Im underrealized, Lula said. I gotta lot of untapped
potential. Yesterday my horoscope said I gotta expand my
You expand any more in that dress, and youll get yourself
arrested, Connie said.
The bonds office is on Hamilton Avenue, a couple
blocks from Saint Frances Hospital. Handy for bonding
out guys whove been shot. Its a small storefront office
sandwiched between a beauty parlor and a used bookstore.
Theres an outer room with a scarred imitation leather
couch, a couple folding chairs, Connies desk and computer,
and a bank of files. Vinnies office is located in a
room behind Connies desk.
When I started working for Vinnie he used his office to
talk to his bookie and set up nooners with barnyard animals,
but Vinnie has recently discovered the Internet, and
now Vinnie uses his office to surf porn sites and online casinos.
Behind the bank of file cabinets is a storeroom filled
with the nuts and bolts of the bail bonds business. Confiscated
televisions, DVD players, iPods, computers, a velvet
painting of Elvis, a set of cookware, blenders, kids bikes,
engagement rings, a tricked-out Hog, a bunch of George
Foreman grills, and God knows what else. Vinnie had some
guns and ammo back there too. Plus a box of cuffs that he
got on eBay. Theres a small bathroom that Connie keeps
spotless and a back door in case theres a need to sneak off.
I hate to be a party pooper, Connie said, but were going
to have to put the fashion show on hold because we
have a problem. She slid a stack of folders across her desk
at me. These are all unresolved skips. If we dont find
some of these guys were going belly-up.
Heres the way bail bonds works. If youre accused of a
crime and you dont want to sit and rot in jail while youre
waiting for your trial to come up, you can give the court a
wad of money. The court takes the money and lets you
walk, and you get the money back when you show up on
your trial date. If you dont have that money stashed under
your mattress, a bail bondsman can give the court the
money on your behalf. Hell charge you a percentage of
the money, maybe ten percent, and hell keep that percentage
whether youre proven guilty or not. If the accused
shows up for court, the court gives the bail
bondsman his money back. If the accused doesnt show
up, the court keeps the money until the bondsman finds
the accused and drags his sorry butt back to jail.
So you see the problem, right? Too much money going
out and not enough money going in, and Vinnie might
have to refinance his house. Or worse, the insurance company
that backs Vinnie could yank the plug.
Lula and I cant keep up with the skips, I said to Connie.
There are too many of them.
Yeah, and Ill tell you the problem, Lula said. It used
to be Ranger worked full time for you, but anymore hes
got his own security business going, and hes not doing skip
tracing. Its just Stephanie and me catching the bad guys
It was true. Ranger had moved most of his business toward
the security side and only went into tracking mode
when something came in that was over my head. There are
some who might argue everything is over my h ead, but for
practical purposes weve had to ignore that argument.
I hate to say this, I told Connie, but you need to hire
another bond enforcement person.
Its not that easy, Connie said. Remember when we
had Joyce Barnhardt working here? That was a disaster.
She screwed up all her busts doing her big bad bounty
hunter routine. And then she stole everyones skips. Its not
like shes a team player.
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