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"I still say we kidnap both of them and hold his Dad for ransom. Then he'll work for us!"

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Chapter Fifteen: The Pieces Start to Fit

A Character story about boldness.

Mr. Gringle went straight back to his room to make a call home. "Honey, I wanted you to know that we are both fine, but Trans may need your special prayers today. I think we've got a lead on the case, but that's all I can say." The two prayed on the phone, then John concluded, "I don't want you to worry, just keep praying. Love you. Bye." Mr. Gringle continued in prayer for Trans, periodically checking his wrist radio to be sure it worked.
Trans found himself in what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. All around the entrance were piles of corrugated boxes with various markings on the sides. Trans tiptoed gently down the two steps to the ground floor so he could see more. To the right was a small room with fluorescent lights and a plaster ceiling. On the left wall of it he could see some type of radio system- two large units with a microphone on the table in front. Just behind the radio gear Trans noticed a poorly hidden safe partially covered with a bathroom towel. As his eyes continued to scan the left side of the warehouse, Trans saw what seemed to be a doorway into another room. Leaning slightly to one side to peer around a box pile, Trans could now clearly see a type of greenhouse, lit by the sun through translucent glass. Trans gasped. This must be where Nick gets the roses he throws during a hold-up. He had never been so close to real live criminals before, at least, not without bars between them. He gulped as sweat began to form on his brow and run down his cheeks.
"No!" came a loud gravely voice from the other room, grabbing Trans' attention. He stepped back to the right to see past another box-pile obstruction. Now he could make out three men sitting around the large wooden table near the radio gear. On the right sat the Inspector; across from him, a man looking nearly identical to the composite picture of Nick the Knife. The third man was well dressed, in his 30's and had dark wavy hair.
"I tell you the haul last night was only $250. This is your third, Marty." The voice came from Nick. Trans listened intently.
"Don't play games with me, Nicky. I read the police report. They said your take was over $1000. Now, where is the rest?"
"You know how those shop owners declare more than was stolen so they can claim it on insurance. I tell you, this is every last bill."
"He's telling you straight, Marty," came the rich voice of the third man. "I was here when Nick came up and I counted it myself. It's all here."
"Well, I'm just checking to make sure." The Inspector arose from his chair and headed toward the greenhouse. He opened a wooden door on the right side of the entrance and disappeared down some stairs. Trans glanced back toward the other two.
"Hey, what did you do with that extra money?"
"It's where he'll never find it. And listen, if the report was that only $1000 was taken, they must not have found out yet that I got the other $3000 in the hidden drawer under the cash register." Though Nick spoke softly, his voice carried clearly in the small room.
"Shhhhh. I hear him coming back." The click of hard soled shoes crescendoed until the Inspector emerged through the doorway once again.
"I'm sorry I doubted you, Nick. I guess I'm just jumpy. I keep wonderin' what will happen if we make one slip. That kid's too slick. I get nervous working against someone you can't see."
"Yeah, I've been waitin' to talk with you about him. When are you goin' to pop the big question to him?"
"Give me time, give me time. The right opportunity hasn't come up yet."
"I still say we kidnap both of them and hold his Dad for ransom. Then he'll work for us!"
"I say no!" the Inspector barked. "That would be too dangerous. The kid could sneak to the cops and we'd never know it. Anyway, I still think we can buy him."
"But you told us that his Dad said they'd work for nothing for law and order. It doesn't sound like he's too money hungry."
"Yeah, he said that, but it was just talk. You know, it sounded good at the time. Everyone's got their price." A cold chill rushed through Trans' body. They were talking about him! They were saying the same thing his Dad had warned Trans about when they first got the call back home, but now it was real! For the first time Trans was really scared!