Hopefully One Day (in progress)by Marc Teatum
Hopefully One Day — A woman who makes her living fixing problems shouldn’t be unusual. But if those problems start at a downtown Law Firm, with clients that have problems, the managing partner in this firm knows who to call to get the job done, The star of this story is unusual, and sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed. This woman has been trained in covert operations, surveillance, rides a modified Harley, is skilled in martial arts, has the charms of both a snake and a nun, and could sell an eskimo ice cream and Satan a space heater. Amazingly competent on the outside. But on the inside, she’s just as insecure as you and I. When she’s hired to transport a priceless collection of jewels from Boston to New York City, the job seems simple enough. But adding in the dowager owner of the gems who demands to be along for the ride, her back-biting, greedy, selfish children who want want want all the money that their mother has now, as well as our heroine’s new love met on the side of the road, a cast of other criminals and unindicted co-conspirators, and you’ve got an easy job turned into a recipe for disaster. This story is full of love, loyalty, betrayal, abandonment, and redemption that promises to be a rollercoaster!
The night is dark, early for this time of year it seems. Maybe it’s the cloud cover, blocking the half moon that sits high up and away, maybe it’s this part of town, an area that developers haven’t discovered and raped in the name of progress and growth. Street lamps that have the wattage of a flashlight and a third of the storefronts vacant tend to create shadows that outnumber the pools of light. Nothing good ever dwells in the shadows. The mystery of the blackness rarely hints of happy times. Around here, anxiety runs high and imagination runs rampant, often for no reason other than the fear of the unknown. The smell of inactivity in the air isn’t as bad as that of the old garbage strewn about or the puke from doorway dwelling drunks trying to sleep off the too much cheap whiskey purchased with the coins collected from rattling coffee cups along the sidewalks for hours. But it doesn’t fill the senses lovingly like floral and fauna.
The city feels half asleep as the office workers have all headed home and the urban dwellers have yet to come out as a high powered custom motorcycle sits all alone idling, rumbling, at a traffic light for no one else. Its rider is sheathed in black leather from head to toe. The flat black full face helmet matches the paint job on this machine as the rider’s boots stand flat on the rough pavement below. The red light from the signal overhead draws a thin line down the center of the visor almost cutting the head perfectly in half.
Most times there’s a feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction, when a job is done and delivered. Most times. In the private security business, those times are few and far between. More often than not when you present the final report, everything just turns to shit. Tonight was one of those times. Telling one business partner that the other was robbing him blind and lying about it for years never goes over well. Having to slide your chair back to stay out of the path of flying bottles of beer as two guys leap over a table at each other, clawing, swinging and cursing isn’t like Shakespeare in the Park. People suck and relationships that start out with such promise often fall apart when dishonesty, envy, and greed get in the way. Or maybe sometimes it’s just the fault of an addiction. Drugs. Gambling. Sex. It doesn’t matter. Each can destroy lives, make people do things to loved ones that they normally wouldn’t do. Addictions can turn saints into assholes. And this particular job was just another testimony to weakness.
Picking neutral ground to deliver bad news is always a good idea and tonight’s ‘on it’s way down’ tavern was the perfect choice. Neither party had a stake in the business, so it couldn’t have been used as fuel for starting a fire as in: “See all this? If it weren’t for me, none of this would have been possible.” Or the corollary of “See all this? If I didn’t take a chance, all this would be lost”. Sometimes hints of revisionist history and justification are as dangerous as a fifty caliber gun on top of a Humvee in a foreign land. The only way a professional can survive is to play the center of the road, ride the yellow line, don’t pick a side. You don’t care who is right or who is wronged. As long as the payment is made in greenbacks at the time of delivery, the two of them could tear each other from limb to limb. Just don’t care. Just take the money and walk away. It’s a helluva way to make a living, but it’s better than floral arranging. And as the dust starts to rise, a good investigator knows when to collect the fee and walk.
In this case, it was immediate and quickly. Then it’s out the door and be on your way.
The light turns green and the thunder of the machine echoing off the granite office buildings is deafening as the bike launches and grows louder and deeper as the motor works its way upward through the gears. It’s a comforting sound for the rider leaning onto the entrance ramp to a short tunnel that exits the city and empties out onto the North Shore of Boston.
Forty minutes of fast paced riding along streets that were originally cow paths; nothing in a straight line, weaving along oceanside roads that are a series of hard turns, brings the bike closer towards home. Racing the waves that crash on the sand, zooming up a side street in a beachside town and into a condominium development that sits high on a hillside, the rider hits a small button on the handlebars and the garage door on one of the units slowly rises and the sound of the engine is once again thunderous in this small suburban cave. The garage is spartan by choice, the space is designed for this machine alone, with a workbench at the end, a large rolling tool box on one side, and a hydraulic motorcycle lift taking up the other. The floor is flat gray coated with an industrial grade paint and there are stereo speakers in all four corners. Two six foot long fluorescent light fixtures illuminate the room. The bike comes to a halt and the door behind closes quickly. The rider hits the kill switch, turns the petcock valve to the gas line and using the thick heel of the black boots, knocks down the kickstand, leans the machine over to one side in a smooth routine movement. Dismounting and pushing a button on each of the hardcased saddlebags, a mechanical ‘ppzzzzttttt’ sound fills the void where the rumble of the motor was moments before. Reaching over, the rider extracts a padded laptop case from one side, and a neatly folded karate gi with its black belt tied tightly around it, from the other. Placing them both on the floor, the rider pulls off the helmet and her long thick black hair tumbles out. She hangs the bucket on the wall to the side of the door and runs her hands through her hair to give it life again.
Punching in the security code on the lock to the interior of the house, She turns the handle and steps inside. A deep breath and She feels the comfort that can only come from a place that is home. Yet it feels as empty as the city just left behind. The contrast of the quiet now to the rumble of the past journey doesn’t go unnoticed. She lives alone by choice, as she likes to remind herself and any of the few close friends she has when they want to set her up on a blind date. Standing in the dimly lit hallway, she reaches for the light switch to bring visibility to space only to feel a hand on her left wrist.
“I’ve been waiting for you” is whispered into her ear, as a man’s bulky body is felt pressing in from behind.
Dropping both the laptop and the gi, she spins to her left, grabs the hand that grasps her wrist and pivoting in the reverse direction while pushing back, she takes control by pinning the man against the wall holding both of his hands at his sides.
Staring the man straight into his eyes, she says “I knew giving you the combination to the front door was a big mistake”.
He forcefully raises his arms straight out along the wall, knowing that his reach exceeds her grasp, and using long strides and the weight advantage, he steps toward her and now it is her turn to be pinned against the opposite wall.
“That’s not what you’ll say in the morning” he says as he leans down to kiss her lips as he relaxes his grip on her and reaches for the zipper of her leather jacket.
Just as his mouth is reaching hers, she grabs the front of his shirt and sweeps her right leg under the man, and he falls to the floor of the hallway.
Standing over him, she says, “Let’s just see if you last until morning, Jimmie” as she finishes unzipping her coat. She sheds the heavy leather, revealing a snow white tank top against her olive toned skin tucked neatly into her pants.
Dropping the jacket on top of the man, she steps over him and heads to the stairs to the upper level of the condo that houses the kitchen, living and dining rooms, “I hope that at least you made me one of your fabulous Mai Tais?”
Pulling the garment off his face and watching her long legs in the leather pants move away, he comments “Don’t I always take care of you?”
Tossing her thick black hair as she turns to look back over her shoulder at him on the floor, “Yeah right, like you’re in any position to take care of me” she laughs.
Chapter 2: The Job
She long ago grew tired of real live, flesh and blood, breathing humans being referred to as ‘clients’, ‘targets’ or ‘assets’.
She was definitely out of place in this environment. All the men were dressed in standard business attire: dark suits, white shirts and ties. The designs and colors of the ties were about the only thing that the average person could use to tell them apart. That and their shoes; black only, wingtips or not; loafers were not an option at this firm. The women, too, were uniformed in corporate culture wool. Not a pantsuit in the entire company. Knee length Skirts and sensible shoes were the mark of an older member, shorter (but not too short) skirts and higher (but not too high) heels indicated a young turk looking to make her mark on the world.
High heeled boots, leather pants and a black long sleeved v-necked shirt certainly set Her apart from the other women and placed her outside the hierarchy of regular staff.
“Excuse me?” She interrupted. “Does this client have a name?”
At the head of the long table, the senior most partner in the firm stopped his monologue long enough to look halfway down the right side of the table to the obvious outsider.
“You will be given that information when the time is right, as usual, Miss…..and just what is your name again?” one of the partners said in the condescending tone you’d expect.
“You’ll be given that information when the time is right. As usual” She replied.
After the meeting broke as She followed one of them, her employer, down the hall to his office, the combination of her long legs and heeled boots made her stride confidently stylish. She knew she was in for a bit of a dressing down and the door didn’t even close before he started in.
“You know, your talents and skills will only allow boorish behavior to be tolerated for only so long.”
As she sat in a chair facing a gargantuan dark wooded desk, She said, “My ability to deliver what your firms requires with a 100% success rate, regardless of the constraints of time, distance and difficulty allows me the luxury of not having to tolerate fools like Senior Partner Pompous Ass in there for any longer than I have to. But you’re right. I should have been more respectful. Maybe next time. Maybe.”
“I would expect as much.” The lawyer sighed as he took his place at the desk.
The office, on the same floor as the grand view conference room and reception area, indicated his stature in the firm. Having two windows to look out from, in addition to the oriental rug, impressive book cases, and other office furniture that matched the dark wood of the desk further reinforced his position. Non partnered attorneys or lower level associates were relegated to interior offices or lower floors within the building. In places like this, location of office space was parallel to power and prestige.
“So what do you need me for this time?” She asked, as she pulled a snack sized bag of potato chips out an began to munch away.
“ Our client, “ the lawyer started, until he looked up and saw the expression on her face that screamed: ‘You’re kidding, right?’ “I’m sorry….Mrs Benson is a very important long time client to the estate department of this firm. Her family owns several buildings in this city that both the investment and real estate departments of this firm also consider important.”
“You guys are nothing if not a supermarket of service to humanity. Your billings must be through the roof already this year” She put in sarcastically.
“Yes well, we have to make our money somewhere or where else would we get the funds to pay expensive subcontractors like you” the lawyer retorted. “Anyway, over the years Mrs. Benson has accumulated a large quantity of exquisite stones and other jewelry that she had decided to liquidate and has come to us to assist. Of course we told her we’d be happy to be of service”
“For a fee I’m sure”
“Of course. 10% is usual and customary in matters such as these.”
“Why do you need me? Don’t you have some lackey that can just take the goods down the street to the diamond exchange and make a deal?”
“Perhaps I didn’t explain this correctly. This isn’t grandma’s pearls and garnets we’re talking about here. In her eight six years on this earth, she’s amassed quite an impressive collection. We’ve had a sampling of the inventory appraised and on the conservative side, the value of the entire package falls close to the one million dollar mark.”
“That’s a nice place to fall. So for being errand boy to the right gem dealer, you guys will pocket nearly one hundred grand. Obviously my question still stands”, She said as she crossed her legs, the sound of crunching leather permeating the air, “Why do you need me? What’s wrong with Wells Fargo?”
“We’ve contacted an international gem broker who will able to maximize the return on the sale of these items. Unfortunately this sale will not be taking place here in Boston as his time in the states is limited. We have to transport the goods to New York City. Further, due to the nature of his business and clientele, all business conducted needs to be done as discretely as possible. Mrs. Benson, following his lead agrees. No large armored truck, no uniformed guards, no fanfare. That is why you’ve been called in.”
She sat still for a moment. Looking out the window behind the lawyer, she could see planes taking off and landing at Logan Airport and already the windmills in her mind were turning. She ran her right hand through her long black hair once and then stood up and walked over to the window and gazed down at the streets below. At that time, in the financial district, they were almost empty. Too many workers working in too many offices and cubicles and not being outside enjoying the late spring warmth.
“What haven’t you told me?” She asked without turning back to the lawyer.
He leaned forward resting his hands on his desk, “I was waiting for this question. With the proceeds from this sale, Mrs. Benson will be donating the funds to various charities.”
“Charities that your firm either manages or are active on the boards of, no doubt” She interrupted.
“No doubt” he replied.
“Big surprise there” She sarcastically said under her breath. “You guys really like to cover all bases, don’t you?”
“Regardless, her children don’t exactly agree with this plan and we have reason to believe that one son in particular, would not be above facilitating the theft of these items as he sees his share of whatever inheritance might have been coming his way disappearing because of his current behavior.”
“So my job is to get the gems safely to some guy somewhere in New York. Seems simple enough” She said.
The lawyer was silent at his desk until She asked: “What else haven’t you told me?”
The lawyer closed his eyes, took a breath, slowly let it out saying, knowing that this last part wasn’t going to be well received. “Mrs. Benson insists on accompanying the goods to the point of sale.”
She turns from the window, pivoting at the waist, staring down her nose at the lawyer at his desk.
“You’re kidding me, right? An eighty six year old woman and a million dollars in stones on a road trip to New York. Why does this sound like the plot of a bad Disney movie?”
“No movie plot here, just a job.”
“What’s the timetable?” She finally asked.
“The broker is booked into the New York Hilton for three days at the end of next week.”
She walks away from the window and back to the chair and drops down in front of the lawyer. The carriage clock that sits on the credenza filing cabinet off to one side of the office can be heard ticking away as the lawyer stares at the woman looking out into space past the landscape paintings of nearby Cape Cod. Just as he is about to ask her something, She begins to speak.
“Ten thousand, non-refundable, paid up front, I pick the team and I pick the time of the operation. No interference from this firm, no status reports will be made, no requests for updates, no meetings after this. Additionally, I want whatever resources this firm has at my disposal immediately upon request. Mrs Benson needs to be ready to go with 12 hrs notice at any time within the three day period the broker will be in New York. I will not communicate with the broker, your office will. Those are my terms.”
The lawyer leaned back in his chair, clasped his hands together and looked at her.
“I can give you seventy five hundred, but I will need to know your team and require updates every 48 hrs.”
She rises, and before turning to leave, she says, “This isn’t a flea market and we’re not talking about a set of mid-century metal folding snack tables”. She strides to the door of his office and just as she puts her hand on doorknob, he calls to her, “OK, ten thousand, but half now up front, the rest upon successful sale of the stones.”
Turning around plants her feet slightly apart, crosses her arms before she fires back, “Ten thousand, plus expenses not to exceed 12% of the fee. Five thousand in cash, ready for pick up here in four hours time, the balance waiting, in cash, at the New York Hilton upon delivery of the stones and Mrs. Benson, regardless of the outcome of the sale. I have no control over that action.”
After a few moments of pondering which department in the firm will be able to squeeze difference out of future billings to Mrs. Benson, he says: “Agreed”.
She walks back to the lawyer, extends her hand to officially finalize the deal and continues, “I want dossiers on Mrs. Benson, her children and this broker ready, burned to a flash drive, when I send for the money later today.”
The two shake hands and she turns and walks out the door and doesn’t make a sound as she threads her way through the maze of cubicles and offices toward the bank of elevators. Only then is the click click click click of her heels heard on the tile floor in front the vertical transport. She pushes the button and steps in upon arrival. Pushing the lower level service floor, lets out a screech of victory, just as the doors close.
“Yeah baby!!” is heard in the reception area, but the staff there has no idea where it came from.
When the elevator doors open in the garage area, She begins to walk over to where She left her motorcycle.
Within four or five steps, “Shit” She exclaims as she bends over to pull the boots off her feet one at a time exposing athletic socks on her feet. “How the fuck do hookers wear these things?” She ponders outloud.
Carefully tip-toeing across the rough concrete parking garage floor She finally gets to her machine.
Leaning against the bike, she activates a button that opens the hard saddle bags on either side and pulls out a pair of sensible motorcycle boots and stuffs the hooker boots in. They did their job for the day, and she was done with them.