THIEF IN LAW

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Chapter 11

Thursday’s session at Feydor’s was a nightmare: long and arduous.

Graeme and Michael arrived together by cab after a long expensive trip to ensure they were not being followed. If Mike had to guess, he would put even money on the cops getting on them after the meeting at the pawn shop. The pair was ready to text back “9” to the rest just in case.

Feydor greeted them at the front door to the closed pawn shop with a growled, “You are late!”

“Fashionably, Michael agreed.

The pale man led them thru the deserted shop past the L shaped counter. They did not go to Feydor’s office, instead the fence opened a small door set behind the counter. The door revealed a long narrow staircase leading to the basement. Michael could feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand. The creaky wooden stairs were dimly lit by a bare bulb. Silence of the Lambs, much? he thought.

The stairs ended and a surprisingly large room opened on both sides of the staircase. Two more 75 watt ceiling outlets provided light as the room went left and right.

The walls were rough hewn stone and lined with boxes and shelves. The right side held two supporting metal columns and sitting in chairs and ass to ass on a small couch, ten men. All eyes looked at the three new arrivals. A curtain was hung across the back side of this portion of the room

Mike swiveled his head to the left to see more boxes and the furnace set. Ancient and industrial, it was huge. A door set into the far wall told him that the alley way had an entrance down here. Interesting.

The men approached the group on the right. One of the men, Victor Lubchenko rose and silently joined them at a glance from the fence.

Without a word, the fence led them back to the curtained off wall. The pushed aside blanket reveled another door which Fey opened and turned on the interior light in the new room.

This room was much smaller as it only held three chairs and a desk. The far wall had yet another door as did the left side wall.

Fuck! How big is this basement? Maybe they should look for Jimmy Hoffa in here, Mike thought.

Mike went to the desk and Graeme started setting up his equipment along the right side wall. A folding tripod became a white screen and the case he schlepped in produced a video camera and still unit, both on supports. Davidson arranged the forms and papers neatly on the desk. Plenty of pens and pencils ready to be used.

The Irishman put two chairs on one side and the third as an interviewee spot and Feydor and Demetry’s Lieutenant chaffed at the wait.

As Graeme took a few shots to test the camera, the capo had had enough. ’What is that for”?

“Viktor, do you know the foreign worker visa requirements for the United Arab Emirates? How about what an Omani drivers license looks like? Any clue as to how long the tourist visa for the UK will last?”

The man blinked owlishly at the rapid fire series of questions for which he had no answer.

“Shut the fuck up and let me work,” Mike nodded coldly.

That remark brought a reaction from Slutskaya. No one talked to them that way!

The man started to say something.

“Why are you still here?” Davidson watched him as he asked the question, voice hard. The fence spluttered.

“We can pack up and I can tell Demetry we can’t go forward because you have your panties in a bunch. Okay fence?”

The men watched the Russian swallow his comeback. Such was his fear of Demetry and his knowledge that only Michael and his crew could pull this job off, it made him weak.

Victor’s eyes tracked Feydor as he left the room. He shifted back to the two gang members and nodded.

Graeme smiled at him and told him to call in his first man.

“Oleg!”

The new arrival swaggered in. Young at 24 he was blonde and square jawed. A crew cut emphasized his knobby round head. The blue eyes and the muscles on his 6’ 1” frame gave him an air of power. The neck tattoo’s and the sneer told of his menace.

Graeme grinned at the kid and positioned him in front of the screen. “We need to take pictures of you for your new ID.”

Oleg complied.

“Smile, this is not a mug shot!”

The third generation Russian american laughed back. Graeme sat him down after he was finished with a “Thats good- thanks.”

“Where you from, friend?”

“Odessa by the sea”, the young man said proudly.

Graeme and everyone laughed at the reference to the Brighton beach area of Brooklyn that held a lot of Russian immigrants.

“Love it! Graeme told him. “You married?”

“Nah. No one can pin me down!” the boy bragged.

Graeme nodded along. “I bet you get a lot of tail though, huh?”

A falsely modest nod and a laugh. “Yeah, I get a bit.”

“You like to party?”

Again the laugh, this time with everyone’s added in. The boy responded with “I do a little.”

“A little?, Graeme scoffed. “I bet you rock it every night!”

More laughter among friends. The boy relaxed. Hey these guys were cool. Not like Viktor said.

“I do my share.” The man did not want to deny his prowess- what was the sense? “I can drink and do blow all day and fuck all night!” He finally relented and admitted to his greatness. More laughter from the others as he bragged on. “I’m perfect for whatever job you guys want to do. Whatever you need. I’ll kill anyone who gets in our way!”

The boy was amped up and rolling now. “One time, I jacked this lady…I was so high on meth, I…”

“Oleg!”

Viktor’s shout cut off the boy and the laughter.

Michael and Graeme waited while the capo took the young man outside. He returned ten minutes later.

’I sent three others home. I made some calls-better candidates will be here soon. You can talk to Joey and Popper- Samuel, he told the men, in the mean time.”

Point made.

The real work candidates started showing up and the men got into the task of finding the right help.

“You have any food allergies?” Graeme asked a thirty five year old man.

Viktor shot a look at Mike who sighed.

“We are going to have these guys cooped up in a house for a long time. A house or place which we will stock with food so they don’t have to go out and call attention to themselves. I need to know if Samuel here is allergic to shellfish.”

The Lieutenant goggled at the detail.

More detailed questions followed to the men: Can you drive a truck? Do you play video games? Any back problems?

Over the hours Viktor was joined by Anton and Sergei the other two crew leads in Demetry’s organization. The new men became wary of the gang members, unsure of positions as soon as they saw Viktor be cowed.

The group worked thru lunch and then dinner. Each time Fey was ordered to provide food. The greasy meals were his petty revenge.

By ten that night 53 men had been whittled down to 17 decent candidates. By and large they were older more stable members of the brotherhood. Dumb crooks, most of them, but under a veneer of control.

“All twenty of us in one house?”, Sergei asked near the end.

Michael shrugged, “Depends on what we can find and arrange. Why, you think thats going to be a problem? You three will be there to keep the peace.”

The compact Russian eyed the Thief in Law. “Maybe Popper-Samuel- don’t like Joey so well.”

Groans came from the two gang members. “That would have been helpful three hours ago,” Mike said. “Any other things we should know about?” “And I mean everything- Who’s afraid of heights, who’s mother is sick, all of it”

Another two hours of discussions did not change the lineup, it just set some rules: Joey and Popper were not on the same team. Leo was a kleptomaniac and Pavel and two other were vegetarians.

The men left the pawn shop after midnight in an Uber. The long winding route back to the hotel was boring but safe.

“How is Rick coming with the bulldozer?” He asked in the back of car with Graeme.

“He’s good. Training is complete and he needs some work in the middle east but he is ready,” the Irishman responded.

Jesus, this was complicated!

“You don’t look so good, shammer.”

’Shut the fuck up, please.”

He needed to be miserable for a while.

Tuesday’s American Airlines flight to London was as nervous as he’d been starting a job in long long time. Even the first heist he’d every pulled off, the bank in Ft. Collins, Colorado, was less panicky than this. And he was a kid when that happened.

Mike kept looking for O’Rourke or the feds to jump out of no where and arrest him. Did the cops talk to Sydney? Did she squeal on him? Obviously not. He was sitting in business class on this plane and not in a jail somewhere.

He’d spotted the three Bratva lieutenants when he boarded. Sitting in coach, Anton had even waved at him as he went on back.

Christ!

This cluster fuck was all Demetry’s fault. He’d insisted that, “His men be involved in every aspect of these jobs.”

Michael came close to losing his cool. “Mr. Roybokov I can not work this way. I’m not ready to house them in Dubai and I haven’t briefed them.”

“They can go to London and help you there.”

The puzzle box changed a face and he had to plan on contingencies. They set the three stooges, as the gang referred to them, on the JFK to London flight with Mike. Graeme was on the early Dulles flight, while Rick was heading out of Logan. Gretchen and Ira followed tomorrow out of Canada.

Mike had raged at the gang for an solid hour back at the Extended stay over the circumstances. The rest recognized it for the stress release it was. He finally calmed and realized this might not be such a bad thing. They needed fall guys for London, fine. These idiots looked perfect for the job.

Davidson gave the three men as little information as he could get away with: “Bring your own passports. Here is the flight number, airline and time and hotel reservation. “I’ll call you when I’m ready for you.”

That evening, sitting in the Canbridge Gate flat with a glass of vodka in his hand, Davidson called Viktor’s room at the Holiday Inn.

“Hey.”

“You asshole! Heathrow security pulled me in for three hours!”

“Really? Why?”

“They said I looked suspicious. I couldn’t answer some questions they had about why I was in England!”

“Yeah- British customs uses an Israeli style questioning method for inbound passengers. Anyone who can’t rattle off why they are here and where they are staying, get’s put thru the ringer.”

“You could have told us you dick!”

Davidson had had about enough. ’Demetry said take you, I took you. I did not have the time to brief you properly. If you are mad, he is the one you should take it up with.”

Silence other than heavy breathing on the line reigned. Russian mobsters needed constant reminders of who was in charge, Mike was realizing.

“If you think London was hard, wait till we get to Dubai. Any idiot can go to London for a week. For now, I want you three to take in the sights. I mean that literally. Go to the museums, the Palace, visit a pub.”

“What, why?’ Viktor was confused. A seemingly permanent state for the mobster.

Sighing Davidson patiently explained. “Because one of the exit questions is- What did you think of the British Museum and do you like the open courtyard?”

“Who gives a fuck what the courtyard looks like?” more anger from the man.

“You do, you idiot! Tourists visit the British museum and marvel at the glass enclosed courtyard, while terrorists and thieves don’t have the right answer and get searched!”

“Oh”

Fuck me!

So you three will sit in the Holiday Inn and play tourist. And wait on my phone call Monday morning. I will have a job for you on Monday night.”

“Okay.”

“And Viktor? Tell the other two to not even think about getting drunk and calling in a hooker. I want you three off the radar.”

“Okay, Mike.” The answer was not as grudging as it could have been. The Russian hung up the phone.

Graeme looked up from the couch across from Mike. He’d arrived an hour ago. “Job?”

“Yeah, Let’s put them in the vests Monday night when we go into the tunnel.”

Donniger grinned. “They’ll fuck it up.”

“I’m counting on that a little.”

Monday the 12th of January saw England reasonably cleaned up from winter storm Ili. The huge wind and rain storm had lashed the country and poured buckets. It was really a northern hurricane as winds hit 120 mph in Scotland and Northern England. London got the rain and the headaches.

But by Monday the storm had swept on to the continent and Russia and life was returning to normal.

The gang spent the preceding days prepping for their trip into the tunnels. Paperwork was filled out but equipment needed to be purchased and transportation arranged. The storage box bulged with new gear.

Gretchen was none to please to have to generate three new sets of Sutton electronics ID badges for the Russians.

“You think this is easy!” she flashed at Mike. These are going to be pretty crude.”

He soothed her but did not tell her he wanted them to be a little suspect.

’Ira?”

He called to the rest of the group looking over the detailed tunnel plans.

Levinson glanced at Mike from the drawing. ’I need at least two hours to trace the lines and install.”

All five of them bent heads over the drawings. The table at GranGate held the electrical utility tunnel drawing with the Lloyds stuff next to it. The drawings were detailed and technical They showed tie points, the main trunk and other items for the alarm lines. What it did not show was reality.

Experience had taught the gang was that any construction drawings did not always reflect the reality of a build. Especially in an old utility tunnel in a major city. Things that weren’t there were shown on the drawings: support posts, brackets, isolation points, clean outs. Lots of things. Conversely, things that were not on the drawings actually were physically present in the tunnel. Small things like whole pipes and systems could exist in real life and not on the drawing.

Thats why they’d gone in before and why they needed another two or three trips to complete the task. This alarm system was a critical tent pole in the job. It had to be isolated or neutralized. Period.

The goal for Monday night was to see if they could isolate the Hatton Gardens alarm signal from the maze of lines coming thru the cable bundle from all the other Greville street businesses. An old school, hard wired line like this was harder to spoof, but not impossible.

Ira possessed the necessary gear and now he also had Graeme and Rick as workers, not just Mike. Had them because Sergei and his friends would be topside holding the signs and exposing themselves. Gretchen was scheduled to drive the van and shuttle tools and gear. He wanted her able to bolt if something went wrong. That made Ira feel better.

The knock on the door caused heads to whip around. Skittish- all of them.

“That’s them, Rick said and went to the door. He let the capos into the flat.

Anton Kusnetsov looked around at the living room and the kitchen of the flat and said, ’what the fuck?” The short rotund man did not like the disparity in accommodations it seemed.

Mike needed to teach yet another lesson. “I had to get whatever was available for you because I had no idea you were coming on this trip. If you want a better hotel room, I would suggest the Four Seasons over on Park Lane. Rooms run about 1700 pounds a night.”

“I’ve only got thirty five pounds left!”

Mike pounced. “And why is that Anton? Huh? Because Demetry sent you out here to spy on us without regard for what you’d be doing. Look at Viktor and the airport.”

All three looked thoughtful which did not match them at all.

’I planned to brief all of you on the operation and the customs part of it, give you cover ID’s and Dubai money while setting up everyone with a place to live.” He breathed heavily to calm himself.

“I will still do that for the rest but now we are going to have to come up with a different plan for the three of you.”

Exchanging glances the three outsiders looked at the gang leader.

“I’m tired of doing this over and over. I’m the boss out here. I take care of my people!”

That seemed to penetrate the men. Stick applied, now he wanted the carrot dangled.

“Anton why do you only have 35 pounds left?”

“My card don’t work.” The man said defensively.

Mike gestured to Gretchen who came forward and handed each of the three an envelope.

“That’s 2,000 GBP in smaller bills”, he told the men.

By the way the other two clutched the money, Mike knew they were broke as well.

Gangsters.

He’d seen it before. They ate meals at Demetry’s restaurants. Clothes fell of trucks. Cars appeared. Wives took care of mundane things. These guys can’t function in the real world.

“Your cards have to be connected to the bank system here.” He detailed the “star” symbol and how they would have to target the ATM’s accordingly.

“Dubai is even worse.”

Another gesture and Rick stepped forward. ’Rick is going to take you to a department store to get some clothes for tonight.”

“What are we doing tonight?” Sergei asked mildly.

“Standing around our work sight, holding a caution sign looking bored.” Mike said this slowly and sincerely waiting for the challenge.

Everyone watched the capos. The five gang members waited. The Bratva guys looked at each other and then finally at Sergei. A million questions and objections wanted to come out, they all knew, but the man just smiled and said, “That sounds good.”

The pecking order might need to be established a few times, but once it was set, the brotherhood fell in line.

The room in general relaxed. Mike said to Rick, “set them up with Oyster cards too. 50 quid.”

Still more goodies needed to be given out. Davidson gestured to Gretchen again and she brought forth the badges from Sutton Electronics and a cell phone.

By unspoken knowledge she handed it to Sergei Tikanov. The man pocketed it without a thought or a question. The thin, wiry Russian moved with controlled economical motions.

So he was in charge. Good to know, Mike thought.

“That phone only had one number preprogrammed. Me. Only use it to tell me you have been hit by a bus.”

Even gangsters chuckle at jokes.

“If you get a “9” text, just the number 9, go straight to the airport and go home. Tell Demetry we are arrested or dead.” Mike related this to the guys.

As Rick gathered his charges for their shopping trip, Mike had one last bit for them. “Be at the Farrington tube stop in your new clothes, with badges at midnight. Sober and rested.” ’I will brief you on the job in the van.”

The four men departed and the Russians were reasonably happy now.

“Jesus,” Graeme intoned.

“Yeah, tell me about it. The thing is to let them interface with the cops tonight.” Mike told the others and they spent a few minutes going over what the plan was.

Hours later the storm still had the pavement wet and a foot of water greeted the gang as the man hole cover was opened. Lots of interesting things floating in there,I’ll bet, Gretchen thought looking down. She wasn’t the only one.

Sergei and pals were arrayed topside with hard hats, yellow vests and shiny new work boots looking sharp. The entrance to the utility tunnel was an access man hole in the middle of Greville street, near the safe deposit box company. Since both roads were major thoroughfares the police were interested in the goings on this time.

They had been since the van pulled up and parked. Paperwork was checked and “Sutton Electronics” was vetted. At least in the form of checking with the metro utility people to ensure the form was valid. Since it was, Mike held a full brief topside.

He even had a checklist. “Don’t hassle the drivers! The Metropolitan police…” he waited until the nice officer supplied his name.

“Robert.”

“Robert will deal with any problems, okay?”

Down into the opening went people, tools and strings of lights. The van had a nice power connection to run the string. British efficiency on display.

Ira immediately scurried down the tunnel towards the “T” with Hatton Gardens. Since it was 200 yds from the opening, the string of lights ran out after 20 yards. Headlamps and torches took over.

Mike, Graeme, and Rick ferried the equipment after the electronics wizard.

The “T” did indeed have the access plate the drawing indicated. Gretchen stayed near the opening in case the cops or the Russians had an issue but the rest concentrated on the work.

The plate gave way and exposed 200 individual wires running in the bundle. The data lines were all white in color in the headlamp glare.

Ira muttered to himself as he worked. He kept clipping a multi meter around the individual wire and grumbling. Little colored flags got wrapped around the wires after the results were read.

’Same scheme?”, Graeme asked.

“Yeah- green for alarm, red for status, black for backup and white for ground.”

Mike shifted. ’I want Rick to see this.”

The men jockeyed around so that the protégée could see what was going on. If anyone in this world could isolate the Hatton Garden line from this mess it was Ira.

“Have him explain it to you, he is the best in the business,” Mike told the younger man.

Ira continued checking and marking wires with the flags. ’These old school systems are tricky. They have a separate wire for the alarm and another one for the status…”

“Status?” Rick interrupted.

’Yeah. With modern alarms it is not as simple as open or shut. Alarm or not. You have to have an alarm status that tells you it really is an alarm condition.”

Rick did not understand.

“Look at the vault door. You can’t just have an signal that says ’Door open, alarm”. What happens when the door is opened to allow merchandise to come in and out?” So the status signal will act as a blanking pulse to tell the system it is not actually and alarm.”

Ira waited for the inevitable question.

’Can’t we just set the status line to active to blank out the alarms?”

“Nope- companies are smarter than that. If a status line has been active too long- and the time varies- that in and of itself is an alarm condition.”

Rick could understand that.

“It gets even better. Most of these systems have a test signal that will set the status line and then deliberately cause an alarm condition to ensure it is working properly. No test signal and no test alarm- boom- thats a different alarm.”

Okay.

“On the digital signals it is easier to tap in to a multiplexor and read the overnight alarm signals. Then all you have to do is loop it back against itself for 8 or 12 hours and

“Boom”, came from Graeme, Mike and Ira together.

’You have access to the vault,” Levinson finished up with a grin.

’Where did you learn all this”, Rick asked, fascinated.

“He used to work for the alarm companies, naturally, shammer!” Donniger announced with glee.

“Not since Y2K,” the 40 ish man told Sanderson.

“Y2K?

Mike explained. “People freaked in 1999 because “999” was an emergency shut down signal in old operating code.” “Nobody knew if the 1999 date was going to cause things to shutdown.”

“Things?”

“Yeah! ATM’s, Air traffic radar systems, the power grid.” “People thought it was going to be Armageddon.”

The millennial could not believe it. “How could anyone be that dumb?”

Ira laughed. ’Kid, never underestimate how stupid people can be.” “Anyway, everyone and their mother wanted their system tested.”

’And a lot of it fell to me.”

Ira paused while getting more flags. “I got tired and I finally figured out how easy some of these systems are to spoof. So I got the idea to…”

“Branch out?” Graeme helped out.

“Apply my talents in a different direction,” Ira corrected.

“Oh! You mean like to take your talents to South Beach!” Rick crowed.

“Huh?”

After that it was just drudgery. Ira isolated the groups of wires he would need to monitor and attached clips around groups of the data lines. Those fed to a meter which in turn fed a small laptop. The whole mess needed to be secured safely in the overhead. The ever present duct tape took care of that need.

’How much data will you need,” Rick asked as they stowed and taped it all.

“Three weeks plus would be best. I can get by with less but I may have to force the system in some ways if we don’t get the full run.”

Mike clapped Rick on the shoulder. “There are some things we can do to help.” The man looked at the boss and waited.

’We need to keep detailed records of the opening and closing times on the businesses around here to allow Ira to correlate the signals with certain establishments.” Mike told him.

“Okay!”

The four men retreated back down the tunnel and reached Gretchen waiting at the bottom. “No issues,” Ira reported in. She smiled.

’We are fine too”, Graeme groused.

The others smiled and all emerged into the London night to find the Bratva and the Bobbies all jovial together.

’Wrap it up!” Mike announced and the tools and vests went back into the van. Davidson had the cop sign his checklist form. “Sutton pays us eight straight hours for this but they like to know how long the jobs actually take.”

He felt it was these little touches that made them blend in so well. Robert was happy to oblige.

’We might have to go in again, depending,” he told the man setting the stage.

“Not my call, sir, the man told him and they all moved off.

The Bratva went back to the tube stop while the gang got into the van for the short ride to the storage unit. Mike left the Russians with this directive “Stay out of trouble, I’ll call you in a couple of days to figure out how to get you over to Dubai.”

The good thing about thieving is that it usually requires a ton of concentration. Work and concentration are very helpful in getting over a bad breakup. He did not dwell on Sydney all day, everyday. He didn’t work at it constantly, like a tongue probing a sore tooth, unable to stop himself.

Instead, it was random, hit and run kind of a situation.

Davidson spent days, along with the rest of them, watching Hatton Gardens and the diamond shops along Grevielle street. They developed a pattern. Rise early, stake out prime spots to watch the openings. Then breakfast and go into the shops to see if the vaults opened at different times.

There were exceptions. For instance Mike was casually in this diamond shop that did the unthinkable: it opened at half 8. As such he was wondering around the shop, dressed in his rapidly deteriorating suit and an overcoat against the chill, waiting for the safety deposit box company to open.

The lovely saleswoman would occasionally say something or do something that reminded him of Sydney and the pain and regret would come flooding back.

Never should have gone to that dinner, he thought again.

“Can I help you with anything?” The pretty blonde asked with just the right hint of “anything”. The well dressed american was handsome and trim.

The smile back never reached his eyes. “Just browsing, thanks.”

A check of his phone for the time and he went outside to watch the workers rolling back gates and shutters to open the stores.

Pretending to text something was a great way to note times and places. Not that he needed to. His memory could have rattled off who did what for Ira just as well.

Job completed, he strolled with apparent ease down the block to The Oasis.

The breakfast place served as the gangs meet point while data was transferred to Ira.

All eight of them commanded a large table in the corner of the place. They’d been generous tippers over the week so taking up the spot for an hour a day was no problem. Mike let everyone relay data to Ira who had it all on his phablet, ready to look at when he retrieved the laptop.

“I hope you all have enjoyed your time in England but we need to move on,” He told assembled men and the one woman. ’Dubai in two days.”

The Russians all looked eager. The past days had them more tractable and now they only asked irritating questions, not challenging ones.

Donniger stepped up to layout their route to the middle east: “London to New York, to London to Dubai.”

“What? Why can’t we just go straight to Dubai?” Sergei asked.

“Because Sergei, Anton and Viktor are in England on tourist visa’s. We need James, Patrick and Richard in Dubai on our related work visa.” He said this slipping envelopes to the three men, which contained their new ID’s for the middle east. “You can’t overstay your visit time in the UK. It is six months, but its a zero sum game: One in and one out. You just can’t fly in as one guy and fly out as someone else. It raises way way way to many red flags with the authorities when they see that guy “X” is still somewhere in the country when he should not be.”

“Thats when they start asking questions about you, and putting notices to the airlines to track you,” Gretchen added.

“Once you are back in the states, the counter is reset and you can fly right back out as theses guys, Graeme said motioning to the packets.

More interesting stuff flowed to Demetry’s men. Flight itineraries, hotel reservations, Work authorization forms, fake drivers licenses, ATM cards from Vulcan Enterprises. 20,000 AED- United Arab Emirates money. And maybe most critically, some pages of research info on customs and etiquette in an arab country.

As Sergei looked over the sum of things that Davidson’s people had given him, and he grudged a comment. ’Very thorough.”

This was another level for the capo. They just did not do things like this. Strong arming shop keepers, running girls, gambling, drugs, those were his areas. This was some CIA type shit that was above his pay grade.

“Please make sure you read and understand what is in that packet, Donniger went on. “Number 1 item is not to drink alcohol in public. Like on a beach or in a park,” he told them. This was his show as he was in the lead position for Dubai.

Everyone took some time to familiarize themselves with the basics when Sergei said, “What if we have a problem and miss our flight to Dubai?”

“You should be good to go, it is a seven hour layover. However, if a problem arises think like a business man. Go to the airlines customer service counter and rebook. You have a fully changeable, refundable ticket so that won’t be a problem.” “Mikey and I will be on the same flight but do NOT acknowledge us!”

The Irishman gave way to Gretchen. She was the travel agent for the group. ’We have you booked into the Marriott in Dubai city. You all are taking a van into the city, so hook up at the island outside the arriving passenger lower level.” She spent some time going over the procedure for the men.

Graeme took back his talking stick. ’Current plan is to have you guys scout out the area where we are going to get rooms for everyone. Then we bring in the groups and start training.” We will need you to stock the place with food and water and stuff for the rest of the men.”

Nods answered from the Russians.

Everything looked set. The capo’s actually bid them goodbye and left the restaurant. Anton told the others he was going to miss beans for breakfast.

Mike paused watching the people on the sidewalk. People bustled by getting to work or going about their day. The stooges moved off talking amongst themselves.

The remaining gang members finished up their own business back inside.

Mike listed to do items. “You three have to retrieve that monitoring gear. The work form should be in the post today or tomorrow. We target the 24th, Ira?” he said pausing to confirm with Levinson.

“Yeah, Mike. That should give me enough data to correlate and isolate from there.” Rick, Gretchen and Ira were going back in alone to gather the gear. No big setup, just ten, twenty minutes inside and back out.

’Good. Graeme please check in with Trev and the swiss again vis a vis the site meeting and the gold shipment.” The Irishman nodded while Rick snickered.

’Vis a vis?”

’Laugh it up, kid. You get the shit job over the next days. I need to know every person who goes into and out of the Hatton gardens building. Especially the workers in the back.”

“Ahh, Mike thats gonna be so boring!”

’Yep, and we have to have that information. We know they have renovations starting on the place. That is going to be our cover and entry point, posing as workmen, so…”

’So I have to know who the lead supervisor is, when he is on site, who his subordinates are and what is going on,” Rick finished up for him.

The four others smiled at this statement. Proud parents as the golden child aced the spelling bee.

“Things all set with the fractional?” Mike asked Gretchen.

’Yes, Sir!” she was bit peeved.

The men were using the private jet to buy themselves a few hours of time in New York to deal with the mountain of paperwork Mike was sure was awaiting them at the mail drop. He was sure some forms from the lawyers were in there, not to mention all the fake W-2’s.

Even prepping for the biggest jobs of their lives, taxes had to be paid because the universe demanded order.

Davidson was deathly afraid of the IRS. Ask Al Capone or Wesley Snipes if the IRS messes around? he always told people.

’You can use the jet next week when you guys get to the middle east,” he told the other three. That made Ira happy. Besides they were only using it to New York. He and Graeme were catching the same outbound flight as the Russians. They wanted to avoid issues. Well he knew there would be some but any they could avoid now…

The gang left the Oasis. None of the five saw the youngish man at the counter watching them The bland looking thirty five year old was perfectly dressed and blended like a chameleon. The large window gave off a perfect reflection and allowed him to watch the gang without looking directly at them. He’d overheard some things. The movements of these people were very important to his superiors. He needed to report in.

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