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The Shroud. Dale FowlerЧитать онлайн.
Slick Rollie has several P.I.’s going after bail jumpers but likes Jim the best. Some is performance, Jim has no fear of going after anybody regardless of who they are or where the target may be hiding. Some is their friendship derived from like-personalities, resembling a sarcastic snake coiled in the grass ready to bite with little provocation. Jim is the son Slick never had and gave him a job when he first showed up on his doorstep after getting out of the juvi-home. Rollie has poured a great deal more than money and effort into Jim’s training; he’s extended his feelings into the relationship. That coming from a man most say has no feelings for anything but money.
Rollie learned the hard way to hedge his bets when laying out cash on the desperate and less-than-honest crowd he deals with. He cultivated a relationship with a FBI logistics specialist having access to the deepest secrets within the Bureau computer network. Rollie can extract information around the world by making a phone call on any soul foolish enough to run on the bond deal cut with Slick. This information cost $5000 a month in 20 dollar bills delivered to a safe deposit box shared with the FBI staffer. The investment pays back tenfold and is obviously an illegal activity, but the centerpiece of his success.
After thirty plus years in the business he leaves nothing to chance and will go old school when needed. A strong network of street informants is also utilized. They come into the shop to barter their pawned items to feed drug habits and get paid to keep eyes peeled for crooks trying to hide from the law and Slick Rollie’s posse.
Times have changed for many in the Private Investigator’s role. P.I.’s used to do much of the footwork to track someone down. It’s not that Jim couldn’t do the tracking; but his time is much better utilized when Slick fills in all the blanks and he goes after the bond jumping fugitive.
Jim arrives on-time, a rare mergence of worrying about the ladder outside his bedroom wall and anxiousness concerning a bail-jumping Samoan named William Aleki. Slick’s nephew, Conrad Franks, is going along to get his feet wet in the business. Conrad graduated from college two years ago but can’t find a thing paying more than minimum wage. Jim calls him ‘Kid’ because he’s been hanging around the Pawnshop most of the last three summers trying to earn a few bucks working for his uncle. Despite being only a few years older than Conrad, Jim is light years ahead in life experiences.
As Jim walks through the front door and approaches a glass case filled with weapons of all descriptions, a man’s voice screams in no uncertain terms.
“Drop your weapon.” The voice demands.
Jim turns rapidly and pulls his .40 cal pistol instinctively pointing it toward the voice.
A second demand meets Jim head-on. “Drop it now, mister.”
Jim scans the room in a semi-circle, pistol drawn but no one meets his stare. He sensed immediate trouble walking into the Pawnshop, usually two staff members are up front at all times but not today. All the weapons and jewelry present in the store makes a large scale robbery a likely event, and Jim is convinced he’s walked in on one.
He starts backing up to the front entrance when Rollie and several employees emerge from a door to the adjoining firing range laughing at Jim’s misconception. Jim knows he’s been had and holsters his weapon. The voice repeats but has lost its intimidation. “Drop your weapon.”
Rollie walks up to Jim and slaps him on the shoulder.
“See you’ve heard my newest pawn.” Rollie brags painting a large smile on his face.
“Who the hell is yelling at me?” Jim inquires ready to clear up the mystery and stop being the blunt of the joke although he had to admit being completely fooled.
Conrad answers the question. “Uncle Rollie picked up a parrot that’s driving us nuts...you fell for it like everyone else.” “Speak for yourself,” Rollie inserts. “I love my African Grey, full of character. Damn sure has brightened up this place, wouldn’t you agree, Jim?”
Jim, having not seen the bird yet, has to concede. “If laughter is the judging point, I agree. Where’s this African bird?
I have a well placed bullet introduction to make.”
Rollie points to a hip-high cage setting in the corner and the African Grey named ‘Drug Lord’ cocks his head to one side taking in all the attention being thrown in his direction. The bird, as if being directed, shouts out “Drug Lord” and moves around his perch expecting a reaction. They all did, laughing at the bird’s ability to repeat certain words and phrases picked up at his previous home.
A customer walks in and Drug Lord loudly shouts his trademark verse. “Drop your weapon.”
The man’s voice being mimicked came across so acutely the customer raises his hands to surrender, looks around, and backs out the door. Even Jim, knowing the voice came from Drug Lord, flinches a reflex reaching for his weapon.
Jim gives the bird his due. “I have to admit, this is the perfect place for a bird named ‘Drug Lord’ to spew his police jargon on unsuspecting customers that may pull out a weapon and open fire. Where the hell did you get such a talent?”
Rollie is beside himself with his new toy. “Do you remember a small-time hood named Tim Puckett?”
“Yeah,” Jim responds. “Didn’t he end up in the trunk of a car in Mexico?
“That’s the man,” Rollie confirms. “His ex-wife brought the bird in yesterday, thought I might have an interest. Drug Lord starts shouting all kinds of cool things, had to have him.
“What else does the damn bird say?” Jim asks in amazement.
Rollie can’t resist the invitation. “First of all, he mimics all kinds of noises. A siren on a police car, he can even sound like a telephone ringing.”
Conrad quickly jumps in. “Yesterday I was working the front desk...twice he got me to pick up the phone without a call.”
Jim walks to the bird and leans over the cage. Drug Lord looks up but doesn’t say anything. Jim is starting to admire such an entertaining and smart pet, something he didn’t have in Winston.
“Cool bird, you Drug Lord,” Jim confirms and walks back to Rollie. “Let’s talk some business.”
Conrad, Jim and Rollie retreat to a private office and Slick pulls out a file on William Aleki.
Rollie puts his glasses on and starts pulling out several pages of information including a photo he passes over to Jim and Conrad.
“The Samoan jumped on a $30,000 bail,” Rollie lays out. “He was arrested for cocaine possession...resisting arrest.”
“Did this guy play D-tackle at USC?” Jim asks.
“Nope,” Rollie informs. “That’s his brother. About the same size though.”
“How big is he?” Conrad is facing the reality his first job won’t be an easy one.
“Really big.” Slick Rollie emphasizes looking over the top of his glasses.
“Not a problem,” Jim brushes off the big reference. “Where’s he hiding out?”
Rollie looks back at the notes in the file. “He’s staying at a complex on the East side, Hudson Apartments. I have a reliable source, says he’s living with a black woman name Justine Wilcox, apartment 354.”
“How reliable is the source?” Jim questions.
“Very reliable, my source lives in the same complex, knows III Will from a gang he used to sell drugs to.” Rollie asserts.
“Ill Will, how did he earn that name?” Conrad keeps falling deeper into the pool of doubt.
Jim smiles at Conrad’s timid personality. “All these gang members have street names making them look bad-ass,” he contends. “We’ll get the large man ....bring him in.”
Rollie hands them a file on Aleki. “My informant gets his fifty inch TV back if we get