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Black - Part 3



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental

From Part 2

A bewildered John listened as Charles resumed speaking. “As I said, this job pays well. You will work for commission, but each commission will be well worth your time. As I also said, the work can be dangerous. I will include an extra $1500 for each job you successfully complete as hazard pay.”

John interrupted but didn’t get far. “Charles, I have a questi . . .’

“You will speak only when spoken to. When I’m finished, you may ask anything you want. Until then, be quiet. Now, you will start tomorrow afternoon at precisely 1:30. You must finish no later than 3:00. These are important details. I believe you to be a detail-oriented man, are you not?”

Without giving John the opportunity to respond, Charles went on. “My manager will meet you at 1608 East Passyunk Avenue. He will have more instructions for you. Be diligent. Be on time. Follow the instructions to the letter, and there will be a fat paycheck for you at the end of the day. Oh, and Mr. Black, under no circumstances are you to mention this to anybody - not your wife, not your friends, not your enemies. Any slip-ups could cost someone near and dear to you their life. The call ended.



John reported for work. He stood in front of 1608 East Passyunk, a real estate agency, and waited. He was excited. With his experience, he thought he would make a good realtor. The office was closed, but he watched patiently. The sun sparkled light and cast shadows at the same time. A light breeze flowed down the street as he looked for his contact. He was eager to start.

Foot traffic was slow. John saw one man walking down the street a block away. He was sure this was his new boss. As the man drew closer, he noticed some strange characteristics. He seemed to move with a purpose. His steps were quick and long. He wore a tan trench coat and a black fedora hat tipped slightly to the right. In his left hand, he carried a Maxell-Scott briefcase, the kind John always wanted. He made a statement of importance, but he kept his head down, never looking up.

As he drew close to John, he spoke without stopping or looking up. “Don’t say a word. Follow me from a distance.”


Not sure what was happening, John fell into step - from a distance. They turned right at the next intersection and made their way behind the row-home style buildings. They stopped to the right of the Century 21 office. Without lifting his eyes, the man motioned for John to stay back. The security camera pointed slightly to the right and focused on the door. The stranger took a can of black spray paint from his coat pocket and covered the camera lens with a coat of heavy, black paint. Reaching back into his pocket, he exchanged the can of paint for a key. The two entered the building, and the stranger disarmed the alarm. He whispered as they approached the safe.

“This is a secret government mission. They warned you yesterday to not say a word about what goes on here or anywhere else. If anyone knows about this, you put many lives in jeopardy. First of many rules - this is top secret. Got it?”

John said, “Say stranger, what’s your name? I’m John Black.”

“That’s it. Just call me Stranger. And you, sir, are Mr. Black. You will refer to yourself only as Mr. Black. Got it?”

The safe was open, and Stranger emptied it in a matter of minutes. John watched, not sure of what was happening.

“Mr. Black, you may as well know. We are investigating a ring of thieves that masquerade as businesses. This real estate office has overcharged its borrowers by thousands. It is our job to see that we return it. We will use the cash and checks as evidence and then return them to the proper individuals. Just a rough estimate, but I’d say there’s about $600,000 here - all taken by impropriety.”

Stranger reached into a pocket in his briefcase and pulled out a check. He handed it to John. “Not bad for a day’s pay, is it? And don’t forget. You’re only in training. The pay goes up with experience. Meet me tomorrow at 1843 East Passyunk. 8:30 a.m. sharp.”

John held the check in his hand as he read, “Pay to the order of Mr. Black - $6,000.”

John arrived home at exactly 5:30 p.m., just as he had for the past 16 years. Everything appeared normal to Maureen and Kent - except he seemed more relaxed, more excited about life, more enthusiastic. A noticeable change had taken place, He sat at the kitchen table and gathered the bills. One by one, he paid them all. The security of a big paycheck replaced the stress of losing his job, and this was only the beginning.

He experienced the best of both worlds. Bringing in plenty of money while returning what someone had stolen from others brought him a sense of peace he had never known before. Maureen noticed.

“Honey, you seem to be in a cheerful mood tonight, Have a good day at work?”

“Oh Yeah. The best.” Not wanting to lie, he continued, “I did some street work today. It’s always good to get away from the desk for a while. I think I feel more refreshed when I’m able to get out.”

“Well, maybe you ought to do more of it if Max will let you.”

“I don’t think he has any objections. I know I’ll be out of the office tomorrow, too. It’s all good.”

Rising from the table, John tucked Kent in bed, grabbed a cup of coffee, and settled in with a good book. He never felt more relaxed.

Morning came and John was at his appointed place by 8:15. Stranger, dressed in his trench coat and hat, approached. The same drill had begun. All business, Stranger never looked up but led John across the street and down a block. John, from several feet back, obediently followed. They stopped in front of Marra’s Pizza. Stranger looked around. Nobody was in sight as he pulled the can of black spray paint from his trench coat, As soon as it darkened the surveillance camera, he unlocked the door. The two entered. Stranger turned off the alarm.

“Mr. Black, we must hurry. We have less than an hour to empty the safe and get out of here. We watch these places closely. They only make deposits every other day, and today is the day. We must get the money before they do.” The two emptied the safe, Stranger set the alarm, and they hurried out.

“Mr. Black, you wait here. I’ll be back momentarily.”

Nervously, John stood in front of Marra’s. Stranger pulled up in a silver Mercedes Benz and rolled down the window, "Get in Mr. Black. We’re going for a ride."

They drove for more than an hour when curiosity got the best of John, He asked, "So Stranger, tell me. Where are we going?"

He flashed a deadly look at John which said, "Don't ask questions. Just be quiet."

Up ahead, he made a hard right and swerved on to a dirt road. The lane led to a remote cabin high up in the Poconos. He ordered, "Mr. Black, get out of the car, Walk toward the cabin. Do not turn around."

  • Black -Part 4
    Burglary may not be John's expertise. The police are on to him.

© 2020 William Kovacic