I was fishing with Molly, when the call from Barry to make a run that same night. I had spent the afternoon fishing with Molly Green, but it was time to end the afternoon and get back to work. It had actually been fun to talk about fairly normal things with a fairly normal woman. I recognized her for what she was, only because I knew. It looked as though she and her husband were normal small business owners on the outside. He was certainly no gun thug.
I had no idea what all the Greens were involved with, but it could be anything, I told myself. The vineyard made excellent cover for just about anything, They might not be able to run a horse racing stable without it being noticed, but there wasn’t much else that would be noticed.
I was back in the motel by six waiting to begin the route. I was also wondering how long it would take Todd to figure out that I worked for him, It really might not be that big a surprise, since his criminal enterprise might take a lot of people to operate. If it did, then he was recruiting from a small labor pool in a town the size of Stoneville.
I couldn’t nap even though I knew it would be a while before I would sleep well again. I might be able to sleep a little in the truck, but that wouldn’t be enough. I knew that from previous experience. Besides I had pissed away any real nap time I might have had while fishing with Molly.
At 6PM I rode to McDonald’s for a burger and fries before I put the truck on the road. The dead drop was described as a metal tool locker on the side of the road. It was one of those that looked like a portable toilet. It looked like a state highway project tool locker. That particular one was owned by the manufacturer of the Witch’s Brew. After visiting the vineyard, I was wondering if Green Valley could be the only manufacturer or the stuff. They could also be the distributors of it. It was possible, but it was also just a possible that Barry worked for someone else and Green Valley Vineyard was a red herring. Hell I didn’t know enough to know what I didn’t know yet. It wasn’t my job to figure it out. It was only my job to locate the pieces of the puzzle. Putting them together was someone else’s problem.
I drove the truck about an hour and pulled into a highway parking lot. It was on a busier road than we usually used for a dead drop. I opened the heavy metal door with the key I had recovered from under a roadside trash can about half a mile down the road. It was a typical security precaution for a dead drop.
When I opened the door I was more than a little surprised. The load was not Witch’s Brew. It was briefcase probably filled with hard drugs. At least that’s what I assumed was in the case. I was in a bit of a quandary. I could open them to test, or I could ask, but the cops were surely going to ask me. So the best I could do was try to identify the delivery sites to the bosses. So that they could identify the pick up people. It might be possible from that to identify what I had.
I sent the txt message with the delivery locations forward to the team working surveillance. They should arrange for some kind of response to the pickup. After I sent the message I disabled the phone and removed the battery. They knew not to message me, but I made damn sure that it didn’t happen. I didn’t want a message coming at the wrong time and getting me killed.
The briefcase distribution would be easier than the gallon jugs of booze had been. This stuff was high dollar product. Even more so than what I had been dealing. I was to meet the wholesalers and collect from them, With so much money involved I was supposed to pick up a partner for the transactions according to the same text that told me where to deliver it. I would have been shocked if I hadn’t had someone to keep an eye on me.
The directions I received when I messaged Barry were simple. I was to go to the larger town of Sparta, there I would drop off one the four envelopes in the brief case. The one marked Sparta of course. I would get an envelope full of money to transport to a location to be name later. I would also meet a person in Sparta who would travel with me.
It was clear to me that this was a promotion, since there was a hell of a lot more money involved. Still it was basically the same job, just a little more dangerous I would assume. If I had not been an undercover cop the level of punishment for the crime, would have gone up. So I assumed I should ask for more money, first though I had to get the product delivered.
In Sparta my partner was suppose to be waiting for me at the large convenience store at the intersection of the county road leading into Sparta, and the interchange of the U.S. highway running through the mountains. I didn’t see a car outside the convenience store, so I was worried. What I did find was a man about five years younger than me standing by the door.
“You Karen,” he asked as I walked in.
“Sometimes,” I replied. “Who does that make you?”
“Barry’s friend Bruce,” she sniffed after he said it.
“That better be a cold, and not a habit,” I said of the sniffles.
“It is,” he said. “Barry said you were tough for a broad.”
“Bitch, I’m tough for anybody, Let’s make the fucking delivery.” I said.
“You ain’t in charge of me,” he said after we were out of the building.
“Get this straight Bruce baby, I’m in charge of the product, so I’m in charge of you. You got a problem with that the you tell Barry, not me.” I turned and walked to the truck. I looked in the mirror and saw him talking on the phone. I decided not to wait. I started the truck and backed it into the parking lot to turn around. Just as I got it back far enough to make the swing, the clown pulled on the door. I opened it for him and I also also held the .38 out of sight. He knew what the cargo was most likely, and he knew that I was all that stood between him and the money.
“Barry said to do as you said, so what do you say?” he asked.
“Well we have a delivery to make here in Sparta, so keep your eyes open,” I demanded. I followed my GPS directions which led to a closed service station on the side of the road. It was the design of an old country store, that kind of service station. It had one bay with a large retail space on the side. It also had a covered portico, where the pumps used to sit, connected to the building.
“Bruce keep your eyes open. This place is too spooky for me.” I said.
“You worry too much,” he said.
“Well, if they don’t come up with the right signal, we are leaving,” I demanded. “There are supposed to be two different blinking lights in that retail space.”
We waited across the road for the signal. It never came. “Bruce something is wrong.” I had already decided to drive off when someone with a gun came our of the side door of the station. I put the throttle down on the pickup truck to the floor.
Just as I did the overhead door came up on the station. It was just slow and creaky enough to give me a slight lead on the car that came out. It look like some kind of European family car. If they planned a run it through the mountains, I didn’t think it was, but we would see for sure pretty quickly.
Because I had driven a patrol SUV in Warren county, I had practiced driving it on mountain roads. I hoped these boys in the sedan hadn’t. I roared off to a pretty fair lead. I turned to Bruce in the dim light and asked, “Bruce do you know anything about this?”
“Of course not. Think about it, I didn’t even know where the delivery was. I was just your bodyguard,” he said,
“Well Barry is gonna have to figure this out quick, because we are about to go operational,” I said. “I had a bad feeling about all of it but a that moment I needed to get rid of the guys on my ass. Then worry about who knew what, when.
“Bruce do you know this road?” I asked.
“I’m from a town a hundred miles away. I have never been on this road.”
I’m gonna bet you they are herding us into a roadblock.” I said.
“Why didn’t they take us at the building?” he asked.
“They obviously didn’t know what the signal was,” I said.
“You can really drive this pickup,” he said.
“You damn well better hope so. I got a feeling they won’t be leaving any witnesses, if they catch up to us.” I said.
“So what is your plan,” he said.
“My plan is not to let them catch us,” I said.
“We could double back and ambush them,” he said.
“If I get that far ahead in the truck, I’m going to lose them. If they catch up, you can shoot it out with them, If that is indeed what you want.” I said.
“I just saw a sign for a picnic area ahead,” he said
“Well Bruce you got balls I’ll give you that. You got no idea how many or how they are armed.” I had no time to think it over. I made the instant evaluation that we didn’t have any advantage in the vehicles so we might as well risk it.
Before I could prepare for it we were at the entrance to the rest area. I almost rolled the truck making the turn into the mini park. It if had been a right turn, I would have rolled the truck. I made it into the parking lot where I saw the sign that the bathroom were locked until daylight.
As soon as the truck stopped I grabbed the briefcase and the Sparta envelope. I put it back in the case and out of the car I went. I went into the night with it. Bruce was right behind me.
He grabbed my arm, “Where we going?” he asked.
“We are going to stake out the car. If they come in we are going to hunt them, to keep them from hunting us,” I said.
“Then we ain’t running?” he asked.
“I’m not, you can if you want. I’m leaving here eventually.” I said. What I couldn’t afford to do was to kill anyone or let them kill us. I had hoped we could figure out something to chase them off. Barry could work on what had caused the breach in security later.
We were only about twenty five or thirty feet from the pick up when th two of them searched it. When they finished, the one who was obviously in charge made a call. “The seem to have gotten away with the meth.” They waited a second then said. “No Sir the only thing we can do it stake out the pick up or follow them into the woods. They are definitely on the run.” He listened some more. “Alright sir we will sit on it a while.”
“We are going to take them,” I said. “But not shooting. We can leave them alive but embarrassed.”
“I like it. Let’s see where they settle in.”