In the Silence

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CHAPTER TWENTY


Just
before midnight, David used an automatic teller machine in Philadelphia. Low on cash, he had to make a withdrawal everyday. Just past noon on Sunday he used another ATM in Richmond, Indiana. After a three-hour nap at a rest stop, David was back on Interstate 70, determined to make it cross country in four days. By daybreak Monday David had made it halfway across Kansas. Finally exhaustion and the bright morning sun forced him into a Motel Six. 

Scott was in Atlantic City working with the ATF specialists trying to figure out why David hadn't tried to take a draw at any of the casinos over the weekend. Scott had a hunch and had to wait until eleven o'clock Eastern time to check it out. After a call to Mr. Johnson at the First Interstate Bank of Denver, Scott felt ill. Someone had used the ATM card at a machine in Topeka, Kansas an hour ago.

At noon Scott regrouped with the ATF specialists. They had their own ATM activity report and Scott tried to look unconcerned as he glanced over their reports. I should fill the ATF on everything I know. It's only a matter of time before they find out the money in the account isn't from David selling guns. If they find out David stole the money from Mr. Henderson, they'll start investigating the Department and find out they're being used. That might work . . .

  Scott passed back the papers and caught a glimpse of a report from the ATF Bomb Squad. "Can I take a look at that?" he asked one of the agents.

"Sure. You pretty much know what happened out there at the mobile home site of David McIntosh." The agent passed the report to Scott.

Scott scrutinized all three pages. "This report only shows two men dying out there. Did they find anything else?" Scott swallowed hard before he asked, "Did they find any other human remains in that burned up home?"

"No. We've been over the site with a fine tooth comb. There was no one in that mobile home when it burned," said the agent.

"Are you sure? How conclusive is this report?"

"We spent a lot of time out there. The newspapers said that David McIntosh's home blew up from ammunition but, as you see in the report, we didn't find any evidence of that. We determined his home was blown up with dynamite and gasoline. A lot of pieces just don't fit."

Another agent jumped in with his speculations. "I think that David is still here in Atlantic City. He probably gave the ATM card to a truck driver, along with the access code. If a cross country truck driver is using the card, that would explain all the miles covered in one day in a straight line."

Another expert thought David was making a run for Las Vegas, but he didn't have an explanation why David would leave a trail. All the specialists and experts brainstormed for almost four hours until they received a FAX of a photo taken from one of the ATM security cameras in Indiana.  The agent in charge spoke first. "It's almost as though  David McIntosh has some supernatural power or help. I think we are dealing with someone or something that deserves more credit than we're giving him."

Fifty agents left Atlantic City to pick up David's trail. Scott got on a plane to head back to the Department.

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David slept all day Tuesday, planning to travel through Colorado at night. By midnight he was starting a four mile upgrade ascent into the Rocky Mountains when the rebuilt transmission started making noise.  Great! What else can go wrong?  I don't have enough money for another transmission and I'm almost right back in Colorado where I started from last year.

David turned on the radio loud enough to drown out the transmission noise. He tapped his hand to the country music. It was his favorite Denver radio station and he hadn't heard it for months. However, ignoring the transmission didn't help. It started slipping so bad that by 3 A.M. David could only get halfway up the driveway of a closed filling station in Bennet, fifty miles east of Denver. Getting out of the truck, David walked out into main street. Every place in the small town was closed. He looked back at the truck with the red trail cycle tied up in the back. I could ride that.

There was a police car coming up main street. David ran toward the truck and opened the door. The courtesy light lit up the cab. Diving inside, David lay on the seat and listened to the police slow down and stop. Then a spot light lit up the cab! David sat up and put his hands on the steering wheel.

The police officer approached the side of the truck and tapped on the window with his two-foot flashlight. David slowly rolled down the window. "Step out of the truck!"

David got out of the truck. The officer pointed the beam right on David's face. "What's going on here?"

"Officer, I'm having transmission problems and this as far as I got. I was sleeping in my truck."

"Where were you going at this time in the morning?"

"A friend of mine is sick in a hospital in California. I like traveling at night. But like I said this is as far as I could go."

"Get in the truck," ordered the officer. "Now start it and put it into gear." As soon as David did the engine just wound up and the truck wouldn't move. The policeman bent down and pointed his light under the truck. "Here's your problem. You're leaking transmission fluid all over the place."

David got out and looked. "You're right. I just had the transmission replaced. They must have left something loose."

"Gus opens his station about six. He'll be able to fix you up." 

"Thanks officer." Luckily, the policeman couldn't see the cold sweat on  David's face.

The policeman walked around to the back of the truck and started shining his flashlight around. He walked down the passenger side of the truck and shone the light inside the cab, then all the way around the front. "Hey, come up here," he ordered.

David's legs felt too heavy to run. He walked up to the front.

"Take a look at these front tires. They're not safe. You'd better get them replaced before you drive across my state."

David bent over. "You're right officer. I better get some new tires." The officer  went back to the police car and wrote on a pad. David waved as he drove off.

Back inside the cab David turned on the dome light and took out his wallet. One hundred, two hundred, three hundred and seventy dollars. Hopefully, that will be enough to get the transmission fixed. But what about the tires? David started tapping his hand on the steering wheel. I'm not that far from the bank in Aurora where I first set up the ATM account. I remember the banker. I bet I could go right in there and in ten minutes get five thousand dollars without any questions. If anybody has been tracking me since Reno they'd never expect me to return to the same bank. This is perfect. David looked at his watch -- two hours until the station opened, plenty of time to fine tune his plan. 

An hour later. David was thinking, I will close out that ATM account. It's risky, but I can pull it off. Paul is admitted at the hospital under my name. He tried not to think of the next part of his plan but it was just too good.  I don't straighten out the hospital records.  Paul dies and I assume his name. Somehow, I 'll have to get out of that priest thing. But the Department will think that I'm dead. Maybe God planned this. No, he would never do that . . . 

Just then a tow truck pulled into the station and a lanky, long haired man with a dangling cigarette got out. David got out and walked toward the front door of the station where the man was putting a key into the door. "You must be Gus."

"Yeah. I got here early. My brother-in-law called and said you wanted to buy some tires."

"I think I better get the transmission looked at first."

Gus opened one of the bay doors. They pushed the truck on the rack and after some calculating Gus figured that putting on a new transmission line, adding fluid and four new tires would be around $700. The special fitting on the old transmission line couldn't be saved and would have to be ordered. For an extra $50 Gus could get David on the road by noon the next day.

David rented a room one block down, across from the station. He unpacked his business suit. Only worn once, it was wrinkled from being packed away for seven months, David hung it over the shower rod in hopes the steam would pull out some of the wrinkles. After a long hot shower David  stood in front of the mirror. The beard has to go. I want to look the same as I did last year when I walked into the Bank of the Rocky Mountains in Aurora. If that same banker is as helpful as he was last year, I'll close out the account. If I got the rest of the money, they'd never be able to track me.  And then if I become Paul Miller . . .

  With a pair of scissors David cut away. His face was so thin under all that hair, that he hardly recognized himself. After shaving David reached for the suit and got his next shock: he couldn't even hold the pants up around his waist. David had to take the belt up four notches,  the shirt and tie also were loose. The jacket helped but it still looked as though he had slept in the now baggy suit.  David didn't have the money to buy new clothes and the bank would be open in an hour. He grabbed the attaché case and left the room.

David got onto Interstate 70 and hitch-hiked a ride west to an Aurora off ramp. He called for a cab at a service station. Twenty minutes later with dark glasses on and the attaché case in hand David strutted into the Aurora branch of the Bank of the Rocky Mountains.

  The banker gave David a long stare. "How are doing this morning?"

"Just fine thank you. I need to get an account straightened out."

"That's what we're here for," said the banker, still trying to place David. "Now I remember you. I helped you last fall with transferring some funds. I hardly recognized you. You've lost weight." The banker extended his hand to David. "You're Mr. Henderson. You were having problems with the way other banks were handling your private accounts."

David shook his hand. "Yes, you were a big help. But this ATM account just doesn't work for me. I travel all around the country visiting different charitable organizations and the $200 daily limit is an inconvenience."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that."

"I need to either close out the ATM account or maybe take a loan against some of my other accounts." David opened his attaché case and pulled out two pages of printouts with Mr. Henderson's signature. David had traced the signature from his computer screen months ago at the First Interstate Bank of Denver Bank.

The banker picked up the pages and seemed unimpressed. "How much money are we talking about?"

"I think I'll close out the ATM account right now. Maybe next week I'll transfer all my accounts to this bank. After all, you did such a good job last year."

Looking at the printouts, the banker was mentally calculating David's net worth. "I don't think there should be any problem. Do you have the ATM card?"

"Yes." David gave the ATM card to the banker.

"I will be right back." At a teller window the banker ran the card through a magnetic strip reader and then returned. "Your ATM account has just over $86,000 with interest accrued through today. Would you like to set up a credit line account? There wouldn't be a limit on that account."

"No thanks. I just want the cash from this account today. Maybe next week we can set up something with my other money."

David watched the banker return to teller windows, open three of the cash drawers, count out bills. Then the banker went into the vault. This is going to be a piece of cake.

The banker came out of the vault and stacked up $4,500 worth of wrapped bills on the desk. "I can have the balance by closing today."

"I can't wait till closing," David said firmly.

The banker looked at his watch, picked up the phone, and called the main branch. After a short conversation he hung up. "I can issue you a cashiers check for the balance, or you can drive to our main branch in Denver, or I can possibly get the money down here by noon."

"I'll be back at eleven thirty." David stood put the cash into the attaché case and walked out the door to the taxi.

The banker called back the main branch and arranged for Brinks to make a cash drop off ASAP.  However, when he went to the account verification machine he found that most of Mr. Henderson's other accounts had been transferred into a trust for two children. After some more checking the banker came up with a phone number.

"Department of Statistics," a female voice said over the phone.

"Yes, this is Fred Ball calling from the Bank of the Rocky Mountains, in Aurora. Mr. Henderson was in here about ten minutes ago. I'd like to talk to him if he gets there before noon."

"If you give me your number, I will see that Mr. Henderson gets the message," said the receptionist.

  When Mr. Henderson got the message he called back the bank in Aurora  and found out enough information to put two and two together without tipping off the banker. He hung up, then hit the extension for one floor up. "Kirk get down here right away. We've got David McIntosh right here in Colorado. He is in Aurora as we speak."

Mr. Henderson met Kirk at the elevator and they hurried back to his office. "What is David doing back here? All the experts are waiting for him in Atlantic City?" asked Kirk.

"I don't know and don't care! All I know is he will be back at the Aurora Branch of the Bank of the Rocky Mountains before noon. I want you to be there. Here's the address of the bank." Mr. Henderson handed Kirk a piece of paper

"Do you want me to bring him in by myself?" Kirk asked.

"You will have to. There's barely enough time for you to get up there before eleven."

  Kirk looked at his watch. "I'd better leave right now. What if he puts up a struggle?"

"We really need him to get rid of the computer virus. But if there is the slightest chance that he is going to get away, kill him!"

"I'll leave right now. Any clue to what kind of car David's driving?"

"The banker said he showed up in a cab. He has on a baggy dark blue suit that's wrinkled and he carries a brief case. I didn't want to give the banker too much information and risk his tipping off David. The banker doesn't know what's going on. I acted like a friend and helped him the best I could. So make sure you're outside the bank when you apprehend him."

Kirk checked his watch again when he got on the elevator. I got time to swing by my place. I'm not going to try to bring him in by myself. Ten minutes later Kirk rushed into his condominium, put on a combat outfit, and grabbed a big rifle case from the closet. He hurried out and traded vehicles. His van had darkened windows and didn't display white government license plates.

While driving from Pueblo to Aurora Kirk's heart pumped like he was a fourteen-year-old going on his first hunting trip. Just before 11:00 he found the bank and spent several more minutes scouting for just the right spot. Kirk crawled into the back of his van and unclasped the case; a cold chill ran down his back. There it was -- an army green, armor piercing mini-bazooka with a infrared scope. It was the latest design, military issue only.

Slightly opening one of the tinted side windows, Kirk checked his shot. It was perfect. He was on the high side of the street, with a complete view of the bank parking lot. He'd have a clear shot of the entrance to the bank. Kirk switched on the scope, then sighted in on the front of the bank. The invisible beam shone across the road; its only detection was the ruby red dot less than a quarter inch in diameter. Kirk practiced shining the beam on various cars. He then laid the weapon back in the case, slid closed the window, and waited. This time he would not mess up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the back seat of the cab David was having the same feeling he had in Atlantic City, a sense of urgency to get to San Francisco to see Paul. He had $4,500 -- plenty of money to pay for the truck repairs. But he was only blocks away from more than $80,000 in cash. Once at the bank parking lot, David paid the driver and asked him to wait a few  minutes. The cabby backed into a spot, saying he would wait five minutes for a twenty-dollar tip. David grabbed the attaché case and  hurried into the bank.

Across the street, Kirk slid the tinted window open, switched on the infrared scope, rested the mini-bazooka on his shoulder, then panicked. Because the taxi was red, he couldn't see the ruby red dot. He slowly moved the beam around and found a place -- the dot showed up on the left side of driver's face. As if frozen Kirk sighted in with his finger on the trigger.  As soon as Mr. McIntosh gets back into the cab . . . One squeeze and he'll be history. 

Inside the bank David walked right over to the banker at his desk and asked, "Any problems?"

"No, not really. The Brinks truck should be here anytime. But since you transferred most of your money into that trust for two children, I'll need you to sign a couple of forms. I know you're listed as the trustee but it complicates things. I got your business phone number and called to tell you that we would have to hold out federal tax. One of your employee friends called back and . . ."

David mind went into a tail spin. What is going on? Who did he call that said they were my employee? Something' s not right . . .   

"What would you like to do?" The banker asked.

"I told you I have to be out of here by noon! How much longer?"

"Once the cash gets here, it will only take a few minutes. If you give me the ATM card, I'll finish that paper work now."

Sweat beaded on David's forehead and his hand shook as he handed over the ATM card. "I will be right back. I need to hold the cab." The banker didn't look up or say a word as David walked out of the bank with the attaché case.

Across the street Kirk drew a deep breath. His finger tightened on the trigger and he was careful not to loose his bead. The angle was just right -- even if the exploding round missed the driver's head it would go into the back of the cab and the cab would be blown to bits. Come on, just get into the cab. Come on, get in.

David walked up the passenger side of the cab, leaned in and said, "I need another ten minutes. Can you wait?" 

"Yeah, no problem. But I'm starting the meter," said the cabby, leaning forward to pull down the arm on the meter.

David immediately saw the ruby red spot shining on the gray headrest! His legs felt like lead, he took one short breath and somehow made it back into the building. Inside and out of sight David stopped in the foyer to get his breath, then climbed the stairs into a second floor hallway. David carefully crawled to a front window and peeked out. He saw the dark green van with one tinted window partially open, the barrel of a weapon clearly visible.

  Hunched down, David worked himself to the opposite end of the hall where a green fire exit sign hung over a door. A sticker proclaimed:  ALARM WILL SOUND IF DOOR IS OPENED. David looked back down the hall, held his breath, and pushed on the metal bar and slowly opened the door. No alarm went off. The door opened to a covered outside stairway; littered  with cigarette butts and smashed paper coffee cups, it lead down to the back parking lot. At the bottom of the steps, David walked straight out from the building and climbed through a hedge.

Kirk had the infrared beam shining on the cabby, the banker had the papers ready waiting for a signature, and David had already managed to get four blocks away.

  It was risky, but David had to do something. It took ten minutes for him to circle around through the neighborhood and then position himself in the mall parking lot. Hiding amongst some parked cars, David had a clear view of both the bank and the van. He saw the cab driver get out of the cab and go into the bank.  As soon as the cabby came out of the bank and sped off, the side door of the van popped open and a skinny man with the familiar blond ponytail sprinted across the street toward the bank.

Once Kirk disappeared into the bank, David ran over to the van and opened the driver's door. He checked the ignition and found no keys, pulled down the visor and found nothing. Then searching the glove box, David found the registration, and learned the full name of his opponent: Kirk I. Smith. Checking back at the bank over his shoulder David saw the mini-bazooka laying on the floor. Who is this guy? How does he get a weapon like that? It looks military issue. I'm in more trouble than just embezzling money. I've got to get out of here.

  David put the registration back, got out, looked across the road and tried to casually walk back toward the cover of the mall. Once inside, he hurried into a Department store and bought a gym bag, sweats, tennis shoes and a baseball cap. In the mall's public restroom he changed into the new clothes then transferred his computer, clipper chip and the $4,500  from the attaché case into the gym bag. Going through his wallet and pockets David removed all his personal identification tossed it into the attaché case next to the printouts and tracings of Mr. Henderson's signature and slammed it shut. He then stood on the toilet, pushed up one of the white acoustic tiles and slipped the attaché case up into the ceiling. Quickly exiting the mall from a rear door into the employee parking lot, he jumped a fence and jogged to a neighborhood of tract homes for cover.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was almost five before David walked into the Hawk Shop. "Can I help you?" asked the owner.

"I need a gun," said David walking toward the glass display case.

"What are you looking for?" The owner's hands ran along the cabinet. Three of his fingers displayed gargantuan diamond rings.

"Something powerful,"  David mumbled.

"Are we talking cash or trade?"

"Whatever. I just need something today."

"I can't help you today. You know, there is a five-day waiting period on handguns."

"What about on a trade? Do you still have to wait?"

"Yep. Don't matter -- trade or cash. Still have to wait." The dealer was now locking back up the case.

"Damn it." David turned to leave.

"What did you have in mind to trade?" asked the dealer as he started turning off some old color televisions he had for sale.

"I got a laptop computer with a special decoding chip." 

"No thanks. That computer stuff gets outdated if it sets on the shelve for more than a month."

"I have a truck that has a new transmission."

"Sorry, I don't deal in autos."

"What about an almost new dirt bike?"

"What kind, and where is it?" asked the dealer as he started switching off the lights.

"It's a 125cc Honda. Only has a few hours on it."

"Would that be a good size for a 15-year-old kid?"

"Should be perfect. It's even street legal."

"Well, where is it?"

"It's in the back of my truck at a service station in Bennet." 

"Let me lock up. I'm headed that way." 

Twenty minutes later they were there. David grabbed the gym bag from behind the seat and walked toward his truck parked along side the service station. The dealer followed and started looking over the red dirt bike in back. Gus soon joined them and told David the bill was a little more than he quoted. David pulled out two bank wrapped stacks of fifties and twenties from the gym bag and counted out $850. Gus took the cash, reached in his pocket and handed David the keys. "The receipt's on the dash," Gus said as he headed toward the gas pump to help another customer.

The dealer took a big puff off his cigar. "Five hundred cash and the motorcycle will buy any gun at my shop."

"Yeah, okay," David said. "Let's go back to your shop and get this over with."

"What's the rush? I told you there is a five-day waiting period on guns. And I need to make sure the title clears on this motorcycle."

"I can't wait five days! Forget it," said David walking away.

"Do you have the title for the motorcycle?" asked the dealer following David to the front of the truck.

David started looking around inside the truck, then remembered the title was back at the mall, up in the ceiling with all the other papers. "I forgot. I lost the title."

"Wait a minute," said the dealer looking around. "How much money you got in that gym bag?"

"Not much. Maybe a couple thousand dollars."

  The fat little dealer rubbed his hands through his greasy black hair, then went over to his car. He propped open the trunk, lifted the spare tire, and took a gun out of a small triangular shaped canvas case. Then he dropped the clip out, cleared the chamber of a round, waddled back to David and sat the gun on the hood. "It's yours for $2000 cash, right now."

David picked up the 9-mm Luger, looked it over and without saying a word got $2000 from the gym bag. The sun glinted off the dealer's diamond rings as he took the money. In no time smoke billowed out of his old Dodge as it squealed out the lot and down Main Street.

  David walked across the street to the hotel. He didn't say a word about being charged for an extra night. Everyone was taking him: the cab driver, Gus, the Hawk Shop owner. But with somebody or somebodies trying to kill him, it just didn't mattered.

  Up in the room David sat on the edge of the bed. All he had in the whole world was right there in front of him. And he was right back where he started months ago. David took the gun out of the gymbag. God, why have you forgotten me? I have lost everything. I don't even have enough money to last a month. Sometimes I felt you were there looking over my shoulder, but now I feel so alone. I'm a risk to the people I love. There is only one thing left for me to do . . .

David  pulled open the drawer next to the bed, took out the motel stationery and wrote three short lines. Then he slid the clip into the handle of the 9-mm and hit it with the bottom of his hand. He pulled the slide and a bullet chambered. Staring at the piece of paper, he hoped everything was correct. Putting the gun down, he concentrated as hard as he could, scribbled out a line and wrote another. Now things looked right.

Alone, conquered and exhausted, David lay on the bed, reached for the gun and nervously moved it from hand to hand. Finding the safety, David clicked it off, on . . .  off.  So tired. David closed his eyes. God, I'm sorry but there is nothing else I can do.

 

 

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