"I have a car waiting to take you and Katie back to the orphanage, Dolan," Harrigan said, standing back up.
"Thanks," he said as he and Katie started to the door. Katie turned around and said, "See you later, Mr. Randolpe!"
I smiled as she went out the door.
Harrigan looked at me, "Going home?"
"Nope. Got a date."
"With you. It's Saturday morning. We're going fishing."
"Randolph, it's a quarter to six! We both need some sleep."
"We'll sleep later. Right now we're going fishing."
Harrigan shook his head as we went to the car.
Max came into the waiting room about the time Harrigan walked in.
Katie woke up and went to her father, standing at his side with her arm around his waist.
"Well, Dolan," Harrigan said, "No charges are going to be filed against you, but we will need you to make a statement tomorrow. And you may need to testify in the case against Gallagher's surviving men."
Max nodded, "Whatever it takes. I want to thank you both for what you did."
"It was my pleasure, Dolan," Harrigan said as he knelt down in front of Katie and kissed her forehead...
Katie dropped off to sleep while we were waiting for them to finish sewing up Max. I just sat there holding her hand while she rested her head on my shoulder.
I knew this was the perfect way to end my career as a private detective. I didn't know what I was going to do with the rest of my life, but I knew I'd put the finishing touches on my time as a detective. Maybe some day I'd come back to it. I might have to be dragged kicking and screaming back to it, but anything's possible, I suppose...
"I talked with your Aunt Barbara earlier and made a suggestion. Your father has a lot of legal hoops to jump through before he can get custody of you again, so I asked her to see if he could get a job at the orphanage as a handyman. That way you'd see him every day while he goes through the legal proceedings to get you back."
She looked up at me. "I love you, Jake."
She put her head back down on my shoulder.
That was good. I didn't want her to see what was coming out of my eyes...
"There's one thing I need to tell you, Katie. Miss Barbara... she's your aunt. She's your father's sister."
"Yeah, I know," she said softly, not taking her head from my shoulder.
That floored me.
"How did you know?"
"I have a faded old picture of two little kids sitting in front of a Christmas tree opening presents. I could tell that one of them was Daddy and that the other was Miss Barbara."
I smiled. This kid was one smart cookie.
"You know, you're going to have to start getting used to calling her Aunt Barbara."
I heard her giggle...
I didn't have all the answers. A lot of it didn't even make sense, but that's how life is. You sometimes don't understand how you wind up where you are.
"Because that man that took you wanted your father. And if he had been able to get you he would've used you to get to your daddy, just like he wound up doing tonight...or last night."
"It still doesn't make sense," she said.
"Sometimes life doesn't make sense."
She scooted her chair over and put her head on my shoulder.
That was the best part of the night...
"You paid me to find him, Katie. I wasn't going to let you down."
"Jake? Did...did that man who took me have something to do with why Daddy left me...in that orphanage?"
I nodded. I didn't know how much of the story Max wanted her to know. But after all she had been through she deserved the truth.
"You see, your father did some things when you were just a baby and he was trying to make them right but he actually made things worse, much worse. The only way to protect you was to leave you in that orphanage."
Eddie just stood there looking at me.
"What is it?" I asked.
He put his hand on my shoulder as he walked past me, "He's not wrong, Randolph."
Harrigan said he'd get things cleared up and then meet us a little later, so I took Max and Katie to the nearest hospital. I wasn't too familiar with the Laguna Beach area but found it soon enough.
Katie and I sat in the waiting room while they patched up Max's shoulder.
"I just can't believe you found him, Jake," she said as we sat in those little orange plastic uncomfortable chairs...
Max needed to go to the hospital to get stitched up and Katie asked me if I would accompany them. I told her I would but I had to do something first.
I went over to Whistling Eddie and Aristotle, who hadn't left the construction site yet.
"Eddie, Ari," I said softly, "I don't even have the words to thank you."
Aristotle bit the end off a cigar, spit it out, lit the cigar and said, "You're a good egg, Randolph. But if you tell anybody I said that I'll bite your kneecaps off!"
I grinned as he walked off...
The first was to see if she could convince Miss Lewis to hire Max as a handyman for the orphanage. He was going to have an uphill battle with the courts to get custody of Katie again and that way he'd still be with her every day. She started crying and said that was a wonderful idea.
The other proposition I had was if she would have dinner with me that night. It was only 4 am but I didn't wanna wait to ask her. She said she would like that very much.
I told her I'd call her later...
The rest of the night was somewhat of a blur. Harrigan called in and got Gallagher's men who were still alive picked up and carted off to jail; the rest went to the morgue. I went in to the construction trailer and called the orphanage and told Barbara everything was fine, that Gallagher was dead and Max and Katie had been reunited. I told her she was going to have to be ready to explain to Katie that she had not only gained her father but an aunt as well.
I also had a suggestion for Barbara.
Well, two, actually...
She turned and saw her father standing there. He had a little bit of blood on his left shoulder. Apparently, Gallagher had only winged him.
I set her down on the ground and she walked slowly over to him. He knelt down in front of her.
"My goodness, you've gotten so big," he said with tears in his eyes.
She didn't say anything, just put her arms around his neck and her head on the shoulder that wasn't bleeding. He picked her up.
Aristotle walked up and said, "Where the hell is Gallagher?"
"Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean," I said...
Harrigan and I walked back to the construction site. All of Gallagher's men were lying on the ground, either dead or hogtied.
Eddie came out of the shadows with Katie, who saw me and came running.
"Jake!" she yelled. "I knew you'd come for me!"
I picked her up in my arms and she hugged me tightly. I didn't know what to say about Max. I didn't know if he was dead or alive.
"Did you find my daddy?" she asked with tears in her eyes. She was trembling.
"Yes he did, sweetheart," Max said as he came walking up...
I stood there looking down into the inky blackness, hearing the waves pounding the rocks. The moon gave little illuminations to the tops of the waves. I couldn't see Gallagher anymore.
I contemplated what I'd just done. Was that coldblooded murder? Did that make me no different than him?
Those were questions other people would have to answer.
I heard someone coming up behind me and I turned to see Harrigan.
"Did you get Katie?" I asked.
"Yeah, she's fine. What happened here?"
"Gallagher slipped and fell."
Harrigan looked over the cliff and then back at me, "That's a shame."
I was holding all of Gallagher's weight with the rope. He was clutching with one hand while simultaneously trying to pull himself up onto the precipice with the other hand.
I stood up and planted my feet firmly as Gallagher yelled "Randolph! Pull me up! For the love of God, man, pull me up!"
"For the love of God?" I said. "That's funny coming from a man like you, Gallagher."
"Please, Randolph! I'll give ya anything ya want! Money...women...anything!"
"Sorry, Duncan, but you've reached the end of your rope," I said as I let it go and watched him fall...
I did the only thing I could do. I brought my arm up and poked Gallagher in his eyes with my fingers. He grunted and loosened his grip on the rope and I used every ounce of strength I had to pull up my lower body and toss Gallagher up and over me. I didn't realize we were that close to the precipice. He went over the side but was still clutching the rope. It started unwinding from around my neck and giving me a hell of a rope burn. I turned over on my stomach and grabbed the rope...
I found myself lying on a beach next to Barbara, with Katie building a sandcastle near us. I could hear the waves crashing as I looked up at the sun.
This is what I've always wanted, I thought. A good woman, a cute kid, a beach. It's perfect.
No, it isn't, another voice said to me. This isn't you, Jakey boy.
Katie started dumping buckets of sand on my face. Before long, I couldn't breathe.
No! This is not how it ends!
I opened my eyes and saw Gallagher grinning, knowing he'd just about choked the life out of me...
I held that one sweet breath I was able to take in as long as I could and then exhaled, which provided only a moment of relief. I was trying to take in another breath but it was no use. The rope was too tight around my neck. I was starting to get lightheaded. I thought about Max lying there, wondering if he was dead or alive. And then I thought about Katie. I had failed her. I found her father only to get him shot before they could even have a reunion.
My mind drifted off into blissful nothingness...
"Not yet, Randolph," he said, bringing the palm of his hand up under my chin, knocking my head back and probably doing some damage to my dental work. He then reversed the hold and I found myself on my back looking up at him straddling me. He smacked me in the face a few times, grabbed the end of the rope and wrapped it around my neck a couple of times and started tightening. I knew what he was doing and managed to get a good breath in before the rope started biting into my neck like a thirsty vampire...
We were rolling around on the ground, inching further from the construction site and out onto the peninsula. The lights at the construction site weren't as bright out there, so Gallagher and I were pounding the crap out of each other by the light of the silvery moon. We were out so far I could hear the waves crashing onto the rocks at the bottom of the cape.
There were some random tools scattered on the ground: a handsaw, a couple of pickaxes, and a coil of rope.
I smacked Gallagher on the jaw and straddled him.
"It's over, Gallagher!"