Detective Steuzi has just been fired from the FBI
|Peter Steuzi sat on a park bench watching the pigeons. His thoughts went unspoken as he tossed a piece of popcorn to first one and then another. Gradually a flock began to form. Finally, he poured the remains into his hand and tossed the last kernels it into their midst. Amid a clatter of flapping wings, they swirled about the unexpected bounty. Slapping the salt dust from his hand he tossed the empty bag into a trash can next to the bench. It's been one hell of a rollercoaster ride, he mused. It’s hard going from a somebody to nobody, yeah, a big nobody despised by half the Americans in the country. I suppose I’ve nobody to blame but myself. Think about it, one minute I’m at the top of my game, doing what I love and the next I’m down in the weeds, tossed aside like a used condom. He realized he’d done wrong, but resisted believing that he was as bad as some claimed.
Sometimes he’d go to a bar, but not the same places he used to go as an Agent. The old crowd wanted no part of him. "Fair weather friends," he muttered dismissively, How many careers did I make at the Bureau and now they avoid me like the plague? Anybody I know makes themselves scarce. If that’s not bad enough, word is I’m about to be indicted. Yeah, imagine that, for falsifying 302s, as if that’s the least I’m guilty of. My “buddy,” Joe Primo is about to rat me out. That could spell some jail time. After spending my life locking up the bad guys I could be having one for a cell mate. How ironic is that?
His reveries were interrupted by squeaking breaks and a tall man riding a bicycle. He was wearing spectacles and dressed like a tourist from Florida. “Is that you Pete?” he queried. “Of course it is, I know that.”
Steuzi looked up, surprised anyone would recognize him and admit to knowing it.
“One of our agents said I would find you here but I’m always surprised when things work out the way they’re supposed to.”
"Who are you?" Pete asked.
"I'm Manny Hardin," said the stranger getting off his ten-speed. He was dressed like a tourist from Florida. Taking it by the handlebars he carefully alined it with the edge of the grass and stepped down the kickstand. He walked around and sat taking the unoccupied seat, hands atop his thighs. There was an awkward pause and the strangers mannerisms reminded Pete of a virtuoso about to play the piano. "I've been following your circumstances and have a proposal to make."
"And what might this drama be all about?" The word "Agents" had put his defenses on high alert.
"I'de like for you to come to work for our enterprise." The word "enterprise" raised another red flag.
It was an awkward situation and Pete began looking for more space, Standing to leave he offered, "I might not be a good candidate for long term employment right now, but thanks anyway."
" You might want to hear me out, Hardin continued, you're going to be facing legal expenses and the prospect of jail time. Are you a rich man?"
An ambulance was blaring somewhere in the distance and seemed to be getting closer. He felt a stinging in his neck as if caused by a bee sting. Shaking it off he took a couple of steps. Fortunately that Hardin guy was there to steady him. "'Come, sit down, Agent Steuzi, you seem lightheaded.