Longform

Bondage & Domination

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Of course, this is the Row, so anything is possible. "You have to take a hard look at the people you're dealing with," says the detective. "People do crazy things when they can't put food on the table."

Dog Chapman is not shy about boasting of his days as a bounty hunter.
There was the time in 1988 when he went to apprehend a drug dealer who was asleep in his car. Dog crawled into the backseat and managed to get one cuff on before the guy woke up, and a ten-minute fight ensued. It happened near an elementary school, Dog says, so the kids on their way to class gathered in a circle to watch the fisticuffs. "He almost whipped me, but he finally went down," he says--much to the thrill of the kids. There was the time he bought a $30 Radio Shack megaphone, attached some flashlights to divining rods to create the illusion that he hadn't come alone, and tricked a fugitive holed up in a cabin near Colorado Springs into surrendering.

Dog has more dramatic tales to tell. He claims that he helped capture the man who killed Denver radio host Alan Berg and that he assisted the FBI in apprehending Wayne Williams, the serial killer who murdered black children in Atlanta in the early 1980s. (An FBI spokeswoman in Atlanta says no one in that office remembers him; Sergeant John Priest of the Denver Police Department says the same of his alleged involvement with the Berg case.)

In 1990, says Dog, he felt like he was on top, so he retired, retreating to the relative calm of Hawaii and beginning a career in public speaking. While in the islands, he says, he hung out with his pal Tony Robbins, the human-potential guru for whom Dog gives inspirational talks about how he went from his days in the Devil's Disciples motorcycle gang to his present role as a crusader for truth and justice. (Robbins returned the favor by giving Dog a plug in his book, Awaken the Giant Within, which heralds the bounty hunter's "legendary" ability to unravel mysteries and create a "rapport with young people.")

Chapman returned to Denver at the end of September to help his sister, and it didn't take long for him to get dragged into the feud. A week after coming home, on October 9, 1997, Dog went to a welcome-home party at Martinez's place. He parked in a space behind bondsman Jon Rourke's business, The Bail Bond House. Rourke says he encountered the former bounty hunter and his young children a few hours later behind his shop. He says he asked Dog to leave. Instead, he claims, Dog spit on him and "told me he'd kick my ass." So Rourke signed a complaint against Chapman for assault and disturbing the peace.

Dog remembers it differently. He says Rourke came up to him and two of his children and told him to "get these motherfucking riffraff the fuck out of here." It's possible, Dog says, that he inadvertently spit on Rourke in the process of telling him not to talk dirty in front of his kids. "I had no idea he was a bondsman," he says of Rourke. "I thought he was a parking lot attendant."

Chapman pleaded not guilty to assault. The matter is set for trial next month in Denver County Court.

Later in October, in response to Martinez's decision to post large signs touting her 10 percent bargain prices, her competitors put up their own 10 percent signs. But there was one difference. The signs of Pollack and company promised 10 percent "DWAC"--down with approved credit--which means they could still charge the other 5 percent at a later date.

Martinez's competitors pressured her to remove her large 10 percent signs, and after a three-hour meeting, she relented. In exchange, it was agreed, the "10 percent down with approved credit" signs would also come down.

"They're going to kill me over 10 percent?" Martinez asks. "They're vultures."

Once Martinez took down her sign, almost everyone else on the Row removed theirs. Almost. "Everyone else complied but Rourke," recalls Barmore. "He still had a 10 percent sign up. Then later he changed it to 'Bail Half-Down.'"

Soon after, Martinez moved her office again, leaving her place on Delaware and moving over to 13th. But she wasn't through fighting. She brazenly put her 10 percent sign back up. The hostilities quickly resumed.

At the end of the year, Martinez got some relief when the 15ers' self-described strategist, Barmore--the "mastermind" behind the "DWAC" campaign--switched sides. She had developed a love jones for Dog and had moved in with him. In the eyes of the 15-percenters, this made her a turncoat.

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T.R. Witcher