The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound – Chapter 33 to 35

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound

Golden Gate Disappearing Greyhound Bus Caper

Steven Levi

Master of the Impossible Crime

Chapter 33

Chief Thayer was sitting at his desk rolling a pyramidal ruler over the sea of paperwork inundating his blotter. (A friend who was an engineer once told him this was actually called a triangular scale but, as Chief Thayer had said to his friend, what did engineers know about rulers? The Chief had chuckled at his own pun but the engineer needed an explanation.)

Centermost was a pile of photographs of the Butterfield-Fargo First, the three bungee cords dangling from the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the newest collection, the Hunter’s Point Salvage Yard. He flipped some of the photographs over with the ruler and then turned them back over as if doing so would recombine the visual images and reveal a meaningful clue. But if it did any good, he could not see it.

With a sigh he picked up his cellular phone and started to dial. Then he stopped, shook his head sadly, and set his phone down. He pawed through the paper piles again, started to reach for the cellular phone when it buzzed.


“You’re supposed to say, ‘I told you never to call me at the office.’”

“Boy, how funny, Heinz. Ha. Ha. Now, where are you?”

“I’m in the back of a Rent-a-Clunker van following an ivory Ford with one of your perps inside sitting with a hit man from English Petroleum. Where should I be?”

“I don’t need any jokes, Heinz. Daylight has faded and you said we’d have this wrapped up tonight.”

“We’ve still got six hours of nighttime, George. Now, I need you to do some things for me.”

“Am I going to want to do this, Heinz? Tell me I’m going to like this.”
“Of course you’re going to like it, George. Just don’t ask me why. Now, I want you to get three or four unmarked cars ready to go at a moment’s notice. Do it personally, not on the radio. We don’t want our inside man to know what is happening.”

“Have you found the hostages?” He was on the edge of ecstatic.

“Not yet. Just give me a few more hours. I assure you all the hostages are alive and well. But I don’t know where they are at this moment. But we will know very soon.”

“OK. When do I get to make a bust?”

“In about an hour or so if I’m correct. Now, I want you to send a man to my room at the St. Francis Hotel and pack up my clothes. Then I want you to have my bags taken to the San Francisco International Airport. Check me in on the midnight flight to Anchorage, Alaska. I’m going to want to wear my leather jacket when I go so will you make sure it’s hanging up in the courtesy lounge closet? I don’t want it stolen so will you make sure it’s watched?”

“You seem to care a lot about the jacket.”

“I do. Will you take care of it?”

“Sure. Anything else?”

“Not yet. Just be ready to roll when I give you the word.”

“I’ll be waiting.” The Chief paused for a moment. “I’ve got a tidbit of news for you but I’m not sure what good it will do either of us. We got a call from Butterfield-Fargo. English Petroleum requested and received $10 million in cash. It came in – are you ready for this – on a pallet on a Federal Express plane.”

“I believe it.”

“We checked with the air cargo people who confirmed English Petroleum had picked up the shipment. It was placed in an armored car and driven into San Francisco. No destination was listed. I don’t like this, Heinz. Now I’ve got another ten million to keep an eye on.”

“Are you tailing the armored car?”

“Of course. I’ve got a car on it because I feel nervous this week.”

“Good job, George. I hope you’re not using the police radio.”

“No, no. Everyone I trust is using cellular. I trust those men, which is why I’m using them. Actually, one of them is a woman.”

“Bully for affirmative action. ” Noonan’s voice was broken by static for a moment and then came back on line. “. . .payoff money so don’t lose it. Let’s hope none of the good guys does anything foolish. We have to catch everyone red-handed.”

“Not a problem.” Chief Thayer picked up his pyramidal ruler and tapped on a pile of photographs. “To bring you up to speed on what is happening on this end, the armored car stopped at a warehouse near the University of California San Francisco Medical School and the drivers unloaded what appeared to be ten crates. My people said the armored car was loaded with crates but they only unloaded ten. One person stayed behind and the rest drove away in the armored truck.”

“There’s only one person with the ten crates at the warehouse?”

“As near as my people could tell.”

“Where are your people now?”

“Two are following the armored truck. Detective Caleb stayed at the warehouse.”

“OK. Don’t do anything until I tell you to do so. We’re following the other end of the payoff. We want to catch all the rats in the same trap.”

“You know, even for a desk jockey like me, this is getting really exciting.” Chief Thayer chuckled.

“Don’t take any tranquilizers yet.” Noonan snapped his cell phone off before the Chief could reply.

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound

Golden Gate Disappearing Greyhound Bus Caper

Steven Levi

Master of the Impossible Crime

Chapter 34

Wu passed the word immediately. He surreptitiously punched up the homing device, an action he was performing every five or six minutes. When he saw the bug had moved he got on the phone immediately.

“He’s on the move.”

“Where is he now?” John’s voice came over the phone line.

“South. Way south. Appears to be heading for San Francisco International.”

“Hot damn! The old man’s leaving town!”

“Could be.”

“Stay in touch.”

Then the phone went dead in Wu’s hand.

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound

Golden Gate Disappearing Greyhound Bus Caper

Steven Levi

Master of the Impossible Crime

Chapter 35

John snapped his cellular phone shut. “Your man is on the move, Hopkins – the Detective from North Carolina. He’s on the move. But he’s heading south. I certainly hope this isn’t a trick of yours?

“Hey! I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

“You’d better not. Now. Let’s go get the other truck.”

Hopkins headed east along the edge of Golden Gate Park and then turned left to run along the width of the park panhandle. Following John’s direction, he meandered through the Sunset District with John keeping a sharp eye on both outside rear vision mirrors. Finally he had Hopkins pull into a small vacant lot next to a Chinese grocery store and a laundromat where a van was waiting, its engine running.

“Pull in here.” John jammed his gun into Hopkins’ ribs for emphasis.

Hopkins pulled in and stopped. John stood up in the Ryder truck and wedged his way to the passenger side door. He stopped for a moment on the passenger seat and stuffed his pistol in his waistband.

“This has been a bad night for smooth sailing. Let’s not have any problems, Douglas. We’re on a tight schedule as it is.” He slid the front door of the truck open and stepped into the vacant lot. A few steps later he was in the van. The tail lights snapped on as the vehicle lurched backward.

Hopkins put the truck in reverse and moved back out onto the street. Then he put the truck in first and moved forward, the van following closely behind. He drove down to the end of the street and then went through a series of bizarre turns and finally ended up heading south. Twice he saw the headlights of the van flashing behind him but he kept driving south, putting more and more distance between himself and the van. Finally he got a call on his cell phone.

“What the heck are you doing,” snapped John. “Trying to lose us?”

“Yeah, well, let’s just say the rules of the game have changed, John.” Hopkins rubbed his ribs where John had been jamming the gun. “Five minutes ago I was satisfied to participate with you. Now, with your attitude and pistol, well, let’s just say you don’t inspire confidence.”

“Exactly what do you mean?” John’s voice was malevolent.

“What I mean is I can no longer trust you, John. What’s to keep you and the rest from ever giving me my $1 million? I went to a great deal of trouble and personal risk to set up this caper and now, just as we are about to win big time through my efforts, you’re talking about a double-cross.”


“Sure. I’ve taken all the risks here. Set up the whole deal and all you did was sit in a bank for a few hours and break open security deposit boxes with a hammer and chisel. I took all the risks. If this is successful, as I am sure it will be, you get to walk away with $7 million cash, everything from the safety deposit boxes and leave me holding the bag. I get no money and a prison term.”

“We wouldn’t do a thing like that.”

“Oh, yes you would, John. The gun proves it. So, since everyone seems to be going after their own cash, I’m going to make certain there isn’t any double-cross. This is going to take a bit longer than anticipated and John, you are not going to like this one bit.”

Steven C. Levi is a sixty-something freelance historian and commercial writer who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, his home for past 40 years. He has a BA in European History and MA in American history from the University of California Davis and San Jose State. He has more than 80 books in print or on Kindle.