The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound
Golden Gate Disappearing Greyhound Bus Caper
Master of the Impossible Crime
Harrah was at his desk when the call came in. The distinctive ring of his private phone purred rather than jingled. He gave the phone an annoyed look and then waited for a second ring. And a third. Halfway through the fourth ring he picked up the phone as if it were a tea pitcher. Without an octave of hesitancy in his voice he simply said, “Yes?”
“This is John.”
“What a surprise, dear boy.”
“Yeah. Do you have the money?”
“All $5 million.”
“Is it within reaching distance?”
“No, actually it’s in an armored car. Do you have the $10 million within easy access?”
“Yes. Now I suggest one of your trusted employees should come to examine the $10 million and one of us will come and look over your $5 million.”
“I don’t like the suggestion at all,” Harrah fiddled with the digital readout on his phone.
“Don’t bother tracing this call, Mr. Harrah. I’m driving around the city with a disposable cellular so you won’t be able to pinpoint me.”
“It never crossed my mind.”
“Of course not. Now, as I was saying. Have one of your trusted employees on the corner of 10th and Irving in 15 minutes. We’ll make the people exchange there. We’ll pick up your man; you pick up ours. Then both will go their separate ways.”
“I’d rather not send my own man. I’ll send Douglas Hopkins, the insurance agent who handles such details. He has access to the serial numbers.”
“No, Mr. Harrah. One of your trusted employees, not an insurance agent.”
“No honor among thieves?” Harrah shook his head sadly.
“You should know, sir. You’ll be making a cool $5 million on the deal. Why would you want your insurance agent involved?”
“Just to see if he was.”
“Ah! So you suspect if you gave him $5 million he’d just disappear.”
“The possibility never crossed my mind.”
John laughed. “Whoever said you English dogs don’t have a sense of humor? Just send one of your trusted employees. We’ll look at your money and you’ll look at ours. When everything is hunky-dory, you will be called to make the final exchange. I wouldn’t want any misunderstandings to crop up at the last minute.”
“Won’t be possible.”
“No, it will be possible. No one is going to exchange this kind of money without some kind of assurance English Petroleum will leave us in the clear, old chap. You boys have a nasty reputation for sending hit squads out after people you find, shall we say, troublesome.”
“Whatever you believe, true or otherwise, is fine with me. But I can assure you I will not be present at any exchange.” Harrah was frozen at his desk. Though he appeared unperturbed by the call, there was nervous tick in his neck, immediately below his jawbone on the left. It throbbed visibly.
“No. No. Mr. Harrah, this is not some dime novel. This is a multi-million dollar exchange. Thieves surround us. What’s to keep your cohort from pocketing the $10 million and saying he never got it? And what’s to keep you from pocketing the $10 million and saying you never got it? With the serial numbers so scrambled, no one would ever know. Do you see my point?”
“Not really. Why would I take $10 million of English Petroleum’s money?”
“Because it doesn’t exist. You get your $10 million back and $10 million in insurance. Not a bad exchange. But the first $10 million is invisible. If it disappears, it’s gone forever.”
“I have no intention of being anywhere near any money when the exchange is made.”
“Then we have nothing to talk about,” John said and the phone went dead.