The chief had been kidnapped. Logan was on the phone. “Did you see it happen?” I asked.
“Yeah. We’d just left the lot where poor old Crandall was laid out, and somebody in a Bill Nelson mask put a gun in the chief’s face and told him to get into a Lexus. The last time I saw them, the kidnapper had put a Katherine Harris mask on the chief and they were headed south on Gulf of Mexico drive.”
“Can you describe the kidnapper?”
“Sure. He looked just like Senator Nelson.”
“What about a tag number on the Lexus?”
“I got it.”
“What is it, Logan?” I was getting a little short with my friend.
“I forgot, Jake. Things were a little tense here, you know. I remember that it was a turtle tag.”
Just as I hung up, the phone rang again. “This is Mayor Fandango.”
“Mayor?” I asked.
“Yes. The town charter says that the town commission elects the mayor, and since I’m the only town commissioner left alive, I elected myself.”
“What can I do for you, Mayor?”
“The chief has been kidnapped.”
“I’m appointing you interim chief. Get down to my office now. We’ve got a big problem.”
“Yeah, the chief could be in real trouble.”
“Not that. I’m getting calls from all over the island about Bill Nelson and Katherine Harris. They were seen driving down GMD together. obody knows what’s going on. The Republicans on the north end and the Democrats on the south end are all upset. We could have a civil war on our hands.”
“That was the chief and his kidnapper wearing masks,” I said.
“Thank goodness. I thought we had a serious problem here.”
The Mayor’s office was serene, but very loud. Nobody was there, except Moll Fandango, her bare feet propped on her desk, her flip flops placed neatly by her chair. She was listening to Metallica, the amps cranked up to the breaking point, her eyes closed. Windows were rattling. I pulled the plug, and quiet descended on us like a welcome blanket in winter.
“Why’d you do that?” she whined.
“We’ve got to do something about the chief,” I said. My phone interrupted me. It was the dispatcher telling me that the chief was calling him. I told him to patch it through to the Mayor’s office. When the phone on the desk rang, I hit the speakerphone button and answered.
“Joe, I’m with Mayor Fandango. What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure,” he answered. “The kidnapper has some demands that she wants met in order to release me.”
Moll said, “Joe, your rule is that we never negotiate with hostage takers. Call back if she releases you.”
“Wait a darn minute,” said Joe. “It’s my rule and I can relax it if I want to. I think under the circumstances, it’s time to take a more moderate approach to this hostage thing.”
“What circumstances?” asked the mayor.
“I’m the hostage, you twit,” exploded Joe.
“That kinda talk ain’t gonna get me to thinking about relaxing any rules, Joe,” said Moll.
“Right, ma’am. Sorry.”
“Can you tell me about the kidnapper?” I asked.
“I’m having to hold the phone under my mask, so I don’t think she can understand what I’m saying. It’s either a woman or a man with an abnormally high voice. I think it’s a woman, but she’s wearing a Bill Nelson mask and a chador, so it’s hard to tell.”
“Could she be a terrorist?”
“I don’t know. Her English sounds Midwestern,” he said.
“What does she want?”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s kind of hard to understand her talking through that mask, but she keeps talking about stone crabs, I think.”
“Can you tell where you are?” I asked.
“I’m in a high rise condo, and I can see the Gulf. We’re probably below mid-key.”
“Ask her if she likes turtles?”
I heard a mumbled conversation through the phone.
“She’s nodding her head, and I think she said something about soup,” said Joe.
A light was beginning to dawn. “Give her the phone,” I said.
In a moment I heard a high pitched voice saying, “Hello, dear.”
“Am I speaking to the hostage taker?” I asked.
“Are you a terrorist?”
“Good lord, no. I’m a Presbyterian.”
“Why are you holding the chief?”
“I have demands. If you want to see him alive again, you must accede to them.”
She was speaking in a monotone, as if reading from a script.
“What are your demands?”
“Leave Less’s alone.”
“I don’t understand,” I said, genuinely puzzled.
“I don’t want Less’s to close. Where else can I take a boat to a restaurant for stone crabs?”
“Do you do that often?”
“Never been there.”
“Do you like stone crabs?”
“I don’t know. Never had any.”
“Do you have a boat?”
“No, but my son-in-law does.”
“Who’s your son-in-law?”
“You wouldn’t know him. He lives in Michigan.”
The dawning light was getting brighter.
“I don’t understand why you’re so upset about the re-zoning of Less’s.”
“Look, dunderhead. It’s like this. Suppose my son-in-law brings his boat to Longboat, and we decide to go cruising and then want to stop by Less’s for stone crabs. I think we ought to have the right to do that.”
“Did you kill all our leaders?”
“Yeah, but I miscalculated. I thought somebody would care about them, but that didn’t work out. So I took the chief. I tried to get the mayor, but she never gets out of her limousine. She just drives up and down GMD waving at people. Did you know she has a Hooters bumper sticker on the limo? I ought to blow that thing up.”
“You don’t want a Hooters on the island?”
“I think that’d be cool. I like their wings.”
“Is Suzy Jones your granddaughter?” Sometimes, if you just throw a question out, the bad guy will answer without thinking.
“Oh, yeah. I had to buy the little idiot a house in the village to get her out of my condo. She was driving me crazy. She does let me borrow her car, though.”
Aha. he light dawned bright. I knew who the kidnapper was. I’d get her name and address from Suzy and we could deploy the swat team. If we had a swat team. Since we didn’t, I’d go with plan B.
“Call back in an hour,” I said, “and don’t hurt the chief.” I hung up.
The mayor had been giving herself a pedicure during my conversation with the kidnapper. I brushed toe nails off the desk into the trash can, and asked, “What do you think?”
“About the chief, Mayor. We’ve got to save the chief.”
“I don’t know, Jake. There are rules about this sort of thing. There’s probably a form that needs to be filled out, too.”
“Didn’t you hear what she said? She’s going to blow up your limousine.”
“Oh my, we’d better call out the swat team.”
“We don’t have a swat team. It’s time for plan B.”
“I don’t know. I’ll think of something.” I left her applying a coat of vermilion polish to her toes.
I rushed out of town hall, pulling at my cell phone. A madwoman had kidnapped the chief and was going to kill him if we didn’t do what she wanted. I dialed Logan Hamilton. He was the only one who could save the chief.Frozen Fever live streaming film online