Chapter 20

Brian was ready for the big event. He was standing outside of the deli that he and his supplier had agreed upon. He had the cash in a brown attaché, a nice one he might add. He was wearing his best black jeans and a white polo. And, in preparing for this meeting, he had considered various scenarios in his head, some good and some less desirable.

He was early for the meeting, so he couldn’t be accused of missing the meeting. “Let’s do this,” he said and walked across the street and into the deli. His guy wasn’t there yet, as he suspected, so he grabbed a coffee, paid and sat down at a table in the back. About two minutes later, the man with the fedora entered the deli, carrying a large brown legal briefcase and a newspaper. He, too, bought a cup of coffee and moved to the back of the deli and sat down at Brian’s table. The deli had about ten other tables with patrons.

Brian smiled a little as he approached, to act as if they were friends. “How’s it going?” he said.

“Good evening,” said the man. He placed the briefcase next to Brian’s chair.

“It’s been a nice day, right?” Brian said, making conversation for a moment.

“Yes,” said fedora man.

Brian sipped his coffee and casually glanced around. Then, he reached down to the briefcase and opened the top. There was a foam pad on top, so he moved it away and saw the device. Some switches and a small LED panel were now visible. Brian touched the middle switch and the LED illuminated.

“Do you know what you’re doing?” fedora man said. “I do not want to get blown up tonight.”

“Yes, relax,” Brian replied. He saw the analog meter at the top left of the device was pegged to the right, which was a good sign. Now the LED meter read “Diagnostic passed. 100%. Ready”

Brian flipped the switch and the LED powered off. Brian turned the device on end and slid a small panel, about the size of a playing card, open to reveal a thick glass panel. He turned the device to add more light and through the panel he could see a purple marble, deep inside the glass.

“Looks good,” Brian said, closing the panel and shifting the device back into the briefcase. He covered it with the foam and closed the case. Brian took another sip of coffee and glanced around a bit. He didn’t see anything out of the ordinary from the other patrons. He moved his attaché to sit on top of the briefcase. “Here you are,” he said.

The man with the fedora looked at the case, picking it up briefly. Then he peeked into it and looked at Brian. “I agreed to a cash payment but assumed you would use larger demonizations. This weighs a ton and I’m carrying it a long distance.”

“I’m sorry,” Brian replied. “It’s only about 25 bounds. You look like a strong guy, so I figured you could handle it.” He was being extremely generous about that. He actually looked quite frail for a middle-aged man. “If you want, I can take it to a bank, tomorrow, and get larger denominations.”

“That’s ok,” he said. “I’ll manage.  So, what are your plans now?”

“Well, now I meet my client,” Brian replied. “He’s going to make something magical.” Brian smiled a bit.

“Oh?” said the man. “Magical, how?”

“It’s going to be life-changing,” Brian said. He downed his coffee.  “I’ve gotta run. It’s been nice doing business with you.”

“Likewise,” the man replied. “Bring larger bills next time.”

“I doubt there will be a next time,” Brian said. He moved the attaché to his chair and picked up the briefcase. “See ya,” he said, waving to the man with the fedora.

He calmly walked out, casually looking around. When he exited, he also glanced around looking for anyone who might be looking in his direction. He saw no one. He turned right to head toward the subway thinking that he may actually walk away from this without incident. Then the hair stood up on the back of his neck as he realized that fedora man didn’t even count the money. He only complained about the weight. Then, he noticed five heavily armed police officers emerge from the alley ahead. He looked back and saw five more headed toward him.  He stopped for a moment, then ran across the street, leaping over one car that he could not avoid. This caused him to land next to a parked car, rolling over it. Now he was standing next to a scaffold and a fence. He turned and leaped up eight feet onto the scaffolding and dropped down into the fenced area. No shots had yet been fired, probably since there were many people walking around.

The cops had already started chasing him. Some pursued him directly and others scrambled to the end of the block, looking for the gate into the construction site. Of course, Brian knew it was around the block and likely locked at this time of day, conveniently giving Brian a little more time to execute plan B. Now, Brian entered the building and found the stairwell. He began the long climb up.

When he reached the tenth floor, he exited the stairwell. Then, he walked south to the edge. From here, he could see the building and elevator mechanical room he had visited earlier, across the street. He could hear sirens coming from all directions and police cars converging on the building.

He backed up, held the briefcase with both hands, took two steps and jumped thirty feet across the street, landing surprisingly gracefully on the roof.  He ran to the tool shed and opened the door. He found his duffle and backpack. He opened the briefcase and the duffle bag, switching the device with the fake containing the bricks.  Then he stashed the duffle again, closed the briefcase, grabbed the backpack and exited the shed. He closed the door and went back to the edge of the building facing the construction site.

He looked down at the street and noticed it was filling with cops. He grabbed the briefcase with both hands and jumped back to the construction site, landing less gracefully this time, ending up bumping into a scaffold. He went back to the stairwell and started climbing again.

Brian could tell there were others in the stairwell now, but he couldn’t tell if they were below him or above him, or both. But he had to get to the top, thirty-five floors up.  It was a minute later that he rounded the corner and there was a cop at the top, taking a break or waiting for someone.

“Freeze!” he shouted, aiming his rifle at Brian.

“Don’t shoot!” Brian said, putting his free hand up. “I’m not armed.  I just need to get to the top of this building,” he said, taking a slow step up.

“I said don’t move,” he shouted.

“Actually, you said freeze, ” Brian said, “but I really need to get upstairs. No one has to get hurt if you just let me by.” He took another step up.

“If you don’t stop moving and stop talking, I’m going to shoot you,” said the officer.  “And I want both hands up!”

“Ok,” Brian said. “I’m putting this down. I can’t drop it or we’re in big trouble.” He started to lean down. Then he looked up at the cop.  “Actually, this is what you want, right?”

The cop looked at him and glared angrily. “Just put it down!”

“Here, take it,” Brian flicked his wrist and the briefcase took a high arc toward the cop. He panicked and dropped his rifle to catch it. At the same time, Brian ran quickly up the stairs in time to catch the case and the rifle. Unfortunately, the rifle was still strapped to the cop.  He quickly put the case down and tried to break the strap, but couldn’t without hurting the officer.

“I said I didn’t want to hurt you,” Brian said. “Just let me go.”

The cop said “I can’t do that,” and he pulled a taser from his belt and dug it into Brian’s side. Brian felt it tingle as the taser prongs touched his skin, but did not penetrate. He looked at the cop in disappointment.

“Nice try,” Brian said. Then he grabbed the strap with one hand and the rifle with the other, and ripped the strap in two. He tossed the rifle down the stairs, then, seeing the cop reaching for his revolver, he grabbed it and pulled it free.  Then, he tossed it down the stairs, too. 

“Come on,” he grabbed the cop by his vest and spun him around. Then grabbed his handcuffs and cuffed both hands to the stair rail. “That’ll keep you for a little while,” he said, knowing he would eventually be freed or manage to get his key. Brian grabbed the briefcase and continued up the stairs. Just as he got to the top of the next flight, he heard another voice “Freeze!”

He looked up to see another cop, this one a little more trigger-happy. He started shooting as soon as Brian backed up around the corner. The gun was extremely loud in the stairwell and he could hear bullets ricocheting with loud pings.

“Stop shooting,” Brian shouted. More shots. More ricochets. Yelling.

“Stop!” Brian shouted. “I’m not armed.”

Brian didn’t want to get shot today. He started looking around for options. He looked back and noticed the first cop was sitting down on the landing below. Then he realized that he had been shot, by one of the stray bullets. A pool of blood was visible.

“Oh no,” Brian said. He ran back down to the wounded cop. The cop was shot twice. Once in the arm and once in the leg. It was the leg wound producing all the blood.  The cop was already passing out. Brian dropped the case and put his hand on the wound to reduce the bleeding.

“Hey! Officer down! Hey!” Brian yelled. The other cop started coming down the steps slowly. Brian pulled the rifle strap from the downed office and pulled it around the leg as a tourniquet and twisted it tightly. The other cop rounded the corner. 

“Back away!” and he aimed the rifle at Brian.

“If I back away, he’ll start bleeding again,” Brian said. “You need to drop that and take over since you shot him.”

“I shot him? Bullshit!” said the cop.

“I’m not even armed,” Brian said. “I told you that, you lunkhead.”

The cop took aim again “I’m gonna waste you right now and sort this out later.”

He was about to pull the trigger. “He’ll die,” Brian said. “I’m going to wrap this here for a second and walk away. If you want to save your buddy, get down here.” Brian tucked the tourniquet strap and stood up. He picked up the case and stood for a second. “I’m not here to hurt anyone and I won’t hurt you.”

The cop stood for a few seconds and then walked down the stairs keeping the gun pointed at Brian. When he reached the bottom, he dropped it and grabbed the tourniquet. Brian continued his run up the stairs.

When he got to the top, he opened the door to find a helicopter beaming a spotlight on the door.

“Crap!” He said, retreating for a moment.  Then he burst out and ran around the elevator mechanics building. There, he quickly stashed the briefcase under a pile of building materials. Then, he dashed out and around the building causing the helicopter to chase him for a minute. When he thought he might have slipped from their sight, he ducked back into the stairway. He dropped the backpack and removed the suit inside. He stepped into it and zipped up the front. Then, he put on his ski mask and the suit’s hood. He made sure to pull the ski mask down this time, just in case the chopper was shooting video, which was highly likely.

He dashed back out. They hadn’t figured out that he was in the stairwell again. He ran over to a pile of building material he spotted during his dash around the roof. He picked up a cable and found the end, containing a hook. Then, finding the other end attached to a wench, he pulled out all of the cable. He gathered the cable in a loose loop and waited.

When he saw the helicopter hovering just about thirty feet above the edge, he made a running jump and dived for the chopper, landing on the landing gear just outside of the pilot’s window. The pilot was startled by Brian’s appearance, nearly crashing the chopper as he flinched. Brian had dropped the cable loop when he jumped and now had the hook in his hand. He held on to it and the chopper while the pilot recovered. When he had, the pilot and two cops found Brian looping the cable through the door handles, then down around the landing gear and placing the hook to close the loop.

He looked in at the pilot and the cops. They had rifles aiming at him, but the pilot was telling them to hold their fire. Brian shouted “Don’t try to follow me. Understood?” He pointed out that the cable was attached to the building. “Do you understand?” he shouted. The pilot nodded.

They were now out about 20 feet from the building and above it. There was no way to land, so someone would have to free them from the other side. Brian shouted, “Do you have plenty of fuel?”

The pilot could not hear him. Brian pulled out his knife and scratched the glass using reversed letters “GOT FUEL?”

He looked at the pilot who nodded.

He scratched the glass again “DO NOT FOLLOW” Then he added a “!” to the end.

He pointed to the cable again and looked at the pilot. He nodded.

Brian looked back at the building.  Cops were beginning to gather, after the 45 story climb, or perhaps they managed to get the construction elevator running. He looked out over the city. What a magnificent view. Then Brian looked at the pilot and cops, still pointing their weapons at him. He tucked his knife away, waved to the cops and fell backward.

The cops in the chopper looked at each other in confusion. The cops on the roof were stunned, too.  One yelled, “Hold your fire! He’s a goner anyway.”

They watched as he fell.

Continue to Chapter 21
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