Chief Vick surveyed the scene in front of her office. One of the desks had been shoved aside, all of the contents that were once on top of it now strewn all over the floor. A chair lay legs up a few feet away, not too far from a lamp that been similarly knocked over. One's first thought might be some kind of fight or altercation. She might even be ordering a full station lockdown right at this moment had she received any hint of a need for it from her officers present. As she raised her gaze, she saw one of her officers enter the bullpen with a heavy limp, followed by another asking for a cold pack to place on his forehead, and a third seemingly watching to make sure that neither of the previous two fell over. She carefully sidestepped some debris in an effort to make it into her office, hoping against all hope that her space had been spared by some miraculous twist of fate.
Inspecting her office more fully would have to wait, she realized, when she caught a glimpse of the Head Detective now approaching her, baring a look in his eyes that could scare the most seasoned of veterans. She had to admit even she sometimes had to take a second to gather herself in the presence of that "glare of death," and today would be no different given the circumstances, were it not for his askew tie and disheveled hair that stuck out at his temples like tiny little devil horns. Ok, she thought as she looked away from him and took a deep breath, maybe a little levity like this is just what she needed to keep her own anxiety from completely taking over.
"Where the hell are they?" He growled, so deeply that Vick wondered if he even moved his lips. There were times that she wondered if he might ever actually cause physical harm to her consultants. This was one of those times.
*************** 6 Hours Earlier ***************
"I will NOT try doubles luge with you, Shawn! That's just all sorts of wrong!" Gus softened his annoyance just long enough to greet the front desk clerk at the station on their way in to collect the check for their latest case.
"Come on, Gus!" Shawn whined. "What's wrong with that?! It's the most awesome sport ever, and I can't imagine being an Olympian without the chocolaty goodness of my best friend right there with me!"
Gus stopped suddenly, almost causing Shawn to walk straight into him. He turned and looked his best friend straight in the eye, daring him to continue whining. "You are not an Olympian, Shawn, much less a Winter Olympian. Need I remind you that we are in California, land of beach and sand and warm temperatures. Not a snowflake in sight. That doesn't work well for winter sports, Shawn." Shawn opened his mouth to argue, but Gus cut him off. "AND need I remind you of what happened the last time you decided to be an Olympian?"
Shawn nodded. "Yeah. You shot me."
"I DID NOT…." Gus cut himself off this time, struggling to maintain his composure as a couple officers began looking their way. "I did not shoot you, Shawn. But it ended terribly. You are not an Olympian. You are not an athlete. We have no snow, therefore you can't possibly be an Olympian. Ok?" He breathed a sigh of relief as Shawn seemed to concede with just a sigh and click of his tongue. He honestly thought he was in the clear until Shawn started bouncing the most annoying way that he usually did.
"But ski jumpers don't have to practice in the snow! They go down artificial ramps then jump into the water! OHHH!!!"
"WE'RE NOT SKI JUMPING, SHAWN!" He ignored an officer who had turned his back to face the copier, his shoulders visibly bouncing from laughter. "And you're not figure skating or playing hockey either. No way would attaching a pair of knife blades to your feet ever end well." He thanked the clerk as she handed him the check. "If you want to luge on your own and crack your head open, you go right ahead. I'll watch and put it on YouTube."
"But you know I can't steer, Gus!" Shawn protested. "Just like you steer the Blueberry in all its tiny perfection, I need you to feel the ice and thread the needle, buddy!"
"For the last time, I will not….wait, what?? Are you saying you want to be on top?? I am nobody's bottom, Shawn!" A sudden hush fell throughout the bullpen as everyone instinctively lost all pretense of not listening in on their conversation. The clerk quickly pretended to look for something on her desktop, failing to hide the flush of red on her cheek in response to his words.
"I mean…" He cleared his throat, desperate to take it back somehow.
"Oh come on, Gus, don't be petty." Shawn spoke before Gus could come up with something. "But I'm willing to experiment with positions if you want. Let's spoon it up, Olympics style, man! We could even…hey!" He left his sentence unfinished as Gus grabbed him by the arm and forcibly pulled him out of the building before he could make the situation any more embarrassing. Gus considered taking off alone and just leaving Shawn to walk back to the office, but that might mean Shawn would just go back inside and make things even worse.
"Olympic luge, this time, was it?" Vick tried to confirm in an effort to force some kind of normalcy to the situation. Maybe if she treated it like any other investigation, the sheer insanity of it all would be masked.
"Where the hell are they?!" Lassiter demanded again through clenched teeth. Vick shook her head, maybe this was a lost cause.
"I think it was skeleton." An officer across the bullpen offered.
"No, it was definitely luge." Another one disagreed. "I'm sure of it, because they were fighting over who would be on top." Everyone present struggled to maintain their composure in their Chief's presence while her eyes opened wide in confusion.
Vick ignored them and continued. "McNab…How did them arguing over….how did their arguing lead to…this?"
"Well, Spencer wanted to do doubles luge." The young officer replied matter-of-factly.
"But Guster didn't want to be on bottom." Another added.
"So where does skeleton fit into the picture?"
"Guster told Spencer he'd put him on YouTube."
"No, Guster was just trying to warn Spencer." McNab corrected.
"Warn Spencer of what??"
"Not to go head first."
"So Guster wanted to do luge??"
"No, he said he's nobody's bottom."
"But I heard both of them screaming down the hall…" Vick felt the first pangs of a headache creeping into her temple.
"Right, that was the bobsled."
"When did we start talking about bobsleds??"
*************** 30 Minutes Earlier ***************
"Guuusss!!! I'm hungry!!!" Shawn whined, overdramatically clutching at his stomach.
"Suck it, Shawn. No money, no food. No check signed, no money. Get it?"
"Maaaan." Shawn sighed in annoyance.
"Hey, if you hadn't distracted me when we picked it up in the first place, I wouldn't have forgotten to get it signed. This is your fault." Gus accused. He was relieved when Shawn remained silent while he parked the car and they entered the station for the second time that day.
"Hi, excuse me." Gus flirted with the clerk once again, "But we neglected to get this check signed before we left last time."
"Oh, of course. Just a moment." She smiled, taking the check and heading back into the station, presumably to find Chief Vick. Gus was almost too busy gazing at the Clerk as she walked away to notice Shawn excitedly bouncing up and down beside him. Almost.
"What now, Shawn?!" He demanded.
Shawn pointed down to the floor. "They just polished it!!" He exclaimed. "Like a fresh coat of ice, buddy!"
"What?....No, hell no, Shawn! I told you there's no way that I'm doing luge with you. Not gonna happen, Shawn." He noticed the telltale signs of his friend preparing another whining fit, and decided to head it off at the pass. "NO, Shawn. NO. Not gonna happen."
"Awww! C'mon, Gus!" Shawn was undeterred. He looked around for anything that might help him make his case. His eyes settled back on his own best friend's frequent glances in search of the front clerk. "Okay, how about this. You score a date with the clerk, you win. She shoots you down, you're luging with me!"
Gus considered his options. There would be no way to get Shawn's mind off this. There never was once he set his mind to something. And it did offer him the excuse to act on his crush for the pretty young clerk. Still, he was unconvinced. Memories of his disastrous 'Olympic moment' with Shawn a couple years ago were enough to keep him from ever wanting to take Shawn up on another bet.
Shawn knew he had his best buddy's attention…but possibly not enough. Dammit. He knew the chance to take this girl out would be his strongest play, and if that failed, he honestly didn't think he had anything else up his sleeve. There had to be something else that could tip the scales in his favor. If only he could find it…
Miraculously, he found it, and immediately he knew there would be no way Gus could possibly refuse. "C'mon, Gus! You know you want to!" He urged.
"I see what you're doing, Shawn, but I don't think that making a fool of myself in front of a girl that I just asked out on a date is my idea of a good way to make a good impression."
Shawn saw this coming and came back at him with an offer that could not possibly be refused. "Gus, I get it." He began. "No luge. No skeleton. You're nobody's bottom, buddy."
"No spooning it up."
"Unless it's in a bobsled."
"A bobsled! Gus, don't tell me you haven't dreamed of bobsled glory! There's nothing not cool about it! It's Cool Runnings! Think of the Jamaican bobsled team!" He saw the spark in Gus' eyes the moment it happened. There would be no hiding it now, and he knew his opportunity to strike was now. "You know you want to! You and your lavender oiled head of Jamaican awesomeness! Steering stupidly tiny hunks of metal like a pro, just like you do the Blueberry…it's in your blood, man!"
There it was. The thumb swipe on the nose. Gus had taken the bait. Now, all Shawn had to do was act before his friend changed his mind. He rushed down the hall to grab the dolly that had been left outside the maintenance closet. To his great joy, he looked back to see Gus stretching his hamstring. This was happening! There was no way this was not ending awesomely! Sure, he would have preferred the hill at the nearby park, but the freshly oiled floor was too perfect to pass up.
"Straightaway through the hallway, sharp right into the bullpen, clear shot past Jules' desk, then left on the curve to end at Lassie's desk and Olympic glory, got it?" Shawn called the course. Gus shrugged off his coat and was halfway to the back end of the hall before Shawn could even maneuver the dolly out of the nook beside the maintenance closet.
"Just give me the push I need, Shawn. I'll take care of the rest."
"So, Spencer convinced Guster that bobsledding was in his blood?" Vick clarified. She sighed and shook her head. This scenario was all too believable.
"Actually I don't think it was the Jamaican thing as much as the dolly." McNab added. "Good thing the small cart was locked inside the closet."
Vick shrugged and dared to look over the damage to her bullpen once more. "I don't think I'm so sure about that. They might have wiped out of the small cart well before making it into the bullpen." She rubbed her temple, trying hard to figure out her next step when another question entered her mind.
"Wait…so…why, might I ask, does it seem like no one raised a finger to stop this from happening in the first place??" This time, no one was able to immediately offer an answer. Everyone sheepishly looked down on the floor in response. "Come on, people! Someone tell me why these two were allowed to wreak havoc through my station in a makeshift bobsled made out of a dolly?!"
"Well…Spencer brought up the fact that you've been wanting to rearrange the desks in this area…" A brave young officer offered. "He convinced us this was a great opportunity to clear a path and try out some new arrangement that would leave more room through the bullpen."
"And…he said he needed a safety officer…so…someone had to do it…" Another officer added nervously.
"Plus he said this is great practice for foot pursuits." Buzz chimed in happily. "I mean, you never know when we're going to have to chase a guy on a dolly! He said there would be no better way to…" His words caught in his throat at the look on Vick's face. Clearly, she wasn't buying it.
"Officer McNab." She interrupted before he had a chance to finish his thought. "You're telling me that Mr. Spencer and Mr. Guster convinced you that someday, you'll have to chase a suspect riding a dolly through a police station?"
Buzz scratched his head nervously. Well, when it was put that way, the idea didn't quite sound like such a great one after all. It all sounded great in the moment – everyone else had to agree – hell, everyone else did agree! "Umm…well, we thought that because of that one time that we had to chase a guy on a bike…"
"Never mind, McNab." Vick sighed. She was all too familiar with the convincing nature of her consultants. "So he convinced you to help move stuff aside, he convinced someone else to be a so-called safety officer…anything else?" Throughout her career as an officer and interrogator, there would always be questions she dreaded hearing the answer to. This was one of those questions.
The officers around her hesitated, each one hoping that someone else would speak first. Finally, one brave rookie chose to end the silence. "Umm…they asked me to time them to see how fast they were going."
"And they asked me to be the referee and call their start." Someone else spoke up.
Vick nodded in defeat. "Ok. So…with so many of you 'helping' this melee, how exactly is it that it ended up…" she looked around and gestured with her arms, "like this?"
*************** 15 Minutes Earlier ***************
"That looks good!" Shawn announced, looking over the makeshift bobsled course through the hallway and bullpen. He checked his watch – plenty of time before Vick's weekly meeting with her Ranking Officers. With any luck, they could get this done and everything put back into place without her knowing anything had even happened. He figured they were well on schedule…with the exception of Gus, who had disappeared to the restroom to 'get ready.' He hurried into the restroom to hurry his friend up, only to find him with a fresh bottle of lavender oil in hand.
"Come on, buddy! Your fans await!" He rushed. He would have added the part about not risking getting found out by Vick, but decided that might take away from the mentality of the moment.
Gus finished smoothing out a fresh layer of oil over his scalp, looked himself over one last time, nodded in approval, and stepped out into the hallway with all the swagger of a true Olympian coming out to receive his Gold Medal.
"Remember, straightaway first, hard right, then curve left to finish." Shawn reminded. "We've got time for maybe two runs, so make them count." Gus nodded while taking a seat in the 'bobsled' and considering how he could steer it effectively. Shouldn't be too hard, he'd done it several times as a kid. Surely his skills had only grown since then. Besides, he knew the clerk would be watching them all too closely. There was no way he was messing this up.
"Ok! Set!" He called out to Shawn, who was holding on to the back end of the 'sled' in wait for the go-ahead. He looked up at the officer who had been tasked with the job of counting down their start.
"On your mark!" the officer called. Shawn and Gus quickly set themselves into position. "Get set! …. Go!"
Shawn immediately started his push, and just as immediately felt his right foot slightly slip out behind him. Damn, he thought, more slippery than he had imagined. The 'sled' responded accordingly, feeling like it wanted to immediately skid out from the well-maintained wheels and a freshly oiled floor.
"Skid!" He called to Gus, "Gus, turn into the skid!" He knew their only hope was to get the turn started early so that it flowed naturally with the skid. With the proper timing, this would work out flawlessly.
"I got it!" Gus replied, having felt the slick surface himself.
Back in the bullpen, Buzz was eagerly anticipating the duo coming into view as soon as they made their turn. He was so excited, in fact, that he almost missed a distinct sound coming their way through the back hallway. Still, the sound caught McNab's attention just enough to spark his curiosity and cause him to investigate the sound. What he saw sent his heart racing into a panic.
"Detective Lassiter's coming!" he ran back into the bullpen and announced. The other officers around scrambled into a frenzy of activity in response.
"I'm in! Turn! Turn!" Shawn called the second he was seated behind his friend. Feeling the 'sled's' easy response to the slick surface under him gave him no confidence they would pull it off, but it was too late now to back out. Gus, thankfully, was already doing all he could to avoid them crashing into the wall. Both of them leaned to their right, trying their hardest to urge the 'sled' to turn right. It almost looked like they might actually have a chance to save it, when they were suddenly faced with McNab's supersized form appearing right in front of them.
"GAHH MCNAB!!" Shawn cried out, shocked
"Shawn! Stop!" McNab tried to stop them in vain, but was forced to dive out of the way as the 'sled' sped right at him.
"What the hell is all that commotion out there?!" Lassiter's voice boomed ahead of him. "We're trying to have a meeting back there!"
"OUTTA THE WAY!!!" Shawn called as they made the turn to see that seemingly all the officers in the bullpen had convened right at the bullpen entry.
"AAAHHHH!!!!" Gus cried, the world a mixture of terrified slow-motion and gut-sickening speed. It was all he could do to lower his head in time to avoid a face full of an officer's leg as they narrowly missed him only after he dove against the nearest desk, the whoosh of his uniform pant leg barely grazing his nose. A second officer suffered a similar fate, having to dive on the opposite side against the wall to avoid getting bowled over.
"OUTTA THE WAY LASSIE!" Shawn cried. They were now fully out of control, sliding sideways at full speed – right at the Head Detective.
"AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!" Gus could have sworn he caught a quick glance of Lassiter shuffle his feet and do a panicky little tap dance as he tried frantically to decide on an escape strategy from the impending dolly-bobsled attack. He finally tossed himself sideways against a shelf full of binders and other informational materials.
Gus tore his eyes off Lassiter's airborne body as the 'sled' caught the edge of one of the binders to jump it like a ramp, sending them flying straight into the Chief's office. He closed his eyes and waited for an inevitable disastrous ending, only to feel a strong bump once the 'sled' landed. The strong thud that followed was forceful enough to force his eyes open, enough for him to see they had knocked one of the chairs into her desk with the full force of their landing, knocking it back hard enough to slam into the bookshelf and shower them with everything that had been on said shelves.
"Nooo!!!" The next thing Gus heard was Shawn's scream in his ear, right before feeling his best friend throwing himself right over Gus' head in a frantic reach for... "Not the fish!!!"
"Wait…" Vick paused as the story finally came together. "You mean to tell me that they're…" She braved the stack of binders in front of her office to peek inside…not even daring to think of what she should hope to see. What she did see was a mass of arms and legs, somehow balanced between the top of her desk and balancing precariously on an overturned dolly.
Shawn heard the door open and looked back to see Chief Vick enter. Strange, most people would have some sort of 'What the hell?!' response, but what he got from Vick was simply her hands on her hips and what looked like a struggle to figure out what to say. She had always been one of the hardest people to get a read on.
"Hi Chief!" He greeted, then held up the fish, only to have to put it immediately back down to avoid falling off from the precarious position he had found himself in. "Look, I saved your fish!"
"Hello, Mr. Spencer. You care to explain all this to me?"
"We…uhh…." Gus stammered. "We'll clean it up! Promise!"
Vick nodded. "Oh, I expect you'll make sure this place gets right back to where it started, Mr. Guster." She replied.
Gus looked at Shawn, eyes filled with fear. Strange how the sound of Lassiter coming their way could scare him so much worse than the Chief herself confronting them. He looked back at Vick, silently begging her to have some mercy on them.
"We'll get to cleaning it up right now!" Shawn declared. He tried putting one leg onto the ground to help himself up, only to end up flat on his back.
Vick sighed. "Mr. Spencer, considering the circumstances, I think it best if you two just leave. I'm not sure I can guarantee your safety around Detective Lassiter right this moment. However," She looked over at Gus. "I'll go ahead and keep that check for now. You'll get another check in about a week – minus the cost of any damage that we will have to fix." Gus groaned but nodded. He figured she was right, and so long as she could find a way for them to get out of there without being dismembered by Lassiter, he would consider it a fair trade. Thankfully, they managed to carefully pick their way through the rubble and back out to the front desk, where Gus could hardly even look back at the clerk again.
"It's okay, buddy." Shawn consoled him when they were back in the car. "Let's go drown our sorrows in waffles and syrup. That's how Olympians do it when they wipe out on the course, right?"
"We're not Olympians, Shawn." Gus muttered.
"Of course we are! Look at you and your brilliant Jamaican inspired steering in Vick's office! Maaan, you rocked it!"
"Shawn, don't even try to find a positive side of bowling for police officers!"
"Dude! We would have had it if everyone hadn't decided to throw themselves at you! You had it going on, buddy!"
Gus thought for a moment, then nodded. "You know, you're right. We had that turn going, didn't we?"
"We did! Just like the Jamaican bobsled team!"
"Let's finish this then! Show them what you can do in this tiny ass hunk of steel! Finish the run for Jamaica!"
"For Jamaica Man!!!" He threw the gear into reverse and sped out of the parking lot. Inside, having heard the tires squealing onto the street, Vick immediately reached for her stash of extra strength ibuprofen. Somehow, she had a feeling the day was not nearly over yet.