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Jade & Red Arrow: Star Search (Part 11)

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  • harveykent
    Shortly afterward, Raymond, MacDonald, Red Arrow, and Jenn were gathered in Raymond s office. MacDonald had figured it would be the likely place for the
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 1, 2002
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      Shortly afterward, Raymond, MacDonald, Red Arrow, and Jenn were
      gathered in Raymond's office. MacDonald had figured it would be the
      likely place for the kidnappers to "get in touch". No one spoke; the
      atmosphere was tense, anxious.
      Raymond broke the silence, speaking to MacDonald. "Your men are
      working on this?"
      "We're watching Malo and Dee," MacDonald said. "If you can think of
      any other suspects, let me know."
      Raymond snorted. "Try Marva Jackson."
      MacDonald looked at Raymond oddly. "Isn't she the head of Pyramid
      Studios?"
      "That's her, the Iron Bitch, as she's known in the industry," Raymond
      said. "She's been trying to lure Melvin to her studio for years!
      Maybe she got tired of hearing `no'." Raymond chuckled
      mirthlessly. "Do you know she started out as the secretary of the guy
      who owned the studio? His secretary!"
      Just then, the phone rang. Raymond bolted to answer it; MacDonald
      grabbed his wrist.
      "Put it on speaker," he said. Then he released Raymond's arm.
      The studio chief hit the speakerphone button. "Hello? Christopher
      Raymond here."
      "Hello, Raymond," a voice came through the speakerphone. It was high
      and shrill, reminding Jenn of Alvin and the Chipmunks. "The police
      are there, aren't they?"
      "Why--no," Raymond said, nervously. "No, they're not!"
      "Don't insult my intelligence!" the shrill voice squeaked angrily. "I
      know the police are there, and Infinity Inc too! I'm not going to
      stay on long enough for you to trace the call, so forget about that!
      Here are your instructions. I want two million dollars, unmarked
      bills, in an alligator suitcase. Have the twerp who was driving the
      car bring the suitcase to the Griffith Park Zoo and drop it in the
      garbage can in front of the reptile house, at eleven o'clock tonight.
      I see any cops or super-heroes and Pilchik is dead. If you think I'm
      bluffing, that's your prerogative, but I don't suggest you test me!"
      "Wait--" Raymond cried, but the line went dead. The dial tone rang
      through the room.
    • harveykent
      Silence reigned in the room again. Red Arrow was the first one to break it. Pilchik? he asked. He means Melvin, Raymond said. James Melvin s real name is
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 2, 2002
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        Silence reigned in the room again. Red Arrow was the first one to
        break it.
        "Pilchik?" he asked.
        "He means Melvin," Raymond said. "James Melvin's real name is Melvin
        James Pilchik."
        "Who would know that?" MacDonald snapped.
        "Anyone who reads the celebrity magazines," Jenn shrugged.
        "Could you trace the call?" Raymond asked. "Call your people, find
        out--"
        "No need," MacDonald said. "I can tell, he wasn't on long enough. And
        that voice! Old trick, using helium to disguise your voice; but it's
        an old trick because it works. He's shrewd, this one."
        "Well, what can we do?" Raymond asked, the worry and anxiety showing
        in his voice. "We have to get Melvin back! We've already announced
        his next picture to Variety!"
        Red Arrow shot the studio head a frosty stare.
        MacDonald shrugged. "So we'll arrange the money drop," he said. "The
        guy is shrewd, I'll say it again. Not likely to be many people
        hanging around the zoo at eleven at night. But we'll have the place
        staked out, never the less."
        "The kidnapper asked for Lawson to make the drop," Jenn said. "Will
        he be up to it? He was shot tonight."
        "He'll do it," Raymond said, waving his hand dismissively. "I'll call
        him."
        "I have a call to make, too," Red Arrow said, walking to the
        door. "I'll make it down the hall."
        Jenn stood in the office while Raymond made the call. "Lawson?
        Raymond. Yes, yes, fine. We got the call from the kidnappers. They
        want you to make the drop. What? I know you were shot, you idiot!
        Don't tell me things I already know! The paramedics said you were
        fine. They didn't send you to the hospital, did they? Look, don't
        argue with me! If you're not in my office in half an hour, don't
        bother ever showing up for work again! Do you hear me? Fine." The
        studio chief hung up the phone.
        Jenn left the office, found Red Arrow in the hall. He was speaking on
        a pay telephone.
        "Fine. Thanks again, Virg." The young archer hung up the phone. He
        turned and saw Jenn. "Did they call Lawson?"
        "Yes," Jenn said. "I only heard Raymond's half of the conversation,
        but I think Lawson's going to do it."
        "Of course he is," Roy said. "Stick close to Raymond, all right? I
        have to check on something. Hopefully I'll be back in time for the
        drop."
        "All right," Jenn said, not quite comprehending.
      • harveykent
        You know what you have to do? Raymond asked Willie Lawson, for the tenth time. Yes, Lawson said, his voice betraying his impatience. He stood there in
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 3, 2002
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          "You know what you have to do?" Raymond asked Willie Lawson, for the
          tenth time.
          "Yes," Lawson said, his voice betraying his impatience. He stood
          there in front of his boss, a bandage wrapped around his upper left
          arm. "I take the suitcase, drive out to the zoo, put the suitcase in
          the garbage can in front of the reptile house, and leave."
          "Good," Raymond said. "Don't let anything go wrong. This is two
          million dollars we're talking about!" Raymond held an alligator
          suitcase by the handle.
          "What do you want me to do after I drop off the suitcase?" Lawson
          asked.
          "What do I care what you do?" Raymond demanded. "Go home. I don't
          want you hanging around, scaring off the kidnappers."
          Jenn watched Lawson take the alligator suitcase. If he was nervous
          that there was two million dollars cash inside, he didn't show it.
          The young man went to the studio parking lot, followed by Raymond,
          MacDonald, and Jenn. He put the suitcase in the trunk of his own car,
          an `83 Cordoba from the look of it, closed the trunk, got in the car
          and drove away. The others piled into a studio car and followed, at a
          respectable distance. They parked close to Lawson's car, but out of
          sight in the deep shadow of an ornamental hedge. They watched Lawson
          open his trunk, take out the suitcase, and close the trunk. Looking
          nervously around, Lawson approached the reptile house, lifted the lid
          of the garbage can, and stuffed the suitcase inside.
          "So far, so good," MacDonald whispered. "All we have to do now is
          wait for the kid--"
          Suddenly, something struck the ground at Lawson's feet, making him
          jump back in surprise. A slender crimson arrow trembled in the crack
          between paving stones.
          "That's far enough, Lawson," Red Arrow declared, from atop the
          reptile house.
        • harveykent
          Red Arrow! MacDonald snapped. What are you doing? Check that suitcase Lawson put in the trash can, the archer called down, and you ll see. MacDonald
          Message 4 of 7 , Apr 4, 2002
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            "Red Arrow!" MacDonald snapped. "What are you doing?"
            "Check that suitcase Lawson put in the trash can," the archer called
            down, "and you'll see."
            MacDonald shot a glance at the terrified Lawson, then strode
            purposefully toward the trash can.
            "No!" Lawson blurted, which earned him a very frosty glare from
            MacDonald. The detective pulled out the alligator suitcase and threw
            the lid open.
            "Empty!" he snarled. "Empty as a defense attorney's conscience!"
            "What?" Raymond gasped. "But how? It had two million dollars in it!
            We all saw Willie put it in his trunk, take it out again! What
            happened to the money?"
            "There's a reason the kidnapper specified an alligator suitcase," Red
            Arrow said, leaping down from the roof of the reptile house. "One
            looks very much like another. Lawson had a duplicate case in his
            trunk beforehand. He put the empty one in the can, and while we were
            waiting for a kidnapper to pick it up, he'd be across the border in
            Mexico with the money."
            "Willie," Raymond said in surprise. "How could you do this to me?
            After all I've done--"
            "After what?" Lawson cried out, rage in his voice. "I'm a writer, Mr.
            Raymond! All I ever wanted was a chance! If you gave me a chance I
            could write the best film your studio ever made! I took a menial job
            at your studio, hoping to get into your confidence, get my chance.
            And what do you do? Make me a nursemaid to a spoiled brat! Do you
            have any idea what that felt like? Watching him get rich and famous
            by appearing in crap that any two-year-old could have written, while
            my ideas sat unread in my desk drawer? Do you?"
            "So you killed him," MacDonald said, in an even voice.
            "No!" Lawson cried, whirling on MacDonald. "I didn't kill him! When I
            picked him up at his house, to take him to the Silver Spheres, he was
            high as a kite on coke! Typical; it wasn't the first time I'd had to
            drag him somewhere when his brain was twenty miles up! This time was
            different, though. He was so stoned, he fell down the front stairs
            and cracked his head on the pavement! I didn't kill him, his own
            excesses and stupidity did!"
            "So you buried him in the garbage dump," Red Arrow said, "and took
            your chance to cash in on his accident."
            Lawson turned on Red Arrow, wide-eyed. "H-how did you know? The dump?"
            "The gunk in your tire treads," Red Arrow said, "contains, among
            other things, coffee grounds, paper pulp, orange peel, and egg shell."
            "Garbage," MacDonald said.
            "Get back, all of you!" Lawson cried, pulling out a gun. That
            surprised everyone. Red Arrow cursed himself; of course Lawson had a
            gun! He shot himself in the arm to lend veracity to his story, didn't
            he?
            "Nobody make a move!" Lawson commanded, waving the gun from one
            person to another. "I'm getting out of here, and the first one who
            makes a move to stop me dies!" Lawson whirled on Red Arrow, pointing
            the gun directly at him. "You! You ruined everything! I didn't want
            to hurt you--I didn't want to hurt anybody! But you couldn't leave it
            alone!" Red Arrow could hear the madness in Lawson's voice. The years
            of humiliation, the hours of tense anxiety wondering if his plan
            would work, the shock of exposure, had all taken their toll. The man
            was crazed now, and there was no way Red Arrow could get an arrow to
            his bow before he pulled the trigger.
          • harveykent
            Willie, a gentle, feminine voice behind the crazed gunman said. Willie turned his head to look over his shoulder, and gaped. Red Arrow gaped, too. Jenn was
            Message 5 of 7 , Apr 5, 2002
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              "Willie," a gentle, feminine voice behind the crazed gunman said.
              Willie turned his head to look over his shoulder, and gaped. Red
              Arrow gaped, too. Jenn was standing there, looking at Willie. Her
              face and hands were glowing, a bright emerald green! But how?
              "Willie, you know who I am," Jenn said, soothingly. "You know what I
              can do. It's all over, Willie. You can't get away." Jenn held out her
              hand. "Give me the gun, Willie."
              Willie hesitated, trembling with fear and rage and indecision. He
              started crying, softly. Weeping, he sank to his knees. Jenn reached
              out and gently took the gun from his hand. As soon as she had the
              gun, MacDonald rushed up to take Willie into custody.
              "Jenn, that was amazing!" Red Arrow said. "Your powers! What
              happened?"
              Jenn smiled, and took a big step to the left. Suddenly she wasn't
              glowing green anymore. Red Arrow gaped at her; she stifled a giggle.
              "I'm sorry," she said, "but the look on your face! I guess I should
              have told you."
              "Told me what?" Red Arrow asked.
              "I figured something would go down here," Jenn explained. "So I got
              the special effects department to fix me up with make-up that glows
              green under ultraviolet light, and a portable UV projector." Jenn
              pointed with her thumb; Red Arrow followed the indication to a small
              battery-powered lamp set up in the window of the studio car she had
              arrived in.
              "Jenn, that was a pretty gutsy move," Red Arrow said,
              impressed. "Lawson might still have shot you!"
              "He might've," Jenn agreed. "You, too. Those are the risks we take, I
              guess."
              Roy grinned broadly. "Yeah, I guess they are."

              Two days later, Roy and Jenn were having lunch at an outdoor
              restaurant with Maggie, catching her up on all that had happened.
              "I still can't believe it," Maggie said. "It all sounds so bizarre!
              Like some whacko movie plot!"
              "Lawson was a whacko would-be movie writer," Jenn pointed out. "So I
              guess, in that way, it makes sense."
              "Maybe they'll let him write some shows for the prison theater
              group," Roy suggested. "He'll have a long time to work on his
              masterpiece."
              "You think so?" Jenn asked. "When you think about it, he didn't
              really do much that they can make stick. A good lawyer may even get
              him probation."
              "Didn't you hear?" Roy asked. "MacDonald called I.I. today. The
              coroner's report on Melvin found cause of death to be asphyxiation."
              "You mean--" Maggie said, wide-eyed.
              Roy nodded. "Melvin may have looked dead when Lawson buried him," he
              said, "but he was alive."
              "Then, if Willie had called for help, instead of pulling that stunt--
              " Jenn began.
              "Melvin might have lived," Roy finished. "Lawson'll be lucky to get
              Man Two."
              The threesome were silent for quite some time after that.

              THE END
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