Stategic Reconnoitering

When the cryptic letter made of cobbled up newspaper cut out words arrived demanding a ransom of one hundred thousand dollars for the safe return of their daughter, the Doornspijk’s hearts and minds were flooded with mixed emotions. Having so recently escaped from the financial disaster of the century when the wedding was called off, they weren’t in a hurry to throw good money after bad. They argued all night but couldn’t agree on anything, as usual.

A long moment of pregnant reflective silence was interrupted by her yelling incoherently about crime and punishment. He, on the other hand, thinking ahead that this new turn of events might just be a financial blessing in disguise; almost inaudibly, said,

“Let’s call the detective.”

Noteboom’s phone in his makeshift office hadn’t made a sound since KarlWillem’s birdshit inquiry. Before that, the last time it had woke him up, it had been the Amsterdam Municipal Utilities Department calling to ask when he intended to pay his six month overdue water bill. Needless to say with no business in sight of any sort on the horizon, it sure wasn’t going to be any time soon. He once again put them off with his most sincere excuse and promise to pay. This time he promised to quit drinking water and flushing the toilet to cut down on his consumption. Since, as long as he was able to get a bottle of whiskey once in a while and he was still using the public three-holer in back of the office that didn’t seem like a total lie.

Even after the panicky incoming call from the Doornspijks with both of them yelling into the phone at him, he still didn’t make a connection of their situation with his earlier conversations with Vogelpoop.

KarlWillem had said he didn’t know where she was and then called back to say he thought she might be lost, hurt or otherwise terminated… Now here were her parents adding to his growing pile of mis-information. None of it seemed to make any sense. Why would this rich spoiled incorrigible brat suddenly run away from such an affluent life style and just disappear.

Meanwhile, amidst all this convoluted scheming and scrambling, Delbert Boggs was faced with his own questions and lack of planning by the terrible trio. How would he get in touch with Noteboom to figure out how to negotiate the money angle without blowing the whistle on the whole plan? Who would actually pick up the ransom and get away without being discovered as a connection to Ameli and KarlWillem? And most pressing for him was how in the Hell did a reasonably smart and kind red-headed Native American Irish kid get associated with these scruffy rich and religious continental Amsterdam renegades?

With the third call coming in right on the heels of the Doornspijk’s rambling rant, Noteboom was unprepared for Delbert’s hesitant questioning.

“What is the best time of day to get a hold of you, Mr. Noteboom?”

“That depends. Who is this?”

“I’m D.B. Cooper, but you probably don’t need my name.”

“That depends. Why do want to know when I’m available. I pretty much decide when and if I want work?”

“Well, I was wondering what your normal services cost and what they include and I was thinking about asking a favor, if it didn’t cost too much.

“Favors cost double. What did you have in mind?

“Do you do pick-ups and deliveries?”

“That depends on what gets picked up and where I have to deliver it.”

“If it’s money do you get a percentage or is there just a flat fee for time and distance?”

“That depends. What are you getting at?”

“Well, I can’t figure out any way to say this, but. . . I’ve been asked to deliver a ransom note and I’m comfortable with that, but . . . I can’t figure out how to get the money when they pay it.”

“OK, now I kinda understand but I need more details.”

“We all, I mean. . . I thought that since you’re a private investigator, you might just have a method or process already to go.”

“Has any of this have to do with the disappearance of those rich peoples spoiled and wayward daughter?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m only interested in this hypothetical story I’m working on right now.”

“Yeah, OK, hypothetical, I get it. So, how much would the ransom be?”

“Oh, let’s say for the sake of the story its a hundred thousand dollars. What difference does that make to you if you’re not taking a percentage?”

“Well, it’s part of my fee-estimating software. Hours, mileage, risks, stuff like that, measurable stuff.”

Noteboom, because of his name had always thought of himself as a Dutch person. His years on the Bozeman Police Force revealed his true nature. In the manner and fashion of the Teutonic tradition and culture he was obedient to a fault. No independent or creative thinking for him; just do as you’re told, follow orders or take the consequences. He wasn’t well prepared for the current situation. Besides, working the streets in Bozeman for so many years hadn’t prevented Noteboom from getting lost in Amsterdam. His stodgy, brittle brain was flooded with “what ifs?” and “then whats?” with no formula in sight. No dimensions, no angles, no axioms, no previous proofs and no calculus to handle the vague variables and determinates.

“Shit! What do I do now?”

In a brilliant flash of summary insight, Noteboom continued.

“Let’s call the Doornspijks and see what they want to do.”

“I can’t do that. They would smell a rat for sure.”

“Right. I’m sure they remember the Little Big Horn, Most of the folks around here blame the massacre on the sneaky Indians, not on the arrogance and stupidity of the Calvary”
“We picked you for this job since we thought your European name would be an asset for our cause”

“I’m not sure that aiding and abetting a kidnapping is the sort of asset, I want to be.”

“And we thought you would be more objective and trustworthy and you might want to help us out, for a price.”

“Now I see what you mean well I’ll call them for you, on spec, of course.”

“What’s that mean?”

“It means that I’ll call them and my retainer and fees will be figured out and set by what I find out.”

“OK, then. Do it now while I’m still here, so I can find out what this episode of Kaydub’s latest plan is going to cost.”

“Well, “ballpark” without calling would be around $1500.”

“Call, dammit. I need to know. We can’t spend money we don’t have.”

Moving back to his orange crate desk and lifting the earpiece off its cradle,
on the antique dial phone, Noteboom dialed the Doornspijk’s number.

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