Chapter 17

Stay in the Truck

Jeanne had given Ray a list of supplies to pick up at various shops around New Orleans. He’d taken the list, pocketed Oliver’s money, and left the apartment.

Then he had promptly sent a photo of the list to the new number in his phone.

When Tony had called him with the news that Oliver Lucas and Jeanne Delvare being spied on by one of the technology corporations in New Orleans, Ray had been proud of his layabout nephew. Sure, some might see it as a betrayal of his clients, but if ratting out a couple of strangers was what it took for the next generation to show some gumption, then so be it. Maybe the next step would be for Tony to start talking to his mother, Ray’s younger sister, again. Then get himself a respectable job and keep it.

Ray’s phone vibrated on its belt clip as he was tossing a bulky hanger bag containing two dark blue drysuits into the bed of his pickup beside a box of chemical glow sticks. He glanced at the small display and pursed his lips.

Have you bought the gas tanks yet?

Ray looked at the metal rack tied to the side of his truck bed. Four metal cylinders about the size of a one liter soda bottle were locked into the rack, as well as three smaller tanks. He had used similar gas tanks while doing underwater repairs on drilling rigs in the Gulf back before he retired. Back when he could go underwater, or underground, without feeling as though a giant hand were pressing down on his chest.

He texted back: Yes. Trimix reserve tanks and Nitrox ascension cans.

Ray clipped his phone back onto his belt and turned to lift the two rebreathers. Each was about the size of a small backpack and comprised of a plastic and metal unit that sprouted two thick tubes to deliver and return air from a standard drysuit mask. Despite their small size, the rebreathers were heavy, due to the dense carbon matrix filter that served to extract CO2 from the air passed through it.

A new text arrived as he finished loading the spare filters for the rebreathers: Sending you an address. Stop there before you return to the subjects. Do not get out of the truck.

Ray paused before replying. This might just be a monitoring operation. Hell, it could all be part of an elaborate game. He’d once driven a van full of executives from some company up in Minnesota out into the bayou and tended camp while they spent three days hunting each other with paintball guns. Still, as a former technical diver himself, it made Ray nervous to think of anyone messing with the equipment he’d picked up.

His phone buzzed with the address. It was somewhere in the warehouse district along the river.

Ray lit a cigarette, climbed into his truck, and drove away from the dive shop.

He was proud of Tony for taking some initiative, and didn’t mind spying on these folks, but something about the whole situation was starting to make him nervous. He thought about it as he drove, mulling over the deal that Tony had offered him, his thoughts fueled by slow drags of nicotine. A couple hundred dollars for texting updates about Oliver and Jeanne to a number. His nephew actually offering him money instead of sponging off of the family. It seemed like a fine proposition.