Deep Down Dead(4)

By: Steph Broadribb

‘Well, you know what the amusement parks are like. We need those tourists, and places like Winter Wonderland pull them in from all over. I’m guessing it was about making an example of the man rather than him being a danger.’

Made sense. Part of the whole amusement-park experience was that you were entering a world where bad things never happened. Any kind of disturbance in that sugar-coated ecosystem would be bad for business across the whole state. ‘So why isn’t Bailey getting him?’

Quinn sighed. ‘He was. Trouble is, Bailey had an accident a couple of days back. He was chasing down this young guy and tried to vault over a wall.’

I tried not to smile. Bailey is built more for the couch than the chase. ‘Bailey did? Now that I wish I’d seen. Hell, I’d have paid for the privilege.’

‘Yeah, it didn’t go so well. He landed bad, got himself a busted wrist.’

Fractures are never fun, but Bailey had been riding my ass ever since I’d signed up with CF Bonds. The jokes at my expense never grew old for him. Perhaps this was him reaping a little of what he’d sown. I hoped so. ‘How come this bond’s gotten so far along, anyways?’

Quinn’s expression turned serious. ‘Yeah. About that. Look, the guy isn’t local. We only did his bail as a favour for an old business associate of the boss. The fugitive lives out in Georgia, but when Bailey made a visit, he was already in the wind. We’ve been tracking him these past few weeks. Bailey found a location for him yesterday, over in West Virginia, so I called Bucky Dalton, thinking he could go collect him. Turns out Bucky got himself all shot up by some drug dealer he was tailing and he’s in the hospital peeing into a bag. So Bucky’s older brother, Merv, agreed to pick our fugitive up and hold him until we can collect.’

I raised an eyebrow. ‘Last I knew, Merv wasn’t licensed for work here in Florida. Any pick-up he’d make for you would be unlawful.’

‘Yeah, well…’ Quinn stared at the weak-assed coffee in his cup like it was real interesting. ‘So, as I said, the job’s yours if you want.’

But did I want it? I needed the money, that was for sure, but with school being out, and Krista – my neighbour and regular sitter for Dakota when I was on a job – about to set off visiting her folks in Tennessee, chances were I’d have to take Dakota along on any work I did out of state.

Through the door to the back office I spotted Dakota sitting beside Mrs Valdez, helping her fold letters and stuff them into envelopes. She was chattering away all happy, her pigtails bobbing up and down as she nodded at something the older woman had said. As if sensing my gaze, Dakota looked up and met my eyes. She grinned.

I looked back at Quinn. Shook my head. ‘The thing is, I’ve got no sitter for Dakota right now. She’d have to come along, and I’m not real keen on some fugitive being around my kid.’

Quinn shrugged. ‘I get that, Lori. But if you’re looking for a high-money job, this is all I got. Should be easy, no complications, just a taxi-driver gig. The man you’d be collecting is a professional who got mixed up in a bit of trouble when tempers ran high. Bailey’s done the tracking. Merv’s picked him up.’

It did sound easy. And a taxi ride – well, that sounded safe enough. But would it be safe enough for my daughter to ride shotgun? I wasn’t real convinced of that.

‘All I need,’ Quinn continued, ‘is for you to collect the man and bring him back for the summary judgement in three days. Your Silverado’s fitted out with restraints and a full transport kit, isn’t it?’

I nodded. ‘Yeah.’

He smiled, revealing thousands of dollars’ worth of dental work. ‘So there’s no chance of this man getting close to your little girl, is there? The way I see it, this is easy money, and fast. Hell, I’d go do it myself if I wasn’t needed here.’

I snorted with laughter, couldn’t help myself. The most physical Quinn had ever gotten was a Boxercise class at the gym. ‘Is that right?’

His smile sagged. ‘Sure is.’

Guess I’d deflated his ego a little. I studied his expression for a beat, considering his offer. He was right, it sounded easy and the money was good. My Silverado had a proper travel cell, real secure, so there’d be no need for Dakota to be in contact with the fugitive. But I’d had another idea. Krista wasn’t due to leave for her folks’ place until that afternoon. I could offer her a thousand bucks to delay her trip by three days and watch Dakota for me. What with three kids and her husband out of work she always needed cash, so I was sure I could convince her.