Frost slowed his truck as he approached the parking lot, bringing his apartment building into view. When he approached the drive, for reasons unknown, he stepped on the gas and continued down the boulevard instead of turning in. minutes later, he found himself pulling into the parking lot of the Pink Pony bar and grill as if his entire drive was on autopilot. Somewhere, in the darkest corners of his mind, he wanted to see her again. He did not even know her name, and yet, she invaded his thoughts. The bar was closed, locked up with all the lights off except the neon sign over the front door. It was past two in the morning, probably later, as the first hues of purples and pinks were making their way along the eastern horizon. His hopes deflated, he turned the truck around and headed back to his apartment.
Time to call it a night.
Later that morning, despite not having a job to go to, Frost woke up with the sun still low over the horizon, just after six in the morning. With Lefty securely in jail and no chance of getting his money from Jake until he opened the Bond office at ten, he would have to wait. Frost cooked himself a hearty breakfast and cleaned his apartment from top to bottom, just to pass the time. Finally, the apartment reeking of pine oil, and the air conditioning already straining against the late morning heat, he checked the clock, swept his skip ticket off the table, and bolted out the door to his truck.
"Damn dude, you spend the night in a pine forest or something," Jake waved his hand in front of his nose the moment Frost came through the door.
"Now you know what clean smells like," Frost responded. "You know, your office could use a little GI detail."
"Yeah right, you gonna do it?"
"You're a big time bondsman. Hire yourself a maid."
"I'm not that big time," Jake said with a snicker. "What brings you here today? You looking for more information on Lefty?"
"No need. I brought him to the station last night." Frost handed Jake his custody ticket from the police station. "Just coming by here to get paid."
"Damn Frost, that was the fastest pick up I've ever seen," Jake said, as he knelt down and worked the dial on his big freestanding safe.
"I got lucky." Frost busied himself shuffling some papers on the counter while Jake opened the safe. "Found him in the first place I checked."
"Funny," Jake said as he stood and handed Frost a small stack of bills. "They're usually in the last place you check."
"I caught him hassling some woman in an alley outside the Pink Pony. I just strapped him up and brought him in. He was getting comfy in the jail cell by one o'clock in the morning."
Frost counted the money and stuffed it in his pants pocket. He took a hard look at Jake, staring until Jake began to nervously shuffle his feet.
"What," Jake blurted. "The money's all there, isn't it?"
Frost said, "Yeah, it's all there." He turned to leave but stopped short. He just had to ask.
"Look, Jake. I know you just paid me for a skip, but you got anything else?"
Jake stared at him for a moment, and then said, "Lefty was a pretty big score. Why don't you take a break? Spend some of that money. You're going to wear yourself down taking one skip after another, Frost. Why don't you save some energy for your full time gig?"
Frost looked down at his shoes. "I don't have a full time gig. I got laid off yesterday. The boss told me they had to downsize with the economy and all."
"Damn, I'm sorry to hear that, Frost." Jake put his hand to his chin, looking like he was considering something, and then pulled a file from the top of a stack of papers on his desk. "I just got this new skip in, but it's a risk."
"You know me, Jake. I'm all about the risk." Frost held out his hand for the file. "What was bail on this one?"
Jake handed him the file and said without ceremony, "a million."
"A million dollar bail?" Frost had to force himself not to cough as he continued. "That's a hundred-thousand dollar skip ticket. Who is this guy?"
"His name is Norman Taylor but most know him as Knuckles."
"Knuckles? What is it about thugs and stupid nicknames?" Frost forced a laugh, but he knew with a million dollar bail, this skip wouldn't be easy.
"This one's no joke. He's kind of the local crime boss. He's had his hands in everything from extortion to murder." Jake continued while Frost thumbed through the file. "He never goes anywhere without protection, and he's known for recruiting ex-military baddies like you. Are you okay with that, Frost?"
"A hundred thousand could pay off the last of my Mom's medical bills, and then some. Hell yeah I'm okay with it."
"I don't doubt for a minute that you can handle bringing Knuckles in on your own," Jake said. "You just have to know that you may have to go through one of your former military teammates to get to him."
"I got no heartache taking out a rogue operator if he's between me and a hundred thousand. I need this, Jake."
"Just be careful with this one." Jake put a hand on Frost's shoulder. "You'll have to take your time on this one, be smart, and try to catch him without all his protection.""No problem," Frost said. "Just have my money ready when I come to collect." He leaned in and gave Jake a big man hug, slapping his back hard, before leaving his office, full of energy and restored hope.