Josie had been the first thing Scooter had thought of this morning, but that wasn’t unusual. He’d realized it was a Tuesday, too—Josie’s day for Ladies Aid meetings—but also recalled he’d never reconnected the ignition wire on her car. “You can take Josie’s car,” he growled into the phone.
“It won’t start.”
Scooter proceeded to tell Dave how to reconnect the wire and then hung up. Kicking the brick away that propped open the main door, he turned the sign to Closed and then locked the door, exiting the building through the repair bay door.
Dac eyed him curiously as he rounded the building. “Closed? Why?”
“I think I need your help.” Scooter’s mind was going a hundred miles an hour. In a circle.
“Hold on a second.” Scooter tried to focus, to come up with a plan to get Josie out of Duluth, alive, but wasn’t having much luck. He didn’t have time to waste, either. The sick feeling in his gut said she could be in trouble. Serious trouble. “Yeah, I need your help,” he said. “We need to go Duluth.”
“Right now?” Dac asked.
“Yes, right now,” Scooter snapped.
“Okay. What for?”
“Open your tailgate so I can load my motorcycle in the back, and I’ll explain on the way.” Turning to retrieve his bike, Scooter spun back around. “Nobody, and I mean nobody, can know about this.”
Eyes wider than normal, Dac nodded. “All right.”
* * *
As always, when she rolled into the outskirts of Duluth, Josie pulled into a fueling station. The young man that appeared at her window looked nothing like Scooter, yet he was on her mind. He had been ever since she’d left home. All night actually. All day yesterday, too. He’d told her not to go, but not making her regular run would look suspicious. She’d made other runs since getting arrested and they’d gone just fine. Today would, too. In fact, today would be better. She would not leave until she’d learned something significant.
The attendant took her money for the gas and she drove to the back of the station building. Grabbing one of the two large bags from the seat beside her, she climbed out of the car and entered the powder room. A few minutes later, dressed as Anita Weatherby, she opened the door a crack to make sure no one was around before she hurried to the car. As quickly as possible, but not so fast it would draw attention, she drove around the building and back onto the road.
Traffic always lined the streets in Duluth, and the steep hills made her nervous, even after all the times she’d successfully maneuvered them. In truth, she was edgy today. Her stomach had been churning since she’d stolen Dave’s car. With Twyla living at the Plantation, there was no option to swap vehicles. Norma Rose never loaned her car out to anyone, and Josie certainly didn’t have the courage to take her father’s. She had considered taking the one that had been Ginger’s, but it hadn’t been driven since Ginger had run away and she couldn’t take the chance it wasn’t in good running condition.
Dave’s car was. He had Scooter check it regularly.
Turning the final corner that would take her to the dock area, she drew in a deep breath in an attempt to quell her quivering insides. This was no different to any other Tuesday.
The US Steel parking lot was always the busiest. Hoping Dave’s Chevy would blend in with all the other cars, she chose that lot to park in. Maneuvering the Chevy between a Buick and Model T, she made note of the other vehicles to help her find the car again later.
Lifting her supply bag off the seat, she tucked the other one that had held her disguise under the passenger seat, since there was no backseat like in her car. She left Dave’s pile of stuff—a shirt and several brochures—on the seat. Removing the key from the ignition, she climbed out. After she dropped the key in the deep pocket of her long paisley print skirt, she shut the door and headed across the gravel parking lot. It was a long walk to the area the girls knew she’d be at, and she used the time to scan the area. The warehouse she’d tried peeking into was over near the stockyards, a farther distance yet, but that wasn’t to say any one of the buildings wasn’t being used to hide the young girls.
The docks were noisy. Ships blew their horns as they floated beneath the huge bridge connecting Duluth to Superior, Wisconsin, gulls screeched and men yelled instructions. She heard the buzz of saw blades from the lumberyard, cattle mooing, trucks making deliveries, train whistles, the hissing of steam and other sounds mingling in with all the rest. The area was a hub of activity.
No matter how many visits she made, the smells of the docks still assaulted her. They were as prevalent as the noises and, to her, more overwhelming. Josie kept her head down, never making eye contact with anyone, yet stayed alert as she made her way to the long pier that visitors to the area liked to frequent. Crewmen from the ships used this long dock, too, but mainly to connect with the many prostitutes that walked the boards day and night. The port was busy with boats arriving and departing around the clock.