|Primary Characters:||Munch, Bayliss, Julianna, Kellerman|
|Spoilers:||yes, series finale|
|Warning:||some strong language|
|Description:||Bayliss has confessed and is heading for jail. Julianna and Munch don’t want to let that happen. They turn to Kellerman for help.|
Munch should have known something was up. They were all upset about Gee, so why was the slimy creep smiling so smugly? He’d never liked Gharty. The man was a coward and a fascist.
“What made your day, Stu, my man? I didn’t realize Gee’s death would affect you this way. Did you have hopes of succeeding him?”
“Shut up. Show some respect. If I was smiling, it was only over something else. Quite a piece of luck as it happens.”
“Oh, what is it now? Did you lose an ounce? Or did my wife show up and gave you a good time?”
“Like I said, show some respect or shut up. Your little girlfriend, Bayliss, was dragged away in cuffs about an hour ago. Turns out he’s shot someone, in cold blood. That Luke Ryland. Pembleton turned him in. Isn’t friendship beautiful? I guess Frank got tired of the pervert lusting after him.”
“Bayliss? You have a dirty mind, Stu old man. Where is Bayliss?”
“Didn’t I just tell you? They moved him out of here about an hour ago. If you want to know where he went, I suggest you refer to the desk seargent. He’ll have the paperwork. Go on, run looking for your sweetheart.”
Munch took one step closer to Gharty and towered menacingly over him. As always, Gharty’s will broke and he looked away uneasily. Physical confrontations scared him most of the time. And Munch could be so unpredictable. Maybe it had been a mistake confronting him about Bayliss.
But now Munch was walking away, no doubt to investigate Bayliss’ whereabouts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Munch too, was somehow implicated in the shooting? That would really be killing two birds with one stone.
Munch couldn’t believe this was happening. When Bayliss had asked him if he’d killed Pratt, he had had no idea this was what had been on Bayliss’ mind. Now he bitterly regretted not being more understanding. If he had, he might have been able to dissuade Bayliss from taking this desperate step, or if he had, he might have been able to keep him from confessing.
What would he be able to do now? Damn Bayliss’ innocense and mindless trust in Pembleton. If only he’d managed to get to Bayliss before Pembleton. Well, useless crying over spilt milk. He’d just do whatever he could to contain the damage. But he wouldn’t fool himself. This was really bad news. A cop who was found guilty of murder one? He’d never last a year inside the prison walls. And a sensitive guy like Bayliss – It didn’t bear thinking about.
In the meantime, Julianna was looking for her ex, Bayliss. She had been wondering where he’d been hiding out. It crossed her mind that he might have been avoiding her. That hurt, she was surprised to notice. Whatever she’d said to him when they broke up, she hadn’t been through with him. Not even close. And the fact that he had been the one to push her away rankled.
This time was as good as any to get those old issues out into the open. She’d heard the rumors about Bayliss, but they didn’t concern her. It was her opinion that the uptight guys who feared Bayliss sexual orientation hadn’t been to bed with him. She had. Whatever else he was into, she hadn’t had anything to complain about in that department.
And anyway, what men didn’t have a problem with commitment? Kellerman certainly did, and so did just about every other man Julianna had been involved with, including the doctor she’d been dating in med school. He’d been fifteen years older than her, and he still feared the day when she’d be thinking about marriage.
That was a typical male problem and within reason it didn’t even bother her. It was just Bayliss’ terror of any hint of permanency in a relationship that had stung her and eventually pushed her away.
Well, there was no time like the present. She’d go and find him and they’d settle things once and for all.
But when she asked Bayliss’ colleagues about him, no one seemed to know. Not until she ran into Gharty. She’d never liked the old war veteran. Not even from day one. In her view he personified all that she despised. Cowardice. Narrowmindedness. But if he could tell her where to find Bayliss, she’d ask nicely just the same.
“Hello. Have you seen Bayliss?”
That smug smile was getting on her nerves, but she forced herself to continue facing him politely.
“You could say that. If you’re looking for that fruit cake, try asking the desk sergeant or Munch. He was looking for Bayliss too. Could be the beginning of a beautiful – friendship.”
“What? What’s happened?”
“Your friend’s shot someone. In cold blood. He’s going to jail. I’m sure he’ll love it in there. Especially the showers.”
By now, Julianna’s blood was boiling, and she was tempted to teach that smug old fool a lesson or two. It wasn’t as if she had a whole lot to lose at this point. This place had already cost her her career. More or less.
But she didn’t have time for this. If she could catch up with Munch, maybe they could do something to save Bayliss from himself. She had a hard time believing in Gharty’s disjointed tale. It sounded like just so much hate-inspired fantasy, but if Bayliss really had shot someone, he’d need her more than ever.
Suddenly she remembered Kellerman. If anyone could help her now, it was him. He’d know all about what to do, and if she asked him the right way, she was sure he’d want to help. Even if he and Bayliss had never been close.
Come to think of it, neither had he been that keen on Munch. If they were to be of help to Bayliss, they’d need to work out their differences. She and Munch and Kellerman. Highly unlikely partners.
Down the hall, she ran into Munch. There was an expression of weariness on his face.
“Munch? Did you manage to find out where they’d taken Tim?”
“So you’ve heard the bad news too? Was it Gharty?”
“Who else? The smug bastard – Where’s Tim?”
“They wouldn’t tell me. I’m afraid – You know how it is when a cop goes down. They might be trying to make an example out of him. I’m so tired. First Gee, and now this.”
“Tell me about it. At least Tim’s got someone on his side.”
“He needs every friend he can get.”
“That’s what I’ve been thinking about. What about Kellerman? He’d know what to do.”
“Would he? But I guess we can’t leave any stone unturned. Can you find him, do you think? He was at the Waterfront a while back.”
“I’ll call him. Or page him. Leave Mikey to me. He’ll do what I ask him. A faint smile touched Munch’s features. He was telling the truth. After all they’d been through lately, he must be exhausted. So was she. But she could always rest later.”
“Maybe you should get some sleep. While I deal with Mikey.”
“No. I’ll just get some coffee and I’ll be ok. You and Kellerman aren’t cops. They might be more cooperative if I wave my badge at them. At least I hope so.”
Rubbing his eyes with his hand, Munch racked his brains to think of somewhere to go for information about Bayliss, but couldn’t think of anything. He then considered going back to find Gharty to beat him up, just for good measure. But he didn’t move from his seat, behind the desk he’d been working from for so many years.
There were times, like tonight, when he really questioned his decision to be a cop. The job wasn’t what it used to. Maybe it was time to move on. He wasn’t heading anywhere, careerwise, and though he’d never intended to, it was humiliating to see young hotshots like Falsone waltz in, destined for promotion. What was so special about those guys anyway?
Julianna went off to sit in the privacy of her own car while she was making the call to Kellerman. Why hadn’t she thought to return home? What good would they do at the station? She might have invited Munch over to her place and they could have made all the plans they wanted in peace and quiet, without smug bastards like Gharty gloating over a fellow human being’s misfortunes.
Well, now it was too late. And if Kellerman came through, maybe it was just as well that they were near the center of activity. Something was bound to break one way or another and she’d be there. What the hell was Tim thinking? That he was going to escape her by hiding out in jail? She wouldn’t let him.
Over by the coffee machine, Munch ran into Pembleton, apparently having a last cup for the road, before returning home. It was bad timing, but Munch felt he had to bring his old colleague to task. What was he trying to pull? Selling out his own partner like that. It simply wasn’t done.
Back when Munch was at the academy there was one thing above all else that he’d learned that stuck in his mind. You watched your partner’s back like it was your own. So he’d had a run of bad luck as far as partners were concerned. Just like he’d had with his wives. But that lesson learned so early in life didn’t go away because of disappointments and disillusionment in later years.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Pembleton?”
“Gharty told me you’d turned Bayliss in.”
A weary look flew over Pembleton’s otherwise so serene features. Not this. Not now. Munch could be such a pain in the –
“Not now, Munch. I need to get back to my family. It’s been a very long night.”
“Tell me about it. Like I had a more restful evening. How could you do it?”
“I said, not now.”
“And I said, how could you?”
Again, the battle lines were drawn. Though Munch would never in a million years have figured Pembleton as one of the bad guys. Tiresome yes. Stuck up and boring at times, but definitely a good guy. And now this.
“Alright. Let’s go into the interview room. I doubt if anyone’s going to need it right now.”
“How about the roof?”
Pembleton’s face closed and he turned partially away from Munch.
The roof – A stab of pain shot through him, as he remembered his partner’s – no his friend’s – agonized look when he made his confession. Bayliss – the born-again Bhuddist? There was a feeling of unreality to the whole night. Pembleton couldn’t help looking for the hand of Satan in all this. Evil had been at work, he could feel it in his bones. That was the very reason he’d sought refuge away from the street, and this police station.
“No. Not the roof. Are you coming?”
Munch followed, fully intending to get to the bottom of this – betrayal. In his mind, betrayal of a partner rated right up there with treason – real treason, not what Gharty would label that way – wife beating, murder, rape. And now Pembleton with his tiresome, holier-than-thou attitude had been guilty of it. This had to be the apocalypse, exactly as those Gentiles predicted it. The end of days.
Pembleton placed his coffee cup on the table and sunk down. He looked about as beat as Munch felt, but so what? No reason to let the smug bastard get away with what he’d done.
But if Munch thought that Pembleton’s guard was down, he was mistaken. The man’s brain was as sharp as ever. Though he agreed with Munch about staying loyal to a partner, that was exactly what he’d done. Been loyal to his partner, right until the end. Bayliss hadn’t given him any choice.
So why did he feel so guilty? It was obvious that though Bayliss had been insistent to the point of obsessive about being booked for the crime he’d committed, Pembleton still believed that his old friend hadn’t been of sound mind when he committed said crime.
And now Munch would come at him, yapping like rabid dog. It was exactly over things like this he’d resigned, giving up all hope of a cop’s pension, preferring the peace and quiet of an institute of learning.
“Ok. Yes, I turned Bayliss in. He demanded that I do it. And before you say anything, yes, I believe he did it. But that doesn’t mean I think he deserves to go down for it. Anyone who knows Bayliss knows he must have been under the influence of some kind of mental disorder. Temporary, naturally. But on the other hand, I do think he was right to confess.”
“You think he was right? Your own partner. Do you know what they’ll do to him in there?”
“Of course I know what they’d do to him in jail. That’s why we must hope and pray that he never gets sentenced. Bayliss – He needs to be institutionalized. I believe -“
“You believe – It might come as a surprise to you, but I believe in God too. That doesn’t mean I go sniveling to daddy every time there’s a problem. I take care of it.”
“I’m sorry you have such a low opinion about my religion. But that’s neither here nor there. Is that it? Can I go now? Back to my wife and children?”
“Oh, so now you have to rub that in too? I don’t have anyone to go home to, and you do?”
“That’s not what I meant to imply. But you have to admit -“
“What? That I’m a lonely old bastard and I deserve it?”
“No, John. You don’t deserve that. I’m as sorry as everyone else that Billie Lou -“
“Leave her out of this. Just leave my personal life out of this.”
“Ok. Look, I’m going home. You do what you want.”
Munch realized he wasn’t going to get any further with this sanctimonious bastard and he sat watching Pembleton walk out of the interview room. So that was it. He should have known Pembleton would always find some religious excuse for what he was doing. Convenient. Must make life so much easier for the Gentiles. But it was a luxury Munch couldn’t allow himself.
He rose, yawned and stretched, and left the room as well. There was nothing to be gained in here, not even a confession. He was the only person still around, and he had no intention of confessing to anything. Whatever Pembleton thought.
If Cox didn’t get back to him soon, he really would go home for some sleep, if he could. She knew where to reach him if she had any information for him.
He picked up his stuff at the desk he’d been using briefly, wondering as he did so if he’d ever feel the same way about this room again, after all the changes they’d gone through, especially this long, painful night. Probably not.
He’d been right to move on. Maybe Kellerman had the right idea. Police work without any of the red tape. If Cox was able to find her ex, Munch would ask him if being a private investigator was any fun. When was the last time he’d had any real fun?
On his way out, he ran into Julianna.
“Hey. I just got off the phone with Mikey. He said he’ll see us now, if you’re up to it.”
“Young lady, I’m up to anything, any time, any place. To his astonishment, Julianna giggled, but immediately checked herself, looking ashamed.”
“I know. There’s that picture, remember?”
Munch knew exactly what picture she was referring to. Oh, the folly of youth. Would he ever outrun that image of himself?
“Don’t remind me. What can I say? I was young, I thought the now was everything. How was I supposed to imagine this now? The future was just a grey blur back then.”
“Tell me about it. The stunts I was up to in med school. On the other hand, it was fun. I wouldn’t like to go on the slab without having had a little bit of fun in my life. Ok. Let’s go. You know where Mikey lives?”
“Vaguely. Haven’t had the honor of being invited to his home.”
“Right. You have your car?”
“Uh – no. I was driven here by – Never mind.”
“That’s ok. Then I’ll take you to Mikey’s boat. It’s some place.”
“I can imagine. Makes you wonder -“
But Munch didn’t finish the sentence. A killer Kellerman might be, but Munch couldn’t imagine him being on the take. Those accusations were absurd.
Julianna’s reckless driving had Munch perching on the edge of his seat, but she got them to the marina safely and jumped out and locked the car.
“Wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Maybe he was getting old. Ten years ago – ok, 15 years ago, he’d have been driving like that himself. Now he could only think about the smashed up, broken bodies he’d seen in hospital while looking for witnesses to murders he was investigating.
“So he was awake?”
A cruel smile appeared on Julianna’s lips.
“No. He was in bed. But he was happy to get up to see us. Who wouldn’t be?”
“Seriously though, will he be cooperative? I don’t remember him and Bayliss being all that close.”
“True, but they didn’t hate each other either. Besides, he’ll do it for me.”
“So you can get back with another guy?”
“Let’s take one thing at a time, ok? According to the station gossip Tim’s into men these days, so I might not stand a chance.”
“Last I heard he was drooling all over the lovely Renee.”
“Renee? I see.”
The chill in Julianna’s voice made Munch chuckle. There wasn’t a trace of the tolerance he’d heard when she mentioned Bayliss’ bisexuality. Watch out, Renee.
“If it’s any consolation, Renée wasn’t interested.”
“Oh, I see.”
Again, Julianna’s tone of voice was very revealing, not to mention the look on her face. Apparently Bayliss was still very dear to her. Munch noted this fact, but didn’t comment.
While they were engaged in this little conversation, they had approached Kellerman’s boat. Munch was impressed. He wouldn’t mind living like that himself, if he ever won the lottery.
But to win the lottery you first had to buy tickets and Munch didn’t believe in luck. So he restrained his enthusiasm and concentrated on the work at hand. Bayliss needed them. This was no time to gape in awe at luxurious living conditions.
Kellerman threw open a door, or whatever these things were called and stepped up to greet them.
“Hey. Welcome to my humble abode. Long time no see, Munch.”
Munch took this to be an expression of Kellerman’s sense of humor. They had seen each other only last night, or earlier this night. Dawn was not yet upon them. So technically this was still the same night, when they’d lost their beloved Gee, and learned about Bayliss’ ill-advised confession.
“Get inside before the neighbors call for your uniformed colleagues.”
Once down below, Kellerman asked them to take a seat while he looked around for refreshments to offer his guests. Despite himself, he was glad to have a few visitors. Especially from the old days. Munch was a cool old guy, even if he could be a bit tiresome when he got into one of his moods.
Kellerman smiled at Munch’s sleepy eyes. It definitely seemed past Munch’s bedtime. Contrary to what Julianna thought, Mike himself hadn’t been asleep. He’d been lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, remembering his days as a homicide cop, and before then, when he was working Arson.
“Thanks, I’m fine.”
“Ok. What can I do for you guys? Julianna said Bayliss just confessed to the Luke Ryland shooting. Who would have thought?”
“Can you do something to save his neck?”
Kellerman looked around from Munch to Julianna and back again. So this was what had brought his ex and his old co-worker around in the middle of the night. He should have known. Still, they came to him, not one of the high and mighty cops. Now there was another one just like him.
He wondered if they’d be able to snatch Bayliss away from the jaws of hell that awaited a cop convicted of murder and sent to a correctional facility. Suddenly, he didn’t care if Julianna loved Bayliss or not. He wanted to help the guy for his own sake. A brother in misfortune.
It was so easy to fall. One moment’s temptation, you gave in and suddenly you weren’t a cop anymore. Your entire life’s work taken away from you. For what? For ridding the world of some lowlife.
“Right. Tell me more about it. I need to know as much as possible.”
Julianna relaxed a little. Kellerman was going to put his considerable talent to work. That should be enough. If anyone could do it, he could. And she’d contribute whatever she had in her power. As a doctor. Hm. Committed the crime, while of unsound mind. Yes, that could work. There was even some truth to it.
While she was sleeping with Bayliss she’d noticed a tendency to take responsibility for all the evil perpetrated in the world. Bayliss wanted to save all of mankind. Yes. She filed that possibility away for future use. Now she’d let Kellerman get to work.
Around midday she woke up to find her head resting on Munch’s shoulder. They must have dozed off sometime before dawn, because she didn’t remember seeing the sun come up.
“Good morning. Was it good for you too, honey?”
That was Munch alright. His sense of humor never failed. Julianna smiled back, taking the joke in the spirit it was intended.
“I hope your back feels better, because mine feels like it’s been twisted beyond repair.”
“No. Actually, I feel worse than that. Remind me never to fall asleep sitting on a sofa again. But you’ll bounce back. You’re young.”
“Funny. I don’t feel very young right now. Better do something about my face before I scare up the seagulls.”
Kellerman seemed to be on the phone in the kitchen. Munch yawned and stretched, fervently hoping his back would bounce back too. Right now it felt like he’d tried to sleep over his desk. It was something he was quite familiar with. In the past he’d often dozed off for a half hour or so while working some particularly difficult case.
By the time Julianna had returned from the bathroom, looking as lovely as ever, Kellerman was off the phone and back to playing host. He offered them coffee, orange juice and – toast. That was a step up from his hospitality in the past. That had only extended to old coffee that had been standing around since the night before. Julianna thought he looked really cute like that. Domestic. Very becoming.
“You really know what to do to make a girl’s day.”
“Coffee, orange juice and toast? You have modest needs. Tuck in. While you stuff your face I’ll fill you in on the latest developments. By the way, Jule, you owe me big time. I had to call in every last favor anyone owed me in this town.”
“Stuff my face? Charming. Well, shoot off your mouth then, Mikey. I’m all ears. And don’t worry about the favors. I’ll give you a free physical when all this is over.”
“What? After I get you back with Bayliss? Are we playing threesome or what?”
“Foursome, I hope.”
“Yes, Munch. There’s a free physical in this for you too. But before you get too excited, remember what I used to do for a living. Still, if you guys really want a health checkup from a pathologist -“
“She really knows how to whet a guy’s appetite, doesn’t she, Munch?”
“As a P I, you should know all about her qualifications. You pulled her file didn’t you? I know I would have.”
“I did. Don’t worry about it. Our Julianna graduated second in her class. Right after brownnose Phillips.”
“I can’t believe you did that, Mikey. What I’ll get you won’t be a physical, it’ll be my version of Chinese torture.”
“I can’t wait. Do you want to hear my news or do you want to get physical right away?”
“Don’t mind me. If I can’t play, I’d be just as happy to watch.”
A venomous glance from Julianna shut Munch up.
The chill in her voice brought Kellerman back to the reality of their situation. They weren’t playing games, a man’s life was on the line. Bayliss’ career was already beyond repair.
“It’s as bad as you thought. Worse. They’re out to set an example. Police brutality and corruption needs to be checked. Election year, remember?”
“So now they’ll crucify Tim for ridding the world of that vermin?”
“I’m gratified by your choice of words. Does that mean you applaud my actions re Luther Mahoney?”
“Yes, Mikey. You could have confided in me. Look at what I did to my own career, and all just for the sake of some traffic victim. I didn’t even kill anyone. When my patients got to me they were usually already dead.”
“I didn’t want to burden you with that kind of thing. Besides, it wasn’t me. Not the real me. I don’t know what got into me when I pulled the trigger.”
“You knew he’d get away if you didn’t do something about it.”
Munch? What was this? Psychology? Or was he speaking from experience? Kellerman remembered the rumors hinting that Munch knew a little too much about the Gordon Pratt killing. But that could wait. If they wanted to save Bayliss it was time to move.
“I need to see a guy who might get me some more info about this. In the meantime, you might do what you can about pleading temporary insanity or something like that. You’re the medicine woman. Figure something out.”
“What about me?”
“Glad you asked. Since you’re still a cop, even though it’s out of your jurisdiction, you’ll get to see Bayliss. I pulled in a favor so they’ll let you in. As a former partner of his.”
“Actually I wasn’t -“
Kellerman waved his hand dismissively. Partner, co-worker, whatever. Munch would get to see their guy, and Bayliss might have the rest of the info they’d need.
Munch drove out to see Bayliss, wondering as he did so, where Pembleton was. How could the guy go back to his family, knowing what his former partner must be going through?
Suddenly, Munch had a horrible premonition. Would he find Bayliss alive? He could only imagine the gauntlet Bayliss would have had to run on his way to his cell. Word about his arrival must have gone ahead of him. Every prisoner must have known a cop had fallen down to their level. A cop was at their mercy. No longer protected by his own.
Munch had heard horror stories back when he was a rookie cop and though he suspected part of them were exaggerated, but still. If any guy ending up in jail had months and years of hell ahead of him, what would happen to an ex-cop?
But they’d get Bayliss out. Nothing would happen to him. If only they were in time to save him.
The guard took Munch in, without comment. He had to surrender his gun at the door, but what use would he have for that in here? It wasn’t as if he’d come to break Bayliss out. There was no formality. The guard just took Munch into Bayliss’ cell, and left him there.
Bayliss was sitting on the bunk. They’d taken away his own clothes and he was wearing something shapeless, grey. Munch had never really paid attention the attire of the prisoners, but now he was struck by how small and helpless Bayliss looked. He wouldn’t survive this for long. It occurred to Munch that it might be exactly what Bayliss had planned. An elaborate form of suicide.
“John. You shouldn’t have come.”
“Did you expect Frank?”
“No. I knew he wouldn’t come. And you shouldn’t have either. You mustn’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. This is where I belong.”
“Don’t say that. Have you forgotten that you’re a cop? You don’t belong in here.”
“I’m not a cop anymore. I’m a killer. Didn’t they tell you?”
“Tim. If you knew why I’m here, you wouldn’t be talking like this.”
“Then why are you here?”
“First of all, I want to tell you that I understand. About Luke Ryland. Better than you think.”
“I’m glad. Frank didn’t. He felt I’d done something evil. It’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make. Someone had to do it, and why shouldn’t I? I’m a total failure as a cop and as a human being. At least this way, I’ll have done something good in my life.”
“You’ve done a lot of good. You’re a great cop, and a good guy. Listen, we’re going to get you out of here.”
“Me and Kellerman and -“
“It’s no use. Don’t you see, I’m guilty. I deserve to be punished. That’s the deal. I did what I did, but now it’s time I pay for it.”
“Tim – A beautiful woman is doing everything in her power to get you out of here. Do I have to tell her you don’t want her help?”
“A beautiful woman? Renee?”
“Renee? No, my friend. Julianna is moving heaven and earth to get you back. Are you throwing her love right back in her face?”
“Julianna? But I treated her so badly. I rejected her. How can she still love me?”
“That’s your good fortune. Don’t throw it away.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t know about this sooner. But it doesn’t change anything. Didn’t you hear me? I’m guilty. I’m a killer.”
“Yes. I heard you. So am I. I killed Gordon Pratt. I guess this means I need to go and confess too. Maybe they’ll put us in the same cell. We could watch each other’s backs. Right. Confession time.”
“Wait. So you were the one who shot Pratt. I knew it. This is blackmail.”
“Good. Then we understand each other.”
Bayliss fixed Munch with a penetrating stare and Munch wondered what was going on in his friend’s mind.
“What do you want from me, John?”
“Information. We don’t have much time. Tell me everything about your confession. How much did you tell Pembleton? You can’t have left any trail at the crime scene or Forensics would have picked up on it long ago.”
“No. I don’t think I slipped up on that. What kind of a cop would that make me? Alright. I told Frank I’d done it, and that he had to take me in. I told him why I did it.”
“That’s all? No details of the actual shooting?”
“Let me get this straight. You’re sitting here telling me you and Julianna and Mikey are going to help me cover up this crime I’ve committed?”
“Yes. That’s right. Will you help us or do we have to do it on our own?”
“I don’t get it, John. Why do you care so much about what happens to me? Julianna is still in love with me? How can she, after the way I treated her. And what about Mikey and you?”
“I told you. You’re a good cop and a good guy. I like you. Don’t do this to yourself. That’s what I don’t get. Why do you hate yourself so much? What have you done that is so bad that you deserve to end up this way?”
Something moved in Bayliss’ eyes, but he didn’t reply directly to Munch’s question.
And to Munch’s relief, Bayliss began to tell him all the relevant facts. But he concluded his narrative by adding that he had no intention of trying to escape his just punishment. That more than anything else convinced Munch that for some reason, Bayliss was trying to punish himself for something else.
Not the Ryland shooting, something that most likely went back years. Munch couldn’t guess what that was, and at this point he really didn’t care. It was for Julianna to try and uncover whatever pain Bayliss was hiding and if possible heal it to the best of her ability. All that counted was that at least for now, he’d managed to secure Bayliss’ cooperation.
It was just as well that Bayliss agreed to part with that information, because when Munch’s unauthorized visit became known, all access to the high profile prisoner was cut off. Not even Julianna, claiming to be the suspect’s lover, was allowed near him. That concerned her, but she couldn’t let that stop her. She had far too much work to do.
Making Bayliss’ confession seem part of a pattern of unhealthy self-recrimination was her immediate purpose. And with the help of her medical training, she knew exactly what it took.
She even knew a psychiatrist, an old friend from her med-school days, who would help her out. Riley was gay, and he was sure to be able to relate to Tim’s situation in more ways than one. In one important instance, he had been in exactly the same situation, when a distraught patient, suffering from AIDS had managed to commit suicide, using drugs he’d been prescribed by Riley. Everyone knew that Riley had helped the guy end his life before the suffering became too great, but one way or another, Riley had escaped the consequences of his actions.
Before long, Julianna had the document she needed in her possession and could proceed to the next stage of her plan. Munch had returned with his account of Bayliss’ behavior, and fortunately, it all seemed to fit into the picture.
The powers that be intended to get the trial over with in time for the election and so Bayliss’ case was given priority. Ed Danvers would not be prosecuting the case. That was a relief. But apart from that, all the news was bad. Kellerman had managed to get hold of inside information that told them the D A:s office intended to convict Bayliss and push him out of the public’s eye. Lock him up and throw away the key, as one official put it, though she refused to be quoted on that.
Before the day of the trial came around, Julianna had turned over her documentation to the defence attorney, an old friend of Munch’s. Ezra Zimmerman assured Julianna that her work was of the utmost importance, but she guessed that it wouldn’t be enough. From the start, she’d had a bad feeling about the whole thing. And she was right. They were unable to stop the case from going to trial.
On the second day, she was called to the witness stand, to confirm the medical evidence concerning Bayliss’ mental state. After some soul-searching, she had decided that there were different levels of truth. Perjury was one word for what she intended to do that day, but there was another interpretation of her action. And the deeper truth behind all those words was the fact that Bayliss really did seem to wish to take all the sins of the world on his shoulders. Wasn’t that why he’d attempted to rid mankind of this particular perverted killer?
So she lied through her teeth and she did it well. The life of the man she loved was at stake. Of course she lied. She’d have killed for him too. By now the depth of her feelings for him had become clear to her. When he’d rejected her, she had been far from finished with him but if she and her partners in crime did their work well, she’d have time for that now.
If they’d expected any of Bayliss’ other colleagues to stand by him in his hour of need, they were sorely disappointed. No one showed up. It appeared every last one of his co-workers now viewed him as an outcast. A renegade cop who was a disgrace to the badge he’d worn.
Sheppard had frowned and bit her lower lip. Pembleton had shaken his head and refused to face Julianna when she came to make her plea. She knew that seeing Pembleton at the trial would do Bayliss a world of good. But Pembleton had washed his hands of the whole thing. He’d given his evidence on the first day, refusing to be drawn into speculation about the veracity of Bayliss’ confession, but that was all. Nothing further could be expected of him.
By the fourth day of the trial, Julianna and Munch were close to despair. Nothing they’d done seemed to be enough. In the evening, after the trial had been adjourned, they met at Kellerman’s boat to confer.
“It’s not working.”
“It seems not. I was sure that your friend would have fixed it.”
“For a while, I think it did impress them, but it’s no solid evidence. No. I’ll have to give him an alibi. Fortunately, no one else can refute that statement.”
Munch nodded appreciatively.
“Good idea. I’d do it myself, but I doubt if anyone would believe me. Still, I guess I could say we were having a couple of drinks together. As colleagues.”
“Yeah. But it won’t be necessary. I’m happy to do this for him. Besides, maybe this will stop him from being so -“
“Maybe you’ve heard about us breaking up? It wasn’t exactly in private. I’d left some stuff over at his place and he kept bringing it back to me, even while we were working. He couldn’t stand even a hint of intimacy. I mean, the sex was ok. No matter what you’ve heard about him, I have no complaints there. It was just that he kept rejecting me emotionally. Like I crowded him. You know.”
“Oh, yes, I do. You’re looking at an old marriage veteran. The old fear of commitment syndrom. On the other hand, Tim is still young. Some guys mature late. If you want my opinion, he was just experimenting. I’ve known many gay men in my life, and Tim just isn’t the type.”
“I think you’re right. But there was something about him. I don’t know. Like he was scared of me getting too close to him.”
“True. He looks scared. Always has. Now that you mention it. Maybe there’s some story behind it. You’ll know eventually. He’ll tell you about it.”
“Do you think so? I’m not so sure about that. Anyway, our relationship can wait. All I care about at this point is saving his ass. We’ll deal with the emotional aspects later. I really appreciate you doing this, John.”
“Don’t mention it. Tim’s a great guy. He can’t be allowed to finish this way. A career is one thing, but this is his life we’re talking about.”
“Hear, hear. Whatever you were talking about.”
“Mikey. You’re back. Please tell me you’ve got some good news.”
The look on Kellerman’s face certainly seemed to point in that direction. Julianna hadn’t seen that boyishly happy look for a long time. Working round the clock to save Bayliss seemed to have done that for him. Maybe that was what Mikey needed. A cause. Some friends to work with again. Being a P I must be lonely work for someone who was used to team work.
“As it happens – now that you mention it -“
“Spit it out, Mikey or we’ll torture it out of you.”
“I’m so scared. No, no need for hostilities. I think I’ve done it. But I’m going to owe favors from now to Kingdom Come. Munch, do you remember a guy named Mendoza?”
“No. Doesn’t ring a bell. In what context?”
“A contract killer who started working on his own. Not in Baltimore, but he did a few hits here in the early 90’s. He’s down in Florida, on death row. But it appears that the Luke Ryland case is a top priority. What if Mendoza were to plead guilty to that too? He’d get life as a part of the deal. And he’d be up for parole after 15 years. Take off a few years for good behavior, I’d say he’s got a chance of walking while he’s still young enough to do it without a zimmer frame.”
Julianna pulled Mikey into her arms. He’d really done it this time. With her alibi for Tim and this confession, there was no way the D A could make the case stick. Tim would walk. In fact, strictly speaking, he should get his job back, with no stain to his good name.
Of course, in real life, things didn’t work that way. Julianna didn’t need to be a cop to know that Tim’s career was over. But so what? She knew from experience that you could start over. A job was just a job, after all, no matter how much of your life you put into it.
They were right. The new evidence led to the case against Tim Bayliss being thrown out of court. Possibly, the judge wasn’t fully taken in, but it seemed there was a feeling of relief at the D A:s office. A cop going down for murder one didn’t look good. This way, the scandal could be buried and the election could go on. Everyone was happy.
Everyone, except for the defendant. When Julianna, Munch and Kellerman showed up to take Bayliss away from the media posse awaiting him on the courthouse steps, he didn’t look at all pleased.
With Julianna hanging more or less around Bayliss’ neck, Munch and Kellerman were forced to physically drag their ex-colleague into Munch’s car. They were too late to stop about a thousand photo flashes going off in Bayliss’ dazed face.
But so what? He was free, he would be ok. Julianna knew it was undignified of her, but she kept lavishing kisses on Tim’s face all the way back to Kellerman’s boat, which had been turned into their more or less temporary headquarters.
From time to time she stole a look at him, trying to gauge his reaction to the reverse in his situation. There was a sheepish grin on his face, whenever she’d planted a kiss somewhere on it, but in between those moments, he had a blank look in his eyes, as if he still hadn’t fully taken in the new scenario.
So they arrived at Kellerman’s without really having discussed anything. Their host, and Munch tactfully retreated into the kitchen, ostensibly to prepare dinner, but really to allow Julianna and Bayliss some privacy.
“Julianna, don’t take this the wrong way, but you shouldn’t have done this.”
“Perjured yourself. Gone to all this trouble over me. I shot Luke Ryland. You should have let justice take its course.”
“I was acting in accordance with my conscience, when I shot him and when I confessed.”
“Ok. But I did what I had to do when I got you out of this mess you’d gotten yourself into. What makes you think you deserve to be punished that way?”
“I broke the law. Being tried and sentenced and imprisoned is what happens to you when you do that.”
“You wouldn’t just have been sent to prison and you know it. How long do you think you’d have lasted in there? Even if you became some big hairy guy’s ‘girlfriend’.”
He smiled at that, but she could tell that it only extended as far as his mouth. There wasn’t a trace of humor in his eyes. So that had been on his mind.
“Leaving that aside, I still feel I did the right thing when I confessed. After I’d done that, I got the first full night’s sleep I’d had for ages.”
“That’s it? You’re going to go back there, and undo all our work by pleading guilty again?”
Bayliss opened his mouth to reply, but Julianna hurriedly placed a hand over his lips.
“No. That was a pretty little speech you made just now, but now it’s my turn. Ok. Your conscience. I got that. What about mine? I love someone, and I see him trying his best to kill himself. Am I supposed to stand by idly while you do this to yourself? I don’t even know why you want to die, but you do, don’t you?”
Silence. But she could tell he was considering what she’d just said. Finally, he nodded.
“Maybe you’re right. I guess that won’t be possible now. Julianna, how can you love me, when I treated you so callously the last time?”
“I don’t know. I just do.”
“Ok. You don’t know how much that means to me. It’s far better than I deserve. Since you and I broke up, I’ve been thinking a lot about us. About relationships and about my fear of commitment. I think I’m ready for a little more of that now.
After you left me, I – You must have heard the talk. Whatever they say, I never did anything but go out with those guys. Nothing more. Even that wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. And I – I tried to deal with something that happened a long time ago. In a way, it worked. I exorcised that demon.
But it didn’t make me feel any less empty inside. Then there was this religious thing. It didn’t help much either. I’m more or less through with Bhuddism. Whatever I’d hoped to find, wasn’t there.”
“I see. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Really.”
“That’s ok. Maybe I’d found it already and didn’t know it. Will you forgive me, Julianna? This time I won’t make the same mistake.”
“Of course I will. There’s nothing to forgive. And anyway, commitment is all very well, up to a point. But try saying the m word and I’ll be running the other way.”
“M? As in marriage?”
“Exactly. All I wanted from you was just to know you’d be there, ‘tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’.”
“Wow. I didn’t know you were into Shakespeare.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Tim.”
An enigmatic smile was playing on her lips. The worst was over. Whatever Tim had been trying to atone for he was over the worst. She didn’t think he’d try anything like this again. The full story could wait, until such a time when he felt comfortable telling it to her. She wouldn’t push. That might do more harm than good. At least he was talking about it. He was opening up to her. How many men were capable of that?
His answering smile was warm and reassuring. This was more like the old Tim. -Maybe I’ll get a chance to find out now.
“Count on it. Speaking of things you don’t know. Did you give up the whole Bhuddist thing? Being a vegetarian and all that?”
“No. I’m still a vegetarian. After trying that, it isn’t so easy to go back to eating meat. Why?”
“I’m a vegetarian too.”
“Really. What happened? Did your cholesterol levels skyrocket?”
“No. It was just that one day I was having dinner at work. You know how it is. Eating on your feet, while working with one hand. Though in my case, eating and working didn’t really go together. It occurred to me that what I was putting into my mouth wasn’t all that different from what I was carving into with my other hand. Sorry if this grosses you out.”
“That’s ok. Go on. You were saying -“
“I was saying the stuff I was about to put into my mouth looked almost the same as what I was carving into, except the so-called food was cooked. So I put down the box and the chopsticks and swore to myself never to touch meat again. And I haven’t. So that’s one anyway.”
“One secret about me. Your turn. Why don’t you tell me about Renee?”
“I like that. Go on not remembering who she is and we’ll get along great. Come here.”
Julianna went on to expand on how much she’d missed Bayliss in intimate physical detail, until they were interrupted by a tactful cough from the doorway.
“Am I interrupting something?”
“What do you think, Mikey? Want to join us?”
“Raincheck, ok? Would you like to join Munch and me? Dinner’s ready. You’ll be pleased to know that no meat went into the making of this delicious, sumptuous feast.”
“What do you say, Tim? Do you need a break?”
“I could use some real food, I can tell you that. They wouldn’t give me any vegetarian food, so I haven’t had anything but a few pieces of bread since I was locked up.”
“Why didn’t you say something sooner? Your blood sugar levels must have dropped -“
“Yes, doctor. Sorry, doctor. Won’t happen again.”
“Better not. I have ways of making you regret disobeying my orders.”
“Are you guys coming? Mikey’s made this delicious vegetarian kosher something or other dinner.”
After dinner, they remained seated at the table. It seemed Kellerman had something he wanted to discuss with them. Julianna hoped it wasn’t bad news. She didn’t want anything to spoil the mood.
“If everyone’s finished, I’d like to make a toast. To freedom. And team work.”
“I realize it’s early, but I’d like to offer you a job, Tim. If you want to, you can start right away. As my partner. Julianna and I were talking about how useful it would be for a P I to have someone expert in medical matters. So she’s already promised to work part time for me. But I could really use another cop, or two. What do you say?”
“You want me to become a P I?”
“Yes. You don’t have to give me your answer tonight. Think it over. But I can tell you it’s great work. Almost like it used to be back when we were fresh from the Academy full of high ideals and convictions. Remember?”
“Yes, I remember. And I don’t need to think about it. I accept.”
“What? You’re offering me the same deal?”
“Hm. That’s something to think about. I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you know tomorrow. Is that ok?”
“That’s fine. Welcome aboard, Tim. Well, don’t take it literally. I was kind of hoping you’d all get some place of your own. Except for the lovely Julianna. You are welcome to stay indefinitely. And speaking of staying. I suggest we relocate to another city. Maybe Philly, or Boston. Or even D.C. I don’t think this place is healthy for us ex-cops. Time to move on.”
“What about California while we’re talking about moving?”
“Nah. The climate might be good, but the weirdos out there would be more trouble than they’re worth. Trust me on that, John. I was out there for a few weeks working a case. If you see a streak of grey in my hair, that’s why. Let’s stick to the East coast and I’m open to all suggestions. Almost.”
Bayliss sensed that quip was aimed at him, and though Kellerman’s comment was made without rancor, he knew he’d need to address that issue if they were to be able to work together.
But right now he didn’t really feel up to justifying himself. Besides, if his bisexuality was a problem, how would Kellerman react to his relationship with Julianna? They were rivals on top of everything else. And despite all that, Kellerman had offered him a job.
“This calls for a celebration. How about a trip back to the dear old Waterfront?”
“I’d love to, John, but do you think it’s wise? That’s one place they’re sure to look for us. The media hyenas, I mean.”
“Good point. Well, bring out the drinks.”
“If you guys are going to keep up this pleasant banter, Tim and I might retire for the night.”
“Lead the way.”
As their host got up, he bumped into Bayliss. It was obvious that it cost Kellerman a bit of effort to remain carefree about the minor incident. With a sigh, Bayliss decided it was as good a time as any to bring up their attitude towards each other. He thought Kellerman was attractive as far as men went, but he definitely wasn’t his type.
“Excuse me. If you don’t mind my saying this, Mikey, you’re looking good tonight.”
Kellerman’s face froze into a comic expression, as if he didn’t quite know what to make of Bayliss’ far from serious tone. At last, he seemed to grasp what his friend was doing and relaxed a little. He saw how his own reactions might have been interpreted and he was eager to get any awkwardness out of the way.
“You know, I was just about to say the same thing to you. I’ve always found you a very attractive guy.”
Julianna was watching their exchange with interest. Feigning jealousy, she interlaced her arm with Munch’s, and turned to leave.
“Oh, please. A little more of this mutual admiration, and I’ll be forced to get out the castor oil for you two.”
“You’ve got castor oil with you?”
“Never leave home without it. It’s useful for a lot of things. Oh, go on, Tim, Mikey. I don’t care at all if you guys get engaged. My heart belongs John.”
“Listen to what the lovely doc says.”
“Actually, there’s enough of me for all of you. I’m so excited. You probably didn’t know this about me, but when I was a kid I wanted to be a P I. I loved the magnifying glass and the fingerprint kit and all that stuff.”
She was only partially joking. Though it had never occurred to her before, they had the potential for making a really great investigative team. What had started as an emergency response to Bayliss’ arrest had turned into something much more.
In the eyes of the world, they were all guilty of crimes, and their work had most likely changed them forever. But they still knew right from wrong, and they had more to give. This wasn’t the end, and odd and mismatched as this team might seem, they would do ok.