Chapter 68

The next morning the truck pulled into a gas station and two girls got out and entered the station. Another stop near a diner and two more girls got out and repeated the procedure. Even in the biting cold they then stood there, holding pamphlets and pencils to attract passersby. When all the members were deposited with in six blocks, the truck returned to the farmhouse.

“This is going to make it easy for us. We know she wasn’t in the first group so we just have to drive around the area until we find her. I heard that a little strip mall has opened up for the first time in this town so that’s where we’re going first. There is more foot traffic going in and coming out. It’s a safe bet. It took the truck twelve minutes to make the rounds.”

“Why can’t we just pick her up if we spot her?” Jim seemed disgusted with the game Cash was playing.

“Patience, my friend. You are such an impulsive fellow. I should have sent you to Atlantic City with Hank to give you something to do. I should have brought Pete instead.” Cash looked at Jim. “You do it my way or we’re done here. How far did you get on your own?”

“Sorry. Sounds like you got out of the wrong side of the sleeping bag. You can’t blame me for wanting to get my daughter back.”

Cash sighed, “It’s important that I have some leverage when we do snatch her. You’ll see. Everything I do has a reason. It’s something I learned with experience, Jim. You’ve got to trust me. We’re almost there.”

There was a patch of color in Jim’s face. “It seems like you’re trying to make a cloak and dagger mystery out of this. Why can’t we just take her home?”

“What do you think you could do if you took her home right now?  She’d be gone in a minute. This is the easy part, my friend. You will probably despise me until I’m finished with your daughter. I can only give as my defense that everything I do is for a definite reason. Promise me that you will follow my orders or I will send you home until I’m ready for you. This is one of the reason’s I’ve kept the apartment. It will be more pleasant to work in than this freezing rat trap we were holed up in.”

“All right, all right. I won’t give you any grief in whatever you think you have to do. Somebody told us your price was worth it. I can see how you got that nickname.” Jim was building a dislike for the man he now considered to be a fortune hunter. “You know everything we have is riding on this. You have it all in your hands.”

“I know, Jim, I know. Believe me, I won’t let you down. You won’t regret your decision, but I must warn you even if we can get Trish back, you won’t like what has to follow.” They sat staring at each other until Jim nodded and looked away. For the first time in days they returned to the apartment where Pete waited until a specified time when Hank would call him on the telephone booth, reporting from Atlantic City. At least the little apartment was warmer than the rat hole. They made their peace over baloney sandwiches and potato chips.