Fictional piece by Joanne Siderius
A Cagney and Lacey Story based on characters created by Barbara Avedon and Barbara Corday. I wrote this story for the enjoyment of those who still miss Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey. Let me know your thoughts - Joanne. email@example.com
2001 - Major Cases squad - One Police Plaza, New York City.
Captain Christine Cagney snaps her laptop shut and slams her desk drawer. She stands and grabs her coat.
I hate this. Another meeting.
Like I don't have enough real police work to do.
(The lieutenant stays seated in front of Cagney's desk.)
This meeting is important, Christine.
Promoting qualified women is important, Mary Beth. Yet another meeting to discuss why there are not more women senior officers is not important.
These people make the decisions, Chris.
(Chris throws her a look but doesn't answer.)
You know that Alice doesn't know what the ERA is?
(turning in the midst of putting on her coat to give Lacey a bewildered look.)
What has that got to do with anything?
She has no idea of her own history. Girls don't.
CAGNEY (turning back to retrieve her scarf)
Come on, Mary Beth - were you interested in history at 14?
(coming around the desk as Mary Beth stands)
Like Gloria Steinem says -as long as Alice knows who she is - it doesn't matter if she knows who Steinem is.
I guess she will have to learn like we did - out on the battlefield.
(toying with her pencil) I worry that she isn't ready to fight for herself out there.
(She pauses on her way out and emphasizes her point with her finger.)
She's going to be just fine, Mary Beth. (She flashes Mary Beth a smile.)
- she has you as a Mom.
(before Mary Beth can reply, Chris turns on her heel)
And as for history - I'll bet you these paper pushers all know about the ERA - and Steinem.
(over her shoulder as she is out the door) And a lot of good it did us - They just pulled their wagons tighter into a circle.
(more to herself, as Chris is gone)
Give 'em hell, Captain.
A single candle lights the room. Chris and David Keeler are laughing - laughter that is smothered by the comforter. Chris throws the cover back and rolls over to lie naked on top of David. She runs her finger lightly down his nose, laughing at some private joke. She holds his gaze, and then bends and kisses him, pulling his lip gently with her teeth. He holds her tightly, rolling and pinning her to the bed, brushing the hair gently from her face. He stares intently at her. A soft smile plays over his face. Chris reaches to pull him closer. He resists.
(Softly, smiling into his eyes.)
David doesn't answer, but caresses her face, finally bending to kiss her neck, her throat, eventually reaching her breast with soft, light kisses. Her head is thrown back. She has her arms around him, hands moving along his shoulders, pulling him closer.
The phone rings.
Harvey Lacey is snoring, one arm thrown over Mary Beth. Mary Beth is curled into his body, sound asleep.
The phone rings.
Mary Beth starts awake and reaches over to turn on the light. Harvey groans and rolls over to face the other way. Another ring. Mary Beth rubs her eyes and picks up the phone before it truly wakes Harvey.
It is midnight. The two cops are on foot - no one parks a vehicle of any value in this neighbourhood - especially a cop car. The address takes them to a bar in the basement of a derelict factory. Charred red brick walls rise to meet a grey sky. Rusty remnants of a fire escape climb the building to the roof. Some glass still remains in the windows - catching light from the street below. Most windows, however, are deep shadows in fire-scarred walls. Cagney and Lacey cross the street, and walk through the scattered trash on the street and into the music, smoke and strobe lights of the Blue Amazon. A neon parrot - a riot of red and blue - flashes above the door. The woman at the door collects the cover charge and lets them in.
Cagney and Lacey are early - sitting at a table with their drinks and watching the dancers. There is an older crowd in here tonight. The band - "Harley's Angels" - is pretty good - the vocalist and drummer are great. A blues band, they are playing covers of old rock tunes in an attempt to entice this crowd into dancing.
We look like a couple of cops here. (nudging Mary Beth) Go ask that woman to dance.
Me? Why me?
I'm going to keep an eye out for Mary. (a twinkle in her eye, smiling) Besides you are a much better dancer.
Too late. A voice interrupts the two.
To Lacey -
You look like you'd like to dance.
That's OK Honey, so am I.
Cagney grins as Mary Beth gets up and goes to the dance floor with her admirer and the two begin dancing to Seger's "Old time Rock and Roll". Chris turns again to survey the crowd.
The bartender, a towel thrown over her shoulder, has come to the table with another tonic water for Chris.
(She nods her head and sips her drink.)
Want to come with me?
Chris catches Lacey's eye and then follows the woman to a door behind the bar. Mary Beth continues dancing, keeping an eye on the door where Cagney has disappeared.
A dark room filled with cigarette smoke.
The walls are grimy and badly in need of paint but you might not notice: posters advertising bands cover the walls. A huge poster of K.D. Lang astride a Harley Davidson dominates the room. There is an old wooden desk covered with piles of paper at one end of the room. An old computer covers what the papers don't hide. A huge corkboard covered with slips of paper looms over the desk. A long table with several aluminium folding chairs completes the furniture in the room.
Mary Riley is sitting at the table as Chris enters. The two women look at each other, neither moving to greet the other. These two share a very complex history. (Mary Riley first appears in the story "The Highwayman").
Finally Mary Riley breaks the silence.
Hi Chris. I'm glad you came. It really is very important.
It's certainly been a while, Mary. We never seem to meet unless you are in trouble. So what's so important that you wouldn't talk over the phone?
Prostitution. Slavery. Kidnapping. Maybe murder.
The door bursts open and Lacey pushes her way in. The bartender is right behind Mary Beth, looking at Mary Riley for instructions.
It's OK Fran. Thanks.
The bartender nods and leaves.
(smiling) Relax, Lieutenant, Chris is OK.
You haven't missed much.
(returning to her story as the two cops sit.)
Yugoslav freighters are dropping off women and young girls out at sea. They are using local trawlers. The trawlers transfer the girls to private yachts.
Illegal smuggling of aliens - so call the feds.
Let me finish, Chris. Two friends of mine -two women - own and work a trawler. They were approached to act as a transfer. Threatened by some very powerful -and some very dangerous men.
(spreading her hands in a gesture of appeal)
These women can't draw attention to themselves by going to the feds, by going to anyone. These guys mean business - they are killers. These women also won't become involved in such a deal. They came to me.
(looking at Chris) I'm coming to you.
Cagney does not speak - certainly not to ask why the trawler owners would come to Mary Riley. It is Lacey who speaks.
What do you suggest we do?
Be there for the transfer. Have the bastards in the yacht and the freighter grabbed once you have the evidence.
(dryly) Piece of cake. When is all this supposed to happen?
Three days - this Thursday.
Cagney and Lacey exchange a look - a look of disbelief that says "civilians!"
(Challenging) Well? Isn't that what you do?
Or are you too in love with that safe cushy chair and desk?
In Inspector Patricia Hong's office, next morning.
(slamming down a manila folder on the desk)
You haven't convinced me, Cagney, not at all.
I'm not going to lose both the Head and Second Whip of Major Crimes for a week.
Inspector. This is an opportunity to crack a (counting off on her fingers) a kidnapping; slavery/prostitution; illegal alien smuggling; and blackmail operation with one undercover operation.
(she spreads her hands wide) What cop wouldn't jump at this? And who better than Major Cases?
Fine. Call in the Feds and use someone else as undercover here, Captain.
With respect, Inspector, my time for the next week is taken up in bureaucratic …meetings… that will serve only to generate more paper and even more meetings (pause). This case is important.
It has to be two mature women on the trawler, Pat. And we can't bring anyone else into this without endangering the two women who brought this to us. It has to be Lacey and me.
(a dig) Don't tell me you're bored, Cagney.
- you have a personal interest in this.
(turning to Lacey) Lieutenant? Your assessment?
We are the obvious choice to do this one, Inspector. (pauses- an appeal) These women are kidnapped, and then sold into prostitution. Some of them are children, Pat. It's our job.
(Obviously unhappy with the arrangement.) Who will be handling things when you are gone?
Juarez. A very good officer.
Either one of you ever worked a tug - a trawler - before?
I spent two summers on the boats in high school, Inspector.
How long has it been since either of you has worked undercover? (answering her own question) Three? Four years?
(Neither Chris nor Mary Beth answers)
Fine. Go ahead. With my blessing. Carry on with the arrangements. Keep me informed. Understand Captain?
(beaming) Thank you Inspector. Major Cases will score big on this one.
Hmm. Not to mention a certain Captain.
(as they turn to go)
The Blue Amazon eh? Michele and I met there.
(Looking up) Be careful out there, you two.
Cagney smiles and leaves.
Thank you Inspector. We will.
The berth pitches and reels. The constant throbbing and banging of the big diesel engines of the "Go for Broke" made it impossible to sleep a whole night. Mary Beth tosses and turns on her hard bunk - finally waking as she is flung against the wall by another swell. 4 A.M. - Almost time to get up. She sits up and looks across the room. Chris' bunk is empty. Mary Beth quickly pulls on her jeans, sweater, thick coat and survival suit and clings to the railing as she climbs the narrow rungs to the deck.
Gulls and terns are wheeling above the tiny vessel, calling and diving, waiting for the first discards and guts from the morning's catch. The crew is intent on getting the nets out and beginning the work day. The brisk wind and rising swells that are buffeting the humans have no effect on the birds. They are intent only on scoring their first meal from the wake of the trawler. Sunup is a mere grey slit on the horizon. Mary Beth can just make out Cagney in the weak dawn light. Chris is clinging to the rail -throwing up over the side of the pitching trawler.
Did you take that Gravol I gave you?
Chris nods and then leans over the rail again. She finally straightens up and Lacey hands her a handkerchief.
I was fine until I smelt the diesel exhaust. Oh God.(this as she rushes for the rail again).
Chris straightens up.
You should have a line and a safety suit on up here.
(Chris nods and smiles weakly) I didn't have much time.
You should feel better out here on deck in the fresh air. (back to the original topic)
You do swim don't you?
(insulted) Mary Beth.
(She persists, knowing Chris well enough to know when she is avoiding an issue. She moves around to face Cagney.)
I can swim. I took lessons, including rescue.
(Lacey's stance indicates that she still senses that something is off)
OK. I hate deep water. A lot. Fine. I'll wear the suit and the line. (grumpy) OK?
She nods. She leans over the rail alongside Cagney. Both watch the birds for awhile.
Today is the day, Chris.
I hope this pans out, Mary Beth. We'll have the Coast Guard choppers on reconnaissance to keep the swat team on shore alerted. It depends on us now.
And on whether these guys show.
(feeling better in the fresh air now that her stomach is empty)
What do you think of the crew?
I can cook better on any given day. (Chris blanches at the thought of food.)
I think they're on the level Chris. Have you noticed anything?
No. It just pays to keep an eye on things.
We may end up relying on them in a tight spot.
Mary Beth, I need more Gravol.
OK. Come on. And put your suit on.
The freighter looms overhead, blocking the sun. The sides of the old oil freighter reek of heavy oil, rust streaks score the walls and bilge pours from fore and aft. The tiny trawler bobs in its shadow like a toy in a bathtub.
The transfer has been made. Six frightened young women have been herded below by two armed men who had barely nodded at the crew or at the two women apparently in charge. Cagney has shown them to the quarters below while Lacey stays in the pilot room, in her role as ship's captain. A third man has gone directly to the pilot room, radioing ahead to the yacht- arranging the next stage of the transfer. The trawler moves from deep ocean and heads closer to shore. The gunman is still in the pilot room, silently watching. It is clear that no one is to make any other radio calls. Several transfers, several rendezvous have ensured that no one can be traced - until finally a fine showy yacht will bring the girls to America and to a new life. Into slavery.
The radio, of course, is being constantly monitored by the coast guard, who would now be mobilizing their own forces and putting major cases officers and the swat team on alert. Everything was working very smoothly. Cagney splits her time attending to those below and making sure that things are under control in the pilot room. She manages to hold the sea sickness at bay every time she goes below - Thank God it would be over soon.
The yacht is a fine 60 ft ocean-going craft, sleek and impressive with her sails full out. A group of wealthy recreational sailors out for a mid-week cruise. Nothing indicates that these people make their living from selling human souls. The colourful spinnaker snaps smartly in the wind.
The "Go for Broke" lowers its' dory into the rough sea. The girls are taken aboard in two loads - the tiny dory can only hold four people. The inflatable dinghy from the yacht is a fragile, calm water craft- good only for getting the last gunman back to the yacht. Chris has taken pictures with the tiny digital camera hidden on her suit - they had all the information they needed for evidence. They could nail the freighter, and intercept the yacht. Still, as Chris helps tie off the small dory and grabs the oars after the last load is complete, she can't help but feel anxious for the girls. If the Coast Guard wasn't able to keep track of the yacht and get the swat team in position, they could lose the girls. Not just a blown bust. Six lives that could disappear into a life of misery if this sting proves to be a washout.
Cagney joins Lacey in the pilot house as the yacht pulls away under motor, becoming a dot in the distance.
That went smoothly.
Yeah. I wish we could find out what was happening.
When we get back.
They couldn't risk any radio transmissions being intercepted at this point. Chris slaps Mary Beth on the shoulder in recognition of a job well done. The two cops are relaxing into a congratulatory mood when the cook announces that he is bringing lunch out. Chris smiles weakly and leaves to go down below to get her Gravol before the smell of food sets her off again. She silently kicks herself for forgetting the pills below again. Must be some sort of denial of her sea sickness. She sighs as she ducks her head to go below. It never failed - she always felt worse below deck.
Chris is hurrying, trying to get the pills before she feels queasy again. But they aren't where she left them. She pulls back the blankets on her bunk to see if the pills fell between the wall and the mattress. She freezes.
No ticking, no hints at all - just a timer showing eight minutes left. Chris doesn't move. There are wires all over this thing. She knows little about bombs. She does know that some are triggered by movement, by sound, heat or light. Chances are that this one is triggered by it's own detonator. Whatever this thing is, she knows one thing - She has to move away - extremely carefully - and get everyone off the trawler. Dangerous men indeed. Who knew if they suspected the crew of the trawler - either way they were leaving no lose ends.
Chris eases the blankets down and away from the bomb and moves slowly away and up the narrow walkway to deck and into the pilot room. She has forgotten all about the Gravol.
(Pulling Mary Beth aside) We have to evacuate - get everyone into the dory.
There's a bomb below. Eight - (checking her watch) no, seven minutes left. I'm calling in a mayday to the coast guard. Get them out now.
Neither cop mentions that the dory will only hold four crew members. There are six people aboard.
The crew listens in shocked silence as Lacey gives the order and the reason for evacuation. None argue - all are in the boat and rowing away in only two minutes. The two cops are alone. Cagney has radioed the coast guard and sent out a mayday. Rescue would have to be immediate to get them off the boat. The tiny reconnaissance chopper might be close enough.
Only two minutes left. How's it going?
Done. Let's go.
Come on, partner.
Lacey has set the course, tied the wheel and fired the engines to get the trawler as far away as possible from the dory. Now they have to get off the trawler before it blows.
They climb over the rail, poised above the choppy sea. Chris closes her eyes briefly and prays as she thinks about that deep ocean. Mary Beth thinks about Harvey and the kids. They both grab the life ring from the trawler and leap.
The life ring is ripped from her hands. The shock of the frigid water knocks the wind from her body. Water closes over her head as she sinks - and keeps sinking ever deeper. The survival suit is buoyant, but the dive carries her down. She tries not to panic- tries not to gasp water into her lungs. She wills herself to stay calm and kick towards the surface, wills herself not to think about drowning, to trust to her ability to rise to the surface. Her head breaks to the surface, she gasps for air, gulping a mouthful of water as a wave hits her. She is coughing, desperately trying to expel the water from her lungs. Keep your head up, tread water. Keep calm. Breath. Another wave washes over her, but she is ready this time. Then she sees Lacey clinging to the life ring. Mary Beth is calling to her.
Chris! Over here!
Her words are snatched away in the wind.
Chris fights the waves and her fear, heading towards the ring, towards Lacey.
The world rips apart in an assault of sound and fire. The explosion knocks her back - the sound leaving her ears ringing. The trawler has become a wall of fire- the sea a frenzy of dancing, giant waves. There is a second explosion as the engines blow. She can't see Lacey. Debris is raining down - flaming boards, and metal shards. Another wave swamps her, pulling her down.
Chris struggles to the surface. She strikes out for the ring, in search of Mary Beth. She finally reaches it, the ropes trailing from the white circle like the legs of a sea star.
No answer to her cry - A cry that can barely be heard above the noise of the fire and the falling fragments.
Chris is becoming numb with cold. Survival suits are good for only 20 minutes or so in cold ocean water. She dives, looking for Mary Beth. Nothing. She comes to the surface, gasps air and dives again. There. Tangled in a rope attached to a piece of railing. Lacey is floating, struggling weakly. Chris swims over, grabs the rope at Lacey's ankles and struggles to untangle it. Blessedly it pulls free in her hands. Chris pulls at Lacey and swims to the surface with her partner.
Lacey is barely conscious - blood on her forehead. Knocked on the head by a piece of debris, she was pulled under by the trailing rope. Chris keeps Mary Beth's head above water, treading water- her own legs and arms growing ever heavier. She can barely keep her own head above water. Something bumps her on the back of the head. The life ring. Chris grabs it and pulls herself and Lacey towards the ring - pulling it over Mary Beth's head, helping to keep her afloat.
Chris is shuddering, shivering uncontrollably. She is chanting a mantra in her head to keep awake and to keep treading water.
A roar above that of the fire. She looks up to see the harness from the coast guard copter above her head. She grabs the harness and pulls it over Mary Beth's head and under her arms as she secures the buckle. She signals to the chopper to pull the unconscious woman aboard. Mary Beth is lifted to the chopper, leaving Chris behind with the ring.
Someone leans from the chopper and signals for her to wait - the search and rescue copter is right behind them. This tiny chopper can't take on another passenger. Cagney waves them on - get Mary Beth to hospital.
The cold is taking over and she is now shivering uncontrollably. She has been here for an eternity - in reality it has only been another five minutes. She can barely keep her grip on the ring. It would be so easy to sleep for just a minute, so comfortable, so tempting. She starts awake again, fighting panic as the water closes over her head. She struggles higher in the ring, resting her head back on the ring, pulling her arms through. The cold squeezes her chest - she is shivering quite violently now. Chris slips silently into a dark dream.
Mary Beth is awake.
(through clenched teeth between bouts of shivering) Have they found her?
The ambulance paramedic wraps her tighter in the blanket and checks the time left for arrival at the hospital.
I don't know. Just stay still for awhile. I'll get you a radio at the hospital.
(The radio is monitoring crew communications. There is the constant sound of chopper blades in the background.)
We've got her aboard.
No cardiac response. Get those paddles out. Let's go!
We've got a response. Stick with us here girl. Come on sweetheart.
OK. OK. A strong heartbeat. She's breathing on her own. Give me that
Hurry up with those blankets.
Tell her partner we're on our way home.
Mary Beth Lacey is in a hot water bath, shivering as she listens to the radio chatter. Tears are pouring down her face. Harvey is holding her hand. He too is crying.
Chris is in the warm water bath. She is still shivering. It has been four hours since she was fished out of the ocean and brought back to life. She has been conscious for about an hour now, but the nurse is still holding her head out of the water.
Cagney looks up to see Mary Beth, in a wheel chair, sitting beside the tub. The nurse stands and says.
She is stronger now. I'll leave you two alone. I'm right outside if you need me.
The nurse smiles at them both as she leaves the room.
(pushing back the hair from Cagney's face) Welcome back.
(her head resting against the tub yoke)
Mostly. I got a good knock on the head. Hypothermia. I'm pretty weak but I wanted to see you. They made me use the wheelchair. Afraid I'd bump into things I guess.
David was here. And Harvey. The nurses chased them out. They'll see you tomorrow.
Cagney smiles weakly. She shivers.
(after a pause)
We got them Chris. All of them. The girls are safe. They'll be deported, but they are safe.
(smiling) Pat Hong is glad we're OK - she wants an invoice for that destroyed trawler, of course, and Mary Riley has offered us both full partnerships in the Blue Amazon. (She laughs.)
Chris is smiling widely until she shivers violently again.
They'll leave you in there until you stop shivering. (her voice breaking) You had me scared Chris. They had to use the paddles to bring you back.
Cagney doesn't remember. She closes her eyes and gives in to the exhaustion. She is crying, as is Lacey.
Lacey bends down to kiss Chris on the forehead.
You pulled me up. I thought I was dead when that rope pulled me down.
We got lucky, partner.
(Mumbling as she fights sleep. Her head is held above water by the tub yoke, but Mary Beth holds her head up anyway.)
We did pretty good for a couple of old broads.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Despite her struggles to stay awake, Chris has fallen asleep. Lacey stays by the tub holding her hand for a while before calling the nurse.
Sweet dreams Chris.
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