redmen

The Red Men - interlude


… Fifteen minutes later they were on the path, Jane lagging behind because he kept stopping to look at the plants, when Cho remembered something he’d been meaning to do all morning. He switched his bag to his left hand and pulled out his cell.

“What are you doing?”

Cho looked back. Jane was bent over a plant with big leaves and big white blooms. His pants were already wet at the knees. “Luckner didn’t want us to use our cells while we were on the detail. But now that it doesn’t matter, I’m picking up messages.” He finally got a signal and scrolled through the menu until he found the entry he wanted.

“Oh,” Jane straightened quickly and hurried towards Cho, finger up in the air, a look of amused apology on his face, “About that…”

He stopped. And turned. “About what?”

Jane hesitated, then smiled brilliantly. “On second thought, I’ll just go on ahead. See you in the car.” He brushed by Cho and hurried off.

Cho frowned, then punched the number that would retrieve his messages. He held the phone to his ear to hear, “Your inbox is full. Please delete all messages. You have seventeen messages.”

Seventeen.

He had seventeen messages and he dialed again. He’d only been gone a week. He barely got seventeen messages in an entire year. But sure enough, he’d dialed the right number: the message repeated itself. He punched the number ‘1’ to play them.

The first call consisted of approximately thirty seconds of music from a country-western radio station. It had to be from Jane. Or maybe Rigsby?

He deleted the message and went onto the next. Which was a very simple, ‘It’s Jane, where are you?’ Same for the next four. The seventh mixed it up a bit: ‘Hi, it’s me. You do know you can’t hide from me, right?’ And the eighth, as if he’d never hung up, ‘People have tried before and I always find them.’

The ninth through fourteenth messages were when Jane got really snarky—they consisted of him reading short excerpts from the owner’s manual of Lisbon’s car.

The fifteenth was the funniest: ‘Is this Pizza Heaven? I’d like a large  pizza, heavy on the pineapple. In fact, skip the cheese and sauce altogether and make it all pineapple. Thanks. Bye.’

The sixteenth was from Luce. She only got a few words in—something about trying to get in touch with him about their parent’s annual 4th of July party—before he accidentally deleted it. He sighed heavily—he’d call her back when he got home.

The seventeenth, the very last message, was Jane again. He sounded tired this time, his voice hushed in that way it got when he’d been up too long, been talking too much, ‘It’s one in the morning and it looks like we’re almost done here. Me and Lisbon and Rigsby, I mean.’ There was a long pause, then he added, almost whispering, ‘I hope you’re okay. I’m mad at you, but Ihope you’re okay. Imiss you. Say hi to Van—”

Cho stood there, the hot sun on his back, the small phone in his hand as he listened to the electronic voice ask blithely what he wanted to do with the message. He’d deleted all the others and he should just do the same with this one—there was no reason to keep it.

He hesitated for the longest time, his finger hovering over the delete button. Then, without really thinking about it, he hit ‘9’ to save it and pocketed the phone.

Hi shouldered his bag, then made his way up the path.

 

fin.

 

Story notes:
Patrick Jane/Kimball Cho
The Mentalist
600+ words
Follows directly from 'The Red Men.'
All characters belong to people and organizations that are not me.