“I was afraid of this,” Banter said, taking the leash back.
Patsy ended her growl.
“He doesn’t smell like family,” Kyle said.
“Yeah,” she said.
“She’s okay with me as long as I don’t have her leash,” Jose said. “That is a problem.”
“It’s not going to work.”
“I wonder what she’ll do with me.” Corey said. “I have never held her on to her leash.”
“Give it a try.”
He gave Patsy a couple of pats and rubbed her chest while he took the leash from Banter.
“So far so good.”
He executed the hand command for her to heel. She obeyed and he walked her up and down the backyard.
“At least she’s good with you,” she said.
“He’s family,” Kyle said.
“That does make sense,” Jose said. “My Lola has no problem with my sister and brothers, but when one of my pals come around, she’s a mean barking machine.”
“I’ll be her handler tonight,” Corey said.
Banter knew by his voice that there was no arguing this.
“I’ll see if Bea can come back tonight or just stay,” she said.
“And you thought we didn’t need her any more,” Corey said, being a tease.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be done with Bea.”
“Welcome to the team, Corey,” Jose said with a laugh. “Be at the station at eight and we’ll go through what we need to do, then we’ll get into position.”
“I meet the drug lord at ten,” she said.
Corey unhooked Patsy’s leash.
“See you later, Jose. I’m going to go change. It’s too hot to be wearing a suit.”
Kyle was over the top with excitement.
“Patsy’s going to be a police dog.”
“Cool,” Colo said.
“Just for tonight,” Banter said.
She was hoping this was going to work.
“These are the capsules,” she said. “You can smell them.”
Both boys took a whiff. She even let Patsy sniff.
She explained to the boys how this worked.
“Just like the stinky sock,” Colo said.
“Bea’s going to stay,” Corey said coming back out to the yard.
He was now in shorts and a t-shirt.
Bea stayed and was part of their evening dinner routine, but she was most impressed with Patsy.
“She goes upstairs willingly?”
“She does now,” Banter said. “No dogs allowed at the dinner table. That’s my rule.”
“I love that rule,” Bea said.
At seven-thirty, Banter was ready.
“That’s how you’re going?” she said to Corey.
“I’m going as a jogger.”
He was wearing running shorts, a t-shirt, and his running shoes.
“Is that how you’re going?”
“Dressed for a hit.”
“Let’s head out.”
They were taking the SUV. Corey opened up the back and gestured for Patsy to jump up.
“At least she’s obeying me, considering it was only you and the boys who worked with her.”
“I’m surprised at how well you’re doing the commands,” she said, giving him a teasing eye.
“I’ve been watching,” he said.
“If you happen to lose her when she’s running, remember she has a bug on her collar.”
They reached the station. However, they took the elevator up to the sixth floor so they didn’t wear out Patsy.
“Hey, Jose. Bert.”
“Hi, Corey,” Bert said. “Thanks for assisting. This is our bloodhound?”
“Patsy,” Banter said.
Patsy sniffed the presented hands then sat with disinterest. She didn’t look too excited about where they were at.
“Your bug is working. We tracked you here,” Bert said.
“There’s one on Patsy’s collar that Corey can track in case you lose her. When she’s on a trail, she goes fast.”
Corey nodded his greeting.
“I have two capsules. Corey has one so that Patsy knows what she’s to find,” she said. “I’m going to put one in the road before hand and also try and toss one under a tire. I know where the van travels to pick me up.”
“Good idea,” Bert said. “We’ll track you and as soon as we lose you, we’ll get Corey and Patsy there to start tracking.”
“Here, Corey. Let’s configure your app with the bug on me.”
They were testing it on his app, when Peter spoke up.
“An hour till. We have to get going.”
Corey gave her a quick kiss, then she was out the door, heading down the steps with Peter.
“Where do you want to be dropped off?” he said.
“A mile a little farther west,” she said.
They rode in silence until their destination was reached.
“I’’ll be north again, but a little east,” he said. “I’ll compensate based on your direction. Just don’t head away from me.”
She slid out of the car and jogged into the shadows, then stopped to watch him drive off. After a few minutes of seeing no people or car traffic, she jogged off toward her meeting spot. The night was again hot.
“You would think it was August or something,” she muttered under her breath.
The cars that did pass her had all their windows closed to keep in the air conditioning.
She was early which allowed her to case out the area. If there was anyone watching, they were well hidden. The only time she stepped out in a very visible manner was to step off the curb where the van would pick her up. She stooped and pretended to pick something up, but she was really placing the scent capsule. Then, she made herself disappear into a shadow while she waited.
At precisely ten pm, the van pulled up, except it pulled up to a different curb. She expected a car to drive down from the club, but none did. The van door opened as if waiting for her.
Plan B, she thought while she separated herself from the building and headed over to the van. She plotted carefully in her head how to release the capsule without them getting suspicious. A sleight of hand was in order with her other hand providing the misdirection.
She released it just as she reached the van, knowing it was going in the right direction. Hopefully, it didn’t roll too far.
The van door closed. She settled in her seat and the van pulled away. Again, she had no idea what direction it was going. It did a number of turns. The only thing she did know was it never got onto the interstate like last time. She also felt like the drive was shorter.
The van stopped and she got out. A man was waiting.
“Follow me,” he said.
Banter saw the same building number. The man took her through the same route up and down stairways and hallways. They came out the door to the loading docks.
Just outside of the door, she noted two men standing guard. There were also two vans lined up waiting to be loaded. In the middle of the area, there were a group of men standing. The drug lord stood in their midst.
He separated himself and approached her. As soon as he was with in six feet, the other man beside her left to join the group in the middle. She mentally reminded herself to use her accent.
“Your job tonight is to stand there.”
He pointed at exactly where she stood.
“I’d prefer you had your gun out.”
“Ahm I shooting anyone?”
“No, sweetheart. Just look mean.”
“Ahn you want me to be a fucking babysitter?”
“Ten thousand tonight just to stand there.”
“Ahn nothing else?”
“If anyone puts something in their pocket, then you can shoot them.”
“Ah, nice,” she said.
He counted out five thousand in cash from his pocket and handed it to her. She made the money disappear into her hoodie pocket.
“Half now. Half later.”
“Ahn how long is later?”
“Hour. Maybe two.”
“Ahn so you want me to stand here and only shoot if someone sticks something in their pocket.”
She unholstered her gun and twisted on the silencer.
He left to go back to the group in the middle. Banter took in the area. Overhead, she could feel and hear the static. While she didn’t look up, she could look over the vans and see wires overhead. One loading dock had a platform lift that was being loaded from the warehouse. Once loaded, the lift lowered and the large cart was pushed over to a van where the items were loaded.
The inside of the warehouse was dark which prevented her from seeing beyond the door. She wondered how the workers inside could see.
Men loading the van were looking at her uneasily. Every time she moved, they jerked. She figured they had witnessed her shooting the one guy’s ear lobe. That man was nowhere in sight.
She tried to get an idea of the size of the area by using the vans and people. The loading docks were obviously no longer used for semis. The area wasn’t big enough. She had seen enough docks during the course of being a hired gun to recognized that the bumpers that were usually in place to allow the semis to butt against them were gone. Three of the four doors actually look as if they were no longer used. Weeds growing in cracks revealed this. She figured the area had been built up around the loading docks.
She froze. Marcus, the club manager she had met on the Friday she had gone into the club with Peter, got out of one of the vans. She watched him talk to the group while his van was loaded. He never looked her way. Fifteen minutes later, he returned to his van and drove off. Vans came in one way and left going another.
It was a little over an hour when the last van left. She was keeping count. There had been six of them. The drug lord came over by her and counted out another five thousand in hundred dollar bills.
“Same time tomorrow,” he said.
“Ahn the same thing?”
He nodded and held out the money to her, but she didn’t take it.
“Ah don’t want to see any tails tonight,” she said.
He looked at her.
“Ah don’t want to see no one, especially carrying this much cash. Otherwise, someone’s going to get shot. If that happens, I’ll move my talents elsewhere.”
There was a long pause. She could almost see him doing a lot of thinking.
“Ahn next time, you pay me through the job board. Ah don’t like carrying cash.”
“Fair enough,” he said.
His voice sounded casual, but she could tell he was reappraising her. He had good self-control. She finally took the money and made it disappear into her hoodie.
There was now hardly anyone around. A car pulled up for the drug lord, then left with him.
There was now only one man beside the door. She followed him in high alert while they traversed the stairs and hallways. He finally let her out the door to the street, then disappeared back inside. The van pulled up at the same time and the door opened. She stepped in, keeping her hand in a good position to grab her knife.
However, the return trip was uneventful, except that they let her off a block away. When they drove away, Banter headed west, then north. The drug lord looked to be keeping his word. She saw no one, but she was going to take it a few steps further.
Peter passed and slowed, but she kept on going. She knew he had stopped and was waiting to see what she was going to do. Finally, she looped back and headed toward the grocery store. He must have figured this out, and she saw him pass her. She found him sitting in the lot, and she slid into the car.
“Damn it’s hot,” she said.
He handed her a cold soda from a cooler on the seat.
“Thanks. Don’t go anywhere just yet.”
“I was paid cash. A wad of cash. We should make sure there are no bugs in it.”
She took out the money.
Peter pulled out a scanner from the glove box.
“It just picks up metal,” he said to her questioning look.
She fanned out the bills while he waved the scanner over them, going several different ways.
“You sure this works?”
He waved it over her soda can and the scanner issued a blip.
She shoved the money back into a pocket before she asked the question.
“Did the dog track me?”
“Shit. What happened?”
“I don’t know. We’ll find out when we regroup. Did you do a hit?”
“Nope. You’ll find out when we regroup.”
Banter sighed, drinking her soda. Peter drove around the city, but didn’t go to the garage and change cars. He did, however, park about half a mile from the police station.
“See you later,” he said.
He headed out at a fast walk.
Banter went the opposite way at a slower walk, taking the time to think over what had happened. She could think of only two scenarios. Either the van didn’t drive over any of the capsules or Patsy wasn’t able to follow the track.
“I should have used more capsules. I should have anticipated they would deviate.”
She thought of a lot more should haves before she reached the police station. Without out even thinking, she trotted up the stairs. She regretted not taking the elevator. By the time she reached the sixth floor, she was hot and sweaty. Peter was already there.
“You okay?” Corey said.
He sat there with Patsy. Bert looked discouraged.
“Yeah. What happened?”
“We took Patsy over where you said the van was to pick you up. I told her to find. She found both capsules. They were on opposite sides of the street from each other.”
“Yeah, I placed one, but they didn’t pick me up in the same spot. Looks like the one I tossed rolled.”
“Yeah, they were both against the curb. Nothing was going to run over them.”
“I did a check on the license plates for the vans,” Peter said. “Stolen plates. They were different for each van.”
“The van that picked you up and the van that dropped you off,” he said. “I was positioned in a good spot for both your pick up and drop off.”
“I didn’t think they were different vans, but if they were identical, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. Damn.”
“Well, do we have paperwork to fill out for any dead bodies?” Corey said.
“No. He used me like a babysitter. Vans were being loaded and he just had me stand there with my gun out. Apparently, my previous exhibition put the fear of god into his workers. Oh, I got paid ten thousand. Who wants it?”
She pulled out the wad of cash.
“I’ll take it,” Bert said, but he rose and went to his office.
He came back out with a bag.
“I need it counted out with witnesses,” he said.
She counted it out. Corey verified as did Peter. Bert put the money into the bag.
“I’ll drop it off at the evidence room,” Bert said, attaching a piece of paper that both Corey and Peter had signed.
“Regroup tomorrow?” Peter said.
Banter rose with Corey. They took the elevator down.
“I’m surprised that she found both capsules,” she said, once they stepped off the elevator.
“She has a good nose, especially to find them when they weren’t crushed or on the same side of the street.”
“If I can smell the scent, then she probably can really smell it. I should have left it in my pocket for her to follow.”
“I don’t think she would have a problem finding you,” Corey said.
They reached the SUV. He opened up the back for Patsy. She was more than eager to jump in.
Banter slid into the passenger side.
“It was really amazing how she works,” Corey said once he had slid into the driver’s seat.
“Yeah. Poor Kyle had a hard time of it when we were hunting you in the park. She goes really fast. Seeing her work is really neat.”
“Yeah. Sorry we couldn’t follow.”
“We’ll have to find another way. They’re too smart. They’re not picking me up or dropping me off the same way.”
“Almost as good as you,” he said.
She knew he was joking, but she was feeling serious.
“I’m going to have to pick up my game,” she said.
The rest of the drive home was without conversation. Patsy panted in the back. When they got home, she seemed happy to be there and ran up to Kyle’s room.
“Hi, Bea. Thanks for staying. We’re back.”
“How did Patsy do?”
“She did great, but the scent capsules didn’t do what we were hoping,” Corey said, keeping things generic.
“Next time,” she said.
“See you tomorrow. Not so early,” Banter said.
“Will do. Good night.”
Banter and Corey both walked her out.
“Bed,” Corey said, once they were back into the house.
“Yeah,” she said, but she had the feeling she wasn’t going to sleep well.
The whole evening kept playing in her head. She kept thinking about the wires overhead, the loading docks and their condition, and the vans. She wasn’t so worried about Wednesday night with the drug lord if she was just going to be a babysitter, but she was concerned about how much stuff he was moving with those vans. That was a lot of drugs.
The appearance of Marcus also bothered her. The organization had a lot of dedicated employees. She thought about the group that was always at the club. They had to be getting paid well to come and do nothing night after night.
She sat up in bed as a thought floated through her head. Corey was already sleeping and didn’t stir. She slipped out of bed to go by her dresser. The business card that Marcus had given her was still there. She picked it up and went out to the living room where she turned on a light. The card had his name. She doubted it was a real name. There was also a company name. The company was WV Delivery Service. Banter knew in an instance what WV stood for.