Kidnappers Safe House
Outside Pahrump, Nevada
Kidnapping Day 7, 10 p.m.
With his prisoner tranquilized and sleeping harmlessly and his comrades off to collect the ransom money, the fourth kidnapper saw no reason not to sit down and enjoy some television viewing. He was an experienced kidnapper and so far everything had gone exactly as planned, and there was no reason for him to think matters wouldn’t continue to go exactly as planned. Everything this crew did always went exactly as planned.
There had been no sign of anyone in the vicinity of the safe house. But why should there be? They had left no clues. Those Keystone Cops Americans passed off as law enforcement could do nothing except wait to be told what to do. Tonight, they had been told to deliver ten million dollars to his comrades and later tonight he would be out of this God-forsaken pit of a country.
Behind Kidnappers Safe House
Outside Pahrump, Nevada
Special Agents Sam Rider and Harold Champion sat in the desert. They had been in place since just after nightfall and were prepared to wait. They had no idea how many kidnappers had been left in the house. They were prepared for two, but suspected there would only be one. Neither Rider nor Champion could see a reason to leave more than one kidnapper with Larry.
They had gotten this far rather easily; there was no moon, they were dressed in black and even if a kidnapper were of a mind to take a visual sweep of the area he would be looking outside from a lighted room and would have zero night vision; Rider and Champion would be almost impossible to see.
The plan was to be in position behind the house at 11:30 pm. in case the kidnappers going to the drop site communicated with the safe house during the night. If the kidnappers called the safe house and there was no answer earlier in the evening, they would abort their plans, and catching them would be difficult.
At 10:30 both members of Eagle team heard Mission Control in their radio earpieces.
“Go ahead, Control,”
“Sam, a kidnapper has called the safe house. There was another kidnapper with him. There is only one kidnapper in the house. Larry is still there.”
“Roger, control,” Sam Rider said as if his number had just been called at DMV. Inside though both he and Champ were excited. They gave each other the thumbs-up sign.
A little less than an hour passed.
“All right, let’s review one last time,” Sam Rider said at 11:25 pm.
They had already reviewed five dozen times. But if Sam wanted to review one last time, Champ would oblige.
“What are you worried about Sam?”
“This is almost too easy.”
Champ nodded. Sam had expressed concern before.
“Let’s review then,” Champ said, taking Sam’s concern seriously. “We know what is going on in there. We’ve established that Larry is in there and there are four people in this ring and three of them are going to collect the ransom. We know there is only one kidnapper in the house.”
“And that person does not appear to be too concerned about being disturbed.”
Sam Rider nodded his head.
“There could be a perimeter warning system, but we’ve seen no indication of one, and there are coyotes and whatnot running around all the time.”
“We’re all set, Sam. Let’s knock it out.”
“I wonder who’s going to play us in the movie? Better be somebody good.”
Front Of Kidnappers Safe House
It was a relatively simple matter to approach the house from the rear. The follow-up team was a hundred yards behind them. They were there to respond in case something went wrong and to secure the house and prisoner after a successful rescue.
There were some hedges around the back and side of one house. On the other side was a carport. Sam and Champ worked their way around the hedges to the front and were surprised to see the kidnapper sitting on a chair watching TV. His gun was leaned up against the side of the chair. He was in profile, facing away from Eagle Team.
“No time like the present,” Special Agent Sam Rider said.
Special Agent Harold Champion took a flash grenade out of a pouch and threw it into the living room, breaking a window.
The kidnapper had no chance. He reacted to the window breaking by reaching for his gun and attempting to get out of his chair but in a second there was a loud noise and a blinding flash of burning magnesium and then he was rolling on the ground, temporarily blinded. After the flash, Harold Champion completed breaking the window, scrambled through it, and went in.
Sam Rider provided cover from the broken window until Champ was situated with his weapon pointed at their prisoner, then he too entered through the broken window.
“Cover him, I’ll find Larry.”
Sam Rider found the tent in the second bedroom he searched. He unzipped the flap, looked in and saw Larry sleeping peacefully on an air mattress. His hair was tousled and his legs and wrists were shackled. Larry appeared to be otherwise okay and Sam returned to the living room.
“Found him. Sleeping. Probably tranquilized if this didn’t wake him up.”
Sam turned his attention to their prisoner lying face down on the ground.
“We’re FBI, my friend, and you are under arrest,” Special Agent Sam Rider said, making it sound like the kidnapper had won a door prize. He knelt down and began handcuffing him. “You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law and on Court TV. You have the right to an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning. If you desire an attorney but cannot afford one – and you may not because you are not getting paid tonight – it’s all good because Uncle Sam will comp you an overworked, underpaid attorney who is probably a fan of The Regular Guys and wants to see you put away anyway.”
Sam Rider took a second to regard one-fourth of the crew he had been chasing the past few days.
“Do you understand these rights as they have been described to you by this duly deputized, heavily armed agent of the United States of America?” he asked.
The kidnapper indicated that yes, he did understand the rights granted him as an arrestee in a jurisdiction governed by the United States Constitution.
“Do you give up your right to remain silent?”
The kidnapper indicated through variations of the F-word, that no, under the circumstances he preferred to retain his right to remain silent. He indicated this, in part, by inviting Special Agent Sam Rider to perform a physical impossibility on himself.
Special Agent Sam Rider shrugged then spoke into his radio.
“Control, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed. Larry’s Code 4.”
Code 4 meant okay in police jargon.
“Copy, Tranquility. Bravo zulu. Very bravo zulu.”
Bravo zulu was official Navy phraseology for well done. Special Agent in Charge Tom Grant was an old sailor.
“Eagle Team Alpha, Eagle 1, proceed with safe house follow up.”
“Copy, Eagle 1. We’re on our way.”
Operation Arrest Command Post
Near Tropicana Boulevard and Industrial Road
Las Vegas, Nevada
With Larry rescued, Special Agent in Charge Tom Grant ordered his detail to proceed with Operation Arrest, the evolution planned should Larry have been successfully rescued.
Had Larry not been successfully rescued, Operation Drop would have commenced. Operation Drop called for following the kidnapper’s instructions to the letter.
Operation Arrest called for two dozen FBI agents and officers of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to converge on the drop site. At first such convergence would be covert, or at least as covert as was possible for two dozen armed police officers in unmarked vehicles to get.
The only flaw in the whole evolution was that Tommy Montalvo had inadvertently managed to shake his tail.
As soon as the vehicle was spotted, be it on their way to the drop site or at the drop site itself, they would be swarmed by cops and arrested.
Three men in clown masks were spotted in the Jeep Cherokee about a block from the drop site. Even considering they were in Vegas where people sometimes dressed funny, agents had a high degree of confidence these were the kidnappers.
The kidnappers spotted the numerous taxis and unmarked police cars and were immediately suspicious as this was an area that was usually deserted at midnight; it was why it had been chosen, along with its close proximity to the freeway.
It was plain one of the kidnappers was trying to use a two-way radio to call someone, and just as obviously was doing so without success. The driver accelerated the Jeep but stopped when three cars blocked his way. Within seconds armed agents and officers surrounded the car.
All three men in clown masks got out with their hands up.
“Our guy doesn’t hear from us, the funny guy’s gone,” one kidnapper said, playing what he thought was his trump card.
Tom Grant tossed the kidnapper the phone that had been left in the bus station locker.
“Go ahead, call him,” Grant said, smiling.
The kidnapper caught the phone and looked at it for a second or two before what was happening hit him.
“Larry’s safe, your guy’s in custody,” Grant said. “Just like you.”
Though you couldn’t see his face because of the clown mask, the kidnapper’s body language made it plain he had been taken completely by surprise.
“All units, Control. We have splashdown.”
Outside Pahrump, Nevada
Special Agents Sam Rider and Harold Champion sat in chairs in the master bedroom of the safe house. Larry, still sleeping, was lying on a king bed. Sam and Champ had removed his arm and leg restraints, a process made easier by the keys to the restraints that had been left in the tent. A government doctor had come in with the follow-up team, and, after careful visual inspection, came to the conclusion that Larry was sleeping comfortably, probably after having been tranquilized for the purpose.
“Not too bad a plan, actually,” Champ said. “Get the ransom, this guy scrams and they leave instructions where to pick him up.”
Larry began to stir. He tried to roll over, and then woke up suddenly, as if he were surprised he had been able to roll over without hindrance. In a second or two his eyes opened. Both Sam and Champ were surprised Larry was stirring so soon.
“Hey, where are your masks?” Larry said, sounding worried.
“Larry, we’re FBI. I’m Special Agent Sam Rider and this misfit is Special Agent Harold Champion. You’ve been rescued.”
Larry smiled and lay back down on his back. He breathed deeply and then threw his legs off the side of the bed and sat facing Sam and Champ.
“Thank you,” Larry said simply.
“How do you feel?” Champ asked.
“A little groggy. A little hungry. But well.”
Champ pulled out a flask.
“Brandy. Want a belt?”
Larry shook his head.
“You weren’t mistreated?” Sam asked.
“I was forced to listen to talk radio all day.”
“Oh my God!” Special Agent Sam Rider said as if he were hearing the horrors of Auschwitz told for the first time.
“Jesus Christ,” Champ said in the same tone. He started to get out of his seat. “I’ll kill him.”
Larry laughed, his first in a while.
“Seriously, I’d like to go for a walk. I’ve been lying down for a long time.”
“A doctor would like to look at you,” Sam said.
“I don’t want to see a doctor,” Larry said while standing up. “I feel fine.” It was the voice of a self-made man accustomed to not doing what he didn’t particularly feel like doing.
They walked into the living room.
“Hey, Antonio. What’s up?” Larry said chattily to his former captor.
Antonio, now sitting in a chair, shackled and under armed guard awaiting helicopter transportation, looked up. He did not look particularly happy.
Larry spotted a clown mask lying on the floor in a corner. He went and picked it up, put it on, walked to Antonio, leaned in front of him shook his head and said something that sounded like “Bluuuuhhhhh!”
Antonio looked at him blankly. Rider and Champ laughed.
“Is this the man who forced you to listen to talk radio?” Sam asked seriously.
Larry took the clown mask off and nodded.
“Network primetime, too.”
Special Agent Sam Rider gasped in mock horror, looked at the kidnapper, shook his head and wagged a finger.
“Vermin like you should be shot,” he said.
Larry gave Antonio a friendly wave and walked out the front door of the safe house.