Hal and Calvin were my first Rangeman support team. I met them outside the door of Shane O’Shaunessy’s house at nine o’clock with a bottle of Jack, decorated with a gold and black bow on it, and a clipboard in my hand. They stood there with their utility belts on. “You are my test pilot. I forgot to mention in the staff meeting this morning that we are going to have to go into the takedown naked so that we do not tip the skip off”, I said. “Just bring your cuffs. Tuck them into your back pocket and let’s go.” I sent a text to Ranger. “Remind everyone that we are doing the takedown unaccessorized.”
Hal, Calvin and I walked up to O’Shaunessy’s door and I rang the doorbell. A few minutes later a smallish man, slight in stature and young in looks opened the door. “Hello”, I said, “we are there to see Shane O’Shaunessy?”
“I am Shane.”
“I am Stephanie, and I am here on the Jug of Jack’s promotion. I would like to see some photo ID so that I can verify you are Shane, and then I need you to sign the paperwork in order to make everything legal. When you have signed the paperwork, I will give you the jug. Simple, right?”
“Sure.” Shane looked like I had just made his day.
I let him go and get his wallet, and watched him take out his photo ID as he walked back to the front door. I checked his ID and wrote down his driver’s license. I then passed the clipboard over to him and pointed out where he was supposed to sign. He did so, looking very pleased with himself. I took the clipboard back from him and, as I handed the bottle of Jack to him, Hal whipped out his cuffs and cuffed one of his wrists. He spun him around, grabbed hold of his other wrist, and cuffed him behind his back.
“What the fuck?” said O’Shaunessy.
“Bond enforcement. We are here representing your bonding agent. You missed your court date and you need to go into the precinct to reschedule”, I said.
“But I thought you were here from Jack Daniel’s!”
“That was just a ruse.”
“Do I get to keep the jug?”
“You do. You should be bonded out quickly, and you will be able to come back to enjoy the whiskey this afternoon.”
“That’s okay then. I’m due at work at one o’clock. Do you think I will be back in time, or should I phone in sick?”
“You should be back in time, but just in case I would phone in sick. Calvin, would you please secure the house while Shane calls into work?”
I took out my phone and dialed in the number that Shane told me. I then held the phone to his ear as he faked a sore throat and a sleep befuddled state. His boss said that she wished him better, and I hung up the phone for him. “Thanks. I have only been working at this job for two weeks. That’s the reason I missed my court date in the first place. I didn’t want to take time off my job when I had only just started.”
“That makes sense, but you cannot avoid responsibility for forever.” I put the jug of Jack on the front hall table, Calvin grabbed Shane’s wallet and keys and finished locking up the house. Hal escorted Shane to the Rangeman vehicle and strapped Shane into the car. I went to my car and found my apprehension papers for Shane and gave them to Calvin. “That was smooth, guys. Hopefully they will all go as smoothly today. Thank you for your help.”
“Good luck”, said Calvin as they were getting into the car.
I poked my head into the car. “I am going to call Vinnie to get him to come to the precinct and rebond you out as soon as possible. I am sorry for tricking you, but we were not having any luck finding you. Next time, do yourself a favour and just come in for your court date. You’re making yourself look bad by avoiding responsibility.”
I watched the Rangeman team drive away, then sat in my car to write a text to Ranger. “One down, eight to go. It was smooth sailing. The felon was more interested in whether he was going to keep the jug of Jack or not. Am on the way to Lucas Cooper’s house. See you there.”
Ranger and Logan were my next partners. I met with them at Ranger’s car at ten to ten. Ranger looked relaxed; Logan looked energized and excited. “Is this your first takedown?” I asked.
“Yes. I have just done surveillance so far.”
“Hopefully this one will go as smoothly as the last. Follow Ranger’s lead and I am sure you will do fine.”
“I can’t wait to get that son of a bitch.”
“Not all felons are bad people. Some have just made bad choices and have been led into bad situations or had bad things happen to them. There are as many reasons for being a felon as there are felons. You will learn in this job to not judge. We are going after Lucas Cooper right now. He is wanted for selling drugs by cold-calling people to see if they were interested. Unfortunately for him, one of the people that he called was a police officer.”
“Who did he call?” asked Ranger.
I smiled. “Morelli.”
Ranger let out a snort. “Poor, misguided soul.”
“I don’t get it. Who is Morelli?” asked Logan.
“Morelli is a cop who works Crimes Against Persons and is a former vice cop”, I said.
“He also happens to be Stephanie’s ex-boyfriend”, said Ranger.
“Are you ready, guys? It is ten o’clock.” I walked back to my car and got the bottle of Jack from the backseat, and picked up the clipboard of signatures.
“The ribbon is a nice touch, Babe.”
“Thanks. I thought it made it look more authentic.”
The three of us walked into the apartment building. The elevator was broken. “Shit”, I said under my breath. Ranger looked like he was thinking about smiling as he started for the stairs and held the door open for Logan and myself. He took the jug of Jack away from me as I passed him. Starting up the stairs to the fifth floor, I needed to take a break by the time I got to the third. By the fourth floor I was huffing and puffing and by the fifth floor I was glad that there weren’t any more stairs. My legs felt rubbery and as if they were going to fall off.
“You okay there, Babe?” Ranger paused at the top of the stairs to give me a chance to recover.
“I’ll survive”, I wheezed out. I looked at Ranger and Logan, and neither of them were out of breath. “Show-offs. You know, it isn’t natural to not be out of breath after climbing five flights of stairs.”
“You are just out of shape, Babe”, said Logan. Ranger turned all squinty-eyed and stared at him. I also turned still.
“You are not allowed to call me ‘Babe’”, I said softly but menacingly. “Ranger is the only one who may call me Babe. You may call me Stephanie.”
“I’m sorry. I just thought that Babe was a staff nickname for you.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Oh.” He looked back and forth between Ranger’s unhappy face and my unhappy face, and the other shoe dropped. “O-o-o-oh. Gotcha. Won’t make that mistake again.”
“See that you don’t”, said Ranger.
I had sufficiently regained my breath by this point, so Ranger led me down the hall to Cooper’s apartment. I rang the doorbell and waited. I had to ring the doorbell two more times before I heard shuffling on the other side of the door. I saw an eye at the peeper, and then there was silence. I held up the bottle of Jack and waited. Finally, a middle-aged woman, looking washed out and worn down by life’s cares, answered the door. “What can I do you for?” she asked in a smoke-husky voice.
“We are here on the Jug of Jack’s promotion for Lucas Cooper. He said that he would be here between ten and eleven to receive his free bottle of Jack. Is he here right now?”
“No, he isn’t. He is out selling. He doesn’t even drink. He said that he was interested in getting a free bottle of Jack?”
“That’s what he said. He said that his old woman likes it, and he was going to get it for her.”
“Aaww. He is the best son, ever.”
“I’m sure that he is, ma’am. Do you know when he’s going to be home again?”
“No, I don’t. He left before I got up this morning, so I haven’t spoken with him today. Can I sign for it?”
“No, I’m sorry, ma’am. My instructions are that Lucas is the only person who can sign for it.”
“Oh.” Mrs. Cooper sounded deflated.
“We will come back later on today, ma’am, and will see if Lucas is home then.”
I left the apartment, Ranger still carrying the bottle, frustrated because the takedown had not occurred. I was even more frustrated as it meant that I was likely going to have to climb the stairs at least once more again. As we walked down the steps Logan opened his mouth to speak. “Not a word”, I said to him, “until we are in the privacy of our car.” We walked out to Ranger’s car and all got in, Logan playing it smart and getting in the backseat this time. I turned to the guys. “This puts a crimp in our plans.”
“But we knew this could happen, Babe. That is why we have separate teams on each capture.”
“I know. It’s just that the first one went so smoothly.”
“How do you want to handle this?”
“The only way we can. Sit here for the next hour and do surveillance. Then, if we cannot see him during that hour, I am going to have to leave you here and go to the next felon. Do you have time today to do a stakeout?” I asked Ranger.
“I do. I booked the entire day off to do captures today.”
“Okay then, thanks.” I pulled the police picture out of my bag and handed it to Ranger and Logan to review, then handed my Right to Apprehend papers to Ranger. I settled back in the seat and watched the building.