~ FREE SAMPLE ~
- The Plan
- The Grab
- The Ransom Letter
- The Surpise Wife
- Banion Loses It
- Dig, Brother, Dig!
- The Kidnapping Is Over?
“Now!” Jordan’s voice grated the warning.
My part of the job was coming.
Down the road was a blur of light, and in five minutes, or three, the car would reach us, and I would kidnap Andrew Mills and hold him for ransom, or I would fail to kidnap Andrew Mills and be shot. One way or another, the thing would shortly be over.
Jordan faded somewhere into the shadows, and with his going I realized how much I had been leaning upon his dependable courage. It was lone hand now, and the car was nearer.
I gripped the automatic and waited.
Who are the mighty ones of earth, modern barons who sit in judgment, dispensing the high justice, the middle and the low? They are little gray men with still faces and cold eyes. They dress in faultless clothes, sit silently in business conferences, lost in their big leather chairs. They never raise their voices, but they rule the world. Little men — men like Andrew Mills.
So we, the three of us, were going to kidnap this man, hold him for ransom, and gain wealth thereby. It had seemed an idea, that afternoon a week earlier, when we had hatched the thing out.
“But it won’t be easy,” warned Banion.
“Can’t boot the thing,” Jordan supplemented. “Once we start we’ve got to go through, and get clear. Otherwise — “ He stopped there, but we knew what he meant, fast enough. “What say, Jerry? You’re educated.”
Me, I couldn’t see it. Not then.
“Where’s the danger?” I demanded. “If it flops, it flops. But this Mills, he’s rich, and busy. The most he’d do and the worst he’d do would be to turn the case over to some detective agency. They’d stall around a while and collect their fee. That’s all.”
“Might collect us, too.”
“And might not! Can’t you see? We’re nobody, nondescript — average, all about thirty, all ordinary looking. Any of us could double for John Doe. Besides, he’ll see only one of us.”
All that was, as I have said, a week before, on a rainy April afternoon. We had gathered in Jordan’s room down by the railroad yards to hatch the thing out. Talking interminably, suggesting, objecting, weighing this thing against that, speculating on our chances, our possible gains. What price ten years in prison, what price the chair? As fine a trio of ruffians as you will find, and we were determined to get some portion of the great Andrew Mills’ gold.
“How do you mean, he’ll see only one of us?” Banion demanded.
“What’s the use of all of us taking a chance? We’ll all be in it, of course, but one man’s plenty to stay with him after we’ve got him. Only one of the three will run much risk of identification.”
“Yeh! And who bells the cat?”
Silence. None of us craved that job. “Settle it by lot,” offered Jordan at last.
“We might cut cards,” suggested Banion.
Banion was too proficient with cards, and Jordan considered.
“See here,” he said, and he pointed through the grimy window to the railroad freight tunnel in the yards below, “if the next engine to come out of that hole carries an even number, I’m out; odd, Jerry’s out, and the two men left bet again.”
“Puts me in either way,” objected Banion.
“All right, then you and Jerry take the first chance.”
“But you live in this dump,” said Banion. “For all I know all of ‘em may have odd numbers.”
“Take either end of it, then. How about it, Jerry?”
“Odd,” Banion decided. But his face was white and working. Banion was no man for this business, even though the plan was of his devising.
So we gathered, a hard faced crew, at the window.
“Just how’s this stealing to be done?” said Banion, his voice very near a whimper.
“That’s to be decided by the man that’s stuck.”
“But, listen, if it’s me — “ Freight engine I229 rumbled into view.
Banion gave a shuddering sigh of relief. “Let’s me out.”
“Odd or even, Jerry?” asked Jordan.
“Odd she is, for a repeater,” and almost on the word the second engine puffed into the yard — No. 423.
“Seems to put the bee on you, Jerry.”
I nodded. Either Jordan or I, it didn’t much matter, but Banion couldn’t have carried it through. Not that I wanted it. “What about this Andrew Mills, Banion? This is your party, what’s the dope?”
“Well, he’s a millionaire, one of the big furniture crowd here in Grand River. He’s a little guy, wears eye glasses, a bachelor, and filthy with money.”
“And he’s important to a lot of important people.”
“We already know all that. What else?”
“He’s got offices on the tenth floor of the Corporate Life Building, and you get to his private office — “
“That’s out. I can’t steal him from his desk.”
“He plays golf some at the Pine Hills Country Club, and lots of times he goes around alone.”
“Might be something in that,” I reflected. “Always use the same caddie?”
You see, it was Banion’s business to know these things. He had brought us into the plan on the strength of his information concerning Andrew Mills. How lie got that information we did not know, nor did we care, but he claimed to have it, wherefore I questioned him. For the rest, Banion possessed the courage of a caterpillar and the soul of a rat. We had to use him, and he could not move without us.
“How about his caddie?”
“Not so good. His chauffeur, as a rule.”
“As a rule?”
“Well, always, as far as I know.”
There it was, a chauffeur who was also a bodyguard. I pondered this darkly.
“The rest of the time he works.”
“And a millionaire!” said Jordan softly.
“Work’s the millionaire’s regular dish. It seems to me, Banion,” I remonstrated peevishly, “that you haven’t got this thing set up at all. I thought you said you had a complete plan.”
“Couldn’t we decoy him away — a letter or telephone call, or something?”
Jordan laughed. “Even you’ve got more sense than that, Banion. What’s your notion?”
“Why, he takes a drive every night, along about ten o’clock, I’ve followed him three-four times in a taxicab.”
“In the same taxicab?”
“Of course not, I got a different man each time.”
“He always takes the same route, out past Pine Hills, then along Watson Drive, and back by the state highway.”
Jordan looked up with interest. “How does he get to the highway from Watson Drive?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you guys know what taxicabs cost? I only trailed him long enough to be sure what road he took out of town, then I came back and watched his house, how come I know he comes back by the state highway.”
~ End of Sample ~