Linda looked up from her desk and appeared to stare at Kip and Rosa. “Well, the corporation fairly well protects your property and assets; technically, when you married Rosa all the monies and stock became hers as well. Those assets prior to the marriage and prior to the corporation are liable, and I am checking to see if anything in the company can be tied in too. We just don’t know what agreements the US government may have made with the Tico government.”
“The corporation never received any monies from the key account over at Publica. But, of course, interest was paid into an account at Sociabank as well, those monies were hardly touched and Rosa is on that account.” Kip held a folder in his hands and was shuffling papers as he talked.
Linda’s phone rang and she answered but turned away from Kip and Rosa and seemed to listen for several minutes.
When she turned back she said, “Publica bank is surrounded by armed guards and several large black cars and armored trucks are on the street in front.” I was just told that the assets of the bank have been frozen by the government. But, my contact just said it was more than Ticos going in the bank. Some looked military and several were American blue suit guys.”
Kip squeezed Rosa’s hand. “I didn’t think they would come so fast.”
“Kip, maybe you need to disappear,” Linda said.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s their money, if they wanted it all they had to do was ask. Although I was once told that when they came to get to be a thousand miles away.”
Rosa hugged his arm. “Yeah.”
Linda grinned. “Cause if they did, they’re afraid you’d move it or something similar.”
“Well Giles called. No I take that back, it was more like a warning. I really need to talk to her.”
“Kip, call Marcos, let's go to Buenos Aires on vacation or something.” Rosa looked worried.
“Probably a good idea. Though the message from Giles was so cryptic, I really want to speak with her.”
Rosa’s cell phone chirped. “Okay, okay.” She listened some more. “Hold a minute, I’ll tell everyone. Lock the doors.” Her face was red when she turned to Kip and Linda. “There’s three black sedans in our drive. A guy came to the door and demanded to see Kip, the others spread out on the grounds. Paulo told him he and Maria lived in the house and when he was asked who owned it he said MAR Corporation. Some guy asked him what MAR stood for and he said 'it’s Spanish for sea or ocean.'" Paulo said the guy asked where the office was and Paulo told him his lease payments went to Scotia Bank.
Kip started to stand. “Call Paulo back and ask him to come to the bank and get our passports and money out of the bank box. I don’t want to go into the bank with these guys maybe watching. Tell Paulo to park next to my car on the top parking deck, then he can carry the bag and put it in his truck, we’ll be in it by then. He can take my car back to the house, we’ll take his car on a little trip. Hopefully, they’ll follow my car.”
“Kip what do you have in mind?” Rosa was worried.
Kip smiled. “I plan to kidnap you, sorta.”
“You have a dirty mind,” she giggled.
“Just call him.”
Rosa called Paulo and relayed the instructions. Two hours later Kip and Rosa snuck across the street and up the stairs to the top parking deck to meet Paulo.
“What’s going on Kip?” Paulo asked when he placed the bag between the seats of his truck. Paulo’s vehicle was a Toyota Hilux pickup, which he used to service the apartments owned by the corporation.
“I don’t know, if it was the US State Department coming for their money I would think they would just ask me to turn it over, but maybe they’re afraid I might run with it or something, and there’s no reason for them to come out to the house. And, what really bothers me is all the security forces and closing the bank. Kinda crazy.”
Paulo held the door for Rosa. “There’s still a car load of men sitting at the fence out at the house. But nobody followed me, of course I put a couple bags of manure in the back of the truck and a shovel, they probably figured I was headed for the apartments.”
“That’s why we’re not going home.”
“So where you going?”
Rosa leaned out of the truck. “Yeah, where are we going?”
Kip shook his head. “If Paulo doesn’t know, he can’t say. I’ll tell you once we’re on the road and Paulo, we’ll call where to pick up the truck after we get to where we want to be. Is there enough cash in the bag?”
Paulo laughed. “Enough to retire on.”
Kip got in the truck and drove out of the parking deck. “They’ll probably come talk to Linda.”
Rosa giggled. “She may be small but she’s a rock, and if they should go bother her by the time they leave her office they’ll probably need a loan to pay her bill. She might not be a trial lawyer but she knows corporation, business, regulatory, and constitutional law inside and out and can back down a pit bull when she’s angry.”
“Good, Rosa look in the satchel and see what Paulo gave us, while I explain where we’re going.”
“Deal.” She pulled the satchel to the front seat.
“When you were kidnapped the perverts sent me to a boat in del Sur, then I had to walk until I could get to a bank. Well, I met a woman.” He quickly added, “an elderly obese police woman who helped me. We’re going to see her. Now, how much is in the satchel?”
Rosa sat in the seat and pulled out envelopes of jump drives, discs, and passports and then put her hands on the bundles of hundred dollar bills. “How much in each bundle?”
Kip thought a second. “Small or large?”
“Small ones are ten thousand, the large ones are twenty.”
Not counting the loose bills; it appears we are carrying about three hundred thousand in American currency and about ten million in Calones.”
“Hopefully, we truly are going on vacation. This woman might be able to put me in touch with a pilot. There’s an airstrip close to the village. We need to get to the Caymans—the only place in the western world where we can carry in a quarter million in cash and nobody will bother us or even think twice about it.”
Rosa looked out at the traffic as they drove. “Call Marcos.”
“Yeah, he’s in Brazil repossessing a new Jet Star II which got behind on payments. It’d cost a fortune for him to come up and save us this time. I’m hoping for a local guy who can make a couple of hops to get us there. Besides, sooner or later the bad guys are going to figure Marcos and Sam into this whole thing.”
Three hours and a gas stop they entered La Cruz. The town was busy and it only took Kip a few minutes to find the road that led to the tiny village. The woman was sitting in her rocking chair when Kip and Rosa drove up. When she appeared to recognize Kip she sprang up and a broad smile crossed her face.
Kip chuckled. “I paid her to drive me to La Cruz, I must have over tipped.”
After a rush of pleasantries, Rosa asked the woman if they could store the truck for a couple of days at the police station, of course she would be compensated for the storage. The woman happily agreed.
“Ask her who flies cargo planes into La Cruz?”
“I’ll explain later.”
Rosa went through an explanation of what they wanted and the woman went into her cottage and came out with a card. “It says Trans Caribbean Airways—cargo delivery system. It has a name and number.”
“Call it.” Kip opened his wallet and handed the police woman two hundred dollars American. “Para el almacenamiento del camion. (For the storage truck.)”
The woman smiled and took the money.
Rosa grinned. “Well your Spanish is better, that was close. Okay, it’s ringing.”
“We need to send us and package to Grand Cayman.”
Rosa repeated the demand over the phone then added “pronto,” and “okay.” She disconnected. “I just agreed to pay the guy ten grand American and buy dinner and drinks.”
Kip turned to the woman. “Airport?” He held up a hundred dollar American bill.
The woman almost jumped with excitement. “Si, si. Momento.”
Twenty minutes later they arrived at the La Cruz airstrip. Kip handed the woman the hundred and she kissed him on the cheek and then waved as she drove away from the hanger.
Kip and Rosa together pushed on the stuck door marked “Entrance/Entrada.” A gray haired man smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer while sitting in a lawn chair at the open door of the hanger looked over his shoulder when they pushed open the metal door.
“Y’all musta been the ones who called,” he said, in a raspy voice. He stood and held out his hand. “Sonny Gomez. My mother was a Mexican my old man a Texan, what language you want me to speak? I speak Texan, Spanish, some Portuguese, a little Creole and definitely greenback. You said, some package is that right?”
Kip shook the outstretched hand. “Right. We’re the package, that is us, and this bag.”
“I told the lady ten bills, cause I gotta idle there get new fuel and deadhead back unless I can pick up business.”
Kip had already pulled a ten thousand dollar wrap from the case and held it up. “Where and when do we board?”
“Just a minute, I have to get my mechanic and co pilot, he’s in the can.” The man named Sonny walked over to a decrepit door and banged. “Come on, we’re go’n to Grand Cayman.”
Five minutes later a man who looked like he had been in bar fight emerged from the bathroom, his clothes were loose and hanging and one eye carried a dirty white patch.
Rosa pulled on Kips arm. “Uh, Kip, really?” she whispered.
“Any port in a storm,” he whispered back. He nodded to Sonny, “Where’s the plane?”
Sonny pointed to the tarmac. “Tied down over there. Give me half the money now, I need to buy fuel and make a payment, then we can go. There’s a couple of lawn chairs over there on the wall. Make yourself comfy, there’s beer and soda for the lady in the fridge.”
Kip looked back at the rear of the hanger and saw a rusting refrigerator and a stack of lawn chairs.
An hour later the two big engines of the old Ellison-Mahon Gweduck fired up and belched fire and smoke. It taxied in front of the open hanger doors. A side door opened and Sonny stepped out.
“We’re ready, bring the lawn chairs.”
Kip and Rosa carried their lawn chairs to the aircraft and Sonny took them, latched the legs onto runners in the airplane and pulled seat belts up to the chairs. The seat belts were a combination shoulder harness.
“Took the seats out for cargo space. That satchel all you got?”
Kip nodded. “Important documents. We travel light.”
Sonny shook his head. “Whatever.”
The one-eyed co pilot unfastened his seat belt and turned and smiled a toothless grin.
“I’m Peter, by the way.” His accent was heavily Australian. “There’s a head back in the tail if ya need it. I gotta cooler of water, soda, and beer here in the cockpit, if you want something just yell, it gets kinda noisy. Oh, here.” He took two headsets off of a holder and handed Rosa then Kip. “Helps with noise suppression. You’ll want these. Hey. There’s a couple of boxes of crackers in the seat back, I know they aren’t stale, I just had one. Help yerself. Unless you have any questions, just relax we’ll be in Grand Cayman in about ten hours, you picked the right bird, cause if we have to, this duck can swim, in fact we will probably do a water landing at Grand Cayman, easier than dealing with the airport. If we can get clearance we’ll probably cruise at fifteen thousand feet, get the best gas mileage there. If ya wanna walk around after we’re airborne feel free, but ya might wanna wait until we flatten out, we have a steep climb over the mountains and even at that hold on to the down straps cause, you know, speed bumps and pot holes in the sky." He turned back to the instruments and seemed to dance hands with the pilot.
Sonny guided the airplane out onto the runway and there waited for tower instructions and clearances. “Okay we got it,” he announced seconds later, “they have to communicate with a tower in San Jose who talks to God for all I know before they clear us for take off.” They taxied down the runway picking up speed and quickly they were airborne and headed over the mountains. Suddenly, the aircraft backfired and jerked.
Rosa grabbed Kip’s arm.
The co-pilot opened a beer.
To be continued ....