In the Silence

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Operations at the Department were pretty much on hold. For the last month Scott had been stalling, praying that it was just a matter of time until the whole Department would fold. Scott was actually enjoying Christmas, watching Sue, Polly, and Chad busy unwrapping gifts. Even Kirk had dropped off some presents for his family from the Department. Chad was buried amongst the wrapping paper when he finally got to Kirk's present. He ripped it open and was thrilled with the gun. It looked so real; it was his best present. He pointed it around the room and then at his sister.

"Don't be pointing guns at people," Sue warned Chad, displeased with the gift.

Still pointing the gun and ignoring his mother, Chad pulled the trigger. Bang, the gun went off with a deafening pop! Polly grabbed her face, rolled onto her back and started to scream! Sue screamed! Scott jumped to Polly's side, pulled away her hands and thanked God there was no blood, just some black marks from  gunpowder that had embedded in her face. Scott was furious, yet thankful that it had been a blank. Sue pushed Scott aside, grabbed Polly and became hysterical.  It took almost five minutes before she released her grip on Polly and could quit shaking. Chad had dropped the gun, ran to his room and was crying under his bed. Sue calmed down enough to take Polly into the bathroom to clean the gunpowder off her face.

Scott found the gun in the pile of wrapping and ribbons and then hid it in the back of the cupboard above the refrigerator. Then he returned to the front room and was picking up the loose gift wrap and boxes when he noticed a hole in the couch. Frightened, Scott yanked the couch out and found a hole in the wall! It wasn't a blank! Chad had only missed Polly by inches. Frantic he dug under the tree for the other presents Kirk had brought by and tore open the one for Sue -- four short pieces of white soft rope. Then Scott  tore into the present for Polly; it was a small skimpy see-through pink nightgown. Scott ran out the front door and threw up over the porch railing. Quickly wiping off his mouth he returned to take the disgusting things away from the Christmas tree before Sue saw them.  Out in the garage he hid the items under the wet garbage at the bottom of the can.

Sue did not say a word when Scott came back into the house. She was still shaking, now holding both Chad and Polly. Scott looked at how fragile they were, knowing that it was all his fault. He should have left the Department at the beginning; but hadn't. Selling his soul bits at a time, he was now in too deep. 

"Sue, let's drive up to Chicago to see your parents."   

"I thought you wanted to stay home for the holidays."

"I changed my mind. Kids, go pack your things. We're leaving as soon as I load up the car. Sue, call your mother and tell her we should be there by the day after tomorrow."

Scott drove all day. Unable to find a vacant motel along Interstate 80 he continued to drive right through the night. They reached Chicago about noon a day early. Scott stayed one night with his in-laws and then caught a standby flight back to Denver leaving Sue and the children  behind through New Years. The real celebration was that they were safe.

When Scott got home, he called the Salvation Army to come pick up the couch. He patched and painted the bullet hole in the wall and then set the garbage can out by the curb. The thought of what Kirk envisioned doing to Sue with the ropes, and his reasons for giving Polly the pink nightgown were unnerving. Any visual reminder of Kirk was now out of the house, except one thing. Scott removed the gun from the cupboard above the refrigerator. After fumbling with it, he finally figured out how to get the chamber open. There were two bullets left.

Scott drove to a sporting goods store to buy some more ammunition. The salesman showed Scott how to load the small revolver but said that the .22 caliber wasn't a very good gun for self protection. Scott listened attentively and let the salesman get him fixed up with a Colt .45, small enough to conceal yet powerful enough to stop a car. Scott would have to wait five days to pick up the gun, which left time for some shooting lessons.

Three days after Christmas, Scott returned to work with a mission. After he picked up the gun he would even the score. He actually felt good about himself, not like a would-be-killer, but like a man. All along he had wanted to take a stand against the evil at the Department and now he was finally going to do something. Never before a gun advocate or a supporter of capital punishment, his once set in concrete principles changed now that his family was at stake. There was no need for intellectual rationalization; he could kill. First Mr. Henderson, then Kirk, then himself. His own life had value again; it would be the sacrifice to keep others safe from evil beasts that preyed on women and children.

When the elevator door opened Scott walked toward his desk with new confidence. He had not even sat down when the elevator doors opened again. Kirk exited and knocked on the red steel door to Mr. Henderson's office. The growl of the electric latch echoed off the walls of the vacant third basement floor. For almost seven weeks now, the bottom floor had only been occupied by Scott. Kirk had pretty much stayed on his second floor working with the computer experts, and each day Mr. Henderson sat in his office, his power receding. The Department was still idle, unable to call up any data to blackmail and control the politicians and corporate types with.

The phone on Scott's desk rang. He knew it would be Mr. Henderson, wanting to know for the thousandth time if he had a plan or was close to locating David McIntosh. Scott picked up the phone. "Yes."

"Scott, could you come into my office?" asked Mr. Henderson in a foreign but pleasing voice.

The electric latch growled on the red door  before Scott even had a chance to knock. When he walked into the office Kirk was fixing himself a drink over at the bar and Mr. Henderson was sitting on the corner of his desk. "Take a seat here, Scott," said Mr. Henderson. Kirk brought over two drinks and handed one to Mr. Henderson. "Care to join us in a drink?"

"No thanks," Scott replied, not sure what was going on.

"How was Christmas? Did your family enjoy the presents we got them?" asked Mr. Henderson, while Kirk stood behind him smiling.

"It was just fine." Scott played along, wishing he already had the gun to end all of this.

"Scott, I'm disappointed that you haven't come up with some clever plan to help us locate David McIntosh. It has been almost two months and we are still nowhere. Do you have anything figured out yet?"

"I'm working as hard I can. I just haven't come up with anything. The All Points Bulletin will pay off eventually."

"I can't wait for eventually!"

"I'll work harder at a plan,"  Scott lied.

"Good. That's why I'm having Kirk fly out to Chicago and drive your family back. I don't need you to take off anymore days at your leisure."

How'd they find out? Scott could feel himself turning red with rage. No way would he let that sick perverted Kirk in a car with Sue and his children. "That won't be necessary. Sue plans to stay for a while."

"Oh no, I insist. You don't want them to miss any school," said Mr. Henderson. Meanwhile, Kirk was standing above Mr. Henderson with his ghoulish grin.

"No, don't send Kirk! If you do, I'll never help!"

"Well, I'll see how hard you work the next couple of days."

  Scott stood. He had a little reprieve. When he got to the door Mr. Henderson spoke again. "Oh, by the way. I did you a favor and picked up the Colt .45 that you are waiting for. Wouldn't it be terrible if your family ended up dead, by a gun licensed to you?"

Scott's body went limp. He did not even have the strength to open the door. Kirk walked over, opened the door and, while patting Scott on the shoulder, whispered, "Don't work too hard. I want to go pick up your family. I need to show your wife what a real man is like."

Scott walked out onto the empty basement floor, his knees shaking so badly that he had to brace himself against the wall. Over the weeks he had put together several traps to set for David, but had never really planned to offer them. Now there was no other choice. Back at his desk Scott started a plan of attack. It was David McIntosh -- or his own family. It took less than an hour before Scott was back in Mr. Henderson's office with an outline.

"The first thing we need to do is get more manpower. I have a plan to get over two hundred  ATF agents looking for Scott. Don't you know someone high up at the Bureau of Ammunition, Tobacco, and Firearms?" Scott asked Mr. Henderson.

"Yes, but he has helped all that he can. He can't authorize two hundred men to help us."

"He would if David's home blew up because he had been stockpiling ammunition. All we have to do, is plant some bogus evidence out there. I'm sure Kirk could arrange that," said Scott, reading off his outline

Mr. Henderson leaned back and the executive chair creaked under the strain. "That's excellent. The ATF would get a statewide manhunt after David. Those agents would get excited over an assignment like that. Do you have anything else?"

Scott looked down at his outline. He did not want to tell Mr. Henderson  what else he knew, but if his hunch was correct, it would be the simplest way to track down David. "Mr. Henderson, I overheard you several times on the phone to a Mr. Johnson about a bank account . . . that somebody took you for over $600,000."

"That is my private money, and nobodies business!" he said, bolting from his desk, slamming the office door.

"I don't care whose money it is or where it came from. But there could be a chance that its David McIntosh who embezzled it."

The chair creaked again when Mr. Henderson sat back down. He leaned back and rubbed his chin. This David is good with computers. I bet Scott is right. David is the one that got my money. If it is, he might know where I live and might be hunting me down.  This David could be a dangerous guy.

Mr. Henderson stood, walked over to a filing cabinet in the corner and  pulled it away from the wall exposing a floor safe.  The seam of his pants strained and the crack of his fat buttocks peeked out when he bent over to open it. Pulling out a bunch of bank books rubber banded together, Mr. Henderson yanked up on his pants as he waddled back to the desk. "This is my money and don't ask any questions. Don't tell anybody, especially Kirk. The top account at the First Interstate Bank of  Denver is the one I have lost over a half a million dollars out of. I want you to work on this privately and let me know what you find out. Remember this is between you and me," asserted Mr. Henderson.

Scott finally had something over Mr. Henderson.  "I'll take care of this for you and you can trust that this is between you and me." When Scott got to the door he turned, pushing his luck and said, "But I am going to trust you too. I don't want Kirk flying out to Chicago to get my family. Sue can make it  back on her own." Mr. Henderson didn't respond.

  Scott was back at his desk looking over the bundle of accounts when the elevator door opened and Kirk went into the office. Scott tiptoed over to the door to hear. "Kirk, you're not flying out to Chicago. I need you to get started on planting some bogus evidence up at Castle Rock where you blew David's house to bits."

"What about Scott? Don't you want me to take care of his wife, to make him more cooperative?"

"He is helping. He's the one that came up with this plan to plant some phony evidence to get the ATF involved. I want you to make it look like this David McIntosh was running guns and ammunition. Don't screw-up. I want you to go up there and bury some burned up guns and ammunition in the burned up rubble where David's home used to be. Then we will take off the hush, release a story that this David McIntosh sold a sawed off shot to somebody. When the ATF picks up the story they will be out there covering that site like flies. The ATF will have an all out manhunt and lead us to David."

"It sounds like a good plan," replied Kirk. "I knew Scott was holding out. Have him help me on this. If he doesn't cooperate fully, can I bring in his wife for a video session?" Kirk asked anxious.

"No. I've got Scott working on something else. I want you to work on this by yourself."

Thank you, God, Scott  prayed as he tiptoed back to his desk.

It took almost a month for Kirk to gather nontraceable guns and explosives and to rig it all up to make it look like the explosion at David's home was caused by illegal ammunition. He also had to work at night to avoid being spotted by snoopy neighbors or curious onlookers. Kirk wisely got approval from Mr. Henderson each step of the way and their plan seemed foolproof. After burning up a couple sawed off shotguns and a Mac-10 machine gun, Kirk buried them in the remains of burned up mobile home.

When everything was in place, Mr. Henderson called the local state police and had the gag order pulled off the crime scene. Scott's only involvement was to feed a story over the wire service about David McIntosh  selling a sawed off shotgun. The ATF bit -- hook, line, and sinker. They sent out eight agents to the site. They could not risk the ATF finding out that someone had tampered with the crime scene and had added a special touch. Kirk's booby trap worked just as he rigged it. Two ATF agents died of the explosion when they lifted a  buried steel ammo box.

Scott's plan worked. The next day there were over two hundred ATF agents and additional  local law enforcement looking for David. Now it was the ATF suppressing all the news, not wanting to alert David that he was the most wanted person in the country. The ATF even had his old Navy photo redone over by a team of sketch artists and sent out to the State Police.

David had read the story about his trying to sell the sawed off shotgun and kept checking the papers for more. Two days later his police scanner went wild for about an hour about the explosion at Castle Rock; then there was nothing. David switched back and forth between three local news programs, then searched through two evening newspapers, still listening to his police scanner. When no more stories or information followed, he knew something was up. Unable to sleep he tossed and turned all night and planned to face his worst fear in the morning.

Skipping breakfast, David drove straight to the small airport in Aurora. His knuckles turned white as he gripped onto the training wheel of the Cessna 150. "Relax, these planes are safer then any commercial airliner," said the flight instructor.

"Sure, ugh, okay.  What, whatever . . .  you say," stuttered David, unable to say another word as they taxied out to the runway.

  About twenty minutes after take-off the pilot lifted his headset. "We're over Castle Rock. Do you wanted me to buzz down there?"

David turned even whiter. "No,  no . . .  that's ugh, okay. Just take me back."

David almost lost it when the pilot banked. As the tiny plane leaned to the right, David saw the ground below, easily making out Interstate 25. After getting his orientation, David spotted the Castle Rock exit from the country store and abandoned filling station. Concentrating on the landscape helped lessen his terror. "Can you fly a little east of that exit down there?"

"Sure, you're the one paying for the ride," answered the pilot.

David made out some local landmarks below,  got a fix on Highway 86 and then spotted the big yellow barn on the corner of Cooley Road. There it was: just a blackened dot where his house used to be. Taking all his nerve David asked, "Could you circle back around and fly lower?"

The pilot looked out the side window to get his bearing. When he pushed on the wheel the nose of the plane dipped. David closed his eyes. They flew straight ahead, losing altitude for about five miles before the plane went into a hard bank and swung back around. Opening his eyes, David could now easily make out objects, building and even people. They were coming up on Cooley Road again and, plain as day, David spotted a white car, the black ATF letters on the roof now simple to read.

"You can pull up now," David told the pilot just as he spotted three more Bureau of Ammunition, Tobacco and Firearms cars hiding up the road from where he used to live.

What's going on? That short story about me selling a sawed off shotgun wouldn't draw that much heat from the ATF.  But the police scanner did have a short blip about some ATF agents getting hurt during an  investigating in Castle Rock.  Mr. Henderson is setting me up. I need to . . . 

"His name is Paul," the pilot said into the headset, then reached for his clipboard from off the instrument panel. "Our flight plan was due south to Castle Rock then east about five miles," the pilot communicated back to the tower. "No, I said his name is Paul," The pilot  flipped up the flight plan and looked at the flight form David had filled out and signed. "Paul Miller is his full name." Then the pilot quit talking into the headset, put the clipboard back and started checking the instruments. 

"Is it routine for them to call to find out you passenger's name?" asked David.

"No, not at all. Some busybody must have called when we buzzed down below 6000 feet. Don't worry about it. A couple more flights like this and you'll get over your fear of flying."

David drove right back to his apartment, still a little shaken from the flight. When he pulled into his parking space he noticed a police car at the manager's apartment. He dropped the truck into reverse, backed out of his spot and left by the back exit. He weaved around several blocks in a residential, area pulled over in front of a house, and parked his truck.

It took him about five minutes to walk back and watch his apartment from behind the cinder block wall surrounding the swimming pool. David had a side view of the manager's apartment and noticed the police car gone. It was cool outside so David moved his vantage point to a small window over a row of washing machines in the rec/washroom. He continued to survey the apartment parking lot; everything seemed normal. I'll  wait five more minutes.

Suddenly, there was a rubbing sound on the door. Somebody was outside trying to get in. David looked for an exit; but there was only the one door. David picked up a pool cue off the pool table and moved to in front of the door, holding it like a bat, ready.

There was more noise on the door, then the knob turned. David cocked back the pool cue. The door slightly opened then closed. More rubbing noise on the door and it partially opened again and this time a foot caught the door before it closed. The foot swung the door opened the rest of the way and there stood someone with a huge armful of dirty clothes. David lowered the cue  and pushed the door the rest of the way open. "Hey, thanks man, said the man his face practically hidden by his heap of laundry. He came through the door then dumped the pile of clothes onto the pool table. "Hey, sorry man. You weren't playing a game were you?"

"No. I was just in here trying to figure out how the washing machines work." 

"It's simple. Want me to show you?"

"No, that's okay," said David moving back to the window.

"I do all the laundry for my roommates," said the young man as he started to load one of the washers.

David didn't have time to strike up a conversation. He just kept staring out the window. After about a two minutes he realized how conspicuous he looked. "Hey, I didn't get your name."

"My name is John. What's yours?"

"Ugh . . . my name is Paul. Paul Miller."

"Glad to meet you, Paul, I've seen you around the complex." said John extending his hand. "Paul, like I said, if you go get your laundry, I'll show you how to do it."

"Thanks John, but I don't have time right now," said David, deciding it was safe to go to his apartment. About ten feet out the door David caught the front corner of the police car parked between two of the front apartment buildings. He casually turned back around as though he forgot something. Back in the laundry room his heart beat like a drum. What's going on? They can't be waiting for me. I used a phony name on the rental agreement and used Marcea's maiden name to order the phone service.

"You forget something?" asked John.

"No, not really," David said moving back to the window, but now unable to see the police car. "Hey John, how much would you charge me to do my laundry?"

"I don't know. I do it for my roommates for part of the rent payment."

  "Well, how about I pay you fifty bucks."

"Sure, for fifty bucks I'd iron it and do it for a month," offered John.

"Great, I got to get going," said David as he reached for his wallet. "Here's the money. My apartment number is 116. My laundry is right inside the door in a basket. And just put the key on the table when you're done." David handed John the key and left. Casually, he walked behind the cinder block pool wall, looked around then hid between two big white garbage containers.

It was only two minutes later when John came out the door and walked across the parking lot looking at the numbers on the doors. He found David's apartment and as soon as he opened the door a policeman came running from the manager's office with gun drawn. Then a police car drove across the lot with its siren screaming and light flashing. "Put your hands up, David McIntosh," bellowed the loudspeaker. John's hands shot up into the air!

David ran out the rear parking lot and sprinted the five blocks to his truck. As he drove away he heard other sirens speeding around the streets behind the apartment complex. David headed north out of Denver.

Driving straight through and being ever so careful not to break the speed limit, David made it into Wyoming before he had to stop for gas. As the attendant filled the truck David checked the turn signals, stop lights and other equipment on the truck. The license plate tags were still valid for another year and not in David's name. The truck was safe to drive. David couldn't risk being pulled over, even for a minor traffic violation.

"That'll be thirty-four dollars for the gas, sir."

David reached for his wallet and gasped. He had only two twenties left. All his extra cash was locked up in the safe in his apartment. Now he had six dollars to his name, hardly even enough for dinner. There was no other option! David looked at the keys on his key ring pulled out of the station and headed back toward Denver. It was 2 AM before David was back in Denver. He drove right on through to Bill's Electronics Shop in Aurora. He slowly drove by the darkened blue building looking for signs of somebody watching it. The only signs of life was the 24 hour convenience store a block up on the corner. David pulled into the store's parking lot and positioned his truck so he could watch the shop for a while from a distance. David watched about ten minutes and then took Bill's alarm and shop keys off his key ring. He looked up and down the road one last time and it seemed clear. Maybe I should go ask the clerk if he has seen cops or anyone else staking out Bill's shop.

David got out of the truck and walked toward the glass doors of the all night convenience store. He looked back over his shoulder; it felt as though someone was there watching. Instead of going into the store David went over to the phone booth and while looking down the darkened street, pretended to be making a call,  It's too risky. I need a distraction.

David reached into his pocket and found a quarter. Dropping it into the slot, he dialed three numbers. "9-1-1. Do you have an emergency?"

"Yes. I'm calling from a pay phone just outside a store on the corner of 122nd and Division. There's a robbery going on right now! The guy has a gun! I got to get out of here before the guy sees me." David let the phone hang on the cord and casually walked back to his truck and drove off. He got about four blocks away when he heard sirens. Pulling to the side of the road, he turned off his lights and in his mirror watched a police car speed into the store parking lot. The lights of a van that had been parked across from Bill's Electronic Shop came on! It sped up the road, turned into store parking lot and pulled up next to the police car.

David jumped from his truck and with the two keys in his hand, ran in the dark toward the back of Bill's shop. He put the one round key into the slot to turn off the alarm and used the other to unlock the door. Then he crawled through the shop to the front door and started digging through the pile of mail and packages below the mail slot. Aided by light shining from outside, David found it -- a bank envelope. With big red letters that read: DO NOT FORWARD.

Back outside David quickly locked the door and reset the alarm. Sneaking back to his truck he avoided all the street lights. Once inside, he checked in the mirror and could see the police car and van still in the convenience store lot. Without turning on the headlights and careful not to hit his brakes, David pulled away.

An hour later David pulled into a roadside cafe west of Aurora and carried in the bank envelope, almost afraid to open it. After ordering a cup of coffee he got up his nerve. There it was: the plastic ATM card that the banker had opened with the extra $100,000. But it had been months. By now Mr. Henderson was surely on to how he embezzled the money.

  As the waitress refilled his cup he asked, "Do you know where an Automatic Teller Machine is?"

"Sure honey, there's one right down the block," she said, pointing out the window. "See the blue and green sign?"

David turned on the stool and looked. "That's one right there?"

"Sure is. Some of our patrons have to use it now and then, because we don't take plastic."

"I'll be right back." David laid a dollar on the counter before darting across the street. Standing in front of the machine, he held his breath and inserted the card. The machine sucked in the card and the screen changed
. ENTER YOUR PRIVATE CODE PLEASE.

  David entered: 110366. The code he used for everything. It was the date they won the State Football Championship.

ENTER AMOUNT OF WITHDRAWAL BETWEEN $20.OO AND $200.00

  David entered $200.  The machine made ten clicks, the metal door opened and ten twenties lay on the metal shelf. It works. Thank you, God. The card popped back out of the machine. David pushed the card back in and tried to withdraw another $200 but the screen flashed: MAXIMUM DAILY WITHDRAWAL HAS BEEN MET.

Back in the cafe David drank coffee unsure of what to do or even where to go. It would be only a matter of time before the ATM account would be closed, now that he was using the card. "That machine work for you?" asked the waitress.

"Yeah, it worked. Are you familiar with ATM accounts? Do you know if there is a way to withdraw more then $200 a day?"

"No honey, I don't know much about those money machines. My hubby would never let me have one of those cards," she said, filling a truck driver's cup.

"In Reno some of them money stealing casinos will advance you money against an ATM card," offered the truck driver.

David turned toward him and asked, "Are you sure?"

"Am I sure. I got myself into big trouble down there last year. That new fancy casino gave me a free room with the royal treatment for taking a ten-grand draw against my card," said the truck driver as he stuffed a big fork full egg into his mouth.

"Is that legal? Do all the casinos do that?"

"Hey, I don't know if it's legal. That don't much matter after they got your money. Just talk to any pit boss at any club. He'll arrange a  draw against your mother if you want." The truck driver whipped up yellow egg yoke with his toast.       

David finished his coffee, left the cafe and headed west for Reno. By noon he was too tired to drive any further and got a motel in Grand Junction. Before he left Colorado that day he used another ATM machine withdrawing another $200. By evening David was in a motel in Salt Lake, Utah and stayed there a week.

Each day David made sure to use an Automatic Teller Machine. And each day Scott marked each withdrawal on a map.

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  Since Mr. Henderson did not want anybody else to find out about the six million dollars he had skimmed out of the Department, Scott worked all alone putting together the pieces. His hunch proved right: it was David who had embezzled the money from one of Mr. Henderson's bogus accounts.  Mr. Johnson at the First Interstate Bank of Denver was more than helpful . . . after being demoted to a teller. It was his password that David had used to transfer the funds. Now each time David used an ATM machine, Mr. Johnson relayed the information to Scott. After two weeks Scott finally got to look at a report of what had been in the safe in David's apartment, eight different accounts and thousand of dollars of cash.

The electric latch growled and Scott pushed on the big red door to Mr. Henderson's office. He walked over and unfolded the map on Mr. Henderson's desk and pointed. "David McIntosh is on the run. When the police stormed his apartment it left him short on cash. All his passbooks were locked up in a safe and the only way he can get money is through an ATM card on one account."

Looking at the map Mr. Henderson could see all the marks and dates of the withdrawals. "You're right. What do you think he's up to?"

"I'm still doing some checking. He made a withdrawal in Winnemucca last night. But I think he's headed for Reno where he can exceed the usual ATM $200 maximum."

  Mr. Henderson scrutinized the map closer and then said, "Scott I want you to fly down to Reno. Figure out something to trap David. Then call me, no one else."

"Don't you think we should let the ATF in on what I know. They could converge on Reno and cover every casino," Scott suggested.

"Yeah, but then they would start looking into my banking accounts and uh . . . uh . . . "

Scott knew why Mr. Henderson was hesitant. It was exactly what he had hoped for, more leverage to protect his family. "Okay, I'll fly down to Reno with that photo the ATF made of David McIntosh and circulate it around with a reward. In the mean time you should get different names on your accounts."

Mr. Henderson was pleased how Scott was closing in on David and his discretion about the spurious accounts. "That sounds like a good plan. Be on a plane to Reno this afternoon. Uh, now . . . tell me what I should do about my accounts." 

Scott had Mr. Henderson right where he wanted. Picking up the map and slowly folding it, he hemmed and hawed for a minute, making Mr. Henderson sweat. "Having all the accounts under the made up projects and studies was a terrible idea, especially since you appointed yourself as Chairman of the Board on each. Any fool can see what you're up to. What you need to do is put the funds in somebody else's name, someone you trust. Let him be your fall guy. You can still be a silent trustee and deny everything, should you ever get found out. Politicians do it all the time with their campaign funds. You can use my name on the accounts," offered Scott.

"And what percentage would you want?" asked Mr. Henderson.

"No percentage. Just keep Kirk away from my family."

The chair creaked when Mr. Henderson leaned back and rubbed his double chin. Scott's blackmailing me. His plan will work with one small adjustment. I won't use his name; I'll use his children's names. Call me a fool! We'll see who's the fool is when someday I let Kirk take care of him and his wife. I'll appoint myself a silent trustee of their children and still have control of the money. What a perfect plan.

Scott waited long enough for Mr. Henderson to answer, knowing not to push. "I'll go call the airport to get a flight to Reno."

While Scott was flying to Reno, Mr. Henderson got a hold of his personnel file to get Chad and Polly's birthdays and other information. Before Scott returned Mr. Henderson planned to have Scott's children's names on two accounts, hiding almost five million dollars of his money. There was plenty of time before Scott's eldest child reached age eighteen, the legal age to inherit a trust. By then the Department would be right back on track, controlling everything from who got elected to making sure a Death with Dignity Bill was passed in every state. Chad and Polly wouldn't be happy without their parents and a quick painless accident would release them of a life time of pain, the compassionate thing to do.

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As soon as Scott landed in Reno, he called the cellular phone company and had them activate the number that was on the flyer. Then he started circulating flyers to all the casinos. The flyer consisted of a computer enhanced rendering of what David might look like today. It was made up from an old military photo that the ATF had obtained.  There was a $5,000 reward for just calling the phone number and keeping the suspect in sight until someone arrived.

Scott was right on target. David was only about two hours east of Reno, having left Winnemucca late in the afternoon. He had stopped at one tiny gambling establishment there to see if the truck driver was right. After the pit boss made one call; the club let David take a $2,000 draw in gambling chips against the ATM card. After playing blackjack and drinking house drinks for six hours, David was still about even. As the drinks got stronger so did David's bets. Being more daring, he slid five $100 chip across the green felt for his bet.  The dealer dealt him a 2 of spades and a 10 of clubs, David took a hit. Queen of spades, $500 dollars gone! David bet five chips again and lost another $500. There being no way he could lose three times in a row, he dauntlessly slid out half his remaining chips. The dealer hit twenty one! Disgusted, and drunk David scooped up the rest of his chips and when he stood he almost fell over. Staggering over to cash in his remaining chips, one lone roulette croupier in a short blackdress and a spotless white blouse enticed David with a smile. What the hell! I can get more money in Reno.

Dumping $685 worth of chips on the table David, sloppily stacked them into piles.

"Would you like to place a bet sir?" asked the attractive young woman.

"Sure, let it all, all  ride on the green double, double zero." David slurred, pushing the chips up to cover 00 spot. "No, wait. Bet half on the five. That's my girlfriend's birthday."

"Sir, I can't touch your chips. You will have to move them," said the croupier.

David pulled over about half the chips to cover the five and the pit boss came over and nodded at the croupier. A few other gamblers watched as she spun the wheel and then pushed the white marble in the opposite direction. The marble rolled around the top of the wheel, bounced around the numbers and dropped. David instantly saw that it didn't drop in to one of the two green slots and swallowed hard. He didn't pay attention that the marble dropped into the five; a thirty-six to one odds.

"Harvey's, has a winner!" the girl shouted.

"Would you like your winning in chips or a club voucher?" asked the pit boss, pushing his way up front to count the chips covering the five.

"I'd like cash."

"If you take cash, I'll need your Social Security Number for tax withholdings."

David was not able to furnish a Social Security Number for his alias, Paul Miller, so the house held back thirty percent of his winnings. But he still got a cash payoff off over $8,500. Feeling that he may be an easy target and get mugged with that much cash on him, David left Winnemucca and headed toward Reno.

Four hours later, almost sober but tired, David checked into the four star Valley's Motel Casino on the outskirts of Reno. Using some winnings, he decided to live it up and rented a $300 a night suite. While soaking in the private hot tub, David drank the chilled champagne that came with the room and mentally worked on a plan. Later tonight I'll see how much  this casino will let me take a draw for against the ATM card. I might even do some more gambling. I did great in Winnemucca. Marcea's birthday sure hit big for me. It's almost been five months since I saw or even talked to her. When I get through in Reno I'll drive out to California. I bet she'll be thrilled to see me. Maybe I can bring her back to this room and show her how much I missed her. If she gives me the cold shoulder I'll tell her that it was my money that started her overnight retreat house for special kids.  When I get out of the hot tub I'll contact Danny and let him know that I'm coming to see them.

David was becoming adept at playing a big shot. As he dried himself off he called the front desk and told them he had an important transaction to make via computer and that he had to use one of their outside lines. The manager approved his request and even volunteered the use of the computer in his office. David said he'd be down in twenty minutes.

He strutted up to the front desk and told them who he was, and had the receptionist get the manager. The manager lead David to the office and linked the computer to an electronic mail service. David sat down behind the computer and glanced over at the manager to let him know he wanted privacy. The manager left David alone in the office.

David entered a phone number, let it ring twice, then hit the F10 key to disconnect. While he waited the five minutes for Danny to get ready, David looked around the cluttered office. There were extra pillows and blankets on an over-stuffed couch, a mop bucket with a mop leaning in a corner and next to the door was a bulletin board with photos of people barred from gambling in the casino.

  The manager stuck his head in and asked, "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, fine. I just have to wait a few more minutes for somebody to get signed on at the other end," explained David.

David waited a few more minutes, then dialed again. The screen flashed:
CONNECTED

HOW ARE YOU DOING DANNY?



JUST FINE. YOU SURPRISED ME. ITS NOT WEDNESDAY.



DANNY,  I GOT A BIGGER SURPRISE.  I AM COMING TO SEE YOU



WHEN?



IN A COUPLE OF DAYS. I'M ONLY A FEW HOURS AWAY, IN RENO.



GOOD. DAVID, I HAVE MISSED YOU. I PRAY FOR YOU EVERY NIGHT.



THANK YOU DANNY. DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM WANTS TO SEE ME?



I DON'T KNOW. SHE NEVER TALKS ABOUT YOU, BUT THE OTHER DAY I HEARD FATHER PAUL TALKING TO HER ABOUT YOU. SHOULD I TELL HER YOU ARE  COMING?



David stopped typing to think. Maybe Marcea doesn't want to see me. It seems as though she and Paul have become too good of friends. When I get there, I'll buy her some nice things, take her out on the town and then show her a good time.

NO, DON'T TELL ANYBODY I'M COMING.



OKAY. I CAN'T WAIT. GOT TO GO SOMEONE IS TRYING TO USE THE PHONE.



I LOVE  YOU,  DAVID.



I LOVE YOU, DANNY.




David sat at the desk a few moments thinking about seeing all his friends and feeling a little jealous. In the back of his mind, he told himself that he didn't have anything to worry about with Paul and Marcea.

The motel manager returned. "Did you get through?"

Standing up, David answered, "Yeah, I did. You can add the charge to my bill."

"Yes sir," said the manager, leaving for the front desk. 

  As David was walking toward the door, one of the pictures on the bulletin board caught his attention and stopped him dead in his tracks. It was him! The computer enhanced composite was a good likeness. Although the flyer didn't have him wearing a beard it had his name and said that he may be using the alias Paul Miller. David had registered under that name!

David never returned to the room. Instead, he headed south out of Reno, knowing he was being tracked. The only good things were he had kept the cash on him and the Clipper Chip was still hidden under the front seat of the truck.

Just before midnight David pulled into a small dumpy roadside motel south of Carson City and registered under the name Harry Thompson. The room was small and dingy, not what David had become accustomed to. As David laid on the musty smelling mattress, he stared at the brocade and smoke yellowed ceiling trying to visualize Marcea. Her long dark hair flowing across her smooth rounded shoulders, the feel of her soft skin and her seductive scent of freshness was already fading into the past. David was no longer yearning for her sexually, but would have given anything to just have her there. She always listened to his troubles when he had to work late, making sure to have a hot meal ready. She'd sit across the table and  patiently listen to the everyday routine problems of his job. David missed the way she made his house feel like a home. She had an abundance of love  for her children, yet after tending to them she would always come and curl up against him. She never ran out of love and the eagerness to make peope happy. David yearned to tell her how much he loved her.

David's tears blurred his vision. He knew he could not go to California. He had already endangered her, and probably Bill and Mary, and would never risk their welfare again. Tears ran through the hair on his temples and on to the old motel bed. The reality that he probably would never see his friends again, especially Marcea, hit home. Feeling totally alone and bitter, David wanted answers. God, I don't deserve this. I'm really not a bad person. Most of the money I stole is gone and what is left doesn't amount to what they burned up of mine. And hey, I never thought living with someone was really wrong, not until Paul put it the way that he did. Maybe for some reason you are keeping me from my friends and that hurts. But please take care of Marcea, her children, Bill and Mary. And please make things easy on Paul. I keep thinking about what Paul said on the mountain: "Listen to the silence and you will hear the word." I have been listening and I haven't heard a word. With all the close calls I have had, I don't even think you care about me. I don't know where tomorrow will take me, but I'm putting my life in your hands. Amen.

Exhausted and dejected David reviewed the past six months of his life. If Paul had not come to see him he would have frozen alone up on Mt. Antero. If he hadn't gotten Marcea and her children on that midnight flight they would have been blown up. He could actually see himself behind his home just before it exploded, as if he were watching himself on video. It was so dark that night. He could barely make out the image of himself hunched down in the foot high grass. Now, almost in a dream state David saw something else, something mystical right behind him, looking over his shoulder. In the darkness there seemed to be a white shadow of an apparition but this ghostly image didn't turn his dream into a nightmare;  instead it brought deep consolation and peace.

David slept hard and woke late. After he showered, he left the parking lot of the motel and embarked on his new journey feeling safer than he ever remembered. He still felt as though something was looking over his shoulder, just like in his dream. David used an ATM in Las Vegas late that night, part of his hare and hound plan to lead whoever away from California.

  It wasn't till the next morning when Scott called Mr. Johnson at the bank in Denver that he found out that David had left Reno. Scott hopped a plane to Las Vegas to circulate more flyers to the casinos. That same day, after 5 PM, David made a withdrawal from an ATM in Arizona. He even waved into the security camera.

Preoccupied with leading the chase, he had completely forgotten that this was the day Danny was expecting him to show up. Danny had kept his word and told no one that David was coming to surprise them. But he stayed up watching every car that drove by outside, knowing one would stop. Even after he had to go to bed, he laid there listening for a knock at the door. He prayed for David, just like he did every night, and hoped David would be there tomorrow.

  The following day when Scott found out that David had used an ATM in Phoenix he flew back to Denver to give Mr. Henderson the bad news. David was jumping all over the map making withdrawals in the evening after banking hours, knowing that he couldn't be tracked until the following morning. Mr. Johnson furnished Scott with a security photo from one of the banks, but David had on dark glasses and a baseball cap and wore a beard which Scott suspected to be a  fake.

  After about a week of care free zigzag traveling, David decided to be a little more daring. He made three withdrawals at the same time each night from the same ATM machine in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Scott took the bait and while driving down Interstate 25 to watch that machine from afar, he and David passed each other. David drove back to Pueblo, Colorado and used an ATM within two blocks of the Department.

Even with over two hundred ATF agents on David's tail, he eluded them. Scott appreciated David's brazen wit and thought that he deserved to go free, but didn't dare back off.  The Department was feeding false facts and statistics over the wire service.  Kirk had worked day and night with the computer experts. They had the virus isolated but needed the code David wrote to eliminate it. It was risky to go back on line but Mr. Henderson had no choice. Four months of the truth being given to the news media was dangerous and could undermine his ultimate goal.

Exactly two weeks from the day that David had promised Danny that he would be in California he called back from a motel in St. Louis.  Like usual, he let the phone ring twice, then called back five minutes later. Their computers connected.



DANNY, I'M SORRY THAT I DIDN'T MAKE IT TO CALIFORNIA TO SEE YOU.



There was a long  delay before Danny replied.



I HAVE WAITED BY THE WINDOW ALMOST EVERY NIGHT. WHEN ARE YOU COMING?



DANNY, I'M SO SORRY. I SHOULD HAVE GOT BACK TO YOU SOONER.  BUT SOME  MEN ARE AFTER ME.



ARE YOU IN TROUBLE?




NO, NOTHING THAT I CAN'T HANDLE. I JUST HAVE TO LAY LOW FOR A WHILE AND STAY OUT OF SIGHT. I PLAN TO TRAVEL AROUND THE COUNTRY FOR A MONTH COLLECTING SOME MONEY PEOPLE OWE ME, THEN MAYBE GO TO THE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS.

 

WHERE ARE THE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS? WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN?



DANNY, I'LL SEND YOU A POSTCARD. IT MAY BE A LONG TIME BEFORE WE SEE EACH OTHER BUT I WILL KEEP CALLING WHEN I GET A CHANCE



The tears were dropping from Danny's face and on the keyboard. He typed his last words.



I LOVE YOU, DAVID.



The next morning Danny mentioned David to Marcea for the hundredth time, and as always she ignored him. She suspected it was David that Danny talked to over the computer and wished he would quit calling. Marcea's stubbornness hurt and frustrated Danny. He knew that David would come no matter what, if only Marcea would say that she wanted to see him. The only other person who continued to bring up David's name was Father Paul. David's memory was fading into the woodwork but Danny would never forget him. They shared more than a bond -- the name on his baptismal record was David. Danny vowed that he would continue to pray every night, for God to look over David's shoulder.

 

 

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