Brand New Again, A J.J. Justice Short Story
J. J. Justice (Private residence, North Myrtle Beach Sunday night 10:35pm)
I sat in the breakfast nook drinking bitter strong coffee waiting on a Deputy U. S. Marshal to fly into Myrtle Beach and take custody of the woman. There was a .40 caliber Glock in a holster on my hip, a 12 gauge pump leaning in the corner, and Steve Eaglefeather was checking the perimeter. With Steve outside I thought I probably didn't need all the guns inside. I was wrong.
"Dorothy's not my real name," she said. "It's Jan. Jan Delrio."
Sitting across from me, she pulled up the sleeves on the light blue Henley T-shirt that matched her eyes and waited for me to make the connection. Didn't take long.
"Tony Delrio," I said. "You're from Miami?"
"Midwest, originally," she said looking into her cup. "Little town in the middle of nowhere, Kansas. I grew up slow, then not so slow after I met Tony. But, yeah we were in Miami when he got popped by the Feds. That was a wild day, I tell you." She looked up. "They found two pounds of coke in my Jaguar that Tony had stashed there and I didn’t know about. They knew it wasn’t mine but charged me with it anyway so I’d have to testify. During the trial something went wrong, the case on Tony fell apart and he walked."
"And you got a new identity," I said.
"Yeah," she said. "but they don't let you pick the names. Probably thought Dorothy was a funny name, me being from Kansas and all. Some paper pusher's idea of a joke, I hate it." She took my cup, slid out and walked to the kitchen for refills. I watched her go. Nice jeans.
"The Marshals seem to think your identity might be compromised," I said as she headed back.
"Anthony dropped by work yesterday. That's Tony Junior, but don't call him that." She slid back in across from me. There was an extra button undone on the Henley. I don't miss much. "He doesn't care too much for his father. Anthony wouldn't tell me how he found out where I was, probably hired some guy like you to find me."
She rolled her eyes, sipped her coffee. I sipped mine.
"You reported the visit, now you have to relocate."
"My Marshall will be here in the morning. They wanted me to go to a safe house with the locals but I told them I had stuff to pack, things to settle..... You can't just take off, middle of the night,’ she said. Then shook her head and changed the subject. “How'd an ex-cop turned private detective get a job like this anyway? No offense."
"I know some folks."
"Quantico," I said, then smiled. "Glenco is for wussies."
She laughed, the lines around her eyes disappeared and the magnificent creature Tony met twenty years ago shone through.
The U.S. Marshall's and Border Patrol train at Glynco, Georgia. I had trained with the FBI at Quantico, Virginia at their National Academy. Just a friendly rivalry.
"I wouldn't call my Marshall a wuss."
"Just a figure of speech, or maybe wishful thinking. I don't know. Another time, another place......."
"So, you're all packed now?" I said.
"There's nothing here I give a rat's patootie about."
I sipped the coffee, watched her pull her long brown hair behind her ear, and waited on her to get to it. Her blue eyes flashed in anger.
"I'm so tired of all this. Never being able to make friends, not being able to speak to family, always hiding and wondering when things will go sour. I just want it to be over......"
"You want him to find you," I said.
"I want to kill him," she said it and stared at me, daring me to look away.
"I got a gun," she said.
"Imagine that," I said standing and reaching for my cell phone. "Were you planning on killing the whole crew?"
Steve Eaglefeather answered on the first ring. "You all comfy in there while the downtrodden red man sits suffering in silence out here in the dark?"
"I think we've been led astray."
"Welcome to my world," Steve said. "Spill it."
"So we can expect one crime boss and a crew of, uh lets see.... looks like a crew of four to show up here anytime riding in black Suburban." Steve said.
"They're here," I said to the woman and watched terror blossom in her eyes.
Steve Eaglefeather (Outside)
"Okay, JJ. It looks like three with long guns are headed to the back," Steve said into the cell. "Two coming to the front. One with a handgun out."
"You take the three outside, I got the front."
"I'm out." Steve said and slipped out of the Avalanche dropping the phone into his vest. He ran through the neighbors yard passing the three men silently and getting into a position behind a wooden utility shed in the woman's back yard.
Steve pulled the Kimber from the holster automatically throwing the safety. He watched as the men approached the back door and the shorter of the three attached something to the wooden doorframe. They all stepped quickly away from the door, and came to within twenty feet of Steve but were facing the house.
"Blow it, Marty."
"Waiting on the word..." Marty said cell phone at his ear.
The third guy just laughed.
Steve Eaglefeather waited.
"You take the three outside. I got the front." I said.
"I'm out." Steve said.
"I want you in the upstairs bedroom," I said. "And don't come down until I say so."
"I'm sorry," she said. She ran for the stairs.
The way the house was laid out there was a hallway leading to the front door with a living room and a couple of bedrooms on either side. Kitchen where I stood was in the back. I eased up to the front door, unlocked it and then waited in the living room doorway with the shotgun.
The door splintered as the first guy shouldered his way in.
"Fire in the hole!" Marty yelled and blew the back door. They started to the house.
Steve braced himself against the side of the building using it for cover and to steady the Kimber then let out a war cry. Shocked by the sound, all three men instantly turned.
"Drop the guns, boys and live to be thugs another day," Steve said.
The one Steve thought of as Marty began to raise his gun, an AR15 shorty. Steve shot him twice in the chest and he went down hard.
"Next?" Steve said. The two left standing dropped their rifles.
As the guy stumbled through the unlocked door fifteen feet away, I aimed the 12 gauge at him.
Before I could finish, there was an explosion from the back of the house. The man brought up the gun in his right hand and I squeezed the trigger. Double ought buckshot at fifteen feet is very effective. The guy stumbled backwards into his partner and, as I racked in another round, they crumpled together on the porch.
Steve pulled the flex cuff tight on the wrist of the second guy then noticed that Marty was moaning. He rolled him over and felt the body armor under his shirt that had saved his life.
"You shot me," Marty said.
"Shut up and put your wrists together or I'll do it again," Steve said. He secured Marty and then put the flex cuffs quickly on three sets of legs.
A gun shot rang out from inside the house.
I stepped out into the hall and walked slowly toward the two men and past the gun the man had dropped.
The guy I'd shot lay motionless on top of the other. He was breathing fast and bleeding slow, a huge man, at least six three and two hundred fifty pounds. He was dressed in black jeans with a Nike sweat shirt over a ballistic vest that was too small to protect all his vitals.
I couldn't see much of the man underneath, except one hand and arm flailing about, but I could tell he was smaller. Considerably smaller. I leaned the shotgun against the side of the doorframe, pulled the Glock, and pointed it at Tony Delrio as he wiggled to get his head and right shoulder clear.
"Mr. Delrio," I said. "Keep your hand where I can see it and just lie still until the calvary arrives. Be safer for everyone."
Delrio continued to struggle. I brought the Glock up to shoulder level and sighted on his head.
"You're about three and a half pounds from eternity, Tony."
"I'll give you five thousand dollars cash, you pull this schmuck off of me, I was never here."
"You can't buy me for five thousand dollars," I said.
"Name your price."
"Two hundred million, in ones and fives," I said. "Got it on you?"
"You're a dead man," he said and started struggling again.
"Shoot him," she said. "For the love of God shoot him."
Steve circled around to the front of the house. He saw JJ pointing his Glock at two men, one on top of the other, on the porch. As he approached from the side he saw the woman step up behind Jay.
"Shoot him," she said. "For the love of God, shoot him."
"That hardly seems sporting," I said.
She stepped around me on my right and then I saw the gun in her hand. Two more steps left her standing over her trapped husband. She pointed the blue steel revolver at him, pulled the hammer back.
"Don't," I said, pointing my gun at her. She turned her head to look at me and her eyes widened.
"You'd shoot me?"
"And regret it the rest of my life."
Tears of anger and frustration brimmed in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. She seemed to deflate and then finally she lowered the gun and sobbed. I stepped up to her, took the gun out of her hand and saw Delrio squirm his left arm out from under the other man's neck. There was a gun in it.
I shoved the woman, she latched onto me, and we fell from the porch as a shot rang out.
"And regret it the rest of my life," JJ said.
The woman and JJ just stared at each other. The man on the bottom squirmed and struggled as she lowered her gun and Jay stepped in to take it.
"Gun!" Steve thought and stepped into his Weaver stance. He centered the sights dead center of the man's head.
Steve and Delrio fired at the same instant. Steve didn't hear Delrio's gun go off. Delrio never heard anything again.
J.J. Justice eight hours later
I walked with Jan out to the street where her Marshal waited. She hugged him a bit longer than I thought strictly necessary and then slipped into the front seat. He shut the door and turned to me.
"So you guys will set her up again somewhere else, new identity, new job?" I said.
"Paperwork's in the car," he said. "Shes going to be brand new again."
"I'm Justice, my friends call me JJ," I said handing him a business card. "Let me know she's OK later."
"Sure," he said touching two fingers to the brim of the Stetson. "I'm Raylan, Raylan Givens."