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Pringle and Spot

The pair have dumped a pile of miscellaneous police paraphernalia into the back seat and trunk of Pringle’s Altima.

I guess they’re up to something more than a coffee break and promptly follow them out from the parking lot when they leave.

I’ve learned a few things about the immediate area, so, as far as these nearby square miles of streets go, I’m lacking the anxiety I used to have about getting lost. But I’m not accustomed to Pringle’s driving, and it’s he who’s behind the wheel of his car.

There’s a block or more of distance between us, not so much that I don’t see them turn right at the same place I lost Porn Star the first time I followed him. I pull up to a stop sign and with no oncoming traffic I immediately turn the way as the two Task Force Officers.

There are several cars in front of me; none of them is the Altima. I’m unconcerned. I know that shortly up ahead the road will go from two lanes to four and, again having gotten familiar with the area, have no reason to believe Spot and Pringle would stray off the main drag beforehand. They wouldn’t have gone this way just to get to a side street up here. Sure enough, as I round the bend and see the stretch of highway beyond, I can make them out up yonder. Soon though they’ll have the ability to go in any number of directions and if I don’t catch up fast I’ll likely lose them.

I expeditiously crank between lanes to pass traffic, breaking out of the congestion to really lay on the gas. I watch Pringle and Spot ignore two major turns, essentially leaving two ways they can go, as the gap between Pringle’s vehicle and mine goes from momentous to nearly insignificant. Up ahead they join other drivers in a left turn lane waiting for the signal to turn green.

I have a flashback that causes me to reconsider how I lost another JADE agent once. The short of it is, because I hadn’t seen him on the straightaway when I came around the curve, I’d assumed he’d turned off onto I-64. But rethinking the moment again, he probably just hadn’t gotten stuck at the traffic light his fellow detectives are sitting at currently.

I transition my mind from earlier events to the here and now as it dawns on me that I’m coming up to the red light faster than a flaming comet through the earth’s atmosphere. I hit the brakes -- my speed going from insane to moderate -- just in time to easily make the turn with Pringle and Spot who are now directly in front of me.

Back on a two-lane I allow four car lengths between the investigators and me. Okay; more like room for two cars and maybe a bicycle. Maybe.

For some reason Pringle keeps slowing down then speeding back up. He’s doing this ostensibly without tapping his brakes. With no taillight warnings from him, this of course unexpectedly puts my front tires practically on top of their trunk a couple of times. If he was any old random stranger driving like this in front of me I’d be singing a string of tame swear words at him by now.

As it is I come up with only one interpretation for the man’s abrupt unpredictable driving. They’re on to me. I back way, way, off.

I’m recollecting times when I’d later assessed I jumped the gun -- SeeSee, for instance. Determined to not add this experience to the Ode de Paranoia list, I move up behind the boys with badges again. Suddenly it must look like I’m the one driving erratically. I imagine the guy behind me is cussing me right about this point.

Pringle signals they’re about to make a left. The street we’re nearing is virtually invisible due to the thickness of woods surrounding it. I see a black and white sign with a route number: 1102. I know nothing about the road. The Altima makes its intended turn.

I can’t explain it but something about this doesn’t feel right. Thousands of red flags are waving in a frenzy all the way ‘round my insides. You should not go down that road. I already overlooked my instincts moments earlier with the two policemen, but I have the sensation that disregarding my intuition this time would be foolish of me.

I approach the turn, casually peering down where they’ve gone. I expect to see nothing. Instead I see their car’s back end, almost out of range but, with brake lights engaged, clearly at a stop on the road. Gosh, it kinda seems they’re waiting for someone. Someone like… me! Yikes.

Diagonally across the road is Michie’s Tavern. I pull forward into the entrance and park in the nearest open space. Route 1102 -- a narrow, green sign lets me know it’s also called Michie Tavern Lane -- is fully visible from where I am. What’s down there, other than the energetic enigmas? Stumped over what else to do I take photographs of both of the signs and the road itself.

My fingernails lightly tattoo the console between the seats as ideas form in my head. There must be some sensible reason they turned there; since they haven’t come back out yet I figure the real explanation has nothing to do with me.

I doubt Michie’s provides Wi-Fi and I don’t want to go through the hassle of dragging out my laptop to find out. I yank my cell phone out of its holder on the visor and ring the one person I know who’s always of service and, even better, used to odd calls from me.

“Hey” I say when he answers. He repeats the word back to me and I tell him I don’t have time to talk. “You gotta help me with something.”

I ask him if he’s in front of his computer and when he responds agreeably I instruct him to go to Google Maps and look up 1102. I give him all the info I have and he begins providing me with all the info he thinks I need. I’m absentmindedly scribbling comments on one of the yellow notepads I carry with me everywhere these days.

First thing: 1102 is a dead end road. Learning that makes me think about the consequences of getting trapped in a set-up by suspicious TFOs. Ugh! That would bite. Thank goodness I didn’t go down there.

Next my over-the-phone assistant gives me the mileage and counts off the amount of buildings or houses. He uses a search engine to get an address to one of them and, from it, starts conveying to me what all the other places are. Nothing sounds like anything I’m interested in.

He’s mumbling off mediocre information. Land values? I remain mystified. “Fraternal Order of Police building there.” He continues without taking a breath, saying something about their property being donated. I’ve already latched onto the key word. Police? Aha!

I remain quiet while he carries on but he must feel my excitement shoot like static electricity through the phone. “Are you cop watching, little missy?” he pauses his data transmission to inquire. I smile at how tuned in to me he is but snub his question and ask instead “Where’s the FOP located at, exactly?” When he replies, I do a quick calculation in my head. That would be… erm… approximately fifty, sixty, yards onwards of where Pringle and Spot stopped their vehicle. “You rock!” That’s my way of thanking my friend. I tell him I’ve got to go. He advises me “be careful.” Indeed. I’ll wait until Pringle and Spot aren’t there before I go exploring Michie Tavern Lane.