Must be getting used to it, Mike thought as he stepped out of the tube stop from the Heathrow Express into the drab weather of London. The abrupt change in weather was hardly noticeable. The Holburn circle station was near the CanBridge flat and he and Graeme were back to pickup the rest of his crew.
The Russians were near the airport and out of his hair for ten minutes which was a godsend.
Ira and Gretchen and Rick were ready for them and each had a report on the things they were working on.
Sanderson led off with good news. He’d gotten a detailed account of the people going in and out of the Hatton building doing the renovations. The lead supervisor, his crew leads and the workers all had brief write ups and even some pictures.
“Jesus, Rick this is fantastic!”
The man preened under the praise.
If Rick had the good, Ira had the so-so news.
’We got the monitoring gear back but the results are not so hot.” Levinson told the men that the alarm lines were not so easily spoofed. “It looks like sone of them are ganged and some are dummies.”
He gave a grudging compliment, “someone very smart came up with this system.”
The gang spent an hour working thru the puzzle box challenge. How can we mitigate? Can we bypass? Loop back information or false signals? They looked at everything.
More work with the Lloyds drawings and the schematics gave Ira a line on another way in: ’We are going to have to test some of it though, Mike.”
Levinson detailed how he wanted to work it and they incorporated that into the amount of work they had to do. Mike thought it was a good plan.
The bad news came from the woman. Gretchen Gonsolvo flipped a photograph onto the dining room table they all sat at while they worked. The grainy black and white head shot showed a youngish white guy who looked harmless enough. Faces stared.
“He’s been around.”
’Who is he?” Rick wondered aloud and that was the key question.
Private security, Flying Squad, maybe another of Demetry’s guys? At the this point we don’t know,” Mike said.
But he intended to rectify that situation. The gang and their two Russian charges were scheduled to go back to the states in a couple days. That gave them precious little time to find and perhaps deal with this new wild card.
“Ira- Suit up and find him. Follow him.”
Gretchen was the best at disguises in the gang but Ira could hold his own though. Mike wanted the electronics man on this because the guy had been tailing Gretchen it seemed.
Adjusting to circumstances was his specialty and Davidson made some adjustments.
’We come over on the fractional, he said to the group. I’ll coordinate with Feydor and Demetry and get the helpers in two groups like we said but we come over on the charter planes.”
“Mikey that is going to raise our profile in Dubai. Coupled with the big buy…” Graeme was worried.
“Can’t be helped.” He watched everyone struggle with the complexities. “I know it is a calculated risk, but its one I feel we have to take. I want to break pattern here and in Dubai. It might help us with the FBI and the Ministry.”
Two days later, Ira got lucky. The wig wearing man came in stripping off his beard and yelling, “Flying Squad!”
The long discussion that news prompted and the even longer one on how to respond led to a small play for the three stooges.
Waiting at the Heathrow private terminal for the jet to board, all seven of them resided in the passenger lounge. Mike drew Ira off a bit for a “quiet discussion.” It was one he knew Sergei would overhear.
“Ira, I can’t help it! If the robbery investigation division of Scotland yard is tailing us we have to move carefully!”
Mike let just that part slip and then he moved off with Levinson. The gang really did have a way to defeat the cop in London. Well, not defeat- more like neutralize. But he did not want the Russians to know that. And he wanted parts of the information to actually get back to Demetry.
By letting Sergei overhear that part, he knew that Demetry would know that his two tame policemen had put the gang on interpol and the Yard’s radar. That accomplished a few things he hoped. One, he hoped the cops and the FBI would concentrate on him, and two, he wanted Demetry to think he had another control rod over them.
Much more subtly, Mike knew that Sergei was coming to respect him. He approved of the way Mike handled business and his people. Demetry had undoubtedly order the three lieutenants to spy and report on the gang. Which they were doing.
The fuzzy bit came when trying to predict where the watching would end and the removing would begin. Any feelings of goodwill Sergei had for them would be helpful.
Money. It all came down to money for the Bratva leader. Mike knew Demetry would wait until the jobs were completed.
Sergei? Mike was hoping it was getting a little more complicated for the man. The capo knew Semilov was setup by Demetry. Sacrificed to the feds. He also knew that Demetry was feeding the feds info thru the cops on Mike’s activities. But! Davidson’s activities were Sergei’s activities!
Where did that line exist for the capo? The man brooded all the way over the ocean. The pressure on the gang seemed to ratchet up a notch at the same time.
Groundhog day found Davidson checking in to the JFK Hilton. Two scant days in NYC before he moved the groups to the middle east. The weather in New York was blah- mid forties and cloudy. The room matched the weather. His mood matched both. The gang was in nearby rooms with the Russians enjoying a brief stop at home.
An uber ride to the post office brought a mountain of mail and work. Forms, paper, bills, statements. Jesus Christ!
He had a goal for the day: Taxes. He had to get personal and business taxes done both fake and real. He made the lawyers and CPA’s come to him to work out the details and the forms.
His room looked like an explosion of paper. Twelve straight hours of work brought in the goal. Mike had the returns ready to keep his illusions going. This one might be the last fake one ever. No, probably not. A few more to transition to reality. His thoughts were dulled.
“Keep working on those fake receipts and invoices for the diamonds,” he told the Dogra brothers as they left.
The mental process bogging down was not helped by what little sleep he got that night. His dreams had prevented a restful night. Running. He’d run from things all night. Demetry. The cops. Sydney. Damn!
The hot shower was restorative early the next morning. The Dogra brothers had dropped off his returns early as well. They would electronically file them but they had the usual customer copies for him.
Per his normal routine, Mike checked his messages from his home machine. Five totally illegal robo calls and a kicker: “Mr. Davidson, this is Lt. O’Rourke. It is Jan 29th at 3:17 pm. We need you to contact us and come down to the station. We have some questions for you about the Spack case.”
Mind working furiously on the problem Davidson dialed Graeme. “It’s me. The cops want to see me about Mary’s case.”
The Irishman’s stomach drop could be heard thru the phone.
’What are you going to do shammer?”
What was he going to do. Run? Not ready yet. Bluff? What did the cops know and what did they suspect? He speculated.
“See what they want,” he told Graeme.
Davidson figured the crooked cops had finally cracked his computer and shifted some of that info to the feds as evidenced by the flying squad guy watching them. The info must have gotten to O’Rourke as well. But what exactly did that info give the homicide cop? Gave him his chat rooms and some messages.
O’Rourke was no dummy. He knew those were not innocuous messages. But, that didn’t prove he’d done something illegal.
He finally figured the chat session for a fishing expedition by the police.
Davidson called the others to have their phones ready and be able to move quickly however it went.
A deep breath and he called the man.
“Lt. O’Rourke this is Michael Davidson.”
“Yes Mr. Davidson, thank you for calling. Are you in the city, sir?” The cop probed immediately.
“Yes, I just got in from Dubai yesterday and checked my messages.”
The cop wanted him down at the station. “To answer some questions.”
“Certainly, Lt. Anything to catch Mary’s killers.”
The uber over was expensive. The station house was on Prince street. Davidson realized the gangs storage unit was only a few blocks away. Well, this was Brooklyn. Everything is a few blocks away from everything else.
The desk sergeant led him past the chaos of the cities crime battle. Debris, both people and paper, competing with each other to cause more of a mess.
The large homicide detective still looked as tired and disheveled as he’d done before. The man took him back to an interrogation room. “Quieter in here.”
Davidson avoided the “am I under arrest,” quip that wanted past his lips. Don’t give them any ideas, he told himself.
’When did you get back in the city?” O’Rourke asked.
“Last night? No two days ago. Sorry, jet lag is getting to me.” Davidson parried.
“Uh hum. Who do you work for, again?”
Here we go. ’I told you Lt. I am the sole employee/owner of Anderson Consulting. I do oil and gas field services on a limited contract for Royal Dutch Shell. RDS”, he added helpfully.
The cop took in the answer and asked several more questions about his business. Davidson knew the cop could have pulled some of his info but banking records took time. Phone records took less. And that was a rub for him. The gang used burner phones which caused a red flag. Davidson was sure there were NO phone records for him which was causing the cop some heart ache.
“Detective, this is my cell number”, he rattled off the phone he wanted to give him. It would show calls in Dubai and London just like he’d said.
’I use a charge as you go phone because it is easier to use in Europe and I don’t want to be tied to a huge plan and bill with my travel schedule.”
The answer was perfectly reasonable and correct and the cop thought it stunk to high heaven. Davidson could read that on his face.
“Look, here is my contract number and my contact at RDS. Check them.”
Michael rattled off the number and gave a business card to the man.
“O’Rourke glanced at the mirror in the room and Detective Rodriguez came in and took the card and left again.
While he continued to fence with O’Rourke, Davidson knew Rodriguez would be checking.
Again his detailed preparedness saved his ass.
The latino woman called the number and Ira answered. ’RDS, Human Resources, How can I help you?”
She explained who she was and what she wanted.
Ira faked confusion. “I’m not sure if you want Human Resources, Contracts or our Legal department. I’m going to start you with my boss, Ms. Lawrence.”
Jen Lawrence, aka Gretchen, got on the line.
After the question she came with the pre arranged speech. “I can verify that Michael Davidson is a contract employee on a limited current contract and on assignment. He has committed no illegal acts as far as we are aware of and any acts he may have committed are solely his responsibility.”
Large corporations are always worried about their liability and at pains to tell you they aren’t responsible for anything.
The female cop returned to the interrogation room and whispered in O”Rourke’s ear for two minutes.
Davidson made a mental note to buy Ira and Gretchen a gift. Their rehearsed routine had saved him again.
“Lt. What the fuck is going on? Why are you focusing on me? You know I was in Hawaii when Mary was killed. RDS didn’t kill her as a way to make me work harder.” “What are you doing to find Mary’s killers?”
The cop scowled. “That is the same question Sydney Devereaux asks me every time she calls.”
A flood of relief went thru Davidson. Sydney had not given him up. She was still badgering the cops about Mary.
“Something about this does not add up. Robbery gone wrong and they haven’t pawned the goods? Can’t be a message kill to you,” he mused aloud. More scowling and grumbling from the cop.
“Well someone was there who didn’t belong there. Who?” Davidson gave the man another bone besides him to chew on. O’Rourke mulled that statement over but didn’t answer him.
The cops kept him there another two hours asking about his banking and business details. Davidson briefly considered showing the cops his fake tax return. No, let them dig. That gives us more time.
In the end they had no firm grounds to continue questioning or holding him so he left at 3:30 pm. Davidson delighted in dropping the fake tax returns- mailers all addressed and stamped, right into the police mail box at the station house. His messenger bag felt and was lighter.
A quick call to Ira to thank him and report that he was safe while he waited on the cab. The growing dark was getting colder as he made the other two “had to” calls.
Feydor Slutskaya picked up on the second ring. “Da.”
“Feydor, its Michael Davidson.”
Still a charmer. “Have the first group at your place, tomorrow 8:00 am sharp. The second group the day after that.”
The fence bitched and moaned but it was the plan and he agreed.
The last call was harder still. “Mr. Roybokov its Michael.”
He gave the Bratva head an update on Hatton Gardens and on Dubai. “We take the men out over the next days.”
“Good. Michael please keep my apprised of your movements.”
What? Why? Oh yeah, so Demetry knows where to have the FBI pick us up. Or to have Sergei kill us.
“Of course sir”, the good employee told him.
“Michael I still need you to go to Luxembourg for me”, the old man reminded him.
’That is still three or four weeks away, though right sir?” he asked.
“Da. Around the beginning of the month.”
The line clicking off was abrupt. Davidson wearily put the phone way. His movements brought a wave of his own smell out of his coat into his nostrils. Stink.
He stank. Fear of the cops, his dealings with Demetry and the brotherhood all had soaked into his suit. The same tired blue suit he’d been wearing for a while now.
As the cab pulled up he made a decision and a mistake.
He went home.
“I’m hungry and tired and need new clothes. Best place to restore and resupply is home.”
On some level he knew it was a mistake, but the rationalization just came into his head. He deserved a night at home. He deserved new clothes. So home he went.
The cab dropped him off at 187 in the last of the daylight. The trudge up the stairs slow and the amount of junk mail in his vestibule alarming as he went into the darkened house. The musty closed place felt fantastic as he moved around. Dropping the messenger bag on its familiar spot on the table felt just so right. Roaming the kitchen with one overhead light on was perfect.
He decided a decent meal would be first. Rummaging in the cabinets he came up with a nice idea: quick sauce.
His grandfather had taught him how to make a spaghetti sauce that was the opposite of Mrs. Scanzani’s: quick and easy. He had the basic ingredients. A can of crushed tomatoes, small can of tomato paste, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, and the final secret addition. A can of tuna fish packed in olive oil.
Dumping the whole list of ingredients into a skillet he set it to a fast simmer. A pot to boil a pound of pasta and he was done in 15 minuets. Combining in the pot the noodles and sauce, he added in a ton of grated parmesan cheese.
Mike ate it man style- out of the pot, until he was bursting.
Cleaning up from the meal also saw him throwing away some bad food in the fridge. Now he was really out of food.
He sat in the dark in the living room and battled depression and the urge to go over to Sydney’s house. Most of his fantasies involved Sydney seeing him and rushing over naked.
Not gonna happen his brain said. Might gonna happen his dick replied. A car moving down the street brought him out of the reverie.
Exhausted and sore he went into the bedroom to pack two more duffels. One for London and one for Dubai. God it would be nice to have some different underwear.
The bedroom was dark except for the closet light. Mike did not want to attract attention to the fact that someone was home. He moved towards the bathroom. Sydney’s darkened house was visible thru the windows.
Gone. Thank god for that as well.
He wanted to see her but knew that would be a bad idea. And that made him feel like shit.
Davidson luxuriated in the shower in his own bathroom. His soap and his shampoo. He pruned up and used up most of the hot water. And that was saying something because he had a huge hot water tank. Shaving and brushing his teeth required a light which he clicked on.
The ablutions and the normality of the tasks soothed him. He was feeling better. More settled. He intended to sleep for a while and get up early to get back to the Hilton before Feydor’s and the flight to Dubai.
He toweled off his hair again and walked out into the bedroom… oops, forgot to turn of the light.
He turned to do that when the sound of the phone ringing jarred him.
Startled him because it was unexpected. Davidson jumped and whipped to look at the phone. When he did he saw some items that were just coming into his consciousness. The house next door had its bedroom light on.
Sydney’s house. Sydney’s bedroom. Sydney.
He could see her form outlined in the curtains and back lit. She can see me better, he thought. No curtains.
The internal debate about whether to answer the phone took three rings.
He picked up the receiver, saying nothing, not trusting his voice.
“Michael?” Her voice was raw and rough.
The small sounds coming from him were not words- just acknowledgment that he was he.
“What are you doing here?”
He took a deep breath to open his throat. “Thank you for not going to the cops,” he said instead of answering her question.
It was Sydney’s turn to just make some noises.
“Listen. I got a call from O’Rourke. I went down to see him today.”
She gasped on the other end of the short telephone line.
He was very pleased by that sound. Maybe too pleased.
“I…I think the cops that killed Mary finally got into my computer and sent some incriminating stuff to O’Rourke.” It came out in a rush.
“Does he suspect you?”
Was that concern in her voice.
“Yes and no, he managed lightly. “Nothing about this adds up. Not me, not Mary or her killing. He can’t figure what’s going on and it’s driving him crazy.” He inhaled and exhaled to think.
“He said you have been calling.”
“I want them to find who’s responsible for this!” This whole episode could not be easy on her Mike knew.
’You have the picture. Give it to the cops when you read about… my work.”
She started to say something but he cut her off. “Syd you have to be careful! Those guys are still out there!”
“What are you doing here?” she asked again.
Yeah, what was he doing here?
And he could not come up with a good explanation. He wanted new clothes? Just buy them! Wanted to sleep in his own bed? Stupid! For what? Longing? Nostalgia? Stupid stupid.
“I missed…(you, us!) home, I guess.” It sounded lame to his own ears.
“How have you been?” he got out but she had already hung up the phone.
She turned off the bedroom light plunging her house into darkness.
He dressed and called an uber. Stupid and amateurish to return here he told himself on the way back to the hotel. Mental kicking hurt just as much as physical, sometimes.