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It was usual to see a red park bench. Much less under some trees next to a stream.
But there it was.
The park appeared deserted. This was where they said to meet. I pulled the note from my pocket and glanced at it again, then shoved it back in my pocket.
Glancing around, I wandered near the grove of trees, sitting on the bench to wait. The heat from the sun was less intense in the shade covering the bench, and it made it more natural for me to sit here, pretending to read the newspaper.
I realized in my nervousness that I’d almost opened the paper upside down. I would have looked suspicious, not to mention stupid, if anyone had seen me. A glance at my watch told me it was time. I snuck a glance over the top of the paper every few seconds. I felt stupid, why not look the part?
I spotted her right on time, coming from the other side of the clearing. She sat on the far end of the bench. She didn’t look at me. “You bring the money?”
I reached inside my jacket and pulled a large envelope stuffed full of money from the inside pocket. I held it up where she could see it.
“What am I buying for all of this cash?”
She pulled a small DVD player from her purse, sliding it on the bench between us. “Play the video.”
I hadn’t seen one of these cheap DVD players in a long time. I hit the play button, and the seven-inch screen came to life.
On the screen was me. From the angle, I could tell the camera was up in the upper right corner of the room. There was a bookshelf on that wall. It would have been easy to hide a small camera in the books. I had disabled the security cameras when I opened the safe. But they were smart and had a second line of cameras as a failsafe. It worked. They now had me dead to rights.
“Why not show it to the police?”
“We thought about it. But we have another job we want you to do instead.”
“What about the money?”
“That was just to get you here. Keep It. You have something more valuable than that.”
“Yeah, like what?” I turned and looked at her directly. If they dropped that video on the police, they’d have me in jail in no time flat. They had me pretty good.
“Okay, what is it you want me to do?”
She squirmed around to face me, taking the DVD player back and sliding it into her purse.
“There’s another safe we need you to get into.”
“I’ll bite, what’s so important?”
“Bearer Bonds. Worth a fortune.”
“Fortune to who, you or me?”
“To whoever can produce them in a week at the board meeting.”
And you want to produce them?”
“Yes. Will you do It?”
“I don’t see as I have any choice, do I?”
“No not really.” She handed me a large, plain brown envelope. It was letter size and stuffed as full as it could get.
“The details are in here. We meet back here tomorrow at noon after you studied the plans and read the information here.”
I took the envelope and shoved it into my jacket next to the money I didn’t need.
Half an hour later I was in my office. Carefully opening the envelope, I kept it intact and carefully removed its contents. I then dusted the envelope for prints. As expected, mine was there along with hers. I was able to isolate the prints from the girl in the park. Scanning them into the computer, I ran them.
Sure enough, she had a record a yard long. From everything from extortion, blackmail, and even a few sex-related offenses. She was a real prize. In fact, when I checked, there were half a dozen felony warrants out for her.
I made a phone call. “It worked. They bit,” I told the man on the other end.
I studied the plans and paperwork she gave me. It was a good plan, and the information was all right and up to date. Which told us she had an inside man somewhere.
I did as she asked me to do and worked up a plan to steal the bonds from the safe. It would not be easy, and in fact, it was dangerous. They could kill me, never mind land in jail. I made a few more phone calls to finalize plans.
The next day I showed up in the grove of trees with the red bench, again pretending to read the paper. She appeared out of nowhere and sat next to me. We didn’t bother to pretend that we didn’t know each other.
“Well?” Her first words when she sat down.
She was wearing the same jacket, and I suspected there was a gun under it. I decided not to find out yet.
“Still working on it. A job like this takes time.”
“You don’t have the luxury of time. It needs to be done tonight.”
“Yes, they moved the board meeting up to tomorrow.”
I didn’t tell her I had them move it up.
“Shit… Okay, I can do it, barely.”
She pulled the gun I was certain she had. “You stay with me until tonight.”
We walked together out of the park, pretending we were a couple, her gun hidden when we ran into people. A couple all right, a couple of thieves.
She led me to her car and pushed me into the back seat; she slid in after me. A man was driving, and he started the car the second she closed her door. No one said anything for the entire drive. Since they didn’t bother to blindfold me or do anything to keep me from seeing where they were going, I figured it meant they didn’t intend for me to come back again. The building we stopped at wasn’t far from the target.
At eight in the evening, along with the girl and her two henchmen companions, I put the plans I’d made into action. After one of her guys bypassed the security system, I jimmied the rear service door. We were in—but not all the way.
The next part was the dangerous part. We had to crawl through the ventilation shafts to the elevator access doors and make our way into the main vault, where the company stored the money and other important papers, and the bearer bonds.
Once we got past the hallway security systems without tripping anything, I still had to get into the vault itself. It took me an hour to get the vault open. Once inside, she went straight for the bonds. Not touching anything else, and there was a lot to touch. Currency was stacked like cordwood, while heavy-duty locks secured the cabinets in the file room of the vault.
In less than ten minutes, we were out of the vault.
I heard a noise and knew what it was. Waiting until I got to the intersection of two corridors, I held up my hand for us to stop. And we waited.
Within seconds, bright lights went on, and the doors in the halls opened as an armed swat team appeared out of nowhere. We all froze. Within minutes, officers took the girl and her gang into custody.
Later in the interrogation room, I sat across from her. My badge hung from its chain around my neck. All she could do was swear and ask how.
I told them the entire thing had been a setup. The owner of the company came to the police with information that someone was trying to take over his business. He just didn’t know who, but they had discovered the hidden camera. I broke into the office safe, aware of the hidden camera in the bookcase. We were waiting for someone to approach me about the theft in the office.
I told her I had arranged for the board meeting to be moved ahead, thus forcing her hand. She played right into our plans. We captured her gang along with the money man, an insider who wanted the bonds for a buyout/takeover of the company.
As officers led her away, I thought about that peaceful red bench. It was an excellent place to meet a snitch.
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