Enter: The Hard-Assed Bounty Hunter

Derek Bentley stood in the shadows of an old council block of flats rolling himself a cigarette as he watched the building opposite. It was a silly habit, he knew, having given up smoking the things some time ago. But in moments like this, when there was little else to do but wait, it kept his hands busy and an edge off the the boredom. He smiled wryly to himself as he slipped the cigarette in a pocket. Maybe he should take up whittling instead.

Just then a twitch of movement from the flat he was watching caught his eye. Derek straightened, placing a hand inside his leather jacket to rest of the weapon in it's concealed holster. Even though guns had been outlawed several years ago in the UK, this sort of place was always lawless and there was no point being unprepared, especially in his line of business.

There was another twitch of net curtain and Derek drew the weapon, sliding further back into the shadows. As he watched, the door opened and a dark figure stepped out, moving quickly along the uncovered walkways of the block. Derek followed with his eyes until the figure vanished out of sight down a set of steps. It was only then that Derek began to move towards his quarry.

As the figure came down the last few steps, Derek positioned himself behind the figure. Lifting his gun he said calmly, "Stop right there or I will shoot. James Smith, you are under citizen's arrest." The figure paused for just a second before taking his chances and running away. Derek cursed and took aim. The first shot went wide and took a chunk out of a concrete flower pot, but the second struck true and the figure fell with a yell, blood leaking from the wound on his leg. Derek holstered his weapon and strode over to the figure now moaning on the ground.
"You shot me! You wanker! You bloody well went and shot me!" the figure squealed. Derek knocked the man's hood back and hauled him to his feet by the collar.
"You were given fair warning," Derek said dispassionately, as he hauled the man's hands behind his back. "James Smith," Derek continued, snapping a pair of hand cuffs on the man, "you are under citizen's arrest for the theft of eighty six pounds from McColl's newsagent. Keep your trap shut and you might get a lawyer."
"You bastard! What about my leg?"
Derek looked down. "What about your leg? You're not going to die from a scratch like that. Come on," he said, pulling on the man's collar again and walking him towards the edge of the estate. As they walked along, Derek pulled out a mobile phone and dialled a number.
"I've got him," he said after a while. "There was a small incident... No it's not bad... Sure, we'll see you soon," he finished, and put the phone away. They finally reached a car, which Derek unlocked and pushed his prisoner into the back seat, before getting in himself.
"Where are we going?" asked Smith.
"Cop shop," Derek said, as he pulled off.
"What? You some kind of community policeman?" Derek looked at Smith in the rear view mirror.
"Not exactly," he said.

They drove the rest of the way to the police station in silence. When they arrived Detective Harding was waiting for them.
"He's all yours Detective," Derek said, giving the prisoner a gentle shove in her direction.
"Thanks," she said catching hold of Smith with one hand and fished in the breast pocket of her suit with the other, pulling out a folded slip of paper. "Your payment," she said handing it over. "Oh yeah, some woman was asking about you, said she needed a word and would wait in Fred's for you."
"Really," Derek said in a dead-pan tone, noting the amused flicker in Detective Harding's hazel eyes. "What's she look like?"
"Red dress, heavy on top. Stands out like a sore thumb." Detective Harding outright smiled now, as Derek cocked an eyebrow. "You won't be able to miss her." Derek gave her a curt nod and turned away.

Leaving his car in the council car park, he crossed the road to Fred's Diner and pushed open the door. He'd always had a soft spot for Fred's. Opposite the police station and main council offices it had long been a hangout for cops and bureaucrats both. Plus, he though as he nodded to Dot - one of the ageing waitresses - in true greasy spoon fashion they always made the best bacon sarnies. Derek looked around and spotted the girl. She was sat at a corner table, and just as Detective Harding said, she could not be missed. Dressed as though for a cocktail party, the red dress accentuated an ample bosom and, he guessed, bottom but hid the slightly pudgy waist. At her neck she wore an expensive looking silver pendant and her dark  hair set off the dress and her pale complexion nicely. She was looking out of the window at the moment, toying with an empty mug. Derek walked to the counter.
"Two cups of tea please Dot," he said and pulled out a fiver. "Milk and one for me, the other's for her." He added nodding in the girls direction.
Dot gave him a briefly curious look, then nodded. "Just be a moment love," she said, taking his money and passing over the change.
"Thanks" Derek said and walked towards the girl.

"I hear you want to talk to me," Derek said, putting the two mugs on the small Formica table. The girl jumped.
"Oh sorry, I didn't see you there." She said, and stood holding out her hand. "You must be Bentley," Derek glanced at her hand and ignored it, pulling out his chair instead. With only a small facial twitch the girl lowered her hand and sat as well.
"What's with the get up?" he asked.
"I had to be sure you'd notice me," she said. "Also I'm told in situations like this, the red dress is a tradition." Derek lent back in his chair, a thoughtful look on his face.
"Tradition hu?" he said. "What is it you need help with?"

The End

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