This is fiction, any resemblance to real persons is unintentional, and real events and entities are used in a fictional way.
South Korea is hosting this year’s International Winter Championship. Tom King, retired chief of the New York police department, oversees security for the event. His record is impeccable—a genius with a badge. He has an international security team of 1,200.
Three athletes have been abducted, and Director King has picked up a random tip. He seldom acts on such tips. He feels differently about this one. Following the tip, he goes to a remote location just outside of PyeongChang. A navy-blue BMW is there as promised. The occupants aren’t, just an oil-stained note demanding the transfer of $20 million to a numbered account in Bosnia. Winter Championship Committee has forty-eight hours to transfer the funds. If they don’t, the three abducted athletes will never be seen again.
King calls Security Headquarters and gives orders that two English-speaking agents be sent to meet him immediately. He also requests that an agent trace the numbered account.
The agents arrive promptly. Although they don’t know King personally, they know him by reputation, as Detective Amazing. King explains that each of the athletes kidnapped was favored to win a gold medal in their respective ski events. And, although they were traveling in the same car, they were not on the same team. Each was from a different country, all countries that the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with.
King instructs the agents to trace the BMW’s license plate. To his surprise, the car was rented by Trevor Ridmuck, the coach of the U.S. women’s ski team. Ridmuck had been an Olympic hopeful when he was young. In high school, he dedicated all his time to skiing. He won the most medals ever at the U.S. Ski Championship. He was the “rock star” of the mountain. His studies and social life suffered as a result. He didn’t care. All he wanted was to win a gold medal in the 1984 International Winter Championship in Sarajevo. His dream was to be a gold medal winner at age 17. He didn’t win. Fourth place was the best he could do. He was devastated and embarrassed. Now, thirty-four years later, Ridmuck is obsessed with redeeming himself by coaching the U.S. women’s ski team to a record number of gold medals.
King receives a call from Headquarters advising him that the only information derived from the numbered account was that it had been established over thirty years ago. Bottom line; the account is untraceable. King is struck by the age of the account.
King examines every square inch of the car, hoping to find a clue. He lucks out. He finds two. Under the front seat is a tool for adjusting ski bindings, marked with the initials K.S. In the backseat, between the backrest and the seat itself, is a folded note addressed to one of the kidnapped athletes. The note is signed by Ms. Amanda Scarletti, a member of the U.S. winter ski Team. King knows of her and her family.
Amanda’s mother was a member of the U.S. ski team in her youth. She, too, competed in the 1984 International Winter Championship. That is where she was swept off her feet by the wealthy, charming, and much older Sparrow Scarletti. Until her death ten years earlier, her dream was that one day Amanda would be a member of a U.S. gold medal team. Sparrow Scarletti was determined to see that his wife’s dream came true, and why Amanda is now on the U.S. women’s ski team. It certainly wasn’t her ability that got her there. Sparrow financed the construction of a state-of-the-art training facility for the team. Even with his generous contribution, Amanda was still a long shot to qualify for the team, but she did. Several second-string team members mysteriously withdrew. Money! Amanda’s father is known as the “The Influencer.” He is a ruthless Washington lobbyist. His tool chest of money and deceit always gets him what he wants. On his payroll are two thugs, hired to keep tabs on the opposition.
Trevor Ridmuck stands when King and the two agents enter the interrogation room at Security Headquarters. He is visibly shaken when he learns of the ransom note. “Oh no,” he says. “That can’t be! You must find them!”
Ridmuck explains that the car rental is part of a plan to help the girls defect to the United States. He claims they want to join the U.S. ski team. “With them on the team, we are sure to win a record number of gold medals.”
“Wouldn’t you have to cut three existing members of the team to make room for them?” King asks.
“Yes,” Ridmuck says. Ridmuck continues. “Keenan Slope, the team’s ski technician, was to pick up the three athletes at 4:00AM and bring them to the U.S. Embassy. In fact, I was on my way to the Embassy to meet them when you called me in.”
“Is Keenan trustworthy?” King asks.
“He’s been with the team for four years and has proven to be very reliable.”
King requests that Keenan be summoned. In the interim, King and the two agents meet with Amanda and her father, The Influencer.
“What can I do for you?” The Influencer asks in a loud, arrogant voice. “I always want to help those who protect us.”
King ignores his disingenuousness.
“Three athletes have been kidnapped,” King says.
“What’s that got to do with us?” The Influencer asks.
“With the them out of the picture, the U.S. ski team is practically assured of winning the team gold medal.” says King.
“I still don’t see what that has to do with us,” says The Influencer.
“Perhaps Amanda can explain the note she sent to one of them that said, ‘Don’t take from me what’s mine, or you’ll be sorry!’”
Amanda explains that her note was not about the competition, it was about her boyfriend. The intent was to discourage the athlete who received the note from trying to steal her fiancé away, not because she might take her place on the ski team.
Her father bangs on the table and faces his daughter with a fury she has never seen. “This has got to stop. I refuse to allow you to marry a ski bum.”
King wonders how her father knows her fiancé is a ski bum.
Keenan Slope is leaning back in his chair with his feet on the table and his oil stained hands folded across his chest when King and the two agents enter the interrogation room.
The intelligence security report informs King that Keenan is far smarter than his profession suggests. Women find him extremely attractive and charming, despite a deformed left leg, the result of a motorcycle accident. One drink too many destroyed his prospects for a successful and lucrative career in sports. Although the accident ended Keenan’s active participation, sports is what he pursues to “make his fortune,” specifically gambling on sports. Surprisingly, word on the street is that he wagered every cent he has that the U.S. team will not win the gold.
Keenan claims that he received a call from Trevor cancelling the plan. He admits that it didn’t exactly sound like Trevor, but he attributed that to it being 2AM. Keenan cannot explain how his binding adjustment tool ended up under the car’s seat.
King throws the ransom note at Keenan. Keenan leans forward from his chair to catch the note.
“Look,” King demands. “Perhaps you can explain why the oil on the ransom note matches yours.”
Keenan checks out the oil-stained note. He confirms that it’s his. “I have no idea what this is all about. But if I’m being framed, I know just the person who would do such a thing!”
“And whom might that be?” asks King.
Who kidnapped the Athletes?