Missing Emilie

by Michael E. Lloyd

Table of Contents   Chapter Synopses


Book I: Self Above All

Chapter 2: Nice Little Earner

part 3 of 3

Nice
Sunday 4 October, 6 p.m.


‘Allô!’

‘Who’s speaking?’

‘G.’

‘Rose here. OK, do you have that name for me?’

‘Yeah. You need to talk to a guy called Bertrand Irvoise.’

‘Have you ever met him?’

‘No.’

‘Or spoken to him?’

‘No.’

‘Know what he looks like?’

‘I do now. Seen him a couple of times since you and I met on Thursday. Had to check out his drinking holes, didn’t I? Don’t worry, he never noticed me.’

‘How will I recognise him?’

‘Short and weedy, late twenties, balding early, droopy face, always looks like he’s just heard bad news. Don’t think he’s too bright. Works in a scrapyard, part-time. That’s where he learnt how to break into any model of car, fast. And drive it around Nice, fast as you like.’

‘That’s very helpful, G. Thank you. And where can I find him?’

‘Bar Lépante seems to be his favourite place. But not before eight-thirty. And I only saw him there on Friday and Saturday, of course. Maybe he’ll be in later tonight. Maybe not.’

‘That’s fine. OK, you and I won’t need to talk again for a while. I’ll leave you a phone message including the word “rose” at the Bar du Tronc, one afternoon when I’m ready to give you a final briefing. So from now on you’ll need to drop in there to check for it early each evening, after seven o’clock. Just tell ’em you’re expecting your dad to call again fairly soon. Got that?’

‘Yeah.’

‘And the day you get that message, be back at this phone box at nine o’clock in the evening. With the same backup plan.’

‘OK.’

‘But we’ll also need a way to alert each other if there’s ever a problem, right? So we must also both check for a special signal from the other one at six o’clock every evening. And if either of us does leave a signal, you’re to go to this same phone box at nine that evening, just as for the final briefing, and I’ll call you. Got it?’

‘Yeah ...’

‘And here’s how we’re going to leave our signals .......’


Rue de Lépante, Nice
Wednesday 7 October, 10 p.m.


Another whole evening wasted waiting for Irvoise to show his face! And they must be getting really fed up with me calling them to check. Maybe Aignant was right about him only coming here at weekends.

I’ll give it another half-hour. Unless these drunks coming up the street decide to take an interest in me .......


It’s him at last! Fits the description perfectly.

OK, let him settle for ten minutes .......


‘Ici Bar Lépante.’

‘Hi. Is Bertrand Irvoise there tonight, please?’

‘Still after him, eh? What’s he done to you, then?’

‘Nothing. He’s an old pal of mine. So, is he there or not?’

‘Yeah. I’ll get him .......’


‘Who’s this? I don’t have any old friends ...’

‘That’s a good line, Monsieur Irvoise! And maybe you don’t. But I’d really like to be your new friend ...’

‘What does that mean?’

‘They say you’re pretty good at breaking into cars, Bertrand.’

‘Are you the police?’

‘Do you think I’d tell you if I was?’

‘Er ... no.’

‘Right. So maybe you’d better take the risk, because I’d like to pay you two million Old Francs, plus two hundred thousand up-front this evening, if you’ll do a little job with me soon.’

‘Sounds very interesting. Go on ...’

‘I’ll need you to steal a nice little motor, and meet me and another friend at a local bank, and then drive us away. If you get my drift.’

‘You mean a robbery?’

‘Yes, Bertrand. Very sharp of you ...’

‘No violence, right?’

‘I’m not planning any.’

‘Good. So when do we do it? Tomorrow?’

‘Whoa, slow down, Bertrand! No, it won’t be for some weeks. You haven’t even got your advance yet. And we still have a couple more things to talk about.’

‘Oh. All right, then ...’

Phew. This is going to be very hard work!

‘So, first off, I’m only going to call you “B” from now on. OK?’

‘Sure. I think I can see why.’

‘Right. And now please choose the name of an animal for me.’

‘You want me to buy you a pet?’

‘No, I don’t, B. Please just think of an animal.’

‘OK, I’ve done that.’

‘Right. So, what is it?’

‘You want me to tell you the answer?’

‘Yes please, B.’

‘It’s a gazelle. I like gazelles.’

‘That’s very good. So from now on you will call me “Luc Gazelle”, right? No-one else knows that name.’

‘Do you look like a gazelle, Luc?’

‘No, I don’t. Now, do you want your money?’

‘Oh, yes please.’

‘Right. Hold on for about one minute .......’


‘Still there, B?’

‘Yes.’

‘OK. As soon as we finish this call, go out of the bar, turn left, walk towards the phone box on the corner, and take an envelope out of the litter bin just before you reach it. Got that?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Good. But first, here’s how we’re going to make contact before our next call, or in an emergency .......’


Rue de Rome, Marseilles
Sunday 18 October, 8 p.m.


‘Allô!’

‘Who are you expecting?’

‘Xérus.’

‘And what was that song we were listening to the other day?’

Mona Lisa.

‘Good evening, Paul. Is everything OK?’

‘Yeah. I’ve been ready for ten days. As far as I’ve been able to go ...’

‘Excellent. So, please tell me your broad plan.’

‘All right. I’ve kept it as simple as I can, ’cos that’s what you wanted, but it all feels a bit thin to me. And I still know nothing about which bank we’re hitting, or what alarm systems it has, and so on. So I might have to make a few changes ...’

‘OK, OK, Paul. Get on with it, please ...’

‘Very well. There will be only three men in the team. Two of us will approach on foot and wait separately, one on each side of the entrance to the bank. When the car arrives, we’ll both make sure it’s parked in the right place, and then the two of us will join up and go straight in. Nobody outside will suspect anything is happening, and you’ll need to make sure no-one inside hits any alarm buttons or makes any phone calls. As long as you can do that, there should be no big rush. We’ll get out as soon as we’ve got what we came for. The driver knows the streets of Nice very well and he’ll take us to a secluded split-up point within a few minutes. And that’s it — so far.’

‘Sounds reasonable. Happy with the guys you’ve recruited?’

‘Sure.’

‘And they’ve never met each other?’

‘No!’

‘Fine. So, here’s what you need to know now. The bank always stays open late on Monday evenings, to take in extra deposits from the traders at the weekly Antiquities Market on Cours Saleya, which finishes at around five-thirty. In fact we sometimes have a special security van collection, well after the close of business at seven, if that day’s cash intake is expected to be particularly high ...’

‘All right. But ...’

‘So you will be making your entrance after dark, at six-forty-five precisely. OK?’

‘Got it, X. But which bank is it, enfin?’

‘Banque Artisanale on Rue Alberti.’

‘You must be joking!’

‘No.’

‘But the Sûreté headquarters is on Rue Alberti, at the junction with Rue Gioffredo!’

‘Very pleased to see you’ve done your homework, Paul. Yes, it’s only two blocks south of the bank. But there’s no direct alarm link to any police service. They don’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to try and stage a robbery right under the noses of the law.’

‘Too right! I told you this sounded crazy at the start. Now I’m certain of it!’

‘Calm down, Paul.’

‘No, I will not! I can’t risk a dozen squad cars screaming straight up Rue Alberti if someone manages to get a phone call into the flics. They’ll either nab us on the spot or be on our tail all over the city!’

‘I don’t think that’s likely to happen, if you carry out the job properly. I’ve done my planning too, remember. The local alarm bell hasn’t been tested for months, and I can promise you it unfortunately won’t be working at all that day. And there will be nobody in the back offices to call the police. The few staff remaining on late Monday evening duty will all be in the main hall, in full view. But if you’re still not happy ...’

‘Hah! How many banks have you robbed recently, Monsieur Bloody X? You use professionals, you leave it to them, OK?’

‘OK ...’

‘So now I know exactly how to do this. I always wanted to take two other guys in with me anyway. I’ll find a second driver, and we’ll use two cars. We can arrive in a big one and use it to block off Rue Alberti — it’s not very wide. We’ll have to move a lot faster inside the bank than I’d planned, ’cos that blockage will tell people something’s going on. But the other car will be all ready and waiting for the getaway.’

‘That’s very quick thinking, Paul.’

‘Oh, I’ve thought of a lot of options in the past three weeks, X. But at last I can make a proper plan, and you’d better agree to it, here and now.’

‘Yes, I’m perfectly happy with it. I always assumed there would be at least four of you anyway ...’

‘Oh, very clever. So what happens next?’

‘I’ll need to phone you again in precisely one week’s time, to confirm your new plan is all in place. Are you based in Nice now?’

‘Yeah. I had to come all the way back to Marseilles especially for this phone call! Didn’t really want to show my face again here, so I’ve been staying well disguised today and I’m going straight back tonight on the last train.’

‘OK. I’ll give you a phone box rendezvous plan for Nice before we finish this evening. But first, let’s talk about the cash you’re going to steal.’

‘Right!’

‘Make sure your bag is big enough to hold one hundred wads of 5000 Old Franc notes. Because that’s what you’ll be demanding, OK? There will be one hundred notes in each wad. Work it out ...’

‘Hang on ... that makes fifty million balles, right?’

‘Dead right.’

‘And you’re only giving us sixteen million?’

‘Plus your own big advance and expenses. Not bad for a few minutes’ work, Paul. You can buy three or four brand new Rolls-Royces with that sort of money.’

‘And you get to keep well over thirty million?’

‘Well, this is my little project, not yours, isn’t it? And don’t forget it could be you keeping it all, if you decide to double-cross me and don’t deliver the balance in the way I’m about to explain ...’

‘You still sound far too trusting for my liking, X.’

‘Well, I’m actually very comfortable, my friend. But if you are planning to double-cross me, please say so right now, and get ready for what will be hitting you very soon. That way you’ll avoid an even worse outcome if you leave it till later ...’

‘Look, let’s just get on with it, can we?’

‘That’s better, Paul. So, here’s exactly how I’ll want you to deliver my share .......’


To be continued ...

Copyright © 2012 by Michael E. Lloyd

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