A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
That evening spread out for them like sand slowly leaking out of an hourglass – time out of time. As usual, they were alone in the crowded restaurant, content to let the world swirl around them. It was long after Vespers, so there weren’t any bells from Notre Dame, but even across the river, the floodlights on the cathedral shone through the trees and cast shivering shadows on their faces and over their table. It was a dinner made for lovers – several lazy courses, small bites, wine and conversation.
They had arrived nearly together from separate directions. Dreyfus by taxi directly from their hotel and Emily a two train transfer and a walk from St. Michel Metro station. Without reservations, it took a few minutes and some well-placed Euros to get an outside table. But with generosity established, the service was excellent. (All Parisian waiters instinctively know exactly when to be at your elbow and when to stay away.)
Dreyfus had spent the day shaping, reshaping and finally perfecting each detail of DeMonta’s plan until both men were satisfied. Now, DeMonta was probably asleep, and everything else was etched in stone. Dreyfus had made all the necessary telephone calls and the on-the-ground timetable was set to start the day after tomorrow. He was confident but still wary of the variables. Meanwhile, after her inadvertent discovery, Emily had spent the entire day in and around the Musee d’Art Moderne. After walking through the rooms again, she left and had lunch at Antoine, watching the traffic on Avenue de New York. After lunch, she bought a guide book and strolled around the museum several times; then, when the tourists thinned, bought a ticket and went back inside. She spent the last hour or so wandering and sitting, making certain she hadn’t made a mistake, until a friendly security guard told her the museum was closing and she had to leave.
“Of course. I’m sorry,” Emily said in more than acceptable French. “I’m keeping you from your dinner.”
“No, Madame,” the guard shrugged, “I’m here until eleven.”
Emily gave him a sad smile and tilted her head in sympathy. She gathered her purse and book, and they chatted as they walked to the entrance together. The guard more than pleased that a beautiful woman was interested in the hard work he did. As she walked to the Metro, she wondered how or even if she’d tell Sinclair what she’d found.
At the restaurant, after the fish they decided on gateau au chocolate facon grand-mere with two forks for dessert and, breaking tradition, red wine with their coffee.
While they waited: “Are you really going to go through with this?” Emily asked. “Do you really think you and that old man can rob a gallery?”
Dreyfus lifted his glass. He wasn’t sure he wanted this conversation, but he knew Emily well enough to know he was going to have it anyway.
“I told you I owe him — a lot. And Marta too. Especially Marta. We go way back. They were very good to me. When I was a kid, I got into a bunch of trouble…”
“I don’t want to hear it!” Emily interrupted.
“And they straightened it out. They vouched for me when they didn’t have to, and they treated me right. Without them … I don’t know. Now, they’re old and sick and what am I going to do — walk away? She could be in prison for the rest of her life. And Simon? He’s lost without her. You heard him last night.”
“He’s a sweet old guy, but …” Emily shook her head, “I swear to God if you go to jail, Sinclair …”
“I’m not going to jail. I’m not even going to be anywhere near.”
Emily thought about it. “Are you lying to me again?”
“I’m not.” There was a pause. “Well, maybe a little bit, but I’m not going to go to jail.”
Emily turned her eyes to the shining cathedral. Then she leaned over to the next table. “Excusez-moi, monsieur. Une cigarette, s’il vous plait?”
Emily opened her purse. The man waved his hand and handed her the package. She opened it, took a cigarette and lit it with his lighter. “Merci.”
“Pas de quoi,” the man said, without looking.
Emily turned back to Dreyfus with a serious look-what-you-made-me-do glance.
Dreyfus exhaled, hoping the cake would show up soon.
“C’mon, Sinclair. You don’t know anything about this. You’re an insurance adjuster, not an art thief.”
Dreyfus raised his eyebrows, pulled his head back slightly in disbelief and gave her a thin-lipped smile.
“Okay,” she said pointing, “But you know what I mean.”
“Look, Simon is one of the best planners in the business. And Sydney …
Dreyfus put both hands up. “Not Sydney himself. His crew. Or something. His people. You know Sydney. Don’t ask too many questions. They’re doing the heavy lifting. And those boys don’t make mistakes.”
Emily had to agree with that, but all she said was, “God! Sydney? And where are you going to be while all this is going on?”
“I’m just there to make sure nothing goes wrong. That’s all.”
Before Emily could answer, the cake arrived and the coffee and the wine. The waiter showed Dreyfus the bottle. With two fingers, Dreyfus directed him to Emily. He turned, uncorked it and poured. Emily drank.
The waiter poured both glasses, put the bottle on the table and left. Emily dropped the cigarette on the sidewalk.
“Alright. Let’s have some cake.”
Emily knew the tone.
“You’re crazy,” she said, suddenly making up her mind. It was a way out if she could make it work, but either way, Sinclair didn’t really need to know right now. It would only complicate things.
Dreyfus lifted his wine glass: “To crazy!”
Emily smiled. She lifted her glass: “To crazy,” she said, thinking just how crazy it had all become.
They drank. And in the beautiful half-light night, they ate cake.