“Hey Dean, how did the test go?” Carny Weston walked over to Dean Youngwood, giving him a fist bump as a greeting, and falling in next to him as Dean walked to his car. The sidewalk was full of pedestrians in a hurry to get lunch. The noon whistle had blown only a minute before Dean had exited Precinct Four after taking his test. He’d come dressed for the weather, and Dean was thankful for his bit of preparation. The snow was coming down thick and slushy, sticking to anything it landed on. The weather station had promised wet snow and the station had got it right. Dean smiled at Carny a little wistfully, then stuck his hands in his jacket pockets.
“You know, I think I did pretty good. But…,” he paused and Carny’s face fell. His blonde beard was already festooned with fat flakes that were threatening to turn his whiskers into an ice sculpture. Carny’s blue and black checked hunting jacket was doing much better, the snow giving Carny the look of a man with a completely out of control dandruff problem. His shoulder length blonde hair combined with his beard made him look like a modern viking.
Dean by contrast to Carny’s appearance, had short black hair irregularly cut, a testament to ‘don’t do this at home in a mirror’, and dark brown eyes that almost looked black. He’d put on weight since his days in the Canadian Air Force, and had a slight gut. His swarthy skin made him look piratical, but in fact Dean was a full-blooded Cree. He wore a pair of thick blue denim work pants, and a matching blue coat to protect him from the cold. His last name, Youngwood, was his adopted parents name. He chose it for his own despite some protests by fellow Cree.
“Aw man that s…,” Carny started to say, but Dean pulled a piece of yellow paper out of his jean pocket and held it in front of Carny’s nose.
“I think they believed so too, because they gave me this little piece of paper.” Dean smiled as Carny whooped and enveloped him in a bear hug.
“Way to go, man! Way. To. Go!”
He ceased hollering as people around them stopped and stared at the exuberant spectacle. Carny put Dean back on the ground and the two continued their walk back towards Carny’s pickup. When they reached the battered green truck, Dean glanced at Carny as he opend the passenger door, “How about lunch on me? I passed the exam, I think we should celebrate at ‘The Shake Shack’. I haven’t had a artery-clogging hamburger and fries for a couple weeks.”
Carny laughed, and opened the driver’s door.
“Sounds great! how ’bout we stop by Tim Horton’s afterwards to get a coffee and donut as dessert?”
Dean grimaced. “I’d love to, but I think I’ll pass on that. I can only handle so much decadence.”
“Guilty as charged.”
“Dammit, it’s no fun if you don’t insult back. Where do you get off being agreeable?”
“The same place you get off by trying to start something.”
Carny laughed again and pressed the start button on the dashboard. The vehicle rumbled as the engine refused to start, then caught with a roar. Dean settled back in his seat as Carny wheeled the vehicle out of the parking lot, and into lunch-hour traffic.
While they slowly worked their way towards their destination, Carny asked Dean, “So where are you going to hang your shingle?”
Dean stared forward out the windshield, watching the fat flakes of snow descend on the barely moving vehicles.
“I was thinking up around Shannon Park. The area is old and poor, but a lot of decent sorts there. I could probably get by.”
Carny looked over at Dean as though Dean had sprouted a second head.
“You’re nuts, you know that? I understand wanting to help people, but first you gotta get on your own feet. Helping people is good, but if you can’t keep a roof over your head, how you gonna help someone else?”
Dean shrugged, then looked over at Carny.
“You blew big holes in that idea. Yeah, I’d like to help out that way. Lots of folks could use a little help to solve problems. Hell, maybe solving the problems would fix something.” He sighed and turned back to watch the traffic in front of them. “But you’re right. If I can’t keep a place open, I don’t do anyone any good.” He turned his head towards Carny again. “So what would be your plan?”
Carny shrugged, then replied, “What about joining a detective agency for a bit. Get a name, take care of a few cases. Hunt down a few bail jumpers. Whatever. An agency would get your feet wet for a regular paycheck, and getcha experience without worrying about rent.”
Dean listened quietly. The traffic began moving once more and the two lapsed into silence for the three minute drive over to ‘The Shake Shack’.
After thy sat down with their food, Dean took a bite out of his burger.
“You’re angling for me to work with your cousin, aren’t you?”
Carny smiled and took a hefty swig from the straw in his drink.
“See? That’s why you’re the detective. You can figure things out.”
Dean shook his head. “I know you think your cousin’s a good guy, Carny, but I’m not sure he’d be the best one to work for starting out. I mean, he’s a skip-tracer, not a private investigator.”
“That’s why he’s perfect to work with. He’s been there, done that, and can give you pointers into how to use your newfound legal license the best way possible. It’s a steady paycheck, and you help by getting bad people off the streets.”
“And I have to track down people who’s only crime was that they can’t pay on their car, and I have to take it away, and they lost their job because they can’t get to work to pay bills and help their families.”
Carny’s face drooped. Dean figured he’d tried to be helpful. Carny was always trying to look out for friends. He and Dean had spent a hitch in the Canadian Air Force for four years as mechanics working on the old F-22 Raptors that had survived The Change. They’d gotten along and worked well together. Then became in-laws when Carny had married Dean’s adopted sister Carol. In the three years they’d been married, Carol had two pairs of twins. The first pair were girls, and the second were boys.
Dean shook his head. then took another bite from the burger.
“Say I join your cousin, do you get anything for referring me?”
“No, I just thought he’d be a good place to start.”
Dean nodded. “Okay. I’ll go see him. No promises. I’m still not certain that I want to do this, but you’re right, I have to start somewhere.”
“Cool! I’ll drive you…”
“Ease up Carny, I’ll drive over this afternoon. You need to get back to work, Carol’s probably going crazy with four crazed munchkins running around.”
Carny set his drink down and grabbed at his potato wedges, stuffing two in his mouth. he chewed, then swallowed.
“She probably is, eh? Carol’s a great mom. Though she’s got a temper.”
Dean shrugged. “Well, you would too with four kids in diapers and needing constant supervision. I bet she’s exhausted by the time you get home.”
“Yeah, she is.” He turned to look at Dean. “Speaking of that, wanna come by and spend time with your nieces and nephews? I could take Carol out on the town, maybe a movie, eh?”
Dean chuckled. “Okay, okay. I get it. When do you want me by?”
“How about five-thirty? I’ll be home by then and you can show up. the kids’ll love seeing you.”
“Yeah, I bet. My back’s still sore from the last time they loved seeing me.”
Carny chuckled and finished off the last potato wedge.
“You adore them as much as they adore you. Admit it for once.”
Dean shrugged, smiling. “What, and ruin a streak?”