Thanks to my partner Hal’s connections at Verizon, we had been able to lock in on the kidnappers’ phone GPS. Hal was back at the little girl’s parents’ house, waiting on the call as to where to deliver the ransom. I’d tracked the kidnappers to a house in Joliet. I was right outside. They stipulated no police. Instead they got me.
Ten feet from the alley to the garage, then a thirty-foot leap from the garage roof to the house’s second floor overhang. The first part’s the easy part. Ten feet. Even a relative feeb could do that. Bouncing up to the garage roof, well, you have to be an athlete for that. But leaping thirty feet at an upward angle to land on a roof overhang outside a second-floor window? You would have to be me.
A window lock means nothing with the amount of pressure I can apply. The lock separated from the window frame, and I was in. Ahead of me, listening to his IPod with ear buds, one of them stood, back to me, oblivious to what was coming.
Now, normally I like milking these situations for everything I can get out of them. But there was a kid at risk here, so… One hand over the face, the other clutching the throat. He was unable to make a sound, certainly unable to squirm free. I quietly waited. He slumped unconscious in my grip. I eased him down to the floor. The door he’d stood in front of was ajar, with light coming thru the crack. I opened the door and walked in.
On the edge of a rather ratty looking twin bed sat little Bethany Tomasino, 8 years old. Her parents own a profitable local chain of 6 pizzerias. On paper, they’re wealthy. In reality, they don’t have the liquidity to pay the ransom. Luckily for them, when it comes to kids, I work pro bono.
Bethany looked up, and I held my breath. A lot of times people scream when they see me in person. But instead, she smiled a huge ear to ear smile.
“I know you!” she said. “You’re Johnny Frankenstein! I saw you on Svengoolie! My dad says you’re not real. Are you here to take me home?”
“You bet I am.” I smiled back at hr. God love a child that likes monster movies. “Bethany, are you OK? Did they hurt you?” This was an important question. The answer would spell the difference between these mooks being beaten unconscious or never walking again.
“No, no, I’m alright. I’m hungry though.”
“No problem, sweetie, we’ll get you some McDonalds on the way home.” I dropped my tone a bit to sound serious. “Now, I have to go deal with these guys. I want you to stay here with the door closed and don’t come out till I come back for you.”
Sound advice. I wasn’t too worried about Bethany, but little kids shouldn’t have to see what I was going to do to the kidnappers. I stepped out and closed the door. I pulled a zip tie out of my equipment belt and cuffed the unconscious mook. Then, stepping as quietly as I could, I started downstairs.
Downstairs, the other two idiots were calling the Tomasino’s with ransom instructions. The call itself was moot, but it did allow me to slip into the room unnoticed.
“Drop the money at the dumpster enclosure behind the Uncle Julio’s in Lombard at midnight. And no cops or else.” The leader snarled into his cell phone.
“Or else what?” I asked. They both spun around. And screamed.
Despite the downsides to being a seven and a half foot tall five-hundred-pound grey skinned ugly wrecking ball, it does have its moments. This was one of them. They never got their guns out.
I wish I had a good catch phrase, but all the good ones are taken. Instead, I mimic that “rrrr” snarl Boris Karloff used in the first two Frankenstein movies. Sometimes it adds to their terror.
These two, they just sat there in shock. It was no effort to Cuff them. I picked up boss mook’s cell phone to talk to my partner Hal Dempster.
“Yeah Hal, were good.”
“Great Johnny, that’s great” Hal replied. “Mister Tomasino, your daughter’s ok, we caught the kidnappers.” I could hear Mrs. Tomasino start crying in the background.
“Johnny,” Hal continued, “I’m alerting the Downers Grove cops here and the Joliet cops on your end. Stay on site until the cops get there.”
I lined the three stooges up on the couch, and brought Bethany downstairs. About ten minutes later, Joliet PD showed up.
The cops, whether it’s in the suburbs or the city of Chicago, really haven’t figured out how to work with me yet. Which is too bad because essentially I’m just a private detective and licensed bodyguard. Most of them think I’m a charlatan in movie make-up. So, we go thru the motions.
Johnny Frankenstein is sort of a stage name. I’ll explain how later, but it’s my brain piloting the Frankenstein Monster. Well, one of ’em. Wilhelm Frankenstein’s monster, not Victor’s. My actual name, James Garrett, is on all my licenses and ID’s. So, when the cops got there, they ran all my ID’s, and verified that the Tomasinos did not wish to press charges against my. Then there’s the matter of my weapons. A World War One trench knife and a Smith and Wesson 50 caliber revolver. The gun scares people. It’s perfectly legal, but you’d be surprised at how many cops don’t know that. So, after they figured out they can’t bust me, they took the kidnappers into custody, took Bethany’s statement, took my statement, and let us go.
“C’mon Bethany. Time to get you home. You want a cheeseburger or McNuggets?”
“I thought you looked like a McNugget kid.”
After eating her McNuggets, Bethany made it home OK. Her parents were overjoyed. While Bethany entertained her mom with her delight at getting to get driven home in the Monster, my version of the Batmobile, Mister Tomasino offered us payment. We politely declined, citing company policy to work any cases involving children pro bono.
Besides, when the press got hold of it, from local papers and TV news, all the way up to the networks and cable news channels, the free advertising is well worth it.