In 1982, Marvin Shelby, a California computer component manufacturer, decides to establish a training and recruiting facility in Hyderabad, India. His plan is to attract the best and brightest of India’s engineers and offer them jobs in his factory in California. 

    Shelby’s wife, Helga, and his nine-year-old daughter, Happy, accompany Marvin to India. Helga is a yoga trainer and wants to learn more at a famous ashram near Hyderabad. Helga and Happy accept an invitation of a local prince to visit his palace one weekend. The prince decides to keep Helga and Happy.

    Marvin tries to get help to free his wife and daughter but the standard reply he receives from officials at all levels is, “The prince is above suspicion and would never do such a thing.”

    Marvin enlists aid from his students and local villagers to form a posse to free his wife and daughter. The rescue does not go smoothly.

    This is a fast paced adventure story. It is fiction but it is very accurate in regards to geography, government officials’ attitudes, and technical capabilities available at the time.

First few pages:

“Levi, come over here and look at this. They’re half an hour too early,” said Helga Shelby as she stopped toweling her thick blond hair while pacing barefoot on the thick white shag carpet in front of her living room bay window. She stared through the sheers at the black Suburban with five antennae that just pulled up in the light rain falling on her circular drive. Four people were pulling on their jackets.

“I asked you to come because some woman from the FBI wanted to talk to me. Now it looks like that tall Chinese woman brought three soldiers with her and they are all carrying guns. One guy even has two pistols. Is that normal for a FBI visit?”

“They always carry their weapons but even with their military haircuts, these people don’t look like FBI. They look like they are dressed for a barbershop quartet competition,” said Levi.

“If I knew men were coming I would have at least put on a bra. I don’t want to talk to them when I’m all sweaty, in just my tank top and shorts.”  Helga strode to her hall closet and pulled on a beige cashmere cardigan that clashed with her neon yellow nylon running shorts before she opened the door.

“Come in please.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Shelby, I’m Special Agent Hannah Miller of the FBI. We spoke on the phone. Here are my credentials and my business card. We appreciate your meeting with us in your lovely home.” Miller and the others ceremoniously wiped their feet but still left tracks on the white carpet. “Your choice of bamboo, chrome, and raw silk is a very effective décor. I would love to see the rest of your beautiful home.”

“If you want to see the rest, you can find it in last February’s Sunset magazine,” snapped Helga Shelby as she showed them to their seats in her formal living room. “May we please get on with the official part of your visit?”

“Of course, forgive me,” said Miller with a pleasant smile. “These men with me represent various government agencies with an interest in this matter.”

“Excuse me, Ms Miller, I’m Levi Steingold, Mrs. Shelby’s attorney. Please have these men identify themselves, show their credentials, and also give us their business cards.  Okay- hummm.  Am I the only one who thinks it’s a strange coincidence that we have only Smiths working for the CIA, Department of Defense (DOD), and NSA? Did I miss the memo that a navy blazer, grey flannel slacks and a red tie was the mandatory uniform of the day?  Sorry, bad joke. Please go ahead with your questions Ms Miller.”

“Mrs. Shelby, we know this is a difficult time for you with your husband scheduled for open heart surgery tomorrow, just three days after Christmas, but we need to answer some questions and we believe you may be able to help us. 

“Both of your husband’s colleagues who were with you in India have claimed their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to even talk with us.  We have a serious situation here and all these government agencies need to know what happened in India.

“The governments of India, Pakistan, and Russia are mad because of a series of activities they believe are somehow connected with your abduction and rescue in Hyderabad. They think we caused these serious international incidents.

“When you say ‘we caused these serious international incidents’ you really mean you think Marvin Shelby caused them, don’t you?” asked Helga, “So you think my short, fat husband with his bad heart, who at this moment is lying in the intensive care unit of the Stanford University hospital, and a handful of his young student trainees somehow caused a series of serious international incidents?

“I want you to know my husband delayed his heart operation by two months so he could rescue me. His cardiologist now says this operation might be too late.  Marvin pleaded with you for help and your agencies did nothing to help him or me. Now you accuse him of causing international incidents. You should be ashamed.”

“No Mrs. Shelby,” said the CIA Smith, “we don’t think your husband or his students were capable of causing the incidents. However, we believe he may be able to explain to us who did cause them and how they accomplished these activities. Those incidents include an armed uprising in India, the death of a world famous Pakistani physician, and the sinking of four Saudi Arabian yachts in Mumbai that may have some connection to your rescue. An additional matter is the death of a Russian diplomat who was killed while observing your rescue. He was actually a KGB colonel. We insist on some answers.” CIA Smith thumped the coffee table with his knuckles for emphasis.

“Mrs. Shelby, as your attorney, I strongly recommend you refuse to talk to any of these people. You were the victim of the abduction and had nothing to do with any of the matters mentioned by Special Agent Miller or Mr. CIA Smith.”

“Will all of you men, especially you Mr. NSA Smith,” said Levi, “please sit up straight and button your jackets. We know you are all carrying pistols. We don’t need to see them. Why would the NSA send an armed representative to speak to Mr. Shelby?”

“I’m part of the ‘NSA’s Special Projects Team.’ We always carry weapons,” said the NSA Smith with a grin, patting his pistols lovingly.

“And what ‘special project’ are you anticipating conducting in my home today?” asked a grim faced Helga shaking her head in disapproval.

“When the President of the United States takes an interest in a matter and asks the NSA to get involved, that constitutes a special project. Your rescue involved considerable death and violence. We want to be prepared, just in case.”

“So you think I might shoot you? Well, I might think about it but I can assure you before you walked through my front door, we never had weapons in this home so please put your guns away.”

“Mrs. Shelby,” continued Special Agent Miller glaring at NSA Smith, “ we need to stay focused. I apologize for this man’s unprofessional comments. We cannot force you to cooperate with us but we will not rest until we have some answers to our questions.  If you would just give us a short statement regarding your abduction and the actions that led to your rescue, that would be most helpful.”

“Fine,” Helga sprang to her feet, walked to the sideboard and returned with a sheet of paper. “Here’s my statement. I typed it in anticipation of your asking that specific question. I hope it is satisfactory. Mr. DOD Smith, take your damn boots off my coffee table. This is my home, not yours.”

Special Agent Miller took Helga’s statement and put it in her slim leather attaché case without reading it. The three Smiths sat on the sofa shaking their heads from side to side in unison with disappointment written on their faces.

“Mrs. Shelby,” said the NSA Smith, rising to his full six foot three height and flexing his pectorals so his two big pistols bulged beneath his buttoned jacket “that is probably a very nice statement but one page is totally inadequate.  We know your husband required his students to file detailed reports of their activities. We know he kept records of this rescue operation.  We need those reports. We need to know exactly what happened and now you’re going to give us those reports.”

“Fine, you may take what you need.  I’ll show you to my husband’s office.”

“No, stop there,” shouted Levi Steingold, jumping to his fee. “How dare you try to intimidate my client? Mrs. Shelby, don’t give them access to your husband’s records or his office. They need a warrant.  Remember, you’re an American citizen living in America now, you have the right to privacy under our Constitution.”

“Mr. Steingold,” said the DOD Smith, who was also now on his feet. “We know you are just doing your job but we can easily get a warrant and come back tomorrow or we can just pick up what we need on this visit. You must remember, Mr. Shelby’s firm is involved in many sensitive government projects, not just with the Department of Defense. We have a vested interest to know exactly what he did in India that may impact on our national security. We’re going to find out, one way or another.”

“Then you must come back with that warrant,” snarled Levi, now getting red in the face. “Mrs. Shelby was the victim. She has no reason to provide you with anything that might implicate her or her husband in any criminal activity. I think this interview is over and it is time for you all to leave.”

“Gentlemen, please cool down. Sit down all of you,” ordered Special Agent Miller.  “We are not suggesting there was any criminal activity, Counselor. In fact, I have this notarized letter of immunity to prosecution, signed by William Fletcher Smith, the U.S. Attorney General, that I’ll exchange for her and her husband’s cooperation. I stress again, at this time, no legal action is contemplated.”

“Okay,” said Helga as she finished reading the letter, “I’ll cooperate if you modify this fourth Mr. Smith’s letter of immunity to include anyone who was involved in my rescue. May I borrow your pen? I’ll just add a line to that effect right here on the bottom and you can sign it.”

“I can’t do that. I’d lose my job.”

“If it never comes to any legal action, no one will ever know you granted us total immunity. I doubt that these smiling Smith brothers sitting here like ‘see no evil monkeys’ on my sofa will betray you. They just want to see what is in Marvin’s files. It looks like they all agree with me.”

“Why would the Shelby’s need immunity from prosecution anyway,” asked the unhappy attorney, “if they are not suspected of any criminal activity?  This is highly improper. Again I recommend you don’t say anything to these people.”

“Okay counselor,” said Miller as she stood up with a foreboding frown, “we’ll come back at noon tomorrow with a blanket warrant and seize all their paperwork, personal computers, and every floppy disk we can find in this house, especially those concerning their visit to India. You must not try to destroy anything concerning their time in India or that could lead to criminal charges of obstruction of justice.”

“Oh for heaven’s sakes. Put your initials on this immunity document and I’ll give you all his damn files and disks. Now that wasn’t so hard was it?  Marvin was right when he told me you would be coming here to harass us. I’ll also give you his password so you can read his encrypted files. He won’t like this a bit but I hope it keeps you from bothering us. Come with me please.”

* * * *

Another fun excerpt:

(Marvin writes) Helga’s parents visited us in Cupertino last July.  They are both early retirees.  He is 62 and she is 56. I knew they were coming on 1 July to visit for two weeks. I couldn’t meet them at the San Francisco airport due to unscheduled business meetings.  They had not seen our new home.  We visited them twice in Germany since they last came to California in the summer of 1979.

I came home from work and pulled into the garage at about 1800.  No one was in the house so I figured they were by the pool and sure enough, they were all out there.  What I forgot for a moment was they are all nudists and as soon as they saw me they all came over to greet me.  I was shocked but I figured it would not be polite to run from them so I stood still.  I got a hug and kiss from Helga and Happy.  I was not prepared for the naked hugs and kisses from her father, Hermann, or from her mother, Sonje.  Both her parents are very tall people. He is six foot four inches and she is six feet plus. I’m only five foot seven.  When Sonje wrapped me in her big bare hug and kept kissing me she squashed me into her large breasts. I was stiff as a board. Sonje was rattling on about how much she loved me, how she loved our new home and how proud I made her for the success we enjoyed with the business. Then she stopped and said, “Oh, I think I’ve made Marvin uncomfortable.  Perhaps we should slip our clothes on.”

I lied when I told them I was fine and I would just go in the house and change from my suit and tie into some shorts.  Helga didn’t like that at all.  When we were getting ready for bed that night she said, “Marvin, I saw the way you looked at my mother. Your staring was completely inappropriate.  She’s my mother, for heaven sakes.” 

Dear Reader, this is Helga writing again. Marvin has this hang-up about nudity. I was nude when we first met and he liked it. We enjoy skinny-dipping as a family.  He gets up tight when he sees other people nude. I tell him to just relax and enjoy the freedom that nudity brings but he has not learned to do that yet. There are thousands of holy men wandering around in India that never wear clothes. Here is another area where some basic therapy would help but he refuses to go to counseling.

    Marvin’s obsession with my mother is bothersome to me. My mother is now 57-years-old. She keeps herself fit and is by anyone’s standards a good-looking woman. That still does not give my husband the right to stare at her like she was available to him. It is not right and I don’t appreciate it a bit.  That is all.

A film producer in India is interested in turning this book into a movie.