"what's behind all this," he shouted. "what can you hope to gain by this," he asked not expecting an answer. he got one anyway.
"money," was the reply. the hoarse, disguised voice of the man standing over him continued. "a lot of money. enough to set myself and the boys here up in nice, comfortable lives, away from work for the rest of our days. you guys have it easy. you put on some paint, act weird and the world belongs to you. well i've been working hard for my money all my life, and now i don't want to work no more, but i want to be rich. rich; i want to be rolling in cash for the rest of my life."
"don't you think we work hard, you idiots," peter shouted unafraid. all the memories of meetings, rehearsals and gigs in lousy weather came back to him. all the continuous efforts to please all the fans, god bless them, all came back to him. "it's not easy, doing what we do. it's good work; good, clean, honest work, and we're all proud of it. what do all you have to be proud of?"
the gang's leader reminded peter that if he didn't stop talking back to him kiss would never perform again. peter was quiet as the kidnapper continued to speak.
"they're probably out looking for you guys right now, but they'll never find you. we know this entire country like the back of our hands. besides, your buddies wouldn't be too stupid to come near us when we could kill all of you guys at a moment's notice." peter realized the criminal was right; he almost hoped that no one would come looking for him. he almost hoped the ransom would be paid, according to the kidnappers wishes, and that he and his companions could be set free. but a part of him also hoped all these crooks could be caught before they got away with the ransom; and before he and the other two kiss members could be harmed.
back at the conference center, the well organized hunt for kiss was shaping up. as reporter johnny haverstock watched, he became part of a mammoth, fbi style investigation conducted with the best minds available, and the latest scientific equipment to back them up.
the clothes worn by paul were taking to a hastily equipped laboratory, where they were put through every test in the books. it was hoped that through the identification of soil samples, the remains of native plants and minerals, it could be learned where the kidnapped singers had been forced to travel.
"they were very thorough," recalls johnny. "those people really knew how to use that equipment, and they completed their tests faster than i ever dreamed it as possible to work. but all their labors were for nothing. although they identified some particles and remains of plants, these were identified as being native to the region where kiss had gone fishing. the kidnappers would surely have taken the group as far away from there as possible, so that a clue was completely useless. all they could do was wait and question paul when he awakened."
at first, paul could remember nothing more than he had revealed in his previous sessions before the large group of investigators. later, due to trained questions from experts in their fields, he recalled details which he previously thought were not worth mentioning. throughout his ordeals beginning, he had been incoherent, like his friends. but just before the kidnappers released him, they took great pains to make sure he would come to no harm due to the effects of the knockout gas to which the group had all been subjected.
"i guess they were afraid he would step in front of a car if they let him go while he was still woozy from that stuff," an investigator remembers. "they fed him black coffee along with other substances that are known for overiding the effects of intoxicants. along with these substances, there were minute traces of exotic chemicals in the blood specimen we took from paul immediately after he was safely returned to us."
through the chemical traces, the searches were able to pinpoint the exact variety of gas that had been used on the kiss members.
"it was a military compound, manufactured by only one commercial chemical house and distributed only to the armed forces. a small shipment of it was on record as having been among the missing items taken during the robbery of a military warehouse. also taken at the time were samples of the gas' antidote; the same chemical found in paul's system."
along with these good breaks, paul was hypnotized to aid him in recalling certain sounds he heard shortly before he left the gang's hideout. whistles, bird calls, airplane noises and other recollections flooded back into the singers mind as he supplied the investigators with much needed details. immediately, people were put to work to match up the sounds with noises generated by normal commercial vehicles passing through the area. it was hoped that a graph of intersecting times could be set up, leading to a precise location of where the remaining kiss members were being held.
"we had no luck there," remembers haverstock. "just as things looked promising, everything fell through. there were just too many coinciding factors, too many coincidences to be followed up. it could have been any one of a dozen places, judging by what the police computers came up with. it narrowed the field of search down to a given radius but that was about all."
other means were also used to obtain information on the hideout.
in the words of one police scientist, "we determined from paul how long his captors drove before they let him out of their car, to the spot where one of our patrols found him wandering in search of a lift back to town. making note of the speed limits of the area, we guess that the gangs car was not going faster than the limit; the last thing they wanted was a curious officers asking embarrassing questions. they weren't going too slow, either, because they wanted to drop off their passenger as soon as possible and return to their safe base."
with this clever line of mathematical reasoning, the circle of land which had to be searched grew smaller. the hideout was within a 30 mile radius from town, it was learned.
while the investigation was proceeding, other reporters had learned about the mysterious disappearance of kiss.
"they did'nt know anything positive," recalls haverstock, "and it was very important that no one should print anything. i felt like a traitor to my co-workers, but this is a highly competitive business. i was not about to let my exclusive go out the window. besides, there were lives at stake. so i cooperated with the authorities, and told the newspaper people the members of kiss had come down with a case of food poisoning. it was'nt serious, i was told to say, and the group would be back in action in less than a week, after rest."
some of the reporters sensed there was more to the story. the clever cover-tale of "food poisoning" was beginning to wear thin only a couple minutes after it was introduced.
"we realize we were on the verge of a complete leak to the press," an officer remembers, "so we tried something desperate."
as the reporters were entertaining their own rumors of what had happened to kiss, paul entered the room with his security escort. the guards were dressed in white medical tunics. "we wanted the reporters to think paul and the others were safe here, under treatment. so we took a big chance and introduced paul and his "doctors", and explained the story could lead to a panic situation if it was released now. so we accomplished two important things with the press; we persuaded them not to reveal the true story, while managing to keep the real story from them."
meanwhile, the ordeal was continuing for gene, ace and peter.
by now the effects of the gas had worn off. they were completely recovered. each of them realized the nightmarish visions of their kidnappers had been hallucinations brought on by gas. to pass the time and keep from thinking about what was likely to happen to them, the three friends talked about their nightmares and laughingly planned how they could be incorporated into their act. they were keeping up their courage. gene simmons would improve his fire-eating act when he was free. peter would add some antique props to his part of the act; maybe he'd paint his fantastic pearled drums, with his wife lydia's help.
ace thought about his wife jeanette. would he ever see
her again? he now realized the gun that had been levelled at him earlier
was an ordinary pistol. he knew he was'nt up against an army of hostile,
alien invaders ready to take over the earth. he smiled to himself as he thought
about his earlier, frightening vision. but he stopped smiling as he realized
his real-life situation was just as dangerous at the moment.
the others realized it, too.
it was impossible to escape from the room. they were stll tied, and they were weak. they'd still been given nothing to eat or drink. they knew their only chance was to keep their heads; to remain calm and to trust in all their friends to find them.
inwardly, they all had nothing but hope. they had faith
in their fans, and trust in the people who they felt sure were trying to
find them at the moment.
they hoped that they were right.
the ransom demands had been thoroughly studied. "this gang realized the full worth of kiss, and were determined to get the maximum amount of cash with the least possible risk to themselves. it was a well-conceived plan," remembers investigator oswald johnson. "their hideout had to be up in the hills somewhere, because the plan called for the money to be dropped off where they could probably keep an eye on the site, to make sure the police were nowhere around. we figured they had helicopters standing by to make their escape, just in case they were wrong. the note specifically said 'no helicopters or any other aircraft in the area, please, or kiss will be killed.' it seemed that for all our experience we were stumped. we wanted to take no chances with the boys' safety. we were forced to stand by and do nothing as the negotiations to raise the ransom began."
banks were called. cables were sent, and people who could be trusted were told about what had happened. "we were damned lucky,' recalls one of the financial people working on the case. "everywhere we went the people were anxious to help; everyone was worried about the boys who were the hostages. people were very quick to offer to help, and in some cases they did'nt care about the detailed financial arrangements that usually accompany these businesses. "save them for when kiss is safe," they said. we were grateful for all the help and good wishes."
while the enormous sum was being gathered, johnny haverstock was doing his best to keep up with everything that was happening. "i was going around taking notes and pictures," he said. "i wanted that exclusive and i was taking no chances that it would pass me by. i'd be ready when the payoff came, and the boys' were returned. i'd have the first exclusive shots of kiss untied again after their ordeal was over; i'd be famous overnight. but something was bothering me, in the middle of all these thoughts. i began to see that i should'nt have been thinking about myself at that important time. i should have been thinking about kiss instead, about those two anxious women in the next room. i should have been thinking about all the thousands of fans of kiss all over the world, and what they would do if their favorite group were tragically cut off in the prime of their development. i was proud of myself. i did think about these things. when a thoughtless young man suggested i go next door and interview the wives, i could'nt stand it. i hauled off and punched him out."