WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER
"Damn!" A.J. slammed down the phone's receiver with a resounding clatter.
Rick looked up from the case file he was studying. "No luck?"
A.J. threw his head against the back of his chair in resignation. "None. Every ticket agent in town is sold out. I shouldn't have waited so long to start calling," the blond berated himself.
"I told you so."
A.J. shot his brother a savage look. "Oh, shut up."
"Well, I did tell you. I told you the day they went on sale that you'd better get right on the phone and start callin’. But did you listen to me? No, of course you didn't. As usual, you thought you knew more than big brother."
A.J. rolled his eyes. "Is the lecture over?"
Rick contemplated that a moment. "Yeah, I guess so."
"Good, because I need to hear it right now about as much as I need a hole in my head."
A.J. reached in his desk drawer and pulled out a phone book. He opened it to the yellow pages, looking to see if there was any other ticket agent in town he might have overlooked.
"Nothing," he muttered with disgust, closing the book and throwing it on a far corner of his desk.
"Why are these tickets so important to you anyway? I mean, I know you liked the Eagles back when you were in college and all. Hell, they were a great group, everyone liked 'em back then. But I haven't heard you listen to any of their stuff in years."
"I did like them," the blond man confirmed. "But Dianna loved them."
"Ah," Rick nodded with understanding. "Now we come to the heart of the matter."
"Her birthday's in two weeks, and this was the only thing she asked for. Last winter when Don Henley announced that the group was getting back together and would tour this summer, Di told me she'd like to attend the concert when they came to San Diego. It just so happens that the concert date is her birthday."
"So, a very sticky situation you now find yourself in."
"No kidding," A.J. agreed. "Especially since I told her not to worry about getting the tickets, that I'd handle it."
"Well, you screwed that one up, little brother."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Rick," came the scathing remark.
Rick leaned comfortably back in his chair, nostalgia warming his insides.
"You know, I'd kinda like to attend that concert too, now that I think about it. Their music was a big part of my life when I was in 'Nam, and then when I first came home and was cycling around the country. Take It Easy is the perfect road song. And who woulda' thought that when they broke up and Henley said they wouldn't perform again until hell froze over, that they'd actually get together fourteen years later in a tour they call, When Hell Freezes Over?"
Despite his foul mood, A.J. chuckled at the irony of it all. "Yeah, I found it rather amusing when they announced the name of their tour this past winter. I can still remember what I was doing the day I heard Henley say that the group was disbanding."
Rick's eyes reflected the nostalgia he was feeling. "I can too. They were a great group. Man, the more I think about it, I've gotta get me and Nancy tickets to this concert too."
"Good luck. Need I remind you that, based on my recent experiences, you should have started pursuing that line of thinking the day the tickets went on sale?"
Rick reached for the phone on his desk. "No, you don't need to remind me of that."
"Who are you calling?"
Rick punched numbers into his touchtone phone. "I bet I can get us tickets, A.J."
"And just how are you going to do that? I've been calling ticket agents as far north as Sacramento and still haven't--"
Rick waved a hand at his brother to silence him. "Yeah, Rafe. Hi. Rick Simon here. Listen, Rafe, I'm looking to pick up some concert tickets.
“Yeah, the Eagles. How'd you know that?
“Oh, I see.
“Yeah, I know I shoulda' been callin' a week ago but...
“Yeah, give me his number."
A.J. watched as Rick scribbled a phone number down on a note pad.
"Okay, got it. Thanks, buddy. See ya'."
"No luck?" Came A.J.'s inquiry.
Rick's attention was already focused on redialing the phone. "No, not with Rafe. But he gave me the number of another guy he knows that might be able to help us out."
Before A.J. could say any more Rick was deep in conversation with his new contact. By the time the blond detective walked out of the Simon and Simon office at five that evening Rick still hadn't had any luck in locating the much sought-after concert tickets, though not for lack of trying on his part. Rick had been on the phone all afternoon, making dozens of calls. When A.J. left to go home Rick was still on the phone. As he walked toward the elevator the blond could hear his brother's voice from down the hallway.
"Yeah...uh...Squid? Hi, my name is Rick Simon and I'm a friend of Rafe Langdon's whose a friend of Donny's, whose a friend of Bart's, whose a friend of Scab's, whose a friend of Lipton's, whose a friend of Big John's, whose a friend of Tindall's, who gave me your name. Listen, I'm in the market for four Eagles' tickets and..."
S&S S&S S&S S&S S&S
The next morning A.J. arrived at the office a half hour before opening time as was the norm for him. He made a pot of coffee, then sat behind his desk with a steaming mug while perusing the newspaper’s headlines.
The blond looked up when the door burst open and Rick entered in a rush of excitement.
"I got 'em!"
A.J. glanced at his watch. "You're early."
Rick came to a halt in front of his brother's desk. He held up concert tickets with his right hand.
"I got 'em, A.J.!"
"It's only twenty minutes to nine. What are you doing here so early?"
Rick waved the tickets in the air. "Would you tune in here! I got the tickets!"
"Yes, but you're never this early."
"A.J., who gives a flyin' leap what time it is? Did you hear what I said? I got the tickets!"
"Yes, I heard you," A.J. acknowledged. "But in all the years we've worked together you've never been early."
"Would you get off of it?" The frustrated Rick yelled. "I've got Eagles' tickets here!"
"I see that. And, after all these years, if I would have known that's all it would have taken to get you to work on time I would have--"
"For cryin’ out loud!" Rick threw his head back and yelled. "You are the most frustrating person to carry on a conversation with sometimes. I swear I should take these things right back where I got 'em and tell the guy you don't want them after all."
A.J. reached a quick hand out and snared the coveted tickets. "That won't be necessary." He looked at the tickets for a moment, making a mental note as to the time of the concert. It was then that he noticed something was amiss.
"There's only two tickets here," the blond detective pointed out.
Rick filled his mug with coffee. “I know.”
"Well then, they're yours."
Rick crossed over to his desk, snatching the sports section from the paper as he passed it. "No, they're yours."
"But you said that you wanted to take Nancy."
"I do. But those are for you and Di."
"Rick, I can't take these tickets if you don't have any for yourself and Nancy."
"I don't need any."
"What do you mean?"
"I finally got in touch with a guy whose a friend of a friend of a friend of a...well, you get the idea. Anyway, it turns out that the guy who gave me those tickets runs a security firm. It's his outfit that's been hired to provide security at the concert. He only had two tickets left, but when he found out I was a private eye, he told me he'd get me and Nancy in the concert for free if I'd work for his outfit for the night. So, I cut a deal with him. He gave me those two tickets for nothing, and he's getting me, Nancy, Carlos, and Eva in for free in exchange for about four hours of my time."
A.J. was impressed. "Quite the shrewd business man you are. But are you sure you want to work that night? I mean, since you did go to all the trouble to get the tickets, I'll give you mine and I'll work for the guy."
Rick shook his head. "No, I don't mind. Nancy can sit with Carlos and Eva, and I'll just make sure I'm stationed somewhere near their seats. Besides, this guy said I might even be able to get Nancy backstage to meet Don Henley."
A.J. was hesitant to accept such a generous offer. "Well...if you're sure you don't mind. I don't feel right about taking this ticket if it means you have to work--"
"Don't worry about it," Rick assured with a grin. "Besides, I figure this way I don't have to buy Dianna, or you, birthday presents this summer."
"I should have known there was an ulterior motive to your generosity," A.J. said with teasing sarcasm.
Rick turned his attention to the sports page. "There's never an ulterior motive to anything I do, A.J."
Rick ignored the mirthless laugh and dry, "Yeah, right," before A.J., too, returned his attention to the newspaper.
S&S S&S S&S S&S S&S
A.J. and Dianna couldn't have asked for a nicer evening in which to celebrate the stylish blond woman's birthday. A.J. had treated his lady to an early dinner at her favorite restaurant, a quaint seafood cafe that overlooked the ocean.
The sun was just beginning to set when they arrived at the stadium where the Padres played. Baseball was not the event that the crowd was waiting for this Friday evening, however. Excitement filled the air as the fair-headed couple walked hand in hand from the parking lot to take their place in line behind others of their generation who were eagerly awaiting the, ‘concert event of a lifetime,’ as it had been billed.
Vendors hawked their wares along the route. Everything from twenty dollar Eagles' T-shirts, to seventy dollar Eagles' jean jackets were for sale. As part of Dianna's birthday gift A.J. bought her one of those jean jackets, despite her vehement protests that it was an extravagant sum of money and was way overpriced simply because of the concert. A.J. acknowledged the fact that she was right, but went ahead and bought it for her anyway. He knew she was secretly pleased with the gift when she immediately slipped it on to ward off the chilly breeze that was coming in off the ocean. She got up on her tiptoes and kissed his mouth as they stood in line. "You shouldn't have spent the money. But thank you."
A.J. grinned, wrapping his arms around her slender waist. "If that's how you thank me I may have to spend some more money on you tonight, lady."
Dianna winked at her handsome escort. "And I just might let you do that, Mr. Simon. Oh, A.J., this is the best birthday present I've ever received."
A.J. laughed. "What? This overpriced jean jacket?"
"Not just the jacket. This concert, the dinner out, this concert, the jacket, this concert, being with you, this
A.J. chuckled at the teasing. "So I see where I rank in order of importance in your life. You're so high on cloud nine tonight I probably could have let my brother escort you here and you would have never known the difference."
Dianna turned around and craned her neck, scanning the crowd. "Speaking of Rick, I wonder where he is? I've seen a lot of security people along the way, but haven't seen any sign of him."
A.J. looked over the tops of the sea of heads in front of him. "No, I don't see him either. But I imagine he's inside already. He got seats for Carlos, Eva, and Nancy in the eighth row, so I doubt he's going to roam too far from that area."
Dianna looked down at her own ticket. "And we're going to be in the first row! I can't believe it. I've never been this close at any concert I've ever attended. Why, A.J., we'll practically be on stage with Don Henley!" the woman squealed with delight.
A.J. smiled at Dianna's uncharacteristic adolescent behavior. He thought it was cute. And he had to admit that tonight, dressed in her faded blue jeans and high top sneakers, his slender thirty-five-year old girlfriend hardly looked a day over sixteen.
Acting very put out he said, "I can see who's important to you this evening. Not the guy who made a million phone calls trying to get you here. Not the guy who managed to get you seats front row center. No, not that guy, but instead, Don Henley. With my luck you'll probably end up leaving with ole' Don."
Dianna wrapped her arms around the pouting A.J.'s neck and pulled herself up for another kiss. When their lips parted she assured, "Oh no, darling, I won't." Impishly she added, "Well... not unless he asks me to."
"Why you..." A.J. reached out to lightly smack Dianna's bottom. His attempt was thwarted when she danced out of his reach.
The couple playfully teased back and forth the remainder of their wait in line. A.J. was grateful to his brother for working so hard on his behalf to obtain these tickets. So far everything about this evening had been perfect, and it only looked as though it was going to get better. The blond smiled to himself when he thought of the very special way he was sure Dianna would thank him when they arrived home in the early morning hours.
A tug on his hand brought A.J. out of his musing. Dianna was pulling him along, hurrying him to a vacant window ahead where an attendant was waiting to take their tickets.
The couple handed their tickets to the man behind the Plexiglas. He looked at the tickets, then looked at them more closely a second time.
"Excuse me," he said as he hopped off his high stool and walked away. “I’ll be right back.”
A.J. looked at Dianna and shrugged. He watched as the attendant conferred with someone whom he assumed was the man's supervisor.
The attendant returned to the window. "Sir, would you step aside and wait please."
"Why?” A.J. ssked. “What's wrong?"
"I just need you to step aside and wait there please, sir. The lady too."
"But what's wrong? Is there a problem with the tickets?"
"Just wait off to the side for me, sir," the attendant insisted. "Someone will be with you in a moment."
A.J. gave another shrug of his shoulders before doing as he was instructed. He reached down for Dianna's hand and pulled her off to the side so the two of them wouldn't interfere with the movement of the line behind them.
"I wonder what's going on?" The detective muttered.
"You know what?" Dianna said in an excited rush. "I bet Rick's gotten us backstage passes. I bet we're going to get to meet Don Henley and the Eagles."
"Oh, Dianna, I don't know. Don't get your hopes up," A.J. cautioned.
"Well, what else could it be? Besides, you said that Rick and Nancy might get a chance to go backstage. I bet Rick's getting us back there, too."
"Maybe," A.J. conceded. "I guess we'll just have to wait here and see."
The two didn't have to wait very long. At first, A.J. didn't pay any attention to the two young cops that were rapidly approaching him and his date. They got his full attention, however, when one of them grasped his upper arm and said, "Sir, you have to come with me. You too, ma'am."
A.J. retched his arm free. "Wait a minute! What's going on here? What are you talking about?"
A.J. was grabbed by both officers and spun around. His midsection was pushed into the counter top in front of him, causing his breath to momentarily be taken away from him. "What's going on?" A.J. managed to gasp when he felt handcuffs encircle his wrists.
"A.J.!" Dianna cried, attracting the attention of the crowd around them. The line stopped moving for a moment as people stopped to stare and point.
"You're under arrest for attempting to gain entrance to the concert with counterfeit tickets," the blond man was informed.
A.J. turned around. "Counterfeit tickets!"
"Yes, sir," the officer who looked to be of Hispanic origin acknowledged. "Now come with us."
"But those aren't my tickets!" A.J. frantically explained. "Well...technically speaking I guess they are my tickets, but they were given to me. Given to my brother, actually."
"By whom?" The rookie cop with sandy red hair asked.
"I don't know by whom. I think by the same guy who's providing the security here tonight, but I'm not certain."
"You can tell that to the judge," the Hispanic officer said, as the two men urged A.J. and Dianna toward a waiting patrol car.
"A.J.!" Dianna cried out again as she was roughly propelled along.
Trying to think of a way to rectify the present situation A.J. urged, "Page my brother. He's in the stadium somewhere working security. He can explain everything. He can give you the name of the guy who provided him with the tickets."
The red headed cop shook his head. "Look, mister, we don't have time for that. Do you know how many of you counterfeiters we arrest on a night like this? Do you think you're the only one? There's been fifty ahead of you, and there will probably be fifty more behind you yet before the night is through."
"Then call Lieutenant Marsh. Lieutenant Abigail Marsh of the Homicide Division. She's a personal friend of mine. She'll vouch for me."
The two young officers exchanged glances, contemplating for a moment as to how to proceed.
A.J. recognized that he had them at a point of indecision. "Look, she is. Abby's a friend of mine."
"Okay, wait a minute," the dark complexioned man said. He reached into the window of the patrol car and grabbed the mike from the police radio. After conferring with someone on the other end for a few minutes, he hung the mike back up and turned around.
"Put them in the car, Chris."
"Didn't you talk to Lieutenant Marsh?" A.J. asked as he was pushed toward the open back door of the patrol car.
"No. She wasn't available. She's inside at the concert and left strict instructions that short of a murder investigation, she's not to be disturbed."
"But..." A.J. began to protest. His protests were cut off when a hand was placed on his head and he was forced to bend his knees and get in the back seat of the car.
When the same was about to be done to Dianna, the detective pleaded, "Let her go. Please. She didn't have anything to do with this."
The two officers looked at one another. With a nod of his head the Hispanic, who seemed to be the senior partner, indicated that was agreeable.
The officers climbed into their car and started the engine.
Dianna ran alongside the moving vehicle. "A.J.!"
A.J. leaned toward the window. "See if you can find, Rick!” He yelled through the glass. “Tell him to get his butt to the police station!"
Thinking of the thousands of people inside the stadium Dianna yelled back, "What if I can't find him?"
"Do you have a set of my car keys in your purse?"
"Then if you can't find him take the car and go back to my place! I'll call you when I can!"
"A.J.! A.J.!" Dianna continued to run and yell until the patrol car exited the parking lot and picked up speed on the main thoroughfare.
Tears of frustration and fright welled up in the woman's eyes. She stopped, looked around to get her bearings, then turned and ran back toward the stadium where she could just barely hear the strains of the opening notes that signaled the start of the concert.
S&S S&S S&S S&S S&S
The holding cell A.J. had been placed in was becoming increasingly overcrowded as the night wore on. When the blond man had first arrived, he shared what then had seemed to be a large space with only three other men. Now, at two a.m., there were thirty men crammed into the cell that was only made to accommodate ten.
A.J. kept to himself, sitting on the floor in a far corner. He closed his eyes and leaned his weary head against the cement block wall. The blond opened his eyes when he felt someone nudge the toe of his right tennis shoe.
A well-built, ruddy complexioned man with short-cropped dark hair gave the detective a disarming smile and a wink. "Hey, blondie. You're cute. What ya' in for?"
A.J.'s upper lip curled into a snarl. "Murder. I killed my brother. Hacked 'im up with Mom's butcher knife into teeny tiny little pieces."
A.J.'s explanation put a damper on the convict's enthusiasm. He swallowed hard as he backed away from the blond. "Oh. I see. Well...I...uh..I'm sorry to hear ya' got family problems, ya' know?"
"Ain't got no more family problems. I took care of 'em, just like I take care of all my problems." With a sinister grin and a wink, A.J. added, "Ya' git my drift?"
The man tripped over his feet as he backpedaled to a far corner of the cell. "Uh...yeah. Sure. I...uh...I git yer drift."
A.J. shook his head in wonder before resuming his attempt at sleep. He had just settled as comfortably as he could once more against the cold block wall, when his name was called by a jailer from somewhere outside the cell.
"Simon! A.J. Simon!"
A.J. rose and began pushing his way toward the front of the cell. The guard ignored those men who were clambering at the cell's door.
"Hey, that's me!" "I'm Simon!"
"Hey, over here! I'm him!"
"That's me. It’s me! I'm...I’m whatever you said his name is!"
The guard turned to the woman next to him. "Which one is he, Lieutenant?"
"The angry blond with the steam rolling out of his ears," Abigail Marsh wisecracked.
As the inmates caught sight of the leggy auburn female, their exclamations turned to catcalls and wolf whistles.
A.J. finally shouldered his way to the cell door. The other men were ordered by the beefy guard to take three steps back. With much grumbling everyone did as they were told. The door was then opened just wide enough for A.J. to slip through.
The detective didn't even spare Abby a glance. He followed along behind the guard until he reached the window where he was able to retrieve his watch, belt, car keys, pocket change, and wallet. He then turned and began striding down the long hall toward the exit. Abby had to run in order to catch up to him.
"Hey! Why are you so mad at me? I didn't do anything!"
A.J. stopped and turned. "How come it took you until two o'clock in the morning to get me out?"
"I didn't even know you were here until an hour ago! Dianna had to wait outside the stadium until the concert was over before she was able to speak to Rick and tell him what happened."
A.J.'s eyes took on an eerie glow. "And speaking of my cherished sibling, where is he?"
"I think he went into hiding."
"He better have gone into hiding!" A.J. declared. "Because when I get my hands on him, he's going to wish he had never been born."
"I think he knows that."
"I'm sure he does," A.J. agreed.
Abby put a solicitous hand on A.J.'s back and led him up the stairs toward her office. "Listen, A.J., I know you're mad right now, but--"
"Mad! Mad? I'm not mad, I'm furious!"
"I know that,” Abby nodded. “But listen, some good did come out of this. Because of what happened to you tonight we caught a guy we've been after for years who has been counterfeiting concert tickets. Rick was able to give us the name and address of the man who provided him with the tickets you and Dianna had. A vice team raided his place, and in turn, he gave them the name of the counterfeit ringleader. They arrested the guy twenty minutes ago."
"I suppose that is a good thing," A.J. conceded. "I just hope you understand when I say that it's going to take me a few days to feel any real happiness over it."
Abby laughed. "I understand. But I have a hunch you'll start feeling better about the whole thing in just a few short minutes."
"Because Dianna's in my office waiting to take you out for an early breakfast. I think that, combined with a good night's sleep on something other than a concrete floor, will lighten your mood a bit."
A.J. nodded his agreement. "It just might help."
A few short minutes later the detective and his favorite lady were reunited. Dianna hugged the blond man and told him to shush when he tried to apologize for ruining her evening. She even got a bit of a smile out of A.J. when she teased him by telling him, "This is one concert I'll never forget."
Dianna thanked Abby for all her help, then invited her to join them at a nearby restaurant. At first the lieutenant declined, but was finally convinced to accept the offer when A.J. insisted.
Abby had been right. By the time A.J. had a filling meal of french toast, bacon, hash browns, and milk, he was in a much better mood than she had found him two hours earlier. He and Dianna saw the lieutenant safely to her car in the wee morning hours before they turned and headed for A.J.'s Camaro.
"I'll see you guys!" Abby called as she climbed in her vehicle.
"Probably sooner than you think," A.J. called back.
"You'll likely be arresting me for my brother's murder sometime over this weekend."
Abby laughed and shook her head. "I'm glad I'm not in Rick's shoes."
A.J.'s final words came as he helped Dianna into the
low-slung car. "Now you know why he's hiding out."
S&S S&S S&S S&S S&S
Despite his threats to the contrary, A.J. did not see his brother the entire weekend. Rick was wise enough to stay clear of his sibling, while Dianna was wise enough to keep A.J. occupied with a snorkeling excursion, a picnic, a bike ride, and dinner out with a group of friends so that his temper had a chance to cool down somewhat.
The blond man was not at all surprised on Monday morning when nine o'clock came and went with no sign of Rick. Much like a naughty child, when Rick knew he was in trouble with his brother he delayed coming to the office for as long as he could.
It was close to eleven that morning before the errant eldest Simon finally appeared. The office door was opened just a crack. A white flag was thrust through the opening and waved slowly back and forth.
A.J. rolled his eyes at the peace offering. "You can come in, Rick," he finally consented.
Rick's head appeared. "You sure?"
not armed, are you?"
A.J. played along with Rick's game. He stood up and held open his sport coat so that Rick could see he was devoid of his .38 revolver.
"Nothing hiding in your desk drawers? No big knives or axe handles?"
"Okay," Rick said, easing his lanky body into the office.
A.J. sat back down at his desk and returned his attention to the file he had in front of him.
Rick eyed his brother warily from where he stood in the middle of the office floor.
"So...uh...how was your weekend?"
A.J. glanced up at his sibling, then looked back down at his work. "It got off to somewhat of a...rough start, but otherwise it was pretty good."
Rick waited for the other shoe to drop. When nothing more was forthcoming he treaded out onto thin ice. "So...uh...you're not mad at me?"
A.J. looked up once more. This time the flames from a burning fire could clearly be seen in his eyes.
Uh oh, thought Rick.
"Of course I'm mad at you! But the only purpose discussing this is going to have is to make me even madder, which I promised Dianna wouldn't happen. Then I'll start yelling at you. Which I also promised Dianna wouldn't happen. So in an effort to keep my promises to her, I'm not going to say any more on the subject."
Thanks, Di. I owe ya' one. A big one.
"Uh...look, A.J., I wanna make it up to you. To both of you," Rick attempted to amend.
"Good," A.J. nodded his agreement. "You can take us out to dinner next Saturday night. We'll pick the restaurant and you'll pay. Maybe you could even spring for a movie."
"Uh...sure. Whatever you want. You just name the place and time, and I'll tell Nancy."
"And uh...I'll call Dianna, too. To apologize and all. You guys missed a good concert."
"I'm sure we did," A.J. agreed, the calmness in his tone not fooling Rick a bit as to what his brother was really feeling. "Calling Dianna would be a nice gesture. I'm sure she'd appreciate it. She was looking forward to that concert."
Guilt dominated Rick's features. "Yeah, I know she was. That's why I feel so bad about this. You do understand that it wasn't my fault, don't you?"
When all Rick received in answer to his question was a hard stare, he repeated, "Don't you?" but to no avail.
Rick's voice rose in defense of himself. "Look, A.J., how was I to know that
"Fast Eddie? You got the concert tickets from a guy named Fast Eddie?"
"That should have been your first clue, Rick," A.J. pointed out dryly.
"Yeah...well, uh...never mind that right now. It's not important anyway. Listen, what I was going to say was that I really want to make this up to you and Di with more than just dinner and a movie. I heard on the radio that the Beach Boys are playin' in L.A. next month at Dodger's Stadium."
"Yes. So what?"
Rick's smile of delight at his own idea lit up his entire face. "I'm gonna send you and Dianna to their concert. I'm gonna buy you guys tickets."
There was a long heavy silence before A.J. had the last word of the day on that particular subject.
"When hell freezes over, Rick. When hell freezes over."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*Author's Note - As many of you may know, the Eagles were a popular band throughout the decade of the '70's. When the group broke up in 1980 their lead singer, Don Henley, did in fact say that they would not tour together again until, "Hell freezes over." During the summer of 1994 the men who had once made up the award winning band did come to perform together once more in a tour they jokingly dubbed, When Hell Freezes Over.