Bazooka 17

Ricardo walked me to the door, following me outside. I wanted to ask him a million questions, or at least some advice, but held back. Fact was I felt sick to my stomach of the whole business. Without a word Ricardo grabbed the chair the unconscious Bulldog still sat in and began wheeling him around the back of the building. A big part of me wondered what would happen to him next. I felt bad for the sucker and wanted to make sure he got his life back on track. But a little Ricardo-esc voice in the back of my head told me that’s why I could never be a good bounty hunter. I got too attached.  

In the distance police sirens could be heard. With little else to do I listened to see what direction they were going. The sirens grew louder. Unexpectedly a fleet of cars came over the hill, speeding like nobody’s business. I watched with awed interest as it seemed to be one car chased by many, the later all being the source of the cop sirens. The first was a ridiculously nice convertible, top down cash billowing out the backside. It looked like a scene from a movie and as such, as the car passed me, everything seemed to slow. Looking at the driver, wearing sunglasses and a hat with wads of cash poking out of every which way, I couldn’t help but think it.  

My God. That’s him. That is him.  

The car sped by stirring up a gust of wind that caught the man’s hat and tore it from his head. The cops flew by after. A few spare dollars floated down here and there, the hat landing at my feet, as things settled and the sirens faded into the distance. I bent down and picked up the hat. Plain, maroon, ugly. 

Crashing through Ricardo’s door I waved the cap around wildly. “Look!” I said with glee like a child. Ricardo was back behind his counter, Bulldog nowhere in sight. I ran up to the shopkeeper and waved my found item in his face. “Look! Mike just drove by!”

“What are you talking about?” He sounded annoyed the pest had returned.

“Did you hear those sirens? A bunch of cops were chasing after a car and I swear to God it was Mike.”

“How do you know?” Ricardo asked.

“Because he was driving a convertible with enough cash to buy my life in the back seat.” I said. “I just know. Like sixth-sense.”

“Uh-huh.” Ricardo snatched the hat from my hands and examined it with the utmost scrutiny. Silently I tried to settle my heart. I didn’t know what was going to happen. All I knew was Mike was in town and I had seen him. And I had his hat.

A crazy look came into Ricardo’s eyes. He whirled around and attacked one of his many filing cabinets, ripping the draws open until he found the file he searched for. It was thick, needless-to-say, as it was Mike’s. Gutting it on the counter he found a picture and held it up to the light. Catching a glance the face of the man in the car reflected back at me.”That’s him! That’s the guy!” I stabbed the picture furiously. A thought hit me. “Hold up, you have a picture of Mike? Do you know what the cops would do for that?”

“Do you know what the cops would do for this hat?” Ricardo asked, setting the picture down. “He’s here.” He whispered, seemingly in a daze. “Do you know what you have done? Do you know what this means?” Ricardo looked star-struck. “We’re back in business.”

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Bazooka 16

With much difficulty I accepted the fact a bird beat me to the punch. He sat indignantly on a chair in the corner, clearly seeing me as an insufferable burden. He cawed and I stood up as ordered. Frantically I stumbled forward and slapped my handcuffs on the unconscious criminal. Satisfied, I realized I faced a new conundrum: how to get this man to Ricardo’s shop. As an employee to Ricardo I was never to deal with the police directly, but only through him. But how? I had no means of transportation and there was no way I could carry the man even half the way. Pete cawed again. I examined the chair he perched on and sighed. It had wheels.

With much difficulty I can only hope you have enough imagination to muster the appropriate image I hauled Bulldog off the bed and onto the chair. Gasping for air I fell to the floor clutching my chest. Pete the Bird had long flown the coup. I never quit a job once I’ve started. I only get fired. So with much effort I grabbed hold of the chair’s arm rests and began pulling. Thankfully since Bulldog was confined to a wheelchair most of the time the house had been made handicap friendly, including a ramp from the front door to the driveway.

I can only guess what I looked like pushing such a man down the street. I care to not think back on it. Over a hill and through a few lawns later I wound my way back to Ricardo’s shop just as dusk crept in. Pete was there of course, as was Ricardo. “Pete’s told me everything.” He greeted me when I walked through the door. Side note: Ricardo’s shop door is absurdly narrow, so Bulldog had to wait outside.

“Like a dog.” Officer Buck said excitedly.

“Sure,” I guessed. “If you wanna look at it that way.”

“Poor little Mikey, can’t even handle a dog.” Ricardo said, picking at his nails.

“I brought him in just like you asked.”

“But what happened before?” He questioned knowingly. “How did he get to be in the state he is in?”

I didn’t want to believe some guy with skulls on his walls and herbs hanging from his ceiling could talk to a bird, but who knew? I ran my fingers through my hair, frustrated. “He’s here, isn’t he? Who cares how it happened?”

“I care.” Ricardo said. “I care when it deals with my business and who I do business with.”

“So Pete helped! I thought that’s why you sent him with me in the first place?”

“Meh, he needed the exercise.” He shrugged. “He did the job though, so I guess it’s a new bird cage for him.”

“You ─ you’re giving him the reward?” I stuttered.

“He did the job.”

“But I brought him here!” I argued for at least half the credit. The fact I was arguing my case against a bird is irrelevant and should not be held against me.

“You had one job.” The broker scolded me, massaging his temples. “It was so easy… No. You’re more like the delivery boy. No money for you.”

Bazooka 15

Bare save the TV, a nightstand, and a bed the room was dim despite the broad daylight outside, dark blue curtains being drawn. And there he lay. He was everything I thought he’d be and more. Very big and very bulldog-ish, his jowls forming something like double chins tumbling down to his collarbones. He sat up in bed, a stack of pillows at his back, and stared at the small TV screen across the room.

I cleared my throat. I cleared my frickin’ throat to get his attention. He looked over at me, seeming very confused at first. He glanced back at the TV before reaching back between the pillows, pulling out a gun. I ducked out of the doorframe and hit the floor just as bullets riddled the walls. “Hey,” I shouted as there was a pause in the firing. “You’re under arrest!”

“Kiss my ass!” He shouted back and bullets once again began flying. He had to run out of bullets eventually, which he did. Taking the pause I peeked back into the room and saw he had not moved from the bed, and then realized he was not able to due to his apparent failing health. A moment of sadness tugged at my heart. “Surrender now!” I shouted, pulling from my pockets the handcuffs Ricardo gave me. “You’ve got nowhere to run!”

“Kiss my ass!” He shouted again. “I’m not going nowhere!”

“You’re mom’s left you Greg!” I said, taking the low road. “There’s nobody left in your corner. Let me take you in and maybe─” He by then managed to reload his gun and let off another round. I fell back against the wall and scrambled for an idea. If there are classes for capturing criminals I should have taken one.

You mean the police academy?” Officer Buck looked at me.

“Or, you know, something along those lines.” I blushed.

“Listen!” I shouted. “There’s no way you’re leaving this house by yourself! You can barely walk! Let me help you,”

“Help you take me in for some reward!” Bulldog shouted. “It’s so measly no one else wants it, so they send you…” He trails off into a low, depressed chuckle.

“You’re right,” I said. “I have no idea what I’m doing. But I’m not stupid. You’re eventually going to be caught. Would you rather it be me to Annett?” I took a gamble. A huge gamble. I had no idea if this guy even knew who Annett was, but I had to try something. There was silence. No talking back, no gun fire. I’d found my niche. “Listen, your crimes aren’t too severe. You get booked, you serve your time, you’re out in a jiffy. You can get your life on track. Don’t you want your mom to come back?” More silence. Slowly I crept closer to the doorframe. “Hey man, it’s never too late─”

A flurry of silent mission flew past me and into the room. Bulldog began roaring up a storm. I quickly leaned in to see Pete the Bird mauling Greg. With a few expert pecks and blinding wings about the head the gun was dropped. Silently I congratulated by companion and readied myself to move in for the kill. Pete flew up, over, and around the man in bed before tucking his wings and dive-bombing directly into his face. Greg, or Bulldog, fell back unconscious, never knowing what hit him.

Bazooka 14

Ricardo gave me Greg’s, aka Bulldog’s, address and told me to start walking. Arriving on the other side of town in a quiet residential area I began a stakeout. “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this…” Crouching in a bundle of bushes across the street from a perfectly average house I looked as my companion preened himself with little attention paid to his charge. Peeking through the leaves I saw the front door of my occupation open and out stepped a short, stout woman dressed in a conservative blue summer dress, much like a grandma. She seemed irritated and briskly drove off in her car, spitting gravel by way of raspberry. ‘This is it.” I said to Pete the Bird. “No turning back now.” The bird cawed at me indignantly and flew away into a nearby tree. Probably to watch me struggle breaking into Greg’s house. Which I did. As stealthily as I could I tried every door and window attempting to find something unlocked. No success.

So how did you get in?” Officer Buck asked.

“I broke a window.” I said.

Wow.” He said, obviously awed.

“Yeah, it was pretty cool.” I admitted.

I didn’t tell dear old Buck it took me ten minutes and a broken mentality to finally put a rock through the glass, but we must agree it was for the best. I felt Pete’s rolling eyes on my back before he flapped through the opening, leaving me to squirm in by myself. Flopping inside like a dead fish I held my breath and listened. The only noise was an old refrigerator and a very loud TV in another room. I stood up, brushing broken pieces of glass off. Pete had disappeared again. “He’ll help you more than most men” my ass. Carefully I crept through the kitchen and down a hallway towards the obscenely loud TV.  

“So I really can’t have a gun?” I had asked Ricardo over and over.

“You shouldn’t need one.” He said. “Take him in without using a gun and you earn the right to carry one. I’m a broker, but I got morals too. Prove to me you don’t need a gun, then I know you won’t abuse it.”

Silently cursing him I reached the room the noise was coming from. I started to sweat. I hadn’t planned what was supposed to come next. Ricardo said he wouldn’t have a gun, that he’d be unarmed. I rubbed the set of handcuffs he’s given me between my fingers and thought of the nice little scenario Ricardo had laid out of me. Taking one final deep breath I rounded and doorframe and entered the bedroom.