Where do I begin? Hmm. Good question. The beginning? My childhood growing up without my parents? How I went to live with my aunt and uncle and cousin after my folks died? My time in the Army? My time after the Army working for Red River Private Security? Getting married, and my wife telling me she wanted a Divorce a little over a year later?
I guess I could start at any of those points in time. Tell ya what. I'll give you a quick little overview of my life before I became an Equalizer.
What's an Equalizer, you ask? I'll get to that a bit later.
I was born in New York City, where my Mom and Dad lived at the time. I had a fairly normal first six years of life, but then it became something that I wouldn't call normal, and wouldn't wish on any child.
You see, when I was six years old, my folks died in a plane crash, so I was sent to live with my Uncle John, Aunt Naomi, and Cousin Cara out in California. Uncle John had been stationed at Ft. Irwin at the time, so that was where I went. Granted, my life wasn't normal anymore, and I did miss my parents, but Uncle John and Aunt Naomi did their best to make me feel loved. This, even as they struggled with their own grief over my parents' deaths.
John Shepard is my father's brother. He and Aunt Naomi had been married about the same time as Mom and Dad were. I vaguely remember my parents telling me that if anything happened to them, I would be living with John and Naomi, my Godparents.
At six, I barely remembered my folks. I wondered why my new Mom and Dad were my aunt and uncle, but after a while, I just accepted it. They had been really broken up over my folks dying, but always treated me like their own son. Cousin Cara became more of a sister to me than a cousin, and Naomi became Mom while John became Dad. I never questioned why John was white and Naomi was black. In fact, I think that bit of trivia contributed somewhat to my taste in women as I grew older.
My name is Declan Shepard, by the way. I've gone by Deck my whole life, though. I'm 33 years old, 6'1", weigh 205 lbs., and I keep in shape. I keep my prematurely graying black hair cut short as I did in the Army, but I've been called handsome by most ladies I've dated. My cobalt blue eyes round out my features along with a nose that has been broken in the past. Not too badly, but enough to give my face some character.
I was in my share of fights while growing up. Some were because of being the new kid in school, since Uncle John was in the Army and we moved around a lot. Some were because I was in a "salt and pepper" family, especially in the South when Uncle John was stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and we lived in Columbus.
When we moved to Santa Barbara, California after John retired, and Cara and I started High School there, we were definitely brother and sister, as far as our attitudes toward each other.
We loved and hated each other in equal measure. We were the quintessential siblings, rivalries and all. That still didn't stop me from dating some of Cara's cheerleader friends, though.
Anyhow, after High School, I joined the Army, and was sent back to Ft. Benning, where I'd spent a couple years of my life growing up. Only this time, it was for Basic and AIT. I did a four year hitch, and was sent to Afghanistan in early '02 as part of an Alpha Team under the command of Captain Drake. I saw some shit over there that I never thought could possibly exist. Weird shit. REALLY weird. You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Trust me on that.
When I reported to Ft. Jackson for Outprocessing, I was recruited while at the Bus Stop waiting for a ride to the airport. It seemed that the Red River Private Security Firm had done some checking on me, and found my skillset to be just what they needed. They were offering 5 times what I'd been making as a Sergeant (E-5) per month, so I jumped at the chance. Hell, after that six months in Afghanistan with a side trip to Israel, I figured that whatever Red River assigned me, it would be a cakewalk by comparison.
During my time with Red River, I met and married Cindy Ramirez, a gorgeous woman with nice tits and a hellacious ass. She was from Puerto Rico, originally, and her mother was black. I was smitten. She seemed to be smitten too, and after a few months of dating and a lot of hot sex, we got married.
Yep, as you can probably guess, that didn't last too long. When we had time together when I wasn't on assignment, the sex was HOT, but we didn't click on other levels.
Just over a year after our wedding, she filed for Divorce from me but asked for nothing in the settlement. She told me that she was falling in love with another guy, but wanted to do the honorable thing and get a Divorce before she went to be with him.
I was actually somewhat relieved at that. Hell, who am I kidding? I didn't love her. The sex was fuckin' awesome, but that was pretty much all we had. Marriages built on only sex don't last, folks.
So after discussing it, we had one last night of hot sex, said our goodbyes to each other, and sure enough, the Divorce went through relatively painlessly.
Sure I was going to miss the sex, but I was still young and there are plenty of fish in the sea. So I moved on, just taking a FWB every once in a while, no strings attached. Hell, let's not beat around the bush, here. I was a merc, so I was gone a lot; sometimes for months at a stretch. No sense in being married if I couldn't be around to take care of her and keep her happy. Besides, since I hadn't really been in love with Cindy, if I did find a lady that I was seriously attracted to as more than a fuck buddy, I wanted to make damn sure that she was The One for me.
I'd been with Red River for just over 4 years when my team was ordered to destroy a dam along a river in Sierra Leone, so it could be blamed on the rebels. The main problem with that Op was that there was a village downriver that would have probably been wiped out if we'd gone through with it. I refused the order, was reminded of the confidentiality agreement I'd signed, and was fired. So was the rest of my team, as none of them went through with the order, either.
It was for the best. The last year or so of my tenure there, Red River seemed to be getting into some sketchy shit, and I was a half-step out the door already when that op came down the pipe and I refused.
Contrary to popular belief, merc ... err Private Security outfits don't summarily execute those who disobey orders anymore. Not since they got "civilized." Now it's just confidentiality paperwork and lawyers. If I spouted off to the Press or the Hague, I would be sued into the poorhouse. It didn't matter if the order was of questionable legality, and it would have just been my word against theirs.
So I returned to Santa Barbara for a while. I looked for work, but couldn't find any. I was approached by several people with dubious reputations looking for muscle, but I politely turned them down. I'd had more than enough of being a thug.
My family had stopped talking to me when I told them that I was working for Red River after I left the Army. Since I got fired and told them why, we've started mending our estranged relationship. I moved down to L.A. and took a part time Bouncer job at a night club, but it was barely paying the bills. I still had a decent chunk of the money I made from Red River, but that was still dwindling slowly but steadily.
I had to get a real job, and fast.
I was sitting in The Shamrock, one Thursday afternoon when I overheard a conversation that would change my life. I'd just sat down at the bar and ordered a beer when the two guys' conversation at the table behind me drifted over to where I was sitting.
" ... but you have to help me. I need proof that my wife is putting our children in danger when she brings her boyfriend over to the house. She says that if I Divorce her, that she'll take me to the cleaners, take my children away from me, and I'll never see them again!" He somehow pleaded with the other guy without whining. That was what really caught my attention. His voice, while angry, while begging for help, had no trace of a whine anywhere in there.
I had to give myself a wry smile in the mirror. At least Cindy and I never had kids, and she didn't have a lover ... that I knew of, anyway ... while we were married. She'd been very specific that she hadn't slept with him yet. I kind of counted that as a blessing, and I had decided not to ask questions of her. I was pretty laid back about the whole thing, probably because I figured out that I didn't really love her. More like I lusted her. But now as I grew older, I did want to find a lady I could settle down with ... once I had a full time job!
I clocked them in the mirror to see who they were. The guy who was speaking was a runt of a dude. Probably 5'6" standing on his tiptoes. He was balding and wore glasses. For some reason, "ACCOUNTANT" was the first thought I came up with to describe him.
"Mr. Turner, I don't know what to tell you. If she doesn't bring her lover into the house when your children are there, and have sexual intercourse with him in front of them, there's no real legal basis for denying her custody in a Divorce. This is California, so Wives and Mothers almost always get preferential treatment as far as division of assets and custody of the children."
I guessed that he was either a P.I. or a lawyer. Probably a P.I., since he sure didn't look much like a Legal Eagle. The cheap suit and the bulge of a gun under his suit jacket gave me that impression.
"I'll pay you $50,000 to get me anything that I can use to have her declared an unfit mother!" Turner said. That piqued my interest. 50K isn't a bad chunk of change.
.... There is more of this story ...