A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
It took Emily nearly three hours to take a deep breath and finally do something. She spent most of the morning wandering in the sun-sparkled Jardin du Luxembourg. It wasn’t that she was worried about the plan. She knew there was nothing wrong with it. Planning was what she did. After all, she’d been keeping Pyaridge Hall and the Weldon estate one step ahead of the banks and bankruptcy since she was twenty. However, it’s one thing to organize a robbery in your head, fix a timetable and figure out the details — but it’s quite another to set the wheels in motion. So she hesitated. Sat on a park bench. Walked. Sat down again. Waited. Watched children with their mothers and young girls with their lovers and thought about a time when she played and teased and flirted and life was a simple thing.
But she knew life wasn’t a simple thing, and Sinclair was trapped by the past and a love-struck old man. And no beautiful spring morning was going to change that. She liked Simon LaMonta, but she had no confidence in him. And she loved Sinclair beyond her ability to trust his judgement. He was going to rescue his people no matter what the risk, and that frightened her. She didn’t want to contemplate a time without Sinclair close at hand, and that made her finally leave the garden and walk to the art shop on Rue Soufflot without looking back.
She had shopped at La Plume Ancienne many times when she was a student and she knew exactly what she was looking for. She found all four items quickly, paid cash and left. At the stand outside, she got a taxi to Tati, the mecca of shabby/chic in Paris. The store was huge, so it took her some time to find what she wanted — black sweater and slacks, a too-short, too-tight party dress, two pairs of shoes, gloves, a black backpack and an oversized purse. She paid cash, stuffed everything into a one-on-every-corner Tati bag and found another taxi that took her back across town. This was the hard part. She wasn’t exactly sure what she needed and couldn’t really explain what she needed them for — so she flipped her hair a lot at the DIY store. She told the clerk she was recently divorced — with a crumbling apartment that seriously needed a man’s hand — and explained her immediate problem. She followed his eyes as he answered and asked if he could possibly just show her how to actually use the tools. He did, and she leaned very close as he guided her hand, then laughed at her own success. She thanked him very much and asked if there was anything else that might help her. He volunteered a spray can of strong solvent. She paid cash, thanked everyone again, said she’d probably be back, and left. From there, she went to BNP Paribas bank, paid cash for a prepaid credit card and immediately used it to buy a glass of wine. The card worked, and she wandered off to find a public telephone.
Unaware that Emily was organizing a robbery, Dreyfus was putting the finishing touches on his own. After leaving the Picasso gallery, he walked several streets before casually setting the cap and sunglasses on an empty café table. Then, a few streets further, he found a taxi and gave the driver an address in the very south of Paris near the Montrouge cemetery. From there, he walked to another café where the driver from the airport was sitting waiting for him. Around the corner, in a locked up garage, they met with the first team who would handle the street work. Dreyfus inspected the truck, the uniforms and the equipment, explained what each man was responsible for and set a time and place for them to pick him up in the morning. None of this was necessary: Dreyfus trusted Sydney’s people, and he knew they’d already been given detailed instructions from the original plan. But now that he was on the ground, he wanted everyone to be clear that he was in charge.
A couple of hours later and much closer to the gallery, Dreyfus and the driver met the second team – the ones who were actually going into the gallery. Once again, he inspected the truck, the uniforms and the equipment, but this time he unfolded a paper layout of the gallery and marked the location of each painting – numbered one through four.
“Walk in casually. When four gets to his painting, here,” Dreyfus pointed and made a small circle with his finger, “You can all see each other. Lift the painting up and out. The power’s been cut, but they might have backup alarms. Don’t worry. Just get the painting and walk out like you own the place. I’ll be here at the door. Ninety seconds after you lift the paintings, I’m going for the van. All of you should be ahead of me. At the van, get in and I’ll close the door. Any questions? Okay, study the layout and make sure you know where you’re supposed to be. We’ll go over this again in real time the night before.”
Outside the garage, the driver, who hadn’t spoken, turned to Dreyfus. “I’ll give you the destination when we have the paintings,” he said.
Dreyfus looked back and shrugged. “No need. I’m done once we have them.”
“Those are my instructions. The destination and the access code.”
“Okay,” Dreyfus said and walked away.
At a public telephone on Rue Saint-Jacques, Emily ordered a very expensive box lunch for three, complete with dessert and a bottle of wine, to be delivered tomorrow night at 2:00 AM. She gave the delivery address and specified which entrance. She made the woman repeat the instructions and then she paid for it with her prepaid credit card. Twenty minutes later, she was back at the hotel, taking a nap.