The red fishing boat was tied to the side of a pier. Kip wandered over and looked at the small boat. Kip judged it to be 24 feet or so with deep sides and bait boxes permanently attached to the port side and net storage on the starboard. Two ancient outboard engines looked primed more for distance than speed. An elderly man was seated on the keel slowly mending a net with a long hook device. Kip stood on the pier for several seconds before the old man looked up. He simply nodded to the aft. Kip stepped off the pier and his feet slipped as the boat bobbed. He fell and nearly went overboard. The old man did not look up. Kip sat clumsily on the deck between gas cans and wondered what was next.
Several uncomfortable hours later the old man started one of the small engines and untied a rope holding the boat to the pier. Not a word was spoken. Kip sat on the deck and watched the shoreline pass by. Just as the sun was setting the tiny boat pulled into a cove and up to a tiny teetering wooden dock. The old man handed Kip a bottle of water, a note was wrapped around the plastic. Then the old man reached in a box and tossed Kip a pair of rubber flip-flops and nodded toward the dock.
“I suppose I’m supposed to get off.” Kip climbed out of the craft and stood on the dock as the old man reversed his engine and floated away. Kip peeled the note off of the water bottle.
“We will contact you in San Jose in two days, get money, be ready.”
Kip looked at his surroundings. “I’m not Dionne Warwick, but does anyone know the way to San Jose,” he chuckled and sang as he carefully walked off of the dock. A dirt path ran up a steep ridge from the dock. The sun was high in the western skies and was a bright pink. “High pressure system, hopefully that mean’s no rain, at least not right now.” He climbed up the steep path that led to a wider cart path that wandered through the brush and forest. “I guess, while I have some light I better follow this for a few minutes.” Kip walked up the path watching for snakes and other reptiles. He estimated he walked only a couple of hundred yards before the path opened to the back of a small village. Kip found a cardboard box in a pile of refuge and obviously tossed in back of a building. “Ah, home,” he said to himself. He collapsed on the box and dozed until morning. When he awoke he walked around the building and looked out on the street. People were moving around from building to building doing their business of the day. Only a small child noticed his approach and pulled on his mother’s arm.
The woman looked around. “Hello,” she said hesitantly.
“Hello, where am I?”
She looked at him curiously then pointed to a small building at the end of the street. “Playa Pequena, the police station is over there.”
Kip looked down the street to a small hut with an old car parked in front. “I hope the kidnappers aren’t watching.” He walked along the buildings until he came to the police hut. “Of course this might not count in their concept of police.” An older obese woman was seated on a wicker rocker seemingly watching his approach.
Kip made sure she realized he was headed directly to her and raised a hand to signal.
“¿Perdido? Are you lost,” she asked both in Spanish and English.
“Si, senora.” He then asked if she could help him get to a city from his current location. “¿Puedo ir a una ciudad desde aquí?”
The old woman shook her head negatively, but pointed to her right. She told him in Spanish, to take the road to the right to a highway that would go to La Cruz. Then she asked if he had a car.
“I don't have a car, it's too dangerous. We have too many bandits here.”
Kip was afraid she might ask him for cash which he had none. But, she basically asked if he was robbed too.
“Nada, bandidos.” He hoped that he inferred that the bandits took it. He told her he had money in the bank and there were banks in La Cruz. “Tango dinero en banco. Hay banco Publica in La Cruz. Si’?”
“Okay gringo. I take you,” she said in English. “Twenty minutes.” Kip didn’t know if she meant for him to wait 20 minutes or it would take 20 minutes to get there.
The woman stood from the rocker and took keys off of a hook near the door. “Go now.”
The woman was dressed in blue jeans and a flowered shirt, Kip wondered if she had police type clothing. She was wide as she was tall and barely squeezed into the tiny Toyota sitting along side the building. The car did a noticeable dip when she got behind the wheel. Twenty minutes later she pulled up beside a Publica bank across from a local airfield and hangers.
“Espera aquí por favor.” He asked her to wait. Kip walked into the bank with only his passport, but after keying in his code he was able to withdraw two thousand dollars in Colones before walking back to the car. He handed the police woman a hundred thousand Colones and said, “gracias, amiga. Pero, ¿Me llevaría a Alamo alquiler de coches?” He asked her to take him to Alamo Car rental.
She looked at the money and grinned. “Let's go.”
Kip thanked her profusely.
Minutes later he was standing at the Alamo desk and waving at his driver. He had given his new police chief friend another one hundred thousand Colones. Within the hour he had a small red Suzuki and was headed toward Florencia—if he made good time he would be lucky to get there in three hours. The next difficulty would be getting home without anyone following him. He had two days to get to San Jose. He elected to stay at the Tilajari Hotel near his home, there he could pay cash and with his French Passport stay undisturbed. “Hopefully, those eyes are not following me I didn’t see anyone follow me on the trip here.”
He checked in and asked for a quiet room away from all activities. Next, he used the hotel room phone to call Paulo’s cell phone.
He took a deep breath. “Paulo, she was kidnapped in Nicaragua.” Kip waited.
Paulo finally spoke. “She said she was going to get you, she didn’t tell me where. What happened?”
“It’ll take a few days to explain, but, the short version; I was in the restroom at a pier south of del Sur, Nicaragua. I came out and she was gone, but I got a message not to contact police or Army and to pay them a million US dollars.”
“You have the money,” he said abruptly. “Pay it.”
“It’s against everything I believe in, but if I get assurances I can have her back, I plan to. So far, nothing. Too often kidnappers take money and only give a corpse in return, I can’t let that happen.”
“Kip, I’d sell my shares in the company if that’ll help.”
Kip didn’t know Paulo had shares. “Thanks, really that won’t be necessary. Listen, the kidnappers don’t know me, at least they don’t seem too, and a million is a lot, but less than it could be. If they contact you play dumb.”
He laughed. “Easy for me, I just rent this place from a corporation. As far as I know, you’re still in prison. Linda told me that someone took your place.”
“Well, that’s just part of the story. We’ve got to get Rosa back.”
“How are you going to get her back other than give some thugs the money? Have they contacted you about how to transfer the funds?”
“No other contact or message other than to tell me they had her. I don’t know yet.” Kips cell jingled. “I have a call coming in, I’ll let you know.” He disconnected from Paulo and looked at the text.
“One million, forty eight hours, no marks, no police, no army. Money first. Woman two hours later.” It was sent from a non return address and no listed number. “Probably tossing the phone in the trash ten seconds after sending.” He picked up his cell phone. I need a new phone. Kip wandered down to the hotel gift shop and found a prepaid phone display. Prepaid phones are common in most Latin American Countries. He paid with Calones but got only four hours on one and fifty hours on another one.
Kip went back to his room and exchanged Sim cards; then called Marcos. “Trente Trente (Thirty Thirty),” he said when Marcos answered.
“I thought you were in jail.”
“Giles got me out.” Kip looked around his room, he hadn’t scanned for listening devices but because he arrived unannounced he wasn’t too concerned. “Rosa was kidnapped in del Sur, I have a ransom demand for a million, but no delivery instructions other than money first then Rosa.”
“Let me call you back.”
Kip shook his head as if Marcos could see. “I’m bouncing Sims, and I need to reboot my phone with the original and two prepaid phones.”
“Where are you?” Marcos voice faded.
“Can you get to San Jose airport tonight?”
“We’ll take a ride. Be there at nineteen hundred hours.”
Kip looked at the clock. He had a couple of hours. “I need to buy some clothes, I’ll explain.”
“Just be at the airport. Don’t stop along the way.”
“Okay.” They disconnected. Kip drove to a general merchandize store, purchased a golf shirt and jeans and a pair of athletic shoes.
He returned to the hotel changed the Sim card back to the original and pocketed the phone. He called the kitchen. “Could I get an order of bread and meats and two bottles of water and a bottle of red wine to take on a night ride; but, don’t deliver to my room for 30 minutes or so, I need to bathe and get ready.
Kip jumped in the shower and tried to clean up as much as possible.
Thirty minutes later there was a knock on his door. Kip cautiously opened the door. A waiter stood in the hallway with a small white box with a bottle of water and a bottle of red wine. Kip tipped the waiter and after storing the wine, immediately got back in his car. “Food.” He ate as he drove. Two hours later he was at the private airplane part of the airport. “There he is.” Marcos was standing by the fence with his recognizable red ball cap.
“Okay, I’m here,” Kip said as he stepped out of the car.
Marcos grinned. “I’ve got to test this 1950 de Havilland DH.114 Heron, it’s coming out of service. If it flies okay we take it in on a trade. Probably eventually part it out unless some drug runner wants it.”
“Uh, okay, I guess.”
“It’s a little noisy, but we can talk. Oh, Sam’s underneath it right now. She wants to talk to you.”
Kip climbed aboard the aging aircraft and look a seat behind the cockpit.
“This thing has been in service a long time.” Sam crawled into the pilot’s seat and Marcos sat beside her. “If it still flies, then it will get the airline a break on their new aircraft. Not much, but every dollar helps.”
Kip blinked. “And if it doesn’t fly?”
Marcos laughed, “Not my problem man.” He paused. “I mean, we won’t have to worry about it.”
They taxied down the taxiway and Sam communicated with the tower, minutes later the big engines roared and the plane lifted with little runway used.
“Good solid aircraft,” Marcos said. “We’re headed out over open sea about a hundred seventy kilometers or so before we head back, Sam wants to check out a lot of things. We already took off without smoke, that’s an advantage.”
Kip tightened his seat belt. “Cool, I guess.” Kip stared out the window as the shore disappeared and the mass of the ocean took its place.
Marcos and Sam took turns making the plane maneuver through the sky. A couple of times all Kip could see was Sam’s feet has her head and arms were under the instrument panel.
A few minutes later they leveled off and Sam came on the headset. “Okay, tell me what happened.”
“She’s gone.” Kip spent the next thirty minutes describing the disappearance of Rosa including the messages. When he finished Sam and Marcos banked the plane 'til they headed back to land.
Sam looked at Marcos. “Girl Scouts,” she said.
To be continued ....