The author has this to say about her story: "A Law & Order denouement that you will never see, set sometime during season 10. A bizarre result of watching a L&O episode just before a show on Texas cooking, bringing new meaning to the word 'cross-over.'"
By Valerie Rademacher
The elevator stopped at the tenth floor of Hogan Place. Jack McCoy and Abbie Carmichael, exhausted from their latest legal fiasco with Judge William Wright, were silent. This evening, they wished for nothing more than a quick exit. But first they had to update the District Attorney for New York County.
Their wishes were nullified the instant the doors opened. Chaos reigned in the hallway leading to Adam Schiff's office. Staffers milled in groups, most of them didn't belong on this floor. They cluttered the hallway, listened at the DA's door, chatted, or strained for a better view. The resulting noise smacked the two ADAs like a cold winter wind.
Adam's highly competent, but extremely flustered secretary, hurried toward them, purse in hand, plowing her way through the rubbernecking prosecutors.
"What the hell is going on?" exclaimed Jack, gazing at the scene before him, and forgetting his manners. One didn't swear in this lady's presence. Anxiety darkened his face, and he focused his gaze on the older woman. "Is Adam all right?"
Adam's secretary was beyond caring about bad language. But her first words relaxed the senior prosecutor. "Oh, no!" She blurted. "Mr. Schiff is fine." She offered an explanation as she pressed the button to call the elevator. "There's a pigeon in his office. Maintenance is having a terrible time catching it."
The tension snapped like a tree limb. Jack stared open-mouthed, as his associate spoke.
"A pigeon," stated Abbie dryly, "How did it get there?"
"I don't know. I've been in HR, dealing with vacation schedules."
"Where's Adam?" asked Jack.
"In his office. He'd just returned from seeing the Mayor."
"Great. From one birdbrain to another. I bet he's in a cheery mood."
The elevator doors opened. "I'd rather not find out," the secretary said, as she stepped in. "Lawyers and madmen, what's the difference? The inmates aren't listening to me so I'm going home. Poor bird." The doors closed on the flustered animal lover.
The words, "I'm sure you all have something useful to do," suddenly broke through the office.
The junior ADAs, recognizing McCoy's voice, acknowledged the words of a bureaucratically supreme being. The hallway cleared in seconds, and the ruckus coming from the DA's office could now be heard.
Jack strode down the hall; Abbie followed. At the door, the two attorneys stopped.
Jack said, "Well, we have to tell him what happened today. A distracted Adam might not be a bad thing. So let's get this over with."
Abbie nodded in agreement. "I've had enough of the legal profession for one day. The health club is calling."
They looked at each other. "Ladies first," Jack offered.
"You're the lead, you're first," she said.
So the EADA turned the knob. He looked in, and was greeted with "Close that damned door!" They scooted in and then Jack did as ordered.
At that moment a pearl gray pigeon, sprinkled with navy and pink highlights, flew away from the bookcases toward the closing door. But, Jack closed the door closed in time. Escape gone, the bird veered and landed on the light, which illuminated a portrait hanging below.
Ducking from the bird, the two ADAs righted themselves and looked around. The scene was worth the price of admission. Papers were everywhere, as were books, legal briefs, and feathers. Adam was backed into a corner, near a bookcase. His neck flared red, and his tie was askew. A look of first degree murder plastered his face. Three maintenance men were stationed in various parts of the office, variously holding a bucket, a fishing net, and a broom. They muttered in some foreign language, accenting their words with gestures.
Jack was speechless, but Abbie had no problem finding words. "Where is my .22 when I need it?"
The men stared at her. Adam said, "Just what I need, PETA at my door protesting pigeon murder. Remember where you are."
Abbie replied coolly. "Yeah, in New York they shoot teenagers, not vermin."
Jack realized that Adam was thinking Texas-style prosecutoricide, so he touched her elbow gently. She took the hint, and if she had other bright thoughts, Abbie didn't share.
"Why don't we call the ASPCA? You must have a favor or two you can call in," Jack said.
"It's after hours, the only thing that answered was the machine," Adam replied stiffly.
Meanwhile, the maintenance men must have been discussing tactics, because they started to stalk the pigeon. The one holding the net drew closer, but as he swung, the bird took off for another tour of the room. They ran after it, bouncing into furniture, (down went a stack of books) and flailing their weapons helplessly. Their words were undoubtedly obscenities. Abbie stifled a giggle when Adam let loose a couple of his own in English.
Jack marveled at the ability of the fugitive to evade capture.
The room quieted as the bird settled again on the lamp over the portrait. The pigeon took a moment to preen.
Jack couldn't help himself. "Pigeon on the brass, alas." It was his turn to be stared at. Jack just shrugged.
"Hell of a time to become a poet!" was his boss' response.
The bird left a present, then took off again.
"YYY-uccc-kk!" Abbie muttered, stretching the word into three full syllables.
Jack's face suddenly brightened. The whole miserable day: including the battle with Judge Wright, the dismissal, and the contempt fine, melted away. He looked impishly at the DA. "It's a stool pigeon, Adam!"
Adam glared at him.
"Or it's some long-gone defendant seeking vengeance!"
"Jews don't believe in reincarnation."
Jack and Abbie exchanged glances, then burst into laughter. There was no stopping them either, as the tears filled their eyes. Adam stared incredulously at the helpless pair, but finally he lost his poise, his hunched shoulders vibrating as he released some un-Adamlike chuckles. The others looked on, convinced that the lawyers had gone loco.
Finally Jack, who was leaning against the door for support, stopped long enough to gasp, "Wait, I've got an idea." He turned to the nearest janitor, "See if you can get the bird down on the floor." Jack accented his words with gestures; pointing at the bird, then to the floor. The other man nodded.
Jack left the office and the maintenance men swung into action. Bird was in flight again, but now with a plan, the janitors kept the bird away from the bookcases. Finally, it landed in the center of the room. The men stopped, Adam's and Abbie's laughter subsided, and the room was silent when Jack reentered the room. He had changed into his jeans, held a motorcycle helmet, and had draped a towel over his shoulder. His other hand was closed tight.
Jack walked to the center of the room. Crouching low, Jack set the helmet on the floor. He smoothed the towel flat with one hand, then opened his fist. Some golden crumbs flittered to the towel. He brushed the remaining crumbs away, then reached for the helmet. He slowly positioned it about two feet over the bait. Everyone waited with a patience they didn't know they had.
Being a Manhattan bird, the pigeon quickly sensed there was food near by. It waddled its way to the towel, and begun to peck at the snack.
Jack didn't pounce immediately, but when the bird began to peck in earnest, the ADA struck. Down came the helmet, too fast for the bird. The helmet began to bounce and rattle. Jack yelled out, "Someone wrap this thing up!"
The nearest janitor flew to assist, wrapping the towel around the helmet. Eventually, the captured bird was held securely by the janitor, and the frantic bird became quiet. Jack stood up.
Adam came to inspect the scattered crumbs on his floor. "Magic food? When did you join the Audubon Society?" he grumbled.
Jack looked at his boss. "I crumbled up some leftover fortune cookies."
"I hope you weren't planning on wearing that helmet tonight," Abbie commented.
"It's a spare." Jack said, then added with a touch of sadness, "Doesn't get used anymore."
Adam looked sympathetically at his senior prosecutor, but that emotion was missing from the Texan's voice. "And the towel?"
"Doesn't get used either," was the deadpan reply.
Abbie snorted with disgust, and Adam threw up his hands. "Too much information!" he declared. Then Adam said, "What do we do with the bird?"
"We could messenger it to Judge Wright. Let it decorate his office for a while." Jack replied.
"Or maybe Abbie wants it for her dinner. She suggested the rifle."
Abbie's eyes rolled. "Gross!" she exclaimed, "We hunt doves, not pigeons! Daddy prepares them in the back yard smoker."
Jack stared. "Terrific, you barbecue the bird of peace. No wonder you want to hang everyone!"
Abbie reddened and stormed out of the office, slamming the door behind her. Frantic sounds came from the towel/helmet combo in the janitor's arms. In response, he stroked the towel and cooed calming tones.
"It's time that bird left the building!" Adam exclaimed. "And make sure this office gets cleaned tonight." The maintenance men nodded and fled the room.
Jack looked around, shaking his head slightly. "I'll help you get those papers together. The cleaning crew won't touch them." He crouched down to retrieve the nearest stack of spilled documents.
Adam looked down at his EADA. "I better not get a harassment complaint!"
"You won't." Jack said softly. "Judge Wright might get a mail bomb, though."
"The stronger the case, the quicker he dismisses it seems. The People had barely rested. I served notice to appeal."
"Send him the bird!"
"I did in my own way." Jack said, rising. "But it cost me three hundred."
Jack shrugged, and after straightening the papers, set them on the desk. "As for Abbie, it's about time I took my revenge for that salad."