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.
"The less you know is the less he can beat out of you", I told her. "Just let us do our job".
I contacted a private detective I knew in Dallas, and asked if he knew where I could get a drug-sniffing dog for a couple of hours. A buddy of his, a fellow P.I., had a good Shepherd who could find fly shit in pepper, and pick it out. I told him I'd let him know when I'd need the dog; probably Monday afternoon.
We continued to set up surveillance on the house over the weekend, to see if there was any pattern to Gary's coming and going. One time, when Gary left, my cell phone rang; it was Sharon.
"Danny", she said, "I think he just went to make a sale. He had a black duffel bag with him, and it looked full."
"Do you have any idea how long he's usually gone when he makes a deal?" I asked her.
"Usually a couple of hours", she said.
"I'll be right there", I said. I checked my shoulder holster, and my trusty Glock was right where it needed to be.
I walked up to the door, and Sharon opened it, inviting me in. She gave me a hug, but no kiss; behind her stood a miniature version of herself, Jenny. I picked her up, and said, "You must be Jenny". She squealed and laughed, and I set her down.
"Jenny", Sharon told her, "This is Danny, an old friend of mine, but we mustn't tell Uncle Gary that Danny came by, OK?"
"OK, Mommy", she said, scampering off.
Sharon gave me a quick tour of the house, as all I wanted to do was to get a lay of the land. I planned out where all of the cameras and bugs should be placed, pending confirmation of the drug locations by the dog. I got ready to leave, as I didn't need Gary to come home and find me there; Jenny wasn't around, so Sharon took me in her arms and gave me a kiss to end all kisses.
"Danny, I don't know how I'll ever repay you for all of this", she said.
"You're not going to", I told her. "Your peace and happiness will be payment enough". Monday morning, we set up surveillance on the house. I watched as Sharon left for work; she had no idea I was watching her. I called my buddy about the dog; he said he'd be right over. Soon, there he was, beside the van, with a German Shepherd. We waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, we watched Gary leave with a full duffel bag; I figured we'd have about two hours to sweep the place. The first thing we did was to sweep the house for bugs and cameras Gary may have placed; we found a couple of cameras, and blocked their reception temporarily. We then brought the dog in, and mapped all the locations he hit on. From his reactions, there must have been a sizeable quantity. We set up our own cameras, aimed at those locations, and a few extras; the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom. I didn't particularly want to watch Sharon fucking another man, but I wanted to be able to tape him beating her, if it happened. We bugged the phone and every room in the house.
Arnie was setting everything up in the van, so I called him on my cell.
"How's the reception?" I asked him.
"Perfect", he said. "I could pick up an ant from twenty feet".
"Great", I replied. I told Billy to wrap it up, and for us to get out of there. We got ready to leave, so I reset Gary's cameras, and armed the alarm. I had rented a small compact car for running around, and had it there too, so I left Arnie and Billy there and I went to Sharon's school.
She was just coming out when I pulled up; I told her the house was completely bugged, we knew where the drugs were, so all we had to do was to wait for Gary to fuck up. I told her to go home, and act like nothing had happened.
My cell phone rang; it was Billy.
"Danny", Billy said, "The guy just came back with three large bags. He's stashing coke in all of the hiding places."
I told Sharon to drive around for a while before she picked Jenny up and went home to give Gary a chance to hide all of his drugs. I told her to call me that evening if she had a chance, just to let me know she was all right.
"By the way", I told her, "We've got a camera in your bedroom, too, in case he tries to get fancy." She leaned out, gave me a kiss, and left.