"Fairer than Lillies"
The episode opens with Street Hawk whizzing down city streets at night in Hyperthrust mode, lights drawing a mosaic of jagged lines across Jesse's helmet.
"Great," responds Jesse, "She's holding steady at 305."
"All right, if you say so boss," quips Jesse. Still in hyperthrust, the bike makes a sharp 90 degree turn and heads home. As the bike approaches
"Jesse, that joke might have been funny two weeks ago, but now it's getting a little old."
The large "Maxi" sign opens up, and as Jesse approaches he hits the lowest setting for Vertical Lift, which jumps him gently into the launch tube and back into
"Glad you're all right too,
"What? I wasn't having you do anything unneccessarily dangerous," replies
"Norman, I'm a test pilot, if you haven't forgotten; this job is inherently dangerous! Even if it weren't for the bad guys, I've still got enough ammo, explosives, and jet fuel between my legs to take out a small building!" says Jesse, mildly upset.
"Yes yes, I know," says
"Really, because you built it, it's guaranteed to be safe?"
"Of course, you don't trust me?"
Jesse tilts an eye at him, "Let me ask you this, do you know what's wrong with the proportioning valve?"
"Exactly. I'm going home, you enjoy working on your baby."
- - - - - - - - - -
At Jesse Mach's beach house, all is quiet...or is it? A figure appears in the bushes, creeping slowly and peeking in the dark windows. As a car approaches, the figure hides out of sight. Jesse's Mustang pulls up and parks, and Jesse climbs out. He heads for the front door. He feels around in his pocket for the keys. The figure in the bushes stands up and looks out at him. Jesse is having trouble with the lock. Absorbed in his work, Jesse does not notice the person until he hears a twig snap. Jesse whirls around, grabs his gun, and points it at the darkness, "Who's there?" he barks.
A small voice comes from the bushes, "It's just me."
Jesse, realizing it's a childs voice, quickly puts his gun away, "Are you ok?" The boy, quivering in the bushes, is too scared to respond. Sensing his anxiety, Jesse says in a more low and calm voice, "Don't worry, I won't hurt you, I'm a cop."
The boy, walks cautiously out of the bushes towards Jesse. He looks to be about 7 years old. He has fair skin, dark hair and eyes, and very striking features. He walks slowly to Jesse, with an almost embarrassed look on his face. He looks up at Jesse and says, "I thought you used to be a cop?"
Jesse, taken aback by this statement, asks "Do I know you, young man?"
"Not really," says the boy, reaching into his pocket "but my mother does."
The boy hands Jesse a piece of paper. He looks it over. Then a look of shock and unbelief passes over his face. The note reads:
I hope this note finds you doing well. I want to say I'm sorry for everything that has happened. You have been a better man to me than I ever gave you credit for. And now I'm afraid I have to ask you for one more favor. I need you to protect this precious child for me. I can't tell you why or for how long, but I need you to do this for me. I beg you. He doesn't know what is going on, nor would he ever understand. Please do this for me and for the boy.
Then, at the bottom of the letter, in softer handwriting with smears from what appears to be tears that were falling as she finished the letter, it says:
"P.S. He is your son."
the letter into his pocket, his mind racing. He almost forgets the boy is still
beside him, shiverring.
"Come on, we'd better get you inside," Jesse said, putting an arm around the boy. "So what's your name?"
"James" intoned the boy.
Jesse looked around. "James, really? That's my second name..."
Jesse led James into the kitchen and as he sat down, Jesse opened the refrigerator and looked inside.
"You look half starved. You ought to eat something..." he said, taking out some bread and a jar of peanut butter.
James looked down at it. Jesse shrugged.
"Yes well, I just haven't had time to do any shopping yet. Didn't know I was expecting company!"
James carefully spreads the bread as Jesse looks on, taking a large sip from a cool bottled beer he'd opened for himself. Beer, he found, was a great substitute for food.
"How did you get here. Did your mum drive you? Where did she go. Did she tell you?" quizzed an anxious Jesse, pacing back and forth.
"No, I mean yes. I mean, I don't know where she went," replied James, confused. "She told me that she was in trouble and that you would take care of me." He looked sheepish. "You will take care of me, won't you?"
Jesse nodded. "Of course, but if you mum's in trouble I must know what's happened."
Jesse reaches for the telephone.
"Who are you ringing?" said the boy.
"A friend of mine. He always knows what to do. Norm always knows!"
passes. Jesse looks for a moment at the sleeping boy then shuts the door to the
bedroom quietly just in time to hear Norm's stationwagon pull up outside.
Jesse opens the door.
"This better be good Jesse. I was about to spend an enjoyable evening watching back to back episodes of "All In The Family." barked Norman disapprovingly.
"It's Lilly. I think she's in trouble" responded Jesse sourly. Norm looked flustered.
"Lilly, she's back? I mean, that's great.." he said, not knowing what to say. "What kind of trouble?" remembering the events of 8 years ago when Jesse had foolishly revealed his identity to her at the docks.
"I don't know. She's not here to ask. I got this letter."
"Hang on - son - you mean, you.....?" Norm did not have time to finish the sentence when Jesse opened the door to the bedroom to reveal a young boy, fast asleep on the bed.
Norm's hand reached for his head.
"No, I mean don't you think this is all too convenient? Think about it. She is in trouble and suddenly she comes running back to you, and with a kid that she insists is yours?!" Norm takes a seat.
"But what if he is mine Norm? I mean why did she walk away from me that night, knowing that she was carrying my child?"
"Because," interjected Norm, "She knew she couldn't be a part of your world. That you had another path, a path she didn't want to take you from."
"All this is too much Norm. I really need to get some sleep and think about this."
"Good" said Norm. "I'll go back to Command centre and run some checks on Lilli. Try and find out what she may be involved in since we last saw her. The first chance you get ask the boy what he knows. Any small pieces of information will help."
Norm opened the door, routing for his car keys. "All In the Family indeed. Too true ..."
Jesse cast a wry smile and shut the door after him.
The next day Jesse awoke to find James awake in front of the television watching cartoons.
He sat down beside the boy who looked up. "Hey I've seen this one. Isn't this one where the coyote tries to drop a boulder onto the roadrunner?" he said, trying to break the ice. James sat silent. Jesse shifted uncomfortably.
"You know I'm going to try and help you and your mother, but you have to tell me what's been happening. You think you can to that?"
James looked distressed. "All I know is that one day men came looking for mother and there was an argument. I went and hid."
"Can you tell where your mum is now?" said Jesse patiently.
"She said she needed to go see a man. I think his name was Garcia. I think it was Garcia."
Jesse nodded. "That's good. Does this Garcia have a first name? Where does he live?"
James thought for a moment.
"Max I think mother called him. I think he lives on Alpine Mews."
Jesse stood up and walked towards the window before turning.
"Then today I'll go see your mum and find out what's going on."
"What about me?" replied James.
Jesse thought about it. "How would you like to spend the day with your Uncle Norman? He's a very nice man, a little odd, but you'll get to like him..." said Jesse ushering James up, and hurriedly pushing him to the door.
"You brought the kid here?" exclaimed Norm, hardly believing his eyes.
"It'll only be for an hour, maybe two," said Jesse very certain.
"Command centre is not a creche. Besides I don't know anything about children!" said Norm, uncomfortably.
"Newsflash Norm. Neither do I?"
At that point Norm knew when to give in.
"You need to know first what I found out before you go diving in, okay?"
"So, tell me Norm. What's she involved in now?"
"Any leads, Norm?"
"No, but the computer is still working on it."
“Well, according to James, she's gotten herself mixed up with a Max Garcia in Alpine Mews."
"Ok, I'll do a search for the guy...but I just want to let you know I can't send Street Hawk out right now, regardless of what I find out about this Max fellow. I've got the bike all apart." Jesse looks over and sees
"Ok, sure I...WHAT? No way, Jesse! I am NOT your babysitter."
"Oh, come on
"Jesse, I have a lot of work to do myself, I can't just drop everything to watch your...friend."
"I'll have you know, Jesse, that you WERE NOT my first choice of test pilots. Look, I'll watch him for a few hours, that's it! No more than that."
leaves command center,
"Lots. What do you want to know?" the boy answers.
"What are all these buttons for?" James asks turning toward the console.
"Oh. No. Don't touch those. That is very sophisticated equipment."
"What's that?" the boy asks pointing at the disassembled motorcycle. "Can I help you put it back together?"
"NO! I mean, no. That's something very important I'm working on. Why don't you come right over here"
"Sure." James answers as he takes a seat in front of the monitor.
his car a half block away from Max Garcia's house. All is quiet on the outside.
He sits watching and thinking. Who is this Garcia guy and what is he to Lilly?
Jesse sits and stares at the house for a half hour. There is no movement. The
blinds are closed and it looks locked down. He starts the car and drives off.
He has one more stop to make before he relieves
Jesse parks his car on the street, gets out and climbs the stairs to the apartment over the little shop. It's been a long time since he was last in
"It's good to see you to Auntie Pearl. Thanks." Jesse says as he enters the small apartment.
"Now, what is it you need from Auntie Pearl?" the older woman asks.
Jesse notices she does look older than the last time he saw her. "Auntie Pearl! Do I need an excuse to visit the most beautiful woman in
"Cut the bull Jesse. Something's on your mind or you would not be here." Pearl cuts to the chase.
"You're right. I'm looking for Lilly." Jesse says as he contritely looks at the floor then back at
"Lilly? Lilly is in
"You haven't heard from her? She left...uh...a package at my apartment with a note. I got the feeling she may be in some kind of trouble, but I can't find her." Jesse answers trying not to alarm
"What kind of package? Maybe she just had it delivered? Why would you think Lilly was back in the states?"
Jesse hesitates, weighing his answer. "It wasn't a package. It was James, her son." Jesse replies only referring to the child as Lilly's son in case Lilly had not told
"James? Lilly left James with you? Where is Joe? What's going on Jesse? What is happening with my Lilly?"
"I don't know Auntie Pearl, but I'm going to find out." Jesse says putting his hand over the old woman's. "She asked me to look after James for a while, but did not give an explaination. I'm sure she's fine. I'll find her. You don't worry about it." Jesse stands to leave. "Please call me if you hear anything. You know where to find me." Jesse bends to hug the small woman. She feels so fragile.
He leaves the apartment and back to his car. He had better get back to command center to check on James and Norman. He cringes at the thought of what Norman might do to him for leaving James there, but he had no choice. Hopefully,
"Nah, that's ok."
Not turning from the screen, the boy sighs in response, "Nothin'...just looking up stuff."
The little boy turns around, with a look of surprise and embarrassment, "I'm sorry Uncle Norman, I just wanted to play with it."
Norman, seing that he has upset the child, and a little bit flattered that the boy called him "uncle", calms down a little and says, "I mean, how did you get into the database, that's pretty advanced programming."
James, now looking very proud, responds, "Joe used to let me play with his computer when we'd go visit him in
"What did your mommy and Joe talk about?" asked
"Oh, I dunno...I'd hear them talk about some statue sometimes...and sometimes mommy would get in arguments with Joe, then we'd have to leave."
"Arguments?" Norm asked, arching one eye, "What did they argue about?"
"I...I don't want to say."
Sensing this may be important information,
Scrunching up his face like kids do when they are faced with a difficult decision, James finally explains, "Mommy says Joe is a good man and they are good friends, but she says Joe gets mad at her because he wants mommy to marry him, but she doesn't love him that way."
"Oh, I was trying to see if you had pictures like Joe has. He has a bunch of pictures in his computer. I think they look neat."
"Yeah," answers James, "He had some really cool pictures of some statue with that name on it."
Wanting to leave no stone unturned,
James face beams with pride as he says, "Sure!"
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
An hour later, Jesse comes strutting into command center. Half expecting to see the place torn to bits and Norman pulling what was left of his hair out, Jesse is pleasantly surprised to see them both seated in front of a computer, Norman reading to James what they found on the screen. Jesse walks up and says, "Watcha doing, gentlemen?"
James pipes up, "We're looking up pictures of statues!"
"Oh really?" says Jesse, and turning to
Looking a little sheepish, Norman stutters, "Ww-well, actually...little James here was helping me find out about the 'Chang Xi' statue he saw when he and his mother would visit Joe Chin's house."
A sudden look of interest flashed in Jesse's eyes, "So they didn't live together?"
"That's not the point, Jesse," says
"Sure, Uncle Norman!" James sits down to begin telling Jesse what they found.
"Uncle Norman, eh?" says Jesse quietly to Norman, "Good job, buddy."
James interrupts as he begins reading the text on the screen, "Chang Xi is a Chinese god who the Chinese believe controlled the sky and the moons. His name means 'Forever Breath'. In the 1800's his statue was stolen from a temple devoted to him in the hills of...Goo...Goooo,"
"Guan Ning," helps Norman, "good job James."
Jessie speaks up, "And you think Joe managed to find this statue?"
"I don't know...but James says he had a lot of pictures of a statue on his computer that were saved under the name 'Chang Xi'"
"I see...so how does this Max Garcia guy factor into the equation?" asks Jesse.
"Well, I did some searches earlier on him and didn't come up with anything that I thought was relevant, until I found out about this 'Chang Xi' statue. Turnts out Mr. Garcia is a professor of history at UCLA. Can you guess what his specialty is?"
Jesse grins, "Chinese mythology?"
"Ok, great...now we have something to start with at least. I'll head over to the college and..." but Jesse is interrupted by a buzzing noise he is unfamiliar with, "What's that?"
Norman, looking concerned, starts walking over to one of his television screens, "It sounds like the buzzer for the door, but I rarely get visitors here, mostly Jehova witnesses and..." his jaw hits the floor when he gets a good look at the monitor.
"What is it?" Jesse asks.
how did she find this place?!"
"Is that my mom?" James asks excitedly as he runs for the door. Jesse is right behind him. James swings open the door and launches himself at his mother. "Mom! Where have you been? Jesse's been trying to find you and Uncle Norman let me use his computer."
Lily looks up at Jesse noticing the mixed emotions on his face - anger and relief that she is safe maybe even a little pleasure. "Uncle Norman?" She asks as she enters the building.
"Lily" Jesse addresses her calmly. "Come in. Lily this is
How did you find us here?"
"I followed you after you left Auntie Pearl's." Lily answers.
"She followed you. What? You don't even know when you have a tail? What did they teach you at the police academy?"
"Norman" Jesse says warningly. "I need to talk to Lily alone for a minute." He looks pointedly at James. "Could you find James a snack or something. Make him one of your famous protein shakes."
"What's a protein shake?" James asks cautiously.
"Go on with Uncle Norman and he'll show you" Jesse reassures nudging the boy toward
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come here. I was worried about James. I did not mean to upset your friend." Lily says looking worriedly through the windows at her son and Norman.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Uncle Norman is Jesse mad at my mom?" James asks watching the adults in the other room having an intense discussion.
"What? Oh...no....no not mad exactly. He's...uh...concerned. He was worried when she left you and did not come back"
James stares at
from looking through the window and starts saying "I'm sorry
Jesse cuts her off, "I'm sick of hearing sorries from you, Lillie. It seems like you're just trying to make up for not saying sorry the first time you walked out on me."
Lillie's eyes light up with fire, "Jesse, you know why I walked out on you. I told you that if you wanted to become a police officer, I was going to have to call off the engagement."
"Yeah...so you left without even giving us a chance to talk about it. I thought that was what people who really loved each other did, they communicate. But you didn't even give me that chance, you just made your decision and left."
"Jesse," pleads Lillie, tears forming in her eyes, "I left you because I loved you; I couldn't bear to watch you be hurt or killed, and I knew that is what the life of a cop is all about."
"Well that's just great...so the fact that you're putting my life in danger again by dragging me into your problems just proves to me that you don't love me."
"No...Jesse...I..." the tears are streaming down Lillies face, "Forget it, I should have never come," Lillie wheels around and starts walking away. Jesse grabs her arm and pulls her back to him.
"Lillie, stop, please. Look, I'm sorry...this whole thing has brought up a lot of emotions...a lot of unresolved issues. I'm not going to lie to you, you've hurt me worse than any woman ever has. But I never want any harm to come to you, or James. Was it true what you wrote? Is James really my son?"
"Yes...I didn't know when I left that I was pregnant."
"Did you tell Joe that it was his child?"
"No, honestly Joe and I were never intimate. Joe was concerned about his honor; he was not about to do that sort of thing until we were married," a mild look of shame and embarrassment flashes across Jesse's face very briefly, "but after we got to Hong Kong he changed, he became a different man and I couldn't love a man like that either. It's because of Joe that I'm in this predicament."
Realizing that their conversation has strayed from the important matters, Jesse begins to sound more like a cop and less like a spurned lover, "So what exactly happened, Lillie, what is going on with Max Garcia?"
"Oh!" says Lillie, surprised, "How did you know he's involved?"
"James," replies Jesse, smiling, "He's very observant...just like his father."
Lillie laughs, "Yes, I suppose he is. Well, as I said, Joe kind of dragged me into this. When we left for
Jesse interjects, "I don't think it's the power of the statue so much as the money its worth that corrupted Joe."
Lillie responds, "Well, regardless, I kept trying to talk sense into him, but he didn't listen. Eventually, he started corresponding with various people in the black market, who put him in touch with Max Garcia. Max was going to buy the statue from Joe, until Joe found out that Max had struck a deal with someone to trade it for another ancient statue."
"The Chang Xi?" asked Jesse.
"Yes," responded Lillie, "When Joe found out that Max was going to trade for the Chang Xi, he thought that he could make more money if he got the Chang Xi first and then sold it to him."
"And then what happened?" Jesse asked.
"Well, a few weeks later I hear the news that Joe was killed. I got scared. I packed James, myself, a few personal belongings, and we came back to the states. We'd been staying in a hotel for only a couple days when a heavyset man came to the door. He said he was Max Garcia. He told me he was looking for a package, and that I should know what he meant. I told him I had no such package. He gave me his card and told me to give him a call if I 'Came to my senses.' I yelled at him and told him to leave, and eventually he did. But the next day I saw a car follow me when I went to go get me and James some breakfast, and when I came back to the hotel the room had been broken into and the place ransacked. That's when I knew I was in real danger. I didn't know what to do. I snuck out the back and took a taxi to your house to ask for your help, but you weren't home. I wanted to go see Aunt Pearl, but I didn't want to take James with me in case Mr. Garcia was waiting for me there. So I left him at your house with the note."
"Then why didn't Aunt Pearl know where you were?"
"I hadn't contacted her yet, I was afraid she wouldn't be able to handle the shock of the news. I waited outside her apartment, watching to make sure Garcia or his men weren't there already. But before I went in, you showed up, but without James. So I got worried. I found another taxi and followed you here after you left."
"I see," said Jesse, "So why did Max come knocking on your door? I thought it was Joe who had the statue?"
"I don't know, Jesse," replied Lillie, "but he was convinced that I had it, almost like Joe told him I did."
"If he did I'll..." stopping himself from finishing his sentence because it was a moot point now that Joe was dead, he tries to think of their next move, "Do you think he gave one of the statues to a family member?"
"I doubt it," responded Lillie, "when I met him he was not on honorable terms with his family. That was originally part of his motivation for stealing the Ivory Emporer from the Tong; he wanted to restore his honor with the family. So I do not think he would have trusted his family with either statue."
"Who would he have trusted?" asked Jesse.
"Besides me? I'm not sure. Besides me, he didn't have many friends except..." Lillie's face turns white "Auntie Pearl!"
"You stay here with James," orders Jesse, "I'm going to go visit Aunt Pearl again." Jesse runs over to Norm's quarters, peeks around the door and says, "
"Sure sure...while I'm at it I should just post a sign outside that says 'Command Center Daycare - All ages accepted'" responds
"And get Street Hawk back together, I have a feeling I might need it pretty soon."
"What!?!?! Jesse, it took me 6 hours to get the bike apart, and I haven't figured out what the problem is."
"Have James help you!" says Jesse, with a wink and a smile towards James. James winks back with a big peanut butter & jelly smile.
Meanwhile, back in
"Package? What a surprise, I wasn't expecting a package."
- - - - - - - - - - - -
watches as the deliveryman leaves the old Chinese woman's apartment. He tosses
down his cigarette and makes his way up the stairs. He knows the old woman
lives alone. He has been watching her since the younger woman, Lily, got away
from him. Garcia knocks on the door. When the old woman opens it, he pushes his
way inside. "Where's the package?" Garcia growls.
"What do you want? What package?"
Garcia notices the box from the delivery on the table by the sofa taking note of the return address. It was from Joe Ching. This had to be the statue. Garcia grabs the box and turns to leave. The old woman grabs his arm so he shoves her to the floor and hurries out the door.
Jesse arrives in
The door to the apartment is standing open and Auntie Pearl lying lifeless on the floor. If only he could have gotten here a few minutes sooner. After checking to see if the small apartment is clear, he kneels down by Pearls body and check for a pulse. She is still alive. "Auntie Pearl, can you hear me? I'm going to call for help." Jesse phones for an ambulance and the police. Next he calls
Back at Max
Garcia's house a dark green Corvette pulls into the garage. Max gets out (quite
laborously for a large man) and opens the rear hatch. He sets the crate down on
a nearby work bench. Grabbing a large screwdriver, Max clumsily opens the crate
and shuffles through the packing material. He pulls out a large milky-white
statue about the size of two basketballs. A look of rage passes over Max's
face. "THIS ISN'T THE CHANG XI!" He bellows. "It's some
worthless piece of junk soapstone carving!" He tosses the carving, which
appears to be a very simple carving of a dragon, onto the work bench, sending
tools bouncing onto the floor. He storms inside the house, grabs the telephone,
and begins dialing. It's nightime and the person on the other end of the phone
is probably asleep, but he doesn't care. He waits impatiently on the line until
a very tired voice on the telephone says "Hello?"
"The statue wasn't in the crate he shipped, you failed!" barks Max at the telephone.
"What? Whaddya mean?" replys the voice on the phone.
"I mean, I just intercepted the package that Joe Chin shipped out, it didn't have the statue! It was some other statue, defintatly not the Chang Xi."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. Don't sit here and question whether or not I can tell what the Chang Xi looks like. Are you forgetting I am the expert in this field? Don't you dare question my knowledge of the statue!"
"All right all right...so it's not the statue. Look, we tore Joe Chin's place apart looking for that thing, and came up with nothing except for that shipping receipt. We did everything we could, so you can't blame us."
"Oh yes I can blame you...you and your goons shot him before you had all the information you needed."
"Hey, look, that's not our fault...I told you, that guy took off running and we had to stop him somehow. If he got the Chinese authorities involved we would have never found the statue."
"Well, you didn't find the statue regardless. I can't lose the Chang Xi, not now, not with it within my reach," Max pauses on the phone, contemplating his next move, "The girl, she has to know something. I need you to get her for me."
"How, boss...we lost her at the hotel, and she doesn't have a home for us to stake out."
"June Pearl received the shipment, so the girl must know her or be related to her. The way I left her she's either dead or in the hospital, so find out where she is and it should lead you to the girl."
- - - - - - - - - -
At the hospital Lillie is sitting next to Aunt Pearl's bedside.
"She's pretty weak," answers Lillie, "The doctors say she has a compression fracture in her hip and a concussion. They have her on morphine right now to help with the pain."
"Where's James," asks Jesse.
Jesse reaches his arm around her to comfort her, "It's going to be all right. Now, Lillie, this isn't your fault, and you know it; it was Joe's choice to mail the statue to
"Jessie, I can't be mad at Joe...not after..." she didn't finish her statement, not wanting to add to her already heavy grief over
Suddently, with a very weak and shaky voice,
Jesse leans over
"I-I knew when I g-g-got the letter and p-p-package," responded
"What letter?" asked Lillie.
"Ch-ch-check pocket of m-m-my r-robe,"
Lillie slid open the drawer the nurse had placed Lillie's clothes in. In her jacket pocket she found a small folded letter. She unfolded it and read it out loud to Jesse: "Dear Aunt Pearl, I am sorry for the dishonor I have caused you and my family. I hope you will forgive me someday. I am in trouble again, and this time nobody can save me. My only concern is that others will be hurt because of what I have done. I am sending you a package. If I do not arrive with it, it means I am probably dead. Otherwise, you should take it and hide it. It is very valuable. Just remember this American saying: 'It all comes out in the wash.' Your godson, Joe Chin."
At the end of the letter, Aunt Pearl trembled. Jesse wasn't sure if it was the morphine or the thought that her godson was really dead. He placed a hand on her shoulder and said, "Get some rest, Aunt Pearl, you need it." Aunt Pearl smiled weakly up at him and then drifted back to sleep. Jesse stood up. "I'll go to the police station tonight to see if I can get a warrent to go into Max Garcia's home."
"Good luck, Jessie," says Lillie, "and be careful."
"I thought you didn't care anymore what happened to me," said Jesse, not harshly.
"I do care, Jessie," says Lillie, her eyes getting softer, "I always have."
Jessie walks up to her, looks in her eyes, and plants a soft kiss on her lips. Then, having to break himself from the pleasurable embrace, he walks to the door, "And I care about you, Lillie."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In his Ford Mustang Jesse is tooling down city streets doing about 70. His emotions are running high. His police scanner comes to life. There's been an abduction at the hospital. A man grabbed a white female in her late 20's. Jesse knows what happened. He slams on the brakes, skidding sideways into an intersection. He nearly hits a pickup truck waiting for the light to turn. He doesn't hear the driver cursing at him, he's blinded to everything around him, the only thing he can see is the road heading towards
barrels into command center. "
"At least another hour"
"OK. Look. I'll work something out. You just get the bike running. I'll be back in 30 minutes. Hey, James. How would you like to visit a real police station?"
On the way to the station, Jesse thinks he had better find a way to keep the boy quiet about
"Sure, Jesse. Is the place top secret or something like that?" James asks."I can keep a secret."
"Yeah. Something like that." Jesse replies amazed at the boys perception. "I appreciate it buddy."
Jesse and James walk into the squad room at the station. Jesse seats James at his desk. "I need to go out for a little while, and I need you to stay here. That's Aunt Rachel over there. She'll keep an eye on you. Ok?"
"OK. Has something happened to my mom?" James asks.
Jesse studies the boy carefully considering his answer. "Your mom is just fine. You will see her in a little while. Stay right here. I need to talk to Aunt Rachel a minute."
Jesse walks over to Rachel's desk. "Just the woman I wanted to see. Listen Rachel, I need a huge favor."
"Whatever it is Jesse, the answer is no. I have a ton of work to do." Rachel replies without looking up.
"Rachel, see that boy over there That's James." Jesse says pointing to his desk. "His mother was just kidnapped at the hospital. I think I have an idea where she might be. I need to check it out. Could you pleeeeease keep an eye on him for a few minutes? He won't be any trouble, I promise."
"Jesse, why is James with you? How did you get involved with this?" Rachel wants to know.
"It's a long story Rachel and I don't have a lot of time. James has been staying with me. His mother is a friend of mine. Would you please just watch him for me? I promise I'll be back as soon as I can." Jesse says giving Rachel his most charming smile as he makes his way back towards the door. "Don't worry about a thing James. Aunt Rachel will take care of you."
"Jesse! Aunt Rachel?! Wait just a doggone minute! Jesse!" Rachel calls racing after him. She stops at Jesse's desk and looks down at the young boy.
James looks up at her innocently. "He does that a lot".
Just as Jesse rushes out of the office, Altobelli enters the room from his office. "Was that Mach? Where is he going? Who's kid is that and what's he doing in my squad room?"
Rachel pulls Altobelli aside and explains the situation. "What woman in her right mind would leave her kid with Mach?" Altobelli asks in disbelief.
Jesse races back to
bolting in the door to
"Jesse, take it easy on the bike, it's just gone through major surgery!" Norm calls out futilly. Jesse doesn't even respond, he looks like a man possessed.
- - - - - - - - -
Back at Max Garcia's house an old Ford sedan pulls into the driveway. The beat up car looks out of place in the driveway of the upscale home. A brutish looking man gets out of the car, opens the trunk, and lifts Lillie out as easily as a sack of potatoes. Lillie, bound and gagged, tries to shake herself free with no success. The man comes to the door and rings the doorbell. Max Garcia opens the door and then nearly falls to the floor in shock when he sees what the man is carrying. Composing himself, he says, "Quickly, get inside!"
Once inside with the door shut, Max breaks into a tyrade, "What on earth are you doing!!! You brought her here!!! And carried her to my front door!!! What if my neighbors saw you!?!?! Are you a complete idiot!?!?!"
"Look, you shut up!" the man responds. His voice is clearly the one that was on the telephone when Max called earlier regarding the statue. His physical prowess and proximity to Max has emboldened him somewhat from when they previously spoke, "You want me and my guys to do all the dirty work so that you get nothing on YOUR hands. Well, now you've upped the stakes, so I thought you should have your hand in this as well!"
Max, turning red, but clearly intimidated enough to not physically lash out at his accomplice, fires back, "Oh, you did, did you!?!? You suicidal idoit! What if she doesn't know anything? We can't use her for a bargaining chip if she's in my house! And we can't let her go, now that she's seen my face! I tell you, it's no wonder your guys couldn't pull off the job in Hong Kong...if they were half as stupid as you are they probably tripped on their untied shoelaces!"
Max's accomplice, seeing how angered his decision had made Max, smiles with a bit of satisfaction, "Well, I'm smart enough to know that you're going to have to work WITH me from now on, seeing as how you're now officially incriminated on this one."
As the truth starts to sink in, Max starts thinking what his next move is. He turns to Lillie, who is sitting on the floor propped up against the couch. Max leans down and loosens the gag over her mouth. "Okay, missie, if you want to live, you'd better tell us what we need to know." Lillie doesn't answer, she just glares back at him with those deep brown eyes that looked like they could burn a hole through Max's fat head. Max continues, "All we want to know is where the statue is."
"What statue?" asks Lillie rhetorically.
Max stands up, walks over to a nearby table, and takes a photo out of an envelope. He walks back to Lillie and shows her the photo, "This statue!" he barks at her.
She looks at the photo and says, "I don't know, I've never seen it."
"Really?" says Max, "Well, I know for a fact your friend has...since he was the one that sent me the picture." Max turns the envelope around and lets Lillie see Joe Chin's name and address on the sender line.
Lillie's eyes start to well up with tears. "Joe...why did you have to be so foolish," sobs Lillie.
The thug grabs a poker from the fireplace, "Now, little lady..." he says, turning to Lillie.
Max interrupts, "No! Not on my couch, it's a Victorian Era antique!"
The thug pays Max no attention, "Either you tell us where we might find this statue, or I'm goign to have to mess up that pretty little face of yours!"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
On the street, Jesse is racing down one of
"What is it,
"Jesse...I'm not getting a response from the bike...it won't go into hyperthrust."
"I'll just have to take my chances," answers Jesse, who jerks the handlebars hard right, hits vertical lift, and jumps into a nearly dry canal just below the highway, "I guess I'll just have to take a short cut!"
Back at the
house, the thug is hovering over Lillie with the fireplace poker in hand. He's
bouncing it in his hand, threateningly. Lillie, though obviously scared, is
holding her composure in a defiant stare. "Well, little lady," says
the thug, "what's it going to be? You gonna tell us where we can find this
statue, or am I going to have to leave blood stains on my partner's
couch?" A look of panic crosses Max's face when his antique couch is
mentioned, but Lillie isn't phased. She just stares back at him.
Lillie responds, "I don't know anything about this statue, so go ahead and do your worst. Make sure you make a mess and leave a lot of evidence, since Street Hawk will be here to find out what happened to me!" Lillie realizes she said the right thing when she noticed the color leave the man's face as she finished her sentence. He steps back, puts the poker down, and picks Lillie up roughly.
"You got a room we can put her in," he says to Max, not looking away from Lillie's glare.
"Uh...yeah, I guess so...put her in the wine cellar."
The thug carries Lillie to the door to the wine celler, walks her down the steps, and then before climbing down the last couple steps, throws her down to the cement floor. Lillie hits the floor with a *smack*, not hard enough to break any bones, but definately hard enough to hurt. In her anger, she yells back at the thug, "Do me a favor...give Street Hawk an excuse to shoot you!"
The thug pays her no attention as he walks back up the stairs. He closes and locks the door with a key. Max is standing there, acting nervous again. "Who is this Street Hawk guy she's referring to?" he asks.
Walking away from the door, the thug replies, "Dunno, he's some sort of vigilante on a bike. Word on the street is not to mess with this guy; that he's probably got ties to the cops, except he'll kill you sooner than arrest you."
"You think this girl knows this Street Hawk guy?" asks Max in a worried tone.
"Not sure," responds the thug, "but we'd better be prepared just in case. You got any guns?"
Max thinks for a minute, "Yeah...I have a revolver in my dresser upstairs...and I have a hunting shotgun in the garage."
The thug heads for the garage, "Go get your gun, Max...we may be having company."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Jesse is flying down the canal at close to 100 mph. He weaves in and out of trash and rusted shopping carts like its child play. Its almost like the roads and streets talk to him, telling him where to go. Coming to another overpass, Jesse hits vertical lift and comes rocketing out of the canal, powersliding onto the street. He's only about a mile from Max's house now.
After a long silence,
"Uhh...yeah, they should, I didn't have to dissassemble any components in the weapons systems."
"Good," answers Jesse.
Jesse doesn't answer, even though in his own mind he is grappling with that very same thought. What if Lillie isn't alive when he gets there? What if they've done terrible things to her? They already put Aunt Pearl in the hospital. He'd like to think he'll be able to control himself, but deep down inside he knows it will take very little for him to press "fire" when he gets to Max Garcia's house.
garage, the thug is rummaging around in the garage, looking for the shotgun.
Suddenly, the white soapstone statue catches his eye, lying on its side at the
back of Max's workbench. He walks over to it and picks it up. "So this is
what Joe Chin shipped over here. Piece of garbage...probably melt to nothing if
you got it..." realizing he may have stumbled onto something, the thug
looks around to see if Max is nearby. Confirming he is all alone, the thug
grabs a bucket and fills it with water, then dunks the statue in water. He
looks to see if anything is happening. He notices the water starting to get a
little hazy...the statue is definately dissolving slowly in the water.
Before he can confirm if his hunch is true, he hears something outside. It sounds like a motorcycle roaring up the hill. Quickly he looks around, realizing he's not found the shotgun he originally came into the garage for. "Ah, there it is!" The pump-action shotgun is lying against an old tool box, an open box of shells in the top lid of the toolbox. He grabs the shotgun and fills his pocket with shells, then heads out of the garage into the house.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Jesse comes roaring up to the house on Street Hawk, launching over the security gate and onto the front lawn. He stops, checking his surroundings. Noticing the old Ford parked in the driveway, Jesse comments, "Looks like he's got a visitor. Wish I could see where they are at in the house."
"Turn your thermal imaging on and set it to maximum resolution," suggests
Jesse flips a switch in the console, and Street Hawk's headlight switches to red. The image readout on the helmet goes to oranges and greens. Jesse tries to pick out hot spots on the monitor. There are two small orange patches moving in the house. One is upstairs on the second floor, the other downstairs in the garage. Jesse flips the thermal imaging off and notices a big bay window on the balcony of the second floor. He guns the throttle, tearing a gaping hole in lawn below him. A blast of steam eminates from the side of the bike as vertical lift sends the bike flying through the air. Street Hawk crashes through the bay window and into what apears to be a pool room. In confined quarters it is difficult to move the bike, so Jesse weaves awkwardly toward the door. Rather than waste time trying to smash down the door to the hallway, Jesse activates the particle beam and cuts off the door hinges, causing the door to fall off the frame.
Hearing the crash, Max comes running out of his bedroom, .38 revolver in hand. He's shaking, looking around wildly to see where the intruder is. The door down the hall falls to the ground suddenly, so he spins around, pointing the revolver ahead of him. Street Hawk comes out of the doorway, revving his motor menecingly. Max squeezes off a couple shots, which reflect off the front fender of the bike. Street Hawk darts forward, front wheel raised and almost touching the ceiling above. The front wheel hits Max sqarely in the chest, which sends the fat man tumbling down the stairs to the lower level. He hits the floor with a *splat* and lays still, either dead or unconscious. Street Hawk turns and heads down the stairs toward him. Just then the thug comes in from the garage, spots Street Hawk, and fires a round from the shotgun. The banister beside Street Hawk explodes in splinters, and Jesse feels a sharp pain in his leg. Street Hawk was not built for fighting in such close quarters.
The thug pumps the shotgun and crouches behind the kitchen bar, preparing for his next shot. Street Hawk comes off the bottom step, Jesse guns the throttle to turn the bike, activates the machine gun and fires a volley of rounds towards the thug. The thug dives behind the bar as holes are blown into the wood and marble. Jesse spots a large and heavy pot rack hanging over the bar. He activates particle beam and targets the chain holding it to the ceiling. Just as the thug pops up to fire his shotgun, Jesse fires and cuts the chain free, sending the pots crashing onto his head. He falls squarely on the ground, pots and pans spinning and crashing all around him. Dizzy and disoriented he struggles to hold up his head, when a large black frying pan spinning on the countertop above him finally works its way down and gives him one final *smack* on the head. The thug falls back against the counter, completely unconscious.
In the background Jesse can hear the sound of the cops coming. He thinks, "Where's Lillie?" He turns to look down at the place where Max Garcia fell. There's just a small smear of blood where he used to be laying. "He's gone!" Jesse hears the sound of a car starting in the garage. He throttles the bike and drops the clutch, heading straight for the door to the garage.
As the cop cars pull up to the house the gate starts to open. Max's Corvette roars out of the driveway, right past the first cop who slams on the brakes and slides sideways into the gated entrance. Street Hawk comes barrelling after, hitting vertical lift to jump the police cruiser now blocking the driveway. Before the police have a chance to compose themselves both vehicles are racing down the hill away from the house. A couple police cruisers break off to persue, but they're already so far behind that they've lost visual contact before they reach the first intersection.
road a man is taking his dog for a walk late at night. His dog starts barking.
“What is it, Harley?” asks the owner, then he sees it. The dark green Corvette
comes roaring over the hill, barreling down on him and his canine companion. As
the Corvette slides into the corner the man dives into the ditch, pulling the
dog with him. He just nearly avoids being hit by the tail end of the Corvette,
which is sliding wildly into the corner. The man looks up from the ditch, and
just as he is coming to realize how close he came to death, he sees a black
motorcycle race past. “Next time, Harley, I’m taking you to the park instead.”
As Max’s car weaves wildly down the hill towards the main highway,
“Jesse, without hyperthrust your top speed will probably be about equal to that Corvette. If he gets you out on that open highway he might be able to outrun you!”
The reality of
As they near the bottom of the hill, the Corvette slides through an intersection, narrowly missing a van that skids and honks as it tries to avoid hitting the green sports car. As the other drivers sit there in shock, Street Hawk flies through the intersection after him. Just a few hundred feet away is the on-ramp to the highway. Then he spots it, a flatbed tow truck is parked right in front of the on-ramp, the bed stretched down to the ground at a 45 degree angle, waiting to load a small car that is parked about 20 feet away. The owner and the truck driver are off to the side, filling out paperwork.
As the Corvette comes to within a few yards of the tow truck, Jesse activates Street Hawk’s rockets and fires one right in the path of the Corvette. The explosion causes Max to instinctively turn the wheel hard right. Before he realizes what happens, the Corvette hits the bed of the tow truck like a monster truck ramp, sending the Corvette flying through the air. The Corvette hits the embankment nose first and does 2 cartwheels before coming to rest upside-down on the side of the hill.
Street Hawk comes to a skidding halt, his headlight shining like a spotlight on the Corvette. Max pokes his head out of the car, trying to get out but clearly stuck in the small opening left between the roof and the door of the car. Jesse activates the machine gun pod, which causes the barrel of the gun to engage and poke out of the weapon pod. Jesse stands there, his thumb hovering over the “fire” button as thoughts of Lillie and the pain that this man caused her and her family run through his head. He thinks about the house and the fact that only two people showed up on thermal imaging. Why wasn’t there a third person in the house? A cold shiver runs down his spine as the thought that Lillie might be dead crosses his mind. His thumb inches closer to the red button that would end this worthless man’s life.
“The man’s guilty,” Jesse responds, “and with his money, some high priced lawyer will probably get him out of jail in a few years, or worse, get him off scot-free!”
“Maybe, maybe not…but there are worse things in life.”
“Like what!?!” Jesse demands.
“Like doing something you can never take back…like ending a man’s life in cold blood.”
Jesse is silent, his thumb still hovering over the trigger. Sirens start wailing in the background. The cops had finally caught up with them. Coming to his senses, Jesse deactivates the gun pod.
“There you go, Jesse,” says
Jesse spins the bike around in the dirt, his rear wheel facing toward Max’s head. He revs the throttle and drops the clutch, sending dirt and mud flying into Max’s face as he drives off into the night.
“I’m not going to regret that,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Back at the police station, James sits on a bench with Rachel, his legs swinging in the air as he waits impatiently. Rachel thinks to herself, “Boy, children are like bottled energy. Quite a handful. And yet, I wish I had some of my own.”
The door to the department opens and in walks Lillie, assisted by one of the detectives. She’s dirty and bruised, but as soon as her eyes meet with James, she looks 100% better. James jumps off the bench like he was fired from a cannon, “MOMMY!!!!” reverberates through the department, and everyone stops what they are doing to see the tear-jerking scene. Rachel wipes away a tear from her own eye as she sees a boy and his mother reunited.
With all eyes focused on Lillie and James, nobody even notices Jesse slip in from the back door. He walks up beside Rachel and brushes shoulders with her. She turns and says, “I see you managed to keep your promise.”
“I guess so,” answers Jesse, “Thanks for watching James for me.”
“My pleasure,” answers Rachel, with a wink of her eye.
Lillie walks up to Jesse with James in hand. “Thank you Jesse,” she says, “I don’t know how I will ever repay you for what you’ve done.”
“You don’t ever have to repay me for anything, you know that Lillie,” answers Jesse, “I’ll be sure to take care of you and James from now on.”
The look in Lillie’s eyes changes, and Jesse knows immediately what is about to happen, “Jesse…I…I’m sorry but…”
Jesse walks up, puts his finger over her mouth to stop her from having to finish, “It’s okay, Lillie,” he says, his eyes starting to water a little, “I don’t need to hear it again. I would never force you to stay with me against your will.”
Relieved that he understands, Lillie replies, “I’m going back to
“That’s great, I’m happy for you,” answers Jesse sincerely, then kneeling to the ground he adds “And you make sure to take care of this fantastic young man for me, okay?” Jesse tussles the boy’s hair and the boy smiles back.
“I will, thank you Jesse.” And with that, Lillie turned and walked out of the department.
Jesse watches her go, a look of sadness and longing in his eyes. Rachel looks over and says very knowingly, “It’s hard when you love someone more than they could ever love you back.”
A little embarrassed that his emotions were so evident, Jesse looks down then says, “Yeah, well…I guess we’re all looking for that person, aren’t we.”
Rachel looks at Jesse, smiles, then with a strange glint in her eye says, “Yeah, and then sometimes they are right under your nose and you can’t even see it.” With that she turns and walks back to her desk. Jesse goes over to his own desk, sits down, and places his head in his hands, all sorts of thoughts going through his head. After thinking for a minute, he sits up and turns to look at Rachel. She’s busy filling out some papers on her desk. He turns back around and quietly under his breath says “Naaah.”
Rachel looks up from her work and takes a minute to look at Jesse while he’s not looking. Though she finds his player act obnoxious, she can’t help but think there is more to Jesse than meets the eye, “He seems like he’s having to carry the world on his shoulders.” And then she realizes she’s been staring at him a little longer than is polite, so she quickly turns her head back to her work again.
Just then, Altibelli comes out of his office, "Mach, can I see you for a minute?"
Once inside, Altibelli looks up from his desk at Jesse, "Mach, we got the kidnapper and his accomplice, I just wanted to let you know you did good."
"Thank you, Commander."
Leaning one eye at him, Altibelli continues, "Yeah, I'm beginning to wonder, Jesse...for working in Public Relations you sure seem to have a knack for getting involved in solving crimes." Jesse looks around the room awkwardly, at a lack to explain how he always manages to know about these things. Fortunately, Commander Altibelli isn't looking for answers right now, "I also wanted to show you something." He reaches under his desk and pulls out a greyish statue, the bottom half appears to be encased in a white material. "We found this at Max Garcia's house, any idea what this is?"
Not wanting to arouse suspicion on himself any further, Jesse pretends not to know, "Sorry sir, I have no idea."
"Well, according to the kidnapper, it's a famous Chinese statue called the Chang Xi that's been missing for hundreds of years. Apparently someone found a way to encase it in soapstone to keep it hidden for all that time. Now that we've recovered it we're sending it back to
"That's great, chief!"
"Yeah, thought you might like to know about it." As Jesse starts walking out, Altibelli notices him limping, "Hey, Mach."
"What's up with your leg?"
Jesse thinks for a minute. Fortunately the bandages don't show through his pants. "My knee, it's just bothering me today."
"I see," answers Altibelli, "Well, it's too bad about that knee...as good as you are now at solving crimes, I'm sure you'd be great out there on the streets."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“Ha ha, very funny,” replies
“Great!” answers Jesse, “I’m looking forward to getting out there on the bike again to clear my head.”
“We don’t have any missions scheduled right now, Jesse. You don’t need to take Street Hawk out today.”
“Oh,” says Jesse, not hiding his disappointment very well, “Well, then I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You know, on second thought, it might be a good idea to check Street Hawk out, make sure I got everything put together just right.”
“Yeah, I’m sure, go ahead and suit up.”
A smile creeps across Jesse’s face, “Okay Norman, whatever you say.”
Moments later Jesse streaks through the night riding Street Hawk, the bike running great at full throttle. Every minute on the bike his problems seem to fade away, like the street lights in his rear view mirror. Over the intercom
“Ready when you are!”
“Okay, Jesse…hyperthrust cleared and counting…5…4…3…2…1…GO!”