I slide the pick into the key slot. A slight turn of the pick to the left followed by a thrust forward and I hear the expected click a moment later.
I close my eyes for a second and let the air out of my lungs. As my muscles relax the blood rushes in my temples. I always get blood rush before ‘starting work’.
A gentle tug and the heavy door opens with grace. A well-balanced Blind Door. My favorite brand.
The jewelry shop is located in the trendiest and most expensive residential area of Huntington, Forest Hill. I know it well. I always do my homework; surveying the area and identifying security cameras, police beat schedules, emergency exit alarms, every detail.
Eleven and a half minutes later, when I step outside, I am all ears. Anything suspicious?
I listen. In the distance—just the sounds of the city that never sleeps.
I keep listening.
Faint rustling in the lilacs behind the building makes me freeze. Before I reach for the sling knife in my pocket, a pair of doves take off and disappear in the night sky. Pheew. I lick my lips.
Praying for no more surprises I pocket the stocking cap and adjust the duffle bag on my shoulder. It’s a heavy bag, full of jewelry: necklaces, bracelets, rings, all wrapped in cotton pouches. The whole shop is in the duffle, except two items: a pair of earrings and a bracelet.
The pair of 18 carat rose gold antique diamond drop earrings, costs at least thirty five hundred. Well, I can afford leaving it behind, and as I do so I intentionally place the pair right in the middle of the empty glass cabinet. A nice touch. It’s more a signature. I want to leave something behind, something to be remembered. A question of ego? No, not ego.
The earrings were expensive and antique, not the two-hundred-dollar pair they accused my mom of stealing thirty years ago. That false accusation destroyed my mother, and it left me with a slow but steady burning hatred for Krakowits Gems.
With the door shut behind me and all security cameras disabled, I stroll down the sidewalk.My rubber soles are as silent as cat paws. Around the corner is the Noble quay and another twenty yards is the street where I’ll soon disappear into the night.
I stop and turn for one last quick look at the well-designed rich facade of the Krakowits Gems. Now just an empty facade with an empty vault inside. A nice feeling, warm and fuzzy.This reminds me of the bracelet.
My hand slides into my jumper pocket and I allow my fingers to run once again over the surface of the second item I keep outside the duffle: a diamond bracelet. I had almost forgotten about it.
I fell in love with the bracelet at first sight, during my last casing of the store’s interior. It’s solid. Twenty-four carat gold, two large diamonds and a slogan engraved in fancy script. It says God Loves Us. I like that. I believe God is on my side and as far as I keep taking chances he will look after me. God Loves Us. Beautiful. That’s why I dropped the bracelet into my pocket, not the bag.
My fingers caress its smooth, cold surface. Very relaxing. I’m into platinum and gold. Diamonds too. All kind of gems. I’m a gem collector.
I’m still walking when flashes of police red and blue explode at the end of the alley. Instinctively I jump aside and flatten myself against the wall beside a shallow arch.
No sirens. Strange.
The blue and red flashes die at once. My heart is pounding like a steam hammer.
A car door swings open.
“Where’s the fucking money?” It’s a man’s low voice, full of disdain.
“I couldn’t make it—I was at the hospital—My mom had seizures again.” A young woman’s voice. Anxious and breathy.
“I’ll give you another hour, honey. You don’t show up with five C’s at Vivian’s Bar, you and your little girl are history. A hooker like you goes to the cooler for the next two years, your daughter goes into foster care. You got that, sweetheart?”
“Yes, Officer Pontz, I, I—” Tears choke her voice.
“One hour, you piece of shit,” he growls.
My fingers clench in a fist. I peep behind the corner of the arch.