Several times Danika lurked in the garage of her own Florida home – aimlessly, it seemed, to neighbors – checking inventory on the shelves of the electrician’s work room, sorting through various wires and small automatic switches, and trying to appear guiltless. She had urgency on her mind. She grabbed the device she was searching for and quickly shoved it into her pocket. The plan would only work if the timing was absolutely correct. No chance for error here.
She stared at the cell phone wishing it were ringing. But wishing could not set the ring tone off. She began to perspire, her hair wet on her neck in the humid Florida heat. This breeze on this final day was perfect for the plan. It had to work. She knew it would work and then “ring-ring” she pressed the answer button on her g5 iphone, and the text scrolled:
The package is ready. He thinks it’s missing. I left it on the bench on the porch of our rental. Hurry!
She texted back:
I am on my way and good bye dear friend.
Danika felt the thrill of the adventure. She took the maroon SUV with Nissan scripted in silver as the badge on the trunk lid. Peeling out on the drive way she looked at the dashboard clock. Twenty minutes was all she had. No one could be allowed to slow her down. She left the gates ajar, and her confused dogs ran out and barked loudly at the sleepy Sunday morning neighborhood. Her husband, recently injured, limped down to the gate and closed it. Lighting his pipe with cherry blend, he paused and watched Danika race to the main road. He wondered what got under her skin. Briefly shaking his head he corralled the dogs behind the gate and read the morning paper.
Headlines in tall quarter page letters announced the departure of the candidate by commercial air line from the Fort Meyers airport on the 11:23 flight to Chicago. Danika stopped at the drop point only for a second. Unable to reach the red bag from the cockpit she quickly slid out the left front door, abrading her already swollen knee on the steering wheel. It oozed blood down her pretty leg and into her gym shoe. She was dressed to run if it was required. She managed to take the device and secretly attach it to the contents of the red bag.The only sound was a reassuring “click”.
The package needed delivery at all cost. Back in the car, not caring about the bleeding, she focused on the mission.
50 miles an hour to get to highway 75 west on Bonita Beach Road. Rushing two stop lights and cutting off an 18 wheeler taking the north entrance ramp, she was on the I-75 going north. The speed limit announced 70 mph as she passed it at 100. Few cars in her path worked their way to other lanes as the crescendo of her race speeded up by 5, 10, then 20 miles per hour. Down the center lane of I-75 north she prayed for no state troopers. The package, a red and beige beach purse, vibrated with the road on the passenger’s seat. Smoke came from her exhaust as she burned up the road. Squeals came from tires pushed to the edge of performance. She thought of the NASCAR race the day before.
Danica Patrick had crashed into a barrier, misjudging how close she could shave the wall and maintain speed. Her death grip on the wheel and the determination on her face gave evidence of the seriousness of completion of her mission.
“The Alico Road exit Airport” sign – almost missed in the shadows cast by the morning sun. The SUV screeched around the ramp at more than top speed. It came to a halt at a red light with three other cars. Danika took a breath, ran the light, and at close to dangerously high speed manipulated the SUV around traffic on the departure ramp. Coming to a skidding stop that turned everyone’s head, she saw the mark. Lifting the red bag up she tossed it out to the pretty blonde awaiting her at the curb. No time to chat or say mission accomplished or even fare well my friend, Danika accelerated away wanting no part of the final race. She knew she was getting too old for this. As she slowed down for a leisurely pace home she turned the SUV at a law abiding pace back onto the highway and thought to herself, “Damn, I’m good.” She then settled back to Billy Joel singing Piano Man on the stereo.
Kat, her partner in crime, now had the bag. It was critical to get it onto the plane.
This was the second time Kat had been through TSA that morning, the first with relative leisure. This time would be a challenge. She had her first class ticket in one hand and the red bag in the other.
Kat was a small woman in stature, but she had a knack for bullying her way through the toughest lines with her feminine wiles. This trip was critical. Her boss the Senator unaware of her mission would not board the plane without her. She only had 23 minutes to make it. She cajoled her way to the front of the line for first class, waving the ticket with her departure time in the faces of resistors. She had no control over the fates and sure enough was the lucky one to have everything short of a body cavity search by the TSA guards. She breathed a sigh of relief when the bag cleared the x-ray device but she was stopped by the TSA bureaucracy for an extra pat down. They made her take out her hair clip and shake her tresses out.
The guards were clearly suspicious that she had contraband. As she redressed and assembled her belongings she stared down an extra fresh man who seemed all too fascinated with her appearance. She fired a look at him that made him turn away in fright.
No time to put on her shoes, she grabbed the bag, her belt and the ticket and ran to D10. Sweat made her mascara run as she turned the corner and saw the Senator waiting. He smiled.
“Everything OK?” he said patiently.
“Yes, darling, it’s perfect.”
They boarded the first class cabin. Kat nonchalantly placed the red bag in the front closet closest to the pilot quarters. They seemed happy, not even nervous, as the plane revved its engines and climbed past 10,000 feet. The seat belt light went off and the stewardess smiled while taking their drink order. Shortly they clinked their vodka martinis as they sat in joyful expectation of their successful mission.
When the plane landed in Chicago the Senator almost begged, “Please come on with me to Minneapolis.”
“Not this trip, darling,” she responded, making excuses about family commitments.
She got up with the crowd that was deplaning and winked good-bye at the Senator as she turned and deliberately left her red bag in the closet.