MaryAnne spent the afternoon settling into her room at the Jigsaw, thinking of her next hit, and then making some modifications to Maverick. Basically, these consisted of pulling fuses and wires. The back taillights were now non-functional, bulbs in the fender markers were removed and the high-beams were rigged to be permanent every time the lights were turned on. The inside courtesy lights and dome light were also removed.
She stood next to the side of the car and thought of Diablo and everything on that car that was non-legal. Lookie Brian, I'm delegalizing Maverick? Ain't you proud of me? She thought a little bitterly. She still couldn't believe he and Rosco were in Atlanta...most likely looking for her. Now she really had to make Maverick as indistinguishable as possible.
"New paint job would be good..." She wondered if Syndicate ran a chop shop operation anywhere...and would they repaint her car. For now, she would have to make due with tinkering with the lights.
Nearing early evening, MaryAnne changed into black jeans and a tight white top that would have made Daisy proud. Over the top, she put on a black denim jacket. She combed her hair and looked at herself in the mirror in her room. MaryAnne had never been comfortable with trying to look seductive, so she figured she looked fine, seeing as she was uncomfortable with the woman that looked back at her. She picked up her 9mm and tucked it in the inside pocket of the jacket. She straightened the jacket, tugged at the revealing white top and made one last adjustment to her hair. "Good enough," she said and headed out of her room. She walked down the hall and down the stairs, ignoring the appreciative looks from some of the men as she passed.
When MaryAnne walked through the bar towards the exit, scattered wolf whistles greeted her. Mixed with those were a few words of sincere encouragement. She was one of them, now, and despite their teasing, the Syndicate respected her.
Rusty stepped into her path, raising up his sunglasses. He looked as if he'd been in a fight, but he was healthy enough to give MaryAnne the old once-over from her boots to her hair. "Just checkin'," he said at her expression. "You reminded me of Brian for a second there, but I'm happier to see you." He waggled his eyebrows.
MaryAnne smirked and placed a hand on her hip. "I can tell, you took yer glasses off." She chuckled.
"Keep looking like this, honey, and you might get me to take off more than that." Whoops and rough laughter followed Rusty's remark, the rest of the boys enjoying his humor.
MaryAnne waited for the laughter to die down. Her expression was amused, she had been on the receiving end of various comments while working at the Boar's Nest. She looked at everybody in the bar and then straightened Rusty's jacket with one hand. "Naw that's okay. You look just fine the way you are." She paused and in a lower voice that could still be heard by everyone said, "I wouldn't want you to scare anybody." She stopped fixing the jacket and smiled at Rusty, showing she could joke around.
The hoots and guffaws were for MaryAnne's side now, and Rusty was man enough to take the ribbing. Still grinning, he let his glasses drop back into place. "Don't you have a job to do or something, or you gonna pick on me all night?"
"Hmm...I dunno, it's temptin' to stay here and trade barbs with ya. Khee! But alas, it won't make me any money. So I must give y'all my regrets for this evenin'." She looked towards the crowd.
"Atta girl, business before pleasure!" somebody shouted, and a chorus of cheers and whistles broke out again. It took only a half a minute for the chant of Col-trane! Col-trane! Col-trane! to start up, and somebody put a coin in the jukebox and started playing Back in Black to accompany it. It was a hero's send-off.
MaryAnne smiled and gave a wave to the gathered crowd. The cheering and the song blaring off the jukebox gave her a good shot of adrenaline and she hummed the tune as she headed out the doors of the Jigsaw.
As she climbed into Maverick, the city lights of Atlanta were blazing around her like low-hanging stars. Neon colors glared off the hood of the Firebird as MaryAnne drove out of the inner city to the uptown district, where the stores didn't have bars on their windows, and shoppers browsed fearlessly in the urban evening.
Heritage Jewelers was one of the prominent stores in this area, having served the well-heeled clientele of Atlanta since the 1800's. The cars parked along the curb spoke enough for the breed of customers; Lincolns, Cadillacs, and the occasional expensive foreign car lined both sides of the well-lit streets. MaryAnne found a parking spot not too far from the store, but not in front if it, either. She parked Maverick between a stately Buick Regal and a Lincoln, taking care to leave enough room between her Firebird and the other car's bumpers. She would be leaving in a hurry.
MaryAnne looked around before stepping out of Maverick. A few people were walking the sidewalks, barely paying any attention to her. Placing her empty purse under her arm, she walked down the sidewalk towards the store. She looked in through the window, taking a quick survey of the inside of the store as she pulled the door open. A little bell rang as she entered and the clerk behind the counter to the right looked up at her. She smiled and looked as though she was just a typical young woman with a lot of money coming to buy jewelry.
The clerk wasn't sure about her having a lot of money, considering how she was dressed, but MaryAnne did have other pluses going for her. His attention was then distracted to an approaching customer.
MaryAnne looked in the glass cases at the jewelery on display. Diamond tennis bracelets valued anywhere between five hundred and fifteen hundred dollars were displayed. Fourteen karat gold bracelets, necklaces and earrings with emeralds, diamonds, sapphires.... and big bucks.
She walked slowly along the case, admiring the jewels and and their price tags. A quarter karat emerald cut diamond ring...retail price: $4,500. My whole damn week's kitty right there! Holy smokes...the only time in my life I'm ever gonna get this close to this kinda jewelery and it's to steal it. Wonderful.
She frowned. The higher the price, the higher the stakes. Despite this side of town being without bars on the windows, Heritage Jewelers hadn't stayed in business because of sheer luck. They were armed, and MaryAnne knew it. Question was...after the alarm had been tripped, how long would she have to get away? She knew she couldn't be selective with the jewels, only a few pieces could be taken.
Now....how to get them out of the cases...
The other customer left the store and the clerk began to walk around the case that went around the whole store and came up to where MaryAnne was admiring the sparkling array of jewels that were displayed. She quickly glanced behind her and found she was the only customer in the store.
"Can I help you ma'am?" he asked. He looked at her like she was about to be a waste of his time.
MaryAnne smiled and decided to make it all worth his while. In a Scarlet O'Hara tinged accent she said, "Well, I was just admirin' all this beautiful jewelry you have here..."
He nodded. "Yes, we have probably the finest selection in town."
"You certainly do..." She caught his eye long enough to distract him and she leaned on the glass counter top. The revealing top adjusted just right and the clerk had to fain clearing his throat to get back on track.
"This little ol' ring here," MaryAnne said, touching her fingernail to the glass and pointing down to the 1/4 karat diamond. "How much for that one?"
"Uhh..." He leaned to look, catching a wiff of MaryAnne's perfume. It smelled sweet. "That's four thousand five hundred."
"My..." She looked up at him. "So much money for million year old coal."
The clerk frowned.
"I'm serious! Diamonds are made from coal that's been sittin' and burnin' for a few million years." She smiled at him. "Of course nobody thinks about that." She looked down at the ring. "Can I see it up close?"
The clerk took a set of keys out of his pocket and separated one out. He unlocked the back of the case and removed the ring. MaryAnne carefully took it from him in her hand.
"Wow..." She breathed studying the ring for a moment and then looked at him. "Gotta admit it's the most beautiful result of nature. I can see why it's worth over four thousand dollars."
He nodded. He took his eyes off her long enough to look at the ring, which suddenly disappeared and MaryAnne's closed fists suddenly hit him in the side of the head. As he lurched sideways, MaryAnne hopped the glass case and pulled her gun from the inside pocket of her black jacket and she took another hit at the unfortunate clerk. He went down, stunned.
"Sorry..." she whispered. Quickly, she tossed the ring in to her empty purse. She grabbed a few other pieces of jewelry from the already open case and stuffed those in the purse as well. Satisfied she had enough, she closed the purse and jumped the case again.
She ran two steps towards the door when a very rich looking man and woman were coming in. She stopped in her tracks and waited for them to come in. "Hi," she said all smiles. "He's in the back room, he should be out any minute."
They nodded and said thanks and MaryAnne was out the door. She sprinted down the sidewalk. She flew around the corner and then stopped dead again.
A Cop! GAAAH!! Good Lord if there wasn't a time when MaryAnne didn't want to see a fellow police officer! And standing near Maverick, investigating the car! She ducked back around the corner looking down towards the jewelry store and then back around to where the cop was still hanging around her Firebird.
MaryAnne cursed and swore in her mind. She looked up at the streetlight she had parked under. Brilliant. Shoulda just parked at the damn impound yard! The good news was Maverick was empty of all her clothes and weapons. The bad news was...she now had no wheels. A fortune in jewels in her purse and no car!!
Go away...go away! That ain't the car that robbed no donut shop. No sir. Go find a jaywalker or somebody with a busted taillight for cryin' out loud.
He wasn't leaving. She heard him call in on his radio the description of the car and then ask about the robbery of the donut shop. That was it. Once Maverick's description was confirmed MaryAnne was out of luck.
It was fun while it lasted, old friend. The Atlanta PD better take good care of ya. MaryAnne had no time for tearful separation. She quickly left the corner of the building and slipped through two parked cars, crossing the street Maverick was parked on and disappearing down the other sidewalk.
She held the purse close to her and kept her eyes up, watching everything ahead of her. She glanced at the parked cars as she passed, figuring that since she'd now committed armed robbery twice might as well add grand theft auto to the list. She walked out of the light of another street lamp and the sidewalk was fairly quiet. A dog barked off in the distance and the familiar wail of a police siren could be heard. She would have to move quick.
Parked on the corner, out of the direct light of a street lamp sat a Lincoln Town Car. It was a little older than most of the cars on the street so MaryAnne took a chance. She casually walked to the driver door, pulled the handle...
And heard it click open.
And the patron saint of criminals smiled upon her... She quickly sat in the car and closed the door. In her pocket she had carried her lock picking kit. It wasn't a screwdriver, but they would have to do. Her hands moved quickly in the dark under the steering wheel. Unable to check her work, she crossed her fingers and turned the ignition.
When the car started she flinched in surprise. Wasting no time, the lights of the Lincoln came on and MaryAnne pulled it away from the curb, driving casually away from the street that would soon be swarmed with commotion.
***** ***** *****
The distant echo of sirens was starting to give Brian the chills. It seemed like the noise hadn't stopped since he and Rosco had arrived in Atlanta. "There playin' my song," he said to himself as he looked out the window.
Brian and Rosco had found accommodations of sorts, and the squalid apartment above the pawnshop was anything but comforting. It had been chosen for it's location, being across the street and a few doors down from the Jigsaw. Looking at the gritty Syndicate fortress through the window was as close to his old homestead that Brian wanted to get. "You really think MaryAnne's involved with this again, don't ya," he said to Rosco.
The Sheriff sighed as he sat down. "It's the only thing that would make sense. The FBI particularly don't want you and me here in town, or even lookin' for her. The Atlanta cops think yer dead, and the Syndicate more than likely does too, which adds more to the Commander's threat of puttin' you in protective custody." Rosco looked up at Brian. "My theory is they've got her in there for some reason, and if you were to suddenly reappear...it could look...odd."
"If I were to suddenly reappear, it wouldn't be for long." Brian chuckled humorlessly. Then he dropped the facade altogether. "I don't like her chances," he said suddenly.
"I don't either." Rosco got up and walked to the window and looked out at the Jigsaw. "She's a hell of a cop but..." He shook his head, unable to fathom MaryAnne committing such crimes like robbing a donut shop.
"Have you thought of the other possibility? That we're wrong? That she’s not undercover?"
Rosco swallowed, bitterly. "I have. And it makes me sick." He turned to Brian. "And if we are wrong...I ain't got nobody to blame but myself."
Brian had no words of condolence. "It's shared guilt, Rosco. I mean, look at us...they say you were the best Sheriff in the state once, before you went...crooked. And I was a high-standin' member of the Syndicate, before I started reformin'. It's not beyond MaryAnne to take this road, much as I hate the thought. They could get to her, Rosco, no matter why she's in there. The Syndicate can make ya feel damn good about bein' real bad..."
The Sheriff was quiet for a long moment. He looked away from Brian and back to the window, his blue eyes intense with determination. "All the more reason to get her out..." he growled. But even as he spoke, Rosco had the terrible feeling that maybe...he'd already lost MaryAnne for good. What if we are wrong? There would be nothing he could do to get her back if it was so...
Rosco's shoulders slumped a little and he looked away from the window.
"We could do it," Brian said softly. "We could get her out. We'd risk killin' both her and ourselves in the process, but we could do it." With his words, Brian reached into his jacket and partially withdrew the handgun he had concealed there. "I figured it would pay to be ready for anythin'. I picked up this piece downstairs while you were bringin' up the bags. Though Lord knows I don't wanna pull this thing on MaryAnne for any reason."
Rosco looked at the handgun in his cousin's hand. He
then met Brian's gaze and although his look was questioning, he didn't
appear to have anything else to offer for ideas.
"How?" he asked simply.
"Same tried and true method I've used to persuade other folks, in the past. Brute force. We find her, we tail her, and when the timin's right...we don't ask questions, we don't reason with her, we don't let her see us comin'. We conk her over the head if we have to, but we get her the hell home." Brian's voice thickened. "She'll never forgive us, but I'd rather have her hate me the rest of my life, than to see her gone."
Rosco paused and then nodded taking a deep breath. "Works for me, even tho' with MaryAnne it may be easier said than done. But we'll do it...somehow."
"You'll lose your badge for good, ya know. The Feds will see to that, if she's really actin' undercover."
Rosco eyed his cousin. "Then Commander Mayson shoulda told me upfront when I asked him. Or they shoulda been more proactive in gettin' you and me off the streets of Atlanta."
Brian nodded, then pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it up. Once he'd had a long drag from it, he spoke again. "Couple more things. What're you gonna do if MaryAnne wasn't undercover? If she is frustrated with police work and fed up with waitressin' and she went off the deep end...." Brian paused so Rosco could see where this was leading. He looked at the Sheriff's badge, pointedly.
Rosco contemplated Brian's words. "I don't know," he said. I'll burn that bridge when I get to it."
***** ***** *****
When MaryAnne saw the Jigsaw up ahead, she was actually relieved. She quickly turned the Lincoln down the street and parked it behind the hotel and club. She grabbed up her stash and hurried into the back door of the Jigsaw.
Her quick entrance startled the door guards, but they relaxed and put their guns away once they recognized her. "The Don's up by the bar," one of them said, stepping aside to let MaryAnne through.
She nodded and marched down the darkened hall. She then came out into the glow of the neon signs and spotted Spade sitting at the bar. The man sitting next to Spade got up and left, giving MaryAnne a place to sit. Spade gestured her forward.
She sat down and opened the bag. "I got good news and some not so good news. Not good for me anyways."
Spade looked at her blandly, his hooded eyes never changing expression. "Heard about it on the news. Losing your own car isn't the worst mistake you could have made. How did you make it back here?"
"I swiped another car. A nice Lincoln. Owner left the door unlocked." MaryAnne looked at Spade, expecting some kind of reprimand for her goof. She certainly would understand if one came...
"Where's that car now?"
"Out back. If you so desire, I can get rid of the car right quick..."
Spade slapped the bar hard with an open palm and barked a command. "RUSTY! BRUNO!” The two men rushed up at the order. "There's a hot Lincoln out back. Ditch it! NOW!" The tone in Spade's voice sent the two thugs running for the rear exit. The bar went deathly silent.
The Syndicate's kingpin turned to MaryAnne, his cool exterior tinged with menace. "Miss Coltrane, you made a mistake losing your car tonight. If you had that car registered in your name, the police will trace the VIN and know exactly who is responsible for not only the bakery heist, but also the jewelry store robbery." Spade took a sip of his drink, giving MaryAnne time to start sweating.
"You made a bigger mistake by stealing a car so close to the jewlery store. The police will know exactly who is responsible for that missing Lincoln." He took another sip of brandy, and his grip around the glass looked as if it would crush it.
"Your worst mistake was bringing that stolen car within range of the Jigsaw." Spade's voice was rough and low, and his green eyes were unforgiving. "By now, the police have an A.P.B on you by name, and they have an A.P.B. on that car, and you've driven it straight here and parked it outside. Tell me, Miss Coltrane. As an ex-cop, what conclusions would you have?"
MaryAnne paused in thought. "The only conclusions I would have would be that that Firebird was seen at the donut shop and in the vicinity if the jewelry store. I would conclude that it belongs to one MaryAnne Coltrane, but I would only speculate that she committed the robberies, based on the description from witnesses. As for the Lincoln..." she chuckled. "You give the Atlanta PD too much credit. It depends on when the car was noticed and reported stolen. Atlanta's a big city...and there's a lot of 1978 Lincolns roamin' around here. Rusty and Bruno dump it far enough away from here and the car is reported stolen say, now...no one's gonna figure the car was ever here."
MaryAnne placed her bag of jewels on the bar. "Now, how many damn blue '78 Firebirds are there?? That car was bound to betray me at some point anyway and yes it is registered to me. Granted he was fast...but a little too unique." She stood up now. "Now I'm still a little green with all this, but I take full responsibility for what happened. It won't happen again...more or less because I figure I'm gonna be doin' everything on foot from now on."
Spade wasn't impressed by her reasoning. "I may be giving the Atlanta Police too much credit, but you're not giving the Feds enough credit. Regardless of when the police report is made on that stolen Lincoln, the fact is you practically left a trail of bread crumbs to the Syndicate." Spade leaned closer to her, close enough where the scent of his expensive cologne seemed to drown her. "You're correct that it won't happen again. But if it does, you will be disposed of in the same manner as that hot Lincoln."
MaryAnne met Spade's gaze with out flinching. "That's comforting to know," she said softly. "Thanks." She whipped the bag of jewels off the bar and reached in. She pulled the handful out and dropped them on the bar, gave Spade another 'you don't really scare me' look and stormed out of the bar towards the stairs.
MaryAnne came back to the entrance to the bar. "Yes sir?"
"I don't recall dismissing you. We have other things to discuss, IF I may have the pleasure of your continued company," Spade said with knife-edge warning.
"Why certainly..." she said cordially and returned the bar.
"Goddamn audacious woman," Spade grumbled into his drink. He snapped his fingers, and the Syndicate population relaxed and resumed their activities. The jukebox started up again and conversation picked up where it had left off. Spade put down his liquor and picked up the stolen gems, looking at them with a practiced eye.
One of the Syndicate's working girls sniffed out the scent of gold and was suddenly oozing over the Don. Spade handed her a sapphire bracelet and shooed her away. "I indulge Sophie because she's the best," he told MaryAnne. "Just as I indulged you tonight, and your cousin, once. That doesn't mean that you won't have to keep proving yourself."
MaryAnne nodded. "I'm aware of that. I'm just gonna have to work a little harder now, is that it?"
Spade finished examining the jewelry before answering. He turned his focus back to MaryAnne. "Just don't ever give me reasons to doubt which side you're on," he said bluntly. "Bringing that Lincoln here could have been an honest mistake. It could have also been deliberate. You're one of us but you're an ex-cop, and there's no such thing as blind faith with me. This is why I'm sitting here and why Mancini is behind bars."
MaryAnne nodded again. "I understand."
"You'd better." Spade reached into his shirt pocket and drew out a wad of large bills. "Here's your take for the job you pulled. You've got a good eye for opportunity, Miss Coltrane. Get another car and get ready for your next job. You're going to make a delivery for me."
MaryAnne accepted the money. "Yes sir," she replied. She then smiled hoping she hadn't completely blown Spade's confidence in her. "I'm good at deliveries."
"We'll find out. Now get outta here." Spade looked away from MaryAnne and motioned over one of his thugs who'd been patiently waiting for him.
MaryAnne made a quick exit, shoving the money in her jacket pocket. Despite her nearly costly mistake with losing Maverick and swiping the Lincoln it would later prove to be a blessing in disguise. Not that she would believe that it this point.
When she returned to her room, MaryAnne paused and sighed. How the hell do I get another car?
As MaryAnne left, Rusty's partner took her place next to Spade. Always wearing sunglass and never a smile, Mole's true occupation in the Syndicate was known to only one man. And that was Spade himself.
Usually silent and unanimated, Mole attracted little attention and was often blended in with the background of the Jigsaw. His words, however, were reserved for one man's ears. Spade leaned in towards the soft-spoken man, who's mutterings often meant death for unfortunate people.
"She's not working for the Atlanta police," he said to Spade. "That much I know. But I don't trust her."
"I don't trust anybody. What are you getting at, Mole?"
"She's got too many commendations as an officer to end up like this. I think she could have left the force to become a private detective. You'd be a nice feather in her cap."
"You're speculating," Spade answered. "Either bring me proof that she's working undercover, or quit wasting my time."
"I will," Mole said without emotion. "I’ll prove where her loyalty lies. Just like I did on her cousin. You really think that deep down inside, she's any different?"
"I'm willing to see what she can do. Far as I'm concerned, her actions will prove her one way or the other. Your job is to watch her. Mine is running the Syndicate." Spade dismissed Mole with a wave of his hand. Unoffended, Mole left the bar and headed for the exit.
Meanwhile, the Altanta Police Department was reeling in shock. Officer Franklin stared at the DMV report with disbelieving eyes. "MaryAnne Coltrane?"
He handed the report to his captian, whose expression grew grim at the news. Their worst fears had just been confirmed. One of their own had went astray. The charges were serious. Two counts of armed robbery, two counts of assult and battery. And it was just beginning, Franklin knew.
No wonder Sheriff Coltrane had shown up in Atlanta. He was probably trying to get to her first, to save both police departments from further embarrassment. The press would have a field day.
The FBI seemed interested in MaryAnne's activity, too. Commander Mayson had called in to verify the A.P.B.'s. Franklin had taken the phone call, and had volunteered the information about spotting Sheriff Coltrane in pursuit of the Firebird earlier that day.
For a reason Franklin couldn't determine, the news seemed to upset the Bureau Commander a great deal. Mayson's order to locate the black Chevy and detain Sheriff Coltrane and any passenger with him came as a surprise.
But Officer Franklin was a good cop, and as much as he hated the orders, he would do his duty. As would the entire Altanta P.D. Still, it troubled him that Mayson seemed less concerned about apprehending MaryAnne than he was the Sheriff and his companion. With a mental shrug, Franklin left the station and headed out on patrol.
***** ***** *****
Brian turned away from the window, discouraged. "I ain't seen anything remotely resemblin' a Firebird go anywhere near the Jigsaw. Just a Lincoln that came tearin' out like a bat outta hell..." he rubbed his eyes. "Maybe you'd better go sit in Diablo and give the CB a listen. Somethin' mighta happened."
Rosco nodded. "Yeah..." He got up and headed down to where Diablo was parked. Once he was settled in the car, he tuned the CB radio in and looked around the street.
It was a nasty neighborhood. Fortunately, Diablo was a nasty-looking car and seemed to belong there. No one took notice of the occupant of the Chevy, or the sounds of the radio within it.
The reports coming in from the Atlanta P.D. were tense, several of them coded. Then the words Rosco never wanted to hear were broadcast for the world. "Suspect identified as MaryAnne Coltrane, female white, former officer, repeat, former officer, considered armed and dangerous, last seen in the uptown area..."
"Oh no..." Rosco closed his eyes. "No no no..."
"Suspect's vehicle impounded, suspect believed to have stolen a 1978 Lincoln Town Car..." the reports continued, crossed with coded bulletins that Rosco couldn't decipher. The police were looking for someone else, too, but he couldn't tell who that was.
Rosco suddenly felt ill. He propped his elbow on the door and buried his face in his hand. It just seemed to be getting worse. Now she was wanted by the law, really wanted by the law. Well...I can arrest her and send her up the river...or Brian and I could kidnap her and...well...make things a heck of a lot more complicated! Rosco snapped the CB off and got out of Diablo and quickly headed back up to the apartment.
The way Rosco flung the door open, Brian knew something was wrong. "What is it?"
The Sheriff was flustered. "They got Maverick in the impound...APB's on her specifically for armed robbery and fer stealin' a Lincoln!"
Brian put the pieces together fast. "Then that Lincoln I saw tear out of the Jigsaw could have been her. Dammit! If it was, she's long gone by now..." he looked out the window again towards the Syndicate fortress. "No wonder we didn't see Maverick around here. I guess the only thing to do is - " He broke off suddenly as he saw a lone figure emerge into the streetlights on foot. "Rosco! C'mere!"
The Sheriff quickly came up behind Brian and looked over his shoulder. "What is it?"
"You mean who is it!" Brian pointed at the young woman who was walking quickly down the street. Rosco looked down to the street and his jaw dropped. He only hesitated in a heartbeat and suddenly bolted to the door and down the stairs.
Brian followed him, surprised that Rosco could move that fast. The Sheriff was like a bloodhound on a scent. He was already in Diablo by the time Brian got outside. Five seconds later, Diablo was moving in the night with only the parking lights on, the small orange lamps the only glow from the black Chevy. It coasted closer to MaryAnne.
MaryAnne kept walking but could sense eyes watching her. She could also hear the low rumbling of the Chevy and after a moment she turned her head slightly to look back. The parking lamps caught her eye and when the chrome shined in the light of the street lamp her heart nearly leapt out of her rib cage. She quickly turned back forward and started running.
Diablo's engine growled as Brian threw the Chevy into high gear, and the high-beams flashed on to light the entire street. In the intense brightness of the four round headlights, MaryAnne's black clothing was no camouflage. "Get ready to grab her," Brian said to Rosco. "Jump out of the car and land on her if ya halfta!"
Rosco nodded and put his hand on the door latch. He kept his eyes on MaryAnne's back, her hair flying as she ran as fast as she could away from the car. But it didn't do her any good. The Chevy pulled ahead and Rosco threw the door open and literally jumped from the car, risking injury to not only himself but MaryAnne too. But he didn't care, he aimed for her grabbing her jacket and tackling her down to the pavement.
MaryAnne twisted and tried to scream but Rosco muffled her. "Hush! Hush, MaryAnne it's me!!"
MaryAnne's eyes looked up at Rosco and in the faint light of the street they were intense with fear. She shook her head back and forth.
Diablo screeched to a stop and backed up, the passenger door still open. Brian leaned across the seat of the idling Chevy and told Rosco to hurry. "We can't afford to be spotted! C'mon!"
"Come on," Rosco said, pulling MaryAnne up off the pavement.
"Let go of me, dammit," she sputtered. She pulled on Rosco's grip and fought the push towards the Chevy. "Let go!!"
"Just hush and get in the car!"
"No! Let go of me and get the hell outta Atlanta!!" She fought her cousin a little more and then resorted to a cheap shot and knocked Rosco in the ribs with her elbow.
"Ooof!" Rosco lost his grip on MaryAnne and double over from the blow. The young woman ran away and disappeared in the dark down the street.
"Damn...it..." Rosco said struggling to breathe. He got into the Chevy and slammed the door shut.
Brian wasted no words on Rosco's failure. He simply aimed Diablo in another direction, no longer directly pursuing MaryAnne. Rosco didn't question him.
MaryAnne paused behind a dumpster and peered out, watching the Chevy disappear out of sight. She rubbed her arm where Rosco's grip had been strong, and desperate, and she fought the tears from the fear of 'being attacked' and then having seen Rosco face to face. She was also mad. Them two's concern for her was gonna get them all killed! And the fact that they were so bold enough as to try to snatch her off the street! She wondered if Commander Mayson was aware that Rosco and Brian were in town.
I told him! I told him dammit! Sheesh...nobody don't ever take my word for nothin'! The young law officer straightened her shoulders and drew in a deep breath before resuming her trek up the street.
Brian shut off all of Diablo's lights and took his foot off the gas. As the Chevy coasted, he turned it up another street and then turned again, preparing to complete the box maneuver and turn back onto the narrow side street that MaryAnne was on. Before he got to it, he slammed Diablo into park and turned to Rosco.
"I'm gonna cut back on foot and come at her from behind. You go straight in towards her, Sheriff. Ain't nowhere for her to go on that street. This is my old neighborhood, and she doesn't know it better than I do." He took a breath. "Now give me three minutes to get behind her. Then move Diablo into her path. Keep the lights off until you're almost right on her, then hit the brights." With that, Brian jumped out of the car and ran back down the block.
He timed himself, internally. One minute, and he was around the corner, breathing hard but running like a hoodlum of half his age. Two minutes, and he was careening down the next block, panting, starting to strain. Been too long, country livin' has made me soft...
Three minutes, maybe just a few seconds more or less, and he turned the corner again and was behind MaryAnne. She heard him coming and bolted away. Then a roar sounded at the end of the street, as the horizon became nothing more than wall-to-wall Chevy between the buildings. "MARYANNE!" Brian yelled. "STOP!"
With his words, Diablo's high beams flashed on and flooded the narrow street with a white-hot glare.
MaryAnne flinched and stopped running, shielding her eyes against the blinding light. She turned away from the Chevy slightly and pulled her nine-millimeter gun out of her jacket and held it up in the light.
"STAY AWAY FROM ME!! BOTH OF YA!! GET AWAY FROM ME RIGHT NOW!!" She opened her eyes and looked at Brian.
Brian squinted against the glare himself, but he saw the gun that MaryAnne held. He slowed down to a walk and advanced towards her, palms out. "Take it easy, cousin, put that away...." As he spoke, he could see that Rosco was inching the Chevy closer.
"Both of ya just stop where ya are! Rosco, you better stop movin' that car unless you want Brian on ya for me blowin' out the tires!!"
Rosco let the Chevy crawl a little more and then put his foot on the brake to stop the car. MaryAnne adjusted her grip on the firearm and watched Brian.
The ex-criminal showed no signs of stopping his advance. He came closer. "Please put the gun down, MaryAnne...c'mon..."
"Don't push it, Brian," she replied. Her back was now facing the Chevy and she took a few steps backwards. "What the hell do I have to do to get you two to listen?? You shouldn't be here, either one of ya! So why don't you just get back in Diablo, and go back to Hazzard..."
"You shouldn't be here," Brian countered, keeping his tone calm. "Whatever you're up to, whatever your reasons, you're in way over your head." He slowed his walk a little more, but still came forward.
"You think so, huh?" MaryAnne’s back was to the front bumper of the Chevy now. She chuckled, however, an almost sinister kind of laugh. "You have no idea...." She aimed the gun at Brian.
"MaryAnne," Rosco spoke up now, his hand like a death grip on Diablo's steering wheel. "Sweetheart, please...put the gun down..."
She shook her head. "Can't. I'm in over my head now..."
"You capable of pullin' that trigger, cousin?" Brian had stopped in his tracks. "If you are...then welcome to the big time..."
MaryAnne grinned. She then quickly jumped up and sat on the hood of the Chevy, still keeping the gun pointed at Brian. "Shoot, you two should know what I'm capable of...and you should also know I play by my own rules. Looks like I gotta add you two into the game..."
In one swift motion, MaryAnne swung her boot heel into Diablo's right side headlight and aimed the gun just off to Brian's side, pulling the trigger. She then turned and climbed over the windshield and scrambled onto the car’s roof.
"Jeezus!" Brian hit the ground and rolled as the bullet richoceted just past him.
Rosco suddenly opened the door and reached up at MaryAnne, who was half turned towards the back of the car. He grabbed her free arm and stood up on the inside of the car grabbing hold of her with both hands. MaryAnne pulled as much as she could but her older cousin's grip was remarkably strong, just as it had been a few moments before.
"Rosco! Rosco let go of me!!" MaryAnne's rear slid on the Chevy's roof as Rosco pulled on her, nearly dragging her right off. She used her boot heels to try to gain leverage against him and pulled back as hard as she could. She squirmed and twisted and got one arm free, holding her gun and she aimed the toe of her boot at Rosco.
Rosco flinched away but ended up weakening his grip on her arm. Before he could turn back to her he felt her boot heel hit him in the shoulder, knocking him against the wall. MaryAnne rolled like a storm trooper over the back window of the Chevy and slid off the trunk running with all she had down the alley.
Brian was up off the asphalt and running after her in an instant. "MARYANNE!"
Rosco attempted to follow, but his shoulder protested. "Brian! Aw dammit..." The Sheriff stopped and put a hand to his bruised shoulder.
"MARYANNE!" Brian shouted again, his long strides gaining on the fleeing woman. Against his better judgment, he drew his pawn-shop weapon. She’d already taken a shot at him, and if need be, he would wound her as a last resort. A very last resort. But he'd be damned if he'd lose her altogether. He cocked the revolver as he ran, the tiny click a distinctive sound.
MaryAnne kept running but could hear the footsteps behind her. Her nine-millimeter was still in her grip and she cut down another alley and then quickly disappeared in the darkness behind a dumpster. She breathed slowly, her back against the side of the dumpster, the gun at the ready. And she listened...
Brian’s running footsteps weren't far behind. He saw MaryAnne turn the corner and dart into the next alley. He followed, a few seconds behind her.
He ran into the next alley and saw no sign of her. But he did see the dumpster and the heaped debris around it. He walked towards it slowly, gun ready, heart thundering in his chest.
MaryAnne could hear him...she could hear his breathing, and the cautious steps of his boots…and she waited...
One footstep, then another. Brian couldn't see her. It was dark in the alley, and broken glass crunched under the young man's boots. He stuck to the far side of the alley, giving the dumpster a wide berth. He would be just past it in a second...and he thought he could see an opening behind it. He held the gun straight-armed in his right hand, and stepped directly into MaryAnne's sights.
MaryAnne had her gun trained directly on her cousin. She didn't move from her spot. "Hold it right there, Brian."
He froze, but maintained his own stance, his gun aimed back at her. "Figured you were hiding there...."
"Yep. Sure would like to know what I gotta do to get you and Rosco the hell off my tail."
"Can't do that just yet." She paused. "Do you remember that night, Brian? The night I saw you near the Duke farm?"
"Never forgot it...."
"I let you walk away...did I not?"
"Don't you think you oughta return the favor?"
"I tried," Brian said with a husky voice. "I watched you tear outta Hazzard County, and I even cut off Rosco n' the Dukes from followin'....and then I been watchin' Rosco die on the inside, every day since."
Brian let his gun hand drop. His vision was blurring anyway. "MaryAnne, I don't know why you're doin' what you're doin' but it ain't worth the price..and cousin, there's nothin' I fear more than you not comin' back home. That's why Rosco n' me tailed you here, we'd rather have ya hate us forever... than lose you forever."
MaryAnne was quiet. Very quiet. She watched Brian for a moment and contemplated trying to give him some kind of clue as to what she was up to. But there was no way...it just wouldn't work, it wouldn't help her at all. She had a cover to maintain and unfortunately that was her priority. She adjusted her grip on the gun and kept it aimed.
"You shouldn't have come here. I'm sorry, Brian, what's done is done. Nothin' can change it. If you and Rosco continue to tail me, thinking you can get me back home you can forget about it. I'm not going home. So you better get out of town, otherwise if I catch the two of you again...I may not be so lenient."
Brian's shock couldn't have been harder. MaryAnne was threatening them! His answer to her, however, was cutoff by the pair of headlights that suddenly swung into the alley.
Thinking it was Rosco with Diablo, he gave the car only a glance.
The sound of the engine then told him it wasn't Diablo. He looked directly into the headlights, seeing a black Cadillac bearing down on him, slowly, the occupants of the car obviously trying to decide what they were dealing with.
"Oh hell..." Brian knew the Syndicate when he saw it. He shoved the gun back into his jacket and ran back the way he came, having no choice but to leave MaryAnne behind for the moment. She, at least, was hidden. The Cadillac's motor hummed louder. This was Syndicate turf, and nothing escaped it's notice for long....
Brian rounded the corner, and saw Diablo where Rosco had left it, the anxious Sheriff walking towards him a few feet in front of the Chevy. Brian waved Rosco back, fiercely. "ROSCOOO!! GIT IN THE CAR!!! RUN!! RUN!!"
MaryAnne held herself rigid and held her breath, watching the Cadillac...Keep goin', keep goin'....go on...git!
Brian's full-tilt run was enough to make Rosco head back for Diablo. At the sound of the oncoming car, the Sheriff turned and looked over his shoulder. A black Cadillac had turned into the alley and was bearing down on Brian. Rosco was already at Diablo's side.
One thing was for certain. Brian wasn't going to make it. The Cadillac would run him down in a moment. Rosco drew his pearl-handled Colt. The lights of Diablo and the Cadillac would have to be enough for his aim.
The Sheriff gripped the gun tightly in his right hand and cupped his left around it, taking aim and firing twice with deliberation. The left front tire of the Cadillac exploded a second before the right one. The screaming brakes of the Caddy howled through the alley and the car nudged the wall.
Brian never looked behind him. He'd seen Rosco take aim and had to trust in his cousin's skill. The sound of the car hitting the wall was music to his Brian's ears, but it would only buy a minute. He ran for all he was worth and made it to Diablo's passenger side as Rosco was backing the Chevy away.
"HIT IT!" Brian yelled as he dove inside, then felt Diablo lurch hard in reverse. The Chevy's tires smoked in retreat, with Rosco plunging the car into the street and throwing into forward gear before the Syndicate hoods could line up their shots.
Brian laid back in the passenger seat and panted, trying to catch his breath. “Nice…shootin'..."
Rosco wasn't necessarily breathing easy himself. "What in the world...?"
"Syndicate," Brian heaved out. "We gotta...get outta here...could be more..."
Rosco nodded. "Don't figure it'd be sucha good idea to head back to the apartment..."
"Not right away. Gotta give ourselves some breathin' room..." Brian looked over the seat, and saw no pursuit. "Though looks like we're okay for the moment." He sat back down and took another deep breath. "I didn't do so good with MaryAnne...."
"What happened?" Rosco asked as he turned the Chevy down another road.
"She said we could just forget about tryin' to get her to come home....and she said that if she 'caught us again' she wouldn't be so lenient next time."
Rosco was quiet. Very quiet to start. The Impala's speed increased a bit and the silence hung thick in the car for several moments. "What else did she say?" he asked softly.
Brian felt the pain of MaryAnne's words hit him again. There was no way to soften the blow to Rosco. "She...had me at gunpoint durin' all this. I poured my heart out to her, Rosco. She said....'what's done is done'. She made it clear that she wants us to leave her the hell alone...."
The Sheriff remained silent. The heart beating behind his badge had been breaking up to this point. Now it just felt like it was dying. He slowed the Chevy down and pulled over to the side of the road. He stared at the Chevy's steering wheel and then hit it with the heel of his hand.
"Dammit!" Rosco looked out the window, a storm of emotions ravaging at him. Guilt, anger, fear and dread with desperation mixed in for flavor. He was actually shaking. He felt sick. Why? Can't you just tell me why, MaryAnne??? Dammit WHY?! With tears burning in his eyes, Rosco threw open the door and stepped out of the car.
Brian got out of the passenger side, and walked over to Rosco in concern. The Sheriff was close to losing it, he knew. Hell, he was close to losing it...and he couldn't begin to imagine the pain Rosco must be feeling. Rosco and MaryAnne had known each other all their lives. They had worked side by side in the Hazzard County Sheriff's Department. Brian knew that if he felt betrayed and hurt by all this, it was nothing compared to what his older cousin must be feeling.
"Rosco?" Brian asked softly.
He shook his head and took a moment to find his voice, shaky as it was. "I can't stand it, Brian....I just..." He stared up into the dark Atlanta sky. "I feel like..." he started to say and then closed his eyes as the emotions tightened around his chest. I feel like I'm dyin'...
"I feel like a part of me...has just been ripped away..."
Brian took a step closer. "The good part," he ventured. "The part that keeps the darkness at bay..."
Rosco nodded and drew in a ragged breath. "The good part...she was my good half..." he whispered. He opened his eyes and looked at Brian.
The pain in the Sheriff’s steel-blue eyes was impossible to hide. Brian read it, understood it, and shared it, wondering again how MaryAnne could do this. He reached a hand out to Rosco's shoulder, gripping it lightly in a silent gesture of support. Then he let go, and voiced the question that had to be broached. "So are you gonna go back to Hazzard...or you gonna stay here, and keep tryin'?"
"I ain't goin' home..." Rosco shook his head. "I ain't thrilled to stay here but I can't just leave it. If she thinks we ain't gonna leave her alone, then she's forgotten who she's dealin' with..." The Sheriff took a step forward and paused in thought. "I got one more card I can play..." He turned back to Brian, the pain in his eyes now mixed with that of a brewing idea. Albeit a crazy one.