Music of the Night

by Kati

+ + + + + + +

“You cleaned your car didn’t you?” Sidney asked as she got in the passenger seat. Cory closed the door behind her and got into the driver’s seat. Sidney checked her watch. It was five o clock.

“To the Bay!” Cory laughed and pulled out of the parking lot. Sidney said a silent prayer that she was had make the right decision.

Cory pulled into a parking spot along side the ocean. There was a pretty little park to the right.

“How about sit over at one of the benches and talk?” Cory asked.

“Sure,” Sidney answered She got out of the car and pulled out the small notebook. The gun belt around her calf was making her legs itch. They both sat down on the park bench.

“So what’s bothering you Mariah?” The man asked. Sidney handed him the notebook.

“Can you explain this to me?” She asked. He took the notebook and started flipping through the pages. A look of horror came into his eyes.

“Where did you get al this stuff?’

“It doesn’t matter right now. Just explain it to me,” Sidney stated. Her voice was emotionless, but her heart was beating fast.

“Why do I have to explain it to you?” He persisted.

“Because you are facing arrest for cocaine dealing and I am about the only one that will help you,” Sidney answered.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Cory cried. Sidney pulled ot her gun.

“I’ll tell you later. All you need to know it that I’m one of the good guys and intend to do everything possible to find out if you are too. I am not a very patient person, and the clock is ticking.”

“What do you want to know?: Cory asked, starting to shake.

“Start at the beginning,” she prompted. “Talk fast.”

“As you know, I am originally from Italy. My father was a member of one of the crime families in New York. He put in charge of the drug ring out of South America. He was arrested two years after my mother died of cancer. He died in prison a few months later. I was expected to follow in my father’s footsteps. I continued the ring, until I was caught with a full shipment of heroine in my trunk. I was placed in a jail where I meant my angel of mercy. She was a psychologist named Margaret Brown. She put me on the right path, helped me see the error of my ways, you could say. She got me a less severe sentence and helped me get into acting school when I got out. That’s where I am today.”

“And what about the pictures?” Sidney answered, “You’re telling me that the crime lords just let you go scotch free? I have never seen that happen.”

I probably would be dead,” Phoenix answered, “but if you noticed all those guys in the pictures are in maximum security prisons around New York. Why do you think I changed my name and moved out to San Francisco? I have been taking jobs at smaller theaters for the last few years. Not to brag, but I could have gotten jobs on Broadway. I have been running scared for the last few years, never forming a relationship with anyone, terrified that one of those guys would find me.”

Sidney didn’t say anything for a few minutes. His story would be easy enough to check, but Sidney knew that she wouldn’t have too. The look in the man’s eyes told her she had been right all along.

“I believe you,” She finally said. Cory let out a huge sigh of relief.

“Are you going to explain who you really are to me now?” Cory asked hesitantly, still wary of the gun in Sidney’s hand. She placed it back in her ankle band.

“My name is Sidney Marks. I am an agent with the ATF,” she ignored the look on Cory’s face. “Somebody found illegal shipments of Cocaine in the basement of the theater. Walters asked the FBI for help. We came in as a special favor to help investigate.

“You’re really not an actor?” Cory asked. Sidney shook her head.

“Nope, just your average federal agent who happens to have a decent voice.”

“Wow, you had me fooled. That explains how you found out all the stuff about me.”

“Unfortunately, there is no way find the complete story, no matter how hard we try,” Sidney answered.

“Wait a second, did you say We?”

“My whole team is here,” Sidney laughed. ‘You know all those new crew members?”

“The rest of your team?” Cory asked.

“Not my whole team. Out beloved phantom is really wearing a disguise too.”

“What? Noah is an agent too?” Cory yelled.

“His name is Ezra Standish, and he is a specialized undercover agent,” Sidney answered.

“Wow, this is unbelievable! Do you have any idea who did it?”

“Not yet. You were the only one that we were really paying attention too,” Sidney answered. “That turned out to be a dead end. You haven’t seen anything have you?”

Cory shook his head. “No, but I’ll listen from now on. I want to help.”

“Good, we need all the help we can get,” She glanced at her watch.

“You need to go somewhere?” Cory asked.

“Oh, no. I just need to be back at the hotel by six o clock to meet my Captain. It’s a long story.“ She gritted her teeth.

“Is he really that bad?” Cory asked.

“You remember the blond that was barking orders to the set production team a few days ago?” Cory nodded. “That’s him. I arranged this meeting without his knowledge. He is going to kill me.”

“Well, you’ve got a half an hour before you have to worry about it. Have you ever seen the Bay?” Sidney shook her hand. Cory stood up and grabbed her arm. “Well you’re in for a real treat.”

+ + + + + + +

“Awful nice of you join us Noah,’ JD answered as he dealt him some cards. Ezra sat down at a table in one of the dressing rooms. Vin, JD, Nathan, Buck and two other stages hands, Mark Henderson and Bill Rivers, were sitting around a table.

“Well, my agent told me that this is the best Poker table around,” He patted Buck on the shoulder. “And I was never one to pass up a game of chance.’ Ezra sat down and picked up his cards.

“Usually, the actors don’t hang out with the likes of us,” one of the stage hands said. “They always think that they are better than us.”

“My dear sir, unlike my cohorts, I realize the hard work that you put in and am more than happy to win your money.”

A very intense game of Poker began.


Chris was getting restless in his car. The clock on his dashboard read 6:05.

“Not only is he a criminal, he doesn’t have the common decency to show up on time,” he growled. The time slowly ticked by. At 6:15, he pulled out cell phone and dialed Sidney’s hotel room number. There was no answer. There was no answer on her cell phone either. Now Chris was really getting nervous. He dialed Josiah’s cell phone. A deep baritone voice answered.

“Josiah, it’s Chris. Where the hell is she?” Chris was never one for subtleties, especially when he was in a bad mood.

“Didn’t she tell you?” Josiah asked. “Their date changed to five o clock. She told me that you would be tailing her.”

“That little Shit,” Chris swore. “She changed the meeting on purpose. Josiah, do you have any idea where she might have gone?”

No clue Chris,” Josiah answered.

“I am going to wring her neck!” Chris growled. “I’m going to go, in case she is trying to call.”

“Let me know when you find her,” Josiah answered and hung the phone. Chris leaned back in the station wagon seat, waiting and planning out an appropriate punishment.

+ + + + + + +

“Hey that guy has been following us for quite a while,” Cory said glancing behind him. His words had interrupted Sidney’s thoughts. She was staring at the ocean. The road was only a few feet away from the ocean. She wished the top was down on the car, but it had started to rain. He attention left the ocean and was immediately drawn to the situation.

“Shit,” Sidney swore. Chris had found them. She wasn’t even going to get the chance to explain things to him. She was going to be stuck on surveillance detail for the rest of her career. “Let me guess he’s got blond hair, black hat, and his eyes are as scary as the devil himself.”

“Well, you’ve got the angry eyes part right,” Cory answered. Sidney looked in the rearview mirror. A green Ford was following them and the driver had black hair

“You recognize him?” Cory asked. His knuckles were turning white on the wheel. He had seen how nervous she had gotten.

“No, do you?’ She asked. Cory looked a little closer in the rearview mirror. “Wait a second, yeah I do! He was in Walter’s office the other day.” Sidney thought for a moment. Walters, could he be the boss? There was no way, he had been the one who called him the FBI. Still she made a mental note, to find out more about it. Right now, she had to deal with the threat behind them.

“What should I do?” Cory asked.

“Keep driving, I don’t want him making the connection between us and the hotel. Do you have a pen?”

“In the glove compartment,’ told her. She took out the pen and wrote down the license plate number.

“Do you really think they are tailing us on purpose?” Cory asked.

“Better safe than sorry,” Sidney answered as she pulled her cell phone out of her purse. She hated dialing the number, but she had no choice.

“Chris?” She answered with hesitation.

Chris couldn’t believe it. He really hadn’t expected Sidney to call.

“What the hell do you think you are doing Sidney?” He yelled.

“We can talk about it later. I can prove to you that Phoenix is innocent.”

“Sidney…” Chris started to say.

“Oww, Damnnit Cory, step on the gas!” She cried. “Chris, there’s a green Ford tailing us right now. He just hit the bumper!” She cried. There was no mistaking the distress in her voice.

“Sidney calm down” Chris answered, remembering the last time she had been tailed. He had never seen the girl so upset. He would have to trust her on Phoenix, for now at least. “Did you get the license plate number?”

“Yeah,” She answered. Chris prayed that Phoenix was a good driver and could handle the situation.

“Where are you?” Chris asked.

“Hell, I don’t know Chris. There lot’s of trees and an ocean on the side. Wait, Cory just said that we are on Hwy. 24. Oh shit, Chris.” There was a loud scream and then the line went dead.

“Sidney!” Chris yelled. “Sidney!” He didn’t get a response. She was on Hwy. 24. He had no idea where that was. He looked around the car. His eyes strayed to something that he had sworn he would never use. He pushed the Onstar button. A few minutes later, he was tearing out of the parking lot towards Highway 24. He make a quick phone call to Josiah after he had directions and was sure the operator had contacted the cops. The older man didn’t even get the chance to respond.

“Get to Highway Twenty Four as fast as you can.” People scattered to get out of the big man’s way, as he sprinted out of the hotel building. He was oblivious to the pouring rain and lightening that was lightening up the sky.

Chris slowed the car down when he saw the flashing red and blue lights. He stopped the car and quickly jumped out. He looked out towards the water. The familiar flashy Mercedes was almost completely submerged. Pieces of the car were floating on the water. He felt a sickening feeling in his stomach. Huge lightening bolts were flashing across the sky. He looked at the metal car and the water. If Sidney had survived the crash, there was no way she would survive the electrocution. Still there might be a change, Chris pulled off his shoes and started to head for the water, when he felt a strong arm grab him.

“What do you think you are doing?” the burly cop cried.

“Going to get my agent!” Chris cried.

“Sorry mister, she’s already…”

Chris didn’t hear the last word. His heart skipped a beat. “Where’s her body?” Chris asked in a hoarse voice.

“Body? What are you talking about mister? I said she was already out. Your agent is in the ambulance over there.” Chris knocked over the cop as he ran towards the large van. He only breathed a sigh or relief when he saw her sitting in the large van, shielded from the rain. Sidney smiled when she saw him run up to her.

“If I’m going to keep getting this high speed chases boss, you’ve got to get me a raise,” She said.

“Any major injuries?” Chris asked. She seemed calm enough, and apparently suffering from no apparent damage. He didn’t want to get her all riled up. Sidney shook her head

“Not yet anyway,” She answered, looking up at him with hesitant eyes.

“You’re lucky, you could get away with murder right now kid,” Chris sighed as he sat down next to her. “God, you don’t know what I thought when I saw that car in the water. I think my heart literally stopped.” There was a long pause.

“Cory is okay too, if you wanted to know,” She said. “He probably saved my life.”

“What do mean?” Chris asked turning to stare at her.

“The car went down pretty fast so Cory got his door open pretty fast. Mine would not open, and I was stuck. He swam all the way back down, got my door open, and pulled me out. I told him everything Chris, if he really was the dealer, he wouldn’t have come back.” Chris sighed heavily. Once again, his young agent had proved that she was smarter than him.

“Where is he?” he asked.

“Sitting in the back of that cop car over there. Seems that somebody told the PD to arrest him if they found him.”

“Do you have evidence that whatever he told you is true?” Chris asked. He saw the rented Cadillac pull up and Josiah getting out. Sidney beamed.

“I borrowed someone’s cell phone and got a hold of JD. They were in the middle of a very intense card game. He’s doing some background checks on Cory’s stories, but I don’t need that. I saw the look in his eyes, he’s as innocent as me.

“What happened?” Josiah panted coming to step next to them.

“Sidney, will explain everything. I have to go talk to someone.” Chris hopped off the ambulance and got the attention of one of the officers. “Where is Phoenix?” He asked.

“Second car on the left,” came the answer. On his way to the car, Chris’s cell phone began to ring.

“Talk to me JD,” Chris answered.

“Is she really alright or was she just saying that?”

“She’s fine JD, thank God.”

“Good,” The man on the other line sighed in relief. “She’s worse than me sometimes. Oh yeah, Phoenix’s story checks out. I don’t think he’s the man we are looking for.”

“You looked up all that information in fifteen minutes?” Chris asked in disbelief.

“I always told you that its important to keep my laptop close by, but I always got laughed at. The connection in the balcony was good and it I’ve gotten rather good at getting into records.”


“Well, it depends on what your definition of legal is,” JD answered with a nervous laugh.

“JD, I need to pay special attention to the basement. Somebody else in charge. . He might try to get into the basement tonight.”

“Sure Chris, my battery’s dying so I’ve got to go.”

Chris hung up his cell phone and continued to walk towards the police car. “I want to talk to him,” He growled at a young cop.

:”I am under strict regulations to not let anybody, but an ATF agent Larabee speak with him.”

“I am Agent Larabee,” Chris answered back, with his classic icy glare.

“Oh right, go ahead sir. The door is open.” The cop stammered. Chris sluantered past him and opened up the car door.”

“I already told you that I am not talking to anyone until I get a lawyer. None of you will even tell me what I have been arrested for!” Cory said without lifting up his head. He was rubbing a bloody hand that nobody had bothered to take care of.

“Maybe I can shed some light on that,” Chris answered. Cory lifted up his head.

“Chris Larabee?” the actor asked in surprise. Chris nodded his head.

“I think we need to have a talk.”

Is Mariah…Agent Marks okay? They won’t tell me anything.”

“A little shaken up, but otherwise, she’s fine.” Cory let out a visible sigh of relief. “She told me that she would have drowned if you hadn’t gone back and got her.” Chris was surprised when Cory just shrugged his shoulders.

:Can I sit down?” Chris asked.

“I’ve got handcuffs on Agent Larabee. There’s not a whole lot I can do.” Cory scooted over and Chris sat down next to him.

“Agent Marks also told me something very important. She seems to think that you knew nothing about the millions of dollars of cocaine that are sitting under the theater right now.”

“And what do you think Agent Larabee?” Cory asked hesitantly

“Well, I don’t always trust my agent’s judgments, but not even I can doubt records. One of agents checked out your story, and far as I can tell. You have nothing to do with it.” He pulled out his handcuff keys and unlocked the young man’s handcuffs.

“Thanks!” Cory exclaimed, as he rubbed his wrists.

“:Let’s get your hand cleaned up,” Chris said, pulling the young man to his feet. The two men waked over to where Sidney and Josiah were standing. Sidney rushed up to them.

“Are you okay?” She asked. Cory nodded his head.

“Get an EMT to look at his hand Sid. I suppose you lost the license plate number,” Chris sighed. Sidney held up her hand with a triumphant grin The black pen marks were still there.

“Nope. A little faded, but I’ve still got it.” She answered and went to find an EMT. Chris laughed. Josiah had walked over and nodded a greeting to Cory.

:We should get over to theater as soon as possible.”

“Why the theater?” Cory asked.

“The other men on our team will not relax still they are sure that Agent Marks is alright. You saved a very special person.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Cory smiled. “I want to help catch this bastard.”

“We’ll talk about that later,” Chris answered, but he was already figuring out how to use the knowledge that Cory might have.

+ + + + + + +

“And that gentleman, is a royal flush,” Ezra laughed triumphantly as he tossed his cards on the table.

How did you do that?” Buck exclaimed. “Dammit Ez… especially since this is the third time tonight that you’ve cleaned me out.” He looked at the two stage hands’ faces. Apparently, they didn’t notice his slip up. JD rolled his eyes.

”At least he is quick on his feet,” Vin whispered into the younger man’s ear. His cell phone started to ring. .

“You guys are worse than a bunch of movie stars,” one of the stagehand grumbled.

“Hello?” Vin asked.

“Vin. We need JD and his laptop. We are out front waiting for him,” Chris said then hung up.

“Sure Mrs. Robinson, we’ll be right over,” Vin answered then hung up.

“Hey Brad. We’ve got head back to our apartment. Our landlady needs help fixing the plumbing in one of the apartments.”

“Doing common labor now?” The stagehand laughed.

“Hey, helping out keeps our rent down.” Vin answered. JD grabbed his backpack and waved good bye.

“See you bright and early tomorrow morning.” The remaining card players chorused their good byes.

“What time to do you gentlemen have to be here tomorrow?” Ezra asked.

“Four o clock in the morning,” the man answered.

“Four o clock in the morning?” Ezra cried. “Why on earth would you arrive here at such an early hour?”

“We have to clean the stage so you don’t break an ankle, and add the finishing coat of paint to the set. It has to dry before the production.”

“Why can’t you do that right now?” Buck asked.

“Because it’s at least three hours worth of work, and none of us would dream of staying in this theater past ten o clock.”

“Why ten o clock?” Ezra asked.

“Wow, you can sure tell that you guys are not from around here. There’s no telling what he ghosts of this theater will do to you if they catch you alone.”

“Aren’t you gentlemen a little to old to be believing in ghost stories?” Ezra asked with a smile, as he picked up the cards.

“I swear that they aren’t stories. Strange things happen hear during the night. People who try to stay here overnight have always ended up quitting the theater the next day.”

“Are these Spirits like the Phantom who creeps along the top of the stage cutting light strings and creating terror from above?” Ezra asked with an amused smile.

“Actually, the spooks here live in the basement. I swear that I heard them myself only a few days ago,” Rivers answered. Buck had to fight back his laugh. A light turned on in Ezra’s mind.

“Did you say the basement, Mr. Henderson?”


“Have you ever been down there to investigate these spooks yourself?”

“Hell, no! I’m not that stupid. Anyway, Jordon doesn’t want us going down there, without permission.”

“Why?” Buck asked.

“He probably doesn’t want us to get hurt It’s dangerous down there.”

“That’s nice of him,” Ezra answered absently, distracted by the idea forming in his head.

“Being nice has nothing to do with it. He just worried about the chance of one of us suing him.” The echo of the lobby clock ringing the ten o clock hour reached the men’s’ ears

“Speaking of the spooks, I think its about time that we should head out of here,” the stage hand answered. His partner got up after him and grabbed his coat. “You guys would leave too, If you know what’s good for you.”

“I think I will stay a little longer and do one more run through of my lines,” Ezra answered.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“I assure Mr. Henderson, I will be just fine. After all, I am the Phantom.” The two men disappeared.

“I know that look on your face Ezra. What are you thinking?”

“Apparently, Mr. Phoenix is innocent, so we are still on the look for our notorious criminal.”

“Yeah so?”

“Think about this for a moment my friend. Our culprit must have full access and know his way around this theater..”

“That could be anyone of the crew,” Buck answered.

“True, but something has the entire crew absolutely terrified to descend down the stairs. Obviously, the spooks of this theater are the figment of an overactive imagination. Who would have a motive for keeping people out of the basement?”

“Buck opened his mouth to say that he had no idea, but closed it again. He stopped to think. “Walters?“

Ezra beamed. “Rumors of ghosts are bound to spread. in an old theater like this. Walters doesn’t do anything to stop them. In addition, he has issues an order to stay out of the subterranean vault.”

“Why would Walters call in the FBI if he is the dealer?” Ezra also had an answer of this.

“When the stagehand discovered the cocaine, Walters didn’t have a choice. I was asking around. The stagehand was fired soon after, but not before she had told someone. Walters only called in the FBI after he knew the word was out.”

“And what about the sound that Henderson heard in the basement?”

“They could have easily been the sounds of more shipments of the drugs coming in,” Ezra answered.

“Damn Ezra,” Buck said admirably. “You are good.”

“What can I say? I just have the gift,” Ezra smiled. Ezra’s cell phone started to ring. He checked the caller ID and then answered, What I can do for you Mr. Tanner?” Buck listened to one end of the conversation.

“The car is licensed to Walters? That does not surprise me. Why does it not surprise me? Using my ingenious mind and certain current events, I have also established the fact that Walters needs to be questioned. Of course, we’ll see you in a few minutes.” Ezra put his phone back into his pocket.

“Mr. Larabee is demanding our presence in the parking lot.” The two men got up and stated to walk through the back door. All of a sudden a loud, CLUNK!” came from behind the door leading to the basement. Buck and Ezra looked at each other.

“Seems like our spook is back,” Buck chuckled softly. “Ezra, go get Chris. I’ll wait here. Don’t let them come in here until I give a signal.”

“What kind of signal?”

“I’ll shoot my gun,” Buck suggested.

“Oh yes, that’s an excellent way to avoid alerting our criminals,” Ezra answered rolling his eyes.” A simple whistle will do.”

“Fine,” Buck nodded his head and Ezra went to get Chris and the others. Buck pulled out his gun and went to stand by the door. He put his ear on the door. Surprisingly, he could hear voices The people downstairs must have been standing very close the end of the steps. He pushed his ear harder. The two voices were male.

“I can’t believe you just killed those two actors! Nobody said anything about murder.”

“Shut up already. They were just a couple of dumb actors. They were worth the money that we’re going to get out of this.”

“But what if the cops trace it back to you.”

“That will never happen. I was driving Walter’s car. Even if the cops can trace it back to Walter’s, he’ll just say that his car was stolen from the theater. They haven’t got anything on us. Walters will be down here in a few minutes to help us with the shipments and then we won’t ever have to come back to this city again. I wonder what’s he’s going to do tomorrow the night. The kids that I knocked off were the stars of the show.”

“Oh boy, Sidney is going to have when she gets her hands on you kid,” Buck he had raised his hand to his mouth to whistle, but stopped when he saw a shadow come up behind him. He tried to duck out of the way, but was too late. The stage wrench connected with his skull and he dropped like a rock. Walters threw down the wrench and dragged the unconscious agent down the stairs.

+ + + + + + +

Chris placed around the theater. For the second time in about ten hours, his heart was racing a mile a minute. There were only a few times in his life, when the seasoned agent had felt completely out of control. This was one of them, and he did not like the feeling.

JD and Nathan were sitting in the chairs at the end of the second row. JD was a wreak, but so were the rest of them. The kid just hadn’t mastered the skill of hiding in on the inside. The rest of them were combing the theater for any information about where their missing agents might be. Chris doubted that they would find anything. Jordan Walters had been a running a drug ring for God knew how long. He knew how to cover his tracks. The only thing they could do was wait. Walters had gotten all their numbers on the first day. Chris knew he would call. He had too; otherwise he had no idea what to do.

“How can you be sure that he’s still got Buck?” JD’s question interrupted Chris’s thoughts. He turned to look at his young agent. “How do we know that he just didn’t…”

“We’ve got something that Walters wants. I can guarantee you that he wants it even more than Buck.”

“The Cocaine?” JD asked.

“You know drug dealers JD, they would do anything for their shipments.” Nathan said. “Walters will use Buck as a bartering tool.”

“Then why hasn’t he called yet?”

“The bastard is probably waiting to make us squirm.”

“And in the meanwhile Buck could be bleeding to death. We all saw that puddle of blood.”

“JD, there wasn’t enough blood there to worry about,” Nathan reassured him. “He probably just got cut in the leg or something.”

JD leaned back in the chair. The look of fear in his eyes eased a little bit. Chris raised his eyebrows at Nathan. Nathan had told him only a few minutes ago that Buck wouldn’t last long if he lost any more blood. Chris nodded at Nathan in understanding. They had to do everything to keep JD calm, even if it meant telling a little white lie.

All three agents turned their heads as Josiah and Vin entered the room. Both leapt off the stage with ease.

“Did you find anything?” Nathan asked.

“This might be of interest,’ Josiah pulled out a black bottle and handed it to Chris. “You should remember what this is.” Chris spun the bottle in his hand a couple of times. They had used bottles of fake blood to make Ezra’s costume more authentic. Vin found it under one of the planks a few feet away from the door.”

“That son-of-a bitch,’ Chris growled.

“What does this mean?” JD asked.

“That puddle of blood wasn’t Buck’s,” Vin told the kid. “It was some of this fake stage shit.” Chris’s cell phone started to ring. He checked the caller ID.

“It’s from a payphone,” Chris sighed. He hadn’t really expected Walters to be that stupid.

“Alright Walters, what are the terms?” Chris growled.

“I don’t know what you are talking about Agent Larabee. I was just wondering what time you are planning to arrive at the stage tomorrow.

“I don’t want any of your shit. You’ve got my agent and I’ve got more than a million dollars worth of your cocaine in my passion right now.”

What are talking about? What cocaine?” Walters asked in a dumbfounded voice.

“Oh, you don’t know about the Cocaine. Well, I suppose I should call the FBI and get them down here.’

“No!’ Walters cried. Chris smirked. He had caught Walters in his own game.

“You are good Larabee. I will give you that,” Walters answered. “Fine, let’s talk terms.”

“First, let me hear my agent’s voice.”

“You are not in the position to be demanding anything Larabee,” Walters growled.

“Fine have it your way. No Buck, No drugs,” Chris answered. There was a long pause, then a familiar voice came on the line.

“Hey Pard,” Buck said weekly.

“Are you okay Buck?” Chris asked.

“Well, it’s not to bad really. I’m really not awake long enough at time to realize what’s going on.”

“Just hang in there, we’ll get you out of there soon.”

“I figured that, just don’t do anything stupid okay Chris?” Chris was going to answer, but he didn’t get the chance.

“Good enough for you?” Walter was back in the line

“Yeah. If he’s hurt when we find him…”

“You’ll have my head on a silver platter, I know the routine. Here’s how it’s going to work. First rule, no cops.

”What the hell do you think we are?” Chris asked.

”Don’t get cute. Nobody but you and your team can know about this. If me or my assistants see something going on., you are not going to like the result.”

“Fine, what else?”

“The performance will go on tomorrow night as planned. And I want to see both of agents in it.. The basement will be completely abandoned during the show. Sometime during that time, my men will come and take the drugs away.”

“What about my agent?” Chris asked. “So far you have the opportunity to get your drugs and knock off my agent.”

“Patience, Mr. Larabee, I haven’t gotten that far yet, You can post one of your agents down by the steps. My men will be driving the green car that your lovely agent happened to have seen earlier today. My men will honk the horn when they have gotten the drugs. Then you can come pick up your agent.

Fine, but there’s lots of holes in your plan. Here’s my addition. I will be waiting outside the door for your drugs. You will give Buck a cell phone. He will call me when you are ready to take the drugs. I will leave the door only when I hear his voice. If my agent is there and okay, Buck and I will leave no questions asked.

“Fine, It’s been nice doing business with you Agent Larabee. To bad you went over the dark side, you would made one good dealer. Tell your agents to break a leg.” The line went dead. Chris sighed and put his phone back into his pocket. He looked up at his expectant agents.

“Sidney is not going to be very happy with me,” He sighed.

+ + + + + + +

“What the hell do they think I’m supposed to do. I would have enough hard time performing in front of a crowd in normal circumstances! Now they expect me to do it with Buck in the hands of that bastard. I’m not a freaking superhero!” Vin was standing outside Sidney’s closed dressing room door. He chuckled softly as he listened to her ramble to herself in the room. It was his job to keep on eye and her and make sure that she didn’t accidentally reveal anything to the other actors. Right now there was nobody around so he thought it was best to just let her get her fears out. He nodded a greeting as Cory walked up holding some flowers in his hand. He was already in his costume and stage make-up.

“What’s going on in there?” Cory asked.

“One of Sidney’s stress reliever classes,” Vin answered. “Enter at your own risk.”

‘Is your friend going to be okay? Sidney told me what you guys were planning to do. It sounds real dangerous.”

“Hell Cory, this is like kid’s play considered to half of the things that we’ve been involved in.”

“I think I’ll stick with acting,” Cory sighed. He knocked on the door.

“Sidney, can I come in?” He asked.

“Fine,” She yelled.

“Good luck,” Vin laughed, as Cory disappeared behind the door. Sidney’s ranting stopped. Vin could no longer here what was going on. A few minutes later, the door opened and Sidney walked out first. She was in a colorful leotard for the first scene

“Don’t say a word,” she glared at Vin.

“You look cute, honestly.” Vin answered. Sidney just sighed and led the three to the stage. The stage was a complete chaos as final preparations were being made to the stage. Sidney saw Ezra comforting Katie. She rushed over to the pair. Cory was at her heels.

“What happened?” Cory asked. He hated seeing the older woman in distress. She had been one of his only friends in the theater.

“You two didn’t hear the news? Walters disappeared.” Sidney and Cory tried to keep their faces blank.

“But that’s good news Katie. You were always saying how much you hated Walters.”

“No, he is giving over the property to the car dealership across the road. They have been trying to buy the theater for years. To tear it down and turn it into a parking lot! This theater has been my home for years.”

Sidney sighed. She wanted to cry herself. There was much talent in this beautiful historic theater. “Isn’t there anything we can do to save it?”

“Some gentlemen from the Historical society will be attending tonight’s production,” Ezra informed them. “They are going to see if the theater is worth purchasing.”

“Well, the answer is easy Katie,” Cory said. “We will give those men the best damn performances of our lives. We will make them see that this theater is worth saving, If not, then we will go out knowing that we couldn’t do it any harder.” He kissed the older lady on the top of her head.

”You are right, Cory. There is no use worrying yet.’

“TAKE YOUR PLACES,” a voice cried. “CURTAIN CALL IS IN FIVE MIMUTES.” a stage hand ran across the stage yelling.

“Katie, I need to talk to you real quick in private,” Cory said. The two actors went off the side of the stage.

“If I didn’t have enough to worry about,” Sidney grumbled.

“Try to forget Buck for a little while,” Ezra said. “Let Chris and the others worry about that. You have a different job tonight.”

‘Easier said then done,” Sidney answered.

“Noah, we need you to take your place!”

“I don’t know if I can do this Ezra,” Sidney whispered.

“Come on Sidney, didn’t you dream of being famous when you were young?”

“No, I wanted to be April,”


“The reporter who worked with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

“Good luck,” Ezra patted her on her shoulder and went to take his spot behind the stage. Sidney sighed. There were actors and crews running around her, but she hadn’t felt so alone in a long time.

+ + + + + + +

‘Orrin Travis couldn’t stop beaming as he watched Sidney and Ezra on the stage. He had been planning on coming to the production all along, but didn’t want to tell his team. He didn’t need to make Sidney even more nervous than she was already was. He was totally absorbed in the stage. The Phantom had just taken Christine down to his lair below the stage.

“I love this song,” Evie whispered in his ear. “Ezra’s voice is sending chills down my spine.”

“You said that about me when I sang it to you on our honeymoon.”

“More like chills of dread my dear, you were three sheets to the wind that night. It sure didn’t sound like Music of the Night, more like Screeches of the night:” She laughed quietly. “Sidney looks like an angel. Both of them are natural performers.”

“They have been undercover on many assignments Evie , they should be good at this kind of stuff by now.”

“Acting on the stage isn’t the same and you know it. I suggest you get them out of here as soon as they find the culprit. If this Walters has any brain at all, he will snatch the two of them up. You could loose two of your best agents to the stage.”

“I will worry about it when it happens.”

“Remember the time we snuck into that theater in Philadelphia?” Evie asked.

“How could I forget? You had your heart set on seeing the King and I, but there was no way I could afford the tickets.” Orrin laughed, remembering some of the things he had done as a younger man. The things that Chris and the others got into were nothing compared to some of the things that he had pulled. That was why he could never get too mad at Team Seven.

“Be quiet now Evie before we get into trouble,” Orin scolded quietly.

“Why? We actually paid for the tickets tonight.” Evie asked, but diverted her attention back to the stage.

Orrin wondered what the rest of team was doing at that moment.

+ + + + + + +

“ Are you still there, Cowboy?” JD’s voice cracked on the walkie-talkie. Chris sighed. JD had insisted that they use code names, although he had never really seen the point.

“Yeah, I’m here JD,” Chris answered.

“Aww come on,” JD whined. Chris sighed again.

“I hear you loud and clear Freelancer. Is that better?”

“Yeah!” JD answered. “Any sign of Walters or Buck?”

“Nothing yet, but they should be getting here soon. How’s everything up there?”

“Great! Sidney and Ezra are doing awesome.”

“Wish I could be up there watching,” Chris smiled, imagining the stage in his mind.

“I set up a video camera to tape it, so we can all enjoy it for years to come.”

“Sidney’s going to kill you when she find’s out and I won’t be the one to stop her.”

“Remember when she put some of that sour gel in your coffee? JD asked. Chris paused. He still could taste the disgusting liquid on his tongue.

“I want to be the first person to have that tape JD,” Chris said. A loud screeching noise on the other end hurt his ears. “What the hell was that?”

“Molly was singing that Prima Donna song. I still say that she’s got a thing for you Chris.”

“You’re treading on dangerous grounds JD,” Chris growled. He remembered how timid the kid has been when he first joined the team. He was terrified to offend anyone. Now, you couldn’t get him to shut up. Chris wasn’t sure what one liked better.

“Chris, I’ve got to go. There’s something moving around on the top of the stage. It’s making squeaking noises.”

How can you hear anything over that screeching?” Chris winced. “I’ll let you know if I hear or see anything.” He set his walkie-talkie down and began to wait in silence again.

“How are you feeling Sidney?” Josiah asked, as he reached over to strengthen the collar of her ruffled shirt, a piece of her pageboy costume. Sidney took a huge gulp of out of her water bottle.

“Actually, I’ve not feeling much of anything right now,” She answered. “Vin, can you get me some more water please?” Vin walked over and took the water bottle from the girl.”

“Just keep your eyes on the stage Sidney, you have to go out there in a minute,”

“I know,” She answered. “You know this kind of fun.” Vin walked out of view from the other actors. Nathan was waiting by a table. He handed the bottle to Nathan, who filled it up with a pitcher of water. Vin reached under the table and pulled out a bottle of brandy. He started to pull some into the water bottle

“Not to much Vin. We have to keep her coherent enough to sing until the curtain call. Do you think she knows what we’re doing?”

“Honestly Nathan, I don’t think she’s aware of much of anything right now.”

By the time Vin got back on the stage, Sidney was already on the stage. Josiah was staring on the top of the stage.

“See something interesting up there?” He asked Josiah.

“JD is crawling around up there. He said he heard something.”

“Hell, it’s an old theater Josiah, there’s bound to be a few loose screws.”

“He said it sounded like a person,”

“What like a real phantom?” Vin asked with a smirk. Ezra’s pre recorded voice echoed his warning to the actors of the stage. Both Vin and Josiah jumped.

“We should be thankful that he can’t talk that loud without modern technology,” Josiah chuckled.

“Isn’t that dummy supposed to fall now?” Vin asked.

“Hold you horses Josiah. This is Joe’s first performance. It might take him a few seconds.”

“Buck, Look Out!” JD cried. Before, they knew what had happened, their friend was hanging from to top of the stage. He was trying to pull the rope off his neck. The cast and the audience screamed. Vin’s quick relaxes paid off. His gun was out of its hiding spot around his belt in a split second, The next second, Buck was laying on the ground and the bullet was stuck in the opposite wall.

“Close the Curtain now!” Josiah roared. The poor girl at the curtain rope was so terrified, she was frozen in place. The big man pushed the girl aside and began to close the curtain. When it was completely closed, he rushed over to the small crowd that had gathered around the spot where Buck had fallen.

“I’m fine Sidney,” Buck wheezed at the girl pulled the rope off his neck. He was able to pull himself up. “Tell JD that Joe guy is one of Walters’s men”

“JD, he’s fine! Get Joe!” Sidney yelled at the top of the stage.” Buck tried to get up, but Ezra placed ha hand on his shoulder.

“Just rest a little while,”

“No Ezra, Walters and the other guy are going to get the drugs right now!” Vin didn’t need to be told twice.

“Nathan, let’s go!” Vin yelled and the two agent sprinted towards the basement to help out Chris.”

“What the hell is going on here?” One of the actors cried. Ezra looked around the mass of people on the stage. Cory gave him a hand up.

“Ladies and gentleman, this theater had played host to illegal drug transportation. I am an agent from the Denver ATF along with several other members of this theater. We have discovered that Jordon Walters was the ring leader of this ring,” He looked at Cory and Katie. Both of them had tears in their eyes. Many of the other actors did too. “We will all be happy to explain the logistics of this whole operation to you later, but right now we have a show to finish.”

:”What are you talking about Ezra?” Cory asked. Sidney stood up.

“We were sent here to protect this theater and that’s what we are going to do. We aren’t going to let an asshole like Walters destroy this theater. Many of you are family. We are going fight to keep it up together.” A quiet cheer spread across the people.

“Well ladies and gentleman, let’s get on with the show,” the director said in a dazed voice. Ezra and Josiah helped pull Buck leave the stage.

“I think we are needed on the roof for our love song,” Sidney said rolling her eyes.

“After you,” Cory bowed.

“I suggest that you hold your breath when you have to kiss me Cory,” Sidney said.

“Why?” he asked dumbfounded.

“Because Vin has been putting brandy in my water all night.” She answered, moving out of the way so the set could be changed.

“Well, that explains a lot,” Cory answered. Sidney didn’t get the change to ask what he meant. The music began to play and the curtain began to open.

“Orrin, what is going on?” Evie cried, as the AD returned to his seat.

“I have no idea, the bastards wouldn’t let me backstage. I just happened to see Ezra, but he wouldn’t come near me. I yelled at him, but he gave me the thumbs up sign and disappeared. Something is going on back there Evie.”

“Chris and the boys are back there Orrin,” Evie tried to comfort him.

“That’s what I’m scared of,” He answered.

“It couldn’t have been that bad. Look they are about to start the show again.” He sat down with a sigh.

“I still want to know why Buck was hanging by that rope. Something went horribly wrong Evie.”

“It was probably some stages show trick. God knows that there are enough of them in this show. Besides, we can’t be sure it was even Buck. We only saw the man for a split second, before the curtain closed. Nnow be quiet! I want to see how Sidney does in this love scene.

Orrin sat back down in his chair not completely satisfied with the answer he received.

+ + + + + + +

“Aww man,” Vin said rubbing his head, where Walters had gotten in an unexpected hit. He joined Nathan and Chris as they watched the two cop cars drive away with Walters and Mark Morgan drive away.

Morgan was the collage student who had tried to kill Sidney and Cory. Walters had refused to say anything, and at first so did Morgan. Chris threatened him that he could get the death penalty for acting alone on a murder. Morgan had been more than willing to spill the beans on the whole operations. Morgan had even spilled the names of outside people involved in the ring. The information had been passed along to the FBI along with the right to interrogate the prisoners. Team Seven was washing their hands clean of the matter.

“That was almost too easy,” Chris said with a smirk.

“What you expected with an overweight idiot and his dumb ass side kick?” Vin asked.

“To bad JD couldn’t get to the other guy in time,” Nathan sighed.

“Oh well, we’ve got his picture. He’ll never work in show business again,” Chris answered. “Hey, if we hurry, we can catch the last part of the play.”

“I wonder if Sidney is still standing on her own,: Vin said as he followed his friend through the basement and up the steps.

“What are you talking about?” Chris asked.

“Well, you see, we kind of got Sidney a little drunk. Just to calm her nerves.”

“We’re you a part of this too?” Chris turned to look at Nathan.

“Guilty as charged,” Nathan answered, hanging his head.

“Wish I would have thought of it,” Chris chuckled. The three men joined Josiah and JD who were standing over Buck. He was sitting down in the corner.

“Did you nail those bastards?” Buck asked.

“Yeah, we got him,” Chris answered. “I gave Walters a punch that he’s not likely to forget for a long time. Said it was from you.”

“That’s good,” Buck sighed. “Now quiet, I want to listen to the last part.” They listened to the final act of the play down in the phantom’s layer. JD tried to hide the tear’s in eyes as he watched the Phantom let Christine leave him, sealing his fate of a life in solitude.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up at Josiah. He had tears in his eyes too. As soon as Sidney and Cory had finished their final lyrics, they watched as Cory scooped Sidney up in his arms and rush off the stage.

“Ah guys, we have a problem, “He looked down at the girl in his arms

“All the world's a stage,…And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances…Sidney was flinging her arms about wildly and had a dazed look in her eyes.” Chris put a hand over her mouth and glared at Vin.

“How much did you give her?”

“Not that much, honest,” Vin said defensively.

“So that is how that Shakespeare line goes. I often forget it,” Ezra said walking up to join them.”

“Ezra, how did you get here?” Buck asked. “I am the phantom, my dear sir. I could not let myself end up in the hands of those crude men.”

“Now that I think about it, how do you disappear off the stage like that?” Vin asked. “I never got the chance to see how that worked.”

“Then it will remain a mystery my friend. I would not imagine divulging the phantom’s secrets,”

“They are both crazy,” Buck said shaking his head. “Are all actors this loony after a performance?” He asked Cory. Cory shrugged his shoulders. The orchestra had started to play a lively song and the cast was beginning their curtain calls.

“I think we have a more important mystery to solve then the phantom,” Nathan said. “Like how are we going to get Sidney on the stage for her curtain call without the audience knowing that she’s smashed? There are people out there who want to buy the theater and I don’t know if anyone told you, but Travis is out there too. I don’t think any of them will approve of her being drunk. We need a few minutes to sober her up a little before she has to meet them. What are you smiling at Ezra?”

“I have an idea. Will somebody kindly run down to her dressing room and get that grey cloth that she wore during the graveyard scene?”

A few minutes, later “Christine” was accepting a standing ovation. The audience loved her, although they could not see her face. It was covered by a cloth.

“I am going to kill you Ezra,” JD growled quietly.

“One day you will look back on this and laugh Mr. Dunne. Why don’t you wave to Director and Mrs. Travis? They are sitting in the second row.”

+ + + + + + +

“We are glad to buy this theater in honor of the San Francisco Historical Society!” Martin Roberts said from his podium. The cast was celebrating their cast party the day after the opening production. “I look forward to viewing the productions of these wonderful actors for years to come.” The audience broke into cheers.

Team Seven heard none of this. They were sitting on the in the airport waiting for the plane that would take them back to Denver. The new owners of the theater had no idea of the things that had transpired the night before. They were also puzzling over the disappearance of their stars.

Katie had answered their questions with, “It appears that the Phantom ended up with Christine after all.”

“Here Sidney, try drinking this,” JD handed her a cup of coffee. Sidney took it, looking up at him with bloodshot eyes.

“Thanks,” She whispered. “It doesn’t make sense,” she said. “I try really hard not to get drunk, but I end up with a hangover anyway.”

“What are friends for?” Vin laughed.

Sidney shook her head. “ I should have taken Travis up on his offer to fly first class with him this morning.”

“Why didn’t you?” JD asked.

“Because I thought that…,” Sidney looked down the hall as if expecting to see someone. “Oh never mind. Guess the Phantom wasn’t the only one forced to live a life of solitude.”

“Sidney, if he can’t even say good-bye then he’s not worth it,” Buck said.

“Besides, you don’t want an actor Sidney. Most of them don’t make much money and they are usually moving around a lot. You want someone who is close,” Josiah added.

:”Great, my male teammates are giving me love advice. I’m doomed,” She moaned placing her head back in her hands.

“There are worse things in life,” a familiar voice from behind her said. Sidney looked up to see Cory standing there with roses in a vase.

“You left these at the theater,” He said handing her the vase. “Can we talk?”

“Sure. Let’s go over there. She pointed to a spot far from the prying eyes of her team.

“I’ll hold onto the flowers Sidney,” Buck offered. She handed him the flowers and they walked to the end of the hall.

“Aww Buck, I never knew you liked Roses,” Nathan laughed.

“What can I say, I’ve got good taste,” Buck answered shrugging his shoulders.

“Sorry I was late, I couldn’t get away from the cast party any sooner,” Cory said.

“That’s fine. You have to impress your new employers,” Sidney answered.

“Actually, they won’t be my employers. I got a call from a stage in New York. They want to be star in a new play off Broadway.”

“Cory, that’s awesome! Good for you!”

“I figure that those guys that my dad works with have probably forgotten about me by now. Besides, I can’t spend my whole life hiding.”

”If you ever need a bodyguard, I can suggest a good one. She’s got some excellent qualifications.”

“Sidney, I need to talk to you about something. You’re a real special girl and I really like you a lot…”

“But you aren’t ready for a relationship. “ Sidney answered with a sigh. “I understand Cory.” Cory grabbed onto her shoulders.

“Listen to me for a second Sidney. I’ve been in some bad relationships throughout my life. I don’t need a girlfriend right now. What I really need is a friend. Someone I can call and talk too. Maybe come and hang out with once in a while, when I can afford a plane ticket.”

Sidney didn’t say anything for a second, then looked up with a smile.

“I think I can do that,” She answered.

“Oh and I’d like on other thing,” Cory said hesitantly. “I’d like to kiss you when your breath doesn’t smell like alcohol.”

Sidney walked back over to them a few minutes later.

“Your not leaving a broken heart in San Francisco are you?” Ezra asked hesitantly.

“No,” Sidney answered beaming. “My heart is coming back home with me, all in on piece.


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