Going into the station that Friday at noon, I located Lieutenant Hicks, who had trained with Jackson Finley and told him of my plan. We needed him along in order to make an arrest, so we would have a better chance of making the charges stick.
"Well, now, I don't know, O'Hanlon. Your plan is a bit irregular. You say you believe these fellows are the ones who beat you and also who caused the death of Fin? But, are you sure?"
"I know that they are peddling dope; and I know they are the ones who beat me senseless, and I'm relatively sure they are the ones who beat the Sarge. We had zeroed in on them before my academy classes began. I can take you to them."
"Well, okay... we'll see how it goes. How many of your friends are going to be going with us?"
"There'll be five of us including you. We'll all be in vagrant disguise to throw them off. You can have three pair of handcuffs and we'll get them with the goods. We may even catch them beating up somebody. I know exactly where to find them. You'll do it, then?"
"Sounds like fun! It's been awhile since I've done anything like this. Thanks for thinking of me, Zeeb!"
I looked at him in surprise...my mouth hanging open.
"You don't realize how names get bandied about among the men here? We all have our eyes on you academy kids; watching to see what our next crop of men are going to be like and how capable. We know you and Odie are teamed up together, too. We're watching that situation for sure. What time this evening?"
"We figured around eleven thirty or so, we can meet a couple of blocks from here and just kind of wander in the direction of their hangout area."
"Okay, Zeeb...sounds like a plan! See you then."
I was elated! We were actually going to be able to use some of our training!
That afternoon, around four o'clock, as the evening shift of policemen took over, I noticed Sgt. Johnson standing on the steps. He was talking to Hicks as I passed by the station on my way to the diner. Johnson smiled and nodded at me as I walked by.
"What was that all about?" I wondered. Then I dismissed it from my mind. I had a full afternoon of work at the diner to do, before I got off around ten. That would be followed by an hour of class study and another period of time spent in Bible study and preparing my mind for the night's activity.
When the evening's work was over, and we closed the diner, I went home with my hosts, and immediately to my room.
Somehow, I was finding it almost impossible to concentrate; my mind was so filled with the night ahead's activities. Then I took a deep breath and appealed to the Lord to calm my nerves and bring me inner peace for the task ahead.
At eleven, I donned my disguise and smeared dirt all over my face and hands, as though preparing for battle.
Fifteen minutes later, I headed out the door and locked the outer door behind me. I was on my way to meet my friends and take them to our quarry.
We all gathered on the corner, and wandered along as though we hadn't a care in the world. It was interesting to see what disguises my friends had come up with; we certainly looked like a bunch of ne'er-do-wells.
After a bit of aimless wandering, we went to the place where I had seen the three men several times. Much to my dismay, no one was there. We began searching in earnest.
"I don't understand! They've been here every night I've seen them. What has happened?"
My friends looked at one another, then back at me.
"Looks like they've disappeared, Zeeb! Are you sure this is the place? After all, a lot of these alleyways look the same. Let's search around some more in some of the other streets." Odie was sympathetic to my plight.
We searched around for another hour, coming up empty.
"Say, did any of you guys mention to anybody what we were going to be doing tonight?"
I looked at them and saw a few guilty faces, including the Lieutenant's.
"We got a leak somewhere, fellas. We'll wait a while and then try it again. In the meantime, 'Mum's the word', hear? When you are on a secret mission, nobody except the people on the mission are to know. It's a hard and fast rule."
I was disgusted.
"Thanks, guys, for going out on this tonight. I appreciate your help. We won't give up, will we?"
"No, Zeeb, we'll get 'em."
"Goodnight, fellas! See you next week."
I went back home with a taste of bitterness in my mouth.
(To be continued)