Dean sat in his old black Jeep CJ, waiting for the bail-jumper to appear. The mobile homes had all seen better days. Many had paint peeling away from the aluminum siding, while a few had plywood covering windows. Few people moved about. The neighborhood had the broken, desperate feel of poverty and privation. His Jeep was old, but a cut above the average vehicle around here. Most that he saw in crumbling cement driveways were dented and rusting.
The job was to track down a three-time bail jumper who had gang connections. Dean had proven to be a good skip-tracer. He was quiet, nondescript, and could talk to most anyone. He’d talked to a few former associates of Mick Browning, tracing his movements around Halifax as he tried to stay ahead of people like Dean.
Dean had been very diligent while learning the ropes of skip-tracing. A lot of what they did was paperwork, legwork, and waiting. He’d been working with Carny’s cousin, Adair, for nine months now. His record for his time was fourteen arrests after ‘failure to show in court’. To dean’s relief, all fourteen were of those deserving of jail time.
His fear of having to jail a person just because they screwed up once didn’t eat at him like it had before. It was still there, and that fear was what made him so diligent in getting information and making sure the guy he was chasing deserved to be chased. Such as the current person of interest. Mick Browning was a man Dean found he didn’t like much. Mick had a arrest record that stretched back to middle school when he was arrested for breaking into a grade school to steal computers.
His first brush with the law set a pattern of attempted thefts and punishment in Juvenile facilities, which turned Mick Browning into a street-savvy hustler and car thief. Along the way, he’d gotten into a local motorcycle gang, ‘Charon’. They’d taught him the subtle skills of drug trafficking. He’d served some time, but was released early due to prison overcrowding. Then he’d expanded into home invasion, which was what the courts wanted him for now. His trial was pending, and somehow he’d been allowed to be under ‘house arrest’ with an ankle tracker.
The tracker worked exactly for ten minutes before an alarm went off, indicating that it was no longer attached to an ankle. Police arriving on the scene found the collar had been somehow sliced in half, and Mick had disappeared. The warrant was issued that evening and Dean had been given the job of retrieving the wayward criminal. Mick had been careful not to talk to anyone of his usual friends after escaping, but his habit of frequenting strip clubs gave him away. Dean found some people at a local bar that’d seen Mick a couple days ago.
Further canvassing of nearby neighborhoods had led him to this mobile home park, and a particular address. Now, he was parked two houses down, in his old Jeep, waiting for Mick to show his face in public. Dean took a bite out of a cold hamburger, then shifted, moving his hand to his belt and loosening it one notch.
This fast-food is packing on pounds. I need to get to the gym or something, or I’m going to need new clothes as my old ones won’t fit anymore.
The walkie-talkie on the seat next to him crackled to life.
“See anything on your side?”
Dean picked it up, keying the mike as he watched the trailer house.
“No Zeke, he’s probably sleeping the day away in there.” Dean shifted again, putting the remaining half of the hamburger on the seat.
“Okay, nothing here either. Think he’ll show today?”
“Maybe, it’s Monday, and he’s got to be running low on things. If he wants to eat, he’s going to have to go somewhere to get it.”
“yeah, I getcha. Well, only four more hours until we get relieved. Wanna catch a burger afterwards?”
Dean looked at his half-eaten burger. Not again. “I’d rather not, honestly. I’m having trouble fitting into my pants. Any more and I’ll start splitting seams.” He chuckled. “How do you even eat that many? We’ve gone to that burger place every day this week and you still want to go again?”
“Well, if you can’t handle perfection, then I’ll catch alone tonight after we get relieved.”
Dean opened his window to a thin crack to let air in. July was baking him inside his car. He wondered again how John managed to eat all those burgers and still fit in his clothes. His attention shifted to the trailer house.
“I got movement. Someone just opened and shut a window shade.”
“You have eyes on?”
“No. No movement since the blinds.”
“It’d be nice to get this done, eh?”
“Very nice. I could sleep in a bed instead of my front seat.”
“Now you’re just being mean.”
“Someone’s coming out. I have eyes on.”
“Car, or walk?”
“Bike. he’s got leathers on and wearing colors.”
“Shit. Let’s take him before he gets loose in traffic. That damn bike can dodge rings around us.
Dean fired up the Jeep and dropped it into gear.
“I’ll take the bike, you take him.”
Dean didn’t wait, but went through the small front yard of the home next to Mick’s. The Jeep jounced and wobbled across the uneven ground. Browning had just gotten to the motorcycle when he spotted the Jeep coming straight at him. he abandoned the bike and ran, clearing the bike just barely before the Jeep’s winch and bumper smashed the big bike flat, and the Jeep ran over it in pursuit of Mick.
Mick ran around the edge of his trailer home, breaking contact with Dean. Dean cursed, and ran to the corner, stopping and peering quickly around the corner to see if Mick had stopped to ambush them. He saw the fugitive taking on his partner in a quick exchange of blows, blocks, and counters. Mick was larger, but John had years of martial training, thanks to a father that was a full-time Aikido instructor.
John threw a punch at Mick’s face, which was blocked. John used the block to balance his arm, and he spun into a back kick that caught Mick just below the ribs, knocking him back on his backside. John followed the kick up with a quick shuffle and a second kick to his groin.
Mick turned red and gasped, falling over and groaning in pain.
Dean stepped next to Mick, zip-tie in hand. He flipped Mick onto his stomach, then locked mick’s hands together behind him with the zip-tie. Then John and Dean both helped him up, and placed him in the back of John’s old police cruiser. He helped Mick sit down, then tied Micks hands a second time. This loop with through a specially prepared loop of metal on the floor of the rear passenger’s seat. A third tie went around Mick’s legs and through the metal loop, holding Mick bent over until he was delivered to the Halifax police.
John finished checking the restraints, then closed the door. He turned towards Dean.
“So, still on for a burger?”
Dean patted his growing belly, and shook his head. “No thanks, I have to drop a few pounds before I can indulge again.”
John nodded and opened the driver’s door and clambered in.
He started the car, then rolled the window down.
“Hey, you still planning on dropping to part time with Adair? I know a couple places you’d fit in with.”
Dean smiled and leaned against the door.
“Yes, I’m still going part time. I want to open my own place, and Adair’s being kind enough to help me out, since it won’t be for skip-tracing. It’ll just be me finding lost relatives, lost kids, or wayward spouses who may or may not be cheating on their partner.”
John nodded, and shifted the car into ‘drive’.
“I get that. I think you’re missing a good deal though. We mead a lot of money on these guys.”
“Yes, we did,” Dean replied. Despite his laid-back expression, his mind was racing. He’d found a place, and would be getting the keys for the office today. The thought of actually having his own office sent a thrill through him that he never had when chasing bail jumpers.
I just don’t see a future in chasing bounties like that. This is the big-time. My own office. My own business. My own hours. Mine, and no one else’s.
John beeped the horn, and waited for Dean to stand up, then rolled off to collect the money for delivering a felon back to the waiting arms of the courts.
Yeah, my own place.