The Thousand Words

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Chapter 42

“Dammit!” Bruno yelled out loud. It was his turn to lose it. “I made the wrong fucking call. If you would have stuck with these two assholes, Kelsey wouldn’t have been taken.”

“Then Jane would still be held or the couple of officers who would have been sent to the house would have been ambushed and killed,” I said, trying to snap him out of it. “As you told me many times before, there will be plenty of time for self-loathing and pity for poor decisions later, after we get her back.”

There was a furor in Bruno’s eyes as I had never seen before. He looked ready to hit something, likely multiple times. The security guard must have thought the same thing because he subconsciously rolled his chair out of striking distance. We both waited for him to calm down and start thinking rationally again. It only took a few seconds.

“We are done here,” he said finally. “Let’s head back to the car.” He walked out of the office, hurrying back to the car parked outside of the emergency room entrance. About halfway back he began talking. Maybe to me, maybe only to himself.

“We obviously need to know where they took Kelsey and what they plan on doing with her” he started. “The key is to review what we believe and not necessarily what we can prove in a court of law. Two very different levels of certainty. First, we know your dad ended up killing Daniel Kirchoff when they killed him and Hannah. Years later his younger brother, Tony, hires you to find Sarah Jacobs whom he has no relation with at all. He ends up trying to frame you for the murders of her, Zoe Burke, who is a former client, as well as Neil Shelton, your boss at the newspaper. He ends up grabbing Jane and Kelsey. It’s obviously personal against you, but what the hell is his game plan?”

“I have no idea. The motive must obviously be revenge for my dad killing his brother. He must blame my dad for ruining his life. Since he is dead, I have to be the person to take the wrath of his anger. But why now?”

Bruno and I walked in silence the rest of the way to the car. We didn’t get in as we had no idea what our next move should be.

“Alex, we don’t have any leads to go on right now. Let’s go back to the station and get some men to help us with this.”

“It was the column in the paper and my blog,” I said, ignoring what he said.

“What do you mean?” Bruno asked, not following my train of thought.

“The years following my dad and Hannah being killed barely existed for me. I did nothing and only kept my head above water to survive. I was completely off the radar. Our paths would never have crossed. The last year has been completely different, though. My photography business and blog have really taken off.”

“Agree, but you also met Kelsey and worked a bunch for the police department.”

“True,” I said, not wanting to stop. “But those are not related to his initial motivation. He must have seen my column in the paper at some point. Who knows when or where but it is a logical assumption. As you said, maybe not something we can prove, but highly probable. All of those columns have my name, a picture of me, and a link to my website. My site has my blog, the address of the office, where I work, and a calendar of where I will be setting up for shows. In other words, how I am being successful.

“He probably read the site from top to bottom and even went to a show or watched me around my home or office. Easy to do. He could have seen me working with Jane or going out on a date with Kelsey, having the time of my life. How would you feel if you saw the son of the person who killed your only family member doing well and being happy? You’d be pissed. Furious you had lost everything.”

“So he sets this whole scheme in motion to get even with you,” Bruno said, as he continued my train of thought. “Maybe he sees you with Zoe Burke out of pure coincidence. Reminds him of pictures he saw of Hannah in the paper after she was killed. Thinks about how to get his revenge. Wants to ruin your life like your dad ruined his. Searches for another person who looks vaguely like Hannah and Zoe and hires you under false pretenses to find her, all while planning on killing both of them and framing you. What about Neil? Why go after him?”

“He was the one who hired me in the first place at the paper. One of his gang members could have witnessed what happened in the lobby of the paper and know I got fired. Tony Kirchoff took the opportunity to kill him, knowing the police would look squarely at me.”

“This all makes sense but is not helping us with the immediate problem,” Bruno said shaking his head. He was still very concerned. “None of this helps us find where Kelsey is at.”

“What did you tell me earlier? This is personal. Where would he take Kelsey to make it personal for me?”

We stared at each other before coming to the same conclusion. “My home or office,” I managed to say first as we both hopped into the car.

Bruno started the car and took off like a bullet towards my house. Fortunately, I lived only a few miles away from the hospital where Kelsey worked. He handed me the phone and told me to call 911 and put it on speaker phone while he drove. When the operator answered, he gave her his badge number and implicit instructions on what needed to happen. He wanted anyone and everyone available to head to my house and office for a possible hostage situation with armed and dangerous abductors. The operator said a good chunk of the force was involved cleaning up and writing statements from another situation where multiple suspects were shot and killed. Bruno told them this was related and to hurry.

A few minutes later, we pulled on to my street. Bruno had killed the lights before we rounded the corner trying to keep the element of surprise as much as possible. He slowed and pulled over to the side of the road. This gave us a clear view of both my house and the office further down the hill. All was quiet on the street, not surprising for nearly three in the morning. Most of the world was sound asleep. Too late for being out, too early for being up.

All of the lights in both the house and office were off. It looked like any normal middle of the night, with one main exception. In front of my house was the car the two kidnappers used to grab Jane.

“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Bruno said. “Let me know if you have any problems with it.”

“I am not waiting in the fucking car and calling someone, so don’t say it.”

“We are not waiting for backup. The time of taking things slow is over. I am going to take the house on my own.” He held up his hand letting me know I should let him finish. “I know your house, having been in it a few hundred times. Since it’s personal, there is a good chance that is where Kelsey is. I am doing this alone, so I don’t have to worry about you being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You, on the other hand, are going to go to the office to do the same.”

Bruno handed me a gun from underneath the seat. It was his SIG Sauer backup piece. I was familiar with it, having fired at the range multiple times.

“One word of advice,” Bruno said with all seriousness. “Shoot anyone in there who doesn’t look like Kelsey and we will sort it out later. I will give you a head start so we enter at the same time. Go.”

I had no issues with Bruno’s plan at all. It was more than I could have hoped for. I ran around the back side of my neighbor’s house staying out of direct view as long as possible. After a quick run, I was near the side of my office ready to go in. I paused for a second, wishing I had the keys but my gut told me it wouldn’t matter. When the security lights didn’t turn on when I got close, I knew Kelsey would be here.

As I walked up to the door and opened it, I heard Bruno break a window up at my house. He was going in and so should I. After pushing the door open fully, I walked into the main office area leaving the lights on. For a moment, I neither heard nor saw anything. Then from upstairs, I heard something which sent a shiver of dread through my soul.

It was Tony Kirchoff. “Welcome, Alex. Glad you could make it. Kelsey and I are waiting for you.”

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