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“Something’s going on here.”
A 2006 Chevy Impala with license tag CAT was a fleet vehicle belonging to Drew Wiskowski Construction in Cottage Grove. The connection was Drew Wiskowski, Sr.
Wiskowski had come to St. Paul thirty years ago from the south side of Chicago, and he brought with him the sort of no-hold-barred approach to business characteristic of that notorious neighborhood. Wiskowski made his fortune in construction, but it wasn’t always pretty. There were disputes with competitors, and Wiskowski wasn’t shy about using a little force, corruption, and intimidation to get ahead. He had more than one run-in with the authorities and building inspectors in his early days. However, once he made his pile and could afford his estate on the river down by Hastings, he went low-profile and let his money pile up while quietly building reputable homes and commercial buildings in Minnesota and the rest of the Upper Midwest.
Unfortunately, four years ago the long-dormant Wiskowski name came alive again. This time it was Drew Jr. who turned up in St. Paul running a home-improvement business. He was using the old man’s name, but Drew Sr. was not involved in the business; it was owned solely by his son. And the son appeared to be taking a page from the early years of his old man’s playbook.
A powerful thunderstorm with straight-line winds rolled through town, damaging roofs and siding and blowing out windows. The storm hit some of St. Paul’s Hmong neighborhoods particularly hard. Drew Jr. swooped in and marketed his home-repair business hard in those areas. The damaged houses needed new siding and shingles. Wiskowski low balled all of the other contractors and consumed all of the business. Many of the Hmong folks didn’t speak or understand English well, so Wiskowski said he’d work with their insurance companies directly, handling everything if they’d just sign over the insurance check to his company. The result was predictable. Drew Jr. defrauded the homeowners and did substandard work on their homes, if any work was done at all.
Drew Jr. may have profited, but he underestimated the Hmong community. They went to the police, and the story made its way to the chief, who made it his personal mission to go after Drew Jr. Lyman was originally Drew Junior’s lawyer, since he was on retainer with the old man. But Lyman knew right away it was a bad case – the kid was a swindler, and that he wanted no part of it. Lyman found a way out of the case, and Drew Jr.’s defense was eventually handled by a lesser lawyer. The younger Wiskowski ended up with six years in Stillwater state prison.
“That was four years ago,” Lich said as Mac sped across the Interstate 94 over the St. Croix River and into Minnesota.
“So he’s coming after the chief and Lyman. An eye for an eye then, their daughters for his son. It makes some sense in a warped mind sort of way. How did Junior buy the farm in prison?”
“Apparently,” Lich said, “the kid was an operator inside, and went a little too far. Two months ago a fellow inmate on a life sentence shoved a shiv up his rectum, and Drew Jr. bled out.”
“Ouch,” Mac said grimacing.
“Not my preferred way to go either. Anyway, the old man and his other son went batshit in an interview on the radio.”
“Ahh, I remember hearing about that,” Mac replied, swerving through traffic.
“Yeah. He blamed the chief and the police for his kid’s death, claiming his kid never did anything wrong. He specifically ripped Lyman a new one because he withdrew from the case, claiming his old friend turned his back on him when he was most in need. He ripped the department because his other son was busted for pot possession after Drew Jr. ended up in the can, and Wiskowski claims it was a frame. So he’s got plenty of bile built up for us. And there’s one other thing.”
“Which is what?”
“Drew Sr. has cancer – terminal,” Lich said. “He found out maybe a month ago, and he’s going fast.”
“So what’s he got to lose?” Mac fished. “Take a last shot at the men you think are responsible for the death of your son before you’re six feet under.”
“Or so the theory would go,” Lich said agreeable.
“It’s a good theory,” Mac answered. “Wiskowski is smart, wealthy enough to hire people willing to help him, he’s got the motivation, and he doesn’t care what happens to him.” He thought about it for another minute and then said gravely. “If he doesn’t care, that may not bode well for the girls.”
“Agreed,” Dick answered. “We gotta move fast on this.”
“Then I assume they’re bringing the old man in?”
“As we speak. There’s a convoy coming up 61 now from Cottage Grove. Riley, Rock, Burton, and Duffy all went down and are bringing Ol’ Drew back up right now. We just might beat them there.”
The distance lit up brightly with multiple lightening strikes as Mac pulled into the police department parking lot.
“With this storm and Wiskowski coming in, we’re going to get thunder, lightning, and fireworks all at the same time,” Lich said with amusement.
He couldn’t have been more right. As Mac and Lich jumped out of the Explorer, the convoy carrying Wiskowski arrived, four cars strong.
“No, no, no,” Mac groaned as the convoy stopped at the steps, right where the newsies were waiting. The media had clearly gotten wind of the Wiskowski connection and descended on the convoy like locusts. “They should have gone in the back.”
“This should be interesting,” Lich mused. “Let’s hold back and let them get in. Besides, you should let Riles and Rock have some media time. We’re all sick of seeing your handsome mug on TV anyway.”
“Fine by me. I hate the media.”
“Riiiiiight,” Lich said rolling his eyes in disbelief.
“Whatever, asshole,” Mac answered angrily. He didn’t like the media exposure for any number of reasons. He knew he was a damn good cop, smartest in the department, but he was still in his early thirties and mindful that senior cops didn’t always like the young hotshot getting all the attention. But for now, he was out of the picture. The horde followed Wiskowski, and it wasn’t pretty.
Wiskowski was as sick as Dick had suggested. Drew Sr., with an oxygen tank and IV in his left arm, was slowly walked up the steps by a woman, dressed like a nurse, and a man in an expensive suit, probably his attorney. With the crush of media pushing in to take pictures and yell out questions, and the cops pushing back in kind, trying to keep them away, something bad was bound to happen, and it did. All the jostling caused the old man to be pushed sideways, and he fell to the steps, yelping in pain as the needle for the IV was yanked out of his arm.
“We better get in there and help,” Mac said running toward the crowd, Lich right behind. They got into the group in time to hear Wiskowski scream bloody murder.
“You get this on film. These bastards took my son and now he’s dead. They’ve tried to take my other son away. Now I’ve got cancer and it still isn’t enough for them. When will it be enough for those people? When!?” He hissed as Riles picked the old man up as gently as he could. “I can’t be allowed to die with any dignity,” he growled in a raspy voice. “I’m going to sue this city. The police in this town are out of control. The mayor, it’s his damn fault, letting Flanagan run roughshod over him all the time.” Wiskowski railed and then coughed uncontrollably, the cancer sapping his angry energy. But the fight was there, and he looked ready to stir the pot.
“Look what they’re doing to me! Before this is done I’m gonna own this damn city. I’m going to own Charlie Flanagan’s ass.”
With Wiskowski having gone down and now providing some good copy and footage, the media backed off just enough. This allowed Mac, Lich, and several uniforms and plainclothes who’d come from inside to help, to surround the group so the old man could be led into the building.
When the doors closed, the media focused on Mac.
“Detective McRyan, can you confirm that Drew Wiskowski Sr. is the prime suspect in the kidnappings,” a petite brunette yelled, sticking a Channel 8 microphone in his face.
“No comment,” Mac answered.
“We’ve heard that Wiskowski was identified through a phone call from somewhere in western Wisconsin, can you confirm?” a round male reporter from Channel 3, sweating profusely.
“Has Wiskowski admitted to taking the girls as revenge for the death of his son?” a willowy blonde from Channel 6 asked, at least aware of the motive angle.
Mac stopped, hesitated, and then repeated, “No comment.” However, as he opened the door for Lich and others he looked back out and saw in the distance, leaning against a railing, Channels12’s Heather Foxx, for once not one of the horde accosting them as they walked into the building.
However, if outside was the frying pan, inside the building was the fire – the political fire. Mayor Olson had just witnessed the spectacle, on live TV no less, and was none too pleased to have his name dragged through the muck. Hizzoner was pissed and let everyone hear it as he followed Riley and Rock down the hall.
“Jesus Christ,” the mayor yelled. “You couldn’t have done this just a little more low-key? You couldn’t have handled this in Cottage Grove? You couldn’t have perhaps figured out a way to avoid that fuckin’ mess outside? Hell, you had that son-of-a-bitch looking sympathetic for Christ’s sake.”
Riles stopped in his tracks, turned, and stood stone solid, letting the mayor nearly run into him.
“Sorry, Sir,” Riles said, his six-foot-three-inch frame towering over the diminutive mayor. “It perhaps could have been handled differently. And you know what? You can chew my ass for it for a week after we get the girls back. But if you don’t fucking mind, I have a job to do. Or are you going to run the interrogation?”
“I’m not sure you should, Detective,” the mayor answered. “Perhaps Wiskowski is right, you’re out of control. You’re all out of control.”
Burton stepped between Riley and the mayor before Riley, fists balled, face red with anger, did something as stupid as what he looked ready to do.
“Let’s everyone calm down,” Burton demanded. Mac and Lich pulled Riley away while the FBI man eased the mayor back from the gathering crowd.
“As for the media fiasco out front,” Burton said, shrugging his shoulders, “that’s as much my fault as anyone’s. I could have anticipated that. But Detective Riley is right, we’ll deal with that later. Right now, we got bigger fish to fry. This guy may well have the girls, and it’s these men you think are so out of control that broke this thing for us. Let them do their job for now. We can analyze crowd control later.” Burton turned toward Riles and the rest of the crowd and, with his back to the mayor, winked before he led everyone away.
Around a corner and out of earshot of the politician, the FBI man muttered in Mac’s ear.
“Your mayor is a fuckin’ idiot.”
* * * * *
The interrogation was nothing more than a brawl, with both sides aggressive, uncompromising, gesturing, shouting, and foul-mouthed. Riley and Rock pulled their dual bull-in-the-china-shop routine, while Burton and Duffy jumped in to play the softer edges, trying without success to calm it down. Old man Wiskowski was having none of it. Gaunt, looking like the dying man he was, Drew Sr. was nevertheless animated and pugnacious, the tough Chicagoan coming out strong. While his attorney tried like mad to restrain him, Wiskowski was constantly up and out of his chair, cussing and shouting at the top of his lungs at Riley, or Rockford, or the one-way glass on either side of the room. He waved and pointed, risking another removal of the IV from his arm. It was an altogether ugly site, yet somehow morbidly entertaining.
“And you were so careful, stealing the vans, burnin’ then, and you planned it so well Drew,” Riles thundered, leaning down to Wiskowski’s face, with both hands on the table. “But then you or your people got sloppy, using your own vehicle, the car.”
“Fuck you,” Wiskowski yelled back. It was his favored response.
Mac and Lich watched intently through the one-way window, fueling up with coffee. The chief and Lyman were watching from the observation room on the other side.
“He isn’t exactly denying involvement,” Mac mused, sipping the last of his coffee.
“He isn’t exactly admitting it either,” Lich answered, putting a stick of gum in his mouth. “The only thing I know for sure is that this interview is going nowhere.”
The chief apparently agreed. Barging into the interview room, he grabbed Wiskowski by the collar of his shirt and screamed, inches from his face.
“Where’s my daughter, you piece of shit? Where is she? Where is my daughter!” It was all Riley and Rock, both as big and strong as bulls, could do to pull the chief off of Wiskowski.
“How do you like it now?” Wiskowski fired back, the fight still raging as another spate of hacking shook him. “How does it feel, you Mick piece of shit? My son died because of you.”
“He got what he deserved. He got prison. What happened to him in there isn’t on me. That’s on you. He was nothing more than a carbon copy of you.” The chief spat as Riley and Rock held him back, letting a different interrogation play itself out.
“Well he’s dead now. And if there’s any justice in this world, you’ll soon know how it feels.”
“What’s that mean? You son of a bitch, you have her. Where is she? Where is my daughter?”
“Go fuck yourself, Flanagan” Wiskowski replied as the boys escorted the livid chief from the room. But for the first time a smile appeared on his face.
Mac saw it. He’d never taken his eyes off the old man.
“I wonder what that little smile is all about?”
“What smile,” Lich asked. “I didn’t see a smile.”
“I did, right when Wiskowski said, ‘go fuck yourself.’ Everyone in the room was trying to push the chief out, so they wouldn’t have seen it. But I saw it.”
“You think that means he has the girls?”
“I’m starting to think maybe he does. That or he’s just enjoying pulling everyone’s chain,” Mac said. He opened the door and jumped into the hallway to tell Burton.
“It might be worth a shot,” he finished.
“It might at that,” Burton answered, “And we’re not getting anywhere. But let’s let things cool just a bit for a few minutes, then we’ll go back in.”
“That’s good. I need to grab something first anyway.” Mac said. He went to his cluttered desk and grabbed an oversized maroon coffee mug with a large, gold “M” on it – symbol of the University of Minnesota – from atop a Parade of Homes magazine. Mac had an affinity for looking at houses and real estate, even with the housing market in the tank. He picked it up and looked at the cover, which featured four high-end houses, one of them a Wiskowski-designed home. Mac put down the magazine and went back down to the interview room. He found Burton talking to Riley and Rock, explaining that McRyan was going to take a run at Wiskowski.
“Where’s the chief?” Mac said.
“Up in his office with Hisle and six uniforms to make sure neither of them moves.”
“What’s with the coffee cup?” Burton asked, point to Mac’s hand.
“Wiskowski has donated a lot of money to the football program at the U over the years. He has a soft spot for the program.”
“Gonna try to create some common ground, are we?”
“The direct approach hasn’t worked.”
“A little indirect perhaps. One other thing. If he’s got the girls, he has to be holding them somewhere, right?”
“Yeah, we’re looking at his home, businesses, and other placed right now.”
“Have your guys take a look at recent real estate purchases as well,” Mac said. “Something out of the ordinary, something that doesn’t fit with what the company normally does.
“I don’t’ know. Just something that doesn’t seem right for his business dealings. He builds luxury homes. Is there a purchase somewhere that doesn’t fit?”
Burton promptly sent one of his team members off on a computer search.
“Anyone else from Wiskowski’s world unaccounted for?” Riley asked.
“We can’t find his kid Steve yet,” Duffy answered. “We think he might be shacked up somewhere. He’s apparently a pussy hound.”
“Steven Smith Wiskowski. Lots of money and a fast life,” Lich added, flipping through a file on the kid. Steve had his own run-ins with the law in the past over drugs, minor pot possession mostly. “He’s not much of a winner either. Word is he went after the reporter who did the TV story on Drew Jr.’s death. Apparently he thought it was exploitive.”
“Kind of like Drew Jr. on those Hmong folks,” Rock replied. “A whole family of assholes, as far as I’m concerned.”
“What’s the story on the driver of the car we saw in Ellsworth?” Mac asked, getting back on track.
“Worker named Frank McDonald is the driver. He’s down the hall in an interview room,” Burton said. “McDonald claims he left a construction site in Menomonie at approximately 7:00 PM. Wiskowski is building homes at a development there.” Menomonie was a Wisconsin town, forty-five minutes east of St. Paul off Interstate 94.” He says he closed up one of their models at 7:10 or so and drove back. Says he pulled into Wiskowski Construction over two hours later, at around 9:30 or so.”
“So what time was the call from Ellsworth?” Mac asked.
“7:42,” Burton answered.
“So he leaves the construction site and makes the call on the way home, right?” McRyan followed.
“Yup,” Lich replied, looking at the notes. “Plenty of time to get it done.”
“One other thing,” Burton added. “McDonald has a record.”
“Really,” Mac’s eyebrows shot up.
“He did time for extortion five years ago down in Chicago, so working with Wiskowski on a kidnapping is not beyond the realm of possibility.”
“Or Wiskowski hired him into a good gig when nobody else would, and now his boss calls his marker due,” Mac added. “Either way, he looks good for the call.”
“He does,” Duffy answered. “My guys worked him over. He denies making the call, but he says the timeline is two and a half hours to get home.”
“So what’s he doing along the way?”
“Said he stopped in Ellsworth.”
“Really?” Lich said, surprised.
“And did what?” Mac asked.
“He’s got a little woman down there,” Duffy answered with a wry smile. “Apparently everyone in Wiskowski’s world is a hound. Anyway, she’s married, so he goes through town on the way home while the husband’s out playing softball and running around with the boys. The husband gets home by midnight on game night, so McDonald goes down, gets a little and gets outta Dodge before daddy comes home.”
“And it’s a perfect little cover to make the call,” Burton added.
“Are we checking his story?”
“We are,” Duffy answered. “The Ellsworth cops checked it out. She admits to the affair and that he was there tonight. She says he arrived just before eight, stayed about an hour, finished the job, and left.”
“So he makes the call, goes to her house to cover the trip, and then comes home as if nothing happened,” Lich said.
“This is looking better by the minute,” Mac added as he opened the door into the interview room.
“So what now, I get the junior varsity,” Wiskowski said with a smirk as Mac walked into the room and sat down. The old man noticed the cup and looked Mac over again. “You’re McRyan aren’t you?”
“Nice coffee cup. Hockey player at the U right?”
“Back in the day.”
“You played for one of the national title winners.”
“I prefer football myself. I’ve donated a lot of money for the new football stadium,” Wiskowski said.
“And to your church, don’t forget. I know you’ve been very generous with your church in Cottage Grove,” Mac wanted to soften him up.
“I’ve given some money, yes.”
“More than some, Mr. Wiskowski. The new church exists because of your donation.”
“I for one am pleased folks like you have stepped up to help fund the new stadium,” Mac continued quietly. “I look forward to going to an outdoor football game on campus.”
“I will not live to see it open.”
“But your generosity will live on.”
Wiskowski nodded but then spoke again.
“Of course, the way my name is being dragged through the mud today, the U might not be so inclined to have my name remain.”
“So why, given those good works, would you take Carrie and Shannon?” Mac was humanizing the girls, not mentioning their last names. “What possible good does that accomplish? All your hard work, all your generosity, all the work to build up your good name and then you do this?” Mac shook his head. “Here’s what I’m thinking.”
* * * * *
Mac spoke quietly, going on an hour now with Wiskowski, trying to wear the man down.
“Drew, we’ve talked a long time now. You have motive, you have the means, and we have your man making a phone call. We have those things locked down.” McDonald wasn’t admitting to making the call but Wiskowski didn’t know that.
“And I’ve told you that I had….” Wiskowski coughed uncontrollably, doubling over until the coughing fit stopped, and he leaned back in his chair, exhausted. “I’ve told you for hours now, I have nothing to do with nothing.”
“We’ll find the girls sooner or later,” Mac said, taking another sip of coffee, his cup having been refilled twice now. He’d kept Wiskowski talking for over an hour, walking through what happened to his son, the case, his anger at the chief and Hisle, and at the same time playing to his vanity about his legacy. “We’ll find the girls. The thing is, it would be better for you if you told us where they are now.”
“Because Shannon Hisle is a Type I diabetic. She can get very sick if she doesn’t receive insulin. She could die if she doesn’t get her medicine.” Mac let it hang in the air for a moment. “Do you want that on you? Do you want to go to your grave with that on your conscience? You wanted revenge. Your son was killed in prison. You blame the chief and Lyman Hisle. So you strike back in a way you know that will hurt them. And you’ve succeeded. Trust me, I know both of those men, and they are hurting. You saw that yourself a few hours ago.” Mac paused, and then asked quietly, “But do the girls have to die?”
“I had nothing to do with this,” Wiskowski answered. “I can see why you would look at me, I really can. And I don’t know what Frank McDonald is doing, but he’s done with my company I can assure you. But I have nothing more….” Another coughing fit shook him, the sixth time in the last hour. “I didn’t do this.” He coughed and wiped his hand across his mouth. “I have nothing to do with this.” Wiskowski slumped back into his chair, his head tilting to one side.
As Wiskowski coughed again, an FBI agent stuck his head in and called Burton out.
Mac slumped back into this chair, checking his watch. It was nearly 4:00 AM, and he felt nearly as tired as Wiskowski. The old man’s lawyer sensed it as well.
“My client has nothing more to say detectives,” the lawyer said. “He’s answered your questions time and again. He has nothing to do with the kidnappings. He’s weak and tired. He needs to be allowed to go home and rest.”
“Sorry Counselor, but we obviously think otherwise,” Mac answered, although the old man’s persistence was causing him to start to wonder if he was involved. He wasn’t breaking, and he should have by now.
Burton stuck his head back into the room.
“I’ve got something you need to see,” he said, looking at Mac.
Mac and Lich moved back into the hall, joined by Riley, Rock, and Duffy.
“What’s up?” Mac asked, yawning.
“You said we should look at recent real estate purchases, right?” Burton asked.
“Yeah, so? Did your people find something?”
“Maybe. Most of the recent purchases are at least six months old, development parcels in the suburbs. There are multiple acres, clearly for residential housing, either high-end houses or townhouses. But there is one that’s odd. It’s for a single-family home down east of Northfield. It was bought by one of his smaller subsidiary groups, DSW Inc., which is run by Drew and Steve. And it was bought in the last month or so.”
“After he found out about the cancer,” Mac said.
“That’s right,” Burton said. “What could be the possible point?”
“Are there other houses around?” Lich asked.
“We did a satellite search of the property,” Duffy answered. “It’s off by itself. Well in from the county road. There are no other homes nearby.”
“Nice country house, perhaps?”
“Doesn’t appear to be. Rambler, fairly large, but just a nondescript rambler out in the country.”
“How big a piece of land?” Mac asked.
“It was a twenty-acre parcel, maybe a hobby farm, but it’s in the middle of nowhere,” Duffy replied. “It wouldn’t be developed for years, if ever.”
“What’s Northfield have to say about it?”
“I called out and had them do a drive-by,” Duffy answered. “They said a couple of vans are parked in front of the garage. Otherwise, very little going on.”
Burton looked to Mac.
“What do you think?”
“Let’s ask the old man.”
Mac and Burton went back into the interview room. Wiskowski’s lawyer looked up.
“I said, we are done.”
“I got just one other thing I want to ask about.” Mac said.
“What do you know about this,” Mac slid a sheet of paper in front of Wiskowski and his lawyer. It was the property listing for the Northfield house.
Wiskowski’s mouth opened and then his shoulders slumped, like he’d been caught.
“What’s out at that house?”
Wiskowski shook his head.
“Maybe that’s why McDonald is involved.”
“McDonald?” Mac asked, standing now, leaning down to the old man, his voice rising, “McDonald? What’s at that house damn it?” He pounded the table, “What’s out there?”
Wiskowski looked at the picture.
“Ohh Steve.” Drew Sr. put his hands to his face. “I wondered why he bought that place. Why would he do this?” he pleaded to his lawyer, who just shook his head.
“Steve?” Mac asked. “Your son?” They hadn’t been able to find Wiskowski’s son as of yet. “What’s Steve have to do with this?”
Wiskowski pleaded with his lawyer.
“Why would he do this?”
Burton grabbed Mac by the arm.
“We’ve been looking at the wrong Wiskowski. Let’s go.”
* * * * *
Mac and Lich were in the back of an FBI Suburban with Duffy and Burton in front. Two additional Suburbans followed. Just outside the east side of Northfield, the group met up with the Rice County sheriff and three deputies in a parking lot behind a church.
Burton leaped out and was greeted by the sheriff.
“You must be Agent Burton.”
“George Glenning, Rice County sheriff. The place you’re looking for is four miles or so up the road on the right side. House is set well back from the road in a light grove of trees.”
“You do a drive-by?”
“Did it myself, fifteen minutes ago. Looks pretty quiet. A few vans are parked in front of the garage, but no activity. Lights off on the main level, although I thought I could detect some light out of the window wells. Someone might be awake in the basement.”
“Pretty sleepy, huh?”
“That’s my read,” Glenning answered. “You have, what, twelve men? Plus my four. That should be plenty of power. How do you want to hit the place?”
“Let’s go up nice and easy, without the Suburbans,” Burton answered. “If the girls are in there, we don’t want to give these guys any warning.”
“So we pull up to the end of the driveway and walk in quietly, then.”
“Yeah,” Burton answered. “From what you’re telling me, we’ll have a little bit of cover as we approach the house.”
“A little. The trees are tall but not terribly thick – cleared out around the bottom. The grass is pretty high, but no brush or anything to hide behind. So you can get to a tree and have some cover, but we’ll be exposed when we go for the house.”
“Let’s do it then.”
The Suburbans made the four-mile drive to the house.
“Do you think the girls are really there?” Lich asked, looking at Mac.
“I don’t know,” Mac answered, checking the clip for his Sig. “But the way Old Man Wiskowski reacted when we showed him the picture of the house, it was as if he put the puzzle together himself. It makes sense. The house is isolated. Steve Wiskowski was torn up about his brother. His dad’s going downhill and has been talking about Drew Junior’s death. How it’s Charlie Flanagan’s and Lyman Hisle’s fault. The old man is dying in front of him and can’t do anything about Flanagan and Hisle, so the kid does. We haven’t been able to find the kid. The old man claims he doesn’t know where he is.” Mac shrugged his shoulders. “This could be it.”
“I’ve heard of crazier things,” Lich said, pulling on his vest.
“It at least makes some sense,” Mac answered and then added, “We’ll know soon enough.”
The Suburbans stopped at the driveway, and everyone jumped out. They carefully made their way up to the house, a single-story with white siding and brick halfway up the front. To the right, the driveway swung around to a detached three-stall garage with two vans parked in front. As the group approached the edge of the tree line, there was a noise to the right. A man in blue jeans and a dirty white T-shirt came out the side door to the detached garage, wiping his hands with a rag. The man saw them, dropped the rag, and took off running towards the woods behind the garage.
“We got a runner,” a sheriff’s deputy yelled and took off after the man.
“You know what that means,” Lich said.
“Something’s going on here,” Mac answered.
The sheriff looked left.
“Now,” he said. Two deputies ran up to the front door. Everyone else fell in ten feet behind. One deputy opened the screen door and the other used the big ram. The door blasted open.
“POLICE! FBI!” Burton and Duffy yelled as they burst in and went for the basement stairs. Mac and Lich were right behind and went left down the hallway.
“Back right, Mac!” Lich yelled.
“POLICE!” Mac yelled as he burst into the back right bedroom. A man sat up in bed and immediately put his hands up.
“On the floor! On your knees!” Mac ordered. The man complied quickly. Mac pushed him down onto his stomach. “Hands!” The man again complied. Mac quickly cuffed him and then was up again, following Lich across the hall to check on Riles and Rock, who had their man subdued.
Mac and Lich then cleared the bathroom and closets in each bedroom.
“McRyan, Riley, get down here!” Burton called from the basement.
“Are they down there?” Mac yelled as he bounded down the steps two at a time. “Are they… here?” Mac’s jaw hit the floor as he came to the bottom of the steps. “Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me?” he groaned.
Rows and rows of mature marijuana plants lined up beneath the room’s ultraviolet lighting. Its street value was likely in the millions. Steve Wiskowski, kidnapper or not, was definitely a drug supplier.
Burton sighed, “Well at least the DEA will be happy.”
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