"We are NOT raiding a whorehouse, Chief," Jim Ellison evenly replied. "We're apprehending a known heroin and cocaine supplier." He checked his weapon and shrugged. "It just so happens he lives in the whorehouse."
"C'mon, man! Miss Lizzie's is an institution! It's not just a whorehouse," Blair angrily hissed.
Jim eyed his partner. "And just what do you know about Miss Lizzie's?"
Blair rolled his eyes. "You remember that Burt Reynolds movie? The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas?"
"I remember Dolly Parton's scenes," Jim judiciously nodded.
Blair counted to ten before continuing. "Miss Lizzie's is like that place. It's been located in the same house since the turn of the century…the twentieth century. It's documented history that the progenitor of Miss Lizzie's was the third building built in Cascade when it was founded." He paused. "The first two were saloons."
"Thanks for the history lesson." Jim clapped his partner on the shoulder. "Are you saying we should wait until he leaves hallowed ground before we bust his ass?"
"No, I am NOT!" Blair waved his hands for emphasis. "I just think a little more respect should be…"
Jim suddenly held up his hand. "We're going in. Wait here, Chief." He fixed his younger partner with a level, cold look. "I mean it."
Blair leaned against side of the Ford. "At least I got to get out of the truck this time," he muttered.
He anxiously watched as officers of the Cascade PD approached the stately Victorian mansion. 'It's New Year's Eve for God's sake! The place is bound to be jumping! There's no telling who might be…' Blair bit his lip to keep from laughing out loud. He now understood Simon's smirk.
The young anthropologist saw Simon slam his fist twice on the front door. Barely seconds later, the officers were entering the house. Blair silently counted. At the count of four he heard shrieks and shouting.
Resting his elbows on the hood of the Ford, he held his chin in his hands and giggled. Men and women, in various stages of undress, began jumping out first-story windows. On the second and even third story, people's silhouettes framed the windows as they also sought an escape.
Blair hummed under his breath as the officers on the perimeter caught the fleeing patrons and employees of Miss Lizzie's and began the process of transporting them to various police stations. He openly listened as people were led past him.
"C'mon, officer! My wife's gonna KILL me!"
"I'll have you know, officer, that I am personal friends with the wife of the mayor's second cousin!"
"I swear I had no idea what was going on, officer! I had car trouble, you see, and just needed to use the phone."
Chuckling under his breath, Blair finally made his way towards the mansion. Openly admiring the scrolled woodwork on the front porch, he stepped inside…and into another era.
The furnishings in the large front room were comfortable…plush…and AUTHENTIC! Blair gently touched the velvet arm of a nearby chair. It was like walking into the middle of a hands-on Victorian museum. The babble of voices around him faded as he made his way around the room, gently touching a few figurines on the carved mantelpiece.
Suddenly, Simon's loud voice caught his attention. "Madam! If you PLEASE!"
"Don't 'Madam' ME!"
Blair turned to see an elderly woman leaning on a cane. Dark sunglasses hid her eyes as she looked up at Simon. Barely 5'4" tall and very thin, her white hair was neatly pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck. Her long burgundy dress was exquisitely tailored and matched the burgundy slippers on her small feet. A cameo broach at her throat and a plain gold wedding band were her only pieces of jewelry. She leaned on her cane for balance.
"I went blind in this house! Do you honestly think I can't find my way towards a chair?" The elderly woman made a 'shooing' motion with her hand. She unerringly walked across the room to a comfortable over-stuffed chair and regally sat down. "Now. What is all this nonsense? You're interrupting my New Year's Eve party and disturbing my guests."
"Guests!" Lt. Jerry Walden from Vice irritably snorted. "Don't put on airs with us, lady. This is your place, and you're no better than…"
"That's enough!" Simon angrily interrupted. "You have a job to do, officer! I suggest you do it and not trade insults with an 87-year old woman!"
Walden angrily stared at Simon but walked away.
Simon turned to the older woman. "My apologies, Mrs. Devereaux."
"You're Marjorie Devereaux?" Blair asked. He sat on the couch across from the chair. "You're a…a legend!"
"And you are?" Marjorie looked in his direction.
"Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Blair Sandburg. I'm a consultant to the PD," Blair held out his hand, gently brushing her fingers.
"It's a pleasure, Mr. Sandburg." Marjorie's voice held the remnants of a long-distant Southern childhood. The voice was lyrical and almost haunting.
"This is so awesome!" Blair grinned. "I mean…you're one of the leaders of the feminist movement in the state."
"Not really," Marjorie shook her head. "My mother was one of the early leaders. I simply followed in her footsteps. She campaigned for the right of women to vote, you know." The older woman briefly smiled. "She only took Daddy's last name because it sounded nicer than hers." She lowered her voice and whispered, "Hoggsett." The older woman shivered.
"Is that a picture of President Harding?" Blair asked, looking at a nearby bookshelf full of photos.
"In the silver frame? Second shelf from the top?" Marjorie asked.
Blair nodded, then remembered the woman was blind. "Yes, ma'am."
Marjorie patted his hand. "You have wonderful manners, young man. I can see your mother raised you correctly."
From a corner of the room where he was interrogating one of Marjorie's employees, Jim rolled his eyes. He made sure Sandburg saw it.
"On behalf of my mother, I thank you," Blair grinned at Jim. "I think you and she would get along. She's always been very independent."
"Good for her!" Marjorie thumped her cane once against the plush carpeting. "And, yes. That is a picture of President Warren G. Harding. The woman standing with him is my mother. She said he was a terrible President, but a most amusing guest."
Blair's blue eyes widened. "Um…President Harding? A guest?"
"You sound shocked, young man," Marjorie chuckled. "President Harding was a man. Not like those puffed up egotists who call themselves men today. They lift weights, do things to their bodies to make their muscles three times the size the Almighty intended them to be, and then call themselves men." The older woman snorted. "My husband was a man, Mr. Sandburg."
Remembering stories that Michel Devereaux, a transplanted French-Canadian, had been involved in bootlegging, smuggling, and murder, Blair decided to change the subject.
"How did you manage to wind up owning Miss Lizzie's?" Blair asked. He glanced across the room at Jim to make sure the Sentinel was handling the various odors and perfumes that permeated the house. The crease in Jim's forehead told Blair he was handling it, but it would probably be a problem before the evening was over. Even as Blair watched, Jim suddenly frowned and looked over his shoulder. Motioning for Rafe and Henri to follow, he walked into the dining room.
"I inherited it," Marjorie answered.
"Excuse me? You INHERITED it?" Blair blinked.
"From my mother," Marjorie nodded. "She purchased the house in the Spring of 1901. She took over the business from the previous owner, Estelle Goodman, when she decided to retire to Paris."
A sudden scuffling sound from the dining room caught their attention. Blair watched, wide-eyed, as Henri and Rafe forced a young man to the floor. Simon quickly cuffed the struggling young man.
"Dylan! Don't you policemen dare hurt him!" Marjorie shouted as she got to her feet.
Blair automatically helped the older woman rise.
"Mrs. Devereaux, please don't interfere!" Simon shouted. "We have a warrant for the arrest of Dylan Phillips!"
"Preposterous!" Marjorie retorted. "Dylan's done nothing!"
Rafe and Henri shoved Dylan into a chair where two uniformed officers stood guard over him.
"Captain, you should see this," Jim motioned.
"Dylan, are you alright?" Marjorie demanded.
"I'm fine," Dylan snarled. "Just keep quiet, okay?" The beefy young man eyed Blair with contempt.
"Your grandson?" Blair asked as he helped Marjorie sit back down.
"My granddaughter's son," the older woman corrected. "Honestly! So much nonsense over a little bookmaking! This is almost as bad as prohibition!" She snorted. "Elliot Ness was such an irritating pompous man."
Blair bit his lower lip. "Ummm…actually, I didn't hear them mentioning bookmaking."
"Hey! You! Long-hair! Quit hasslin' my grandma!" Dylan shouted.
"Dylan! Mind your manners! You will NOT speak to a guest in this house in that tone of voice!" Marjorie immediately corrected. "And you will do me the courtesy of using proper English! You are an educated young man."
Blair's eyes narrowed when the younger man sneered in the Marjorie's direction. "Mrs. Devereaux, can I get you something to drink? Tea? Water?" he offered.
"He just wants a chance to ransack the place!" Dylan angrily shouted. "Just like the other cops are doing! Shit! Who knows what they're making off with!"
"Dylan Augustus Phillips!" Marjorie thumped her cane on the floor. "You will not use such foul language in my presence! I'm sure these officers are not ransacking my home or taking anything! You will apologize at once!"
"We're only confiscating the drug lab equipment in that hidden room," Simon calmly interrupted as he came back into the room. "May I ask how many other hidden rooms there are in this house, Mrs. Devereaux?"
"Drug lab equipment?" Marjorie shook her head. "I'm afraid you're mistaken, Captain Banks. That's Dylan's bookmaking paraphernalia."
"Stupid old broad," Dylan muttered. "OWWWW!" He turned to look behind him.
"Mind your manners, Phillips," Jim growled.
"He hit me! That's police brutality!" Dylan yelled.
"I didn't see anything," Simon shrugged.
"Grandma!" Dylan shouted.
Slowly Marjorie got to her feet. Blair steadied her then stepped back when she motioned him away. "Dylan? You said you were involved in bookmaking. Now they say you had a drug lab in my husband's old workroom. Which is true?"
Dylan shook his head as he saw part of his lab equipment being carried out by the police. "You are such a stupid old woman!" he spat. "All that talk about how Great-Grandpa was so smart outwitting the cops by running bootleg whiskey down from Canada? This ain't any different!"
"I doubt your great-grandfather sold bootleg whiskey to ten and eleven year old kids," Jim snorted. "You, on the other hand, like getting them hooked young, don't you, Phillips?"
"You'll do yourself a favor by giving us the names of your suppliers and distributors," Simon advised.
"Go to hell," Dylan snarled over his shoulder.
Marjorie sighed. "Dylan, I have asked you and asked you to refrain from using such foul language in my presence."
Dylan twisted around to look at the elderly woman.
Before anyone could move or speak, Marjorie was gripping her cane like a baseball bat and striking Dylan across the shoulders.
"SON OF A BITCH BASTARD!" Marjorie screamed. "How dare you bring that filth into this house? How dare you endanger young innocent children?"
Belatedly, both Simon and Blair reached for Marjorie to restrain her. Jim kept Dylan from making a break for freedom when the elderly woman was pulled away.
"Just sit," Jim growled.
"I think she broke my arm!" Dylan whined.
"Then don't move it," the Sentinel dryly advised.
"Mrs. Devereaux!" Simon snapped. "Get yourself under your control!" He took a deep breath as Blair helped her to sit on the couch. "Tempting as it may be, I'm afraid we can't allow you to just…beat on your great-grandson."
"He's no part of my family!" Marjorie angrily declared. "I'm disowning the little bastard!"
Blair gulped, trying very hard not to laugh.
"Captain Banks, there isn't a woman OR man working in my employ who is under the age of 21," Marjorie proudly stated. "My employees are clean and healthy. The police are not called here to break up fights or other disturbances. In other words, sir, I run a respectable establishment." She sneered in Dylan's direction. "I have no use for drug dealers."
"Nonetheless, Mrs. Devereaux, I'm afraid you AND your employees will need to accompany us to the police station for questioning," Simon apologized. "The equipment was found in your house."
Marjorie sighed. "I understand, Captain. Thank you for your courtesies."
"Come on, Phillips." Jim pulled the young man to his feet. "Rise and shine. We'll let the EMTs take a look at you, then we'll have a nice long talk at the station."
"I ain't tellin' you nothin'!" Dylan shouted.
"If he doesn't answer you truthfully, young man, let me know," Marjorie spoke up. "I'll give him a switching he'll long remember."
Blair looked at the floor to keep from laughing at Jim being called 'young man'.
Simon busied himself reaching into his pocket for a cigar.
Jim slowly smiled when Dylan flinched. "Yes, ma'am. I'll keep you informed," he promised.
"We'll make sure everything's locked up," Simon promised Marjorie. "And if YOU promise not to use that cane as a weapon, I'll be sure no one takes it from you."
"Simon!" Blair hissed.
"I quite understand, Captain," Marjorie regally nodded. "I do apologize for my lapse of manners and shocking display of temper." She wrapped her hand around Blair's arm as she got to her feet. "Perhaps this kind young man could accompany me?"
"I'd be delighted," Blair grinned. As they turned around, he groaned, "Oh, no. Some of your Christmas window lights fell down. It's the row of candles with colored lights. I'm so sorry."
"Nonsense, those are cheap pieces of plastic. I'm actually happy NOT to be able to see them." Marjorie squeezed his arm. "The nice decorations are in my private rooms upstairs. Perhaps you'd like to see them when all this…unpleasantness has settled down. Some of them are very old."
"I'd love to!" Blair quickly admitted with a wide grin. "Thank you so much, Mrs. Devereaux."
"Still…" Marjorie frowned as they walked towards the door. "I DO like the house having a festive holiday atmosphere. Would you mind putting the candles back in the window, Captain Banks? No need to plug them in."
"My pleasure, Mrs. Devereaux." Simon motioned for Blair to get the woman out of the house before she asked for him to have it cleaned for her next 'party'. He managed to get between the couch and window and bent over to pick up the Christmas decoration.
"Captain." Marjorie stopped at the door. "Those ARE the blue lights, aren't they? Not the red?"
Simon glanced down at the lights. "Yes, Mrs. Devereaux, they're blue."
"Good. I didn't want the red." Marjorie firmly replied.
"Why not?" Blair asked.
Marjorie smiled. "Red lights in my window? Dear boy, people will think I'm running a whorehouse."
RETURN TO SENTINEL FAN FICTION PAGE