Authors: Rayven T. Hill
“I’ve already contacted Mr. Lincoln,” the doctor continued. “He called me back a few minutes ago. He’d heard from the kidnapper but he doesn’t know I called you.”
“I know the Lincolns well,” Hank said. “I’ll talk to Jake right away. He’s capable and he’ll do what he needs to.”
Dr. Gould nodded. “Yes, that’s the indication I got from talking to him.”
The doorknocker sounded and the doctor went to the door. He returned a moment later with Callaway and another cop behind, lugging two boxes of equipment.
“Where’s your phone?” Callaway asked.
The doctor showed them to the kitchen. After he’d returned and sat down, Hank said, “They’ll set up the phone recorder in case he calls back. It’ll start automatically when the phone rings.”
King said, “Dr. Gould, we need to know where your wife works so we can find out when and where she was last seen, and what kind of car she drives.”
“And we’ll need a photo of her as well,” Hank added.
Dr. Gould gave them the information and then went to a stand beside a massive stone fireplace. He returned a moment later and handed Hank a close-up shot of Mrs. Gould.
“That’s perfect.” Hank took the photo and tucked it into his notepad.
“Detective, the kidnapper also sent a shot of my wife to my cell phone. She was . . . tied to a chair.”
“We’ll need that phone,” King said.
“I’m afraid Mr. Lincoln has it.”
“We’ll get it from him. It might be something that can help us.”
Hank leaned forward, sat on the edge of the couch and handed Dr. Gould his card. “If you think of anything else you need to tell me, you can reach me here any time.” He waved toward the kitchen. “An officer will stay here in case the kidnapper calls.”
The doctor took the card and said, “Detective, the kidnapper said not to call you or my wife . . .”
“Don’t worry, Dr. Gould. Our involvement in this is strictly confidential. We won’t endanger your wife, and the kidnapper won’t even see us until your wife is returned and safe.”
Hank turned to King. “Find out what you can at Mrs. Gould’s workplace and I’ll go to the Lincolns.” He stood and faced Dr. Gould. “We’ll let you know how we proceed.”
They left Dr. Gould with worry on his face as they went to the street. “Let me know what you find out, King,” Hank said, as he jumped into his Chevy and keyed the engine.
As the other cop climbed into his car and roared away, Hank hoped he’d done the right thing in calling on King to help.
Wednesday, August 31st, 1:56 PM
ANNIE SWITCHED off the recorder and sat back. “I listened to that a few times and can’t find anything to give us an idea who it is.”
“I can’t either,” Hank said, sitting forward. “But if you give it to me, I’ll take it to Callaway and see what he comes up with. He might be able to do something with the voice, depending on what was used to change the tone.”
Annie swung around, pulled the flash drive from the recorder and handed it to Hank. She’d already made a copy of the recording for their own use, in case she wanted to refer to it later.
Hank took the drive and dropped it into his shirt pocket.
“And then there’s this,” Annie added. She removed Dr. Gould’s phone from the top drawer of the desk and swiped the screen. She winced at the photo of Mrs. Gould, then flipped the phone around and handed it to Hank.
Hank took the phone. “The doctor said you had this. I need to get it looked at as well.” His brow furrowed as he studied the photo of Mrs. Gould.
“We already had Geekly take a look at it,” Jake said. “All he could tell us was the time it was taken.”
Annie added, “And the number of the phone the photo was taken from, a burner phone.” She copied down the number she’d gotten from Geekly and handed it to Hank. “I called this and got a bum who found it in a dumpster on Benson Avenue.”
“The photo appears to have been taken in the basement of an old building,” Jake said. “Probably a one, or maybe a two-story.” He pointed to the walls and the beams and explained his theory to Hank.
“I’ll get King and Callaway to work on this,” Hank said. “We’ll see if they can track down the phone. If King calls the number, he may be able to find the guy. He knows his way around the streets and how to get what he wants out there.”
Annie had the displeasure of meeting King in the past and didn’t think much of the crass detective. She frowned and asked, “Is Detective King working on this with you?”
Hank shrugged and slipped the phone into the pocket of his jacket. “Time is one thing we don’t have a lot of right now and we need all the help we can get. I sent him to Mrs. Gould’s workplace to see what he can find out.”
“I’ve already been there and I found her car in the underground parking.” Annie explained what she’d found. “But I locked the car and the keys are in it. I didn’t want anything to be disturbed.”
Hank laughed. “I’m sure King’ll know how to get in.” He looked at his watch. “We have to set up your phone to record the kidnapper’s call.”
“There’s an app for that,” Jake said. “It’s set up and ready to go.”
“Then let me get this phone to Callaway and give King a call,” Hank said, as he stood. “I’ll be back before four o’clock.”
HANK TAPPED on Captain Alano Diego’s open door. The captain looked up from his paperwork and motioned for Hank to come in.
Hank stepped inside Diego’s office, swung a guest chair over to the desk and settled into it. He leaned back and tucked his legs under the desk, crossed at the ankles.
He filled Diego in on the latest information regarding the kidnapping and then added, “Captain, this is an unusual situation. Jake Lincoln has agreed to deliver the ransom money as the kidnapper requested, but I need your permission for something.”
Diego sat back, adjusted his navy blue tie and gave Hank his full attention.
“Captain, do you know the law regarding private investigators and firearms?”
“Is this a trick question? They’re not allowed to carry them.”
Hank shrugged one shoulder. “True, but there are special circumstances. If it’s in the public interest, they might be able to.”
“On rare occasions, Hank.”
“I think this is one of those rare occasions.” Hank sat forward and leaned his arms on the edge of the desk. “As you know, the registrar of firearms can authorize someone to carry a firearm on a one-shot basis if a senior member of the police service requests it.”
Diego frowned. “And you’re asking me to request it?”
“Listen Hank, we have no official relationship with the Lincolns. They are citizens, and are not law enforcement. I have to admit, sometimes they’re a help to us.” Diego waved toward the precinct floor. “But there’re some out there who feel antagonistic toward private investigators.”
“I realize that, but PIs aren’t competition and as long as they don’t get in our way, what’s the harm?”
“When you put it that way, there’s no harm. I know the Lincolns are friends of yours, but don’t let them interfere.” He pointed his index finger at Hank. “I expect you to keep them under control.”
As head of Richmond Hill Police Department, Captain Diego had worked his way up through the ranks and Hank had a lot of respect for him, but sometimes the captain was just flat-out wrong.
“So far,” Hank said. “They haven’t gotten in anyone’s way and I’ll see to it they don’t. But they aren’t concerned with fame or glory. All they want is the same as us, to see justice done.”
Diego seemed to consider that and gave a slow shrug.
Hank leaned back. “Now, what about a firearm?”
Diego sat back, dropped one elbow on the padded armrest and stroked his bristling mustache. “This takes time. It would first have to be shown he’s fully qualified to obtain a permit. Background checks and things like that.”
“He’s a licensed private investigator. Background checks have already been done.”
Diego picked up his pen and twirled it in his fingers. “What about training?”
Hank shrugged. “He’s a fast learner. I’ll show him the basics.” Hank paused and watched as Diego considered it. “It’s just for personal protection. It’s unlikely he would even draw it. I don’t think the kidnapper is foolish enough to take any chances.”
Diego stared at Hank a moment before coming to a decision. He was a few pounds overweight and his jowls quivered as he nodded. “Let me make a couple of calls and see if I can get this fast-tracked, but there’s no guarantee.” He held up a finger. “But it’s just this one time, you understand?”
Hank nodded. “Of course, and thanks, Captain.” He stood and left the office as Diego picked up the phone receiver.
Wednesday, August 31st, 2:51 PM
JAKE PULLED the Firebird into Dr. Gould’s driveway, jumped out and strode up the walkway to the front door. It swung open as Jake reached for the knocker.
“Come in a moment,” Dr. Gould said. “I’ll be right with you.”
Jake stepped inside the large foyer and leaned against the wall. In a moment, the doctor came back with a briefcase and handed it to Jake.
“This is empty right now,” the doctor said. “But I would feel better if you carried it.”
Jake took the briefcase and stepped outside. Dr. Gould shut the door behind them, locked it, double-checked the lock and then followed Jake to the Firebird.
Jake tossed the briefcase into the back seat and climbed under the steering wheel. He never fancied himself as a bodyguard before, but a job was a job. He watched as Dr. Gould stepped into the car. He looked worried and stressed out, and his hands trembled as he fastened his seatbelt.
Jake hit the ignition and fired up the V8. It purred like a mountain lion as he backed from the driveway. He eased the shifter into gear, and Dr. Gould directed him to the local branch of the Commerce Bank. He parked under a No Parking sign and they stepped from the vehicle and went through the revolving doors.
The manager was waiting and greeted Dr. Gould the moment they stepped inside. He signaled to a teller and then led them into an office and motioned toward a pair of chairs pushed up to the desk. They sat as the manager went behind and perched on his puffy leather chair. The cushion gave a whoosh of air as he settled into it.
The banker talked on about the weather and the latest news as the doctor listened politely and Jake yawned.
In a few minutes, the teller came in and handed the manager a cloth money bag, fastened with a drawstring. The bag looked surprisingly small to contain that much cash.
“Just as you asked, Dr. Gould.” The manager set the bag on the desk. “One hundred thousand dollars, in fifties.” He pushed it toward the doctor. “Would you like to count it?”
“That won’t be necessary.”
Jake saw the doctor’s mind was elsewhere, surely on thoughts of his wife. “Maybe we should,” he said.
The manager nodded. “As you wish.” He loosened the drawstring and bundles of fifty-dollar bills fell out as he tipped the bag, each wrapped in a paper band, the band stamped by the Commerce Bank. “There’s twenty packets here, each containing one hundred fifties.” One bundle at a time, he removed the paper band and ran the stack through a mechanical bill counter.
The count was correct.
The manager slipped a paper from his top drawer and flipped it around. “I’ll need you to sign for the cash.” He handed the doctor an expensive looking pen.
The doctor leaned forward, signed an illegible scrawl at the bottom of the page and sat back again.
Jake tossed the bundles back into the money bag, flipped open the briefcase, dropped the bag inside and snapped the case closed.
The manager seemed to be eyeing him suspiciously. “It’s rather a large sum of cash to be carrying around,” he said. It sounded more like a question.
Jake ignored the hint. “Yes, it is.”
“Are you making a large purchase?”
“Something like that.”
The manager persisted, addressing the doctor. “In the future, perhaps a cashier’s check would do just as well as cash.”
The doctor was in no condition emotionally to deal with nosey individuals, so Jake took the initiative to speak on his behalf. “Cash will do fine,” he said.
The banker gave Jake another dubious look.
“Perhaps in the future,” Jake added. “If this is too much of a problem for you, Dr. Gould would do better to take his accounts elsewhere.”
The manager cleared his throat. “I was only trying to be helpful.” He smiled at the doctor. “We’re happy to serve you, Dr. Gould, and we’re always ready to take care of your financial needs.”
The doctor smiled weakly.
The banker smiled back. “Would you like an account balance, doctor?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Dr. Gould replied.
The banker stood and offered his hand. “Thanks for doing business with us.”
Dr. Gould stood, shook hands and thanked the banker. Jake grabbed the briefcase and followed the doctor from the office. They made their way back to the car, where Jake set the briefcase on the floor of the back seat, climbed in and started the engine.
During the drive back to the Gould residence, Jake chanced a couple of glances toward the doctor who seemed lost in thought as he stared out the windshield.
Finally the doctor spoke. “Mr. Lincoln, kidnappers usually ask for much larger sums of money. More like a million dollars or so. Why only one hundred thousand dollars?”
Jake shook his head. “I don’t know. Perhaps he asked for what he assumed would be readily available. A larger amount might have taken more time to put together.”
The doctor agreed.
Jake continued, “Or perhaps he assumed, with a smaller amount, you would be less likely to call the police.”
“I’m still having second thoughts about involving them,” Dr. Gould said.
Jake swung into the left lane and pulled onto the street where the Gould house was. “I’m sure they’ll be careful not to put your wife in any danger.”