Summary: Someone decides Jim needs to be taught a lesson.
The elderly Gypsy woman laughed as she gathered her potions together and tossed them into the copper bowl already sitting over the fire. She picked up the lock of curly dark hair from her lap and carefully placed it into the bowl then stirred the mixture together with a small hickory twig. Bowing her head she muttered the words she knew by heart then dropped a photograph into the flames below the bowl and watched as it curled and then disappeared into the embers. Standing up, she gathered her voluminous skirts above her feet then turned to her son, waiting impatiently at her side. “Come, Marco,” she said, “we must leave now. We have one final stop to make before we leave this place behind us.”
Marco shook his head as he followed her and helped her into the beat up Volkswagen camper they called home. “What mischief are you about now, Mother?” he asked.
She grinned over at him as he climbed behind the wheel and set the camper in motion, following the rest of the caravan of cars heading out ahead of them. “No mischief, son,” she said, “just teaching a lesson.” Laughing to herself again, she turned and watched as the campsite gradually disappeared behind them into the distance.
They stopped in Cascade one last time.
“You will be safe here,” the Gypsy woman said as their passenger alighted from the vehicle. She handed over a piece of paper. “Give this to your friend when he comes home.”
Jim Ellison looked up from his paperwork as his captain, Simon Banks, tapped him on the shoulder. “Nearly finished, sir,” he said, signing his name at the bottom of the report he’d been working on then handing the file up to the captain.
Banks shook his head with a rueful grin. “Can’t say I’m sorry to see the end of this case,” he said. “Gypsies. Never thought we’d see them in Cascade.”
Jim stood up and stretched. “I’ll head out to the campsite later and make sure they have really gone,” he said, “but given their propensity for moving on once their little scams are discovered I doubt they’d hang around.”
“Pity we only had enough evidence to charge one of them,” Banks replied. “I can’t imagine the rest weren’t in on it too.”
Jim shrugged. “Gypsies close ranks when they’re caught, according to Blair. I guess they figured Tomas was their sacrificial lamb and worth giving up if it meant the rest of them got to stay out of jail.” He sighed. “I feel kind of sorry for the kids though. Can’t be much of a life for them.”
“That sympathy I hear in your voice, Detective? Seems like only this afternoon you were calling them little terrors.”
Jim looked down at his mud-spattered and water-stained jeans and t-shirt. “I’d like to see you keep your temper after you’d been tackled by a bunch of gypsy kids and pushed into a muddy creek, sir.”
“I thought that Gypsy woman was gonna beat you over the head with that ladle she had in her hand when you told her to keep the kids under control,” Simon said, “and I have to admit I wished I’d had a camera handy when you walked out of that creek looking like something the cat dragged in.” He patted Jim’s shoulder again. “Head on home. I’ll send Rafe and Brown out to make sure they’ve definitely moved on. We’ve sent warnings to all the towns where they might show up, just in case they decide that even with their ringleader in jail they can start up another scam. Where is Sandburg by the way?”
“He went out to say goodbye to the gypsies this morning before he went to the university. Wanted to see if they needed anything when I told him we were probably going to pick Tomas up today. You know Blair; he’s a soft touch.” Jim laughed then turned and grabbed his jacket off the coatrack. “I’ll see you tomorrow, sir.”
“Yep,” Simon said, hiding a grin as Jim walked to the door, his muddy shoes squelching with each step.
Jim sighed with relief as he walked down the steps from his bedroom. Showered and dressed in clean clothes he felt a hundred per cent better than he had when he’d left work. He went into the kitchen and pulled out a take out menu from the drawer there. Blair would be home soon and after putting in a full day of lectures at the university, Jim was pretty sure he’d be happy to settle for pizza for dinner too. He was just about to pick up the phone to place the order when someone knocked on the door.
Opening it, he could see no one at first till he looked down. There stood a small boy aged about 4. He had shoulder length dark curls and wide blue eyes. His clothes looked miles too big for him and Jim wondered if he was one of the gypsy kids. Wouldn’t surprise him if they’d packed up and left and forgotten to take one of the brats with them. The kid looked a little scared so Jim hunched down in front of him and fixed what he hoped was a friendly look on his face. “Hey there,” he said, “who are you?”
“Blair,” the boy said.
“Blair’s not here right now,” Jim replied, standing up to lean round the door to see if anyone else was with the kid. “Is your mommy a friend of Blair’s?”
The boy shook his head and pointed at himself. “Blair,” he said again.
Jim grinned as he stood up. He had to admit the kid was a dead ringer for Sandburg. “Stay there,” he told the kid, walking over to pick up the phone. 'Hey, Chief, looks like one of your bed post notches has come home to roost,' he imagined himself saying as soon as Blair picked up the phone. Chuckling at his mangled metaphor he dialed Blair’s cellphone then looked around in surprise as it rang… from the doorway.
The kid turned around and dragged an oversized backpack from behind him across the floor to his feet. Bending down, he opened a front pocket and pulled out a phone then flipped it open. Never taking his eyes from Jim’s face, he said into the phone. “Hi.”
“What the-” Jim whispered, dropping the phone back onto the table and walking back across to the kid, hunkering down in front of him again. “Blair?”
“I have to give you this,” Blair said, holding up a folded sheet of paper.
Jim opened it and felt his mouth drop open.
"You need to learn patience, Detective," the note read. "Perhaps this little one can help teach you. Fear not, this is still your friend. The child holds the adult safe within."