Frost shielded his eyes against the harsh pink glow of neon light as he crossed the alleyway beside the Pink Pony bar and grill. The day had been a long and exhausting one. First, losing his full-time job, then Jake Ballinger, his skip trace contract, having only some lowlife punk wannabe for him to hunt down, at least things couldn't get worse this evening. His skip should be easy enough to find, as long as he was willing to search every sleazy strip joint and bar on South Boulevard. And, what kind of nickname was "Lefty" anyway? Frost snickered to himself as the stupid-sounding nickname knocked around his brain. Montgomery had changed since his childhood. It seemed to be deteriorating lately, slipping backwards in time to nineteen twenties Chicago, or Phoenix City. Of course it did mean more work, as the bounty hunter business was seeing no shortage of skips. It was seedy places like the Pink Pony that fueled these thugs and kept him in business. Looking down the alleyway into the darkness, he saw a man and a woman in the shadows by a garbage dumpster. The man said something, and the woman jerked her hand away from him. Frost's body reacted before his mind even realized the two were not simply stealing a romantic moment in the dark. The woman was backing up, and the man was advancing toward her.
"You alright Ma'am?" he said, as he closed the distance between him and the assailant grabbing at the woman. He covered the short distance in five easy steps. The man was preoccupied with the woman, so Frost wrapped his arm around the man's neck and dragged him away from the woman, making sure to jerk his knee into the man's back every few step backwards. Frost kept dragging the man backwards until he was brought off balance and went to the ground. He rolled the man over hard enough to make him grunt in pain, and then knelt down with his knee in the man's back, yanking the man's arms around his back. Frost grabbed his zip straps out from the left side of his waistband, and tightened them around the man's wrists before looking up at the woman.
"Are you okay? Did he hurt you?" She stood motionless for a moment in the dark shadows of the alley. She didn't respond, probably scared out of her wits. He could only make out her general shape in the dark, but he was certain he saw her eyes, just for a brief moment nearly glowing, something primal reflecting in them through the darkness. So, maybe it wasn't fear that kept her from answering. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the alley, he ventured a look at the man groaning under his knee. He couldn't believe his luck. Pleased with himself, he recognized the man as Lefty, the very skip he was contracted to bring in just a few hours ago. His target securely apprehended, he turned his attention back to the woman.
"It's alright, I got him under control," He said to the woman, as he jerked Lefty up by his cuffed wrists. Standing closer to the woman, he got a better look at her. She was looking not too pleased that he stopped Lefty from doing to her ... whatever it was he was thinking of doing. In fact, the smug look on her face made her seem completely ungrateful that he just saved her life, or at the very least, her honor. Her pale skin reflected the dim light from the crescent moon overhead, and contrasted sharply with her dark hair. Frost didn't usually think much of women one way or the other but even in the dark, he saw something special in her, a kind of confidence, a deep, animal skill for survival. He was beginning to wonder if he hadn't shown up, if she would've taken care of Lefty herself. Then she spoke, and removed any doubt about her confidence.
"I'm alright," the woman said. "I didn't need any help." She crossed her arms, and moved into a stance that, even in the darkness, came off as confident, or rather, arrogant.
"Yeah, I could tell you had everything under control," he said, returning her smug comment with his own.
She glared at him; a cold hurt showing in her eyes through the dark, and he regretted the words as soon as he said them. Truth was, the woman looked like she could take care of herself. She was taller than most women, with a solid build. She was more voluptuous and toned than stick-thin. Her eyes showed strength. They conveyed volumes even in the darkness of the alleyway. Frost liked beautiful eyes, and he liked a strong woman. Maybe a different approach, he decided, was needed here.
"I didn't get your name."
"I didn't give it." She turned, and began to walk away. "Like I told you already, I had everything under control until you showed up."
"Sorry if I interrupted your ass-kicking, but I've been looking for this guy." Frost left out the fact that he had just started looking for him.
"Well, you got him," she said, not even looking back as she walked toward the street. "Can I get back to work, now?"
"You work here?"
"No, asshole, I don't work here." She turned and looked back at him, planting her feet at shoulder-width. "Not on the street. I'm wait staff at the Pink Pony." She huffed and turned again, walking toward the alley entrance.
"Oh, I didn't mean ..." But it was too late. She'd already rounded the corner and disappeared. "Wait," Frost yelled, moving as quickly as he could toward the street, while pushing Lefty in front of him. He reached the crumbling cement sidewalk just as the woman stepped into the building, the door closing behind her.
"My name's Frost," he yelled as the door closed.
"Damn you, Lefty," Frost yelled in his ear as he jerked him toward the front of the building, pushing him along and making him stumble across the uneven cement sidewalk. "You just cost me a date." Any excuse would do to abuse his skip a little.
"More like, I just put the two of you together," Lefty countered. "Who are you, anyway? How do you know my name?"
"Nobody really, Lefty." Frost told him as he guided him toward his truck. "I'm just the guy that gets paid for collecting trash like you and bringing them to jail."
As Frost got to the end of the building, shoving Lefty in front of him, he thought about going into the bar instead of to his truck. He could tie Lefty to a gutter drain, or simply leave him cuffed and standing alone in the street so he could apologize to the woman. He thought better of it. If he took Lefty in right now, and collected his ticket, he might be early enough catch Jake at the bail bond office and collect his pay tonight. Lefty could be his easiest skip ever ... and his quickest payment.