The chapters on this page appear at the end of the “Will Power” novel and are sneak peeks at the THIRD, unpublished book entitled, “Where There’s a Will“
The simple clacking noise of the dead bolt lock on the first floor front door of the historic office building, awakened him at 6:15 am. William Hoyle listened intently as perspiration seeped from the pores on the skin of his face. His fear was irrational, that he knew, but some times, even after all the years that had passed, he couldn’t control it from welling within – and when it did, the young private investigator’s sense of hearing became acute.
The old, oak staircase was padded by a carpet runner with each riser being adorned with a slim, brass bar to keep the rug in place, but he could hear every soft step taken from the first in the foyer, three flights down, to the forty-eighth on the landing outside his door. Will knew he had nothing to fear and that he was safe living and working in the attic of Hoyle, Hoover and Hoyle – after all – the law office building had been owned by his family for three generations. The latest security system had been installed and a security guard roamed the premises, yet Will continued to sweat until he smelled her perfume and, through the peephole of his door, saw her dark eyes looking back.
Shireen Davanlou and Will had met while running on Philadelphia’s popular Kelly Drive, named for the famous Kelly family – Gold Medal Olympian, Jack Kelly, Sr., Jack, Jr., two other brothers and their sister, Princess Grace. They had literally run into each other four days after Will’s release from the rehabilitation center where he had recovered from a gunshot wound to the back of his head.
They kissed in the doorway and Shireen placed a small cooler, containing their breakfast of fruit and yogurt, on Will’s desk.
“Oh, please! Open the skylights in this bird’s nest and let some air in. It’s a beautiful October morning.”
Will reeled the handles of the two, long cranks dangling from narrow windows in the ceiling of office apartment. “What’s for breakfast? I hope it’s scrambled eggs with bacon and hash browns.”
Shireen ignored the question and passed Will an apple. “Have you heard that the personal diary of William Penn went missing overnight from the Penn Library in center city?”
“No! That must be worth a small fortune. Did they find out who stole it?”
“No they haven’t because, according to the police, there were no signs of a break-in, nothing was disturbed and the book had been hidden in a closet behind a door that was still padlocked this morning. They only noticed the pamphlet missing because a representative from the Smithsonian Institute was arriving to examine it. ”
“Now that sounds like a book case I’d like to thumb through. I wonder if they’d welcome the services of a private eye?”
“But, Will, isn’t it an obvious inside job?”
“That’s too obvious for me. If the thief had been an employee he or she would have tried to make it look like a robbery. One thing is clear, however. The thief, whomever it is, knew exactly where to go and what to look for.”
The couple sat on Will’s desk and devoured a small tub of yogurt laced with cinnamon, a handful of grapes and a few Saltines with fat free cheese.
Shireen placed her slender fingers against Will’s cheek. “You amaze me with you’re ability to size-up a situation so quickly and so early in the morning.” She lifted a napkin from his desk and began dabbing perspiration from his brow. “You must have slept well last night.”
“Not really. I kept waking up just before the end of each nightmare and I really could use more sleep. How about a little nap before work?”
Shireen placed a soft kiss upon her boyfriend’s eager lips. “I have an early customer who needs to catch a flight by 9:45.”
“Call and tell your customer that the dog ate your homework.”
Will stood silently as Shireen formed the devious smile that made her eyes squint, and said, “I don’t have a dog and you are my only homework.” She kissed him hard this time, turned and walked toward the door. “I’ll call you during my first break. Until then, try to concentrate on work and stay out of trouble.”
“Trouble? Who me?”
Shireen rolled her eyes and grinned as she skipped down the steep and narrow staircase to the first floor of Hoyle, Hoover and Hoyle. Evelyn, Winston Hoyle III’s long time assistant, met her inside the front entrance.
“Good morning Shireen. How’s our super sleuth this morning?” Evelyn’s desk was just off the foyer in what used to be the mansion’s dining room. A conference table sat in the “drawing room” behind sliding glass, pocket doors for the convenience of clients who couldn’t make it up the stairs to her bosses’ office.
“Oh, he is as spunky as always, keep an eye on him for me.” Evelyn squealed a sarcastic laugh and waved.
The cabin was exactly where crazy Kermit had told Frankie Geyser it would be, tucked deep in the Pennsylvania State Forest, not far from the New York State line. It hadn’t been easy to find and, for a while, Frankie had doubted his recall of the directions, which he had committed to memory so the prison guards wouldn’t find anything in writing.
Kermit had told Frankie that, only two years earlier, half of the cops in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had been combing the desolate woods of Pike County, near his cabin, looking for cop killer, Eric Frein. Frein had successfully eluded them all for more than a month living off the land in the dead of winter. He was crazy Kermit’s hero.
Hitchhiking had proven to be easier than Frankie had expected and it served him well on I-80, Route 33 and north to Marshy Creek on Route 409, but from there he walked for miles. It wasn’t until he had reached a desolate outpost called “the Bass Inn” that an elderly motorist in a pick-up truck offered him a lift.
The man knew where Old Route 42, a gravel road, sliced off from the highway through the forest, along Pike’s Lake. It was getting dark earlier now, in October, and the driver offered to help him search for the cabin on foot from there – Frankie insisted on going alone. That had been lucky for the old man, because if he had come to learn the location of Kermit’s cabin, he would not have lived to see the morning sun peek over the top of Mount Pocono.
Crazy Kermit was in his seventeenth year of a life sentence and would never return to the fishing cabin in the Pocono Mountains that his great uncle had built almost one hundred years before. He claimed that there wasn’t another living soul who knew about the cabin where he had lived in for nine years – alone and preparing for war against the government of the United States – before he was arrested for shooting a Secret Service agent on the White House lawn.
Kermit said, that now, it all belonged to Frankie. The weapons, the ammunition, the explosive devices, the fake I.D.s, the disguises, the hidden cash and “The Hawk” were his if he promised to continue the battle against Big Brother. Kermit had made Frankie swear to it in blood penned with their fingers on the floor of Kermit’s cell. It was a promise that Frankie would not keep.
The cabin was even more basic than Kermit had described. Water was pumped from a well outside; there was an outhouse, a wood burning stove and an electric stove. Cobwebs and mouse sprinkles were everywhere. No other building stood within miles and it looked every bit of the one hundred year old fishing cabin that it was – except for the elements of war, tools and disguises hidden beneath its floorboards.
Frankie’s first and most important job was to find the money. Kermit claimed that more than $30,000 in cash had been buried in a cookie tin under the outhouse wherein a shovel could be found. Frankie dug. It was all there.
It was in Kermit’s simple, one room, wooden cabin that he would teach himself to use disguises and certain weapons in a way he had never done before. He was more disciplined now – prison had that effect on a person unless stupidity ruled the brain. He had witnessed many of those types of brains. They would never get out for good behavior because they were too idiotic to know how to play the game. It wasn’t rocket science. Prisons are over crowded and the better you behave the sooner you are released, and Frankie Geyser had been the model inmate.
Five years behind bars had offered him ample time to design a plan for revenge against those who had put him in prison. But it wasn’t until crazy Kermit confided in him about the cabin and weapons that he was able to devise a way to execute his plan. He knew exactly what he would do the day he got out, get lost from the parole system – with it psychologists and social workers going through the motions – and find crazy Kermit’s cabin in the woods to hide from the cops. There, he would get battle ready – not for fighting Big Brother, but, for revenge.
They made a strikingly, good-looking couple. Shireen Davanlou was petite with dark, Persian eyes and jet-black curls to compliment Will Hoyle’s six-foot two-inch frame topped with straight, dirty-blond hair. People stared at them wherever they went and the private Anchor Club on the Schuylkill River in the middle of boathouse row in Philadelphia was no exception. There, however, ogling was done through the well-trained eyes of society’s rumor hungry, Main Line elites.
Private eye Will, had become an overnight celebrity following the extensive media attention given to his miraculous recovery from an attack two years earlier.
He had been shot by a crazed and jealous suitor of an undocumented teen found in Will’s arms – at least that was the story told by the news media. Since then, Will had successfully investigated cases from the attic of his famous family’s law office building, which included solving the case of the missing heart surgeon, and saving a wayward teen from a disastrous fate.
Philadelphia’s “Queen of Secrets”, Victoria Vanderbilt, had dramatized both cases in Philadelphia gossip columns. Shireen, with her affluent customer base from the perch of her salon, Beyond Beauty, and Will’s propensity for sniffing out scandal, also made for great fodder among columnists in the Main Line media. That attracted the attention of many prominent, potential clients.
“Don’t turn around to look at him, but seated directly behind you is none other than Roger Ridgestone, founder and president of Snack King Foods.”
“Shireen, how do you know? I thought he was some kind of wealthy recluse who has no contact with the outside world.”
Shireen tilted her head and smiled. “Oh, sorry, dummy me, he’s a customer, right?”
“Yes, and for many years, Will. He always pays double to have a private haircut appointment so he doesn’t need to meet other people in the shop. He’s been doing that since the first time he came to me.”
“So what is this shy millionaire doing here in Anchor Club at the height of the busy dinner hour?”
“My guess is that he wants to talk to you.”
“Your guess or do you know something I don’t?”
“Well, when he was in today, he might have said something about needing a private eye and I may have mentioned in passing that we’d be here tonight. ”
“You’re the best, thank you darling. How about introducing me?”
Shireen waved coyly to the aging tycoon and he responded with a nervous smile of recognition. “We better do it now before he loses his nerve and leaves.”
Roger Ridgestone, shy business magnate, and Will Hoyle, gregarious private investigator, sat in the dark on the Anchor’s back porch, drinks in hand, overlooking the river. A few moments passed before either man spoke.
“I apologize for interrupting your time together, but Shireen mentioned that you’d be here tonight and I, uh, thought…”
“Please, Mr. Ridgestone, no apology is necessary and I’m honored to meet you.”
“Thank you, but please call me Roger. Allow me to get to the point. I recently retired and I’ve been bored to death sitting in my old-city brownstone alone in Philly on Rittenhouse Square. Three weeks ago, when a realtor offered me a position, I decided to take it. It only paid $100.00 a night but it got me out of the house.”
“Well, Roger, it sounds like a perfect solution to your boredom.”
“I thought the same. It required a bit of a drive but all I had to do was sit in an office building in Chestnut Hill, from 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm and scan countless photographs of houses into a computer. I was totally independent and everyday there was an envelope resting on the desk with a one hundred dollar bill inside that I was permitted to take after exactly four hours of work.
I was on an honor system and there was never anyone present to check what time it was when I left. That actually made me work longer each evening than requested, but I didn’t mind. It was better than sitting at home with nothing to do, especially at night.”
“Well, Roger, it seems you have the perfect situation.”
“Had the perfect situation. Two days ago, after three weeks of scanning photos, I went to the office at four as usual and it had disappeared. The building was still there but the office was empty. Gone were the boxes of photos, the computer, the TV and the furniture. It was as if the business had never been there from the beginning. I called the realtor and received a recording that said; the number you have called is no longer in service. I’m not accustomed to being made the fool and that is the reason I’d like to hire you to find out what has happened”.
Frankie Geyser laid in the dark trying to sleep on one of the bunks in crazy Kermit’s cabin. He was exhausted from hitchhiking and his nerves were shot from feeling the trepidation of possibly being caught again by the police. The sounds of the forested night didn’t help. A narrow path, overgrown with weeds, just off the wooden porch outside, lead to a small lake. It too was overgrown but with lily pads that nurtured thousands of bullfrogs whose sorrowful croaks kept Frankie from dozing off.
At times the raspy chorus became so loud his head would buzz and, when the croaking would suddenly cease, he became fearful that something or someone moving nearby had silenced the frogs. Frankie Geyser thought he heard the sound of branches cracking as the frogs maintained their anonymity. He felt cold sweat dripping down his neck. A few moments later, he thought he heard the sound of breathing and shuffling of feet. He gasped, sucking a quick breath into his throat.
Frankie had cleaned and placed some of Kermit’s weapons on the table by the door but a sudden shaking of his body made him freeze in place, preventing him from moving from under the thin blanket. Then there was a thud followed by a scraping sound on the wooden porch just outside the only door to the one room cabin. Frankie jumped from the bed, quivering in stocking feet, and stepped softly toward the table with its arsenal of protection. He reached out in the darkness, grabbed hold of the first object he touched and tiptoed to the window, but he felt too frightened to look out. The flashlight he had found didn’t light and all that he could picture in his mind was the face of crazy Kermit looking back at him.
He remembered that he had seen a light switch by the door but he hadn’t touched it due to the fear of attracting attention to the cabin. It was necessary now to find out if it would light up the porch area or the inside of the cabin. Frankie had to take that chance because he’d never again feel safe there not knowing who or what lurked on the other side of that rickety, old door.
Crazy Kermit had assured him that he could feel free to practice his marksmanship all day without anyone hearing it but, so far, Frankie had been leery about testing that claim. Now he held a .22 caliber pistol in his hand that he might be forced to fire in the dead of night. So be it.
Frankie pressed the tip of the barrel against the glass pane and peered over it. He couldn’t see a thing but he heard movement so he fired anyway, hoping to scare the intruder. The sound emitted made him feel certain that it had been the shot heard around the lake but, in spite of that fear, he somehow mustered the courage to snap the light switch, open the door and face his enemy. The porch became flooded with light from a spotlight mounted high under one corner of the roof and he saw a family of raccoons scurrying away down the path toward the lake. He followed, shouting obscenities at the waddling mammals, laughing wildly and shooting as many as he could.
Frankie Geyser returned triumphantly to crazy Kermit’s cabin, re-loaded the pistol, lay upon the bunk once again and said aloud. “That should prove who the boss is around here now!”
In the morning, the police were not standing over him, as he had dreamed during the night, and he couldn’t believe how different things appeared during the day. A crisp October breeze swayed the tall pines, as Frankie tiptoed the length of the path where he found a wooden dock, in badly need of repair. The sun warmed his face and caused the surface of Pike’s Lake to glimmer like a sea of diamonds. He felt silly thinking how frightened he had been by the sounds of the night and vowed never to be scared in the place again. It belonged to him and he was its ruler. He was the king of his domain and would preside over all with might and force when necessary.
As Frankie learned to survive, by catching fish and eating the canned rations crazy Kermit had squirrelled away for his attack on America, he became confident that he could accomplish anything. Every day he worked out, practiced shooting each of the weapons for at least thirty minutes, and assembled then disassembled the explosive devices with care.
His favorite weapon was “Hawk”. It was beside him constantly, hanging from his belt, as he went about his training. He slept with it at night and learned to use it for hunting and fishing. Frankie had chosen “Hawk” to be his weapon of choice. It was lighter in weight than the others, easily concealed, had excellent range and was virtually silent to fire. It would be stealth revenge.
He had to be unknown, unseen, unheard, smart, and lethal.