We’re after the boat parked out by the rusted red Chevy Blazer. They’re off to the side, but still behind a battered, old farmhouse. Randy’s a 12-year repo vet and I’m on my first hunt.
“The first thing is, walk up the driveway and check the VIN number,” Randy informs, cutting the truck’s choppy diesel engine, rolling heavily to the side of the road.
“Remember. When you close your door, it’s quiet. Everything quiet.”
My body tightens alertly as I get out and follow up the gravel drive.
“Stay on the gravel where the car tracks are,” he whispers, “not as much noise.”
We pass the Blazer, and dogs bark — sharp, intense, big-dog barking. An explosion of hot tingling spines across my neck to my cheeks, lifting me high on my toes. Randy casually verifies the vehicle identification number, and we hustle back to the truck to plan.
“I’m gonna pull up to the Blazer, you get out and direct me through the squeeze. Then guide me back to the trailer ball. We drop, lock and go. Got it?”
I’m as excited as a cocky sixth-grader with a free pass to be bad. Randy’s making backup plans B and C.
“Which are?” I ask.
“12 years’ experience.”
I direct him past the Blazer and back him to the ball. I feel like everything’s going to work, until the ball doesn’t fit.
Randy’s already out of the truck, sees the problem, reaches into the truck bed, and within a moment has the right piece in place. We’re hooked when the screen door slams and a cussing, grizzled man in his pajamas and sweat socks hustles up the drive with his two charging German shepherds.
“In the truck!” Randy tells me. He walks toward the irate guy while holding out the ownership documents.
Grizzlyman is screaming in Randy’s face. One dog nips Randy in the ankle, then the ass, then leaps at his head. Randy deftly blocks the dog with the clipboard while managing to posture a calm composure.
I open my door to help out, without knowing what I’m going to do. When the guy sees me, it snaps the bubble of his self-righteous anger. He calls off the dogs, starts asking Randy if he’s OK.
That’s just how the dogs play, he says. He thought his wife sent in the payments. Then he looks at the boat, throws up his hands, and tells us, “Just take it!”
Randy walks back, jumps in the truck and silently drags the boat down the drive. About a quarter-mile down the road, he pulls to the side, where we get out to make sure everything’s secure.
“You OK?” I ask.
He pulls off his glove, holds out a shaky hand and smiles, “All in a day’s work.”