Chapter 1 -Dreams
Robin was lying on the porch glider, half asleep, and half awake. Malissa and Stephanie had classes, so he was left to his own devices. He didn’t mind. His connection with Malissa was so strong that he was never really without her presence. Either of them merely had to think of the other and they could communicate with just their thoughts.
He had been lying there in a daze when he heard footsteps on the porch stairs. He opened his eyes a little and saw a young boy stepping up to the door to ring the bell. The boy looked to be about thirteen.
After ringing and not getting an answer he turned to leave.
“Can I help you?” Robin asked.
The boy jumped at hearing someone’s voice. He turned to see Robin lying on the glider.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” Robin said as he sat up. After a closer inspection Robin asked, “Aren’t you our paper boy? I thought we mailed the check in last week. Didn’t you get it?”
“Yes sir, I got it. I’m not here to collect.”
He walked over to the glider and stood there. Robin could see that he looked a bit nervous.
“Good. I don’t like owing people money. Never did. So, what’s on your mind, Tommy?”
“You’re Mr. Oracle, aren’t you? The guy everyone calls, ‘The Angel?’”
Robin ignored the reaction his mind was trying to have when he heard the word, “Angel.” He could tell the boy was having some trouble getting up the courage to talk to him, so he just said, “Yeah. That’s me. I’d prefer it if you just called me Robin, though. So, what can I do for you?”
“Well… I heard you find lost things for people.”
“True, but mostly I find missing people these days.”
“I don’t have much money, but I was hoping…”
“Don’t worry about money. Just tell me what you need to find and I’ll do my best to find it. We can discuss payment later.”
“Well… I… I need to find my dad.”
Robin looked Tommy in the eyes and could see by the tears forming there that he was upset.
A lot of things could have happened to his father. I hope he didn’t just run off on him. “I’ll need a little more to go on than that. Why don’t you sit down and tell me what happened?”
Tommy sat down on the end of the glider and told his story: “My
Dad’s a pilot. He flies small planes – like Cessna and Piper Cubs. You see, he works in sales. He sells light planes and small jets, so he has to fly to different States to deliver them or demonstrate them to his customers.”
“Sounds like a really interesting guy, your Dad. I’ll bet it’s fun getting to do that.”
“It is, especially when he takes me with him. Sometimes he lets me fly the plane too.”
“Wow. What a lucky guy you are. So what happened to your dad?”
“Nobody knows. He was taking a couple of people for a test ride. He filed a flight plan for L.A. but his plane disappeared.”
Robin paused a moment. “Disappeared? What do you mean by that?”
“Well… I overheard the Police when they talked to my mom. The air traffic control guys told them that, ‘one minute he was on the radar, and the next minute, he was gone’.”
“Is that even possible…? Don’t answer that. If that’s what they said happened, then it has to be possible. We just have to figure out exactly what did happen to the plane and where your dad is now.”
“Sorry, just thinking out loud. You do know that to locate someone I need something they have touched or own?”
“Yes, I brought this…”
He reached into his pocket and held out a small round object. It looked a little like a watch. Tommy opened it and Robin could see that it was a compass with a site on it.
“This was Dad’s favorite compass. His Grandfather gave it to his father, and my Dad’s father gave it to him. He gave it to me when I got my Webelos and became a boy scout.”
He held it out for Robin. He reached out for it: “I hope it has enough vibrations on it to give me a clue about where he might be.”
Robin took the compass and held it in his hands. He closed his eyes. When he opened them again he was at a small airport. Tommy’s father had just secured the passenger door and headed around the plane to the Captains seat. The image changed. He was now looking through Tommy’s father’s eyes. He could see two people in the back seat and a third sitting in the copilot’s seat who had a briefcase on his lap.
The engine started up and began to taxi. After getting clearance from the tower to take off, he pushed the throttle lever forward and released the brakes; being a light plane it was in the air in a matter of seconds.
“As you can see, this plane can take off and land in short distances even when fully loaded. The engine is…” Tommy’s father suddenly stopped talking because the man sitting behind him had a gun pressed against the back of his head.
The man sitting next to him spoke: “We don’t need you to explain about this plane, we already know. All you need to do is fly. Drop to one hundred feet and change course to due east and keep it below one hundred feet.”
“That’s too low. It’s against FAA regulations and this plane can’t…”
The man with the briefcase interrupted him, “Don’t con a con, pilot. This plane won’t have a problem flying that low and we don’t care about regulations, so just fly.”
The man behind him pressed the pistol harder against the base of his skull.
“Okay. Whatever you say; just don’t shoot me.” He took a deep breath and exhaled. “If you already know all about the aircraft, why didn’t you just steal it? Why take me along?”
“Because you’re the only way we could steal it without immediately bringing attention to us. This way there are no questions until you fail to land in L.A. If you stay quiet, cooperate and be our taxi driver, we’ll let you live. Otherwise, we’ll dispose of you now and I’ll pilot this thing. Okay?”
Robin nodded. He heard himself say, “Okay. Whatever you say… Could you ask your friend to ease up on the gun at my head? It makes it harder to concentrate on the flying.”
He motioned for the gunman to take the gun away from his neck, “As long as you understand that he doesn’t need to be close to blow your head off, so no funny stuff.”
“I get it.”
The image shimmered. They were now flying over the Nevada desert. The man in the copilot’s seat opened his briefcase and took out a GPS locater. “Adjust your heading. We need to be a little more North. “I’ll tell you when we are on course.”
Robin nodded and gently turned the control wheel.
A short time later: “Okay. From here on it’s a straight course.”
They flew for another half-hour.
“See that dirt landing strip? Land there.”
“Okay.” He maneuvered the plane into a straight on landing. He dropped his flaps and touched ground. There was a small wooden building near the dirt runway. Another plane sat just off the dirt tarmac. He was instructed to taxi over to the North side of the cabin. When he cut the engine, the two men in the back stepped out of the plane. They picked up some camouflage netting that was lying next to the cabin wall. He was told to exit the plane. The man with the suitcase walked him at gunpoint to the shack. The other men covered the aircraft with the netting. Anyone flying over wouldn’t see the plane.
The vision faded. Robin opened his eyes, “Could I borrow this compass for a while?”
“Sure. Did you find him?”
“I’m not sure, but I know where to start looking.”
Tommy was encouraged, “So, you’ll find him for me?”
“I’m certainly going to try. I’ll let you know in a few days.”
“Thanks. I’ll see you later,” he jumped down the porch steps, ran down the stone path, flew down the twenty-six steps to the road, jumped on his bicycle and rode away.
Well, that’s an interesting way to start my December, Robin thought. He gently concentrated, Malissa?
I’m not interrupting anything am I?
No, Stephanie and I are just having a snack in the university cafeteria. What’s up?
He told her.
Nevada again? Remember the last time we went there?
I really don’t want to, but I guess I could go alone…
Not on your life. Stephanie and I have the weekend off. We were just thinking about where we might all go. A treasure hunt and a desert hike sounds fun. Besides, it means we get to stay at the Bellagio again.
Treasure hunt? Oh…I see…I guess it is a kind of treasure hunt. I’ll start preparing the essentials and you two can pack when you get home.
See you then, my love.
Robin attached the small trailer he had special-made to fit his new BMW hardtop convertible. He had loved his Mercedes Hardtop convertible, but it was completely totaled during their last case. Besides, it only had room for two people. So, he opted for the four seater BMW hardtop which would allow him to carry more.
He began filling the trailer with camping equipment. After working for about an hour, Malissa’s car pulled up. Robin took Malissa in his arms and kissed her like they had been apart for weeks. Stephanie ignored them and went to her room to get packed. She was used to the couple acting like teenagers in love.
Shortly after Malissa went upstairs, Lt. Hawk and Nancy arrived.
Lt. Hawk took robin’s forearm in an Indian handshake, “I hear we may have a case.”
“Where did you hear that? I…”
Nancy interrupted him, “Malissa called me.” She pointed to her temple. “She mentioned something about a treasure hunt and a missing airplane?”
“Why don’t we all go in and have some tea and scones. You can tell us then.”
“Sounds like a good idea to me, Nancy,” Lt. Hawk said smiling. “I could do with a cigar too.”
In a few minutes they were seated around the kitchen table drinking iced tea. Malissa and Stephanie had joined them. Hawk blew a perfect smoke ring. Robin had just finished telling them his story.
“Like I said, there’s no actual treasure – it’s more of a metaphorical treasure. So, what do you all think? Is this really a case all of us need to be working on?” He picked up a scone and began eating it.
“I don’t care. It sounds interesting, so I’m in,” Nancy affirmed, “Besides; I’m looking forward to staying at the Bellagio again. Although the circumstances were dangerous, Elias and I enjoyed our last stay there.”
“Yes, and I did promise to take you back there for a less stressful stay,” Lt. Hawk winked at Nancy and flicked a cigar ash into the ash tray, “I already know something about your case Robin. The department has been discussing this mystery for a week now. Since they thought it was just a plane crash – not a homicide – it was assumed to be out of our jurisdiction. I’ve been following it out of curiosity - unofficially of course.
“The FAA sent out search teams to check the nearby mountains for plane debris, but found nothing. That plane and all its occupants seemed to have disappeared off the map. Until now, that case has been at a standstill. That plane was supposed to be headed for L.A., so no one ever thought to continue the search over into Nevada or Arizona. It’s no wonder they haven’t found anything.”
There was a knock on the back door. “It’s open,” Nancy said.
Sgt. Muñoz came in behind Sgt. Tinker who was still in his wheelchair. Malissa jumped up and hugged Yaneth.
“I’m so happy to see you.” She looked down at Sgt. Tinker, “How are you doing Tinker?”
“Much better, they’re taking the metal splints in a few days.”
“Congratulations. I’m so glad you are okay. For a while there Robin and I were worried that your injuries might cause you more trouble than you already have.”
“No extra problems. They assure me that I have a good chance of walking again. Once they unscrew me from these metal splints I should be right as rain.”
“Good. So, how is your little princess?”
Tinker reached over and touched Yaneth’s stomach, “She’s doing fine.”
“Yes, and I’m not having a lot of morning sickness either.”
Malissa offered her a chair, “You’re lucky. So, what brings you two over today?”
“Frankly,” Yaneth began, “we were bored, besides we heard we have a case.”
Robin raised his eyebrows, “When did you become psychic?”
“I told them,” Stephanie confessed, “Hawk’s Weirdos wouldn’t be complete without them, would we?” She chuckled.
Nancy gave Stephanie a stern look: “You mean Hawk’s Heroes, don’t you?”
Robin laughed, “In our case it’s probably more weirdo than hero anyway.” He looked up and saw a young girl in gingham sitting on the kitchen counter.
“Hello, Amanda Potts. I suppose you’re planning on being in on this too?”
“Like you, I don’t have a lot of say in the matter.”
Nancy spoke up, “Hello Amanda Panda. As I was going to say, Mr. Oracle, just what is weird about us?” She looked insulted.
Stephanie laughed and choked on her scone. She washed it down with her tea.
“What?” Nancy demanded.
“Hello, Amanda Potts,” Stephanie said. She laughed again, “So, how many people actually have a close relationship with their Guardian Angel? Or talk to each other without saying a word, even though the other one is miles away?”
Lt. Hawk turned to Nancy, “Unfortunately, she has a point.”
They all laughed.
Nancy chuckled, “Okay, I’ll give her that.”
Lt. Hawk continued, “So how do we handle this? We can’t all head out into the desert.”
“Yeah,” Sgt. Tinker added, “and my wheels would get stuck in the sand if I tried to ‘hike’ it – not to mention the havoc it would do to my wheel bearings.”
“Well…” Robin started, “Tinker and Yaneth could check out the airport to see if they can get a line on any of the guys he took with him. In the meantime, those that feel up to it can hike the desert.”
Nancy snapped her head around, “Is that an insinuation that Elias and I would be a burden to you if we go? Do you think we wouldn’t be able to keep up because we’re seniors?”
Robin put his hands up, shoulder height, palms out, “Whoa there, Nelly. Do I look like someone who is crazy enough to say – or even think – that way? I would never be so foolish as to risk my life on such a heretical thought.”
“Smart boy…wait a second. I’m not so sure I shouldn’t be upset being referred to as a horse…” She feigned indignation.
Lt. Hawk chuckled. “We won’t have to hike much anyway. One of the College crew owns a Humvee. He said he’d drive us. He takes it to the desert all the time so he said he’d be glad to be our driver.”
“Which College Crew?” Malissa asked smiling slyly.
Stephanie made a slight cough. All eyes went to her. She raised her right hand as if to ask a question.
“You, Stephanie…?” Yaneth seemed surprised.
“Ray, Actually,” she replied.
“So, Stephanie, you let me pack the trailer for nothing? You could have said something before…”
“You were practically done when we got here and then you were busy kissing Malissa so…”
“So you forgot?”