Behind Bars
~ by SilverLeaf & BlacStag ~
~ edited Old Ping Hai ~

Part II

In New York City, a well-dressed man of advanced years walked into ‘The Unturned Page’.  He asked the clerk,  “Is a Miss Amber Adair still here?”

The clerk looked at him curiously.  “I don’t know anyone by that name.”

“I believe she owns the store.”

“Let me call the owner, sir.”

The young man dialed.  “Hey, Ron, there’s a fellow here asking for a Miss Amber Adair.”  He nodded, hung up.  “Ron is coming right down, sir.”

A few minutes later, a lanky man with a blond mop circa 1973 stepped out onto the shop floor.  “Can I help you, Mr...?”

“Smith.”  The man grinned tightly, shaking hands.  “I’m trying to find Amber Adair.  I understood she owned this store.”

“Oh, she did!  She effectively sold it to me a few years ago.  And what a deal she gave me on it!  But she moved on.  I think Austin, Texas was her next stop.”  Ron didn’t want to give the stranger too much information, as he was obviously not telling the truth about his name.  “If I hear from her, I can tell her you’re looking for her.”

“No.”  Mr. Smith was definite.  “I want to...surprise her.  It’s sort of personal.”

He was gone.


Kermit opened his office door and bellowed, “Somebody get me Sikes!”

In no time, the vice cop was in his office, standing near the one guest chair.

“You said this new drug kills.  How?”

“It’s ugly, man...I mean Griffin.  Convulsions, spasms, the body twists and shakes a lot as it dies.”

“I’m not finding much.  There are a few gasses the military’s been working on, and some testing in foreign countries, but nothing that might tempt someone to use it as a drug.”

“It’s hell out there, I’m telling you.  We’ll find a bunch of stoned kids, one or two dead ones, and the stoned kids just look at the bodies, shake their heads and smile.  They just say ‘Vapors, man’ until they sober up and then they don’t say nothing.”

“And you’ve found nothing they could have been taking?”

“Nothing, Griffin, I’m giving it to you straight.  Of course, all those kids have the damn bars on them.  The white metal bars.  I’ve seen a few that look similar, but they’re just the same thing in dark blue metal.  We’ve found some of them, in both colors, worn down to varying states of thickness, some kind of discolored -- some even stripped down to the metal.  But we’ve had the lab folks test the coatings of both bars.  There’s nothing hallucinogenic or narcotic about either coating.  No drug.”

“I’ll check some more, but you find anything else, you bring it to me.  Right now I need to talk to the hotshot.”

Sikes stepped out of the office quickly, as Griffin followed him.  Kermit glowered behind his shades.  “Caine.  My office.  Now.”


“Peter, I need to talk to you.  I think Amber’s about to drop me.”

“What?”  Peter demanded, thunderstruck.  “She’s nuts about you!”  His first inclination was to laugh, but then the memory of Amber’s tired, worried face rose in his mind, and he had to rethink his reaction.

“Well, then why is she flinching every time I say anything?  She’s jumpier than a cat, and I can’t figure it out.  She watches me when she thinks I’m not looking, and then spins away when I turn to face her.  Peter, I never used to be able to sneak up on that woman -- she always knew I was there.  These days, I can make it all the way up the back stairs and tap her on the shoulder before she knows anyone’s around.”

“Kermit, she’s not--“

Kermit picked up the insistent phone.  “What?  Right away.”  Cradling it, he let out a sound of frustration.  “Damn.  We’ll have to finish this later.  Captain wants me for that damn panel on new computing methods in law enforcement.”

Peter watched him go, and then quietly left the office, closing the door behind him.


Jody met Amber and Lo Si at a warehouse near the business center of Chinatown.  The place was empty and unlocked.  Jody went first, gun ready.  There was no one around, so she looked back and said,  “It’s clear.  Come on in.”

It was clear -- there was no sign anyone had been here recently, except for the lack of dust.  Amber shook her head.  “Where are all the desks and lamps?”

“Whoever was here must have cleared it out fast,” was Jody’s only comment.

Caine arrived and followed them in.  “The Quangs...are resting.  They trust you them, Amber.  They will wait”

She gave him a tense smile.  “Thank you, Caine.  I’m going to do my best to find Lucy for them.  How is the Yashi child?”

Caine shrugged.  “He well...with care and...time.  He requires...frequent watching and...medicines.”

The Ancient laid a withered hand on her elbow.  “Come, child.  It is time.”

She nodded, closed her eyes and breathed in and out to center herself, then stepped to the middle of the warehouse.  Eyes blank and wide open, she paced a spiral pattern, growing ever outward toward the walls.

Jody whispered,  “What’s she doing?”

Lo Si twinkled up at the blonde detective.  “Amber is tracing the energies.  We have been working on her ability to sense things.  She was able to connect lightly with young Lucy Quang by using things the girl had used.  Now she is attempting to find more information from this place where Lucy has been often in the past, and from where she disappeared.  She is trying to use the residual energies from those who were here to discover what happened.  If something...serious...happened to Lucy here, Amber hopes to find some trace of it.”

“Master,” Caine asked.  “Why are you not...helping her?”

“Kwai Chang Caine, do not ask questions to which you already know the answers,” the tiny man admonished.  “Remember the old tale:  a man tells his son to move a heavy rock.  The boy tries his hardest to push the rock, then to pull the rock.  He finds a stick and attempts to move the rock with his makeshift lever, to no avail.  Finally, the boy returns to where his father stands.  ‘I cannot move the rock, Father’, he says.  The father looks at his son sternly.  ‘You did not try everything’, the father says, ‘and now you have failed.  You did not ask me for help.  Between us, we could have moved the rock.’ ”

Caine nodded jerkily.  “I...see.   Amber must...ask for...your help.”

“And she must let go of everything and trust to the Tao to guide her steps.”

Amber reached her stopping point, closed her eyes and lowered her head.  After a moment, she straightened, opened her eyes once more, and called out,  “She was here!  In fact, she was here regularly in the past.  She’s not anywhere nearby right now, but I know she was -- this is the right place.  I’m going to try another pattern, Master, for clarification.”

Lo Si grinned at her and waved her on.

She began another pass, this time walking a labyrinthine path.  The others watched silently, stepping out of her way so as not to disturb the trance.  Finally, she stopped once more.

“I’ve got something!”

The three observers hurried over to her.  “Whatever they were doing requires fire and water, light and dark.  The four ingredients were never supposed to be in the same place at the same time, but something went wrong and everything did end up here, in this warehouse.  There are feelings of anger and strife here.  They had to move everything, clear this place completely.  They took some of the components back to where they were supposed to be, and found new places for the others.  Lucy was forced to go with them.  Somehow, she found out too much.”

“What?  What did she find out?”  Jody demanded.

Amber gave her a tired half-smile.  “I don’t know, Jody.  I wish I could give you more, but I can’t.  What I do know is:  the components to whatever was going on here are fire, water, light and dark.  The people had to clear this warehouse out after everything was here at the same time.   I think I’ve got a location -- somebody already knew where to move the white bar operation -- but it’s not directly tied to Lucy.  It seems to be tied to blue bars, which I think I reached through the white bars.”  She shrugged, looked around the little group.  “But I am tired now.  I put a lot of myself into getting this far, and I have things to do before bed tonight.  Can I go home now?”

The Ancient drew her into an embrace.  “Well done,” he murmured.  “Can you hold on to this new location until morning?”

She shook her head.  “Thank you, Master.  No, I don’t think I can.  But maybe if I share the location with you and Caine, and we describe it to Jody, we can get an idea of where it is.”  She shook her head again wearily.

Caine placed a heavy hand on her shoulder and spoke.  “You are...growing into your talents...quickly.”

“Thank you, Caine,” she replied as she felt him pour energy into her.  “I don’t know what I would do without you,” she looked at the Ancient.  “Or you, Master.”

“You would not fulfill your destiny,” Lo Si twinkled at her. 

Jody asked,  “Are you going to try to tell us where to look next?”

“The men who were here left some of their thoughts behind.  They knew they were moving this facility, and some were thinking about where the desks and lamps and inks were to go.   I’m getting a foghorn.  May I ask for assistance in focusing?”  She grimaced, and Lo Si went to take one wrist, Caine the other.  “A foghorn and the nearness of water.  Billy Smith and Bobby Orr are nearby,” she said, confused.  Her eyes snapped open.

Lo Si grinned happily.  “Hai, and Wayne Gretsky, the Great One...and Ray Borque!  This place, it is near the Hockey Hall of Fame!”

Caine stared at his old friend.  Amber joined him in the stare, as even Jody’s head turned.  The three of them regarded him, stunned.

He chuckled.  “What?  You did not know that I have become a hockey fan?  It is a game of great skill and cunning.  After all, did I not ask Doug Gilmore to assist young Peter in that little matter of the hockey team?”

Kwai Chang Caine shook his head.  “Master, you are...full of surprises.”

Amber stifled laughter, then closed her eyes again.  “I see...I see a dome.  Maybe an arena?”

Jody snapped her fingers.  “The Sky Dome!    Now, that’s on Wellington; the Hall of Fame is on York.  The two streets cross on the other side of Chinatown from here.”

“That’s as close as I can get.  Maybe if we can just go to that corner tomorrow, I can find it from there,” Amber said slowly.

“That’s fine.  Then I will meet you there at nine.  Are you two Shaolin Masters coming along then too?”

“Of course,” returned Lo Si equably.  “We would not miss this.”

“I must check on the...Yashi child again tonight,” Caine added.  “But...I will join you in the...morning.”

“Then let me drop you both off on my way home,” Amber smiled at the two men.

“And once home, you must drink the strengthening tea I have given you.”

“Must I, Master?  It’s the worst tasting one!”

Part 3-->