The man walked over the path to the front door. His short sleeve button down held the creases he put on them with an iron. The dark belt hid the line where his shirt was tucked into his kakis. On his feet, he wore loafers with white socks. The full pocket protector and horn-rimmed glasses completed his uniform. It was the same uniform he wore everyday for the past three years.
Raising his hand, the man rapped on the door of the poorly maintained house. A high-pitched bark and shuffling noise came from the other side. The man knocked again.
The door flew inward. A shirtless man with grimy jeans and greasy hair stood barefoot in the door. “Yeah!” He drank beer from a can in his hand.
The outside man raised his head. “Are you-”
“I don’t want any!” The shirtless man swung an arm, and the door moved.
“Good. I’m not selling anything,” the shorter man said. “Are you Fernando Gomes?”
The shirtless man stopped the door. “What of it?”
“My name is Skip,” the well-dressed man said. “And I am here to inform you that you missed your court date from three days ago.”
“Really?” Fernando turned to the inside of the house. “Mateo, come here. Check this out.”
A large man with a beachball sized gut and thick arms stepped into the door. “What’s this?”
“This is Skip,” Fernando said with a laugh dancing on his lips. “He reminded me that I missed my court date.”
“I’m also here to take you in to reschedule,” Skip said, pushing his glasses up on his nose.
Fernando busted out a laughing and Mateo snorted.
“Man, get out of here,” Fernando said. “You might get hurt if you keep talking like that. Go back to your computer job or something.” He snaked an arm out and slammed the door.
Skip stepped forward and put a hand on the door before it closed. “By law, I can come in there and drag you out of your abode.”
Again both men laughed.
Fernando nodded towards Mateo. Mateo stepped forward and slapped Skip’s arm.
Skip’s arm didn’t move and Mateo pulled his hand back shaking it.
“Damn man,” Mateo looked at Skip. “What the hell?”
Fernando glanced at Mateo then moved his eyes to Skip. “You ain’t coming here, vato.”
“As I said,” Skip locked eyes with Fernando. “The law is on my side on this.” He lifted a foot to step over the threshold.
Fernando stepped back as Mateo squared up with Skip. A large watermelon sized fist careened for Skip’s head.
Skip didn’t budge. His head wasn’t rocked back and no bruises or blood appeared on his face. The only thing damaged were his glasses.
“I hate it when people do that,” Skip said around the fist in his face.
Mateo bellowed and pulled his fist back. He clutched it to his chest with his free hand and flexed his knees. Mateo’s ashen face dripped sweet and his lips flopped. Both eyes lost their water.
Skip blinked. “Now I get to defend myself.” With an easy stride, he kicked the big shin of Mateo. A loud crack sounded.
Mateo’s eyes rolled, and he fell, blocking the door way.
“Shit!” Fernando backpedaled into a wall.
“So, are you willing to come with me?” Skip stepped over Mateo’s body and stood within arms reach of Fernando.
“Fuck you!” Fernando darted into the living room. He bent over a small end table and rummaged in a drawer for something.
“I understand your predicament.” Skip walked into the living room. He stayed at the archway and waited. “If you go to jail, you won’t be free. But if you are free, you’ll just do more of the same. You could do your time and turn your life around. Many have done it and succeed. I feel you can, too.” Skip smiled and nodded his head.
Fernando pulled out pistol and aimed it at Skip. “I ain’t going anywhere.” Fernando sneered as the gun steadied.
The revolver barked.
Fernando’s sneer evaporated as he watched the bullet fall from Skip’s forehead. There wasn’t so much as a smudge on the skin.
Skip walked forward while Fernando screamed in place.
“It would have been easier if you had just complied.” Skip reached out and gripped Fernando by the arm. In a smooth motion he pulled. “It’s people like you that keep me employed. And very well I might add.” Fernando flew from his feet and plowed into the shag carpeting of the living room. His shoulder knocked the nightstand over.
Skip stepped over Mateo, who had passed out. He dragged Fernando over the lump and out the front door. Fernando dropped the revolver and flailed his open hand to grab the door jamb.
Skip felt the resistance and jerk Fernando’s arm. The sucking pop sounded and Fernando screamed louder. He let go of the door jamb and clutched his shoulder.
“Honestly,” Skip said. “You should have learned at this point. Just comply and it will be easier.” Skip continued dragging Fernando over the front lawn, the sidewalk, then the road.
Eventually, Skip stopped at a large white van. He opened the back and hoisted Fernando through an open door.
“You guys be quiet now.” Skip closed the door and moved for the driver’s door.
Fernando looked around and floundered for a seat.
“New meat rides on the floor,” a low voice growled. “Besides, if there’s a problem he’ll stop the van. One of us is gonna get hurt.”
“Yeah,” a nasally voice added. “Only worse than we are now.”
Fernando’s eyes slowly adjusted to the dark. He made out seven burly bodies, five of which sat on the benches. The other two didn’t move and laid on the floor next to him.
Fernando’s voice cracked. “Where are we going?”
“To jail,” another voice answered.
“But that guy,” Fernando countered. “He’s…he’s-”
“A bounty hunter,” a higher pitched voice answered. “This is what he does.”