Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva

July 30, 2015 2:45 AM
Terra West eyed her overnight backpack completed by her 9mm, a forged RF ID tag, and a stick of 1946 Red Velvet by Besame. She sat alone in the terminal at Simon Bolivar International Airport of Maiquetia on the north shore of Venezuela. The uncomfortable layer of perspiration underneath her black long sleeved shirt was making her miserable, but at least it was keeping her from nodding off. She scrolled through the music on her iPhone currently blasting through one ear bud. His movement caught her eye from the long hallway of four terminals that separated them. He pulled an overnight bag lazily behind him.
Please don’t wave. Please don’t wave. Please don’t wave. She took a long blink.
His eyes moved from the pamphlet in his hand to the terminal signs above him.
Terra watched as he took several steps, stopped, examined his pamphlet, and then kept moving again. She sighed as he repeated this exercise several times before arriving at her cluster of chairs. Any moment she expected him to stop this senseless charade and actually give her the stupid signal. Her head turned to follow him as he kept walking past her.
Did he even see me?
No way he could have missed her. She turned back around.
“I paid him $50 bucks to do that.” The raspy voice spoke from the seat right next to her.
Stupid.
She wished for a moment that her contact could have been the vulnerable touristy guy that she had seen stumble down the terminal, and not the man sitting next to her. He kept his voice low.
“Don’t worry. I’m on good guy…well, actually I’m a professional safe cracker, thief, and currently wanted in twelve countries so I suppose that’s relative, but hey, I’m a good guy to you. Assuming that you’re much of the same.”
“There was no signal was there?” said Terra, still frustrated at allowing herself to get distracted.
“Nope.”
“Look pal, I flew all the way from Miami to get here with two stops in…”
“Colombia and Peru…yeah, yeah – poor you. Let me know when you’re done whining and we can get on with business.” He interrupted as he crossed his arms, settled down into his chair, and closed his eyes.
Terra fumed. She took another long blink.
“Okay. Fine. I’d like a name, a job description, and for you to 86 the sass.” She casually tucked a fly-away hair behind her ear, crossed her arms, and turned in her seat.
“Finally…sheesh. Carl. Carl Munroe. Here’s the spin: in 1994 a financial kingpin had his whole shebang go under in the banking crisis. At the time, he had been working on his own skyscraper in the center of  Caracas – which he never finished. Known as the “Tower of David”, it had since become home to a couple thousand squatters. The short of it is that some of those financial assets were hidden in a secret vault below the bank, the government found out about it, and…”
“just finished relocating the squatters. You’re not the only one who reads the news.” She finished smiling politely.
“You got it kid. A secret government construction crew is scheduled to go in this morning and move the stuff before anyone knows the wiser.”
“Secret?”
“Well…not everyone on the relocation committee is privy to what’s under the building.”
“Of course. We’re going to need a demo expert. I’m guessing that it’s sealed off pretty good or else the squatters would have taken it.”
“Boom. Got ya covered.” He winked.

Terra followed him out to a black Nissan Pathfinder with tinted windows. The engine was still running.

July 30, 2015 3:25 AM
The SUV pulled off La Guaira highway and arrived at the Alta Vista hotel. Terra watched the front desk attendant yawn as they strolled through the lobby. Bright LED lighting, immaculate marble floors, and perfectly balanced interior design made her wonder if she could bump her return flight for a day later. The prices had to be cheaper than Miami.
“I’m meeting someone.” Carl told the front desk in broken Spanish.
I hope this guy is as good as his taste.
They took the marble staircase lined with an ornate cast-iron railing to the second floor and seconds later, were standing in front of the bomb makers door.
Carl knocked.
At first, Terra thought that a child had answered the door. The five foot frame spoke.
“Welcome. Welcome. I am Fumihiro Saito, my colleague informed that you were coming.”
Blueprints lay scattered over the five star hotel room. The second bed had been consumed by a smattering of tech, wires, and substances kept in sealed jars and surrounded by padded foam.
“Wall not easy. Vault sealed behind reinforced concrete. One point five meters thick.”
“Well, should we just go home then?” Carl asked unamused.
Fumihiro smiled.
“No. No. No problem. I make a charge for this. Personal blend of plastique explosive. No problem.” He went over to the far bed and gestured towards one of the jars. “Uh…small instability. No problem. Be careful.”
“Great. So we won’t play hackeysack with it.”
“I think he just wanted you to be impressed.” Terra offered.
Carl pursed his lips and nodded.
She retreated to her own thoughts.
Dense jerk. Smart, but dense. Nice occupation you got here girl. Really going places…why couldn’t you have just stayed happy at Beanies Coffee shop?
“Okay you two – this is going to be pretty straightforward.” Carl headed to a dry erase board propped on an easel in the corner of the hotel room. “We’re going to take the Av. Sucre all the way to the Av. Urdaneta ruta highway all the way to the Banco Mercantil building. The BM shares an alley access with the Tower of David.” His finger traced the floor plans as he spoke. “We will go in to the BM, exit through the alley, access the Tower of David, find the vault, blast it open, and retrace our steps richer. Terra, that fake RF ID tag I sent you has been encoded as a BM high security detail. Fumihiro will be posing as a high-profile Japanese investor, and you’ll be escorting him through the front entrance.”
“Make it look good for the cameras. No one asks questions if people walk into a bank, and leave with money.” Terra commented. She had to admit, Carl did his homework. “How do we go from the lobby of the BM to the alleyway exit to get to the Tower of David?” She asked.
“The elevator that travels to the safe deposit boxes also travels to the basement. Once you’re there it’s a straight walk to the alley access door. I’ll be waiting on the other side. Fumihiro will take it from there.”
“Thank you Mr. Munroe. Vault is not so secret to those that know where it is. From outside, looks like concrete floor. We have floor plan. Three of us will travel down to old basement. Once charge detonate, we have about five minutes to grab treasure. Shouldn’t plan on getting all of it. Must only stay for five minutes. Need time to escape. Chance that no one comes. Blast will be small. Chance that someone does. Need to be safe.”
“So why do you even need to be there? Sounds like Fumihiro and I could run this OP ourselves.”
“You could, but I’m coming for three reasons. One, I’ll be scrambling the basement security camera feed. The BM won’t have it investigated until tomorrow since they’ll still have eyes on their own vaults and safe deposit boxes. Two, in the event that Fumihiro blows a hole in the vault and finds an antique security system from the 90’s, I’ll be there to crack it.”
“And three?” Terra asked.
“To make sure I get my cut.” Carl grinned.

4 thoughts

Comments are closed.