+ + + + + + +
You cleaned your car didnt you? Sidney asked as she got
in the passenger seat. Cory closed the door behind her and got into the
drivers seat. Sidney checked her watch. It was five o clock.
To the Bay! Cory laughed and pulled out of the parking lot. Sidney
said a silent prayer that she was had make the right decision.
Cory pulled into a parking spot along side the ocean. There was a pretty
little park to the right.
How about sit over at one of the benches and talk? Cory asked.
Sure, Sidney answered She got out of the car and pulled out the
small notebook. The gun belt around her calf was making her legs itch. They
both sat down on the park bench.
So whats bothering you Mariah? The man asked. Sidney handed
him the notebook.
Can you explain this to me? She asked. He took the notebook and
started flipping through the pages. A look of horror came into his eyes.
Where did you get al this stuff?
It doesnt matter right now. Just explain it to me, Sidney
stated. Her voice was emotionless, but her heart was beating fast.
Why do I have to explain it to you? He persisted.
Because you are facing arrest for cocaine dealing and I am about the
only one that will help you, Sidney answered.
What the hell are you talking about? Cory cried. Sidney pulled
ot her gun.
Ill tell you later. All you need to know it that Im one
of the good guys and intend to do everything possible to find out if you
are too. I am not a very patient person, and the clock is ticking.
What do you want to know?: Cory asked, starting to shake.
Start at the beginning, she prompted. Talk fast.
As you know, I am originally from Italy. My father was a member of
one of the crime families in New York. He put in charge of the drug ring
out of South America. He was arrested two years after my mother died of cancer.
He died in prison a few months later. I was expected to follow in my
fathers footsteps. I continued the ring, until I was caught with a
full shipment of heroine in my trunk. I was placed in a jail where I meant
my angel of mercy. She was a psychologist named Margaret Brown. She put me
on the right path, helped me see the error of my ways, you could say. She
got me a less severe sentence and helped me get into acting school when I
got out. Thats where I am today.
And what about the pictures? Sidney answered, Youre
telling me that the crime lords just let you go scotch free? I have never
seen that happen.
I probably would be dead, Phoenix answered, but if you noticed
all those guys in the pictures are in maximum security prisons around New
York. Why do you think I changed my name and moved out to San Francisco?
I have been taking jobs at smaller theaters for the last few years. Not to
brag, but I could have gotten jobs on Broadway. I have been running scared
for the last few years, never forming a relationship with anyone, terrified
that one of those guys would find me.
Sidney didnt say anything for a few minutes. His story would be easy
enough to check, but Sidney knew that she wouldnt have too. The look
in the mans eyes told her she had been right all along.
I believe you, She finally said. Cory let out a huge sigh of
Are you going to explain who you really are to me now? Cory asked
hesitantly, still wary of the gun in Sidneys hand. She placed it back
in her ankle band.
My name is Sidney Marks. I am an agent with the ATF, she ignored
the look on Corys face. Somebody found illegal shipments of Cocaine
in the basement of the theater. Walters asked the FBI for help. We came in
as a special favor to help investigate.
Youre really not an actor? Cory asked. Sidney shook her
Nope, just your average federal agent who happens to have a decent
Wow, you had me fooled. That explains how you found out all the stuff
Unfortunately, there is no way find the complete story, no matter how
hard we try, Sidney answered.
Wait a second, did you say We?
My whole team is here, Sidney laughed. You know all those
new crew members?
The rest of your team? Cory asked.
Not my whole team. Out beloved phantom is really wearing a disguise
What? Noah is an agent too? Cory yelled.
His name is Ezra Standish, and he is a specialized undercover agent,
Wow, this is unbelievable! Do you have any idea who did it?
Not yet. You were the only one that we were really paying attention
too, Sidney answered. That turned out to be a dead end. You
havent seen anything have you?
Cory shook his head. No, but Ill listen from now on. I want to
Good, we need all the help we can get, She glanced at her watch.
You need to go somewhere? Cory asked.
Oh, no. I just need to be back at the hotel by six o clock to meet
my Captain. Its a long story. She gritted her teeth.
Is he really that bad? Cory asked.
You remember the blond that was barking orders to the set production
team a few days ago? Cory nodded. Thats him. I arranged
this meeting without his knowledge. He is going to kill me.
Well, youve got a half an hour before you have to worry about
it. Have you ever seen the Bay? Sidney shook her hand. Cory stood up
and grabbed her arm. Well youre in for a real treat.
+ + + + + + +
Awful nice of you join us Noah, JD answered as he dealt him some
cards. Ezra sat down at a table in one of the dressing rooms. Vin, JD, Nathan,
Buck and two other stages hands, Mark Henderson and Bill Rivers, were sitting
around a table.
Well, my agent told me that this is the best Poker table around,
He patted Buck on the shoulder. And I was never one to pass up a game
of chance. Ezra sat down and picked up his cards.
Usually, the actors dont hang out with the likes of us,
one of the stage hands said. They always think that they are better
My dear sir, unlike my cohorts, I realize the hard work that you put
in and am more than happy to win your money.
A very intense game of Poker began.
Chris was getting restless in his car. The clock on his dashboard read 6:05.
Not only is he a criminal, he doesnt have the common decency
to show up on time, he growled. The time slowly ticked by. At 6:15,
he pulled out cell phone and dialed Sidneys hotel room number. There
was no answer. There was no answer on her cell phone either. Now Chris was
really getting nervous. He dialed Josiahs cell phone. A deep baritone
Josiah, its Chris. Where the hell is she? Chris was never
one for subtleties, especially when he was in a bad mood.
Didnt she tell you? Josiah asked. Their
date changed to five o clock. She told me that you would be tailing
That little Shit, Chris swore. She changed the meeting
on purpose. Josiah, do you have any idea where she might have gone?
No clue Chris, Josiah answered.
I am going to wring her neck! Chris growled. Im going
to go, in case she is trying to call.
Let me know when you find her, Josiah answered and hung the phone.
Chris leaned back in the station wagon seat, waiting and planning out an
+ + + + + + +
Hey that guy has been following us for quite a while, Cory said
glancing behind him. His words had interrupted Sidneys thoughts. She
was staring at the ocean. The road was only a few feet away from the ocean.
She wished the top was down on the car, but it had started to rain. He attention
left the ocean and was immediately drawn to the situation.
Shit, Sidney swore. Chris had found them. She wasnt even
going to get the chance to explain things to him. She was going to be stuck
on surveillance detail for the rest of her career. Let me guess hes
got blond hair, black hat, and his eyes are as scary as the devil himself.
Well, youve got the angry eyes part right, Cory answered.
Sidney looked in the rearview mirror. A green Ford was following them and
the driver had black hair
You recognize him? Cory asked. His knuckles were turning white
on the wheel. He had seen how nervous she had gotten.
No, do you? She asked. Cory looked a little closer in the rearview
mirror. Wait a second, yeah I do! He was in Walters office the
other day. Sidney thought for a moment. Walters, could he be the boss?
There was no way, he had been the one who called him the FBI. Still she made
a mental note, to find out more about it. Right now, she had to deal with
the threat behind them.
What should I do? Cory asked.
Keep driving, I dont want him making the connection between us
and the hotel. Do you have a pen?
In the glove compartment, told her. She took out the pen and
wrote down the license plate number.
Do you really think they are tailing us on purpose? Cory asked.
Better safe than sorry, Sidney answered as she pulled her cell
phone out of her purse. She hated dialing the number, but she had no choice.
Chris? She answered with hesitation.
Chris couldnt believe it. He really hadnt expected Sidney to
What the hell do you think you are doing Sidney? He yelled.
We can talk about it later. I can prove to you that Phoenix is
Chris started to say.
Oww, Damnnit Cory, step on the gas! She cried. Chris,
theres a green Ford tailing us right now. He just hit the bumper!
She cried. There was no mistaking the distress in her voice.
Sidney calm down Chris answered, remembering the last time she
had been tailed. He had never seen the girl so upset. He would have to trust
her on Phoenix, for now at least. Did you get the license plate
Yeah, She answered. Chris prayed that Phoenix was a good driver
and could handle the situation.
Where are you? Chris asked.
Hell, I dont know Chris. There lots of trees and an ocean
on the side. Wait, Cory just said that we are on Hwy. 24. Oh shit, Chris.
There was a loud scream and then the line went dead.
Sidney! Chris yelled. Sidney! He didnt get
a response. She was on Hwy. 24. He had no idea where that was. He looked
around the car. His eyes strayed to something that he had sworn he would
never use. He pushed the Onstar button. A few minutes later, he was tearing
out of the parking lot towards Highway 24. He make a quick phone call to
Josiah after he had directions and was sure the operator had contacted the
cops. The older man didnt even get the chance to respond.
Get to Highway Twenty Four as fast as you can. People scattered
to get out of the big mans way, as he sprinted out of the hotel building.
He was oblivious to the pouring rain and lightening that was lightening up
Chris slowed the car down when he saw the flashing red and blue lights. He
stopped the car and quickly jumped out. He looked out towards the water.
The familiar flashy Mercedes was almost completely submerged. Pieces of the
car were floating on the water. He felt a sickening feeling in his stomach.
Huge lightening bolts were flashing across the sky. He looked at the metal
car and the water. If Sidney had survived the crash, there was no way she
would survive the electrocution. Still there might be a change, Chris pulled
off his shoes and started to head for the water, when he felt a strong arm
What do you think you are doing? the burly cop cried.
Going to get my agent! Chris cried.
Sorry mister, shes already
Chris didnt hear the last word. His heart skipped a beat.
Wheres her body? Chris asked in a hoarse voice.
Body? What are you talking about mister? I said she was already out.
Your agent is in the ambulance over there. Chris knocked over the cop
as he ran towards the large van. He only breathed a sigh or relief when he
saw her sitting in the large van, shielded from the rain. Sidney smiled when
she saw him run up to her.
If Im going to keep getting this high speed chases boss, youve
got to get me a raise, She said.
Any major injuries? Chris asked. She seemed calm enough, and
apparently suffering from no apparent damage. He didnt want to get
her all riled up. Sidney shook her head
Not yet anyway, She answered, looking up at him with hesitant
Youre lucky, you could get away with murder right now kid,
Chris sighed as he sat down next to her. God, you dont know what
I thought when I saw that car in the water. I think my heart literally
stopped. There was a long pause.
Cory is okay too, if you wanted to know, She said. He probably
saved my life.
What do mean? Chris asked turning to stare at her.
The car went down pretty fast so Cory got his door open pretty fast.
Mine would not open, and I was stuck. He swam all the way back down, got
my door open, and pulled me out. I told him everything Chris, if he really
was the dealer, he wouldnt have come back. Chris sighed heavily.
Once again, his young agent had proved that she was smarter than him.
Where is he? he asked.
Sitting in the back of that cop car over there. Seems that somebody
told the PD to arrest him if they found him.
Do you have evidence that whatever he told you is true? Chris
asked. He saw the rented Cadillac pull up and Josiah getting out. Sidney
I borrowed someones cell phone and got a hold of JD. They were
in the middle of a very intense card game. Hes doing some background
checks on Corys stories, but I dont need that. I saw the look
in his eyes, hes as innocent as me.
What happened? Josiah panted coming to step next to them.
Sidney, will explain everything. I have to go talk to someone.
Chris hopped off the ambulance and got the attention of one of the officers.
Where is Phoenix? He asked.
Second car on the left, came the answer. On his way to the car,
Chriss cell phone began to ring.
Talk to me JD, Chris answered.
Is she really alright or was she just saying that?
Shes fine JD, thank God.
Good, The man on the other line sighed in relief. Shes
worse than me sometimes. Oh yeah, Phoenixs story checks out. I dont
think hes the man we are looking for.
You looked up all that information in fifteen minutes? Chris
asked in disbelief.
I always told you that its important to keep my laptop close by, but
I always got laughed at. The connection in the balcony was good and it Ive
gotten rather good at getting into records.
Well, it depends on what your definition of legal is, JD answered
with a nervous laugh.
JD, I need to pay special attention to the basement. Somebody else
in charge. . He might try to get into the basement tonight.
Sure Chris, my batterys dying so Ive got to go.
Chris hung up his cell phone and continued to walk towards the police car.
I want to talk to him, He growled at a young cop.
:I am under strict regulations to not let anybody, but an ATF agent
Larabee speak with him.
I am Agent Larabee, Chris answered back, with his classic icy
Oh right, go ahead sir. The door is open. The cop stammered.
Chris sluantered past him and opened up the car door.
I already told you that I am not talking to anyone until I get a lawyer.
None of you will even tell me what I have been arrested for! Cory said
without lifting up his head. He was rubbing a bloody hand that nobody had
bothered to take care of.
Maybe I can shed some light on that, Chris answered. Cory lifted
up his head.
Chris Larabee? the actor asked in surprise. Chris nodded his
I think we need to have a talk.
Agent Marks okay? They wont tell me anything.
A little shaken up, but otherwise, shes fine. Cory let
out a visible sigh of relief. She told me that she would have drowned
if you hadnt gone back and got her. Chris was surprised when
Cory just shrugged his shoulders.
:Can I sit down? Chris asked.
Ive got handcuffs on Agent Larabee. Theres not a whole
lot I can do. Cory scooted over and Chris sat down next to him.
Agent Marks also told me something very important. She seems to think
that you knew nothing about the millions of dollars of cocaine that are sitting
under the theater right now.
And what do you think Agent Larabee? Cory asked hesitantly
Well, I dont always trust my agents judgments, but not
even I can doubt records. One of agents checked out your story, and far as
I can tell. You have nothing to do with it. He pulled out his handcuff
keys and unlocked the young mans handcuffs.
Thanks! Cory exclaimed, as he rubbed his wrists.
:Lets get your hand cleaned up, Chris said, pulling the
young man to his feet. The two men waked over to where Sidney and Josiah
were standing. Sidney rushed up to them.
Are you okay? She asked. Cory nodded his head.
Get an EMT to look at his hand Sid. I suppose you lost the license
plate number, Chris sighed. Sidney held up her hand with a triumphant
grin The black pen marks were still there.
Nope. A little faded, but Ive still got it. She answered
and went to find an EMT. Chris laughed. Josiah had walked over and nodded
a greeting to Cory.
:We should get over to theater as soon as possible.
Why the theater? Cory asked.
The other men on our team will not relax still they are sure that Agent
Marks is alright. You saved a very special person.
You dont have to tell me that, Cory smiled. I want
to help catch this bastard.
Well talk about that later, Chris answered, but he was
already figuring out how to use the knowledge that Cory might have.
+ + + + + + +
And that gentleman, is a royal flush, Ezra laughed triumphantly
as he tossed his cards on the table.
How did you do that? Buck exclaimed. Dammit Ez
since this is the third time tonight that youve cleaned me out.
He looked at the two stage hands faces. Apparently, they didnt
notice his slip up. JD rolled his eyes.
At least he is quick on his feet, Vin whispered into the younger
mans ear. His cell phone started to ring. .
You guys are worse than a bunch of movie stars, one of the stagehand
Hello? Vin asked.
Vin. We need JD and his laptop. We are out front waiting for him,
Chris said then hung up.
Sure Mrs. Robinson, well be right over, Vin answered then
Hey Brad. Weve got head back to our apartment. Our landlady needs
help fixing the plumbing in one of the apartments.
Doing common labor now? The stagehand laughed.
Hey, helping out keeps our rent down. Vin answered. JD grabbed
his backpack and waved good bye.
See you bright and early tomorrow morning. The remaining card
players chorused their good byes.
What time to do you gentlemen have to be here tomorrow? Ezra
Four o clock in the morning, the man answered.
Four o clock in the morning? Ezra cried. Why on earth would
you arrive here at such an early hour?
We have to clean the stage so you dont break an ankle, and add
the finishing coat of paint to the set. It has to dry before the
Why cant you do that right now? Buck asked.
Because its at least three hours worth of work, and none of us
would dream of staying in this theater past ten o clock.
Why ten o clock? Ezra asked.
Wow, you can sure tell that you guys are not from around here.
Theres no telling what he ghosts of this theater will do to you if
they catch you alone.
Arent you gentlemen a little to old to be believing in ghost
stories? Ezra asked with a smile, as he picked up the cards.
I swear that they arent stories. Strange things happen hear during
the night. People who try to stay here overnight have always ended up quitting
the theater the next day.
Are these Spirits like the Phantom who creeps along the top of the
stage cutting light strings and creating terror from above? Ezra asked
with an amused smile.
Actually, the spooks here live in the basement. I swear that I heard
them myself only a few days ago, Rivers answered. Buck had to fight
back his laugh. A light turned on in Ezras mind.
Did you say the basement, Mr. Henderson?
Have you ever been down there to investigate these spooks yourself?
Hell, no! Im not that stupid. Anyway, Jordon doesnt want
us going down there, without permission.
Why? Buck asked.
He probably doesnt want us to get hurt Its dangerous down
Thats nice of him, Ezra answered absently, distracted by
the idea forming in his head.
Being nice has nothing to do with it. He just worried about the chance
of one of us suing him. The echo of the lobby clock ringing the ten
o clock hour reached the mens ears
Speaking of the spooks, I think its about time that we should head
out of here, the stage hand answered. His partner got up after him
and grabbed his coat. You guys would leave too, If you know whats
good for you.
I think I will stay a little longer and do one more run through of
my lines, Ezra answered.
Dont say I didnt warn you.
I assure Mr. Henderson, I will be just fine. After all, I am the
Phantom. The two men disappeared.
I know that look on your face Ezra. What are you thinking?
Apparently, Mr. Phoenix is innocent, so we are still on the look for
our notorious criminal.
Think about this for a moment my friend. Our culprit must have full
access and know his way around this theater..
That could be anyone of the crew, Buck answered.
True, but something has the entire crew absolutely terrified to descend
down the stairs. Obviously, the spooks of this theater are the figment of
an overactive imagination. Who would have a motive for keeping people out
of the basement?
Buck opened his mouth to say that he had no idea, but closed it again.
He stopped to think. Walters?
Ezra beamed. Rumors of ghosts are bound to spread. in an old theater
like this. Walters doesnt do anything to stop them. In addition, he
has issues an order to stay out of the subterranean vault.
Why would Walters call in the FBI if he is the dealer? Ezra also
had an answer of this.
When the stagehand discovered the cocaine, Walters didnt have
a choice. I was asking around. The stagehand was fired soon after, but not
before she had told someone. Walters only called in the FBI after he knew
the word was out.
And what about the sound that Henderson heard in the basement?
They could have easily been the sounds of more shipments of the drugs
coming in, Ezra answered.
Damn Ezra, Buck said admirably. You are good.
What can I say? I just have the gift, Ezra smiled. Ezras
cell phone started to ring. He checked the caller ID and then answered, What
I can do for you Mr. Tanner? Buck listened to one end of the conversation.
The car is licensed to Walters? That does not surprise me. Why does
it not surprise me? Using my ingenious mind and certain current events, I
have also established the fact that Walters needs to be questioned. Of course,
well see you in a few minutes. Ezra put his phone back into his
Mr. Larabee is demanding our presence in the parking lot. The
two men got up and stated to walk through the back door. All of a sudden
a loud, CLUNK! came from behind the door leading to the basement. Buck
and Ezra looked at each other.
Seems like our spook is back, Buck chuckled softly. Ezra,
go get Chris. Ill wait here. Dont let them come in here until
I give a signal.
What kind of signal?
Ill shoot my gun, Buck suggested.
Oh yes, thats an excellent way to avoid alerting our
criminals, Ezra answered rolling his eyes. A simple whistle will
Fine, Buck nodded his head and Ezra went to get Chris and the
others. Buck pulled out his gun and went to stand by the door. He put his
ear on the door. Surprisingly, he could hear voices The people downstairs
must have been standing very close the end of the steps. He pushed his ear
harder. The two voices were male.
I cant believe you just killed those two actors! Nobody said
anything about murder.
Shut up already. They were just a couple of dumb actors. They were
worth the money that were going to get out of this.
But what if the cops trace it back to you.
That will never happen. I was driving Walters car. Even if the
cops can trace it back to Walters, hell just say that his car
was stolen from the theater. They havent got anything on us. Walters
will be down here in a few minutes to help us with the shipments and then
we wont ever have to come back to this city again. I wonder whats
hes going to do tomorrow the night. The kids that I knocked off were
the stars of the show.
Oh boy, Sidney is going to have when she gets her hands on you kid,
Buck he had raised his hand to his mouth to whistle, but stopped when he
saw a shadow come up behind him. He tried to duck out of the way, but was
too late. The stage wrench connected with his skull and he dropped like a
rock. Walters threw down the wrench and dragged the unconscious agent down
+ + + + + + +
Chris placed around the theater. For the second time in about ten hours,
his heart was racing a mile a minute. There were only a few times in his
life, when the seasoned agent had felt completely out of control. This was
one of them, and he did not like the feeling.
JD and Nathan were sitting in the chairs at the end of the second row. JD
was a wreak, but so were the rest of them. The kid just hadnt mastered
the skill of hiding in on the inside. The rest of them were combing the theater
for any information about where their missing agents might be. Chris doubted
that they would find anything. Jordan Walters had been a running a drug ring
for God knew how long. He knew how to cover his tracks. The only thing they
could do was wait. Walters had gotten all their numbers on the first day.
Chris knew he would call. He had too; otherwise he had no idea what to do.
How can you be sure that hes still got Buck? JDs
question interrupted Chriss thoughts. He turned to look at his young
agent. How do we know that he just didnt
Weve got something that Walters wants. I can guarantee you that
he wants it even more than Buck.
The Cocaine? JD asked.
You know drug dealers JD, they would do anything for their
shipments. Nathan said. Walters will use Buck as a bartering
Then why hasnt he called yet?
The bastard is probably waiting to make us squirm.
And in the meanwhile Buck could be bleeding to death. We all saw that
puddle of blood.
JD, there wasnt enough blood there to worry about, Nathan
reassured him. He probably just got cut in the leg or something.
JD leaned back in the chair. The look of fear in his eyes eased a little
bit. Chris raised his eyebrows at Nathan. Nathan had told him only a few
minutes ago that Buck wouldnt last long if he lost any more blood.
Chris nodded at Nathan in understanding. They had to do everything to keep
JD calm, even if it meant telling a little white lie.
All three agents turned their heads as Josiah and Vin entered the room. Both
leapt off the stage with ease.
Did you find anything? Nathan asked.
This might be of interest, Josiah pulled out a black bottle and
handed it to Chris. You should remember what this is. Chris spun
the bottle in his hand a couple of times. They had used bottles of fake blood
to make Ezras costume more authentic. Vin found it under one of the
planks a few feet away from the door.
That son-of-a bitch, Chris growled.
What does this mean? JD asked.
That puddle of blood wasnt Bucks, Vin told the kid.
It was some of this fake stage shit. Chriss cell phone
started to ring. He checked the caller ID.
Its from a payphone, Chris sighed. He hadnt really
expected Walters to be that stupid.
Alright Walters, what are the terms? Chris growled.
I dont know what you are talking about Agent Larabee. I was just
wondering what time you are planning to arrive at the stage tomorrow.
I dont want any of your shit. Youve got my agent and Ive
got more than a million dollars worth of your cocaine in my passion right
What are talking about? What cocaine? Walters asked in a dumbfounded
Oh, you dont know about the Cocaine. Well, I suppose I should
call the FBI and get them down here.
No! Walters cried. Chris smirked. He had caught Walters in his
You are good Larabee. I will give you that, Walters answered.
Fine, lets talk terms.
First, let me hear my agents voice.
You are not in the position to be demanding anything Larabee,
Fine have it your way. No Buck, No drugs, Chris answered. There
was a long pause, then a familiar voice came on the line.
Hey Pard, Buck said weekly.
Are you okay Buck? Chris asked.
Well, its not to bad really. Im really not awake long enough
at time to realize whats going on.
Just hang in there, well get you out of there soon.
I figured that, just dont do anything stupid okay Chris?
Chris was going to answer, but he didnt get the chance.
Good enough for you? Walter was back in the line
Yeah. If hes hurt when we find him
Youll have my head on a silver platter, I know the routine.
Heres how its going to work. First rule, no cops.
What the hell do you think we are? Chris asked.
Dont get cute. Nobody but you and your team can know about this.
If me or my assistants see something going on., you are not going to like
Fine, what else?
The performance will go on tomorrow night as planned. And I want to
see both of agents in it.. The basement will be completely abandoned during
the show. Sometime during that time, my men will come and take the drugs
What about my agent? Chris asked. So far you have the
opportunity to get your drugs and knock off my agent.
Patience, Mr. Larabee, I havent gotten that far yet, You can
post one of your agents down by the steps. My men will be driving the green
car that your lovely agent happened to have seen earlier today. My men will
honk the horn when they have gotten the drugs. Then you can come pick up
Fine, but theres lots of holes in your plan. Heres my addition.
I will be waiting outside the door for your drugs. You will give Buck a cell
phone. He will call me when you are ready to take the drugs. I will leave
the door only when I hear his voice. If my agent is there and okay, Buck
and I will leave no questions asked.
Fine, Its been nice doing business with you Agent Larabee. To
bad you went over the dark side, you would made one good dealer. Tell your
agents to break a leg. The line went dead. Chris sighed and put his
phone back into his pocket. He looked up at his expectant agents.
Sidney is not going to be very happy with me, He sighed.
+ + + + + + +
What the hell do they think Im supposed to do. I would have enough
hard time performing in front of a crowd in normal circumstances! Now they
expect me to do it with Buck in the hands of that bastard. Im not a
freaking superhero! Vin was standing outside Sidneys closed dressing
room door. He chuckled softly as he listened to her ramble to herself in
the room. It was his job to keep on eye and her and make sure that she
didnt accidentally reveal anything to the other actors. Right now there
was nobody around so he thought it was best to just let her get her fears
out. He nodded a greeting as Cory walked up holding some flowers in his hand.
He was already in his costume and stage make-up.
Whats going on in there? Cory asked.
One of Sidneys stress reliever classes, Vin answered.
Enter at your own risk.
Is your friend going to be okay? Sidney told me what you guys were
planning to do. It sounds real dangerous.
Hell Cory, this is like kids play considered to half of the things
that weve been involved in.
I think Ill stick with acting, Cory sighed. He knocked
on the door.
Sidney, can I come in? He asked.
Fine, She yelled.
Good luck, Vin laughed, as Cory disappeared behind the door.
Sidneys ranting stopped. Vin could no longer here what was going on.
A few minutes later, the door opened and Sidney walked out first. She was
in a colorful leotard for the first scene
Dont say a word, she glared at Vin.
You look cute, honestly. Vin answered. Sidney just sighed and
led the three to the stage. The stage was a complete chaos as final preparations
were being made to the stage. Sidney saw Ezra comforting Katie. She rushed
over to the pair. Cory was at her heels.
What happened? Cory asked. He hated seeing the older woman in
distress. She had been one of his only friends in the theater.
You two didnt hear the news? Walters disappeared. Sidney
and Cory tried to keep their faces blank.
But thats good news Katie. You were always saying how much you
No, he is giving over the property to the car dealership across the
road. They have been trying to buy the theater for years. To tear it down
and turn it into a parking lot! This theater has been my home for years.
Sidney sighed. She wanted to cry herself. There was much talent in this beautiful
historic theater. Isnt there anything we can do to save it?
Some gentlemen from the Historical society will be attending
tonights production, Ezra informed them. They are going
to see if the theater is worth purchasing.
Well, the answer is easy Katie, Cory said. We will give
those men the best damn performances of our lives. We will make them see
that this theater is worth saving, If not, then we will go out knowing that
we couldnt do it any harder. He kissed the older lady on the
top of her head.
You are right, Cory. There is no use worrying yet.
TAKE YOUR PLACES, a voice cried. CURTAIN CALL IS IN FIVE
MIMUTES. a stage hand ran across the stage yelling.
Katie, I need to talk to you real quick in private, Cory said.
The two actors went off the side of the stage.
If I didnt have enough to worry about, Sidney grumbled.
Try to forget Buck for a little while, Ezra said. Let Chris
and the others worry about that. You have a different job tonight.
Easier said then done, Sidney answered.
Noah, we need you to take your place!
I dont know if I can do this Ezra, Sidney whispered.
Come on Sidney, didnt you dream of being famous when you were
No, I wanted to be April,
The reporter who worked with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Good luck, Ezra patted her on her shoulder and went to take his
spot behind the stage. Sidney sighed. There were actors and crews running
around her, but she hadnt felt so alone in a long time.
+ + + + + + +
Orrin Travis couldnt stop beaming as he watched Sidney and Ezra
on the stage. He had been planning on coming to the production all along,
but didnt want to tell his team. He didnt need to make Sidney
even more nervous than she was already was. He was totally absorbed in the
stage. The Phantom had just taken Christine down to his lair below the stage.
I love this song, Evie whispered in his ear. Ezras
voice is sending chills down my spine.
You said that about me when I sang it to you on our honeymoon.
More like chills of dread my dear, you were three sheets to the wind
that night. It sure didnt sound like Music of the Night, more like
Screeches of the night: She laughed quietly. Sidney looks like
an angel. Both of them are natural performers.
They have been undercover on many assignments Evie , they should be
good at this kind of stuff by now.
Acting on the stage isnt the same and you know it. I suggest
you get them out of here as soon as they find the culprit. If this Walters
has any brain at all, he will snatch the two of them up. You could loose
two of your best agents to the stage.
I will worry about it when it happens.
Remember the time we snuck into that theater in Philadelphia?
How could I forget? You had your heart set on seeing the King and I,
but there was no way I could afford the tickets. Orrin laughed, remembering
some of the things he had done as a younger man. The things that Chris and
the others got into were nothing compared to some of the things that he had
pulled. That was why he could never get too mad at Team Seven.
Be quiet now Evie before we get into trouble, Orin scolded quietly.
Why? We actually paid for the tickets tonight. Evie asked, but
diverted her attention back to the stage.
Orrin wondered what the rest of team was doing at that moment.
+ + + + + + +
Are you still there, Cowboy? JDs voice cracked on the
walkie-talkie. Chris sighed. JD had insisted that they use code names, although
he had never really seen the point.
Yeah, Im here JD, Chris answered.
Aww come on, JD whined. Chris sighed again.
I hear you loud and clear Freelancer. Is that better?
Yeah! JD answered. Any sign of Walters or Buck?
Nothing yet, but they should be getting here soon. Hows everything
Great! Sidney and Ezra are doing awesome.
Wish I could be up there watching, Chris smiled, imagining the
stage in his mind.
I set up a video camera to tape it, so we can all enjoy it for years
Sidneys going to kill you when she finds out and I wont
be the one to stop her.
Remember when she put some of that sour gel in your coffee? JD asked.
Chris paused. He still could taste the disgusting liquid on his tongue.
I want to be the first person to have that tape JD, Chris said.
A loud screeching noise on the other end hurt his ears. What the hell
Molly was singing that Prima Donna song. I still say that shes
got a thing for you Chris.
Youre treading on dangerous grounds JD, Chris growled.
He remembered how timid the kid has been when he first joined the team. He
was terrified to offend anyone. Now, you couldnt get him to shut up.
Chris wasnt sure what one liked better.
Chris, Ive got to go. Theres something moving around on
the top of the stage. Its making squeaking noises.
How can you hear anything over that screeching? Chris winced.
Ill let you know if I hear or see anything. He set his
walkie-talkie down and began to wait in silence again.
How are you feeling Sidney? Josiah asked, as he reached over
to strengthen the collar of her ruffled shirt, a piece of her pageboy costume.
Sidney took a huge gulp of out of her water bottle.
Actually, Ive not feeling much of anything right now, She
answered. Vin, can you get me some more water please? Vin walked
over and took the water bottle from the girl.
Just keep your eyes on the stage Sidney, you have to go out there in
I know, She answered. You know this kind of fun.
Vin walked out of view from the other actors. Nathan was waiting by a table.
He handed the bottle to Nathan, who filled it up with a pitcher of water.
Vin reached under the table and pulled out a bottle of brandy. He started
to pull some into the water bottle
Not to much Vin. We have to keep her coherent enough to sing until
the curtain call. Do you think she knows what were doing?
Honestly Nathan, I dont think shes aware of much of anything
By the time Vin got back on the stage, Sidney was already on the stage. Josiah
was staring on the top of the stage.
See something interesting up there? He asked Josiah.
JD is crawling around up there. He said he heard something.
Hell, its an old theater Josiah, theres bound to be a few
He said it sounded like a person,
What like a real phantom? Vin asked with a smirk. Ezras
pre recorded voice echoed his warning to the actors of the stage. Both Vin
and Josiah jumped.
We should be thankful that he cant talk that loud without modern
technology, Josiah chuckled.
Isnt that dummy supposed to fall now? Vin asked.
Hold you horses Josiah. This is Joes first performance. It might
take him a few seconds.
Buck, Look Out! JD cried. Before, they knew what had happened,
their friend was hanging from to top of the stage. He was trying to pull
the rope off his neck. The cast and the audience screamed. Vins quick
relaxes paid off. His gun was out of its hiding spot around his belt in a
split second, The next second, Buck was laying on the ground and the bullet
was stuck in the opposite wall.
Close the Curtain now! Josiah roared. The poor girl at the curtain
rope was so terrified, she was frozen in place. The big man pushed the girl
aside and began to close the curtain. When it was completely closed, he rushed
over to the small crowd that had gathered around the spot where Buck had
Im fine Sidney, Buck wheezed at the girl pulled the rope
off his neck. He was able to pull himself up. Tell JD that Joe guy
is one of Walterss men
JD, hes fine! Get Joe! Sidney yelled at the top of the
stage. Buck tried to get up, but Ezra placed ha hand on his shoulder.
Just rest a little while,
No Ezra, Walters and the other guy are going to get the drugs right
now! Vin didnt need to be told twice.
Nathan, lets go! Vin yelled and the two agent sprinted
towards the basement to help out Chris.
What the hell is going on here? One of the actors cried. Ezra
looked around the mass of people on the stage. Cory gave him a hand up.
Ladies and gentleman, this theater had played host to illegal drug
transportation. I am an agent from the Denver ATF along with several other
members of this theater. We have discovered that Jordon Walters was the ring
leader of this ring, He looked at Cory and Katie. Both of them had
tears in their eyes. Many of the other actors did too. We will all
be happy to explain the logistics of this whole operation to you later, but
right now we have a show to finish.
:What are you talking about Ezra? Cory asked. Sidney stood up.
We were sent here to protect this theater and thats what we are
going to do. We arent going to let an asshole like Walters destroy
this theater. Many of you are family. We are going fight to keep it up
together. A quiet cheer spread across the people.
Well ladies and gentleman, lets get on with the show, the
director said in a dazed voice. Ezra and Josiah helped pull Buck leave the
I think we are needed on the roof for our love song, Sidney said
rolling her eyes.
After you, Cory bowed.
I suggest that you hold your breath when you have to kiss me Cory,
Why? he asked dumbfounded.
Because Vin has been putting brandy in my water all night. She
answered, moving out of the way so the set could be changed.
Well, that explains a lot, Cory answered. Sidney didnt
get the change to ask what he meant. The music began to play and the curtain
began to open.
Orrin, what is going on? Evie cried, as the AD returned to his
I have no idea, the bastards wouldnt let me backstage. I just
happened to see Ezra, but he wouldnt come near me. I yelled at him,
but he gave me the thumbs up sign and disappeared. Something is going on
back there Evie.
Chris and the boys are back there Orrin, Evie tried to comfort
Thats what Im scared of, He answered.
It couldnt have been that bad. Look they are about to start the
show again. He sat down with a sigh.
I still want to know why Buck was hanging by that rope. Something went
horribly wrong Evie.
It was probably some stages show trick. God knows that there are enough
of them in this show. Besides, we cant be sure it was even Buck. We
only saw the man for a split second, before the curtain closed. Nnow be quiet!
I want to see how Sidney does in this love scene.
Orrin sat back down in his chair not completely satisfied with the answer
+ + + + + + +
Aww man, Vin said rubbing his head, where Walters had gotten
in an unexpected hit. He joined Nathan and Chris as they watched the two
cop cars drive away with Walters and Mark Morgan drive away.
Morgan was the collage student who had tried to kill Sidney and Cory. Walters
had refused to say anything, and at first so did Morgan. Chris threatened
him that he could get the death penalty for acting alone on a murder. Morgan
had been more than willing to spill the beans on the whole operations. Morgan
had even spilled the names of outside people involved in the ring. The
information had been passed along to the FBI along with the right to interrogate
the prisoners. Team Seven was washing their hands clean of the matter.
That was almost too easy, Chris said with a smirk.
What you expected with an overweight idiot and his dumb ass side
kick? Vin asked.
To bad JD couldnt get to the other guy in time, Nathan
Oh well, weve got his picture. Hell never work in show
business again, Chris answered. Hey, if we hurry, we can catch
the last part of the play.
I wonder if Sidney is still standing on her own,: Vin said as he followed
his friend through the basement and up the steps.
What are you talking about? Chris asked.
Well, you see, we kind of got Sidney a little drunk. Just to calm her
Were you a part of this too? Chris turned to look at Nathan.
Guilty as charged, Nathan answered, hanging his head.
Wish I would have thought of it, Chris chuckled. The three men
joined Josiah and JD who were standing over Buck. He was sitting down in
Did you nail those bastards? Buck asked.
Yeah, we got him, Chris answered. I gave Walters a punch
that hes not likely to forget for a long time. Said it was from you.
Thats good, Buck sighed. Now quiet, I want to listen
to the last part. They listened to the final act of the play down in
the phantoms layer. JD tried to hide the tears in eyes as he
watched the Phantom let Christine leave him, sealing his fate of a life in
He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up at Josiah. He had tears in his
eyes too. As soon as Sidney and Cory had finished their final lyrics, they
watched as Cory scooped Sidney up in his arms and rush off the stage.
Ah guys, we have a problem, He looked down at the girl in his
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances
Sidney was flinging her arms
about wildly and had a dazed look in her eyes. Chris put a hand over
her mouth and glared at Vin.
How much did you give her?
Not that much, honest, Vin said defensively.
So that is how that Shakespeare line goes. I often forget it,
Ezra said walking up to join them.
Ezra, how did you get here? Buck asked. I am the phantom,
my dear sir. I could not let myself end up in the hands of those crude
Now that I think about it, how do you disappear off the stage like
that? Vin asked. I never got the chance to see how that
Then it will remain a mystery my friend. I would not imagine divulging
the phantoms secrets,
They are both crazy, Buck said shaking his head. Are all
actors this loony after a performance? He asked Cory. Cory shrugged
his shoulders. The orchestra had started to play a lively song and the cast
was beginning their curtain calls.
I think we have a more important mystery to solve then the phantom,
Nathan said. Like how are we going to get Sidney on the stage for her
curtain call without the audience knowing that shes smashed? There
are people out there who want to buy the theater and I dont know if
anyone told you, but Travis is out there too. I dont think any of them
will approve of her being drunk. We need a few minutes to sober her up a
little before she has to meet them. What are you smiling at Ezra?
I have an idea. Will somebody kindly run down to her dressing room
and get that grey cloth that she wore during the graveyard scene?
A few minutes, later Christine was accepting a standing ovation.
The audience loved her, although they could not see her face. It was covered
by a cloth.
I am going to kill you Ezra, JD growled quietly.
One day you will look back on this and laugh Mr. Dunne. Why dont
you wave to Director and Mrs. Travis? They are sitting in the second row.
+ + + + + + +
We are glad to buy this theater in honor of the San Francisco Historical
Society! Martin Roberts said from his podium. The cast was celebrating
their cast party the day after the opening production. I look forward
to viewing the productions of these wonderful actors for years to come.
The audience broke into cheers.
Team Seven heard none of this. They were sitting on the in the airport waiting
for the plane that would take them back to Denver. The new owners of the
theater had no idea of the things that had transpired the night before. They
were also puzzling over the disappearance of their stars.
Katie had answered their questions with, It appears that the Phantom
ended up with Christine after all.
Here Sidney, try drinking this, JD handed her a cup of coffee.
Sidney took it, looking up at him with bloodshot eyes.
Thanks, She whispered. It doesnt make sense,
she said. I try really hard not to get drunk, but I end up with a hangover
What are friends for? Vin laughed.
Sidney shook her head. I should have taken Travis up on his offer
to fly first class with him this morning.
Why didnt you? JD asked.
Because I thought that
, Sidney looked down the hall as
if expecting to see someone. Oh never mind. Guess the Phantom wasnt
the only one forced to live a life of solitude.
Sidney, if he cant even say good-bye then hes not worth
it, Buck said.
Besides, you dont want an actor Sidney. Most of them dont
make much money and they are usually moving around a lot. You want someone
who is close, Josiah added.
:Great, my male teammates are giving me love advice. Im
doomed, She moaned placing her head back in her hands.
There are worse things in life, a familiar voice from behind
her said. Sidney looked up to see Cory standing there with roses in a vase.
You left these at the theater, He said handing her the vase.
Can we talk?
Sure. Lets go over there. She pointed to a spot far from the
prying eyes of her team.
Ill hold onto the flowers Sidney, Buck offered. She handed
him the flowers and they walked to the end of the hall.
Aww Buck, I never knew you liked Roses, Nathan laughed.
What can I say, Ive got good taste, Buck answered shrugging
Sorry I was late, I couldnt get away from the cast party any
sooner, Cory said.
Thats fine. You have to impress your new employers, Sidney
Actually, they wont be my employers. I got a call from a stage
in New York. They want to be star in a new play off Broadway.
Cory, thats awesome! Good for you!
I figure that those guys that my dad works with have probably forgotten
about me by now. Besides, I cant spend my whole life hiding.
If you ever need a bodyguard, I can suggest a good one. Shes
got some excellent qualifications.
Sidney, I need to talk to you about something. Youre a real special
girl and I really like you a lot
But you arent ready for a relationship. Sidney answered
with a sigh. I understand Cory. Cory grabbed onto her shoulders.
Listen to me for a second Sidney. Ive been in some bad relationships
throughout my life. I dont need a girlfriend right now. What I really
need is a friend. Someone I can call and talk too. Maybe come and hang out
with once in a while, when I can afford a plane ticket.
Sidney didnt say anything for a second, then looked up with a smile.
I think I can do that, She answered.
Oh and Id like on other thing, Cory said hesitantly.
Id like to kiss you when your breath doesnt smell like
Sidney walked back over to them a few minutes later.
Your not leaving a broken heart in San Francisco are you? Ezra
No, Sidney answered beaming. My heart is coming back home
with me, all in on piece.