"You know, I'm surprised you haven't been tuning in during
the games." Blair gathered up the cards and glanced at Jim. "You know,
turning on the ol' lie-detector senses, getting a feel for everyone's pulse rate,
how their pupils dilate." They had just finished a long afternoon of poker
with some of the other detectives, and Blair had won again. With Jim in a close
"That would be cheating," Jim chided. What he didn't admit,
was that he had completely forgotten that possibility. Of course, it really would
be cheating, which is why, he told himself, he didn't do it. Now, learning someone's
habits during a bluff, that was just good poker playing. Although there was one
thing he didn't understand... "Okay hotshot. Just how do you read me?"
Blair stopped for a moment during his cleanup and smiled. "Uh-uh, no way,"
he said, waving a hand at Jim as he walked across the room to the kitchen. "I'm
not giving up the only ace I have up my sleeve."
Jim was curious, but
the phone rang before he could ask. He knew his friend had trouble reading his
expressions, and he sometimes used that to his advantage. Although he never meant
to intentionally mislead Blair, it could be useful when he needed to get the upper
hand now and again. Blair was just so expressive at all times, it wasn't too hard
for Jim to pick out the one that would give away his poker hand. Although he often
thought Simon could use a dictionary when it came to Blair's library of facial
"Jim, it's Simon." Blair handed him the phone and he
"Jim, there's been a body found at the
top floor of the new Conner tower. Looks like a suicide, but you'd better get
up there and check it out."
"The Conner tower? I didn't think that
was open yet."
"It's not. Not officially, anyway. The body is that
of Mr. Conner himself. Security found him in his penthouse office a half hour
ago. I'm on my way there now, I'll meet you."
"Yes sir. We're on
our way." Jim hung up and grabbed his coat. "Come on, Chief, we've got
some work to do."
"What's up?" Blair caught the coat Jim tossed
him and started putting it on.
"I'll know when we get there," Jim
replied. He picked up the truck keys and waited for Blair to leave the loft so
he could lock the door.
They drove across town through the thinning evening
traffic and worked their way towards the brand new 52 story monolith known as
the Conner tower.
"Look at that thing." Blair was leaning forward,
trying to see the entire building they were approaching.
Jim replied, glancing around for a place to park on the street. He couldn't find
an opening nearby, and noticed the parking garage for the tower was open. "I
guess we go inside." He glimpsed two patrol cars in the garage and decided
to drive in.
"Yeah, impressive if you go for that kind of thing,"
Blair said as they entered the garage. "Me, I prefer the older buildings.
Nothing over 20 stories. They had character then. Art." He shook his head.
"Today, it's just metal and glass. And the taller the better."
you're not going to get all hippie anti-establishment on me here, are you, Chief?"
Jim parked the truck and climbed out. Blair crossed in front of the truck, shaking
his head. "You know Jim, we need to broaden your vocabulary, if not your
mind." Jim rolled his eyes as he searched for the entrance to the building
they had just parked under. "First of all, I spent what little was left of
the sixties in diapers, man. So hippie I ain't. Second of all, anti-establishment
is far too broad a concept. No, what I mean is these buildings just aren't being
built with any personality anymore. In other cultures, they incorporate art into
everything they build. And here we've almost lost that completely for the sake
of size." Jim had found the elevator and they started up for the lobby. "Now,
what's anti-establishment about wanting to see more artistic, aesthetically pleasing
Jim just shook his head and waited for the elevator doors
to open. When they did, he stepped out, quickly scanning the lobby. The sole occupant
was the security guard standing in the middle of a rounded desk, watching the
multitude of computer monitors that Jim could see poking out from behind the raised
desk. He looked up from the monitors and focused on the security guard who was
now watching them.
"Why don't you wait here? I'll see what floor this
is all on." Jim gave Blair a gentle push towards the row of elevators opposite
them before walking to the security desk. He recognized the guard on duty there,
and didn't want Blair to.
"They're waiting for you in the penthouse. You'll
have to take the far left elevator when you reach the 40th floor, these only go
up that high. Then I can give you clearance for the private suites."
was clenching his jaw, and he knew his disgust at seeing former Patrolman Ron
Nelson was not being hidden well. "Has Captain Banks arrived yet?" He
had to force his voice to remain calm as he looked at the officer directly responsible
for Blair being severely beaten in a holding cell.
"He just arrived,"
Nelson replied, looking up at the taller man with the same contempt in his eyes
that he'd had the morning Jim testified at his Internal Affairs hearing. He glanced
behind Jim at Blair. "Still choosing the wrong company, I see."
moved slightly to the left, blocking Nelson's view of Blair as he waited by the
elevators. "I'll need you to stay here until you've been questioned, Mr.
Nelson." Jim gave his civilian title some emphasis. "Until this investigation
is concluded, you should be aware that you can be called on at any time to answer
questions." With that, he turned and walked back to the elevators. When he
arrived, one in the middle had opened and Blair was waiting for him before stepping
"Is that Nelson?" Blair asked in a quiet voice.
a hand on his partner's shoulder and ushered him into the waiting car. "Yes,
it is." They stepped inside and Jim pressed the button for the 40th floor.
"I wondered if he was still in town. After IA dismissed him, I thought he'd
move back east where his family was." Jim didn't add that he had wished Nelson
would move. Having bad cops in the city was bad enough, but having bad ex-cops
still hanging around, working as security guards, was an embarrassment to the
Precinct. He glanced at Blair, noting the look in his eyes. "I know what
you're thinking, and it's not true."
Blair looked up, raising his eyebrows,
but didn't say anything. The elevator stopped and they stepped out, looking for
the one on the far left they were supposed to take to the 52nd floor. Jim spotted
it with the doors already open, and led the way. Once inside, he punched the top
floor button and they started up.
"Must control these things from downstairs,"
Jim commented, noting the control panel on the inside of the elevator, and its
small surveillance camera.
"That doesn't make me feel better," Blair
replied. "Is Nelson the only one down there running these things?"
glanced at his partner for a second, realizing what he had said. "This is
supposed to be a completely modern building. Electronic everything. That's what
Mr. Conner was in, I think."
Blair just nodded. The elevator came to a
slow, easy stop and Jim had to force his ears to pop at that altitude. They stepped
out into a wide, quiet hallway carpeted in a thick, soft maroon that complimented
the slate-grey walls. A uniformed officer met them at the elevator.
the body is down this way, in Mr. Conner's private suite." The officer glanced
at Blair and smiled congenially.
Jim took note of the look as they followed
the officer down the long hallway. Ever since Blair's night in the holding cell,
Jim was sensitive to the reaction of other officers to his partner. Mike had told
him the animosity towards Blair came mostly from the uniformed officers, but he
didn't like the idea of it coming from anyone in the Department. Until then, he
had assumed they all either thought as well of Blair as he did, or just gave him
no thought at all. He shrugged off those memories as they continued down the corridor.
Jim took note of each door, as yet unmarked in the newly-completed high-rise office
complex. There were few doors along the hall, leaving room for some extremely
large offices. He assumed each one would continue back as far as the windows,
leaving some incredible space for occupants of the penthouse along with Mr. Conner
himself. At the end of the corridor, they approached a huge double door made of
glass that was propped open. He and Blair stepped inside, followed by the officer
who had shown them the way.
The office had a huge entry way, leading off to
the left into an even wider private office. Jim adjusted his eyesight easily to
the dimmer light of the office, and saw the body slumped over the enormous walnut
desk that dominated the center of the room.
"Jim, over here." Simon
waved to the pair from beside the desk.
"Captain. What have we got?"
Jim approached, followed by Blair, and took a closer look at the body. It was
that of a middle-aged man, greying, well-dressed. He was lying over the desk from
his leather chair, blood staining the wood and the carpet.
a suicide. We've got the weapon here." Simon moved over so Jim could see
the small caliber pistol lying on the floor next to the desk. "No note, but
according to his secretary, Mr. Conner here was in it for several million after
getting this building up."
"This is Mr. Conner?" Blair asked,
glancing again at the dead man but trying to keep his distance.
right," Simon replied. "No one saw anything. The security cameras are
still being hooked up, and apparently hadn't gotten this far yet." Simon
pointed to the camera in the corner of the room, then glanced back towards the
foyer where another camera was mounted. Neither one had a red light on top indicating
operation. "He was here doing some last minute legal stuff before the building
opened for occupation next Monday. We've called his secretary, and she says he's
been nervous lately, but she assumed it was due to the opening. But, as with any
public figure like this, we want to be sure before the press finds out."
Jim was listening as he examined the body and the area around it. Mr. Conner
was well-known in the city as a risk taker. Having more than three towers built
and occupied already, this latest tower was to be his crowning achievement, and
thus named after him. It boasted the most state-of-the-art equipment that money
could buy. The entire building was wired, plugged in, hooked up, and logged on.
Then why would a man whose life's work has just been polished off and filled up,
suddenly decided to kill himself?
"Hey, Simon, hand me that pencil, would
you?" Jim looked up, waiting for the pencil, then pulled an evidence bag
from his pocket. "Thank you." He took the pencil and lifted the gun
by the finger guard, giving it a closer inspection before bagging it. He handed
the bag to Simon, who was holding his hand out for it, and returned to his inspection
of the carpet. In the corridors, the carpeting was maroon, but in this office,
it was grey. It was dark behind the large desk, and Jim had to focus to see clearly
what he was looking for. "Well, Simon, I think we can be sure." Jim
straightened and glanced at Blair, then back to Simon. "It was murder, all
"Are you sure?"
Simon moved closer and leaned down, trying to see what Jim had seen.
knew from experience to stay farther back whenever Simon was checking something
out. He could get close to Jim, and know instinctively when to get out of the
way. But with Simon, it seemed sometimes there was just no getting out of his
way. Blair found a better vantage point from the other side of the desk, and got
a good look at what Jim was pointing to without having to get any closer to the
"Right there." Jim pointed at the carpet. "He shoots
himself in the head, then his arm falls down, and the gun slips out." Jim
was mimicking the actions as he spoke. "The blood goes that way, away from
the gun, at first. After a few seconds, blood starts to drip down here. Then how
would blood get under the gun?" He reached out for the evidence bag and re-examined
the weapon. "And here, see this? There are drops of blood all over this area,
but none on the gun."
Blair was impressed, but just watched for now. He
could see Simon begin to chew his cigar, a clear indication he was anything but
"Damn. I knew this wasn't going to be that simple." He stepped
back and called for the forensics team that had just arrived. "Go over this
place with a fine-toothed comb. I don't want anything missed, you got that?"
Blair took a few steps back and one of the forensics men looked at him questioningly.
He shrugged and looked at Jim.
"You mean someone killed him, and made
it look like suicide?"
"Looks that way, Chief." Jim moved away
from the back of the desk and stood next to Blair, glancing around the rest of
the office. "Someone either doesn't want us to start looking too soon, or
just isn't very good at covering his tracks." Jim shook his head and pointed
towards a filing cabinet. "Let's see what this guy has that might be worth
"Other than his millions, you mean?" Blair asked,
standing next to the cabinet as Jim opened it. It was empty. Jim opened another
drawer, and then another. All empty. Blair glanced around the room again, noting
that this was the only file cabinet in the entire office. "Maybe he didn't
finish moving in himself?"
Jim shook his head, walking around the rest
of the office. "No, he's supposed to have been working from here for the
"That's right." Simon had joined them and was glancing
into the empty cabinet now. "His secretary says he's been working out of
this office for the past 40 days or more."
"Probably keeps everything
in the computer," Blair offered, pointing towards the desk Mr. Conner was
still lying over. He had seen the recessed computer monitor the body was half-covered,
set inside the walnut desk. Pressing into the stomach of the former architectural
icon was a large keyboard.
"I'll have to contact his secretary again,
find out if Mr. Conner did all his business that way. We'll need to subpoena his
files." Simon glanced around the office again, watching the forensics team
at work. "I want a list of everyone who had access to the building and to
these top floors." Simon motioned to Jim and started to walk towards the
hallway. Blair followed, taking one last look at the pristine office. It was so
new and clean, there weren't even any pictures or artwork on the walls. Unless
that was Conner's style. The walnut desk, and lone, empty file cabinet were the
only pieces of furniture, aside from the one leather chair the body was still
in, and a matching leather couch along the far wall to the left of the desk.
find out who all was in the building today, and see what tapes they have on these
security cameras. Some of them are working, and some aren't." He stopped
beside the elevators and glanced at Blair for a moment. "Listen, I'm sorry
about Nelson. I didn't know he was still in town." He looked back at Jim.
"But we'll need to question him."
Jim nodded, glancing quickly at
his partner before answering. "I'll take care of it, Simon. What about family?"
"Not married, and from what his secretary says, his only relatives are
on the east coast, and not all that interested."
Isn't this guy worth millions?" Blair asked. He didn't know much about Conner,
but he was known as one of the wealthiest men in the country.
it his fortune is gone," Simon replied, pushing the elevator button. The
doors opened immediately and he held them. "There's some scandal about Conner
having used non-union workers to put up his towers, and I believe the IRS is investigating
him right now. That's what I need to get back to the station to find out about."
He stepped into the elevator, then held the doors open for the coroner, who wheeled
in Conner's body on a stretcher. "I'll get that subpoena, but it's after
7:00 now, it might take some time. Keep me informed."
Jim waited until the elevator doors had closed before turning back to Blair. "Listen,
you hang up here for a bit. I'll go talk to Nelson."
"No, Jim. It's
all right, I'll come with you," Blair said. He wasn't about to go through
life afraid of some bully. It wasn't his fault Nelson had been dismissed, it had
just been the final incident in the eyes of Internal Affairs. He wasn't going
to let it interfere in his helping Jim on this case, or any other.
watching the forensics team at the opposite end of the corridor. "Okay, come
They had to wait for the elevator to return, and Blair realized it
was one of only two that reached the penthouse. The second one seemed to be shut
down. On the ride back to the 40th floor Jim examined the camera in the elevator.
"Doesn't seem to be working yet," he said after a close scrutiny
. "I can't hear anything inside." He looked around the car. "This
building was scheduled to open for occupancy on Monday, I wonder what the time
frame was on getting the rest of this gear on line?"
say Conner was into high tech buildings?"
"Yeah. The other two are
as secure as Fort Knox, with security cameras and personnel. They even have a
pressure pad at the entrance that counts how many people come and compares it
to how many people leave at night."
"Geez, that's a bit anal, isn't
The elevator opened at the 40th floor and they got out, then entered
the one at the far end of the row that was open and ready for them. "Not
in this day and age, Chief. Just look at the Oklahoma bombing. And the Trade Center."
"Yeah, but those didn't happen inside the buildings."
the ground floor button and glanced up at the camera in the car. "No, but
there's always a next time."
Blair could tell Jim was focused on the camera,
and he looked up at it. "This one working?"
raised his eyebrows and looked away from it. He might not be afraid of Nelson,
but that didn't mean he was going to enjoy talking to him. "Picture only,
Jim looked at Blair. "I'd say both. I can hear static."
He didn't say more and neither did Blair until the elevator stopped at the ground
When they stepped out, Nelson was still the only occupant of the lobby.
He was standing inside his circular desk, watching them. Jim took the lead and
Blair fell into place right behind him as always. There wouldn't be any reason
for Blair to talk to Nelson, but he wasn't going to let the man's presence here,
after the terror he had felt that night in the holding cell, intimidate him away
"All finished, Detective?" Nelson's emphasis of Jim's title
wasn't lost on either of them.
"I'm going to need the log book for the
entire day, plus any film you have on visitors to the building, any occupants
that might be here setting up, and an accounting of your whereabouts for the past
Nelson just stared back at Jim, glancing occasionally at Blair.
He tried to return a blank, nonchalant gaze. From where he stood, he could see
the monitors behind the desk and decided that would be a better thing to look
at. Nelson was slowly looking for the log book, and Blair watched as the forensics
team entered the elevator he could see on one of the monitors and began to descend.
Two other monitors were blank, but from the other three Blair could see there
were changing views of hallways and elevators.
"Here's the log. We only
have two other visitors in the building right now. In fact, one just left a minute
ago after your officers questioned him. Mr. Bright. He's a lawyer, just took possession
of a 43rd floor suite this afternoon. And Ms. Simms is upstairs on the 49th, getting
her office ready." He tossed the log book towards Jim and looked up. "I
thought it was a suicide?"
"And can you account for your whereabouts,
Blair returned to his scrutiny of the monitors. Having heard
Jim's tone, he didn't need to look at his partner to know his jaw would be clenched.
The bunching of the muscle along his cheek was better than Mike's stroking of
his chin or Jeff's hangnail examination as they were bluffing through poker. It
was the only sign Blair could read from Jim, so far.
"I checked in here
at 2:00pm, and work till 11:00pm. What I did before coming to work, is none of
"You can be brought in for questioning if you'd rather
not cooperate here."
"Listen, Ellison, don't think I don't know what
you're doing here. I know my rights. And until I see a warrant, those security
tapes stay where they are."
Blair looked at Jim then, unconsciously taking
a half step behind the taller man. Jim's jaw flexed again and he nodded, glancing
behind him as the elevator doors opened. "You'll get your warrant, Nelson.
Until then, you can consider yourself a suspect." He turned then and motioned
with his chin for Blair to precede him back to the elevators where the forensics
team was waiting "All finished?"
"Not much up there," the
officer replied. "That place was spotless to begin with. But we got some
decent prints, blood samples, a few fibers and hairs. The place is all yours."
Jim nodded and hit the elevator button. The doors opened immediately and Blair
inside, followed by his partner. "We're going to take a look around,
see if we can get into his files."
"What about the warrant?"
Blair asked as the doors closed. He glanced up at the camera in the car, then
looked at Jim.
"Simon will have that in an hour or so. It might take us
that long just to get inside. If you're right, and he keeps everything in the
computer, we could be here all night."
"Unless the secretary has
the access codes. Assuming there are any."
"Simon will handle things
at that end, we'll see what we can find here." They rode to the 40th, then
switched elevators, and Jim pressed the 49th floor. "Let's go talk to Ms.