فصل 07

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فصل 07

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER SEVEN

‘I want to talk to you about the ransom’

Lieutenant Peter Byrnes was on his way to Smoke Rise. A child had been kidnapped. Byrnes had a son of his own, and he knew the pains and pleasures of fatherhood. To him, kidnapping a child was the worst crime in the world. Death was the correct punishment for a kidnapper.

Seeing a light on the dark road by King’s house, Byrnes told his driver to stop. He got out of the car. ‘Kronig, Hawes, how are you boys?’ he said. ‘What have you got there?’

‘We’ve got a tyre mark,’ Kronig said. ‘It’s a good one. I’m making a cast of it.’

‘Fine, fine,’ Byrnes said, looking around. ‘Can you bring that light here a minute, Hawes?’

‘What is it, Lieutenant?’

‘Let’s take a look at this rock here.’

In King’s living room the telephone rang.

‘Wait!’ Carella shouted, as King moved to answer it. Carella picked up the wiretap equipment. ‘Mr Cameron,’ he said, ‘get on the new phone. If this is the kidnapper, tell the phone company to start tracing the call immediately. Okay, Mr King, you can answer it now.’

King picked up the phone.

‘Hello?’

‘King?’

‘This is Mr King.’

Cameron said into his phone. ‘We’ve got him on the phone now. Start tracing the call.’

‘All right, King,’ the voice said, ‘listen. We don’t care whose kid this is. We heard the radio message, and we don’t care. He’s still alive and well, and we want that money. Get it tomorrow morning, or the kid will be dead by the end of the day.’

‘You want…?’ King started, but the voice had gone.

‘Hell, I was afraid this would happen,’ Carella said. He picked up his coat and hurried out of the room.

Diane looked puzzled. ‘Is Jeff all right?’ she asked her husband.

‘He’s fine.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Of course I’m sure, Diane!’

‘I’ll go and tell Reynolds,’ she said.

‘Diane!’

‘Yes?’

‘They want me to pay the ransom. They know they’ve got Jeff, but they still want me to pay. They want me to …’

‘We’ll do whatever they say. Thank God Jeff’s all right,’ Diane said. As she left the room, King stared after her, frowning.

‘We’re dealing with professionals,’ Cameron said. ‘He knew we would try to trace the call. That’s why he made it so short.’

‘Yes,’ King said. He seemed to be thinking hard.

‘Why are they still asking you to pay? Hell, if you pay them, it’s the end of your Boston deal.’

‘Yes. Yes, it is.’

The doorbell rang. It was Meyer. ‘I just saw Carella,’ he said. ‘He’s gone outside to talk to Lieutenant Byrnes.’

‘The kidnappers called again,’ King said. ‘They want me to pay the ransom.’

‘What do you mean? Do they know they got the wrong kid?’

‘Yes.’

‘And they still want you to pay?’ Meyer shook his head. ‘First time I ever heard this one,’ he said. ‘Crazy! But who ever said kidnappers have to be normal human beings?’

‘What are our chances of getting the boy back, Detective Meyer?’ King asked. ‘Do you think they are good?’

‘I don’t know,’ Meyer said. ‘He could be dead already.’

‘In your opinion,’ King said slowly, ‘will paying the ransom help the boy at all?’

‘If he’s alive, it will certainly help him,’ Meyer said. ‘If he’s dead, nothing can help him, but we could use the dollar bills to catch the kidnappers.’

‘I see.’

‘Doug, the boy’s still alive!’ Cameron said. ‘Your money will keep him alive, remember that!’

Diane came into the room from the kitchen. ‘I think Reynolds is in shock,’ she said. ‘He’s just sitting at the table, staring at nothing.’ She turned to King. ‘Doug, have you called the bank yet?’

‘No, not yet.’

‘Isn’t it time -?’

‘Mommy?’

They all turned, and saw Bobby King, in his night clothes, standing on the stairs.

‘What is it, darling?’ Diane said.

‘Why is there a policeman outside my room?’ Bobby asked.

‘Just to make sure everything is all right,’ Diane said.

‘Because of what happened to Jeff?’

‘Yes, Bobby.’

‘Daddy,’ Bobby said, ‘are you getting Jeff back?’

‘What?’ King said. ‘I’m sorry, son, I didn’t hear …’

‘Your Daddy’s taking care of everything,’ Diane said. ‘Come on, let’s get you back into bed.’

‘I want Daddy,’ Bobby said.

‘Doug? Will you put Bobby to bed?’

‘Sure,’ King said, although he was clearly thinking about something else. ‘Come on, Bobby.’

‘Poor Bobby,’ Diane said to Cameron. ‘He doesn’t really understand what has happened. He only knows that his friend has gone, and I think he feels guilty. I feel like that myself.’

‘You have no reason to feel guilty,’ Cameron said. ‘Doug will pay the ransom, and …’

‘Yes, but I do feel guilty,’ Diane said. ‘I almost feel that my own son is missing.’ She paused. ‘Detective Meyer,’ she said, ‘could you come and talk to Reynolds? You could explain to him what the police are doing to get Jeff back. All this is such a terrible shock for him.’

‘Sure,’ Meyer said.

When he was alone in the livingroom, Cameron lit a cigarette, stood listening for a moment, and then quickly went to the telephone and dialled a number.

‘May I speak to Mr Benjamin, please?’ he said. ‘This is Peter Cameron. Yes, I’ll wait, but please hurry.’

At last a voice said, ‘This is George Benjamin.’

‘Pete Cameron. I have to make this fast. Do I still get Doug’s job?’

‘I offered it to you, didn’t I? Do you want it in writing?’

‘Yes, I do. The Boston thing I told you about. It’s a stock deal.

Doug’s planning to buy nineteen per cent of the voting stock. He already owns twenty-eight per cent. He’s smarter than you thought he was, George.’

‘Twenty-eight …’ There was a long silence. ‘Then we can’t vote him out. What the hell can we do?’

‘The only way to do it is to get the Old Man on your side,’ Cameron said. ‘Tell the Old Man that Doug is trying to do a deal behind his back.’

‘How will that help? If he buys that stock, he’ll have forty- seven per cent of it. We can’t get rid of him. Hell, he can get rid of us!’

‘If he buys the stock. Have you heard the news on the radio?’

‘This kidnapping nonsense?’ Benjamin said. ‘What difference can that make? The kid isn’t King’s son.’

‘No, but they’ve asked him for the ransom. If he pays, he can’t afford to buy that extra nineteen per cent of the stock. If he pays, the Boston deal’s off.’

‘Will he pay?’ Benjamin asked.

‘Sure he will. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find out who he’s dealing with in Boston.’

‘Good work, Pete,’ Benjamin said.

‘Thanks, George. Take my advice, go talk to the Old Man.’

‘I’ll do that. And I won’t forget this.’

‘I know you won’t. I have to go now, George.’

Cameron smiled to himself as he put down the receiver, and lit another cigarette. He was still smiling when the doorbell rang, and he went to answer it. A small man, dressed completely in black, was standing there.

‘Mr King?’ the small man said.

‘No. I’m Mr King’s assistant.’

‘I would like to see Mr King, please. You may tell him that Adrian Score is here to see him. On personal business.’

Cameron took Score into the living room and went upstairs to tell King about his arrival. ‘I don’t know anyone called Score,’ King said.

‘He says it’s personal business.’

‘I’ll come down. Bobby’s gone to sleep.’

King came into the room where Score was waiting. ‘What do you want?’ he asked.

‘To do business, Mr King.’

‘Isn’t it a bit late in the evening for that?’

‘It’s never too late to do business.’

‘What kind of business are you talking about, Mr Score?’

‘Kidnapping, Mr King.’

The room went silent.

‘Do you want your son back?’ Score asked.

‘My son hasn’t been kidnapped.’

Score laughed. ‘Well, we can tell the newspapers it’s not your son, but we know the truth, don’t we? Let me ask you again, do you want the boy back?’

‘Of course I do.’

‘Now, I know where he is, Mr King, and for a small fee I can help you to get him back.’

‘Who has the boy, Mr Score?’

‘As one businessman to another, Mr King, I must ask for a cash payment before -‘

‘Before what, Score?’ a voice said. ‘Before you disappear, leaving another unhappy family behind you?’ Meyer Meyer had come quietly into the room and had heard everything Score had said. ‘Mr Score and I have met before,’ Meyer went on. ‘Now get out of here before I arrest you for giving false information. Score.’

‘I must protest strongly,’ Score said. ‘I am an honest businessman, providing a service -‘

‘Out!’ Meyer shouted. ‘Now!’

‘I can get your boy back!’ Score shouted, but he went, all the same.

‘Who is he?’ King asked Meyer.

‘A rotten crook,’ Meyer said. ‘And there are plenty of other sick characters like him, Mr King, who will try to make money out of this kidnapping. I don’t know how he got past our men at your gate. There’s only one thing I do know, Mr King.’

‘What’s that?’

‘I’m glad I’m not back at the office answering the telephones right now.’

Lieutenant Byrnes walked into King’s living room and said, ‘Hello, Steve, how’s it going?’

‘All right, sir,’ Carella said. ‘Mr King, this is Lieutenant Byrnes.’

‘How do you do, sir?’ Byrnes said, and he shook hands with King.

‘How does it look, Lieutenant?’ King asked.

‘Not too bad, not too good. I understand they’re asking you to pay the ransom, Mr King. That’s bad. But we may have found something good outside.’

‘What’s that?’

‘We’re getting a clear cast of a tyre mark, and we’ve just found some paint from the same car on a rock. This car was turned around in a hurry outside your house. Detective Carella asked Auto Squad to get me a list of stolen cars. I’ve just received the list and now, with a little luck, we’ll soon know which car we’re looking for.’

‘How will that help you find the boy?’ King asked.

‘It will give us something to look for. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but we haven’t got much to help us, and anything is better than nothing. Once the money has been delivered, we can note down some of the numbers on the dollar bills. That will help us to trace them later. And when we get the boy back, perhaps he’ll be able to describe the kidnappers.’

‘Unless he’s dead,’ King said flatly.

‘If he’s dead, there wouldn’t be any sense in continuing, would there, Mr King?’

‘None at all,’ King said.

‘I want to talk to you about the ransom, Mr King,’ Byrnes went on. ‘You haven’t called your bank yet, have you?’

‘No, I haven’t.’

‘Good. I’d like to speak to them when you do, and -‘

‘I’m afraid I won’t be able to help you, Lieutenant,’ King said.

Byrnes stared at him, puzzled. ‘I don’t understand,’ he said.

‘I won’t be talking to my bank. I’m not going to pay the ransom.’

‘You’re …’ The room went silent. ‘Of course, it’s your decision, Mr King,’ Byrnes said. ‘Nobody can force you to pay it.’

‘What are you saying, Mr King?’ Carella said, frowning. ‘You have to pay the ransom! That boy hasn’t got a chance unless -‘

‘Shut it, Steve,’ Byrnes said.

‘I don’t have to do anything,’ King said slowly. ‘I’ll tell you again, I’ll tell the kidnappers and I’ll tell anyone else who wants to listen. I am not paying the ransom. Do you understand? I am not paying the ransom.’

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