Nevada Highway Patrol Helicopter
Above Pahrump, Nevada
Kidnapping Day 4,
About five minutes out of town the Cherokee turned right on a dirt road and drove for a few more minutes. Special Agent Sam Rider and the pilot could see the house he was driving to immediately. The house was white and appeared to be fair size, though that was hard to tell from the air. There were some trees in the front yard. It was the only house within a mile or so and if you drove another mile or so down the road you came to the mountains.
Eventually, the Cherokee parked in front of the house and X got out and went in the front door.
Sam Rider’s stomach froze for a second.
“What do you wanna do?” the pilot asked.
“Maybe we should just land on the front lawn and ask if they’ve seen Larry.”
The pilot chuckled.
“We can’t hover here all day,” Sam said. “We’ll be spotted. How much fuel we got?”
“A couple of hours; maybe a little less.”
“We cannot give them reason one to be suspicious.”
“You like this?”
“Yeah, I do. I think we’re on to something.”
The pilot turned his bird around and headed back the way they came.
“We’ll need a posit for the house. Can you get us a latitude and longitude?”
“Sure,” the pilot said. “Any particular one?”
“Uh, yeah,” he said. “How about the house.”
“Piece of cake. We’ll fly over before heading home.”
Sam got back on the radio again.
“Champ, got something. The Cherokee is parked at a house. About five minutes out of town and then right on a dirt road. Find a map of Pahrump. See if you can locate this house.”
The pilot broke in and gave directions to the house like someone who knew the area, which he did. Champ said he would need a few minutes to rustle up a map.
The pilot flew near the house one more time, but they didn’t see much they didn’t see the first time. The Cherokee was still there, as were the trees. Nobody was outside and Sam lacked the x-ray vision necessary to see through the roof of the house.
“Damn. I wish there were more I could do. I’d say it’s 70/30 he’s down there. We gotta head back, don’t we?”
The pilot said yes.
Office of the Special Agent In Charge
Las Vegas Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Las Vegas, Nevada
Kidnapping, Day 5, 11:15 a.m.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Tom Grant, FBI Special Agent Sam Rider and former Chief of Police Ann Shelton were sitting in Grant’s office. The kidnappers hadn’t been heard from for two days, lending credence to the theory they really were expecting $10 million smackers and that they realized it would take time to rustle that kind of cash up.
“We still don’t know they’re kidnappers, much less that Larry’s in there,” Grant pointed out. He had been spewing forth this negative claptrap every hour on the hour since he first heard the name Tommy Montalvo, but this time he said it with less conviction.
“No, we don’t,” Rider said smiling. “Based on what we’ve seen though, it’s a pretty good hypothesis.”
“Well, we got the address of the house and there is a landline going in there. We’ll have it tapped soon.”
“Is there any kind of surveillance possible?” Ann Shelton asked.
“Not without them knowing it,” Sam said. “The house is in a wide-open area, and it’s all desert. A good lookout can give a pretty good warning about somebody coming.”
Sam paused for a second to take a drink of water.
“On the plus side,” he continued. “These guys know what they’re doing. They’ve done their work well and have no reasonable expectation we are on to them. That’s to our advantage. We can keep Tommy Montalvo under surveillance, and we can tap the house’s landline. I don’t like keeping those kidnapped captive any longer than necessary, but with a little patience, and assuming no one does anything stupid, we should get him back safely and without a ransom.”
Ann nodded her head.
“I know,” she said. “Lenny is becoming insufferable, though. He is taking this personally. I had never seen him angry before. Well, except when I gave him the ticket.”
Tom Grant’s phone rang.
“Grant. Rider and Ann Shelton are here.”
“Champion, here sir. If you’d put me on speakerphone…”
Though Champion sounded like a supplicant, Tom Grant recognized an order when he heard one and complied.
“It’s Champion,” he said, pressing a button on his phone.
“Hello Ann. Sam. Chief, we got something. Ray Evans just got a call from the kidnappers. He talked to one kidnapper and to Larry. It came from the house.”
Both Ann Shelton and Special Agent Sam Rider smiled.
“Champ, can you play the conversation.”
“Yeah, wait one. Okay, listen to this:”
Larry: Hey Ray, can you hit a tee shot yet?
Ray Evans: How are you, Larry?
Larry: I’m good. Strong. A little bored.
Kidnapper: That’s enough funny guy. Watch your mail tomorrow. We’ll be in touch.
That was it. Had they not already had the line tapped they would not have been able to trace the call; it hadn’t lasted long enough.
Ann Shelton got up as if to leave.
“This is good news,” she said. “I need to go share this. Sam, will you bring the next ransom note over?”
Ann Shelton smiled her usual smile that required sunglasses to view without incurring eye damage and left.
“This is good,” Sam Rider said.
Special Agent in Charge Tom Grant nodded.
“Still work to do, though,” Rider said, getting up to go back to work.
The Regular Guy Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada
Kidnapping Day 6, 12:15 p.m.
In the morning mail the next day at Ray Evans’ office was a relatively chatty letter from the kidnappers telling whoever read it that Larry was still okay and current plans called for Larry to remain okay as long as no one did anything stupid. It said the ten million dollars should be about ready for delivery and that precise delivery instructions would be forthcoming, probably in tomorrow’s mail.
Special Agent Sam Rider and Director of Security for Caesars Palace Ron Thomas delivered the latest communiqué to The Regular Guy mansion;
The pair joined Lenny, Larry’s dad, Ann Shelton and Morty in an upstairs living room. Lenny still looked mad, Morty, who had given up all pretenses of keeping up appearances on day two and wept like a baby, looked relieved.
Ann had told everyone about the phone call earlier today and how they should have new instructions this afternoon.
“This is good, Dad; we’re going to get your son back. It is only a matter of time.”
“I always thought it would work out,” he said. “Most things do, in due course. What’s next?”
“We don’t know,” Sam Rider said. “We have to hear from them first and see how they want to do this. But even though they hold Larry, we have the upper hand because they have no idea we know anything.”
“How come we just don’t go and rescue him?” Lenny asked.
“We don’t know the exact situation in the house. Now, we do have the safe house phone tapped and based on conversations between the safe house and Montalvo, we know there are four people in the crew and that two are always with Larry. But we don’t know exactly how it’s set up inside. For example, if one is always with Larry, armed, well, going and trying to take him would have consequences.”
The consequences, while unsaid, were implicit.
“If this were a TV movie Larry could tell us the situation in some sort of code we would’ve already worked out,” Lenny said, his first attempt at humor since Larry had been taken.
Sam Rider laughed.
“That’s movie stuff, Lenny. In real life, he’d simply utilize the Ring of Power in his Regular Guy utility belt and break free.”
The next communiqué from the kidnappers gave detailed instructions for delivery of the ransom and the return of Larry.
The kidnappers, realizing they had committed the most notorious crime in history stated they were resigned to the fact those involved in the return would be police.
They also stated that if anything happened at the ransom drop that was not specifically spelled out in the communiqué – like trying to arrest the kidnappers, for instance – Larry would be killed. Larry would not be at the ransom drop.
The communiqué dictated that a little before midnight two days hence a party of no more than three people were to proceed to an industrial area just west of Interstate 15, near The Strip. Between 11:45 and midnight the ransom party would be contacted by phone and be told exactly where to go.
The kidnappers would provide the phone. In tomorrow’s mail Ray Evans would receive another key to a locker at the bus station. Inside would be a prepaid cell phone.
This was not unexpected. Tommy Montalvo, who had been under surveillance since being followed on his trip to Pahrump, had been seen leaving a package in a locker at the bus station.
Once at the site the three people would exit and produce the ransom money. The kidnappers would then take the ransom money and leave, and, when it had been established to their satisfaction that they were not being followed and had gotten away with their crime, instructions on how to retrieve Larry would be provided.
They specified the money would not be counted at the drop site. This was to avoid the ransom being paid in Monopoly money, which if discovered at the drop site could leave the kidnappers in a box. If they immediately radioed orders to kill Larry their gig would be up. With Larry gone they would be arrested for murder. If they didn’t give orders to kill Larry there was nothing to do except leave and do it all again later. The kidnappers said they would count the money later, and, if it then turned out to be Monopoly money then they could kill Larry and still get away.
Las Vegas Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Las Vegas, Nevada
Kidnapping Day 7, 1:10 p.m.
Special Agent in Charge Tom Grant surveyed the room and thought that under the circumstances this cast of federal agents and local police officers had a very good chance of 1) rescuing Larry; 2) arresting all four members of the kidnapping crew; 3) not get anybody hurt.
Tom Grant was also highly confident this could all be done without having to turn over ten million of The Regular Guys’ smackers.
Special Agents Sam Rider and Harold Champion had come with an excellent plan for helicopter insertion and ground transportation to a point a mile away from the safe house. Though they may not know exactly how many people would be in the safe house with Larry, they were preparing for two people, though both thought it probable only one would remain behind. There would be a total of eight people in this unit, including a doctor.
Tom Grant had personally supervised the selection and coordinating of the ransom drop team. Three agents, the very best the Bureau had at apprehension, would be prepared either to apprehend the kidnappers should Larry be rescued before the drop or to follow the kidnapper’s directives and turn over the ransom.
The area they had been directed to would be covered with undercover cops, some of them patrolling in taxis so they’d be less suspicious; others would be parked out of sight till needed.
The crew chose an Apollo 11 theme for their code names. The command post would be “mission control” which everyone would habitually shorten to “control” once the evolution started. The ransom team would be “Columbia” and Sam and Champ would be “Eagle One” and “Eagle Two”.
If they secured Larry before the ransom drop the safe house would become “Tranquility Base”.
The kidnappers being apprehended at the drop site would be termed “splashdown”.