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A figure slipped from the shadows and crept up to the barn door. In build he looked to be a young teenager. He did not hesitate as he opened the door and switched on the inside light. It was only then that you could see his face and the crow's feet around the eyes. The wrinkles around his mouth confirmed his age. He was no teenager but a tiny little man. He talked in a peculiar soft voice and the horses settled down from the surprise visit. He laid the large bundle that he had carried on his back down to one side. He opened the first of the five stalls. A friendly and confident pat made the snorting stallion cool down. The tiny little man led him into the main corridor. He did the same with the four other horses. The horses wondered and whinnied amongst themselves at what was happening.
A wave from a flashlight in the darkness answered his own signal. Two men entered the barn and helped lead the horses outside and away out into the darkness. The tiny little man remained behind. He moved six bales of hay into the corner and placed a white bundle between the bales. He quickly opened his discarded bundle and scattered the contents in the first and fifth stall. He chuckled to himself as he viewed his handiwork. He did not hurry as he turned off the light and closed the barn door. He knew the timetables of the hired man, the manager and the assistants. The tiny little man knew a great deal about the Double K ranch. The owner of the ranch was the millionaire Arthur Kane, who stayed at the ranch on weekends. His business, running the Globe newspaper, kept him in the city during the week. The tiny intruder knew a great deal aboutthe value of horses. His henchmen were waiting for him beside the large horse trailer.
"It's time for us to get out of here," the heavier one of the two declared.
The sound of a car engine and the sweep of its lights caught their attention. A distinct pop and a flicker of light within the barn made them look away from the approaching car.
"Perfect timing," the second man coughed out in a hoarse voice, as the barn erupted into a volcano of flame.
"Well, our job is done. We'd better make tracks," the tiny little man commanded.
No one noticed the increase in speed of the approaching car. No one noticed it surge through the gates of the Double K ranch. The mountain of flame hid their escape into the night.
Jim Small was drinking his morning tea as he read the news from the Windslow Times, their local newspaper. An item about the loss of 5 racehorses drew his attention.
"Well, that's interesting," he muttered aloud.
"What is?" questioned Meghan, as she took another mouthful of Cheerios.
"The Double K ranch is owned by Arthur Kane. I was dealing with him just last week. He's quite the guy. He has interests in many fields. He lost five of his prize racehorses in a fire yesterday."
"That's awful, let me see," she said, as she rudely took the paper from her Dad's fingers. Reading it out to her sister, she said, "Clancy, Cougar, Crown, Karrot and Kelly were lost in a devastating fire at the Double K Ranch owned by Arthur Kane. Kane, new to the racing world, had made a name for himself in beginning a line of horses that was drawing the attention of the racing fraternity. Mr. Kane seemed heartbroken when contacted for comment. No reason has been discovered for the fire. The fire inspector has confirmed that the wiring was acceptable. The investigation is continuing. Dollar loss is estimated at over $500,000.00."
Another article also drew Jim Small's attention. He read, "a major bullion theft took place in the city today. A Wells Fargo armored truck was ambushed in an elaborate and skillful robbery. A police spokesperson indicated that the guards were gassed with a knockout substance when the two million dollars in gold was taken. The vehicle was found abandoned outside a rural community called Twin Forks, which is several hundred miles north of the city. Police are hopeful that new clues will shed more light on the case."
"Twin Forks, that's only 30 miles from here. I wonder why they drove all the way here? Is there something special about our area?"
"Maybe they wanted to lure the police away from the city," Meghan commented.
Copyright © 2005 George W. J. Laidlaw