I sat in the car for a few minutes, enjoying the sane peacefulness as I texted Ranger. “Another three completed. Will be back at the office within the half hour.” I then sent a text to Morelli. “Promised you I would tell you how the day was going. Caught six skips so far, and only two have tried to escape. We caught them. Have two more to try to capture this evening. The Jug of Jack’s promotion has worked well. Overall, the skips’ main concern has been whether I will still leave the bottle for them once they realize that I am not really representing the Jack Daniel’s company. This has been so successful I may use this stunt again some time.” By the time I had finished typing my message to Morelli I had a response from Ranger. “Congrats. See you soon.” I waited a couple more minutes, and got a response from Morelli. “Good work. Always knew you were smart. If you can, give me a call later or tomorrow to tell me all about your day.” I wrote back “Sure thing. It will be tomorrow. Ranger and I are going out for a late dinner to celebrate after we bring the last skip in.”
“Everything okay?” asked Ranger when I entered the office.
“Yes, why wouldn’t it be?”
“Judging from when you sent the last text, I was expecting you here a little bit ago.”
“I texted a bit with Morelli before I left Mila Madison’s place. I promised him the other day that I was going to let him know how it was going, and I just remembered my promise before I left. So I texted him right away before I forgot again.”
“How is Morelli?”
“Okay, I guess. I didn’t ask. He asked me to call him tonight or tomorrow to tell him about it in person. I told him that it would have to be tomorrow because we are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate.”
“How did he take that?”
“That’s what I was waiting around a few minutes to see, but he didn’t text me back. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I need to at least hint to him what is going on so that he doesn’t find out from someone else. Trenton is a small enough place that it isn’t inconceivable that someone is going to recognize us now that we are going out and about, and that they will tell Morelli. It is only fair that he knows first.”
“I agree. Why don’t we walk down to the break room and pick out a snack to put us on until dinner?” We walked down together, stopping briefly at my office so that I could strap on my gun and deposit my purse in my drawer. I turned on the computer as I left the room.
I poured myself a coffee and doctored it with cream. I took a sip and sighed with pleasure. Ranger started to laugh. “Hey, I haven’t had a coffee since lunch. My blood caffeine levels are seriously dropping. It was getting critical.”
“What happens when your coffee intake drops?” asked Ranger.
“That’s easy. I fall asleep.”
“Is that why Ella reported a huge increase in the quantity of coffee that we go through since you started with the company? It all makes sense now”, Ranger teased. I picked up a container of mixed raw vegetables and dip with container of sliced cheese and crackers. Ranger picked up a bag of mixed nuts and a container of raw veggies as well. He poured himself a coffee and followed me down to his office. I sat down at his conference table and pulled out my phone as it pinged. I read the text message from Morelli “does this mean that you and Ranger are a thing?”
“I don’t know how to respond to this”, I said.
“Tell him the truth. He is a big boy, and it has been a few weeks now. If it were me, I would want to know.”
I thought for a minute, then nodded my head. I would want to know as well. I typed in the message “We are something, but I don’t know if we are a thing.” I put my phone down on the table.
“Tell me how this afternoon went. I heard from Tank that the iguana testicle guy thought he had magical powers from drinking the powder.”
“Yeah. I tried to find out how it all worked, since Tank had been interested earlier and, if truth be told, I was interested as well. The guy seemed a little fuzzy on the details, though. He said that ingesting the powder will make you more manly and, when I commented that it would be ideal for women who wanted a sex change but could not afford the operation, he didn’t seem to know whether that would work.” Ranger started laughing. “What? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate test about its manliness enhancing properties? It’s not like I asked him whether the woman would grow a penis. I just asked him whether a woman would start to grow a beard or would develop chest hair.”
“Is that a sign of manliness to you? A beard and chest hair? Perhaps I should stop shaving.”
“No, you are perfect the way you are. No one in their right mind would ever question your manliness.” Ranger just grinned at me. “The next skip was a sad case. That was the domestic disbute, where the woman was charged with assaulting her husband. They had a little baby, not very old – maybe four months? I don’t know. I am not very good with babies.”
“That’s not what I heard. I heard you have the magic touch.”
“I don’t know about that. I just copied what I had seen Val do when she had little Lisa. Lisa had colic and cried a lot, so I had plenty of first-hand experience of seeing how Val soothed the baby. The funny part was that Olivia, the mother that we were taking in, needed to feed little Junior before she left. She whipped out her breast and started to feed the baby. Eduardo and Miguel didn’t know where to look. They certainly didn’t look at Olivia and just being in the room at the same time made them blush. Their reactions were pretty funny and Olivia knew that they were uncomfortable. She purposely didn’t cover up and she was struggling not to laugh every time she looked at their faces.”
“I might have been equally as uncomfortable as them.”
“Really? Why? It is just a piece of flesh. You see more exposed when you go to a topless beach.”
“Yes, but there is something wildly erotic about seeing a woman feed her child.”
“I don’t know.” Ranger’s eyes darkened and his voice deepened. “Seeing your child’s lips locked around your woman’s breast, knowing your child is taking sustenance like you have taken sustenance so many times in the past, knowing that you and your woman made that child. It is a very earthy sense of eroticism.”
Oh, boy. Even I was getting turned on by the visual he was creating. “Is that what you experienced with Rachel and Julie?”
“No, with Julie I was there for the birth but when she was one month old I was sent on a twelve month deployment which was then extended another three months, and I missed the rest of her first year. Rachel and I tried at first but, by the time my deployment was extended we knew we weren’t going to make it. Too much time had passed without seeing each other, and I found that I didn’t really miss her and she didn’t miss me. I didn’t really miss Julie either. I didn’t know her, other than remembering her as a little bundle. I still find it hard with her. Rachel is good about continually emailing pictures to me, and sending me messages about how Julie is doing both in school and personally. But I don’t really feel like I have a connection with her though, and I don’t spend enough time with her to develop one.”
“That’s sad. You are such an amazing person she is missing out on a lot in not knowing you.”
“Thank you. But she has an amazing set of parents now, and I am a bit superfluous. I do right by her, and send presents and regular support payments. But emotionally? She doesn’t need me.” He paused to take a bit of raw carrot. “So tell me about the last skip.”
“The last skip was the DUI that was arrested when she was taking her driving test. She was so drunk when she was picked up today that she could not find the front door when I rang the doorbell. She didn’t have a clue what was going on. Again, she was more concerned about whether we were going to leave the bottle at her place than she was about being captured. That was what I was finding across the board today. The skips, or their loved ones, were generally more interested in the provision of alcohol then they were about being taken into the station again.”
I did an hour of work before walking into the control room to meet up with Hector and Jose. I was pleased to note that Hector had applied cover-up to his tattoo kill marks under his eye. That would make the capture go more smoothly, I thought. Without the cover-up, Hector looked downright scary. With the cover-up, he looked kind of cute. After seeing Ranger’s reaction to being called cute, I decided not to tell Hector that.
I introduced myself to Jose. I had not worked with him in the past before, even though he had been working at Rangeman for a few months now. He had always been working patrol and had not been in the office working on the monitoring desk since he had been trained. Since he had been trained before I started with Rangeman, I had heard about him but had not personally met him.
“The person we are going after is Jonathan Jones. He is wanted for perjury. His friend was arrested for rape and, when he needed an alibi, Jonathan provided one. Fortunately, the lie was discovered and Jonathan’s friend was found guilty of rape, and Jonathan was charged with perjury.”
We drove to Hamilton Township and found the street where Jones lived, me in my car and the Rangeman crew in a fleet car. Getting there, I took a bottle of Jack’s out of the trunk and my trusty clipboard. Hector and Jose got out of their car, and stood waiting at the end of the driveway for me to pull all my parts together.
We walked up the driveway together, me in the front and the Rangeman team behind and to each side of me. I think Ranger forgot to tell them that this wasn’t a protection detail.
I rang the doorbell and waited. Jonathan came to the door, a huge smile on his face. “I have to say,” he said, “that you’ve made my day. I had a terrible day at work and I knew that the Jug of Jack promotional bottle was coming this evening, and that made it all better.”
“Glad we could be of help. Now, we need to see some picture ID, I need you to sign this sheet, and then we can give the bottle to you.”
Jonathan enthusiastically got out his wallet and extracted his driver’s licence. “Will this do?”
“Yes, thank you.” I checked his identification and wrote down his driver’s licence number, then had him sign the form. As he excitedly reached for the bottle, Hector snapped cuffs around Jonathan’s wrist.
“What is this?” he cried, confused and angry.
“Bond enforcement. You failed to appear in court so we are taking you into the precinct to reschedule your date.”
“This isn’t fair. You lied to me.”
“I didn’t lie much. I am going to leave you the bottle of Jack. I just lied about the fact that we were working for the Jack Daniel’s corporation. Otherwise, it was all the same. We are doing a Jug of Jack promotion. We are leaving you your free bottle of Jack. We are just taking you into the precinct first, before you get a chance to drink any of it. You will still have it to come home to when you get out.”
“I knew my day was rotten. I guess my luck hasn’t changed.”
“Hey, it was only a little white lie for us. It’s not like the whopper you told that got your buddy off of his rape charges for a while. If you are upset with us for capturing you and making you do what you promised to do, can you imagine how that girl felt after she was raped by your friend and then your friend had a false alibi given? It would have made her feel pretty terrible.”
“It wasn’t supposed to be a big thing. My friend came to me and told me that he had been framed but that he needed an alibi. Like an idiot, I gave him one and when everything started going down I felt trapped, like I could not get out of the lie. It all blew up in my face.”
“For the record, you always have options and being honest and responsible are usually the best options to follow.” Hector slapped on the other cuff.
“This isn’t fair. It was a crime of circumstance.”
“Tell that to the judge when you see him or her. In my book, you always have a choice. You may not like that choice, but doing what is good and right are not always the easiest things to do. Do what is good and right now. You have missed your court date and are going to be rescheduled. Do yourself a favour. Show up for your next court date.”
I got his keys and walked through the house, closing and locking all the windows, turning off the oven and putting the half-cooked food in the refrigerator, and putting the bottle of Jack on the kitchen counter. There was a cat in the house, and I made sure the cat had plenty of water and access to its litter box. After asking Jonathan, I found out the cat had already been fed. Then, locking the door after ourselves, I walked with the men down to the Rangeman vehicle, gave them the apprehension papers, and sent them on their way. Getting in my car, I sent a text to Ranger. “Capture went smoothly. Just leaving Hamilton Township now. Will text you when I get to the office so you can meet me in the parking garage.”