by Melinda Holley
Beta Read by Yvonne
Written for PetFly by:
Teleplay by: David Balkan
Story by: Ann Powell and Peter Lance
internal thought in italics
It was said that first generation immigrants never really left home. They chose to spend what little free time and money they had to recreate their homeland. Thus were the Little Italy's, Little China's, etc., founded. Second generation immigrants tended to try to assimilate and left the conclaves of the older generation for the suburbs or uptown apartments. Third generation immigrants tended to want to rediscover their 'roots.' They returned to the conclaves of their grandparents in an attempt to experience the 'Old Country.'
Markov's was a smooth blend of Old World and New in an attempt to cash in on those trying to experience Mother Russia. Replicas of Russian icons hung on the walls spotlighted by the most up-to-date American lighting. Russian music played softly in the background as guests sipped fine California wine. A few older patrons sat in corners quietly talking about how the younger generations didn't understand or care about 'traditions.'
Most of the patrons were young immigrants either consciously or unconsciously trying to hold onto something familiar in this new land they'd chosen. A few non-Russians could also be found in the dining room. But they tended to dine there because Markov's was quickly gaining a reputation as one of the ethnic 'in places' to be seen. Staff and management appreciated their patronage, but they were never given the best tables.
"For She's A Jolly Good Fellow! For She's A Jolly Good Fellow! For She's a Jolly Good Fellloowwww…"
The two young women at the table laughed as the waiters brought a cake with burning candles across the dining room and set it on the table in front of them. As the waiters clapped, the two women hugged.
"For you, Katrina. Only the happiest of birthdays with many more to follow." Micki Kamerev smiled as she pushed a strand of hair behind one ear.
"There will be. My time is just beginning." Micki's younger sister eyed the cake with wide eyes. She remembered a life in Russia where bread was both a treat and a novelty.
Across the room, a table with three men sitting around it watched with various degrees of appreciation. One of the men, Anton Mayakovsky, motioned to a nearby waiter. "The birthday celebration over there. Send them a bottle of something expensive and light." When the waiter nodded, Mayakovsky caught his arm. "And make sure they know it's from me."
"Of course, sir. I'll take care of it immediately." The young waiter nodded as he turned and walked away.
The two women were toasting each other when the waiter brought over a bottle of champagne. "From the gentleman at that table. With his compliments on your birthday."
Micki and Katrina looked to see Mayakovsky staring at them. The three men raised their glasses in a salute.
"Thank him for us." Micki coolly nodded. She lowered her head and adjusted the linen napkin on her lap. "That pig."
Mayakovsky looked at the man next to him. "What time is it, Alexei?"
Alexei checked his watch. "Eleven-thirty. He is late."
Mayakovsky shrugged. "Where else is he going to go?"
The door opened briefly allowing the noise of the traffic in the street to interfere with the gentle strains of Russian music playing in the dining room. A young man entered, carrying a silver case. He looked around the dining room, then slowly began walking towards the rear. Behind him, another man entered and followed.
Katrina looked up as the young man approached. "Sergei!"
Micki unsuccessfully reached for her as Katrina got to her feet. "Katrina, no!" she hissed. She looked around with concern as Katrina and Sergei briefly hugged.
"I thought you'd be here earlier." Katrina gently touched his cheek. "You're ill."
"I'm fine," Sergei assured her. "Sit with Micki. Let me handle this." He lightly kissed Katrina on the cheek.
Micki pulled her sister's arm, urging her to sit down.
Sergei turned and walked towards Mayakovsky's table. Just as he halted at the table, someone shoved him from behind. Startled, Sergei fell to the floor. As he fell, the silver case slid from his fingertips. "Nyet!" Sergei yelled. Then he covered his head, instinctively drawing himself up into a small ball.
The man who had shoved Sergei had pulled out an automatic pistol and began shooting at the men sitting at Mayakovsky's table. All three men at the table, immediately returned fire.
Patrons screamed as glassware exploded. Men and women began either running for the exits or hid behind overturned tables. Russian curses could be heard from the safety of the kitchen.
Sergei saw the man who had shoved him lean down and grab the silver case. Firing to cover his retreat, the man quickly left the restaurant. He glanced over his shoulder to see Mayakovsky slowly getting to his feet. Both men who had been with him lay dead, their blood staining the formerly pristine white tablecloth. With a quick look to be sure of Katrina's safety, Sergei ran towards the kitchen and out the back door.
Thirty minutes later, Captain Simon Banks stood watching as his officers
sorted through the mess. He grabbed the elbow of a nearby investigator. "Tell
everyone to take the time to do this right. No mistakes. And no one, I repeat, no one
gets into this crime scene without my authorization. And I don't care what network they're
He turned to see Jim Ellison flashing his badge at the uniformed officer on the door. The young patrolman glanced at Simon, who nodded. "Let 'em in," he called. He wasn't surprised to see Blair Sandburg, who'd been partially hidden behind Jim, quickly follow.
"Mmmmm…nice threads, Simon," Blair grinned. "Moonlighting tonight?"
Simon scowled. "I was at a dinner for the commissioner. I got paged while the mayor was in the middle of one of his more captivating speeches." He barely restrained from rolling his eyes. "I consider myself fortunate in that I was able to leave."
"What happened?" Jim asked, his eyes scanning the trashed room.
"He continued droning on about his re-election," Simon grumbled.
"I mean here, Simon," Jim patiently explained.
"Some guy came in and shot up the place," Simon grunted. "We're just lucky only two people got killed."
"Witnesses?" Jim crisply asked.
"In Little Moscow?" Simon shook his head. "Nobody's talking. Apparently they were all diving for cover."
Blair had been looking at the room with wide-eyed horror. "Can't say I blame them, man."
Jim nodded as Dan Wolfe approached. "Captain? We'd like to bag and tag 'em. The sooner we do some autopsies, the sooner you can get some answers."
"Anything you can tell us so far?"
The medical examiner shrugged his massive shoulders. "Well, it's preliminary, but their teeth are odd."
"Odd?" Blair frowned.
"The fillings are steel and crudely placed." Dan nodded. "Not my idea of dental work."
"Go ahead and remove the bodies," Simon ordered. He saw the frown on Jim's face as Dan walked away. "What is it, Jim?"
"They were in a gulag," Jim quietly answered. "Probably guards."
"How do you know that?" Simon's eyes narrowed.
"A guy I knew in the CIA told me about an interrogation," Jim briefly explained. "The guy had a mouthful of steel fillings. All courtesy of the Russian prison system."
"Yewww." Blair shivered as he turned away from where Dan was supervising placing the bodies in black body bags.
"If they were guards, we may be looking at some sort of payback," Simon mused.
"With all this?" Blair waved his arms to indicate the surrounding carnage. "Isn't that a lot of overkill?" He saw the sour looks on his companions' faces. "Sorry. Bad pun. Completely unintentional."
"He's right, Simon," Jim pointed out. "There was a lot of firepower used. Could be a mob hit."
"Done to make sure everybody is scared and keeps quiet," Simon sighed. "We need answers and fast." He frowned as his pager beeped. Looking at the display, he grunted. "Ah. The mayor. Why am I not surprised?" He looked at Jim as he replaced the pager. "Keep me informed. I don't want any nasty surprises." Pulling out his cell phone, he walked away.
Jim glanced to one corner of the room where an officer was talking with two very attractive women. He walked towards them. One of the women seemed to be talking quite a bit as opposed to the near-monosyllabic responses of the other restaurant patrons.
"I have told you everything," Micki wearily complained. "How much longer are you going to keep us here?"
"I'm afraid as long as necessary," Jim smoothly apologized, glancing at the officer's ID. "Thanks, Office Brannigan. I'll take it from here." He noted Blair's presence at his shoulder. "I'm Detective Ellison. This is my associate, Blair Sandburg. And you are…?"
"Mikhaila Kamerev," Micki introduced herself. "We were here to celebrate my sister, Katrina's, birthday. A man came in and began shooting. That is all we know."
Blair noticed Katrina sitting in a chair. She looked more tired and weary than most of the other restaurant patrons. He looked around and found an undamaged carafe of water. Checking to be sure the water was clean, he found a glass and poured her some water to drink.
"What did he look like?" Jim probed.
Micki sighed. "Perhaps six feet in height. Brown hair. Two hundred pounds." She smiled a silent thanks at Blair when Katrina began sipping the water. "We had never seen him before."
"No scars? Visible tattoos?" Jim queried.
"We were busy trying to stay alive to notice such details," Micki snapped.
"We were just having a quiet party," Katrina's voice trembled. "We know nothing."
"If you're not comfortable talking here, we can go somewhere else," Blair offered.
Micki exchanged a wry look with Katrina. "Is that what you ask all your witnesses?"
"Why don't I give you my card? If either of you remember anything, please call." Jim handed Micki his card. He tugged on Blair's arm and walked away.
"I wasn't trying a pick-up line!" Blair hissed.
"Good thing," Jim replied.
"Look, they're scared," Blair reasoned. "To them, the cops are KGB. There's a whole trust factor involved here beyond what you're used to."
"Sandburg, they're not in Mother Russia or the gulag!" Jim snapped. "This isn't the first time I've been here or run into this. I've got three unsolved murders that Homicide bounced up to Major Crimes because they've got more than they can handle." He took a deep, angry breath. "They came to this country for a reason, supposedly to be free. They need to act like it."
"Jim, all I'm saying is you've got to find some way to break through the barrier," Blair calmly argued. "It's not that easy for them to trust."
Jim sighed and looked away. "That works both ways, Junior." He automatically moved away from the door as he felt someone approach.
"Detective Ellison. Mr. Sandburg. I must apologize for my angry words," Micki quietly said. She had one arm wrapped around Katrina who seemed very shaken. "You are trying to do a difficult job. I did not mean to make it more difficult for you."
"I understand, Ms. Kamerev," Jim answered.
"I am the editor of a neighborhood newspaper. Sometimes people talk to me. If I hear of something that would help you, I will call," Micki promised. She urged Katrina to walk, and they left the restaurant.
Jim's eyes narrowed as Blair began humming the theme of 'From Russian With Love.' He turned to say something, but spotted something metallic lying in the ruins of a bullet-blasted table. He walked towards the object, pulling on a pair of latex gloves.
"What?" Blair asked, eagerly following.
Jim squatted and picked up the small piece of metal that resembled a charm of interlaced number sevens. "It's hot," he murmured in surprise.
"Hot? Hot how?" Blair frowned.
Jim slid the metal into a small evidence bag and sealed it. He stared at his fingers and gently rubbed them together. "My fingers are tingling."
The Next Day – Simon's Office
Simon waved his hand for Jim and Blair to enter his office. He leaned back in his chair, rubbing his forehead as he listened to the voice on the other end of the telephone.
Jim shrugged at Blair's silent, questioning look. He gently closed the door behind them.
"You're absolutely positive?" Simon anxiously pressed. "Yes, I know you know your job. No, I didn't mean to…it's just not what I was expecting, okay?" He paused and refrained from rolling his eyes. "I understand. Of course, this is on a need-to-know basis. No one talks about this. I'll let you know how we're going to handle this." He slammed the receiver in its cradle and looked up at the other two men. "That piece of metal you found last night? Turns out it's radioactive."
"Radioactive?" Blair squeaked. "You mean…like Chernobyl?" His voice raised a half-octave.
"It's not dangerous," Simon quickly assured him. "Just loaded with enough…whatever…to get readings." He took a deep breath and glared at Jim. "Tell me this isn't related to those shootings last night. Because, if it is, the Feds will have to be involved. And you know what that means."
Jim shrugged. "No one's talking yet, sir. But we'll get some answers."