Tilt-a-Whirl by Grabenstein Chris

Tilt-a-Whirl by Grabenstein Chris

Author:Grabenstein, Chris [Grabenstein, Chris]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Chris Grabenstein
Published: 2011-03-03T08:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

“You got the number?” Morgan asks.

“Yeah,” the chief says. “We're on with the phone company … pinpointing the location.”

We're all standing behind Gus's desk, staring at the fax machine as it prints out page number three.

“It's a self-serve machine on Ocean Avenue,” Jane Bright yells from a desk phone. “Boardwalk Books. 1733 Ocean Avenue.”

“Helen?” the chief barks into the dispatcher's cubicle. “Who's close to 1733 Ocean?”

“Cochran?” Morgan's yelling at one of his men.

“Pescatore and Murphy,” the dispatcher yells back to the chief.

“Send them!”

“Boardwalk Books!” Morgan's bellowing at a guy who must be Cochran. “1733 Ocean. Take the forensics team. Go!”

“Sir?” Ceepak says to the chief.

“No, you can not go. We need you here.”

Ashley's mother walks through the front door. She's wearing her black wig and floppy hat, and she freezes when she sees all of us standing behind the front desk staring at a beige box grunting out paper.

“What's going on? Is it him?” Is it the kidnapper?”

“We think so.”

“What does he want now?”

“It looks like he's honoring our request for more specifics,” says Ceepak.

“Is that good news?”

“Yes, ma'am. I believe it means we're one step closer to bringing Ashley home.”

“Can I read it?”

“No need,” the chief says. “We'll handle it from here.”

“Are you sure?”

“It's for the best,” Morgan chimes in, giving the official FBI seal of approval to the chief's suggestion.

“In fact,” the chief suggests, “you might be more comfortable at your own home. I can have Officer Bright drive you.”

“All right, Robert. You know best.”

Ceepak and me look over at the chief, who's sort of blushing.

We've never heard anybody call him “Robert” before.

Of course Pescatore and Murphy found no one at Boardwalk Books. The coin-operated fax machine is tucked in a corner, hidden behind bookcases filled with beach reads. The sole employee was up at the cash register. Business was extremely slow, so he was sipping cappuccino and reading. He hadn't seen the fax sender walk in or out. Preoccupied with his froth. End of story.

Also, the bookstore doesn't believe in security cameras. The owner, this guy I've met a couple times, is a big fan of George Orwell's 1984 and doesn't want us “to go down a slippery slope” to governmental mind control or world domination, I forget which. Besides, what kid is going to shoplift books on his summer vacation?

Cochran, the FBI guy, dutifully dusted the fax machine for prints. He even impounded all the quarters in the money box. I'll bet you there's three or four in there without any fingerprints on them at all.

That would be our guy's loose change.

So all we have is the fax.

Once again, we have copies, and the interrogation room looks like a Barnes & Noble, everybody hanging out reading. The chief, Morgan, Ceepak, and me—we're all studying what the kidnapper wants us to do next:

Mrs. Hart.

Listen carefully! We have your daughter and have not yet harmed her in any way even though I have been tempted.

If you want your daughter to stay safe and unharmed you will put ten million dollars in cash in several rolling suitcases.



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