“Station forty-two, station forty-two, Lieutenant Brown requires your assistance. Send three squad cars to 22nd Avenue and first street. Suspect held up in the Harris building, Three other stations responding. Set up and wait further instructions.”
“Roger, cars 61, 55, and 32, responding.”
“That is our break Sparky. Let’s roll!”
“That’s crazy boss. We have been listening to that police scanner go off for two weeks now. What makes you so…”
“I said roll! No time to explain.”
The two of them dashed down the stairs and jumped in the coupe.
“Plug in Sparky, I need a breakdown on that Harris building.”
Peter fired up the engine and tore down the street.
“J.N. Harris retail/office space. Built April 1902. Thirteen floors middle stairs…”
“14 floors.” Peter corrected.
“No! Thirteen floors, middle staircase, three side fire escapes.”
“Sparky it is 14 floors.”
“Look you drive I derive the details!”
“Listen, no building has a thirteenth floor, we have been through this before…Look tell me where Vanishing man is located.”
Sparky hummed loudly,
“Suspect is currently on the thirteenth floor.” Sparky stated
“Fourteenth! – Could he access the roof?” Peter asked.
“Yes, there is an enclosed staircase to the roof.” Sparky told him.
“Surrounding buildings. How tall and how close to the Harris building?” Peter asked.
“You better turn on 20th, the police have 22nd, and 21st streets blocked off.” Sparking called out.
Peter made a sharp left turn in front of two on coming large trucks.
“I didn’t mean right then! Are you trying to get us killed?” Sparky yelled.
“Not a chance. They were on your side. They would have bounced off your titanium plating without you getting a scratch. Now, surrounding buildings, how tall and how close? Peter asked without missing a beat.
“One of these days…” Sparky mumbled.
“Right, The Harris Building faces 22nd Avenue, directly across is T.L. Clothes, and assories with apartments above. Ten floors total, or should I say nine?”
“Don’t get cute, go on.” Peter huffed.
“Across 1st street is a two-story tailor shop and cleaners, behind the building is an empty lot, approximately 200x200, and to the right is a twelve story multi use building.”
“Okay, sounds like if he is going to make a break for it would be off the roof and onto that twelve story.”
“That would be very risky, and quite a jump!” Sparky stated.
“I am sure that is what he is thinking, because he figure old Lieutenant Brown will rule that out.”
Peter parked the car about three blocks away.
“Come on Sparky, let’s get to where the police are set up before the fireworks begin.”
The two of them rushed up the street until they were stopped by three substantial size officers.
“Just where do you think you two are going? This is a restricted area.”
Peter glanced at the officers name badge.
“Officer Thomas. I am Peter James, and this is my assistant…”
“Yes, the Lieutenant warned all of us you might try to sneak in. You have about five seconds to run off in the direction in which you came. It is for your own good,” the officer warned.
“After all the help I have given the good Lieutenant over the years…”
Peter looked around and spotted another officer going into a café less than a block away.
“I am warning you James, as the officer un hooked the cover to his revolver.”
About that time several shots were fire from the roof of the Harris building and all the officers ducked behind the squad cars that were parked on the street. Officer Thomas was hit in the leg and the other two helped slide him behind the cars before they began to return fire.
Peter and Sparky made a bee line for the café, hit the doors, and rolled on the floor as more shots scattered about.
Inside the café, away from the doors and windows, sat Lieutenant Brown, two of his Sergeants, and three plain clothes officers.
Without turning around, the Lieutenant spoke,
“Leave it to you James, to take a dangerous situation, and make it totally out of control.”
Peter and Sparky picked themselves up off the floor, dusted themselves off, and slowly walked over to the table.
“Lieutenant Brown, if you would have bagged this guy months ago, Mrs. Mary Ford, would have never had to secure my services.”
The Lieutenant stood up and turned around.
“I am only going to say this one-time James. You and steel man, walk over to those side doors that lead to the alley. You get back in your car and drive back to that dump you call an office. When I have Willard Rudd in custody, I might let you come down when I interrogate him. For now, you leave, or I will arrest you for obstructing justice. Do I make myself clear?”
Peter smiled and shook his head.
“One of these days Lieutenant, you will learn to team up with me, instead of against me. Otherwise, I am going to continue to make you look bad.”
“Come on Sparky, we have a job to do.”
As the two of them headed towards the side door they heard the Lieutenant give the order to rush the building. As soon as they were in the alley more shots were fired in the front street.
“Sparky, dash back to the car and parked it down the alley that leads to fourth street.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Begin training for the Olympics.”
Sparky knew better then to ask, and simply made record time back to the car, and parked it where he was told.
By now gun fire was happening all around as the police were trying to get inside the building where Willard was now on the roof. Making use of various objects, dumpsters, old cars, trees, and the like, Peter made his way to the alley that ran behind the twelve story multi-purpose building. He climbed up in a large oak tree. The tree was less than one hundred feet away from a large black sedan, that Peter was sure that Willard planned to get away in. He pulled out his revolver and had his Derringer inside his coat pocket as a backup.
The gun fire increase to a non-stop pace. Just as he expected, Willard ran out the back door of that twelve-story building and towards the parked car. What Peter didn’t expect was getting shot by a female that was in the car. He did not see her until the last minute. He hit the ground with a thud, as Willard ran past him and the two drove off.
Wounded and bleeding he hurried as fast as he could to where Sparky was parked’
“Follow that Ford! Peter yelled as he jumped in.
“You’re hurt, “
“Forget it, they are getting away!”
Peter reached into the dash pocket and grabbed an old tee shirt to wrap his arm.
“Well that I am sure is sanitary,” Sparky commented.
“Focus, you’re losing them. My grandmother drives faster than you!”
“You should hire her then. Look my programing is limited when it comes to the operation of these death traps.” Sparky fired back.
“In this case it is a very simple process, keep your foot all the way down on the gas pedal, and steer the car to stay on their bumper.”
That plan worked good until Willard began firing at their car.
“I may be bullet proof, but this old klunker and you, are not,” Sparky pointed out.
The gun fire allowed the women driving the lead car to turn down an alley that Sparky could not negotiate without hitting several trash cans. He recovered nicely, but when they got to the next place the car they were chasing turned, they were nowhere in sight. They drove around for hours, checking buildings they could have ducked into, but came up empty.
It was a quiet drive back to the office. Becky, their receptionist, helped dress Peter's wound, and told him that both Lieutenant Brown and Mary Ford had called while he was out.
“Okay, thanks Becky, I call them in the morning. If I am not here when you get in, just start with your regular work.” Peter said.
“I would tell you that you need that checked out by a doctor, but I know it would be a waste of my breath.” Becky said as she gathered her stuff.
“That is part of the reason I keep you around.” Peter said with a wink.
“Oh really, I will keep that in mind, come raise time. Good night boss, Sparky.”
“Well. you expended pretty much all my battery life today. I am going to go on upstairs and plug in for a full recharge, if that is all right with you.” Sparky stated.
“What? Oh yes, go ahead. We will need you at full capacity tomorrow for sure.” Peter told him.
Sparky walked to the stairs shaking his head.
“Why should tomorrow be any different?” he mumbled as he trudged upstairs.
Peter poured himself a drink. He contemplated their itinerary for tomorrow. He knew it would include a visit to Lieutenant Browns office as well as the alley where Willards car vanished. He hoped that those two visits would turn up something positive. He finished his drink, locked the office door, and headed upstairs to bed.