Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 27
The first volunteer to enter the Beechcraft quickly fitted a support brace around the passenger’s neck, then, with a razor sharp blade, sliced through the seatbelt and released him. He caught the near dead weight of his patient’s body, easing it gently down, then, reaching under Jeb’s armpits, dragged him toward the opening in the aft section. Backing over Jeb’s inert form, he grabbed the patient’s ankles. With the help of a volunteer standing outside the craft, they half lifted, half dragged his limp body onto the waiting stretcher. His living patient handled, he again worked his way forward in the craft to the cockpit to recover the pilot’s body.
Reaching inside the aft section opening, the other volunteer strapped Jeb securely into the device for transport to the helicopter. As he tightened the straps around the man’s legs, a couple of small objects fell out of a fold in his pants. They dropped through the mesh straps of the stretcher striking the metal bulkhead of the craft with a tinkling sound. The volunteer stared at the glittering diamonds, too large to be real, nestled in the curve of ceiling below the stretcher. He glanced forward seeing the back of his partner who was busy cutting the pilot free from his seatbelt harness. He quickly bent down, retrieved the stones and slipped them into the watch pocket of his jeans. Assuring himself that his partner remained distracted, he removed Jeb’s Rolex watch and tucked it into his jacket pocket, strapping a blood pressure wrist cuff in its place.
A quick tug on the line signaled the team in the helicopter. As the line grew taught, he guided the stretcher out of the aft opening. He watched it rise slowly upward, swaying in the light breeze.
They repeated the process for the pilot, all except for the diamonds.
“This one didn’t make it,” the lead responder indicated, covering his face with the sheet. The line came back down and they attached the second stretcher. Both volunteers on the ground stood outside watching the stretcher as it rose. The lead man hung his head in a moment of reverence for the dead man. When he opened his eyes again, he saw something sparkling on the ground in the leeward shadow of the wreckage.
“What’s this?” he asked, bending down to pick up the small crystal. The other man shrugged.
Once the helicopter held both crash victims, it took off for the nearest medical center about thirty minutes east of the crash site. Jeb stirred as the craft noisily headed toward the destination. A different set of paramedics rode along with the surviving passenger and the pilot’s body. Upon arrival, the emergency room doctor pronounced one dead and admitted the other passenger to the hospital for tests, x-rays and treatment.
“You’re one lucky guy,” the doctor told Jeb who was slowly coming around to full consciousness. The procession rolled his gurney down the hallway toward the nurse’s station where a news bulletin blared from a TV hanging from the ceiling in the common area. A photo flashed across the screen with a picture of Jacob (Jeb) Olstead, wanted in connection with the armed robbery of a jewelry store.
Rocky Mountain High
By the time the detectives from the local police station got to the hospital to interview the suspect, an armed security officer was already standing at his hospital room door.
“Has he said anything?” the detective asked the guard.
“Nope, they knocked him out after the x-rays so he could get some rest. He just kept moaning about Morocco, something or another; kept saying his name was Rick.”
“Yeah, Rick Bogart, but the thing is he had two different photo IDs in his carry-on bag. One said Jacob Olstead and the other actually said Rick Bogart.”
“Let me see them.”
“Oh, and there’s this, too. The paramedic left a small sealed envelope he wanted me to give you.” He pulled it out of his shirt pocket and handed it to the detective who promptly opened it.
“Would you look at that?” He whistled and glanced over at the near comatose patient, bruised, battered and locked into place with a heavy plaster cast on his leg suspended in the air in a traction device.
Back in his office at police headquarters, the detective dialed the number listed on the all-points bulletin. “Yeah, let me speak to Detective Brannigan.” The dispatcher put the call through. Brannigan picked it up on the third ring.
“This better be important,” he said as a greeting. “I’m on my way out.”
“Oh, I think you’ll want to stay for a few more minutes and hear what I’ve got,” the detective from West Virginia told him.
“Okay, shoot,” Brannigan told him with a chuckle.
“We pulled a guy out of a plane wreck on Spruce Mountain up here in the Alleghenies.”
“The interesting part was the two passports he had on him,” he paused for effect. Brannigan grunted.
“So, he’s an imposter or a smuggler. What’s that have to do with me?”
“He’s a suspect in one of your local armed robberies, name of Jacob or Jeb Olstead.” Brannigan set down the Styrofoam cup he’d been drinking coffee from. “And that’s not all. You won’t believe what fell out of the plane when we located him.”
“A diamond the size you wish you could give your girlfriend,” he laughed, “if you had one.”
“Where’s the suspect now?” Brannigan asked.
“Oh, he’s a guest in our local hospital. He’ll be there for a while with a busted leg.”
“I’ll be on the next flight up there.” He hung up the phone and smiled.
Some Days are Diamonds, John Denver
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Peg Cole