You Got To Be Lucky Sometime
I managed to finish my shower and dress before the Realtor showed up. I met him in the office before Wilson arrived for the day’s review of our bugs.
“Hello there,” the Realtor said.
“Hello, so do you have the offer ready?” I asked.
“Yes I do. Here you go. You are going to offer $200,000 total for the property known as the Railroad Hotel. This gives the legal description and location. It states you are offering 5% earnest money with the understanding the owner will respond within 48 hours. The rest is just bullshit,” the Realtor said.
“It better not be important. I got one bad ass lawyer,” I said.
“Do you want me to read it,” he said.
“No, I trust you. I just wanted you to know up front,” I said.
“Fair enough, I don’t want you to get your hopes up. You are $75,000 below what he thinks is market value,” the Realtor said honestly.
“If he says no, I’ll come back next year with a 5% lower offer,” I said.
“If you don’t get the hotel, what are you going to do with the warehouse?” he asked. He obviously did his homework.
“The plan as of now is to move the toy and tool chest plant into that building,” I said. It was more or less the truth.
“Well I guess we will see within a couple of days,” the Realtor commented.
“So?” Wilson asked an hour later. “Are we going to own it or not?”
“Most likely not,” I replied. As I said it my phone rang. “Wilson please change this ring tone when I finish this call. I want it to ring like a fucking phone.”
“Hello Nate. Do you have some news for us?” I asked.
“We are going to be shipping a high value load this week. It is going to be sorted today and out for delivery tomorrow,” Nate said.
“Let’s see what we come up with. Please stay available tonight.” He got to make the final decision, since he had the load at risk.
Since Wilson had been eavesdropping, he had the recording from the bugs on Tiger Lady cued up. We began with the phone calls she made or answered. There were none that sounded anything like an alert to a Hijacker.
Then we went to the cockroach mike under her desk. Someone used her landline to make a call out. The person was a man, so it wasn’t her. The man probably wanted to use her phone in case they dumped the phones. It would appear that she was making the alert, when it was actually a man.
“Nate who was in Joan’s office at 3 PM today?” I asked.
“I will have to check. She wasn’t in the office. She was on the floor helping the people sort the load. Everyone was helping to repackage the load. I’ll have to call you back,” Nate said.
“Nate don’t confront him. We aren’t sure about anything yet,” I informed him.
I turned to Wilson. “How the fuck can we be so wrong so often?” I asked.
“Sylvia, we did what we had to do in a case like that you followed the evidence. I’m just glad we didn’t confront her,” he said.
“Get your ass busy and find out where the money is coming from. We need to know before we clear her,” I demanded. I sat on the deck drinking coffee and waiting for something to happen.
First it was Nate’s call. “Okay the person in her office at 3 PM was Jasper our security guard on the gate. He has been seeing Joan according to a couple of the other people. It’s been going on for some time though, so no one thought anything of him waiting in her office to speak to her.”
“Could he have found out from papers laying on her desk, or would she have had to tell him,” I asked.
“Joan probably had a manifest or something akin to it laying around. He could have seen it especially if he checks her office out regularly,” Nate said. He sounded like he didn’t want his leak to be Joan.
“Is he the guard who was working the night I planted the tracking device on the truck?” I asked.
“No he is the day shift guard four days a week. I think he is a bouncer in a strip club at night and on weekends,” Nate said. At least someone said that once a while back. I gave it some thought and decided there was no conflict of interest,” Nate suggested.
“Can you tell me the name of the club. I just want to verify he still works for them,” I explained. I was actually hoping for more information.
“I’m pretty sure it’s called the Pink Lady,” he said.
“Okay just act as thought nothing different is happening. When you leave at five or six, whenever you would normally leave, come by my place. We can let you in on what we know, then decide what to do next,” I explained.
“Wilson find out if Joan Tiger works for the Pink Lady strip club,” I said.
“She seems a little old to be doing that, but you never know,” Wilson said. “So are we going to let the shipment go so that we can trap them?”
“Nate can’t afford to lose the shipment, if anything goes wrong. We need a better plan.”
When Nate arrived at 6:30 PM, Wilson and I were ready for him. Wilson played him the recording of the leaked transport information.
After Nate heard the recording he asked, “So what are you going to do?”
“Well there are a couple of things we can do. We can turn this over to the police right now or we can wait till we catch the bad guys in the act,” I suggested.
“If it goes bad I can’t afford the loss,” he suggested.
“Well we need to get them with the truck, so the cops have some leverage to try to find out about your other shipments,” I suggested.
“I’m sorry, I just can’t afford the loss,” he said.
“What if we go in tonight after mid night and transfer the product to a different truck then put in a less valuable load. Then we can have the Sheriff’s Deputies reel them in with a load,” I suggested.
“Yes that would work,” Nate said.
“You ever drive one of those forklifts?” I asked.
“Not only can I drive one, I can teach you how to drive one,” he said smiling.
It was 1 AM when I got my forklift driving lesson. I was there till 4 AM moving boxes finally Nate changed the seal numbers on the trucks and we went home. Nate kept watch while Wilson, EZ, and I moved the products. We wanted to be sure the Hijackers didn’t watch the place.
“Well we are all done here. Wilson and I will keep a watch on the truck until it leaves in the morning. It was 7 AM when the day shift drivers started to arrive. At 7:30 the truck headed off the lot. Word had come down from Nate not to stop for coffee till the truck made its first stop.
When the International Harvester pulled from the lot, we started the engine on the Honda. We followed behind drifting back till we were often out of sight. We waited for the trucks forward motion to stop. When it did we would have our hijackers.
“Wilson we got a cell phone call from Nate,” I said.
“Guys the driver called. He said he has an overheating problem. He is going to pull into the next convenience store to check it out,” he said. We pulled around him and into the next convenience store ahead of him. I had the .22 mag out and sitting beside me on the seat.
“Wilson if I was the bad guys I would wait till the driver got some water into the radiator and closed the hood. Then I would take him,” I said.
Very logical,” Wilson said. “Then again I would just do something to the gauge and then grab it as soon as he gets out.”
“Or just enlist his help. I could have him drive it to me,” I suggested.
“Yeah that to,” Wilson said.
The truck pulled in almost before we got parked. I couldn’t see clouds of smoke or anything. He drove up to the door of the convenience store and went inside. He came back with a drink of some kind in a Styrofoam cup and a mop bucket. He raised the hood and began working on the engine.
“You know Wilson since no one is following us, I think he just delivered the truck,” I suggested. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
“I know they didn’t have the same driver twice and they were hijacked different places. How many of Nate’s employees are in on this?” Wilson asked.
“For sure they can’t keep doing it without getting caught. Then again the investigation is a low priority, since no one has ever been injured,” I said.
“And it is spread over more than one jurisdiction,” Wilson added.
“And there has only been three,” I said. “You know what Wilson. There is something personal about this whole thing.”
“What do you mean?” Wilson asked.
“Well Nate has a trophy wife. That sure as hell means he has an ex-wife. An ex-wife might know who was vulnerable and in need of money. She probably was involved in the business for a while before she got kicked to the curb,” I said.
“You are taking this personal are you?” Wilson asked.
“I’m doing what I always do. I’m putting myself in the perpetrator’s shoes. In this case I would bet my ass they are two inch heels,” I said.
A black car came tearing into the parking lot. It was moving fast. “I think the show is about to begin,” I said.
A large man got out of the passenger side of the car. He pushed the driver away and got into the cab of the truck. He started it, then pulled out of the parking lot. So far the driver was covered. What he did next was to calmly call 911. “You know he did all that shit for the video camera. Everybody knows there is a cctv in every convenience store,” I said.
“So lets go see where the truck takes us,” I said. We tailed the truck from about a half mile back. We were definitely out of sight. When they stopped we called the sheriff and gave him their location. We didn’t explain how we knew, but we managed to get the deputies moving. The two hijackers were off loading the truck when the Deputies swooped down on them. Just for the hell of it Wilson and I pulled into a private drive after the Deputies had passed. We in effect set up a road block.
“Are they even going to know we were here?” Wilson asked.
“I certainly hope not. Most of the shit we did to get here is at least highly suspect. The deputies will figure it out,” I said.
Before we left the scene we got a call from Nate. “I just wanted to call to thank you. I am amazed how well you handled this. I’m going to have the guard arrested right here so everyone can see it.
“You might want to hold off till the deputies have a chance to get his name from the Hijackers,” I suggested.
“Yes you are right of course. So Joan wasn’t involved?” he asked.
“It doesn’t look like it now. When they interview the guys they caught they might implicate her but I doubt it.”
“Well no matter, you have saved my business and I am really grateful,” Nate said.
“You can show your gratitude by sitting down right now and writing a check for five thousand dollars,” I suggested.
“Ouch, isn’t that a bit high. I know that’s what we agreed to, but I didn’t realize how easy it would be to set this up,” Nate said.
“Nate you aren’t paying us for what we did. You are paying us because we know what to do. I will warn you, I have a hell of a lawyer. She will be happy to make an example of you, so no one else tries to stiff me,” I said. He surrendered and sent the draft immediately.
Edited by Walt