Protecting David-Finding Christopher 21
Mike was just finishing his walk around of the plane and met Larry and me at the foot of the stairs.
He grinned and said, “Great morning for flying!” Actually it was hot and humid in Washington while according to the weather channel it was forty-eight degrees and going to be a sunny day in Denver.
We chatted with Mike for a moment and he told us he’d have us in Denver practically before we left Washington because of the time change. Once we sat down Karen told us she’d bring coffee as soon as we were airborne and handed us breakfast menus.
She said, “The food is from the Hay-Adams and looks fantastic.”
As we were taxiing to the end of the runway I said to Larry, “You think this is gonna warp the boys?” They were fine right up until it was time for us to leave for the airport and then all three of them freaked out.
He smiled and shook his head. “No. We got em calmed down. Besides your dads will turn the town upside down to keep em entertained.”
“I hope. I feel like shit for leaving them.”
“Alex, they’ll be fine and there’s no way that we could put them at risk by bringing them.”
“I know.” And I really did know but I still felt bad about leaving them.
Mr. Tam’s guy Kalderman who had met us in Washington had flown back to Denver the night before and met us at my offices.
The hallway walls of our offices were made of precast concrete with a plaster coating but that wasn’t typical of the offices in the building. We had done extensive renovation before occupying them. The wall of the offices across the hall from ours had been blown in by the explosion and had been redrywalled but was not yet painted.
Roger Kalderman rapped his knuckles on the wall and said, “They repaired this last night. At least the building management is on the ball. Normally that would’ve taken a lot longer.”
The door to our offices had been replaced with a standard metal door. The door that had been damaged was wooden with a heavy steel core and would have to be custom made.
Kalderman said, “We haven’t told the police that you’re in town yet but they may ask to interview you when they find out.”
Larry put his hand on my arm. “I’m not sure that I’d talk to them yet. You oughta have Stanner do that. He’s smart enough to keep all of your options open.”
“Whadya mean, “options”?
“I’m not really sure what I mean but with the way they were acting before we left I’m not sure that you can consider them friends.” He shrugged. “Stanner’ll know how to handle them.”
Kalderman said, “The governor’s office has told the Chief that he better lay off unless he’s got plenty of evidence and even then they need to clear it with them. Our guy in City Hall tells us that it’s all smoke and he’s pretty sure that the Chief is on his way out.”
“The bombing is a different problem and one that we’re pretty sure is not directly linked to the Chief. For one thing this seems to be pretty much professionally done and that means that someone paid for it. We’re keeping an eye on Halander’s bank accounts and there’s been no sign of unusual activity but we noticed that he has lunch quite often with Henry Bass, the oil man. And since Bass would certainly have the money to pay for this we had him followed.”
I said, “He’s Omega Petroleum?” He nodded yes.
I said to Connie, “Send emails to my dad and Gerhardt. See what they’ve got on Bass and his company and tell them why I’m asking.”
I told Kalderman, “I want security here 24/7. I want my employees feeling secure and I want you to find out all there is to know about Bass.”
“You’ll have it. We’ve also got people all over this building so that if something looks like it’s developing here we can probably prevent it.”
I nodded towards the office. “Let’s go in, I wanna see what my office looks like.”
There was no sign of damage in my office or for that matter even in the hallways. Larry and Kalderman sat in front of my desk and Connie stood at the side.
Connie said, “Alex, Charlene wants to come in and talk to us. Somehow she got my phone number and called me late last night.”
I said, “She called you here?”
She shook her head. “At home. I asked her how she got the number but she never answered me. She said that her attorney wants her to sue to get custody of Chris but that she thought it’d be best if she tried to reason with us first. I’m figuring it’s about money.”
Kalderman looked at me. “We keep light track of her but there’s been nothing. I’ll get some people on it. But nothing we know about her indicates that she’s smart enough to hire an attorney and she sure doesn’t have the money.”
I said, “I don’t mind paying…at least as long as it’s within reason.”
Larry said, “She’ll come back for more! And she’s the one responsible for what Chris went through!”
I shrugged. “Probably. But I think we can deal with that. As far as the other stuff, I really am reluctant to be responsible for hurting Chris’ sister. But I’m not letting her near him and I’ll make that clear to her.”
Kalderman said, “You want some of my guys here when you talk to her?”
I shook my head. “Just Mei. She’s been anxious to meet Charlene anyway.” Larry gave me an odd look.
I said to Connie, “How did you leave it?”
“I’m supposed to call her. I acted like I really didn’t know how you felt about anything…you know, kinda flat. Want me to call her?”
“Yeah, set it up here. How much do we have in the safe?”
“About a hundred and ten thousand.”
“That oughta be enough. If she leaves it up to me I’ll offer a hundred. My guess is she’ll take it. I want her to sign a receipt and have Stanner whip up some quick and very short agreement. If it’s too long she might not sign it. Tell Stanner not to get too carried away with the whereas’s and wherefore’s. Something simple but all encompassing.”
“Connie, did Richard locate the owner of that building?”
“Oh, yes! I almost forgot, he’s waiting there for you. The management company turned everything on and gave Richard keys for all the service areas. Wanna go?”
I looked around. “Why don’t we do that then Larry and I can go home and see if the Marines will let us in.”
Kalderman smiled. “They know that you’re coming. They do have to stay for the original two weeks but they’ll be outta your way.”
The building was far west of the downtown area at the western edge of the city near the freeway. It was set well back from the road and had lots of space for parking.
Richard said, “The first two floors are a hundred and fifty feet wide and the same deep. This was literally designed for the insurance company and that’s how they wanted it. Then on top of that the tower is ten stories and it’s a hundred by a hundred except for the top floor which is set back and is eighty by eighty.” He grinned in an awe shucks way and added, “It’s freakin beautiful inside.”
It was beautiful in a beige marble kind of way. The first floors had obviously been intended to be cubicles with a large reception area in the front.
I turned to Connie. “We’ll need the whole place fenced and a manned security gate.”
She looked at Kalderman and he nodded.
We walked the first floor and then went up to the top floor. The view of the mountains was amazing. The floor itself was basically empty and was surrounded on all sides by a ten foot deep terrace.
“Connie, we can put our offices up here. I want the other company to be very separate.”
Richard said, “You want me to tell him we’ll take it?”
He grinned. “Wanna know the price?”
I laughed. “No…that’s okay. Call Stanner and get him on it. He’ll probably renegotiate it anyway.”
“Connie, call Didier and coordinate it with him. The payment should come from that company but tell Stanner that I don’t want that known. He can do a trust or something.”
Richard got me off to the side and he looked peeved. “You really don’t wanna know the price?”
I put my arm on Richard’s shoulder. “Nooo, I was kidding. How much?”
“Forty-one….can you afford that?”
“Yeah…I can. How’s Darlene?”
He smiled. “Pregnant…and mad.”
“Pregnant? That’s fantastic! Why the hell didn’t you call me? What’s she mad about?”
“She thinks she’s gonna get as big as a Rhino.”
Richard had this odd look, he misses me sometimes. We’ve got this weird relationship. I looked into his eyes and said softly, “You’re gonna be a kick-ass dad.”
He grinned. “Thanks. You willing to be godfather?”
“Absolutely! I’d be honored.”
“Darlene is willing to work from home if it’s okay with you.”
“Of course she can! She still wants to work?” Richard’s commission on the Boston deal was almost enough that neither one of them would ever have to work if they didn’t want to.
“You know how she is. She’d go crazy if she was just sitting home.”
Connie, Kalderman and Richard went back into town and Larry and I stopped by the shelter.
“I just wanna bring the books up to date and pay the bills.” Larry groaned. He liked the shelter but it wasn’t in his nature to just hang around. “You can sit in my office and keep me company. It’ll be like thirty minutes, tops.”
Forty minutes later and we were still there but I was almost done. Larry was sitting next to my desk.
I typed in the amount of the rent check and clicked send. “Yeah.”
He stretched out his legs, stared down at his crotch and said, “My dick is hard.” I started to laugh.
“You know where the bathroom is, go whack off.”
“Alex, how long is this gonna take?”
“We could be home fucking.”
“We will be. I just gotta pay the electric bill.”
He slowly pushed his hand out until the tips of his fingers just touched my hand. “You know, there’s a pretty good chance that it could snow tonight.”
I looked at him and then wrapped the fingers of my left hand around the finger that was touching me. “Snow? You really think so?”
He nodded and leaned forward. “It’s about forty-five outside now and that’s down here in Denver. Up in the mountains by us it’ll be a lot colder.”
“The first snow of the season?”
“Yep, and we’ll be all by ourselves. We can lay in bed and watch the snow. We can start a fire and cuddle.” Larry is very horny.
I laughed. “I dunno, it never seems to work out that smoothly. For one thing I’d bet that we’re gonna have to talk to the Marine’s that are guarding the place and we’ve gotta spend some time with Mrs. Colby and the security guys are gonna have questions.”
“Don’t be negative, Alex.”
“I guess that it’s just this whole Chief of Police thing. I mean it seems like he’s backed off for now but what if he changes his mind? I’d really like to be sure that’s settled because, well, for one thing, I hated leaving the boys in Washington.”
“Well, call that Lisle guy at the Governor’s office and find out for sure what the fuck is goin on. Or Stanner, you haven’t talked directly to him and he’s supposed to have great connections in City Hall. Call him.”
So that’s what I did. Stanner confirmed what Kalderman had told us earlier and added, “Alex, my guy in City Hall told me that the Chief has emptied out his office because of some job he got offered Arkansas. They haven’t released all that yet but he’s gone. This all happened last night. Your dad has had half of Washington calling the mayor and bitching him out. Finally it just got to be too much for him.”
That only left the problem of the bombing and Henry Bass.
Up in the mountains and about five miles from home it began to snow gently and by the time we got to our driveway the air falling down the face of the cliff was causing the large flakes to swirl in vortexes and go careening down the road.
There was a Marine at the closed gate. He checked our license plate and then checked us and obviously compared us to a photo on his clipboard. Then he opened the gate and gave us a crisp salute as we drove by.
I grinned at Larry. “Almost like being in the Army.”
“More like being at the top of the Army. My guess is that the privates don’t get treated this way.”
On top of the plateau we could see lights where the Marines were encamped over near the stables and the headlights of some sort of jeep like transport up by the tree line.
Larry said, “You think we oughta see if they need anything?”
“I’m pretty sure they come with everything they need.”
In the house we could smell beef stew cooking. This is comfort food for us and Mrs. Colby fixes it when we’ve been away.
Mei caught up with us as we were going past the office and handed me a packet of papers. “Is about tha man Bass. Jus come in.”
Actually it wasn’t about the man himself but rather his company, Omega Petroleum. His dad had founded the company in 1946. It was smaller than I thought it would be with a market cap of about six billion dollars. That was nothing for the oil business but then describing it as an oil company was using the broadest possible definition.
During the late 40’s and all during the 50’s Samuel Bass had roamed the Midwest and the South buying up stripper wells. These are oil wells whose production had dropped to a few barrels a day, usually no more than twenty and often less than a barrel a day. He had accumulated hundreds of them and with the profits from that he bought two small oil refineries, one in Chicago and one in Mississippi.
Then during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s he managed to market a motor oil produced in his own refineries and with his own name on it. It wasn’t really different than anyone else’s but the advertising was good and it caught on to the tune last year of over eight hundred million in sales. But in the late 80’s when Samuel’s son Henry had taken over he got a little too ambitious and got himself in trouble and ended up being bailed out by a French oil company, a real oil company.
He didn’t get along with the French and they sold their forty percent to a group of European investors. Since then there had been an uneasy truce between Henry Bass with his twenty-one percent and the European’s with their forty. That left roughly thirty to forty percent of the company in public hands and traded on most exchanges.
Larry came up behind me and put his chin on my shoulder while his right hand rubbed my ass.
“Ah, it’s about that Bass guy.” He turned his head slightly and kissed the side of my neck.
His mouth was right next to my ear and his voice was soft. “You think you could read that naked?”
I nodded while I read. “I know a lot of these institutional investors.”
Larry lips closed on my ear lobe as his fingers pushed my jeans into my butt. I mumbled, “You’re given me a hardon.”
He pulled me back against him. “Why don’t we get in the hot tub and watch the snow fall?” Our bathtub sits in front of a huge window overlooking the valley.
So we dozed away an hour lying entwining with each other in steaming hot water watching very large snow flakes fall past our window into the valley below.