He did. A two hour nap restored some of his brain function. A text to Sydney to set up a 7:00 pm date at her house. “Work is interfering. Your place 7”
Her “K” reply was quick.
He hoped a run would clear his fog. He kept it simple. Right out of the hotel and another right onto New York Avenue. He kept going until the road unceremoniously ended at a 24 hr Fitness. Every step pounded into his head: had to, had to, had to. He ran back, winded but feeling sharper.
The hours before returning home were a blur of lawyers and accountants trying to prepare for the future. And dreading the future.
Michael Davidson pulled the Audi into his garage and did not go in the house. He had everything he would need. The dark and cold was forbidding on the eve of the most joyous holiday on the christian calendar. He walked next door steeling himself for the confrontation.
She opened the door with puffy eyes. The house was a chaotic mess from the remodel. The hug was tight and she clung to him.
“Hey yourself. Did you talk to work?”
“Yeah, its quiet, no problems?” What’s going on?” she sensed his unease.
“Sydney, lets sit and talk.”
They moved over to the couch which puffed dust as they sat. Rubble dominated the sitting room.
“What’s wrong?” Concern now shifted to him instead of Mary.
He took a deep breath and looked at her. Well, not at her. He looked at a point past her ear. Looking directly at her deep blue eyes was tough and more than he could do right now.
’Honey, I haven’t been honest with you.” He blew out the rest of the breath and flicked his eyes to see the puzzlement on her face.
“I’m not in the oil and gas industry. I’m involved with something illegal.”
Another glance and her eyes showed worry with a hint of anger and a hint of “I knew it!”
’And I think that is what got Mary killed.” He got that out before she could interrupt. His statement stopped her in her tracks and she needed a second to process. The transformation on her face went from puzzlement and confusion to revulsion and horror.
’What? How?!?” came out in a shocked strangle.
He shifted on the couch and tried to look past her again to get past it but his gaze settled on her face. Another mental snap shot. Not that he wanted to but he could not help himself. He needed to remember this to help him the next time he wanted to get involved with a civilian.
“I think some guys were looking to get information about my activities and she interrupted them. They killed her for it.”
She recoiled and sobbed a bit. “None of it was true?” she asked disjointedly.
His turn to recoil. “The feeling was true, just everything else was… He willed himself to continue. Had to.
’Sydney, I’m sorry. But you need to understand this: you could be in danger.”
The slap came out of nowhere and it was out of character for her. “You bastard!”
Mike grabbed both her wrists and she struggled to get free and whack him again.
’Let me go!”
He did that but said sharply, ’Listen!” ’Mary’s killers are still out there and you could be in danger!”
Her eyes watered again but no tears came now as she took some breaths and calmed a little. His face burned where she’d struck him and he matched her breathing, similarly to when they ran together. Davidson did not miss the irony in that.
’I could call the police,” she started.
“O’Rourke could never catch me, he started with a touch of arrogance. “Besides which Mary’s killers might be cops,” he said it directly so it penetrated. ’Don’t trust the police.”
Maybe the wrong tactic to mention trust to her at this particular time.
“I should trust you? What are you involved in?”
He started to lie. Started to give her the rehearsed speech about white collar embezzlement when he looked into those eye’s again. Those beauties became truth agents as he admitted, “I’m a thief. And a good one.”
The damn burst and the story poured out. All of it. College, Graeme and Las Vegas. Kings Bay. The early jobs. The high end stuff. He emphasized Demetry and Russian Brother hood.
“This is the FBI versus the Russian mob and the people in the middle are going to get killed. Syd you have to be careful.” He finished, voice a little raw after ten cathartic minutes talking. It felt strangely good to have it out in the open.
For her part Sydney admitted to being alternately fascinated and horrified with what he was telling her. She told Mike she was glad to have her nagging suspicion confirmed but could not process the magnitude of the situation. Suspected a hidden marriage. Maybe even kids someplace. Not a thief!
“I should go to the police,” she said again, sounding tired and defeated.
The honesty in that short request brought her back and up short. She looked at him on the couch. Searched his face for hints of lies.
She noted the nose peeling from his Hawaii burn. Two days ago when her life made sense. She remained silent because she had no response for him. At least one that would help in this situation.
“Please don’t look at me. I can’t think when you do that,” he complained.
Michael almost leaned in for a kiss. That won’t go well, he thought.
To cover he said, “Syd, I need some time. Time to work out my business and to get Mary’s killers.”
“Michael, you can’t beat the FBI and the Russian mob. You’ll end up in jail or dead.”
“No, I won’t. Not yet. Demetry needs me for the money and the cops are just on to me. Now that I’m in the database, my career is over. Please Syd. I need just a little time to do what I need.” he asked again. Not quite pleading. ’I need to know you are safe while I do what I have to to make this right.”
He had realized a bit ago that she was in some danger. He also knew the two cops trailing him, tweedle dee and tweedle dum, could not afford to be near the vicinity of a second killing. The feds might be dense but not that dense. Even the FBI will notice that there was a killing in a house belonging to a person they were watching. Two killings?
“Just don’t tell on me and watch yourself.”
He pulled an envelope out of his jacket. ’Watch the news. April,” he told her thrusting the envelope in her hands. “You’ll know when I make my move.” ’Take this to O’Rourke. Tell him everything.”
She stared at the envelope in her hands feeling thrown, hurt and angry. All of it turning her blood and feelings to lead.
’Sydney, I’m so sorry…” he said yet again.
’Is Michael Davidson your real name?” She asked point blank.
His heart froze. “No”, he admitted.
“Get the fuck out.” She said it softly and it went right through him.
That hurt. Michael stumbled out of the brownstone and on to the porch as a few flakes of snow fell. Fuck!
Mechanically, he called a cab and walked the three long blocks to the corner of Dekalb and Vanderbilt. The Brooklyn Public house lights shone bright in the dark night. He’d been inside a few times but not now. The cold dark wait outside a warm safe place was perfect for mood and situation.
Recriminations started in his head. I should have known. Should never had started up in the first place.
Unfortunately that was a rationalization for him. He could have never NOT started up with Sydney Devereaux. She drew him in like a magnet. Or a diamond. It wasn’t his fault!
But it was. All of it. Syd and Mary. The whole thing was his fault. Suddenly the bile and pain rose in his throat until he leaned over and vomited against the brick building.
It was mostly stomach acid and regret that came up. Thankfully no one was around to see him as he wiped his mouth and moved down to Romans’ the Italian joint next to the pub.
The cab ride back to the extended stay was silent which allowed him to think. Michael was never going to see Sydney again. Never set foot in his house again. Mary was gone. Buried in California today. He felt bad about that, knowing she was not in her beloved city.
Focus! He had a limited amount of time to setup Demetry before O’Rourke or the Feds started asking questions. Then it was across the pond to pull off two impossible heists and vanish. He had to compartmentalize and get out of the puzzle box.
He worked the phone. His mother. The time difference made it early afternoon there. She always picked up. Even blocked numbers. His mother was from another generation as far as the phone was concerned. And human interactions. She still wrote Thank you cards!
Barbara Davis was very disappointed. Her son Michael could not come home for the holidays. Work was making him sad, she could hear it in his voice. To top it off he was going to be very busy the next four months overseas. The middle east and the north sea.
’Be careful and call when you can.” “I love you dear.”
“Love you too, mom.”
The next days passed in a trudging blink. Michael and the crew stayed near their rooms exclusively. Food was delivered and the only outings were the mail runs and to a gun range.
The thieves spent at least two hours in the small gym at the hotel, daily. The exercise dulled the stress and allowed them all to lose weight. Even Ira toned up a little.
Michael ran with a purpose on the treadmill. That purpose being to so exhaust himself he could sleep. It even worked some nights.
January third saw the outside agency prelims finished on both jobs. The New Year was a non event as far as five grouchy people were concerned. They were ready to make the shift to England to continue the alarm line probing.
Forms allowing the gang another trip into the tunnels under Greville and Hatton Gardens streets were filled out with the municipal transportation office and the police all duly notified.
Dubai preps were also going well as the players focused. Gretchen had secured the thieves a villa on the palm. A house on palm Jumeriah Island that jutted from the city into the gulf was available at need for their activities.
She still had to find some place for the extra men to stay. That was proving more difficult. Dubai was a tricky place to house twenty foreigners. Not twenty simple construction workers, that could be done no problem. But when the men involved were gangsters and used to a certain “lifestyle” it proved problematic. Mike was very concerned that simple things were going to derail their job.
He hoped the new men realized that Dubai was not like visiting a European city. Rules and regulations can and did trip up visitors all the time. Simple things like drinking alcohol on the beach or asking a young unmarried woman to dance could result in a catastrophe.
He knew the event was coming where some Russian got drunk and flipped off a policeman. They put westerners in jail for that sort of thing. He also worried what the authorities would do if they knew the gang was going to rob them of 500 million in gold. Tortured and buried under the jail. If they were lucky.
The fourth was an unusually warm clear Monday. 48 whole degrees. The city bustled with everyone back at work and school from the holiday shut down. Mike knew Syd was going to the office today but did not want to dwell. Much anyway.
No choice but to deal with the cops and Demetry.
The cops were first on his list. Toweling off from his workout, he dialed from memory. He figured 9:15 am was a good time to catch the detective.
Sitting behind the desk of the “work area” in the hotel room, he pulled a face. He did not love this room.
Luckily for him the Lieutenant was at his desk doing paperwork. Very similar to what Mike and the gang had been doing this week. Thieves and cops hated paperwork. Funny. Each made it more complicated on the other.
“Lieutenant, this is Michael Davidson calling. About Mary Spack?” he phrased the question into the dead spot around his name.
“Yes, Mr. Davidson, I remember you, O’Rourke said. What can I do for you?” The gruff voice tried to be pleasant but it really conveyed, “why are you bothering me?”
“Well, I was wondering how the investigation into Mary’s death was proceeding?” “I’ve heard nothing in the news so…” He let it drop right there.
“Contrary to TV’s shows Mr. Davidson, homicide investigations take months.” The man sounded weary and determined in equal measures.
“I understand but I was wondering if any of our stolen items had turned up?” They’d discussed the route the investigation was going to take but Mike was on some shaky ground here. He had ulterior motives for bringing this up.
He could here the cop frown thru the phone. Would an oil field services tech know this?
The silence stretched. Just as Michael was going to be forced to say something else, O’Rourke said, “No, so far none of your items have turned up in the pawn shops.”
The opening was small. Delicately. It had to be done delicately.
“Oh. I was hoping maybe you’d found out who pawned my computer and who was responsible for Mary.” Just restating it in case the veteran homicide cop had missed something.
More probing. “Is it strange that nothing has turned up yet?”
This time the frown was verbalized into a grunt as O’Rourke mulled over what he’d said.
“It is possible they dumped the items to avoid us.”
“Oh! I didn’t know low level burglars were that rational about things.”
The kicker had been applied- now he had to wait.
The cop mad a chuffing noise in surprise. “Yeah, luckily for us- thieves tend not to think ahead.”
Holding his hand over the phone, Davidson exhaled. One down, one to go.
’Uh huh. Also, I know this maybe nothing but I was talking to Rod and James, the gay lawyers from down the block? Anyway we’ve both noticed a strange car parked on the street near our houses. A tan Crown Victoria. James said he only got part of the plate: “77”.
The investigator dutifully wrote that down. It was not unknown that witnesses would remember something incongruous but vital after the crime.
“Are you sure this isn’t a neighbors car?”
“No I’m not at all, Mike admitted. “I’ve only talked to the guys about this.”
He knew it was a mistake as soon as he said it.
O’Rourke pinned him to the wall. “Has Ms. Devereaux seen the car?”
More hand holding over the phone as he got up to pace. He’d talked to the neighbor lawyers to set this up but not Sydney. He had to say something.
“Uhh, no, no she hasn’t. We’ve had a bit of a falling out I’m afraid.”
“Really? Sorry to hear that.”
“Yes, Lieutenant, My job got in the way,” he said truthfully. And Davidson saw a way to turn the negative Sydney remark into a positive.
“In fact, Royal Dutch has me out of the country for a while.”
The cop was instantly on alert. “How will we be able to get ahold of you?”
He was ready. “Just leave a message on my machine. I check it religiously when I’m gone. I’ll call you back within 24 hrs.”
“What if we need to see you in person?”
“I’ll fly back home in that case,” he assured the man.
Michael had him on that. Davidson was not a suspect and the cop could not prevent him from leaving.
Time to wrap it up. “Well, thank you, Lieutenant. I’ve taken up too much of your time. Please let me know if anything breaks on Mary’s case.”
He hung up after receiving assurances from the man. Now we’ll see.
For his part, James O’Rourke hung up and instantly called Rodriguez. It took two hours for her to call him back. He sat the whole time thinking. The call bugged him. He’d been getting calls from Sydney Devereaux but they were the normal, upset, crying why aren’t you doing something variety. Davidson was different. Oh he would have his partner track down the Crown Vic and expand the pawn shops they were looking into but he wanted to do something else. He wanted a look at Michael Davidson.
Davidson stopped pacing and sat back down. He had another call to make. A much tougher one. But he had help on this one.
At 10:15 the cleaning crew was just finishing his room when Graeme walked in.
The latino crew was used to these guests hanging around while they worked. The rooms and the people were starting to get a little gamey in the maids opinion. They left the men to their devices.
“How are you shammer?” Graeme asked with concern.
“Okay,” The american allowed.
Why is it our lives are always in opposite directions? Graeme wondered. Whenever Mike was fine, I have women and gambling problems. Whenever my life is settled, his goes to shyte?
Well Sydney was Mikey’s burden to carry. Demetry we have together.
Davidson worked the numbers and put the phone on speaker while both men sat together on the couch. He waited on the head of the Brotherhood.
When the old man came on the phone his voice was hard. “Michael, Where have you been?”
“Hawaii for a while, sir and working lately,” Michael answered quickly. “I don’t know if you’ve heard sir, but my tenant was killed in a burglary while I was away.”
’What, I did not know this!”
Demetry might have been acting. Might be. He’d made his pronouncement to gage the man and see how he would react. He would like to know if the cops were acting on Roybokov’s behalf or the FBI or rouge. Davidson could not tell which was the case and he needed to know. Not much escaped the gangster or his people. The news announcement should have been enough to clue him in.
Michael skated out onto the thin ice to do what he had to do.
“I had to talk to the cops. I had to give them my DNA and fingerprints to let them process the crime scene.”
Both men in the shitty hotel room could hear the old man breathing on the line. Michael shot Graeme a look and touched his arm. Let Demetry speak first.
“This is terrible!” the Russian spat. Cold.
“Thank you, sir. Mary was a special lady and I will be dealing with whoever is responsible.” Davidson purposely misunderstood the reason it was terrible: Not that his crime career was over but the tragic death of a friend.
Roybokov made a noise that could be sympathy or something else.
That was as close as the two men would get to declaring war. Both might know it, but that was all they ever spoke on the subject.
“I’m not a suspect because I was out of town when it happened, so I’m clear of the cops. But we do need to speak about London and Dubai.” Davidson steered the conversation back to safe ground.
“Da,” the boss agreed.
“We’ve done more work on the jobs and both are still feasible. I will again brief you on London and Graeme is here to talk about the UAE.”
“Hello, Mr. Roybokov,” Graeme perked up.
“Da,” the crocodile said again.
Michael spent five minutes bringing Demetry up to speed on Hatton Gardens. Demetry was most interested in the shell corporations and how they would sell off the gems.
“Same as the Paris job. Fake invoices and bills of sale from estates and private individuals.” Sutton Geology will do the shipping and Vulcan Holding is registered as a wholesaler. I suspect, Anderson and Prometheus will have to get involved with Dubai as well. He paused to consider. “Sutton can ship the gold also from the middle east.”
“Do you want any of the stones for personal use?” he asked Roybokov.
“Only if they are larger matched stones. 10 to 20 carats.” Demetry growled and said, “we should be talking to Feydor as well.”
“Hold on, I will conference him in.”
The Bratva head was always secretly impressed by the uses of new technology. Computers, video conferencing, shell corporations were all knew to him. The arcane workings were beyond his capabilities and the people who did it were wizards, like Michael.
The surly fence was quickly on the line and straightened up as he realized the boss was with them. The three exchanged hello’s with the newcomer.
“Feydor, we intend to move most of the gold and platinum settings for any rings or necklaces thru you. We will add those gems to the loose stones from the sights. That way it helps hide the fact the stones are coming from DeBeers. I expect there to be coins and watches, too.”
“Ten percent tops. Say, 15 million” Mike told him. Slutskaya agreed with little grace. Mike had clued him in before and instead of acting like a professional, he wanted to bitch. They had all had this argument several times before over the years. Fey got mad every time he was reminded.
Michael rattled off routing numbers and bank accounts for the holding companies. He also directed the two men to sign some forms that gave certain powers of attorney to “officers” of other corporations. Both men grumbled about their exposure and the power that gave Mike.
“This is how money gets moved around in the post 9/11 world, he said tiredly. Tired of having this conversation- tired of it all. “We do it the same way every time. “Lufthansa, Great Northern, Harry Winston, even as far back as Forteazza!” The Thief in Law listed the gangs greatest hits. It was a not so subtle reminder that they were the best in the business.
One final knife into the fence. ’We do it the old way, you see 90 million in your pocket. My way- 140 or more.”
The answers came on top of each other. ’Fine”, from the boss and “Da”, from the underling.
“Dubai on the other hand is presenting a whole laundry list of problems, Michael shifted topics. “Graeme.”
The Irish spent twenty solid minutes on the gold heist bringing the boss up to speed.
“We should see 500 million.”
Greed radiated from the phone as Feydor and Roybokov salivated over all that gold. 2,000 per ounce?
Mike came back on to go over the shell companies again. More routing and more forms to fill out. None of the bitching this time as both men took the only preserver available to the drowning man. They would sign.
’Thats not all we need, Mr. Roybokov, Graeme reminded him. ’We have spoken about using your men.”
The boss had some thoughts about the men. “Viktor is assembling them for you.”
Mike took this one. “With all due respect to Viktor, he has no idea of our needs. Graeme and I want to choose them.”
Demetry objected and Feydor loyally supported him. ’We will tell you who to work with,” the fence said out of place. Mike ignored that and laid a hand on Graeme to let him handle it.
“Mr. Roybokov, no offense to you either but you don’t know what our requirements are. For instance- Can any of Viktor’s men drive a large truck?” Silence greeted this as neither man had any idea of the answer. “If they don’t- we need to train them and that takes time away from the other things we need to be working on.”
The silence that greeted this spoke volumes to Davidson. “I need to start with the basics, Pretty clean records, no visible tattoo’s, good english speakers. I can work down to any man we are forced to take.”
Even Demetry saw the rightness of this line of direction. “I will gladly take the crew captains: Viktor, Anton and Sergei, but I need smart as well as muscle on this one.” Michael gave the boss an out.
The bone to take the three capo’s would help Roybokov maintain the illusion of control. Davidson also agreed with Graeme that the main Lt’s from the Bratva would keep Demetry’s men more in line.
“Okay, Michael. When and where do you need these men?” Roybokov said.
They settled on Feydor’s place on three days. “Send fifty and I’ll take the top twenty. Passports or ID’s with them please,” Graeme instructed.
Grumbling from Feydor. He would take shit from Davidson maybe. The Irishman? No.
“Groups of ten starting at 8:00 am,” Michael interjected before the goings got heated. “We will need Victor and his mates on hand the whole time,” he told Demetry.
He thought that completed what they needed to talk about when Roybokov threw the curve.
“Michael, I want you to make another run to Luxembourg.”
Another currier job? What? Why now? What angle is he working? Michael could not find one and a glance at Graeme got a shrug.
“Certainly sir. We are going to be busy but not too bad. Same as last time? Will Nicholas be coming along?” He got that all out quickly.
“Da. Since you will be in London together I want you both to do this.”
“Do you have a time frame? He hoped it sounded light and also that Demetry would have them do it right away.
“I’m not sure yet my self. I have to meet Medvedev’s people sometime in late February maybe March. I will know then.”
That was a slip up! Davidson was sure Roybokov was not pleased to have divulged his business.
And the objection wanted to come out. To tell the man he could not do it in the middle of both jobs. Davidson bit back the retort and said, “That is going to be rough, sir.”
The chuckle was not warm or friendly. ’You will survive.” The mob boss clicked off.
“Feydor?” Graeme asked into the silence over the phone.
“Have coffee ready for us Thursday,” the Irish added lightly, then clicked the phone off.
Both thieves sat back on the cheap couch. Relieved and worried in the same amount. They talked about the call and what it meant. Most worrisome was the new currier job. Followed by Demetry. Followed by Dubai. Then London and then everything else in the world. Both men were exhausted.
’Check in with Trevor, Mike told Graeme. “Make sure the site is still on. “And get to Swiss customs. If the UAE is going to ship 16,000 lbs of gold out of the country they must have some idea what is going on.” Graeme nodded.
Mike conferred with the rest of his people. He told them, “four or five more days in this prison and we can get clear.”
And that was how he thought of this place, a prison. The small space and limited movement confined him. He tried not to dwell on Syd but he had no luck. He worked out to grind down his frustrations. The only good things about Extended stay America in Brooklyn? They did not get arrested and they all lost weight.