Jessie Dalton came to a sudden stop, startled by the large Rottweiler facing him. He fully expected to be attacked in the next second as the dog gained his feet and charged him in a maniacal fury destined for intruders trespassing into his homeland. And Jessie could not blame the big brute. He was only doing what his owner expected of him. He had two choices. One, he could spin around and run, hoping to make it to the chain-link fence bordering the backyard he had trespassed into. Hopping that fence would be no problem as the monster dog closed on him. He just didn’t know if the flimsy barrier would be enough to place between the charging dog and himself. That one-hundred and forty-five-pound brutus might tear through the fencing to get to him.
Under normal circumstances, he would not have cut through a resident’s backyard, especially going through the trouble of scaling the chainlink fence that clearly defined this yard was off limits. But this one tonight was personal. Lucas Holland broke into his house and stole a gun that could land the snot-nosed little kid in a lot of trouble if he was forced to use it. Lucas not only broke into his house, but also removed the pistol, a box of shells, and an expensive silencer. It pissed Jessie off. He had refused to work with the troubled kid over a dozen times in the past year. His lifelong friendship with a certain detective on the LPD force had him feeling obligated to step up to the plate when the man asked him to be a Big Brother to the teen-age kid. The fact that he and the detective had former ties to a biker club during their own turbulent past, had a lot to do with Jessie’s show of compassion for the wild-child, son of a president of a club known for their ties to the world of drugs and dog fighting.
And after accepting the task of becoming the boy’s volunteer mentor, Jessie had allowed the kid into his circle, a world very few were allowed in. After serving as vice president of the Outlaws for five early years of his life, Jessie Dalton broke away from the biker world as a lone wolf and a nomad. He started his investigating agency on his own and he rarely trusted anyone to get close to him. He had let down his guard with this kid. Bought him a dirt bike. Bought him his own racing leathers. His own black leather jacket. Entered him into a local do jo. Sponsored him in boxing competitions. Taught him how to shoot the many guns in his personal arsenal, shooting his nine, his .45, his .357, his .30-30, and even his .50 caliber Sharps. This is how the kid repaid him? By stealing his pistol?
A voice came from behind him. Jessie glanced over one shoulder to see a tall, broad-shouldered Hispanic man on the other side of the chainlink fence. Like Jessie, the man had dark hair and a neatly-trim-med goatee, speckled with salt and pepper shades. Where Jessie wore his long strands in finely-braided tail, the man wore his hair short, yet parted down the center as though at one time, he, too, might have been a long-hair. White teeth showed as the large Mexican smiled.
“You will find,” he said, “three more drugged and sleeping hounds on your path if you keep heading to the east.”
Looking back at the snoring Rott, Jessie asked, “Drugged?”
“Not by me,” he said. “I like dogs. I would do them no harm.”
Cautiously, Jessie walked up to the sleeping dog. He kneeled beside him, carefully examining the ground around his feed bowl. He found nothing to indicate the man was right about the dog being drugged, but he did gently lift the Rott’s large head, then even more gently settled it back down. The dog did not wake up. “Yes,” the Hispanic man said, leaning against the fence with both hands resting on it, “it made me quite curious, too. And three more zoned out with drugs in their systems. Someone did not want to have every dog in the area alerting others to his presence. He fed them dopey meat.”
Looking ahead to the next yard, Jessie could make out the forms of two Golden retrievers sleeping side by side next to a large kennel area. “Why would someone be this thorough in covering his tracks?”
The large man raised both hands in a gesture of puzzlement. “A man who slipped over your southern border two days ago.”
Jessie took a longer look at the man standing no more than six feet from him. “How is it you know this?” he asked.
The man grinned. “Crossing the border is my business. Your ICE agents name me a coyote. My name is Hector. I have been escorting questionable people from Mexico into the States for many years now. This hadji came on the radar of my boss, Don Miguel Francisco. He asked that I follow him and find out what he is up to. But perhaps, I have said too much.”
Hector pointed at the bulge at Jessie’s right hip. “You are armed, correct?”
Nodding, Jessie said, “And you are perceptive.”
“You are no police man, right?” Hector said. “Creeping around out here in the dark is not the way of your law enforcement. And so?”
“Private investigator,” Jessie said.
“Investigating this hadji?” Hector asked, curiously.
“You’re saying a Muslim, right?”
“A very dangerous one who holds much animosity for America.”
“Well, I am looking for one who is slightly less dangerous, although he tends to cause his own share of troubles.”
“A juvenile? One with shaggy blond hair? A kid who would blow away in the breeze if it blew too strong?”
Shifting his stance to fully fact Hector, Jessie said, “Yes. You have seen him?”
“Yes,” Hector said, “just follow the sleeping dogs.”