The Atlanta Avengers, via New York, were amazing. I have never seen so thorough a collection of evidence in a case. They had tracked and trailed and done everything but tagged their targets. Sophie was particularly adept at explaining the intricacies of the conspiracy, as she saw it. The only problem was catching the bad guys exchanging the goods, their paws red handed. . .so to speak. The canine crusaders were fairly certain that the exchange of drugs and other items would occur tonight at an abandoned warehouse just on the edge of town. It took some persuading, but Tom and two of his pals agreed to help and keep the information from going up the channels, especially of higher ups in the department were involved.
After a rousing dinner in one of the back rooms at O’Malleys, we got down to business. I ordered prime rib for the girls and fresh salmon for the cats, and maybe a few bottles of brews. Hey! What happens at O’Malley’s, stays at O’Malley’s. Though I will hint that Sophie is a very naughty gal. I might have to rethink a few things. Anyway, back to the plan.
We had no idea of how many bad guys we would be dealing with, though clearly if each crew brought at least a few hands there would be at least a dozen. We didn’t think it possible that we could contain the individuals without sparking an unwinnable firefight that had our side outgunned. Then the quiet but introspective Delilah had a brilliant idea. Why not hint to Wabo somehow that the Wolves already had whatever it was they were looking for (I had decided not to tell them everything, for Honey’s sake) and that they were going to hold it as further control over the local arm of his organization. But what about Honey, I asked. If we were able to take down the two groups, maybe one of them would roll over with information about where they were keeping her. It was a good idea, but I wasn’t sure how we could get the info to Wabo’s people without them becoming suspicious. Then I thought of Phil. They had left a contact number. I excused myself for a few minutes and hustled over to Phil’s house. He was game, as usual.
“Hello. Let me talk to this Sattar guy. He left me this number.” Phil turned to me to indicate that he was on hold. It took a few minutes but then someone was back on the line. “Yeah, yeah. It’s me, the guy you roughed up. Yeah. I wasn’t gonna call you, but that detective guy you wanted to know about came by earlier. Pissed me off, I’ll tell you. Said he was going to Miami for a break. Seems he got some quick cash and is headed to the bars on the beach. And me, with a destroyed shop and laid up in bed. Nothing, he didn’t offer me nothing.”
Phil was quiet for a few minutes, listening. Then he said, “I’m not sure. He said he traded something valuable. I don’t know who, no. He did say something about Atlanta though. Said it was tough dealing with dogs, whatever that means. Yes, Yes. OK. You promise to leave me alone? Ok.”
Phil grinned at me. We had set the bait, now just had to see if the prey was gonna run with the hook. I thanked my pal and scurried back to O’Malley’s. Clearly the crew had had a few more bottles, but they still seemed alert, if not a little flushed. We had a little while before anything broke out. I told them about our call. Sophie seemed a little sad that she might not get into any gun play. But it was better for everyone involved that we keep their involvement minimal, and mine too. Tom would have a tough time explaining it all.
At about 10 we set up observation posts near the warehouse. Tom thought it better I man my own spot and he put the gals in another. Sophie winked as she wobbled away. Delilah gave me little bit of stink eye though. The coppers installed a listening device, but reception wasn’t great.
At about ten we observed headlights, and the Pantera crew had arrived. Three identical black Explorers with tinted windows and rolling menace. They pulled into the warehouse though a side entrance. About a half hour later a truck and two tricked out sedans rolled up and were admitted inside. It wasn’t long before we knew our plan had snagged a whopper---hook, line and stinker. We could hear shouting and accusations as emotions flared. Suddenly the inside of the warehouse erupted in gunfire, a small battlefield encased inside the brick walls. It lasted for about ten minutes. Tom told everyone to sit tight and let it all play out. We could hear sirens start to come on downtown and knew backup in blue would soon be there. Then a door opened and we saw Sattar, his fine duds blotched in red, stagger out of the building. He didn’t get far before he collapsed on the street. Smoke started pouring out of the opened door. Then police cars started arriving. More and more arrived, like ants to a piece of discarded candy. Several went in and started yelling. Tom and his two guys rushed over and offered to help. The cover was that he had just heard about the meet and had been setting up nearby when all hell broke loose.
After about a half hour my cell rang. “It’s Tom.”
“It is a mess in here. Sophie was right about the goods. About a ton of stuff in the truck. Three of the Wolves are dead, and two others seriously wounded. You saw Sattar. Another five Panteras are dead, caught by machine gun fire. They didn’t have much a chance. They were bunched up, which was stupid. Wabo is still alive, but I don’t think for long. He was still cursing and screaming in delirium. Something about the crazy bastard and a film. We got two others arrested, also injured. But Duffy, and I need you to listen to me carefully. . .you need to go home right now. I mean, right now.”
“I don’t want to say. You just need to get gone, I’ll talk with you later. Promise me.”
“Okay, cool, I’ll go. But you need to give me something.”
“Duff, we got the big wig, the top banana, the head of local criminal operations. And we gonna take them in, but you can’t get involved. Promise me you will skedaddle.”
“Sure, I’m outta here right now.” I called up the gals and told them to meet me at my place. I told them where I kept the key. Then, I hid myself in another window, hoping no one would see.
I should have listened. I will never forget what I saw. Tom came out first and scanned around to see if anyone was watching, and I could see other cops agitated and excited as they pulled up a paddy wagon. Then they went in to bring the boss out, I supposed. And then she came out. Honey. Dressed in a satin full-length gown of gold trimmed in black, her paws handcuffed behind her, her fabulous fur mussed up. My heart stopped dead in my chest. Honey had played me. Such a fool was I.
[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy
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