02 Part II
Excerpt from Trust Us Inc. Standard Operating Procedures
What to Collect While Speaking with a Mark
The main objective is to obtain money, either in cash or transferred or wired through a non-bank entity. Western Union, FedEx, or UPS can transport or wire funds. Avoid banks or the post office as there are likely felonies involved with those entities.
Personal data is the second most important item to collect. Anything we can use to impersonate the person or assume their identity is key. Habits, histories, and relationships can help with impersonation as well as password hacking. Social security numbers, bank accounts, birth dates, and ancestry can be used to assume full identities.
Computer access is also an important piece to obtain. This can be through guiding them to a ransom or key logging website, granting remote access to the computer itself, or physically obtaining a machine. Any of these can assist us in ransom and blackmail on top of the password access to things like email, banks, and online shopping accounts.
Trust is the greatest thing to obtain from a mark. We never know when we will need an accomplice, a patsy, or just an opening for something in the future. This is important to remember if you decide a mark has no money or wealth to take.
Hours and hours on the road with nothing but each other’s company and the set of compact discs that lived in Scott’s ancient car left Kermit a bit on edge. Scott was used to the long monotony of the beginning of adventures, but Kermit was new to the lifestyle.
They had left Amarillo and headed straight west into New Mexico. The vast amount of nothing shocked Kermit. He had never travelled very much since his move when he was a child and to see an area that was so desolate and abandoned made him uneasy.
“I haven’t seen another car for at least twenty minutes.” Kermit said as he looked frantically down the road.
“I’m going to marry her anyway.” Scott turned to face his friend as he sang the line in the song. “Marry that girl.”
Kermit shook his head annoyed at the lack of communication he was receiving, “How does this not bother you?”
“Calm down. New Mexico is a pretty lonely place. I mean it makes sense that all those UFO claims come from here. If I was an alien I would pick a big deserted spot like New Mexico.” Scott did not bat an eye as he continued to drive down the long empty road. Out of nowhere he returned to the song that was still playing on the CD player, “Why’d you have to be so…” He looked at Kermit hoping he would finish the line.
“I need to stop. I can’t take this much more.”
Scott shrugged his shoulder and pulled the car over on the side of the road.
As the wheels came to a halt Kermit’s voice raised an octave, “Right here?”
“You said you wanted to get out of the car.” Scott turned the car off and opened the door to get out.
Kermit followed suit. He stepped out onto the dusty shoulder of the freeway and in a panic looked forward and back trying to find something that tell him civilization still existed. As he walked around to the driver side of the car he saw Scott with his zipper down taking a leak in the middle of the road.
Kermit was astounded, “Dude? Really? Right here in the middle of the road?”
Scott laughed as he finished up, “You said so yourself, we haven’t seen anyone in forever. When else will you get the chance to piss in the middle of the freeway?”
Kermit didn’t want to acknowledge the statement, but somewhat agreed with the sentiment. But, that was not his style. He went back around to the passenger side and pulled out one of the maps to see where they had been and where they were heading. To Kermit’s dismay they were only a couple hours into the drive. The plan was to get nine hours in and stop in Flagstaff Arizona. He let out a guttural scream that echoed off into the vast emptiness of New Mexico.
“Feel better?” Scott patted his friend on the back and walked back around the car to get back on the road. Both men were re-boarded and ready to put another few hundred miles on the tires. But before he turned the ignition he looked over at Kermit and asked, “Why you got to be so rude?”
Kermit dropped his head in defeat and finished the lines of the song, “I’m going to marry her anyway.”
Scott cheered and turned the car back on.
The ride was excruciatingly boring, but luckily for Kermit he fell asleep another hour into New Mexico and didn’t wake up until they were getting gas in Gallup, just a few miles from the Arizona border.
When he woke up his eyes nearly rolled back in his head at the annoyance that Scott was still listening to the same song. He thought if the ride didn’t kill him, if the adventure didn’t kill him, if the tornados, typhoons, and creatures didn’t kill him, the damn song would.
They had to stop for fuel and a late lunch. There happened to be a local barbecue joint attached to a gas station. Scott, the ever optimist was in adventure mode and excited to see what the local cuisine could offer. He hopped out of the car and exaggeratedly motioned for Kermit to join him. Although, he was not excited about the food, he was excited to get away from the music.
The place was full of locals, lots of cowboy looking folks with big beer bellies, old ratty cowboy hats, and denim, lots and lots of denim. Being the only two males in the room that were not sporting any type of mustache they quietly took a seat near the entrance and waited patiently for service.
A young woman with thinning hair, a lazy eye and missing a few teeth came over to them, “What can I get ya to drink darlin’?” Her southern drawl made the boys feel like they were in a bad horror film.
“Water is fine.” Kermit suggested, but the waitress scrunched up her mouth to the side while tapping her pen on her pad of paper.
“Water today has been coming out a bit yellow and it smells a bit.” She paused as Kermit nearly dry heaved at the thought. “But I can bring you some sweet tea, it covers up the color real good.”
Scott waved his hand, “Just bring us a couple beers. Whatever you have in bottles… Not on tap.”
“Got it sugar.” The woman made a clicking sound with her mouth as she turned to go get the boys their beverages.
Kermit was going to protest the choice in dinner, but Scott ignored him. From Scott’s adventures this place was about as good as one could expect.
The lady returned with the beers. She leaned forward on the table while staring Scott in the eye. She unbuttoned the top button on her uniform looking to seduce the cute young man that was sitting in her section. Kermit gagged again as he looked down to see a large hairy mole in the woman’s cleavage. Scott kicked him from under the table. She gave Kermit a side glare then returned her attention to Scott. “What brings you boys in?”
Scott tilted his head and smiled at the waitress as he reached out to bat at her hair that dangled in front of her eye. “We are actually chasing down the legend of Cloudville Arizona.” He stated with such pride you would think he won a Nobel.
The girl’s demeanor changed immediately. It was almost as if she didn’t want to be near the table anymore. “Oh, let me take your order.” She quickly changed the subject.
Scott was confused and felt like the girl was playing a strange game he didn’t understand. “Hang on. What’s wrong with Cloudville?”
She put her pad down on the table with a small thud as she rebuttoned her top button. “If you have some kind of suicide wish that is fine, but I don’t want anything to do with that place.”
“Hang on honey. I don’t know what you are talking about. I heard a legend that there is a treasure hidden away in a mountain that reaches up into the sky.”
She cut him off. “And everyone that goes after that treasure ends up mutilated or missing. I’ve seen enough friends go after that damned treasure where I end up identifying their bodies in the morgue. Flesh picked off bone, thousands of stab wounds. Half of them even had hollowed out eyeballs. Order some damn food and I will serve you, but talk about Cloudville and you get the hell out of here and go to hell.”
Scott put up his hands in surrender. “I am sorry. I didn’t know. We will take whatever you recommend and then we will be out of your hair.”
The girl turned to walk away, “Got it.”
As the girl went into the kitchen to get their order Kermit leaned forward so only Scott could hear him, “That was kind of crazy reaction to a wild children’s story.”
Scott waved his friend off as he leaned back in his chair, “Happens all the time. People get weird when you start talking supernatural shit.” He looked to the sky scrunching up his nose. “It sucks though. She was coming on to me right?”
Kermit opened one eye larger than the other since he couldn’t raise a single eyebrow. “Yes, she was very interested in showing you her big hairy mole.”
“You are such a judgmental prick aren’t you?” Scott slammed a fist on the table making his friend a little nervous. “She wanted to share something special with me. I thought it was beautiful.” Kermit wanted to retort, ‘I thought it was hairy’ but he thought better of it.
The two ate their dinners with little conversation. The long trip, repetitive music and disagreement at dinner was making their companionship a bit more trying than they hoped at this point.
The conversation with the waitress made Scott think that there was more to learn in the town. From the restaurant/gas station they drove around until they found the one and only funeral home in town. They parked in its dirt paved parking lot and headed on in.
Entering in through the double glass doors they were welcomed by a tall slender man that was missing the cowboy hat and boots that the rest of the town wore as a uniform. “I’m sorry but there are no showings today. May I help you with something?” The man was obviously annoyed that someone dare wander in on a day where he had no bodies to show.
Scott gave off his biggest grin and stuck his hand out for the man to shake. After a few moments of the two staring at each other Scott pulled his hand back. “I just had a few questions. We are on an adventure of sorts and thought you might be able to provide us with some information on where we are going.”
Kermit paced around the paisley decorated room wondering why all funeral homes he had been in felt as if they were decorated fifty years prior. He sat down in an available chair while he waited.
Scott continued his speech. “We are in search of the mythical Cloudville Arizona.”
The man gave a gruff snort, “Children’s nonsense I assure you.”
“Sure, sure. But, when was asking one of the locals they started talking about identifying bodies of people who had gone after the local treasure.” He paused and looked at the man to see if he gave anything away.
“You must have spoken to Emmylou. She lost a group of friends to a serial killer a couple years ago. It was on a trip that she was supposed to be on and they were going to look for the legend. She hasn’t been the same since.” The man paused as he stroked his chin and looked to the ceiling. “It was a rough time for her. She had to go to Flagstaff and identify the bodies at the county morgue.”
“So, you didn’t see the bodies?”
“I did when they came in for the funerals. It was disgusting. Legs had been cut away below the knee so there was nothing but cleaned bone. Each victim had hundreds of stab wounds. It was the most gruesome thing I’ve seen in ten years as a mortician.” His face didn’t suggest that he had any emotion towards what he was saying.
Scott nodded in an unconvincing manner, “Where were the victims found?”
The man looked to the side with a slight sniff, “You would have to talk to Flagstaff PD about that.”
“Thanks for your time.” Scott motioned to Kermit as he headed towards the door.
As the two young men pushed open the double doors the man called to them from inside the funeral home, “Good luck finding Cloudville. And if you find it, I hope I don’t see you… back here…” The words were ominous, but over the top leaving neither roommate worried about the future.
It was another three hours to reach Flagstaff, but Kermit drove for the first time on the trip and was allowed the opportunity to control the CD player. After rummaging through the CDs for a few minutes and almost running off the road he opted to drive in silence.
Scott looked out the window at the sunset they headed straight into. “It’s a pretty amazing sight huh?”
Kermit nodded as he focused on the road.
Scott continued, “It could be a lot more enjoyable with a bit of music to fill the void.” He had been trying to get his friend to play something, but was respecting his initial rule that the driver controls the radio.
“I was happy to put something on, but I couldn’t find anything in your collection that didn’t start with ‘Now that’s what I call music’.”
“Come on. Those are all great compilations, but I have other stuff too. I have an old Spice Girls album, something from NSYNC, and that song with the dance. What was it? Maracas?”
“If you are referring to the Macarena you aren’t making a very good case for your music tastes.” Kermit laughed to himself, but to his dismay just the suggestion of the Macarena had Scott absentmindedly humming the song. “No. No. No. You must stop.”
Scott looked over to Kermit like he had lost his mind, “What are you talking about?”
“You are humming the Macarena!”
“No I am not.” He turned to look out the side window, but now had the song in his head. He fought to keep it from audibly leaving his body, but could not keep himself from doing the hand motions to the dance. He kept his hands close to his belly hoping Kermit would not look over.
They drove for twenty minutes before Scott forgot what he had said. He without thinking put his left hand on his left hip, his right hand on his right, and then with full volume, “Hey Macarena!”
“Want to walk the rest of the way?”
“Calm down, there is the city limit sign.” Scott pointed out the window to the right of the road. They had entered Flagstaff.
After a bit of conversation Scott directed Kermit where to go until they came upon a small white stucco building with water stains on the outside. It had a couple broken windows and a half lit sign that had partially fallen so it slanted to the right reading MOTEL.
When the two went into the office to procure a room they were met with a dark skinned man wearing a brown leather vest, feathers in his hair, and beaded jewelry. “Can I help you?” The man said without a hint of an accent.
Scott approached the counter, “Yes, we need a room, but I also want to ask you about the legend of Cloudville Arizona.”
“Rooms are ten dollars an hour.” He pulled out a notebook to write down that he had guests.
“Sorry, no. We aren’t needing that type of room. Like we want to sleep here tonight.”
The man looked up at Scott. Then he looked over at Kermit and gave a smile. “Sorry, I didn’t take a good look at you. I can give you a room for fifty, but I don’t have any maid service I usually leave it up to the whor… the guests to change the sheets before they, um, sleep.”
Scott was truly undeterred from the conversation, but saw an opportunity to save some cash. “If I have to touch sheets that I’m assuming I don’t want to touch, fifty seems pretty steep.” Kermit, standing behind Scott was watching on in awed disgust. He could not believe the plan was to sleep in this filthy, rundown, piece of shit.
“Ok. I’m not usually busy on Tuesday nights. So, I will give you the room for twenty, but if I have John that can’t get a room you’ll owe me thirty in the morning.” Scott nodded as the man put a clean pair of sheets on the counter. “Just put the dirty set outside your door, I’ll pick them up in a bit and wash them.” He slid a key with a big sixteen on it onto the counter next to the sheets.
“About cloudville.” Scott leaned in like he was going to get some inside information.
“I think it is a bunch of bullshit.” The man looked at Scott unenthused.
“Really? I thought you specifically might have had some connection to it.” He gestured at the man’s wardrobe.
He started laughing, “I just got back from a camping trip with my son. He is in Indian Guides, it’s kind of a boy scouts for fathers and sons, but we dress up and pretend to be Indians.”
Scott was disappointed, he thought his luck was phenomenal. He nodded and turned to go find his room.
“But, if you really are researching it. There is a tiny town. You might call it a village. It is called Klondyke and there is an old woman there that believes she is the shaman from the tale.” He turned to head to the back office, but tacked on, “But, please don’t harass the woman. If you want to do your research or film your documentary or whatever it is you are doing, fine. But the lady is obviously in the throws of dementia.”
With that the boys were left to go find their room and figure out what to do for the night. The plan turned out to be simple. They walked the quarter mile to the nearest gas station where they picked up snack cakes, candy bars, beers, and a couple of very questionable hot dogs. With their dinner of champions they walked back to the motel where they found their room. They were thankful that number sixteen had a full door, working lock and no broken windows. It was one of the few with all three features.
They went inside, set their food on the small table by the dresser. The room had seen better days. The bed was pulled away from the wall and sported a set of sheets that had many stains on them. Not just stains, but colorful stains that really made the boys question what happened in these rooms by the hour.
There was a singular dresser and table that had two accompanying chairs with a television that was bolted down with a steel harness of some type. Out of the three light fixtures, one still illuminated the room while the others left two of the corners of the room dark, which may have been for the better.
Thankfully the air conditioner seemed to be working as the room was a brisk fifty-five degrees, quite the accomplishment since it was well into the nineties outside. The bathroom also seemed to be in working condition. Almost as if people didn’t often use the rooms for bathing or hygiene.
“Kerm, why don’t you take off the sheets and throw them out front.” Scott said as he was emptying the bags from the gas station.
Kermit laughed with such exaggeration that Scott had to stop what he was doing. “I am still not sure I am sleeping here, there is no way I touching those sheets.”
“Going to go get another room with your eighty two cents?” Scott knew it was a low blow, but he did not appreciate the lack of gratitude in him covering everything on the trip.
“I may go sleep on a park bench for the night.” Kermit was standing with his arms crossed as far away from the bed as possible.
Scott went over to the bed to start stripping the sheets. “What is it going to make you green with sickness?” He knew the frog jokes were old and tired, but every once in a while he couldn’t help it. “At least grab the new sheets.”
Scott removed the sheets to exposed a rubberized bed cover that would protect the mattress from most any liquid. He threw the old sheets out the door while Kermit spread the new sheets across the bed. Scott headed back to the table when he looked at Kermit and started to wipe his arm on the back of the young man’s shirt.
Kermit jumped away, “What are you doing?”
Scott looked at his friend with as much innocence as he could muster, “Just wiping my arm off, something wet and slimy got on it.” He shook his limp wristed hand as if he was flinging goo off himself.
“You stay away from me with that!” Kermit was not amused and now in a fight or flight mentality as he tried to use the bed as a barrier between him and his gross friend.
“It isn’t a big deal, just this sticky foul smelling goo that was probably on the sheets. I just was wanting to wipe it off.”
Kermit literally started to gag and dry heave. In between involuntary attempts to vomit he shouted, “Get your ass to the sink!”
“I’m just kidding, calm down.” Scott bobbed his head in laughter proud of his prank.
Eventually, the boys were able to sit down and eat. They planned out the next day which would comprise of going to the Flagstaff Justice building to see what they could find on the murders. Then the plan was to drive for five more hours to find Klondyk which did not make Kermit a happy person.
The room stayed cold which both of the boys liked, but sharing a queen sized bed was not the most ideal of situations. In the morning they were up and out the door by seven o’clock. The owner of the motel waved them goodbye as they pulled out onto the street.
They went to a local police station but were turned away with instructions to inquire about it at the Justice Department. They eventually realized that they were looking for the county courthouse, which was in a section on the Northside of town with all the other government buildings. They parked and walked into the dark red-bricked building where they were ushered through a metal detector, up an escalator and then herded into a big line that wound around the room.
It was nearly an hour of standing in line. Kermit fuming while standing in place due to barely hearing Scott humming the Macarena again, but every once in a while switching songs and mumbling, ‘why you gotta be so rude’.”
After the first twenty minutes Kermit tried counting to keep his mind off the monotonous songs. It didn’t work so he tried lightly punching himself in the face to a beat, it didn’t help either. Luckily they reached the counter just as Kermit was going to try stabbing his arm with the car keys.
When the reached the front there was an older woman with bright red hair and stark white roots. She seemed to melt into her chair as she resembled a blob that was conforming to the chair she was sitting in. “What juror number are you and what court room are you serving for?” Her voice was harsh and deep, like the voice of a gorilla that had been smoking for four or five lifetimes.
Scott jumped into his normal polite demeanor, “We aren’t here for jury duty. We had some questions about some murders some years back.”
The woman responded without looking at Scott, “You can look up whatever you want in the public archives. They are in the basement.” She slammed her fat misshapen hand on a red button that lit up the light over her head. “Next!” She screamed at such a level, the boys both ducked to avoid the shockwaves.
Dejectedly the boys walked down the stairs to the basement where they found a room that read ‘Public Archives’. All the time spent standing in line could have been used to rummage through the newpapers and microfiche files.
Both of the boys got on a computer and started searching for terms. They looked for legend, cloudville, Grabull, mountain in clouds, treasure… Nothing was turning out to have any type of useful result. When they switched to term like mutilated, stab wounds, severed limbs they started to find some results.
Suddenly the public files were filled with pictures that had warnings about depictions of torture and suggestions for the faint hearted to turn back. The boys spent hours making themselves ill by seeing picture after picture of gory murders.
After a couple hours Kermit had enough, “I can’t keep doing this. I need to see something wholesome, something positive.”
Scott, annoyed with his companion said, “Then look up rainbows and unicorns.”
Kermit did and was faced with an article about a unicorn horn that was found on Pinnacle Ridge. It was filed under found artifacts. The newspaper story read that a group of hikers that were on Pinnacle Ridge for a photography class came across a bone that was unlike anything ever found before. The bone was seven inches long that spread out at the bottom to what appeared to be an ocular bone. From there it became cylindrical and was about two and a half inches in diameter. The cylinder tapered away until the bones reached a point, the point was hard and said to be sharper than a needle tip. A point so sharp that it must be made in nature as it looked to imitate the stinger of a bee.
He flipped through tons of pictures of the little horn that police eventually filed away as a unicorn horn. Kermit tapped Scott on the shoulder to show him what he found, but Scott had started searching the term Klondyke.
He was reading a police report of a group of six teenagers that had set out between Mt. Turnbull and Mt. Graham in search of the legend Cloudville. Three were never seen again. The other three were found two weeks later at the Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area. Their bodies were mutilated. Their legs had been stripped of all the meat with their bones still intact. The parts of their body that still had flesh were riddled with stab wounds. One body was said to have over three hundred different wounds. The bodies were also covered in dirt, wind burn, and bruises as if they had been rolled down a mountainside after they had been killed.
The bodies were identified by an Emmylou Orton, a friend of the group and resident of Gallup New Mexico. The pictures on the microfiche were intense and hard to look at. Although, Scott thought he had enough to keep investigating, the attached newspaper article suggested the only suspect was an old woman from Klondyke. She was the last person the group was known to have spoken with. The article referred to her as Cat Bearer a woman of the old Grabull tribe with an unknown age.
Scott could not find any followups from the police about the woman, but assumed he was in a world of coincidences and the lady the motel owner had pointed him to was probably one in the same.
Scott and Kermit traded information, the lady, the murders, the kids. And of course the unicorn horn which Scott dismissed as something to entertain Kermit while he did the real work.
With that they headed out to Klondyke. It would be another five hour drive. When they got to the car and scott climbed into the drivers seat, Kermit the passenger. Kermit tried to prepare for the torture that was coming. He slowly tried to time it right as the inginition went on, he thought in his head, ‘Don’t you know I’m human too. Why you gotta be so…’ Then the music came on his ears were filled with ‘Tell me what you want what you really really want’.