Authors: John Gilstrap
Tags: #Action & Adventure, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction - Espionage, #American Mystery & Suspense Fiction, #Fiction, #Suspense Fiction, #Adventure fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Crime & Thriller, #General, #Thriller
Glow Bird beat them home, and when Jonathan and his chauffeur entered the firehouse, Venice, Dom, and JoeDog were already in the living room, waiting for them. Jonathan paused in the entryway and sighed as the dog scrabbled off the sofa and charged to meet him. He knew they were there to see him through his emotional crisis, but he was not in the mood.
"Not tonight, guys. I really want to be alone."
"I don't think you do," Venice said.
Dom elaborated, "Before we got the news about Ellen, we did some brainstorming."
"Dom and I," Venice said. "We were trying to make the pieces fit. And I think we did."
Jonathan waited for it.
"We know that Stephenson Hughes needed the GVX as ransom," Dom began.
Venice quickly interrupted, "And that Ivan Patrick worked for Carlyle in a special capacity for something called Special Projects."
Dom leaned back in his seat, and let her have the floor.
"So, working from the assumption that there are no coincidences in the world, since Angela Caldwell worked for Carlyle, too--"
"She was the one who knew how to get their hands on it," Jonathan said, connecting the dots for himself.
"So, the Hugheses
kill her," Boxers said. "They tortured her to get the information."
Venice shook her head. "No, I don't think so. She had a family. She was a mother. I think all they had to do was tell her what they were up against, and she gave them the information. Somehow, Ivan Patrick must have found out about it, and then
was the one who tortured and killed them to find out what she'd told the Hugheses." Her eyes bored into Jonathan, seeking assurance that her logic was sound.
"It certainly explains the brutality--Ivan's MO," Jonathan agreed. "If that's the way it went down."
"Tell him about the other shootings," Dom prompted.
Venice leaned forward, her eyes wide. "No coincidences, right? Well, using this hunch, I did a little more poking around the ICIS network and I found even more activity around the"No, but a shooting--sort of. A half of a shooting." Jonathan's face showed his waning patience, so Venice picked up the pace. "A 9-1-1 call reported a shooting at a place called Apocalypse Boulevard in a town I don't remember. Then, while units were still responding, the call got canceled. The caller called back and said that they were mistaken, and that everything was okay. The dispatcher turned the ambulance around, but the cop car went on in anyway just to check things out. According to their report, the people they met there at the gate--employees of a security firm--seemed agitated, but they swore that everything was fine, and the cops had no grounds to press their suspicions any further."
"But you don't believe that things were fine," Jonathan concluded for her.
Venice nodded. "Exactly. Because there are no coincidences. I did a Zillow search on the address." Jonathan recognized the name of the real estate search engine. "Care to guess what that address used to be?"
"An Indian burial ground," Jonathan grumped.
"A Nike missile launch facility. It's all in the public record. Back in the eighties and nineties, we got rid of all our Nike missiles, and the sites went up for sale. This one, on Apocalypse Boulevard, was bought by Secured Storage Company out of Wilmington, Delaware."
"Interesting company name," Boxers poked. "I wonder what they do."
," Venice stressed. Clearly, she was frustrated that they hadn't already leaped to where she was going. "Carlyle is a Delaware company."
Jonathan coughed out a laugh. "Jesus, Ven, half the companies in the world are Delaware corporations."
"Which makes it that much easier to do the search," she countered. "Secured Storage Company is a subsidiary--several steps removed, of course--of Carlyle Industries. They're the same company!"
Finally, Jonathan got it. "Missiles mean underground storage magazines," he said. "That's where Carlyle was storing the GVX."
"When the Hugheses went there to get it, there must have been an exchange of gunfire," Dom said.
"So what's with the phone call to 9-1-1?" Boxers asked. "And if there someone was shot, why
"Because they didn't want the publicity," Jonathan explained. "Every state requires gunshot wounds to be reported to the police, mandating some kind of investigation. That's the last thing a company like Carlyle would want."
The room grew silent except for JoeDog's snoring as they each put the puzzle together for themselves.
Finally, Jonathan test-drove his own theory aloud. "Desperate to get their kid back, the Hugheses reach out to Angela Caldwell. She points them in the right direction, and pays for the decision with her life. Obviously, they visited her at her house, or else their fingerprints wouldn't be all over the place. Then they went to this Apocalypse Boulevard place and took what they needed for ransom."
"Shooting the place up while doing it," Boxers said.
"Right," Jonathan agreed. "So now the Hugheses are hiding somewhere. They can't call the police without walking into a murder charge, and they've either stashed their GVX somewhere, or they'refolder. "Facial recognition software turned up bupkis on your pal Leon Harris. Absolutely nothing. So, I decided to run the other faces. This is what I got."
Gail waited for him to open his file and select a facedown piece of paper. She turned it over and saw a mug she vaguely recognized. She scowled and waited for her answer without asking the question.
"The priest," Jesse said. "From the video. You are looking at one Father Dominc D'Angelo, pastor of St. Katherine's Catholic Church in a place called Fisherman's Cove, Virginia. Don't ask where it is, because I don't have a clue. The picture you're looking at is from a fund-raiser for something called Resurrection House. It's an orphanage, sort of, for kids whose parents are serving time in jail."
"How sweet," Gail said.
"Hey, it's a start," Jesse said. Then he smiled. "But it's only the beginning. Clearly Leon and Father D'Angelo know each other, right? So I thought I'd search the Internet for the cross section of Dominic D'Angelo and Fisherman's Cove. Actually, there were more hits than I would have thought. For a priest, he really gets around on the rubber chicken circuit. He's like a fund-raising machine. He's also a psychologist, for what that's worth."
"Is it worth anything?"
Jesse shrugged. "I suppose if you're crazy, but not so much for us right now."
"Stay with me. I'm getting there. I wasn't finding anything to link him to Leon, and I traced him back as far as I knew how to trace. Finally, I found an alumni newspaper from the College of William and Mary from sometime in the mid-eighties. They were running some kind of a retrospective of the Good Old Days, you know?" His smile broadened, and he slid another sheet face down to Gail. "And look what I found."
With a sense of real anticipation in her gut, Gail turned the sheet over and found a picture of two clearly intoxicated college students. The clothing styles spoke of the last days of disco. These two boys were laughing heartily, hanging off each other in that way that you never see in guys who are much beyond their teens.
"Don't you see it?" Jesse prompted.
Then she did. The caption identified them by name. The dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty on the left was a younger version of Father D'Angelo. And the shirtless blond Adonis on the right was a very young Leon Harris--only his name on the page was Jonathan Gravenow.
"Oh, my," Gail beamed. "Look what you found. Nice work, Jess. Wonderful work. Now we have a name for the face."
Jesse shook his head. "Actually, we don't," he said. "Jonathan Gravenow doesn't exist. Nowhere in the world."
"But I just saw him."
Jesse's smile got even broader. "No," he said as he slid a third sheet of paper across the desk, "you just saw Jonathan Grave."
This new sheet of paper looked to be articles of incorporation for a company called Security Solutions, a Virginia corporation headquartered in none other than Fisherman's Cove.
"This one was a little tricky," Jesse said, exuding pride. "Jonathan Gravenow was the only child of Simon Gravenow. Does that name ring a bell, Miss FBI?"
It didn't ring a bell, name to Jonathan Grave, and he joined the Army. Twenty years later, he owns a private investigation company. Now, what kind of investigation firm do you suppose a former Army guy might run?"
This time, Gail saw it immediately. People like that were exactly the folks who would get into the paramilitary business. The kind of business that might specialize in rescuing wayward hostages. It was time to find Fisherman's Cove on the map and make a plane reservation.
She was about to say something to that effect when her phone rang. Even as she reached for the receiver, she had the sense that she should have ignored it.
Thirty seconds later, she cursed herself for not listening to her instincts.
Venice didn't try to conceal her pride for what she'd accomplished. "I knew you'd want to track the Hugheses," she said, "so I worked the problem. I was hoping that they'd done something really stupid like using their credit cards, but obviously they haven't, or the police would have been all over them. They've been pretty smart. The only record of unusual behavior is their withdrawal of twelve thousand dollars and change from their savings account. Pretty much wiped out their cash supply."
"That's their traveling money," Boxers said.
She continued, "I tried tracking the cell phones owned by each of them, but they've either turned them off or thrown them away. Either way, there's no signal to triangulate on."
Jonathan asked, "What about the number I called at the end of the 0300 mission?"
"That's one of those prepaid disposable jobs--thank God you called it, or we'd have nothing even to look for--but it's turned off, too. Even so, it got me thinking. If they know enough to keep their cell phones off and to use prepaids, then they'd probably buy more than one of them, right? One for Stephenson Hughes and one for his wife, Julie." She waited for the nods. "So, with a little help from a friend of mine in the telephone company, I did a search on the telephone numbers that were called by Stephenson's prepaid, and guess what I found?"
Jonathan feigned patience because it was easiest. "What?"
"That he called another prepaid disposable phone."
"That would be my guess. Anyway, those calls--there were three of them altogether, beginning shortly after your call to Stephenson, with the last one about thirty hours ago--gave us a routing to look at."
"Where the signals began and ended," Dom explained.
Venice nodded. "Exactly. And it got interesting. The other end of the call--the receiving end in every case--was from different locations, starting in Indiana, and moving in a rough line north and east. The originating end of the calls all came from the same tower combinations in southwestern Pennsylvania."
"Pittsburgh?" Jonathan asked.
"Not Pittsburgh per se," Venice said, "but from that general area. In the mountains." She reached under the coffee table and found the atlas that Jonathan always kept there, and sear became even more animated. "That part of the state is in pretty tough shape economically. You don't have neighborhoods like we know them. Up in the mining country there are lots and lots of old homesteads, but they tend to be on big tracts of land. Dozens of acres, if not hundreds."
Jonathan found his patience waning, but he hung in there.
"I know, I know," Venice said, reading his body language. "Get to the point. Well, I am, believe it or not. Because the land tracts are so large, there are only a few that could possibly be the source of Stephenson's signal."
"Unless he's decided to bivouac," Boxers said.
Venice waved a dismissive hand. "Trust me," she said. "He didn't. He decided instead to use an old family home up there in the woods."
family?" Boxers asked.
"Why haven't the police found him?" Jonathan added.
She beamed. "Because it's deeded to Alistair DuBois," she said. "Not to Stephenson Hughes."
Jonathan recoiled. "Who the hell is Alistair Dubois?"
"Stephenson Hughes's mother's father."
"Holy shit," Boxers barked.
Dom laughed. "Isn't she amazing? Honest to goodness, it only took her about forty-five minutes to piece all of this together. I watched her do it."
Jonathan's mouth gaped. "What kind of twisted logic gets you to places like that?"
She shrugged. "I cheated. I started with the assumption that he had a plan that made sense." She shot a look to Boxers. "One that made more sense than
, anyway, which meant that there was probably some property that they had access to. If that were the case, then I figured that it would be family property, else how would they know about it? Based on that assumption, I started with the tax records for the most likely tracts, and then I worked backward through a genealogy search. The answer came pretty fast."
Jonathan gaped. "You never cease to amaze me."
"You up for doing some more magic?"
Her face fell. "Like what?"
"Like finding me everything you can about a place in West Virginia known as Brigadeville." It took less than a minute to share the spotty information he'd learned from Andrew Hawkins.
Venice scowled. "That's not much to go on."
"You saying you can't?" Jonathan asked.
"I'm insulted," she said.
"I thought you might be." Jonathan looked at his watch. "It's seven-fifteen now. Let's meet again in three hours and see where we are."
Now she looked shocked. "You know it's seven fifteen in the evening, right?"
Jonathan stood. "Three hours and fifteen minutes, then. You, Box, and I will meet up in the office at ten thirty." He looked to Boxers. "That work for you, big guy?"
He stood, too. "Doesn't feel like there's a lot of choice."