Hardcastle and McCormick: Virtual Season Four

Martin Healy had been in his job as a bank teller for nearly a year. He hated it. He would have never even considered applying for the position if it hadn’t been for his wife. She’d wanted him to give up his job as a paramedic, she’d wanted to be married to a nine-to-five guy, she’d wanted him to be home at nights and on holidays.

Now that she was married to a bank clerk who was home at night and spent every Sunday with her—with the added bonus of no more suspicious stains in her laundry—she’d gotten tired of him. What an idiot.

Healy had known his days as a bank employee were coming to an end, but when he saw a man in ski mask shoot Dave, the security guard, he thought this wasn’t exactly the end he’d been expecting.

There were three of them. The one who had shot and disarmed the security guard was now waving his semi-automatic gun around, issuing orders to a frightened audience.

“All right, folks, hands up and quiet down if you don’t want to join the man over there.” He gestured towards the semi-conscious guard.

A dozen of people, between customers and staff members, did what they’d been told almost in slow motion and holding their breath. In the meantime, the other two had gone and checked the offices, and were now shepherding their occupants to the main room.


Being held at gunpoint wasn’t exactly a new experience for Mark McCormick. This time, though, he’d been thrown a curve. After they got to the main room he’d instinctively looked at the judge, just like a sailor would turn to the stars to find his way at night. All he saw was Hardcastle’s attentive gaze. He’d seen it too many times to mistake it—Hardcastle knew the guy, or at least he’d recognized something familiar in the man who looked like the gang’s leader.

The man in question must have noticed Hardcastle’s stare too, because he was heading towards the judge. On seeing the ski masked guy’s steady gait, McCormick automatically took a step forward, interposing himself between the man and Hardcastle.

Without uttering a word, the robber pushed Mark aside with his gun and stood in front of Hardcastle, returning the glare. Mark watched the guy search the judge thoroughly, and knew the two of them had met before.

“If I were you, I’d be concerned with the guard’s life. That’s gonna cost you more than a robbery.” Hardcastle nodded at the man on the floor. He’d been shot in the upper chest and was clutching the wound, with both shirt and hand covered in blood.

McCormick saw the robber get closer to the judge and bend his head slightly to whisper in Hardcastle’s ear. He didn’t need to make out the words to know that he was one of the judge’s old clients. The hissing said it all.

Once he’d finished murmuring, robber number one pressed the barrel of his semi-automatic against the judge’s chest, laughing softly. Hardcastle was still staring at him with a blank face when the man turned around and addressed Mr. Fedders. “You look like you’re the big wig around here, buddy.” 

Looking at his boss’s face, Martin Healy recognized a color he’d seen dozens of times during his previous life as an ambulance crew member, but never on a guy who wasn’t sick or wounded—that was definitely the ineffable whiter shade of pale. Although the man looked like he was going to faint, he managed to stammer an answer that sounded like,"I’m the one and I’ll do whatever you want but please don’t shoot."

“Good, lead the way,” Number One said. He didn’t move right away, though, but turned towards the general audience. “Is there a doctor here?” he asked.

Martin Healy hadn’t even realized he’d taken a step forward when he heard himself say, “I used to be a paramedic.”

“Good,” said Number One, gesturing in the direction of the guard, “take care of that guy, there.” And then he headed for the safe along with Mr. Fedders.

“I need the first aid kit; it’s in the bathroom,” Martin Healy said, kneeling down to inspect the guard’s wound. “And some paper towels—lots of paper towels.” 

Number Two looked questioningly at Number Three, who returned an even more doubtful gaze—too many people to keep an eye on, and they were already short of eyes.

Number Two had a look around the place. “You,” he finally said waving his gun in Mark’s direction, “go get the box.” Then he moved closer to the man he’d addressed, “And don’t try anything if you want your old man here back in one piece.” He was nodding at the judge.

It occurred to Hardcastle that he’d never been mistaken for the kid’s father before. Not that he was surprised—he’d come to terms with the nature of their relationship a long time ago and most of their friends would have said Mark was like a son to him, but the idea that a complete stranger—a hood on top of it—had sensed their bond on first sight was somewhat disturbing. He focused his eyes on his friend’s features and build. They didn’t look alike, not a bit.

McCormick shot the judge a quick glance, ducked his head slightly, examined his shoes briefly and then turned to go while Hardcastle watched him stride off and disappear down the corridor. And then he remembered it: the man approaching and the kid stepping between him and the guy’s gun, on the reflex. As a son would do. And when that excuse for a man had pushed his gun against the kid’s stomach, he’d still had to put his hand on McCormick’s shoulder to make him back off.

McCormick was pondering how he might get to a phone, but had to dismiss the idea when he realized the bathroom was a long way from the offices and the guy with the gun was standing at the entry to the corridor keeping watch on his movements. Not to mention the threat. He knew better than to trifle with armed guys.

“Get a move on, pal!”

Nervous armed guys. It took him about twenty seconds to locate what he needed, take a look at what was inside the box, grab a pair of items, put them in his socks and exit the room.

VII. “How bad is it?” McCormick squatted down and opened the first-aid kit.

“Looks like the bullet hit the subclavian vein.” Healy was trying to contain the hemorrhage by pushing his crumpled up jacket against Dave’s wound. Then he raised his head and looked at the man in front of him. He’d forgotten that look. People used to look at him that way whenever he spoke the medical lingo. “Er, it is bad, but it could have been worse. At least it isn’t an artery.”

“What do you need from the box?” Mark asked.

“A pair of scissors and all the gauze pads and bandages you can find. All I can do is clean the wound and bandage it to contain the bleeding. We need to get him to the hospital soon.” Then he turned to the nearest masked guy, “Do you hear me, he needs treatment!” To his almost unconscious patient he said, “Don’t worry, Dave, you’ll be fine.”

McCormick thought Dave didn’t look too good. The paramedic-bank clerk guy seemed to know what he was doing, though.

“Is there something else I can do?” 

“Yes, press this one on the wound, while I cut his shirt.”

Mark took the bundle of paper towels the man was handing him and did what he’d been told, then watched the guy cut through Dave’s shirt and take it off.

Martin Healy was almost done with the shirt when a pale and sweaty Mr. Fedders and Number One reemerged from the back room, the latter carrying two heavy-looking bags. The other two robbers joined him, took one bag each and went towards the door.

Number One waited until Two and Three had gotten to the exit, then he began to approach the door, too, moving sideways, still wielding his gun. Once he’d drawn level with Hardcastle he stopped and looked sharply at the man who was staring at him intently, and gave him a mock salute.

Hardcastle thought he’d seen a lopsided smile underneath the mask. That smile and the disdainful look in the man’s eyes were a familiar combination.

Having paid his respects, Number One resumed his crab-style walk to catch up with his colleagues. On reaching the exit he couldn’t avoid looking down at the man lying on the floor. The clerk was dressing his wound and it looked as though the bleeding had subsided, but he still was damn pale.

Looking at the robber, McCormick had the fleeting impression that the view had caused the guy to wince.


All in all they’d done a terrific job—two bags full of fragrant green bucks in less than thirty minutes and only one weapon fired. Okay, the guy on the floor didn’t look good, but he’d been doing his job—being shot just came with the territory.

Number Three was summing up his first experience as a bank robber while dutifully scanning the street before giving the all-clear. He’d rehearsed that bit so many times. First he took off his ski mask so that passers-by wouldn’t be alarmed, then he stepped out and looked around—no traffic, just a few people walking along, no black and whites. Good.

He was striding briskly towards the car when he saw just what he didn’t want to see: two cops approaching on foot. Number Three stiffened reflexively for a second then turned, frantically scrambling for the door. He collided with Number Two, who grunted as he dropped his bag of cash and went flailing backward to land on it.

“What the hell—?” Number One, who still had his back to the door, got the answer to his half-spoken question when he turned and saw Number Two toppling and then Number Three landing on him.

McCormick jumped up and tackled Number One from behind, sending the man sprawling and his semi-automatic skidding across the floor. Without missing a beat, Hardcastle moved to intercept the gun. Number Three franticly disentangled himself and lunged at him before he could reach it.

Mark was still occupied with the first man, but Number Two was up now as well. He hefted his money bag in a straight-arm overhead swing and brought it down squarely on the back of McCormick’s head, knocking him unconscious to the floor.


Lieutenant Frank Harper was sitting behind his desk, working through his backlog, when the phone call came in. Five minutes later he was on his way to the bank, regretting his previous complaints about dull paperwork.

On reaching the spot, Harper counted four squad cars, a mobile response unit, and at least a dozen officers—among them a sergeant he knew.

“What do we have, Parker?”

“Two men, maybe more. Hernandez and Binder saw two guys leaving the place with big bags. They were heading towards the car.” He pointed at a dark sedan parked along the opposite curb.

“I ran the plate.” Parker fished out a small note pad from the inner pocket of his jacket and flipped through the pages. “It’s registered in the name of Peter Morell, small-time hotel thief. He’s been out for ten months now. I’m waiting to speak to his parole officer.”

“Good. Any idea of how many people might be in there?”

“None. We haven’t made contact yet.”

Frank was pondering on how to tackle the question when his eyes spotted a familiar vehicle among those parked along the street.

Sergeant Parker saw Lieutenant Harper run his fingers across his face and heard a softly spoken, “Can’t be,” as the man walked off suddenly. He followed his senior officer, quickening his pace to catch up. The lieutenant approached a parked truck and peered into the driver’s window.


“Milt’s truck,” Harper said, almost to himself. Then he leaned against the windows and shielded his eyes to look inside.


Frank took a step back and looked at Sergeant Parker as if seeing him for the first time.

“Who’s Milt?” Parker asked.

“Judge Hardcastle,” Frank sighed, “He’s almost certainly in there,” he said nodding at the bank and scratching the back of his head, “and Mark’s almost certainly with him.”

If Parker had asked how he could tell Judge Hardcastle was in that bank rather than, say, waiting for his appointment with the dentist in the next building, or picking up his car from the nearest garage, Frank wouldn’t have known what to answer. And explaining how he knew McCormick was in there with the judge would have given him even more trouble.

He looked at the sergeant and saw him pressing his lips together and nodding slightly. He must have been familiar with the guys, too. Then he shook his head and headed for his car.


“Cops everywhere!”

“Easy as pie, you said! Look at this mess!”

“Shut up, Joey!”

Fifteen seconds of chaos had left another man on the ground, though apparently just unconscious, three edgy robbers and an increasingly hysteric group of hostages. The guys with the guns were no longer hiding their faces and were moving quickly, brandishing their guns nervously, and shouting wildly.

Among the general mayhem, Hardcastle had managed to drag Mark to the nearest corner and check his pulse. He’s alive. His rejoicing was short-lived—somebody was pulling at his jacket.

“Back off, Hardcastle!”

The judge cast a last worried glance at his unconscious friend, then got slowly to his feet and turned to face the man. He came nearer to the now unmasked Number One and leaned heavily towards him, gritting his teeth.

“Your plan’s full of holes, Harv,” Hardcastle said, leaning even closer to the man so that the guy’s gun was practically embedded in his stomach. “That kid’s right,” he said, pointing his finger at the youngest of the three, “you’ve made a royal mess of it.”

“Shut up!” Harv bawled. “Shut up!”

Hardcastle went ahead instead, his voice low and intense, “Give yourself up right now and there’s a chance you won’t end your days in a state penitentiary.”

“Not a chance, Judge.” Harv stepped back to put some space between him and the unarmed man he was threatening with a gun. Then he turned his attention to the man lying on the floor.

“Your bodyguard?” he sneered. “You should’ve picked someone tougher.” Then he summoned one of his henchmen, “Tied him up, Pete! Hands and legs.”


McCormick woke up on a cold surface, his hands and ankles bound and his head aching like hell. He was lying on his left side. When he managed to open his eyes he realized he was facing a wall. He couldn’t hear anything—no voices, no noises. Maybe his hearing had been damaged by the whack that had knocked him down. He rolled, pushing his feet against the wall, but once he got over on his back he couldn’t shut his eyes fast enough to avoid being blinded by the overhead lights.

Deaf, blind. What else?

He eventually turned over onto his right side, propped himself on his elbow and got to his knees, and was now squinting at his surroundings through black, drifting spots. He was no longer in the main room. This was a smaller one filled with desks, chairs and file cabinets. He had to close his eyes briefly before going on with his inspection.

He opened them again and contemplated the walls. No windows.

Nothing ever changes, he thought. Somehow, wherever he was, whatever he was doing, he seemed to always end up in a room without windows. Before he could even figure out how to get to his feet without falling over, he was startled by the sound of the door opening.


Hardcastle didn’t know whether to be relieved to see the kid all in one piece or worried about his state. McCormick had twitched at his arrival and was now staring with his mouth open. The judge was assailed by a gnawing doubt. Maybe this last whack on the head had been one too many—he might have some kind of brain damage.

Good Lord.

Or maybe it wasn’t some worst-case scenario; maybe the kid was just suffering from amnesia.

“Kiddo?” he called out hesitantly.


Hardcastle closed his eyes and sighed audibly.

“You all right?” Mark asked.

“You’re asking me if I’m all right? And why the hell are you staring?” Hardcastle hadn’t meant to snap at his friend. He just needed a few more seconds to overcome the sheer panic he’d just experienced.

“You know what they say about staring at the sun?” Mark said. “Well, don’t stare at fluorescent lights, either. ‘Blinding’ isn’t just a figure of speech, believe me.”

McCormick was expecting the judge’s characteristic grunt-response, but heard another sigh instead. Then, as Hardcastle was getting closer, he noticed the man had his hands tied behind his back.

“C’mon, I’ll help you get on your feet.” Hardcastle said and then bent over, “Put your arms around my neck.”

McCormick looked at his hands, then shook his head slightly smiling wryly. “This is gonna be weird, Judge.”

“Just do it, for Pete’s sake!”

Mark blinked hard and then did as he’d been ordered as gracefully as he could and let the judge haul him up.


The phone rang in the bank’s main room. Harv let go of the venetian blind he’d been peering through, walked towards the counter, and stretched over it. He grabbed the receiver on the third ring and spoke low and clear into the mouthpiece, “Listen-up good, pal, ‘cause I’m not gonna say it twice. There’s a man in here with a bullet in his chest. The guy needs to get to the hospital soon, but that won’t happen until you let us out. And just in case you’re planning something cute, we figure on taking one of the other hostages along for the ride. You don’t want to do anything that’ll make it his last ride.”

Across the street, Lieutenant Harper handed the receiver back to the officer sitting inside the van and tried to wipe the frustration from his face by rubbing it vigorously with both hands. Then he strode towards the Commissioner’s car, bracing himself for the talk ahead.


Frank knew Emhart wasn’t keen on asking direct questions, especially when he had the suspicion that he was going to be told something he’d rather not hear, and that could be summed up by the word ‘problems’.

“They shot someone, probably the guard, but won’t release him until we let them flee. And they’re going to take a hostage with them to make sure we do,” Frank summed up.

“Impossible. We can’t let them do that,” Emhart said, causing Harper to wonder whether the guy was making use of the royal ‘we’.

Frank knew the guy too well not to know what he was getting at, but pretended otherwise. “They won’t accept mediation.”

Emhart narrowed his eyes. “I wasn’t thinking of mediation,” he said with a frown.

“I would advise you against raiding the place, sir. We don’t know exactly how many people are in there. Worse still, we don’t know who we are dealing with. They might be crazy enough to cause a bloodbath.”

“Do you think they would?” the Commissioner replied in a serious tone.

“Well, I’d say we can’t afford to find out. The guy I talked to sounded like he would, anyway.”

Harper thought he was perhaps overstating the case, but he was determined not to endanger the hostages, not to speak of his friends. He was trying to decide how to tell Emhart about their presence in the bank. With anybody else that wouldn’t have been an issue, but the commissioner had a long-standing score to settle with Milt—Hardcastle had thrown him out of the witness box some fifteen years ago and, as if that wasn’t enough, had called him a ‘jackass’. Twice.

“We can’t afford to let them get away with it, either.”

“There are at least two unmarked cars ready to tail them. They’re going to unload the hostage along the way, and as soon as they do, we’ll be right on top of them.”

“What if they reach the Mexican border?”

Again, Frank read the guy’s mind, ‘bad press’. “Well, in that case the reporters will say we let them get away, but at least they won’t be able to blame us for triggering a slaughter. And there are two people in there who could lend us a hand.” There, that’s that.

Emhart seemed to puzzle over that last bit. “You have your men in there?” he finally said disbelievingly.

“Well,” Harper hesitated, “yes and no.”

“What do you mean, ‘yes and no’?” Emhart puzzled.

Harper drew his breath in sharply, “Judge Hardcastle and Mark McCormick,” he said and then sighed heavily.

On hearing that much, the Commissioner’s face turned to cobalt violet and his eyes looked as if they were about to pop out of his head.

“Har—? What—?”


“You done fiddling with that rope, yet?”

McCormick was behind the judge, trying to free his friend’s hands without falling down, his own hands and legs still bound.

“I’d be done if you stopped fidgeting, Hardcastle! Besides, it’s not that easy to work on a rope with your hands tied, when you can barely stand.”

Hardcastle responded with a grunt and then added, “We need to get outta here, ya know.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m nearly done. By the way, Judge, how come they didn’t throw you in here with me in the first place?”

A perfectly legitimate question, the kid never missed much. “Their leader wanted to keep an eye on me.”

“Hmm, I knew he was familiar with you,” Mark replied a tad smugly.

“Yeah, well, old story.”

“Yeah, I bet. What did you say to make him change his mind, anyway?” McCormick asked curiously.

Hardcastle turned his head to the left trying to face his young friend, “What makes you think it was something I said?” he enquired.

Mark stopped working on the rope and looked up to meet the judge’s eyes, “Your hands were tied up and the guy was keeping an eye on you. That leaves your mouth,” he said as if stating a scientific truth.

“Okay,” Hardcastle said, grimacing and turning his head back to the door, “I said even an idiot would be smarter than him.”

McCormick snorted, “Yeah, I figure you would,” he said with a grin. “Sounds like you’ve got some score to settle with the guy, Judge. What did he do?” McCormick asked before focusing his attention back to the disentangling task.

The judge went for vagueness, hoping the kid would be too busy to pay attention to Harv’s criminal resume. “He stole stuff.”

“Seems he’s moved up the criminal ladder,” Mark said casually. Then, as if on second thought, he added, “What kinda stuff?”

You shoulda known better. “Er, lotta things—money, jewels. Cars, mostly.”

“And you never got to put him behind bars, huh?”

The kid sounded unconcerned, so Hardcastle tried to sound equally casual when he said, “I sentenced him to a year’s suspended sentence.”

McCormick was now staring open-mouthed at the judge, or rather at the back of the judge’s head. “A year’s suspended sentence? You? You’ve got to be kidding me!” Then, speaking in a tone between sarcastic and amused he added, “What did he steal? A Ferrari car model?”

Hardcastle couldn’t help a sigh, “A Mercedes-Benz,” he said and then, “A real one—grand theft auto.”

Even though he had his back to McCormick, Hardcastle knew Mark was staring at him, so he turned.

Grand theft auto. Possibly the three words McCormick hated the most, along with ‘prison’ and all the possible variations thereupon.

“You can’t be serious?” he said looking straight in the judge’s eyes, “You gave that guy a slap on the wrist and sentenced me to two years for the same crime?”

If that was a complaint, it didn’t sound like one. Nor did it sound like an accusation. It was, Hardcastle noticed, just what it seemed: a question. He looked at his friend. McCormick’s bafflement was so intense that Hardcastle couldn’t phrase his answer coherently, “First offense. Very young. Bad judgment.”

“Bad judgment indeed,” Mark said, sounding and looking more and more peeved, “Just curious, Judge, did that ‘bad judgment’ have something to do with my two-year vacation in Quentin?”

Be careful now. Hardcastle met his friend’s eyes. “Every judgment stands on its own; you should have learned that by now. I may have been wrong about him, but I was right about you.”

McCormick suddenly found he couldn’t stand the judge’s stare any longer. He dropped his eyes and spoke quietly, his indignation completely gone. “You know Judge,” he said, “we’ve had this discussion more times than I can remember and I know you’ll never change your mind about it; but let me tell you that after all of this time it really hurts to hear that you still believe I deserved it.”

Then it was Hardcastle’s turn to puzzle. “What . . . the hell are you talking about?” he got closer to McCormick forcing the man to look at him in the eye, “It’s not your sentence I was talking about. What I meant is that I was right about you. That I knew you would have turned out well. That’s what I meant. What the hell do you think I did what I did for?”

Mark felt his eyes stinging and realized he’d been gazing without blinking for too long. Their faces were so close to each other all he could see were the man’s eyes, much like that first time in the judge’s chambers.

It felt awkward, yet he couldn’t help wondering what exactly Hardcastle had been referring to. For a split second he’d thought he’d ask, but then he came up with his own answer.

“Yeah, Judge, I’m sorry,” he said, “It’s just that whenever I look back to what happened I can’t think clearly. I thought I’d gotten over it, but it keeps cropping up at the weirdest times.”

On hearing Mark’s words the judge experienced an odd sensation—something close to relief but verging on shame. There was some sadness, too, and he found the view of his distressed young friend unbearable.

He turned away, offering his still fastened wrists. “’S okay, kiddo,” he said in soothing voice. “Now go ahead with that rope, will ya?”

Eventually Mark freed Hardcastle’s hands and the judge helped him to loosen his own ropes, but they still needed to find a way to get out of the room.

“So, what did you find to pick the lock?” the judge asked as soon as McCormick had gotten to his feet.

“What did I—? How do you know—?” McCormick trailed off, totally mystified.

“‘How do I know?’” Hardcastle shrugged. “I know you. Something you found in the first-aid kit, I bet.”

“Sometimes you really scare me, Judge,” McCormick kneeled down to examine the lock, still shaking his head. Then he pulled up his pants legs and pulled down his socks, “A nice pair of tweezers and a safety pin,” he triumphantly declared, a mischievous grin tugging at the corner of his lips.

Hardcastle watched McCormick dismantle the pin and attach what was left of it to the tweezers. He thought that taking lock picks away from a guy was a lot easier than keeping them away from him.

Hardcastle pointed out the items, “Why did you pick that stuff?”

“’Cause I couldn’t find nothing more suitable to fix up a lock pick.” McCormick answered in the most natural tone and without averting his eyes from the job.

There you are. “I mean how did you know you were going to need one?”

Mark stopped tinkering with the pin and looked up, “I don’t know, Judge. I’d like to say it was a shrewd idea, but I didn’t really think of it. It was kinda automatic—I just did it.” Then he focused his eyes on the judge’s face narrowing them a little, “Besides, you’re the one who knew I’d do it, so why don’t you explain it to me?”

Hardcastle was taken aback by the kid’s remark and equally surprised by his own quick response, “You did it because you’re a pessimist.”

“I am a what?”

“A pessimist.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah, you are. You always expect the worst. And in your case the worst is to find yourself locked somewhere.”

“Fine analysis, Judge, but I have to point out a hole in your reasoning—bullets scare me way more than locks.”

“But you can’t stop a bullet with a pair of tweezers and a pin. Besides, I’m talking about subconscious fears.”

McCormick almost dropped his contraption. “Subconscious fears? Where did you get that from?”

“It’s in that book of yours,” Hardcastle said matter-of-factly.

“You shouldn’t be reading my psychology books, Judge,” Mark said, looking wryly amused.

“Why not? They’re interesting,” Hardcastle protested.

“Because I read them to get an edge over you. This way you’re thwarting my efforts.” McCormick smiled broadly.

The judge groaned and waved a hand at the kid, who had just finished assembling his device and was focusing his attention to the lock, still shaking his head and grinning.


Harper was engrossed in the study of a road map.

“You talked to the guy’s parole officer yet?” he asked as soon as Sergeant Parker came into view.

“Yes—he said he heard that Morell’s teamed up with a guy named Zarkovsky, Harvey. I ran a check on him.”

Again, Parker fished out the notepad and thumbed through it.

“All-purpose hood—B&E, burglary, car theft. The guy’s got a juvenile record, too. And he’s the best candidate for last month’s bank robbery in Culver City. He’s been on the run since.”

“Sounds like our man.” Frank said, “Must be the one who hung up on me.”

“What are we going to do, Lieutenant?” Parker asked tucking his note pad back into his pocket.

“I’m going to give it another try, see if I can knock some sense into the guy. Maybe he’ll be willing to let the wounded out if I point out he’s got everything to gain. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, though.”




“What are we going to do after I get the door open?” McCormick tried not to sound worried.

“Not much to pick from, here. Sneak up on ‘em and knock ‘em out.”

“I hate to state the obvious, Judge, but it’s three of them against two of us. On top of that, they have guns and we don’t.”

“I guess we’ll have to improvise.”

Hardcastle watched his friend probe the lock skillfully and waited for a comment. None was forthcoming.

“You worried?” he finally asked.

McCormick didn’t have to give the question much thought, “Nah,” he said, his gaze glued to the lock, “improvisation is my specialty.”

After that they heard the metallic click of the lock.

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