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The Hunt for the Tiger King

Chapter Text

The phone rings. Duane “Dog” Chapman yells to his ex-wife and current business partner, Beth Smith, to answer the phone. She immediately delegates to Leland Chapman. Beth's the type of woman to not take shit from no man.
“Hello?” Leland listens quietly inside their Texas hotel room and then hangs up the phone, and turns to his family. His parents see the excitement/worry clearly on his face.
“Who was it?” Dog questions.
“That was the Fish and Wildlife Service. They have a case for us.” Dog and Beth look at each other in surprise.
“What, is there a lion with a bounty?” Dog laughs.
“Close,” Leland explains, “there's a tiger on the loose. The Tiger King, Joe Exotic, escaped from prison last night. They’re putting a $2 million bounty on him. They want us to take the case since they know we’re the best and we’re in town.” Dog and Beth immediately grab their gear and head out. They call their daughter Lyssa and son’s Tim and Duane Jr. to meet them at Fort Worth prison.
The family reconvenes and debriefs with the fish and game warden, their liaison with the FBI agents at the scene.
“Tristan Pokorney,” The Tarrant County game warden introduces himself. “We spoke on the phone earlier.”
“Nice to meet you, Tristan.” Dog shakes his hand. The warden ushers them all in.
They see the giant hole in the wall, where hours earlier, as Tristan explains, Dillon Passage had driven a truck through to free his husband, Joe Exotic. The crew and Tristan step over the murdered bodies of the prison guards, tracing the path Dillon took to Joe’s cell. They finally reach the cell and get a good look at the squalor Joe had been living in. His cell was the typical six-by-eight-foot block, with white painted brick walls. The paint had been scratched away on one of the walls. It looked like it had been done with human nails, as there was blood smeared in places. The markings read: “CAROLE”.
“Well, that’s not good,” Leland states the obvious. The warden reaches and lifts up the corner of the mattress, revealing letters stashed away.
“They’re letters written from Dillon, spanning back two years.” The crew dons gloves and flips through the husband's correspondence. Their letters begin as declarations of separated love and slowly morph over the years into pure gibberish.
“Must be a code,” Dog says flippantly. “These probably won’t be much help anyway, we already know their prison break plan was successful.”
“They might reveal their motivation to break Joe out, or where they’re headed.” Beth corrects him.
“I think that-” Dog motions at the giant “CAROLE” carving, “reveals motivation pretty clearly.”
“Fair. I still think cracking the code is worth it though.” Beth passes the letters to Tristan.
“The FBI is on it.” Tristan assures them. The gang continues their search around the small cell, revealing nothing else of note. They exit and reconvene with the FBI agent and Tristan. The agent hands them all of the files they had prepared on Joe and Dillon. Dog thumbs through the material and passes it off to Leland.
“Alright, here’s the plan…”

Chapter Text

"I'm in a cage. Do you know why animals die in cages? Their souls die." Joe paces inside his jail cell; stalking left to right, right to left. He mutters under his breath, today's the day. It had been two years since his day in court. Two years since Carole had bested him, turning his own government, his friends, his zoo against him. And for two years he had been plotting his escape to exact his revenge against the bitch that caged him. "Fuck Carole", Joe thought to himself, "but that animal-rights bitch was right about one thing--it was cruel to cage an animal". Joe finally had a taste of his own medicine, and he hated Carole even more for it. For two years Joe had been writing letters to Dillon, his third and current husband, communicating elaborately through code, planning their reunion. Joe couldn't wait the 22 years he was sentenced; Joe couldn't wait the 22 years he was sentenced; he had been set up and he wanted to set things straight. Today all their planning would be actualized.

Dillon, a sweet, simple boy, was not much help. Joe had to mastermind his own escape plan. But he was used to using others to get what he needed. The plan was relatively simple: all Dillon had to do was take the arsenal that Joe had built up over the years and storm the prison. Easy enough. They had plenty of explosives, guns, ammo. Joe dealt with his problems in a specific way and it's been working for him for his entire life, well other than this prison thing of course, and he wasn't going to change now. He acts first, worries about consequences later. He thought back to other times in his life when brute force solved his problems. His last interaction with Rick Kirkham sprang to mind. Rick had threatened to take away his internet show, his music videos, his livelihood. So, Joe burnt his office to the ground and framed Rick. Worked that time. Why not this time? Joe was going to burn the prison down and blame whoever he could stick it on. Whether it be Dillon, someone he could paint as a love-crazed boy, his former partner Jeff Lowe, who turned against him but refused to testify, anyone.

Joe continued pacing. He was waiting until midnight when Dillon was supposed to blow a hole in the prison wall. Anxiously, Joe counted the minutes until an explosion rocked his cell. Joe began maniacally laughing as the gunshots got closer and closer. He rattles the bars of his cell, almost foaming at the mouth. "Dillon, baby," Joe shrieks, "Ooh baby we've done it now." Dillon enters his cell block, covered in the blood spatter of the fallen prison guards. He unlocks Joe's cell with hands shaking from anticipation. Between excited laughter, they embrace and kiss passionately. Dillon hands Joe his iconic cowboy hat and sequined bomber jacket. Joe dons his new uniform and the two lovers fight their way out of the prison and drive off into the night.