Corey had already left for work. Banter sat at the kitchen table sipping her tea and looking at some of the designs that Colo and Kyle had put together. Some of them were rather intricate and using more tunnels and poles than they had.
“What are they thinking?”
She chuckled at their imagination.
The dogs came trotting down the stairs. Kyle was getting faster at dressing and he came down ahead of Colo, but Colo was right on his heels. The two headed out back with the dogs, however, it was Colo who came in first.
“Is Patsy taking her time?” she said.
“Yeah, Ollie just goes out and pees. She has to sniff everywhere before she does.”
Colo started getting out the items for breakfast.
Kyle came back in.
“She had to sniff everywhere,” he said as if he needed to explain.
“Maybe she has to pee in just the right spot,” she said.
“She pees in the same spot every morning,” Kyle said with exaggerated exasperation.
“She likes to keep her yard clean.”
Kyle fed Patsy.
“The good thing about her coming in late is that Ollie gets a head start on his food.”
“He’s eating faster,” Kyle said.
Kyle waited until Ollie was finished eating before he got out the eggs.
“Get one out for me, too,” she said.
After breakfast, the boys headed out to the backyard. In minutes the yard was a mess while they tried to put together a course. Banter sat on the picnic table and watched.
“Good morning,” Bea said, stepping out. “I see they are hard at work.”
“You should see some of their designs. They’re trying to build a course as big as a football field.”
“They plan on going multilevel here?” Bea said.
“Don’t give them any ideas.”
Bea joined her on the table.
“I do see some sense of order here,” she said.
“They might be coming to their senses. They’re going to have Ollie tired before they even get a course set.”
“Ollie does follow Colo everywhere.”
“And Patsy is the smart one.”
Patsy was laying beneath the picnic table.
“She’s a good girl.”
“Hey, guys. Maybe you should start by teaching Ollie the weave. He’s never done that before.”
“He did it when we went to the agility class,” Colo said.
“Oh, yeah. I forgot they went to that.”
“That dog learns at the drop of a hat,”Bea said.
Banter nodded at that. She found she didn’t want to go to work, but wanted to sit there and watch the boys.
“Well, I better go in. I’ll be home early. And it’s pizza night.”
“Enjoy,” Bea said.
“Yeah, right,” Banter said, rising. “Later boys.”
“Bye Mom,” Kyle said.
Colo just waved.
They both seemed very serious in their construction.
Banter changed gears while she drove to work. She was thinking about this evening and meeting up with the drug lord. There were some risks.
“No, there’s a whole lot of risks,” she said while she navigated into the parking garage.
There seemed to be a wave of people coming and going. There was actually an officer checking IDs instead of letting them swipe their cards to open the door.
She trotted up the stairs, but slowed down when she reached the fourth level to walk the rest of the way.
“I need to do a little more jogging with the boys.”
The sixth floor was a mass of activity. There were people moving boxes out and others moving boxes in. Desks were pushed against a wall. She reached her office and unlocked the door.
“Morning,” Peter said, stepping up.
He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.
“We’ll do a quick review for this evening and then I’m off until nine-thirty this evening,” he said.
Bert stepped in.
“Bert will be monitoring your bug from here,” Peter said. “I’ll pick you up here. Then I’ll drive you wherever you want to be dropped off. This is where we’ll end the night.”
“What if you need an emergency exit?” Bert said.
“I have a gun,” she said. “And I know how to use it.”
“Shooting people isn’t always the solution,” he said.
“It is in my world.”
“I understand it’s not the solution in the police world. I’ll use it only as a last resort.”
“What’s up with Ray?”
“He still thinks the raid is on. The narc guys are going to screw it up. They’re good at that anyway. There’s going to be a scheduling conflict.”
“I see. You sound like this has been done before.”
“Some times it’s a planned conflict and sometimes it’s not,” he said with a grin.
Banter rolled her eyes.
“At any rate, Mark will be watching the club. He’s going to pull off watching at midnight. Any questions? You need anything else?” Bert said.
“No,” she said. “We just need some good luck.”
“I’m off. See you tonight,” Peter said.
“I’m off too. If anything comes up, call,” Bert said.
She nodded, watching them go.
At noon, Corey arrived with their left over Chinese.
“Lunch,” he said. “Already warmed up.”
“Nice. Is your floor as much of a mess as this one?”
“Yes. They’ve already moved my filing cabinets. Nessa is supervising the moving of everything else. They were supposed to start all this tonight. Not in the middle of the day. This disrupts work just a little bit.”
“This place has a few issues.”
“I thought you were going to straighten them out?” he said with a smile.
“Even I can’t do miracles.”
“You need drapes,” he said. “How we ever going to smooch with that window.
She smiled and laughed.
“You might get Carla jealous.”
“She seems a little subdued,” he said.
“Still the results of my little chat, reminding her about her job.”
“Probably something Ray should have done. Well, today is a mess. I’ll see you tonight. I already talked with Jed, and some other officers are keeping him company. I’m hoping to leave early.”
“I’ll see you tonight.”
Corey leaned over her desk and gave her a kiss.
She smiled and watched him leave.
There seemed to be no lull in the activity outside of her office. At three, she headed out.
“I think we have an agility course,” she said, stepping out to the backyard.
Both dogs were under the picnic table. Kyle was running the agility course.
“And we have a new dog. Is his name Kyle?”
Both Kyle and Colo laughed.
At four, she had a text from Corey that he was on his way and would pick up the pizza. She called in their usual order.
“Dad and pizza are on their way,” she said.
“I hope Ollie gets rested. We want to show Dad the course,” Colo said. “Can Ian and Jack come over tomorrow? They want to bring their dogs and try the course.”
Banter knew, although Colo was keeping it a secret with his dad, that, as of late, he had discovered he could text his friends on his phone.
“Let me check with their mothers.”
The rest of the day seemed to flyby. She hardly remembered eating pizza. Ollie did perform the obstacle course and Corey applauded their efforts. Then he made them clean up the backyard.
“You can put it all together tomorrow with your friends,” he said.
The boys were already in bed when Banter got ready.
“I feel like I’m going out on a hit.”
“Don’t shoot anyone unless you have to. There’s a lot of paperwork involved if you do,” Corey said.
He walked her out to her car.
“Be careful,” he said.
Peter was waiting for her in the parking garage. He had his own car.
“Where do you want me to drop you off?”
“A mile south. I never approach from the same direction.”
After he dropped her off, she broke into a jog. It was a warm evening, again. She knew she was nearing the club based on the increase in traffic and the fancy cars. To get to her destination, she had to go a block out of her way and come around the block to avoid being seen.
Banter stopped in the shadows at the end of the alley. She had just gotten into position when a car came down the alley and stopped at the end. A white van pulled up to the curb and parked. The back window of the car rolled down.
“Get into the van.”
It was the drug lord’s voice.
Banter could tell he didn’t know exactly where she was standing or even if she was really there because he rolled down the window away from her. She separated herself from the shadows and crossed the street, choosing to go behind the car for her approach to the van. A side door opened.
She stepped in to find one other guy. There was a solid partition between them and the driver, and there were no other windows in the van. She wasn’t going to see where they were going. Hopefully, Peter and Bert were watching her bug.
The door shut.
She felt the van pull away from the curb. It was easy to feel the van drive two blocks down and then around the block. She was almost guessing they were heading back to the club when the van picked up speed and went straight for a long distance. Then she felt them get onto the Interstate.
Banter counted the time in her head. Twenty minutes later they exited the Interstate, but she had no idea if they went east or west, and both ways had a bypass to go around the city or go straight. It was possible to take a bypass curve and not feel it.
The van stopped and the door opened. She hopped out, using her peripheral vision to look around. The car with the drug lord stopped behind the van. When he left his car, both vehicles then left.
“This way,” he said.
They went into a building and down the stairs. Banter had no idea where she was. Even though she had been all around this city, this area didn’t look familiar. She had been unable to catch a street name. Only one building number caught her eye.
The stairs opened up into a long hallway. They walked down the hall, up some stairs, down a hallway, down stairs and through another hallway. Banter was thinking this was getting excessive, when they finally stepped out a door into a large outdoor area.
There were loading docks across from where they stood. There was two vans waiting to get loaded. Overhead, she felt intense static. She did one upward look, then pretended to dismiss it.
“Wait here,” he said.
Banter watched him cross the area toward the loading docks. Another man stepped up to stand by her. It was only a few minutes later that he returned with four other men. She did a slight turn to calculate who was around her and found there were three men who seemed to be guarding the door they had left. Her math came up with nine men. She didn’t like those numbers.
“So you say you’re a hired gun,” the drug lord said.
He smiled and his mustache bobbed.
Banter decided she really didn’t like him. She kept a simple look of disdain on her face.
“We usually test our hired guns,” he said.
“Ah no shit,” she said. “Ahn do you have someone here you don’t like?”
The drug lord smiled.
“Not any of these. I like them too much.”
“Ah don’t,” she said.
She drew her gun in one smooth movement while getting out the silencer. Within a moment, the silencer was on the gun. She calculated her shot and fired.
“Oh, shit. God damn it.”
She knew it was one of the men behind and to her left. He had been one in her peripheral vision and the easiest shot. The man’s ear lobe was bleeding.
“Damn,” she heard someone say. “She took out your earring.”
Banter was amazed that she stood there with her gun out and no one else drew. They hadn’t expected her action. She removed the silencer and holstered the gun before they could recover.
“Ah can shoot. Give me a real target.”
She also noted that the drug lord lost his sense of cool for a moment. He regained it quickly.
“Don’t do that again.”
“Ahn don’t make me wait,” she said.
“The limo gig was a long time ago,” he said.
“Ahn three hundred thou goes a long way.”
“Never heard that it was solved.”
“Ah never done any time.”
She understood his words. He had just cued her into what he wanted to hear.
“Ah didn’t think hookers had a good memory other than for who pays well and who don’t.”
“She’s still around.”
“Ahn she shouldn’t bring her kid to work, but that’s what saved her. I don’t shoot kids.”
“She remembered your accent,” the drug lord said.
He touched his mustache as if feeling that it was still there.
“I have something for you, but not today,” he said. “I’ll post on the job board when to meet again. Mr. Peanut and the same corner at the end of the alley.”
He pointed to a man.
“Follow him out,” the drug lord said to her with a wave of his hand.
Banter watched him turn to go back across to the loading docks with the four men. She turned to follow the man. It was everything in reverse, except the ride back in the van didn’t involve getting on the interstate. Their setup was starting to impress her.
The van stopped. The man sitting in back opened the door. She hopped out. The door closed and the van took off. She found herself on the same corner where she started.
Banter headed south. She knew right away that she had picked up a tail. After a couple of blocks, she saw the paper bag on a stoop. She was somewhat impressed with Peter to have been ahead of her. There was an alley right after the stoop. She dodged down it, but there was a dumpster slightly askew and she slipped around it and stopped. Her tail followed her. As soon as he passed, she slipped back out and grabbed the sack.
It was a different wig and dress. She crossed the street while she slipped on the dress. The last of her hair was barely under the wig when the man came back out of the alley.
A car pulled up beside her.
“Get in the fucking car, you bitch.”
She knew it was Peter.
“Go fuck yourself,” she said, making sure there was no accent in her voice.
“Where the hell have you been?”
She got into the car, and he squealed the tires, taking off.
“There were four of them,” he said, taking a turn. “But they were all heading to the street one over where you would have come out of the alley.”
“Probably why that other guy came back.”
“He went running after the decoy.”
“Jose. He’s the shortest of us guys. And he had a black hoodie.”
“So you did pull him in to help.”
“He thought of it.”
“Mark still sitting, watching the club?”
“I hope you found where I went. I don’t want to go again.”
“We had a problem.”
“Don’t tell me that.”
“We lost you.”
Peter pulled over to the curb. A ratty looking Latino got into the back seat. He was carrying a black hoodie.
“I didn’t even recognize you, Jose. You look like shit,” she said.
“Thanks. I’ll take that as a compliment.”
All three of them were watching out windows for tails. Peter drove a long time, going on the Interstate and around the city. Finally, he pulled into the garage where they switched cars. Except, Jose headed out on foot.
Banter sprawled down on the backseat.
“I hope he doesn’t have to walk far.”
“Only a couple of blocks,” Peter said.
In less than a half-hour, they were all sitting in her office.
“Here’s where we tracked you,” Bert said.
She could see the line that showed they did go two blocks, then around the block, then off to the Interstate. They had headed west, but had taken the bypass. In an old housing district, they had lost her signal.
“Same place we picked it back up an hour later,” Bert said.
“I disappeared for an hour?”
She stared at the map.
“We went into a building, up and down stairs and followed hallways. Then outside. There were loading docks. Four of them to be precise.”
“There are no loading docks anywhere near where we lost your signal,” Bert said.
“None even an hour walk from where you were,” Peter said. “I’ve been through that area before.”
“Would a lot of static block my bug?”
“Electrical interference? Sure.”
“When we stepped out of the building, there were a ton of wires overhead and lots of static.”
“There’s nothing like that around that area,” Bert said.
“We need updated aerials,” she said. “Wherever we walked, we couldn’t have walked more than fifteen minutes.”
“And you had your gun on you? The whole time?”
“Yes. I did a shooting demonstration. Scared the shit out of them.”
“I hate to ask what you shot at,” Peter said.
“Took out some lacky’s earring.”
“No. He can now wear something larger through his hole.”
Peter shook his head.
“And they really checked up on me. The last hit I did, they found the witness.”
“There was a witness?” Bert said.
“I usually take out witnesses, but there were extenuating circumstances.”
“I ain’t talking,” she said. “But I need to watch the job board for a hit for Mr. Peanut.”
She took out her phone.
“I might even have the app for it still. Yeah, I do. I can set a notification for any jobs that come up.”
Banter felt them all watching her while she configured the notification.
“You are a scary person,” Jose said.
“Those guys are scary,” she said. “They are professionals. This is really big time. They are taking no chances and using technology the police force can’t fight against.”
“Let’s regroup tomorrow and hash out what we have,” Bert said.
“Maybe we should talk to Gary,” Peter said.
“He’s a crazy loon,” Bert said.
“Why Gary?” she said.
“Gary did two deployments overseas. Security stuff in supposed peaceful areas. He did a presentation a couple of years ago about security. He might have insight.”
“Anything he knows is old,” Bert said.
“That is an issue,” she said.
“Yeah, but he might know how they are camouflaging four loading docks where aerial photos wouldn’t show it.”
“You’re thinking they camouflaged an entire block?” she said.
“I’d be super impressed if they did that.”
“Me, too. I’ll send a message to him and see if we can get a few minutes of his time.”
“Let’s break,” Bert said. “We’ve been here long enough.”
“Tomorrow is Saturday,” she said.
“I just hope I don’t have to do a hit this weekend.”