Disclaimer: This is totally a work of fiction. Any resemblence to actual characters, living or coincidental, is dead. Tax, tag, and license not included. And Barb made me do it.

The Great Escape
(c)1999-2001 KSH

The whole mess got started by a stupid computer error.

Leroy, Neal's accountant, left a message that the bank had inadvertantly debited Neal's account twice for the same transaction. He had prepared a letter to the bank pointing out the error, and just needed Neal to stop by and sign it. A little annoyed by the inconvenience, Neal stopped by on the way to Jonatahn's house. He had been stuck on part of a song all morning and was in a hurry to get to Jon's to finish it.

Leroy's secretary wasn't at her desk. Neal looked into Leroy's office, but he was on the phone, so Neal waved and sat down to wait. The building had once been a house, and was built into the side of a hill. A painting contractor used to occupy the basement, and a therapist had been upstairs, but they had both moved out. Neal had wondered out loud once how Leroy afforded the place by himself, much less was able to redecorate so often, to which Ross had replied that you should never trust an accountant named Leroy.

"Neal, how ya doin', pal?" the booming voice startled Neal, who was mentally working on the song again. "Come on into my office. Have a seat. Can I get you a drink or something? Any word on when or if Perry'll be able to tour?"

"No, not yet. And nothing to drink. I'm kind of in a hurry."

"Sure, sure, lemme see what Ethel did with that letter." Leroy clumped past him to the secretary's desk. Dina always said he reminded her of Remy, lawyer to the mob in "The Client".

A strange shadow passed the balcony behind Leroy's desk. Before Neal had time to wonder about it, Leroy was back with the letter.

"Here we go, Neal. If you'll just sign here. Are you sure you don't have a few minutes? I'd like to hear about what's goin' on with the band, and I've got some invest ideas I'd like to run by you." Leroy seemed almost too eager, but he always had been kind of strange.

"No, I've really got to go." Neal said as rose and turned toward the door.

"Wait! Let me get your copy of the letter."

Leroy went back to the secretary's desk and fumbled around. Neal sighed, really starting to lose patience. Finally, Leroy slipped a paper into a manilla envelope and handed it to Neal.

"Have you eaten yet, Neal? Ethel's due back in just a couple minutes, and we could go get some lunch."

*What?* Neal thought. *He's never asked me to lunch before.*

"No, Leroy, I've got to go. Jon's expecting me. Maybe next week." Humming the elusive tune, Neal walked out to his car.

As he started to throw the envelope onto the front seat, it registered for the first time that the envelope was too heavy to contain only a single sheet of paper. He looked inside, and sure enough, there was a computer disk.

*Dammit, Leroy. I'll bring it back later.* Neal thought as he started the car. He glanced down at the disk again, and started thinking. Something about the company name on the label was familiar. *Shit, this is probably somebody's confidential records.* Muttering a curse, he went back inside, leaving the car running.

The door to Leroy's office was closed, but no one else had come in or out past Neal. There was a soft sound as he pushed the door open, but in his aggravation, it didn't register in his brain.

'Leroy, what the hell is this disk..." Neal broke off in sudden shock, and for a moment everything seemed to move in slow motion. The curtain fluttering at the balcony door. Leroy falling forward from his knees. The man standing over the body turning to look at Neal in shock, a small black gun still in his gloved hand. Comprehension slowly dawned on Neal. The sound had been a gun fired with a silencer. He hadn't walked in on a client overwrought by financial problems. This was a professional hit.

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