For my entry, I couldn't think what to add so thought I would do it in the form of a short story. I took inspiration from those Smuggler's Run type jobs, and my own love of treasure hunting stories and Boys' Own type adventure comics from my youth like Eagle and Valiant. Please bear in mind that I'm not a writer, and haven't done any creative writing since my school days, nor have I done any research so you'll have to forgive me for any technical errors or glaring plot holes. It is just a bit of fun after all. Sorry there are more than ten pics, I thought them necessary to tell the story.
I hope that it all ties together okay and that you enjoy.
The Sunken Case
A Los Santos short story
THE PHONE CALL
It had started much like any other day. I had gone over to the office early because I had a stack of paperwork to catch up on. The business that I had started after my divorce was called No More Grief Incorporated, and from my military days when I used to be interested in all the GPS equipment, I had developed a mobile phone application that could track stolen cars. Further to that, any clients who registered with us could get a retrieval service. I had also branched out into other fields, including vehicle pick-up and drop-off, repossessions for the car dealers, luxury limousine hire, that kind of thing.
I had a guy working for me called Eddie, he was on the level and had served in the US navy. Strong and dependable, he didnt take any sh*t, and was good at the repo work and retrieving stolen vehicles. My other employee was Lisa, my assistant. She was great, and did everything around the office. I had come to depend on both of them, and between the three of us, we operated a pretty smooth ship. We managed to cover Los Santos and even up over the hill into Blaine County. Good job too. I was paying two lots of alimony and had a teenage daughter that was able to spend money as fast as I could make it.
I had been at my desk for about an hour when Lisa stuck her head around the corner in the office.
"You have a call boss. Somebody called Molly"
"Okay, put her through" I replied.
Molly Lubitz was an aspiring actress in Vinewood. She hadnt even hit the C-list, but she had done a handful of low budget movies, including one or two that I wouldnt take my mother to. She had hit the local headlines earlier in the year because she had been married to a pilot who had been flying back from Blaine County during a heavy storm one night and had vanished.
Aaron Lubitz ran charter flights up and down San Andreas, deliveries, business trips, leisure flights, that sort of thing. He usually operated between Los Santos international, and the airfield up in Grapeseed, flying the east coast air corridor. When he went missing, for some reason he hadnt filed a flight plan and his transponder had been switched off. Despite an extensive search of his usual route, the plane and Aaron were never found. The only thing recovered was part of the plane's rudder with the aircraft's identification number stamped on it, which had washed up on a beach near the power plant.
I had met Molly and Aaron at a lowbrow showbiz party when I was married to Kelly. We had hit it off and used to often get together, the four of us. We had remained friends after my divorce.
"Hey Molly" I said into the phone "how are you?"
"Steve" she replied, she sounded upset "Aaron's car has gone"
"Gone?" I sat up "Stolen?"
"I, I think so. I thought you might be able to get it back?"
I didn't have the heart to say I told you so because I had been trying to get her and Aaron to have our tracking systems fitted to their cars for some time. He had this really nice Dominator, in orange. I had been thinking about getting one myself.
Aaron's disappearance had been tough on Molly. It was hard enough to get work as an actress in Vinewood, and they had relied mainly on Aaron's income from his air charter business. I knew she was already in a bit of financial trouble. A buddy who worked over at a rival car repo place told me that her car had already been repossessed, and she was facing foreclosure on their house. I figured that she probably hadn't got Aaron's car insured.
"Sure" I said gently "I'll ask around. I know a guy who might be able to help"
“Lamar” I said when I heard the voice finally answer.
“Do you know what time it is motherf*cker?” Lamar said, his usual affable self.
“Eleven thirty?” I asked, feigning surprise.
“Yeah, eleven thirty” he grumbled “What the f*ck do you want?”
“I need to find a car” I said, leaning back in my chair.
“Then use one of your tracker things fool”
“This one doesn’t have one fitted unfortunately” I went on “Orange Dominator, Los Santos plates. Went missing from a place over by west Vinewood two nights ago”
I could hear more complaining and rustling about. It sounded like I had got Lamar out of bed.
“Go see Leroy over at his store” came the eventual reply “He or Franklyn will probably know what happened to it”
“Thanks Lamar, I owe you one” I said in a deliberately cheerful voice.
There was no reply. Mr Sleepyhead had simply hung up on me.
Lamar had a buddy named Leroy who ran an electrical goods store downtown. It was a legit enough business, but it was also how Leroy fenced a lot of hot goods. TV’s, tablets, mobile phones. I had been in to speak to him, and he had told me to wait outside in the car. A short time later he came out and locked up the place for the night. He pulled down the shutters before coming over and getting into my car. I had met Leroy once before through Lamar, he had been in trouble with some of the Ballas, a street gang that occupied south central Los Santos. I had helped him out.
“Word up Steve” he said, giving me a fist bump.
“What do you know about a Dominator Leroy?” I asked “Bright orange, Los Santos plates.”
“Why would I know anything homey?” Leroy shrugged.
“Because Lamar said that between you and your pal Franklyn, nothing goes on in this town that you don’t know about when it comes to hot property, and especially hot cars”
“Nothing to do with me man” Leroy shrugged “I thought all your marks had your little gizmo fitted” He laughed “Damn, I hear that thing of yours makes those cars harder than a motherf*cker to steal”
“Thanks” I smiled at the backhanded compliment “This car belongs, or at least belonged, to a friend”
“Who’s the friend?” Leroy sat up. I didn’t want to tell him, but he gave me that look as if to remind me who was doing who a favour here.
“The actress?” Leroy exclaimed “You’re f*cking with me?”
“It was Aaron’s” I said, looking out the driver’s window “Her husband”
“Yeah well” Leroy slumped back in his seat “He ain’t gonna be needing it no more”
“What do you know about him?” it was now my turn to sit up.
“Same as everybody else man, I read the newspapers. Supposedly went down in a plane somewhere along the east coast” Leroy shrugged, pulling out a small tin and rolling up some tobacco
“Yeah he supposedly did, he was a pilot working out of LSIA” I said “but they never found the plane, nor him”
“They never found the money neither” Leroy licked the roll up, popped the cigarette between his lips and pulled out a zippo.
“What money?” I asked
“Aw man, for somebody who was supposed to be his friend, you don’t know sh*t do you?” Leroy took a drag on the cigarette and slumped further back in the car seat. I opened the window, it wasn’t just tobacco that Leroy seemed to be enjoying.
“Word around the camp fire is that your friend Aaron was in with some bad motherf*ckers. I know that he was moving some serious coke up and down the east coast of San Andreas” Leroy smiled at my bewildered expression “Your buddy was a courier man. He worked for Martin Madrazo”
“How the f*ck do you know all this Leroy?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Aaron was a straight up guy. As far as I knew, he had never even had so much as a parking ticket.
Most people knew Madrazo, a dangerous drug kingpin and all-round gangster. He had beat a couple of murder trials due to lack of witnesses. Not the sort of guy you would want to work for, or double cross.
“One of my boys has a chop shop downtown” Leroy went on “You heard of Benny’s?”
“I know it” I said.
“Well” Leroy continued “one day two of Martin’s boys came in the shop one day with his red 62’ Casco. The car had a dented fender, seems that his girl had backed it into the wall up at that house he owns in the hills. Madrazo loves his Italian cars man, I mean he loves ‘em. Those cars even get so much as a scratch, he has his guys bring it to Benny for detailing. He don’t trust nobody else to do the work”
“If he’s that good, maybe I should tell Eddie” I replied. Eddie owned a classic Casco, but I didn’t think he had heard about Benny’s
“Damn first. So Benny overhears ‘em talking about an Aaron Lubitz, this plane goin’ down and some guy by the name of Walter. You know how those motherf*ckers can’t keep their mouths shut” Leroy continued between drags on his roll-up. “This dude Walter had been holdin’ onto some kind of GPS tracker, a bit like the sh*t you make for cars, you know? Your boy had been flying back south with a tracked case full of Madrazo’s drug money when he apparently went down, but nobody knows where exactly”
“He hadn’t filed a flight plan” I said, everything starting to make sense.
“Now you know why. Anyhow, Walter had taken Martin’s tracker for the money case, guess he figured he could find out what happened to it and claim it for himself” Leroy continued “Some of Martin’s guys had been chasin’ him trying to get it back and his car hit the wall by the tracks down near the LS River, over by the rail yard. You can see where because the paint is all down the concrete”
“What happened to him?”
“What do you f*ckin’ think man?” Leroy smiled “That dude probably ended up in deeper water than your buddy. You don’t steal from Martin Madrazo. It’s lucky for your girl that Madrazo believes that this dude Lubitz and the plane went down. If he didn’t, he would be leaning on her hard”
“And the GPS tracker?”
Leroy shrugged “As far as Benny could make out, they didn’t find it. Maybe this guy threw it out the car man, sh*t I don’t know. Madrazo will have been pissed though. Benny heard ‘em say that he always had his money packed into these large watertight cases, and this one apparently had five million dollars in it”
Leroy opened the door and got out of the car, I was processing the amazing story he had just told me.
“Yo, by the way” Leroy leaned in the open door of the car “That Dominator you’re looking for. Try El Burro Heights, east Los Santos. Watch yourself with those Vagos man. Peace”
“Are you crazy?” Lisa was incredulous as she followed me round to my desk.
“Five million dollars” I said “Just think about it, it’s out there” I opened the cupboard in my office and reached for my flashlight.
“Steve, the police and the coastguard looked for that plane for weeks” Lisa continued “It was all over the news. They never found it”
“Ah, but they didn’t have the GPS tracker” I smiled.
Lisa leaned against the wall and folded her arms “Neither do you. How do you know this guy, this Leroy, isn’t just full of crap?”
“I don’t. But if anything was tossed from a car down there, then I think I know where it might be” I said “It’s got to be worth a look, right?”
I checked the flashlight, giving it a shake, it was working fine.
“I’m going to find Aaron and the plane, for Molly” I said, pulling on my jacket “And I’m going to find that money” I walked out of the office into the hallway and called the elevator.
“Drug money!” Lisa replied, following me. She wasn’t happy with this plan.
“They’re just paper bills Lisa. It’s what you do with them that matters” I stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the lobby, the doors slid shut.
“Be careful” I heard her shout.
My plan was simple, or so I thought. If I could find the GPS tracker then I could locate the plane. If the money was there like Leroy said, I would recover it, then tip off the cops to the plane’s location, send them some GPS co-ordinates. Once the plane and Aaron had been found, Madrazo would hear about it and just assume that the cops had seized the money. I mean, he wasn’t likely to go asking for it back was he? I could filter it through the business, and maybe use some of it to help Molly out. No-one would be any the wiser.
It was just after 1am when I pulled up a block or two away from the railyard. I didn’t want to leave my Gallivanter anywhere it could be linked to me, and so walked the short distance to where the road and the rail track ran parallel. It was quiet except for a dog barking somewhere in the distance. Between the road and the rail line, a walled upstand housed the grille covering to the subway below. I couldn’t stop thinking about what Leroy had said, about how Walter might have thrown the GPS tracker out of the car around here. There was nothing to lose by taking a look.
I walked down the road shining my flashlight along the wall. Sure enough after a few hundred yards, I came across a long series of scrape marks with red paint. I felt the wall and shone my light around. There was nothing on the ground, not even in the weeds and scrub that grew out of the concrete wall base. I walked up and down several times, but I couldn’t see anything that looked like it could be Walter’s tracker.
I vaulted over the concrete wall and looked down through the grating. Could it have gone down here I wondered? I shone the light down, but the subway beneath was too deep for me to see anything. I would have to get down there and take a proper look.
It was quite a walk up the rail track to where the rails disappeared below ground into the tunnel. I counted paces as I walked so I had a rough idea of how far back to walk once on the lines. I headed down into the darkness. It was a double line tunnel, and every so often along the walls there were service doors to the maintenance passage. I knew that if a train came I could just hop onto the other track or squeeze into one of the door recesses.
I got to where I thought I ought to be and stopped to look up, I figured that I was right beneath where I had been looking street-side. I walked up and down shining the flashlight along the ground. There was plenty of debris and other trash down here, years worth.
Thats when I saw it.
Similar to a Garmin type GPS device, it wasn’t much bigger than a mobile phone. It was lying face down, and as I picked it up and turned it over I hissed “Damn” under my breath. It was smashed. I turned it on and it lit up, but the LCD screen was just black where the damage had caused the liquid crystals to bleed. Every thirty seconds or so it beeped.
It was then I heard voices. I could see two flashlights up the tunnel in the same direction as I had taken to get down here, the owners of which were heading in my direction. I quickly shoved the GPS tracker in my coat pocket so as to hide the light emanating from the screen, and broke into a jog in the opposite direction, heading deeper into the tunnel.
These two guys had obviously seen or heard somebody because they yelled. Then I heard a single gunshot ring out and I picked up my pace. I was unarmed, and I couldn’t risk them getting anywhere near me and identifying me. Fortunately for me I ran every day, old habits from my military days, and I was able to keep up a running pace as I made my way deeper into the underground tunnels.
Eventually I reached a section of underground that was under construction, but it was late and the place was deserted. I looked back down the tunnel. I couldnt see flashlights nor hear any voices. I had lost them.
It took me another hour to make my way back up to street level and walk the few blocks to where I had left the car. I wasnt being followed, but old habits die hard, so I did a convoluted route back to the office in order to ensure anybody who might try to follow me was shaken off.
It was almost 4am by the time I got back. I had a bed in the back that I would use occasionally when working late, and I climbed on and closed my eyes. I was still running on adrenaline but I managed to sleep until about eight thirty, when Lisa woke me.
“Well?” she asked, when I later emerged showered and dressed.
“I got it. But it’s broken”
We had similar devices in our stock room at the back, and I managed to salvage a replacement LCD screen and with a bit of soldering, get the tracker displaying properly again. I had to wrap some insulating tape around it to keep the batteries in, because the battery holder was also broken.
On the boardroom table I had a detailed scale model of Blaine County and Los Santos. It had ordnance survey lines printed on it and the contours were in 3D. It had been given to me by one of our clients, who ran a business making these for corporations and exhibitions.
I set the GPS tracker on the table, switched it on and read the co-ordinates. Scaling the distance and direction from our location at the office I measured it along the model with a tape measure, then pulling the top off a magic marker with my teeth, I placed a dot on the blue plastic representing the ocean where the suggested crash site was. The plane had gone down about two kilometres off the coast, north east of a small group of islets. The contour lines on the model showed that the water there was about 25 metres deep.
“No wonder the plane hasn’t been found” I looked up at Lisa “Aaron’s regular flight path was along the coastline, not two clicks out to sea. He was way off his usual course”
INTO THE BLUE
One of the first things I had done when I arrived in San Andreas was to get my pilot's license. Everybody flies around here, and learning to fly was pretty inexpensive. I couldnt afford my own plane yet, so I would rent planes by the day when I needed one. I had booked a small Dodo seaplane which I was going to fly up to the crash site shown on the GPS.
We would need a boat with a winch to haul up the case. I couldnt do this alone and had to involve Eddie, so I told him about Aaron, Molly and the money, and he had agreed to go on ahead with a RIB and dive gear, and meet me there. Eddie was so solid he would have done it for his regular pay packet, but the thought of getting a cut of five million dollars was even more of an incentive.
I took off using the harbour waterway down at the Los Santos helipad and soared up into the clear blue Los Santos sunshine. It was early morning, and as I banked around to head east I looked down at this city that I now called home.
I had the GPS on the seat next to me and levelled the plane out, heading towards the coast. I flew over the oil derricks at Elysium fields and dropped down over Palomino, before banking left again to head due north.
After flying for about half an hour I looked down and could see a small flotilla of boats and platforms on the water. It looked like a salvage operation, and straight away I suspected that these were Madrazo’s people looking for the plane.
Unlucky for them they were about twelve kilometres too far south-south west. Planes flew in these parts all the time, so I wasn’t worried that they may have seen me. For all they knew I was just another leisure flight carrying tourists. Nevertheless, I wanted to get this over and done with.
The GPS beeps were getting closer together, and I could see that I only had three kilometres to go. I had brought the two-way radios. They had a range of about five kilometres. Eddie had taken one as well.
“Eddie come in, over” I said into the radio.
“Receiving Steve, what’s your location?”
“Three clicks south”
“Roger. I’m in position”
Eventually I was low enough that I could see the black rigid inflatable and Eddie waving like a madman. I set the plane down onto the water and brought it around to the boat. The GPS was beeping rapidly. I guessed that we were right above the plane wreckage.
“Good flight in?” Eddie lashed the boat to the plane pontoons.
“I think Madrazo’s boys are down the coast about twelve clicks” I replied “we’d better hurry in case they get curious and come up here”
A short time later on the boat I had pulled on some scuba gear and was ready to head down. Taking hold of the winch cable I gave Eddie the thumbs up, before toppling myself backwards over the hull.
I kicked hard, and started to make my descent. My depth gauge read 10 metres, 15, 20, 25. I had reached the shelf but I couldnt see the plane. After a few passes up and down at this depth, finally I spotted it.
It had come to rest right side up on an inclined shelf. The windscreen was smashed and the pilots door had been wrenched open. I swam up closer and grabbed the door handle to pull myself closer and peered inside.
There was no body. It didn’t actually surprise me that I couldn’t see Aaron, it had been six months, and these waters were known for sharks.
There on the back seats, I could see what we had come for. It looked like a large black toolbox, the sort that you might buy at the hardware store, with handles on either end. I just about managed to drag it out over onto the front seats, before looping the winch cable through the handle and affixing the carabiner around it. I gave three sharp tugs on the cable, and guided the case off the seat. It swung free in the water then started to slowly rise as Eddie winched it to the surface above.
I held the cable and swam slowly upwards to the surface through clouds of bubbles created by my regulator. As I broke surface Eddie was winding the winch handle with one hand and looking through his binoculars with the other. He put them down and reached over the side to haul me in.
“You better take a look at this boss” he said handing me the binoculars and pointing south before winding the winch handle again.
I lifted the binoculars and looked in the direction he had just indicated. Bouncing over the waves was another RIB, and it was headed straight for us.
“I’ll start the plane” I said.
I dumped the tank and regulator set on the RIB, pulled off the flippers and quickly peeled myself out of my wetsuit. Swinging myself up into the Dodo I started the engines, and the propellers kicked into life.
Eddie had got the case to the surface, and between us we managed to haul it up into the boat.
“Get going” Eddie shouted, starting to untie the rope that lashed the RIB to the plane “I’ll split in the boat”
“Load the case into the plane Eddie, they can’t follow it in their boat”
For a moment Eddie hesitated, then helped me to load the case onto the rear seats of the seaplane.
I climbed back up into the pilot’s seat “Meet me back at the harbour” I shouted, pulling on my headset.
Eddie nodded, and then I watched him as he pushed the RIB full throttle, heading away from the oncoming vessel.
I gave the seaplane full engines, and after a short skip across the waves, I pulled back on the control yoke to lift off, climbing up and away towards Mount Gordo.
We’d done it. We had f*cking done it!
I met Eddie back at Los Santos harbour a few hours later and we loaded the case into the back of his van. It was now evening and the sun was beginning to dip out to the west over Vespucci Beach.
“The pilot?” Eddie asked closing the van rear doors.
“Aaron? Nothing left of him” I replied. “Sharks I guess” I felt for Molly. I wasn’t going to tell her about any of this. It was a short drive across town back to the office. I still couldn’t believe that we had got away with it.
We arrived back at No More Grief and between us, we carried the case upstairs to the office using the elevator. Most of the other offices in the building were now closed for the day, and the place was quiet.
Lisa was there waiting for us, and we set the case down on the floor. We knelt down and looked for the opening catch. Pressing the catch caused a small flap to spring up and my heart sank. The case had a six digit combination lock. I had to laugh, I couldn’t believe it.
“f*ck” I said.
“I’ll get the grinder” Eddie stood up.
“You’ll set off the anti-tamper dye” I said, pointing to the warning sticker on the case.
“You could always ask Madrazo what the code is” Lisa said, sarcastically.
“The code is in the car”
We all turned round at hearing this new voice to see Molly Lubitz standing there in my office behind us.
“Molly? What the hell? You knew about this all along?” I finally asked, getting to my feet.
“I - it was Aaron’s idea. We were going to take it and disappear. Maybe go to Liberty City” She seemed nervous and was on the verge of tears.
“Jesus Molly” I moved to the window and looked down “You weren’t followed here were you?” The last thing I wanted was for Madrazo to link Aaron to me. That was a level of heat that I really didn’t need.
The floodgates opened and Molly poured out her tale of woe. Aaron had apparently made some bad business investments and they were in real trouble financially. He had met Madrazo and agreed to act as his courier, no questions asked. He would take packages from LSIA to Blaine County, and bring packages back. That was supposed to be it.
Aaron had figured out quickly that what he was bringing back each time was a sh*t-load of Martin’s money. They had somehow got hold of the combination code to the money case and had been skimming a little of it off the top each time. Aaron had decided though that on the next trip, he was going to take the lot.
I looked at the case. Who could really blame them?
I had been hoping to get away with not having to go after Molly’s car. Five million dollars? I could just buy her a new one. Now, after all we had been through, I had to go and retrieve it from a gun-toting gang of Hispanics. I must be f*cking loco.
I picked up my keys and opened my desk drawer, taking my holstered Browning pistol. I had always favoured the Browning since my days in the Regiment. It was reliable, and this one had been with me in some pretty hairy situations in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq. I picked up the two-way radios again.
“Keys?” I turned to Molly, holding out my hand. She reached into her bag and handed me the keys for the Dominator.
“You need a hand?” Eddie offered.
“No, I’m hoping that we can do this quietly” I replied, not optimistic.
“Come on” I said to Molly “You can help me look for it”
WHO YOU TRYIN TO GET CRAZY WITH ESSE?
Molly and I headed over to El Burro Heights. There was a large Hispanic community at this end of town, which also meant some pretty fierce gangs, the Vagos being the largest. It was just after midnight, we cruised around the neighbourhood a couple of times looking for the Dominator.
“There it is!” Molly finally said, pointing. I followed her finger and could see the orange of Aaron’s car up the side of a run-down house right on the edge of the neighbourhood, close to the freeway. Three youths were hanging out by the house. They looked like your typical Hispanic gang-bangers, long shorts, checked shirts, socks and sandals types. I drove around the block, turning the lights off, before slowly pulling up some way down the street.
Reaching across Molly’s lap, I opened the glove compartment and pulled out a large laser pointer and gave it to her. Switching on the radios, I passed her one of those also. She looked at them in bewilderment.
“Okay” I said “This is the plan. I’m going to go down there and play cop, your job is to play at being control. When I get on the radio, you answer with something that sounds like the cops”
“Steve, I don’t know anything about being in the police!” she exclaimed.
“Well you’re the f*cking actress” I said “Think of something. Improvise” I pulled out my wallet and made sure it was open at my driving licence “When you hear the word “snipers” press this button, point this at them and wave it around a bit, not before. Understand?”
“I think so” she said, looking at the laser pointer.
I pulled on some body armour. Not only did it make me look the part, I thought it might help if these kids got a bit crazy and started shooting. Professionals I could deal with, but stoned gang members with guns, anything could happen. I’d seen the sniper laser trick on an episode of Breaking Bad. Maybe it would work, maybe not.
“Keep the engine running. You drive this car when I give the signal, I’ll drive the Dominator. Where’s the code?”
“On a printed label stuck under the steering wheel column” she replied, then placed her hand on my arm as I opened the door “Hey, you okay driving stick?”
“I’m British love, we all drive stick” I winked.
I got out of the car, and clipped the radio to the body armour, and with my wallet in one hand and my Browning in another, I set off towards the house.
As I got near, the Vagos boys turned to look at me, liquor bottles and reefers in hand.
“Yo motherf*cker, what do you want?” one shouted.
“Police!” I shouted back, flashing my wallet at them quickly and pointing my Browning towards them “Don’t f*cking move!”
I was using my best San Andreas accent, but even after years of living here, it still wasn’t very convincing. However, it made these three clowns throw up their hands, and throw whatever it was they were smoking into the bushes nearby. It probably helped that my military background meant that I held my pistol correctly, not in that one-handed fashion so common amongst the street kids.
“Hey, easy homes” one said.
“Shut up” I shouted “Put your hands on the back of your head and turn around!”
These kids knew the drill, and turned round without much persuasion. I kept my pistol on them and pressed my radio.
“10-23. Target located” This was the only police code I knew, because I had been present a few times during repo jobs when we had needed the LSPD to assist us.
“Proceed with caution” Molly’s voice replied “Backup is on its way”
I was impressed. Molly was playing the part, a future Oscar winner for sure.
“Copy that” I said, loudly so these guys heard me clearly “Ready snipers!”
On cue, Molly began to shine the laser pointer from the Gallivanter up the street, and the red dot appeared on the wall of the house in front of my three “suspects”
“See that?” I said to them indicating the dot above their heads “Make one wrong move, including turning around, and your head gets f*cking blown off!”
“Yo man” one cried “We didn’t do anything”
I patted each one of them down. Two of them were clean, but the third had a C9 tucked into his shorts. I took it and stuck it down the waistband of my jeans.
“That car is reported stolen” I said, indicating the Dominator “I’m taking it in. I should take all three of you assholes in for grand theft auto. If you don’t want a dozen more cops here in three minutes, then don’t f*cking move!”
These kids weren’t stupid, and would quickly see through this charade so I had to hurry.
I went up the side of the house and fired up the Dominator, backing it out of the driveway. They were still stood with their hands on their heads.
“You lads have a nice evening” I said in my own accent to the bewildered three as I passed, then pressed the radio “Okay Molly, get out of there”
We got out of the neighbourhood as quick as we could. The two-ways were still in range so I pressed the button.
“Molly follow me, and don’t f*cking crash my car!”
“Don’t f*cking crash mine!” came the indignant reply. It made me smile, fair enough.
I felt under the steering wheel, and sure enough, my thumbnail caught what felt like a sticky label, the type you print yourselves from those office label machines. I peeled it off and stuck it to the back of my hand. Heading across town towards the office I phoned Lisa.
“I have the code Lisa, are you ready?” I said, balancing my cell between my neck and my shoulder “Okay 6 – 5 – 6 – 3 – 2 – 6”
I could hear her repeating the numbers to Eddie. There was silence for a minute, I heard a click, and then I heard Lisa’s voice.
“Oh my god!”
From her reaction, it sounded as if we had done it.
“We’ll be twenty minutes” I said, then pressed the button on the phone to hang up “Bingo!”
WINNER TAKES ALL
Molly and I arrived back at the office together. As we rushed out of the elevator and into the office I could see Lisa and Eddie with their arms raised, and straight away I knew something was up. As I rounded the corner to my desk, instantly all the pieces started to click into place. I stopped dead in my tracks. Sat there in my chair with his pistol pointed at us was none other than Aaron, surrounded by piles of the money all over my desk. This was a set up, and I had fallen for it, literally, hook, line and sinker. Worse still, I had left both my Browning and the Vagos kid’s C9 in the car downstairs.
“Back from the dead huh?” I could have kicked myself.
“Sorry boss, I couldn’t warn you” Lisa said.
“Yes, sorry Steve” Aaron stood up, his pistol aimed straight at me “We weren’t going to involve you until the GPS smashed. But we needed somebody who knew how to repair it. Somebody not connected to Madrazo. When my car was stolen, we definitely needed you in”
“Come on, you couldn’t have known that I would find that GPS tracker” I laughed
“Who do you think put it there?” Aaron said “And who do you think followed you in the tunnel that night?”
“That was you?”
“And Walter” Aaron replied with a nod towards Eddie.
“I gotta say boss, you’re a hard man to keep up with” Eddie suddenly said, lowering his hands and walking over to where Aaron was stood. “We didn’t expect you down there quite so quick and at first thought you were some homeless bum. We couldn’t risk anybody else finding the tracker”
I had to laugh, I had been taken for a mug. Eddie, my so-called loyal and trusted employee. I had even considered him to be my friend.
“Eddie you snake!” Lisa cried.
“The two guys in Benny’s. That was you two wasn’t it? It was your Casco Eddie, not Madrazo’s” I said.
“We knew Benny would feed that story to Leroy, and we knew that Leroy would feed it to you” Eddie replied, now brandishing his own pistol.
I felt like smashing his face in. I had been royally stitched up. These two jokers had concocted this whole plan so as to get their hands on five million of Martin Madrazo’s money and disappear. Faking a plane crash and a death to throw Madrazo off the scent, they had waited until they thought the heat had died down before coming up with this scheme to get somebody out of the loop to repair the GPS and retrieve the money for them.
“You better all pray that Martin doesn’t find you” I said grimly.
“Are you going to tell him?” Aaron sneered.
Aaron was right, I couldn’t say anything about this to Madrazo. He wouldn’t be too impressed with my role in this little caper if he ever found out, and the phrase “Shoot the messenger” might well end up becoming literally true. Besides, for as much as I could have willingly thrown these two out of my office window right then, I was fond of Molly, and I didn’t want any harm to come to her. These three were going to disappear with the five million, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Lisa and I spent the next hour stacking the money into fold-out cardboard stationary boxes. Aaron kept Lisa at gunpoint upstairs whilst I was forced to help Eddie load them into his van. To anybody watching, it just looked as if we were moving office files. When the last box was loaded, Eddie got into the driver’s seat.
“See you around Steve”
“Somehow, I don’t think you will” I shot back, before heading back upstairs. Aaron and Molly were ready to go.
“Your van is loaded. Now both of you get the f*ck out of my office” I gestured behind me towards the door with my thumb. Aaron backed up towards the door, still with his pistol levelled, but Molly stepped forward. She was tearful.
“Steve I’m so sorry” she cried.
“Yeah” I replied, looking at both of them in turn “you may be”
And with that, they were gone.
Lisa and I didn’t say anything for a few minutes, both of us thinking about what had happened, and what could have been. Then, as if to bring us back down to reality, the phone rang. Lisa let it ring for what seemed like an eternity, before picking it up and saying those familiar words in the most cheerful voice she could muster.
“Good morning, you’re through to No More Grief, how may I help you?”