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“Because They Matter”
Part 7 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here. Part 5 here. Part 6 here.
They hurried back to the tree line and sat down in the forest duff. “I can’t believe it.” Karen’s voice quavered. “What the hell?”
Jean, sitting next to her shoulder to shoulder, nodded. “I’ve never seen anything like it. My hands are still shaking.”
“Did you get pictures?”
“Yeah. Not that I ever want to see that again.”
“I know. We should get pictures of the license plates. I recognize that announcer from the diner.”
“Good idea.” Jean put her hands over her eyes. “I just need a minute.”
The announcer came on again, introducing the first fight of the night.
Jean closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Let’s get this done and get out of here. I don’t want to see a fight.”
“Good.” Karen stood up and gave Jean a hand. “Get the announcer guy’s truck first.”
“Yep. But it will be hard with the tailgate down.”
“Do what you can. A picture of him would be good too.”
They crept back out of the woods working their way around the parked vehicles, staying to the shadows, as Jean tried to get a position on the announcer and the truck. She got pictures of men taking bets and a good bit of the crowd, as she moved into place. Finally, staying low, she managed a shot through the fence of the truck plate. Then more of the guy himself, standing in the bed of the truck, narrating the fight. Jean did her best not to look but the sound of the dogs screaming and the people shouting was overwhelming.
She led Karen out of the crowd. They edged around the outside, taking pictures of all the plates until they were nearly back to the woods. That’s when the world lit up. Car headlights came on. Cruisers with their light bars flashed red and blue. A high-volume PA system came on and a male voice was shouting for everyone to stand still, they were all under arrest. Jean and Karen broke for the woods but three guys stood up and pointing assault rifles, yelled at them to halt. Jean put up her hands, Karen right beside her, did the same.
It was an hour and a half later when Chief of Police Nick White came over to the group of prisoners and picked them out. “Come with me.”
Jean’s stomach, already knotted with dread, did flip-flops. She glanced at Karen who gave her head a shake. Nick didn’t look like he was going to be happy.
Next to his cruiser, he turned on them. “What in the name of all that’s holy are you two doing here?” His hands went to his hips and he was glaring at them so hard Jean thought lasers would shoot from his eyes.
She held up her camera. “We took pictures. To bring to you.”
Jean saw Nick shudder as he drew in a slow breath. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?”
Karen nodded. “We do. Did. Well, they didn’t see us.”
He glared at her and she wilted.
“I should arrest you and take you with the rest of these…” he waved a hand. “Where’s your car?”
“Back up the road. Hidden.” Karen replied in a near whisper.
“Then get to it. Don’t let me see you for many days.”
Jean and Karen turned to hurry off.
Jean’s heart froze along with the rest of her muscles. She turned around. “Yes?”
“Send me those pictures.”
She nodded, turned and scurried away with Karen.
When Karen arrived at Jean’s, Jean invited her in. “Come in. We’ll have a glass of wine and download these pictures. Get them off to Nick.”
Karen nodded. “Might need some of that scotch tonight.”
They poured their drinks and went upstairs to Jean’s computer. She quickly downloaded them, put them in a file, and copied it to a thumb drive.”
“You aren’t going to look at them?”
Jean shook her head. Karen looked white as the computer paper. “Nope. I’ll take this over to the station in the morning. I don’t want to see these pictures.”
“Good idea.” Karen slammed back the scotch. “I’ll go with you.”
At the Police Department in the morning, Jean and Karen asked for Lieutenant Oliver. When Paul came to the window, he glared at them. “Didn’t I tell you to stay out of it? Nick was incoherent. I’ve known him since grade school. I’ve never seen him so mad. He should have dragged you two in here to spend the night.”
Jean and Karen nodded together. “I know. I’m sorry.” Jean slid the thumb drive through the small slot at the bottom of the window. “We brought the pictures.”
Paul snatched them up out of the bin. “Good.” He took a breath and shook his head. “Why’d you do it?”
Jean shrugged as Karen shook her head. “We hoped to get pictures. For evidence.”
Paul scrubbed his face with his right hand. “I’d tell you not to do it again but I know that’s a waste of breath. Go on now before Nick sees you.”
The two women hurried off.
“Dang, Paul was mad too,” Jean said as she held the door for Karen. “I thought he was going to drag us in and put us in jail.”
“I’ve known Paul and Nick back as far as grade school, too. They’re usually so calm. I guess that’s what makes them good cops.” Karen got in the car when Jean popped the locks. “Let’s go take some dogs for a walk.”
A week later the woman from the dog park hurried up to them as they turned loose their temporary charges. “Thank you, thank you.” She gave them each a bear hug. “The police found Sandy.”
Jean and Karen both grinned. “How nice!” Jean said.
“Where was she?” Karen asked.
“Someone took her.” The woman said. “She was going to be used as a bait dog, they called it. Some horrible dog-fighting ring.”
Jean felt her stomach roll. Karen’s face went white. “What?”
The woman nodded. “They did a raid a couple of Saturday’s ago, and picked up a whole lot of little dogs. Poor Sandy was in the group. They just called me yesterday. I can get Sandy today from the Animal Control Office.”
“Good for you.” Jean said. “But we didn’t have anything to do with that.”
“Yes, you did. You went around town and asked about Sandy. The police told me.”
Jean and Karen exchanged glances. “Well. I’m glad we could be of some small help.”
The woman hugged them each again and hurried back to her friends at the picnic table. Jean chuckled. “So Nick and Paul gave us the credit.”
Karen grinned. “I guess so. I always knew they were great guys.”
The two of them followed their charges out into the yard. “Here Arthur. Here Arthur.” She wagged a brand-new tennis ball at him and he came charging over. “Get the ball,” she yelled and threw it. Every dog in the park went after it. She grinned. It felt good to help.
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