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The Pea Eye

 

 

 

THE PEA EYE

 

by

G. Howard Poteet

 

 

 

Published by

G. Howard Poteet on Shakespir

 

THE PEA EYE

Copyright © 2016 by G. Howard Poteet

 

All rights Reserved. This book may not be reproduced, scanned. or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author, except for brief quotations embodied in reviews. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. All characters and storylines are the property of the author and your support and respect are appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events, or locales are purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

When I graduated from Humboldt County Community College as a Pea Eye, I had no idea that on the first day on the job, I would become a top security undercover operator for the Federal Government and be privileged to carry an official ballpoint pen as a sign of my authority.

Well, sir, the day after Doctor Wilma Jean Daugherty, Academic Dean of the of the aforesaid HCCC hands me my diploma with my A. A. in Criminal Justice degree – the very next day, I caught me the Greyhound bus to New York City. My Momma and Mavis and Travis, the couple next door to us in The Economy Trailer Park, they all waved “bye” as my bus pulled out the parkin’ lot of Snuffy’s Sunoco Service Station onto State Route 221. As you can imagine, there isn’t much call for a Private Investigator back home in Rumble Hollow, Kentucky, so ever body understood when I decided to get me a job as a Pea Eye in The Big Apple so I could start nailin’ them hoodlums which are my life’s ambition. I thought about it the whole ride, which took forever and a day.

Well, OK, then, after we finally pulled into what they call The Poor Authority Bus Terminal, I went right out on their 8th Avenue to look for a place to stay. The racket outside was somethin’ fierce what with all them vehicles and all. It put me in mind of that there big auto race them fellers run up at Indianapolis ever year.

All right. As luck would have it, who do I run into outside The Poor Authority Bus Terminal but a nice, polite gentleman just standing’ around on the sidewalk drinkin’ out of a paper sack.

“Sir. Sir. Welcome to New York City, Sir, “ he shouts. “May I please help you with your suitcase, Sir?”

“No, thank you kindly. I just looking’ for a hotel.”

“Hotel? Why, Sir, this is your lucky day. I just happens to be a big-time real estate man, myself. Why, me and Donald Trump are just like that.”

“Donald Trunk?”

“Trump. He a real estate magnet, but it don’t matter none. Me bein’ in the business and all, I can get you a special deal on a hotel room for a small $20 Real Estate Finder’s Fee.”

“$20?” I go. “I didn’t know you had to pay money just to find you a room.”

“Oh, yes sir, in New York, you do. It is the law. If it was just up to me, I’d do it for free but them government real estate regulations, they won’t let me.”

“I thought you just goes in a hotel and tells ‘em you be wantin’ a room and that’s that.”

“Oh, no sir, it don’t work that way in New York City. Them hotels won’t even rent you no room at all unlessen one of us real estate peoples gives them the OK. And I only charges $20 when some of them wants $30 or $40.”

“Well, OK, then,” I say to him. “But, find me something’ cheap. I am not a rich man.”

“You ain’t? Why, sir, you sure looks like you is. Well, that’s the way it bees sometimes.”

Maurice, which he said were his name, he took me over to this here Regal Budget Residential Hotel which were only about six or eight blocks away for that are the way they measures distances up year. It turn out that even there they literally wanted an arm and a leg, but Maurice, he said that if they hadn’t seen he was with me, I would of probably paid three or four times as much.

Then, he seen these two guys comin’, and he put a small plastic bag in my hand and said to hold it for him and he would pick it up later and explain and took off. The bag look like she held some kind of grass seed and leaves and I figured he was planting a lawn in his real estate business. So I said OK and put it in my pocket. I were sure glad I were lucky enough to run into Maurice because they is a lot of scam artists about as we call them in the Pea Eye profession, and I could of been took for my room money.

Anyways, when I carried my stuff up to my new place, I found that it ain’t got room enough to swing a cat in. So, I come back down to the lobby where I got to talkin’ with a wrinkled old geezer what lives here name of Spencer. He tells me that’s how big the rooms is in The Big Apple.

Then, he tells me, “You better put your money in your shoe, Bud. And keep it there so long as you are in town. You don’t know what you might run into.”

“I appreciate your advisement,” I say, “but since I are a graduate of Humboldt County Community College with an A. A. degree in Criminal Justice which means I’m a Trained Pea Eye, I are as street-wise as they come.”

“Well, OK, then,” he says. “But, put your money in your shoe, anyways.” Which I did.

Then, since I were starvin’ for some vittles, I give a look outside, and I seen by chance The Manhattan Chow Palace across the street, and I go over there although that took some doing’ because 33rd Street were busier than Interstate 75 back home.

I set myself down and some feller in a white coat come up to me and says, he says to me, “Hi. I’m Chad and I’ll be your waiter today.”

“Well, how do,” says I, reachin’ out and shakin’ his hand. “I’m Delbert Clanton and I’ll be your customer today. I ain’t never been served by no male waitress before.”

Well, Chad, he look kind of startled but then he busted out laughin’ although I don’t know why. I figure he must of been a good-natured feller because he brings over a couple of other fellers and gives me their names so I can shake hands and introduce myself to them, too. Pretty soon, they was all laughin’ and jokin’ and havin’ themselves a good time until the boss come out and yells at them and everybody goes back to work.

So, I had myself their Famous Chow Palace Salisbury Steak though it didn’t seem like nothin’ more than what they call The Hamburger Big Plate Special at the Blue Pig Diner out on Interstate Route 75 back home. Except it cost pretty-near three times as much.

OK, then. When I finished feedin’ my face, I goes over and says, “Goodbye, Chad” to Chad and I tell him, “Say goodbye to all them other fellers, too.” He couldn’t stop laughin’ because he is so good-natured.

Well, anyway, I see that there is the Four Aces Detective Agency on the other side of the street. So, I give a run across the street and go upstairs to find me a job. Since I know the Pea Eye business in and out, I expected to find me some gorgeous secretary named Velma or Effie a-settin’ behind the receptionist’s desk, but instead, they were just this sweatin’ middle-aged fat guy name of Herman.

At this point, you are probably asking’ how on earth did I know his name since he didn’t give it to me like Chad did at the Manhattan Chow Palace. In school, they learned me, as a Pea Eye, how to see a lot more than you civilians do. So, that’s how come I seen his name is on this little wood thing on his desk: Herman O. Smith. I took my diploma out of its cardboard envelope and shoved it towards him.

Herman was so impressed that he gives out a shout for this bird on the other side of the partition to come over, and they both give her a look. They was sociable fellows who was took to laughin’ a lot and mutterin’ stuff to each other. I didn’t say nothin’ and just sat there a-fillin’ out my Official Application for Employment they give me.

“I know, I know,” Herman goes to this other feller, “but, we can have him fill in tonight for Snyder.” Then, he turns to me and goes, “OK, now, Mr. Delbert Clanton, can you go to work tonight?”

“Affirmative,” I says, usin’ cop talk to let him know that I am what they call in the security business a real pro. “Please be advised I hereby request to be issued my gun and badge, Chief.”

“He wants a gun and badge, Archie,” Herman says to his co-worker who liked to split his sides, laughin’ himself silly just like he were an opium fiend or somethin’. Then, Archie, he says, ”Why, sure, Herman. Why don’t you give him one of them assault rifles so he can clear all the scum off the city streets?”

Herman, well, he just chuckles and says to me. “Shoot, we all out of assault weapons right now. But, can you fill in tonight for one of our 3rd shift fellows what got sick? We’ll find something else for you for tomorrow. We got something opening up as an undercover man watching out for shoplifters at this here store and we can put you on there.”

He give me the name of the store but since I am goin’ undercover there, I don’t think I better give her out here.

Then, he hands me this here yellow pamphlet titled How to Conduct Effective Security. “Just you read this here, Herbert. You don’t mind if I call you Herbert, do you?”

I go, “Well, I guess you can since I’m going undercover. My real name is Delbert, but you the Chief, Chief. I would like to be called Officer Delbert or Officer Clanton by them that ain’t my boss. Or don’t know I am undercover.”

“You aren’t undercover tonight, Delbert. Archie is going to give you a uniform. And we use first names around here because we are friendly, Delbert. On the job you have to earn your respect and so some places they call our men by their first name and other places they call them Officer. You’ll see,”

“Affirmative, Chief,” say I.

“C’mon here, Delbert and we’ll get you set up with a uniform,” said Archie. He asked me my sizes and he give me a hat, a shirt and tie and a pair of pants.

Then Herman says, “ Now, Delbert, you read that there pamphlet and it will explain your job and our company and such things as paydays, and the pay-scale and so forth. You will report to the first floor in this here building. See the address here? It’s 2 blocks up from here on the same side of the street. OK? The man on second shift there will show you the ropes. Remember, you start tonight at 11 o’clock PM.”

Well, OK, I knows he meant to say 2300 hours, instead of givin’ me civilian time, but, I didn’t say nothin’ about it. I just went, “I copy, Chief. Now, how’s about my badge?”

“A badge,” he goes as he rummages around in this desk drawer, and he pulls out this here tin badge and hands her to me. “Here.” Immediately, I pin her on my shirt right over my chest pocket.

“Whoa,” he says. “Hold on there, uh, Delbert. You aren’t authorized to wear that when you aren’t on the job.”

“Affirmative. That’s a 10-4, Chief” I says, again givin’ him some more of my extensive knowledge of law enforcement lingo which HCCC learned me.

OK, then. Next, I exited the premises. The point in time bein’ August, I were sweatin’ bullets, so, carrying my uniform, I goes back to the hotel lobby where the air condition is on. When I get near to the entrance of the hotel what do I see, but these punks, drunk this early in the day, who was blockin’ the sidewalk so that your ordinary civilians had to dodge around them. It are times like this that I wish I were packin’, which for you civilians means carryin’ a weapon, which we lawmen sometimes call a rod or heat. That’s inside stuff, but I tell you that for your own protection. Anyhow, lemme tell you, I sure felt like whipping out my badge and threatenin’ to run them in. But, I didn’t need to do that because this black-and-white just happens to roll by, and the punks let me go past. Which made my day.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

Well, sir, as I come in the hotel, who do I see sitting in the lobby but Maurice? He says right off, “Do you have my stuff?”

So, I reach in my pocket and give him the little bag of grass leaves and seeds.

“What is that stuff?” I asked him.

“That’s, well, that’s my medicine,” he says. “Special organic medicine.”

Then, I show him my badge and uniform and tell him about my new job as a lawman and where I start work tonight and his eyes light up and he goes, ”That sure enough good news.”

Then, he tells me that he has a top secret to tell me. I tell him, shoot.

He say, ”Ok then, since you yourself are in law enforcement and all, I guess I can tell you. Don’t you tell nobody, but I’m an undercover man. I’m with the government.”

“Why I thought you said that you was in the real estate business.”

“Yeah, well, that’s my cover. And check this out. Theys sent me out on a job tonight right where you work. As a special favor to you, I’m going to let you help me.”

But I weren’t born yesterday. “Lemme see your badge,” I say.

“Delbert. Don’t you trust me? I wouldn’t lie to you. It’s like this. We such top secret they don’t give us no badges. What they give us is . . . here,” he says and shoves what looks like your ordinary ballpoint pen at me.

“Why this looks like an ordinary ball point pen. It just say Biltmore Insurance Company on it.”

“Right. You got it right away. When we sees a brother with one of them pens, well, we knows theys working for the government, and we just gives them the high sign. No badges for us. No sir. It be too dangerous if the bad guys see our badges.”

Well, then. I go up to my room and change into my uniform. Shoot, I just can’t stop peepin’ in the mirror because I know I look pretty sharp.

Back downstairs, Maurice tell me I look pretty sharp and just like a real policeman. Then, he ask me to get us some sandwiches from the machine in the lobby. Maurice say he will pay me back tomorrow. By this time, it were getting late, and, so, we walked over to the job site. “What you got there?” I ask.

“Now, You are under strict government orders not to tell anyone I was in the building. Shoot, the security of the country may depend on your keeping your mouth shut.”

“I say to him. “ Ain’t I ought to have a pen, too?”

“A pen?” he asks.

“Yeah, a ball point pen like you has. If I goin’ to be workin’ for the federal government, I ought to be able to give other agents the high sign.”

“Oh, right. Sure,” and he hands me the very pen he had been carrying.

“But, that’s yourn,” I go.

“Don’t worry about it. They will give me another.”

“Well what’s the high sign?”

“Oh, that,” he says. Well. That’s where the pen comes in. You just click it like this. Then the other fellow will click his pen, too.”

“OK,” I said, and tested it out.

“You got it,” said Maurice. “I’ll come back after everybody but you leaves because the government won’t allow me to be seen entering the premises.”

So, I go in, and this old geezer name of Johnson is the only person there at a desk near the door, and I show him the note from the agency. He already knows that the other guy Snyder isn’t coming in. And he sees I am wearing the company’s uniform, which is brand new, not like his old wrinkled and stained outfit.

I go, “Herman said you would show me the ropes.”

“Ropes,” he says. “There are no ropes to show you. They just want a warm body sitting here. All you have to do to do is not to let anybody in. And, look like you’re awake.”

Then he hands me the keys and takes off, and I lock the front door.

In a while, Maurice shows up and I tried to unlock the street door, but I couldn’t get the lock to work. The key wouldn’t budge. I tried everything while Maurice was getting edgy and looking up and down the street and jiggle in’ the door handle. Finally, he waves his hand and points to his watch as if to show me he will go away and come back later. He then starts walking up the street.

Well, sir, he warn’t more than halfway up the street when these two guys that was in the hotel earlier in the day come out of nowhere. Maurice, he seen them and he run. I just stood there and watched with my face pressed against the glass. They catched him down near the corner, cuffed him, and a black-and-white comes screeching to a halt and they pushed him inside.

I go back in to to my desk and pulled out my pen. Because of what they learned me at HCCC, I knowed right off what to do. The phone number to call was right there on the pen. I didn’t call on my desk phone. Instead put the money in the pay phone where my call wouldn’t be traced and dialed.

It turned out that there was an answering machine on the other end, which goes, “This is The Biltmore Insurance Company. Our offices are closed for the day, but your call is important to us. Please leave a message at the beep.”

Since it said it were The Biltmore Insurance Company and to leave a message, I feel easier. That’s their cover. So, I leave a message, “Hello. This here’s Delbert and Maurice has been captured. He give me the ID pen.” I give the time and then hung up.

Absent-mindedly, I click the pen and she come apart in my hands. Saboteurs, I think.

Then, since there was nothing more I could do, I just pretty much sat there until the clock rolled round to quitting time, and the first-shift man came on.

“Where’s Snyder?” he asked.

“If you mean the guy who’s the regular, he was off last night and I filled in for him,” I replied.

“OK,” he said.

I went back to my room and went to sleep.

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

It were pretty near 1 PM when the phone ringing woke me up. I thought it must be The Biltmore Insurance Company with information about Maurice. But it were Herman on the phone. It were noisy in the backgrounds so’s I could hardly hear him. “Delbert,” he said. Are you there? Quick. Get dressed in your uniform. Look as neat as you can, and get down here as quickly as possible. At once. It’s very urgent.”

“But I ain’t et yet.”

“Well, uh, we’ll buy you lunch or whatever here. Get here quick.” and he hung up.

“Just a minute, till I get my pants on,” I said, but he already hung up the phone.

I dressed as fast as I could and hurried down the street. I was surprised to see all the action in front of The Four Aces Detective Agency. There were vans and cars all over the place some marked Network News and The Daily Press and so forth. I got to wondering what had happened, what was going on.

“Here he comes,” shouted somebody.

“Is that him?”

I moved through the crowd and opened the door.

When I went in the door, several people pushed their way inside with me. I wondered if they were the bad guys that Maurice had warned me about.

“Are you Herbert Clanton?” said one fellow wearing a straw hat.

“Delbert Clanton,” I said.

“Where’s Herbert?”

“Ain’t no Herbert. Well, except my cousin, but he’s in the army. At Fort Bragg.”

“Don’t give us no phony aliases. You the guy we want. The security guard.”

“He’s the guy,” shouted Herman.

They all started asking me questions at once.

“What they want,” goes Herman, still shouting because it were so noisy in there. “They want to know about how you helped them capture that fellow Maurice Odom, who is a fugitive, a bail jumper from Newark.”

“I helped the police?”

“Now, don’t be modest,” goes Herman. “The police said Odom was trying to get in the building but you kept him out by delaying him and distracting him and giving them enough time to capture him.”

“What do you have to say about what you accomplished?” said a bright-eyed young woman

“It warn’t nothin’,” I said.

“Well” said Herman, now standing next to me. “He means to say that it wasn’t anything any of our security guards couldn’t do. He is trying to say that he received superior training from The Four Aces Detective Agency which enabled him to assist the policemen in doing their job in catching this hoodlum.”

“Thank you,” said the young woman.

“Anything else, you would like to add, Albert?” asked another reporter, this time a man, I think.

“My name is Delbert. Let me set the record straight about who learned me to be a law man. I earned an A. A. degree in Criminal Science from Humboldt County Community College.”

A skimpily clad young blonde and a rumpled TV camera man moved in close to me. She started right off:

“This is Felicia Fenwick from Channel 2 Action News Network 24/7. Tell me and our viewers, “How does it make you feel to have assisted the police in capturing this wanted fugitive from justice?”

“It’s OK,” I answered.

“As Felicia Fenwick, award-winning television reporter, I would like to ask for my viewers: How do you feel deep down inside being regarded as a hero by your friends and colleagues for what you did last night?”

“It’s OK,” I answered.

“For our viewers out there in TV Land, this is Inquiring Reporter Felicia Fenwick inquiring as to what your feelings are about the challenging and rewarding field of Security?”

“It’s OK.”

There you have it. This is Felicia Fenwick, Award-Winning Roving Reporter for Channel 2 Action News Network 24/7.”

At that, the news people seem to have finished what they wanted to do and they began leaving. In five minutes, they were gone.

Archie came out from wherever he had been hiding and shook my hand. “Where was you?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m shy. I never want to be the center of attention,” he said.

“You warn’t the center of attention. I were the center,” I said.

Archie, he didn’t say nothin’.

“We going to give you the rest of the day off,” said Herman “Since you brought us good publicity and all.”

“You mean a paid day off?” I asked.

“Oh, no, we couldn’t afford to do that. But, take the rest of the day off and I’ll find you a good assignment for when I phone you tomorrow

That evening, since there were TV cameras there, I watched the news on the TV in the lobby of the hotel but they didn’t mention a peep about me.

“I guess the story wasn’t important enough, Bud. Sorry about that,” said Spencer, the wrinkled old geezer who always seems to be sitting in the lobby. “Might still be in the papers tomorrow, though.”

So, I waited until after 2400 hours and then I went out to find a paper over at the news stand at the railroad station which ain’t too far away. Well, sir, there it were in the morning paper although I were disappointed that it didn’t appear on Page One. There weren’t no picture. On page 10, the article read:

 

RENT-A-COP HELPS NAB FUGITIVE

 

Herbert Clanton, long time employee of The Four Aces Detective Agency, in midtown, was deemed a hero by his boss, Herman O. Smith, who said Claton had detained bail-jumper Maurice Odom, a fugitive from Newark, NJ, when he tried to enter the Pettingill Building, for a long enough amount of time to enable the police to apprehend him. Clinton, who claims to have attended a community college in his home town of Humboldt, is a modest self-effacing young man who told reporters, “It wasn’t anything that any other guard wouldn’t do. Thanks to my superior training as a security guard by the Four Aces Detective Agency, I was pleased to be able to help the police do their job in catching this nefarious criminal.”

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

As promised, Herman, he call me up with my assignment. “The second shift man showed up drunk and they sent him home. Our guy there already worked a double shift and Captain Jack, our supervisor is staying there until you get there. Since you don’t have a car, you can take the Number 10 Bus which stops on the corner over there. Ask the driver to let you off at Moore Street. Walk up Moore Street 3 blocks and it’s the big factory on your left. I wrote it all down. The bus runs every half hour up until midnight. So, get over to the bus stop before you miss it.”

I had to wait about ten minutes until the bus come and I did what Herman said. When I come to the factory there were a little guard house by the gate. An elderly man in a company uniform came out and opened up the gate as soon as he saw me.

“How you doing?” he said. “I’m Captain Jack. I’m one of the supervisors and I am just covering this post until you got here. Herman said you were new so I will show you what to do and then I got to leave. Here’s a map of where the Detex keys are chained to different locations. You know how to use a Detex clock? You just insert the key into the clock and turn it.”

Following the map, every hour on the hour I walked around the plant. The lights were all on makin’ it easy to find each of the twenty stations where the key was anchored and insert it in the keyhole of the clock and click it. This made a little punched hole on the printed paper disk inside which showed that an inspection was made and the hour it were made.

At 2230 hours, my replacement came in, a guy that was really gung ho for the job. It wasn’t two minutes after we left that he started bragging about how dangerous his life was and how he had to constantly fight off people who wanted to hurt him. “I am a Black Belt,” he told me. “My hands are registered as lethal weapons with the police department.” and so on. As for me, I was afraid this guy would make me miss my bus.

At last, I was able to get away and start my long walk to the bus. I walked up the three blocks, which were without a streetlight past vacant lots and closed factory buildings until I reached Moore Street and turned right. I walked and walked past more vacant lots and old building closed. At length I reached an area in which there were rows of store buildings fronting the street all closed. I was lookin’ for an open building where I could stand and wait for the bus, which passed me going the other way. I imagined that it was near the end of its route and would turn around to come back and pick me up.

At long last I found an open business, a bar on the corner of Moore and some other street. I stood and waited. Not a car came by in either direction. Then, all of a sudden I heard a thunderous roar.

In no time, an outlaw motorcycle club roared up. Some rode up illegally on the sidewalks. Others did wheelies in front of the bar, also illegal. Some parked their bikes on the sidewalk, in front of the bar, illegally. Even the motorcycles parked against the curb in front of the bar were parked illegally. They were in a bus zone. As a result of my training, I knew this and I thought about takin’ action.

The outlaw motorcycle gang pushed into bar, stood noisily on the sidewalk all around me. Some of them was staring at me, but nobody said nothin’to me but I knew they were itchin’ to do so, but just scared at what I might do.

The next thing you know, a black-and-white pulls up and a middle-aged cop with a big mouth shouts out the window, “Get yourself in the bar with that drink. You can’t bring them drinks out on the sidewalk.”

The tall guy next to me was holding a beer can. He held it up in a toast to the policeman and then slowly withdrew into the bar.

“Get these bikes out of the no parking bus zone, and off the sidewalk or we’’ll tow ‘em. Cut the noise or I’ll lock you up.”

The cops just sat in the car watching the outlaw motorcycle club members as they stood on the sidewalk staring at the cops. I hear a siren getting closer and eventually a black-and-white sped up and skidded to a stop. Its red light was spinning. This one had a microphone and speaker: “GET INSIDE THE BAR. DO NOT CONGEGATE OUTSIDE ON THE SIDEWALK. MOVE THE ILLEGALLY PARKED MOTORCYCLES OR THEY WILL BE TOWED.”

I suddenly heard a short elderly man talking to me, “Why don’t the police leave them alone? They ain’t doing nothing.”

I didn’t say nothing.

I saw the bus coming and I darted out to the edge of the curb and waved him down. I dropped my money in the box as he said. “I almost didn’t stop for you Bud. TI thought you was one of the police and I didn’t want to stop and get in the middle of a war.”

You got that right,” I said and walked back in the bus and sat down.

As I looked back, I saw that instead of going into the bar, more of the gang was now pouring outside, all holding beer cans in their hands. Soon, they were out of my sight.

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

They sent me here to this big department store where I am to go undercover as AP agent or Asset Protection Agent to catch shoplifters. The department store Chief was in the security office.

“Hello,” I says to him. “Agent Clanton reporting for duty. I guess you seen the story about me in the newspaper.”

“Well, no,” he says, “I hardly ever read the papers. What for were you in the papers?”

I showed him the newspaper clipping.

“ Why these are from yesterday,” he says. “By today, everybody forgot all about you.”

“You right,” I said.

Before I begin work, the department store Chief, he give me a lecture on what I can and can’t do. He says to me, “Gilbert .. .”

“Delbert,” I say.” Right,” he says. “You are concerned with what we call asset protection. Basically that means we stop shoplifters taking goods from the store without paying for them or without intending to pay for them. Some places have the crime of concealment but we don’t -- so act accordingly. Now, understand what you can and can’t do.”

“Check, Chief,” said I.

“First, you can’t physically stop them until they leave the premises. In other words until they walk out the door. Now what you can do is to go up to them if they put merchandise in their purse for example, and say politely “Would you like to pay for that?” Many times they will then go over to the check-out counter and pay, knowing that you caught them.”

“Otherwise, when they exit the premises, what you got to do is go up to them and say, ‘Come with me,’ and bring them to the security office. If they refuse, you can use reasonable force to make them comply. You have to be careful you don’t over-react and beat them up. You can only use reasonable force. Then, when you bring them into the security office, you turn them over to me. I am the one to determine what to do with them. We even have to be careful here. Some shoplifters have sued the store for false imprisonment because they claim we kept them too long.”

“Second, with juvys, which are what we call juveniles, we can call their parents to come in and pick them up or we can call the police. I’m the one who decides that, not you.”

“Now, one way we protect the store from these teenage thieves is to follow them round closely. However, you got to be careful not to single out one racial group over another. The store got sued for that a couple of times. So, there is a lot of things we have to be careful about.”

“For the first day, I’m going to send you along with Waldo Sauers who has a lot of experience. So, Agent Sauers, go ahead.”

“Call me Baldy,” Agent Sauers says.

Both Baldy and I walked out of the office. He began telling me all about he cases he had over the years: “Well, listen up and you will learn a lot because I’ve seen it all. I had the mothers with babies in strollers and they hid merchant under the babies and put it in their diapers. I had women hide the stuff in their undergarments where I couldn’t search them. I had old men in wheelchairs hide stuff in their under drawers.” Baldy went on and on.

We stood in an alcove near the cosmetics counter silently for a long while lots of women came up, tried the cosmetics, talked with a sales lady and then either made a purchase or moved on.

Then, one large woman came up that Baldy recognized. “Uh oh,” he said. “Watch this woman in the red sweater and jeans.”

The woman took out a small jar from her purse and opened the trial dispenser on the counter and began to fill her jar with its contents.

We walked over. So did a saleslady.” Miss, you can’t do that,” said the saleslady.

The woman in the red sweater acted as if she didn’t hear her.

“Agent Sauers, Do something,” said the saleslady.

“Good morning, Helene,” he said. “How are you this morning?”

The woman in the red sweater ignored him completely.

“Now, Helene,” he said in a soft gentle tone. “You know you are not permitted to do that. As a matter of fact you are not even allowed in the store.”

The woman ignored him completely and emptied the testing bottle completely into her jar.

“Helene,” he said. “You are not listening to me. You are trespassed from the store. You have been told a hundred times not to come in here to the cosmetics counter and empty our perfumes and stuff into your containers and leave the premises with it.”

At that, the woman turned with a nasty snarl. “And what you think you going to do about it, big boy? It say Testing Bottle on it, don’t it? This is a test. I am testing it. You let all the womens come up to the cosmetic counter and test it but me. It doesn’t say how much you are allowed to take for a test. If I want to take more, I can.”

“Helene,” said Baldy, “we’ve been over this before many times. We were before Judge Jones and she told you not only you can’t take your own sample this way but that you were trespassed from the store. Now, if I call the police you know that you will be locked up. You don’t want to do that. How those cats of yours going to fare if you are locked up for 30 days?

“My cats isn’t none of your business,” snapped the woman, rocking back and forth.

“Come on Helene, get out of here while I am in a good mood and the getting is good.”

He touched her on the elbow.

“Don’t you put your hands on me or I’ll sue you!” she shouted.

“Come on, Delbert,” Baldy said. The saleslady snatched the woman’s jar off the counter and Waldo and I forced the woman out of the store and onto the sidewalk.

She screamed bloody murder the whole time.

Baldy put his badge on and shouted at her. “Get out of here! The court trespassed you. You are not allowed in this store!”

I tried to put my badge on but I couldn’t get it out of my pocket.

“I want my jar back,” shouted the woman.

“You don’t get it back,” shouted Baldy. Then, he said to me in a quieter tone to me, “Let’s get back inside. We’re drawing a crowd.”

Inside the door, we watched her circling back and forth.

“Why don’t you call for backup and have her arrested?” I asked.

He explained, “Helene comes in every so often and does that. If we call the police every time she or somebody like her does stuff like that, the police get ticked off at us for making them work so hard. You have to understand that it is a very minor crime, but not only do they have to put up with her nonsense, they have to spend a lot of time on paperwork and court appearances. And for what?

Even for more serious crimes, the judges dismiss the case or do nothing. To be fair, they are busy, too, with more important cases. So, we just solve things the best way we can.”

The woman had gone away at this point. “One other thing,” said Baldy,. “did you notice that outside, I put on my badge and shouted that she was not allowed in the store because she was trespassed? That was to keep some do-gooder from interfering because they misunderstand the situation. That little trick helped me many times.”

“Waldo,” the saleslady at the counter was calling. “What do I do with that woman’s jar?

”Waldo walked over to the counter and spoke in confidential tones to her, “Just pour the stuff back into the Testing Jar. Then, throw her jar away.”

“Oh, OK,” she said. “And thank you.”

“You are welcome,” says Baldy and then to me,” Let’s go to lunch.”

Later that afternoon, we had another case. Two teen-aged girls were in the cosmetics department, which were our post for today. I nudged Baldy as the taller one slipped a bottle of an expensive make-up into her purse. In a few minutes, her friend picked up two tubes of some kind of stuff and slipped them into her purse. Finally, the girls picked out some lipstick and took them too. Then, they started edging towards the exit. As soon as they reached the door, Baldy and I were after them.

Outside, on the sidewalk, the two girls were laughing and giving each other high fives when Baldy and I approached them.

“Would you two young ladies please go back in the store, Baldy said.

“Why?” said the shorter one, looking startled.

“You forgot something,” said Baldy.

When we brought them to the security office, the Chief was just finishing up with the case Carmen had brought in from the Woman’s sportswear department where the perp had swapped her old damaged jacket for a new one and attempted to wear the new one out of thaw store.

A policeman was there which probably scared the two girls. One of the girls started crying when the perp left with the policeman on her way down to the police station for booking. “How much was the coat?” I asked Carmen and she said it was an expensive coat which made the charge grand larceny.

So, the Chief took our statements and then started questioning the girls and one thought it was all kind of funny while the other cried and cried.

“You know I’m going to phone your parents,” he said.

“Go ahead and call them. I don’t care,” said one girl. “You can’t prove anything.”

“Oh, yes, we can,” say the Chief. “We got two Asset Loss Prevention Aents who caught you red handed.”

“They’re lying,” said the girl. “We haven’t done anything. If we wanted something, we’d just put it on our credit card.”

“Lemme see,” said the Chief looking through their stuff. “Well, you had one; the store hereby seizes it so you don’t any more.”

It wasn’t long before the mothers came in. You could hear them coming.

“Where’s our daughters. what’s going on? What are you doing to them?”

The chief explained the situation. “We have two agents who saw them taking merchandise and putting it in their purses. They then walked out of the store without paying.”

“You didn’t see my daughter doing that,” said one mother, her eyes burning. “Show me your proof. I don’t believe one word you are saying.”

“Well,” said the Chief. “You can believe what you want. The store is prepared to press charges.”

“On what these two characters say they saw? Why from the way they are dressed, you’d think they were homeless. How do we know they weren’t drinking or high on dope?”

“Well, Madam with all due respect, it may be that you do not know your daughters very well. We have evidence that will hold up in any court of law.””

“Not these girls, why we never have any trouble with them. They help us around the house and everything.”

“They go to Sunday School and they know right from wrong. Why, I can’t believe they were stealing.”

“Stealing? Why, they don’t have to steal. Both of them got credit cards.”

“No more they don’t,” said the Chief. “The store has confiscated them.”

“What? Why, that’s illegal!”

“No, it isn’t. Read your credit contract. The store can take their cards back and yours as well.”

“Why I never heard of anything so ridiculous. We’ll sue you!”

“Well. go ahead. We caught them shoplifting. I’m sure that will look good on the news, especially when they show your pictures.”

Then the Chief laid out the particulars of the case and said, “You can proceed as you wish. For our part, we are confiscating their credit cards, and we will not permit them back in the store We may take other action.”

“That’s awful,” said the one woman. “You have no proof. You are mistaken.”

“Let me ask our agents, Did you men witness these two girls taking merchandise without paying for it from out store?”

I spoke, “I witnessed them boosting lipsticks and some other stuff from the store’s cosmetics counter when they thought them salesladies ain’t watchin’ them. They even give each other high fives outside the store when they thought they got away with it.”

“Listen to him. Why, he is an ignorant person speaking atrocious English. Did you go to school at all?”

“Madam,” I said, “I am a graduate of Humboldt County Community College with an A. A. degree in Criminal Justice.”

“Humboldt County. You mean those hillbillies have a community college? Why, half those people can’t read nor write.”

“OK. I think we are done here,” said the Chief.

The rest of the day, I was on my own. I was assigned to watch for shoplifters in our men’s department. It seems to me that the suspects take a bunch of garments into a dressing room and then put some of them on under their regular clothes. Then, they walk out of the store carrying the stolen goods.

I watch one suspicious character carry four suits into the Changing Room. Next thing I hear him speaking in a loud voice apparently to me. “Hey, how you doing?” he says.

“OK,” I say.

“What you doing now?” he says.

I tell him, “Nothing in particular. I’m just standing here.”

“What are you wearing?” he asks.

“What you ask me that for?” I say, getting very annoyed.

“Hey,” he shouts, “knock it off. I’m talking on my cell phone.”

“So am I,” I said, thinking quickly.

After awhile, he comes out and just stares at me for a few moments. I just stare back. I go in the booth and count the suits hanging there. There are just two suits. Maybe I got something here.

Just then I see him coming back.

“What are you doing in my dressing room?” he says. “I ain’t done here yet.”

“Where’s the other two suits?”

“The other two suits? You saw me carry them out. I put them back on the rack. I was going to take these two to the check-out counter.”

“Well, see you do,” I say to him. “I’m watching you.”

“What you think I am going to steal two suits?”

“I’m here to see you don’t,” say I.

“Well. Now I’m not going to buy any suits from you and your store. What do you think of that?”

I just shrug my shoulders. “OK by me.”

“OK.” he says and walks away.

After awhile when he doesn’t return, I pick the suits up and put them back on the sales rack.

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

They sent me to be a maintenance worker at this big firm where they got some of what they call industrial spies stealing their patents and trade secrets and stuff. If I told you the name of the company, you would probably know it. At least that’s what Herman said. I never heard of the company before.

“Now, you are going undercover. They shouldn’t have any idea that you are a private agent for a detective firm. You are looking to see how these plans are going missing every so often. Since you are going to pose as a maintenance worker, you have access to every part of their building. Now, remember, we are just trying to find out who this spy is. You don’t have any authority to stop them. You got this here camera and a tape recorder. Be careful. And above all, be safe over there.”

“Affirmative. Chief,” I said.

So, I go over there as a new employee on the third shift although the only one what knows who I really am is this fellow name of Mr. Wilson. The plant is so big that nobody knows everybody. Mr. Wilson is going to tell the maintenance supervisor that I’m here because somebody high up in the corporation said so for some reason.

So, right away when Mr. Wilson introduces me to the supervisor, she takes a dislike to me and I to her. She says, “I don’t see why we need a cleaner-at-large.”

Mr. Wilson says, “Well, one of the vice-presidents wants to try it as an experiment to see if there are areas we may be overlooking and which need to be addressed.”

“That’s my job,” she says.” I’m supposed to be the one looking at the total picture. And furthermore, they didn’t ask me or say anything to me about it.”

“Well, all I can say, Mrs. Mapes, is that it’s only an experiment to see if there’s any maintenance that’s falling between the cracks, so to speak. and it’s only for a short while.”

So, after they go round and round for a bit, I take off with a clipboard for my inspection. Nobody is in the offices on the 6th floor, so that’s why I went there, like I was instructed.

As I am walking around quiet as a mouse, pretending to be examining the wastebaskets and looking for dust on the file cabinets, I suddenly come face-to-face with a fellow dressed just like myself. “How you doing?” we both say at almost the same time. “You scared me. I didn’t know anybody were up here.” We both say the same thing at the same time.

Then, we back up a bit and take a look at each other like we was looking in a mirror.

“What you doing up here?” he says.

“What you got there?” I say, referring to the big cloth envelope under his arm.

“That isn’t nothing’ at all,” he says and starts slowly moving away.

The next thing I know, he is running as fast as can be down this long corridor.

“What you running’ for?” I shout and then I take off after him.

He looks back and, then, not watching where he is going, he plows head-first into the big glass door at the end of the corridor. He smashes through it and the door shatters into bits and pieces ,and he falls flat on the floor. I come up to him and he is out cold and bleeding from his bald head.

So, I go into the office the smashed glass door opens into and pick up a phone on the desk and hear a dial toe. I dial the number of Mr. Wilson’s extension that he give me.

“Hello, Wilson,” says a voice.

“Mr. Wilson.”

“Yes, this is Mr. Wilson. Who is this?”

“Come quick. This guy just ran full tilt into this glass door and smashed it and knocked hisself out cold. He’s bleeding and everything.”

“Who is this? Where are you?”

“I’m the feller you sent to look for the spy. I think I m at the end of a long hall on the sixth floor and there’s a big glass door, It goes into an office.”

“OK,” says Mr. Wilson. “ I’ll be right up there.”

Well, in a little bit I hear people shouting. The feller is still lying on the floor out cold.

I shout, “Over here!”

They are there before you know it.

“Holy Toledo,” says this security guard. “What happened?”

I just ignored him and tell Mr. Wilson: “This guy’s out like a light. He run right into the glass door. Probably didn’t see it. You better get the EMS.”

“What’s this?” Mr. Wilson takes the cloth envelope from the feller’s hands. “If this is what I think it is. Good Heavens! This is the plan for the new R-126!” He says to the security guard, “Call the EMS and the police as well.”

“Who is this guy?” asks the guard, pointing at me. “Do you want me to cuff him? Lemme put him in irons.”

“No. of course not,” says Mr. Wilson. Call the EMS. Call the police, Do what I tell you.

But, the security guard is still looking at me. He is jiggling a pair of handcuffs in one hand and a can of pepper spray in the other. “ Well, who is this guy? What’s he doing here? He doesn’t work here!”

“CALL THE POLICE AND EMS. NOW!” shouts Mr. Wilson and the guard shakes his head, puts away the cuffs and the pepper spray on his belt and reaches for his radio.

“Officer Brown calling Dispatcher. Officer Brown calling Dispatcher. Over.”

“This is the Dispatcher. Time is two o’clock. I mean time 0200. Over.

“Attention Dispatcher. This is Officer Brown. Be advised that you need to contact by telephonic communication both the police and the EMS. Repeat. You are to contact immediately the police and the EMS. That’s ECHO-MIKE-SIERRA. They are requested to Report to Corridor A-1, Floor Six, Building 31. We have a code 30 here. Over.”

“Attention Officer Brown. This is the Dispatcher. Your message is unclear. Request repeat. Did you say you have a code 31 in Building 30 or you have a code 30 in Building 31? Repeat previous transmission. Over.”

“Attention Dispatcher. This is Officer Brown. We have a code 30. That’s an accident with injuries in Building 31. Repeat code 30 in Building 31. Over.”

“Attention Officer Brown. This is the Dispatcher. This is a confirmation of message. There is a code 30 in Building 31. Be advised we are complying with your request to inform Police and EMS telephonically to request assistance. In addition, following regulations, we are notifying the Watch Commander and the Third Shift Supervisor to proceed to your location. Please restate your location. Over.”

“Attention Dispatcher. Subjects are in Corridor A-1, Floor Six, Building 31. Over.”

“Attention Officer Brown. Be advised this is a confirmation of your message. We have noted your location as Corridor A-1, Floor Six, Building 31. Do you wish me to repeat? Over.”

“STOP! STOP!” shouted Mr. Wilson. “This is ridiculous. I could have called this in on the phone myself in less time.”

The guy on the floor was groaning.

He’s coming to,” I said.

Somebody was shouting, “Where are you? This is the Watch Commander.”

Somebody else: “Hello! Hello! This is the Third Shift Supervisor. Specify your location.”

The guard shouted. “Be advised the location is Corridor A-1, Floor Six, Building 31!”

“We’re over here!” shouted the more practical-minded Mr. Wilson.

In a few minutes were joined by the Watch Commander and the Third Shift Supervisor, both very short guys, too short to be on the city police force, but no doubt full of the aggressive commands that short guys usually have.

“Officer Brown, Put your cover on. Don’t let me catch you without your cover again,” snarled the Watch Commander. “And straighten that tie!”

The security guard put on his hat. “Sir. Sorry, Sir.”

The Third Shift Supervisor also donned his hat, which he had been carrying, and glanced sideways at the Watch Commander.

“All right, Men. What happened here?” asked the Watch Commander.

I started to reply when he cut me off.

“Who you?”

“He’s a P. I. we hired to investigate the thefts of confidential materials. That information is top secret and goes no further than here, of course,” said Mr. Wilson.

“Of course, “said the Watch Commander. “We all have Top Secret Clearance. Except for Officer Wilson. Do you have clearance, Private?”

“Sir. Corporal, Sir. No Sir. I do not yet have clearance, Sir.”

“Well, where are your corporal stripes? You are in violation of Regulation 302. Third Shift Supervisor!”

“Sir!”

“”Write this man up!”

“Sir! Yes, Sir.”

“Sir! My mother did not get a chance to sew them on yet, Sir!”

“YOUR MOTHER? Never mind. Go find the police and the EMS. That’s ECHO-MIKE-SIERRA. Show them where we are. That’s an order. Now, who is this on the deck, uh, floor?”

“If you are done playing soldier, this man who is apparently still unconscious is an Industrial Spy,” said Mr. Wilson. “I have the proof here in my hands. This other fellow , the P. I. apparently chased him into the glass door which he shattered and in so doing, knocked himself senseless.”

By this time the police and the EMS attendants had arrived. While the EMS workers attempted to revive the spy, the police began asking questions and Mr. Wilson answered them.

Eventually the police wrote everything down and the EMS workers put the spy on what they called a gurney. And everybody including me went downstairs on the elevator.

“Well, thank you, young man,” said Mr. Wilson. “And tell your people that we appreciate what you did more than we can say. You can leave now.”

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

 

Today, Herman was so pleased with my capturing the industrial spy; he was all smiles and thanks. I was hoping he might spring a bonus on me, but no such luck. Instead, he sent me off to another location as an undercover man.

So, I went to work and had took my badge along. But I were careful to put her in my shirt pocket with her pin closed and facing’ outward so I wouldn’t be unlucky enough to stab myself if she came apart.

It took me awhile to reach the security office because this department store is bigger than all the stores in the mill mall over in Biglerville put together. The everybody up here is some kind of a foreigner or other. The Chief goes, I want you to stand a post over in jewelry. Go to the area and hang around and I will catch you later.

Well I found my post and followed my orders to patrol my sector around the jewelry counter just like they learned me at HCCC. At one point I give a look in my pants pocket for that there yellow book that Herman gave me but I must have left it in my room in my other pair of pants. Anyway, this here fellow about my age was wearin’ very sharp sports coat, he come up to me and goes, “ Yo, my man, how you doing? Yo?”

Well, like I say they talk funny up year. I feel like telling him to speak English but I don’t say anything.

“Yo. You looking for jewelry or watches? Yo,” he said.

“Watches?” I said.

“Yo I got watches the same as in the cases, cheap. I can get you anything you see here at a fraction of the price. Yo.”

Oh yeah, I say I almost told him that since I am on stakeout here they would probably give me an employee’s discount but I didn’t say nothing. He were not listening no how, just looking around.

“Yo. You see what you looking for? A fine watch, right? Here, I got your watches. Now don’t let nobody see you. Yo.”

He pulls his coat open and I seen he has four or five watches fastened to the lining. “ Yo. Check it out my man. Here’s a watch that’s made for you. They want two hundred dollars for it over there but I’ll let it go for only fifty bucks. Yo.”

Well sir, at that point in time I observed that character lurking behind the posts, so I says, “Sorry, buddy but I got to go.” I started to walk towards the lurkee.

“Gimme 40 dollars. Yo.” The feller with the watches tries to stop me by thrusting his open hand against my chest. “YO!” he screamed so loud that some customers way over by the cosmetic counter turned around to stare at us.

“You stuck me!”

Well, ok, it must of been the pin on my badge in my shirt pocket come open. At that very instance, the lurking suspect to my surprise turns out to be my own very own Chief of Security.

He lunged towards us and grabs this feller by the arm. “Blast it! I told you to stay out of here!” my Chief shouts at him.

He takes hold onto on of the fellow’s arms so thinking quick I grabbed halt of the other the one. I felt all the watches pinned on his jacket..

“I caught this punk before, “ the Chief says to me. “He steals our watches and then sells them to the first knucklehead he can find.”

Well sir me and the Chef hauls this guy right off to our Internal security office and the Chief he tells me to call the police downtown. Their number was posted up on the wall over the phone as big as life. As soon as our police dispatcher gets on the line I go, “This here’s Undercover Operative Delbert Clanton. Send a black-and-white over to (and I give the address, which for security reasons I ain’t goin’ to give here).

“What? “ said the voice from Headquarters.

I put it into cop talk.

“Be advised that our internal security force has just apprehended a Caucasian male perp in the act of boosting wristwatches and attempting to convey his goods to his mark.”

“ What in blazes are you yakking about?” say the voice on the phone. “Speak English.”

My Chief, he grabs the phone from me and says, “We caught this character what steals watches from our jewelry counter and then sells them to unsuspecting people in the very same department where he stole them.”

Then he give me the phone back

Well, OK. After a few minutes when I have made everything clear to the dispatcher at headquarters, I hung up.

My Chief goes, “Well, you did a good job on this one, Wilbert.”

“Delbert. I know Chief. It’s a good collar.”

“Whatever. I’m glad we nailed this bird!”

“Yo! You didn’t catch me. Yo.”

“Back off, pal. I’m in the mood to knock you silly,” I go, feeling my oats like they say back home. “And I would if’n my finger didn’t hurt!”

“Now, Albert”, said the Chief, “calm down.”

“It’s Delbert.”

“Yo. You only got me because the two of yez was lucky. Yo.”

Well, sir, as a Pea Eye graduated from a prestigious institution like HCCC, I know in police work like everything else, catching crooks sometimes depends on luck so I didn’t say nothing. I just give her a wait and listened for the sirens.

 

 

 

Chapter 8

 

 

Herman, he sent me back to the department store for another day. He said he wanted to find out about their new TV monitors, After some weeks of work, they finally finished installing the new Eye-Spy Television Monitor Surveillance System throughout the store, and we put it into operation this morning. Everybody in security got walkie-talkies as well.

Before the store opened, all us undercover ops and all us undercover ops were in the Internal Security Office looking the system over. There was Waldo Baldy Sauers, the old guy what worked here for a long time, Carmen Hernandez, who just got hired, and me, Delbert Clanton, and the Chief.

We all stood around and punched buttons, pulled levers and clicked switches on and off. Baldy said, “Mark my words. That thing’s going to put us all out of a job because they won’t need undercover security personnel no more.”

I said, “Well, I ain’t going to worry about that.”

Carmen Hernandez says, ”Me neither, Delbert. If I get fired, I’ll sue the store for discrimination.”

“Well,” the Chief says, “Nobody’s going to get fired. We just got to learn how to use this stuff proper. It’ll make our job easier.“

“I’m not so sure,” says Baldy.

“Well, we got to get started here,” the Chief says. “Waldo doesn’t want to be the dispatcher even though he has the most seniority. And, Carmen, we need a woman on the sales-floor. So, Herbert, for the time being at least, you will serve as dispatcher.”

“Delbert,” I said. “Not Herbert, but, OK, I’ll serve the first tour of duty as Security Force Dispatcher, Chief, and I’ll give it my best shot.”

After, Baldy, Carmen, and the Chief left the Internal Security Office, I sat myself down in the new swivel chair and glanced back and forth at each of the six monitors and, well, sir, not only was it boring but it’s enough to make a fellow dizzy. First of all the pictures are in black-and-white, and hard to watch because you can’t see what’s going on even if you zoom in on something. And there isn’t any sound.

Well, sir, I maintained surveillance of the TV monitors for a long while, and it was very boring. I moved the Number 3 Camera around and zoomed in and out on the lady customers in the perfume department, which is Post 2. Then, I remembered that everything on camera was being recorded so I knocked it off so nobody would think I was no pervert.

Somehow, the Number 3 camera then got focused on Exit 41 and jammed. I pounded the controls several times but couldn’t get it loose.

I glanced over at Monitor 3, and I seen some woman was lying down on the ground in front of Exit Door 41. I got on the radio right away. “Attention all Security Personnel. This here’s Delbert the Dispatcher. Be advised there’s a code 41 . That means a female woman down at Exit 41. You are hereby relieved from your posts on my authority as Security Force Dispatcher. Proceed to Exit 41 for immediate and appropriate action. Over and out.”

“I handled that pretty well, “ I said to myself. Then, looking at the monitors, I seen my security staff was just standing there. I realized they couldn’t hear me, because they was chatting with each other or had their radios turned off. So, this time, I repeated the message I just give word-for-word over the store loudspeakers on purpose.

Immediately, I started getting a lot of static over the radio.

“Yeah. Right, Delbert. What’d she do? Drop her pocket book? You sure you isn’t seeing things, Delbert?”

“Where’s Exit 41?”

“Why didn’t you say that on our walkie-talkies?”

Finally, on Monitor 3, I seen the Chief had already got to the woman. He tried to help her up, but she wouldn’t budge.

“Wilbert,” He shouts on his radio, looking up at the Number 3 camera, “Call EMS.”

I looked up the number of the Emergency Medical Service in the telephone book and dialed. “Hello. This here’s Security Specialist and Security Force Dispatcher Delbert Clanton speaking. We need you to send over emergency medical assistance for a medical emergency.”

Then, after I hung up, I realized I forgot to tell where I was at, so I called them back again and told them.

I kept watching Monitor 3, and the next thing you know, the EMS guys came in, put the lady up on a gurney and took her out to the EMS vehicle. I saw Baldy and Carmen arrive at Exit 41 just as EMS was wheeling the injured party out.

Everybody come up to the Internal Security Office afterwards.

“That sure was interesting,” I said to my Chief. “Just like watching ER on the TV.”

“Yeah, right,” he said and he started filing out some paperwork. “You go out to lunch now, and I will cover for you,” he says. “Waldo, you and Carmen can report back to your posts.” So, we all did as we was told.

Well, it wasn’t more than two days later than the Chief comes to me and says, “You know that women what fell down at Exit 41 the other day?”

“Affirmative, Chief.”

“Well, she claims that she slipped on a wet floor, and she is suing the store. The big boss wants to know if we got anything on our video-tape.”

Well, before you could say Jack Robinson, I got the tape off the shelf and put it on the VCR machine for me and my Chief to review. I had put it on fast-forward, and then the Chief took over and ran it forward at regular speed. “What’s all these shots of these girls in the cosmetic department?” he says.

“I don’t know,” I explained.

“Holy Cow, look at that,” said the Chief suddenly. He ran the tape back and forth a couple of times. I don’t know what he saw but it was enough to make him get right on the phone and call up the Big Boss. She comes down in a flash and the Chief says, “Run that tape for us again, Norbert.”

“Delbert. You don’t mean the girls in the cosmetic department, do you Chief? I was just experimenting on focusing and stuff.”

“No. No,” he said, “The part right after that. The shots of the woman on the floor in front of Exit 41.”

“Oh,” I said, “What do you want to see that for?” I rewound the videotape to that shot and started it again.

On the monitor screen, we saw the woman standing and looking around like she was checking to see if anybody was watching her and then she pours some kind of liquid on the floor. Then, she looks around again and lies down on the floor and starts hollering.

“Well,” says the Big Boss, “That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it. The woman won’t get ten cents out of us. You did a good job, Young Man. You saved the store a fortune by videotaping that. It’s store policy to see that such actions are properly rewarded, so, we’ll have your supervisor, here, write a letter of commendation and put it in your file.”

“Oh shucks,” I said. “It weren’t nothing. I was just doing my job as Undercover Security Specialist and Internal Security Force Dispatcher.”

But the Big Boss didn’t hear me. She were talking with the store Chief.

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

 

Herman were very happy over the way the situation turned out with the woman who claimed she fell on the floor. He also thanked me for what I told him about the video security system. Then, he sent me back to the store for another day.

“Florence from Women’s Sportswear seems to have taken quite a shine to you,” the Chief of Security says to me at quitting time in the Internal Security Office. He was talking about one of the middle-aged salesladies in the department store where we all work. “So, are you going to her party?”

“Affirmative, Chief,” I said.

“Well, you know she’s always complaining about the crime in her neighborhood. Burglars stealing TV sets and what-not. So, watch yourself.”

“Affirmative, Chief,” I go. “Let me remind you, I’m a full-fledged graduate of Humboldt County Community College with an A.A. degree is Criminal Justice, so you know I’m as streetwise as they come. If I can’t tell you what’s going down, my name ain’t Delbert Clanton.”

“All right. All right,” he says. “Just be careful out there, Herbert.”

“Delbert,” I tells him for the fiftieth time. I been working undercover here all this time, and he still can’t get my name right.

Anyway, at that point in time, I left our Internal Security Office and go down the back stairs and out of the store and walk over to my residential hotel on 8th Avenue where I hang my hat.

Like any good Pea Eye, as a public service, I sat in your hotel lobby for a spell keeping an eye on the civilians so see if any of them looks like they is engaging in unlawful activity. The next thing you know, it’s time for me to get dressed up in my best bib and tucker.

Then, I take that there subway uptown to the address Florence give me. For a few minutes, I stood outside her apartment house, checking out some unsavory-looking characters who was going in the main entrance. Finally, I just got buzzed in when this fellow in a green jacket comes rushing out of the stairwell inside carrying a TV set.

Well, I held the door open for him, but he don’t say thank you or nothing. He just gives a dash out to the street and goes around the corner. I don’t know why he was in such a hurry. Finally, I goes up in your elevator and gets inside Florence’s apartment. There, I found there were about twelve people standing around, all old geezers, nobody that I know, but who look a lot like these unsavory characters I seen entering the premises just a few minutes ago.

So, I tried to blend in which, as a trained undercover investigator, I’m skilled at. “Hello, Pop” I go to this skinny old coot wearing a blue suit coat and brown pants. He give me a nod, and, as he walks past, he bumps right into me without so much as an “Excuse me.” He goes right over and starts chatting up this old girl who is holding on to her walker for dear life.

So, I turned away, too, and give a close look at the wall-paper until this female from the Women’s Sportswear Department, name of Florence goes, “Hi everybody. Let’s get this birthday party started.” At this point, Florence gives a look over at me and smiles and gives a wave.

Well, the whole shin-dig turns out to be a party for Florence’s Aunt Agatha, who is turning 100. When it got time to eat the birthday cake and drink some punch, I got set between these two old bats. I asked the one with the knitting needles, “What you knittin’ there?”

“Mittens?” she says after slowly picking up her specs which was attached by a chain around her neck and adjusting her hearing aid. “This here ain’t no mittens.”

“Well, what you knittin’ then?”

She smiles and goes, “Mercy, young man. I just told you that this ain’t no mittens. This here’s a sweater. Why if it were mittens, my boyfriend Arthur would have to have hands that big.”

She leaned over and gives a shout at the deaf lady, “He thinks I’m knitting Arthur a pair of mittens.”

“Martha has kittens?” says the deaf lady. “Who’s Martha?”

“Another old girl just shakes her head and turns to me and goes, “What business are you in, young man?”

At first, I thought I should be careful about blowing my cover before I know’d if they was any criminal suspects in the room that I should be keeping my eye on. However, I decided to be straight forward and see where she led.

“Me? Some people say danger is my business. I’m an undercover investigator.”

“Oh, ain’t that interesting,” she says.

“Yes,” I go with a sigh. “If you only know’d what goes on out there on what we lawmen calls Them Mean Streets. For instance, there was this case just the other day where I . . .”

“I see you met my Aunt Miriam,” says Florence, suddenly appearing in front of us. “Delbert here’s a security guard at the store.”

“I thought you said you was a detective,” says Aunt Miriam.

“Well, I am. security guards is uniformed personnel. What I am’s a undercover store detective,“ I explain, and then turning to Florence, I go, “With all the crime around here and everything, I guess you feel a whole lot safer since I’m here.”

“Why, yes, Delbert. That is why I asked you. I wanted to make sure these elderly people can come and go safely. It’s getting worse and worse around here. There has been hold-ups and muggings right on this street. There’s even been a lot of burglaries in this building. They’ve been taking TVs right and left.”

“You got no fear, Florence, now that you got me here. They all goin’ to be safe. Here Aunt Miriam, let me show you my badge, I said. Then, I give a reach in my pocket for my wallet.

Well, sir, my wallet was gone. At first, I didn’t let on, but just tried to remember if anyone bumped into me. That’s the way these here professional pickpockets do it. As they bump into you to distract you, they snatch your wallet as slick as a whistle. It hit me right between the eyes. It were that fellow Arthur what bumped me. I jumped right up out of my seat.

“Up again the wall,” I tells him. The room got so quiet you could hear a tea-pot drop. Which happened. Florence dropped the tea-pot she were carrying and gulped.

“What on earth are you doing,” squeals the perp, but I just forced him up again the living room wall.

“Assume the position,“ I shout. “I am a college graduate private detective authorized to carry this badge.” I tried to flash it, but it were attached to my wallet, which, of course, had been stole.

“You have the right to remain silent,” I go. “Where is my wallet?”

“Your wallet? I don’t have your wallet, you lunatic,” he snaps.

I have been made aware by my training and experience that perpetrators often say insulting things to the arresting officer so they can get them mad, but I didn’t fall for his bait. Instead, I reach in his pocket and yanks out this wallet and look in it.

“Here it is. Hey, what did you do with my badge?” I shout at him. “Why’d you put all this junk in here?”

“That’s my wallet. Get off me, you nut case,” he snarled, but I paid no mind to his insults. However, I wished I had me a pair of handcuffs, as well as some leg-irons and other restraints.

Out of the corner of my eye, I seen that the door to the apartment were wide-open, and that all the old geezers was fleeing the scene of the crime, running into the hall and jumping in the elevator just as quick as they could, given their age.

“Hold on,” I holler. “Don’t nobody leave the crime scene.”

An old dude come out of the bathroom, shouting, “Hello. I just found somebody’s wallet. It was on the floor of the john.”

I know’d immediately what had happened. The perpetrator had picked my pocket and then discarded my wallet in the bathroom at his earliest opportunity. It’s an old trick.

“Stop. Stop, Delbert,“ Florence was saying. “Here’s your wallet. Let my Uncle Arthur go.”

“Give me my wallet, you moron!” screams Uncle Arthur.

Which I did, taking into account Florence’s apparent wish not to have her uncle charged. I give a look in my wallet and saw my badge, my ID, and my twelve dollars in singles was all still there. In fact, I even counted my money right in front of Uncle Arthur just to embarrass him and make his face red.

“All right,” I go to him. “Since Florence is related to you, I’m releasing you into her custody. I sure hope she’ll give you a good talking to and straighten you out.”

Uncle Arthur snarls, “Get away from me, you jerk.”

I let his insults pass over my head. “I should throw you in the slammer, but, out of respect to Florence, I ain’t gonna. Next time, you better think twice before you pass yourself off as a loving uncle and, then, try to boost a wallet from a highly trained law enforcement professional.”

“Just get out of here,” said Florence. I don’t know whether she were talking to me or to Uncle Arthur, because, at this point, I were hopping mad. Then, I seen Uncle Arthur holding a can of pepper spray, and trying to read the instructions printed on it, so I didn’t hang around. In a flash, I jammed my wallet in my pocket and goes out the door to the hall. Since the elevator were already on the way down, I yanked open the door to the stairwell so I could go down the steps.

Well, sir, as soon as I opened the stairwell door, I was surprised to see the same guy that I had held the door open for when I came in. The one in the green jacket. He were rushing downstairs, and he were carrying another TV. Soon as he seen me, he drop the TV and run down two more flights and out the door.

Naturally, since I am a trained, alert professional, as soon as I seen that, I knew the score. So, I run down the steps and out the door after him, yelling, “Stop thief! Stop thief!”

Some of the old birds who had left Florence’s party were down in the lobby, trying to get out. The old girl with the walker was stuck in the middle of the door and all the others were bunched up around her.

When the perp and I busted through the door from the stairs, he starts shouting, “Get out the way!” But they didn’t budge.

So, I grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground like the Secret Service guys are always doing.

Well, by that time, the old girl was outside the main door, and who runs right in but two uniformed patrolman who was just coming up the walk.

“This punk was boosting a television when I put the arm on him. Go up the stairs and you’ll see where he dropped it.”

“Well, if it ain’t Alonzo,” they was saying, looking down at the perp. “What you doing? You don’t live here. You been taking things what ain’t yours again, Alonzo?”

All the old coots was standing around staring at us. The old girl with the walker was trying to get back in the building through the open door-way.

“All right, Bud,” one of the officers said to me. “Who you?”

“Delbert Clanton,” says I. “I’m in the private security business downtown. The perp was running down the steps when he seen me, and he threw the television right on the floor.”

One of the patrolmen went upstairs to check it out.

Florence was down in the lobby at this point in time. “It’s all right officers,” she says. “My uncle called you, but he’s changed his mind. We don’t want to press charges.”

“Oh, was it your TV set he stole?” asks the officer. ”Delbert, you stole a TV?” she says.

“No, this perp here did. I nabbed him,” I go, “But I’m gonna give the collar to my fellow officers here.”

“Give us the collar? You been watching too much TV, bud,” says the patrolmen, laughing.

“Yeah, they’s a busted TV on the stairs,” says the other cop coming out the stairway door. “Well, Alonzo, I’m gonna have to read you your rights again and, then, ask you what you got to say for yourself. How many times, now, have I arrested you, my man?”

Alonzo don’t say nothing. He just stares at me. And I stare back.

Florence sits herself down on a sofa in the lobby and asks the policemen, “How’d you get here so fast?”

“Well Ma’am, we was on a stakeout because of all the burglaries in this neighborhood. So, we was parked right on the street outside when we got a call that somebody was causing a disturbance in Apartment 12 D. When we came into the lobby, we caught this fellow who we know running out of the building being chased by this other fellow here.”

“Yes, it was my Uncle Arthur what called. About this other fellow. Delbert. But that’s all straightened out now.”

“You mean your call had nothing to do with Alonzo here stealing a television?” said one officer.

The other patrolman takes out a little notebook and says to me, ”We going to have to take your name and address and get a statement from you.”

“No problem,” says I. “And also I want to speak to your watch commander to see if there is som kind of reward being offered for the capture of this hoodlum.”

“Yeah. Yeah, sure,” says the patrolman. But one thing at a time. And, do me a favor. Stop talking like you’re on Cops.”

I go, “That’s a 10-4.”

“What?” he says.

Well, sir, at that point in time, Florence and her friends went back upstairs in the elevator leaving me to go over the case with my fellow officers.

 

 

 

Chapter 10

 

 

After he called me to come in to the Four Aces Detective Agency office, Herman says to me, “We’re so pleased with the job you are doing that we have decided to give you a spot in this very special assignment. This is a really important job for us and we are even considering giving you a bonus if you help us solve this situation. It’s at the airport.”

“OK, Chief.” says I.

“There may be some danger involved.”

“OK,” I say. “Danger is my Middle Name.” Although actually my middle name is Arnold but I never use it.

“Well, this is all confidential. There have been a lot of suitcases and stuff going missing at the airport. We suspect that it is the baggage handlers that are doing it.”

So. I went out to the airport, and, at first, it seemed like a glamorous job working at an airport since I ain’t never actually been on an airplane or even at an airport. But, workin’ as a Ramp Agent, or what they call a Ramper handling baggage, I soon found out was just dangerous and hard work.

See, what happens is that after your luggage is check in, they put it on a moving belt, which goes to the bag room where the bag room agents sort it out to put on the right plane. Next, we Rampers put the sorted luggage on a 4 wheel trailer they call a bag cart. When the bag cart is loaded, a bag tug pulls it out to the airplane. Where it is unloaded on a ramp, which goes up into the hold of the airplane where a baggage handler stacks it up. For each flight, we Rampers usually loaded 150 to 200 pieces of luggage each weighing about 50 to 70 pounds. The crew I worked with seemed like good bunch and hardly seemed like thieves.

I wasn’t working there more than five minutes when a heavy suitcase fell off the bag cart and hit me on the shoulder and head knocking me silly. “This job either learns you to be a Ramp Rat like us or kills you,” laughed one of the first guys I talked to when I got my senses back. The crew was always laughing at everything that happened even though some of them could hardly speak English. My fellow workers took great glee in sayin’ what could happen to me:

“Beak air full!” said this feller called Carlos after I got hit.

“What?” I said.

“Carlos said, ‘Be careful,’” goes the Lead Ramp Hand, which is what they call the boss.

“Don juicy howl E-Z Jew ken kit herd?” Carlos said.

“What? What he says?” I asked.

“Carlos said, ‘Don’t you see how easy you can get hurt?’”

“A roader can far on you.” said the Japanese guy everybody calls Tokyo.

That translated as “A loader can fall on you.”

I undertood John when he said, “You can get run over by a tug or a baggage cart or a mobile lounge.”

“Yo, check it out. Some dude got hisself locked in a baggage hold and flew to London. He was dead when he got there. You understand what I’m saying?” said Marvin.

“Yeah,” I said, “I could understand you.”

“Jew kin gets up in doo duh end-gin’” said the Mexican named Juan.”

“Juan say ‘You can get sucked into the engine.’”

“OK,” I says. “ I believe you all that this a dangerous job.”

Like I say, all them fellers in the crew was joking’ and clownin’ round when unloadin’ luggage from a flight to the cart. We started throwing the pieces at each other on the tarmac. We threw them as hard as we could to knock each other down. Juan and me started pitching them like basketballs into a net. And we all made a game out of it. I was tired out after the first plane but we kept it up in addition to doing other tasks.

I couldn’t figure out how these guys could be stealing stuff when we were throwing the suitcases at each other on the tarmac.

After watching closely as if I were just learning the job, I seen it were easy. Anybody could steal an entire piece of luggage in the bag room. But I ain’t going to say how they do it here or I might give somebody an idea, which they didn’t have before.

Then, I just watched to see who was doing what and pretty soon I had it all figured out. They was not doing it as a group but as individuals keeping what they was doing secret from each other.

When the shift ended I were all tuckered out. I could barely drag myself to the Four Aces Detective Agency office and I told Herman straight out, I didn’t want to go back to work at the airport. I said I were in danger of getting myself kilt. Herman said, “I understand where you are coming from, Gilbert.”

“Delbert,” I said.

“Yes, Delbert. I understand completely. Some of those crooks might kill you.”

That ain’t what I meant at all. I meant I don’t want to work at a job that is so exhausting and dangerous. In addition, the noise from the jets was so loud, I would be deaf in no time. However, I didn’t say none of that. I just left him think them crew members wanted to kill me. Maybe they did the way they threw them suitcases at me.

Then, Herman just gimme what they call a debriefin’ and he said that the police would take it from here.

Before I leave, he says to me. “You know, Delbert, Captain Jack is retiring. Archie and me have been discussing the matter and we would like to offer you his job as supervisor. I know I laughed about the value of your college training at first. But it does seem you know what you are doing. Also you proved yourself in the field on every job we sent you on. We can give you a substantial increase in salary, insurance, and profit sharing. .Would you be interested?”

“Yes I would,” I said. “but I ain’t got no car.”

“That ain’t Captain Jack’s car. That’s a company car. You got a license don’t you?”

“Yeah, but I don’t have it in this state. I’d have to pass the driver’s test.”

“Can you do that?”

“Sure. No problem.”

“Then, you’ll do it? You’ll take the job as supervisor?”

“You bet.”

“Fine,” he said. “That makes you our new Captain Herbert.”

“Delbert. Captain Delbert.”

“Right,” said Herman. “Sorry, about that, Delbert.”

“Captain Delbert,” says I.

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

Note to you, the reader: Did you enjoy this novella? If so, you might enjoy another book of mine published by Smashbooks: SEE YOU IN THE FUNNY PAPERS! -- ISBN #9781311379504


The Pea Eye

After getting his diploma in criminal justice from a backwoods community college, Delbert Clanton, a would-be private investigator, leaves The Economy Trailer Park to seek his fame and fortune in The Big Apple. Before you know it, he is hired to work in a position that he labels as being a "pea eye" but which you and I would say is really a job as an all-purpose substitute security guard. In one after another of these positions, both in uniform and plainclothes , he has a run of good luck in stumbling upon and apprehending one after another miscreant. Both Delbert and his employer, a seedy detective agency, seem to think he knows what he is doing, so, the next thing you know, he gets ahead in the security business. This all seems plausible if you believe everything that Delbert tells you for he is the narrator of the story. This is a humorous send-up of the private security business and Delbert is a character you won't soon forget.

  • Author: G. Howard Poteet
  • Published: 2015-11-20 23:40:09
  • Words: 15223
The Pea Eye The Pea Eye