Mr. Sturgess suppressed a sigh. “Please be more specific.”
“As I was trying to explain, I had kept my identity secret. I was worried some criminal or nut job would come after my wife, my family. I’d just helped put away the two youngest sons of the Ganglia family, and they were champing at the bit to find something they could use to get me.
“But since my identity was secret, when the merchandising company tried to pay me they had no way to give me the money. Anti-money-laundering laws, laws I, in my crusade against crime, helped get passed, forbade it. Checks, credit, and cash in that amount all required some form of ID.
“I set up a bank account for a shell company, then funneled it through another company before it came to us. I was careful, but I was way out of my league. I was a blue-collar guy who moved boxes around for a living. I was up against organized crime and a family with connections everywhere. These guys hide funds, have secret identities, and launder money every day of the week. It’s their stock and trade.
“They couldn’t touch me in a fistfight, couldn’t stop me from exposing their operations. Once they heard about the cartoon show, though, it was only a matter of time till they tracked me down. They found out who I was, where I lived, who I cared about…
“One day I went to the bank to get some money for groceries, but the account was empty. Everything from the merchandising deal was gone, every last penny. I rushed home to find my house a wreck, furniture thrown everywhere, cabinets empty, and my wife, my eight-months-pregnant wife, was gone.
“They left a note with a Polaroid and a lock of hair. Proof of life. If I didn’t bring them the boy, if I didn’t bring them Bobby Hess, they’d kill her.”
“Why wouldn’t these organized crime factions take Bobby themselves? Why force you when they had everything they needed?”
“Well…I’m not sure…”
“Organized crime generally has quite a few people at its disposal, so why force you to do their dirty work? They could kidnap Bobby at any time. If your story is true, they’d need a good reason to create a middleman.”
“I don’t think Bobby was the end game. If anything happened to Bobby, my career’d be in the toilet, much the way it turned out to be.”
“Assuming your story is true, why didn’t you go to the police?”
“I should have gone to the police, but I thought I wasthe police. I thought I could beat those crooks at their own game. I thought I could keep Bobby safe and save my wife.
“So I went to the schoolyard and picked Bobby up. I offered him a chance to fight crime. The other kids envied him as we walked out. The principal even wished us well. I took Bobby to…a safe house…No, that’s not true. I brought him with me, but left him in the car.
To Be Continued…