Fells Point Fromage IV: The Luck of the Irish

Everyone here but me belongs to NBC, Tom Fontana, Dick Wolf, and those folks. I'm not looking to buy, heck, I'm not even serious about renting.I'm just squatting. Don't sue, I'm poorer than I look.

"I nearly killed myself when the ball went through Buckner's legs! I jumped off the couch and nearly landed on my sister's cat... it wasn't pretty." Brian Cassidy shook his head at the memory.

"I went a little crazy, too. But I had to get it all out of my system," Judge Susan Aandahl laughed. "My boss was, and probably still is, a Red Sox fan and I knew that if I even smiled the next day, Schiff was going to have me trying pickpockets in Staten Island..."

"Well, if it makes you feel any better, his office is loaded with Yankees fans now," Cassidy chortled and Aandahl laughed outright.

John Munch just stifled a yawn. It had initially been a pleasant surprise to find out that Judge Aandahl was a native New Yorker who had served many years under Manhattan DA Adam Schiff. All Munch had to do was get Cassidy to ask for the warrant and, as one New Yorker to another, things went that much smoother. But occassionally, the two of them got into storytelling contests. And Munch was in no mood to relive the 1986 World Series.

The yawn was not picked up by either Aandahl or Cassidy, who were now finding out that they were both admirers of Mookie Wilson and secretly harbored a dislike of Lenny Dykstra for getting to platoon against righties that year.

Munch started scanning the bookshelves of Aandahl's office. Law books, law books, and... what's this? The Norton Anthology of English Literature? Both volumes? Munch slipped the first one off the shelf and opened it up near the beginning. Chaucer never had rooted for the Mets and was thus much more interesting company right then....

*****

Mike Kellerman felt someone hovering over him as he sat at his desk filling out forms. He was about to make a wise-ass remark but decided to see who it was first. Looking down and slightly over his shoulder he saw a pair of nice legs and low heels. Nobody in the department, then.

"Can I help you?" Kellerman asked, turning around.

"Umm... Yeah. I'm looking for Brian Cassidy." The pretty face at the other end of the nice legs smiled crookedly. She couldn't possibly be looking for their Brian Cassidy.

"Detective Cassidy's out on a call right now. Is there something I can do for you?" Kellerman made to get up out of his chair.

"This isn't police business," the young woman shook her head, motioning for Kellerman to stay seated. "I'm a friend of his from New York."

Damn, she is looking for our Cassidy. Kellerman motioned over his shoulder to Cassidy's desk. "That's his, you're welcome to sit until he gets back..." Kellerman tilted his head, indicating she should give her name.

"Colleen. Colleen Rierden." She walked over to Cassidy's desk and sat down, holding her backpack on her lap. Kellerman turned in his chair to face her. "Do you think he'll be gone long?" She asked.

"Uhhh.... I don't really know. Hold on a second," Kellerman tilted back in his seat and saw Kay Howard in the coffee room. "Hey, Sarge! You know when Munch and Cassidy are coming back?"

Howard shrugged. "They just left to get a warrant from Aandahl," she called back. "Why?"

"Cassidy's got a visitor." Kellerman lowered his voice from a shout as Kay approached him. When she got to his desk, he tilted his head towards Colleen, who waved self-consciously. "She's a friend from New York."

"We went to the Academy together," Colleen volunteered.

"You're a cop?" Howard asked. She didn't dress like an off-duty cop, or at least not like any off-duty cop she knew. Cops can't afford The Gap on a regular basis.

"Was." Colleen shrugged her shoulders. "I quit and went back to school."

Howard was about to say something when she looked down at Kellerman's desk. "You didn't fill those out yet?" she poked the forms with her index finger. "Those shoulda been on Gee's desk last week. Get that done today, huh? I'll stick 'em into the case file when he's not lookin'" She swatted Kellerman on the arm.

"Thanks, Kay."

Colleen pulled a paperback out of her bag and smiled. "I don't want to be a bother, I'll just read until he gets back and not be a distraction."

'You're a distraction as long as you're sitting there, sweetheart, Kellerman thought to himself. "Suit yourself," he said to her.

Kellerman went back to his forms, occasionally sneaking a peek at the pretty woman sitting next to him. He was looking at the forms again when he felt a gentle tap on his arm.

"Listen," Colleen said, "I have to be at Johns Hopkins in a few minutes. Tell Brian I'll stop by tomorrow at two, please?"

Kellerman nodded and Colleen waved at Howard on his way out. Tim Bayliss nearly fell out of his chair staring after her, causing Frank Pembleton to clear his throat loudly and glare at his partner. Colleen passed Meldrick Lewis on her way through the door and Lewis spun around to watch her leave.

"Who's that?" Lewis asked his partner as he returned to his desk.

"Cassidy's friend, would you believe?" Kellerman shook his head.

"I don't believe," Lewis shook his head as well. "What's our little piece of Jarlsberg doin' with friends like that?"

Kellerman could only shrug. "He's Irish. We micks have a certain way with the ladies," he grinned. "I've been giving him lessons."

"Yeah, on how to kiss the Blarney Stone," Lewis shot back.

*****

"I don't want to hear about seminal turning points in New York City history, Cassidy," Munch was calling over his shoulder to his partner, who was trailing behind. "You just spent an hour and a half discussing millionaires who dress in stirrup pants and only work during the summers. If we were going to do history, we could at least have discussed Tammany Hall. The area that is now New York has a rich and fascinating history dating back to being sold for twenty-four dollars worth of beads. And you're discussing millionares who don't know New Amsterdam from New Jersey."

"Actually, we didn't talk about any millionaires... Okay, so Hernandez and Carter were, and Gooden.. but it's baseball, John." Cassidy looked and sounded hurt.

"Yes, it's baseball. You just spent an hour and a half discussing baseball. With a judge. Ninety minutes with Aandahl discussing sport. And it wasn't even the Orioles. You didn't mention the Orioles once." Munch and Cassidy were back at their desks and Kellerman and Lewis were watching the pair with amusement.

"Did too, but you were too busy reading. You're missing the most important point, though, John."

"And what's that? That Willy Backman really could hit lefties?"

"Nope." Cassidy pulled the blue-wrapped papers out of his jacket pocket. "That we got a search and seizure for Pinky Polanski without any real evidence whatsoever." Cassidy smiled triumphantly.

Munch glowered at his partner, but Cassidy's smile wouldn't fade. "And it's Wally Backman, not Willy."

Munch stormed off towards the coffee room, more for dramatics than out of any real anger, Cassidy realized, or else Brian would have chased after him to apologize. He didn't like pissing Munch off.

Instead, he sat down at his desk and looked for the Polanski file among the rubble. Munch did get angry when the piles of paper that covered Cassidy's desk tipped over onto his own ("Cassidy, get that Leaning Tower of Babel onto your side, please," Munch had howled after one such moment of spillage) and Brian made sure to keep the piles stable and steady.

"What?" Cassidy asked without looking up. He could feel Kellerman staring at him.

"Who's Colleen Rierden?"

"I don't know," Cassidy replied, still not looking up. "Is this one of those Baltimore things that I should have picked up by now?"

There was no reply from Kellerman and so Cassidy looked up. Mike was looking at him like he was from Mars. "What? Is this a really famous case I should know? Is she Baltimore's best stripper? Who is she?"

"We was hopin' you'd tell us, Gouda Boy," Lewis fairly cackled from his desk. Cassidy leaned forward so Lewis could see him and made a face that he hoped expressed both confusion and anger. Lewis cackled again, so Cassidy figured he must look constipated instead.

"What?" Cassidy was getting irritated. Neither Kellerman nor Lewis were saying anything. Brian picked up the Polanski file again and started copying down the list of addresses. Munch returned from the coffee room bearing a cup of tea and a poppy seed danish ("There aren't enough seeds in that to get an opium high, John," Cassidy had pointed out the first time he had seen his partner eating one. "Psychosomatic effect isn't bad, though," Munch had replied between bites.)

"Hey, Cassidy, so what's up with you and Colleen Rierden?" Bayliss asked, strolling over. If they weren't a pair, Tim thought, then maybe....

"Fuck off, Timmy," Cassidy snarled. Bayliss took a step back and put his hands up in surrender. Tim was a lousy liar, Brian knew, and if Lewis and Kellerman had put Bayliss up to something, it would've been obvious and Tim wouldn't have looked hurt. Maybe something wasn't up...

"Who's Colleen Rierden?" Munch asked.

Cassidy howled, got up, went into the Box with the Polanski file, and slammed the door. Kellerman and Lewis collapsed into fits of giggles, drawing Howard over.

"What'dya do to Cassidy, boys?" Kay asked, tilting her head towards the Box.

"Turns out Brian doesn't have the foggiest clue who that girl who came in before is," Kellerman whispered, out of breath from laughing. Howard just shook her head.

"What girl?" Munch asked, now genuinely curious. It was his job to protect his partner from the collaborative efforts of Lewis and Kellerman, not accidently contribute to them.

"This gorgeous blonde came in while you guys were out getting the warrant," Kellerman explained, "Musta come in about five minutes after you left. Said she was an old friend of Cassidy's from New York. She waited for a while and then said she had to run to Hopkins and would stop by tomorrow."

"And her name is Colleen Rierden," Munch nodded. "And my partner doesn't know anybody who goes by that name."

"Or so he says," Lewis smiled and got up. "Well, we got him in the Box, might as well sweat it outta him." Kellerman, Munch, Bayliss, and, against her better instincts, Howard trailed along behind.

Cassidy did not look thrilled to see the quintet enter the Box. "C'mon guys, stop picking on me," he asked wearily when they all entered and Kellerman closed the door behind them. "Et tu, Sarge?" Cassidy asked when he saw Howard. Kay shrugged.

"Colleen Rierden is a very, very pretty young woman who came into the squadroom today looking for you," Bayliss explained.

Cassidy shook his head. "I don't know any Colleen Rierdens."

"She said she went to the Police Academy with you," Kellerman volunteered. "Said you two were old friends."

Cassidy thought for a moment, but then shook his head again. "I didn't go to the Academy with anyone with that name. There were a couple of pretty girls, a couple named Colleen, but no Colleen Rierden."

"Maybe she went by a different name then?" Howard suggested. "Got married or somethin'. How many Colleens you know?"

"I'm Irish," Brian shrugged. "I'm related to at least a half dozen and there were... five in my graduating class in high school. And I probably know a few others from college and church and the Academy and the real world. That's like asking a Muslim how many guys he knows named Mohammed."

"Trust me," Kellerman smiled. "You'd remember this one. Long blonde hair, even longer legs..."

Cassidy shook his head. "Colleen Mullin had curly black hair... Colleen Fahey weighed three hundred pounds and had nasty acne... Colleen McFadden called herself Lena so she wouldn't get confused with anyone else and would hit you with her billy club if you called her Colleen... Those were the only Colleens I knew from the Academy."

"Well, we're already up to a baker's dozen," Munch said, counting on his fingers to double check. "There can't be that many more to go through." Everyone chuckled.

At this point the Box door opened and Pembleton stuck his head in. "I hate to interrupt something important," he looked around at the still smiling faces, all except Cassidy's, "but I have a real suspect. Take yours elsewhere." Everyone moved to leave and Cassidy picked up the pages of the file he had spread across the desk.

"I hear Narcotics has some new restraints if you'd like to go there," Frank suggested with a straight face. Cassidy looked stricken.

"Bayliss, stay here," Pembleton reminded his partner. "I'm sure Lewis and Kellerman can handle Cassidy all by themselves. We have *work* to do."

Kellerman clamped a hand on Bayliss' shoulder as he passed by the taller detective. "I'll tell you how Brian looks in bondage," he promised. "Narcotics has a video camera in their interview room."

Instead of heading over to Narcotics, everyone instead headed back to their desks after spotting Gee roaming the squadroom looking for his detectives. Howard made some excuse about helping Munch and Cassidy with a case. The Colleen Rierden mystery would wait another day.

*****

"Brian?"

Cassidy spun around and dropped the pen he had been twirling around his fingers. "Colleen?"

Kellerman, Lewis, and Munch all looked up as well. Sometime during the evening, after getting home from work, Kellerman had realized that he had forgotten to tell Cassidy that his mystery lady was returning. Whoops.

Colleen smiled. "You recognize me? Good."

Cassidy could only nod, his jaw still hanging loose and his eyes wide.

"Stop staring, Cassidy," Munch called across the desks. "And introduce everyone."

Brian shook his head to clear the daze. "Rierden? You got married?" Cassidy still only had eyes, and apparently ears, for the lovely blonde now standing next to him.

"And divorced. Patrick didn't like the new me," she shrugged, hands waving down her frame.

Kellerman and Lewis exchanged a look expressing shock and belief that anyone could not like the new Colleen, no matter what the old one looked like.

"I can't imagine why," Cassidy shook his head, then turned sharply at his partner. Munch had thrown a paper ball at him.

"Are you going to introduce your friend to everyone, or just stare and drool?" Munch asked.

"Sorry," Cassidy mumbled. "Everyone, this is Colleen Rierden, formerly known as Colleen Fahey."

"Which Colleen is that?" Bayliss had wandered over from the coffee room and was standing by Lewis' and Kellerman's desks.

"The fat one with zits," Colleen turned and smiled. "That's how you would've described me, right?" She turned back to Cassidy, no trace of anger in her face.

"Uh, well," Cassidy ran his fingers through his hair.

"Don't worry, Brian," Colleen still smiled. "The acne cleared up after the Academy and I'd already started to lose weight there, but no one noticed."

"So what are you doing here in Baltimore?" Cassidy asked.

"I quit the police force after a year on the beat," Colleen explained. "Dad offered to pay for me to go to professional school just to get me off the street. He couldn't deal with his little girl patrolling the South Bronx." Colleen shrugged with a smile. "So I'm now Doctor Rierden and I'm interviewing for a residency at Hopkins in pediatrics."

"Wow," Cassidy shook his head. "That's great."

"And, since I still keep in touch with Angie Sims, she told me to look you up while I was down here. She was very mysterious about it, though," Colleen looked closely at Cassidy and Brian squirmed. "She said that you'd have something to ask me. Something about a wager from a constitutional history elective."

Cassidy's eyes flew wide and he sat straight back in his chair. "I can't believe Angie would tell you... Oh, man...You're going to think I'm such an ass...."

"What'ya do, Cassidy?" Lewis leaned over his desk to catch a peek of the detective, who was hiding his eyes behind his hand. "You bet on her weight or somethin'?"

Brian shook his head no and stood up. Checking his watch, he grabbed his jacket. "C'mon, let's go to Jimmy's," he said to Colleen. "I'm not telling you in front of an audience."

There was a chorus of boos from the assembled detectives, but an amused Colleen led the way out of the squadroom.

*****

"So where's Colleen?" Bayliss asked as Cassidy returned alone to the squadroom an hour later. "She had to go back to Hopkins." Brian answered without breaking stride and without giving Bayliss a chance to ask another question.

"You return solo," Munch observed from his desk, not really looking up from his newspaper. Kellerman and Lewis, mercifully, were nowhere to be found.

"Colleen had to take care of some things at Hopkins," Cassidy reported as he sat down. "I'm picking her up after the shift is over." Munch looked up and Cassidy was grinning broadly.

"I gather she forgave whatever tactless act you committed back in your Academy days?" Munch folded the newspaper. The Sun was less interesting than Cassidy's prospective love life.

"Yeah, sort of," Cassidy nodded. "We were both kind of set up by Angie, so it was embarrassing on both ends."

"Are you going to elaborate on that or am I left to tend to whatever springs up in my fertile imagination?"

"It's not really that interesting," Cassidy hedged. "Besides, we have Pinky Polaski to go bother." He picked up the warrant and waved it at Munch.

"You're avoiding answering me, Hop-along," Munch reached for his jacket.

"So? You're only going to come up with an incredibly elaborate story anyway. Why spoil it?"

"You wouldn't be spoiling it. You'd be giving me details to flesh it out and add some needed realism." Munch said, looking at Cassidy over his glasses. "Help your partner out here."

"You don't need any help thinkin' dirty thoughts, Munchkin," Kay Howard cracked at the pair as they walked by her desk. "You do that just fine on your own."

Cassidy giggled and Munch pulled back the outstretched hand that had been offering the younger detective the Cavalier keys. For that, Cassidy would have to sit white knuckled while Munch drove to Pinky Polanski's. Bolander had treated Munch like a chauffeur, so Munch didn't really mind that Cassidy preferred driving. But that favor could be withheld for punitive reasons.

*****

"So what's up with Cassidy and the lovely Colleen?" Lewis asked Munch as they stood behind the bar at the Waterfront.

"A good detective never reveals his partner's secrets," Munch replied as he filled two beer glasses.

"Which means you don't have a clue," Kellerman snorted from the other side of the bar. Munch glared, but Lewis giggled.

"I do in fact know where they are, both physically and metaphysically," Munch placed the glasses on a tray for the waitress to come and retrieve. "I'm just being honorable."

"You're never honorable, Munch. You just don't know," Kellerman took a sip of his Beam.

"Junior even tell you what that bet was all about?" Lewis asked.

Munch just smiled as he grabbed a rag and started wiping the bartop. As Munch had expected, Cassidy told his partner everything as they sorted through the pigsty that was Pinky Polanski's tract house.

("The guy's named Pinky, Munch. Nobody named Pinky is neat. I had a guinea pig named Pinky when I was six... No, he wasn't pink. But he was messy. Very messy... Because he had a pink nose. I don't know. What did you name your pets when you were six?... Who names their pet snake Bernard?")

But while Munch would have had no problems gossiping to Kay, or even Bayliss, Lewis and Kellerman together weren't getting a word. Munch was going to make that pair work if they wanted to get their jollies with his partner.

"Hel-lo!" Kellerman said, whistling quietly. Lewis and Munch looked at Mike, who was pointing outside the Waterfront's window.

"That's Cassidy!" Lewis exclaimed. "And Colleen!"

"How can you tell?" Kellerman snorted. "They're attached at the tonsils."

The couple, almost as if they could feel the three detectives staring at them, broke apart. Cassidy turned his head slightly towards the window, hoping they hadn't been seen by anyone he worked with. Seeing Kellerman, Lewis, and Munch, Cassidy buried his face in Colleen's hair.

"We've been spotted, haven't we?" Colleen said into the collar of Brian's jacket.

"That would be my partner and two of my fellow Homicide detectives staring at us right now, yes," Cassidy replied, not sure whether to laugh or dive for cover.

Colleen laughed. "So we might as well go inside and get a drink."

"You're still looking for revenge for that bet, aren't you?" But Cassidy followed Colleen towards the door.

"A shot of Jameson for Don Juan," Munch waved a towel with a flourish as the couple sat down at the bar. "And what should I get for you?" he asked Colleen.

"The same, but on the rocks."

There was silence for a moment and Colleen could feel Brian's arm tense with each passing second. She'd let him off easy, but there was no point in not having a little fun.

"The bet was that if Brian failed his constitutional history final, Angie would take him out to dinner," Colleen began, feeling Brian's arm around her stiffen. "If he passed, he'd have to ask out the most unattractive girl in our Academy class. Which was me."

"No offense, 'specially since you turned out so pretty," Lewis tried to phrase the question delicately. "But shouldn't it have been the other way around? Him gettin' dinner for passing the test?"

"I was convinced I had failed. Angie was sick of me whining, so she came up with those conditions," Cassidy had a wry grin on his face. "I found out later that Angie knew the grades at the time of the bet, so she never made me pay up."

"Until now." Kellerman finished.

"No, this was me paying up on my bet," Colleen shook her head. "Angie bet me that I'd finish in the top three in our graduating class..."

"Or else you'd haveta ask out the ugliest guy in class, which was Cassidy?" Lewis asked with a laugh.

"Nope. Just the opposite. Most of the girls were crazy about Brian. I was one of them. Angie made me bet that I'd ask Brian out..."

"So how'd you get to wait all this time to have to pay up?" Kellerman wondered.

"I had started dating my now ex-husband before we knew who won the bet," Colleen shrugged.

"So whatever happened to this Angie, the bookie with the magic touch?" Munch asked.

"Where else?" Cassidy laughed. "She works Vice."

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