“How do you make it work? You both work?” Jean said.
Dinner was winding down.
“You have to look at what needs to get done and both of you need to figure out who does what. And the roles can change from day to day,” Banter said.
“I do baths and bedtimes, but Banter can do it if I’m late.”
“The boys now help with their own breakfast. They have chores that needs to be done.”
Both Colo and Kyle nodded. Banter was impressed by how well they were sitting at the table.
“What if they don’t do them?” Jean said.
Banter didn’t think Jean looked like she knew how to discipline.
“You have to figure out a penalty.”
“The dogs go to the pound,” Colo said.
“If they want to keep the dogs, they have to do their chores,” Banter said.
Jean didn’t look like she was grasping on to the concept. Banter figured she wanted an easy answer and an easy solution.
“We have roles, but he comes home late,” Jean said.
Her look and gesture told the big story that she was blaming him for his lateness.
“Have you ever seen on TV when a child goes missing? Amber alerts go out. Everyone has to act fast.” Banter said.
“Imagine Mason has disappeared. Time is critical when finding a lost or taken child. Imagine the police arrive to get information from you, but fifteen minutes into the interview, they get up and say ‘well it’s five pm, it’s quitting time. We’ll come back tomorrow.’ They leave. Your son is still missing.”
Jean looked uneasy.
“It’s hard living with superheroes,” Banter said. “Jed is like a superhero. When that signal shines that he needs to save the world, quitting time gets pushed back.”
Jed cracked a smile.
“All policemen have that drive,” Banter said. “They all think they have to save the world. And because of that, they always want to work late. They also tend to only see the bad. They always bring this home.”
Jean nodded. Jed gave one nod and a shrug.
“Jean, you need to think about what Jed sees. When he sees a teacher, they’re usually in jail and usually, what? A child molester? Jed, you need to think about what Jean sees. She sees teachers in a totally different light.”
“Banter is the superhero in this family,” Corey said under his breath.
Kyle nodded, and Colo laughed.
“That’s where you have to step up,” Banter said, looking at Jean.
Jean didn’t seem like she understood.
“Jed may be the superhero out in the world, but you have to be the superhero at home.”
“If you expect Jed to come home and see that you have dishes in the sink to be washed or laundry waiting to go in the dryer, then you should never have gotten married. If you need help with things around the house, you need to ask for his help. He is not going to see what you see. And if it is too much for both of you, get help that comes in once a week or so.”
“It’s a lot less expensive than getting a divorce,” Banter said. “You would be surprised. It’s not really that expensive. Think about a person’s wage for one day or half a day. Someone that comes in to clean. I can ask our nanny, Bea, if she knows anyone looking for a day here or there.”
Both Jean and Jed nodded.
“And if you think this will give you more time for yourself, think again. This will give you more time to spend with your son. He’s probably feeling it worse than both of you, and he’s probably blaming himself.”
Jed nodded. Jean looked uncomfortable.
“And you have to communicate. Start texting more.”
“I’m not supposed to…” Jed said.
“Bullshit. Corey does. If you’re going to be late, be sure to let her know. The rules on texting are for excessive use or abuse of it, not for when you’re telling your wife you’ll be late.”
Both Jed and Jean looked at each other and nodded.
“Well, sorry to end the night,” Jed said. He didn’t look like he wanted to leave. “But our sitter is only available a few hours.”
“Thanks for coming,” Corey said.
They all rose.
“Could I use the bathroom?” Jean said.
“Colo, show her the bathroom,” Banter said.
Colo jumped up and led her off.
Banter followed Corey and Jed out to the front porch.
“Thanks for mentioning that Jean needs to spend time with Mason,” Jed said in a soft voice. “Her mom says that Jean acts as if a divorce is a reset button and that Mason will disappear. I don’t know what she’s thinking.”
“You need to rethink about work,” Banter said. “You can call in to get backup which will allow you to end your shift. I know it doesn’t always make sense and there isn’t always someone available, but use it when you can,” she said, thinking of when she called in with the pickpocket.
“Banter is going to put on a course to teach officers how to get through the paper work faster. It really helped me,” Corey said.
Jean stepped out.
Banter made a hand command to Colo and Kyle. They started picking up the agility course.
“I didn’t just see you do a dog command to the kids, did I?”
“I told you she trained the dogs and the kids,” Corey said. “And me.”
They watched Jed and Jean drive off.
“Jean needs to do a little growing up,” Banter said.
“Yeah, I can see that. But, did you see how amazing this course is? Hey, Colo, did you write this one down?”
The boys laughed. Banter smiled. Corey seemed extra happy.
“That’s because you’re not the one having the relationship problems,” she muttered under her breath, making sure he didn’t hear.
She did have to smile. The boys were happily moving the agility course obstacles to the backyard. Corey was supervising. Life was feeling pretty good.
Her phone dinged. It was a notice from the job board. She opened the app and stopped dead. It was a hit for a Mr. Peanut for Tuesday evening.
“Shit,” she said.
She accepted the job.
“What is it?” Corey said.
“Drug lord wants to see me tomorrow. We can’t track me. I don’t want to step into his world without backup.”
Corey looked a little concerned.
“Patsy’s tracking a rabbit again,” Kyle said, trotting by.
“A tracking dog can’t follow anyone in a vehicle can they?” she said.
“I don’t know. Let’s look it up,” he said. “Hey, Colo and Kyle. You can leave what you have up in the back.”
He closed the gate to the yard behind them.
“Go feed the dogs,” Banter said. “We have a kitchen to clean up.”
Everyone crowded into the kitchen. Colo stood between the dogs so Ollie could eat all of his supper. Kyle helped clear the table and Corey loaded the dishwasher.
“Shoot, we might not need Bea anymore,” Banter said while she sat at the table and pretended to monitor the cleanup. “Do you know how to vacuum, Kyle?”
“No,” he said in an exaggerated voice.
“Just because we survived your cooking Saturday and Sunday, doesn’t mean we’re ready to get rid of Bea,” Corey said, pretending to look aghast at her comment.
“I helped on Sunday,” Colo said.
“In a few weeks we’ll have Kyle vacuuming and Colo cooking. We’re all set,” Banter said.
“I’ll cook,” Colo said.
The evening wound down. Corey went upstairs with the boys for the bedtime routine. Banter sat on the couch and researched what a bloodhound could do. She found a lot of information and was deep into reading, when both Corey and Patsy joined her.
“What are you finding?” he said.
“A very well trained bloodhound has been known to track a person in a vehicle. I really doubt Patsy is that sort of dog.”
“She looks like she has had previous training.”
“Yeah, and she was found at the pound and is now our pet,” she said.
“There is a local organization that trains and leases out tracking dogs. I’ll call them tomorrow and see what’s a possibility. See if we can rent a dog.”
“When are you going out?”
“To do a hit?”
“I don’t know. The code is just for meeting. What happens when we meet is up in the air.”
“I really don’t want you to go.”
“Me either, but… this is the set up we have. Worse case scenario is I have to take someone out.”
“No, the worse case scenario is I lose you,” he said.
She put the laptop aside and crawled into his lap.
“I’ll be armed,” she said, but she could tell that did little to ease his concern.
When they went to bed, she even noticed that he took longer than normal to fall asleep. She knew she tossed and turned, and when the alarm went off, she bolted upright.
“Just the alarm,” Corey said, pulling her back down. “Keep me apprised of what’s happening today. Okay?”
They snuggled for another few minutes before rising. Banter felt anxious and was dressed and sipping her tea by the time Corey came out. When she walked him out to his cruiser, he held her longer than normal.
“I have been in worse situations,” she said, sensing his worry.
“But not as my wife,” he said. “Ray’s going to get an earful when this is over.”
“I’d like to hear this.”
He smiled and kissed her.
“I’ll make time for lunch today,” he said.
She watched him drive off and was still standing there when Bea drove up ten minutes later.
“You look perturbed,” Bea said.
“Work is getting intense.”
“I’ll leave it at that. My work is going great, thanks to an agility course and two dogs.”
She followed Bea into the house and waited until the boys were up before she left for work.
“I need a meeting,” she said in a loud voice while she made her way to her office.
She didn’t know if any of the other undercovers were even there since she didn’t see them. By the time, she opened her office and sat down, three of them materialized.
“Peter is on his way,” Bert said.
“Who is our contact here for sniffing dogs?” she said.
“Tracking?” Bert said.
“What are you thinking?”
“If you can’t track me with electronics, how about with a bloodhound?”
“I know who to call,” Jose said.
He stepped out.
“I forgot to tell you. There was another…”
“Mr. Peanut was on the job board,” an officer said, stopping by her office door.
As soon as the words were out, he was gone.
“Blake watches the job board now?” she said.
“What?” Bert said. “Again? He posted again?”
“He wants me to meet him tonight.”
“Damn,” Bert said.
“We need Ray’s approval on this,” Mark said. “We could be jeopardizing an officer unnecessarily.”
“He’s in a meeting. I’ll bring it up to him,” Bert said, not looking pleased.
Peter arrived with his usual soda.
“I heard there was a Mr. Peanut…”
“Yes, there was,” she said interrupting. “Bert, what about your stoolies? Any word on another job board?”
“I got shrugs,” he said. “No one’s talking.”
“What was the secret word for the current job board?” Mark said.
“Paycheck, but spelled wrong,” Banter said.
Jose came back.
“Okay. I talked with the tracking dog people. First, they don’t have any dogs we could borrow. The last one available was shipped out of state yesterday to find a lost child. Apparently, summer is lost child season.”
“Shit,” Banter said.
“However, I explained our situation. They mentioned using a scent capsule. One that could be dropped beside a tire. The tire runs over and squashes the capsule and gets the scent on it. It then leaves a scent trail that even a marginally good dog could follow.”
“That’s a possibility,” Banter said.
“The only negative, they said, was that a tracking dog can only go so fast. It could take hours to catch up with you.”
“But we only need to start where the tracking bug stops working,” she said.
“Good point,” Bert said.
“I considered that,” Jose said. “They are supposed to be running over a couple of capsules today.”
“You are the man, Jose,” she said. “Now I just need approval to shoot someone in case none of this works.”
“You have my approval,” Peter said.
She smirked at him and shook her head. Then a thought occurred to her.
“Who is going to handle the dog?”
“I’m not a dog person,” Peter said.
“We don’t have a dog,” Bert said. “None available.”
He looked at her as if she hadn’t been paying attention.
“I have a bloodhound,” she said. “She’s had some training.”
“What don’t you have?” Bert said.
“I can give it a try,” Jose said. “Who would suspect some Latino with a bloodhound?”
“Banter,” Peter said.
“Why?” she said.
“How many Latinos run around with bloodhounds?” Peter said.
“Exactly,” she said.
“So what type of dog would you see me with?” Jose said.
“Chihuahua,” she said.
“Isn’t that stereotyping?” Peter said.
“What kind of dog do you have, Jose?” she said.
“Are you that good or did you know this before?” Peter said.
“I knew he had a Chihuahua. Her name is Lola. However most people won’t give him a second glance,” she said.
“I’ll go talk to Ray. Looks like he’s available,” Bert said, rising and leaving.
“Blake’s now the one watching the job board?” she said again.
“They rotate,” Mark said. “We cued them in on Mr. Peanut.”
“We now wait for management approval and capsules. You need to come to my house, Jose, and see Patsy. Work with her a bit before tonight.”
“Let me know when you’re heading home, and I’ll follow,” he said.
“Let’s break until we hear further,” she said.
She wanted them out of her office. Once they left, she called Corey, but Nessa answered.
“He’s in a meeting,” Nessa said.
“Tell him to call me when he can.”
“Will do, Banter.”
It was lunch time when he called.
“Meet you on the landing, and we can talk,” he said.
Banter left her office at a run, just barely getting the door shut and locked. Corey was waiting for her.
“So what’s up?” he said while they trotted down the stairs.
“No tracking dogs are available. They are sending scent capsules, and we’re going to try and use Patsy. Jose volunteered to be the handler. He is going to come over in order that he and Patsy can get acquainted.”
“How is a scent capsule going to work?”
“I’m going to toss, discreetly of course, a scent capsule under the tire of the van that picks me up. It runs over the capsule and breaks it. Scent is now on the tire making a track. Once they lose track of my bug, the boys will go to that point and have Patsy take over.”
“Sounds simple. And if it doesn’t work?”
“I’m getting Ray’s approval to do a hit if it comes to that.”
Their conversation ended when they reached the bottom of the stairs.
“Fast lunch at the deli?” she said.
“Any word on Jed and Jean?”
“Jed thinks things are improving, but I thought that too and everything fell apart. He says they have been talking more since last night, which is good. Jean is back at the house. We are in a wait and see mode. He’s going back to work next week.”
“Good. Talking is always good.”
The deli was packed when they reached it. They had to wait to order.
“When are you and Jose heading to the house?”
“I’m thinking about two.”
“Make it three and I’ll come home, too,” he said.
“Sounds like a plan.”
They finally reached the counter and had to stand to eat their sandwiches. Lunch was fast and soon Banter was back in her office.
She called Jose.
“I’m going to leave at three.”
“Okay. I’ll be ready.”
She hung up just as Bert and Ray stepped in.
“Just do what you have to do,” Ray said. “I know you’re not going to gun down a dozen people unless you have to. I like the idea of using the dog.”
“Jose will come over and get to know her. He needs to know the commands we use with her.”
“Keep me in the loop.”
“That was easy,” she said.
“He’s getting his ass chewed for results,” Bert said. “So far the best results are what you found.”
“I just hope we find out where this place is and get the raid planned.”
“You and me both. I’m getting sick and tired of sitting by that club. I have other places where I need to spend more time. When are you and Jose leaving?”
“Keep me in the loop, too.”
Everyone stayed out of her office for the rest of the day. She handled emails and phone calls and was pleased to see folders pile up at Carla’s desk, then disappear into a cart that she wheeled off.
At three, she called Jose.
“I’ll meet you in the parking garage,” she said.
“On my way.”
She was already in the parking garage when he appeared. She could tell he had taken the elevator.
“Are you in any shape to run with a bloodhound?”
“I’m a runner,” he said. “Five days a week. Five to ten miles depending on the weather and the heat. It’s how I keep my sanity.”
“What do you do?”
“Run, but usually with the boys,” she said, deciding not to use the ‘kill people’ comment.
“I’m just five cars down from you,” he said. “Lead on.”
Banter felt weird having him follow her. She still kept an eye out for other tails, but there was no one. When she pulled onto her block, she was glad to see the agility course hadn’t escaped the backyard.
She parked in the garage and waited for Jose.
“Come on through. We’ll work in the backyard.”
“Mom. Mom,” Kyle said, jumping up from the couch.
“Hey, Kyle. This is Jose. He’s going to work with Patsy. We have a job for her tonight.”
Jose knelt down.
Patsy stared at him, but she didn’t growl. Banter was glad for that.
“Let’s go out back.”
She did the hand command and Patsy heeled.
The front door opened.
Kyle bounced around him.
“We just got here,” Banter said. “We’re heading out back.”
Banter grabbed a leash as she went. Outside, she snapped it onto Patsy’s collar.
“I’ll walk her up and down the yard and show you her hand commands.”
Banter exhibited the basics.
“Pretty common commands,” Jose said.
“Here give her a try.”
As soon as Jose took Patsy’s leash, the guttural growl started. Banter was reminded of how Patsy acted when she first saw Corey.