The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound – Chapter 44 to 47

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound

Golden Gate Disappearing Greyhound Bus Caper

Steven Levi

Master of the Impossible Crime

Chapter 44

Noonan snapped his cellular phone shut and stuck it back in his pocket. He turned to Smith and Rasperson and smiled. “The money’s been picked up. The bad boys are on their way here. Now, Jerome, things are going to get very hairy very fast.”

Smith looked at Noonan imploringly. “Any news of the hostages?”

Noonan shook his head. “I wouldn’t worry about it. They are going to make an appearance very quickly. The perps are about to get their money which means they are going to release the hostages in some way to draw the maximum amount of attention you can get on a slow news night.

Rasperson, who was still sitting in the back of the van, slowly got up and brushed his pants off with his hands. “Now, it’s all fine and good but it’s time for me to go to work. I was getting so used to sitting here. Thank goodness something is about to happen.” Then he started to shuffle toward the back of the van.

“Where are you going?” Smith asked.

Rasperson looked at her in surprise. “I’m a reporter, remember? It’s been a fun-filled afternoon, folks but, frankly, it hasn’t been very productive. Now, however, it is about to be productive. I’ve got to get my camera gear. I want a shot of the thieves standing beside $10 million in stolen currency.”

“You think they’re going to let you get a shot?” Noonan turned slowly and looked at Rasperson. “How old are you, son?”

“Thirty-five, why?”

“Because I’m over sixty. I’ve been around quite a bit and the around I’ve been has been dealing with some of the slipperiest people in America. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job but I can give you some advice and that advice is to be subtle when you deal with men like Harrah and Hopkins.”

“Why should I give a darn?”

Noonan gently rubbed the fingertips of his right hand on his forehead. Then he looked up at the ceiling and stared long enough until it appeared he was counting the rivets. “Didn’t you say you were in Vietnam?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Did you trust the white mice?”

“Not a one.”

“Well, it’s the same way here. When the bad boys show up there’s going to be $10 million of dirty money sitting on the floor of a garage, two heavies from English Petroleum and four or five bad guys who took ten hostages from the bank. Then there is the very real possibility there’s probably an inside man in the Police Department. We don’t really know who else is going to be in the garage in five minutes. But there is going to be another seven million dollars in an armored car. Do you think anyone is going to have any misgivings about murder when it comes to $17 million?”

“But I’m a reporter.”

Smith didn’t have any problem at all understanding what Rasperson was being told. So she snapped at Rasperson. “What he’s telling you, newspaper boy, is those men in there will kill you to keep this transaction secret.”

“Who’s going to kill me with the police there?” Rasperson shook his head and chuckled.

Noonan snapped his fingers to draw the reporter’s attention. “Jerome, right now I don’t trust the San Francisco Police. There’s a mole somewhere and I don’t know who it is. Neither does the Chief. We’re not using the police band radios because he and I aren’t sure who we can trust. That’s why we’re using the cell phones. Now, if I walk in there and the inside man is part of the team, I’m dead and so is Detective Smith. There are just too many unknowns right now.”

Rasperson was silent for a moment. “So what you’re telling me is not to cover this story?”

Noonan smiled. “Oh, no. What I’m telling you is to stay away from the garage until lots of police get here. Like we said, things are going to be very dicey for about ten minutes.”

“You really think someone in there may try to kill you?” Rasperson was incredulous, as though it was the first time he had thought of it.

Smith gave me a strange look. “You know, Jerome, until this moment I had a lot of respect for you. Vietnam vet, a crime reporter who consistently got it right, good man on the computer to beat the police to a solid lead, but now I’m not so sure. Every morning I wake up I know I might be in a hospital before nightfall. It’s part of my job. My husband knows it and my three kids do too. Now, here we are about to crack the biggest crime in a decade with $17 million in cash on the loose and 10 hostages in the balance and you think this is going to be a cakewalk? Sorry, Charlie. When the buzzards gather,” she indicated Noonan and herself, “the two of us are going to walk down there and confront the thieves and try to stall for time until the troops get here. And you think you’re going to walk in there with a camera and snap people’s photos?! Where are your brains?”

Rasperson thought about it for a moment and then scratched his head. Leaning back he propped his feet against the van and settled against an empty crate. “You have a better idea?”

“Not really,” Smith said. “Except you’ll be in the way when shooting starts. It’s going to be hard enough taking care of myself let alone a civilian.”

“I’ve been in combat. I know what to do when bullets start to fly. So you want me to sit out the biggest story of my career?”

“No.” Noonan stretched a bit. “Use the telephoto lens you keep talking about. Hunker down in the bushes again. Snap pictures of everyone coming and going. It keeps you out of harm’s way and, at the same time, gives you a photo essay you can use even if things go smoothly.”

“If they don’t?”

“Then you can call 911.”

“How very heartening.”

“Jerome,” Noonan nodded toward Smith. “She and I are paid to be targets. It’s our job. We’re going into a lion’s den and those people in there are not going to be happy campers. Anything could set them off. Right on the top of the list is a newspaper reporter with a camera, got me?”

“Yeah, but I . . .”

“Make your decision fast, Jerome.” Noonan looked out the front window of the van as Smith pulled on his sleeve. “Faster yet. I’d say the Bentley Flying Spur means the biggest pigeon we could possibly nail has just arrived.”

A car turned into the driveway of 1906 Ruef half a block away and the street lights momentarily illuminated the vehicle.
“The license plate EP makes it a sure bet. Now, to make the group complete, all we need is Hopkins and the armored car.”

Rasperson shrugged resignation. “OK. I’ll be the fly on the wall with the telephoto lens even though there isn’t a wall for me to be the fly on. Give me a couple of minutes to get to my Cherokee and pull my gear out. Then you just be sure the garage door gets opened wide otherwise I don’t have a chance of getting any shots.”

“Not a problem,” Noonan smiled for the first time in hours. “Two more people in there and the garage is going to have to have its own zip code.”

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound

Golden Gate Disappearing Greyhound Bus Caper

Steven Levi

Master of the Impossible Crime

Chapter 45

Douglas Hopkins was driving the Ryder up Van Ness when the armored car ahead of him made a left on Clay. As soon as they
made the turn, Hopkins received a call on his cellular.

“OK, here’s where we part company, Douglas. We can settle any differences later. Make a right on Sacramento and proceed around Lafayette Park and then go to the Ruef address. You are not to follow me any further. With any luck no one will find the van until tomorrow morning.”

“Yeah, we’ll talk about it later.”

“Right. But for the moment, follow the plan. Proceed to Divisidero and make a left, heading for the University of California. But wait to be contacted by cell phone. There might actually be someone in the garage who doesn’t know you’re the inside man.”

“Yeah,” said Hopkins’ snidely into his cell phone. “I’m not worried about me. I’m worried about you. You do know you’ve got a tail.”

“No kidding?” John’s voice came over the Cybernet with a confident boom. “Well, we’ll just have to do something about that, won’t we?”

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound

Golden Gate Disappearing Greyhound Bus Caper

Steven Levi

Master of the Impossible Crime

Chapter 46

“Where is he?”

Wu glanced at the computer screen. “Still at San Francisco International. He hasn’t moved in an hour.”

“If he does . . .”

“Yeah, I know. Call.”

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound

Golden Gate Disappearing Greyhound Bus Caper

Steven Levi

Master of the Impossible Crime

Chapter 47

The strong voice whispered over the intercom, “Not a peep.”

There were some voices outside the vehicle which continued for a few seconds and then faded. All was silent for 10 seconds and then the truck lurched to life again. It inched forward, the scraping continuing for a fraction of a second and then stopped. The truck advanced, rolled slowly over a large bump and then slowly rumbled onto smooth pavement.

“I’ll bet we took a corner too sharply. Probably took out a tree,” the security guard from Butterfield-Fargo said. “I guess the new guy isn’t used to the rig.”

“Well, he’d better learn fast,” said Cheri Molk. “I’d hate to end up locked in the back of a truck all night.”

“Would that be more fun than a butcher’s shop all day?” Greenleaf asked humorously and several people laughed.

Then the truck took another corner a bit too sharply. The starboard wheels hit what was probably the curb and the entire side was airborne for a split second. It came down hard and the port side bounced, its wheels clearly off the ground.

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.