Book #5 of the Vigilante series
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Claude Bouchard Books
Though most of them dabbled in a variety of criminal activities, they weren't experienced in this particular field and had never been involved in a job like this before...
However, with proper planning, careful organization and the inside information available to them, they were certain that this bank heist would be a piece of cake...
...Ten minutes, in and out, was all it would take and they'd be sharing 2.5 million dollars...
Nothing could go wrong as they had thought of everything...
How could they possibly know that a new member of the board was visiting the bank that morning?
...How could they know that the new board member was Chris Barry?
Chapter 1 – The Day Before - Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Mistah B poured another cup of coffee and returned to perusing the documents laid out on the kitchen table while sipping the strong, black brew. It was a simple plan, practically child’s play, which is what made it ingenuous. None of these complex, high-tech intricacies as seen in big budget action flicks; no grappling hooks or sliding along taut cables suspended from fancy pulley contraptions under the cloak of night, no underground tunnels and precision drilling amidst invisible laser beam alarm switches. This plan was a straight-forward, get in, get the stash, get out and disappear kind of plan which Mistah B was certain could work flawlessly; as long as none of the bumbling idiots on the crew screwed up.
To be fair, none had ever been involved in this kind of job before but what they lacked in specific experience, most seemed to make up in enthusiasm and determination. Though none were geniuses, some were brighter than others and, despite the fact that a few had an attitude, all seemed dedicated to get this project completed successfully. Money had a tendency to motivate people like those in the crew, especially easy money.
A glance at the clock on the wall confirmed that it was time to head to the day job. Most of the crew members would be busy today, working on one task or another, acquiring or putting together what would be needed for the big day and, hopefully studying the plan on their own as well. They would all be gathering that evening for a final review and to complete the last preparations because the job was going down in the morning.
* * * *
Louie ‘Bull’ Pellini awoke with a groan, shielding his eyes with an arm from the fierce sunlight which streamed in through the window.
“Why’s it so fucking bright in here?” he muttered to the empty apartment.
Squinting, he realized that he had neglected to close the blinds when he had gotten in around four o’clock that morning. Feeling clammy and queasy, he took a couple of deep breaths then propped himself up on both elbows to a semi-seated position. The room tilted somewhat as his stomach lurched and his head spun and throbbed.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” the tall, stocky Italian moaned, dropping back down to a horizontal position.
He broke out into a sweat and closed his eyes again, not too tightly because that was painful, and resumed his deep breathing in hopes that the waves of nausea would pass. They did, after several minutes, and he made a second attempt, more successful this time, of sitting up on the bed. Following a few more minutes, the room was barely moving at all and he slowly turned and brought his feet to the floor, realizing that he was still fully clothed, right down to the Frye boots he favoured.
Peering towards the nightstand, he noticed that the clock radio was missing and vaguely remembered slapping it earlier when it had gone off. His cell phone was handy, however, and he used it to verify the time, 11:47. Damn, he’d been sleeping for nearly eight hours and was not only hung over, he was still drunk.
Carefully standing as the room wavered once again, he stumbled to the bathroom and washed down a half dozen Tylenol caplets, slurping water from the tap. He then staggered back into the bedroom, closed the blinds, crawled onto the mattress and took a much needed nap.
* * * *
Bill ‘Wheels’ Gallagher slowed the flatbed tow-truck and turned onto the grounds of the Hilton Laval, heading directly to the parking lot on the far side of the hotel. Once there, he drove at a crawl between the rows of parked cars, scanning the vehicles to locate the one he was looking for. Into the third row, he spotted it, a red Chevy Malibu with an Enterprise rental decal on the rear bumper.
Wheels had grown up around cars. His father had been a fourth rate, self-proclaimed mechanic with a dream of becoming a world famous stock car driver. He had spent his adult working days in various auto repair shops and service centres, mostly doing oil changes and patching flat tires since he had never gotten around to getting any recognized training and certification as a qualified mechanic. Evenings and weekends had been devoted to working on junkers, attempting various engine modifications to boost horsepower then entering them in small town track races where the engine invariably blew following a few laps.
His father’s car mania had struck Wheels at an early age but in a different fashion. By the time Wheels was sixteen, there wasn’t many a vehicle which was safe from theft if he was intent on stealing it. As auto manufacturers improved anti-theft systems, Wheels kept right up with them and, eight years later, the five foot nine, wiry Irishman was still devising methods to by-pass whatever new and improved security devices Detroit, Japanese and European technology threw at him. Not willing to get too involved in the major leagues, the vehicles he lifted ended up in chop shops or with high-end exporters with Wheels receiving a fraction of their value.
He drove past the Malibu and stopped then shifted into reverse, positioning the truck behind it. Hopping out, he got to work and five minutes later, he was pulling out onto the road with the Malibu secured on the flatbed.
As he took the on-ramp from the Laurentian Autoroute service road to Autoroute 440 eastbound, he activated the name-dial function on his Bluetooth and said, “Julien Roy”. Following two rings, his call was answered.
“Juice, I’ve got the cars,” he informed Roy. “A Dodge Caravan, a Ford Fusion and a Chevy Malibu, all 2010s. Do your stuff.”
* * * *
Twenty-eight year old Julien ‘Juice’ Roy had had all the opportunities in the world to study in a field of his choosing, obtain employment in whatever field he chose and earn revenue commensurate to his efforts and desires. His father was a successful lawyer, a partner with a large firm for many years while his mother was the managing director of a profitable, mid-sized accounting firm. Both had encouraged their son to decide what he wanted to do in life and then to work hard to attain his goals.
Juice, though bright, was lazy and, having been brought up in a household where whatever he wished he received, had never felt the desire much to work hard at anything. This, with time, had led his parents to forcefully suggest that Juice go out on his own as his days of milking them was over. Juice, outraged by his parents’ attitude, had disowned them and gravitated towards a life of non-violent petty crime, mostly in the street-level marijuana and hashish market, where little effort usually generated sufficient cash to pay for his share of the crappy apartment he lived in with a couple of roommates plus the beer and dope he enjoyed.
He now strolled through the long-term parking at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. Wearing khakis and a dress shirt with a sports jacket draped over an overnight bag hanging from his shoulder, the tall, lanky twenty-eight year old attracted no attention, looking like a young manager returning from a business trip, in search of his car.
Within minutes, he spotted his first target, a 2010 Ford Fusion, parked in the next row. He casually scanned the area as he sauntered over and confirmed that there was nobody close by or paying any attention to him. Crouching down behind the Ford, he extracted a compact, cordless screwdriver, attached the appropriate hex socket and quickly removed the license plate.
“One down, two to go,” he said under his breath as he slipped the plate into his bag and resumed his search.
* * * *
Gustavo ‘Goose’ Despada punched in the numeric code and waited for the door to roll upwards then drove his dark green Mazda 3 Sport into the carwash.
Born in Toronto, shortly after his parents had immigrated to Canada from Portugal, Goose was the youngest of three brothers and clearly the most troublesome. Run-ins with the law had started in his early teens and had continued to occur on a regular basis, even after he had completed training as a car-painting specialist and obtained full-time employment in a reputable body shop. Four years earlier, at the age of twenty-five, he had hastily resigned his job and moved to Montreal following a particularly brutal bar brawl, fearing that he might actually end up in prison for his actions. Thanks to some connections, he had since been practicing his trade, both legally and illegally, in a number of body shops and chop-shops around the city.
Over the next few minutes, the automated washing system did its thing, sudsing the car and rinsing it with its high pressure jets. Once the process was complete, Goose pulled out of the carwash, parked off to one side and climbed out to inspect the vehicle which was now its original attractive shade of gunmetal blue.
‘Works like a charm,’ he thought with a grin as he slid his hard, stocky form back behind the wheel and drove away.
* * * *
Sam ‘Sparks’ Cohen clicked print and his HP Color LaserJet 9500N started whirring then printed the first of two 11 x 17 inch banners on electrostatic film. Taking it from the tray, the short and slender Sparks crossed the room and pressed the banner against the window to test the quality of its adhesiveness.
“Perfect,” he murmured in approval. “That’ll even stay on while we’re driving.”
Demonstrating high intelligence as a child, Sparks had dismayed his parents when he had opted for trades, especially electronics, during his last two years of high school. He had refused any further formal studies following graduation, though he devoured endless quantities of information on his own regarding all things technical. At the age of twenty-four, he now eked by with a variety of free-lance jobs of both the legal and not so legal variety, often related to computers and electronics.
He printed the second banner then got busy making the ID tags, complete with official company logos, after which he planned to review the wiring blueprints and photos one more time.
* * * *
Twenty-four year old Alain ‘Ben’ Benoit had grown up in a tougher sector of Montreal North and, from a young age, had dabbled in dope and cash running. Though not a member of the gang, partly due to the race factor, he did have some ties with the local Korean Krew and was involved in the occasional gang confrontation as a loyal wannabe who didn’t shy away from violent situations; he was considered somewhat of a small-time tough guy. He was also a likable one, however, and had gotten to know a number of mini-bosses in the neighbourhood, enjoying the status boost it gave him when he was seen chatting with one or another.
He left Gino’s Pizzeria through the back door, carrying a jumbo pizza box, and hurried to his car parked next to Gino’s in the alley. After popping the trunk and shoving the box inside, he hastened into the car, fired up the engine and sped away, buckling his seat belt as he drove.
He began to relax a little more after a few minutes as he got further away from the Italian’s place of business. Although he had never had any problems with Gino, he had heard stories of the mobster’s double crossing on occasion, especially if he got angry during a deal. Ben had just tried some last minute haggling and had not enjoyed the way Gino had looked at him, nor his explosive commentary.
Better safe than sorry, he continued to keep an attentive eye on his rear view mirror but nothing indicated that anyone was following him for a potential ambush. Nevertheless, he was pleased when he made it home with the six Beretta Px4 Storm Compact pistols he had just purchased without incident.
* * * *
Christine ‘Krystalle’ Lambert was in the middle of her three song set when twenty-nine year old Shawn ‘Shade’ Williams entered the Kitty Klub and chose a table just off the stage. He ordered a beer and watched in amusement as Krystalle performed on stage through her final song, demonstrating athletic abilities worthy of a professional gymnast much more than that of a stripper. The twenty-four year old had, in fact, excelled in high school gymnastics, but had not had the courage or emotional energy to pursue her dreams, all of that being sapped by her sickly, alcoholic mother.
Dangling upside-down from the top of the pole using only her legs, she finished her number by slowly sliding down to the floor where she curled up in a foetal position. She rolled to her feet, gathered her clothing then left the stage amidst raucous applause from the two dozen patrons and headed to the dressing room. Minutes later, she emerged, clad in a very short, very tight t-shirt and g-string, her work attire of the day and made her way directly to Shade’s table.
Krystalle had met the ever-smiling, small-time cannabis dealer, thief and scammer eighteen months earlier when he had sauntered into the club during her set one night and they had seen each other almost every day since.
“Howya doing, sugar?” the well-muscled Jamaican asked after she kissed him rather intimately before sitting down. “Damn, you look great up there. You should be working for the Cirque du Soleil instead of in this dive. You’d be a star, girl.”
“Don’t I wish,” Krystalle grinned shyly then answered his question. “I’m okay, I guess, but I’m kinda nervous about the job tomorrow.”
“No reason to be nervous, baby. It’ll be a piece of cake,” Shade reassured her. “We’ll review the plan one more time tonight and then tomorrow, it’s gonna be in and out and a whole lot richer before you know it. You’ll see.”
“I hope you’re right,” said Krystalle. “I just have this uneasy feeling that something will screw up.”
“That’s just nerves, baby,” Shade smiled. “You’ve seen the plan. What could go wrong?”
* * * *
“Hey there, sweetie,” said Chris Barry when his wife answered the phone back home in Knowlton. “I wasn’t sure if you’d be there or at the gallery.”
“No, it’s such a beautiful day that I decided to let Andrea run the show,” Sandy replied. “In fact, I called Cathy and Dave is on vacation so they’re on their way here for a few days.”
“Is that right?” Chris laughed. “I was going to call the captain and his lovely wife to see if they were free for dinner tonight.”
“Beat you to it,” Sandy teased. “How are your meetings going?”
“Very well, which is what I was expecting,” Chris admitted. “Imperial National isn’t considered the top Canadian bank for nothing. I’ve got one more meeting tomorrow morning at the main branch in Laval and then I’ll be coming back home.”
“Will you be back for lunch?” Sandy asked. “We can wait for you.”
“My meeting’s at nine thirty and should last a couple of hours so I’ll most likely have lunch with Ian Howard afterwards,” Chris replied. “I’m guessing I should be home by three.”
“Alrighty, I’ll see you then,” said Sandy. “Love you, honey, and do stay out of trouble.”
“Love you back,” Chris grinned, “And, what kind of trouble could I possibly get into?”