This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any actual resemblance to persons or historical persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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© Copyright: 1996. Lisa Philbrick
THE ROCKFORD FILES:
THE KOMAR INFLUENCE
BY: LISA PHILBRICK
"This is Jim Rockford, at the tone leave your name and
message and I'll get back to you." (BEEP)
"Sure, you ask me to call you then you make me
talk to a machine? Come on, Jim..."
May 17, 1977
Julie Komar sat in her white 1976 Pontiac Firebird lighting a fresh cigarette. In her car she was surrounded by everything she owned and she felt far from being a girl who had over $370,000 to her name.
My own money and they won't leave me alone to get it, Julie thought as she looked in her rearview mirror at the dark Cadillac that was parked on the other side of the parking lot. She looked at her watch, eleven o'clock, and then tossed her cigarette out the window. She exited her car and walked into the restaurant.
"Excuse me," she said to the bartender, "where are the rest rooms?"
"Down the hall, on the right," he replied pointing towards a dim lit hallway.
"Thank you," Julie said and proceeded to the ladies room. A couple of minutes passed and then Julie reappeared and left the restaurant. As she walked out the door she saw two men get out of the Cadillac.
Oh boy, here we go again, she thought as she reached her car. Before pulling the latch on the door she felt something poke her in the back.
"Don't move," one of the men gruffed.
"Jesus, don't you two get tired of doing this?" Julie retorted, turning to face the two men.
"All in a day's work," the other replied, his New Jersey accent sprinkling out.
"Mr. Chavelis still has that offer he wishes to make you," the gun man said.
"I bet he does," Julie replied.
"If you'll come with us we can get this over with once and for all," Jersey man said.
"Sorry, I've got a hot date tonight and I really don't want to keep him waiting," Julie said as she swung her elbow into Jersey and then swung at the gun man. With the brief distraction, Julie ran towards the other parked cars. Just as she came upon a '68 Camaro a bizarre pain screamed from her lower left leg. As she collapsed behind the Camaro she could hear one of the men yell something and then both of them run across the parking lot. After a moment the Cadillac's engine came alive and then the large car squealed away.
Julie lay still for a moment and then tried to get up. She collapsed as she tried to put weight on her left leg.
"Ah!" Julie exclaimed as she fell to the pavement. She propped herself up on her elbow and looked down at her leg that was now throbbing in pain. Even in the dark, she could see the deep discoloration on her jeans.
"Oh God, " she choked, suddenly becoming lightheaded, I've
Joey "The Tornado" Tavarez had started to come back in round 6. By round 8 he had knocked out his opponent, Danny Boy Floyd, just 30 seconds into the round. Unfortunately, Jim Rockford had fallen asleep just after round four.
The blast from a car horn had broken Jim's slumber but it wasn't until the pounding on the door did he become fully awake. He tumbled off the couch and reached for the door. He opened it to find a young woman, pale, her shirt covered with dirt and her hand clutching her leg. Blood trickled over her hand.
"I've been shot," she said meekly, steadying herself against the stairs of the trailer. Jim quickly turned and grabbed a towel from the kitchen area. He came outside the trailer and had the young woman sit on the stairs.
"Let me see," Jim said prompting the woman to remove her hand from her leg. As she did so, Jim wrapped the towel around her leg and tightly tied it.
"Jim, it's me," the woman said, "Julie Komar. I think you knew my father?"
Julie nodded. "I was going to come to you tomorrow to ask if you would help me with a problem I've run into but I didn't think they would try to kill me."
"Who's they?" Jim asked, helping the woman to stand.
"Couple of goons working for Antonio Chavelis."
"Chavelis? The Mafia boss?"
"Yeah. I've got some stocks that he wants me to sell to him but I don't want to. I just wish he'd leave me the hell alone."
"Say no more. C'mon, I'll take you to the hospital."
May 18, 1977
Antonio Chavelis sat at his desk, rolling a thin brown cigarette between his thumb and index finger. After a moment he placed the cigarette between his thin lips and lit it with a shiny silver flip-top lighter. He placed the lighter down gently on his desk and then removed the cigarette from his mouth. Slowly he blew a string of smoke as he regarded two of his associates that sat in front of him. Their handling of the Komar girl had been a disgrace. His disappointment was still evident but he didn't have time to deal an appropriate punishment for their incompetence. He had to get the stocks and that was the bottom line.
"I'm still disappointed in you two," Chavelis said, his voice even. "Fortunately for you the circumstances do not allow me to adequately punish you, which would be to send you both back to the Jersey docks, and the existence which I scraped you two up from nearly ten years ago. But I have more important things to deal with which is getting those stocks. Now, after you two fled and allowed Ms. Komar to slip away I sent Sean here," he gestured to the tall Italian who stood next to the desk, "to track her down. He found her car at a trailer in Malibu which belongs to a guy named Rockford," Chavelis tossed a piece of paper across the desk. "Here's the address. I want you to watch her and follow her as discreetly as you can, and when she is alone approach her with my proposition. And no guns this time! I am a business man and she is no good to me dead." He stood up and walked around to the front of the desk. "Now I like you two, you know that. Which is why I'm giving you a second chance with this. I have a plan that will remove Rockford from the picture long enough for me to get Ms. Komar to consider my offer, and consider it she will, assuming you two do it right."
"We will Mr. Chavelis, " Davy Timmins said, the thought of returning to the Jersey docks igniting a new sense of determination in him. His native New Jersey had not been kind to him.
"I'm sure you will not disappoint me again Davy, it is your partner I am concerned about," Chavelis said looking at the young Chicagoian, Michael Hyland.
"I--" Michael began, almost starting with his excuse of panicking that night but he caught himself and continued with, "I will not disappoint you again Mr. Chavelis."
"Excellent. I knew you two were worthy of a second chance. Sean, would you please get their materials while I explain their mission."
* * *
Jim looked up at the nurse who stood before him.
"You can see Miss Komar now," she said.
"Thank you," Jim replied and got up. He walked from the waiting area to Julie's room. Julie looked up when he entered and smiled.
"Jim," she said reaching a hand out to him, "thank you so much."
"Well I wasn't going to just leave you on my door step," he said taking her hand.
"I hadn't planned on ending up on your doorstep in that manner," Julie said as her smile faded. Their hands let go and Jim grabbed a chair and placed it near the bed. As he sat down he spoke.
"You said last night that Antonio Chavelis wants to buy some stocks from you but you don't want to sell and he won't leave you alone?"
"Yeah," Julie said. She took a breath and then continued, "Three months ago my father died suddenly of a heart attack."
"I'm sorry," Jim said. "I hadn't heard from him in over two years."
Julie nodded. "I know. As you know, he was Vice President of Management for Heritage Industries in San Francisco. Over the years he bought stocks in a company called Rafferty Incorporated based in Philadelphia. He also invested in some bonds and set up a trust fund for me. My problem isn't the bonds or the trust fund, it's the stocks. Less than two weeks after his death I started getting these phone calls from people saying they were brokers for a Mr. Anthony Chavelis and that he was interested in purchasing the stocks. I declined the offer explaining that it was too soon after my father's death to be concerned with what to do with the stocks.
"Anyway a couple of weeks passed and then I get a phone call from the same person with the same offer from Chavelis. Now at this time I had no idea who Anthony or Antonio Chavelis was but continued to decline the offer. The more I declined the offers the more threatening the phone calls became.
"When I finally had a chance to review my father's will I learned that he made it very explicit that I was not to sell the stocks at all, to anyone, period."
"Never?" Jim said.
"Never. So the next time I received an offer from Chavelis I told them what my father had set out in his will. They dismissed that and demanded I sell the stocks. I hung up on them and that's when the real trouble began.
"They started following me and they broke into my apartment twice. I went to the police but that didn't do any good. After they broke into my apartment for a third time I moved out to spare my roommate the trouble. Everything I own is in my car. I've been living out of it and cheap motel rooms for two weeks and still they follow me and demand I sell the stocks. They just won't leave me alone."
"How many stocks are we talking about here?" Jim asked.
"I don't know. The stocks are in a safety deposit box at the bank but I haven't gone to look at them because I don't want to bring them that close to the stocks."
"Why does Chavelis want the stocks so bad?" Jim asked.
"I don't know but I wish he'd get it through his thick head that I cannot and will not sell the stocks." She looked at Jim. "Jim, I realize I've come to you completely and totally out of the blue with a pretty sticky problem but....can you help me?" she asked.
"Well," Jim hesitated.
"I mean anything," Julie said quickly, "can you think of anything I can do? I mean, look at me. I've been shot in the leg, I've been living out of my car for two weeks. I'm 23 years old with over $370,000 to my name and I can't touch any of it. All I'm asking is if you can think of a way I can get Chavelis off my back." Please.
"Well," Jim said, "I have a friend who works for the LAPD. I'll see if he can help out somehow."
May 21, 1977
After Julie was discharged from the hospital, Jim drove her to the Hollywood division of the LAPD. They sat by the desk of Sergeant Dennis Becker who was flipping through a file that contained all the complaints and reports filed by Julie in the last couple of months.
"Threatening phone calls, three break-ins and a number of incidences where you were followed by two men," Dennis read from the file, "including Monday night's incident where you were shot at." He paused for a moment. "According to this, nothing was stolen at the time of the three break-ins."
"No," Julie said, "I figure they were probably looking to see if I actually had the stock certificates which I don't. They're still in the safety deposit box."
"You didn't know who Antonio Chavelis was when you started receiving the phone calls?"
"No. I didn't find out until I filed my first complaint." She looked at Dennis hopefully, "Is there anything you can do?" she asked.
"Well, warrants are out for the two men who attacked you Monday night, and the break-ins are still open cases," Dennis eyed Jim as he got up from the desk and headed towards a filing cabinet. "We're doing everything we can right now."
"Is there anything I should do?" Julie asked, standing up.
"You said before that you've been living out of your car for the past couple of weeks?"
"Yeah. And hotel rooms at night."
"I think it would be best if you stayed in one place. That way it'll be easier for us to notify you when we've made progress in out investigation. Also we may be able to set up a phone tap assuming we can get the authorization."
"Okay," Julie replied, brightening.
"Okay, there they are," Michael announced as he watched Jim Rockford and Julie Komar descend the steps of the police station.
"All right, let's see if we can get this right this time,"
Davy said as Jim and Julie got into a tan Pontiac Firebird. When the
Firebird pulled away from the curb Davy started the engine of the Chevy
Nova and pulled into traffic a couple of cars behind the Firebird.
* * *
"Well, that was a little more uplifting," Julie said, "I thought for sure they had given up on me."
Jim smiled understandingly. "Sometimes you never know," he said.
"Yeah. Hey, I didn't get you in trouble back there did I? I noticed Sergeant Becker looked at you funny when he said the break-ins were still open cases. Now I know your ad said you specialized in closed cases, but how was I supposed to know?"
"Nah, don't worry about it. He knows I have to stay out of that anyway."
"Maybe," Julie said, "but I still want to hire you."
"To find out why Chavelis wants the stocks so bad. I realized after you left Wednesday that I don't even know anything about Rafferty Incorporated. I need to find out the background on these stocks. I mean just a couple days, can you look into it? I'll pay your fee."
"Two-hundred a day plus expenses." Jim informed Julie. He made it sound as if that was supposed to change her mind.
"Fine," Julie said, "not like I can't afford it." She looked at her outside mirror.
"Okay," Jim said, "I'll see what I can do."
"Good," Julie said still looking at the outside mirror. As Jim turned the Firebird around the corner Julie watched the Chevy Nova follow suit.
"I think," she said, "a good place to start would be to go look at the stock certificates, but there's some stuff in my car I have to get first."
Driving back to Jim's trailer, Julie watched the blue Nova follow them. When Jim pulled on to the drive that led to the parking lot that his trailer sat the Nova continued along the road that overlooked the parking lot and beach. It stopped just in sight of the trailer.
"You didn't leave my keys in my car did you?" Julie asked as they exited Jim's car.
"No, they're in my trailer," he said as he walked towards the trailer. Julie stood by her car watching the Nova out of the corner of her eye. Jim returned and handed her the keys.
"Thank you," she said taking the keys and proceeding to open the trunk. She took out a couple of boxes that covered another box at the bottom of the trunk. With another key on her key ring, Julie opened the box and removed some papers and a tiny yellow envelope. She closed the box, locked it, and replaced the two boxes on the ground back in the trunk. She then closed the trunk and locked it.
"Okay," she said pocketing her car keys. She walked back to Jim's Firebird and before getting in she stopped and waited until Jim was by the driver's side door.
"Don't look now, but there's a blue Chevy Nova parked up on the ledge. I think it's been following us," she said.
"Oh?" Jim glanced up a the Nova. "Well, let's find out," he said and proceeded to get into the car. Julie did as well and soon they were back on the roadway.
The Nova remained a car behind the Firebird and Jim allowed it to follow them for a couple of blocks in the city.
"Okay," Jim said, looking in the rearview mirror, "hang on."
Julie grabbed the edge of her seat as the Firebird swung right on to a side street and sped up. The Nova reacted as well and it stayed with the Firebird, despite the Nova's low maneuverability. Jim swung the Firebird left, drove, and then left again and they returned to the street where they originally started. The Nova flew out onto the road sliding as it failed to negotiate the turn. Jim continued to keep the Firebird going fast as he switched lanes to get ahead of and out of the way of other cars. The Nova fell behind, not being able to switch lanes as quickly. Seeing an opening in the on coming traffic, Jim swung the Firebird across the two lanes of traffic and down the side street. He then pulled into a parking lot and pulled the Firebird in a parking space between two cars that hid the Firebird from view of the street. Sitting low, Jim and Julie watched the Nova speed by.
"Wow!" Julie said, looking at Jim. "Can you teach me how to drive like that?"
* * *
Jim and Julie arrived at the bank without the Nova ever regaining its pursuit. After having the appropriate papers verified by both the bank teller and the bank manager, Julie was allowed to open her father's safety deposit box.
Jim stood beside Julie as she opened the steel box. Immediately Julie recognized the bond certificates and there was also a small black box. Nothing else was in the safety deposit box.
"Well, no posthumous letter," Julie said as she scooped up the stock certificates.
"Were you expecting one?" Jim asked.
"Not really." She flipped through the certificates. "My father never told me anything. I always had to figure it out or look it up for myself." She paused coming to the last certificate. "There's five thousand shares here," she announced.
"Depends what the current price of the stock is and how many shares are out." She placed the stock certificates back in the box and then picked up and flipped through the bonds.
"$200,000," she said. "Four bonds at $50,000, the first one to reach final maturity in six months." She tossed the certificates into the safety deposit box. "Great, more money I don't know what the hell to do with." Julie prepared to close the safety deposit box when Jim stopped her.
"You're not going to look in the black box?" he asked.
"I already know what's in it," she said, lifting the black box anyway. "My mother's engagement ring, wedding ring, a broach and a diamond tennis bracelet." She opened the lid and showed it to Jim. "My mother died when I was about three and I remember my father putting these in this box and telling me they would stay safe so I could have them when I was older." She closed the lid and gently placed the box back in the safety deposit box.
"I'm going to leave everything here for now until I can get Chavelis off my back," she said closing the lid on the safety deposit box. "It's possible that Chavelis is trying to put himself in a position to buy out Rafferty and that may be why my father was specific in not allowing me to sell the stocks."
"Do you think your father had offers from Chavelis to buy the stocks?"
"Possibly. But what interest would the Mob have in Rafferty?"
"Perhaps it is a mob establishment."
"But why would my father buy stocks in a mob owned company?"
"To pull it out of mob hands?"
Julie looked at Jim. She nodded thoughtfully and said, "I think we should find out just exactly what is Rafferty Incorporated."
Davy and Michael had driven around looking for the tan Firebird. They figured that Julie had gone to the bank to get the certificates so they rode around the parking lots of three banks before finding the Firebird.
"You sure that's the one?" Michael asked.
"Eight-five-three, O-K-G. That's the license," Davy replied. He parked the Nova away from the Firebird and out of immediate view. A few minutes passed and they watched as Rockford and Julie exited the bank.
* * *
Walking out of the bank, Julie fumbled with the papers in her hand. She fell behind Jim, concentrating on her thoughts. She stopped suddenly and said, "I wonder if they can hold on to this stuff for me?"
Jim stopped and turned back to her.
"I'm going to find out," she said, "I'll catch up to you."
"Okay," Jim said and then he and Julie went their separate ways.
* * *
"Michael, she's going back inside the bank," Davy announced. Both men watched Julie disappear back inside the bank while Rockford continued towards his car.
"Is he leaving?" Michael asked.
"Doesn't look like it," Davy said after Rockford got into the Firebird but did not start the car.
"This might be our only chance," Davy said starting the Nova's engine. He drove the Nova up behind the Firebird, put it in park and without turning the engine off, he and Michael got out of the car and approached Jim.
"Aw man," Jim said under his breath when he saw the two men approach. He recognized the Nova in his rearview mirror.
"Would you step out of the car please?" Davy said. Jim looked from Davy to Michael who leaned in the passenger side window pointing a gun low at Jim. With a look that clearly communicated how ridiculous Jim thought this was, he got out of the car. Davy escorted Jim to the Nova and met up with Michael. Opening the back door, Michael gestured for Jim to get in. As Michael followed Jim in, Davy opened the Nova's passenger door and removed an item from the seat. He went back to the Firebird and pushing the seat forward he put the bundle on the floor in back. He reclined the seat back and shut the door.
Davy returned to the Nova, closed the passenger door and then getting in the Nova, taking it out of park and driving it to the far side of the parking lot, near the exit. Davy brought the car to a stop and looked back to the bank entrance.
"What are we waiting for?" Jim asked.
"Shut up," Michael replied.
"Boy, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer," Jim said.
"Shut up," Michael said again.
"And what are you going to do if I don't? Shoot me with that gun?"
"I think, Mr. Rockford, you should pay attention to what is happening," Davy interrupted.
Jim looked out his window toward the bank entrance and saw Julie walking down the sidewalk. In her hand she had a piece of paper which she folded and tucked in her pocket.
A click in the front seat made Jim turn his head. He saw Davy had what appeared to be remote control device in his hand. He watched Davy throw the switch.
Jim turned back in time to watch his car explode into flames.
The force of the explosion threw Julie to the ground. The few seconds it took for her to collect herself seemed like minutes. She looked up in the direction of the explosion.
"Jim," she said, recognizing the tan Firebird as it was destroyed by the fire.
" Jim!! " Julie screamed suddenly becoming nauseated. Someone ran to Julie and tried to console her as she continued to scream and sob. With all the commotion no one saw the blue Nova as it slipped out of the parking lot.
May 21, 1977
Julie sat in the coffee room of the LAPD Hollywood division police station waiting for the police officer who had offered to drive her back to Jim's trailer so she could get her car. Becker--that was his name, Julie thought as she picked up her coffee cup. She swirled the cold contents of the cup around a couple of times before placing the cup back down.
She sighed. She still couldn't believe that Jim was gone. She had only known him off and on for a few years, through her father. In the last few days she had grown to like him. She wondered what he had thought of her.
Probably thought I was just another crazy college kid, she thought as her eyes stung with tears. She casually wiped away a tear that had trickled down her cheek. She thought of Jim's father, Joseph Rockford. She had started balling again when she learned of his arrival at the police station and when she met him she cried and apologized profusely. He only took her hand and said sincerely that it wasn't her fault.
If I hadn't gone to him asking for help this never would have happened, she thought. It is my fault.
She couldn't believe Chavelis would go this far over some stupid stocks. For all she cared, he could have the damn things, screw what her father said in his will. She had to get on with her life.
She heard the click of the door behind her and she turned to see who was entering.
"Are you ready to go?" Sergeant Becker said.
"Yeah," Julie replied blandly, getting up.
The drive back was kind of quiet, till Dennis asked Julie what she planned to do now.
"Sell the damn stocks."
"I thought you said your fathers will said you couldn't?"
"It does, but there's nothing he can do abut it. I should have just sold them in the first place. They've been more trouble than they're worth."
"How are you going to get around the will?"
"I'll have to call my father's lawyers tomorrow. There's gotta be a legal way around it."
"And you'll sell the stocks to Chavelis?"
"He's the one who wants them."
"What's the company going to think of that?"
"Who cares? I'll let them worry about it, I'd like to get on with my life." She paused watching the traffic around them. "Did you know Jim very well?"
"Yeah, I did," Dennis replied, his tone reminiscent.
They pulled into he parking lot and stopped behind Julie's Firebird. She paused a moment and then turned to Dennis.
"Thank you, Sergeant," she said.
Dennis nodded. "You take care of yourself," he said, "and let me know where you're going to stay so we can keep in contact. We'll get Chavelis, don't worry."
"Okay," Julie said and then got out of the car. She walked to her Firebird, fished her keys out of her pocket and unlocked the door. She turned and waved to Dennis, who waved back, and then she proceeded to get into her car. When the brake lights of the Firebird lit up, Dennis put his car in reverse, backed up a couple of feet and then swung the car forward and around a half-circle and drove out of the parking lot. Julie started to drive her Firebird out of the parking lot but stopped and looked back at the trailer.
"I'm sorry Jim," she whispered. "It should never have happened."
She lingered for a moment and then drove out of the parking lot.
* * *
Jim was seated in front of Antonio Chavelis' desk in a room that looked over what appeared to be a warehouse. Jim, however, was not really sure where he was, having been blindfolded as the Nova left the bank parking lot. He could still hear Julie scream his name.
Antonio Chavelis sat at his desk, smoking a thin brown cigarette. He took a couple puffs on the cigarette before placing it down in an ashtray and looked at Jim.
"Do you know why you're here Mr. Rockford?" Chavelis asked.
Oh, I don't know, maybe if Julie thinks I'm dead, it'll be
easier for you to get the stocks from her saying no one else will get
hurt if she sells to you.
"No," Jim said.
"Oh, come Mr. Rockford. I take you to be an intelligent individual. It shouldn't be that difficult."
Jim only gave a look that said, why don't you tell me.
"You are working for a young college student named Julie Komar," Chavelis stated.
"I was," Jim replied. "Kind of hard for a dead guy to get a good paying job these days."
"A mere inconvenience for you at this moment," Chavelis said. "As soon as Ms. Komar sells the stocks to me, you will be able to return to your low life existence."
"You really think my 'death' is going to make her sell?"
"Of course. She will not want to see anyone else get hurt as a result of her refusal to sell. The stocks will mean nothing to her now that a human life has been taken."
"Why are you so hot after these stocks anyway?" Jim asked.
"I merely wish to acquire more shares in the company."
"Then you already have shares in Rafferty?"
"Why the stocks Julie has? There must be other stock holders you could buy out?"
"Ah but you see Mr. Rockford, Ms. Komar's stocks allow me to kill 25% with one stone and rid Rafferty of the Komar influence once and for all."
"Then Rafferty is a mob establishment," Jim concluded.
"A legitimate establishment, Mr. Rockford, wrongfully acquired in a hostile take over by Brian Komar and his 'associates' eight years ago. I have lived my life since that day working to get Rafferty back to its rightful owners. The day now rapidly approached when I will see it happen."
"Assuming Julie sells," Jim said. "Your little theory on the worthlessness of the stocks compared to the loss of human life is a nice touch, but then again, she could run."
"She won't. She'll be running for the rest of her life if she did."
"But she's young. You'll be dead before she gives up."
"So will a lot of other people, Mr. Rockford."
Julie drove for three hours straight. She drove along the coast, in the city, around the suburbs, back along the coast again. Along the coast she would let the Firebird unwind and would drive up to 90 miles per hour. She could still see Jim's burning Firebird and tear would escape when the memory became too much. She could still see him, his jet black hair and seemingly velvet dark brown eyes. She remembered the night she went to his trailer with a bullet in her leg and how he helped her, when they went to the police station, when he drove fast to lose the Nova, when they went to the bank--
And the burning Firebird.
"Damn," she whispered, wiping away another tear. She allowed the Firebird to slow down and coming upon a rest stop she pulled in as her vision clouded with tears. She parked her Firebird and started balling again. She cried for a few minutes then gained control of herself. She looked at her fuel gage and seeing it was near empty, she figured she better get some gas if she wanted to make it back into the city.
After filling the Firebird at the pumps on the far side of the rest area Julie pulled up to the phone banks near the entrance. She rummaged around the papers on her dashboard and finding the one she wanted she went to one of the phones.
"Mr. Chavelis please," Julie said after the line connected.
"Whom may I ask is calling?"
The line became muffled and then Julie heard a click as Chavelis came on the line.
"Ms. Komar," he greeted, "I'm terrible sorry about your friend."
"Save it Chavelis," Julie spat. "You want the damn stocks, you got 'em. I'm going to try and talk to my fathers attorneys tomorrow to see if I can get around the will. I'll call you tomorrow afternoon to set up where to meet to make the transaction if I am successful."
"I will await your call."
"Yeah," Julie said blandly, "another thing. You didn't have to kill Rockford to get me to sell the stocks. There are other ways you could have gotten my attention."
"I apologize for the dramatics."
"Don't bother," she said then hung up.
May 22, 1977
Just sixteen minutes into his shift and Sergeant Dennis Becker was on his second cup of coffee. The lab report from the explosion was due to him soon and quite frankly he did not want to see it.
It used to bug the hell out Dennis every time Jim would come in asking to run a plate number or for other favors. Now Dennis found himself looking up at the door and wishing that Jim would walk in, asking to run a plate number.
Dennis' thoughts turned to Julie Komar. Why hasn't she called? He was tempted to order an APB on her but decided to hold off on that. It was possible she was waiting till this morning to call anyway.
Taking a sip of his coffee, Dennis looked up to see Officer Billings come in with what appeared to be the lab report from yesterday's explosion. The coffee suddenly tasted bitter.
"Here's the lab report Sergeant," Officer Billings said as he handed the folder to Dennis. "You better read it right now," Billings said, his tone urgent.
Dennis flipped open the folder and began to read. When he came to the part that had to have been the reason for Billings urgency, he re-read it two, three times and then out loud.
"No human remains were found in the vehicle." He looked up
to Officer Billings, "He wasn't in the car."
Julie awoke a few minutes after eight. Her first thought was of Jim. Her last thought before drifting off to sleep had been of Jim. She couldn't stop thinking about it. She didn't want to get up, she just wanted to pull the covers over her head and hope it would all go away when she decided to emerge from bed. But that wasn't going to happen. In order to make most of it go away, she had to get up and get going to get rid of the stocks.
But that isn't going to bring Jim back, she thought as she headed towards the bathroom. She washed and dressed then returned to the room and sat on the edge of the bed and picked up the phone.
"Sergeant Becker please," Julie said after dialing the number and connecting. After a moment Dennis came on the line.
"Sergeant, it's Julie."
"Julie! Man, I was starting to think of putting an APB out on you."
"Sorry, it was late before I found a place to stay."
"You haven't done anything yet about selling the stocks have you?"
"No. I'm going to call my fathers attorneys after this."
"Don't. I want you to come down to the station."
"Julie, Jim's alive."
Julie stopped for a moment. "What!?" she exclaimed.
"Well then where the hell is he?"
"I don't know. I think Chavelis might have him. I can explain if you'll come down to the station."
"I'll be right there," she said, and hastily hung up the phone. A moment later she was dashing out of the motel room.
* * *
For the night, Jim had been placed in a partially furnished office. There was no phone, no filing cabinet to snoop in, no safe to try and break into, just two chairs, a coffee table, and empty desk and a couch.
Lumpy one at that, Jim thought as he pushed his hand against the cushion. He had been put in the room around seven o'clock the previous evening yet he was not aware that Julie had phoned Chavelis agreeing to sell the stocks. He thought of her now though, and wondered if she was okay.
She must know by now I wasn't in the car. My car, how the hell am I going to afford a new one?
Jim turned to the sound of the door opening. He saw Michael enter with a gun pointed at Jim.
"Mr. Chavelis wants to see you," he said.
Jim looked at the gun then to Michael and said, "you play this part to well."
"Let's go," Michael said, waving the gun.
"Mr. Rockford," Chavelis said when Jim entered the office, "I thought you would like to know that Ms. Komar has decided to sell the stocks."
"Well I bet your proud," Jim replied.
Chavelis smiled. "You were wrong Mr. Rockford. She did not run."
"I didn't say she would. I said she might."
"Either way, my 'theory' as you call it, was proven. The loss of human life devalued the stocks to her."
"That's what I've been meaning to ask you," Jim said. "Why didn't you just put your little gizmo in my car while I was in the bank and set it off with me in the car when Julie came back out? You didn't. But yesterday when I said you'd be dead before Julie gave up you replied that others would be too. I'm kind of confused."
"You see Mr. Rockford, I'm a business man. I have no need for senseless violence or for people getting hurt. However, the illusion of someone getting hurt when I can't get someone else to do what I want is a wonderful bargaining chip. As for my comment yesterday, perhaps I overstepped my bounds and as for why I did not do as you just suggested is because I could not run the risk of Ms. Komar being in the car as well. I had to make sure the both of you were separated."
"But what if she finds out I'm alive before she makes the final arrangements to sell?"
"Then we stage another accident and I ship you to another part of the country for awhile."
"You still won't kill me despite some of the information you've told me?"
"Mr. Rockford you're a private investigator. None of what I have told you can not already by found through whatever means are at your disposal," Chavelis got up from his desk.
"Now, Mr. Rockford I'm assuming that you would like some breakfast?"
"Depends on what you got."
"Which depends on what you want."
Jim thought for a moment. Man, this guy isn't like any mobster I ever met before.
"You got any tacos?"
* * *
When Julie arrived at the police station Dennis first introduced her to two federal agents who were working to catch Chavelis. Dennis then explained how they had determined that Jim was alive and showed her the lab report. She read the report and then after a moment she spoke.
"I don't get it," she said closing the folder, "why did Chavelis do it that way?"
"Chavelis isn't known to have actually killed anybody," one of the federal agents, Peter Copeland, said. "At least, we haven't connected him to killing anybody. He does, however, make the appearance of somebody having been killed in order to get people to do what he wants them to do. It's been pretty effective for him so far."
"But I now know Jim is alive," Julie said, "if I pull out on selling the stocks telling Chavelis I know Jim is alive what will Chavelis do?"
"He may stage Mr. Rockford's death again or have him killed for real," Frank Meyerwitz said.
"Then what do you suggest I do?" Julie asked.
"We want you to continue as if you were going to sell the stocks to Chavelis," Agent Copeland said.
"Ooo, you guys gotta plan don't you?" Julie said with a smile.
"Mr. Chavelis," Davy said, coming into Chavelis' office. "Ms. Komar is on the line."
"Thank you Davy," Chavelis said and picked up the phone. "Ms. Komar, hello."
"Good afternoon Mr. Chavelis. I have spoken with my father's attorney's and I have been released from the restriction in the will. Where would you like to meet to make the transaction?"
"Excellent. Let's meet at Clement Park."
Julie looked up at Agent Meyerwitz who was listening in on another phone. He nodded.
"Okay," Julie said, "seeing you picked the place, I think it's only appropriate that I pick the time."
"Okay. Will you be bringing the certificates with you?"
"Very well then. Three-thirty a Clement Park. I will see you then."
"All right," Julie said then hung up. "Okay" she said, "let's go."
Jim once again saw the door to the office open and Michael come in waving his gun at him saying, "C'mon Rockford, we're going for a little ride."
"Oh boy," Jim said. "Where are we going?"
"To meet your friend Julie Komar."
As soon as Chavelis' Cadillac was seen pulling into the park, Julie was given the signal to drive in on the opposite side. She approached the Cadillac and stopped when both cars were facing each other. She left the engine running.
Julie got out of her Firebird and waited for Chavelis to exit the Cadillac. When he as well as Davy did, Julie walked to front of her Firebird and Chavelis walked to the front of the Cadillac.
Chavelis smiled. "Well, we finally meet."
Julie snorted. "Not exactly by choice," she replied, preparing to hand the folder to Chavelis. "All the appropriate documents have been signed by me, just need your signature and we'll be done with this."
Opening the folder, Chavelis examined the contents and smiled approvingly. He placed the documents on the hood of the Cadillac and removed a pen from his inside jacket pocket. He signed the appropriate documents, returning to Julie the ones she needed.
"Now, Ms. Komar I have a surprise for you."
He signaled to Davy and he opened the back door of the Cadillac. Julie watched as Jim emerged from the car.
Julie kept her composure for a moment. She then smiled and said, "Hey, that's pretty good." She noticed Chavelis became agitated. "I have a surprise for you too," she said and walked back to her car.
"Mr. Chavelis it might be a trap!" Davy exclaimed. Chavelis didn't even blink, he scrambled back into the Cadillac and the car squealed in reverse, all before Julie could give the signal. Jim ran to Julie's Firebird and got in. Seeing the Cadillac speed away, still in reverse, Julie blared her horn and then threw her Firebird in gear and followed the Cadillac. Police cars soon joined her. The Cadillac spun around in a J-turn and headed towards the park exit. Julie had the pedal to the floor, trying to get ahead of the Cadillac before it reached the exit. She came up beside it, and the Cadillac tried to bump her off.
"Jeez, he takes my money now he's trying to wreck my car!" Julie exclaimed.
"Get ahead of him!"
She pushed the Firebird ahead of the Cadillac and pulled in front of it. She slowed the Firebird down and the Cadillac bumped her.
"Hold on!" she said as she swung the car side ways blocking the exit and bringing both the Firebird and Cadillac to a stop. Police cars came to a stop behind the Cadillac, blocking it in.
Julie let escape a sigh and Jim looked at her.
"I don't need to teach you how to drive like that. You already know how," he said smiling.
Julie smiled. "Oh sure, anybody can drive recklessly," she said.
May 23, 1977
Sitting in Jim's trailer Julie explained how Sergeant Becker eventually found out Jim was alive. She then told him about the federal agents and their plan and how the documents Julie turned over to Chavelis were not legal nor were the certificates real.
"If Chavelis got away, I would have really been in trouble," Julie said. "Who knows what he would have done when he realized those documents weren't legal."
"I doubt there was anything he could have done about it," Jim said. He then explained to Julie about her father's involvement with Rafferty.
"It's strange though," Julie said, "I've never known of the mob to infiltrate a legitimate business, assuming Rafferty was 'clean' when it first started out."
"I bet it was. I don't think your father would have done so much to get Rafferty out of mob hands if it wasn't 'clean' when it was first established."
"That explains why my father was so specific on not allowing me to sell the stocks. He didn't want it to go back to the mob."
"And now with Chavelis having been caught, his shares in Rafferty will be frozen and possibly he'll have to liquidate them."
"Yeah," Julie said. She reflected a moment then said, "man, two weeks ago I never thought this would have ended. I thought I was going to have to put up with this for months, maybe even years. Now I've got my life back and it's kind of nice. And I've got you to thank for it."
Jim smiled, "Well," he said with slight protest.
"No really," Julie said as she pulled something from her purse. "When I was flipping through the yellow pages looking for a PI, the only reason I picked you was because you had the biggest ad. Plus, you had your picture in there and to me you didn't seem as anonymous. I was also pretty desperate, I had nobody to turn to and I couldn't trust anyone. But I was willing to trust you and everything worked," she looked down at that the check in her hand. "Now, I hired you to find out something for me, and you did," she smiled, "so I'm going to pay you for your services and I took a wild guess at what your expenses might run up to be." She handed the check to Jim.
Jim took the check and looked at it. He eyes went wide.
"Eighty-six-hundred dollars!" he exclaimed.
"Yeah," Julie said. "Six hundred to cover your fee, eight thousand to cover at least most of the loss of your car."
"Aw Julie you don't have to do that."
"True, I don't but I want to. Please Jim, take it. I don't care spend it in Vegas if you want but take it. It's my way of saying thank you."
Jim looked at the check then at Julie.
"It's not like you have to worry about insufficient funds," Julie said with a smile.
"True, and I've run into that before."
"Gee, how did I guess?"