Part 21

"Lennie Briscoe was an original and extremely dedicated to finding the truth," Lieutenant Anita Van Buren said. As she stood behind the podium, her gaze seemed to connect with everyone in attendance at the memorial service. "I don't know anyone who worked with him that wasn't touched by his presence. He will be missed."

Dawn swallowed the lump in her throat. A silent stream of tears rolled down her cheeks. As the Lieutenant stated, Lennie touched lives. He influenced Dawn's career and redefined the role of a police detective in her mind. His fast wit and quirky way of eyeing a situation helped her realize that it was fine if she didn't take herself or her job too seriously. The transition from an officer with a badge to a detective with a gold shield was made easier when they were assigned to be partners.

One by one, others stepped to the podium. Mike Logan, Rey Curtis, and Ed Green recanted individual stories about the detective. Laughter and shared smiles filled the auditorium that was at full capacity. As Dr. Emil Skoda moved down the aisle, she stirred in her seat.

Fox squeezed her hand and leaned close to her ear. "You don't have to if you don't feel comfortable."

"I'm afraid I'll break down," she admitted. "Everybody's kept it on a light, but respectful level. I don't want to ruin that."

"You won't," he assured her. "You can say goodbye whatever way is best for you."

She listened as the psychiatrist winded down. "I can't just sit here and not say anything. If it were me, he'd have a lot to say." Her mouth curved into a tremulous smile. "Maybe too much."

They stood together. He moved into the aisle to give her room. "Don't hold back the tears if they come." He took her hand for just a moment. "You can do it, Peaches."

Dawn squared her shoulders and took measured steps to the empty podium. She glanced at her colleagues. The shared pain of losing Lennie too early echoed silently throughout the attendees. Then, her gaze connected with Fox's. He encouraged her with a wink and a nod.

"I'm Dawn Jensen-Mulder and Lennie was my partner for the best three years of my career in law enforcement. Everyone has already thoroughly described the man and the detective. Anything I say would only mirror that.

"I didn't know what to think when Lt. Van Buren assigned us as partners. Here was I, a fresh detective eager to solve every call, partnered with a seasoned vet who'd been on the street before I was born. I almost feared the partnership, but the second we met, those fears disappeared. He was a friend, a father and a partner to me in my best moments and in my darkest. There will never be another Lennie Briscoe, and I will miss him."

---

"How's it going?"

The sound of Jerry's voice put Keesha on instant alert. She pressed the phone hard against her ear and moved away from Jian and Jacob who were playing a serious game of Chutes and Ladders.

"Why do you ask?" she asked, her voice tight with tension. "Dear God, Jerry, what's happened?"

"Nothing," he said. "I do periodic checks. Is your friend still around?"

"Yes."

"So, you trust him."

"Yes." A hint of warning colored her tone. "What are you getting at?"

"Nothing. I checked him out. He's been a fugitive of the law. They accused him of being involved with the Chinese Mafia and his girlfriend's death."

"I know all about that."

"Yet," Jerry said softly, "you trust him around your child."

"Jerry, is there a point to this call?"

"I spoke to Justus. He said you sounded tense. Do you need me?"

"If this is about Jian, then I'm fine. But if you know anything about Jasonů Are your men still watching him? I can't help feeling that he knows that we're alive. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I need a plan if I'm not."

"We can't do this over the telephone and I can't leave--"

"No," she cut in, "I can do this. Just know that the next time you call, I may not be here."

"Keesha, don't leave me in the dark."

"I may not have a choice. Besides, it may be safer all around."

"Yeah, you're probably right about that. I'll see what's going on with Jason."

"Thanks, Jerry."

---

It seemed almost too easy.

A guard tripped and an inmate saw an opportunity. Pandemonium followed. Weapons drawn, guards rushed in and left one exit wide open for escape. Jason slipped out, unnoticed by anyone.

Back | Part 22

49