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"Black Jim"

Author: Kellyanne Lynch

Editor: Mary Kalnin, Betty

Medical Consultant: Anne Marie England (nursing major and human medical dictionary)

Disclaimer: Drs. Mark Sloan, Jesse Travis, Amanda Bentley and Lt. Steve Sloan are all characters belonging to Viacom, CBS, and the writers and creators of the show. I am using these characters with the full knowledge that I did not create them, though I highly admire them and their creator(s). No infringement intended.

Summary: I'd rather not say. Be surprised!

Rating: PG

Spoilers: none

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

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Chapter 1:
Thursday, 2:42 A.M.



A dull thumping brought Dr. Mark Sloan out of REM sleep. He lay with his eyes closed and finally realized that the drumming was coming from outside. Still not completely awake, Mark stumbled to his bedroom window and gazed into the night. Through cloudy vision, he scanned the scene until his eyes rested upon the source of the disturbance. Mark smiled.

"Practicing for the NBA at this hour, Steve?" Mark asked his son when he reached the deck of their beach house.

"Dad!" Steve exclaimed, catching his basketball in midair. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to wake you."

"It's okay," Mark assured him with a chuckle. Steve forced himself to smile.

"I would challenge you to a game of one-on-one, but it's a little tough without a net."

Pursing his lips, Mark pointed to the trash barrel, which was standing in the corner of the deck.

"Well, that problem's solved, I suppose," Steve replied, deliberately avoiding eye contact with his father. "But I still don't want to play you. You'd win by so much that it would bruise my ego for days."

"Steve, what's wrong?"

Steve sighed, lowering his gaze to the floor. "It's that obvious?"

Grimacing, Mark nodded. Steve began dribbling his basketball again, turning away from Mark.

"It's the case I'm working on," he confided in his father. "I just need some time to think about it."

Mark stepped closer to Steve. "Is there anything that I can help you with?"

Steve stopped dribbling again and faced his father.

"I'm afraid there's not," Steve replied as the left side of his mouth curved into a half smile. "But I appreciate the offer."

"If there's anything you need to discuss, you know you can talk to me. I'm here for you, Steve." Mark checked his watch. "Even at two forty-eight in the morning."

The right side of Steve's mouth curved his lips into a complete smile. "Thanks, Dad!"

Mark yawned. "Don't mention it."

"Well I'm just thinking right now," Steve informed his father. "So you can go back to bed. Looks like you're in need of some sleep."

"Wake me if you need to talk."

"Sure thing, Dad," Steve smiled and began dribbling his basketball again. "Good night!"

"Good night!" Mark grinned and waved to his son. He turned from Steve and opened the screen door.

"Oh!" Steve exclaimed while Mark was reentering the house. Mark turned around as Steve snatched his basketball in midair again. "I can think without making a racket."

Steve set the ball on the patio table and sat down in one of the lawn chairs.

"I can take that in for you," Mark offered. Steve tossed the ball into the air, which Mark promptly caught.

"Nice pass!" Mark commented.

"Nice catch!" Steve replied.

Mark closed the screen door behind him, sneaking one last glance at his son. Steve was looking right at Mark, but his eyes were glazed over in thought, his mind far from the deck and the beach house.

Sighing, Mark wandered back to his bedroom, basketball in hand. He set the ball in the corner of his room before returning to bed. He had been so tired, just moments before, but now he found himself staring at Steve's basketball. The weight of the burden that Steve must be carrying! Mark just wanted to take away the worry. But Steve wasn't ready to talk yet. Mark would just have to wait to help.

As Mark was drifting off to sleep, he heard the screen door squeal open. Mark's eyes opened. Footsteps plodded around, then stopped. Mark observed the silence as his eyes fluttered shut.

"Yeah. You paged me?" Steve's voice carried into the bedroom and again brought Mark wide-awake.

"Already?" Sigh. "Well that's a relief. I thought that we'd be tracking him for weeks! Yeah, I'll be right down."

Footsteps again. Mark leapt out of bed and hurried into the next room.

"Wait a minute, Steve!" Mark called after his son. "Where are you going? What's going on?"

Steve zipped his jacket. "There's someone we've been looking for, a criminal. And he's turned up. I have to go."

"Now?"

"It's my job, Dad."

"I know," Mark replied with a sigh, "and I'm not stopping you. Be careful, Steve."

Steve nodded and slipped out the door. Mark stared at the door long after Steve was gone. Finally, he wandered back to bed. But it would be a long time before Mark would fall asleep.


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 2 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

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Chapter 2:
Thursday, 8:00 A.M.



"Good morning, Mark," Dr. Amanda Bentley greeted her friend as he entered the doctors' lounge. She was pouring a cup of coffee, and she handed it to Mark when she was through. "I was pouring this for myself, but it looks like you need it more than I do."

Mark grinned and accepted the coffee. He brought the mug close to his nose and inhaled the steam. "Smells like a good brew."

"Rough night?"

"Yeah," Mark's smile faded. "Steve was paged at close to three last night. He was called in, because the police captured a criminal..."

"And they wanted him questioned in the middle of the night?"

Mark shrugged. "I don't know what's going on, Amanda. But Steve hasn't come home yet." Mark sighed and stared into his coffee cup. "I don't know. I just worry about him sometimes."

"Well that's understandable," Amanda said. "Steve's got a dangerous job."

"Sometimes I wish he'd decided to be an accountant."

Amanda laughed. "That's still a dangerous job around tax time."

"Hey, guys!" a new voice piped up.

Mark turned around and smiled at Dr. Jesse Travis. "Hey, Jesse!"

Jesse coughed.

"You okay, Jess?" Amanda asked.

Jesse smiled. "Just a slight cold. That's all." He turned to Mark. "I just checked your schedule, and it looks like you're going to have a pretty light day."

"Sure looks that way," Mark replied.

"Dr. Sloan, please call the switchboard," an announcement blared over the loudspeaker.

"Oh, excuse me for a second, guys!" Mark raised the phone receiver from the carrier and pressed the star key. "Yes, this is Dr. Mark Sloan," he spoke into the mouthpiece.

"One moment; I'll patch you through," a female voice replied, followed by a pause. Then:

"Hi, Dad!" Steve's voice came over the receiver. Mark sighed with a smile. While covering the receiver with his hand, Mark announced, "Steve's okay!"

Jesse and Amanda returned Mark's smile.

Mark turned his attention back to the telephone. "Steve, what happened last night? I was worried sick!"

"I spent all night trying to track down the guy who paged me. Turns out, it was no one at the station."

"Who do you suppose it was?"

BONG! BONG!

"I'm sorry, Dad, I didn't catch what you said."

"Who do you think called you?" Mark rephrased his inquiry.

"It was obviously a crank caller. Nothing more."

"Well..." Mark sighed. Scratching above his left furrowed eyebrow, he added, "I want you to be careful out there, son."

"I will. Listen, I..."

Static spilled out of the ear piece.

"Steve, now I can't hear!" Plugging his right ear, Mark pressed the receiver closer to his left one. "Steve?"

POW! The bang pierced through the phone lines. Mark, Jesse, and Amanda jumped.

"Ahhh!" Steve cried out.

"Steve!" Mark's eyes widened as he called into the telephone. "Steve!"

"Dad..." Steve's voice rasped into Mark's ear before the line went dead.

"What was that?" Amanda asked as Mark lowered the receiver from his ear.

"Steve," Mark stated, staring past her and Jesse.

"I think he's going into shock!" Jesse sprang out of his seat, to Mark's side. Taking Mark by the elbow, Jesse led the older doctor to a chair. "Sit down, Mark, and tell us what happened."

"I heard a gunshot," Mark pronounced each syllable independently as he sat down. "Steve..."

His voice trailed off as he began to shake.

"Mark!" Amanda cried and rushed to the door. "Emergency! We need help in here!"

She turned around in time to see Mark lose consciousness.


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 3 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

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Chapter 3:
Thursday, 12:50 P.M.



Jesse watched as Mark slept, his arms crossed, when Amanda walked in.

"How's he doing?" she asked, standing behind her friend.

Jesse shook his head. "I don't know. I mean, medically, he's fine, but I was talking with him earlier..." Jesse looked into Amanda's eyes. "He's really worried about Steve." His voice wavered, and he turned from her. "I, I didn't know what to say. I just told him to get some rest. He didn't want to, but..." Jesse sniffled. "I gave him medication..."

"Jesse." Amanda turned him to face her and hugged him.

"We heard the gunshot," Jesse stated as Amanda held him. "And Mark heard him... heard him scream..."

"Steve's handled a lot of dangerous situations as a cop," Amanda reminded Jesse. "He's had a lot of bad things happen to him. But he's a good cop. I feel confident that he'll get through this..."

"He's been shot, Amanda!" Jesse snapped, pulling away. As tears streaked down his face, he said, "No matter what Steve has done in the past, no matter how good a cop he is, he's been injured, a least. At the very least. And they have the advantage now. I mean..." Jesse coughed. "I mean, what are the chances that they'll let him live?"

"Jess," Amanda whispered, lowering her gaze. "I'm just hoping, okay? What did you want me to say?"

Silence.

"I'm sorry." Jesse headed for the door. Amanda reached for him, but he raised his hand to her. He slipped out of the room and walked as far as the vending machines. After staring at the selections for a couple of seconds, he found nothing desirable and left.

When he returned to Mark's room, Amanda was gone. Jesse sighed.

RING!

Jesse looked around, attempting to locate the source of the sound. Kneeling, Jesse checked under the bed.

RING!

This time, the noise sounded in his left ear. Jesse glanced to the left and saw Mark's lab coat draped over the headboard of the bed. Reaching into the coat pocket, Jesse's hand wrapped around a cellular phone. Jesse pulled it out and switched it on.

"Hello?" Jesse croaked, then cleared his throat.

"Sloan," a computerized voice pronounced. "We have your son."

Jesse's mouth hung open, and he glanced at Mark. "What do you want?" he gave his best impression of Dr. Sloan.

"Cash," the voice answered. "Fifty thousand dollars; bring it to the burnt-out restaurant on Fairfax Road tonight at eight. Just you, Sloan. If I even suspect company, your son will die."

Jesse squeezed his eyes shut. His heart was racing, and his breathing was heavy. The rapid intake and release of air tickled his throat, and he coughed. Tears filled his eyes.

"Please! No! Don't hurt Steve!" Jesse coughed and held back his tears. "Please, let me talk to him!"

"Your boy is unresponsive at the moment." The phone clicked off.

Jesse hung up the phone and buried his head in his hands.

"Jesse?" Amanda whispered. Jesse glanced through his fingers to find her standing in the doorway. Rushing to his side, she embraced him. This time she held him longer, allowing him to sob into her shoulder. She ran her hand across the base of his skull and down his neck. She rubbed his back with her other hand.

"I wish I could say that it'll all be okay," Amanda breathed. "But we really don't know..."

"That was them!" Jesse exclaimed. "They just called on Mark's phone, demanding money!"

Amanda drew back and looked into Jesse's eyes. "What did they say?"

Lowering his head, Jesse replied, "They thought I was Mark. They want fifty thousand dollars delivered tonight at eight..." He pulled a pad of Post-its from his back pocket and began writing on the top sheet.

"Fifty thousand?" Amanda's nose scrunched up as her eyebrows drew closer to her eyes. "That's a rather low ransom. They're not after money."

"Well, what do they want?" Jesse questioned.

"I think they want to lure Mark ."

Jesse gasped, causing himself to cough. He returned the Post-its to his pocket. "They're planning to kill Mark!"

Amanda sat down at the end of Mark's bed. "Then we don't have much time to find the kidnappers," she concluded, taking Mark's hand in her own. She glanced at Jesse and her eyes filled with tears.

PRIVATE"Well who would want to hurt Steve to get to Mark?" Jesse asked, seating himself in a chair beside the bed.

Amanda shook her head. I dont know, she whispered.

Jesse coughed and slumped back in the chair. He watched Amanda's grip tighten on Mark's hand as she stared at Mark's face, as her tearful eyes met his.

"We have to do something," Amanda stated. "But what?"

"Well," Jesse sighed. "The only link we have with the kidnappers right now is their phone call."

"What did they say?"

Jesse retrieved the note from his pocket. "That they want fifty thousand dollars in cash brought to that burnt-out restaurant on Fairfax. And they want it tonight."

Amanda shook her head. "That doesn't give us much time to find Steve. We'd better wake up Mark."

"I don't think we should." Jesse shifted in his chair as he put away the Post-it. "We shouldn't worry him. We should find Steve on our own."

"But he might know something that would help us." Before allowing Jesse to respond, Amanda shook her sleeping friend. "Mark! Mark, please wake up!"

Mark's eyelids twitched and fluttered open. Squeezing her hand in his, Mark looked up at Amanda. She promptly turned to Jesse.

"Mark," Jesse sighed, his head returning to his hand. "We got a call for ransom money."

Bolting upright in bed, Mark threw the blankets from his body. "Well, how much do they want?"

Amanda sighed. Closing her eyes, she said, "Mark, you're not going to meet the kidnappers."

Mark furrowed his eyebrows. "But, but I have to meet them! Amanda, I know that it's giving them just what they want, but it's the only way."

Mark looked up at Amanda with tears in his eyes, causing her to turn away.

"Mark!" Jesse stepped in, putting his hand on the older doctor's shoulder. "The ransom they're asking for is only fifty thousand dollars. Now if they were just after money..."

"They're not after the money," Mark concluded and sighed. Closing his eyes, he lay back in bed.

"They may or may not want to hurt Steve," Amanda spoke quietly. "But they're definitely after you."

Mark opened his eyes. Glancing from Amanda to Jesse, he asked, "So what can we do?"

"Well, we need to consider all the facts," Jesse said. If we can glean why they want to meet you, we might be able to figure a way to get Steve back."

"Might." Mark repeated and sighed, covering his face with his hands.

Jesse winced and lowered his head. "I'm sorry, Mark," he whispered. "I didn't mean to put it that way. But we do need to review what has happened."

Mark lowered his hands and nodded. "Okay. Let's start from the beginning."

"And where would that be?" Amanda asked.

"Last night." Mark sat up straight in bed, laying a hand over Amanda's for support. "Steve was paged."

"At what time?" Jesse questioned.

Mark squinted and bit his bottom lip before replying. "I'd say it was around three in the morning."

"That's right," Amanda nodded. "That's what you said earlier."

"He came into the house," Mark continued. "And he called the number on his pager."

"Did you hear what he said on the phone?" Amanda inquired.

"Yeah," Mark nodded. "I woke up when Steve reentered the house to use the phone. He was close to the kitchen, so he called from there. He said something like, 'did you page me?' He never said the person's name... but it was a man who called! Steve said that this morning on the phone. He was tracking a man who called."

"So what else did Steve say on the phone?" Jesse asked.

"I'm guessing that the man on the phone had said something about catching a criminal, because Steve commented on the arrest being so soon. Then he said he'd drive over to the station. That's all he said on the phone. I caught him before he left though, and asked him where he was going so late. He told me about the criminal. Then he left."

"But you said that there was not an arrest," Jesse said.

"Yeah. When Steve called this morning, he was saying that he couldn't even find the man who had called."

Amanda raised an eyebrow. "So maybe the kidnapper called him to get him to leave the house last night."

Jesse scrunched up his eyebrows. "I don't get it! Steve wasn't kidnapped until this morning."

"They may have expected to find him last night," Mark speculated. "But perhaps they didn't find him until this morning."

"Well where did they find him?" Amanda asked, turning to Mark. "Where was Steve calling from this morning?"

Mark shook his head. "I don't know; he didn't say. But no matter where he was, an officer down at the station is bound to know where he was supposed to go today."


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 4 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

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Chapter 4:
Thursday, 2:38 P.M.



Telephones ringing, officers darting around desks and people, papers changing hands, punks with strange hairdos and outlandish clothes shouting profanities at whomever they saw. This scene greeted Mark, Jesse, and Amanda when they entered the police station. Mark stepped into the fray; Jesse and Amanda hid behind their friend's coat and stayed close to his heels.

As they passed the punks, Jesse and Amanda came out from behind Mark. They were walking on either side of the older doctor by the time they reached the front desk. No one was there; they were all scattered throughout the room, engaged in tasks other than dealing with newcomers.

Jesse noticed a bell. It was too shiny to leave alone. With a cheesy smile on his face, Jesse moved his hand down on the bell.

DING!

"Jesse!" Amanda whispered her scolding as she gave him a narrow stare.

"What?" Jesse shrugged and hit the bell again.

DING!

Finding it pointless to reason with Jesse, Amanda turned to her other friend for help. "Mark!"

"What?" Mark shrugged. Holding up his hands, he stated, "I'm not doing anything!"

DING!

Jesse chuckled to himself. Reaching behind Mark, Amanda bopped Jesse in the back of the head.

"Ow!" Jesse winced and glanced over at Amanda. "What was that for?"

"Oh, take a wild guess!" Amanda retorted. Mark put a hand over his lips to cover a smirk.

Jesse slammed his hand down again.

THUMP!

"Hey!" Jesse looked down at his hand, which was resting on the desktop. He raised his eyes to find a stocky man holding the bell. Jesse cowered.

"May I help you?" the man sneered, glaring at Jesse, who promptly returned to his post, behind Mark.

"Yes," Mark replied, glancing behind his shoulder before continuing. "I was wondering."

"Dr. Sloan!" the officer smiled. All traces of contempt dropped from his face. "Great to see you! Hey, that Zitromax really did the trick! My kidneys feel great!"

Mark smiled. "Well, that's good to hear, Chuck. Listen, have you seen Steve today?"

Chuck shook his head. "Nah! Steve was in and out of here before I showed up. But hey, Mike Scamporino was here early this morning."

Turning from the three doctors, Chuck yelled, "Hey, Scamp!"

"Yo!" Scamp's head popped out from behind a cubicle wall.

"Get over here!"

"Sure thing, Chuck!"

Chuck returned the bell to the desk.

"Now I'm putting this back," he spoke to the set of eyes peering over Mark's right shoulder. "You're going to behave yourself now, right?"

Jesse nodded vigourously.

Scamp jogged to the front desk. Leaning against it, he asked, "Can I helphey, doc! Long time, no see!"

Mark smiled. "How's your wife doing? I just heard she had another baby! Congratulations!"

Scamp stared into space. "Yeah! Laura's doing fine. So's the baby. We named her Tessa, after her grandmother."

"Have you seen Steve today?"

"Oh yeah," Scamp nodded, resting his chin on his hand. "Steve got here during the graveyard shift. I was here, getting an early start on my work. Tonight, Laura's getting off from work early, and I want to take her out to some place special. Steve was running around here, asking who called him in the middle of the night. No one knew what he was talking about. I asked him if he was sure he hadn't dreamed it, and he said it was for real. He stuck around a while, asking everyone he saw if they'd called. Then he left. That was around seven-thirty. Said he couldn't mess around with trying to find a prank caller, that he had some real work to do."

"Did he say where he was going?"

Scamp shook his head. "No. But he had a file on his desk earlier. It's probably his latest case. If it is, then there are probably notes about where he has to go."

Mark, Jesse, and Amanda followed Scamp to Steve's office.

"Look't all this clutter!" Scamp commented as he approached the desk. He tossed a Barbecue Bob's burger wrapper into the trash bin. "Oh! It's worse than usual! Sloan, man! What a slob!"

Scamp dug through the papers and trash and retrieved a manila folder. Glancing at it, he exclaimed, "Oh! That's right! He got the Pastrana case." Scamp opened the folder. "Looks like he got a suspect in LA. And one out in Malibu. Oh, and there are more on the outskirts of the city. Yeah, he just got this case yesterday."

"But I don't get it," Mark shook his head. "Steve was looking for someone in particular. It sounds like, in this case, he hasn't even narrowed down the list of suspects!"

"Well, I don't know," Scamp shrugged. "But I will tell you one thing; he's got several cases going right now. I mean, currently, I have four on my desk that I haven't even had a chance to review."

Pushing aside more garbage, Scamp unearthed another folder. "Here's another case. Who wants to bet that we'd find at least a third folder if we conducted a full-scale excavation of this dump?

Mark sighed as Scamp tossed both folders back onto the desk. "Okay. Thanks, Mike."

"Don't mention it." Scamp rejoined the chaos.

"So what do we do now?" Jesse asked Mark.

Amanda glanced at her watch. "We don't have much time; it's nine o'clock now."

As Amanda lowered her arm, Mark caught her wrist.

"Amanda! That's it!" Mark smiled.


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 5 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

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Chapter 5:
Thursday, 3:45 P.M.



A bird flew overhead, chirping her merry song, as a sweet zephyr whispered through the trees. Dilapidated benches, devoid of people, dotted the trail that spiraled around the park. Taking in a breath of spring air, Mark turned to his friends.

"Steve called a little before seven," Mark informed them. Mark pointed to the clock tower that stood before them and said: "While we were talking, this clock struck seven. The sound was so loud that Steve couldn't hear something that I'd said. He had to have been in this park.

Glancing around, Jesse noticed trash barrels lying on their sides, garbage spilled over the sidewalk. Graffiti covered the cement walkway. They passed a birdbath; it had once been white, but now it was caked with dirt. Its once cool and inviting waters now had a neon green tinge, and three birds lay beside it in rigor mortis.

"Ugh!" Jesse exclaimed. "Who would be mean enough to put Prestone in a birdbath?" He crossed the grass to the birdbath and knocked it over.

Mark sighed. Looking into the distance, he said, "This park wasn't always like this. I used to take Steve here when he was learning how to ride his bike." Mark smirked. "I remember trying to get him to stay on the path. But he kept riding out into the parking lot." Mark gestured toward the tower. "You know, I remember how that clock sounds when it strikes the hour. It doesn't have a tinny quality to it, like so many of the modern ones do. It has its own clear, distinct sound. It's a shame that this park has gone to waste.

Mark sighed.

"So do we want to split up?" Amanda asked. "Each search for clues around a different part of the park?"

"Yeah," Jesse nodded. "I can take the volleyball court."

Mark shook his head. "Steve couldn't have called from there. It's too far from the clock. I think we should check the area closest to the clock tower first. And I don't think we need to split up. Steve couldn't have been too far from here, and he was most likely on this walkway."

They were searching the path for a while when Jesse exclaimed, "Whoa!"

Mark and Amanda raced to his side.

"What? What?" Amanda looked down at where Jesse was pointing.

"That is an excellent drawing of Bugs Bunny!"

Amanda slapped Jesse offside [upside] the head. Mark just stared closer at the ground.

"You may be onto something, Jesse," Mark said as he reached into his pocket.

"Mark, you can't be serious!" Amanda replied. "Steve most definitely did not draw that!"

"No, he didn't," Mark put on his glasses and pointed to a patch of red over the picture. "But that might be his."

"Is that blood?" Jesse asked, getting down on his hands and knees. Amanda stooped down beside him.

"I think it is," she nodded. She studied the dull brownish copper stain before scanning the area around it. She gasped. "Look!" she exclaimed.

Following her extended finger, Mark saw letters spelled out in the rust-coloured liquid:

BL Jim 7

"B L Jim Seven!?" Jesse raised an eyebrow. "What does that mean?"

"It might be a name," Mark suggested. "Maybe B and L are initials."

"Or maybe they stand for the word black," Amanda thought aloud. "Black Jim."


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 6 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

--------------------------------------------------

Chapter 6:
Thursday, 4:25 P.M.



Jesse ventured into the police station. Chuck was nowhere in sight; Jesse went for the shiny bell.

DING!

Chuck stood up from where he was kneeling behind the desk. Before Jesse could run to Mark and Amanda, Chuck grabbed Jesse's shoulder.

"See this bell?" Chuck held it in front of Jesse's nose.

"Yeah?" Jesse squeaked.

"Does it look like lunch?"

"No."

"Well," Chuck growled, "it's going to be your lunch if you ever touch it again! Understood?"

"Chuck, be easy on Jesse," a soothing voice joined the conversation. "He's had a difficult morning."

Looking at the newcomer, he said, "Sure, Dr. Sloan!" and he let go of Jesse. The young doctor raced behind Mark. "So, what can I do for you?"

"I was wondering if you could look through the database for the name Black Jim."

"Black Jim?" Chuck raised an eyebrow and stood up to his full height. "Why do you want that information?"

Closing his eyes, Mark replied, "I'd like to keep that a secret for the time being, if you don't mind."

Chuck shrugged. "Sure, doctor." He turned from Mark. "Scamp!"

"Yo!" Scamp peeked out from behind a cubicle. His eyes met with Mark's. "Hey, doc!"

Scamp jogged to the front desk.

"Why don't you search the database for Black Jim."

"But, Chuck!" Scamp replied. "Who's Black Jim?"

Glaring at Scamp, Chuck sneered, "It doesn't matter." Scamp rushed to the nearest computer and began typing away.

"Black Jim, Black Jim," Scamp muttered to himself. "Nope, no Black Jim."

"No?" Mark furrowed his eyebrows. "Well, how about B L Jim?"

"You mean using B and L as initials? Okay, I'll try that." Scamp typed the new entry, paused, and then shook his head.

"No. No B L Jim either."

"Well maybe we'll have better luck just looking up the last name Jim," Amanda suggested.

Sighing, Scamp typed again and waited. "There's a Shan Jim and a Ytoko Jim. Nothing that starts with a B or an L."

"Can you bring up their files anyway?" Mark asked.

"Sure." Scamp pressed a few keys before a picture of an oriental man appeared on the screen. "Shan Jim. Date of birth is September fifteen, 1962. Died"

"Okay, it can't be him," Mark concluded. "What about the other one?"

"Ytoko Jim," Scamp read when the man's file loaded. "Date of birth is January fourth, 1984. He only has a record because he shoplifted a couple months ago."

"That's not a case that Steve would have handled," Jesse said.

"Oh, you're helping Steve?" Scamp asked.

Mark nodded. "You could say that."

Shrugging, Scamp motioned toward the screen. "I don't know what to tell you. I could try a keyword search."

"You know, that's a good idea," Amanda replied. "After all, Black Jim may not be a criminal."

"Or even a person!" Mark exclaimed.

"Whoa!" Scamp interjected. "You don't even know if Black Jim's a person? We probably should have checked on keyword first."

Scamp typed again and waited. "No, it's not coming up on keyword either. Sorry I couldn't help you, doc."

"That's okay, Mike. Thanks for trying."

Glancing at his watch, Jesse announced, "I go on duty in a few minutes; I gotta get going!"

Mark and Amanda followed Jesse toward the door.

"Hey doc!" Chuck called out. All three doctors turned around. "I mean, Dr. Sloan! We'll keep an eye out for this Black Jim. And I'll tell Steve you came by!"

Mark turned to the exit and saw that his friends were already outside, waiting for him. He paced toward the door and stopped when he saw a yellow, palm-sized sheet of paper lying on the floor. He picked it up and read it.


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 7 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

--------------------------------------------------

Chapter 7:
Thursday, 5:37 P.M.



Jesse sat behind the wheel of his Volkswagen, staring at the back bumper of a dark green Jeep. His eyes focused on a bumper sticker that read, "I do whatever my rice crispies tell me to do."

"I wish they'd tell you to move," Jesse muttered and laid on his horn. Sticking his head out the window, he saw that it wasn't the rice crispies follower who was holding up traffic. All the way up the bridge, cars were at a standstill. Sighing, he leaned back onto the headrest and closed his eyes. He counted to three before turning on the radio.

" That's what friends are for," Gladys Knight sang over the speakers. Wondering who last rode in his car, Jesse reached for the tuning knob, but stopped. The song had already made him think of Steve.

The rice crispies follower moved ahead a few feet, and so did Jesse.

" Keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure. That's what friends are for."

Jesse sighed as the song ended, relieved that he hadn't caught it when it started.

"We're taking your calls tonight," a woman on the radio announced. "So call in at 555-KNLV and dedicate a song to someone special. We have Tanya on the line tonight. Tanya, where are you calling from?"

"Malibu."

"And you have a special dedication for your friend?"

"Yes, to my friend Tammy. I haven't seen her for a very long time. She's away in San Francisco, and I haven't been able to contact her. She's my best friend, but I don't think I ever told her that."

Jesse sniffed back a tear.

"And I love her. Can you please play a song for her?"

"Sure thing, Tanya! Hope you hear from Tammy soon. Thanks for calling."

Jesse gripped the wheel until his knuckles turned white, as he endured the silence of the radio's dead air. The Jeep in front of him crept forward, and Jesse released his foot from the brake for a few seconds.

" Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moon light. Someone's thinking of me, and loving me tonight."

Leaning over the wheel, Jesse sobbed onto the dashboard. The tears streaked through the dust that covered the glass over the gauges. Somebody behind him honked. Jesse glanced up and realized that the Jeep was a couple of car lengths ahead of him. Jesse caught up with the inane bumper sticker.

A pair of flashing red lights caught Jesse's attention. At first, he figured that it must be a police car, and that he was seeing the end of the traffic jam. But then he realized that it was just someone's hazard lights. Jesse looked over the car. It was a black sports utility vehicle, like one that he would get if he had more time off from work for road trips. Very nice. He checked out the make and model of the car. It was a GMC Jimmy.

A black Jimmy.

"Black Jim," Jesse whispered as his eyes fell over the California license plate. The first digit was a seven. Cars behind him were honking. This time, instead of moving forward, he pulled off the road, behind a bougainvillea bush.

Jesse shut off his engine. He was about to jump out, when he noticed his Maglite sitting on the floor beside him. He took it with him for light, and protection.

As he approached the Jimmy, Jesse held his breath. He could be wrong. This might just be a nuclear family on a trip to grandma's that just happened to get a flat tire. But what if it wasn't?

Jesse retrieved his cell phone from his coat pocket and switched it on. It gave off a series of beeps. Glancing at the screen, he exclaimed, "Figures the battery's low now!" He slid the useless device back into his pocket.

Cars crept pass Jesse as he crept up the bridge, toward the Jimmy. The hazards still blinked and the interior of the car was dark. Taking a deep breath, Jesse flipped on the Maglite.

"Need any help?" he hollered at the Jimmy. No response. Jesse came closer to the car and shined his flashlight through the rear window. There was nothing in the hatchback. He shined the beam into the back seat. A puddle of blood glistened in the fluorescent light. Jesse's hand went over his nose and mouth. He checked the front seat, but found nothing.

Jesse approached the front of the car and placed his hand over the hood.

"Still warm," he whispered. Gripping his Maglite tighter, Jesse glanced over the guardrail. Two figures were one hundred feet from him and closing the distance as they strode up the embankment. Jesse dove behind the bougainvillea bush. Peeking between the branches, he saw the figures, two men, approach the bush and pass it on the right. Jesse crept around the bougainvillea, moving counterclockwise.

"This is dangerous, Lewis!" one man shouted at the other. "I don't like this!"

The other man, Lewis, faced the first. "Look! This is my plan! Everything will go according to my design! Don't forget who signed your paycheck! When I call and give you the signal, you do your job. I'll have the doctor listening on the phone, so he can hear your progress. But make sure you give the phone to loverboy before you do your stuff. Okay?"

Jesse furrowed his eyebrows. "Loverboy?"

"Yeah," the hired hand replied to Lewis. "I got it. I just think you've made a big mistake. You should have let me work earlier."

"It's not your call!" Lewis hollered. "Just wait for my signal!"

Jesse watched as Lewis jumped behind the wheel of the Jimmy. Lewis flicked off the hazard lights and started the engine. As the Jimmy eased back into the now-flowing traffic, the hired hand turned back to the bridge.

Jesse froze. He stared at the man who descended the rocky embankment toward the ocean, crashing against the shoreline beneath the bridge. With each step, the hired hand further escaped Jesse's reach. With each stride, it was less likely that Jesse would be able to save Steve from the clutches of the henchman. But Jesse just stared, paralysed, breathing heavily and fighting the urge to cough.

"Come on, Jess!" he murmured to himself. Closing his eyes, he breathed a silent prayer in haste. When next he opened his eyes, the hired hand came into focus. Jesse stole away from the shelter of the bush and raced on tiptoe to the henchman. The hired hand heard a rustle behind him and turned to see what it was. Jesse took a deep breath and, in one fluid motion, vaulted into the air and lunged at the henchman. Jesse grabbed him, and both men fell to the ground. Jesse started to roll and tumbled down the embankment. He reached for a twig, a rock, anything sticking out of the ground, but he couldnt reach them. He felt the rocks and dirt scrape with his back, his knees, his elbows and hands as he rolled. Then a sharp pain pierced his stomach. Jesse cried out in pain. He clutched his middle and scraped his hand on the object embedded there. His back slammed into a tree, and he came to rest there, by the shores of the crashing ocean. For a moment, Jesse lay there, disoriented. He was reeling. He blinked and glanced about, through blurry, failing vision. He spotted a figure lying on his side, blindfolded and bound.

"Steve!" Jesse called to his friend in a strained, raspy voice. Steve raised his head from the ground. Jesse smiled and attempted to stand but fell to his knees.

"Ste" he coughed. Fighting the stabbing that seized his stomach and the throbbing that wracked his entire body, Jesse began crawling toward his friend.

Steve mumbled incoherently through the gag, and Jesse used the sound to guide his movement. He lost the feeling in his feet. The paralysis quickly enveloped his legs and weakened his knees. He had to propel himself with his upper-arm strength and drag his useless limbs.

Jesse's hand brushed against the shoulder of Steves flannel shirt, just as the paralysis shot up his back. In the blackness and still losing vision, Jesse ran his fingers down Steve's back, searching for the rope that bound his friend. His fingers slipped over the coarse threads and glided up the twisted twine until they found a knot and picked at it. Jesse felt prickly pins at the back of his neck and sped up his efforts, knowing that he had only a few moments more. His head floated as his fingers slipped through the double knot. He battled the blackness that blotched his blurry vision.

The darkness won.


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

--------------------------------------------------

Chapter 8:
Thursday, 6:04 P.M.



Steve felt his arm restraints loosen, and his wrists separate. He waited for Jesse to remove the rest of the ropes, the blindfold, and the gag. He waited in vain.

Steve finally pulled his wrists away from one another and the ropes fell to the ground. He moved his hands behind his head, and pain stabbed his injured shoulder. Clenching his eyes shut, Steve growled. He glanced at his bleeding left shoulder, which pressed into the ground. He mustered the strength to roll onto his back, to sit up and remove his blindfold. Squinting in the darkness, focusing his neglected sight, he scanned the shoreline. Beside him lay a figure, slumped in a heap.

Steve's eyes widened.

"Mmm!" he exclaimed through the gag. His right hand reached behind his head, unfastened the gag, and threw it aside.

"Jess!" Steve slid his right hand under Jesse's neck.

Jesse opened his eyes. "Steve!" he whispered with a toothy smile. His eyes fluttered shut, and Steve shook his friend's shoulder.

"Jesse?" His eyes drew to Jesse's hemorrhaging midsection. Furrowing his brow, Steve leaned in closer to examine the wound.

"Is that glass?" Steve asked as he moved his hand toward Jesse's stomach. The young doctor's eyes flew open, and he lifted his hand a few inches off the ground.

"No, Steve!" he wheezed. "Don't touch it! It's" His eyelids closed and his body went limp.

"Jess! Jesse!" Steve called. His friend didn't move. His eyes scanned the scene for something, anything, that he could use to help Jesse. Steve looked at Jesse and noticed his coat. If it hadn't been caked with dirt, it would have been an appropriate dressing for the wound. Glancing at his own body, he saw the flannel shirttail flapping in the breeze. He reached down and tore off the excess fabric.

As he laid it over Jesse's wound, Steve looked around for something else.

"Cell phone," he muttered. He slipped his hands into one coat pocket and retrieved a power bar wrapper and a movie stub for The Little Mermaid. Steve smirked and immediately felt guilty. With his healthy arm, Steve rolled Jesse onto his back and checked the other pocket. A Community General Hospital lapel ID

And a cell phone.

Steve hit the on button. The telephone beeped three times.

"Low batt!" Steve exclaimed and threw the phone aside. Shaking his head, he hissed through his teeth. His eyes fell upon Jesse who was losing facial colour, whose breathing became more difficult with every second.

With his right hand, Steve applied pressure to Jesse's stomach. He felt a wet, sticky sensation on his palm. Bringing his hand away from Jesse, Steve drew it to his eyes. Jesse's blood had seeped through the flannel. Steve stared at it, then glanced up the embankment. His eyes returned to Jesse, who coughed and weakened with every passing moment.


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 9 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

--------------------------------------------------

Chapter 9:
Thursday, 7:36 P.M.



"You haven't seen him anywhere?" Amanda covered her eyes and forehead with her free hand. She sighed and said: "Well, thank you for your help Yes, please have him call me if he turns up."

Amanda hung up the telephone at the emergency room's nursing station. Plopping down on the chair behind her, she sighed again.

The doors of the ER burst open, and paramedics sprinted into the hospital with a gurney. Nurses barked orders amid the chaos, but Amanda wasn't paying attention to their words.

One voice penetrated: "Are you the ER nurse?"

Amanda glanced up at the unfamiliar orderly. Closing her eyes momentarily, she replied, "No. Pathologist."

The orderly turned around and walked away from the desk.

Wait!" she called after the young man. He turned to see her gesture toward the chaos: "Do you know what happened?"

Nodding vigourously, the orderly replied, "Yeah! Two men were picked up under a bridge on the highway. One of them was dead on arrival, and the other one's a doctor here!"

Bolting upright in her chair, Amanda cried, "Who is it?"

"Dr. Trevors. No, I mean Tre"

"Dr. Travis?!?" Amanda leapt out of her seat and raced down the corridor, into the ER storm.

"Is Dr. Jesse Travis here?" she called as she approached the paramedics, who were racing a gurney down the hallway. A couple of attendants turned around.

"Is that Jesse?" she shouted.

They nodded, and Amanda caught up with them. Rushing alongside the gurney, she held its railing and glanced over at the patient. Her eyes were drawn first to Jesse's stomach. Blood was seeping through a hastily applied patch of gauze. Amanda gazed with a furrowed brow upon his face. His eyes peeked out over an oxygen mask. They would twitch, revealing only the whites of his eyes.

A paramedic grabbed Amanda's shoulder as she tried to keep up with the gurney. The team hustled past her and into an operating room. Amanda did not resist the paramedic; she knew that would probably hinder the surgery. He led her to the waiting room and sat beside her.

Amanda sighed.

"What happened to him?" she asked.

"A piece of glass lodged into his stomach," he replied. "Dr. Travis took a nasty spill down the side of an embankment. He could have broken ribs, and he has a few contusions and abrasions." The paramedic looked Amanda in the eye. "He's your friend." As he sat back in his chair, he finished his thought. "Isn't he?"

Returning the paramedic's stare, Amanda shook her head yes. She lowered her gaze and turned from him.

"Who was with him?" she questioned the paramedic, who shook his head.

"Middle aged man," he replied. "We're guessing somewhere between thirty-five and forty-five. He didn't have any ID on him, and the doctor couldn't tell us anything about him. Do you have any idea who Dr. Travis could have been with?"

Amanda shook her head. "No, I don't."

"Well, whoever our John Doe is, he's waiting for you in your lab."

Rising from her chair, Amanda said, "Okay. I should attend to him." She smiled at the paramedic and added: "Thank you for being such a comfort! You've been wonderful to me. What is your name?"

"Daniel."

"Well, thank you, Daniel!" Amanda put her hand over his before leaving the emergency room. She strode down the corridors of Community General, her shoes clacking on the linoleum, until she reached the pathology department. Heaving a sigh, she pushed open the door to her lab. The familiar sheet-covered corpse greeted her. Amanda flicked on the lights and stepped into the room. She found her tape recorder and hit the record button.

"Thursday, March 30th," she spoke into the device. "The time is now 7:45 PM."

Circling the gurney, Amanda reached her work area. She set her tools on the metal tray that lay on the table beside her, before reaching for the sheet that covered the corpse.

"Dr. Bentley?"

A nurse was standing in the doorway. Amanda glanced over at her.

"Yes?"

"You had a phone call earlier from your babysitter. She said that your son's feeling much better, but she still has him lying down, watching TV."

Amanda nodded. Smiling, she said, "Thank you."

"No problem." The nurse left.

Amanda glanced around the room.

"Where was I?" she muttered to herself. Placing a hand over her eyes, she sighed. "Oh yeah."

Gripping the recorder, Amanda pulled back the sheet. She gasped.

"Steve!" she exclaimed, her eyes wide and bulging from their sockets. She dropped the recorder on the gurney and fell into a chair behind her. Tears filled her eyes. "What happened?"

Standing in the doorway was Steve. He was filthy; the only clean thing that he wore was the blanket draped over his shoulders.

"Long story. How's Jess doing? I didn't see where they took him."

"We should know soon enough. He's in surgery right now."

Steve nodded and sauntered into the lab. Wincing, he glanced down at his left hand. "You wouldn't happen to know why a hand would suddenly start to sting for no reason, would you?"

Rising to her feet, Amanda replied, "No, unless it's a chemical burn. But what did you touch?"

"Nothing!"

Amanda examined Steve's hand. Dried blood lingered around the lines that creased his palm.

"Is this Jesse's blood?" she asked, furrowing her eyebrows. Steve nodded.

"Then I know why your hand hurts."

Amanda led Steve to the sink. As she ran cold water over it, she said, "You must have got stomach acid on your hand, which is sixteen molar hydrochloric acid, highly concentrated. That's why your stomach lining has to replace itself every two weeks." She grinned. "More often if you eat at Barbecue Bob's!"

Steve smirked. "Very funny!"

Amanda's smile faded. "If you got Jesse's stomach acid on your hand," she thought aloud, "then that means the glass went all the way through his stomach lining."

She stared at the wall before looking back at Steve.

"Well what about you?" she asked, glancing over his body for apparent [obvious] injuries. "How come you didn't come in on a gurney?"

"What? Would you have liked me to?"

Amanda shook her head. "No, Steve, I'm serious. You were shot, and you haven't been here long enough to have had it taken treated. So, where's your wound?

"There is no wound," Steve replied. "The bullet only grazed the surface of the skin; it didn't go through."

"That doesn't matter, Steve. You should have it checked and at least cleansed. It probably needs stitches, too."

Steve shook his head. "Amanda!" He closed his eyes. "I'm fine!"

Putting her hands on her hips, Amanda glared at Steve. "Don't make me come over there!"

Steve breathed a heavy sigh and used his left hand to remove the blanket. Amanda stared at the blood caked on his right shoulder.

"Oh, Steve!" she exclaimed. Her eyes met his. "Get your butt back to the ER! That thing is filthy, and there's no way of telling what got into it. Unless you want it to get infected and amputated."

"Okay! I'm going!"

Amanda glanced back at the corpse as Steve headed for the door.

"Wait a minute, Steve!"

He stopped and turned around. "But a minute could cost me an arm! What is it?"

She pointed to her John Doe and asked: "Do you have any idea who this man is?"

"No idea," Steve shook his head.

"All right. Now get out of here."


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 10 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

--------------------------------------------------

Chapter 10:
Thursday, 7:48 P.M.



Mark glanced down at the Post-it note that he'd stuck to the dashboard. 8:00, burnt-out restaurant on Fairfax, $50,000, Jesse's DoctorScript sprawled across the palm-sized sheet. He turned onto Fairfax Road and noticed how few cars were on the street. Mark remembered when this section of town had thrived with activity. All the university students would flock to the area every Friday and Saturday night. Steve used to hang around here when he was a teenager. The restaurant was once the most popular business on the street, a place where young couples shared meals and intimacy. But, a few years previously, a fire engulfed The Star-Crossed Lovers Caf and snuffed out the local city life.

Mark checked his watch.

"Seven fifty," he mumbled. He put a hand over his closed eyes and sighed. Reaching into the backseat, Mark retrieved a brown grocery bag.

"Steve's life for fifty thousand dollars," Mark shook his head. "That's ridiculous; my boy is priceless."

Mark opened the car door and stepped out onto the curb. A chill swept through the air and down his spine. He shivered. Glancing down a side alley as he passed it, Mark saw a sports utility vehicle parked by the back door of the restaurant. He walked toward it.

The SUV was black as Mark discovered when he approached it. The interior was dark, and the exterior had a layer of mud splattered over the paint. He passed the car and headed for the back door of the restaurant. It was ajar. He took a deep breath and ventured into the caf.

Mark held out his hands to feel his way in the darkness. He felt a gritty plastic surface on his right. He ran his fingers along the countertop and gingerly stepped forward. The back door slammed shut behind him. Whirling around, Mark stared into the darkness.

"Put your hands behind your back, Sloan!" a voice barked. Mark obeyed. The lights flickered on, blinding him.

"Turn around!" the voice demanded before Mark could focus his vision. He turned a hundred and eighty degrees.

"Now walk out of the kitchen. We're going to the lobby. Don't try anything. Don't make the mistake of not believing me when I say that I have a gun."

Mark left the kitchen and entered the dining room. As he walked further from the kitchen, he noticed that the tables and chairs were only slightly burned. The lobby was virtually unscathed. The couches, foot rests, and coffee tables were covered with a film of soot.

"Okay. Turn around!"

Mark turned and came face to face with his captor. The man was husky; shocks of white bolted through his raven hair. In his right hand he held a sig sauer, aimed at Mark's chest. Mark held his breath.

"I have the money," he exhaled. "Now please return my son."

The man's eyes widened. "Ha! You think this is about money! How can you not know?" He stamped his foot, and Mark shivered. "HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW?"

Mark gulped.

"I DON'T NEED YOUR STINKING MONEY!" The man rotated his wrist and held the gun sideways. "I want your heartless brat dead, and you punished for raising such a monster!"

Mark found his voice. "Whatever Steve did to offend you," he pronounced each syllable separately, "I'm sure that it was unintentional."

"Unintentional?" the man raised his eyebrows. "UNINTENTIONAL?"

Mark jumped and dropped the paper bag.

"HE KILLED MY LITTLE GIRL!"

Mark's mouth dropped open. "Tell me, tell me how it happened," he stammered.

"Oh, you want to know now!" the man stepped forward and pressed the gun into Mark's chest. "You only care now when your son's life is in jeopardy, not when it was my daughter's!"

Mark's hands were fidgeting behind his back.

"Hands over your head!" the man with the gun hollered, thrusting the gun into Mark's ribs. Mark flung his arms up into the air.

"I, I didn't even know about her," Mark voiced. "But I can feel your pain. If anything ever happened to my son."

"He dies tonight."

Sweat formed over Mark's forehead. Closing his eyes, he prayed for Steve's safety. He opened his eyes again, his pulse beating in his eardrums, his breathing heavy.

"Please," Mark panted. "I want to know more about your daughter."

The man's icy glare softened. His eyebrows let up, and his forehead became smooth. "Beth," he breathed. "Beth loved that rotten son of yours, and he betrayed her. She was too good for him! Too smart! She was only seventeen but a full time college student. That's where your brat met her, at college."

Mark inhaled through his nose and held the breath during the silence. The man lowered his gun, took it off Mark, who breathed a sigh of relief. Covering his face with his hands, the kidnapper pressed his fingers into his temple. The tips of his nails turned white as the rest of him reddened. He gasped and pushed the gun back into Mark's chest.

"Her note said, Tell Steve Sloan that I love him!" he shouted, his body trembling. "She had so much ahead of her! She was so smart! But she died because of that jerk!"

The man panted through bared, clenched teeth. His eyes bore into Mark's soul.

"She loved him, and he neglected her!" The man reached into his pocket and retrieved a cellular phone. "And now, he will die. And you'll have to hear it."

He pressed a series of numbers and the send button. Then paused.

RING!

The man glanced sideways, toward the kitchen door, from where the sound came.

"What the"

The kitchen door flew open, slamming against the wall.

"FREEZE!" the shadow in the doorway demanded. Mark took a step backward. Catching Mark's movement from the corner of his eye, the man looked back at the doctor, who was still stepping away.

POW!

The man fired his gun, and Mark fell.

"Dad!" the shadow at the door exclaimed and raced toward the fallen doctor. The officers behind him circled the culprit

"Dad!" Steve repeated, hunkering down beside Mark.

"Steve!" Mark smiled, rising to his feet. "I'm okay!" Gesturing to the piece of furniture beside him, he explained, "I tripped over this ottoman."

Steve smirked. "I never thought your clumsiness would save your life!"

As the police escorted the culprit from the room, Steve stood to his full height.

"Steve, what happened?" Mark cried. "How did you get here?"

"You see, Dad," Steve put his arm around his father, escorting him out of the building, "there's this brand new invention called the automobile."

"Very funny!"


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 11 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

--------------------------------------------------

Chapter 11:
Thursday, 8:35 P.M.



"So I finally thought to check the pocket of the guy that Jesse knocked over," Steve told his story.

"That explains why I heard the phone ringing in the kitchen!" Mark concluded. "You had it!"

Steve nodded and held up the cell phone. He sat down next to his father, who was already situated beside Jesse's hospital bed. Amanda stood at his feet.

"And that must be the man in my lab," Amanda chimed in. "But Steve, you couldn't identify him earlier."

"He was face-down in the mud, for crying out loud!" Steve exclaimed giving her a playful grin.

Amanda smiled back. "Some detective you are!"

A nurse stood in the doorway, holding a tray of food. "Is Dr. Travis awake yet?" she asked.

Mark shook his head. Grimacing, he said, "I'm afraid not. But I can take that for you."

"Mark," the nurse smirked, "now don't go gobbling up the patient's meal!"

He laughed. "Oh, you don't have to worry about that!" Mark accepted the tray from the nurse, and she left.

"Jess?" Steve leaned toward his friend. Glancing back at the others, he said, "I just saw him stir."

The three gathered around the young doctor. Jesse's eyelids fluttered open, and he stared up at his friends.

"Steve!" he exclaimed with a smile.

Steve grinned back. "You already said that," he retorted. "This time, you sound a lot stronger. How are you feeling?"

"Pumped!" he replied, and everyone laughed. Shaking his head, Jesse said, "No, it's not too bad. It could have been a lot worse." His eyes widened and shined with tears. "But, Steve, you saved my life!"

Steve stared back at Jesse for a moment before tousling the boy's hair. "Don't be getting all mushy on me, Jess!" He drew in a breath before saying, "Actually, while we're on this topic. Jess, you saved my life. That was brave of you to tackle that man. It was like David and Goliath out there!"

"Except this David is tough!" Jesse flexed his muscles.

Mark set down the tray of food on the table beside Jesse. "The nurse came by and left you some food, just before you woke up."

Scrunching his nose, Jesse said, "Uh! I should have stayed asleep!" He pushed it aside and turned to Steve. "So, are the kidnappers in custody yet?"

Amanda lowered her gaze. Looking Jesse in the eye, she said, "Well, one of them is dead. I haven't finished the autopsy. But, from the preliminary exam, it's apparent that he has a fractured skull."

Jesse's face fell. "Oh," he replied. Wincing, he asked, "That wouldn't be the one I knocked over, would it?"

Amanda glanced from Mark to Steve before returning her focus to Jesse. "I'm afraid so, Jess."

Jesse hung his head.

"Don't blame yourself," Mark counseled him. That embankment was full of stones. You had nothing to do with that."

Gazing up at Mark, Jesse asked, "So what was this all about? What did the kidnappers want?"

Mark sighed. "The one who died was a henchman. But the second one." Trailing off, he swallowed hard. "The second one wanted revenge." He turned to Steve. "Mainly, he wanted it against you, son."

"Why?" Steve asked.

"Steve, do you remember a girl by the name of Beth?"

Steve closed his eyes as silence filled the room.

"Beth Capstone?" He looked at his father. "Yeah! I met her when I was buying books for night school! We went for coffee, and we went out a couple times after that. Why?"

Putting a hand on Steve's right shoulder, Mark said, "She took her life recently."

Steve closed his eyes and inhaled.

"I'm sorry, son."

Waving his hand, Steve said, "Please, continue."

"Her father is the one who kidnapped you," Mark spoke. "He told me that Beth wrote a note. In the note." He gulped. "It said, tell Steve Sloan that I love him."

Burying his face in his hand, Steve shook his head. "I never knew," he mumbled into his palms.

Mark put an arm around his son. "It's not your fault that she died. We may never know why she did it. There are usually many factors involved in a suicide, and there's no reason to believe that you were one of them. But we do know that she loved you. And she wanted you to know."

Mark patted his son's back. Wincing, Steve hissed in pain.

"What's wrong?" Mark furrowed his eyebrows, and Amanda glared at him.

"Steve!" she exclaimed. "Have you still not had that shoulder looked at?"

Widening his eyes, Steve protested, "But I couldn't! I had to go bust my kidnapper!"

"Steve, that's no excuse!"

Mark shrugged. "What? What happened to your." Mark gasped. "Is that where you got shot?"

The lieutenant sighed. "It's fine! The bullet just grazed the surface!"

Amanda, Mark, and Jesse glared at him. "Steve!"

"Okay, I'm going!"

Amanda grabbed his right elbow. "This time," she announced as she pulled him out of the chair, "I'm escorting you!"

She dragged him out of the room.

"See you later, guys!" Steve called behind his shoulder.

"Man!" Jesse exclaimed after a moment. "So much happens to Steve! How does he deal with it all?"

Holding his eyes steadily on the door, Mark replied, "In his own way, Jess."


Next Page | Home to DREAM
Black Jim CH 12 "Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

--------------------------------------------------

Chapter 12:
Friday, 2:19 A.M.



Mark lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. Its nightly tones of slate stared back. The moonlight spilled into the room and shone a ray of light across the ceiling and down one wall. He blinked and sighed.]

He swung his legs to the side of the bed and got to his feet. Strolling out of the room, he headed to the kitchen. He found the lights on. Sitting at the table, staring into a glass of milk was Steve. He continued to gaze at the milk and the condensation on the side of the glass. Mark stood beside him, but still, Steve did not look up.

"No game tonight, son?"

Steve jumped, then looked to his left. "Hey, Dad!" He gave Mark a half-smile. "No game tonight. I didn't want to disturb you."

Sitting down beside his son, Mark put a hand on Steve's shoulder. "It's been a tough day, for all of us. Do you want to talk about it?"

Steve shook his head. "I just need some time to sort out everything on my own."

"You're sure?"

Steve looked over at his father. Mark nodded and got to his feet. "I was about to have a midnight snack," he informed his son, gesturing toward the refrigerator.

"The cold cuts are waiting," Steve replied with a smile. Sighing, Mark smiled back.

"Want anything?"

"No, Dad, I'm fine."

Opening the refrigerator door, Mark said, "All right then, son. You know where to find me."

Mark turned to the fridge. He took one last look behind his shoulder before attending to his sandwich meats.

THE END
Home to DREAM
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