Hawkeye Pierson hangs up the phone abruptly. He has tried to call his parolee twice this morning and has been unable to get him on the phone. “Time for a home visit,” he thinks to himself. His parolee likely hasn’t gone outside the boundaries set forth by the court, as he has been fitted with a band using GPS technology, much like those used in cases of house arrest, that will go off and immediately alert the base if either he moves outside a certain range or the device is tampered with. No such alarm has gone off, so it could be that he is just working off some Taco Bell in the little boy’s room.
Hawkeye’s wife walks in to ask if he wants any breakfast. “Thanks, already had an apple,” he replies as he slips his wedding ring into his front pocket. He’s the only guy he knows with a wife who appreciates him keeping their marriage secret at work. The last thing he wants is someone trying to get revenge on him by hurting his family. He’s glad the missus understands that and trusts he isn’t doing anything deceitful behind her back. He never would. He doesn’t want to wind up in the doghouse, after which he might need a parole officer of his own.
On the way across town, Hawkeye decides to stop by another parolee’s home to check up on him first. Because Hawkeye handles caseloads that stretch across 10 counties, he racks up a lot of miles on his car and is rarely in the office. Whenever he can fit in a visit, he takes the opportunity. In fact, he’s lucky if he gets to visit five parolees in one day. We’re using a pretty loose interpretation of the word “lucky” here, but you know what we mean.
Ken got out of prison four months ago. Hawkeye had a strong feeling that Ken was going to become a successful citizen when they first met. At that time, they laid out a simple plan for Ken’s release. Parolees must have a release plan, usually consisting of a verified place to live and offer of employment, in order to leave prison. A court wants to be assured that a parolee is not going to go straight from the slammer to knocking up another liquor store just so they have some cash flow.
Ken’s plan was to go live with his sister, enroll in therapy and begin work, hopefully on a construction site, something with which he’d already had a little experience before that unfortunate incident where he assaulted a couple at knifepoint. He had learned a hard lesson being in prison and was ready to turn his life around. No more knives at all, not even when eating steak. He would just have to do a lot more chewing from now on.
As Hawkeye’s truck turns down Ken’s sister’s driveway, he sees the parolee raking up some leaves in the front yard. Ken has a huge smile on his face.
“How are things going?” Hawkeye asks.
“I can’t complain.” Ken says.
“I can always complain,” Hawkeye says, laughing.“Beautiful day.”
“Yep, they don’t get any better.” Ken says.
They talk about the weather for a few minutes (which is probably a few minutes too long) before Hawkeye broaches the subject of Ken’s employment.
“No luck so far,” Ken says. “No construction opportunities have come up, and it’s hard out there without any computer skills training,” Ken says.
Hawkeye schedules a phone call with Ken for later that week. In the meantime, he promises to look into any free community classes that offer some type of computer skills training for Ken. If he were to take to computers as naturally as he had taken to raking leaves, he would have no problem at all finding a job.
“Well, now it’s time for Mr. Trouble,” Hawkeye thinks. “Mr. Trouble” is a nickname he thought up when he first met Jeremy Lawson. For a parole officer to think that a parolee is particularly troublesome, that guy must have an ugly history. Indeed, Jeremy was twenty-five years old when he went to prison for manslaughter. His time in prison did not seem to make a dent in his irrational behavior. There have been several close calls for Jeremy, who almost seems to be on the verge of violating parole each week. His first brush was when he posted photos of himself online. He was standing next to a keg at a party. Though he swore that he didn’t have a drop, Hawkeye had major suspicions, especially considering how dazed and confused Jeremy appeared to be in the photo. Now, Jeremy was avoiding his phone calls.
Hawkeye pulls into the auto body shop where Jeremy works. It took him a lot of string pulling to get Jeremy that job. The parolee’s boss is working on a car when Hawkeye arrives.. “Is Jeremy here?” he asks.
“Nope. In fact, I was about to call you. He hasn’t been here for a week and he took home my best wrench. Not to mention my prettiest screwdriver.”
“Never a dull moment,” Hawkeye thinks as he races over to Jeremy’s house.
As he pulls into the driveway, he begins to get a bad feeling. The shades are drawn and he can hear yelling from the house. Chances are good that someone inside isn’t merely upset about a basketball game. Hawkeye checks to make sure his gun is cocked and loaded and considers calling in the police should this conversation not go well. Let’s just say that Jeremy is not always the greatest conversationalist.
Jeremy opens the door. His eyes are bloodshot and his face is pale. “Hey, how you doing, Hawk?” Hawkeye can hear laughter from somewhere inside the house. He certainly didn’t expect to hear any sounds of merriment in this place. “I’m coming over here today to see why you haven’t been answering my calls or going into work. It looks like you’re having a nice little get-together here. Mind if I join the party?”
Jeremy opens the door and says, “I’ve been sick as a dog in fact…” Hawkeye hears a commotion in the kitchen and steps around Jeremy. Pots and pans start raining down on the kitchen floor. Hawkeye is sweating and yelling at Jeremy to keep back. He pushes the door open. In the corner of the room a puppy is trying to jump up on a table. Jeremy’s sister is struggling to keep the dog down.
“What the heck, Hawk?” Jeremy says as he scoops the puppy up in his arms. “I was trying to tell you that I think I’ve got allergies to dogs. My sister just got him this week and I’ve been feeling awful.”
Hawkeye sighs. “Look, you can’t miss a week of work. I’m going to have to report this to your parole board. Call your boss, let him know your situation, return his good wrench and pretty screwdriver, go down to the clinic to get allergy medication and return my phone calls. Can you handle all that?”
Hawkeye walks down the steps of Jeremy’s house. While there wasn’t anything illegal going on, it was still a violation, and Hawkeye is going to have to report him. Some offenders just don’t understand that they are on the verge of going back to prison if they make even the slightest mistake. He looks back at Jeremy waving the dog’s paw at him as he leaves. Fortunately, the paw is still attached to the dog.
Hawkeye makes one more stop at a parolee’s place of business before going into the office to fill out a report to the Parole Commission on Jeremy.
The Parole Commission determines if Jeremy violated parole. If they decide that he has, a warrant for his arrest may be issued. For Jeremy’s sister’s sake, hopefully that puppy is not also in trouble with the law.
That night, Hawkeye gets a call. It’s midnight and he has no idea who might be on the phone. Turns out it’s the sheriff’s office. They picked up Jeremy trying to sell drugs at a local grocery store. Hawkeye’s heart sinks. He did his best, but with some parolees his best simply isn’t good enough. Why couldn’t Jeremy have been like Ken – a model parolee, raking leaves and smiling happily, ready to get his life back on track?