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 4
Stranger waited in the back seat of John’s car. John opened the door and noticed a figure dressed in a gray trench coat and black fedora. Hoping for a positive answer, John whispered, “Stranger, is that you?”
“Yes. Get in and drive. Make sure nobody is following you. Head toward Tasker. When we get to the stoplight, tell me. Until then, don’t turn around. Don’t talk.”
John continued to drive across town, Traffic moved slow but steady. Finally, he turned on to Tasker Street and looked in the rear-view mirror. A police cruiser pulled out behind him. Putting his head down, he said, "Stranger, there's a cop directly behind us."
"It's probably nothing. Just make sure you obey all the traffic signs, Watch your speed. I know it's only 25 miles per hour, but the cops pull people over here all the time. Just keep going, and don't make any careless mistakes."
- Black -Part 4
Burglary may not be John's expertise. The police are on to him.
The patrol car turned right at the next intersection, and John continued to the stoplight. Stranger gave John more instructions. “Make a left and park in front of the second house. Walk to the eighth house and go inside. The building is abandoned, and the door is open. Go inside and wait. Make sure no one sees you, I’ll bring your check.”
The walk seemed longer than it actually was. The building barely stood. John wasn’t sure it was safe to enter, but he did - ever so slowly. Within minutes Stranger appeared, check in hand. “You did good, Mr. Black. It is so important no one finds out about this, not even the police. You did good. If anyone knows what is going on, it could endanger the entire operation. Be sure this remains our secret. Now, tomorrow we'll do 200 Spring Garden Street. 9:00 am sharp. Got it?”
John nodded and took the check. Another $4300 to deposit into his bank account. Stranger remained. John started for home.
“Hey, guys. Supper’s ready. Come and get it,” Maureen shouted from the kitchen.
John had only been home for a few minutes. Kent tugged at his tie as they both made their way to the dining room table. John started the conversation. “So - how was everybody’s day?”
Maureen filled in John - the special cut of meat from the butcher, the hair salon, shopping for her niece's birthday party on the weekend.
Kent jumped in. “Say, Dad. Did you hear about that burglary at the Cornerstone this morning? Everyone was talking about it. I wish the police know who did it. Just not enough evidence yet.”
John swallowed hard as Kent continued. “Yeah, they’re gonna get that guy and he’ll get what he deserves. Right, Dad? That’s what you always say, right? No one gets away with anything for too long. Eventually, they slip up, and BOOM! They go down, just like a mouse in a mousetrap. There have been a bunch of burglaries lately. They think they’re all related. The guy must really be stupid. He keeps working in the same area. The shops all have cameras, They’ll get him.”
John thought back to the morning's heist. No, Stranger didn't cover the camera. The whole thing was on Cornerstone's closed-circuit tv.
“Honey, It’s been a long day. I feel a headache coming on. Could you get me an aspirin, please?” Maureen excused herself and headed for the medicine cabinet. John continued his conversation with Kent.
"So - tell me, do they have any clues as to who the culprit is?"
"No, not really. But Jessica Basque's dad - he's a cop. He's gonna pull the video from the Cornerstone tomorrow. No doubt, he'll get some great pictures. The camera is right above the safe. It all depends on whether they can identify him from the pictures.
"It's exciting, Dad. The daughter of a hero cop in my own classroom. I'm sure after they get this guy, Jessica's dad will come in and tell us all about how he caught this flunky criminal. I can hardly wait. Jessica promised to keep us posted."
Maureen returned with the aspirin. John jumped. “Honey, I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay.” John jumped again. “Did you see those lights flash by the window? Someone is snooping around outside.”
“John, relax. It’s just a passing vehicle.”
“Maybe, I better go see.”
“Honey, sit down. Really - there’s nothing there. Just calm down and finish your meal.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It’s nothing.”
Maureen massaged John’s shoulders. He continued to eat. Kent broke into the conversation.
“Dad, do you think when they catch this guy, they’ll put him on death row? That’s what Jessica said. Her dad was going to slam the cuffs on him and haul him off to be executed, or at least let him rot in jail for the rest of his life.”
John squirmed again. “No. No, they wouldn’t execute him just for being a thief. I suppose he could end up in jail.”
Kent’s eyes grew big. “Nope. That’s not what Jessica says. She says he’s done, cooked, finished as a human being. And he should be, don’t you think, Dad? I mean, he did some terrible things. The police have information they haven’t released yet. There’s a huge crime syndicate working its way through the city, and it’s not just about burglaries. They say kids go missing, People get killed. Extortion big time.”
“No, that’s ridiculous. Who’s telling you that?”
Kent sighed. “Dad, I just told you - Jessica. Her dad is a cop. He knows everything!”
“No, he doesn’t. I think Jessica is exaggerating. She’s just trying to make her dad seem important. Can’t blame her. It’s her dad. She’s proud of him.”
The phone rang. John seemed visibly shaken. Maureen picked up the phone. “Kent, it’s your friend, Jessica.”
Kent raced from the table and grabbed the phone. John and Maureen listened to the one-sided conversation.
“Hi, Jessica! I’m so glad you called. I miss you. Hey, what’s new with the investigation? Really? Your dad will get him this time for sure. I can hardly wait. Okay.” Kent cleared his throat and looked around to make sure no one was listening. John and Maureen turned away and engaged in conversation with one ear focused on Kent.
Kent, whispered. “I love you.” Then in a louder tone, he said, “See you tomorrow.”
Coming back to the table, John and Maureen stared at Kent with a trace of a smile on their lips. Kent knew they had heard him. “Well, Dad, she is kind of cute.”
John’s smile broadened. “Yes, I’m sure she is.”
Kent changed the subject. Dad, guess what! The cops have a plan to catch the guy. They baited him. They have audio surveillance, too. They heard two guys talking about 200 Spring Garden Street. Tomorrow at 9:00. The cops will let them go in and take them into custody when they leave. I wish I could be there.”
John hesitated, then he spoke. “Maureen, I’m going to go for a drive. I need to relax. Sometimes this new position gets the best of me.”
“I understand, Honey. But you have to admit, it was nice of Max to offer you the job after working for him for so many years. See, faithfulness pays off.” Looking at Kent, she said, “Follow your Dad’s example.”
John backed the vehicle out of the garage and headed downtown. First things first - he needed to destroy the evidence left by the surveillance camera at the Cornerstone. Thankful for the darkness, John pulled over the car and crept through the shadows along the side of the building. He wished he had the key, but he didn’t. Finally, after some effort, the door popped open. He quietly approached the camera from behind, and with one powerful yank, he ripped it from the wall. Evidence in hand, he made his way back to his car.
Next on the priority list - find Stranger. Just how, John didn’t know. He drove through the streets, hoping he might see him, but it never happened. He headed for home and would leave early the next morning, hoping to find Stranger before he made his way to 200 Spring Garden Street. A restless John tossed and turned through the night.
The alarm clock buzzed. Within minutes, John was out the door. Fortunately, traffic was slow in the fresh morning. He pulled over at the three-hundred block of Spring Garden and waited. Soon he saw Stranger making his approach. He motioned for an angry Stranger to get in.
“What’s going on. I told you to meet me at 200 Spring Garden Street! YOU messed up the whole job.”
John put his finger to his lips and whispered, “They know about us".”
Realizing someone might be listening, John pulled out a notebook and began to write. He gave Stranger the details his son passed from the night before.
Once out of the car Stranger hissed, “I’ll let Charles know about this.” Without another word, Stranger started down the street in the opposite direction. It was nearing 9:00. John drove down the 200 block, paying close attention to what was happening around him. There was a man standing on the corner in plain clothes. John recognized him as the officer that tailed him the day before. As far as John could tell, he wasn’t recognized and started for home.
- Black - Part 6
John is learning some hard lessons the hard way.
© 2021 William Kovacic