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Joyce paced the wide expanse of the courtroom corridor, pausing every few seconds to check the clock on the wall. Where was he? She wondered. The man was twenty minutes late. As usual, she was dressed to impress, although perhaps a little less businesslike with him in mind. The courthouse was unusually quiet so early in the morning and she was alone except for the prerequisite guard or two at the entrance. She’d expected her detective boyfriend to keep her company until the trial started.

Starsky parked the Torino in the lot across the street from the courthouse. He knew he was running late, so he jumped out and sprinted over to the attendant to pay for parking, then ran across three lanes of oncoming traffic just to get into the courthouse two seconds faster. He displayed his badge for the guards at the entrance, dashed past them and flew into the elevator on his way up to Judge Houghton’s courtroom.

When the elevator doors opened, he caught sight of Joyce, looking blindingly beautiful as usual, but with an agitated look on her face. He stepped out of the elevator and walked toward her.

"You’re late!" she said, feigning displeasure.

"I’m sorry." He held out both arms as he walked over to her.

"Okay, I’ll forgive you." She gave him a hug. "But just this once."

"Good." They walked arm and arm over to the bench outside the courtroom door. "So what’s on the agenda for today?"

They sat down next to each other holding hands. "The arraignment begins in a half an hour. If Carlisle does what he’s supposed to do, Vincent Bartok won’t see the light of day for many years to come."

"I think we can count on him to do that. He’s seems like a good apple that just got thrown into a rotten barrel."

"What’s this? A little ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ philosophizing?"

"You ain’t kiddin’. I coulda been him if my Mom hadn’t sent me to California when she did."

"Bad Boy Starsky, hummm. I kind of like the way that sounds. It’s got a kind of a ring to it. But no, I think I’d rather have you on my side."

"So would I." He kissed the space between her earlobe and her neck and she laughed.

-----

Angela was sitting in front of Ron Samuel’s desk, blankly staring out of his office’s picture window. She half listened as Samuels commended her on a job well done, spouting all manner of praise about the article and the photos she’d submitted. For all she cared, he might as well have been talking to a wall, because the only thing on her mind right now, was how to tell Ken Hutchinson the truth. This man whom she barely knew, had risked his own life to save hers. And damn it, she just wasn’t used to people doing unselfish things like that for her. Who did he think he was, anyway? This was the hard part, owning up to the web of lies she’d weaved and trying to salvage a relationship out of it. Even if it was just as friends. As she was about to figure out how to address the problem, Samuels put his hand on her shoulder and interrupted her thoughts. "Did you hear me? I said you did a marvelous job, Ms. Garvey. You should be proud."

"Yes. Thank you, I am, sir."

Samuels held the mock up of the magazine in his hand, flipping through the pages while he commented on the photos and the story. He read the front page out loud: "‘The Bartok Trial: Memoirs of a Mob Informant or, The Double-edged Sword Of Criminality’. Beautiful, just beautiful, and the pictures are spectacular!"

"I’m glad you like it. Ah, Mr. Samuels, I have a question to ask you…actually, it’s more of a request." She smiled at him nervously.

"By all means, Ms. Garvey, what is it?"

"I’d like your permission to have a supplement printed with the story."

"By all means, whatever you need to say, say it. Write it up, do whatever you need to do." He took her hands into his own.

"Thank you, Mr. Samuels, this really means a lot to me."

She smiled at him, and he released her hands as she turned to go.

-----

It was day one of the grand jury trial, and David Starsky was standing in the corridor of the courthouse pacing back and forth, looking very Gentleman’s Quarterly in a navy blue suit and burgundy tie. He was waiting for Drummond and his men to escort Carlisle from the elevator and into the judge’s chambers. It wasn’t long before a group of men in dark suits emerged from the elevator and Starsky walked over to join them. "Good mornin’, Sir." He offered his hand to Drummond, which he promptly took.

Drummond had a monster of a handshake. "Detective Starsky, nice to see you again. How’s that partner of yours?"

Starsky flexed his fingers. "He’ll be okay. He’s resting up at home."

"Good, good. I’m glad to hear that."

Carlisle made his way through the crowd of agents guarding him, and he was resplendent in a broad brimmed Panama hat, and an equally fashionable jacket and tie. He proffered his hand to the detective, who shook it warmly.

"Well, don’t you look snazzy?"

"No matter where I am or what I’d doing, I try to look my best, Sergeant Starsky."

"Well, you do. So, how’s it goin’, Mr. Carlisle?"

"Just fine, Detective. But I’ll be even better after this is over."

"Just go in there and tell them the truth. Everything should fall into place."

"I hope you’re right."

Just then, the same attractive bailiff from the hearing opened the courtroom doors. "The judge is ready now, please come in and take your seats."

The twelve-member jury had already filed into the courtroom, the lot of them an odd collection of modern day society. They were mostly Caucasian and male, with a token female and a black or two thrown in for good measure. The female bailiff knocked on the judge’s chamber door and the judge came out. "All rise, all rise, ' she said. "the honorable Judge William Houghton presiding." She stepped away and to her post.

Everyone rose as Judge Houghton strode in and took his seat behind the bench. "Please be seated. The hearing with regards to The State vs. Vincent Bartok, is in now in session."

There was a focused rumbling from the gallery as everyone finished taking their seats and the judge began the proceedings. "We’ll begin with an opening statement from the prosecution and then the defense. Mr. Charles Harris for the defendant, Ms. Joyce Carlson for the prosecution."

Ms. Carlson rose. "Thank you, your Honor. Good morning." She turned to the defense table. "Good morning, Mr. Harris, Mr. Bartok, and others for the defense and members of the courtroom. My name is Joyce Carlson and I am associate counsel for the above-entitled action, The State vs. Vincent F. Bartok, et al. We seek to confirm and prove the involvement of Mr. Bartok in numerous acts of extortion, murder and arson."

She sauntered confidently over to the jury box and pulled her glasses down over her nose as she studied each one of them.

"Members of the jury, I believe the evidence in this case will show beyond a shadow of a doubt, what we all know to be true about Mr. William Vincent Bartok. That he is a well-known entity in the criminal world. And that he has the means and certainly the power to make bad things happen to good people if they don’t settle the score with him. Up to now, he’s been very elusive and we haven’t had enough concrete evidence to put him away. But that’s something that’s going to change, and it’s changing today."

She positioned herself directly in front of the jury members in the first row and placed both hands on the railing for emphasis.

"The purpose of this trial today is to prove to you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that a verdict of guilty is the only one that could possibly be decided. No, Mr. Bartok didn’t actually go out and commit any the crimes he’s accused of, but he is an accessory to murder after the fact. I leave it to all of you, after hearing the witness and FBI testimony, to determine whether or not to put Vincent Bartok and his associates where they belong, behind bars. I thank you."

She paused a moment for dramatic effect, pushed her glasses back onto the bridge of her nose and walked back to the table to sit down. Everyone, including Starsky, was clearly impressed. She really was a very good orator.

The judge cleared his throat and turned his attention to the defense counsel table. "Thank you, Counselor Carlson. Counsel for the defense, are you ready with your opening statement?"

"Yes sir, your Honor." Harris answered.

Harris stood up, conferred with his client for a moment and then nodded to the rest of his associates before standing. Joyce leaned in toward Mr. Withers, who whispered something in her ear that she must have found amusing and she smiled. She turned to find Starsky, and gave him a conspiratory wink and a triumphant thumbs up. That was all he needed to see to know that she thought they finally had Bartok dead to rights.

-------

After the trial was over, Bartok’s counsel stood on one side of the corridor, while Carlisle and the Federal agents stood on the other. It was obvious from their facial expressions which side had won. One half of the room was adrift in downcast eyes and turned down lips, and the other half was strewn with smiles and handshakes. Into this throng walked the two people probably the most pleased with the outcome of the trial, the prosecution’s brilliant co-counsel, Joyce Carlson, and the detective partially responsible for the trial’s success, Detective Sergeant David Starsky. He walked eagerly over to Carlisle to congratulate him. "Mr. Carlisle, you did a great job in there!"

"Call me John, Detective. You know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you and your partner getting me here in one piece. Like I said before, I’ll be indebted to you two for a very long time."

"It’s nothing you couldn’t have done on your own. But heck, if you want to heap praise on us, I won’t stop you."

After doing some handshaking of her own, Joyce gracefully joined their little circle. She took Carlisle’s hand in her own.

"Congratulations, John. You did wonderfully."

"Like I was telling David here, I couldn’t have done it without your help."

"So what are you gonna do now?"

"Well, my friends over here," he pointed to the suited gentlemen adjacent him, "feel it would be in my best interest if I left the country. You know, travel, become one with the earth…"

"In other words," Starsky assessed. "Disappear."

"Correct, after today, Jonathan Carlisle will no longer exist."

"It’s unfortunate the price you had to pay for freedom cost you so much." Joyce offered.

"Yes, Counselor, but that price is small compared to losing piece of mind."

"Touché."

An enthusiastic young agent ran up to them, pausing to catch his breath. "Excuse me, Mr. Carlisle, sorry to interrupt, but Agent Drummond has a car ready for you!"

"Ah, and so it begins. Detective Starsky, Counselor, I bid you good day. Oh, one more thing, Detective…"

"Yeah?"

"Tell your partner I send him my best wishes. Let him know he really didn’t have to get himself shot on my account."

"I will." Starsky laughed.

Carlisle tipped his hat to them as he was led out of the courthouse, still heavily shielded by several agents. He was pressed into a waiting limousine and whisked away by a sea of state license plates.

Starsky turned to Joyce. "Just goes to show you, you can’t always tell the good guys from the bad guys."

She tapped at her temple. "Sure you can, David. Just remember, the good guys always wear the white hats."

Joyce laughed and Starsky joined her, remembering Carlisle’s unusual choice of head covering. "Well, you’re right about that. Come on, let’s go. I promised a certain blond dinner."

 

>Continued