tried to block the sounds out of her
head, but it was difficult. Even though the police had cordoned off the
and even though the faint noise was coming from down the street almost
yards away, the music carried on the still, morning air. Just a spry
rinky tink piano, bringing to mind images of Paul Newman and Robert
some reason. Sara let the camera rewind, wiped her forehead and glanced
Warrick, who was industriously lifting prints off of a windowsill.
am I thinking of con men?” she asked him softly. Warrick flashed
grin, cocking his head towards the open window
Leaf Rag . . . One of the first pieces I ever learned to play on the
piano, much to my grandmother’s regret.” Seeing
Sara’s confusion, he
elaborated. “I didn’t have the hand span then that I do
now, and was forever
hittin’ the wrong notes at the end of the syncopated phrase.
Drove her crazy
for a while.”
like it’s doing to me NOW,” Sara sighed. Warrick shook his
folded the plastic cover over the last print he’d done, carefully
from that yard sale down the street. I guess a burglary on the block
doesn’t make a difference if you’re trying to get rid of
your junk anyway.”
rose up from her squatting position near the door, looking thoughtful;
you’re as bad as Catherine. You’re thinking about checking
Sara conceded with a twisted smile, “I mean, we’re mostly
here—got a few minutes. There’s nothing wrong with looking,
just try that line at a nudist colony—“ he snorted back,
headed out, reaching the
was a big one, obviously the joint effort of several families, and Sara
could see they’d taken some time to organize things in broad
strokes. Most of
the books, hardback and paperback were neatly stacked along one side of
driveway. Grinning, she spotted a few girlhood favorites, and mentally
herself to revisit Wonka’s chocolate factory if the price was
people wandered in front of her, picking things up and examining them,
glanced around trying to see the pattern of the place.
stuff and kid’s things on the far left side, by the station
One-eyed stuffed animals and hard-looking Barbies were sitting there
other well-loved toys. Beyond it was a table full of appliances, from
rollers and electric knives to blenders and crock pots. And here was
of the ragtime, emanating from a kitschy little plastic player piano
a scrolling backdrop inside it. Sara bent down to look at it more
nearly jumping when Catherine came up behind her and loudly
wonder if it takes requests?”
the Sound of Silence?” Sara countered with a grin. Catherine
reached one slender finger out, flicking a little red switch on the
side of the
music box. The song cut off mid-tinkle, and a few other customers
relief. Sara managed a discreet high five with Catherine as they turned
at the rest of the sale.
me your tired, your poor—“ the older woman sighed, casting
gaze over the sale. Sara hid a smile and her gaze wandered back to the
just as Warrick wandered up, towering over most of the other shoppers.
yet—how long have we got?” Catherine smiled at him. He
checked his watch.
shift ends in about half an hour, and it will take up that long just to
get back—hey, is that a Beta machine?” Warrick demanded,
fascinated with the
obsolete recorder. Sara stepped out of his way and he knelt to examine
fingers reverently stroking it. A pot-bellied man in khaki shorts and a
Hawaiian shirt came up, eyeing Warrick with a knowing smile.
is, in almost new condition. It’s got a tape stuck in it, so
to sell it for five bucks. Gotta basket full of tapes to go with it,
blank, some used—interested?”
fished out his wallet while Catherine laughed.
going to bargain?”
on Cath--five bucks IS a bargain—“ he mumbled. Sara had
wandered over to
the books and was checking out the titles happily, pulling a volume
there and tucking it into her arms. With a sigh, Catherine moved to the
jewelry, eyeing the display with a little smile of her own. One corner
amused her immensely—a collection of cat pins, bracelets,
pendants and watches
had been neatly laid out on the card table.
like SOMEone was a collector,” she commented softly. Across the
solemn girl about Lindsay’s age nodded back.
Kitty. She died, but it’s okay because she’s probably in
where the angels change the litter boxes for you and every pet has a
name and a
blinked; the girl flashed a grin, adding, “Yeah, she was a pretty
cool Grandma even if she was a little kooky at times.”
walked away with a sterling silver pin of a sleeping Siamese, pinning
it onto her black shirt as Warrick hefted a shopping bag and looked at
. . . “
see you gave in to full price there—“ came her soft retort,
even as she
blushed a little at his compliment. Warrick glanced down at the bag and
technology is always a contest of wills.”
why aren’t you driving a Yugo then?” Catherine pointed out
fought a grin unsuccessfully as they moved to round up Sara.
I thrive on challenges, not masochism. You ready to go, Sara?”
was still kneeling next to the rows of volumes, one arm full.
hang on. Hey, do you think Grissom would like his own copy of Arachnomania:
a guide to keeping Scorpions and Tarantulas? It’s only fifty
held up the slender paperback questioningly. Warrick gave a snort.
sure you want to encourage him on keeping any MORE of them?”
point—“ Sara wavered, but Catherine shook her head
go on and get it—even Grissom needs a hobby, weird as it
paid for their purchases and strolled slowly back to the
*** *** ***
Warrick managed to unscrew the last corner of the beta machine, and gingerly lifted the back of it off, setting it aside on the light table. He carefully tipped the machine, then gently inserted an index finger and gave a little push; the jammed tape popped out of the bottom, clattering onto the table top, bits of brown filament shreds dangling from it. Warrick grinned to himself.
triumphs over engineering yet again,” came his satisfied little
observation. Nick strode in and stared as Warrick began reassembling
of the machine.
that the piece of junk you picked up at that sale yesterday?”
not junk. It’s a classic, man.”
loser—Betamax lost out on the recording industry like what?
years ago?” Nick insisted with a bit of a sneer.
All I know is that I’ve got a quality VCR here for five bucks,
is just fine with me,” Warrick shot back. Nick picked up the tape
it, reading the faded label. Or trying to.
and Roger . . . dunno, sounds sort of suspicious, Warrick—“
came the sly
innuendo. The other man rolled his eyes and glanced down at the paper
fishing out a tape at random.
picked up somebody’s ancient porno. Ah what the hell, I can
always tape over it . . .“ he grumbled, tightening the screws. As
he set it
down, he looked over to see Nick still standing there, smirking.
to test it out? Archie’s on break, so we can hook it up to his
yeah, now that it’s working you’re willing to admit
it’s got potential—“
a slow night,” Nick grinned, unrepentant.
carried the machine to Archie’s lab and within a few minutes
hook it up; Nick efficiently rigged the wires while Warrick guiltily
unlabeled tape out of the bag. He popped it in as Nick came to stand
him, arms crossed.
guys, where’s Archie and what are you doing here?” Grissom
had slipped in
so quietly that both men started. Nick tried to look innocent; on the
the gray fuzz cut away to a large and opulent bed and the sound of
. . . “ Nick began, face reddening. Warrick shot his partner in
disgusted look and tried for dignity with Grissom.
to see if the Betamax I got at the yard sale works or not.”
. . . say SO—“ countered Grissom, who was staring with mild
the screen. A pair of bouncing female bodies filled the screen,
the definite squeaking of bedsprings, yet more giggles and a low voice
off-screen. Nick flushed a deeper shade of brick; Grissom’s brows
and he stared at the monitor. Warrick began to fumble for the
Grissom’s hand shot out waving impatiently.
heard that before—“ he muttered. Both men shot him
incredulous looks, but
he shook his head, adding, “The voice. And so have you
scene shifted as the camera panned left, catching the gleam of bare
a third body came into view.
giggles stretched out, and a low slightly hyper word rolled out in long
syllables. The woman had her naked profile to the camera, curved and
freckled, her long hair obscuring her face.
I don’t WANT to do this . . .”
on Cath, be a good girl. You know you’ve got what it takes, baby.
just get on the bed—“
the three of them stared at the tape a moment longer, then--
Warrick yelped, jabbing the buttons frantically; the tape popped out
in a quick mechanical lurch, jutting out of the machine.
sudden, painful silence in the AV lab was deafening and no one moved
long, long time. Finally Grissom drew in a breath and shifted his
Nick to Warrick and squared his shoulders.
I think you’ve got a big decision to make.”
he shot back, stance tensing instantly, green eyes narrowing. Grissom
YOUR property now. You bought it, and regardless of whatever anyone
in this room feels, any decision about it ultimately rests with
Grissom! I—“ he got no further as a pager went off; Nick
fished his out,
waved it and slunk off, leaving the Grissom and Warrick alone in the AV
The two men stared at each other.
shrugged and spoke again, softly but urgently. “Think about it
don’t rush into anything, Warrick. Whatever you decide, let me
What else can I do but destroy the tape, man—“
you sure that’s the best thing to do?” Grissom asked with
slow care in his
voice. It was enough to make Warrick pause, and he shook his head in a
wave of confusion. He stepped closer to Grissom, crossing his arms.
I’m not sure, but it’s better than letting Catherine know
anybody saw it!”
He shifted tones, his voice dropping low, “Look, what we saw is
part of her
past, and a damned ugly part, Gris—You really think anything good
will come of
telling her about it?”
don’t know,” Grissom shot back quietly. “It’s
not my past, Warrick.”
gave him a keen, soul-searching look and Warrick flinched a little
under that intense blue scrutiny. He rubbed his nose.
dilemma, Warrick. They come up periodically in life, and you have to
deal with them. This isn’t evidence in a case. This is
that, Grissom walked away, leaving Warrick swaying slightly,
(Dear reader—what should Warrick do? Send me your views and reasoning behind it to: