Ozark Retreat - Prolog













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Ozark Retreat - Prolog

Brady Collingsworth watched with interest as the two men approached the bank. They seemed to be more interested in what was behind them, than what was in front. Both wore camel trench coats and baseball caps. New York Yankees. Both had both there hands in their coat pockets. It just didn’t seem that cool to Brady. Not cool enough to be dressed they way they were.

Picking up the microphone for the radio installed in the Suburban, Brady keyed it and said, “Barbara, get the police on the line and tell them there is some suspicious activity going on in front of Midland Bank.”

“Sure thing, Boss. Don’t do anything stupid,” came the reply from the radio speaker.

“Stupid is relative,” Brady said to no one as he exited the Suburban. He checked the street both ways and then sauntered across it, headed toward the bank entrance. Except he didn’t go to the doors. Instead, he stopped at the edge of the rock fašade of the building and squatted down. He took a small periscope from a pocket in the leather jacket he wore and took a long look around the corner of the entryway vestibule, through the glass doors, into the bank.

Sure enough, the two men were robbing the bank. One held a semi-auto pistol, and the other a short double barrel shotgun. Apparently the robbery was going okay. There had been no shots, and both men, while looking somewhat jittery, seemed calm enough.

Everyone he could see, except the perpetrators, was lying on the floor, arms outstretched. Brady stood, put his back against the wall of the building and waited. Hopefully the police would show up within a minute or two. Barbara could be pretty persuasive, when she set her mind to it.

But it was not to be. He heard the outer airlock door open. Spinning around, Brady stepped out, directly in front of the two men. A quick punch to the face of the man on Brady’s left, and a kick to the side of the knee of the other one put both men down almost instantly.

Another moment and both were disarmed. Brady took the weapons and the trash bag of money and set them inside the airlock. Already people were approaching the doors from inside the bank.

Brady smiled and tipped his grey fedora to them. With that he turned around and left the vestibule. He immediately turned left and began to run. He saw a car pullout of a parking spot well down the block. He cut between two cars and ran into the street. The driver of the car slammed on the brakes and swerved to try to avoid Brady.

Spinning to one side, the car went slightly past him. The windows were all down in the car and Brady reached in, jabbing the driver in the throat with stiff fingers. The car was still rolling slowly as the man gasped for breath. The doors were unlocked and Brady opened it. Reaching across the driver’s legs, Brady slammed the gearshift into park and the car came to an abrupt halt.

Keys in hand Brady backed out of the car and walked toward the police cruiser that had just pulled up. “Hi, Jonesy,” Brady said as the officer rolled down his window. He handed Jonesy the keys he had pulled from the ignition of the robbers’ getaway car.

“You might want some backup and an ambulance. There’s three of them. Catch me down at the office in a little while and I’ll give my statement. I have an appointment to keep.

Jonesy knew it wouldn’t do any good to protest. He’d have to shoot Collingsworth to stop him, because he sure couldn’t stop him physically. The man must have a dozen black belts in as many martial arts disciplines. He was the unarmed combat trainer for the city’s small police force.

Jonesy was calling in for assistance as Brady walked back to his Suburban. People were standing in front of the bank, holding the robbers at the point of their own guns. When they saw him they started pointing and calling out to him.

Brady ignored the fuss and climbed into the Suburban. He pulled out of the parking space and drove away. He did have an appointment to get to. He didn’t relish it. Twenty minutes later he was giving the bad news to Winchester Sanders, owner of Midland Bank, as well as two others in nearby cities.

“Yes, sir,” Brady said, “They hit the bank just a little while ago. They didn’t get away. Even if they don’t squeal on your son, I have to give the police what I have. A crime has been committed and I have knowledge of it. I have to protect my license.”

“I understand, Brady. I wasn’t going to ask you to lie. I’m not sure I could have turned him in, but the fact that it is going to happen, I don’t have a problem with. I’ll cut you a check.”

“Don’t worry about it right now. We’ll bill the bank in a few days. You need to concentrate on your son, and protecting your interests. When the news about your son’s embezzlement and the attempted robbery to cover it up breaks, you could have trouble from the regulators and the patrons of the bank.”

Winchester nodded. He stood up behind the desk and leaned forward to shake Brady’s hand. “Thank you for keeping it quiet as long as you were able, and making it as easy as possible.”

Brady was waiting for Detective Lieutenant Sandra Harrison when she arrived at his small office suite downtown. Barbara showed her right in.

“Darn it, Brady! You have to quit leaving the scenes of crimes like that!”

“I told Jonesy I had an appointment to keep. Didn’t he tell you?”

“Of course he told me. That doesn’t make any difference. If it was anyone but me, they’d have you in the station, in a cell, along with the bank perps.”

Brady leaned back in the leather upholstered chair and crossed his ankles on the corner of his desk. He tossed a file folder across the desk. Sandra caught it as it slid over the edge. “That’s a copy of what I have. I wouldn’t wait to long on Sonny. His father will most likely let him run, despite what he told me.”

Sandra was reading the case file. “I’ve got to go,” she said quickly and turned toward the door of the inner office. “You will come down to the station to make your statement. And that isn’t a question.”

Barbara stuck her head around the edge of the door after Sandra had left. “What’s next, Boss?”

“What’s pressing?”

“Harry is handling the small stuff. But the cult brain washing case has him spooked.”

“Bring me the file.”