“Chains of Evil”
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Ponch asked.
“Would you believe they lost my uniform?” Jon exclaimed.
“Yeah, they said it will probably show up in the back.”
“Well then, it will.” Ponch grinned and started his motor.
* * * *
“Catch ya later ol buddy.” Ponch called to Jon as they headed home after their shift ended.
“Later Ponch.” Jon waved and took a left turn as Ponch continued down the street. He was almost home when he spotted a man fiddling with a flat tire near the shoulder. He sighed and pulled over.
“Hi there. Can I give you a hand?”
The man looked up gratefully. “Oh you sure can, Officer!”
Jon bent down. “Let’s see, what do we have here?”
Suddenly, pain ricocheted through him, then everything went black.
* * * *
Ponch sighed as he approached the Glendale overpass. It was 7:35am, and he was 15 minutes late. Jon would defintely have something to say. As he arrived, a bad feeling swept over him. Jon wasn’t there. He knew there was no way on earth Jon Baker was late. He waited a few minutes, then reached for his radio.
“7- Mary-3, this is 7-Mary-4. Do you copy?”
“Damn.” Ponch said aloud. He sighed. Jon must have given up and headed to Central without him. He started his motor and headed there himself.
* * * *
Ponch parked his motor and hurried inside.
“Hey, morning Ponch.” Barry Baricza greeted him.
“Morning Bear. You seen Jon around?”
“Nope. Can’t say I have. Don’t you two meet over at Glendale every morning?”
“Yeah, we do, but I was late today.” Ponch explained sheepishly.
“Oh. Well I’m sure he’s around somewhere.”
Ponch thought so too, but he began to worry when Jon’s seat remained unoccupied throughout briefing. Something’s wrong, he thought. Very wrong. Joe stopped him as he was leaving. “Hey, where’s Baker? It’s not like him to miss briefing.”
“I dunno Sarge. Um..maybe he called in sick?”
“Nope. He’s not on the list.”
Ponch got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Joe, he never showed up this morning. I’m worried.”
“Relax Frank. Go check with dispatch. He probably stopped to help at an accident on his way in.”
“You’re probably right Sarge.” Still uneasy, Ponch went to the front desk and dialed Jon’s number.
“Hi, this is Jon. You know how these things work, so when you hear the beep, go for it. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks.” Ponch slammed the phone down, then picked it up again and dialed dispatch. “Hi, this is Officer Poncherello. Can you give me the status of 7-Mary-3?”
“Just a minute…7-Mary-3 has been 10-10 since 1700 hours yesterday.”
Ponch hung up without replying, then broke into a run as he headed for Getraer’s office. “Sarge! Jon never called in 10-8 today! Something’s wrong!” he exclaimed anxiously.
Joe began to worry as he ran a hand over his face. “Okay Frank, you know the route he takes home, right?”
“Like the back of my hand!”
“Good, go scour it! Maybe he had an accident or something. Maybe he broke down.”
“On my way Sarge.” Ponch ran to his motor, jammed his helmet on, and gunned the engine as he sped out of the station. Where could he be? What could have possibly happened? Ponch tried to keep his mind off the more gruesome possibilties as he searched the route Jon took home every night. His heart sank as the search grew. Suddenly a flash of metal caught his eye. He pulled over and swallowing hard, walked down the grassy embankment, where he’d seen it. He gasped when he suddenly came upon a CHP motor half buried in the brush. “Oh my God.” He nearly lost it when his eyes fell on the saddlebag, its baton clasp empty. Jon was the only CHP motor officer he knew who carried his baton on his belt. When he cleared the brush from the license plate he knew for sure. Tripping up the bank, he ran for his radio.
“7-Mary-4 to S-4”
“S-4 here. Go ahead Frank.”
“Sarge…I…I just found Jon’s motor.”
There was silence, then. “Jon?”
“He’s not here Sarge. It looks like he never made it to work.” Ponch ‘s voice cracked.
“Yeah…or he never made it home last night.” Joe Getraer replied, his heart sinking fast.
“What the hell is going on? Where is Jon?” Ponch shouted.
* * * * *
Back at Central, Ponch paced back and forth as he and Joe waited for Harlan’s report. When the diminutive mechanic finally walked in, they pounced on him.
“The bike doesn’t show any signs of an accident or struggle. And the boys from Forensics say the only prints on it were Jon’s.”
“So now what do we do?” Ponch asked, frustrated and angry.
“Frank, I want you to get Jon’s picture and show it to everyone you can possibly find in the area where you found his motor. Then go to his apartment and search it. I’ll get a team together to scour the area where the motor was found. There has to be an answer somewhere!”
The radio came alive then: “L.A. 7-Robert. I’ve got a 10-55 off the San Diego Freeway, west- bound by the rest area. Victim is a white male, blond, between 30-35 years of age, approximately 6 feet tall….”
Ponch froze, his heart pounding in his ears. Joe’s face was ashen. Harlan just stood there, a hand over his mouth. Ponch would later have no memory of running from the office to his motor. It was pure instinct and adrenline that drove the 800 pound bike, not him. It was as if he’d stepped out of his body and was just watching everything around him. He arrived at the scene and slowly walked toward the body, wrapped in a bright yellow emergency blanket. His legs felt like jelly.
“Can I help you?” said a uniformed LAPD officer.
“Uh, yeah..this 10-55 matches the description of a missing CHP officer. May I?” he said, his mouth dry.
“Sure, be my guest.”
Ponch said a silent prayer and slowly lifted the blanket. His relief was so strong it nearly knocked him over. It’s not Jon! He looked up into the sky and said a silent prayer of thanks.
“Well?” the officer asked as Ponch straightened up.
“It’s not him.” Ponch said, heading for his motor. He could hardly wait to get back to Central. As he sped away he began to laugh. “It wasn’t Jon!” he shouted.
* * * * *
Back at Central, Joe wiped tears of relief from his eyes as Ponch told him the good news. “Ponch, get that picture and get out there. Somebody has to know something.”
Joe sat silently for a minute, running his hand over his face. Suddenly he made a fist and slammed it onto his desk.
* * * * *
Ponch yanked his locker open and rifled through the cluttered shelf until he found a red and blue envelope from the local photofinishers. He sat down on the bench and opened it, pulling out a stack of photos. They’d been taken a month ago, at an off-road race he and Jon had competed in. Ponch laughed as he remembered their very first race years earlier. Mob gold, unexploded mines, treasure hunters and a particularly nasty racer, “Supersport” had combined to make it a day they’d never forget. This race had been different. This time they’d ridden Jon’s trusty blue pickup to a first place win. Ponch dropped the stack beside him as he found the picture he wanted. He’d needed to use up the roll, so he’d brought the camera into work and taken a few casual shots of his friends. He looked down at the picture he was holding. He and Jon smiled back up at him as they stood by their motors, arms slung across each others shoulders. “Hang in there partner. Hang in there. We’ll find ya.” Ponch shoved the envelope and the rest of the pictures back into his locker, slammed it shut, and hurried to his motor.
* * * * *
It felt like a stable of horses was stampeding through his skull. Jon opened his eyes and tried to focus on his surroundings. What the hell was going on? He vaguely remembered something about a motorist with a flat tire. But this wasn’t the freeway, and there was no motorist. Taking a deep breath, he could smell the salt in the air. Well I’m by the beach, I know that much. He jumped as the scream of a gull shattered the silence. Geez Jon, relax..it was a bird! he silently scolded himself. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he looked around. He was in a small, bare room. He could make out a wooden table, the room’s only furnishings, save for whatever he was sitting on. As he tried to get up, he found his arms were tied behind him, so tightly they were beginning to go numb. His legs were tied up too. He struggled in vain to free himself. Exhausted, his head still pounding, he sagged in defeat as unconciousness embraced him again.
* * * * *
Ponch sighed in frustration as he reached for his radio. “L.A. S-4 , this is 7-Mary-4.”
“10-4. Go ahead Frank.” Getraer’s voice replied
“Nothin, Sarge. No one saw anything, no one heard anything, no one knows anything!” Ponch made no effort to hide his irritation.
“Easy Frank. I know what you’re going through, but I need you to stay focused. ”
“I know Sarge.”
“Okay Frank. Get over to Jon’s apartment and see if you can dig up anything there. Then get back here. I want you to pull all of the arrests he’s made for the past 5 years or so. We could be looking at someone with a grudge.”
Wouldn’t be the first time, Ponch thought. “10-4 Sarge.”
* * * * *
Jon was brought back to conciousness with a jolt as a gunshot rang out. Fully alert, a mixture a fear and anger ran through him. For a moment he thought he was back in ‘Nam.
“Son of a- ” hissed a voice.
“Shut up!” snarled another. “What the hell did you want me to do? He was gonna ruin everything!”
“Well now what do we do with him?”
“I don’t give a damn..toss him off the jetty. The tide’ll carry him half- way to Hawaii by tommorow morning.”
“I gotta check on pretty boy first.”
“What are you waiting for? Go do it. I still don’t know why you won’t let me kill him.”
“Not yet!” the first voice yelled.
Damn! Jon thought to himself. I know those voices…I know it! If I could just remember where..I must have busted both of them at some point. C’mon Jon think! He looked up with a start as the door banged open. Jon froze, unable to speak for a moment.
“So pretty boy…we meet again. You look like hell…you sure you’re a real cop?” he threw his head back and laughed.
Jon was stunned. Only once before had he had this same feeling..the feeling that you were gazing into a mirror..looking at a copy of yourself, only it was more than a feeling..it was horribly, unavoidably real.
“You! But I arrested you 8 years ago!” Jon exclaimed, numb with disbelief.
“Surprise! You ever heard of parole?”
Jon struggled against the ropes holding him to the chair. “You must really love jail, because that’s where you’re headed. Assault and kidnap of a peace officer is a heavy rap.”
“Shut up! That’s only if they find me.”
“You think they won’t? C’mon man they’re already looking for me, I guarrantee!”
“Yeah, and I can’t wait to see their faces when they find what’s left of ya!”
As the door slammed shut, Jon exploded. He used every ounce of strength he could summon as he tried to free himself. Pins and needles began to shoot through his arms as he succeeded in loosening the ropes some. He sagged forward with a sigh. How could this be happening?
It had all started 8 years ago. Sarge had started getting reports of a bogus CHP officer who’d been pulling over female motorists, then sexually harrassing and assaulting them. That had been bad enough, but when the victims began identifying him as the imposter, Jon had felt like his whole world was falling apart. He’d always prided himself on his integrity and ethics..he’d never even think of doing anything to tarnish the badge he wore. He’d never felt worse in his life. Then one day, while he and Ponch were dealing with a TC involving a train, they’d spotted him. Jon would never forget that moment when Ponch had pulled the imposter’s helmet off. Like looking into a mirror.
“He’s even better looking than you are!” Ponch had exclaimed in disbelief.
“Hey,” the imposter had asked, “are you two really cops?”
“Yeah,” he’d replied, ” we’re really cops. But it comes from inside, not from what you’re wearing.”
His “twin” had turned out to be David Wellington, a 30 year old loner with a history of mental problems and an obsession with the CHP. He’d had no idea he resembled Jon so closely. He’d been convicted of impersonating a police officer, sexual battery, and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries. Jon figured that was the last he’d seen of him. Paroled?? After just 8 years? He couldn’t believe it.
* * * * *
Ponch opened thr door to Jon’s apartment and walked in. He set his helmet on the counter and looked around. As usual everything was as neat as a pin. The sink was empty, the garbage had been emptied, even the floor looked freshly washed. The bed was made, and fresh towels hung in the bathroom. Ponch shook his head and grinned. The answering machine blinked. Ponch hit the play back button. Two messages from Meg, who was on leave in San Francisco teaching a seminar, a message from his Uncle Pete, and a message from Anderson’s Tack and Feed informing him that his order was in. Nothing unusual. He sat on the couch and ran a hand through his hair. He didn’t know where to start, or even what he was looking for. He sighed and began opening drawers. Jon’s mail didn’t yield much either. There was a phone bill, showing calls to Wyoming and San Francisco, a credit card bill, with a $150 dollar charge from Anderson’s Tack and Feed, and an insurance bill for the truck. There were four letters, 2 postmarked Wyoming, one from San Francisco, and one from the California Rodeo Association. Ponch dropped them and sighed. Another dead end. He took a deep breath and looked around the apartment. Nothing looked out of place. His eyes fell on a framed picture sitting on Jon’s bookshelf. He picked it up and smiled. It was a picture of the two of them, taken on their 4th anniversary as partners. He’d remember that day forever. He’d sold his stereo and taken every security detail he could get so he could buy Jon the speakers he’d been wanting, only to find out Jon had sold his stereo to buy Ponch a new turntable. Jon had cried that day, so had he. He wondered if Jon knew how much the past 8 years had meant to him. Jon was responsible for turning his life around. Ponch blinked back tears as he set the the picture down. The phone rang, and as he listened to the machine pick up, tears slid down his cheeks.
“Frank, it’s Joe. Pick up if you’re there.” Getraer’s voice demanded.
Ponch quickly wiped his eyes and grabbed the phone. “Hey Sarge.”
“Get back here Frank. T.C. might have found something.”
“On my way.” Ponch hung up, grabbed his helmet, and hurried out.
* * * * * *
Jon looked up as the door banged open. Wellington stood there dressed in a CHP uniform.
“Where did you-” he started to ask then stopped himself. Of course. His missing uniform.
“Hey pretty boy. How do I look?”
“What do you think you’re doing? Don’t you remember where it got you last time?”
“I sure do. You ruined my life. Now I’m going to repay the favor.”
Jon watched, speechless as Wellington picked up a badge from the table and pinned it to his uniform. 8712. He was numb with rage as he watched Wellington put on his nameplate and watch too. As he slipped Jon’s worn blond baton onto his belt, Jon looked down. He had everything, even his gun. Fear raced through him at the thought of what he might do.
“You’re crazy! Think about what you’re getting into! Man, you need help. I’ll help you. Just untie me and tell me who your partner is.”
Wellington laughed. “My partner? He split…couldn’t take the heat. It’s just you and me.”
Jon struggled against the ropes. As he felt one snap, a spark of hope ignited.
“Well, time to hit my beat.” Wellington laughed and walked out, banging the door shut.
* * * * *
“Sarge, T.C., what’s up?” Ponch asked as he walked into the office.
T.C. handed Ponch a file. “I did a little checking and guess who got out on parole last week. Ring any bells?”
Ponch opened the file, stared at it, then slammed it down on Getraer’s desk. “Wellington! Jon and I arrested him for impersonating a CHP. He could be Jon’s twin!”
“You think he’s capable of this, Frank?” Joe asked.
“At the time we arrested him, no. He was pretty spineless. But 8 years in prison tends to change a guy, you know?”
Joe nodded. “You think he’s our man?”
“I don’t know Sarge.”
“Ponch, did Jon say or do anything unusual before he disappeared?” T.C. asked.
“No, he was the same old Jon-” he stopped, stroking his chin.
“His uniform! The afternoon before he vanished, he found out the cleaners had lost one of his uniforms!”
T.C. pounded Getraer’s desk. “And Wellington’s out on parole..and he likes to impersonate CHP officers!”
“My God, this could be it. He probably has a grudge against Jon.”
Joe reached for the phone. “Frank, I’ve got to do a roll call. I want to be sure Jon’s the only one we have to worry about. You two are excused. I want you to pay a visit to Wellington’s parole officer. But make damn sure someone knows where you are at all times!”
As they hurried outside to their motors, Joe made a call to dispatch, telling them to put out an APB and asking them to call the shift back to Central. He hung up the phone with a heavy heart. This was every Sergeant’s nightmare.
* * * * *
“I wish I could help you, officers. But Mr. Wellington has been a model parolee. He hasn’t missed a single appointment.”
“Be that as it may, he’s still a suspect in the disappearance of a CHP officer. We’d like to talk to him.” Ponch replied.
“He’s probably at work right now.”
“Where’s that?” T.C asked.
“Let me see..” the harried parole officer leafed quickly through the file he was holding. “He works at Watkin’s Dry Cleaners over on-”
“I know where it is,” Ponch interrupted. He grabbed his helmet from the desk and hurried out, T.C on his heels.
* * * * *
Joe Getraer walked into the crowded briefing room. He swallowed hard and stepped to the podium to address the shift. “Okay settle down. I’ve got some bad news.” A hush fell over the shift. “As most of you have probably noticed, Jon Baker didn’t come in today.”
“Yeah Sarge, what happened? Jon never calls in sick.” Grossie asked.
“He didn’t today either. Poncherello found his motor in the brush near his apartment. The department is working on the assumption that he was abducted on his way home last night. I want you all to be extremely careful when making even routine stops. One missing officer is too many.” A shocked silence filled the room. “Okay. I’m going to do a roll call. I want to be sure everyone else is accounted for.” He began to read off names. Grossman,Arthur. McLeish, Stephen. Turner, Jebediah. He sighed with relief as every officer on the shift was accounted for. Well, almost every officer. As he dismissed the group and headed back to his office, his mind traveled back to a day 12 years ago, when his Sergeant’s stripes were still fresh………..
“You wanted to see me Sarge?”
“Yeah Gary. Have a seat. I just got word from the Lieutenant that we’re getting a new addition, fresh from the Academy.”
“I see. And I’m the babysitter, right?” Gary replied with a grin.
“Ah, I prefer to call it Field Training Officer. Relax Gary. Word is this guy was tops in his class.”
“Hmm..great. A know it all.”
“Now Gary, I seem to remember a young officer I trained not too many years ago who was also tops in his class at the academy. He was far from a know it all. In fact,” Joe leaned back in his seat, “I’d like to think I taught him a few things.” “Touche, Joe.” Gary said, laughing.
“Excuse me, Sergeant Getraer?” asked a shy voice.
Joe looked up. “Yep, that’s me.”
“I’m Jon Baker. I was told to report to you?”
Joe would never forget his first look at Jon. Tall, lanky and babyfaced, he looked like he belonged on a farm, not a motor. His voice had a gentle slurr to it. “Officer Baker, welcome to Central. We’ve heard good things about you from the academy.” The rookie smiled shyly and blushed. “Thank you sir.”
“Jon, this is Gary Bertrom, he’ll be your partner and FTO.”
“Hi. Nice to meet you.” Gary smiled and held his hand out.
“Hi.” Jon shook it.
“So Jon, tell us about yourself.You married?” Gary asked, sitting back down.
Jon shrugged and smiled. “Gosh no. I’ve been eatin, sleepin, and drinkin the Patrol for the last five months. I don’t even have a girl.” he blushed again. Joe smiled.
“You don’t sound like you’re from California. ” he said kindly.
“No sir, I’m not. I’m from Wyoming.” Jon replied softly.
“Hey, what brought you to California?” Gary asked.
Jon looked down for a moment. When he looked up there was a deep sadness in his blue eyes. “Nam.” he said it so softly they barely heard him.
There was an awkward silence. Then Gary grinned. “Okay we’ve been nosy enough for one day. Why don’t we hit the bricks and lasso us a few bad guys? You know, Sarge’ll give us a gold star if we ride our bikes, toot our horns and chew bubble gum at the same time.”
Jon grinned, then began to laugh, the sadness disappearing from his eyes.
…….and the rest is history. Joe sighed as he reached his office. Jon had to be out there somewhere, alive and well. He just had to be.
The hot afternoon sun beat down on Wellington as he made his way through the brush and weeds that surrounded Central. The roar of the freeway filled his ears. He made his way to the motor pool without being seen. Two motors stood gleaming in the sunlight. He ducked into the shadows as Harlan emerged from the station and headed towards the garage, grumbling to himself about mileage reports. As soon as the diminutive mechanic was out of sight, Wellington climbed on one of the motors, adjusted Jon’s helmet, and rode off.
* * * * *
“WHAT??” Getraer roared, “What do you mean your motor is missing?”
“Sarge, it’s not where I left it before briefing.” Grossie replied.
“Check with Harlan. Maybe he has it.”
“Already did Sarge. He said it was right next to Steve’s when he went by about 20 minutes ago.”
“Then what you are telling me is that creep Wellington was on the grounds of my station, stole one of my motors, and NOBODY NOTICED?” Getraer was furious.
“Sarge. stands to reason if he was wearing a uniform, nobody would have noticed him.” Steve offered.
Joe ran a hand over his face. “Grossman, put out an APB on your bike. Steve, get out there and keep an eye out. ”
“Right Sarge.” Steve hurried out.
“What about me? How am I gonna be able to do my beat without a bike?”
“I’m assigning you a to a new beat. The front desk.”
“Grossman, I don’t have a spare motor or cruiser. I’m sorry.”
As Grossman left, mumbling to himself, Getraer sighed. What else could possible happen today? He prefered not to think about it.
* * * * * *
“Good afternoon,” Ponch said quietly as he walked inside Watkin’s Cleaners,”I’d like to speak to the person in charge.”
“Well, that’d be me.” replied the woman behind the counter.
“Does a David Wellington work here?” T.C. asked.
“Not anymore he doesn’t. I fired him 3 days ago.”
“Mind if we ask why?” asked Ponch.
“He lost a customer’s order. A police uniform it was. One o’ yours. Mr. Baker is one of my best customers. I hated having to tell him. But he was so nice about it. He’s such a sweet man.”
Ponch couldn’t help but smile. “Yes he is.”
“You know him? Course you do. ‘Magine all you policemen know each other.”
“Not exactly ma’am. But yes, I know him.”
“Please tell him I’m prepared to reimburse him. Such a good customer he is. I’d hate to lose him.”
“So would we.” Ponch said softly.
“Ma’am, would you happen to have an address for Mr. Wellington?” asked T.C.
“Hold on..I’ll get you his application. What’s he done wrong?”
“We’re not sure yet.”
Ponch copied the address from the application into his note book and headed to his motor. “Thank you for your help ma’am.”
“Where to now?” T. C. asked as he put his helmet on.
“Where do you think?” Ponch called, starting his motor.
* * * * * *
Jon struggled against the ropes, his anger building. Now he knew how the calfs felt at the rodeo. He’d found a nail sticking out of the wall behind his chair and was rubbing his wrists against it, hoping it would tear the ropes apart. He winced as it suddenly dug into his flesh. Damn it! He had to get free. He’d never forgive himself if Wellington hurt anyone out there. He struggled harder. Suddenly he fell over with a crash. Silently he cursed himself and Wellington.
* * * * *
Ponch and T.C. rode up to the rundown beachhouse and stopped. As T.C began to look around, Ponch reached for the front door. Ponch tried the doorknob. Locked. He knocked on the door. “Hello, California Highway Patrol. Anyone home?” he called.
Jon’s head jerked up at the sound of his partner’s voice. “Ponch!”, he hollered, “Hey, Ponch! In here!”
T.C came around the corner. “Nothing out back.”
“Looks like nobody’s home.” Ponch said heavily. “I’ll call it in.”
T.C. watched him walk over to his motor. He and Jon have been nearly inseperable for 7 years. I can’t imagine what he must be going through. They were more than partners, they were damn near legends around Central. Everyone knew the story about how the softhearted cop had taken the hotheaded kid under his wing and turned him from a wild, impulsive rookie into a damn good CHP officer. It seemed improbable that the blond, blue-eyed boy from Wyoming and the dark haired olive-skinned kid from the streets of L.A could forge a partner- ship. much less a friendship, but Jon’s book smarts and Ponch’s street smarts complimented each other beautifully.
T.C. sighed as Ponch returned. “Well, what now? ”
“Sarge is working on getting a search warrant.”
* * * * * *
Jon struggled until he was lying on his back below the room’s one window. It was covered with a heavy curtain. When he’d fallen over, the rope binding his legs to the chair had slipped enough to free them. Taking a deep breath, he raised them and kicked at the window again and again.
* * * * *
As T.C fastened his helmet, Ponch reached for his radio. “L.A., advise S-4 that Mary 4 and 6 are-”
“Ponch, wait! I could swear I just heard glass breaking!”
“Me too.” he turned back to the radio. “Standby L.A.”
* * * * *
As he felt the glass break he began to holler again. “Ponch! Ponch!”
Outside, Ponch froze. “Listen! That’s Jon! I know it is!” he got off his motor so fast he knocked the kickstand out, and the bike toppled over. As he ran back towards the house, T.C followed. Ponch reared back and kicked in the door. He blinked in the sudden darkness. “Jon? Where are ya partner?”
“In here Ponch!”
Ponch ran toward his voice and found another locked door. “Hold on ol buddy!” he yelled as he forced the door open.
Finding Jon on the floor, still tied to the chair, he fell to his knees beside him. “Hey man, you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Get me outta here, wouldya?”
Ponch reached for his pocket knife and cut Jon free. He helped him stand up on shaking legs, then gave him a tight hug. Jon returned it, then headed for the door. “Ponch, we gotta find Wellington. He’s got my uniform, my badge, everything!”
“We know partner, and he’s got Grossie’s motor too!”
Jon blinked in the bright sunshine and automatically reached for his glasses. Of course they weren’t there. His uniform was bare. T.C. handed him his. “I always keep an extra pair. You sure you’re okay?”
Before Jon could answer, the sound of a motor caught their attention. Rage filled him as he saw Wellington approaching the house, then suddenly making a u-turn and speeding off. T.C. and Ponch ran for their motors. As T.C rode off, Ponch quickly rocked his upright and called to Jon. “C’mon partner, what are you waiting for?”
Jon hesitated a moment, then ran and climbed on to the back of the bike. Ponch hit his siren and gunned the engine as they sped off behind T.C.
“L.A. 7-Mary 4, in pursuit of kidnap suspect, eastbound on Malibu Road near Stony Cliff Beach!” Ponch shouted.
“Hey Ponch, better let me off! I’m slowing you down!” Jon yelled.
“No way, partner!”
“Ponch, do it! You’ll never catch up to him otherwise!”
Reluctantly, Ponch pulled over and watched as Jon climbed off. No sooner had his feet touched the ground when Baricza pulled up behind them. “Need a lift?” he called, grinning.
Jon waved Ponch off. “Go get him, partner!”
Ponch gave Jon a thumbs off and sped off. Jon jumped in the cruiser.
“C’mon Bear, let’s go!”
It wasn’t long before they caught up with the action. Wellington was weaving in and out of traffic as he tried to keep control of the 800 pound CHP motor. Ponch and T.C. were right on his heels.
“Attention, this is S-4! Pursuit has become too dangerous! Break off! I repeat, break off!”
Jon slammed his fist on the dash, his blue eyes flashing. Sighing, Bear slowed down and reached for the radio. “7-Adam. 10-4 Sarge.”
“Baricza! Is Baker with you?” Jon took the radio.
“Yes he is Sarge.”
“Jon! Are you alright!”
“I’d feel a lot better if we’d busted this guy.”
“I know Jon, but the important thing is you’re all right. Baricza, take Jon over to Valley General for a look over.”
“C’mon Sarge,” Jon protested, “I’m fine!”
“That’s an order Baker. S-4 out.”
* * * * *
An hour later, Jon returned to Central. Except for rope burns on his wrists, the hospital had pronounced him healthy. He walked into the briefing room to find everyone huddled over their reports. “Jon!” After reassuring everyone he was all right, he turned to Getraer. “Any word?”
Joe shook his head. “None. I’m sorry Jon. I wish I hadn’t had to cut the pursuit off.”
“Hey Jon, why don’t you head home and get some sleep? You must be exhausted!” Bonnie suggested.
“Can’t. Wellington’s got my keys too.” Jon said heavily.
Ponch dug into his pocket and pulled out a worn key. “Hear ya go ol buddy. Ponch to the rescue!” he grinned.
“Ponch has a key to your apartment?” Grossie exclaimed.
“Yeah,” Jon replied, “for emergencies.”
Ponch picked up the reports he was working on. “C’mon, let me change and I’ll give ya a ride home. I’ll finish these later. That okay, Sarge?”
“Yeah Frank, go ahead.”
* * * *
Jon was silent as they pulled into his apartment complex. He sighed as he got out. Ponch watched him as he locked his door. “Hey Baker, you sure you’re okay?”
“No, I’m not. And I won’t be okay as long as that jerk is out there wearing my badge!” Jon exploded, walking quickly toward the entrance to the building.
Ponch started after him then stopped. “Jon! Look!”
Jon turned and looked where Ponch was pointing. At the far end of the lot sat a CHP motor. Jon stood motionless as Ponch jogged over to the motor. “Is it Grossman’s?” he shouted over.
Ponch quickly scanned the license plate and stood up, nodding. Jon turned and began to run into the building, digging in his pocket for his key.
“Jon, wait!,” Ponch called breathlessly,” we better call for backup!”
“This one’s mine, Ponch!” Jon yelled over his shoulder, disappearing into the building.
Ponch reached into his car and grabbed the radio. “L.A 7-Mary-4 to S-4!”
“S-4. Go ahead Frank.”
“Sarge, we found Grossie’s motor outside Jon’s place. We think Wellington’s inside. We need backup!”
“You fellas stay put! I’m sending two units now!”
“Too late Sarge, Jon’s already gone inside. I couldn’t stop him!”
“Damn! Go after him, but be careful!”
“10-4 Sarge!” Ponch left the hand set dangling and ran into the building.
* * * * * *
Jon approached his apartment cautiously, praying none of his neighbors would come out. He slipped his key into the lock and opened the door silently. He looked around the living room in shock. His opened mail lay scattered around the sofa and coffee table, and his antique saddle had been taken off the wall and tossed in a corner. One of his uniform shirts was lying on the kitchen counter, the badge shining in the light. As he reached for it, Wellington came out of the bedroom, dressed in Jon’s jeans and yellow sweatshirt. Upon seeing Jon, he bolted back into the bedroom and came back out holding his service revolver.
“C’mon Wellington, it’s all over. Haven’t you gotten yourself into enough trouble already?”
“Hey, I’m the one with the gun. Way I see it, you’re the one in trouble!”
Ponch burst in, startling him. Jon took the chance and grabbed the saddle sitting in the corner, hefting it over his shoulder and throwing it at Wellington. The heavy saddle hit him squarely in the chest, sending the gun flying and Wellington backwards. Ponch pounced on him and pinned him to the floor as Jon retrieved his revolver and put it on the counter.
“Hey, you guys okay?” Turner asked as he arrived.
“We’re fine,” Ponch replied, “but we could use a pair of cuffs.”
As Jed reached for his, Jon held his hand out. “Allow me.”
Jeb grinned. “With pleasure, my friend.” Jon hauled Wellington to his feet and cuffed him.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you can not afford one, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?”
T.C. walked in. “Everything under control?”
“Yeah, everything’s fine, T.C.” Ponch replied.
“My God!,” T.C. exclaimed, “he looks more like Jon than Jon does!”
“Maybe so,” Ponch grinned. “but there’s only one Jon Baker.” he gave Jon a thumbs up. Jon smiled and returned it.
* * * * * *
The next morning, Ponch was sunning himself on his motor at the Glendale overpass as Jon rode up.
“I don’t believe it!” Jon exclaimed, taking his helmet off, ” Francis Llewellyn Poncherello early??”
“Very funny. You’d think I’ve never been on time before!” Ponch replied, sitting up.
Jon laughed. “You never have!”
Ponch grinned. “Good to have ya back partner. After all you’ve been through I figured the least I could do was be on time.” he reached into his saddlebag and pulled out his stash of junk food. “Ding Dong?”
Jon shuddered. “At 7am? Your stomach must be made of steel!”
Ponch laughed as he bit into the chocolatety treat and returned the rest to his saddlebag.
“You ready?” Jon asked.
“In a minute. Listen partner, payday isn’t for another 3 days and I got a big date tonight. I was wondering…”
Jon sighed and dug into his pocket. He pulled out a crumpled twenty and handed it to Ponch. Ponch grinned as he took it. “Like I said ol buddy, good to have you back!” he called as he drove off.
Jon watched him for a moment and began to laugh. It was good to be back. As he started his motor he sighed. And it was great to be the only Jon Baker again. ” Jon,” he said aloud as he drove off, “you have yet another story your grandchildren won’t believe.”
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