The Simsville Inheritance
Copyright ©2006 Elizabeth G. Cox. All rights reserved.

Chapter 11 - Best Laid Plans Go Awry

When the call finally came at 6:00 in the morning, Charles Dunston had been awake most of the night. Since 5:00 o'clock he'd drunk one pot of coffee and made another before stretching out on the den sofa. He'd shut his eyes, but all he could see was Charlotte's face. Lisa lay on the couch in the living room, smoking one cigarette after another. He'd taken her a cup of coffee and sat with her for a while but they didn't have much to say to each other. He'd returned to the den to be near the phone.

Jones had arrived about 5:30. All the council members were up, he reported, ready to go whenever the call came in. He sat at the kitchen table, a mug of coffee in one hand and a red Bic pen in the other. He was perusing a topographical map of the county. Circles of red ink represented likely hiding places to be investigated. Hearing the phone ring, he'd headed to the den to be sure the automatic trace equipment started up as it should. Dunston's end of the conversation was brief. "Yes, I understand, can I talk to..."

"Damn, damn, damn!" Dunston slammed the receiver down. The few seconds were not nearly enough to get a trace.

"What'd he say?"

"Got to take another call from the pay phone at the square. I got five minutes to get there." Fumbling for his car keys, Dunston took off out the door. Jones took a moment to dial Smith, then headed to his own car.

Last night the council had worked out a plan. When instructions were received for delivering the money, each of them would stake-out a spot and be ready to follow the kidnapper no matter what direction he took. They all drove ordinary looking vehicles, nothing flashy or too new, and all were familiar with surveillance techniques. It should work.

By the time Jones arrived at the square, Dunston was out of his car and approaching the phone. It rang almost immediately and he snatched it up.

"Put the money in a garbage bag, go rent a locker at the Sumter Bus Station and put the money in it. Get a couple of donuts at the donut shop down the street, put the locker key in the empty donut bag, go to the gas station next door and put the bag and key in the men's room trash can underneath the liner and go home. You'll be called where to pick up the girl." The instructions were simple and took less than a minute.

"Recognize the voice?" Jones didn't much think he would and he didn't.

"Sounded young, that's all. Could have been any of the kids around here. We'd better get started." As Dunston drove away, Jones was on his cell phone, relaying the instructions to Smith.

"The Sumter Bus Station will be crowded but it shouldn't be too hard to keep an eye on the gas station. It's probably on a corner. Tell the guys to meet me at Lucky's Truck Stop so we can decide who parks where." Jones was thinking, this seems a little too easy.

He was right. It was too easy. Charles Dunston left the money in the locker, then drove the three blocks to the Donut Shoppe and gas station. He put the key in the trash can just as instructed. Then he'd gone home and waited. And waited. But no-one ever retrieved the key and no phone call ever came. Lisa Dunston was beside herself.

After two hours Jones went into the men's room and verified that the key was still there. Leaving the others in their stake-out spots, he took the key, drove to the bus station and opened the locker. It was empty.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 |