Spicy Mike was not his birth name; that is, his mom never stepped out onto the front porch to call him in for dinner:
“SPIIIIICYYYYY…. SPICY MIIIIIIIIKE… TIME FOR DINNER, SPICEY MICHAEL!!”
Spicy Mike was his street pimp name. The special agents for human trafficking in the Attorney General’s (AG) office of Albuquerque, New Mexico wanted him in a big way. Spicy Mike was running the gamut of the nation’s most deplorable crimes — the bell was tolling Mike’s name.
So firm was the resolution of the AG’s office to get Spicy Mike that we chose to install a persistence stare remote IP camera to keep watch of the activity at his motel room. The camera was a real piece of work and in fact, was donated to our Counter Human Traffic organization by a member of the one-and-only www.Sofrep.com.
The concept was simple enough: find a concealed location to install the camera so we could log onto it through our cell phones or desktop work stations and record the activity at Mike’s digs. I selected five potential locations. We analyzed each one closely, and by process of elimination rejected all but one: the roof of a business at the end of a small strip mall.
The camera itself was in a container the size of a thick briefcase. To solve the camera’s power requirement we chose to drag a deep-cycle rechargeable marine-grade car battery up to the roof with us. A drive-by reconnaissance of the camera install site revealed that it was ironically the roof of a massage parlor and not a legitimate one at that: rather, it was one whose masseuses were on record for routinely offering “happy endings” at the culmination of their massage therapy sessions.
The first night’s operation to get the camera installed took three operants. Two went up on the roof and one remained on the ground dressed as a local gentry of incidental leisure (vagrant and usually addicted) filling the role of roving security with eyes on the ground 360-degrees. Since I have always been the measure of a bum, I filled the role of the security rover.
There was a set of dumpsters between the massage parlor and Mike’s motel that always sported discarded furniture — chairs and sofas and the like — which made for a comfortable means to sit for a while and observe and also backstopped the notion that I was a vagrant. Mattresses too were omnipresent at that dump, though I was reluctant to avail myself of their service.
The install was rather lengthy. We stayed in comms primarily by SMS and secondarily by voice via a walkie-talkie program on our phones called Zello. Aside from a couple of local brothers asking for a cigarette, the night was eventless.
Back at our home base, we had a decent picture for a couple of days, but then the camera took a dip in a gust of wind and lost alignment with Mike’s apartment. My 2IC (second in charge), Skallywag, and I made a plan to go back that night to recalibrate the look angle.
We were minus our third man so we had to forego the rover to choke up security to the roof where Skallywag would affect the recalibration. Once on the roof, Skallywag got to work while I was rolling around on the roof to try to keep a 360-degree lookout. (Skallywag was Skallywag because he was a Boston Mass.-born and raised professional boxer and MMA fighter/trainer. I was Flatlander (Flatlandah) because I was born/raised in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.)
The camera was set butt-up against a swamp cooler unit. On one of my rolls, my eye caught sight of an electric outlet box, there on the roof, that the cooler was plugged into. It was the usual household double plugin; the other outlet was free.
“Skallywag… look at this — we’ve got ship’s power right here and don’t need the marine battery config anymore.”
After a pause: “Flatlander… you’re right. I’ll finish the tweak and we’ll drag the damned battery out of here for good!”
That is what we did, happily letting the battery drop from the height of the roof into the grass below. Back at base, we had once again a decent picture fully controllable with our cell phones. That luxury lasted almost a full day until a semi-tractor trailer driver parked his rig along the fence thus completely obstructing the camera’s view. Fortunately, the driver was there for a room in the motel just for the night and left the next morning.
Spicy Mike had a large volume of traffic in and out of his room. He had one woman who stayed with him constantly whose photo I routinely saw posted in sex adds on adult media web sites. She had Johns come and go to their room for that reason. Mike was also dealing in C2H — crack, crank, and heroin from his room. A steady flow of young women came to his room to purchase and fix there — some minors!
Some females remained for a period of time servicing Johns. It seemed that Mike took photos of most of the young women in the same spot in his room, the kitchenette area. I would see dozens of the women in sex adds all standing near the same refrigerator and sink combo. All of them looked haggard and addicted. The whole situation ranked very very high on my scale of depravity. Not all the females hooked; Mike just posted all the photos as a bait/switch enterprise knowing that the variety would attract business.
We two continued to collect intelligence to bolster the case with that we were developing against Spicy Mike.
On the last night of operations, we had to stand down the surveillance effort by pulling the camera back off of the massage parlor’s roof. Again Skallywag gained access to the roof and went to work. That night there was an almost decent leather couch at the dump to sit in periodically. I took a moment to evaluate its condition and, pining away at the conditions my oldest daughter and I lived in at the time, contemplated recovering the sofa later that night to bring to our apartment.
“You need to leave here right now,” came a startling voice.
It was from a policeman a few meters away. Behind him was a cop cruiser with several other cops crowded around the open trunk.
“RIGHT NOW!” reiterated the cop.
“Yeah… yes, Sir; I’m leaving right now.”
And so I left, but I didn’t leave. I went straight to Zello, rather than wait on Skallywag to check his text messages.
“Skallywag, Flatlander… we got the po-po down here parked on the white side of the building, over.”
“Flatlandah… git the fug outta heya! ovah.”
“Sorry, no… they are kitting up on the south side of the building; it looks like they are fixing to make an entry somewhere, over.”
“Yah think they ah goin’ to roust Spicy Mike — man, that would be wicked-shitty of the AG to do that and not infohm us, ovah.”
“Hell, they just drove off, Skally… they went west. So they were using this spot — just our dumb stupid luck — as an LCC (Last Cover and Concealment) to kit up just prior to making their entry, over.”
As Skallywag finished and was ready to come off of the roof another patrol car crept into our area shining his spotlight. The previous cops had likely called for him to come and inspect around the strip mall. I don’t know what they thought or what they saw, but whatever the case I deemed that it was my fault.
I watched the patrol creep around to the black (back) side of the building shining its spot. My truck was parked midway between the east and west sides of the strip mall where we had been using some wall-mounted electric boxes as step-ups to get on the roof. The cop got out and shined his flashlight inside and around my truck. He got back in his car and continued his circle.
As soon as he turned the corner and was out of sight, I got back in my truck and made the same corner turn as he did. I stopped my truck at the far end of the long rectangular strip mall, got out and did a sneak-n-peak around the corner. The cop continued around the building and came to a stop where my truck had been. There he stayed shining his spotlight all around including — up toward the roof!
“Skallywag prepare to come off the roof on the white side ASAP right in front of the massage parlor. I’m pulling up right now. Drop the camera to me, then spider-hang off of the eave and drop down into the bed of my truck, over!”
“Rogah, Flatlandah, ovah!”
No headlights on still, I rolled as quick as I could without breaking my tires loose from the ground. I could see Skallywag’s face already at the eave of the parlor’s storefront. I stopped and jumped out just long enough to catch the camera case. Skally hanged and dropped in almost the same singular motion and with a not even a very loud ‘thud.’
Tossing the case in the passenger seat I twisted on my service drive lights, rolled through the opening in the fence that separated the motel from the strip mall and turned right toward East-Central Avenue. Rather than turn right on East-Central and drive back across the view of the strip mall where the patrol car could very well see me, I turned left and quickly joined Intersect 40 heading west back to our base with the Skallywag laying flat in the bed of my truck.
Back at base, Skally sat up and vaulted himself out of the bed as I exited the truck. Both of us were grinning. The Skallywag held up his right hand:
“Ok, so THAT was a real high-fivah!” and we slapped high.
As we were about to conclude that night of just slightly-south-of-actual high adventure, there was just one caveat:
“Hey, Flatlandah… please don’t tell the Misses I was at a massage pahlah for the last two owahz…”
“Mum’s the word, Skallywag… mum’s the word.”
By Almighty God and with honor,