Jack Collier: Private Eye
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Twenty-Two: Talking to Daddy
As I approached the Piper residence, I couldn’t help but think about how things had been the last time I’d driven up this path. It wasn’t so much being shot by the daughter that bothered me, as it was being shot at by the father. If Jill had been snatched again, then she couldn’t shoot me here anyway. With Peter Piper here though, he might give it a go.
He didn’t look like he was getting ready to have a repeat of the night he and Cole King tried to gun me down in his living room though. He looked panicked and scaried out of his wits as he came out of the house. He was wearing a silk robe over his pajamas, the pockets bulging with papers, which made me wonder how long this had been going on before he decided to call me. I didn’t worry about that too much because I was quickly concerned with trying to decipher his speech. I’ll break the words up, because if I wrote them like he said them it would be one single word shot out like a torrent.
“They took my little girl again. They stole her from her school grounds on the last day of school. They’ve taken her away again and they’re going to harm her. They took her like they took her mother form me.”
“Slow down!” I said holding my hand up in front of him. “Who has done what?”
“They’ve taken my little girl away from me,” he said as we stood on the porch. “They snatched her off the school grounds.”
“Where?” I asked.
“In California where she was going to school.”
“Okay, now second question, who?”
“They,” he looked around him nervously and grabbed at his robe. “We shouldn’t talk here, they may be listening, let’s walk.”
Almost running, he left the porch and started down the path that I’d taken three years ago when I was chasing Cole after he ran from the house. We walked in silence for some time, walking along the path that I’d taken to chase after the man I’d watched shoot himself just a few days ago. I could have asked him why we were pursuing the path of a man I’d caught up with, but no one actually knew that part except me.
We walked for a half hour in silence, I noticed that the field where Cole rolled his SUV had grown up to the point where you could only tell where the car had crashed if you knew the spot and were looking for it. This path led to the hill where Jill had become very confused about things and put a few rounds in me. As Piper started to walk up the hill I almost wanted to grab his arm and demand that we had walked far enough. After all, I wasn’t too happy about all of this to begin with, but walking to the exact spot would be too poetic if he’d decided to finish the job his daughter had started.
I decided though, that Tracey wouldn’t approve. He’d say I needed to climb the hill and look at the spot where I fell. He’d also say that I needed to get that big rock I hit my head on and take it home. It’s a good thing I only followed his advice to a point and then decided things for myself. I couldn’t tell which rock it was, but it must have been a big one and it would have looked weird if I’d gone looking for it.
“They’ve taken her,” he said as he started up the hill.
“Who?” I asked. “I mean they can be quite a large group.”
“The people who took her last time,” he whimpered as he walked.
“No,” I corrected him. “Cole King is dead.”
“Cole King was just the individual they had do the taking,” he told me. “They told him he could take her from me, and now they’ve done it again.”
“Who took her then?” I asked.
“Council?” I asked.
“The Council of the Church.”
“Act, if you will, like I spent two years in a coma and then another year recuperating,” I instructed. “Then you might be able to tell me what the hell we’re talking about.”
“Took her away?” I asked.
“Kidnapped, stole, confiscated, it’s all the same to them. They took her,” he said.
The hill was pretty much as I remembered it. The tree was a bit older, but not changed much. The spot where I fell looked the same, the place where Jill knelt down and begged me to take her away was still there, it might have all happened yesterday. I didn’t feel any particular spot on my body ache from the proximity, but I was aware of the spots where bullets had torn into me.
“And they did it the first time you say?” I asked him.
“That’s right,” he nodded. “They told Cole he could have her, even though he wasn’t supposed to take her yet. He was supposed to wait until she was sixteen to take possession.”
“Take possession?” I repeated the phrase, which has always has a connotation of property to me.
“It’s in the Church law,” he snarled. “You can’t take a man’s child as your own until they’re sixteen. Then you have to wait until they’re the age of consent to have sex with them,” he spat the words out with anger and indignation. “But he broke the rules! He had her when she was still too young. He took her when she should have been my precious flower.”
“It would have been okay to steal her away and lock her up in a room and rape her after she was sixteen?” I asked.
“It would have been according to the Church’s laws,” he said.
“Could we call this group something other than the church?” I asked. “It’s just calling them a church sets up a confusing mental name thing with me. I know a guy named Church and you keep making me think of him.”
“I suppose,” he shrugged. “Call them the Council or we could call them the Thinkonomics people.”
“Council works for me,” I told him and then asked, “So how does it work that they’re allowed to take your daughter and make her his property?”
“If you want position you have to pay up,” he shrugged. “I thought I wanted position, so I gave them three million dollars. They tried to take controlling stock in the company, but the board of directors stopped them. They temporarily seized the stock from me, so I couldn’t sign it over. So I signed over my wife and our child instead.”
“You what?” I asked.
“She was so beautiful,” he continued. “They gave Carol to some Swiss businessman who got the EU to recognize Thinkonomics as a church instead of a cult. Just came and told her she was going and took her away. I never saw her after that but Jill was able to visit her a few times. They just came and took her.”
“What did she have to say about that?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Piper snapped. “Women do what we tell them.”
“Right,” I said and nodded sagely. If I’d been alone I would have kicked my self for not bringing a gun to shoot him with.
“Carol did what she was told,” he assured me, “After they broke her of course.”
I did not like the sound of that.
“Broke her?” I asked.
“That’s what they’re going to do to Jill in a few days,” he said. “They call it the Rite of Kahn Singh, but it’s just breaking her.”
“You want to explain?” I asked.
“They’ll put her in a white room, make her dress in white, leave her for a few days on water and vegetables. That’s to detoxify her. Then they rape her. Then they beat her, starve her, rape her again. Gang rapes are a large part of it. Makes her indifferent to whatever man or men she’s assigned to. After a while the subject comes to understand her role and even accepts it. If you don’t completely ruin her, she’ll even come to enjoy it. You’re a man of the world, you know how these things are done.”
I’m going to admit to you that I was just too flat out astonished to argue him on that final point. I may have read some of those books Debbie keeps around for when she’s feeling a bit frisky over the years, but I hadn’t seen any of them as how to guides. There seemed to me to be a line where fantasy was supposed to end, consensuality being a big wide part of that line. I knew what he was describing though, I had read about it. It sort of made me a little ill that in a way, yes, I did know how these things were done.
“And they’re doing that to Jill now?” I asked.
“They’ll wait,” he said. “They’ll wait until June twentieth.”
“She’ll be eighteen on the twentieth,” he said. “They’ll follow the rules, they will wait until midnight and then they’ll either rape her into compliance or to death. They claim I am still a member of the Council and I should come to
“How delightful of them,” I said. “You know where they’ll be then?”
“I know some of the houses they own,” he said. “I can give you some addresses.”
“Where?” I asked. “In
“That’s right,” he nodded. “If you can bring her back, bring her back safe, I would give anything.”
“Well, we’ll talk about payment later.”
“I would give half my kingdom,” he announced. “I’ll pay you half of everything I own!”
“Okay,” I told him, waving a hand for him to calm down. “Just stay cool.”
“I’ve written it out here,” he pulled a paper from his pocket and handed it to me. “You can have half of everything, if you just bring back my daughter.”
I looked at the paper, which outlined that half of his company, land and assets would go to me if I rescued his daughter from harm. That’s the wording he used, rescue his daughter from harm. There was then a quick list of assets for me to have half of along with their value and what I would be getting if I could return said daughter. While I was glancing over that he reached into his left hand pocket, the one that was really bulging and pulled out a largish manila envelope.
“These are bearer bonds,” he said. “Everything you’d want is attached. They should be worth about two million dollars. I think it should fund your operations.”
“Yeah,” I said taking the envelope, looking at it and then him. “That’s probably a good retainer.”
“You’ll find her, won’t you Mister Collier?”
“Yeah,” I said looking in the envelope at the bonds. “I’ll find her. What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know,” he shook his head.
“You think they may come here and try to force you to go there?” I asked, and his face was a sudden mask of shock.
“They…” I could see the idea had only just exploded in his mind.
“I’ll send some people up here to take care of you,” I said, and considering the look on his face I added “Professionals, guys who know what they’re doing.”
“You think they might?” he started, but faltered. “They might force me?”
“Not if I get some people here,” I said and when I looked down the hill I saw a large chunk of granite that looked like it would get in the way if I rolled down the hill from here. I looked at the tree, the place where Piper stood and then at the ground again. I was standing in the same spot, so that probably was the rock.
“Can you get some guys here soon?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said glancing down at the rock again. “Yeah, I’ll get some guys sent up right away.”
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“This is where it happened,” I said looking at him and letting the weight of my stare fall on him.
“Oh dear lord,” He put his hand up to his mouth and gasped. “I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t…”
“Forget it,” I said. “I’ve got to go to my office and get some guys arranged. I need you to get some contracts together, this letter is nice but I need something more concrete than this. I’ll have to get people started on the paperwork while I go find your daughter.”
“When will your men arrive?”
“They will be here as soon as I can get them,” I said.
“How will I know it’s your men?” It was a fair question, but he was getting on my nerves.
“When they arrive they will give you a phrase.”
“What?” he asked. “Should I write it down?”
“No, it’ll be easy to remember. Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas.” I said, because it was the first thing I could think of.
“Pardon?” he blinked.
“Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas,” I repeated. “It’s a Civil War era song. If the guys who get here don’t mention goober peas, start shooting and then run.”
“It probably won’t matter,” he tried to smile.
“Yeah,” I smiled back. “If they’re not from me they’ll probably just shoot you on sight anyway.”
I started down the hill after that crack, I had a lot of work to do.