This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 990 words.
Before and after his shifts, Rodney had been scouting out the house, and checking the local area. He had found a perfect place to hide his car, a tree-lined lane shielded by the large hedges bordering the Calder property. The house was a long way from any neighbours, which was a positive thing. But that also meant that approaching the grounds had to be done carefully. Using some binoculars he had taken from work, it was easy to spot the CCTV covering the front of the house, and to also discover that the immediate areas like the tennis court, helipad, and stables did not appear to be covered by cameras at all. He had seen an old guy come and go with gardening tools, but other than deliveries from nearby shops, there was very little activity to concern him. On his last reconnoiter, there was a breakthrough that got him excited.
As soon as he opened the door, Phil could see his friend was excited, and Rod was babbling before he had even sat down. “She walks, Phil. She walks from the gate!” Phil handed him a can of Coke, and he relaxed a little, making his point calmly. “The taxi drops her at the gate, and she walks all the way along the driveway up to the house. Same thing every day, the car never drives up to the entrance. The girl walks”. Phil was having trouble with the significance of this, and why Rod thought it mattered so much. His face went blank, prompting another outburst. “Don’t you see? We can take her without anyone noticing, between the gate and the house. The drive is all tree-lined, and the woodland is dense enough to conceal us completely”. The penny dropped.
The most difficult part of the plan hinged on the drop-off of the ransom. Rod had been thinking long and hard, but still didn’t seem to have any concrete idea. He chewed his thumb as he continued, making his speech hard to grasp. “We will insist on used, unmarked notes of course. They are sure to put a tracker in the bundles, or in the bag containing the money, they always do. You will have to swap it all over into something you take along, and undo all the notes. It won’t be tidy, and it will take time. But it must be done immediately, before leaving the drop. That means we need somewhere you can’t be disturbed. But that also means you will be exposed to any police activity. Money weighs a lot in those amounts too, so you will need something like a sack barrow to shift it, as well as easy access to your van”. He paused to drink from the can, and Phil swallowed hard. When Rod said ‘You’ instead of ‘We’, that made him nervous.
After they had both sat quietly for a while, Phil spoke up. “You talk about trackers and police activity. But won’t we say ‘No police’ when we ask for the ransom? Do you think Calder will involve them?” Rod nodded. “For sure we will say all that. No police, no trackers, no marked notes, no serial numbers, no press statements, all the usual kidnapper’s demands. But you know the score, Phil. You have seen the news reports, watched the films and TV shows. They always end up involving the police once the girl goes missing. Even if they didn’t want to, others are bound to notice when she doesn’t turn up for school, or contact her friends. If she doesn’t go on Facebook, Instagram, or whatever, pretty soon people will be asking what’s happened. So we can count on the police being involved from day one, get that into your head now. Anyway, I have to get off, and get into work for my extra shift”.
Phil was relieved when Rod left, as it meant he didn’t have to talk about the kidnapping anymore. But he had to think about it, as he couldn’t stop that happening.
Marjorie felt the weight of the necklace in her hand. Solid gold, must have cost a bundle. Marta was good at spending Tom Calder’s money, but she had no idea what sort of thing a fifteen year old girl would want for her sixteenth birthday. She smiled at the idea that Marta had just bought something she would like to own herself, even down to the huge gold ‘M’ which would of course work just as well with her name. There was a coldness in Marta. Marjorie always felt that she was tended to, rather than cared for. Just as George tended to Prince, her horse. They both wanted for nothing, had food, warmth, shelter, and every necessity of life. But neither of them were ever truly loved.
Inspector Tina Collier filed away the team reports in her small office. Almost eighteen years as a police officer had come down to this, managing a small investigative team in a place where little or nothing ever happened. Nearly six months since her promotion, and the most exciting thing that had happened had been a routine domestic murder, a drunk who hit his wife one time too many. He had pleaded guilty, and shown great remorse. Just a rubber-stamp case that had zero challenge to it. Now her boss had her doing team appraisals to justify her existence. She was appraising people she hardly knew, aware of their resentment and indifference to their new female chief.
Tina unzipped the tight half-boots and pulled them off her feet under the desk. She looked down, wondering how a woman could have been born with such big feet. Her ex-husband had teased her, said she had feet like a Hobbit. He had also said she was never satisfied, and was always going to let the job rule her life.
Well he was right. On both counts.