HIGHEST CASTLE, DEEPEST GRAVE
CASTLES IN THE WIND
With slow, tired steps, Steve McGarrett turned his back on Mondrago and walked in a weary tread out of the sunny, bright study of the Mondrago mansion. For a moment, he paused in the foyer, for a final time held in suspended awe of the breathtaking portrait of Mrs. Mondrago. An adulterer, a weak woman, her image forever tarnished by the truths uncovered in the investigation, just as the portrait had been damaged when the daughter, Sirone, shot McGarrett, and the painting. After all the ugly facts and confessions, the magnificence of the image remained, the magic spell still intact as Mrs. Mondrago's presence lived beyond the grave.
Some, not all cases, penetrated through his protective cop badge and into his heart. This case struck some mystic, romantic chord in his soul. The sensual, exotic enchantment captured in the painting reached into some hidden chamber in his psyche, and he felt changed. Not for the first time, he wished he could have met the real woman, felt the power of her sorcery first hand.
Resolutely he pushed the fantasies away. Time to step back into the real world, back to the literal, tangible, cop-McGarrett. He turned and purposefully stepped away. A man stood silhouetted in the open doorway, dawn sun streaming behind him, obscuring the lawn and trees beyond the portico. Expecting the observer to move aside, McGarrett slowed his stride when the man did not budge. Steve stopped when his exhausted eyes recognized the officer.
The obvious expression of concern on Dan Williams' face altered to relief, then irritation, then perplexity, within a few seconds. Concern over the injury, relief it was another minor gunshot wound. Displeasure that Steve had, once again, taken off on his own and been wounded for his stubborn impulsiveness. Too fatigued to offer even the most condensed explanation, McGarrett opted for the only suitable comment.
With a shake of his head, Williams glanced pointedly at McGarrett's slinged arm, then back to his boss's eyes. "Heard you had quite a morning since I saw you last."
Both had stayed at the office until the early hours of the morning. Obsessive work habits -- one of the many McGarrett qualities Williams emulated so well -- made the Palace seem more of a home than their respective apartments.
Steve shrugged, winced at the painful mistake, then allowed his chagrin into his tired voice and impatient reply. "Yeah, not exactly what I had planned."
Sympathy finally overriding exasperation, Dan asked. "I better take you to the hospital."
"No, an attendant took care of it."
Another disapproving shake of the head. "Come on, I'll drive you. What were you doing out here on your own?"
Involuntarily, McGarrett turned and stared at the portrait. "I knew the answers were here, Danno. I couldn't put them all together anywhere else. It had to be put to rest . . . ." To his own ears the wistful comment sounded inadequate.
Silently, Williams stepped past his friend, stopping at the bottom of the portrait. Staring at the captivating face, he gazed at it, spellbound. For only a moment the fascination lasted, then he visibly started when he noted the bullet holes in the painting, bullet pocks and blood on the wall. Turning to McGarrett, he assessed the events without explanation.
"Come on, Steve, it's over. Let's have that arm checked out."
Still bewitched by the image,
McGarrett tore himself away from the haunting face and strode out of the house.
Concerned eyes following McGarrett, Dan trailed after the boss. Neither spoke
until Williams stopped the car at the emergency entrance of
"I deal in facts every day. Being a cop is mostly a black and white job." McGarrett distantly related, leaning his head back and staring at the ceiling. "But there was something -- some alchemy at work with Mrs. Mondrago. She didn't allow me to settle for any loose ends."
"Yeah, it's her face," Williams agreed quietly. "Like she has some power lingering around her. Or over the people connected with her life. Or her death." When there was no response, he gently added, "But it's over now. You solved it for her. Let's put her to rest."
"You're right," McGarrett agreed firmly. "Now she can rest in peace."