I found the dead drop empty at 3AM when I arrived for the first time. Also when I checked again at 3:30AM. “There is no one at the drop site and no signal. It doesn’t look at though anyone has been there at all.” I said into the phone. I had no idea who I was talking to at the time. “So what you want me to do now?” I asked.
“Are you willing to risk getting picked up by the cops and sweated?” came the reply over the phone.
“Well there is nothing to tie me to the product, unless the leasing company is somehow tied up with it all,” I suggested.
“It isn’t. There is nothing to tie the distribution to the production,” he said.
“I should be able to bluff my way through it. So where do I go,” I asked.
“Sit tight let me make a call and see where I can send you to check on them,” he said, I found a quiet parking lot and waited. It took him till almost 5AM to get back to me. “Go into Blacksburg VA. and stop at the waffle house just off the highway. A man will join you there at 5:45 sharp. He is involved in the production end of the business. He will take you to the product. I know it sounds shaky, but he said that he will check it out before putting you at risk.
I was waiting at the waffle house alright. I was also well into a bacon and egg sandwich, when the man came in and sat down. “They said you were a woman, who was trying to look like a man, One look and I knew it was you,” the man with curly red hair and a red face said.
“This coming from Ronald McDonald,” I said with a serious look.
“Wow, no sense of humor,” he said.
“I have been on the road all night, and I feel like shit, so no I don’t have much of a sense of humor.” I said seriously.
“Okay pay your bill and let’s go,” he said.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“It’s a few more miles into the mountains but it’s all ready and waiting for you.” he said.
“So you are taking me to where it is made?” I asked.
“No, but I’m taking you close to it, Now that all the information I’m giving up,” he said.
“Fair enough,” I said. “But you lead the way and if anyone else is there make sure they are alright, before you call me in the final quarter mile. This has been a cluster fuck so far.”
“I know more than you do about it. The crew had a fire at the boiler and got behind. They thought they could get it in place before you showed. They must have missed you by a half hour the second time. Then your boss called and said the drop had to be somewhere else and he wanted me to be at the drop site.” The partner in change of production said.
“I don’t know any of that, but the other drop might have been compromised in our opinion.” So live with it I thought.
“It isn’t compromised, but I’ll go along anyway, since the original glitch was on my end,” He said.
“It was on your end yes,” I said. “I was right where I was supposed to be, when I was supposed to be there.” I was tempted to send a text message to my handler to see if I could get a raid at the second site, but I did not know where it was.
It was a half hour later while I was following Ronald that my phone rang. “On down this road about a mile or so there is a barn. In that barn is your pick up point,” the voice of the redhead said.
“Okay you go in and check it out. Let me know and I’ll come in. If I don’t hear from you in ten minutes, I’m in the wind.” I said.
“Fair enough,” Ronald informed me. About five minutes later his voice added, “Come on in and lets get it done,”
“Right you are,” I said then swooped in with the truck. It was just five minutes later that I pulled the truck into the barn. Under a tarp were fifty gallon jugs of white liquor with a little extra kick to it. I only had to load it to be back on the road again. Payment was made by bank transfer.
I had to make twenty very different stops with the witch’s brew. They were all over two states, but I assumed the money was going to be good. I wasn’t involved with wholesale middle man. I was the middle man. I delivered the gallon jugs to what appeared to be retailers of the product. They made their payments directly to me.
I couldn’t make my first delivery until well after dark the first night, so I found a park and took a nap. I would have preferred to get the product under a better lock and key but the camper cover had a really good locking system.
I smelled really bad by the time I made the last of the first nights deliveries. I had delivered twenty gallons of the fifty I started with. I also kept track of every locations where I made the deliveries. There were a few high end restaurant, but most were to some guys house. I had to assume that he was a bootlegger of some sort.
Except for the lack of sleep, it wasn’t a bad gig. I collected a lot of cash for the outfit and felt really good about the information I had collected. I was surprised to find that the money went back to Stoneville. I had expected the operation to be run out of Charlotte or some other larger city.
I made the cash drop in a park. There was no way either of us wanted to leave the kind of money I had alone, so it wasn’t a dead drop. It was a brush pass. I could live with that. Since I didn’t trust anyone to keep me from getting killed, I made the picture with the digital camera of the pickup woman. She was heavily disguised, so I had no idea who she was. It was up to the team and their facial recognition software to ID her.
I pushed the button on my phone just as she walked away from me. The of local cops might or might be able to make her leaving the park, I didn’t know nor did I care. Just as long as they didn’t get me make in the process.
After she left I decided that Barry obviously liked women employees. She was about my age, under thirty, and was even more attractive. She was more the girlie girl and I was more the butch type. In my case butch type didn’t make me lesbian, it made me an abuses child though, which often make for lesbians. So I guess I did kind of fit the stereotype.
I went back to the cheap motel on the edge of Stoneville and went to sleep. I stay in the motel’s bed pretty much for two days. I needed the sleep that badly.
I went back to the drink house as a customer after the two days rest. I had a drink and danced with some of the local thugs. I had to admit they were just as much fun as the guys I had met through Mary Ellen. I was actually having a good time at the new life. Of course the only person I ever got introduced to of any importance was Barry the Barber. The rest of them, I just managed to find.
“For god’s sake Sylvia be careful. We do not want to lose you. Of course we don’t want to on a human lever, but the intelligence you provide is irreplaceable.” My contact said to me in one of our very deep in the wood meeting. We were meeting in person because he wanted to give me a new piece of technology. It was supposed to be a marker of some kind. I was to mix it with the cash from one of the trips. Which would in effect plant it on one of the partners in the business. It would transmit for about thirty days, then self destruct. Which gave new meaning to the term follow the money.
I had no idea how it worked but according to the contract it could not be traced back to me. They couldn’t even find its electronic signature without a specialized detector. It was only used by military intelligence so far. It was a piece of paper used to wrap money. The whole thing was really James Bond stuff. What it did was allow us to follow the bundle of money right to the place that it was broken down.
The text message came a week later and it said, We have the location where something is being done with the money. What they are doing with it there, we don’t know but we want to know. Is there any chance you can safely get onto Green’s Vineyard and Winery?
My answer was, I never heard of it, sorry.
Ever heard of Todd the gambler Green?” they responded.
No, I never did, I can’t make them take me up the ladder. That how operatives wind up in shallow graves, I wrote.
If an operative is too careful it is a total waste of time and money, the answer said.
Then maybe you should pull me out. I have turned in reams of material with several good obvious leads and probably many more not so obvious. If you can’t make use of them you are idiots, I wrote. I was more than ready to go home. Being a delivery driver wasn’t near as much fun as the life I lived back in county seat.
Okay just calm down Sylvia. If you come across Todd Green or get an invitation to Green Vineyard take advantage of it. That’s all I’m saying.
I wrote, right, and shut down the connection.
On the next run I drove the pickup to a convenience store which was the site of the dead drop. There was a outside storeroom from back in the days when it was a service station. The key was under a bucket in the parking lot. So I opened the door and began to load twenty seven gallons of dragon brew. As before I never saw anyone.
The location of the drop was within the same hundred miles of the first two. Even I, who was no analyst, came to the conclusion that the production was being accomplished somewhere in a central location.
I spent two days distributing the product and collecting the money. I had learned enough so that I had the camper top reinforced while I was in Charlotte waiting for the next trip. I carried my clothes in a quarter duffle bag and I stopped in campgrounds along the way to shower. I didn’t sleep in them, but I did clean up in them. I hated smelling like a wild animal. I locked the money and the product in the reinforced rear of the truck.
The reinforcing worked like this. The bed of the truck had a flat piece of reinforced metal welded over it, It also had the tail gate reinforced with a very strong locking system. The camper top was just there for deception. I raised the top of the tail gate and put thing on top of the bed. I could leave the truck for a few minutes and know that the bed would be a bear to break into.