Observations From A Southern Gentlemen


ATF Universe

DISCLAIMER: These Characters do not belong to the author or me (but if it were our sandbox, we’d let YOU play in it…) That said, this story was written purely for self entertainment (and the possible entertainment of me, thanks BMP!) and no money is being made, has changed hands, or has been paid out for the contents therein. I want to thank MOG for the ATF AU, she came up with it, and graciously lets other play there.

~Constructive Criticism will be passed on to the author

~Flames will be used to toast marshmallows

Dearest Mother,

As I am not sure to what far-flung haven you have removed yourself at this time, I am hoping that a forwarding order will assist my little missive in gaining your proverbial doorstep. If I am mistaken, alas, then you shall have to wait for news of me.

Doubtless, your keen ears and well-placed sources have already made you aware of my current position—relative to employment, that is. Globally, I am positioned in the fair city of Denver, which best can be described as at least having a pulse. It is certainly not Atlanta, and any offhand comparison to New York or Paris would be laughable at best. Still, it does have cultural, gastronomic, and apparently sporting pleasures if my compatriots are to be believed. But, as they say, “Aye, there’s the rub.” After an exhaustive study of the rare gems of entertainment that can be mined in this metropolis, and of the characters of my colleagues, I would be reluctant to rely on their predilections as any indicator of profitable or pleasant ways to pass my leisure time.

For example, take Mr. Wilmington. The man is never at a loss for a story, either appropriate or inappropriate. Said story never fails, of course, to monumentally inflate his enormously bloated reputation as a lawman, rogue, and lothario—the last in particular. One might think that an overblown ego such as his would be ripe for the popping by any woman with half an ounce of sense, but here is the wonder of it: as he seems to be endowed with a softness of heart to match his softness of head, and a modicum of what I shudder to refer to as “charm,” irrational, nay unbelievable as it seems, women actually do seem to fall for his ridiculous blather—on a regular basis! And, as there are plenty of flowers in the field, as it were, Mr. Wilmington feels no need to become unduly attached (either tightly or loosely, if you take my meaning).

To all of his ridiculous stories (to which, I admit, even I sometimes find myself attending with some fascination), our young Mr. Dunne listens with rapt attention. This is no mean feat, as our Mr. Dunne is barely able to sit still long enough to drink a cup of coffee. Mr. Dunne is our resident computer genius. Genius is not a term I throw around lightly, so you can see the measure of his ability. As you can also see, however, he is, I fear, still hopelessly naïve in many other ways, and although others find it, shall we say, “endearing,” I cannot help but feel at times that it is a dangerous trait—if not for himself, then for the rest of us. Since his chief character traits seem to be that he is earnest and determined, I must admit that he steadily improves. At least now, he recognizes that Mr. Wilmington’s random ramblings are not necessarily the Gospel truth.

Speaking of the Gospels, that brings me to Mr. Sanchez. The son of a missionary and a defrocked priest himself (a story to which I must get more details), Mr. Sanchez seems to be a man on a spiritual mission, although he seems to have arrived without a road map. It would seem that Mr. Sanchez and his maker have come to a rather serious disagreement, but are loathe to part company. Rather it appears that Mr. Sanchez would prefer to reconcile their differences.

A trained anthropologist, Mr. Sanchez is our team profiler. He is quite learned in a broad range of the philosophies of the world’s varied cultures. Like you and I, Mother, he is a student of human nature. Thus, it confounds me that his belief in the inherent dignity and value of humankind remains intact and unshaken.

Therein, perhaps lies the basis of Mr. Sanchez’s rather unlikely friendship with Mr. Jackson. Mr. Jackson is a medic by training—a rather clever piece of foresight on our leader’s part, given my teammates’ amazing ability to attract trouble and pieces of shrapnel. In the 4 months that I have been here, Messrs. Tanner and Larabee have had a total of 3 bullets removed. Mr. Wilmington has had seventeen stitches put in (although none were job related), and Mr. Dunne sprained his ankle last week.

Mr. Jackson’s family hails from the South, but not the privileged South. His parents, it seems, were Civil Rights workers, which, in the end, took its tragic toll. I shall not elaborate, as the details are not mine to tell. Nor would I want to sully your charmingly and anachronistically genteel image of our fine southern heritage.

Mr. Jackson has, on occasion, expressed a desire to continue formal medical training, but his attachment to his job, and perhaps his teammates, keeps him among us, patching up stubborn heads with infinite care, a firm hand, and no small amount of self-restraint. He has recently begun campaigning for the idea that we should each have a modicum of medical training in the event that we should find ourselves in need of attention without benefit of his guidance or skills. Perish the thought—both of being in such a situation and of having to take said training! Nevertheless, Mr. Larabee has been making some rumblings that may presage his agreement to this idea.

Ah, Mr. Larabee... How to describe him? If any of my previous mentions from Atlanta or the news you have gleaned from your own sources have made him out to be some sort of Cro-Magnon era victim of testosterone poisoning, I am afraid that this picture is somewhat misleading. The trouble is that I don’t quite know how to describe him in any way that would offer an accurate picture of his character. Despite your careful ministrations and my own (without bragging overmuch) well-honed skills in spotting others’ motives, I find myself, inexplicably, at a loss. But then, I do so love a challenge.

I can tell you this much about the man, so far. He doesn’t speak much and usually only when necessary. He has, however, other communicative talents, which seem to be quite effective. The most famous of these is the “Larabee Glare.” I exaggerate not, Mother, when I tell you that two hardened arms dealers surrendered yesterday, after he literally stared them into submission. He spoke not a single word, yet communicated quite clearly to all present his delighted willingness to inflict excruciating pain upon their persons should they persist in their armed resistance.

I can assure you that Mr. Larabee is more than capable of said violence and has a hair-trigger temper to boot. Nevertheless, he is not quite the Neanderthal that others would have us believe. He is actually a man of some education and, at times, even sophistication. He owns a ranch, where he lives and keeps several horses. Having been to his abode, I can say that it is surprisingly tasteful and comfortable--having apparently been decorated by his wife, the late Mrs. Larabee. Yes, I did indeed have a hard time imagining Mr. Larabee in a state of domestic bliss, but I have been told on Mr. Wilmington’s reliable authority in this matter, that it is indeed true. Unfortunately, Mr. Larabee’s wife, young son, and an unborn child perished tragically in a car bomb a few years ago. Perhaps I understand now the source of his irascibility.

At any rate, his ranch also houses a burgeoning personal library of a surprising range of literary genres. He seems to also have wide-ranging tastes in music and alcohol, if my preliminary surveillance offers a true idea of his tastes. With Mr. Larabee, however, one can only surmise. What one sees is not often what one gets.

Since beginning this job I have been asked aloud by the curious (and not very discreet) what it is exactly that keeps this diverse group of law enforcement professionals working for a foul-tempered, egoistic, Visigoth (Those are my words, Mother. Theirs were eminently less printable. Clearly Mr. Larabee is not one to advertise his good qualities.) In studying the question, thus far all I can say is that perhaps it has to do with Mr. Wilmington’s assertion (charmingly accompanied by his usual bad grammar) that working with Mr. Larabee “ain’t so much a job as an addiction.”

As one of the newest such addicts, perhaps Mr. Tanner would have insight into this phenomenon. He is our sharpshooter and a gifted one, at that. Unkempt and ill mannered, he possesses the gastrointestinal equivalent of an industrial trash compactor—and an infuriatingly cheerful grin. He is a former U.S. Army Ranger and also a former bounty hunter. No manner of breeding at all. He is a true loner, yet for some reason, he seems content to tie himself down with this team. Like our leader, Mr. Tanner is not one to waste words. Between the two, I doubt that Mr. Tanner and Mr. Larabee say more than 5 unnecessary words in a day (expletives not counting, since Mr. Tanner has a formidable vocabulary in that regard.) But when the laconic Mr. Tanner does deign to speak, he has a surprisingly sharp wit, accompanied by the sharpshooter’s ability to hit the target dead center every time. He is also, apparently, an inveterate practical joker. As you have frequently admonished, it is the quiet ones of which one is well advised to be wary.

Well, that concludes my letter. If I have bored you with my narrative, I send also my abject apologies. I hope you will be pleased to hear that I am well and intend to stay that way, despite my team’s disturbing willingness to take on cases that others deem foolhardy. Fear not, though. I am far more cautious than my colleagues.

I trust that my letter will find you at ease and enjoying the fruits of your labors –or at least the fruits of others’ labors.

With fondest regards,
Ezra P. Standish