realise she was talking to one of her numerous lovers. He lost his temper and killed her by hitting her with the base of a lamp. Kirby witnessed it all and did nothing to stop it. When she was dead, he used his mobile to phone Sellers. They didn't use the phone in the house in case the bill was checked and someone realised the connection between those involved. Kirby used the information he had about Sellers to blackmail him into testifying and finding someone to take the blame for the murder. As I said before that's how Mitchell fell into the frame. Sellers went to find Mitchell and took him back to the building he owned in the centre of town, where he peddled his drugs from. He used Rohypnol, the date rape drug, on Mitchell to make sure he definitely wouldn't remember what had happened to him. Sellers took some of Mitchell's clothing so they could get hair samples to use at the murder scene. He also took his shoes. He left Mitchell locked in the building and made his way to Gallagher's house. They used his shoes to leave a few footprints around outside to make it look as though Mitchell had been hanging around before breaking in and murdering Mrs. Gallagher. Inside the house they left a few hairs that they had found on Mitchell's clothes. Sellers took some of Mrs Gallagher's jewellery to plant on Mitchell's body, so when he was found he would be immediately incriminated. Sellers then went back to take care of Mitchell. He put the jumper back on and also planted a few hairs he had taken from Mrs Gallagher's body on his clothes. Sellers then took Mitchell back to where he had picked him up from and left him. Kirby meanwhile took Gallagher to the train station, where he would catch a cab home and supposedly discover his beloved wife's body. As the crime happened late at night, no witnesses other than Sellers and the cabbie came forward. Gallagher has been blackmailing Sellers ever since to make sure he kept his mouth shut. When Sellers knew that Mitchell had been executed he decided he had better come clean."
"It gets worse the more I hear," Ezra said.
"Well, you know as much as I do now. You can tell why Chris was so upset. I've had enough for one day. Is Vin alright?" Buck asked.
"Yes, he'll be in pain for a while, but Nathan's done his usual immaculate job."
Ezra and Buck went up to bed. They were both to be on the night shift from midnight. Buck was sharing a room with Chris. He went in without putting the light on, so as not to disturb him. When Buck woke at midnight, he heard someone moving around in the bathroom, which was opposite his bedroom. He looked over to Chris's bed and saw it was empty. He listened more acutely and could hear that the bathroom's occupant was throwing up. He levered himself upright and made his way wearily to the bathroom door. He tapped lightly on it.
"Is that you, Chris?"
"You okay? Can I come in?"
Buck opened the door and went in. Chris was sitting next to the toilet, leaning back against the wall. His legs were drawn up and his arms were resting across his knees. His head lay on his forearms. Buck walked over and sat down next to him, putting his hand on his back and giving it a rub.
"You sure know how to blow a gasket," Buck said, recalling the evening's events. He had an idea what was upsetting Chris.
"God, how could I have forgotten that Vin was already hurt?" Buck had surmised correctly.
"Drink kind 'a does that to you. Just remember what happened to Mitchell because of it and learn your lesson. I'm sure Vin won't hold it against you. I've never known him to hold a grudge for long. Not against a friend anyway."
"I hope you're right."
"Have you ever known ole Buck to be wrong? Are you alright to come back to bed or shall I get Nathan to give you something?"
"No, I'll be alright." Buck helped him to his feet and back into the bedroom.
"Well, no rest for the wicked. It's my shift now. Come down if you need me."
Chris got back into bed. He still felt queasy but it was just reaction to recent events. He turned over and thumped his pillow a few times before sighing loudly. He just couldn't settle. He turned over onto his back and stared up to the ceiling, spending the remainder of the night thinking about the case and the emotions it had released in him.
He came downstairs the next morning looking haggard and pale. He walked into the kitchen to find Buck and Ezra sat at the table talking quietly.
"Jeez pard. Did you get any sleep at all? You look like hell." Buck looked up from where he sat.
"Good morning to you too," Chris replied, a smile playing on his lips. "You certainly know how to get the day off to a good start."
"Well I was only being truthful. You wouldn't want me to start lying would you? We all know what problems that can cause." Chris knew he was once again referring to the Mitchell case.
"Stop rubbing it in Buck will ya. I'm not in the mood." Chris wiped a hand over his face and sat down heavily next to Ezra. God, he really must start pulling himself together. He couldn't carry on like this.
Buck could see that Chris was feeling bad. "I'll send a couple of the boys out to arrest our suspects this morning, Chris. I got the warrants arranged last night. You can then start on getting a pardon for Mitchell." He was hoping to kick start Chris into a better mood, give him something to work towards.
"That's good Buck," Chris replied without much enthusiasm. Vin entered the kitchen then, walking a bit stiffly and Chris looked down at his hands in embarrassment. He felt decidedly uneasy but he needn't have worried.
"Hey Chris. You got everythin' off yer chest?" Vin greeted smiling.
Chris looked up and smiled back. For the life of him he couldn't understand how Vin could be so forgiving. Chris probably wouldn't have spoken to his attacker again if the tables had been turned.
"Yeah, I certainly did. How are you? I'm sorry I hurt you. I get a bit carried away on occasion."
"You can say that again. I'm still upright. You can't keep a Tanner down that easily." Vin knew Chris must be feeling bad. He knew what a strain he had been under dealing with the current situation. With Chris's temper, it was only a matter of time before he did something he would later regret. Vin certainly wasn't going to hold it against him.
Buck went out with Josiah and JD after breakfast to arrest their suspects. They began with Sellers. Buck knocked on the front door of his house but received no answer. JD went to see if he could get in the back door. Having found that way locked, he decided to look through the window and see if he could spot their quarry. He stood on a crate which was lying on the ground and cupped a hand to the glass to cut out the light so he could get a better view. What he saw sent him running back round to join his two team mates.
"Buck, someone's laying on the floor in the kitchen. I can't see whether he's just knocked out or dead. I can't get a good view."
"Okay kid. Josiah can you break a window so we can get in? JD, you didn't see anyone else in there? I don't want to be greeted by unexpected guests," Buck asked. JD shook his head.
Josiah meanwhile had broken a window and he indicated for JD to climb through it as he was the smallest. Once inside JD drew his gun and made his way to the front door and let his friends in. Josiah went straight to the kitchen to check on the man's condition, while JD and Buck started searching the other rooms. Finding no-one else there they made their way back to the kitchen. Josiah was on his mobile notifying the appropriate people that they had found a body. Sellers had been viciously stabbed to death. The kitchen floor was splattered with blood. The murder weapon had yet to be found, but a knife was missing from the set in the kitchen. Josiah arranged for backup to be sent to take over at the house so Buck and his team could go and arrest their other suspects.
Once relieved at the house Buck drove to Kirby's place of work. He was not there so they went on to Gallagher's office. He had also gone, Buck thought that was a bit of a coincidence. He phoned Chris to tell him what had happened and then he and his companions made their way to Kirby's home address. As they approached, they could see Kirby packing his car. He turned and went back inside the house unaware of their arrival. Buck double parked so he could not escape. Josiah and JD got out quickly and went up to the front door which was open. Inside, the hall was piled with luggage and boxes. Kirby came back into the hall and saw them, he turned and ran to the back of the house. Buck had anticipated this and had already made his way to the rear of the property. When Kirby opened the back door, he saw Buck leaning nonchalantly against the wall with his gun aimed directly at him. Kirby put his hands in the air. He had nowhere to go but to jail. JD handcuffed him and read him his rights. Buck decided to take Kirby to the local police precinct for safe keeping while they went to find Gallagher. When they reached Gallagher's house it seemed he had already gone. They checked with neighbours but no-one had seen him.
"Why don't we go and ask Kirby if he knows where he is? If he thinks he's going to take the rap on his own he might be more cooperative," Josiah opined.
"Okay, we can't do anymore here," Buck agreed.
Buck's mobile rang. "Wilmington." He spoke for a while and then disconnected.
He turned to Josiah and said, "They found the knife. They've been very quick with checking it. They've found Kirby's fingerprints on it. So we can lean on him if he's not forthcoming."
They put Kirby in an interrogation room. Buck and Josiah sat opposite him and JD lounged against the wall.
"You know how serious this is. You're going down for a lot of years. At the moment you're the only person in the frame. Gallagher has disappeared. Do you know where he is?" Buck questioned.
"You've got nothing. You're bluffing." Kirby sat in his chair with his arms folded across his chest looking bored.
"Where were you going? Your colleagues at work expected you in today, so you couldn't have been going on holiday," Buck continued.
"Do you want to take the rap for two murders? We know you didn't kill Gallagher's wife, but you certainly didn't do anything to stop him killing her. We have a written statement from Sellers saying what actually happened that night ten years ago and both you and Gallagher will be charged with perjury too." Josiah started putting the pressure on.
"You're lying," Kirby reiterated, but he began to look more uncertain.
"We've had the forensic report back on the weapon used to kill Sellers. Your fingerprints are all over it. Did you kill him? Yours are the only prints on it," Buck informed him.
"I didn't kill him! Gallagher's a nutcase. He found out that Sellers had sent Larabee a letter confessing everything. He went berserk. He picked up a knife from the set in the kitchen and stabbed Sellers repeatedly. I tried to stop him. We heard someone at the front door so we didn't clear up as much as we should have done. We wanted to get out of there as soon as we could. We dumped the knife outside. Gallagher wore gloves which is why my prints are the only ones on the knife. Gallagher and I were going to meet up at the building Sellers used for drug dealing."
"Who was phoning Chris warning him off the case, you or Gallagher?" Josiah asked.
"Me. I ought to have remembered he was a stubborn sod who wouldn't be frightened off by threats. There isn't actually anything in the files to prove Mitchell's innocence, I made sure of that. I just didn't want Larabee to talk to Sellers because I knew he was the weak link in our deception and wouldn't be able to keep his mouth shut if the pressure was put on. We should have killed him years ago, but Gallagher didn't want to attract any attention by killing someone so close to the case. I should have kept my mouth shut but we were all getting a bit jumpy after Mitchell's attack on Chris. We knew the Mitchell family would never be able to prove that Brad was innocent but if they got Chris interested it might be a different matter."
"Right that's all we need to know for the moment. Take him back to his cell will you JD?" Buck asked. "Wait a minute. When were you meeting Gallagher?"
"Tonight at 11."
JD took Kirby's arm and led him back outside and along to his cell. He came back afterwards to see what Buck wanted to do next.
"We might as well go back and tell Chris what's going on. I expect he'll want to be there when we arrest Gallagher anyway. I doubt we could keep him at the safe house anymore anyway now that Kirby's been caught." The three men went out to the car and drove back to the safe house. They were going to have to wait several hours before they needed to go and set up the trap for Gallagher. Buck told Chris everything that had happened when he got back to the house. Chris called Vin in.
"Can you go and look over this building? Gallagher was supposed to meet Kirby there tonight. We need to be ready for him and I want you to see how best we can do it," Chris asked.
"Yeah sure thing. What time will we need to be there?"
"The meet was arranged for 11. So we should be there an hour or so earlier."
"Right, I'll go now." Vin turned and left the room.
"I want to be there when we arrest him. You've no objection's Buck?" Chris asked.
"No. Short of hogtying you I couldn't keep you here. As long as we set things up so there are no dangers. I wouldn't want to have kept you safe for something to happen at the last hurdle."
Vin returned an hour later and found Chris in the same room he had left him in earlier.
"It seems fairly straightforward. The building only has one floor and three rooms inside. Do we know if they were just meeting up outside or whether they were going inside?" Vin asked.
"I don't know. I assumed they would go inside from what Buck said. We'll just have to try and cover every eventuality. I want you up high to cover the outside of the building."
"There's an apartment block opposite which will be perfect for that. I looked at it as well while I was there. There's only one entrance to Sellers' building anyway so I can see it from there. Where do you want the others?"
Chris sat and thought a while before answering. "I suppose four people inside and the others outside along with you. As there's only one entrance that makes things simpler. We'll wait until he goes in and then those outside can move in closer. I want you to stay in position in case anything should go wrong and he manages to get back out. In that case you'll have to take him out. We can't afford for him to escape."
"There's only one room that could be used inside. It's set up as an office. The desk is facing the door so you'll have to be careful. The other two rooms are full of equipment, but there's enough room for people to hide," Vin said.
Chris called the rest of the team together and explained his plan so everyone knew where they were to be and what should be done when their prey arrived. They left the house and went back to the office to prepare. Vin collected his rifle along with a night sight and some ammunition. They would probably be in darkness in the building so they would need to be extra careful. It was two hours before the rendezvous, but Vin decided to go early and get into position so he wasn't seen. An hour later the rest of the men left and got into position. JD and Buck stayed outside while the others spread around the two store rooms inside the building. There were bits of furniture that they could conceal themselves behind. They then settled down to wait.
At 11pm exactly Gallagher drew up outside. Vin radioed the men inside to alert them of his arrival. Gallagher got out of his car and looked around to see if Kirby was there. Not seeing him, he went towards the building and entered, turning a light on inside. JD and Buck moved in and waited outside the main door until they were needed. The men inside heard Gallagher moving around in the office. They moved towards the doorways of their hiding places to wait for the next part of the plan to unfold. Ezra stepped out of the second store room and walked up to the office door. He knocked and walked in.
"Who the hell are you?" Gallagher asked. He had a gun on his lap which was out of Ezra's line of sight. He moved it so it was aiming at Ezra below the desk top.
"I came to let you know that Kirby has been arrested. I am his contact at the FBI and I saw him brought in. I managed to get to see him and he asked me to come and tell you to leave before they find you." Ezra kept alert in case Gallagher didn't believe him.
"How come I've never heard about you?" Gallagher asked suspicion plain in his voice.
"Kirby didn't tell you all his secrets. He asked me to tell you that Sellers told the police everything. They know about this place for sure," Ezra paused. Something about Gallagher's demeanour made him think he ought to leave. "Well I've delivered the message as ordered, so I won't stay in case the police turn up. It wouldn't do for me to be discovered here with you." Ezra turned to leave when he heard the sound of a gun being cocked.
"Not so fast. Turn round with your hands in the air. I don't believe you." Gallagher stood up from behind the desk and walked round so that he was behind Ezra. Ezra cursed under his breath and slowly turned to face him.
Chris swore. The men would have to wait until it was safe to intervene. They couldn't afford for Ezra to be harmed. Chris took a quick look into the room. Gallagher was hidden behind Ezra, so Chris couldn't get a clear shot. Luckily Gallagher couldn't see Chris either.
Gallagher walked up to Ezra and patted him down, removing his gun and placing it on the desk out of reach.
"Well, well, what do we have here? You'd better tell me the real reason you're here. Why did you bring a gun with you? He asked you to kill me didn't he?" Gallagher snarled. Before Ezra could answer, Gallagher drew back a fist and punched him in the stomach. Ezra doubled over gasping trying to draw in a breath.
Chris risked a look in the room again and saw that Ezra had managed to move away from Gallagher making him turn so that he now had his back to the door. This was the only invitation Chris needed, he managed to catch Ezra's eye and nodded to him. He then signalled the rest of his men to move in. Ezra kept moving backwards so Gallagher had to follow him, giving room for Chris and the others to get in without obstructing each other. Gallagher still had his gun aimed at Ezra. Ezra would have to disarm him somehow or he could be in serious danger. He managed to move towards the desk where Gallagher had put his gun. Gallagher saw what he had in mind and raised his gun slightly. Ezra quickly kicked out with his foot but didn't manage to connect with Gallagher's arm before the gun went off.
Chris had worked his way silently into the room while Ezra kept Gallagher occupied. When the gun fired Chris had no choice but to shoot to protect his agent. He caught Gallagher in the back, sending him forward to collide with Ezra. They both fell in a heap of tangled limbs. Chris approached with his gun still aimed at Gallagher's back. His victim did not move and Chris reached down and pulled him off of Ezra. Gallagher was still alive. Josiah moved in and dealt with him while Chris knelt beside Ezra. Gallagher's bullet had caught him along the side of his head. There was a lot of blood from the wound and Ezra was unconscious.
"Nathan, see to Ezra will you?" Chris called. He stood and moved over to stand by Josiah. He pulled out his mobile and called for an ambulance and then radioed Vin to tell him to stand down. Vin appeared a few minutes later in the doorway.
"Everything go alright?" he asked. He had been too far away to hear the gunshots. When he saw the look on Chris's face, he knew that it hadn't.
"Gallagher didn't believe Ezra's story. He had a gun, disarmed Ezra and then hit him. Ezra tried to get his weapon back from where Gallagher had put it, but Gallagher shot him before he could reach it. I wasn't in time to do anything to help."
"How is he?"
"The bullet grazed his head. He'll be alright although he might have a touch of concussion. There's always a lot of blood with a head wound," Nathan said from where he sat next to Ezra.
The ambulance arrived and both casualties were taken to hospital. Chris and his men followed behind in their cars.
Ezra was put into a room of his own when he had been seen by a doctor. He was awake and coherent though he did have a massive headache. Josiah and JD went and guarded Gallagher although he was in no fit state to attempt escape. Chris sat with Ezra while Buck and Vin went back to continue questioning Kirby. Nathan came into Ezra's room and sat on the other side of his bed.
"Well that's the last time I volunteer to do a job for you Mr Larabee. It's more than my life is worth," Ezra said wincing as he spoke.
"Sorry it turned out the way it did. Look on the bright side though, at least you're still here to complain about it," Chris replied smiling.
"Oh, that makes me feel a lot better. Thank you for that pearl of wisdom."
Nathan laughed. Nothing ever seemed to stop Ezra talking.
Ezra left hospital the next day and went to stay with Josiah until he was fully recovered. Chris started on the task of getting a pardon for Mitchell. It was finally granted, although that wouldn't stop Chris feeling bad about the whole affair. Kirby and Gallagher were given two life sentences each for the murders as well as convictions for perjury and perverting the course of justice.
The team gathered in Inez's saloon after the conviction. Ezra was back to full fitness and was thinking back over events.
"Well perhaps we can have a quiet life for a few weeks. That was a particularly devious way of setting someone up for a crime he didn't commit. The perpetrators have got their just deserts now though. They do say deceit is a spider's web that traps the deceiver," Ezra observed.
"That's a very appropriate saying, Ez." Chris replied.
"Oh I found a good book that lists proverbs for all occasions. I've got a barrow load more. Let me give you some more examples. Here's one about friends: A faithful friend is the medicine of life. Or how about this about the excesses of alcohol: A drunk man will sober up, but a damn fool never." He flicked a quick look at Buck.
"What are you looking at me for?" Buck said in a hurt tone. He then thought of a saying to get his own back. "He who passes judgement on a fool is himself judged to be a fool."
"Good Lord, we must have borrowed the same book. Don't tell me you're trying to educate yourself. You've suddenly discovered that a lady likes something in the brain's department as well as that ugly mug of yours, have you? Let me see if I can think of another proverb to suit the occasion."
"No more, I can't stand it." Josiah moaned as he leaned over and put a hand over Ezra's mouth.
Chris said, "Thanks Josiah. I was gonna throw a drink over him. He never knows when to shut up."
Ezra mumbled something through Josiah's fingers. It could have been something disgusting but they would never know. Vin happened to have some tape in his bag. He found it surreptitiously and broke off a strip. He came up behind Ezra and while Josiah quickly removed his hand he taped Ezra's mouth shut.
"Ah, silence is golden," Josiah said.
The rest of the team fell about laughing while Ezra grumbled and moaned from behind the tape. He eventually pulled it off and joined in the laughter.
"Who needs enemies when I've got friends like you?" Ezra observed, managing to get the last word again.