“So where is he now?”
The dark eyed man with the thinning jet black hair and high cheekbones standing beside the smaller man silently tilted his head toward something in front of him.
They stood on the corner of Cleveland and Summers Street. The busiest street in the city’s bustling city business district. High noon underneath a cloudless blue sky. People . . . thousands of them . . . scurrying back and forth across the hot sidewalk in a maniacal effort to get from one financial crisis to another.
In front of them the traffic was at a standstill. It didn’t matter what the traffic light said. A sea of bumper to bumper frustrated monsters sat motionless in a stalled river of metal, glass, and plastic thanks to the construction site across the street. A gigantic crane on massive metal tracks was slowly working its way into position. Towering over the traffic was a short steel cable with a massive black iron ball the size of a pickup truck swinging dangerously back and forth as the crane slowly inched its way onto the construction site.
But directly across the street from where they stood was the Heidelberg Mercantile Bank & Trust. Black glass and chrome steel rising twelve floors straight up over downtown traffic. Modern. Efficient. An international bank without the least whiff of corporate ethics attached to it.
“He’s in there? With the briefcase? Do you know what this means? If he has the CIA software and leaves the country every agent in the Middle East will be dead in a week!”
For a response the man with the thinning black hair turned his head and stared at the Godzilla-like behemoth inching its way onto the construction site across the clogged intersection from him. It was a huge crane. The towering boom rose at least sixty feet in the air above the street and meandering pedestrians. The iron ball dangling from the end of the cable weighed at least forty tons of hardened steel and cement. Forty tons of steel and cement which went through just about everything it wished to smash.
The little man, dressed in a rumpled suit, with a large bald spot glistening in the sunlight, gripping a briefcase, frowned, glanced across the street at the bank again and then at the man standing beside him.
“Smitty, dammit! We can’t let this bastard leave the country! That’s why we hired you. Technically the man hasn’t done anything against the law. Having that list of names in his possession isn’t illegal. If it was I could alert the FBI and let them handle it. But revealing the list to anyone would be, for my agency, a serious breach of security. A breach of security that could be quite embarrassing to my boss. We have got to stop him!”
The taller man with the jet black eyes kept his eyes on the yellow and black painted Kraken of a crane and smiled thinly.
“Peterson, has anyone ever told you you worry too much?”
The voice was more of a loud whisper. A harsh grating of something across a cheese grater. Startling to hear. Unnerving to experience.
“Every day,” Peterson answered, his mouth twisting into a more severe frown. “Mostly from my wife. And from my children. And from my boss. But most of all from my shrink. So what? And what the hell are we going to do about stopping this guy from leaving the country?”
“Watch,” Smitty said quietly as he turned his attention back to the bank across the street.
Around them a thousand people were moving, jostling each other, cutting each other off as they hurried like army ants. Bored people. Frustrated people. Thousands of people who lived boring lives in a boring world filled with boring mendacity. None realizing their boredom was about to be dramatically altered.
Across the street a tall man with red hair came out of the black glass doors of the Heidelberg Mercantile Bank & Trust walking fast and looking straight ahead. Dressed in a light green sport coat, a light blue shirt, with dark blue slacks, he gripped a heavy looking attaché case in one hand, which interestingly enough, was handcuffed to his wrist. Hurrying past a dense pack of humanity, irritated that he had to alter his path to get past them, he stepped up to a white Jaguar sedan, unlocked the driver’s side door, and quickly slipped in.
Both Smitty and Peterson saw the man lean forward to start the sedan’s engine and then twist around in the seat and stare at the traffic. Both saw the man slam a hand irritably on the wood rim of the steering wheel in frustration. In this traffic he wasn’t going anywhere soon. No one was.
“Peterson, say goodbye to our friend,” the dark eyed man said softly in a pleased whisper.
“What . . . . ?”
When it hit it seemed as if the city’s streets and sidewalks rolled in some kind of concrete Tsunami! And indeed it had!
Forty tons of hardened steel and cement dropped out of the heavens like the Hammer of Thor and smashed into the white Jaguar’s roof with an ear splitting thud ripping steel, shattering glass, and pulverizing pavement!
People staggered and tripped over others from the wrecking ball smashing into the Jag and flattening it like a tortilla chip. Gigantic cracks in the sidewalk and street radiated out from the black behemoth lying on the crushed white sedan. A cloud of cement dust flew into the air as hundreds of park cars suddenly erupted into the clattering cacophony of theft alarms going off. At a corner of the bank building a fire hydrant exploded and a towering geyser of water shot up into the air as street corner lamp posts vibrated violently before suddenly pitching over and crashing into the hoods cars stalled in the city traffic beside them.
There was no white Jaguar sedan anymore. What once had been a finely built British sedan now was nothing more than a piece of crushed metal no more than a foot thick oddly discolored with a thin film of bright red blood.
Smitty, gripping Peterson’s right arm in an effort to keeping him upright, let go of the man after the initial blow. Turning, he faced the balding little man and smiled.
“You no longer need to worry. Everything came out for the best. But it’s time to go. The police will be here soon and neither of us want to be around when they do. You know the routine. I’ll expect payment by the end of the week. And Peterson, just a friendly suggestion. Smile once in a while. It’ll do wonders for your personality.”
Peterson, still blinking eyes in disbelief at what he had just witnessed, looked at the white cement dust coating his suit coat and started swiping it off with his hand before turning to say something.
But Smitty was gone. Vaporized into nothingness.
“Sonofabitch!” he growled, returning to swiping the dust off his coat again, “I hate it when he does that. Hate it!”
“So where is he now?”