When I graduated from a small high school in Ohio, I decided to get the hell out of that hick town and head South. I wound up in Fort Myers, Florida, and got a job with a security company. I learned quickly, setting up hidden cameras, bugs, monitoring equipment, etc. As equipment became smaller, I got good at hiding it; I became very successful, and at being specifically requested by the high-tech companies having industrial espionage problems.
After ten years, I bought the owner out, and business really took off. I branched out, doing armed and unarmed private security, bodyguard services, vehicle tracking, and more. I could literally operate anywhere in the Country; my employees licensed to carry firearms could legally carry them in any state having a reciprocity agreement with Florida.
I was making money faster than I had time to spend it, and wound up buying a condo on Marco Island; the view was breathtaking. Three sides had a view of the Gulf. The commute to Fort Myers was long, but I enjoyed the drive.
I'd been working hard, and decided, with the holidays coming up, to take some time off, and go back to Ohio for an extended visit with family and friends; I knew my staff could handle things for a while.
Right after Christmas, there was to be an impromptu 15-year class reunion at a local watering hole on New Year's Eve. I really didn't plan to go, but a couple of friends goaded me into going. I was sitting there, having a beer, when I heard a familiar voice saying, "Danny? Danny Johnson?" I spun around to see my high school sweetheart, Sharon Jones.
"Hello, Sharon; it's been a couple of years."
"Too many years", she said. "How are you doing?"
"I'm doing OK", I told her, and invited her to sit down with me. She seemed a little nervous. I explained a little about my business, without going into too much detail; a security company can't be very successful if everyone knows how it operates.
"How about you?" I asked.
"I'm a school teacher in Texas, and have a daughter, seven years old." She replied. I could still detect that nervousness in her manner.
"Sharon, what's wrong?" I asked her.
"N ... n ... nothing's wrong", she said.
"Come on, Sharon; I've always been able to read you like a book, and you know it", I told her.
"Just some personal issues", she told me. "Nothing for you to concern yourself with." As midnight approached, we were all given noisemakers and champagne. When the clock struck twelve, we all made a lot of noise, and Sharon and I kissed; it was just like old times, holding her in my arms again.
When we broke the kiss, there were tears in her eyes.
"Come on, Sharon; let's go someplace and get a cup of coffee and talk; something's bothering you, and I want to help", I told her. We left, and found a small all-night diner open.
"OK; out with it", I told her.
"Oh, Danny, I don't want to burden you with my problems", she said.
"Didn't I just tell you I wanted to help?" I asked her.
"Oh, I don't know; two failed marriages, an abusive boyfriend, Jenny-that's my daughter, and..." she said, trailing off.
"OK, start at the beginning", I told her.
"OK", she said. "After we graduated, I went to college out West, and got my degree and teaching license; I started teaching in Texas when I met Bill, my first husband. We dated for a while, were engaged, and had a big wedding, every little girl's dream. It lasted two years, and that was that. Then, I met Gary; he was the abusive boyfriend. I thought he was going to be a nice guy, wealthy and successful; but he was very controlling, and actually beat me if I didn't meet his every demand, including sick sex. After about a year, I met Frank; I was sure he was the one, and we decided to be married after a short engagement.
"I told Gary it was over, but he was way too powerful; he said it was fine if I married Frank, but that I would still 'service' him whenever he felt like a little pussy. Like an idiot, I went ahead and married Frank without telling him about Gary and his threats. After about a year, I got pregnant; I knew it was Gary's and not Frank's, but went ahead and had the baby, Jenny. Frank was wealthy, and we enrolled Jenny in the finest private school in Dallas, and lived the high life. You know me, why drink beer when you can have champagne? Anyway, Frank and I later divorced, and I got a huge settlement. The alimony and child support is far more than most people make as a salary. I got the house, and a new Lexus. I just teach because I enjoy it, not because I need the money.
"Gary called me after the divorce, and said he was moving back in with me; I told him to go to hell, but he came over and beat the shit out of me again. He scared me to death, but I didn't know any way out. I let him stay for about a month, and he beat me once too often. I threatened to call the police, but he said he knew Jenny was his kid, and he would tell Frank, and there would go the child support and education. He also said that his real business was drugs, and he had them stored in secret places in the house while I was at work; if I called the cops, he said he'd tell them I was dealing, and show them where the drugs were hidden. I'd be in prison faster than anyone could stop it. So now, you know the whole sordid story."
She started sobbing. "Oh Danny; I've fucked up my life royally, and I'm afraid I've fucked up Jenny's as well", she said.
"Not necessarily", I said. "I may be able to help you."
"How?" she asked.
"Through my company", I said. "When are you going back to Dallas?" I asked.
"Day after tomorrow", she said.
"Write down your home address, school where you teach, cell phone number, everything I'll need to contact you", I said. She did as I requested, listing all pertinent information.
"Just one more thing; does Gary carry a gun?" I asked her.
'S ... s ... sometimes, when he's hauling dope", she said.
"OK", I said. "I'll contact you in a few days when I get to Dallas", I told her. I invited her to spend the night with me, but she declined, saying she'd probably gotten me in too deep already. "Don't worry", I told her. "I can take care of myself".
We walked out into the parking lot, and I walked her to her car. I opened the door for her, and took her into my arms again, and kissed her deeply.
"Just like old times, right Danny? Me in trouble, and you my knight in shining armor?" she said.
She left, and I went back to the hotel. In the morning, after I knew a couple of my employees had a chance to sober up, I called one.
"Arnie", I said, "I need your help. I ran into an old girlfriend up here, and she's got a boatload of baggage going on at home in Dallas. Tomorrow, can you round up Billy, pack a case with a couple dozen wireless cameras, some bugs, a monitor, and recorder, and meet me in Dallas on Friday? I've checked the airlines, and we can all hook up at Southwest baggage claim at Love Field at 2:00 pm."
"Got it, Danny", he said. "What about firepower?"
"Better pack the war chest, and bring it, too. This guy's liable to be a mean SOB", I told him.
"OK; see you Friday afternoon", Arnie said.
I flew out to Dallas on Thursday to scope out the situation. The house was huge, and we'd need all the cameras and bugs I'd told Arnie to pack. I went past the school where Sharon taught, and found her car in the parking lot. I parked a distance away, in case Gary was watching her. Then, I saw her walking out toward the car. I eased the rental near her, and tapped the horn. Startled, she turned, and saw it was me.
"God, Danny; what did you do, catch the flight after mine?" she asked.
"Not quite", I told her. "I had to make arrangements for some help to come down tomorrow, with some supplies. By the way, do you have a spare key to the house?" I asked her. She took one off her ring, and gave it to me. "What about an alarm system?" I asked. She gave me the codes to arm and disarm it, and where the panel was located.
"Danny", she said, "Please be careful. Gary was really pissed I was gone as long as I was, and beat me Wednesday night". I wiped some of her makeup off, and could see the black eye.
"Mother fucker", I said. "Do you care how many pieces he's in when we're done with him?" I asked her.
"Just as long as he's out of my life for good", she said.
Friday afternoon, I went back out to Love Field to pick up the guys. I'm glad I rented a window van; with everything they packed, there'd be no room for passengers in a sedan.
"Guys", I told them, "I really appreciate your coming out on such short notice."
"Hey", Arnie said, "This girl sounds important to you. If it's that important, we're here for you, you know that."
"She's my high school sweetheart, and she's in a real fucking mess", I told them. We went back to the hotel, and I filled them in on the details.
"Let's cruise by the house and scope it out", Billy said. Good old Billy; ready to jump in and scrap it up a little.
We got in the van, and cruised by the house. Sharon's Lexus was in the driveway, as was a Mercedes wagon. I told Billy to get the plate number off the wagon; it was probably Gary's. Billy wrote down the number while Arnie shot a boatload of photos of the house. Thank God for dark tint windows. We returned to the hotel, to make plans for Monday. I went back out past the house, and the wagon was gone. I called Sharon's cell. "You OK?" I asked when she answered.
"Yeah, I'm OK", she said.
"I'm parked where I can see the house, but he can't see me if he comes back", I told her.
"What are you planning?" she asked.
.... There is more of this story ...