Cut & Run (A Rachel Scott Adventure) - By Traci Hohenstein


Helping people get out of jail has always been a part of my life, just like stepping over the drunks on Bourbon Street. My grandfather started O’Malley Bail Bonds in 1943. By the early sixties, my father was at the helm. I couldn’t have been more than seven when he first started taking me to work with him every Saturday. I’d wait on those wooden benches at the courthouse, watching as he bailed out the most hardened criminals in the city. By the time I was a teenager, I knew every crook in the city of New Orleans. And they knew me and my family. Late-night phone calls from drunk drivers, domestic abusers, and murderers were the norm for us. So it was only natural that when I graduated from Louisiana State University—with a degree in business management—I officially joined the family business. Little did I know that I would one day find myself on the wrong side of the law, and need someone to bail me out.

I had to give my grandfather credit. He had set up shop in the right place. For decades, New Orleans ranked among the top five cities in the United States for murders per capita. That meant we had more work than we could handle. Then Hurricane Katrina came along in 2005. After the notorious storm, business slowed quite a bit. Most of our clientele moved on to greener pastures in Texas, northern Louisiana, and other states along the Gulf Coast. I took advantage of that lull and started getting more involved in my children’s school and extracurricular activities.

I became the soccer coach for my son’s team, the Red Devils. Patrick was eleven and a star soccer player. He loved playing goalie—a position that was perfect for his tenacious personality. With his fierce blue eyes and dark wavy hair, Patrick was the spitting image of me when I was his age.

He’d learned plenty from his older sister, Mary Katherine, who was also a star soccer player. She was thirteen and held her team’s record for most goals scored in a single season. Mary Kate, as we called her, had her mom’s beautiful blond hair and green eyes. But she had my street-smart attitude and tough-as-nails exterior. Even though she was becoming a teenager, an age that most dads feared, I didn’t worry about her. I knew she could handle herself when it came to boys and their hormonal urges. She’d already been sent home from school twice for beating up a boy who’d just looked at her the wrong way.

My wife, Erin, was a stay-at-home mother as well as an artist. When the kids were at school, she painted watercolors that she put on consignment in local art galleries and a few select upscale restaurants and cafés. I’d always supported her creative side, until it put our marriage in jeopardy.

I knew I’d have to confront her eventually, but I couldn’t stomach it yet. Instead, I kept busy with the family business and took on more responsibility in our kids’ lives to avoid her.

Going through the motions helped me sustain a sense that life was normal, which was why our Wednesday-night family ritual seemed more important than ever. We hadn’t deviated from it for nearly a year. I’d leave work early and head home to change into shorts and a Red Devils jersey. Then I’d load up the family SUV to make the short drive to the soccer fields at the city park. From four to six, the kids had soccer practice. Afterward, we’d head home, and while Erin helped the kids with homework, I’d grill steaks on the back deck. My older brother, Chris, who was also my business partner, would come over with his wife, and we would all eat dinner together. Every Wednesday night, without fail, this was our thing.

At least, it was until one Wednesday, when everything changed. I walked into our bedroom and found Erin lying down, instead of getting ready to leave for our kid’s soccer practice.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I asked quietly.

“Headache. Not sure if I feel like going to soccer practice tonight.”

“Did you take anything?” I asked her, growing concerned. With the exception of morning sickness, which she’d had with both pregnancies, Erin was never sick. It crossed my mind she could be pregnant, but then I dismissed the idea. This was the person I teasingly called Superwoman because she never missed any activity the kids were involved in. I loved her. No matter the skeletons she