That was the text I received at 5:48 am the morning I was scheduled to fly back home from Dallas. Dredge and I had exchanged numbers during our last interaction, and I was happy to see he had remembered his promise to drive me back to the airport.
I was flying back with a co-worker, and I wanted him to experience the power of Dredge's stories firsthand. But for the first leg of our trip, Dredge was reluctant to talk.
I tried to steer the conversation in a direction that would naturally lend itself to one of Dredge's stories, but the guy didn't seem to want to bite.
"Ran into some crazy people down here," I said as an icebreaker. "Bet you've driven some real psychos around, huh?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Dredge responded, but he didn't bother to elaborate. Instead, he just laughed to himself and stared at the road ahead.
I tried a different tact.
"Dredge, tell my friend about the little old Chinese guy, he'll love that story."
"I don't want to get into that again, but ..." Dredge paused for a good 10 seconds or so before he asked that curious question:
"You consider yourself liberal or conservative?"
Crooks, robbers and petty thieves
After some convincing, Dredge launched into his most ridiculously unbelievable story yet.
"I used to be a cop, but I didn't like how I was being treated by the higher ups," was how the story began. According to Dredge, Dredge was a great cop with an uncanny ability for catching crooks -- real crooks, like robbers, not small-time petty thieves. When it came to catching bad guys, Dredge just seemed to know where to be and when to be there. Problem was, his talents weren't recognized because of all of the "bureaucratic bullshit" within the department.
So Dredge decided to take matters into his own hands. First, he quit the force. Then, he teamed up with this other former cop, somebody most of the other cops couldn't really stand and would never associate with Dredge. Together, these two robbed a total of eight banks using Dredge's master plan. Once they stockpiled enough cash, they headed down to the Dominican Republic to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
But the good times didn't last long. The way Dredge tells it, his "dumbass" partner made the mistake of trying to pass of a traveler's check at a strip club. The owner got suspicious, tried calling American Express to verify the check, and Dredge and his partner made a break for it. But the two were eventually tracked down by the strip club's bodyguards and taken to a local prison. Dredge described the prison as a "medieval dungeon," and he wound up spending several days in that dungeon.
During his stay, Dredge said he was beaten and threatened. He was sure he was going to be killed. Dredge described run-ins with two actual generals in the Dominican army who were also wardens at the prison: The good general and the bad general. The bad general came into Dredge's cell, which he was sharing with his partner and several other local criminals, looked him in the eye, said something in Spanish and walked away. One of Dredge's cellmates translated what was said, which amounted to: "I'm coming back later tonight and, when I do, I'm going to kill you." Later that night, the bad general did return. But right when he got to Dredge's cell, the good general came storming in and screamed something in Spanish at the man who had come to kill Dredge. Then, just like that, the bad general left.
Not only did this good general save Dredge from his impending death, he also offered his American prisoner some good old-fashioned Dominican Republic hospitality. After the standoff between the two generals, Dredge and his dumbass partner were taken to another room. The room was filled with women, and there was a TV showing porn. Here, the good general invited Dredge and his partner to watch while he took turns having sex with the various women in the room. I thought the move was a bit odd, but Dredge was grateful for the general's generosity.
After the good general finished servicing all of the women, Dredge and his partner were returned to their dungeon cell. Once he was back, the bad general returned and screamed some more unintelligible Spanish at Dredge. Once again, the Spanish was translated and, once again, it essentially amounted to a warning that the bad general would return to kill the American prisoners. But again, Dredge was granted a reprieve. Only this time Dredge wasn't saved by the good general, he was rescued by the FBI.
Although Dredge's Dominican Republic ordeal was over, his American one had just begun. According to Dredge, he was sentenced to 15 years but released early because of some events that took place in prison. Since that time, he'd started the cab company because "work was hard to come by." The next step in Dredge's Odyssey is deciding on a cover and getting his book published. Should this ever happen, he's guaranteed to sell at least one copy.
Afterward: Look, I know everything about Dredge's cop-turned-robber tale sounds like complete bullshit, and that's exactly what I thought initially. But right before Dredge dropped us off at the airport, he said, "I know you probably don't believe me, but you can look it up. There's a newspaper article, and it's all right there ... everything I just told you." The moment Dredge left and headed back to wherever it is that he goes on Wednesday mornings, I did a Google search with the words "Dredge (actual name)," "Cop," "Robbers" and "Dallas (actual city)." Just like the man said, there was three-page newspaper article dating back to the early 90s It confirmed everything that Dredge just told me. The only thing missing were the details on the good and bad generals down in the Dominican Republic dungeon.
Is it possible that this struggling cab driver took some obscure robbery story from two decades ago and memorized the details so he good pass it off to customers as his own? Sure, I guess that's a possibility. But I really don't think Dredge did that. I honestly believe that Dredge was just a bored cab driver who, in another life, had done some crazy shit and was dying to share those stories with anybody who would listen. From the moment I sat down in his cab, Dredge realized he'd found that person.