Payment in full
Joe Caradonna was done, cleaned out. He scooped his jacket off the back of the chair and slouched away from the table towards the bar. Tomorrow he would have to face the reality of his $250,000 debt; for now, he would drink.
“Cash only, Mr Caradonna,” the barman told him.
He slumped into a chair near the bar. He’d have to sell his house and move back to a rented apartment. The kids weren’t going to like that. All things considered, it would be easier just to put a bullet through his brain, and let his wife collect on the insurance.
A smartly dressed man beckoned the barman, slipped a $100 bill to him.
“Bourbon, isn’t it, Mr Caradonna?”
Joe grunted. The barman poured two doubles, handed one to the stranger, the other to Joe.
“I’m Harry, by the way. Can we talk?”
They moved to a secluded booth. Nobody else was near.
“Quite a mountain to climb, $250,000. I guess you could use a little help.”
Joe looked up sharply. Harry laughed gently.
“Don’t worry, Joe. I’m not here to break your legs.”
“No, I have a proposition for you. You work for Winston Davies, the architects, don’t you?”
Joe stared at Harry silently.
“I need to get into their building, in, shall we say, a clandestine fashion.”
He raised a hand to silence Joe’s immediate objection. “Hear me out, won’t you?
Winston Davies have swindled me; stolen my intellectual property. Help me, and you’ll be helping to right an injustice.
All I need from you is to know where certain building plans are filed, and the detailed security arrangements that protect the office. When I have recovered my property, I will give you a quarter million, cash, untraceable.”
Joe dropped his eyes before Harry’s compelling gaze.
By the time Joe and Harry left the building, Harry had exactly what he needed and Joe had a manilla envelope containing $10,000; a gesture of good faith, Harry called it. Joe called it a lifeline. What a fool he’d been with the gambling! He stood more upright and walked more confidently than he had done for months.
The following night, a nondescript figure walked up to the office of Winston Davies. He unlocked the door with a key and punched in Joe Caradonna’s six digit pass code. The door opened smoothly and he went in, locking it carefully behind him. Once at the back of the atrium, in the shadows, he slipped on a face mask, and then took the elevator to the fifth floor.
The files were where Joe had said they would be. The intruder carefully photographed them, checked to make sure he’d found them all, tidied up, and locked the cabinet again. He went back to the ground floor, took off the face mask, and left. Nobody would know that the office had been burgled. Harry would be pleased with that.
Harry was indeed pleased. He gave the burglar $10,000 and a bonus of $5,000. At $15,000 dollars, the detailed plans of the Monod Institute were a snip. His patient research was paying off. He now had a map that would show him a way into one of the most secret and secure places in the world, the biological weapons facility in Yeruham, Israel.
A night later, Joe waited until his wife was asleep before slipping out of the house. The address he had been given was in a dirty, ill-lit street. He realized suddenly that it was behind a club where he had played some high stakes poker. That had been in the days when he won more than he lost. He felt a flicker of excitement. Maybe at last his luck had changed, and those days of triumph would come again!
He was early. He glanced up and down the street. No-one. He checked the entrance against the description he’d been given. It matched. The door was unlocked and he walked in. The room behind was empty. Joe looked for a light, but there was no bulb in the fitting.
The door to the street opened again. Confident, smiling, Harry came in. He reached into his breast pocket.
“Here’s your payment, Joe.”
His hand swept out, concealing the gun until the last second. He jammed the muzzle under Joe’s throat. Joe had just enough time to feel the cold metal and half raise his arms as Harry squeezed the trigger, and then he slumped to he ground.
Harry pressed the gun into each of Joe’s hands in turn, and then placed it into his right hand as though he’d killed himself. The only other prints on the gun were those of the salesman who’d sold Harry the gun that afternoon. Harry put the receipt into Joe’s wallet. That should be enough to convince the police, hard-pressed as they were for resources. Open and shut case.
Harry said a quick prayer for the dead man; and left.