“This is completely disgusting.”
“Where is your sense of adventure? Seriously.”
“I have no objection to adventure. I love adventure. My middle frickin’ name is Adventure. This. This is disgusting.”
Mac peered intently at his partner, Buck, gauging how fed up the guy actually was. Frankly, it didn’t look good. Buck was a pretty decent sport about most of the weird situations they got into, but Mac had to concede that working their way along the edges of Volo Bog might be asking a bit too much.
“Look, we have to lose those guys and we didn’t have a lot of options,” he said.
Buck didn’t answer.
“They won’t be able to follow us through this mess,” Mac tried again. “We’ll give it another four or five hundred yards and then we should be able to double back through the tamarack trees. I’ll have you back in the city in no time.”
“We shouldn’t have left the city in the first place,” Buck replied.
Mac had to admit the truth of that statement. At the time, he had thought only of tracking backward along the route the heroin shipment must have taken from the Canadian border into the Chicago area. He still thought it was a good idea, in theory. Find the entry point, and they should be able to shut the whole operation down. The Canadian authorities were in full agreement and, if it had gone according to plan, Mac and Buck would have met up with their Ontario counterparts in just about an hour. Of course, it hadn’t exactly gone according to plan.
Buck was the one who had figured out the Chicago end of the transportation route. It had taken him weeks of painstakingly combing through records of interviews with various, known dealers and couriers. Not one of them had ever given away the actual pipeline, but, if one listened carefully, names and places were seeded throughout the hours and hours of interrogations the department had done over the past year or more. Buck had managed to find them and plotted out the trail as far north as Genoa City and he was confident, given more time, that he’d put the whole thing together right up to the border.
“It was going to take you another two months, at least,” said Mac, now, as they slopped through the wet, quivering sphagnum. “After tonight, we know who the carriers are and we know the whole route all the way up across the border.”
“And they know us because we walked slap into the middle of their meet.” Buck shook his head in disgust. “You just don’t think ahead, Mac. Yeah, we know the whole deal now, but it won’t do anybody a damn bit of good if we get stuck in this mess,” said Buck. “We’ll end up like those bog mummies they keep finding in England.”
“We won’t be bog mummies,” Mac said, tiredly. “Just a little longer and we’ll move out into the trees. The ground is a lot firmer there.”
“It’ll still stink, though.”
This time, Mac didn’t answer.
For the next half hour, there were no sounds but the slurping and squelching of their progress through the bog. Everything they touched clung to them which, at first, was sort of a relief because it really hid them and their progress quite completely from anyone foolhardy enough to follow them into the muck. After slogging through it for some time, it became more of a burden and annoyance.
“We’re going to smell like this place for days,” Buck observed, at last. “Next time you decide to track drug traffickers, let me know. I’ll take my paid leave.”
“It’s not that bad.”
“You walked us right into the warehouse in the middle of a drop,” said Buck. His voice was thick with resignation. “Slap bang in the middle.” Mac’s left foot made a particularly distasteful sound as he lifted it from the mire. Buck wrinkled his nose and continued. “Right in the middle of it all and then, you took off running without a plan. Right into the only bog within five hundred miles or more.”
“Well, they aren’t following us anymore,” Mac said, defending himself. “I didn’t see you offering any better ideas.” He paused and looked around a bit. It was hard to see much in such heavy shadows as the sedge and tamaracks created in the light of the full moon. Still, if they were having trouble seeing, so were their pursuers. Mac still thought the bog had been the smart decision. “I think we’ve come far enough,” he said and pointed to some large clumps of bushes to their right. “Let’s head that way to firmer ground and make our way back to the road.”
This was a bit easier said than done and by the time they reached the bushes, even their hair was wet and muddy. However, as Mac had said, they were now on much firmer ground. They picked up their pace, quietly pushing through bushes and weaving through the tamarack trees until they found the road some hundred yards or so back from the point at which they’d originally left it to head into the bog.
“Good deal,” said Mac. “We’re right where I hoped we’d come out. The car is in those bushes up ahead. Let’s go.”
A few minutes later, Mac had backed out of the undergrowth and they were barreling back along the road toward the main highway as fast as the graded, gravel surface allowed.
“See? Easy. Nice clean getaway,” he said. He glanced at his partner who already had his attention focused on the phone in his hand. “Have you actually got bars out here?”
Buck grunted but didn’t answer for several minutes as his swiped and scrolled.
“Okay, so we did get away,” he acknowledged at last. “But it wasn’t clean and it won’t be easy.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Mac.
“Your bushes on firm ground. Your great hiding place for the car,” answered Buck. “How much do you know about Volo Bog?”
“It’s a bog,” Mac said. “What’s to know?”
“Poison sumac,” said Buck. “We got away from the traffickers because they knew better than to follow us in.” He scrolled around on his phone for another minute or two. “There’s an 24 hour urgent care just as we get back into Cook county. I’ll put it in the GPS.”
Mac sighed. Another fine mess he’d gotten them into.