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How 'Bout "Relentless" As A Post Title?

Off from work. Family had their own agenda for the upcoming day and night. I thought I’d indulge in some Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force recreation. Snippets here and there for them is nifty, but having a huge chunk of time to devote entirely to them? Fantastic! I could hardly wait for tomorrow to come.

I should’ve known how the day was going to go when I got up that morning and couldn’t find the shirt I’d wanted to wear -- or the one I decided would be my second option, or my third choice, either. Did I mention I’ve got a twelve year old daughter who’s recently taken to borrowing my clothes?

It all started with me waking up roughly three hours earlier than I needed to, after only sleeping roughly three hours. I had some information regarding a JADE detective I wanted to look into and timing was everything. Despite the great garment fiasco, I managed to leave the house shortly after the moment I’d planned.

A mile or so up the road, my car’s check oil lamp started flickering; it only does that when it’s an emergency. I had to stop and buy some. Naturally, what I needed was on the shelf all the way in the back of the huge store, at the furthest point away from the door I picked to come in at.

Merchandise bought, I rushed out. I had to re-pop the hood once because it came slamming down while I was unscrewing the cap of the SAE30 I’d purchased. My sedan’s thirst for lubrication satisfied, I started the engine and heard the I need gasoline chime accompany whatever latest hit song was playing on the radio. Ugh! Another unplanned stop. And one more after that for, good grief, tampons.

When I at last arrived at my destination, my window of opportunity, much like my car hood, had slammed shut; I was exactly two minutes too late for what I wanted to see. I hung around for ten more, just to be sure, and sipped on my second cup of coffee, another quad-shot of espresso. Failure accepted, I moved off in the direction of the JADE building.

When I got there, Longhead’s vehicle was the lone one I recognized. Ever since he and I hashed it out, LH is pretty much the main Task Force member I’ve seen around; I have no clue why. I seem to be unwittingly making up for all the times I deliberately avoided him during this whole venture. Frankly I’m sick of him. I left and went shopping.

In the process of traveling to and fro, a few times I passed by (non-JADE detective) UPS in his Alero, plus another (non-JADE) SWAT guy whose automobile I know. I named the latter man “Vinyard” because he reminds me of a character from that god-awful movie American History X.

Subsequently back at JADE, refreshed cup of java in hand, I picked a familiar spot where I could keep an eye on things. It’s actually not close to the building and, if the TFOs look towards the place, I’m hardly undetectable, but I still consider it a good position on numerous grounds. For example, I can watch seven key areas without ever having to turn my head -- three additional when I do rotate. Also, I can see any direction any of the officers come and go in and, more importantly, I can quickly go in any direction -- either to follow them or to evade them.

Speaking of directions... since I wrote on iHeArTEjade that they never use it, at least one man has exited via the construction access road -- thereby demonstrating you can indeed teach an old detective new tricks. Ha!

From my perch, I saw UPS’s car come in from Elliott Ave, enter the upper lot, and disappear from view. Strange for him to park in there I thought but I waited for him to walk his way down into my sight and the building. When he didn’t materialize in a reasonable amount of time, I got curious. I started my car and rolled off to find out what he was up to. Gradually driving down 6th Street SE I carefully scanned the now visible upper lot for his car. No him. Focused entirely on UPS I neglected to note, or re-note as the case may have been, the presence of any Drug Enforcement vehicles.

It’s my understanding that the majority of people who, as part of their job, have to perform surveillance from inside a resting automobile, hate it. I personally don’t mind it a bit. However, I have to admit it’s far more enjoyable to have a stakeout be in motion when given a choice between the two.

At that second the only people I was under the impression were present and accounted for who belonged to JADE were Longhead and Herb. Longhead is basically blah, and just about the only time Herb, who is interesting to me, goes anywhere once he’s reported for duty is when he’s with someone else -- which, as it stood, meant LH and that’s assuming Herb even had anywhere to go.

So in spite of the fact that UPS isn’t technically a JADEr, he’s still highly intriguing for secondary reasons and I opted to go search for him rather than optimistically stare at the same ol’ same ol’. Think of it as recess.

Not enough time had elapsed for UPS to get far. Waiting for the light to change at the Intersection of 6th Street SE and Elliott Ave, I tried to predict which roads he might be on and mentally drew a rectangular border around them. Intending to navigate in a grid-like pattern within the imaginary boundary, I rounded the block making the intersection of 6th and Monticello the starting point of my hunt.

In the course of my exploration, I periodically glimpsed UPS as he went by on other roads. Each time I’d cut over as efficiently as possible to where I spotted him, make it my new starting point, and, traveling in the same direction as him, begin the pattern-tracking procedure over again. We crossed paths, just out of reach of each other, I don’t know, four, maybe five, times. We hadn’t strayed far from the vicinity of the Task Force office and I was starting to get the sense it was less like he was on general patrol and more like he was specifically patrolling for me. Weird.

One more circle around, next thing I knew he’d ended up behind me. Uh-oh. What were the odds he hadn’t wound up there on purpose? The thing was, I mean, I knew what I was doing and he knew what he was doing but, considering the circumstances, we didn’t really have any way of knowing what each other was doing.

Still unsure, and not wanting to overreact, I concocted an easy test. He’d clearly been looping around close to the JADE building. I’d leave the immediate area and if he did the same by following me -- an escort if you will -- the entire way then I’d know I’d been his target. If he dropped me on the outskirts, or sooner, then I’d chalk it up to coincidence. In two turns, I learned two things. One: That it may be coincidental? Beyond wishful thinking on my part. Two: He was a They.

They stuck to me better than glue. Down Ridge Street we went. We got to an intersection and at first I was going to get in the left lane but changed my mind and went with the center one. In the rearview mirror I saw UPS and his passenger coming up behind me. UPS put on his left blinker. There was plenty of room in the left lane for them to surpass me. I got an eerie feeling they wouldn’t be doing that. Whatever their intentions, my instincts screamed that I absolutely did not want them stopping directly next to me.

From my standstill I scooted over to the far right lane. A little too late I thought of using another vehicle as a blockade -- my car bucked from my abruptly jamming on its brakes. Through the gap between cars I looked over at UPS and that’s when I saw it. My brain eliminated everything my eyes were taking in apart from the camera the guy along for the ride was holding. Literally all went black but that object.

I dropped my head at a painfully kooky angle and put my hand on top of it. I laughed in sheer disbelief. I honestly could not believe it! Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not what they were doing, it’s how they were doing it. I could conceive of something like, say, them covering the perimeter where JADE operates with high-tech video surveillance equipment. But hanging out a car window with a hand-held camera? That’s simplistic. That’s the kind of thing I do -- and only because it’s either that or nothing.

I Hate having my picture taken. I hate it, hate it, hate it. I’m ugly and unphotogenic. I don’t even bother wearing make-up that’s how unattractive I am. That’s on any regular day. That particular day I had bangs and some serious period-provoked acne-face. Bearing all that in mind, when I saw their camera I panicked.

I couldn’t think of anything but getting out of there. I hit the gas and instantly swung right. Unfortunately I’d not turned on the road I thought I was turning on. As I drove down the side street, I attempted to pull myself together. Obviously, I thought to myself, whatever photographs they now had of me, they had. What difference did it make if they took one or nine or fifty thousand more?

I veered into a parking area and stopped my car. I doubted they were going to give up on me, so I yanked out my own camera and unbuckled the pouch that holds my audio recording device. The gadget dropped. What else could go wrong? I powered on the camera, tried to adjust it while simultaneously fishing for the fallen item, and observed UPS’s Alero entering the lot. They moved back into a space where I couldn’t see them. An assortment of sedans, vans, and SUVs separated us. I abandoned hope of finding the Olympus recorder and backed out inch by inch until they were in my line of sight.

The detectives and I engaged in a battle of the cameras. I didn’t know what their weapon was capable of but I knew I could fire a hundred billion shots, instantaneously download the images to my laptop, and go at them again if I wanted to. We kept at it briefly. I don’t know how many pictures they got of me or how many I took of them. How long would it go on? It was ridiculous. I thought perhaps victory would appease them. I surrendered by lowering my camera and waving while driving past them.

I don’t know that they could comprehend how much their picture-taking was throwing me off. I tried not to let it bother me but I remained thoroughly disconcerted. I turned right and left the lot.

Not only did they come out after me, their car’s emergency lights went on. What now? I wasn’t speeding. If they intended to stop me, why not do it before? I complied without delay by pulling into another parking lot.

Just UPS approached the driver’s side. I frantically looked over my shoulder for his companion. He’d come up on the right side of my car. Unable to keep an eye on both of them at the same time was scary to me. My whole body started, like, vibrating. I knew once it was in progress, my trembling was only going to get worse. I was somewhat relieved though when UPS’s partner eventually came and stood beside him. It was then when I realized who he was.

They had a for realiously valid reason to pull me over. I’d accidentally gone the wrong way down a one way street. I couldn’t believe I’d done such a thing! Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that I think I don’t do dumb things. I do lots of dumb things. It’d take me a month to tell you all the dumb things I’ve done in just a single day. But they’re typically like funny dumb things. Or humbling dumb things. They’re never dangerous dumb things. I could’ve hurt someone. I. Was. Mortified.

To add insult to, fortunately, no injury, I couldn’t find my proof of insurance. I dug under the seats, groped through the glove box, lifted the floor mats… no insurance card. I was really quivering then. You have to understand I am meticulous about being completely legal -- I check my lights; make sure my turn signals work; my stickers are current; carry license, registration, and insurance papers. Ad nauseum.

I reached over the seat into the back to my tool box slash book bin and pulled out a FedEx envelope. I rifled through it. My hands were shaking so bad by then, I resembled a Parkinson’s victim.

I don’t know whether he was doing it to mock me or to point it out to UPS, or both, but in periphery I saw the other fellow mimicking my tremors. I acknowledge his observation; I widened my eyes, nodded my head, and said “very.” He asked what I was nervous about. I merely replied “y’all.” I had no intention of expounding but even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t have; the man was speaking before I’d have had the chance to elaborate. “Following us around” he blurted, as if there was something nefarious about that.

When someone has already made up his mind what the answer to his question is, he really needn’t make the dang inquiry. What is it with these law enforcement guys who think they know it all anyway? As yet, I’ve only found one Task Force member who isn’t stuffed full of arrogance.

I laughed and chirped out the technical reality of the moment. “I wasn’t followin’ you. You were followin’ me.” Neither of them had a response for that.

Somewhere during the interaction, UPS expressed gratitude for my cooperating with them. Why would he do that unless he -- they -- expected me to be uncooperative, if not downright belligerent? I suspect there’s one person who’s largely leaving a sour impression of me on them and it’s not I. How can so many people believe the words of their perceived allies even after it contradicts what they experience themselves firsthand?

UPS said he’d take my word that my auto was insured then carrying my license and registration returned to his car with an indication he’d be back momentarily. I took some pictures of him through my side mirror and some of both of them through the back window.

I didn’t want to push my luck, rotten as it was, so I cast aside the camera and rooted throughout my car seeking the missing insurance card. The last time I’d seen it was when Spot pulled me over. Did I forget to get it back from him?

UPS gave me a verbal warning for my moving violation. Had he written me a ticket I would’ve taken it and thanked him for it, that’s how much I deserved one.

I have to say UPS was amazingly nice. Though I’m sure he felt he had all the justification in the world to be horrible to me, he wasn’t. In fact, I don’t think he acted any differently than he had on the prior occasion we’d spoken in person. Even the other man who’d kind of given some static, negative vibes and all that jazz, was not not nice. What a teddy bear!

The officers departed. I wasn’t going anywhere until I knew where my insurance card was. I tore through my car. I called someone I thought could help me and left him a message. I got out and felt under seats and floor mats again. About to give up, from a squatting position on the passenger side I saw a piece of paper trapped in the edge of the glove box. I shoved the card in a book where I store my registration, sent Longhead a text to have him tell UPS I’d found my insurance papers, and drove away.

I called the helpful guy back and left him a message to ignore my previous message, then returned to the first lot where the photography war had taken place and took pictures of the signs indicating the street I’d gone down was one way.

I’d concluded JADE would now be on major alert knowing I was near their turf but I might be able to temporarily rely on them presumably superciliously thinking I’d been adequately chased off. The biggest obstacle in my way today seemed to be my car. I’m passably fit; I could do what I wanted on foot. Approximately two miles from the JADE lot I found a place to park my impediment where it couldn’t legally get towed.

I grabbed a few items I anticipated would be handy, tugged an extra jacket from the back seat, and locked the doors. I set my key on the trunk, put on the spare coat, arranged my materials for easy carry, and set off. I’d made it slightly more than halfway to my goal before my hands got cold. To warm them up, I slid them into my front pockets, Nothing was in them. Nothing. Including no key. I’d mistakenly left it sitting on my car. I sighed. I didn’t trouble myself by running the mile back. What would be the point? Then I’d just be propertyless and out of breath.

No one had stolen my car. I plucked up the key and set off again. Two miles later I arrived just in time to see a group of JADE men load up in Truck’s car and head out. I had to ask: is nothing going to be in my favor today? I made the trek back to where I’d parked and drove off seeking a place to get yummy coffee. I passed UPS on the way; he was all alone in his Alero.

Reinvigorated, I found a brand spanking new setting where I could snoop on JADE. It’s not so ideal after dark, but at night I can practically sit on top of one of the TFOs shoulders without him noticing. Usually, that is. Not on that night. No, on that night I couldn’t get a break to save my life. Either I was in a place where I could see the fellas but they nailed me, or my placement was so good they couldn’t see me because I couldn’t see them.

I would’ve called it quits but, with all those JADErs there, especially at that time of evening, I couldn’t possibly throw in the towel. I had something I was aching to know about and whatever was going on might give me a clue.

As my final effort, I moved my auto into position and waited for… I watched as some boxy red car halted in front of me thus obstructing every millimeter of my view. The driver couldn’t have been parking like that; he was at some loony slant partially in the center of the road. A older man holding a flashlight got out. By his behavior, he was lost. I debated on moving but rationalized a disoriented man wouldn’t be there long enough to validate my relocation. I was wrong.

The wrinkled man went back and forth, from one side of the road to the other, illuminating the numbers on mailboxes or houses while concurrently reading the addresses aloud. Headlights of a vehicle coming from behind us hit him and his ugly car. I thought the approaching driver was slowing because of the man and his respective door-left-ajar auto until it dawned on me that I was staring at Porn Star’s Honda.

The way the day had gone I took it for granted that Porn Star had decelerated because he’d noticed me -- probably hadn’t even picked up on the presence of the aged man. Porn Star wove around the hindrance in the road. Only after Porn Star had come across me did the old man realize he was in the wrong neighborhood and get back in his car and drive away.

Well, having been seen by a JADE detective for, what was it? the millionth time? that day, I couldn’t stay where I was. I scampered off. Over the course of about ten minutes, Porn Star left and Skoal’s Altima vanished and reappeared. I think Porn Star ratted me out and Skoal went and picked up JADE men from elsewhere and brought them back. If that’s what happened, I wouldn’t be getting the clue I needed after all.

I would’ve said “when it rains, it pours” but the notion that merely thinking it might likely spark a gullywasher prevented me from doing so. I’d finally had enough and I didn’t want to be driving home in a thundershower.

Determined that the day would not be a total loss, when I got back to the house I aimed to post on iHeArTEjade a photograph of me taking a picture of them taking a picture of me taking a picture of them. Wouldn’t you know it? My camera had been on the wrong setting.

Out of all the pictures I took, none but eight were decent. I imagine every one they took came out perfectly. I think they should email me some.

As bad as the day seems to have gone, disastrous from beginning to end, truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Oh. Except for driving the wrong way down a one way street. That I’d definitely amend.