If this is Tuesday this must be Paris, Michael thought.
Well it wasn’t Paris-it was Luxembourg- and it wasn’t Tuesday it was Thursday.
Thursday the 5th of March 2013 at 11:53 am european standard time. The gulf stream jet was on final approach to Findel airport and the Freeport.
Michael had been gently awakened 20 minuets ago by the flight attendant. The bright smile and mass of hair momentarily lifted him as he came out of a troubled sleep. “Syd?’
He was disoriented and unsure of where or when he was. The flight attendant kept her hand on his chest. “Mr. Davidoff, we are landing in a few minutes. I need you to bring your seat up and buckle in. Okay?” She rubbed his chest just a little.
He came back into himself and nodded to the woman. More blinking and he complied with her instructions. “Sure, thanks.”
He was exhausted, sore and this side job for Demetry was not helping his mood, disposition or sanity any.
The past three weeks had played hell on Michael Davidson.
The hired Russian help was going to kill him. Or the gang was. Or the feds. Either that or he was going to take an HP 5 and turn it on all of them.
The gang had just completed their third training session at the airbase. Hauling the gold was turning out to be just as tricky as Mike feared it would be. Add to that a side trip into London to work Hatton and secure some vital equipment, and he was stretched thin.
A trip into the large bathroom when he’d boarded the plane at Heathrow, gave him a long look in the mirror under the harsh lights.
He did not like what he saw. A little more grey in his two shades lighter hair. The sun working its power on his hair and skin, he was blonder and now had a deep tan. HIs weight was down to 166 with a striking amount of muscle and definition on his frame.
But it was the eyes that got him Still brown but now sunken and a bit crazy if he had to say it.
Anyone would have the crazy eyes if they’d been dealing with the shit he was contending with, he thought.
The last training run had been decent but not what they needed. It wasn’t the workers fault, really.
It was a math problem.
A gold bar weighed 26 pounds. They came in a three bar billet box package. That meant the package weighed 80 pounds, give or take per box. Problem was there were going to be 200 of these boxes on the plane. Over 16,000 pounds on the plane for the shipment.
The thieves had to move that gold from the plane to the SUV’s. And they had to do it in a short amount of time.
Ira had figured a 20 to 45 minute response time all those weeks ago when they’d scouted the place after the London work. It depended on the ferocity of the Ministry’s response everyone knew. And as Mike and Graeme kept telling Rick and others: Expect a fairly robust response for that much money!
So more math. One lift of the billet box from the cargo hold to the slide ramp.
Graeme’s brilliant plan called for the gang to set up cargo hauling box slide ramps at the plane cargo door to facilitate the move. The stand alone ramps were easy to setup and they had them stored in the airbase abandoned buildings.
One lift from the pallet on the plane to the ramp. A quick slide to the earth and a lift from the ramp into the SUV and its shipping container.
That was 400 separate lifts. Given the 20 minute time frame it took to get a chopper from the city to the defunct airbase, that gave them a grand total of three seconds per lift.
It could not be fucking done!
The gang had setup the slide ramp rollers for the first time after the gun buy.
Gretchen and Rick had mocked up some thirty kilo weight plates as billet boxes. The teams had 16 of the dummy weights to practice with. Mike set the weights on a raised concrete foundation near the runway. The slide ramp was near the stack and led down to a parked SUV.
Topper grabbed a dummy box plate and lifted it grunting. More grunting and an earth shaking slap set the thing down on the roller ramp. It slid alarmingly fast down to the bottom! Two men jarred shoulders as they halted the slide. The shift into the bed of the hummer took both of them and was a struggle.
That one box took over a minute to move.
The look between Mike and Graeme was epic.
Never had the words, I told you so! been uttered so loudly and so silently.
“Okay, we have to figure this out. Thats why we are here,” Graeme told them all.
Adjustments were made. A bumper system was added to the bottom of the ramp. More billet boxes were mocked up. Another ramp system was procured as the suggestion by Gretchen that the plane was big enough to haul from both sides without getting in each others way was agreed to.
At the end of the first training session they were exhausted and defeated.
Progress was made. The teams did achieve a 39 minute average for three full runs at the end.
Days later after the quick stop back at Dubai, The Hilton hotel in Fujairah had a whirl pool that saw a lot of action the days the thieves were booked in. Even Gretchen was tired and she was the toughest of them. The team cased the city for the second half of the job which involved getting the gold out of the country. Stealing it was the perhaps the easier part of the plan. They had to get the gold to the US and Fujairah was the key.
The days after the first run became a blur of details and work for all of them. Mike took care of the first fight between the Russians. Sergei called him when one of the guys would not be training with them on the second visit to the airbase. “Shithead hit asshole which caused asshole to kick shithead in the balls.” Tikanov relayed the news. “Shithead wont be joining us today.”
“Dammit Sergei! You are supposed to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”
The capo breathed heavily on the phone. “Tough to control them sometimes,” he muttered.
Davidson and Graeme knew that. They decided not to send the men back to Demetry. That would be, in effect, a death sentence.
Adjustments were made.
And then the currier flight back to Luxembourg arrived. The interruption to the scheduled killed Davidson. Shifting gears to fly to New York was very difficult.
The ID logistics was the toughest part. Peter Mc Nichol and Michael Davidoff were not in Dubai. Alister Grant and Mitchel Parnell were however. Since the Freeport officials were familiar with Peter and Michael, they had to be them again.
That would necessitate a Dubai to New York trip as Grant/Parnell. Change ID’s. A New York to London to Lux run as McNichol/Davidoff then retrace back to the UK and New York then going back into Dubai as the right people.
That was a lot of flying just to make a one day trip to the Freeport.
Hence, Michaels confusion with the flight attendant as she woke him.
The Gulf Stream landed at Findel without incident. The lovely Helga and Ms. Stoerman met them at the plane with a ramp and the usual gaggle of customs and Freeport personnel.
Nicholas Roybokov was drunk and maudlin as the customs people went thru the six large crates they were hauling this time. More paintings and statues. Some gold. And rich people’s cashiers checks: bearer bonds, along with some stones.
“Christ, is there anything left at the Brooklyn house?” Mike asked Nicholas when the two got a moment alone in the vault.
Helga, Graeme and Phillipa were outside fussing with something and Mike took advantage to question Nick.
’What do you mean by that?” Nick asked alarmed.
Davidson watched the kid. What did he know? What did he suspect?
“Nicky, cards on the table. What’s going on?”
The direct questions broke the man down. A few tears came as Nicholas confessed that his father was “disappointed” in him and was under pressure from his “business dealings”.
“I think he’s getting ready to run, Mike.”
There it was. Confirmation that the Bratva head was moving assets to the Freeport for retirement. And Mike knew who would be left holding the bag.
The gay son of a devious gangster held onto Mike for a moment of misery when Davidson broke free.
“Nicky we have to help each other.”
The two men spent a scant few minuets plotting a strategy. The whole cast of characters: Demetry, Putin, the FBI and the gang tied into one giant game of musical chairs. Last one left without the chair would be dead.
Mike was amazed that Nick knew as much as he did. Davidson had always assumed the man was a civilian. Turns out, he knew plenty.
“Putin is getting squeezed by the sanctions.”
The US had slapped sever economic sanctions on the Russian leader and his cronies when they’d attacked the Ukraine. The younger Roybokov reached into a briefcase set upon the gold racks. He pulled out a decorative piece of paper.
A stock certificate. A 100 share block of Anadarko- the state run Russian petroleum giant.
“My father had to invest in these periodically. “ He slipped the stock back into the stack. ’It was fine when oil was up and the share price was 112. Now that oil is down and the shares are worth 6 its a different story.”
Davidson grimaced. That envelope contained sheets of funny looking wallpaper now.
Jesus. Billions gone!
Demetry was getting squeezed worse than he’d imagined.
“He has plenty stored in this room, Nick. He doesn’t have to seek total revenge.” Mike gestured around the vault. At least a billion in assets were stored here. Davidson could only imagine that the incoming cash was going to be the liquid portion of his nest.
Davidson had to wrap up the talk. It would look strange if they were in the vault alone for too long.
“Nicky, I’ll give you a cell phone when we get back to the plane. Use it in an emergency of course but also try to keep me in the loop about his moves if you can.”
The young man nodded. “Same goes for you.”
The two men shook hands and exited the vault. Both watched as Phillipa sealed it.
The dinner at the castle that night was much the same. Davidson was extremely horny but frustrated. And it did not help that he knew Graeme and Helga were knocking boots next door. Asshole.
As a response to all the flying and general craziness, Mike decided to stay in London during the trip back. Three days in the UK to let him decompress. Graeme continued on to Dubai per plan to lock down the help and ensure no more problems.
Ira, Rick, and Gretchen were already in London at the flat when he arrived. They were on a normally scheduled visit to work on Hatton Gardens.
The other major heist they had working.
Rick reported the equipment purchase and was very happy with it.
’You go to the class tomorrow right?” Mike asked yawning.
’Yeah, Mike no problems.”
I’m tired. Really tired, he thought.
Gretchen flopped a paper on his chest. One of the London rags.
The headline screamed: Yard official in gay sex romp with employee!”
Finally some good news.
He grinned up at Gretchen. “That was expensive but we only need to distract them for a bit.”
Gretchen’s solution to the Robbery squad investigator watching them was to smear the man and his boss by faking some pictures of them in a homosexual love tiff. A contact of hers was very very good with photos. The man had mocked up a series of photographs of the two men together in compromising positions. Whats more they had time coded the shots to coincide when the investigator had been briefing his boss at home!
The whole thing stunk and would not hold up to scrutiny, but…
But they didn’t need a year’s worth of free time. They needed one month. Between the new boss coming in to over see their cases and a new investigator to watch them, he figured they had six weeks. Eight- if the press continued to hound the men.
“Took them long enough,” he commented to the woman. She’d first planted the pictures with the Supervisors boss at Downing Street. With typical British government efficiency, nothing had been done and the photos swept under the rug.
So she’d upped the ante by sending the pictures to the fleet street rags to get some traction.
And it worked!
Mike drifted off to sleep with one less worry. There might be fifty more things to keep him up but this one was dealt with. At least his people put a blanket over him while he slept.
The next evening was going swimmingly for the gang. Rick was back from the class and alternately bitching and bragging which Mike thought was a good sign.
They’d had a productive day with Ira figuring a way to test out the alarm line. The forms were dutifully filed with the police and the metro people when the knock at the door galvanized them all.
’Cops don’t knock, they just bust it down”, Ira reasoned.
Rick went to answer the door.
Ekaterina Roybokov sailed into the room wearing a full length mink and smelling of cigarettes and whiskey.
She surveyed the room.
The Empress of all Russia ordered the surfs from the room. All except Mike.
Davidson was gratified his gang manned up and looked at him for direction.
Kat just eyed him and waited.
’Give us a minute would you guys,” he asked his friends.
The three left with Gretchen especially giving the young woman the evil eye.
Kat had her on youth and height but Gretchen grew up in the slums of Rio.
Mike would bet on the Brazilian but figured Kat would get in some shots.
The young woman rounded on him the second the trio left the room. ’What did you say to Nicky?” The scowl on her face came slowly.
Several answers went thru his head. Both the truth and lies. His silence seemed to unnerve the girl.
“He called me saying all kinds of wild things!”
“What kind of things, Kat?”
’He said you told him daddy is getting ready to run!” Her words tumbling out and slurring just a little.
“Is he, Kat? And is he getting ready to feed me to the FBI like Semilov?” The accusation seemed to take a physical weight and it caused her to sit heavily on the couch.
“Michael, you don’t understand what he is dealing with- her tone now pleading. He’s under so much pressure!”
Mike raised his assessment of her drunkenness up a notch. She did not seem to realize he was a participant in this conversation. A snort and she said, “Nicky is so in love with you, you know that?”
He moved to sit in a chair so they would be on the same eye level. “I can’t help that and I can’t help that your father does not approve of his gay son!”
“No! He just wants you to be his son.”
Distaste showed on his face. “You know that is not true. Your dad see’s me as a milk cow not a son. I’m hamburger once I dry up!”
The girl’s mental state swayed. Mike could see it happen. She blinked and refocused.
“He wants me to bring Nicky home.”
She said it quietly with tears filling her eyes. Both of them knew what would be the outcome of that.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Mike told her.
“What choice do I have?”
’Tell him you couldn’t find me or him. Tell him you need a vacation. Tahiti is lovely this time of year. Soak up the sun. In three weeks your dad will be too busy to notice.”
She wasn’t listening. Kat stood and went to the chair where he sat. Leaning down she kissed him. Cigarettes and whiskey are never a good combination to try and seduce someone, Mike thought, regaining sole possession of his tongue.
“That would be a bad idea too.”
Sadness came over her as he rejected her. She swayed and he had no more alternatives for her. Mike eased her out the door into the arms of her bodyguard.
He texted Nicky as the others came back into the room. ’Watch yourself,” was what he told Nicholas Roybokov. That was all he could do for the kid.
The other three gang members were concerned to say the least.
’Demetry is tying up loose ends”, he told the others.
“Your conversation with Nicky got back to him quickly, Ira said. What kind of bugs does he have on our operation?”
That kind of question scared the shit out of Mike. What kind of ties and reports was Roybokov getting on him? He knew the three stooges were a direct line, but the Bratva head seemed to have others. Time to go to ground.
’We are out of here. Pack and wipe down everything. Don’t forget Graeme’s stuff!” he said as the other’s scattered.
A text to Graeme in Dubai- watch out. R snipping loose ends. And then the four relied on Gretchen to find them some place to hide.
Every seasoned traveller to London had their go to place. Some district or spot where they could just land for a day or two. Davidson and the others were due back in Dubai City tomorrow. They just needed one night where they could regroup and wait on the trip to the private terminal.
The Thistle chain of hotels in central London was a middle class business type place. The Marble Arch version was a good representation of the whole. Clean comfortable rooms and of course breakfast was included. 98 pounds a night. Mike had her get four rooms but they only used one. He paid cash.
“Okay- Ira you have first watch, Rick you take the couch and relieve him. Gretchen and I will snuggle in the bed,” he told them as the tense group checked in.
He was gratified to hear the bitching. It meant they had recovered a little.
It was a tense night and an even tenser trip to the middle east