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"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 help…hey, 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.


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