A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
It was early, but the morning light was strong when Emily woke up. She had slept deeply, and it took her a few seconds to realize where she was. “Paris? Paris!” She rolled over. Sinclair was gone. Quelle surprise! She got dressed, combed her hair with her fingers, thought about make-up, said “to hell with it” and went down for the hotel breakfast. Sinclair would find her when he wanted to, but until then it was her Paris, too. Breakfast was coffee, an egg, a croissant and Le Figaro, while she figured out what kind of a day she would have. Unfortunately, her choices were limited because, the truth was, Emily Perry-Turner, the Duchess of Weldon was broke. Of course, she had walking-around money, but anything beyond that was committed to an inherited pit of debt and the insane expenses of keeping a crumbling estate off the auction block. Shopping in Paris had always been dear to Emily’s heart, but, in recent history, it was a luxury she simply could not afford. So, it was either a book in the park – Luxembourg, probably – or a couple of galleries. Galleries won the toss. Emily laughed to herself. At least she get to see some art before Sinclair stole it all. She drank her coffee and idly wondered what he was doing.
Actually, Dreyfus was upstairs in the fifth floor meeting room, unfolding a transparent map of the Paris sewers and trying to orient it to the street map underneath. In Paris, the sewers aren’t only used for waste water; the tunnels also carry all the power, data and telephone lines. This makes them some of the most accessible in the world, and there are even tourist tours. However, Dreyfus and Simon DeMonta’s interest was purely business. There were looking for the vertical shaft on the Rue de Thorigny – and they found it.
“Okay, we’ll use a four man team,” Simon said. “Here,” he pointed.
“They set up — construction barriers, tape, the whole deal — and dig down. Probably take them a day, but they need to be there for at least five. People have to be used to seeing them. Part of the landscape. No problem. Then, day five, they cut the power, switch with the second team and disappear. Team Two goes into the building. We need to scope that out. All the what, wheres and whyfores, so they’re in and out. How about your girl? She knows this stuff.”
“No, I’ll do it. I don’t want her involved.”
“Okay. Anyway, they grab the paintings, back on the street and into a car. Van probably. They disappear. Our guy in the van – uh – where’s the other map? He takes them and gone – uh — somewhere. All we have to do is work out a drop for us to pick them up.”
“No, my people will take care of that. We’re never going near. They’ll keep them and handle the negotiations. We hang around like it’s a holiday.”
Simon looked sceptical.
“You’re sure about these guys? I don’t want anybody getting greedy.”
“No, hundred percent. I use these people all the time. They’re not cowboys. We need to work out the details to the minute and just tell them what to do.”
“Okay,” Simon said and sat down. “First we need a timetable.”
Emily stepped out into the street. The whole city was in the full gush of spring, dancing with a hundred shades of Monet green. It was beautiful, but for Emily, Paris was always a city in black and white, like a Truffaut film. She preferred the grey stone streets to the sparkling boulevards, the sidewalks to the parks and vin de maison to Dom Perignon. That’s why she decided to bypass the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay and make her way to the Paris Museum of Modern Art.