Banco Nacional de Cuba
Sancti Spiritus, Cuba
14:22 (19:22 GMT)
Their ruse at the bank had to be played to perfection. Beforehand, they stopped at a clothier to get appropriate attire for both of them. Next stop was Javier’s to change and for Blake to outline his plan to Adriana. While sitting at the kitchen table and discussing what they were to do, Blake noticed her eyes drift off, along with her thoughts. Was she having second thoughts? Had she really forgiven him? A tear welled up and trickled down her cheek.
Blake reached out and grasped her hand. She immediately withdrew it.
“I don’t know if I can do this. I’m having second thoughts.”
“Second thoughts? About what?”
The chair screeched as she pushed herself back from the table and stood up. “This—this whole thing. You! My father! You killed him… he… he had my mother killed.” She turned and walked into the main room of the apartment.
Shit! I thought we were through all of this. Blake stood up and followed her into the other room. Her back was to him and she wept softly. He thought about touching her shoulders, but pulled back. He took a deep breath and slid around to face her.
He gently rested his hand on her shoulder. “Look. I’ve said that I was sorry for the deception. I explained that your father was going to shoot me dead and I’ve explained all of the other…”
“I know!” She brushed his hand off. “I’ve been through hell this past week and then you just add to it by dumping all of this horrible new information on me. I—I can’t process it all.”
“Adriana, I know this has been a tremendous amount of crap that’s fallen into your lap, but let’s look at the things we can’t change. Your father is dead. We can’t change that. Your mother is dead and that’s not going to change either and the fact that it was your father that was responsible for that is something that you’re just going to have to live with. But, use that…use that as fuel to get you through this and do the things that need to be done to change what we can change.”
“The fact that an al Qaeda terrorist has a weapon of mass destruction and is planning on using it. You like to save lives, well, here’s your chance to save the lives of potentially thousands of people.”
She looked up and wiped away a tear. He was getting to her, he hoped.
“Do you want to be a part of that? Saving the lives of thousands?” he asked.
Blake grabbed a tissue and handed it to her.
She sniffled and nodded. “Yes.”
“I know you do. I don’t think you’ve forgiven me yet.”
She mumbled, “It’s hard. I’m trying, I really am.”
Blake reached out to touch her again. She let his hand stay this time.
“It’s going to take time, okay?”
Her tear reddened eyes stared into his. “Okay. I can do this.”
The bank was on Independencia Norte Street across from an old cathedral. Arched entranceways graced the front of the two story white stone building. The second story had a covered balcony that overlooked a park that was adjacent to the cathedral. There were children playing fútbol in the park and their laughter could be heard over the birds that were perched in the various trees that lined the street.
They sat outside the bank and went through what he wanted her to do a few more times until she felt comfortable.
Blake’s eyes shifted to two people parking their scooters outside a small café on the opposite side of the street. He turned back to her. “I’ve been thinking. With all of the banking regulations, I think telling them that you’re going to move ten million dollars is a bit suspicious. I think we should lower the amount to fifty thousand. It’s still a lot of money for down here and it will allow us to get the same result without all the fanfare.”
To lighten the serious mood that hung between them, Blake gave Adriana a wry smile. “You never know, if this goes well, there may be a future for you in Hollywood. I have connections, ya know?”
She replied in her best southern accent, “Well Mr. MacKay, I just may take you up on that.”
Blake laughed. “Yeah—just don’t use that accent.”
She playfully slapped him on the arm while she laughed. It was good to see her smile. All the information that she has had to absorb about her father and why he was killed must be overwhelming. Blake wondered how she really felt, deep inside. If there was any animosity toward him, she was certainly doing an excellent job of hiding it.
“Ready for this?” he asked.
“Let’s do it.”
Upon entering the Banco Nacional de Cuba they were greeted by an employee. “Buenas tardes, ¿Cómo estás?”
Adriana replied, “Good afternoon to you too, I am fine thank you.”
The banker then asked in English, “How may I be of service to you two this fine afternoon?” The banker was a short but stringy man; he had a mustache and thick dark hair on the sides, but was going for the “comb over of the year” award on top. Blake thought to himself to try and get a picture so he could throw it up on his alias’s Facebook page. His friends back at the agency would have a riot with this one. He wore a tan linen suit with light brown loafers, a white shirt and a brown tie. All that he was missing was the hat and monocle and he could pass for the Panama Jack guy.
“I have a sizeable amount of money that I would like to withdraw from another bank. I’ve been dissatisfied with their service. I’ve heard good things about your bank so I wanted to come and see what you could offer me,” she said.
“And how much are we talking about?”
“Fifty thousand dollars.”
Blake watched the facial expression on the banker and was pleased when he saw the man’s eyes widen.
The clap of his hands echoed in the marble clad lobby. “Please. Follow me to my office and we can get started.”
Blake was the last to enter the office. As he did, the little man turned and extended his hand. “Please sit. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Caesar Romero and I am the bank president.”
Blake suppressed a chuckle as he pictured the actor in costume that played The Joker in the 1960’s Batman TV series.
Mr. Romero asked, “Can I get you something to drink?”
He lightly tapped Adriana on the thigh and she said, “Yes, please. I would like a coffee black. No—on second thought, make that two sugars and one cream please and my assistant would like a coffee, two creams and one sugar.”
Mr. Romero walked out the door.
“Oh, Mr. Romero?” Adriana waited for him to come back.
“May I trouble you to also being me some information on various accounts that you offer and some history of the bank?”
“Certainly,” he said with a smile.
Mr. Romero left the room to get their coffee. “Cream and sugar? I’m not going to drink that swill,” Blake said.
“I know it, but I figured that might buy us an extra twenty seconds or so.”
Blake smiled. Good girl—but what’s this assistant shit?
He quickly left the chair and shuffled over to the banker’s terminal and started typing.
“Do you know what you’re doing?” She asked.
“Sort of. My degree is in computer science. Let’s just say for extracurricular fun, some friends and I learned a few tricks along the way.”
He kept typing. “Ever hear of the Cult of the Dead Cow?”
“No. What’s that?”
“It’s a group of what they say are the most elite hackers in the world. Anyway—a teammate of mine back in school—his father was one of the founding members. The kid could hack almost anything and his father was a hundred times more talented than he was.”
“That’s a weird name.”
“Well, whadaya expect from a weird bunch of guys. Ok, I’m in. Keep a lookout, will ya?”
Blake hacked into the part of the system that gave information on the safe deposit boxes while she stood up and kept a watchful eye down the hallway.
“Tell me more about this letter you got. Why did they say this box was on hold?”
“It didn’t go into details. Only that it was on hold pending an investigation. I suppose it is related to all of the illegal activities my father was doing.”
After clicking through a few layers, he found Adriana’s information and sure enough, in a red box with black letters it was telling them to “HOLD” the box and not let it be released.
“He’s coming,” she whispered.
“Think of something. Stall him. I need one more minute.” Blake took a deep breath and popped a few knuckles before placing them back on the keyboard. He could feel his shirt starting to stick to his back. Come on…
She went out the door and Blake could hear her say, “Mr. Romero, I’m so sorry. I forgot to tell you. My assistant needs decaffeinated coffee. Regular coffee makes him—twitchy.”
Adriana stepped back into the office. Blake gave her a look of disapproval. “So, not only am I your assistant, but now I’m twitchy?”
She smiled and took a sip of her coffee. Her nose crumbled up and her lips curled down.
Blake smirked at her look of disgust. That’s what you get for putting all that crap in there. He refocused on the screen and changed the status on the box from a red “HOLD” to a plain “Status OK.” He backed out of the system and darted back to his seat before “The Joker” came back in.
Mr. Romero stepped in his office and handed Blake his coffee. Adriana continued to choke hers down while Blake merely used his as a prop. The banker went over the multitude of accounts she could put her money in. When he was finally done, he asked her if she had any questions.
“Well, you’ve certainly been thorough Mr. Romero. I have a lot of information to look through. Please give me a day or two to process this information and I will get back to you.”
As they stood, Blake gave Adriana another tap to her thigh. “Oh, there is one more thing Mr. Romero. I have a safe deposit box here and I wanted to get something out of it. Could you get it for me please?”
“Certainly, can I have the number and your key?” Adriana wrote down the box number and handed him the key. He went around to his computer and checked the status and saw that everything was clear. Mr. Romero stood up and said, “Please follow me.”
Blake and Adriana exchanged a smile and followed Mr. Romero to the safe.
The safe was typical of one you’d find at any bank. They walked in and the banker used the bank’s key and Adriana’s key to unlock the box. He slid it out and handed to Adriana. They were escorted to a private room for their privacy. Inside the box was a small envelope containing no less than three dozen loose diamonds, a rose gold Patek Philippe watch, twenty-five thousand U.S. dollars in cash and a small black journal.
“This is the journal,” she said.
She gave the watch a glance then handed it to Blake. “Here. You can have this for me calling you twitchy.”
Blake loved watches and was somewhat of an aficionado. He examined the timepiece carefully. It was a triple-date split-second chronograph. “Adriana, this watch is worth at least a hundred and twenty thousand dollars. I can’t accept this.”
She turned to Blake and said, “You deposited ten million dollars into my organization’s account. I think you’ve bought it many times over. Besides, it was purchased with the money my father made from selling weapons. I don’t want it.”
Blake gladly accepted it and reminded her that they needed to hurry. “Look, since this box was on hold, we don’t know when someone might be here to try and get access to it. We need to get out of here now.” Blake and Adriana grabbed everything and put it in her purse. They gave the empty box back to the clerk, thanked them and left the bank.
On the way back to Javier’s, Adriana read through the journal while Blake drove. Adriana said, “I think I have something.”
“Ok, what did you find?”
“Apparently my father would pay off the coast guard so they wouldn’t stop certain ships coming or going. He has the names of the people that he paid off and the amounts.”
“That sounds about right. He probably kept those records in the event there might need to be some blackmailing in the future.”
“Hell yeah. That’s what I’d do. Always helps to have an ace up your sleeve.”
“There is a ship in here named the Angel van de zee that was here at the exact time al Hamwi was here.”
“That’s got to be it. Anything else?”
She looked through the book and said, “There doesn’t appear to be anything else. However, there are some codes on the next page.”
“Read them to me please?”
“BZI zero, zero, nine, nine, nine …”
“That’s fine, you don’t need to read me the rest of it. I know what it is.”
“I don’t. What kind of numbers are they?
“They’re Swiss bank account numbers out of Zurich. The ‘BZ’ is for Bank of Zurich. The ‘I’ is for an international account. I’ll need those for later, though. They just might lead to something. You know what they say—follow the money.”
Blake and Adriana pulled up to Javier’s and they went inside.
“Adriana, I need some privacy to call my boss.”
“In the back room.”
Blake hurried into the back room and prepared himself to call his boss. He knew he was in deep trouble, but hoped that this new intel would bring he and Mike out of the doghouse.