I love airports, but I hate airplanes. I don’t like waiting for them. And I dislike waiting for celebrities even more than I do planes, though it’s why I was at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, Idaho just out of Sun Valley, where a lot of rich people like to play after flying in on their private jets.
While I waited, I read through updated information regarding an old case I had worked as a cop, before I babysat for the rich and famous. The supplemental reports were from two detectives, one of whom I knew well. The other I didn’t know, which reminded me how long I had been away from the police force.
The case was four years old. It was a kidnapping, and for Boise, it was an unusual case. Boise and the valley it sat in, had been booming in recent years with technology companies and other industries looking for a good labor pool and the innovative minds that gravitate toward the relatively undiscovered natural beauty of Idaho—folks who liked to run up mountains and kayak down raging rivers. People who felt they had discovered “God’s country” and were content to keep it a secret.
Kidnappings were an anomaly despite the growing population. And since most child disappearances are from family members exercising their own version of a child custody arrangement, we had ruled that out right away. But I had never solved the case, and it still haunted me. Against the rules, I was keeping tabs, looking at the case again whenever new information surfaced.
And something more had surfaced, the way these things often do. Unfortunately, it was another kidnapping of a young girl.
Although I had been away from police work for a few years, I had never let my level of awareness lapse. The work I took up as a bodyguard required me to be on my toes. Though I was no longer a cop, I still make enemies. Folks don’t like being told what to do, which my ex-wife has suggested I’m good at doing.
Everyone has a lot in life, I guess.
While keeping an eye on the perimeter and a foot against the door of my Tahoe to hold it open, I re-scanned the reports by Detective Stimpson and a female detective named Lisa Marquez. Written four days ago, the narratives had made it through the supervisory approval process, were scanned and filed in the records department, and emailed. The last step, of course, was out of policy. I still had a few friends in the department.
I knew Daniel Stimpson. He was older than me by ten years, bigger than me by forty pounds the last time I saw him, and even more likely than me to have enemies. He and I didn’t get along all that well before I was assigned the Marcello kidnapping case. By the time I left, we hated each other. We’d butted heads during the investigation, and I never could shake the feeling he was giving me some push-back on the case, as if he was hoping it would go away. He had several years on me, and being senior detective, he should have been assigned to it, but at the time the demise of his third marriage was a distraction, so the administration dumped it on me. They had high expectations since I was known to never gave up on a case until I made an arrest. I had high expectations of myself back then. And I’m sure if Stimpson heard Joe Rampone was still looking at the Marcello case today, he’d have a coronary.
I didn’t know Lisa Marquez and assumed she had been a patrol officer when I was a detective. Since leaving, I had kept in touch with a few records clerks, which is why I now had the most recent information from the Marcello kidnapping case.
I didn’t miss the Department. I missed my friends, and I missed being a cop. Putting the cop life behind isn’t easy to do. If it was, fewer retired police officers would die so quickly after retirement. It’s one of those careers that isn’t so much a job but a part of you. So, I missed the job, and I still carried the burden of an unfinished case, a case I still hoped to solve. A case that didn’t deserve to be forgotten.
I might not have missed the job so much if I hadn’t been born into a law enforcement family. My grandfather had been a bobby in London, and my uncle an LA County Sheriff’s Deputy. My mother made detective rank before her forced medical retirement, or before taking a bullet in the back, depending on who told the story. If she told it, the administration had done her the biggest disservice by forcing her out. She never forgave them. She never forgave the shooter, either, but since he had taken three fatal rounds from her service weapon, there wasn’t much more she could say to him.
As a detective, I learned that sometimes patience is the best way to break a case. Sure, charging in and busting heads on TV shows is great for ratings, but I had more success digging, asking questions, and waiting. Someone always talked sooner or later, or new information found its way to daylight.
Starting Rampone Protection Service was partially the result of my poorly planned exit from the police department, a tad bit of luck, and a big push from my partner, Jamie Kelly. A friend of mine wanted to retire from keeping an eye on Bruce Willis, so when he heard I quit police work and was interested in the personal protection, he called. He said I would be a shoe-in if I wanted the gig.
“I’ve already talked you up,” Doug told me over the phone.
“Maybe you should have asked if I was interested, first.”
“Yeah, maybe. But what’s done is done. I wouldn’t trust anyone else, and you know that. Besides, your partner did call me first. She made it sound like you’d be happy for the work.”
“Ah. I see.”
Doug was and still is a good talker. Next thing I knew, I was rubbing elbows with Bruce and Demi’s kids, Tom Hanks, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. And shortly after that, I went from rubbing elbows to running security systems and watching perimeters in the cold and planning for security breaches that probably would never happen.