Authors: Rayven T. Hill
She yawned. “You guys are boring.”
Matty spoke up. “Mom, you can’t be catching bad guys all day long. You need to rest sometime.”
Her eight-year-old son was right of course. They’d had so much excitement recently, and as rookie investigators, much more than they’d ever expected.
When Jake had lost his job as a construction engineer at one of Canada’s largest land developers due to downsizing, they’d decided to expand Annie’s part-time research business into something more lucrative. Her experience was a natural progression into their current enterprise and the couple became Lincoln Investigations.
However, unlike most private investigators, whose job usually involves little more than research, the occasional surveillance job or background check, they’d had more than their fair share of frightening experiences.
And so, she was glad to have some rest, and as much as Jake loved their new vocation, she knew he needed a little down time as well. Even though they often had to work at odd hours, and sometimes in the evening, she wouldn’t trade their line of business for anything. She was pleased to be able to work alongside her husband and was now thankful for the day he’d lost his job.
Jake flicked off the TV, sat up and looked at his wife. “Did you say something?”
She shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t remember.”
Jake grunted, stood and wandered from the room toward the kitchen.
She dropped her book on the stand beside her and went into the office off the front room. She sat in the swivel chair and pulled it a little closer to the desk. Her iMac came to life when she touched the keyboard and she settled in to do some online banking.
Annie was confident in the future of their agency and though money wasn’t as tight as it was, thanks to some recent work they’d done for clients, they still needed to be careful.
The contents of the small office weren’t much more than a used desk, a couple of chairs, a bookcase bulging with research materials, and the odd picture on the wall. A filing cabinet, rescued from somewhere, sat beside the desk, a printer perched on top.
Jake wandered in, a chicken drumstick in one hand and a Coke in the other. The guest chair groaned under his two hundred and ten pounds of muscle and bone but held as he settled into place.
Annie leafed through a small stack of papers, slipped out one page and handed it to him. “Possible insurance fraud. A typical case where a guy claims to have a bad back from a car accident and can’t move. The insurance company isn’t so sure and wants us to look into it.” She pointed to the report. “It’s all there.”
Jake set his drink down, held the paper with his free hand and studied it briefly. “It shouldn’t be a problem. These guys always mess up, every time. They think they have a new scam nobody has ever heard of before. I should be able to look into it tomorrow.” He folded the paper and tucked it into his pocket. “What else do we have on our plate?”
Annie waved toward the stack. “I have enough here to keep me going awhile. Nothing pressing, mainly research.”
“No killers to catch?”
Annie laughed. “Not right now.”
Wednesday, August 31st, 9:40 AM
ARTHUR GOULD had been up most of the night. His wife, Linda, hadn’t come home and he’d spent the evening and into the wee hours of the morning distraught, and calling everyone they knew.
No one had seen her or heard from her.
He was dead tired and though he’d been able to get a couple of hours sleep earlier camped out on the living room couch, he didn’t feel rested.
This was unlike Linda. In fact, he’d never known a night in their twelve years of marriage where he didn’t know where she was at just about any given time. The only occasion she’d ever been out all night without him was a few years ago when she went to Montreal for a friend’s funeral and had to stay at a hotel.
He picked up the phone once more and called her work. She still hadn’t shown and no one at the office had heard from her.
He was overcome with dread; something was definitely wrong. He wanted to call the police but knew they couldn’t help until she’d been missing for forty-eight hours.
He felt helpless.
He’d called the clinic and told them he couldn’t make it in. A family emergency had come up and they would need to get one of the other doctors to cover walk-in patients and reschedule the ones with appointments.
Though he’d missed dinner the evening before and hadn’t wanted any breakfast, he didn’t feel especially hungry. He drifted into the kitchen, started a fresh pot of coffee and made a slice of toast. That was all he wanted.
He sat at the kitchen table, the steaming cup in front of him, and nibbled at his snack. Where is she? Something is terribly wrong.
When the phone rang it startled him and he sprang from his chair and swept up the receiver. He expected to hear Linda’s sweet voice on the line explaining what had happened and she was ok.
He knew something dreadful was taking place the moment he heard a voice changer say his name in a deep disguised tone.
“Dr. Arthur Gould?” the freakish voice asked.
“Yes, this is Dr. Gould.”
“I have your wife.”
His nightmare was coming true. “Where is she? Is she all right?” He spoke in a frenzied tone.
“Relax, doctor. Your wife is fine.”
“Why do you have her? What do you want?”
“Well, Dr. Gould, I’m glad you asked.” The manufactured voice chuckled. “I want money of course.”
“You mean, like ransom?”
“Now you’re catching on. Exactly like ransom.”
“How . . . how much?”
“How much do you have? Doctor.” He emphasized the last word.
Arthur Gould was silent. What kind of game was this guy playing?
The voice continued, “How much is your wife worth?”
What was he supposed to say? How could he answer a question like that?
“You’re hesitating, doctor. Is she of no value to you?”
“No, no, of course she is,” Dr. Gould said. “I just don’t know what to say.”
The weird voice laughed and then, “I’m not greedy.”
Dr. Gould was silent.
The unnatural voice became more ominous, more serious. “I want one hundred thousand dollars. Is your wife worth that much, doctor?”
“Yes, yes, of course she is.”
“Then we don’t have a problem, am I right?”
“No problem,” the doctor said carefully. “We don’t have a problem.”
“Wonderful. I knew you’d see it my way.”
Dr. Gould waited.
“Now, I have some simple instructions for you.”
“Obviously I want cash. And you have until this afternoon to get it. Is that a problem?”
Arthur Gould paced back and forth in the kitchen. He knew he could arrange it easily. He said, “It’s not a problem.”
“Good. Good.” Breathing rasped over the line and then the voice continued, “Do you love your wife, doctor?”
“Yes, yes, of course I do.”
“Then you won’t call the police, am I right?”
The doctor’s mind was whirling. He had to get his wife home safely and wasn’t sure what he would do, but right now he couldn’t afford to disagree with the kidnapper. He said, “I won’t call the police.”
“Excellent. Then everything should go smoothly.”
“How can I be sure my wife is ok?”
“I thought you might ask. I’ll send you a picture of her. Give me your cell phone number.”
Dr. Gould gave him the number and then ran to his office for his cell. In a minute, a picture appeared on the screen. His wife was tied to a chair, a gag in her mouth, and her frightened eyes seemed to be pleading to him. He fought back his anger and tried to remain calm. He couldn’t afford anything to go wrong.
“Are you still there, doctor?”
“So, you can see your wife is fine?”
“Yes, yes. Please, don’t hurt her.”
“I have no plans to hurt her, however, her ultimate fate is in your hands. If you follow my instructions perfectly then your wife will be fine, otherwise . . .”
“I’ll do exactly what you say.”
Another strange laugh and then, “Now, this is where it gets interesting.”
“I want someone else to deliver the money.”
“Someone else,” the doctor repeated. “Who?”
“Jake Lincoln? I don’t know him.”
“He’s a private investigator.”
“How will I find him?”
“Look in the phone book, doctor.”
“I have my reasons. Now are you going to do as I ask?”
Dr. Gould didn’t hesitate. He had no choice. “Yes of course. I’ll find him.”
“Good, good. You’ll contact him and then I’ll call him with my instructions later.”
“What if he refuses?”
Another maniacal laugh and then, “He won’t refuse.”
The doctor thought a moment. “How can I contact you if—?”
“There’ll be no more contact between us, doctor. From now on I deal with Jake Lincoln. Your instructions are simple. Contact Lincoln, get the money to him, and then it’s out of your hands.”
Arthur Gould hesitated.
“Do you understand?”
He had no choice. “Yes, I understand.”
“There’s one more thing, doctor.”
“If anything goes wrong, your wife will die.”
The line went dead as Arthur Gould sank into a chair and trembled, helpless and afraid.
Wednesday, August 31st, 9:56 AM
ALL THAT COULD be seen of Jake was his feet sticking out from underneath his pride, a 1986 Pontiac Firebird.
He had heard a light rattle from underneath the engine, a sound not one in a hundred people would notice, but Jake had, and it needed to be fixed.
He turned his head and saw Annie’s running shoes step inside the garage and move in his direction.
“Phone call for you,” she said.
He pushed with his feet and the creeper rolled him out from under the vehicle. He stood, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “Who is it?”
“He wouldn’t say. He only wants to speak to you and he called on the house line,” Annie said, as she handed him the cordless phone.
“Hello?” Jake said into the phone.
“Is this Jake Lincoln?”
“Are you a private investigator?”
“Yes, who is this?”
The man spoke in a feverish tone. “My name is Gould, Dr. Arthur Gould, and my wife . . . she’s been kidnapped.”
Jake looked at Annie, touched the speaker button and whispered to her, “His wife’s been kidnapped.” He spoke into the phone, “Have you called the police, Dr. Gould?”
“No, I’m not sure what to do. He . . . the kidnapper said not to call the police.”
Jake hesitated and then said, “The police should always be notified. They’ve had experience in this and they know exactly how to proceed without letting the kidnapper know they’re involved.”
Silence on the line.
Jake continued, “Perhaps you should let the police handle it, but we’re happy to do what we can to help if they’re unable to catch the kidnapper.”
“There’s more to it than that, Mr. Lincoln.”
“He’s holding her for ransom and he told me to contact you. He wants you to deliver the ransom money.”
Jake looked at Annie. She looked back at him and cocked her head. Jake frowned and said, “That’s an unusual request.”
“I realize that,” the doctor said. “But he was insistent.”
Jake thought a moment, trying to gauge Annie’s thoughts.
Dr. Gould was impatient. “Will you do it?”
Jake watched Annie nod and he spoke into the phone. “I’ll do it.”
The doctor sighed in relief. “Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.”
Annie whispered to Jake, “How much?”
“How much money is he demanding?” Jake asked the doctor.
“One hundred thousand dollars.”
Jake raised a brow and asked, “Can you get the money today?”
“Yes, I’d thought it might be more but I can get it immediately.”
“Did you get any instructions yet as to when or where the exchange should take place?”
“He said I must get the money and get it to you by this afternoon and he’ll call you.”
Jake looked at his watch. “Then we’d better hurry,” he said. “Perhaps my wife and I should come and see you right away.”
“My wife and I are partners and it’s best if we both come to interview you.”
“Very well then.”
“We’ll come over now.”
Jake found a pencil and an envelope on the workbench, scribbled down Dr. Gould’s address and phone number and hung up the phone.
The couple looked at each other and Jake frowned, “We’d better get there right away.”
Wednesday, August 31st, 10:22 AM
DR. GOULD’S HOUSE was situated in what was once an old neighborhood, the houses built back when land was cheap and the lots were large. In recent years, the older houses had been torn down, one by one, and the rich and the newly-rich were coming in, tearing down the old and building new luxurious dwellings.
Jake pulled the Firebird into the triple-width driveway and stopped beside a BMW. They climbed from the vehicle and went up the stone driveway, past the immaculately landscaped front lawn and onto a large verandah.
Annie clanged the knocker and the door was opened almost immediately.
Dr. Gould was in his mid-thirties, but the stress evident on his face made him appear a decade older, and as he invited them in, he sighed deeply and pointed through an archway toward the front room.
Jake sat carefully on an overpriced couch as Annie sat beside him, leaned forward, and watched as the doctor settled into a matching armchair.
Annie spoke first. “Dr. Gould, I want to say how deeply we feel for you in this situation. I’m aware how hard this is for you and I assure you, our top priority is to get your wife back. Apprehending the kidnapper is secondary and we’ll in no way endanger your wife.”