After dinner with Sam, Brian stopped into his storage unit to pick up his phone and a backpack. He had been packing the backpack over the last few days, with items he would need for his withdrawal. He ditched the blue button-down shirt he wore to dinner and put on a black knit t-shirt with long sleeves, then grabbed the Yankees hat, backpack and locked up.

After walking three blocks, he spotted a taxi and waved at the driver to stop. The taxi pulled over and Brian opened the back door and got in.

“St. Marks and 2nd Ave, please,” Brian said to the driver.

This was not his intended location, but close enough that he could arrive in a bright yellow cab without attracting any attention. Then, he could walk the rest of the way and arrive unnoticed and ready for his operation.

Brian had been planning this for months. He thought through his tentative plan as he rode through the bumpy streets in the back of the cab.

He was heading for a particular apartment building, atop which lived one of the larger mob bosses, Nikolay Noskov. Tonight was the night on which cash deliveries were made from Nikolay’s crew. The crew leaders usually arrived within a couple of hours, about 4 or 5 a night, all heavily guarded by a carload of guys. A couple of them would enter in the back of the building, allowed in by a couple of armed heavies, then make their way to the top floor via a private elevator, also guarded. If Nikolay’s guys didn’t know them, they didn’t get into the elevator.

At the top, another couple of guys stood by. Across from the elevator, in a large conference room, the crews met Nikolay, or one of his generals to accept the cash, typically in duffle bags or large briefcases. Once the deposit was made, the crew left the room and one of Nikolay’s trusted guys wheeled the cash out of the room and down the hall to a room with 4 large safes where the cash was stored.

How did Brian know all of this? He had witnessed it, all remotely, thanks to a large collection of security cameras that covered the top floor, bottom floor, and outer perimeter. One of Sam’s buddies, Serg, had given Brian a few lessons in wifi hacking and it didn’t take long for him to crack into Nikolay’s weak spot — his computer network on which the security system ran. The last lesson Serg had given him enabled him to disable elements of this particular security system. Brian planned to walk right in — after he scaled the building and opened a window, that is.

Brian paid the cabbie in cash and got out. He walked up 2nd Avenue and quietly slipped into an alley. The alley continued for 2 blocks before he arrived at Nikolay’s building. By then, Brian had swapped out the Yankees hat for a black stocking ski mask rolled up as a cap. He likes to go old school when breaking and entering. He also turned on his wifi repeater tuned for Nikolay’s network and pulled out a 7-inch tablet. He ducked behind his favorite dumpster, used previously for surveillance, and turned on the tablet. He tapped an icon which loaded a series of tiny video icons, each representing the outer cameras. Then he swiped up to view the inner cameras. After a minute, Brian felt like everything was going as planned. He had a visual on the entrance to Nikolay’s back entrance gauntlet and planned to wait until the 1st delivery to scale the building and the 3rd delivery before he made his move inside the building. This way, if they were watching the security, they would probably be watching inner cameras while he was climbing and moving in. Brian knew that a guy monitored the system, but didn’t know how intently he watched since there was no camera in the room Brian felt certain was used for security monitoring.

The first crew arrived in two cars around 10:15 PM. Two black guys got out of each and two of them had big suitcases. All four entered the building, while another guy stayed with each car, getting out to look around and chat.

Brian could see on the video that they entered the elevator. He turned off the tablet, stuffed it into the backpack and moved toward the building. While he could use the fire escape, it was monitored in several places and he didn’t want to disable too many cameras for too long. So, he chose an unmonitored section, out of sight of the back door, to make the primary ascent to the top floor. The building had ledges at the 5th and 9th floors and Brian could easily leap that high, even with the backpack. From 9, he should be able to leap to 13 after disabling a camera on the roof. This was one of the few buildings that actually had a 13th floor, which is a feature Nikolay liked. It added a bit of mystique.

After a brief moment to look around and check the windows across the alley, Brian took a few steps back from the building and jumped straight up, easily landing on the 5th-floor ledge, grabbing the edge of a window to stabilize. Then, checking windows again, he turned and backed up to the very edge, jumping again to the 9th ledge. However, he had to grab the edge since he didn’t have the distance from the building to clear it.

He swung out a bit then pulled up sharp to land on the ledge, again grabbing a window for stability. Then, Brian pulled out a small box with six switches on the front. It was a Bluetooth interface to the app on the tablet. He flipped the top switch with his thumb. Two seconds later, a dim LED illuminated indicating the intended camera had frozen the video.

Then, he took another quick look, turned and jumped, grabbing the top of the building. Brian pulled up a bit to peak over the edge. He knew the roof typically had a guy or two walking around and, unfortunately, one was standing just a few feet away, looking down at the two cars in the alley.

“Ugg,” he thought as he considered his next move. He peeked over again to check for another guy but didn’t see one. The guy looked like he was watching the ground closely, for any kind of funny business, though Brian wasn’t sure how much he could see from 14 floors high, and it was a poorly lit alley.

He decided to risk it. He took another quick peek, then quietly pulled up and rolled over the edge to lay on top of the wall. He quickly stood and walked quietly and quickly down on top of the wall for about 15 yards. Then he stepped down, quietly, onto the pea graveled rooftop and eased around an HVAC unit and ducked. Peeking around, it appeared that he was not noticed.

Looking back toward the front of the building, Brian could see a chest-high wooden fence that enclosed a patio and small pool. He quietly walked, hunched over toward the fence, making his way to the wall of the elevator shaft. Just over the fence, he knew there was a door leading to the elevator and a stairway, plus a camera, that was currently frozen like the others on the roof. The door may or may not be locked, but was probably not guarded on the inside. Brian would soon find out. He peeked over the fence. No one was in sight. He sat in the corner against the building.

He pulled out the switch box and flipped the switch to turn on the rooftop cameras. He reached into his pack and pulled out the tablet, turned it on and waited for the video to sync. He could see that a group was leaving the conference room and entering the elevator. Now he would wait.

He could see, in the conference room video, two guys rolling a cart, with stacks of cash, out the rear door, down a short hallway, and into the safe room. Brian had watched this same process over and over on many different nights. However, there was one difference tonight. The safe room was locked and a guard opened it from the inside. On previous nights, one of the guys with the carts would unlock the door and make the deposit into a safe. This time, the carts were wheeled inside and left with the guy on the inside. Brian had been counting on empty rooms and hallways. This was going to require a change in plan.

He continued to watch as the inside guy opened a safe and stacked the cash inside. Then, he closed the safe and wheeled the cart back to the conference room. Next, he walked back to the safe room, unlocked the door and entered, then sat in a chair on one side of the room. Before sitting, he must have pulled his smartphone out of his pocket, as he was now looking at it while waiting for the next delivery.

Brian minimized the safe room video. He tapped the alley camera as it looked like there was movement. Sure enough, two more cars were arriving. Two guys exited each, both carrying large cases, as a third car arrived. One guy appeared from it and joined the other four at the door. They all entered the building and proceeded upstairs. Again, the two greeters met them and they all walked into the conference room. Cash was counted and placed on the carts. One of the greeters handed over a sheet of paper and then the five guys and one greeter exited the room. After seeing them into the elevator, he returned to the conference room. Brian noticed he appeared to say something into a mobile phone or walkie-talkie. Then the greeters wheeled the cart out and down to the safe room. Brian tapped the safe room video and noticed the inside guy had already stood up and walked toward the door. The greeters knocked and the door opened.

“So, they radio ahead so they know who’s knocking,” Brian thought. “This must be some new process they’ve implemented. Maybe they had a recent incident and they’re more cautious. More complications…”

The greeters exited the safe room and walked to the hall, exiting the hall through another door instead of the conference room. The inside guy emptied the cart into the same safe, then returned the cart to the conference room.

Brian tapped the video in the hallway containing the two greeters. They walked toward the camera and appeared to open the door underneath it. There was another doorway in this hall.

“That might be the place to hide until the time is right,” Brian thought. “I think it’s time to move inside.”

He stood to a crouch and looked around, then looked over the fence. He flipped the switch on the box, then, after the LED illuminated, he jumped over the fence and moved by the door. It was unlocked and he moved inside, then opened another door to the stairway. He listened for a few seconds, then pulled out the box and turned the roof cameras back on. Next, he slowly crept down the stairs to the 13th floor. He pulled out the tablet. The video in the hallway, conference room and hallway to the safe room were empty. He flipped switch #2 on the box and an LED illuminated confirming those cameras were frozen. He opened the stairway door and entered the elevator lobby, then quickly moved to the conference room. He moved over to the hallway door and listened. After hearing nothing, he opened it and moved to the next door into the other hallway. He flipped switch #3, waited and moved into the hallway. He flipped switch #2 back to release those cameras, then moved to the door he had spotted on the video. He put his ear to the door — nothing. So he turned the knob and opened it. It was dark, but that was good. So he moved in and closed the door. Then he flipped switch 3 back on. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small flashlight. Looking around the room, it appeared to be a large storage room with file cabinets and shelves containing boxes, cleaning supplies and other random office equipment. He moved over to a corner so that he would be out of sight if someone walked in. Then, he fired up the tablet again.

It looks like another crew was arriving and had already entered the elevator. And the greeters had taken their positions in the elevator lobby. Brian was going to make his move as they left. He waited, watching the progress on the tablet. As the greeters left the safe room, Brian moved to the door of the storage room. He could see they both went back to the conference room. He listened for anyone in the hallway. He flipped switch 3 for the hallway. A moment later, he was at the door for the next hallway and flipped switch 4 to freeze the hallway to the safe room. He looked down at the tablet. The inside guy was loading the safe.

Brian stored the tablet in his backpack. He flipped switch 5 and waited for the LED.

“Ok,” Brian thought, “3 2 1”

Brian put his right hand on the doorknob and his left on the door about a foot higher. With a quick shove, he forced the door open, breaking the opposite side of the door jam. He crosses the room and was beside the inside guy as he spun around, trying to grab the automatic rifle hanging from his shoulder. Brian grabbed the gun, ripping it from its leather strap. He pushed the inside guy up against the safe door, putting his left hand over the guy’s mouth.

“Let’s not make a sound, or else I’m going to have to shoot you,” Brian said. “I’m going to take my hand off. If you make any loud noises, I will drown them out with the sound of this gun. Understand?”

The inside guy nodded. Brian took his hand off his mouth and grabbed the walkie off of his belt.

“You know there is no reason for me to make a noise,” he said in a thick Russian accent. “There are two cameras pointing at you. And I’m sure my comrades are on the way to shoot you.”

Brian backed up, keeping the gun pointed at the inside guy. He closed the door. The door jam was broken, but it would probably be unnoticed from the hallway. He walked over, grabbed the chair and put it against the door, just to keep it tightly closed.

“No, your comrades are paying no attention to us, I assure you. I think they are watching the baseball game,” Brian said in Russian.

The inside guy looked surprised. Brian wasn’t sure if it was from the crazy story or that he spoke to him in Russian.

“Now, how much money is on this table?” Brian asked, again in Russian.

The inside guy looked at a piece of paper next to the cash. “It’s about $650 thousand, I’ve already put some of it into the safe,” he replied.

Brian pulled a duffle bag from his backpack.

“Great, put it in there and make it quick,” Brian said.

The inside guy put the money in the duffle.

“Now,” Brian said, “I need a million more.”

The Russian laughed. “Just a million? Your bag will hold much more, why not fill it up? No matter how much you take, Nikolay is going to kill you just the same.”

“Funny,” Brian said. “Stack it on the table there. I need to count it. And make it fast.”

The Russian started stacking cash. “You have lived in Russia?” he asked. “Do you know Nikolay? Is that why you are taking his money?”

“No. I mean yes. I lived in Russia for many years. Met a woman there, but that was a long time ago. But, no, I don’t know Nikolay and that’s not why I’m taking the money. It’s not personal — I just need the money,” Brian replied.

“What, you think Nikolay is? Bank of America?” the Russian said.

“What’s your name?” Brian asked the Russian.

“My name is Vadim,” he replied.

“Listen, Vadim, you’re asking too many questions. I don’t want to hurt you, but I don’t have time to chat. Shut up and put that cash in the bag. It’s probably more than what I need, but that’s okay,” Brian said.

“Fine,” said Vadim. “You don’t look that old, when did you live there? Where in Russia did you live?”

“I’ve told you too much. Shut up and fill the bag,” Brian said.

“I don’t need to know much. We will find you. I have a very good memory for faces,” he said looking into Brian’s eyes, handing him the bag.

“Dammit!” Brian exclaimed in English, realizing he never pulled down his ski mask. “So much for old school. Looks like I failed that class.”

Vadim looked at him somewhat confused.

Brian looked back at Vadim. “Now, do you want me to knock you out, or will you be good enough to stay here until I can get out?” Brian asked, looking at Vadim intently.

Vadim replied with a grin, “Well, of course, you can trust me. I will stay right here.”

“Of course,” Brian replied, smiling back. Then he slugged the Russian with a left hook, sending him across the room, and crashing to the floor.

Brian put the gun on the table and grabbed the duffle. He lifted the bag, gauging its weight. Then he grabbed another stack of cash and tossed it in.

“What the hell? You never know when you need a little more,” Brian said as he moved toward the door.

He moved the chair and walked down the hall to the side door. He flipped the switch to disable the camera and walked into the hallway, then the storage room. He had noticed a window when he was here before. He walked over and raised the blind and examined the window for an alarm.

Then he heard footsteps in the hallway. They were probably setting up for the next crew, so the inside guy was about to be missed. Then Brian heard running footsteps and shouts.

“He’s been missed,” Brian thought.

He opened the window. No alarm, or at least he didn’t hear one. He looked out the window. Nothing appeared to be going on, yet. He pulled out the switch box and turned all cameras back on.

“I don’t want them to know I hacked in if I can help it,” he thought.

He climbed out the window, dragging the duffle and backpack with him since he couldn’t get out the window with it on his back. Standing crouched on the edge, he leaped out of the window toward the roof of the building across the alley.

He landed on the roof and jogged to the opposite side of the neighboring building. He put the backpack on his back, then jogged along the edge until he found the fire escape and started climbing down. Once he was three floors up, he leaped over, landing on the ground. Then he took off the ski mask and shoved it into the duffel bag with the cash. He reached over his shoulder and pulled a hood over his head. He headed south on 2nd Ave and waved down a cab.

The cab dropped Brain in Brooklyn Heights. Brian walked three blocks to another self-storage center 6 blocks away from Montague. This one wasn’t climate controlled like his other unit, but then he didn’t keep much in it, yet. It also didn’t have quite as many cameras and also allowed him to enter and exit a bit more inconspicuously. But it did have access to power and allowed him to add some additional security and also charge batteries for some of his equipment. He left the backpack on a desk. Then, he reached into the duffle and grabbed a stack of cash. He pulled half of it out and put the rest back into the bag. He shoved the cash into his pocket. Then, Brian put the duffle into a big wardrobe box full of clothes and closed it again. He pulled off the hoodie and put on a blue t-shirt and grabbed a grey hooded jacket. He pulled the tablet and switch box out and plugged them into charging cables. He didn’t plan to use them anytime soon, but they might as well be ready.

He put the hood on, then closed the storage unit and locked it. He walked out of the storage unit and traveled 8 blocks to his other storage unit. While walking, he pulled out his mobile phone and tapped a name on the message list.

He tapped on the keyboard, “We’re on. See you tomorrow night”

He arrived at his other storage facility, unlocking the front door with his code. He walked through the hallways to his unit, unlocked it and opened the door. He stepped in, took off the hoodie and hat, swapping it for the shirt he wore previously.

He pulled out his mobile and saw there was a text message, “OK”

He put his mobile on the desk and connected the charger. Then, he locked up and exited the facility.

As Brian approached the Custom House restaurant, he could see Sam standing out front staring intently at his phone, and laughing a bit. He was wearing his usual dark jeans, high-tops and a grey button-down shirt over a black graphic tee. He didn’t even see Brian approaching, so Brian said, “Sup, man?”, his usual greeting for Sam.

Sam was a skate punk, who finally realized he needed to make a living but wasn’t quite ready to grow up. Brian was one of a few friends and liked him because he was loyal, always had his head in the news and knew a lot about a wide range of different tech.

“Yo!” Sam replied. “Man, I was hoping you’d be early. I’m starvin’.”

“Hey, so what’s going on? I didn’t expect to see you for a day or so,” said Brian.

“Ah, man. Not much. I just didn’t have much goin’ on tonight, so I figured I’d see what you had going on.”

“Yeah, I’m meeting someone later. But I gotta eat. And who better to break bread with, than you.”

“Yeah, right,” Sam replied sarcastically. “So, let’s eat already,” Sam said heading toward the door.

They walked in and were seated right away. Not much of a dinner crowd, yet.

“So, man, did you work today?” Sam asked as they sat.

“Nah, I had today off. Had a meeting. ”

“Yeah? With who?” Sam asked looking surprised.

“I’m thinking about a career change,” Brian replied.

“That would require you to have a career in the first place!” Sam exclaimed, laughing.

“Yep, you’re right about that!”

“So, what was the meeting about?” Sam asked.

“Well, I have this guy bugging me to help him with some kind of thing he’s trying to sell. We’re meeting again tonight. He wants to show me some stuff,” Brian said, looking around as he tried to think of something that would bore Sam to the point he wouldn’t ask about it anymore.

“What is it?” Sam pressed on.

“I don’t know exactly, but he says it’ll change the way people manage their houses, or something like that,” Brian said, trying to make it sound really boring. “It may be stupid, but I don’t know yet.”

“Yeah, I see,” Sam replied. He looked away briefly, “Well, you can tell me later. What do you know about that new headset from Microsoft? Looks kinda cool, right? Thinkin’ about getting one.”

“Oh yeah? They’re kind of pricey aren’t they?” Brian replied.

“Yeah, I know. But I have a game in mind, that I want to write. Or help write, anyway,” Sam said, looking at Brian for his reaction.

“No kidding?” Brian said, fairly surprised, “I didn’t think you were doing games.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of a stretch, but I’ve been wanting to do it. Kind of a career change for me, too,” Sam said, with a sly grin.

“You have to have a career first!” Brian smiled back. “So, you call your app biz a career?”

“Not yet, but it would be cool if we struck it rich with this game,” Sam said. “It could be really cool for all three of us. It’s Nicki’s idea. And it’s a reeeeally killer idea. I can show you some storyboards.”

“All three of us? I can’t help you program this game. What do you need me for?” Brian asked, looking a bit confused. Then he figured it out.

“We need an investor,” Sam said, now with an even bigger, cheesier, sly grin.

Brian sat back, kind of looking away. “I see. Now I know why you wanted to grab a bite.”

“Dude!” Sam exclaimed. “It’s ultra cool. You gotta check this out.”

“Listen, maybe we can work something out” Brian replied. He actually had something in mind for this meeting, too. “How much do you need?”

“Umm, well, about 8 grand, maybe only 6 if you can’t do the 8,” Sam said, looking really nervous, biting his lip a little.

“I’ll give you the cash, but I need a big favor in return,” Brian replied after a brief pause.

Sam looked stunned and then excited. He didn’t expect this to be easy. “Sure! What is it? Just name it! You know I’m always good for your little favors. I owe you big for all you’ve done for me.”

“Well,” Brian said, leaning forward a bit, “This should be easy for you. I need someone who can build a hardware interface, for this venture I’m discussing. I need someone who can take two schematics and wire them together with a controller, or something.”

“Oh, what is it?” Sam asked.

Brian looked Sam in the eyes and replied “I don’t know what these things are, but they have to be wired together. And it’s gotta work without having access to the two devices it’s going to connect.”

Brian knew exactly what the two devices where, but couldn’t mention it without creating a lot more questions from Sam.

“Do you think you can find someone to do it?” he asked, looking at Sam for any kind of uncertainty.

“Shit yeah, man, Steve Lee can do that stuff in his sleep,” Sam said without any hesitation. “I’ll hook you guys up to talk about your little hook-up gadget.”

“Cool,” Brian said. “It’ll take me a day or so to get the cash. I assume cash is good for you?”

“Makes it easy” Sam replied. “I really appreciate this. You’ll get your money back, with interest. This thing’s gonna be big, for sure.”

“Ok, ok. Tell me about it while we eat,” Brian said, just as a waiter finally walked over.

Arriving at his stop in Brooklyn, Brian exited the subway station. Two blocks later he was at a storage facility, where he entered a code and a double-glass door slid open. He walked in and to left, then right until he found his unit. Pulling a key from his pocket, he unlocked the padlock on the unit, then slid the door up. Just inside was a small desk. He opened the top drawer, then reached into his pocket and pulled out his smartphone, turned it off, connected a power cable and put it in the drawer. He pulled out another phone and a set of keys from the drawer and placed them into his pockets. He dropped the “I heart NY” hat on a box in the unit, then grabbed a pair of Guess designer glasses and hung them from the neck of his shirt. Last, he grabbed his Yankees cap and put it on. He closed the door and closed the padlock.

After exiting the building, he walked another four blocks to a five-story brownstone. After four flights of stairs, he was finally in his apartment. He put the glasses, keys and the cell phone on a small table just inside the door. Then he reached down and switched on the cell phone.

Brian walked into the kitchen, scrubbed his hands and grabbed an apple. He walked over to the window and looked out over the river at the city. “It won’t be long. Can’t wait to get outta here.”

Brian finished the apple and walked back into the kitchen to ditch the core. He reached into the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. He checked his phone and it had two texts on it. One from a friend and another from his job. Looks like he’ll have Monday off, according to the text. That’s fine since he’s possibly going to need the time. His friend, Sam, wants to catch a bite. He could probably squeeze it in on his way to make “the withdrawal” later tonight. He replied to Sam, “How about 6:30 at Custom House on Montague?”

He put the phone back on the table. Next up, a shower and prep for the withdrawal, then dinner.

Susan Davis looked at her watch while she sipped her non-fat latte. It was going on 40 minutes since she spoke to Murphy, but she felt the exchange of information she was about to receive would net her a scoop exceeding that which she would get if she were still jockeying for a soundbite with the other reporters at the scene.

She was also expecting that her friendship with Detective Liz Murphy would increase the likelihood of an exclusive bit of information that no other news outlet would have. Of course, as a friend, she would only disclose it when Liz gave her the okay.

Davis checked her smartphone for messages and email, but there was nothing more important than this meeting, if it happened. She put the phone down and started to grab her latte as she noticed Murphy walking in with sunglasses on. She stood at the door while her eyes adjusted, keeping the glasses on, then she spotted Davis and walked over.

“Hey,” Davis said, “I have your coffee already, plain black, as always.”

“Thanks,” Murphy said, smiling as she removed the glasses. She sat in the chair next to Davis, putting a small bag in the chair across from her. Both women sat with their backs to the wall.

“So what’s the latest?” Davis asked, knowing she was about to add a new puzzle piece to the pile.

“We’re still trying to track this guy down, the ‘good Samaritan’ guy,” Murphy replied. “He walked off and hasn’t been seen since, and he gave us a bogus address.”

“Well of course he did,” Davis said. “He has something to hide, and I may have it on video.”

“So, let’s see it,” Murphy said, moving a bit closer.

“Well, from the witnesses I spoke to,” Davis said, “I thought this guy was already pretty incredible, taking out these two guys with a trash can lid and a bit of hand-to-hand. But when you see what I have, you’ll see why he probably wants to stay out of the limelight. But, I want to see your stuff first. It’s surveillance footage, right?”

Murphy pulled out an iPad out of the bag she was carrying. She tapped the screen a few times and held it up for Davis to see.

“These are from a few different angles, pieced together from the best angles,” Murphy said leaning over to watch with Davis.

After watching it, Davis replied, “Wow, the frisbee action was something else, but yanking the gun and pounding that guy was really gutsy. Just like everyone described.”

“Yeah,” said Murphy.

“But wait until you see this,” Davis said, pulling her own iPad from a leather case. She tapped the screen a few times to log in and start the video.

“Okay, this guy was recording the action from his office in the bank, second floor,” Davis said a bit excitedly. But watch the background. You see the frisbee lid over there as it flies like a bullet right into the guys head. He falls, and the other guy starts shooting, right?” Davis said.

“Okay, yeah I see,” Murphy replied.

“But keep watching the space where the frisbee can came from. The guy dived into that alley. Watch it,” Davis said.

Murphy watched as a blur moved up from the alleyway, up to the 3rd floor of the parking deck.

“What?” Murphy said, cocking her head a bit.

“Keep watching,” Davis said.

At the top of the frame, Murphy could make out a blurry human, picking up a large square object and throwing it. The object comes into the focus of the video landing on the car. The front windshield fractures as the object strikes the car just in front of it, pushing the hood into the engine. Next smoke and steam arose from the car.

The remaining gunman had backed up, almost falling. Then he raced to the car and reached inside.

Murphy touched the screen and rewound the video a bit so she could watch again focusing on the man in the white shirt. She could see the blurry figure leaped down to the sidewalk just after the concrete block slammed into the car. Next, the white shirt became a blur as the man moved from the sidewalk next to the parking deck to the opposite side of the street, next to the car, coming into focus just behind the gunman as he was pulling the duffle bag from the car.

The gunman turned with the duffle in one hand and the rifle in the other. He was obviously a bit stunned to see the man standing there, as he stepped backward. Then the man grabbed the rifle and pulled it easily out of the gunman’s hand. And, in the same motion, he punched the gunman in the head with the butt of the gun.

“Impossible,” Murphy says. “This is unbelievable. What is going on?”

“Pretty wild, huh?” Davis replied. “I was hoping your team had some answers.”

“Well, Susan, you win,” Murphy said. “You’re vid is much more spectacular. My guys can possibly clean it up a bit, but it’s obvious that this one guy stopped this robbery. We just have to figure out how he did it. Cleaning up the video should help us determine that.

“What, you don’t think this is like Clark Kent or something?” David asked, smiling a bit.

“No, Superman does not exist,” Murphy replied. “Something odd at play here, I just don’t know how he staged it.”

“What do you mean, you don’t think this is something extraordinary?” Davis said.

“No, it’s gotta be faked somehow,” Murphy said. “But these guys are in really bad shape now. I can’t image they would volunteer for a stunt like this.”

“And I can’t believe what he did after these guys were put down,” said Murphy. “All the victims he gave aid to, using the shirt off his back for bandaging.”

“So that’s why he was shirtless when he was interviewed. Wow, he is my hero,” Davis said, joking. Maybe.

“This was no stunt,” Davis said. “This was something extraordinary, something super-human.”

Murphy sat back shaking her head, looking at the now-still video image on the iPad.

Davis picked up the iPad, tapped the screen a few times, then closed the cover. “The video is on it’s way to your email,” Davis said. “You owe me a juicy nugget that no one has.”

“Sure, I’ll call you when we have something significant. Right now it’s just a lot of unanswered questions,” Murphy replied. “He gave us a bogus address and phone number, but he called someone with his cell phone from the scene.”

“Really?!” replied Davis. “That’s significant.”

“Yes, a father and daughter at the scene. He was shot, the girl was not. This guy called the girl’s mother and left her a voice mail saying she was all right. When the mother returned the call, this guy gave her Sarge’s number to follow up. So, now he’s checking into that. It’s our only lead for this guy.”

“Well that’s a pretty good lead, right?” asked Davis.

“We’ll see. It could be a burner, but I don’t know yet. The guys are tracking it down now. I’ll let you know if it pans out. I gotta run.”

“OK. Thanks for the info” Davis said.

“Yeah, thanks, Susan” she said, as she put her iPad back in her bag, got up and walked out. She put the sunglasses back on, as the low sun hit her face.

Brian found the cafe he was looking for. He was now 20 minutes late for a meeting. He had texted the guy 15 minutes ago, asking him to stick around. With the money he was going to pay this guy, he should have an incentive to be a little patient. “He’s kind of an ass though,” Brian thought as he entered the cafe.

He saw a man sipping coffee, wearing a brown fedora and reading the New York Post. The cafe was bustling and there was sufficient crowd noise for a semi-private conversation. He approached the man and asked, “Can I buy your next coffee?”

The man looked up from his paper, smiled a bit and said, “Sure, in a bit” in a very curt, whiny tone that was even more annoying in person. “Why don’t you have a seat first?”

This was their prearranged greeting since they had never met face-to-face. Brian sat across from him and looked around a bit.

“Don’t look around too much,” the man said, “you’re conspicuous enough in that shirt and matching hat. I thought you might be more business, than tourist.”

Brian laughed a bit and replied, “Tourist? Yeah, sorry about that. I lost my shirt in a little accident in midtown. I had to improvise quickly, so I wouldn’t keep you waiting any longer than I had to.”

“Well, if you’ve lost your shirt, are you still able to afford my package?” asked the man looking deeply into Brian’s eyes.

“Oh yes, don’t worry about that. Of course, you still haven’t given me your price,” said Brian.

“You haven’t told me your plan either,” said the man. “It’s one thing to sell you a package like this if you’re going to use it for some nefarious purpose, and another if you’re just an enterprising entrepreneur looking to change the world but needs a bit of help avoiding nuclear regulations and other red tape.”

“Well, it’s neither of those, but more like the latter,” replied Brian. “No one will get hurt through my application of this device, except maybe myself. Also, I want to confirm with you,” Brian paused a bit as he stared back into the man’s eyes, “no one got hurt when you acquired the device — right?” He tilted his head for dramatic effect.

The man sat back a little but maintained the stare. “I can make no guarantee, but there was no mention of it from my sources. The device you seek was extracted from the location you suggested and will be in transit soon.”

“Okay,” said Brian, “so what is your price?”

“You’ve been a very pleasant customer, sir, therefore I’m asking only 1.3 mil for this little package,” said the man, now smiling again.

“Wow, so generous. My expectation was about a mil,” said Brian looking down at the table for a moment. He knew this was probably non-negotiable. “But I can probably come up with the rest.”

The man leaned in and said, “And I prefer it wired to two specific accounts, in the following amounts.”

Brian interrupted, “Actually, I prefer to pay you cash. I don’t want any electronic fingerprints, nor do I have the means to easily convert my cash to electronic funds.”

The man looked at Brian for a few moments. “Okay, fortunately, my team is fairly local and so cash may not be an issue.”

“Cool. I find it usually works,” said Brian. “It will take me a day or so to get the funds together. I’ll text you when I’m ready to meet. Let’s make the exchange at the deli restaurant at this address.” Brian slid the man a card.

The man looked at the card. “I know this place. It should be fine. You may want to dress up a bit,” he said with a smile. Bring the funds in a brown attache and I will do the same with the device. It will be big, and heavy, but you look like you can manage.”

“Yes,” said Brian, “I work out regularly. Look for my text in a day or so.”

“Yes, I will,” said the man. “I think I’ll take a raincheck on that cup of coffee.”

“You got it,” replied Brain. “Thanks. Text you soon.”

Brian got up, turned and slowly walked out. As he left, he thought, “Now I gotta get that cash.”

Brus had counted that the bright yellow star of this planet had risen and set fifteen times, and there was still no sign of his father. His mother insisted that he and Reestin be patient. In order to pass the time, she allowed them to play games in the main room, but insisted they each spend several hours a day using the interactive system for lessons, including various subjects like math, science and language. Brus especially liked the scientific experiments he could conduct using the virtual three-dimensional models. Reestin’s favorites included the three-dimensional manipulative objects that he could use to construct buildings and virtual cities. However, they both wanted to venture outside to explore this new planet.

The place they had chosen to land was a relatively flat area, covered with tall, golden grass that waved slow and steadily. Just a few hundred meters away, a few tall trees stood, also gently waving in the wind. Just beyond that, the trees became thicker and lead to an area with taller hills, or possibly small mountains, though it was hard to tell by sight.

Occasionally, small groups of animals would wander by, foraging in the grass or, in some cases, larger animals with very long necks and big orange patches would reach up into the trees and pull their leaves. These were Reestin’s favorite, so far, though Brus enjoyed watching black and white striped animals that reminded him of the creetos he sometimes rode near his home. All of these animals appeared very cautious of these other, smaller light brown creatures that crept through the grass, sometimes chasing the other animals.

“They like to play!” Reestin would say, as the chase would begin. Brus and Reestin longed to venture out to see these animals up close. But Mother feared that they might be in danger of the creeping animals.

“Mother,” Brus pleaded one sunny day, “may we please go explore the creetos? We will be very quiet and cautious.”

“No,” she replied. “As I have told you many times now, once your father arrives, we will all explore together.”

“But we don’t know when he will return,” Brus replied. “It may be too late to see them.”

“Oh, I do not believe they will depart. They appear to live here.”

“I hope Father returns, soon,” Brus replied. “I am beginning to miss him, since we do not know when he will return.”

“Yes, I’m sure he will meet us, soon.”

“Hey Sarge,” Murphy said to Brown, “we have some of the video over in the van. You will want to see this!”

“Yeah, okay,” he turned and followed Murphy toward a white NYC Police communications van.

As they got close to the van, a blond woman in a tan dress suit spoke “Sergeant Brown, I’m Susan Davis, ABC7, what can you tell us about this robbery attempt? What happened to these guys?”

“Listen, Ms. Davis, we’ll have a full statement in about half an hour,” Brown replied, continuing to walk.

“Can you confirm a superhero stopped these guys or what?” the reporter persisted.

He stopped, turned and faced Davis. “All we know right now is that a couple of good samaritans stepped up and helped, but we don’t know the extent of it all. Let us do our jobs and we’ll fill you guys in shortly.” He turned and continued toward the van.

“The stories are pretty wild,” Davis replied. “I look forward to hearing the one you tell us.”

Brown said under his breath, “Hmph, me too.”

Murphy looked over at Davis, giving her a look that said: “cut it out.”

Murphy and Brown entered the van. Two other detectives were inside along with a young guy operating a video console. One of the detectives had just finished saying “that’s impossible!”

“All right, James,” Brown said interrupting, “what do we have?”

James, the video tech, replied “So far we have 6 camera angles, 5 from the bank and one from the building across the street. This one is a great view of the getaway car. The driver didn’t wear a mask and you can clearly make out his face. He’s dead to rights, if he is not actually dead. If you know what I mean.”

“He’ll survive,” Brown said. “What about our good Samaritan, what have you got on him?”

“The best view is this one, from the corner of the bank entrance. It shows our guy and 5 other people as they’re all walking down the street, over here.” He pointed to the upper section of the screen. “Here is when the car stopped and Officer Taylor, exiting the Gino’s Pizza, yelled at them to stop. He’s out of this camera view, but that’s what’s happening when these people all stop. Then, the bad guys open fire on him and this crowd. Watch what happens.”

The video shows Brian, three women, two men, and a child all walking in various directions, then they stop and look in the direction of the Dodge Charger. One woman and the other man, look over at the cop, then back at the car as all six adults are struck by gunfire, each in succession pushed back as the bullets hit them. The little girl was just behind her father and missed being hit by the gunfire. Everyone hit the ground except for the little girl and Brian. Next, Brian pushed the little girl to the ground and dove behind a minivan. Then, he moved around into the alley and emerged with an aluminum garbage can lid in his hands. Next, he spun a full 360 and the can lid flew out of his hands. The whole move was a blur, but you could see a streak of silver leave his hands and strike the closest gunman in the head. Then Brian ducked back into the alley as more gunfire struck the walls, and possibly him.

Brown said, “What the hell did we just see?”

James replied, “Wait, there’s more. Now, back to this angle,” he moved his hand on a trackpad and clicked another small video bringing it to full screen, then he clicked play, “you see the car and the guy shooting back at the Gino’s as the other officers emerged. Then, wham!”

The block of concrete landed on the car. The remaining gunman was surprised and sprang back from the car. Realizing it was over for the car, he reached into the car for something. As he was leaning into the car, a man in a white shirt approached him from behind. The gunman backed out from the car, turned around and the man in the white shirt grabbed the gun, yanked it free and immediately punched him in the head. Then he stepped back and ran out of frame, toward the pizza shop.

“Okay, so this guy Beckett is the guy who took out the gunmen. Do we have anything showing where that chunk of concrete came from.” Brown asked.

“No, nothing on video,” said James.

“But we do know where it came from,” said another detective.

“Where?” asked Brown.

“From the parking deck, across the alley from Gino’s,” said the detective.

“What? How? That’s too far away to have been pushed off. Is there some construction equipment, like a crane or something up there?” asked Brown.

The detective shook his head. “No, the parking company replaced a section of the deck’s wall after a truck backed into it, on the third floor. They had a contractor cut the sections out and they’ve been waiting to have them reformed.”

“Okay,” said Brown, “How’d it end up on top of the red car?”

Murphy chimed in, “That’s the million dollar question.”

“Scour that video again. There’s gotta be a clue there somewhere,” said Brown. Then he opened the door and exited the van. Murphy followed and closed the door.

They both stopped to look up at the parking deck and ponder about the cement block. It was at least forty yards from the car.

Brown turned to Murphy, “Look through the witness notes. If anyone mentions the concrete, question them again, digging deeper for where that came from. This just doesn’t add up.”

Brown walked away, leaving Murphy standing, staring at the deck. She was startled from her thoughts by someone calling her name.

“Liz! Hey Liz!”, shouted Davis. Murphy turned and walked over to her.

“Susan, you know I can’t give you anything right now, on or off the record,” Murphy said.

“I know, it’s really weird,” Davis replied. “What if I said I might have some video. That would be of interest to you?”

“What is it?” asked Murphy.

“Come on, Liz, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” replied Davis. “It’s a video sent to us via the website, from one of our viewers. He took the video from his office. If you want to see it, I’ll meet you at the coffee shop around the corner. 30 minutes?”

“Ok,” said Murphy.

“And Liz,” Davis said, “bring something to share.”

Murphy replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” She headed back toward the van.

After initially walking briskly away from the scene, Brian started to jog for about two blocks, then turned left up the block. As he got closer to Times Square, he stopped at a souvenir cart, full of NYC tagged items and magazines. He grabbed a black “I heart NY” shirt and a matching cap.

“How much for these?” Brian asked.

“Forty-two,” said a Pakistani guy on a stool.

“What? That’s crazy!” Brian said reaching into his pocket, pulling out some cash. He looked at the cash he had on-hand and extended a ten, a twenty and a $5. “Look, all I have is thirty-five bucks.”

“OK, since you obviously have already lost your shirt somehow,” he said, smiling. He grabbed the cash. “Do you want a bag?”

“No, thanks.” He put the shirt and hat on and continued on, turning right at the next block.

As he was walking, his phone started vibrating. He pulled it out and recognized the number as the little girl’s mother.

“Hello, you’re calling about your daughter?” Brian asked.

“Yes!” a woman replied. “What happened, where are they?”

“I’m sorry, I really don’t know. I’m no longer there,” Brian said. “You can call this guy, he’s a cop on the scene, and he should be able to help you.” He dug the card out from his jeans pocket. “His name is Brown and his number, 212-555-3232. You got that?”

She replied “3232?”

“Yes, that’s it,” Brian replied.

“Are they ok, can you tell me anything?” the woman asked desperately.

“Your daughter is fine, your husband was shot by a bank robber and was unconscious when I left them, right after I left you the voice mail. He was being taken care of by some paramedics. Call the cop and he can give a lot more information. I’m sorry I don’t know more. Call him. Good luck and goodbye.” Brian tapped the phone and put it back into his pocket.

Brown walked over to three other officers, comparing their notes. “Hey Murphy,” he said looking at a brunette woman wearing a dark blue suit jacket and jeans, “have you started collecting the surveillance video?”

Murphy turned to Brown, “Yeah we’ve requested it from the bank, both inside and out. We also noticed a couple of other small businesses that have cameras and Peterson is getting that. Plus there are a few traffic cams that we’ll get video from, as well.”

“Good,” said Brown, “Let’s review that as soon as possible. A lot of weird shit went down here and we need to know what it was. What have we pieced together so far?”

A young detective, looking at a notepad, started rattling off some facts. “Two guys robbed the bank, grabbing about ten thousand. The other perp was waiting just down the street in this red car. They ran out of the bank and the car stopped to pick them up, but a uni spotted it all going down, told them to stop and he was shot. These guys sprayed the crowd with bullets knocking everyone down and keeping the other officers back. But as they started to get into the car, one of them was struck by this garbage lid. Knocked him out. The other guy started shooting again.”

“Then, this thing hit the car.” The cop pointed at the concrete block planted in the engine compartment. “And then, some guy confronted the other guy, grabbing the gun and knocking him out with it.”

“Wait a minute,” Brown said, “they didn’t hit this thing getting away, it struck them? How?”

“No one knows for sure. It just kind of dropped on them.”

“Dropped? From what? A truck? There’s no construction going on. Where’d it come from?” Brown said, looking around. Brown yelled over to one of the uniformed cops, “Do you guys know where this came from?”

One replied, “No sir.”

“Look around, ask around. We need to track it down,” Brown said.

The uniformed cops looked closely at the chunk of concrete, then walked away.

Brown said to the detective “I spoke to the guy who threw the trash can lid. He said he was just trying to distract them and got lucky. So did you guys ID the guy who knocked this other guy out with his own gun? Must be a real badass, with a set of huge cojones.”

“What do you mean, sir?” asked the detective, “You interviewed him.”

“What?” said Brown.

“The shirtless guy, he was identified as the guy who took down the second shooter. Only he was wearing a white, button-down shirt. That lady over there ID’d him as the guy. I thought that’s why you were talking to him.”

“No, he was ID’d as the guy that threw the lid. Hey, Carter,” he pointed to another suited detective, “you saw the guy I was talking to — right?”

“Yeah,” Carter replied.

“He was headed that way. He’s in jeans and no shirt, should be fairly easy to spot and he can’t have gotten far. If you don’t see him, go this address and bring him in.” Brown handed him a note with the address.

“Got it,” Carter said. He tagged one of the uniformed officers on the back, “Come with me, please.” The two started jogging down the street.

Brown yelled over to a detective near the smoking car, “What’s the status of the thugs?”

The detective walked over, “The two shooters are both still unconscious, one has no wounds other than abrasion to his forehead. Looks like the one hit by the garbage can may have lost an eye, but we won’t know until they can get into the ER. The driver is pretty busted up. The steering column and dashboard crushed his legs pretty bad. He was unconscious, too.”

“Okay,” said Brown, “get their stories as soon as they wake up. I almost wouldn’t care, but there are a lot of questions here. We need to understand this scene, ’cause the press is going to be all over it.”

“Yep,” said Murphy, “they’re already insisting to speak with the officer in charge. You gonna talk to them?”

“Not now, we gotta have a few more answers first.”

“Sir! We need to speak with you.” Brian turned to see a guy in a brown suit walking quickly toward him. The suit had a badge hanging from the breast pocket. “Someone said you’re an eye-witness, and we don’t want these guys to get off.”

“Um, okay,” Brian said, “I’m already running really late. And it should be pretty clear who the bad guys are. They are the ones unconscious without bullet wounds.”

“This should just take a few more minutes. Would you mind stepping over here? What happened to your shirt?”

“Um, I used it to bandage some of the victims,” Brian replied.

“Oh, wow. That was very generous of you. Hey let’s step over here and you can clean up a bit while I ask you a few questions. These folks are really lucky that you happened by.”

Brian accepted an antiseptic towel package, ripped it open and wiped his hands and arms to remove the blood that had dried. “How long is this going to take?”

“Start by telling us what you remember,” the officer said.

Brian replied, “I was walking up 38th toward the bank, when the alarm went off and these guys came running out of the bank, shooting guns. They shot in our direction and I ducked into that alley. When the gunshots stopped, I started helping the victims.”

“I see,” said the officer. “Where were you going when it all went down?”

“Home,” said Brian.

“And where is that?” asked the officer.

“Why do you need to know that?” asked Brian.

“Just in case we need you for additional questions, or for a subpoena if we need you in court. It’s just standard procedure,” said the cop. “Can I see your ID?”

“I don’t have my ID, I was just out for a walk,” said Brian.

“Hmm, okay, what’s your name and address then?” asked the cop.

“My name is Brian Beckett and I live at 462 W 44th,” said Brian.

“Phone number?” asked the cop. “And, uh, where were you coming from?”

“Um, 619-555-3321,” said Brian. “I was just out for a walk, stopped by the library for a while.”

“Ok, so, uh, one more thing, according to some of the other witnesses, you were a bit more than just an eyewitness. Are you sure you don’t want to elaborate a bit more on what you saw, or did?” asked the cop, looking intently into Brian’s eyes.

Brian looked away briefly and noticed a few news trucks had arrived and reporters were questioning the bystanders.

“Listen,” Brian said, “I really need to go meet my elderly mother, can we follow up later?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the cop said, “we should really get as much detail as possible now, while it’s all fresh in your head. Please, just tell me what else you saw — or did.”

“Ok, I heaved a trash can lid at one of the perps.” Brian continued, “Luckily, it hit him in the head and he fell down. I was just trying to distract them so the police had a little more time. But then I ran back into the alley and waited for the noise to stop. And, after that, I started helping the victims.”

“Were you ever in law enforcement?” asked the cop.

“No, why do you ask?” said Brian.

“Oh, just some of the things you’ve said. Sounds like you had some experience” replied the cop.

“I was a fireman for a while, in New Mexico, not here.” Brian added, “But that was a few years ago, I’m not cut out for that.” Brian tossed the towels in what looked like a trash can. “If you need anything else, you know where to find me. I really gotta go.”

“Ok,” said the cop, “I’m sure we’ll be in touch. Here’s my card if you think of anything else.” The cop handed him a card. Brian looked at the name, Sergeant Pete Brown. He shoved it into his jeans and walked away from the crowd.

“Hey, Mr. Beckett,” Brown yelled, “your place is that way.”

Brian, turned, walking backward, replied “My Mom’s place is this way. And I gotta buy a new shirt.” With that, he turned and picked up the pace.