Protecting David-Alex’s Story 17
Sunday Evening, Palo Alto
Sunday evening Larry and I dropped the whole crew at the plane,
hugged and kissed everyone helped load luggage and then hugged
some more. Way to soon the door was closed the engines rose
to a shriek and turning slowly and with us waving wildly it
slowly disappeared into the sea of airplanes moving around
We had brought my car and the van that we had rented that
now had to be returned so I followed Larry to Hertz and then
we were headed home. Larry reached over and held my hand.
His head was lying back against the headrest and he rolled
it towards me. “We need to make slow love tonight.” He
laughed. “A couple of times.” Out of the corner
of my eye I could see him shake his head slowly. “I can’t
fucking believe that we’ve got school tomorrow.”
I added, “And exams not far off!”
“Mark and my dad were talking about everyone coming
to our place in Aspen for Christmas. Great views! We could
ski.” I got an instant flashback to Tommy but forced
it out of my mind.
“Sounds great! Oh fuck!”
“What about em? You don’t need to get me anything.” I
glanced quickly at Larry, saw his face, and laughed.
“Yeah, right! Besides, you’re the easy one to
buy for. It’s my dads and your dad that are the problem.
They have everything and need nothing. At least Bob and Becky
still need stuff and there’s tons of stuff we can buy
Larry said, “I’m easy to buy for?”
I smiled. “I’m in love with you, I can buy you….in
“That’s true. You could gimme a handful of dirt
and I’d think it was great.”
“Well, I’m pretty sure that I can do better than
that but you’ve got the idea.” I thought for a
moment. “Course David is pretty tight so there are some
things that I could get him that I know fer sure he’d
never spend the money on himself.”
Larry raised my hand to his lips and kissed it. “How
tight can David be? That plane hadda cost him like a zillion
“That’s business, he’ll spend it for that,
it’s personal stuff that he gets weird about. Mark kinda
keeps him from getting too bad. I’d be driving a 92 Chevy
with two hundred thousand miles on it if it wasn’t for
“Okay, Alex, so what do you want for Christmas?”
I had to think about this for a minute. “Sweetheart………..anything
you get me’ll be great. The thing is that next to having
you………..everything else just seems…….I
dunno………..anticlimactic. Just knowing that
you’re there……….that’s all I
A light rain had begun falling, one of those California rains,
where if your from the Midwest you wonder what the point
is, I mean, geez, if it’s gonna rain then rain. It
just seemed to make the house seem all the more empty. Having
had Bob, Becky and the twins with us for a few days had been
great and the house had seemed so alive with activity.
Larry dragged me by the hand from the garage to the bedroom.
I protested. “Larry, I gotta set up the coffee pot before
this sexfest begins. You’re gonna be looking for it tomorrow
morning so just lemme get that outta the way.”
I was fighting to keep his hands off of my nipples. He said, “You’re
not gonna start fucking cleaning or anything are ya?” He
started to unbutton my shirt and kissed the side of my neck. “I’ll
fix the coffee tomorrow. I’ll get up early.” He
stuck his tongue in my ear while he was pulling my shirt out
of my pants.
I was lying spread eagle on our bed with Larry lying exactly
on top of me his fingers entwined with mine his feet next to
mine and his cock lying in the cleft of my ass. His dick was
hard and was pressed hard against my perineum and the head
was jammed down into the mattress. His tongue was slowly lapping
from the top of my shoulders to the beginning of my hairline.
His fingers closed tightly around mine and then he pulled my
hands in to my chest until his arms were wrapped around me
and my hands were pinned beneath me and our fingers were still
Larry’s hips continued a gentle thrusting even though
the head of his cock was nowhere my asshole but buried in the
Finally he whispered, “You ready?”
My face was buried in the bedding and I muttered a muted, “Go
“Yeah! Like I’d just jam it in!”
I lifted my head and laughed. “Doesn’t hurt to
remind ya. That dick should be licensed.”
“Babe, I would never hurt ya.”
He lifted his butt and his dick popped up, hanging away from
his body at a forty-five degree angle. He carefully let the
head of his cock find my asshole and just pressed it against
it firmly enough to hold it there, then he laid back down on
my back and began licking the back of my neck again as his
cock began to slowly enter me.
Monday, Palo Alto
He had his hand on the back of my neck and was trying to pull
me back into bed.
“Larry! Sweetheart! I’m all dressed and I got
an eight o’clock class!”
wasn’t even awake!
I pried his hands off of me a finger at a time. “I gotta
go, Babe! I love you! I’ll see you this afternoon.” I
shoulda skipped classes.
The ambulance pulled up in front of the library steps and
even before it stopped an EMT jumped out and came running up
to me. He was excited and out of breath. “You gotta be
Alex, right?” I felt a sense of dread. “Your roommate,
Larry, he’s been hurt………he’s
asking for you.” He grabbed my arm. “Come on man!
He’s not letting us take him to the hospital till he
sees you!” We started running to the ambulance while
groups of students held back with concerned looks on their
“In the back door! He’s on the gurney but hurry!” I
was too numb with panic to even imagine what could have happened
The EMT opened the back door and I climbed in next to Larry
on the gurney while the EMT got in behind me the door closed
and we began to roll. “Larry!” I reached out my
The sheet was covering Larry’s face and he wasn’t
moving. Suddenly there was movement under the sheet and it
lifted off of him. It wasn’t Larry and there was a gun
pointing at my head. My mouth fell open and my voice caught
in my throat.
I turned my head to look for some kind of reality but the
guy behind me was also pointing a gun at me. “We know
that you’re fast, Alex but trust me you ain’t faster
than a bullet.”
I was having trouble getting my mind around this. “Where’s
Larry?” My head swiveled around looking at the three
men. It still seemed like he should be here. “He’s
not hurt?” I knew………..but I didn’t
want to know. It was sunny out after last nights rain, there
were students walking past us, this couldn’t be happening.
There was a middle-aged guy sitting on the seat just behind
the cab and he spoke for the first time. His voice was deep
with a rough urban edge to it. “He’s not hurt yet,
Alex and he doesn’t have to be hurt but if you give us
a hard time………” He shrugged. “I
got a guy parked down the street from your house. You don’t
cooperate and Larry gets a bullet in his head. It’s not
something that I want to do but I can live with it either way.” He
sounded like he was explaining how a lawnmower worked and he
actually looked like he regretted the idea of it. I was kneeling
on the floor of the ambulance and every muscle in my body was
The middle-aged guy spoke again softly almost like he was
exhausted. “It’s not worth it, Alex. Look……..we
tell your dad we got you, he pays the ransom and then you’re
free. You got your whole life ahead of ya. Don’t do anything
stupid.” He was right. I could maybe kill one of them,
probably the guy still on the gurney but it’d be the
last thing that I did. My muscles seemed to collapse.
I took a deep breath. “Okay. Whadya want me to do?”
They had me lie down on the gurney while they strapped me
down and covered me to the neck with the sheet. “Can’t
have anyone looking in and wondering what’s going on.” I
was beyond being terrified, I was certain. I was certain that
I wouldn’t survive this and I was certain that they didn’t
realize what they had started.
The middle-aged guy who’s name was Tony was good looking
in a “hundred miles of bad road” sort of way. He
looked like he had probably been quite the street fighter when
he was younger but now had settled into middle age and had
put on a bit of weight.
Ralph was the guy who had been lying on the gurney under the
sheet and he seemed like he was on something. Every bit of
him was in motion at all times, a leg jiggling a foot tapping
his head jerking around, always something.
Paul was the guy who had lured me to the ambulance and he
seemed to simply fade into the background as the ambulance
picked up speed. He sat back and closed his eyes.
The scariest guy was the one that I hadn’t even gotten
a good look at yet. Arnie was the driver and he had a way of
laughing about nothing at all that sent shivers up my spine.
Finally Tony told him to shut the fuck up and also yelled at
Ralph for bringing him.
“Ralphie what is it with that asshole? I told you not
him! What language you figure I’m speakin?”
“Tony, he’ll be fine, really. He’s my wife’s
cousin and she’s drivin me fuckin crazy to get him work!
But, Tony, really……..he’ll be good. What’s
there for him to do? Even he can watch television all day.”
We were moving faster now which meant we had worked our way
through the city of Palo Alto and seconds later we were making
the tight clover leaf turn onto the freeway.
I knew that David and Mark would pay but I also was certain
that these guys didn’t intend to turn me loose. I had
seen all of their faces really well and everything that I had
ever read said that if kidnappers did that it was because they
knew that you wouldn’t be around to pick them out of
I wondered who was gonna tell Larry. Surely they wouldn’t
talk to him about a ransom. No, fer sure they’d talk
to David. For one thing these days Mark was traveling constantly
so they’d never get him and for another David was the
more visible of the two. They contact him.
I felt bad for Larry. This wasn’t the kinda thing that
I figured he’d handle well. Jack and Bob would probably
come and stay with him. But shit, he was gonna be a mess. I
wondered how they’d kill me. Fuck! I gotta put that oughta
my mind! Maybe there’ll be a chance to get away. Ralph
made that remark about Arnie watching television all day maybe
he was gonna guard me until they got the money. Maybe there’d
be a chance. A bullet, they’d shoot me, clean, quick.
Why do it any other way?
How long would it take Larry to stop thinking about me? No!
He’d never stop! I’d never stop thinking about
him. But he’ll get over it. No. I’d never get over
it and he won’t either. My hands are shaking. Fuck! He’s
just a freshman in college, he’ll find someone else.
He’ll tell the guy about me and the guy’ll be sympathetic.
They’ll slowly grow close. He’ll be okay.
Problems seem to accumulate over a weekend and on a long Thanksgiving
weekend it’s even worse. Everyone who let things go unattended
so that they can get away early for the holiday are trying
to make up for it.
I looked at my watch it said eleven-thirty. Marks plane would
be landing in D.C. in another two hours. I sighed and answered
my ringing phone.
“Yeah.” It was Joan telling me that Kattie from
the security company in Palo Alto was calling. I hadn’t
told Alex but I bought the condo across the street from him
and the security company that I used to watch out for him was
“Kattie! What’s up?”
“Hi, Mr. Kerry. I’m not sure yet. There’s
been a car parked at the end of the street and it looks like
the driver’s been paying a lot of attention to the condo.”
“Early class but Larry’s still inside.”
“You run the plates yet?”
“Yeah, we’re waiting for an answer.” She
sighed. “I’d feel a lot better if we could shadow
“I know, me too but I promised we wouldn’t. He
says that no one knows him there and it makes him feel weird
to be followed around.”
A buzzer sounded and my fax machine began to make a whirring
sound. A second later and a fax dropped into the basket.
I reached for the fax and said, “Larry should have protection
too. We’d be just as screwed if anything happened to
I reached over casually and picked up the fax and my heart
seemed to stop.
WE HAVE YOUR SON – 40MM USD CASH
THREE DAYS. CONTACT NO ONE.
I held the paper and my hand started shaking so badly that
the sound of the crinkling paper seemed to fill the room. I
thought of the last time that Mark and I saw Helmut and how
terribly ill he looked, to be dead within hours. I thought
of my promise to him that we would take care of his little
boy. I remembered how our dog, Joe, used to lie on Alex’s
bed and guard him and how a little boy with platinum blond
hair and bright blue eyes used to stand next to our bed waiting
for us to wake up. The images flashed through my mind without
end and it felt strangely comforting watching Alex as a little
boy and the images seemed to be on an endless loop in my mind.
Joan came rushing into the office.
“Mr. Kerry! Sir! Are you alright?” She was ringing
I turned to look at her and she gasped. She almost screamed, “It’s
Kattie! She thought something had happened to you!” What
was happening to me?
I looked down at the phone in my hand and then back up at
Joan. “What line is she on?”
Joan came over and nervously pressed the button on the phone.
“Kattie, hang on a second.” I turned to Joan. “I’m
fine, Joan. Go back to your desk and shut the door. When I’m
done with this call have Tom Tulley and Brian waiting outside
and setup a conference call with Jamie and Emi.”
I read the ransom note to Kattie and she said, “Oh fuck!
We need to call the FBI.”
“No…….not yet. Have you gotten the info
on those plates?”
“Yes, Sir. They’re registered to Paul Argento.” She
sighed. “He’s been associated with Nick Bonurato.
He’s really big out here. Controls prostitution, drugs,
etcetera. Also owns a lot of stuff in Reno and Tahoe but it’s
not like these people to get into kidnapping.”
“Yes……..I’ve heard the name and maybe
their changing their business plan.” Actually I was very
familiar with Mr. Bonurato.
“Katie, call your boss. I want the security increased
to appropriate levels at our offices here, New York and London,
also increase the security on Jamie and Emi. Mark is on his
way to Washington, you have the flight info in the computer,
have security meet him and tell him that he better learn to
live with it.”
“I want all the info that you can get me on Bonurato
including everything that he owns. I realize how little of
that is public but use other sources. I also need to know where
he is now. I know that will be difficult but bribe whoever
you have to, money isn’t an issue here. Review all the
security tapes of cars going by the condo and see if any of
his people made other passes. I want security people in that
condo with Larry, NOW! Don’t tell him about Alex! Come
up with some excuse. Call me back.”
I punched Joan’s line. “Get me Jack Donovan!”
I took out my satellite phone and called Gerhardt Mueller
A pleasant female voice asked me in German if she could be
of help. “Dr. Mueller please.”
She immediately switched to English.
“May I say who is calling sir?”
“Oh. Yes Mr. Kerry please wait one moment.”
A minute later a masculine heavily accented voice came on
the line. “David! Good to hear from you. All is well?”
“Thank you for taking my call Gerhardt. I know that
the bank is closed but this is an emergency.”
“How can I help?”
“This is, of course, for your ears only but Alex has
been kidnapped. I need forty million US in cash, probably hundred
I could hear him gasp and then slowly expel the breath. “My
god! You’re sure? Ach, of course you’re sure! What
am I saying?”
“Gerhardt, the biggest problem is that I need the money
in cash and I need it to be in Vancouver Wednesday morning,
my people will take it from there, I don’t expect you
to try and bring it into the U.S..” I didn’t tell
him that I wasn’t planning on telling the FBI but then
I knew that he would assume that. “Will that be possible?” That
much money in one hundred dollar bills took up a lot of space.
“I’m sure you have that………….well
let’s look at your account. Hold please.”
The line went silent for a moment and then a recorded female
voice said in English, “Please enter your account number.” Using
the keypad on the phone I entered a nine digit number.
The voice then said, “Please enter your personal code.” I
entered an eight digit number and received a, “Thank
you. One moment.”
Gerhardt came back on the line. “Well, the money isn’t
a problem. The problem is getting it assembled in dollars.
They won’t take anything else?”
“No, Gerhardt, they specified dollars and cash…….unfortunately.” This
would be infinitely easier any other way. Both of us realized
that this needed to be done without alerting either the FBI
or the IRS.
He sighed. “Well, it isn’t a case of can we do
it, we must do it.”
“Gerhardt, I need it in San Francisco on Wednesday so
the money must be in Vancouver on Wednesday morning. My security
people will be checked into the Hyatt in Vancouver under the
company name of Eastwood Sales Company. We’ll fly it
in to the US but you’ll need to get it there. Naturally
I’ll pay all costs.” That indeed went without saying
but I said it anyway.
“David………if it becomes a problem I
may have to tell a few trusted people what has happened. Helmut
has not been forgotten and you have many friends, there are
many who would be anxious to help if they knew.”
“Gerhardt, I’ll trust your judgment.” I
thought for a moment and decided that it couldn’t hurt. “I
think that the person that ordered this is Nicholas Bonurato.
He’s a gangster in San Francisco and has been known to
do business with a bank in Brussels. Should you come across
any information………..please call.”
If I was telling the FBI none of this would be necessary but
if I told them I would be seriously risking Alex’s life
and it was already hanging by a thread. If Bonurato did this
the last thing that I wanted was him picked up or alerted.
Joan called and told me that Jack was on the other line.
“David, what the fuck is goin on? Larry says there’s
security people all over the condo and they wont tell him anything.”
“Alex has been kidnapped.”
“Oh shit!” He drew a deep breath. “Ohhhhh
“Jack, Larry doesn’t know that yet.”
“Oh holy fuck!”
“Jack, I need you to take Bob and get on the first plane.
Unless I’m really surprised Larry isn’t gonna take
this well and I can’t get out there until late this evening.”
“Fuck………David this is gonna be bad.
I’ll charter a plane. I gotta call Bob. I’ll call
ya back. David………..I’m so sorry.”
“I know, Jack, thanks. Just get to Larry. He’s
gonna figure this out any moment.”
Joan called to say that she had Jamie and Emi lined up for
a conference call.
“Joan I want to take that call in the IT conference
room. Transfer it down there.” I opened the office door.
“Guys I need you in the IT conference room. Brian, grab
my laptop.” They had been leaning against the wall in
the hallway. Brian came into the office and grabbed my laptop.
The laptop had a built in satellite phone, so you could check
your email even if you were in the Sahara, I took it everywhere.
Tom asked, “What’s up, Boss?”
We were walking and I thought for a moment. “Tom, I………..don’t
want you to know just yet but you may need to put in a lot
of overtime for the next week. Who’s your best researcher?”
He asked, “Companies or people?”
“Mary Reynolds. No question.”
I was surprised and turned to look at him. “With the
“Get her. I need some privacy for this call but get
her started on this name.” I wrote out Bonurato’s
name. “I need every shred of info that exists on this
guy. Check foreign banks, this guys got a lot of money buried.
I need to know every piece of real estate this guy or his relatives
own. Hack if you need to hack, just don’t leave prints.
You’ll find a lot of info in our London office. Wait,
I’ll go with you for a second and get you into their
We went into the main IT office and Tom brought up the London
office data banks. I pressed my thumb to a pad. It confirmed
my identity and overrode all security.
I went into the conference room and closed the door. I punched
a button and two computer screens lit up, one with Jamie on
it in his office and one with Emi in his. They could see me,
just as I could see them.
“Hi guys.” I was suddenly exhausted. “Alex
has been kidnapped.”
They both did the same thing. They both dropped their heads
and said, “Oh fuck!” The only things that were
different were the accents.
“Emi, are you still in touch with your Sicilian friend?”
“Salvatore? Yes, of course. You realize that it’s
only a casual friendship but still we do talk. David, you think
that this was organized crime? It would be unusual in the U.S.
On the plus side, Salvatore is not particularly happy with
his American cousins.”
“Emi, a car was seen parked near Alex’s condo
that belonged to someone affiliated with Nickolas Bonurato.
He’s a gangster from San Francisco. I need to know if
he is indeed the person that did this.”
Jamie asked, “David, isn’t he the fellow that
tried to open an account with us?”
“Yes. Jamie, didn’t he try to give us forty million?”
“I’d have to check but that sounds right.”
“That’s the amount of Alex’s ransom.”
Jamie just said, “Ah.”
The both said at the same time, “Do you need money?”
“No. Thanks but no. It’s got to be in US dollars
and in cash and that’s causing some problems but I think
that it’s covered.”
I looked down at my laptop and at the encrypted email message
on the screen that I was about to send.
Alex taken. Need fifty people Northern California with another
fifty available. Please arrange for escort as discussed.
Leaving here in 45 min.
Will pick you up early this PM and will call from plane.
I pressed the send button.
“I just sent an email to Mr. Tam. I intend to take the
battle to the enemy. Does anyone know if that’s his real
Emi said, “I don’t think it is. He’s the
best, expensive but the best. But you must listen to him, David.”
I sighed. “I will. As long as he tells me what I want
to hear.” I looked up into the monitors. “Call
my satellite phone. Emi, I need to know if this guy did it.
Salvatore will want money. I understand, it’s a matter
of face. Pay him what he asks and I’ll replace the money.
And please, both of you, find out what you can about Bonurato.
Between the two of you you’ve got the best connections
in the world and I desperately need your help. I’ll be
leaving here shortly and flying to Vancouver to meet Mr. Tam.
You can get me on the plane and I’ve always got my laptop.”
I called Joan and told her to make sure that the plane was
ready and then I went in to see Tom and Brian. They were sitting
in a group with three computers going. The young Mary Reynolds
was wearing jeans that ought to be illegal and there were piercings
everywhere. “Would you three join me in the conference
room for a few seconds?”
They settled around the table. “My son, Alex has been
kidnapped.” They all tried to speak.
I held up my hands. “Thank you but there’s no
time. We have very little information to go by yet.” I
gave them all the information that we had up to that moment. “I
want you to concentrate on bank accounts and real estate. As
I recall when he approached us it was through a Brussels bank.
You can look it up. My hunch is that if he was comfortable
banking in Brussels at the time then we can at least make a
guess that he’s avoiding the usual tax haven banks like
the Cayman Islands.” I sighed.
“This takes priority over everything else and, Tom,
I would rather that no one knows that you’re doing this.
I’d really like you to take this group down to the panic
room and do it from there. Tell the desk that you’re
all sick and going home.”
The place that we called the panic room was a suite of offices
two floors below us that contained back up files and redundant
systems. When we leased the space I leased it under the name
Eastwood Sales Company so that it wouldn’t be associated
with us. Well at least not without some serious digging.
The phone rang and it was Joan telling me that there were
two young women in the lobby waiting for me and that some men
were there from the security company. She said the women told
her to say that they came from Mr. Tam.
“Joan, ask the women if they have a car or if we should
get a limo?”
She came back a moment later. “They said that they’d
take care of everything.” Thank god someone would.
They were both dressed casually, jeans and blouses and colored
leather jackets. One was oriental and the other occidental.
The oriental lady held out her hand.
“Mr. Kerry,” There was no accent, “Mr. Tam
asked us to accompany you on your trip. It’s very nice
to meet you, Sir.” Out of the corner of my eye I could
see a look of slight disapproval on Joan’s face.
“Did he mention a company name?”
She smiled in approval of my caution. “Yes, Sir. Eastwood
Sales.” I nodded and she turned to the other lady. “This
is Ellen and I am Samantha.” Then somewhat hesitantly, “Are
you ready to go now or do you need more time.” They didn’t
look threatening but Mr. Tam would have only sent the best.
He might not get paid if anything happened to me.
“I just need to get a few things from my office. Wait
here.” I went back to my office and slipped my laptop
and my satellite phone into my briefcase and then at the last
moment I reached into the bottom drawer of my desk and pulled
out a loaded Glock 27 and slipped it in too.
Thirty minutes later the plane was rocketing into the southern
sky and would soon be banking to the west/northwest. Mark would
be landing soon in Washington if he hadn’t already and
I wondered how he’d take it. I wondered how Larry would
take it. I frankly wasn’t all that sure how much help
Jack would be but I knew Bob would be invaluable.
The plane was still climbing when Sally, the young woman who
feeds us, cleans up after us, and generally takes care of us
brought me a telephone. “Mr. Kerry, Mr. Chauvet is on
the line.” Oh fuck! I took the phone nodded and she walked
towards the front of the plane.
He was angry. “David, what the flying fuck is going
on? You’ve got enough fucking security guys here to protect
the fucking president! Didn’t we discuss this? Do we
have to fucking do this?”
I said softly, “Mark……Alex has been kidnapped.”
In my minds eye I could see the destruction those words were
causing. The phone was still silent and then finally, “When?”
“Sometime this morning. I got the ransom note about
Mark’s voice was choked. “He’s just a baby!”
“I know. It seems like only………………” Those
thoughts would get us nowhere. “I’ve arranged for
the money to come into Canada. I haven’t notified the
“You sound like you know who?”
“I might. We’re checking.”
“I won’t hurt him until Alex is safe………..give
me the name.”
“Bonurato. But, Mark.”
“I won’t touch him, David, like I said. You want
me here or there?”
“There. I think that ultimately this will be resolved
in Washington and I need you to use your contacts in the FBI
and Pentagon to get me any available info on this guy.”
“I love you.”
“You too. That will never change.”
My pilot, Billy Howard had, up until two years ago, been bouncing
F-14 Tomcat’s on and off the pitching deck of the USS
John C. Stennis. Unfortunately for Billy, or fortunately, depending
on how you looked at it, his wife was tired of wondering when
he was going to kill himself doing that. Having met his wife
it was pretty clear the Navy never had a chance.
So there was no doubt in my mind that Billy could make this
plane tap dance if he wanted to and when I picked up the phone
and said, “Billy, I’m running out of fucking time!
Firewall those fucking engines!” I got a crisp and happy, “Yessir!” and
the Gulfstream seemed to leap forward. We shot up to 51,000
feet and there, away from commercial aircraft, were able to
take the most direct route to Vancouver.
I keep thinking that I’m going to wake up and this will
all have been a bad dream. That, of course, is not to be. Now
I’ve begun to wonder if anyone even knows what’s
happened. What if everyone just figures that I’m still
at school and nothing is wrong? What if Larry is just going
to classes like normal and figuring that I’ll be home
when he is and what about when I’m not? How long will
it take him to understand that something has happened? What
if they’re sitting there with a gun pointed at him and
he hasn’t even been able to go to classes? What if everyone
knows but the don’t care? What if it’s all too
much trouble and they just decide to wait it out and see what
happens? I’m pretty sure that we’re headed in the
direction of Sacramento.
After we had been heading east for about an hour we turned
off to the south and that was a much less busy highway, well
it hardly even seemed to be a highway, more of a road. Something
under a half an hour after that turnoff we turned left onto
a real country road. Not that it wasn’t paved, it was
but it was narrow and there was a lot of gravel that we kept
hitting on the side of the road and no other traffic that I
was aware of. Finally we slowed and pulled into a gravel drive
that seemed to be about three hundred feet long. It suddenly
occurred to me that this was the place that I would die. It
all looked so dusty and dead anyway. What would one more death
If it had been in the Midwest we would have called the house
a farmhouse but here it would probably be called a ranch house.
There were dust devils forming out in the empty fields and
they would whirl for a while and then dissipate. The house
was mostly white clapboard that was peeling in places and while
it didn’t look abandoned it didn’t look occupied.
There appeared to be several out buildings with machinery in
They pulled the ambulance into one of the out buildings. Ralph
dug out a pair of shackles from underneath his seat and clamped
them onto my ankles before he unstrapped me from the gurney.
Tony tapped me on the shoulder. “Don’t try anything,
Alex. You’re getting nowhere with those on and we’ve
all got guns. Sit up and put your hands behind your back.” That
was harder to do than it seemed like it ought to be but I made
it. He used those plastic ties to secure them.
The house was empty with the exception of a television set
and a beat up old sofa but I wasn’t going to be lucky
enough to use those. With one of them on each arm they led
me over to stairs and we slowly made our way to the basement.
It was difficult moving with my feet shackled together and
my hands behind my back and I even wondered how my body could
move at all. I mean I wondered why all the stress hadn’t
killed me and how my body could still be working and I could
still be able to talk but increasingly I felt like it wasn’t
happening to me like I was outside of myself just watching
what was happening to this other Alex.
There in the center of an empty space was a cage about four
feet by eight feet. It was made out of two inch square steel
box beams and had heavy wire mesh welded to it. There was a
narrow door made exactly like the rest of it and a small rectangular
hole about ten inches by fourteen inches. The right side had
a crude bed that was metal springs with a blanket thrown over
them. Everything that was metal was welded to everything else
that was metal. The chains around my ankles were left on and
four foot chains were attached to each wrist. Next to the bed
was a port o potty and I could just reach it. The chains that
attached to my wrists were welded to a spot just above the
head of the bed.
I sat on the edge of the bed and Tony appeared and handed
me a microphone, he already had a video camera in his hand
and he said, “Tell your dad that you feel fine but you
need him to pay the money.”
I said the words but while I was doing it it was like I felt
Larry’s arms wrapping around me like they do when we
sleep and he spoons me. I could even feel his breath on the
back of my neck. He was slowly pulling me down into bed and
it felt really great and I just lay there with him as his chest
pressed to my back and his legs molded to mine and his arms
were holding me safe while I watched what was happening to
the other Alex.
We were two hours away from Vancouver and I had just spoken
to Mr. Tam and arranged for him to join us and fly to Palo
Alto. We were on the ground in Vancouver for fifteen minutes
tops. We rolled to the area for private planes and were met
by a van that said City of Vancouver on the side. Mr. Tam and
a young lady slid out of the slide door and up the stairs of
the Gulfstream. The engines had never even been shut down;
we immediately got into the cue to take off and were on our
way to SFO. The young lady was introduce as his granddaughter,
Mr. Tam was a Chinese gentleman with an international reputation.
Everything that was thought to be “known” about
him was either rumor or speculation. The story went that in
his earlier years he had made his fortune supplying private
armies and munitions to corporations, individuals and governments.
The story also went that with the fall of the Soviet Union
that that business, while not dead was diminished. No one knew
for sure and Mr. Tam never volunteered the information.
Jamie had introduced me to him at a glittering party my partner
had thrown in London for he and his wife’s tenth anniversary.
I also found out that Emi knew him but then Emi seemed to know
Mr. Tam was a handsome man of about sixty who spoke English
with a heavy accent. There was a peaceful quality to the man
that made being with him feel like an oasis in the desert at
a big party like the one Jamie had thrown. At the end of the
evening Mr. Tam and I exchanged business cards and he casually
remarked that if I ever needed “special” security
people that I should call him. It ended up that I did use his
service from time to time but then Mark and Alex began to demand
that all security end and so I used his services less and less.
I’ve often heard Mr. Tam described as mysterious but
I think that I would have used the term complex. You never
quite reached the bottom of Mr. Tam, just when you thought
that you really knew him you came to realize that there was
a whole other level that you hadn’t been aware of.
On our way to Vancouver, somewhere over Montana, the high-speed
printer on board the plane began printing out all that we had
been able to learn about Bonurato. This coupled with what Mr.
Tam’s organization already knew gave us a starting point.
Just as he and I sat down to talk I got a call from Emi. “David,
I just got a call from Salvatore Armento and you were right.
Salvatore says this Bonurato has a reputation for being a little,
hmmmm, not insane but erratic, yes erratic would be the right
word. His fiefdom is northern California and northwestern Nevada,
which essentially means Tahoe and Reno and as such should come
under the control of Robert Guarino who ultimately controls
it all. The thing is that is Guarino can’t control him.
The last time that they spoke Bonurato had implied that he
had something like this in mind. Guarino told him that he was
insane, that the U.S. wasn’t Sicily and you couldn’t
get away with doing that but Bonurato just laughed and said
that this was a sure thing.
I said softly. “Emi………..I can’t
tell you how I appreciate what you’ve done. You may have
gone a long way to saving Alex’s life.”
He said earnestly. “I pray for him, David. Tomorrow
there will be a high mass said for Alex at the Cathedral de
la Almudena. David, I must tell you that Bonurato’s associates
like Guarino are not on his side in this. He brings discredit
to them and they are all very aware of it, you may receive
help from unexpected quarters.” I immediately sent a
test message to Mark in Washington.
I brought Mr. Tam up to speed on everything that had happened.
He suggested that I call Gerhardt Mueller and tell him not
to even have the plane bringing the money park but to do basically
what we did when we picked him up. His people would load the
money onto another plane and then bypass customs. I made the
call and Gerhardt told me that the cash had been gathered and
the plane would leave Salzburg early tomorrow.
We also decided that each of Bonurato’s top associates
should be followed and then it occurred to me that we might
find it as productive to track even the less important members
of his family. We decided on his four top lieutenants and the
twelve people who reported to them and we also put his immediate
family under surveillance.
Palo Alto – The Condo
Mr. Tam and I would be staying at the condo across the street
from Alex’s and his driver pulled up there. I told him
that I had to go across the street for a while and he and his
granddaughter went in as I walked over to see Larry. I was
A huge security guy answered the door and I showed him my
drivers license and he opened the door. Samantha went in first
while Ellen watched the street. When Samantha waved me in Jack
was standing there and looked worse than I could have ever
imagined that he would.
“Jack. Sorry it took so long but I had to detour to
Vancouver. How’s Larry?”
Jack brought his hands to his face for a moment and then finally
rubbed his eyes. “The crying stopped about an hour and
half ago but now he’s just numb. He’s sure that
Alex is already dead and no amount of logic seems to get through
to him. I think that the whole idea is just so horrific in
his mind that he’s steeling himself against the possible
Jack looked around the room like he was hoping the answers
were there somewhere. “I don’t know what to do
for him anymore. He’s in their bedroom. Bob is in with
him and seems to at least be able to keep him calm but I don’t
think that he’s talking to him either.”
I put my hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Lemme see what
I can do.”
The feeling in the room was like lead, both Bob and Larry
were lying on the bed both of them were fully dressed. Bob
was sitting back against the headboard and Larry way lying
on his side almost curled into a ball, Bob’s hand was
on his shoulder.
“David! Bob climbed off the bed and shook my hand while
Larry didn’t move at all.
I shook Bob’s hand and looked over at Larry and then
back at Bob. He just shook his head slowly. I walked over and
knelt down at the side of the bed.
Larry just said matter-of-factly, “He’s dead isn’t
I reached out and touched his hair. “That’s not
true.” I spoke firmly. “First of all they wouldn’t
hurt him until they got the money and Larry, they will get
the money. There’s no reason for them to hurt Alex and
I’m moving heaven and earth to make sure that it doesn’t
happen but Larry, he’s gonna need you. I know that this
is hard but you’ve gotta try and stay positive for him
because when we get him away from those people he’s gonna
need your help.”
He whispered. “You’ll never get him back.”
“Larry, I already know who took him and I’ve got
people all over the world working on getting him back. There’s
no reason for them to kill him and every reason for them not
to and I intend to make that more and more true. I just need
you to hang on for a couple more days.”
My satellite phone was ringing and I pulled it out and answered
it, it was Mark.
He asked, “Is your encryption module on?”
I slid a switch to on. “It is now.”
“The Lucky Angelina II sailed outta San Francisco bay
on Sunday afternoon and your friend was aboard. She’s
been kinda putzing around but is just off Carmel now about
twenty miles out.”
I was amazed. “How do you know this?”
“You wouldn’t believe the shit that Naval Intelligence
keeps track of. Anyway it seems that he practically told every
other ships captain that he was leaving.”
“A good cover.”
Mark said, “Not perfect but good but even then only
as far as him actually doing the job himself is concerned but
then nobody ever figured he did anyway.”
“Mark, I know that you won’t be sleeping tonight
so can I think about this and call you in an hour?”
“Course! How are you holding up?”
I’m keeping busy enough that I’m not totally thinking
about it.” I look down at Larry and even though he was
only five feet away I talked about him to Mark.
“I’m here with Larry and he’s not doing
as well, why don’t you talk to him and see if you can
give him some encouragement?” I handed the phone to Larry
who sat up on the edge of the bed.
The conversation seemed to start gently but Larry’s
answers seemed to be bringing a more and more heated response
from Mark and pretty soon Larry’s answers were limited
to crisp, “Yes, Sir” and he was sitting up straighter.
I walked over to Bob. “I called your boss and hired
you.” He looked surprised and started to ask why. “You
may hear or see stuff in the next two days. I wanted you to
be my lawyer with all that’s involved with that.”
“Is this going to work out?”
“It has to.”
I walked over to the living room window pulled the heavy drapes
back a bit and looked out. It was a cool misty early December
evening in northern California, the streets were shiny from
the light rain. I thought of Alex and what he must be thinking,
what he must be enduring. I closed my eyes and tried to tell
him that we were coming.
Samantha came up beside me and spoke softly. “Sir, you
shouldn’t be in front of the window.”
“They won’t hurt me, Samantha. They haven’t