Monday, March 18, 2019

Wanted - Dead or Deader - Part 4

With Abner safely tucked away in a sleazy motel on Lincoln Avenue, I reported back to my ex-wife and told her the ransom drop didn’t pan out. Nobody showed up, and there was no sign of her husband.

The lovely Renee wasn’t pleased. “They must’ve spotted you.”

“If they did, they saw no sign of their money and left. If you want him back alive, you’ll have to pay the ransom.”

Renee’s expression told me how she felt about that scenario which made me glad I’d forged a deal with her husband. Carlyle followed my plan and the next day another ransom letter arrived in the mail. This time it was delivered to Abner’s right hand man, Dave McGill. I’d planned to return to his place that day to guarantee my involvement in this caper, but he saved me the trip by rushing over to my office.

McGill confided he hadn’t believed my claims about his boss being kidnapped the other day. He’d thought Mrs. Carlyle was trying to pull a fast one. Now he demanded to know what I was going to do about the situation.

I recommended he take the note straight to the police. This horrified him. He pointed to the ransom demand and insisted the kidnappers would kill his boss if the authorities got involved.

That was great. I’d told Abner I’d bail immediately if the police were informed. The payoff wasn’t worth the risk; I had a wife and kid to think about.

McGill swore he’d make arrangements and gather together the half million.

“Can you raise that much dough?”

McGill assured me that Carlyle was a financial wizard, well worth twice that amount. I mentioned Renee and got a laugh. He claimed he wouldn’t need her cooperation. Abner’s assets were tied up in the business, and McGill didn’t need Carlyle’s wife’s agreement to pull money out. Smart man.

“Once Abner’s released, he’ll be able to rebuild his fortune. I’ve worked for him for seven years; the man’s a genius.”
Good to know. I revisited the option of police involvement. Satisfied that McGill was vehemently opposed to the idea, I let him leave my office to start assembling the payoff.

I kept in constant contact with McGill and Renee over the next couple of days. My ex wasn’t thrilled with the concept of parting with that amount of dough, but McGill was determined to buy Abner’s freedom. I had a cynical viewpoint on the matter. McGill’s motivation was easy to figure. If his boss died, McGill’s plum job disappeared. In contrast, Renee would be happier if the kidnappers were thwarted and Abner killed so she could inherit all his wealth.

So the only person financially affected by our ruse would be Renee. In case anyone ever wondered if my involvement was all about revenge—don’t forget, I’d saved her life. By foiling her husband’s plot to kill her and devising an alternate plan, Renee would live to snare hubby number six.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Wanted Dead or Deader - Part 3

I visited Carlyle’s favorite haunts. Turned out the place he hung out the most was his own. I paid a visit to his house (mansion) on Astor Street. The maid let me in (what a step up from the first home Renee and I shared—a third floor walk-up in Roger’s Park). Renee was in residence (now she thinks she’s the Queen?) and after a brief argument (first one I ever won), I searched the place from top to bottom but found no clues to Abner’s whereabouts.


With a lack of fresh ideas, I scoped out the kidnapper’s meeting point. I arrived three hours early in order to check the area and figure out my options. The designated spot was in the middle of a secluded, wooded forest preserve near Belmont and Cumberland. Daylight was fading fast, and I imagined how dark this place was going to get. Perfect spot (for the kidnappers—not so great for me). Dense trees filtered out what was left of the sun’s rays, and I was glad I’d brought my flashlight. If I picked a good place to hide and watch, maybe I could catch a license plate when they arrived.


Three hours later, I’d have killed for a cold beer. My sweat-soaked black turtle neck constricted my breathing in the humid night air. So far, I hadn’t caught a glimpse of anything but a family of deer. I was ready to call it a night, but I’d promised Renee I’d find her husband, so I stuck it out alone in the dark. Just when I was determined to call it quits, I heard a rustling about a hundred yards to my right. Keeping the man’s silhouette in view at all times, I circled around and sneaked up behind him.

I called his name. Abner Carlyle spun around and raised his hands at the sight of my gun. (I’d had a hunch when I’d spotted those big old jug ears and rotund build in the dim moonlight).

“Abner,” I said. “It’s time for a talk.”


Seemed shortly after the wedding, the wealthy recluse had a change of heart. He’d married Renee in a foolish, lonely moment and regretted it ever since. Carlyle was reluctant to divorce her, since he didn’t relish paying out a huge settlement. So the man had planned a fake abduction and plotted to kill his wife when she arrived with the ransom. His idea was to accuse his phony kidnappers of murder. The police would never catch the fabricated criminals, and Carlyle figured he’d be free and clear.

What he didn’t count on was the lovely Renee Carlyle hiring a detective. He’d led such a solitary life, he didn’t realize a woman might not go it alone (especially a woman like Renee who never did anything she could get someone else to do for her).

I had a lot of sympathy for the guy (after all, I’d been married to Renee once) and that’s why I contrived a new plot.