Former US Marine Daryl Dixon typed the address scribbled on the scrap of paper in his wallet into his truck's GPS system and before he knew it he'd arrived at the Douglass Security Agency, which was housed in a nondescript, three story office building on the outskirts of downtown Atlanta. Although it was almost 4 pm and near the end of the workday when he entered the lobby, he was right on time; his appointment was at 4. After introducing himself and telling the concierge, Tara, that he was looking for the owner, he was directed to take the elevator up to the third floor, "Mr. Douglass is expecting you Mr. Dixon. His office is the last door on the left."
Daryl said thanks, then nodded to the friendly looking group of staff chatting to each other on their way out the door and heading home for the weekend, then headed up on the elevator. He found the office and lightly knocked on the frosted glass door that read Theodore F. Douglass, Sr., CEO, and grinned as a tall, African-American gentleman built like a pro football linebacker opened the door for him. He was talking a mile a minute on his cell phone but he happily returned Daryl's smile the moment he saw him and motioned for him to come inside. They shared a brotherly hug then the man closed and locked the door behind them, then gestured that Daryl have a seat on one of the low, expensive looking tan leather couches in the spacious waiting area of his office suite. He then covered the mouthpiece of his phone and whispered "help yourself," while pointing toward a large bar in the corner of the room that housed a fully stocked top shelf mini bar, a gourmet cappuccino maker, an iced tea maker, a blender, a Keurig coffee maker with assorted 'K-cup' coffee flavors and assorted creamers as well as a mini fridge filled with sodas, juices, beer and bottled spring water.
Daryl nodded in thanks. He eyed the mini bar, thinking of having a few ice cold light beers as well as pouring himself a double whisky sour, but ended up just brewing a cup of coffee. He chuckled to himself since he hadn't been indulging in too much alcohol in the past several years and figured that it wouldnt take much to get him tipsy or worse and getting plastered during what was technically a job interview wouldn't exactly be a smart idea.
Once the coffee was done he poured in a splash of Irish cream flavored creamer while he waited patiently for his old friend Theodore aka T-Dog to get off the phone, undoubtedly talking to his beautiful wife Sasha, judging from the conversation about what he should pick up for dinner on his way home from work in the next half hour.
It wasn't like Daryl had anywhere else to be so he simply waited and enjoyed his cup o' joe. He'd been at home doing next to nothing for the past several months while recuperating from knee surgery after a work accident in the line of battle so a few more minutes wouldn't hurt. The boredom of being cooped up in the house all that time had been driving him nuts so he was simply glad to get out and have someplace to go other than the super Wal-Mart, especially since he could finally walk again (and even run just a little) without any pain.
After the accident he'd done a lot of reflecting and had opted to take an early retirement package after his near 15 year career position as an advanced combat trainer and marksman specialist with the US Marine Corps. After six months at home however he was REALLY ready to get back to work. He was bored and he hadn't dated anyone in awhile due to the nature of his former job so he sometimes felt a bit lonely at times too so he was glad to get out and possibly start meeting people again. When his old friend T-Dog contacted him and offered him a gig with his private security firm he'd jumped at the opportunity. The pay sounded amazing and would more than supplement his pension income and he figured that anything beat sitting around at home watching soap operas and cooking shows and playing poker on the internet all damn day long.
Daryl had gone through basic training with T-Dog and they'd graduated from the Marine Corps academy together nearly fifteen years prior, both specializing in hand to hand combat and weaponry logistics, but after putting in a little over eight years of deployments together in the Middle East and other locales around the world, T-Dog fell head over heels in love with Sasha, a beautiful, young nurse he'd met while on an extended leave at home one summer and decided he wanted a life with her. They got engaged after starting a long distance relationship and when he finished out the last year of his service contract, he didnt renew, opting for an early retirement with a partial pension; then he married Sasha and built a life with her in their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
Seven years later T-Dog now owned a highly lucrative home and personal security firm, and he and Sasha owned a beautiful home and had two beautiful children and another one on the way due in a couple of months. When he found out that his old buddy Daryl had been injured in the field and had taken an early retirement from the service, he'd contacted him right away and visited him often in the hospital and later once he'd been discharged home.
Daryl was impressed with his friend's success in the civilian sector. Business was apparently booming and T-Dog was making a lot of money for his family. His company already had revenue in the low millions. Daryl had often thought about trying a second career and possibly having a family of his own someday; he'd been on the go for special assignment tours of duty for the Marine Corps for so long he hadn't thought about it too much but once he was home for several months straight he'd thought of it often. It wasn't too late, he knew... he was only 34 after all and even his crazy older brother Merle had finally settled down a few years back and gotten hitched to his long time girlfriend, a gorgeous civil rights attorney named Andrea. After marrying her they had a kid which calmed Merle down considerably; he didnt even drink anymore other than the occasional beer and he was happier than Daryl had ever seen him.
Once T-Dog got off the phone he called Daryl back into his private office. "Dixon, come on in, man."
Daryl went in and sat down. "So T... tell me a little more about this gig man... I'm ready to start right away."
"I'm happy to hear that Dixon. Your physical exam and drug test were all good of course and all of your pre-clearance paperwork for carrying one of our firearms is a go as well so I'm hoping to get you on payroll starting next week. Lots of money on the table and it's a pretty sweet assignment to start. I know you'll do just fine."
"What would be my task exactly?"
"Well as you know my agency deals in keeping people and their belongings safe. Our clientele account plans range from under twenty bucks a month to several thousands of dollars per month depending on what they need. I sell home owner's and renters insurance policies, as well as offer remote private home and business security surveillance monitoring. We also manage referral services for our team of independent private investigators, self defense trainers and bounty hunters, and we have our own team of armed guards for business protection, mall security, off duty cops on the payroll to do security detail at parties and stores, and we offer personal protection bodyguards for celebrities and political dignitaries." He motioned for Daryl to follow him out into the hallway and down the two flights of stairs into the cavernous locked basement area and Daryl was surprised to see hundreds of computer screens showing different angle images of homes and other buildings that were being monitored remotely in real time. "I got staff members that work from here and from home who monitor these surveillance cameras around the clock and can contact police by phone in any case of security breaches or the fire department for fire damage in real time. And like I said, others provide a more hands on role, and that's what I have in mind for you. In time I want you to help me train the newly recruited armed guards. Our reputation spread by word of mouth and we now have a pretty big roster of clients, including a few celebrities that want personal bodyguards on a daily basis for public appearances or longer such as for concert tours and such and they'll need combat training."
Daryl shook his head. "Sounds good... but you said 'in time'. What did you have in mind for me to do next week?"
T-Dog smirked at him then led him over to one of the computers. "You ever heard of Peltier's?" he asked Daryl as he logged online.
"The high end department store chain? They're all over the place. Its been awhile but didn't there used to be one in the Kingdom Mall?"
"Yup... and there's a lot more locations now," he replied as he pulled up the company website. "Peltier's is the reason why my wife's credit cards are always maxed out as soon as I pay them down. She's addicted to the name brands... I swear she shops there for shoes and handbags for herself and stuff for the kids at least twice a week," he laughed. He then showed Daryl the website and clicked on a link to the 'About Us' page that detailed the company history and showed photos of all of the current top executives.
"Peltier's was founded here in Atlanta in the early 1930s by French Immigrant Antoine Peletier, the current owner Edward Peltier's great-grandfather. Initially a small furrier and leather goods shop they later began specializing in high end clothing and diamond jewelry, and now the company is an international entity in the world of high fashion and luxury goods. The corporate headquarters is located here in Atlanta as well and the company net worth is currently near half a billion dollars and counting," he said with a whistle.
"So... you need me to do security down there at the headquarters?" Daryl asked with a smirk. "Protect half a billion bucks with my little flashlight cop badge?" he chuckled.
T-Dog burst out laughing. "No man... I need you to keep an eye on the big boss' soon to be ex wife, Carol. They're in the middle of a nasty divorce and custody battle and she's in line to get a hefty slice of the pie once its all over because she never signed a pre-nup when they got hitched back in the late 90s. She's also in a corporate battle with him and the board because she's a high ranking exec at the company in her own right and is refusing to sell them her shares. Over the years her husband, Ed, started cheating on her and abusing her and when she wanted out of the marriage he refused to give her a divorce so she dragged his name throught the mud in the tabloids and now he wants revenge. He's dangerous with friends in low places and she's scared of him, Daryl. I mean really scared. Scared he's gonna hire someone to attack her, or do it himself when she least expects it... and shes scared he's gonna try to kidnap their teenaged daughter. Someone on her team contacted me personally about providing her with her the best personal bodyguard I've got and youre the best marksman and hand to hand combat fighter I know. Money's no object. Of course theres a set fee I suggested and she agreed to it but I'm sure she'll play ball for anything else you think of to throw into the pot. She's scared to death of her husband and is willing to pay top dollar for around the clock armed protection out at her mansion in Buckhead and wherever else she wants to go until the trial comes up in a little under two months. So Dixon if you're interested, the job is yours. You'll have to stay with her 24/7 of course but she's offering an astounding $50K a month plus room and board, and for your airfare to wherever she travels, that is if she doesn't hop on one of the company private jets of course," he chuckled, "and I'll provide you with one of our armored vehicles to have at at your disposal for anyother local transportation. Name your price for anything else you want too... trust me, she'll pay it. I personally thinks the job's gonna be a piece of cake. Her soon to be ex-husband is nothing more than a punk and a coward so I seriously doubt if he tries anything. Believe me, I'd take the job my damn self if Sasha wasn't so close to her due date and needed me at home every night. The grand total is about $100K so thats an easy $80,000 flat for you after my 20 percent referral fee off the top, plus whatever perks of traveling with her entourage you get in addition are gonna be insane. So... will you take the job?"
Daryl glanced at the screen at the beautiful, delicate looking woman with the short silver pixie cut. 'How in the hell could anyone want to hurt her? Her fuckin' husband of all people especially? What a prick,' he thought to himself. Daryl ABHORRED anyone who hurt other people but wife beaters in particular were at the bottom of the barrel in his book. He thought it over a moment. Eighty grand sounded too sweet... When in the hell could he ever make so much money so fast...legally... and besides, he didnt have anything else to do for the next two months. "Where do I sign?" he asked as he shook his friend and new bosses hand.