She picked up the phone with shaky hands and dialed 911. A copy of The New York Times tucked between her legs.
I shouldn’t do this.
But she had done it already. It was the only way to end her miseries.
“You have reached the New York Police Department. How may I help you?” A dull female voice asked.
“I…I need to speak with Detective Wayne.”
“Are you in trouble ma’am?” The lady asked dispassionately.
What sort of a question is that? Don’t people dial 911 when they are in trouble?
“What sort of trouble ma’am?” The lady asked again, sounding apathetic.
“I kidnapped Roger Hopkins.” She said bluntly.
“…yes Sir…No Sir. I will keep you updated sir. Thank-.” The line went dead.
The conversation lasted for approximately seven minutes.
The Deputy Chief of Police, Ben Walter replaced the receiver and swiveled in his chair. The entire Police department stared at him in astonishment. It was the first time they had seen him do that and it was the first time that the Mayor had called.
“Get me Wayne. NOW” He smiled and dismissed his secretary.
He never smiled.
Detective Inspector Daniel Wayne was a handsome man in his early thirties with the highest closing rate in the area. He was firmly built and had attractive features. The female co-workers considered him as a true gentleman with a pleasant and respectable persona, while the jealousy of the male companions remained hardly hidden.
Wayne entered the Deputy’s room, hands behind his back.
“You wanted to see me, Sir?”He asked politely. Before Walter could say anything, Inspector Samuel Bishop hurried to his office.
“There is a woman on line two, claiming to be the kidnapper.” He jabbered.
“Looks like all your problems are finally going to end Wayne.”
Or they are just beginning to start.
He ordered Samuel to trace the call and picked up the receiver. All eyes fixed on him.
“This is Detective Inspector Wayne speaking.” He said curtly.
“Aah…Detective Wayne, I understand you are leading the Hopkins’ case.”
“Yes. That’s right.”
“Then you must be wondering where the kid vanished?”
“May I know who is calling?”
“No. But you can call me Mary.”
“So you want to help Mary?”
“That’s why I called. Now do you have a pen and a paper in hand?” The tone of her voice changed in every sentence she spoke, making it impossible for them to identify the original one.
He quickly picked up a pen and a notepad from the desk ignoring Walter’s deadly look.
“Now write. One Eight Zero Zero Zero Zero Zero Zero dollars to be transferred to-”
“I am sorry. Did you just say-”
“Keep Writing Wayne. To be transferred to Account Number 978241770051 by tomorrow evening.” She spoke stridently.
Samuel gestured, “Nineteen more seconds!”
“How do we know that the kid is unharmed?”
Fifteen more seconds.
“Well, listen to this.” She clicked the play button on the little tape recorder she was carrying.
“Daddy! Mommy! It’s me, Roger! Please save me. These people are going to-” the recording stopped abruptly.
“Is that proof enough for you? Or should I send his tiny little finger?”
“Don’t you dare harm the boy!” He yelled.
“You don’t have to worry about that until tomorrow evening. But if the money is not transferred then there are no guarantees.” She warned.
“How will we contact you again?” He asked.
“You wouldn’t need to. Have a good day Detective.” The line went dead.
The call was traced.
It was a thunderous performance. The two years at Julliard Drama School had finally paid off. She thanked God and nodded at the man standing behind her.
“The call was made from a pawnshop in Rockville, Belfast.” Samuel informed.
“Get two units out, right now. John, you look for all the past cases of kidnapping and find if any woman was involved and tell the father to report to the station as soon as possible.” He took a deep breath and then turned to Samuel.
“You come with me.” They dashed out of the office.
Deputy Walter was busy surveying the sticky note. He counted the digits several times. Every time it turned out to be only an eight digit number. The Hopkins’ estate was worth billions of dollars.
A bald man sitting on the bench outside the quarters noticed the police car leaving and dialed a number.
“Cops in motion. I repeat, cops in motion.”
“All set. Let them come.” The man on the other end replied.
“The pawnshop was formerly owned by Joseph and Kelly Brown. Joseph died of lung cancer a year ago and Kelly remarried in Spain. The shop is now owned by their daughter, Cynthia and her five year old sister.”
“You have a little too much of information there!” Daniel giggled at Samuel, who was busy reading from the NYPD application, containing details of almost all the shops in New York.
“Pretty helpful. Isn’t it?” Samuel gleamed.
Only if it could help locate our kidnapper.
The pawnshop was only a few miles from the police station and it took around three minutes to reach. The street was filled with slow-moving callous people.
“Anybody among them could be the kidnapper, assuming that he hasn’t left already.” Daniel spoke sluggishly.
“Assuming she hasn’t left already.” Samuel corrected him.
Their eyes scanned the area, trying to spot the she-kidnapper. There was an old couple, few children running here and there, men reading newspapers and no sign of Mary. Having no luck for the next few seconds, they got out of the car and moved swiftly towards the pawnshop.
The lady behind the counter was nothing he had expected her to be. She seemed to be in her late twenties and had intelligent gray eyes. Her hair was raven black and her skin a soft creamy white. Daniel noticed a great deal about her in those few seconds they took to approach her.
“Beautiful isn’t she?” Samuel whispered in his ears.
“Stop eyeing her like that. You have a wife and you love her. Remember?” Daniel said mockingly.
What a waste. Doing what she does.
“NYPD. We need to ask you a few questions.” Samuel flashed his badge while Daniel went around the telephone booth looking for clues.
The lady quickly stood up and recited her bio-data as if she was being held for something illegal.
“Cynthia. Relax. We need to ask you a few questions about one of your customers.”
She heaved a sigh of relief and sank back in her chair.
“Anything you want sir.” She offered her help.
“What can you tell us about the woman who made a call from here ten minutes before? Did she do anything to arouse suspicion? Anything at all?”
Daniel was examining the booth when he saw a huge poster of Mother Mary holding Jesus Christ hung on the wall.
But you can call me Mary.
He called Samuel in and showed him the poster.
“Only our Mary has Roger.” Samuel fumed.
“Tell the CSU to sweep the area for fingerprints.”
Samuel nodded approvingly.
“If you are talking about that strange lady, you won’t find any prints sir. She was wearing those gloves, like Queen Elizabeth in London.” Cynthia was standing right behind them.
“What else did you notice?” Daniel stepped ahead and asked.
“Well…you see sir; any information about my client is highly confidential. You can’t expect me to just give it away when…” Her voice trailed off when she saw Daniel take out a one dollar bill from his pocket. She grabbed it like a hungry wolf and stuffed it in her blouse clumsily.
“She was wearing big sunglasses and a huge hat. Her mouth was covered with a scarf.” Her hands moved swiftly in different directions as she spoke, making her speech sound all the way more interesting to them.
“She was a carrying a news paper.” Cynthia stopped speaking and waited for another dollar.
“She was also carrying a small tape recorder.” Another dollar.
“There was a tall man with her, both of them were on foot and-” her eyes widened and she stopped speaking.
“And? And what?” Daniel asked enthusiastically and handed her five dollars instantly.
“And that’s all I know.” Cynthia smiled and grasped the notes hastily.
“Lord bless the cops.” She exclaimed and leaned towards Daniel provocatively.
“You must get so exhausted doing all the work. Keeping people like us safe. Why don’t you come back later and let me protect you.” She said flirtatiously.
“We will see about that later.” Daniel made no attempt to hide his smirk and returned to the car.
One of the men reading the newspaper waited for the police car to leave and quickly made his way to Cynthia.
“They didn’t suspect a thing! Boss will be very pleased. It was a good act Mary.’ He announced positively and coolly returned to his bench.
Cynthia was sitting in her chair, with a gloomy face. She couldn’t have done anything to alert the officers, it was too risky. She wondered only if her titillating act had some influence on Wayne and he would return so that she could try to tell him the truth. Her mind wandered off to the unfortunate events that took place the day before.
She was in the park, playing hide and seek with Jenny when a boy came running after a ball, suddenly two men grabbed him and inserted a needle in his neck, leaving him unconscious. It was quite dark and there weren’t any people around to save him so she herself, made an attempt to rescue him but all in vain. The two men in masks pushed her away like a helpless bug and carried the boy to the car. She shouted for help but nobody was there to help. She ran after the men and tried to kick them but instead one of them grabbed her by the arm and forcefully pushed her in the car. She saw Jenny running towards her and then suddenly everything became fuzzy and she fainted.
When she woke up, she felt week and dizzy and realized that she was blindfolded and tied to a chair.
A man was standing very close to her; she could feel his breath on her face.
‘Looks like our superwoman is awake.’ He grunted.
‘We know everything about you. Your sister here is much of a chatterbox. You just have to do what I say and then you will be allowed to leave.’
‘If you try to act smart.’ he added, ‘You will find your little sister in the gutter somewhere. Dead.’ and then he laughed.
She shuddered at the thought of anyone harming her tiny little princess. She had to do something to protect her.
“And the heroes are back!” Ben Walter exclaimed as he saw Wayne and Samuel enter his office.
George Hopkins and his lawyer, Alex were already seated in the chairs, discussing the case.
“The money she is asking for is not a big deal for the Hopkins to manage. Looks like our kidnapper is an amateur.” Alex commented.
“Kidnappers” Daniel said gravely.
“Now we know that there are two of them and of course, there can be more.” Samuel said firmly.
Daniel wondered how Mary had kidnapped the boy. Maybe she lured him with a candy like in one of those movies he had seen or maybe the boy already knew her and trusted her.
“So what all do we know about them?” the father snapped at them. Daniel felt sorry for the man.
Just then, John entered with a file in his hand.
“Tell me you found something.” Daniel said crisply.
“As a matter of fact, I might have.” -He smiled and began reading from his file-“Bertha Bernice Olga. Age, Thirty two, pleaded guilty to the kidnapping of Mark Harding, the nine year old son of Dr. Lenny Harding, in 2003. She spent five years in prison and is now committed to a convent on King Street. I called up the convent asking for her whereabouts, but they confirmed that Bertha hasn’t reported since yesterday morning.”
“Was she the only one involved?” Samuel asked.
“Yes.” John replied.
“Maybe she runs a gang now. Who knows?” Ben suggested.
“She is a nun for Christ’s sake!” Alex raised his hands in despair.
“Find out where she is now. I want my boy back.” George said with bitterness in his voice.
“I am already on it. I have sent six of my men to look for her.” John informed.
“Gentlemen, we can’t do anything else until then. The money is ready. If we can’t find her before tomorrow evening then we have no other choice than to transfer the money.” Ben stated the case quite frankly.
Everybody nodded approvingly, except Daniel Wayne.
“I don’t think she is the woman we are looking for.” Wayne said at last.
“And why would you say that?” Ben Walter looked at him quizzically.
“She is what? Forty three right now. The woman on the phone was not more than thirty.”
“She never spoke in her original voice. Right?” Ben said dryly.
There was something in her tone he had noticed, but he realized that it wasn’t worth explaining. Everybody had conveniently chosen their kidnapper.
“Go home Wayne. You have been working for thirty hours straight. You need some sleep.”
Sleep was the last thing on his mind.
He went to his office and went through the events in his mind. He pictured the woman who made the call. Wearing big sunglasses to hide her eyes, a scarf wrapped around her face…
“It is too obvious.” He said out loud.
“What?” asked Samuel who was standing at the doorway.
“The entire scenario.” his eyes grew serious. “A billionaire’s boy is kidnapped from right outside his own house. The kidnappers wait for fifteen hours before making the call. The woman on the call tries to conceal her voice but makes it too simple for us to trace the call. What do you understand from this?” He questioned Samuel who was listening patiently and shrugged his shoulders in bafflement.
“The kidnappers were confident that we wouldn’t be able to catch them. Cynthia told us that the woman was draped from top to bottom. In a weather so hot wouldn’t her appearance be too suspicious for the eyes of a policeman.”
“There is no subway station or a bus stop anywhere within five miles of the pawnshop.”
“Oh my God! That’s right. How did the kidnappers get away then?” Samuel asked in excitement.
“That’s the important point. They didn’t.” Daniel’s grin widened.
“What do you mean?” Samuel couldn’t connect the dots.
“We are looking for a woman in her twenties who is probably a con artist. A woman who is clever enough to not get caught. And most importantly, we are looking for a woman. “
“Who is a better match than Cynthia herself?”
“Holy Mother of God!” Samuel gasped.
“They fooled us with the obvious. Let’s go.”
The street wasn’t as busy as it was earlier. A black SUV was parked in front of the pawnshop. Daniel stopped the car at the corner of the road and observed what was happening.
They saw two men drag Cynthia to the car.
Daniel wondered who she really was.
Just then John called.
“Bertha is not the kidnapper.” He spoke sluggishly.
“We know. Follow us on the GPS and come with a task force” Daniel said and cut the phone.
“The nun was with her boyfriend all this time.” John chuckled to himself still not able to comprehend that fact.
The black SUV stopped in front of an old dilapidated mill. And the same two men yanked Cynthia inside.
Daniel and Samuel followed them discreetly. The mill wasn’t properly lit and they heard the two men exchange dialogues. There were around seven of them and then they heard a voice which sounded familiar. They tip toed their way to the first floor and within the next few minutes, the mill was surrounded by men in uniform. The confused kidnappers didn’t stand a chance to revolt. They were instantly captured.
Roger and Jenny were admitted to the hospital for they were heavily drugged. The confusion about Cynthia being the kidnapper was cleared and the Hopkins thanked her for risking her and Jenny’s life to protect Roger. She was rewarded with 30,000$.
Detective Inspector Daniel Wayne was promoted.
A week later since the terrible incident, Daniel and Cynthia were sitting in a coffee shop.
“How did they do it?” She asked while sipping her drink.
“Well, the butler finally confessed. He had thrown the ball out and had challenged Roger to get it”
“What about the money?”
“James Fraser, George Hopkins’ business partner had decided to donate the exact amount of money in cash to a children’s charity anonymously. His lawyer had spitted this information to Alex while he was drunk at a party. And that’s how it began. Alex decided to kidnap the boy, but you barged in and they had to change their plan. It was then decided that you would act as the kidnapper and surrender after the money is transferred.”
“Why?” She asked.
“They planned to make you look like Robin Hood. You were to say that it was you who had donated all the ransom money to the charity”
“That is insane!”
“Yes, but it was a damn good plan. You would have done it for Jenny. And there could be no cross checking. The money was to be donated in cash and so there would be no paper trail to follow.” He admitted sheepishly.
“Do you know the most difficult part of the entire scenario?” He asked her.
“Asking you out.”
They both laughed.