After Captain Stottlemeyer gathers together and arms about a half-dozen officers, I head to my vehicle to lead the carpool to her house. I am told that Disher is going to ride in the Cherokee to keep in contact with the rest of the crew if we should get separated.
"Shotgun!" the lieutenant yells, dashing for the passenger's side door. Monk is still at the entrance of the building, looking confused as hell. I get into my car and start it up, and he's still standing over there.
"What are you talking about? There's no shotgun in the ca—" I hear him say.
Disher jumps into the passenger's seat as it all sinks into the detective's head. He jogs over to the car and knocks on Disher's window.
The sneaky lieutenant clicks the door locked then rolls down the power window about halfway, as he pulls a pair of sunglasses out of his jacket pocket.
"Wh-what do you think you're doing?" Monk asks, and I can see the anger building in him. "That's my seat!"
Disher is laughing and fastening his seatbelt now. I think Monk is going to strangle him. "Well, I don't see your name on it," he teases, beginning to roll the window back up. Monk crosses his arms and tries to walk it off; maybe he's counting to ten or something.
"Wow, you guys are really immature," I murmur. Disher flashes me a goofy grin, his trademark. "Are you actually going to let him sit in the back?" I say.
"I… get carsick if I sit in the back," he replies coolly.
"Well, Mr. Monk wouldn't like that very much. Roll down your window so I can tell him."
He proceeds to do so, but only rolls it down a fourth of the way. "Mr. Monk!" I yell, and the fuming detective, his arms crossed and back to us, turns toward the vehicle.
"Randy can't sit in the back," I tell him. "He says he gets carsick. Would you want him to do that?" I don't really care if Disher is lying or not; I just want to get to the woman's house as quickly as possible.
"That's a lie," he states, glaring at the lieutenant. "He's always sat in th—"
"Does it really matter?" I ask him. "What if he really does get carsick? Do you want him puking all over the back of your neck?"
That's enough to convince Monk. Without saying another word, he climbs into the back seat, behind Disher.
"Thank you for being mature about this," I say to him. He has to look behind him to find the seatbelt, and once he fastens it, we head out.
Disher puts on his sunglasses and whips out the walkie-talkie. "Captain, are you ready to go? Over."
I can tell already that Monk is going to kill him before this is all over, because the damn police van is right behind us at the moment, and has been following us for a few seconds already.
"Yes, we are, as you can clearly see," the deep voice replies.
"Ohh, I see," Disher says, glancing into the rear view mirror. "Sorry about that. Over."
I am watching Monk in the back seat; he's really being a trouper so far, although he's rolling his eyes and fidgeting.
We make a left turn. Disher speaks into the walkie-talkie again. I notice the police van applying its turn signal as well, as it turns into the same lane. "Are you still following us, Captain?" he asks, totally oblivious. "We just made a left turn onto Richmond. Over."
Monk is twiddling with his hands, trying to keep them together, as he continues to roll his eyes. He leans forward. "Natalie," he says quietly, unable to be heard by Disher. "Please, make him stop…."
"I can't make him do anything," I say. "He's only spoken twice on it."
Monk sighs. "No… he's spoken on it three times."
Disher is now waiting for Stottlemeyer to respond, and is continually checking the mirrors as if panicked.
"Yes, we're still following you. Are you going to ask that every time?" the captain says. Disher waits a beat, and then just has to say something else.
"Captain," Disher responds. "You have to say 'over' at the end. Over."
"How about this? Your walkie-talkie days are. Over."
Monk is laughing now, because Stottlemeyer is telling Disher off. Even so, he's going to have to spend a whole hour in the back seat of a vehicle. I hope that that is Disher's last call.
Nope, I was wrong. He's raring to speak again. He holds the device in his left hand this time, and fools with the power window with his right.
Monk suddenly leans forward and yanks the walkie-talkie out of Disher's hand, taking advantage of his temporary weakness. I almost choke, trying to hold back the laughter at this extremely juvenile situation.
Monk then speaks into the device he's holding with a covered hand. "Captain, he won't be bothering you any more from now on. Over and… out!" He smugly tucks the walkie-talkie into an inner pocket of his jacket, as Disher watches, visibly upset.
"Give that back," he demands. "That's police equipment. You're not authorized to touch it; it's only for police officers."
He's trying to upset Monk now. He knows that Monk wants to be back on the force, and he's rubbing it in his face.
"Just let him hold it for awhile," I say, intercepting this potentially dangerous conversation.
Disher continues to glare at the detective. "Turn around," I say, in a more demanding tone. He stays put. I grab his shoulder. "Just leave him alone, okay?" It's like I'm trying to break up two preschoolers, but Disher knows he shouldn't mention such touchy subjects to Monk; he knows it bothers him.
I check what the detective is doing in the backseat. He's looking troubled again, but at least Disher can shut up from now on.
The remainder of the trip is pretty uneventful. To prevent any more quarrels between my boss and the lieutenant, I turn on the radio at a decent loudness so that it's impossible to hear anything in the back seat. Monk shifts uncomfortably continuously, wiping off the walkie-talkie with his shirt sleeve for the rest of the trip.
We arrive at Mr. Smith's house, preparing to set up ranks of cops around the vicinity as Monk and I prepare to knock at her door to calm her down and get her out of the house. It's a tense time, with bulletproof-vested cops drinking bottled water and loading their weapons in the back of the van as Disher follows Monk around with his hand out, wanting his walkie-talkie back.
We can see lights on in the upstairs rooms; I notice that all the cars are still there, so Mrs. Newburn has to be back by now.
Monk stops in the driveway as if a wall has suddenly solidified in front of him. "What is it, Monk?" the captain asks him.
"There's… another vehicle in the driveway," he says. "It's another Audi." He walks around to the back of it, examining its license. "It has temporary plates," he adds.
"There were two Audis earlier, Mr. Monk," I tell him, recalling the luxury vehicles.
"Yes, but this one is a… different color…" he says carefully. "A darker shade of silver…"
"Are you kidding me?" Stottlemeyer asks. "It's dark outside, Monk! Of course it's a darker silver in the dark!"
I really don't know if Mr. Monk is right or not. I honestly didn't pay that much attention at the time; I just noticed the brands of the vehicles.
"Where did the other silver one go then? Did someone replace it with a darker one just to confuse you, is that what you think?"
"No…" the detective replies. "This is definitely different. This vehicle has temporary plates. I'm sure that this is Dave Newburn's…. He must have known what kind of vehicle John Smith owned—the one that was taken on the trip—and didn't want to cause undue suspicion, so he bought the same model. Must've forgotten what color it was, though…." He pales, backing away from the car. "I'm not answering that door."
"Alright then. I will," the captain says. He looks to the group of vested cops. "Surround the place, and two of you follow me," he commands, as a precaution, I'm guessing. It's not easy to prove Monk wrong when it comes to details like that.
I hold my breath as the captain heads to the front door. He rings the doorbell and stands casually to wait for an answer. Minutes pass, and still no one answers.
The doorbell is rung again. I guess the captain really doesn't want to break into this house unless he absolutely has to.
Still no response. Stottlemeyer walks back over to us with his characteristic swagger. "You're probably right, Monk. Should we send them in? Are you really certain of this now?"
I can tell Monk is pleasantly surprised at having a word in what is about to happen. "Yes... Something has to be wrong…."
"Okay then…" the captain begins to walk away, but spins around. "Now, robber-in-the-house wrong or happy widow hangover wrong?"
"The former," the detective responds. He doesn't want to say such a silly-sounding phrase. "It is strange though, how quiet the house is. No alarms, no screaming…"
"Well, maybe the place doesn't have an alarm," the captain states.
"Oh, I'm sure that it does, but obviously Newburn has thought this all out and wouldn't do something so stupid. He probably entered by having her answer the front door."
The captain instructs his men to enter the home from the glass doors at the back of the house. We hear the house alarm going off at the initial shatter. I can see Monk smiling. "I knew it had an alarm," he says to me quietly. The men can be heard creeping into the house, stepping on the broken glass, and their flashlights shine through the front windows.
After a few minutes, we hear the men yelling, as well as the crashing of some furniture. Monk cringes, most likely thinking of all the overturned tables and chairs that are laying everywhere right now.
Stottlemeyer speaks into the walkie-talkie. "Are you guys all right?" he asks, obviously extremely curious.
One of the men responds. "We got someone. A man…." Static ensues. "—gun."
"What about the woman?" Monk asks the captain.
Stottlemeyer gives the 'wait' signal. "Have you found the woman yet?" he adds.
"No," is the simple response.
It seems like hours pass as we wait for the next radio. Stottlemeyer is getting impatient, and Monk is pacing back and forth, holding his hands out in front of him as if analyzing a crime scene.
"Do you know where she might be, Mr. Monk?" I ask.
"No," he responds, and continues to elaborate. "He was obviously going to kill her after he got the money. He had to make it look like a robbery and not like a revenge killing, so he couldn't make the scene too gory or grotesque. Something simple… like a single bullet to the head…." He sighs, looking down at the ground. "She's probably dead already…."
"Don't give up hope yet. They found him. He was still in the house. Why would he just hang out there after he killed her?"
"True…." he mumbles.
There is a radio. We all huddle around the walkie-talkie, extremely curious.
"We found the woman," the man on the other end states. Monk crosses his fingers, for what the next statement will be. "She's alive…."
We all sigh in relief.
"Was she hurt?" the captain asks.
"We found her tied up and gagged in the bathroom," the man responds after several seconds. "She's pretty scared, but she's safe now."
After several minutes have passed, the force exits the building, pulling along a handcuffed man in a ski mask and black jumpsuit. The woman also emerges from the home, a blanket around her shoulders, flanked by the last couple of officers. Around her mouth is a red line showing that she had been gagged; that's why we couldn't hear her.
Stottlemeyer walks up to the mystery man and whips his ski mask off. Mrs. Newburn screams. "Oh my God! Dave?"
Monk looks over at me and gives me a huge smile. I pat him on the back, grinning back at him.
The man is brought back to the station and identified as Dave Newburn, for his dental records and fingerprints match those of the man he had attempted to kill off. The body that had been found in the fire has not yet been identified, and so Newburn is being held for murder and attempted murder, as well as a half-dozen other felonies including arson and attempted robbery, in the county jail as he awaits trial.
"Do you think Newburn killed that person that was found in the fire?" I ask, as we walk to my Cherokee from the station the next day, after all this about Dave Newburn has been revealed.
He gives his characteristic shrug and neck twitch, and shakes his head sadly. "I… can't bel… I feel so close to figuring it out," he says, watching as a large tawny mutt approaches us with a huge white bone in its mouth. It comes up to me, and I begin to pet it.
"Oh, Natalie…" he sighs exasperatingly. "Ple—don't touch the… dog…" he says. "You don't know where it's bee—"
The friendly canine drops the bone at my feet, maybe hoping to play fetch. I am feeling pretty adventurous at the moment, and I pick it up, preparing to throw it for him. Monk is scowling now, glaring at my hands as if they are gangrenous.
"Drop it," he says. "Drop the… bone…." He begins to walk back towards the police station.
I laugh at him. "The dog already did, Mr. Monk!" I yell over my shoulder.
I hold the bone behind my head now, preparing to throw it. Monk gives me one last glare as he strolls, scoffing, back up the stairs to the offices. I let the spit-covered thing go flying down the sidewalk, as the dog takes off after it excitedly.
I look back at the miserable detective, whose expression has now changed to one of intense interest. "The… bone..." he says, watching it sail through the air.
His shoulders square and posture magically changes to one of confidence. "Oh my God!" he says. "I just figured out what Newburn did!"
He's smiling now, and walking through the police station doors. I run after him. He waits for me at the door, to open it for him, but changes his mind and opens it himself.
"Never mind," he says, as I catch up beside him. "Your hands are... filthy…."
"Whose is it, Mr. Monk?" I ask. "How the hell could that have tol—"
He silences me with a hand. "The person was already dead when the fire was started…. The blood had been drained from it beforehand…. That's why the bones were so white and didn't burn well. That also explains why the body was just laying there, not curled up in a corner of the room…. There had to have been a body gone missing at the hospital morgue…."
I speak up, realizing something from our visit to the hospital. "I understand now! That's why the medical examiner was so upset about having us in there without permission! That's why he said something else doesn't need to be stolen…. He just didn't want to mention what was stolen, because a missing body would've made him look bad!"
Smiling, Monk pats me on the arm, seemingly proud of me. It's funny how this moment is making me feel a mixture of happiness and guilt. I then realize that I want Monk to get all the credit. This case was completely solved by him and him alone.
Dave Newburn had stolen a body from the autopsy room. This wasn't going to go over well for the captain, for he had Newburn in jail for murder charges, but truth was truth; this had to be told. They could still get him for some pretty big felonies.
After Monk meets with the captain and reveals this new data, Stottlemeyer makes a call to the autopsy room and finds out that a body had indeed been stolen, the body of an unidentified homeless man.
"Well, the case is closed now, Mr. Monk…." I declare, smiling to myself, as we leave the police station. "I'll bet you're happy to have everything figured out." We walk slowly to my vehicle, and I clasp my hand around his arm, which he actually lets me do. He had forced me to wash my hands while in the station, but honestly, I would have done so anyway. That bone was really gross, come to think of it.
It seems to me like I should feel proud for him like I do for Julie when she accomplishes something at school, like I should be clapping goofily and smiling way too much for the situation. I don't, though… It's a deeper, more mature sense of happiness for this amazing man walking beside me. And the fact that he merely responds with his signature shrug and neck twitch is more reason to be utterly speechless at what he is capable of accomplishing.