| The next day, after seeing the kid again with the bag of Mexican food, Danny was on the Sacto-south loop coming back through the capital at about dusk. They stopped in front of the station and Danny peered out. Once again, he could see what looked very much like dim light coming from a far window in the red-brick warehouse next to the train tracks.|
He got a bee in his bonnet. He went to find the Frump.
“Look,” he said to him confidentially, “it’s one stop away from Davis and I want to get off in Sacramento to go do some shopping.”
Franklin looked pained. “You know they don’t like it when we do stuff like that, Dan. You’ll get me in trouble.”
“Come on Franklin, I’m good for it.” Danny pleaded his case. “I’ll make it up with some yard duty tomorrow, promise.”
The Frump heaved his large belly around some and sighed. “Promise?”
“Promise, I swear,” Danny replied, holding up his scout’s honor fingers.
“Ah, well,” the man sighed, “I’ll cover for you, don’t make a habit of this.”
Danny shook his head, no. Grabbing his backpack, he jumped off the train, quickly stuffing his cap and other paraphernalia into the bag.
He shouldered the bag and sauntered through the train station stopping for a hot coffee and a bag of chips. He waved a salute to a couple of girls at the station who knew him. They both giggled and waved back at him. He walked out of the front of the station and stood awhile to get his bearings.
The locations looked a little different from this angle. He decided the warehouse was out the front and to his right a block or two. He started walking and veered right. The streets here were not in the best of shape, a lot of cracks in the sidewalks and places where the old trees had pulled the sidewalk up. Obviously, no one had bothered to get them repaired. There weren’t too many bums in this area of the street for which Danny was glad, he didn’t want to be seen by anyone, in case someone asked questions.
It took him about five minutes to get to the front parking lot of the old warehouse. The asphalt was faded with cracks and potholes everywhere. Weeds were trying hard to reclaim the land but half of them were dried out and brown. There was an ancient metal fence around the property with the gate was sagging open. Danny gained access easily.
He had by this time finished his coffee and chips and stuck the remains quietly into his bag. Loose gravel covered the broken asphalt and he tried to make as little noise as possible as he approached the building. He couldn’t see any signs of life.
Quietly he moved around to the side of the building. The place had a gloomy, empty feeling to it. The early twilight was descending and a light breeze played with his dark, curly hair on his neck. He could hear absolutely nothing.
Danny kept walking and occasionally peeked in the windows, searching for the source of the light he had seen. The dirt and grime was so bad he couldn’t see much. Finally, he came upon a small side door with little window panes above the door handle.
Pulling pulled a handkerchief from his backpack, he wound it around his hand. With one quick ‘pop’, he knocked out the bottom pane. Carefully he stuck his hand through the pane and slowly opened the door. Working hard to avoid stepping on the broken glass inside, he found himself in what appeared to have been an old mini-kitchen, maybe for workers to have coffee or eat lunch.
The light dimmed the further he went into the building. He entered a large, gloomy space that looked like a packing area of sorts for manufacturing. At the far end of the building where the metal roll-up doors were, he could see stacks of boxes. These looked new.
Still hearing nothing, he worked his way back to the rear of the big room. The boxes were all about 2’ x 3′ wide and stacked on top of each other. They were all fairly new with a bunch of writing on the side. He examined the writing – Spanish. He could easily see where the dust had been disturbed all around the boxes and leading to the doors. It looked like they might been moved here by truck. On the side were heavy wooden shelves and he could see several used containers of food from a fast-food take out place. Mama Rosas was printed on an empty bag.
Maybe that was why that kid was here, he thought to himself, delivering dinner to someone.
He went over to the boxes and found they were sealed with packing tape. It looked like from the picture on the side they were packages of kitchen baking soda. He saw one box that had been opened and he went over and poked his nose in. Boxes and boxes of light orange boxes were stacked inside advertising the benefits of Salvo’s Home Baking Soda. Danny was mystified.
Why ship out boxes of Mexican baking soda here, was the duty or tax on this stuff that high? He shook his head. It made no sense. He picked up a box and shook it and could feel the heavy powder moving back and forth inside.
I wonder, he thought. He pulled out his old Navy multi-purpose knife and got out the smallest, thinnest blade. He slipped it carefully into the top edge of the box, hoping that it would look like an accidental cut from packing. Making a thin slice, he shook some powder in his hand. He licked one finger and tasted a tiny bit of the powder. Phew! He spit it out, cocaine! No doubt about it. He was putting the box back into the cardboard box when he heard a noise in front of the metal roll-up door. Someone was coming!
He shoved the soda back into the box and ripped his shoes off so he wouldn’t make any noise running through the warehouse. He beat it back to the little door, slipped his shoes back on and crept out of the door. He ducked down and worked his way back to the front of the building keeping below the level of the windows.
It was dark by now but there was no other way off the property other than the front gate. The back of the lot faced the train tracks and there was no through way. He got to the corner of the building and with his heart in his mouth, peeked around the corner.
Surprise, surprise. Mr. Teardrop was standing behind a black pickup truck and unloading more boxes into the warehouse. He was working with another guy and they were talking to each other in Spanish. His fancy clothes were gone and he was working in a black t-shirt, the same black pants and the cowboy boots.
Danny sucked in his breath and waited until both of them were busy in the warehouse with boxes. He moved quickly to the fence and kept to the shadows while he beat a path out of the lot and back to the station. He felt sure they had not seen him.
Back at the station he jumped on the next train to Davis and finally relaxed into a seat. He realized his heart was pounding. His instincts about this guy were right and he still didn’t want to have a mano-a-mano conflict with the dude. God knows what he would pull out of one of those boots. A little shiver went down Danny’s spine. He wasn’t sure if it was excitement or fear. Ah, well, he looked forward to getting home.
Next morning he was in the watch commander’s office getting chewed out.
“You did what! When, while on duty! Tell me you are kidding me.”
Roosevelt, the watch commander, an overweight middle-aged man of about fifty was getting progressively redder and redder in the face.
“What would make you even contemplate doing such a stupid thing?” he demanded.
Danny put his hands up in an imploring manner. “He has been riding this same train for months and never seems to have the usual stuff with him that most people carry and he always gets off at the same stop.”
“He doesn’t carry the usual stuff, the usual stuff!” Commander Roosevelt seemed to be speechless. “Well, maybe we can match him up with my wife someday. She carries enough stuff for three people!”
Daniel Davies sat quietly, his hands folded in his lap. He had given his report of what he had found and the suspicions he had been having for some time. It was up to the commander now. The train company had been transporting this guy back and forth to his drug drop now for several months.
“You know what you are like, Davis?” the commander asked belligerently.
“No sir,” was the reply.
“You are like that ball of lint under my bed that keeps rolling around and collects other pieces of lint and just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
“Yes, sir,” was the reply.
“That and a royal pain in my ass, is what you are.” Commander clutched his coffee cup so hard Danny was afraid he was going to break it. The man sat there in a brown study for several minutes.
“Ok, this is what we will do,” he finally spoke. “You will call the LAPD and get hold of the drug division and get hold of a detective, someone with some authority. Got me?” he said with hostility. “You will make your report to them and then ask them what it is they want us to do. Thereafter, I want you to fill out your incident, report to me with their recommendations, and I want it back on my desk by morning, am I clear?”
“Absolutely sir,” Danny replied.
“And don’t go off doing anything else dumb on company time because I am the one who will have to fill out the report and I hate filling out reports. Right!”
“Right sir.” Danny grabbed his cap and practically backed out of the room into the door which the secretary had just opened.
“And what’s wrong with you?” she wanted to know. Danny didn’t answer and kept going. #
Danny made his report to LAPD and was assigned to Detective Sergeant Terrence Dillon.
“So, did you actually see this guy, you made eye contact with him yourself?” Dillon wanted to know.
“Yep, several times actually. He would end up in my train cars somehow over and over again and then always get off at the Sacramento station.”
“So, you called me, why?” was Dillon’s question.
“The seat designation indicates he got onboard at the Los Angeles train depot and that is your area.”
“True, true,” Dillon replied. Danny didn’t mention the news conference he had just seen on the TV the week before.
“You know this guy’s name?”
“No, I don’t but I know how we can get it.”
“I’m listening,” the detective said.
Danny told him the plan.
“You think you can do this without making him suspicious? I don’t want any dead conductors on my case.”
“I think so,” Danny told him of the surveillance projects he had done in the Navy. The detective seemed impressed.
The next day, Danny had his report done and typed up and on the commander’s desk. Roosevelt came in with his first cup of coffee and scowled but said nothing and said down heavily in his swivel chair. He picked up the report and read and Danny sat and waited.
“Ok, so this is what he wants you to do right?”
“That is it, get the guy’s name.”
“Damn it, Davies,” the commander huffed. “Can you do this without getting into any fights with this guy?”
“Absolutely sir, no problem,” was the calm response.
“I don’t like it but take Franklin to be your backup man and no cowboy stuff, right!”
“Right sir, no cowboys, just a little info and that’s it.”
The commander huffed, and wiped the coffee off his walrus style mustache.
“Call me as soon as you get it.”
“Will do, sir.”
Danny got hold of the Frump and gave him the skinny on operation Teardrop.
“No kid,” Franklin looked amazed. “Cocaine?”
Danny confirmed it.
“Wow, drugs on the train. I never.”
“Anyway, Franklin, you understand what we are going to do right?”
Frumpy gulped, “Got it. We will be on the lookout for Tear Drop and if he is not in your car, I or another conductor will call you on the walkie-talkie and you will come and punch the tickets for the car where he is sitting.”
“Right,” said Danny. “Don’t bother talking to him or trying to engage with him or he will get suspicious and jump the train.”
Frumpy nodded nervously, “No engagements, got it.”
Danny laughed and hit his friend on the shoulder, “I’ll be doing all the tough stuff, relax.”
The Frump didn’t look relaxed a bit. # It was two days later that Danny got the call from Franklin. “He’s up here dude.”
“On my way,” was the curt response.
He started at the front of the cabin as he always did and slowly made his way back to Tear Drop, not rushing, not in a hurry and talking to the passengers as usual. He got to Tear Drop and paused and reached up to the card above the seat and frowned.
“Hum,” he said thoughtfully, “sorry, sir, looks like I may have to check your ticket one more time. You don’t mind?” and he smiled the big smile.
“No esta problema, man,” the Hispanic guy replied. “Whatever you want, you got it, heh?” He pulled the ticket out of the back pocket of his jeans and smiled so his gold tooth showed.
Danny scanned the ticket with the meter machine and it clicked that the memory had taken.
“Gracias senor,” he nodded cordially and handed back the ticket.
The man smiled again and put his ticket away. “De nada.”
Danny moved on and collected the rest of the tickets from the remaining passengers. As soon as he was done with the car he made his way without haste to the downstairs mini office and pulled up the meter memory.
“Jose Gonzalez Gonzalez. Original at least,” he said to Frumpy.
“You got it, right?” whispered a nervous Ted.
“Yes, I got it.” Danny smacked his partner on the shoulder. “Relax.”
He got on the phone and called the commander and gave all the details on when, where and how the ticket was purchased and the man’s name.
“Ok,” Roosevelt replied. “We’ll get on it to get his id info. And remember, smart college boy, no funny stuff with this guy. He sounds dangerous.” Danny promised to be good and hung up the phone.
It was then up to the two of them to go back to their jobs just like nothing had ever happened. #
It was two weeks later that the Commander called Davies back into his office.
He appeared and his boss waved him to a chair without ceremony. He sat down, crossed his legs and folded his hands in his lap.
“Okay,” the Commander said as though they were continuing a conversation.
“Here’s this.” He handed over a letter from the Sacramento Police Department and it was a Witness Request form addressed to David Daniel Davies c/o of Pacific Railroad Company requesting his attendance at a suspect lineup.
“So,” Roosevelt huffed, “they want you to go.”
“Okay,” Danny replied.
“I think you should take Franklin too since he also saw the guy.”
“Okay,” said Danny slowly waiting for what else was coming.
“Davies,” the Commander started. “Davies…I’m not happy about this.”
“We were just doing our duty sir,” Danny said sincerely.
“I don’t care,” replied Roosevelt, “this guy is a Mexican National, a professional criminal. Damn it, the passport he gave our people was fake!”
“Someone could have gotten hurt with all this nonsense,” the Commander seemed to be running out of steam.
“People were getting hurt sir,” Danny’s said quietly. “They were selling top grade cocaine out of that warehouse. Lots of people get hurt with that stuff.”
Roosevelt stroked his mustache and avoided eye contact. “Well…” He seemed to be hunting for something to add to what he had already said. “In the future can you just try to keep your nose out of other people’s business? Try?”
“Yes sir,” Danny got up to go and almost gave a military style salute but stopped himself in time. Instead he gave a short quasi-salute and left. #
Later that evening, Danny and Frumpy were lingering at the entrance of Lupe’s. They were trying to figure out how to tie up the Frumps cocker spaniel so they could go in the restaurant. “I told you not to bring the dog,” Danny was irritable. “She misses me,” the Frump countered with a pout. Suddenly, the front door swung open and the cook came out and walked over to Danny.
“Is okay man, I talk to her.”
“Her?” Danny was confused.
“My cousin, Randi. The one you got you eye on all the time.”
“I, I, I never….” Danny was stumbling around in his own defense.
“Is okay, Man. I tell her you too old for her and plus,” he leaned really close, “and you gay.”
“What, what…..where did you get that from?” Danny was really starting to get annoyed now.
The cook pointed his finger down at Frumpy, Frumpy’s cocker spaniel and then shrugged his shoulders like to say “The facts speak for themselves.”
Danny’s mouth was still open when the cook turned to go back in the kitchen. “Is okay, man, you know. Is a new day.” He winked at Danny and disappeared.
Danny was mumbling to himself when he went in and sat down. Randi appeared and carefully laid down a menu in front of him.
“And what will you two be having tonight, sir?” she asked quite formally.
Danny sighed and opened the menu. The End
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