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A Picture and a Water JarBorn 1949, M, from Colorado Springs, CO, United States
The Bounty Hunters
A Picture and a Water Jar
Story #4 - Two valuable art pieces are stolen from the Southwestern Art Gallery during a blizzard that shuts Colorado Springs down. K.C. Tylor and Ellen Pascal must figure out who did it; all the while do not get the police or FBI involved. Easier said than done.
Snow was falling in steady sheets outside Ellen Pascal’s house. School had been called off, K.C. was on a teleconference meeting with Mr. Hampton and other private investigators under Hampton’s network via conference call. The snow didn’t stop Mr. Hampton from teleconferencing from home – in his case, condo.
Outside Wesley and his friends played in the backyard making snow men, snow forts, the girls making snow angels. Ellen took a quick look outside checking on the children since she had been elected as day care for the kids who didn’t have school.
Ellen watched as the kids, led by Wesley started for the back door to the garage. Before she knew it, she was hosting several cold hungry urchins who wanted hot coco and cookies to warm up. Ellen kept a ready supply of both on hand. Since taking Wesley as their ward for the State of Colorado, Ellen was learning things she knew she should have known years ago to be a mother. But she reasoned, it was fun learning. She had ready advice from a host of mothers. She knew that would have to come to an end for them when Welfares’ Child Support Department found his relatives and they would take him in. Over the months the three had grown into a family, Ellen had become attached to the boy; now K.C. had someone he could take to sporting events and do “guy” things with.
The home office fax chimed and began spewing out several sheets of information. In the kitchen kids began getting ready to go home as the door-bell began ringing and grateful parents picked up their prodigies. Wesley and Jennifer wandered into the study as Ellen cleaned up the kitchen.
“Another case, K.C.?”
“Yes. Strange. Ellen.”
Ellen walked in to the study drying her hands. K.C. handed her the sheath of papers.
“Hot off the fax.”
Ellen sat in the chair beside the desk the kids looking over her shoulder as she read the fax copies.
“The Southwestern and Fine Arts Museum?”
“Yes this is very strange,” Mr. Hampton mused as he looked out the office window beside his desk to Tejon Street and mounds of dirty snow. The ground and mountains of the Rocky Mountain and Rampart Range were still blanketed with white. Mr. Hampton rubbed the gnarled bowl of his briar pipe. “They want this to be kept very discreet – until you catch the person, then turn him – her, whom ever over to the police.”
“Hardly any detail, vague and a lot left to the imagination.” K.C. handed the briefing
papers to Ellen. “Who put this together? I’ve seen better situation reports from a couple privates on Fort Carson.”
“Mr. Daniels did. E-mailed me the information to me this morning. You note he
specifically wants you two to handle the case.”
“This is no longer the Army, dear.”
“Oh well …”
Ellen gave him a saucy wink which Hampton smiled at. This is why people asked for them more than the others.
“Two pieces of art are missing as of last night and in the middle of a blizzard no-less.”
Mr. Hampton turned to face the two. “The curator, Jonathan Daniels wants this kept very discreet. They have not even called the police or the insurance company to report the loss. Daniels does not want the mess of the press coverage inspired by the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911. Seems every major newspaper in Europe covered the story, and every story was illustrated with a reproduction of the painting. If you’re successful, we stand to make a handsome profit from the College that underwrites them. They’re concerned this incident could hurt them.”
“Disgruntled patron?” Ellen ventured slipping the papers in to a valise.
“That or someone who hopes their actions will affect their patronage and visitor center.” Hampton sucked on the stem of the pipe. “I know there isn’t much time – Friday he’s hoping see this done.”
“Friday!” K.C. spouted out.
“The museum is paying the bills.” Mr. Hampton rubbed the bowl of his briar pipe in agitation.
“We will.” Ellen assured Mr. Hampton as they stood to leave.
In the parking lot beside Hampton’s building they stopped at the car. Ellen pulled the collar of her coat up against the biting wind. K.C. looked across the street to a bar and grill that was open for lunch.
“Lunch?” K.C. nodded toward the bar and grill.
They usually stopped in for a drink and something to eat before pursuing a case.
“Sounds good to me. It’s the bar or the grille anyway.”
They escaped the cold at the bar. K.C. asked the young hostess for an isolated table. “Business,” he told her.
They settled in to the corner table each taking a chair to watch over their shoulders and the other patrons.
The hostess laid the menus in front of them and took their orders for drinks and left.
Ellen pulled the papers from her valise laying the papers between them.
“Where do we start? It’s either the curator or president of the museum?” K.C. picked the
papers up to read them. “According Mr. Hampton this Mr. Daniels or this other guy Hines has not gone to the local police so nobody has any answers much less El Paso County Police.”
Ellen talking through her hands, “What has me questioning this, the art pieces were stolen the day of or before the blizzard. Coincidence or by chance.”
K.C. found the page that mentioned the possible method used. “Good question. He, Daniels supposes the pieces in question were placed near an outside door then slipped out –now get this, past a battery of security cameras.”
“Door? What type, fire escape? Aren’t they alarmed?”
“Yes that is what makes me wonder about this heist. I remember the newspaper article mentioned a Connelly Alarm Company – the best in the business did the work of rewiring the place and all new cameras.”
Ellen glanced at K.C. “But at the same token everybody is a suspect. We look for someone with inside knowledge of the museum and what to look for.”
“The museum is a short distance from here on Cascade Avenue. Best start there, touch base with the curator, or whoever is in charge and get the lay of the land.”
“See I am learning. Here’s our meals”
A short time later K.C. and Ellen were standing in the lobby of the museum. A receptionist, an elderly lady of refined stature smiled, hoping for more visitors greeted them.
“May I help you, here to see the art works?”
Ellen and K.C. produced their credential cases. Ellen said, “Pascal and Taylor Investigative Services to see the curator, please.”
The lady’s smile fell. “Oh? Through the door there on the right. Follow the hallway
“Thank you,” they said together. Turned and went to the door indicated.
Ellen said in a low voice. “I don’t think we were part of her daily agenda.”
They entered through a door leading down a carpeted corridor past offices and inspection rooms filled with more art pieces of various types to a door indicating, ‘Director and Curator.’
A lone administrator looked up. “Yes, may I help you?”
“Pascal and Taylor Investigative Service. Is Mr. Daniels available?” Ellen said showing her ID and badge.
“Do you have an appointment?” the administration woman asked as K.C. handed her a business card.
K.C. replied putting his case back in the pocket. “We were just assigned to the case.”
“Let me check to see if Mr. Daniels is available.” She speed-dialed the number.
“Mr. Daniels, a Ms. Pascal and Mr. Taylor from Pascal and Taylor Investigative …”
The office door suddenly opened. A short, heavy set man, with a gray beard, gray hair, wearing wire rim glasses said, “Yes, please come in. Ms. Andrews, I’m not to be disturbed.”
The door closed behind them.
“Please be seated,” he said as he sat at a small circular table. “What do you need to know?”
Obviously Daniels was anxious to have them put an end to his embarrassment.
Ellen set up her lap top. “May I record the questioning both electronically and on my lap top?”
“Certainly, ma am, go ahead.”
K.C. had a simple answer in mind but refrained from saying anything beyond, “At what time and date was the loss of the art work discovered?”
“The day after the blizzard. We open for the staff at eight and the public at ten – seven days a week.”
“What was taken?”
“A Navajo water jar and a water color of three old women seated against an adobe wall and a Navajo warrior to the right background standing by a horse. Artist name was Leonardo.”
“Who discovered the loss?”
“I did I walk the museum each day. I was so used to seeing them that I nearly walked past the display areas.”
“You said you noticed this the day after – which is today, after the blizzard. Is that correct?” Ellen asked glancing over to K.C. and the laptop to see what he was typing.
“Yes, of course.”
“Who was the last person out of here the night before during the storm – Tuesday?” Ellen went on watching K.C. steadily typing.
“Ms. Andrews, my administrator.”
“How do you suppose – thinking like a thief, take them out of here without tripping the alarm?”
Daniels thought for a minute then shrugged. “Well I suggested the art works were placed by an exit – and retrieved later. But all exits are alarmed.”
“Is there a basement?” He nodded. “Did you look through the art works stored there? I notice you also have two rooms used for work and inspection?”
“No everything is locked.”
“Let’s take a look.” K.C. inclined his head toward the door. “Besides you, who else has a key to the Basement and these rooms?”
“Myself and my secretary of course, the Facilities man and the guards.”
Their first suspect.
The door to the basement store room, a standard steel-case fire door that met fire regulations was unlocked by Daniels. K.C. and Ellen stood inside the room with the curator. Southwestern Art work of every description seems to extend back into forever. They looked through the stands of art, nothing.
K.C. and Ellen finished up looking around outside. “Nothing conclusive. It’s either been plowed or shoveled.”
“Now what dear?”
They walked back to the car. K.C. was silent. When he spoke Ellen was jarred out of her own thoughts in the matter. Who and for what reason?
“We need all the records on employees, patrons, and contributors.” K.C. looked back at Ellen. “That might be a lot of work but we can narrow the window of opportunity.”
“But we still need a motive.”
“Once we find the person we’ll find the motive. And I know just the place or person to start with. Here’s the car.”
Ellen got in the car and they headed back across town. She checked her watch, they’d lost a good hour poking around the museum’s basement, to include the boiler room which they had to have Facilities open for them.
They turned into a pleasant middle class neighborhood. K.C. knew where he was going, Ellen let him do the driving, her mind was miles away. All she knew they were on the north end of Union Boulevard close to Academy Boulevard.
Ellen looked around the neighborhood at the houses as they waited for the door to be answered. She could not help but see the twin to K.C.’s Suburban in the driveway. Only difference this was outfitted by a thin solid blue rotary bar and small forest of antenna.
“I thought you said Steven Patrick was retired now?”
K.C. looked back at the truck. “Army. He’s still active with the Police and Sheriff’s department. And on occasion the Office of Federal Investigation. Remember?”
“How can I forget?”
The door opened to the blonde head of a high school age girl. Behind her a dark haired boy, approximately same age looked past her shoulder. Ellen dropped her eyes to the muzzles of two German Shepherds poking past the two teens. “Yes?” the girl asked past the chained door.
K.C. and Ellen looked down surprised that a young girl answered the door.
“Your father home? K.C. and Ellen Pascal to see your Dad,” K.C. said showing the girl his credentials.
“Just a minute,” the boy said as the door was shoved closed.
“Okay,” said Ellen then heard,
“Daddy! K.C. is at the door!” The girl yelled. “With a lady!”
“Girl has a set of lunges on her,” Ellen commented.
“You haven’t heard Danny yet.”
A few minutes later the door opened. “K.C., Ellen, come on in. What do you need?”
Patrick pulled the dogs back as he stood back to let them enter.
“Hey, Steve. Got a case handed to us this morning by Hampton and a problem,” K.C. said greeting the kids.
Steven Patrick led the pair down stairs through the family room to his study. “What do you have?”
K.C. pulled the papers from the valise. Ellen looked back to see the boy and girl in the door listening to their father, the dogs at their side.
“Have you heard anything about some art pieces missing from the Fine Arts Museum – as of this morning?” K.C. asked.
Steven slipped his reading glasses back on looking over the papers K.C. handed him, looked up from the papers. “I’ll admit that’s something I haven’t paid much attention to. No. What about it?”
“I’m surprised nothing has gotten to the newspaper.” K.C. said. “We’re to handle this discreetly under the table – if you will.”
Steve looked up at the two teen agers standing at the door. They’d make good
intelligence agents. K.C. saw one look from their father and they’d keep their mouths shut. “Somewhat discreet with the right people.”
K.C. said crossing one leg over the other, “A water jar or jug and a water color were stolen.”
“I’ll ask you the obvious. You’ve already checked the basement and every nook and cranny in the place – old and new displays.”
He handed the report to the teens which surprised Ellen.
It didn’t bother K.C. he almost expected that to happen. Ellen watched as the boy and girl poured over the papers.
“Okay, I’m familiar with the museum layout but obviously not in a snow storm like yesterday. What happened?”
“Outside the maintenance people provided a difficult scenario for us, plus the wind last night didn’t help matters any. Foot prints and tire tracks are pretty much erased in the snow.”
“Roof? Did you get up there?”
“I gather, from what I understand, the museum spent a small fortune upgrading the alarm system, all new cameras, sensors, et cetera.
The girl, Becky held a hand up. “Excuse me, Dad, K.C. I remember from art class last semester how in 1911 the Mona Lisa was taken out of the Louvre in Paris.”
“Mr. Hampton seems familiar with the story -- How?” K.C. asked interested.
“The guy who stole it hid in a closet. Our art teacher Mr. Burns said things in those
days were far different then and they didn’t have the alarms we do now. He hid in a broom closet then crept out took down the painting taking it out of the frame which was hung from iron pegs, and acting like the last person out hid it under his coat.”
“That’s the painting,” said Ellen. “What about getting the water jar out?”
“Oh that’s easy, ma`am,” said Danny. “According to what you said and this paper, the inspection and restoration rooms are near the front of the museum. Right?” K.C. and Ellen nodded, “The thief has the painting covered – out of the frame and rolled up and probably in a mailing tube as if he were taking something to the Post Office. The jar as if he were doing restoration work on it; use water based paint, paint it some dark color and that afternoon at closing, he walks out with the items.”
K.C. and Ellen looked at each other in surprise. K.C. said drolly, “We’re in the wrong business hone. We need to open a hot dog stand next to Walker’s flower shop on Academy Boulevard.”
Ellen and K.C were in Hampton’s office giving him the details on the possible method of the theft.
“We have the means, now we just need the motive,” said Ellen, “out of a thousand patrons, who could that be?”
Hampton’s eyes dropped to the several pages of the report. “What do you suggest, K.C.?”
“It’s too late today – but, get a comprehensive list of all patrons and affiliations, guests the day of the blizzard and how many, and staff. I read something a few weeks ago most of the restoration staff, other than the two experts are actually graduate students from the college.”
“Are you going to include them in your screening?” Hampton asked setting the pipe aside.
Ellen said, “How many years do we have to work on this case?”
“And its Wednesday.”
“Best get busy then.”
They stopped at the museum to get copies of the lists they needed which Daniels gladly supplied them. He said walking them to the door, “I don’t know how those will help.”
“Process of elimination,” Ellen explained as they stepped in to the frigid cold afternoon.
At a stop light on Union Boulevard K.C. hit the steering wheel with a fist. Ellen jumped.
“Now what’s the matter?” she asked sharply surprised at K.C. action.
“Just thought of something.”
Light changed and K.C. continued with the traffic. “Who on that list would be desperate enough for money?”
“Okay, joking aside, you’re right. Not just somebody who’s got the money to pay an art thief, but somebody who needs the money to pay off a debt will sell it on the black market for a price.”
“Good thought. Now don’t hit the steering wheel again.”
Promptly at three-thirty that afternoon the side door from the garage banged open.
“Miss Ellen, K.C. we’re home!”
Books, hats, coats, and boots hit the floor.
Two young faces appeared in the den door. Ellen held her arm out to the two kids. Wesley went to Ellen for a hug then K.C. for a manly hug. Jennifer got a hug from Ellen.
“Whatchya doing, K.C.?” Wesley looked at the notes K.C. scrawled on sheets of butcher paper.
Jennifer checked over the photo stated lists of names of art gallery patrons, staff and visitors log.
K.C. sat back looking at his list of names and time lines on the paper. “Okay, Daniels insists the picture and vase were taken the day of the blizzard when the gallery was shut down. I’m inclined to think it was taken when the gallery was closing.”
Ellen looked at the two kids, then hooked a thumb toward the kitchen. “Homework.”
K.C. studied the list of names while Ellen got the two kids settled in to do homework.
Ellen fixed them her famous chocolate chip cookies and milk. Wesley and Jennifer were busy with their homework she walked back to the den where K.C. was putting names on the computer.
“Now what, hone?” Ellen asked watching K.C. the selection of names.
“See who wins the lottery.” He sat back reading each one then running off the information. “Tomorrow we’ll interview them. By Friday we should have a winner.”
Ellen just sat down at the computer to help screen the names off the list, the doorbell rang,
“Oh please, not another one.”
She crossed the living room to the door as it rang a second time. Ellen managed to paste on her best smile, opened the door to the lady from the welfare office.
Thursday morning the streets were wet with melting snow. K.C. placed their bags in the car. Their first stop after Wesley got off to school would be Mr. Hampton’s office. The kids were stomping around in the puddles of standing water.
Connie Wooten, K.C. and Ellen’s neighbor, and Jennifer’s mother said to Ellen, “Welcome to the Mom’s Club.”
She watched as Jennifer and Wesley joined their friends in stepping in the puddles.
“We have one more meeting with Welfare – they still haven’t had any luck with Wesley’s family. Much less his mother’s side.”
“That’s ashamed. So what happens after this?”
“K.C. and I will apply for adoption.”
“Good.” Connie shook her head. “There’s times I feel sorry for Ms. Bates. She’s a saint to put up with this crowd.”
“Wesley, you get a cold you got a problem,” Ellen called wagging her finger at him.
“You too young lady,” Connie scolded Jennifer wagging her finger at her.
Just at the moment, as if to rescue the parents the bus showed up for the children.
Thirty minutes later Ellen and K.C. were sitting in Mr. Hampton’s office, Mr. Hampton
read the short list of possible suspects then looked at K.C.’s break-out and time line of people visited the museum with times the last ones possibly left.
Mr. Hampton played with the pipe as he looked over the lists then laid them down. “Which ones do you suspect the most, Ellen?”
“The two women, sir.”
“Interesting.” He pushed the list back to K.C. “As usual. Keep me informed.”
The three graduate students were immediately lined out, they left the day of the blizzard early. The Facility staff, all three left early about the same time the students left, they had all of three visitors who checked in late morning but soon left due to the snow. Ms. Trina Andrews the Administrative Head canceled the custodial staff, they were not planning to show up anyway. The two guards from the security company were brand new as of Monday. They still were not familiar with the staff. The supervisor stayed as long as he could then left for another site to cover for someone there.
“Only the front door and shipping/receiving door to the restoration room are deactivated during the day?” K.C. and Ellen sat in the small security office to the side where the security supervisor could see the front doors.
The supervisor explained the security system to them. “The colored lights on the board’s diagram indicate the position of cameras, sensors, intrusion alarms.”
“Outside cameras?” K.C. asked.
“This panel here.”
“Play back tapes?”
The supervisor turned on the playback coding it for Monday at closing. There was very little detail due to the snow.
“You can hardly see a thing with that snow,” said Ellen “How can you tell what going on outside?”
“That day we couldn’t.”
They watched the afternoon segment of the tape. They noticed a car had been backed up to the door.
“There,” said Ellen. “There’s a car backed up to the door. Where did that come from?”
“From what I recalled,” he reversed to seven that morning. “The person had a hood pulled down over their face against the snow.”
“Does anybody remember who it was?”
“No, they’re brand new. Replacements.”
The supervisor took the playback to moments before the door was opened. Despite the snow obscuring the image they could see the door was opened and a box placed outside. They watched the tape a few more minutes the same person, the person looked around then at the camera. Quickly looked then bending head they put the box in the car closed the trunk got in slowly driving away.
“Okay, that pretty well answers that question.” K.C. stood. “It’s about what Mr. Daniels suspects. But who?”
Ms. Trina Andrews sat across from K.C. Taylor as he stared her in the eye. She knew of
K.C. Taylor more by his notoriety. His partner and supposed girlfriend was nobody to fool with either. She shifted her eyes off K.C. to Ellen Pascal who locked gazes with her.
“What time did you leave the museum, Ms. Andrews?” Ellen asked. She almost expected K.C. to be the one to ask the question since he was sitting opposite her. Ellen was seated at an angle from her.
“Right after I canceled the custodial staff I left.”
“And what time was that?” K.C. asked observing.
Ellen asked again, “Did you take any packages out with you?”
Ms. Andrews started to laugh but realized they had interviewed the guards first and they would say “yes or no” to that question.
Ms. Andrews left then Mrs. Margret Hardwell was called in. K.C. asked her the same set of questions.
“What kind of car or model do you drive?”
“A Toyota Celica.”
They waited until she was gone. K.C. closed the door, Ellen looked up at him as he crossed the room back to the table. Ellen asked, “What’s your gut reaction?”
“Except for the car we have our pigeon.”
Ellen gathered up her laptop and notebook. “So when do we – in your words, drop the hammer on Mrs. Hardwell?”
“Tomorrow.” K.C. took the laptop bag from Ellen leaving passing Mrs. Hardwell as they left.
Outside they walked back to the parking lot. K.C. said, “If you noticed her body language spoke volumes.”
Ms. Bates’ class was in a happy mood as they planned their science projects for the school’s science fair in two weeks.
Wesley and Jennifer sat together their foreheads nearly touching. A sheet of notebook paper lay between them with notes on it. Wesley was copying K.C.’s method of – “brain storming” or “itemizing” a problem as he called them.
Ms. Gregg, Laura Bates assistant watched the two kids for a moment. Wesley stabbed at
Ms. Gregg raised her brows in surprise. She immediately knew where they got that idea from.
“Kinda hard isn’t it?” Jennifer said wrinkling up her freckled nose.
“Naw. Only part will be the laptop. We might be able to use K.C.’s old laptop …”
“Wonder if he’ll let us use his notes from the Everett Case?”
Ms. Gregg was mildly impressed as she walked down the aisle to the front.
“What Wesley and Jennifer will come up with should be interesting,” Ms. Gregg said as she and Ms. Bates met at the front.
“What are they going to do?”
“Criminology. You know where that comes from?”
“Three guesses the first two don’t count.”
Promptly at three-thirty the front door banged open. Books, hats, and coats hit the floor.
“Miss Ellen – we’re home!”
The two called in unison, “We’re home.”
“What was my first guess? Den!” Ellen called, enjoying the moment the kids arrived home from school, something she never realized she missed not being a ‘Mom.’
The two ran into the den, Wesley hugging and kissing Ellen giving K.C. a manly hug, Jennifer giving Ellen a hug. Their eyes looked over K.C.’s notes.
K.C. and Ellen watched the two kids for a moment. They whispered in a conspiring manner for a minute. “Wonder …?”
“Ask me what?” said K.C. grinning as the two were intent on the notes on the butcher paper.
Wesley pointed at the notes. “K.C., can Jenny and I use those notes for a class project when you’re done with them? Oh, and your old laptop.”
“What kind of class project?” Ellen asked, concerned.
“Our Science Fair project,” said Jennifer explaining what they had in mind. “Wesley and I are doing Criminology.”
Ellen and K.C. were mildly impressed.
“Sure. We’re just about ready to wrap it up anyway tomorrow.”
Suddenly two happy kids were dancing around the room.
Jennifer cheered, “We’ll have the best display.”
K.C. watched the playback monitor over the supervisor of the museum’s security staff’s shoulder. Ellen watching from the open door was amazed at the audacity the person had shown in stealing the Navajo art objects. At one point, they missed the part, the person turned right looking at the camera the first time.
“Stop! Back it up. Can you zoom in on that part?”
“Sure. You’ll get a lot of snow too.”
The supervisor zoomed in on the person.
“Do you have any idea what color Toyota Ms. Andrews drivers?”
“And Mrs. Hardwell?”
“Oh some dark color if I am not mistaken. Why?”
“I think we have our suspect.” K.C. said to Ellen, pointing to the face. “Mind if I use that tape this morning?”
“Sure. Got somebody?”
“I don’t know right now. It can be construed as circumstantial evidence. But it’s the best I have right now.”
The supervisor took the tape out and put a new one in the machine.
They were walking out of the security office as Mrs. Hardwell was entering the museum. K.C. and Ellen walked down to the Director’s office, walked in past Ms. Andrews into the Mr. Daniels’ office.
“Come on over to the conference room, sir. Got something we need your opinion on.”
The Director followed them to the conference room. Mr. Daniels sat at the table facing the video player screen. The tape started with the snow storm on Monday late noon, the car and the door opening and the person appearing. K.C. was waiting for the right moment and froze the image to zoom in on the face.
“What do you think?” K.C. asked, pushing two chairs aside to sit on the table.
Ellen frowned at him but she knew it’d no good.
Daniels thought a minute, then said, “Shocking.”
“Good. Get her in here.”
Daniels left to go out to the lobby to get Mrs. Hardwell.
“Be ready for a fire storm of protests.”
K.C. blanked the image of the video then moved to the front of the room, his back to a glass case filled with precious artifacts. Ellen moved closer to K.C. sitting her right hand in her jacket pocket on her 9mm. Mrs. Hardwell entered appearing nervous her hands shaking, Daniels behind her.
“Okay, what did you do after you left here, Mrs. Hardwell?” K. C. asked bluntly leaning
on the display counter his hand close to the pause button.
“Why I went home of course.”
“By way of the restoration lab by any chance?”
“Why whatever do you mean?”
“Any place here other than say the coat room?”
“What is the meaning of this? This outrageous. I ought to sue you.”
“I’ve heard that line too many times to care.” He touched the pause button.
The recorder started with her image in full color. Ellen quickly keyed her cell phone which was already connected to the El Paso County 9-1-1 board.
Mrs. Hardwell pulled a 9mm from her slacks pocket. “Don’t nobody move.”
“I hope you know how to use that thing, Mrs. Hardwell? Now what were you going to do with the Navajo picture and vase you stole from the Southwestern Art Museum?”
“None of your goddamn business. Now – I’ll just be going. On yer feet, honey yer going with me.”
“I don’t think so.” Ellen stood knocking the chair over the 9mm she had in her pocket along with a cell phone in the other pocket suddenly appeared in her hands. “County Nine-one-one was listening the whole time and the police are on the way.”
“This was a set up -- this was a set up!” she screamed maddeningly waving the pistol around the room.
Daniels dove under the table to get out of the woman’s way.
A bronze and white K5 Blazer with full federal blue light bar flashing pulled up abruptly in front of the museum. Driver’s door and passenger’s door opened, Patrick bailed out of the driver’s side and a detective the other side. Six uniformed police officers followed them inside. The supervisor for the security detail knew where they had to go they had the Administrative hall door open by the time they entered the lobby.
Steve not one to ever take chances in a situation like this, the .357 in hand stopped at the door listening. “Yup!”
The conference room door was suddenly thrust open with a bang.
“You rang, Ellen?” Steven Patrick stood in the door, four uniformed police officers standing behind him. “Uh, ma`am, I’d drop that B-B gun if I were you. And place your hands on the table.”
Mrs. Hardwell looking askance at Patrick, dropped the 9mm and placed her hands on the table. A police woman stepped in to frisk her.
“That was too close, Steve,” Ellen sighed as she dropped back in to the chair with a sigh.
“Blame it on trying to get across North Nevada up here. Bad time of morning.”
Daniels crawled out from under the table. “Is it over?”
Patrick laughed. “No sir, it just got started.”
K.C. was cleaning up the debris from their latest case the doorbell rang. Ellen was helping the kids with their homework. Ellen started to get up K.C. waved her down. Cautiously opening the door he was looking at the I.D. case of their welfare worker.
“Come on in. I’m glad you decided to put the visit off until now.”
“I know.” She stepped inside. “You were all over the news and the paper.”
They moved to the sofa, the two kids between them, she sat in one of the overstuffed chairs. “Well, how shall I begin? This is good news and bad news if you will.”
K.C. and Ellen felt more fear then if they were facing half the criminals of Colorado Spring at that moment. They were living with the worry they’d lose Wesley to the foster parent program, or worse yet, one of Wesley’s distant family decided to take him in.
“First of all, we’ve been unable to locate any of Wesley’s family willing to take him in, it has been decided to leave him in your care. Since he is doing so well in the school here there is no reason to take him out now and subject him to the foster parent program. The good news is your support and the home life he needs under the conditions that you took him in. And it is obvious you’ve grown into a family. The final hearing will be in three weeks.”
Wesley and Jennifer cheered, the two hugging each other, Ellen and K.C. happy, tears of happiness trickling down their faces as they hugged each other and Wesley.
“We’re a family,” said Ellen, happy at the news, hugging Wesley.
Parent’s, the week of the Science Fair, walking around the school’s gym looking over the various science projects the kids had done. K.C. and Ellen stood back with Jennifer’s parents listening as Wesley and Jennifer explained the process the police or a private investigator went through to break a case.
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