"The Naked Beat" drabbles by Christopher

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 235

The Naked Beat

She stood up and surrendered. They handcuffed her and led her out. As she went by Harrigan, she kissed him on the cheek. It reminded me of the story of Mata Hari, the German spy in World War I who blew a kiss to her firing squad right before they turned her into a piece of Swiss cheese.

Harrigan turned to his men, "Take her in and book her."

Then he came toward me, sticking his hand out. I couldn't stay upset with the big lug. We'd been through too much together.

I shook his hand and then hugged him...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 234

The Naked Beat

I heard sirens outside as patrol cars began closing in on Jade Chen's mansion. I bet it was waking up all the Hollywood movie stars living in the area. Cops were entering the house by the dozens, all for one little Chinese girl that didn't have a bit of fight left in her.

Harrigan led the way into the drawing room, flanked by cops on each side. He looked at me and I motioned with my eyes toward the fireplace. He saw the charred ashes of his shame and smiled.

"Jade Chen, you're under arrest for prostitution and drug trafficking."

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 233

The Naked Beat

All that was left in the suitcase was the money, which Jade Chen wouldn't be needing anymore. Where she was going, her accommodations, clothing and food would all be provided by the State for about the next 20 years or so.

I stood there looking at her with her head hung down so low she could lick the floor. She must've really thought she had it made. And she did for a while. But she got greedy. If she hadn't gotten into the heroin trade, she'd still be running her house of ill repute and making lonely, horny men happy...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 232

The Naked Beat

There was a wad of cash in there thick enough to choke a camel, along with all the blackmail evidence: pictures of Harrigan's magical night with Jade Chen, along with the negatives and a reel of film. I unrolled some of the film out and held it up to the light. Stag films you had to send away to Mexico to get would pale in comparison to this cinematic masterpiece.

I built a fire in the fireplace and then one by one tossed the incriminating evidence against Harrigan onto it.

Jade Chen watched as her life went up in smoke...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 231

The Naked Beat

"Going somewhere, Jade? And I thought the party was just getting started," I said rather smugly. "Don't leave yet."

I grabbed the Magnum from her hand and tossed it to Jeffrey. Then I pushed her back into the room. Jeffrey had the gun on her, so I slid my borrowed police revolver back in the shoulder holster under my arm.

I snatched the suitcase from her hands, despite her best efforts to thwart that action. I went over to the fireplace and laid the suitcase down flat on the stone hearth.

Then I popped the clasps and opened it up...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 230

The Naked Beat

"If you're blackmailing Harrigan then why are you running?" he asked, probably trying to stall her from shooting him until I could join the party.

"Because I believe Chief Harrigan's devotion to his duty has finally surpassed his fear of me. But I keep my word. I will be making this evidence public."

She picked up the suitcase and started out the double doors of the drawing room. She turned back and pointed the gun at Jeffrey.
I pulled the gun I'd bummed off of Harrigan, stepped up behind her, and pressed the end of the barrel to her temple...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 229

The Naked Beat

Then she pulled a .44 Magnum out of the safe and turned to point it at Jeffrey. He didn't even looked fazed. This guy was cooler than a naked Eskimo.

She had finished packing the suitcase with the money and the blackmail evidence in it and then zipped it shut with her free hand.

I had filled in Jeffrey on the way there about Harrigan's situation. He didn't like it. I think he thought his daughter would still be alive if Harrigan had not been afraid to do his job.

And he was right. But nothing could change that now...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 228

The Naked Beat

Jade Chen had a safe open, transferring its contents to a suitcase. It looked like she was getting ready to bug out of this place, and she was taking her money and gathering her most important possessions. I was willing to bet a month's pay that the blackmail evidence was the first item on that checklist.

Jeffrey had been filling her in on the night's events.

"Yes, Mr. Miller," Jade Chen said as she continued her work, "my contact at the marina told me that Alex and Skip had been arrested and that you and Mr. Randolph had survived, unfortunately."

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 227

The Naked Beat

I eased out of the bedroom and looked over the balcony down on the first floor. I could hear movement in the drawing room. I went to the wide staircase that looked like something out of Gone With The Wind and quietly made my way down. Then I heard voices in the drawing room. One was Jade Chen's; the other was Jeffrey's. He'd found another way in and confronted her. I would've preferred to reconnoiter the joint before revealing our presence to Jade Chen. But that was shot to hell now.

I silently slipped up to the drawing room doors...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 226

The Naked Beat

I knew Jade Chen would have the evidence here. She would've kept it under wraps. She probably bumped off the photographer that took the pictures and shot the film footage and whoever developed it all. One thing is certain about blackmailers: they want to keep the evidence a secret every bit as much as the one being blackmailed. Because once the truth gets out there, their hold on the victim is gone.

I checked behind pictures, felt for secret panels in the walls, but kept coming up blank. It was clear the evidence was in another part of the house...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 225

The Naked Beat

The lights were off as I peered through the glass of the doors. There was light coming from the hall beyond the bedroom door and casting a dim glow into the room. It had no vestiges of Oriental culture, but rather looked like the bedroom of a Hollywood movie star.

I quietly slipped through the doors and looked around the dark room, trying to find a safe where Jade Chen might be keeping the blackmail evidence.

I looked back at the French doors, expecting Jeffrey to have followed me up. But he never came.

Maybe he found another way in...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 224

The Naked Beat

The kitchen door I had gone through earlier was now locked. I cursed and turned to Jeffrey.

"We're going to have to find another way in."

Jeffrey traced the wall around and saw a trellis at the corner of the front of the house. It had numerous vines with flowers of some variety snaking all through it. He tugged on it and it appeared sound, so I climbed up and rounded the corner, pulling myself up onto the railing of the balcony that stood over the front doors. There were two French doors leading to a bedroom.

Jade Chen's bedroom...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 223

The Naked Beat

I had one hope of getting into Jade Chen's property unnoticed. They were expecting Alex and Skip to be returning after doing us in, so I pulled Skip's car up to the gates and stuck my hand out the window the way I saw Skip do it a hundred years ago earlier that evening. The guard, the same one I'd knocked out and tied up, opened the gates. Since it was dark, I seriously doubted that the man would be able to tell that Jeffrey and I weren't Alex and Skip...

I pulled the car up to the side entrance...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 222

The Naked Beat

We led the floating caravan of police boats back to the marina. As they were taking Alex and Skip to the police cars, I stopped them, stuck my hand in Skip's pocket, and fished out the keys to his car. He didn't even protest. He just shrugged, looking absolutely defeated.

I had told Harrigan to give me an hour before hitting Jade Chen's house. Hopefully that would give Jeffrey and me enough time to get back there, find the blackmail evidence, and destroy it.

We jumped in Skip's car and hightailed it back to Jade Chen's mansion in Beverly Hills...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 221

The Naked Beat

I turned to Jeffrey, "You ready to wrap this up?"

He grinned, "Let's do it."

I turned to Harrigan, "See that Rebecca gets home safely, Jim."

He nodded.

An officer that was moving the handcuffed Alex and Skip to the police boat asked Harrigan, "What are we charging them with, sir?"

He started to speak and I interrupted, "Narcotics, and two counts of kidnapping and attempted murder."

The officer's eyes darted from mine to Harrigan's and he just shook his head and quietly told the officer, "What he said."

We fired up Jade Chen's yacht and made for the marina...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 220

The Naked Beat

I made it back to Rebecca and Jeffrey and stood looking at the black water I'd just gotten out of. I thought about Mr. Li's henchman.

"You know," I said, talking to myself, "I never even knew that poor bastard's name."

Rebecca leaned in to me, "What was that, Jake?"

I shook my head, "Nothing, baby."

I turned to her and put my hand on her cheek. "You saved our lives tonight, Rebecca. I think you're the bravest person I've ever known."

She grinned and we kissed in the moonlight, with Jeffrey smiling widely and Harrigan just standing there glaring...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 219

The Naked Beat

"Look, Jim. I didn't have a chance to find what we talked about finding before you made a move on Jade Chen," I said, feeling like a failure.

Harrigan nodded, "It's okay, Jake. You were right. I should've already done my job and to hell with the consequences. Well, I'm doing that now. And I'm ready to face whatever comes after."

I shook my head, "Give me one hour before you move on Jade Chen."

I started toward the aft of the ship.

"What are you going to do, Randolph?" he yelled.

"I'm gonna save your ass one more time!"

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 218

The Naked Beat

"Typical," Harrigan said in his gruff voice. "I get word that you're in danger and I come all the way out here to find that you're just taking a midnight swim!"

I smiled, "At least I wasn't skinny-dipping."

Harrigan grunted. "Do you mind explaining to me what's going on?"

"Sure," I said as I got up off the deck, kissed Rebecca and patted Jeffrey on the back, and then put my arm around Harrigan and led him up to the front of the boat.

There were cops jumping from the police boats onto Jade Chen's yacht at every step...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 217

The Naked Beat

As I got to the back of the boat, Jeffrey and Rebecca each offered me a hand up. I crawled over the railing and dropped, soaking wet, onto the deck. Then I saw Harrigan boarding the ship. That old son-of-a-gun really came through for me. Not that I didn't already have the situation well in hand, you understand. But he was willing to give up everything he'd worked so hard for in order to save an old friend. That kind of loyalty only comes around once in a lifetime, and that's if you're lucky.

I was lucky...

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Jake Randolph in "The Naked Beat" Pt. 216

The Naked Beat

I let go of him and burst up into the dark night as I saw boats surrounding the yacht and a voice over a bullhorn loudly saying, "This is the police! Drop your weapons and prepare to be boarded!"

As I swam the distance Mr. Li's henchman and I had drifted from the boat, I saw Alex and Skip staggering to their feet and raising their hands in the air. Jeffrey and Rebecca were leaning over the back of the boat, both looking like they were searching for a sunken treasure.

That kind of made me feel good, ya know?