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Chapter 2: Daddy Plans a Heist
It was a hot, sunny summer day, not long after the lunch hour, as Don Richey stepped into the elevator outside his office for the twenty-three-floor descent to the parking garage. Just as he reached to press the button, a voice called out, “Hold it, Don, please.”
His heart skipped a dozen or so beats, his palms, already moist, begin to sweat. He recoiled into the interior of the elevator, praying for the door to close quickly. A disembodied hand reached in and restrained the door, followed immediately by a breathless young woman, about twenty-eight, who threw herself across the threshold and into the car.
“Sorry, Nancy, I didn’t know it was you, or I would have held it for you,” he said barely able to conceal his relief.
“Thanks, Don, that’s OK,” she panted, and, eyeing his briefcase, she continued with a conspiratorial smile, “Sneaking out for an early start on the weekend, I see.”
“Yeah,” he replied, as casually as his still racing heart allowed, “I’m taking my daughter, Laura, and some of her friends to spend the weekend on the houseboat; gonna beat the traffic if I can.”
“Sounds a lot better than my weekend, Don, how about taking me with you,” she grinned.
He let his eyes rove blatantly over the lush curves her navy business suit did little to conceal, lingering pointedly at her full chest before dropping to her shapely, nylon clad legs. Boy, he thought wolfishly, now there’s a thought, but not this weekend.
“Sure, hon, be glad to have you. You can ride herd on the teeny boppers for me while I fish,” he responded jokingly.
“Well, on second thought, maybe it does sound a little crowded. I’ll take a raincheck. How ’bout that?” she replied, blushing mildly in response to his appreciative inspection.
“Sure. Anytime you want to go, darlin, all you got to do is ask,” he answered flirtatiously.
She blushed again and turned to watch the lights counting down the descent of the elevator, muttering, “Maybe I’ll just do that sometime.”
The remainder of the ride passed in silence, and his thoughts turned to the contents of his briefcase. Well, it’s done. I finally did it. I’m a thief now and a rich one. I never doubted it wouldn’t be easy, he congratulated himself smugly for his cunning, feeling the considerable heft of the bearer bonds filling his briefcase. Just taking a few here and a few there, always from different folders, he had managed to accumulate in the last few hours nearly a million and a half dollars worth of fully negotiable, untraceable bearer bonds. It was more than enough to sustain him in comfort in Aruba, Tahiti or Belize or any of a hundred other island or third world countries having no extradition treaty with the United States. Careful planning and cunning, he chortled inwardly, and, of course, THEIR stupidity had helped.
So many times he had rehearsed for this day, never really thinking it would come. How often, he tried to recollect as the elevator plummeted, speeding him toward fortune and infamy, in the three years since being promoted to senior account manager at Secured Investments, Limited, had he practiced pilfering those folders? Fifty, a hundred, probably more? Who could remember? How many Wednesdays had there been in that time? Each rehearsal had been a meticulous ritual. Speak casually to the guard at the desk in the anteroom, then enter the vault and unlock one, two, or, if he was feeling particularly bold, three lock boxes containing Old Reliance’s portfolios. Extracting the bonds, he would slip them into an empty folder, under his shirt or into the inner pocket of his jacket. He was always careful not to take his briefcase into the vault, as that would immediately arouse suspicion. With the bonds safely tucked away, he would casually exit past the unsuspecting guard, exchange the usual pleasantries, and proceed nonchalantly down the hall to his office. Six trips to the vault is all that his plan required, provided of course he didn’t get greedy, and he was far too smart to let that happen.
He practiced every week spreading Manisa Escort his thefts out over the course of two or three days and, since his raids were commingled with legitimate visits to the vault, they were not in the least likely to attract attention. Secured Investments handled accounts for hundreds of clients and had thousands of folders in the vault, each of which required a certain degree of attention. Eventually, the guard had become so attuned to the routine of his comings and goings, that he ceased taking notice, and the minute that happened, Don knew the bonds were his for the taking.
Today had been the day. Immediately after Nyquist left, he put his plan into action. Six trips to the vault had turned to eight because he was interrupted twice, but by the time the lunch crowd started returning, he had the bonds safely tucked away in his briefcase and was checking the traffic report on the radio to be sure his getaway route was still clear. He glanced nostalgically toward the photos of his kids, which had been collecting on his desk over the years, and decided against taking them along. He had to leave them so it would appear that he was expecting to return; nothing would arouse suspicions quicker than to clean off his desk, he calculated.
Oh, they were stupid and lax, all right, and that made it easy, but it was their rigid consistency, the unwavering adherence to schedule, that was the final key that made it all work. Without the certainty that his victim would follow the same pattern, all his superior cleverness and cunning would be worthless.
He chuckled audibly at the recollection of his parting conversation with the guard in the lobby, and Nancy glanced toward him inquiringly, but he let her wonder.
He had been nervous as he approached the guard at the main entrance, of course, almost sweating with fear, and his hand was gripping the handle of his briefcase so tightly, he figured his fingerprints would be permanently embossed on it. He was praying the guard wouldn’t notice his hand shaking as he bent to sign out. It was company policy to search briefcases leaving the premises, but he knew that in practice, that only rarely occurred.
“Leavin’ a little early, aren’t you, Mr. Richey?” the old fellow in his dark blue, rent-a-cop uniform asked pleasantly enough without looking at the briefcase in his hand.
Don swallowed twice to push his heart down his throat far enough to get a response out. “Yeah, I am, Walter. Gonna take a little vacation.”
“Lucky you,” Walter grunted. “How long you going to be gone?” he continued off-handedly as he retrieved the clipboard and sign-out sheet and noted the time beside Don’s scrawled signature.
“Just a week. I’ve got to be back Wednesday morning for Old Reliance’s weekly lock box audit,” he lied as convincingly as he could, and he edged toward the door.
“Why so soon?” Walter questioned loquaciously; it was, like most Wednesdays, a slow afternoon and he intended to take advantage of the opportunity to pass some of the time. “I thought all you executive types took month long vacations.”
“You’ve got me confused with the senior vice-presidents, Walter,” he answered trying to smile, but his imagination was operating in overdrive, and he could just see his briefcase clasps failing and the stolen bonds spilling out all over the lobby. “You know the rules; us peon account managers have to be here when Nyquist counts Old Reliance’s bonds or it’s hell to pay.”
“Nyquist!” Walter snorted derisively. “I could sure teach that old bag of wind something about security.”
He was referring, of course, to Harold Nyquist, the venerable corporate auditor for Old Reliance, who, for as far back as anybody could remember, had been showing up at precisely 7:00 o’clock every Wednesday morning to count his employer’s bearer bonds on deposit in the vault. Next Wednesday, Don sneered to himself, old mister green eye shade himself and Secured Investments are going to get the shock of their lives.
“How’s that?” Don responded, trying to sound preoccupied in hopes of abbreviating Manisa Escort Bayan the conversation, all the while backing toward the exit door.
“Hell, he’s too predictable, Mr. Richey. He’s been doing the same thing, exactly the same way, for what, twenty years or better? First thing they taught me as a rookie patrol officer was to tell the people on my beat to change things up and not fall into a routine. Predictability is a thief’s best friend.”
“Really?” Don answered gravely, trying his best to sound impressed and surprised. “Have you told anybody about your concerns, Walter?”
“What? Me?” the old man shrugged. “Who’d listen to a washed up old copper, who’s just trying to add a little something to a piddling pension?”
“Well, I sure would, for one,” Don responded as he groped behind his back for the doorknob. “Tell you what, Walter, soon as I get back next Wednesday, I’ll mention it to Mr. Nyquist myself.”
He backed out of the door without waiting for Walter’s response, and forced himself to walk casually toward the elevators. Just as he reached to push the button, the doors to his offices banged open and Walter appeared in the doorway. Ominously, his hand was resting on the grip of his service revolver.
“Hold up there, Richey,” the old man yelled sharply as he advanced.
Oh, shit, Don thought, and a cold chill of dread ran up his spine. His eyes darted to the stairwell down the hall, and he quickly began calculating the odds against a successful dash for the door. Fear melted his knees and held him rooted in place. He watched the advancing indicator lights above the elevator door, nearly hopping from foot to foot, hoping the elevator would hurry, but Walter beat it by a good minute. Walter approached, extending his hand. Something glittered between his fingers, and the dark edges of a dead faint began pressing in on Don’s reeling brain.
“Here, Mr. Richey; you forgot your pen,” the guard said innocuously, thrusting the gold, Waterford pen toward him.
Don looked down at the pen uncomprehendingly, then up at Walter’s face for a split-second, and then back down at the pen. His eyes, he knew, conveyed his terror like the eyes of a mouse flushed out of a closet, but his reaction was beyond his control.
“You OK, Richey?” the old man asked looking at him oddly. “You forgot your fancy pen.”
“Oh, yeah, thanks,” he muttered awkwardly, and he reached for the pen. “I’m just running late; traffic’s gonna get me if I don’t get going, and I’ll miss my flight.”
“Traffic’s a bitch, alright,” Walter commiserated. “Where ya headed?”
“Yeah, your vacation, remember?”
“Oh, uh, uh, Algiers,” he stammered, blurting out the first name that came to mind.
“Algiers, huh? Never had much interest in the Orient, myself; too many Orientals, if you ask me,” Walter volunteered.
“It’s a sex tour, Walter,” he replied, recovering himself a little. “American Express put it together. What can I say? Oriental women give the best blow jobs of anybody.”
“No shit?” Walter gulped with unconcealed prurient interest, and, after he glanced surreptitiously over his shoulder toward the Secured Investments’ entrance, he whispered confidentially, “Look, Richey, I gotta get back to my post before they notice I’m gone, but do you think you could bring me some of them pictures when you come back? You know the ones that show everything?”
“Hard core, Walter,” Don grinned as a warm wave of relief swept over him like a Bimini beach breeze. “No problemo; I’ll bring you a briefcase full,” he smiled, patting his valise with a conspiratorial wink.
“Thanks, Richey, I owe you one,” the old man called out as he hurried back to the sanctuary of his guard post.
The elevator arrived just as Walter disappeared into the Secured Investments offices and, as Nancy approached unnoticed from the opposite direction, Don dove into the gap between the opening doors long before the bell announcing the elevator’s arrival had sounded.
The elevator hurtled toward the basement Escort Manisa and a vision of his wife, Miriam, lying beside him on the beach in Belize shouldered its way into his thoughts. He shuddered involuntarily. Not this time, you bitch, he thought, you’re the reason I’m leaving; I have you to thank for what I’m doing. Drove me to it sure. Another fight just the other night, angry words shouted in heat and a broken lamp in the bedroom. “That’s not all that’s broken in our bedroom,” he recalled her screaming at him furiously. Refused me again. Wouldn’t even consider it, the bitch. How long’s it been? Six months, maybe more. His sex life, the mainstay of his twenty-year marriage, had disappeared. Nothing, no amount of coaxing, pleading or demanding could persuade Miriam to change her mind. The fight had been the last straw. Sure, he had seen a divorce coming for some time, but he had never allowed himself to think that he actually could walk out of the office with the stolen bonds. That had just been a sort of a game with him; just play-acting. Yeah, he’d take some bonds to his office and lock them in his desk drawer. And, when he reached a million and a half, he’d chicken out, reverse the process, and put them back, all returned in perfect. Even the hyperly observant Nyquist had never noticed anything awry.
His play thievery had been pretty much risk free, since he could always come up with some plausible excuse for having the bonds in his office. But once he walked out of the door with them, though, he was totally committed. Well, I’ve done it now, you bitch, he thought bitterly, not knowing whether to hate his wife for driving him to take the plunge into criminality or to thank her.
Isn’t it odd how coincidences work to advantage, he thought. Miriam had her little outing planned for weeks. Going to a convention, she said, alone. That announcement sewed the seed to put his plan into action. Hell, he had been rehearsing for years with no intention of ever actually carrying through on it. It had all been just for fun, to show himself how easily it could be done. But that episode with her Tuesday night finally made him turn serious. She had raged at him in a fury, throwing her clothes around the room, and screaming that he wasn’t anything but a sick pervert and the very thought of going to bed with him to do his sick thing was enough to make her nauseous. He knew she was tired, didn’t he, she had yelled, complaining that she had to start working day and night selling real estate to supplement his crummy income. Well, he knew the part about his crummy salary was dead wrong, because he made a very substantial income, although not enough to keep pace with her spending, since she had a capacity for shopping that would give Bill Gates night sweats. Was it her fault, she bitched, that she came home nights exhausted from showing tacky houses to picky prospects all day and didn’t want to hop into the sack and start all that perverted crap with him?
He hated those confrontations with all of Miriam’s loathing ridicule and resentment, and he had thought seriously about walking out on her many times, but consideration of the kids had always come first. But, this time, some how, the timing was, well, just right. He could get his hands on the bonds easily enough, and, with Miriam out of the picture, he could have a little quality time with the kids before the clock ran out and he had to leave for good. Of course, he would ask them to come with him, promise them anything they want that money could buy, but he didn’t expect them to accept. At the least, he calculated, he could use the next four or five days to try to persuade them.
Moments later, Don cautiously exited the parking garage taking great effort to control the insistent urge to bolt and with a huge sigh of relief maneuvered his car into the afternoon traffic. Two blocks further, he turned onto the ramp to the expressway and expertly merged with the southbound flow. His briefcase lay in the seat beside him and he patted it to reassure himself of its reality.
Confident, at last, in the success of his getaway, he settled into the routine of his commute. Inevitably, lulled by the monotony of the traffic, his mind wandered. His mind wandered a lot, actually; even if the police had been hot on his trail, his mind would be wandering. It passed the time and relieved his tension, sometimes.
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