The weather had not been that good for quite a few weeks; had I not been strolling around St. James Park, I would have regretted it wholesomely. The afternoon sun was akin to a sunflower when I looked up; the branches and leaves of the Scarlet Oak acted as the petals and the sun being of course the sun in the middle of the flower. Summers in England are tactfully deceptive. The long hours of daylight may lead you to believe that she is there, but the sun was always in hiding, with the clouds being her favourite cover.
Noting the time, I took one deep breath of freshly photosynthesised oxygen before heading back to the entrance of the park. The constant buzz of my phone annoyed me slightly, so I swiped up and turned on the Do Not Disturb mode, hoping for some last moments of peace before working. As I was about to take the escalator down into the Underground, my right knee collapsed. When I turned around to see whom I should curse at for knocking me down, the cry of a young girl filled the air. I smiled with a little bit of gaiety. A man who seemed to be her father followed shortly and apologised to me before leaving with his daughter’s hand gripped firmly. I dusted my shirt and sighed to myself. I wished I had children.
I reached the apartment at 5 in the evening and put some Kenny G on. The sound of sax had always helped me concentrate a little better. I dragged the couch to one side of the common room and removed the 3 planks from the floorboard. After punching in 7-4-3-5-2-9 on the keypad, a metal clunk sounded and I cranked the handle to open the safe. I laid out the contents of the black velvet pouch on my work desk and got out a loupe. I have done this at least half a dozen times but the sparkle in these supercompressed carbons never fail to share some of its twinkle with my eyes.
I took out my writing pad and my pen and started doing a few tests. After each of them I wrote down some of the results. I had to be extra careful to not write over my own writing. People might think that invisible ink was a thing of the past and only has its place in spy movies for kids, but therein lies the genius. It is untraceable; no digital footprint, no archives, zero crumbs. The final test was the weight test. Upholding the integrity of the business is the most crucial. Although overdelivering is not ideal, underdelivering is worse. One single carat can make a difference of GBP2000 worth of value. I had to be absolutely certain how much of these shiny rocks I am handing over. Trust was the bedrock of this game.
After finishing all the tests in just under an hour, I delicately funneled the diamonds back into the pouch and returned them into the safe.The couch was soon back in its original spot and the room back to normal. I took a quick shower before getting ready to head out. As I dried my hair, I unlocked my phone to check the notifications. Most of them were useless until… Wait what? It was a receipt. It was, of course, in code; the company chauffeur had just picked me up from the airport. It must be a mistake. Anthony was supposed to be flying in tonight and the driver probably had mixed us up. I guessed that was what happens when you change chauffeurs every other week. The chief had suggested this idea. We couldn’t let anyone on the outside work with us for too long. I had told him that we should have gotten rid of the chauffeurs altogether and used normal cabs instead but he said that if the cops happened to question the normal black cab drivers for whatever reason, they have no incentive of keeping their mouth shut. I had never bothered enough to argue.The chief had done this many more times than me and his expertise should count for something. He also has access to that basement warehouse place which was our somewhat headquarters and I didn’t want to question him on that. That big of an underground space in London can only be the government or military. I had surmised that it was an old bunker from the World War or something but didn’t question it too much; I kind of trusted the chief. I grabbed my helmet and headed off.
The roads were surprisingly empty for a Friday evening. Did people decide to stay home today or something? Whatever the reason, I was glad that was the case, I was already late for the meeting. The chief might fry my ass. He is a scary man but thankfully I was indispensable to the team, at least for now.
The red light near Temple station was one of my personal favourite spots when riding. I’d always ride as close to the river as possible to get the best view. And if I had to stop, even better. More time to fully enjoy the Londo….. What the heck.. The black Range Rover three slots behind me look like the one that was by the apartment when I got back from the park. I could not remember the plate number, though. I decided to make a few turns around the block just to check.
Keeping one eye on the rear-view mirrors, I noticed that the Range Rover was again on my tail. Okay if they really were the authorities, they probably want to get the chief more than me, so I decided to lead them away. Just as I was about to make another turn back towards the river, a white Bentley popped up at the junction and cut me off. The driver’s gaze was fixed on me. I realised I was screwed. Could this be the people the chief had warned us about? I made a quick U-turn and sped back to the river.The Range Rover and the Bentley followed behind me. I started cursing the empty roads. I glanced behind every second. Shit. I had to do something. I might actually die today.
My mind raced through all the things I could do. The deal on Sunday had to happen; it was too big to miss out on it. But the buyer will be suspicious if I don’t turn up. Cold sweat trickled down my face, as if trying to cool this processor of a brain when a bright idea popped in my head. Get my brother. If he flies in tonight he can be here by Sunday morning. Peter did not know anything about my work, for obvious reasons. But he probably suspected it. I was a little too stupid in school for my current lifestyle. And my confession of being a real estate agent did not impress him the last time we met. And he’d probably done some illegal stuff in the last few years as well. I took out my phone and opened the messaging app. It was convenient that Emma was on the top of the list of contacts. I held the voice record button and shouted into it “GET MY BROTHER NOW!”
I was trying to shove the phone back into my jacket pocket when I realised that my loss of focus had caused me to turn into a one-way street. My eyes glanced wide open at the speedometer, which was displaying 40 miles/hour. There was a car about 10 metres in front of me. I panicked, banking left to try and avoid it but somehow my muscles did not seem to react fast enough. Instead of going around the car, I turn left, onto the pavement, narrowly avoiding two pedestrians, and headed straight towards the river. Am I going to die like this? Two metres to the edge, I slammed the pedal brakes and squeezed the hand brakes as tightly as I could. My front tire made contact with the concrete barrier between the sidewalk and the river. Inertia was not my friend; I was flung out of my bike and into the murky Thames.