JD’s surprising openness jars you out of your seat, and you turn back to your desk, ready and motivated. You play back the recording you made, it begins clipped but you’re sure you caught the whole conversation. Listening carefully, it’s hard to glean much information from the strange voice. There’s no way you’ll be able to analyze it for identification. When the message ends, you focus on the strange string of letters and numbers. It doesn’t make much sense, but the cadence strikes you as familiar.
With a sudden spark of inspiration, you jot down the combination and begin punching numbers into the phone. Sure enough, the letters spell out a phone number, and the handset begins ringing after the last character is entered. It continues to ring, and you’re about to hang up when you hear a click and a woman’s voice.
“Director Kline,” it says, in a kind of rushed annoyance. You clear your throat to cover a moment’s hesitation then introduce yourself as an investigative agent following up on a lead. You ask the director for some information about herself, trying to find a reason her phone number was dropped in a message from a kidnapper.
“As a matter of fact, I was the director of the New York unit for the same investigations group.” Her tone is more serious now, though still rushed as she continues. “I’m now a commanding officer of the NYPD, so you can imagine there are probably a few people out there who’ve put targets on my back. Can you give me more information about the caller?”
You do, briefly, holding back some details for yourself just in case Kline isn’t all she seems. You go over the initial kidnapping, the odd voice that called, and Agent Lowell’s disappearance. There’s a long silence on the other end of the line. Unsettled, you check to see if Kline is still on the line, and she responds, but slowly now. Wary.
“Did the caller give a name?” she asks, but she interrupts before you have a chance to say anything. “No, you’re right to hold things back, it’s not safe. But if Lowell was tangled up in this, the kidnapped girl, the taunting call… It sounds like Charming Bear.”
Shocked into silence yourself now, Kline continues. “I’m right, aren’t I? Look, the best thing for you to do right now is to drop this case entirely. If you get tangled up in this you’ll end up like Lowell did. Or worse.” At this you glance over at JD, remembering his conflicting orders. A sigh comes in over the line and Kline says, “But you won’t, will you? Look, if you insist, come find me tomorrow afternoon in New York. I know it’ll be a bit of a drive for you, but if you’re serious, this isn’t a topic of discussion to have over the phone. I’ll tell you what I know about all of this.”
“Park at the lot on the street named after the missing agent here in the Bronx. Head west and turn right, then left staying on the numbered street. Head down a few blocks and when you see the park like that baseball movie ahead of you, cross over to the north side. At the place that’s 2 minutes after the agent was apprehended, we can get some food and talk.”
When she was done rambling her meeting instructions, she hung up without saying goodbye. You approach JD at his desk and sum up the conversation. The corners of his mouth turn down and his eyes tense slightly when you tell him who the phone number led you to. “Go get some sleep and head down there early tomorrow. We need to get this case closed. End of story.”
You’re not exactly sure where you’re supposed to meet Kline, but you’ll have some time to figure it out before you reach New York City.