They landed at Zurich International and immediately taxied to general aviation. They quickly pulled into the journeyman section which was reserved for fliers who were not based there and who typically did not stay for more than a couple of days. They definitely didn't plan on staying long at all. They weren't sure where they were going to go, but they knew that after tomorrow they would have to leave very quickly. It was 10:00 AM Tuesday when they touched down. They would go to the bank the next day as Tuesday was a bank holiday, one of those opaque holidays that no one ever seems to know what is being celebrated but every bank in the country seems to celebrate. At least they would be able to get some much-needed sleep before they headed to the bank. Laura taxied the plane to a spot just north of one of the general aviation hangers. As she opened the door and dropped the stairs, an official from Swiss customs came out to meet them. He was not happy with the fact that they had not filed a flight plan before they left Martinique. He became distracted and much less disagreeable when he discovered they had flown in from the Azores. It was too bad that they didn't get a chance to stay there longer he volunteered. He loved the Azores and had a home there he and his wife had been going to on vacation for 25 years. He discovered the wonders of the island when he and his wife were on a honeymoon cruise to New York and the boat stopped on San Miguel for a day of sightseeing. They bought a house two years later and had been going back ever since. Did they get to see any of "The Green Island" as San Miguel is called? They may have even flown over his house, which lays just two miles from the airport just outside of the capital, Ponta Delgada. Were they going back soon? Did they want the names of some very good restaurants? There is a hotel that he could recommend. Laura considered trying to refocus the conversation on them but given his animation and enthusiasm she decided instead to let him continue expounding on the virtues of the islands. After about five minutes she was lulled into thinking he was done but he quickly disabused her of such thoughts. Just when his knowledge of the islands and his willingness to impart that information seemed endless, he abruptly stopped. "I'm sorry, I'm certain you have to get going," he said smiling at both of them. "Well then, if you have nothing to declare then I'll return these to you and enjoy your visit to Zurich" he said as he handed the passports he had been holding in his hands for fifteen minutes back to Laura. He had them both sign customs declarations and wished them well. "Thank you" they both said. "Before you leave" Laura asked, can you tell us where the general aviation reception is? We need fuel and a couple of other things." "It doesn't seem to be in the same place as it was the last time I was here a couple of years ago" she said pointing to a bare concrete foundation that was sitting just beyond the hanger she was parked beside. "Sure" he said, pointing to a new building just across the Tarmac. The old one caught on fire about two years ago and they decided to build a bigger one a little farther from the hangers. "Go over there and see Jacob. He is a good man. He should be able to help you with just about anything you need, and probably some stuff you don't need" he said with a smile. "Well, thank you once again Mr…. I'm sorry, I didn't even get your name." "Helmut" he said, "Helmut Brown" and it was my pleasure. Enjoy your stay!"
They walked into the reception and asked for Jacob. Helmut was indeed right; it was obvious that Jacob was probably capable of getting them just about anything they wanted, legal or otherwise. In this case however they needed only two things and both were legal. The slightly more difficult of the two was a pilot who could fly their plane. Although Laura knew it was not a difficult plane to fly, they needed someone for that night and who could be gone for a week or so and who might not be put off by a little "adventure". Once it became clear that money was not really a problem, Jacob was certain he had someone who could help them out. His name was Hans and he had been a pilot in the German Air Force during the late eighties and early nineties. When the German economy fell off a cliff after reunification, many pilots were given their walking papers and Hans was one of them. While he was a great pilot, he was far too much of a daredevil for his rather straight-laced superiors who came of age during the rather benign seventies. (Benign in that the only war going on was cold, which didn't leave much "action" available for fliers.) Once the cold war was over and budgetary constraints made reductions possible, there was no compelling reason to continue putting up with Hans'es mischief. So he was out. After bouncing around for a while in the late nineties he bought an old Cessna and began giving flying lessons. He was always looking for something more exciting but his pocketbook never seemed able to allow him too many options. Jacob thought this might be just the thing for Hans, even though it probably wouldn't last too long. "Nonetheless" Jacob thought to himself "At least it will be something and it will get Mary off my back" Mary was Jacob's wife and coincidentally the sister of Hans'es mother Karol. The two of them were constantly badgering Jacob about using his "influence" at the airport to get Hans something that he liked to do. Jacob could honestly say this was the first time he had ever found anything he thought Hans would go for. Jacob was right. Hans leapt at it.
After spending 20 of the last 30 hours on a plane, she would love to have been able to curl up in front of a fire at the Zurich Marriott, but she knew better. Although she thought it unlikely that Alexander had anyone here looking for them here yet, the possibility of accidentally encountering someone she knew had to be avoided. She therefore decided on the Hotel Sternen Oerlikon, a bed and breakfast in an industrial area about five miles from the city. They registered under Michael and Anne DuPont, roughly a French equivalent John and Jane Smith. It was almost noon when they arrived. The room was about 10 X 14 with a shared bath. They were so tired and jet lagged that they didn't even take the time to get undressed. They lay down on the bed, entwined in each other's arms and both were asleep seconds after their heads hit the pillows.
Laura was the first to wake. They had been sleeping for almost eight hours and the sun was setting behind the mountains. Its reddish purple rays danced through the window and illuminated Jonathan's face like the flashing neon lights on Time's Square at midnight. Once again she was struck by the feeling that she was staring into the face of an angel. She wondered what must be going through his head. He had spent twenty years on an island smaller than her uncle's Dallas ranch exposed to nothing more violent than reading about the Capulets and the Montagues. Now, here he was half way around the world in a place he'd never seen, experiencing temperatures he could never have imagined and he was getting a far too personal introduction to the evils of mankind from someone he had never met but to whom he was inexorably tied. It must have been like he had been swept up and taken to another planet. For him, she thought, this is another planet.
She gently brushed the hair from his face with the back of her hand as she slowly leaned down to kiss him on the corner of his lips. She kissed him again on his cheek and again on his shoulder. He began to stir and instantly reached out for her. Without opening his eyes he pulled her close to him and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer and kissing her stomach. As they kissed and caressed one another, eventually every piece of clothing they had was on the floor except for Laura's socks. Finally Jonathan opened eyes so that he could gaze upon this beauty in his arms. She was beyond a doubt the most beautiful woman he had ever laid his eyes on and while he knew the world that awaited him might hold a universe of wonder, he was sure that there were no wonders that could surpass the one that was in his arms right now. They spent the night making love with an unrestrained passion that took them both by surprise. The combination of the dramatic events of the last 48 hours had left them both unsure about what the future held, but conversely, equally sure that whatever it was they were going to face it together. They finally fell asleep wrapped around one another and drenched in sweat, despite the frost on the window from an unusually early burst of cold.
Morning coffee… Making love… Orange Juice… the Alps….They both knew the morning could not last, but they enjoyed it while they could.
The bank was Alpine Zurich, one of the most respected firms in the world of private banking. When measured against some of the world's largest consumer banks, Alpine Zurich at first appeared to be an anachronistic anomaly that had somehow survived the consolidation that shook the industry during the last decade of the 20th century. Regional banking giants merged to become national giants and national giants to become international. Alpine Zurich was neither a regional nor an international powerhouse. It had always been a simple family owned bank that had one branch in Zurich and one in Geneva. While many banks could provide financial security and insurance against loss, none could do what Alpine Zurich did best, which was protect both assets and anonymity. If a billionaire businessman wanted to ensure his progeny didn't squander his hard earned money after he was gone, there were dozens of banks to which he could go to who would happily provide his heirs with insurance, banking and financial management services. If, on the other hand he wanted to ensure that the Rolodex listing his maze of interlocking government and private contacts, (which was likely irreplaceable and therefore far more valuable than any cash in his bank account) would be accessible to only one person of his choosing, he would go to Alpine Zurich. Likewise if he wanted accounts that were accessible by ATMs across the planet and whose activities could be traced back and forth across the electronic universe, any international bank would suffice. Again, if on the other hand he wanted a bank where someone would have to show up in person, present irrefutable evidence of identity and walk in with true anonymity, Alpine Zurich was the bank.
Alex had Laura approach Alpine Zurich approximately four years before, with the specific purpose of establishing an account that would be accessible only by he and Albert and would have no names attached to it. Alpine Zurich allowed clients to establish any identification threshold they wanted, from signatures and passports to thumbprints, retina scans or voice recognition. Alex decided he wanted the highest level of security possible and required that thumb prints and retina scans would be necessary to access the account. There were no names, no billing information and contact information associated with it. Alpine Zurich's clients were by default amongst the richest people in the world. Establishing an account required prepaying 50 years worth of account fees, which totaled $2.5 million, cash, when the account was opened. After the fifty years, if the fees were not paid, the account would sit dormant for another twenty years. If after that time no one stepped forward to pay the accumulated fees, the bank had the right to seize the contents of the account and sell whatever was in it to cover the outstanding amount. Once the contents were sold, and the arrears covered, any remaining balance would be returned to the box for another twenty years and this 20 year cycle would continue until the contents of the box could no longer cover the fees.
Laura could not be certain what Alex had been doing since they left the island, but she knew he wouldn't be standing still. She was sure that he had mobilized every resource within his reach to find them. Police, Interpol and private "contractors" were no doubt looking for the two of them right now. Luckily, he would be loath to inaugurate a massive well-publicized manhunt that could lead to the exposition of his nefarious dealings. Instead he and Albert would no doubt work through back channels to keep the search inconspicuous, however one with a substantial reward. Such a request, essentially a rather precarious highwire act between an official manhunt and a private search could only have been possible because of Alex's very strong public connections and relationships with law enforcement agencies across the west. He had purposely, and very publicly, given hundreds of millions of dollars to police and law enforcement agencies from Vancouver to Vienna over the last two decades. Laura was sure that Alex was now calling in all of those chips from across the international law enforcement community and there was no way she and Jonathan could just walk in the front door. One thing working in their favor however was the fact that there was no way for Alex to contact Alpine Vienna and have them put a lock on the account. It was simply not possible. As Alex had decided on fingerprints and retina scans, there was simply no way to identify the account in question. While the medical technology available on La playa Arena made it simple to get digital renderings of both Alex's and Albert's fingerprints and retinas, luckily, Alpine Zurich had never allowed such digital access. Its clients chose it for a reason, and that was security. Given that mandate, the bank required clients that utilized biometric factors for identification to be physically present in the bank in order to access or change the status of any accounts. As such, the advantage was theirs. She still had to figure out how they would get into and out of the bank however.
Although with a bank like Alpine Zurich, a banker was available 24 hours a day, Laura decided that she did not want to draw any attention to them by requesting special access while the bank was closed. She could not take the chance that Alex had somehow alerted the bank's staff. While it was impossible to access or identify the account, he could have easily alerted the bank to their descriptions, suggesting that they were trying to employ illegal tactics to steal from an account that was not theirs. She therefore decided they would go to the bank just before it closed at 4 PM so that they might take advantage of the fact that in winding up the day the staff would perhaps be less focused than they would be otherwise. There were two other things she needed to accomplish before she could focus on the bank. The first had to do with a question Jonathan had asked her while she was falling asleep in his arms last night. "Laura" he had asked "What if there are others like me?" As they were both in the hazy neverland between conscious exhaustion and restful sleep she did not give it much thought. She must have been contemplating how to answer it during her sleep though because she now had a plan without even realizing it. The second was communication. She needed phones.
Jonathan was right. They had to find out. She knew that if there were others, there would be records at South Centre. There was no way she could go back there herself. It was impossible. She knew that the moment she left the island red flags went up everywhere throughout the Alexander Resources empire and beyond. There was only one person she could call. Felix, a paradoxical young research scientist who she had befriended soon after she arrived at South Centre. Having spent much of his youth as an anarchist, he surprised even himself when in college he became a finance savant, earning his doctorate in accounting at 23. The two shared an affinity for things outdoor and frequently spent weekends rock climbing, skiing or biking. Although it had always been obvious that he wanted more, they were simply very good friends and he was certainly the only person who was remotely connected with Alexander Resources to whom she could turn for help.
While Jonathan was taking his shower she walked to the Phone House, a mobile phone store that was about two blocks from the hotel. As she walked the sun was beginning to shine through the dissipating clouds and would no doubt begin to take the slight edge off the cool crisp morning air. The sidewalks were bustling with shoppers. She reached the Phone House just moments after it opened. She knew she needed to communicate with no chance of identification. She purchased six separate phones. Three were from Bouygues Telecom, the independent French company and the other three were from T-Mobile, the German giant. She bought two 1000-minute cards to go with each phone and made sure that each would work both with GSM, the European standard as well as CDMA, common in many other parts of the world. The four thousand Euros she spent was more than the 19-year-old store manager had ever sold in two whole days, nevermind to just one person. Technology was a great thing she thought to herself as she walked out of the store with her two bags of phones. Nokia and Samsung had done unbelievable things when it came to phones, each of the ones she just purchased weighed less than 3 oz and all six combined weighed less than half of what her first mobile phone did twenty years before. If they could just do something about the packaging they came with, which completely filled the two bags in her arms.
On the way back to the hotel she stopped at L&H, a department store, to get a few personal items and some clothes. For Jonathan she picked up a couple of pairs of jeans, some shirts and a pair of Doc Martins, the most comfortable shoes she had ever worn. Shirts were not really a problem and for the pants she guessed he wore a size 32, so she bought both a pair of 32s and a pair of 34s just to be sure. Buying shoes for someone else would present a problem in most situations but Laura remembered that when they were at the lagoon they had been playing in the sand and Jonathan made her put her foot up against his to see how small it was. And it was small. She remembered clearly that his foot was about an inch and a half longer than hers, so it was easy to figure out his size by simply putting her foot into one of those foot-shaped measuring gauges that seem to be unique to shoestores. She also purchased a heavy brown leather jacket for him as the cool fall temperatures were much lower than he was used to. For herself she purchased the same, a couple pairs of jeans and a variety of shirts and sweaters to go with them. All of this, including various underclothes and socks for each of them required two more rather sizable bags and she became a little concerned at the conspicuous nature of a woman carrying so many bags from two rather expensive outlets, but she decided that there was nothing she could do about it, and besides she was only one block from the hotel. Luckily, when she returned to the hotel there was no one in the lobby so she was able to walk up to the room without attracting any attention. When she returned to the room Jonathan was sitting naked on a chair staring out the window. He stood as soon as she walked in. She had to stop and stare for a moment at how beautiful he was. Noticing she was looking at him and with not a hint of self-consciousness, he walked over to her and kissed her as she stood holding the bags with the door still open. As the warmth spread through her body she involuntarily dropped the bags and wrapped him in her arms. For a moment she could think of nothing but shedding her clothes and making love to him right there on the floor but she knew they had work to do. As she reluctantly pulled away from his grasp she realized that the door was still open and became flushed with red at the idea that someone might have walked by. She quickly closed the door and went to take her shower. While she was taking her shower Jonathan went through the clothes in the bags. It was pretty easy to figure out which ones were for whom, as the first pair of jeans he tried on he could not even get on past his knees.
He was standing in front of the mirror looking at himself when she came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. He stopped looking at himself and could not take his eyes off of her. The towel hung from her breasts like a curtain of clouds obscuring a full moon. You can make out the beauty behind it and you're transfixed until you can see the real thing. He did not have to wait long. She dropped the towel and walked over to him and stood in front of him. She reached for his hands and wrapped them around her as she turned to face the mirror. They both looked at the mirror where she was standing naked in front of him, with his arms wrapped around her. They looked at one another in the mirror and smiled. She turned her head to the left and he kissed the right side of her neck. Slowly he moved his hands up from her stomach to her breasts. After caressing them for what seemed far too short a moment to Laura, he put his hands around her neck as she turned to face him. As they began kissing it was now he who wanted to take her right there, but again she pulled away. She stepped back and looked at him in the mirror. "What do you think?" she asked. "They are great," he said, "although these are a lot different than anything I've ever worn. The shoes are pretty stiff, but the socks are very comfortable" "Good!" she said, "I'm glad you like them. How do the pants fit? That was the only thing I was worried about." "Perfect" he said turning around and showing her. She noticed that he was wearing the 32-inch pants and smiled. As Laura dressed she could not help feel like she was doing a striptease in reverse, as Jonathan never took his eyes off of her. She was amazed. It was not that she was a particularly self-conscious person who gets embarrassed when naked in front of a lover with the lights on. No, what struck her was simply the fact that it all felt so natural. It was not an absence of uncomfortableness, but rather a true feeling of serenity. She looked over at him as she was bending over to put her shoes on. She actually felt a bit of pride, a little bit proud of herself for what she had picked out for him. He looked fantastic in those clothes, although she knew he looked even better out of them. "Damnit!" she said to herself "Focus! She had to call Felix."
The first thing she had to do was to call Felix. She knew his mobile phone number by heart and knew that he never went anywhere without it. Sometimes she was sure he considered having it surgically attached to his head.
"Felix here" as he always answered the phone. "It's Laura, Sweetheart, how are you? "Obviously much better than you. Where are you? What the hell is going on with you? Two days ago a message came down from the top that you were to be barred from all Alexander Resources facilities, anyone hearing from you was instructed to contact Alexander's office immediately. What is going on?" he asked again. "It's too long a story to go into right now." She said. "Are you at home?" "Yes" Felix replied. "Are you alone?" she asked. "No, but I can be in about 15 minutes." "OK" she said, sure that he was with Tabitha, the young lady he had met two months ago when they were biking on the grounds of the Trinion at Versailles. "I need you to do me a favor. I need you to go to South Centre and find something for me." "Anything!" he replied. She continued "There is an island called Aislado which is not far from our facility on La playa Arena. Its records might be under that name or the name Jonathan or maybe even Monkey Games. I need you to do an analysis of that facilities' cost profile for the last twenty years and then find out if there are any other islands with a similar pattern. If there are, I need you to find me the map coordinates for each of them." "What do you want me to do with them?" he asked. "I want you to bring them to me." I'm not sure where I'll be, so save this number and call me when you find them." "We'll figure out where to meet then." "Laura," Felix said slowly, "Is everything all right? Are you in some kind of danger?" She responded with a "No on the first" and a "probably on the second." "I can't talk right now, but we'll talk later."
With that she hung up. Now that Felix was working on getting information on other potential "Jonathans" they had to focus on getting to the bank. Although she had not been there in four years, she knew exactly where the bank was. Squeezed between a French restaurant on one side and a used bookshop on the other, the bank looked like a paper tiger of security. In reality it was anything but. All three establishments were actually owned by Alpine Zurich. The bookshop and the bakery were rented to local businessmen whose families had been running the establishments for years. By owning the two shops on either side of it, Alpine Zurich never had to fear their being sold and some new owner deciding to knock them down and try and build something else. That would have be something of a problem because what was not obvious from the street, or from within any of the three storefronts, was the fact that the bank was like an iceberg, what you saw from above was but a small fraction of the bank's true size. Once a customer entered the bank's storefront with its dark wood paneling and brass filigreed counter, one could be forgiven for thinking they had just walked into the 19th century. After being properly greeted they would be taken to an elevator which looked equally ancient. When the elevator stopped one story below however, the juxtaposition could not have been more stark. While still elegant, the lobby was now purely modern with smoked glass and subdued gray steel combining to create a very modern atmosphere that was unmistakably secure, yet remarkably, still quite accessible. Inside the lobby the customer might be taken to one of the three private offices with walls of glass to await being served. The walls did not have blinds or curtains of any sort. Instead, with a touch of a button the hollow glass walls would become frosted, allowing for complete privacy while avoiding the feel of a closet. Once their personally assigned teller arrived, the specifics of the account would be discussed in terms of what type of access protocol had been established. The only universal record for the accounts was the date of establishment. Everything else from name to access codes to the contact numbers were account driven. If a client showed up at the bank without knowing what kind of security protocol existed for an account, they were unable to access it, period, regardless of their ownership. Once the type of security protocol was established and implemented, i.e. retina scan, numeric code or successful answer to a series of challenge questions, the bank's computers would automatically search for the account tied to that protocol. It would then identify the location of the corresponding safe deposit box. Depending upon the size of the box, as some were as large as a small car, the customer would be taken to one of the three floors below to access it. Once on the appropriate floor the customer would be taken to one of the access rooms. The box would already have been delivered into the room before they arrived. The access rooms were stark, with frosted steel walls and black carpet, to allow customers to focus on the business at hand.
Before they went to the bank, she had to make sure that Jonathan understood how much danger they were in, particularly him. He was, after all, the one Alex needed. She was just so much collateral damage. Once the deed was done Alexander would be happy to use his money to spin yarns from Paris to Hong Kong denying the whole thing. Eventually he would be able to buy a truth that was to his liking. Once it was done there would be nothing anyone could do for Jonathan. She was determined that that was not going to happen. "Sweetheart" she said as she walked over and sat next to him on the bed. "You've got to be very careful at the bank." Looking over at her he nodded his head. "Now listen to me," she went on. "I know the last three days have been just crazy for you, but you have to understand. We are dealing with some bad people who will stop at nothing to get you back. Above all else, you are the one they want. I'm just an unforeseen annoyance. If I were dead tomorrow they wouldn't care a bit. As a matter of fact Alex would probably prefer that." She looked down and then looked back up at him, putting her hands on his cheeks, "If you get caught, you will be on a plane to La Playa Arena within an hour and I'll never see you again. As hard as this is to imagine, if they catch you, you are dead." Looking straight into his eyes, she continued, "so please stick close to me and don't ask any questions. I probably won't have time to answer them or explain anything." He nodded and with a confidence she found startling he said "Sweetheart, do not worry. We will get through this. Both of us." She smiled a half smile and then the hotel phone rang. Laura picked it up, listened for a few minutes and said "Thank you. We'll be there in just a moment."
Upon returning from the store she called Jean, the desk clerk to ask if he would call a taxi and have one ready for them at 11:00. The taxi was downstairs and they needed to leave. As the taxi drove by the bank, Laura saw just what she had expected to see, a nondescript car with three occupants. There was no doubt another was on the other side of the block where the bank's private entrance was. As she guessed, Alexander had contacted the Swiss police and probably Interpol as well. The bank closed at 4 PM so that gave them a few hours to figure out how to get into the bank undetected. She was sure they would have no problem getting out but the key was to get in without being noticed. Laura instructed the taxi driver to take them to the famous Grossmünster cathedral about a half a mile away. From one of its steeples she would be able to clearly see the bank and its environs which might help her to formulate a plan.
When they arrived at the church Jonathan was mesmerized. He had never seen a building like that in his life. It was at the same time the tallest and most elegant structure he had ever seen. Walking in he found himself enchanted by the beauty and the spender of the 800-year-old church and in awe that men could build such things. Laura took his hand and led him to the stairs and ladder that lead to the observation deck. As they were looking at the bank and the bookstore she realized there was no inconspicuous way to approach it. It became clear that if they were going to get into the bank they would simply have to walk in the front door. If they were going to walk in the front door, they would need a diversion. That's when she remembered something she had read about a few years back. In 1998 Zurich had made prostitution legal. Not that Zurich had been prostitution free before then, but the legalization simply allowed the government to dictate where the business could be conducted legally and tax it, just as dentists and florists were. One of the main areas of the prostitution business was only a few blocks from the cathedral on Niderdorfstr. Quickly she grabbed Jonathan's hand and led him from the church and headed for the red light district.
Upon leaving the cathedral Laura and Jonathan walked the three blocks to the red light district. There they found "Carmella's" one of the few understated boutiques. They went in and were greeted by Carmella herself. "How can I help you?" asked Carmella, not at all taken aback by the presence of a woman and a man together at her door. Soon after getting into this business twenty years before, Carmella learned that there was a distinct population of women who enjoyed her business just as much as men, and usually they came with a man happily in tow. "I need the services of a dozen women for the afternoon" said Laura. Now that was something she had never heard of thought Carmella. "Pardon me?" She said, wanting to make sure she had heard Laura correctly.
By 3:50 in the afternoon Pascal, Raul and Michael had spent almost 24 hours watching the front of the bank. Although they took turns sleeping in the back of the VW Passat, none of them was particularly happy. They had been given dark, grainy pictures of two individuals who were wanted for questioning by Interpol. They were told that the two would probably not even arrive. Traffic into and out of the small non-descript bank had been very slow. They hadn't been told how long they would be on this assignment, but that they should expect to eat a lot of sandwiches. As Raul was sleeping in the back seat he thought they might have finally had some action. Pascal, the driver was calling back to him to wake up. He looked out the window expecting to see a man and a woman walking into the bank. What he saw instead were three taxis stopping in front of the bookstore. Exiting the taxis were what must have been a dozen beautiful, elegant women. Dressed in everything from jeans to knee length leather skirts, the woman were apparently just beginning what was going to be a wild night on the town. From the packages and multitude of balloons they were carrying it was obviously a birthday party. Indeed two of the balloons read "Happy 30th Birthday." After standing in front of the bookstore for almost ten minutes the group slowly gravitated from the corner in front of the bookstore past the bank and into the restaurant. The three police followed the women's every step. Raul, watching with the binoculars he had taken from Pascal watched as the women walked into the restaurant. Through the window he could see the maitre'd smile with a slightly puzzled look. One of the women walked around the maitre'd stand and together the two of them looked at the reservation book. Quickly the two found what they were looking for and everyone seemed to give up a brief cheer. The maitre'd finally showed the ladies to the long table at the rear of the restaurant, still in clear view of the men in the car. As the woman sat and began to chat Raul let down the binoculars, relieved that at least for a little while they would have something interesting to look at. The bank was closing and no one had come or gone from it since an hour after it opened this morning. Immediately he began thinking about which of them would get to go into the restaurant to get something to eat. He was not sure if they sold sandwiches or anything else that could be eaten while sitting in a small VW, but he was definitely planning on being the one who found out. Rank sometimes does have its privileges.
Quickly closing the door behind them Laura turned to look out the window of the bank. The blinds had already been dropped and she could easily peer out of the corner without being seen. She looked at the VW parked across the street for any sign of movement or communications. The three men were still looking at the women funneling into the restaurant next door. Suddenly she noticed one of the men had a pair of binoculars. She quickly froze, not wanting him to notice any movement in the blinds. It became quite clear however with the smile on his face that he too was looking at the women.
Confident that they had entered unseen Laura turned to face the manager who was by now standing two feet from her with a rather curious look on her face. Standing next to the two women was Jonathan, who, like the two women, was wearing a dress. Laura had hired a dozen of Carmella's "hostesses" to spend their afternoon next door having a faux birthday party. Laura knew that the women getting out of the cabs would provide the perfect distraction to the men in the car. She and Jonathan were in one of the taxis and were just part of the group. Laura made sure the taxis let them out in front of the bookstore so they would have to cross in front of the bank in order to get to the restaurant. As the group slowly made their way to the restaurant Laura and Jonathan slipped into the bank, aided by the women and balloons obstructing the view of the bank's wooden door.
Now inside, the three of them stood looking at one another until the manager, Christine, spoke. "Hello" she started hesitatingly, looking askance at Jonathan; "may I help you?" Laura was looking around the lobby of the bank. Not surprisingly it had changed little from when she had last been there four years ago to set up the account. "We'd like to see the manager, Mr. Bouvier." Christine's eyes seemed to widen just a bit as she looked more closely at Laura. You knew Mr. Bouvier?" she asked, realizing that these people had not just wandered in off of the street and they likely had business at the bank. "Yes I did" Laura responded, somewhat hesitatingly because of Christine's use of the word knew rather than know. "Is he here?" she continued. Christine's eyes softened slightly, "No ma'am, unfortunately Mr. Bouvier died of a heart attack last year. How well did you know him?" "Quite well actually, although for just a short period of time I'm afraid" said Laura, "He spent a couple of days entertaining me, and frankly, trying to set me up with his grandson about four years ago. I met him when I came to Zurich to establish an account here. He was such a pleasant gentleman. We had lunch together next door and we actually went to the theater one night. I spoke to him once or twice a year, but I haven't had the opportunity to get back to Zurich since then." Laura looked up at Christine, "I'm sorry, he was a very good man." "You're right, he was a very good man. Thank you." responded Christine. Straightening up and lifting her chin Christine put aside the thoughts of Mr. Bouvier and started. "Now, Miss…" Realizing that they had not introduced themselves, Laura spoke up and gave her their new names, "Michael and Anne DuPont." "Thank you. Now Mr. & Mrs. DuPont" Christine said, looking rather uncomfortably at the dress clad Jonathan when she said mister, "Is there anything I can do for you?" Noticing Christine's discomfort, Laura gestured towards Jonathan and said, "My husband, Michael, he is an actor and he is spending the day dressed as a woman. He is doing research for a comedy he will be working on early next year" The relief in her face was obvious, conveyed by the smile that quickly appeared on her face. "We've come in reference to the account I set up four years ago when I met Mr. Bouvier." "Very well then. Unfortunately my staff is gone for the day as we were getting ready to close but I will be happy to help you myself. What kind of Access Protocol did you establish?" "Retina and fingerprints" Laura responded. "Excellent. Please follow me" Christine said as she turned and led them to the elevator. Stepping out of the elevator Christine led the couple to a stainless steel column located just to the right of the receptionist's desk. The column was approximately six feet tall and two feet in diameter. A foot below the top of the column was a recessed black square about twelve inches across. In the center of the square was a red dot and on the bottom was a small cushion. Jutting out from the sides of the column were two black glass panels approximately waist high. "Mrs. DuPont, you probably remember this protocol" Christine said gesturing towards the column. Laura was familiar with the device, however it was Jonathan whose biometrics would have to be scanned. "Sweetheart" she said as she looked over at Jonathan, wishing she had explained this to him before they arrived, but now hoping that he would go along with her, "This is the machine I was telling you about." Jonathan turned to look at Laura and he could tell by the way she nodded her head ever so slightly that the correct response to her statement was "yes". "Yes, I remember" he said, hoping he sounded somewhat convincing to Christine. "When that man from the bank came and scanned your fingerprints and retinas four years ago we sent the data here. Here, rather than using those mobile machines, the scanning equipment is built into this column." "Oh," he replied, "how does it work?" "It's actually quite simple" Christine said, stepping towards the column and gesturing for Jonathan to step towards it. "Just place your feet on the two yellow footprints" she said as she pointed to the two yellow spots painted in the shape of shoeprints at the bottom of the column. Jonathan slowly approached the column and looking over at a nodding Laura, placed his feet on the yellow marks. "Now" Christine continued as she adjusted the recessed black square up to the height of Jonathan's head, "Just put your chin on the cushion and place your hands on the black side panels." Not at all sure what exactly was going to happen, Jonathan obeyed, and was greatly thankful when he felt the comfort of Laura's hand on his lower back. A moment later a thin blue light passed quickly from left to right from a spot on the panel in front of Jonathan's face. Simultaneously the panels where he had placed his hands illuminated with a misty blue hue. Light seeped out from around Jonathan's hand, as the silhouette hands on each panel were slightly larger than his.
"That's it" Christine said as she turned and walked over to the receptionist's desk and picked up a piece of paper from the printer. The computer three floors below had run a series of algorithms that matched Jonathan's data with that on file. Once a perfect match was found the computer then searched the database to find the account that corresponded to that biometric data. Once located, the computer printed a two-digit number that indicated which floor and to which room the person should be taken. In this case the figure was 23 which indicated the customer should be taken to the second level below and room 3 which was the second of six.
Once Christine had taken Laura and Jonathan to room 23, she explained that the computer was retrieving their box and it would be delivered in a matter of minutes. Jonathan stared around the stark room. It was cold but very well lit. With its stark metal walls it looked like what he had always imagined the room of Winston's torment was in George Orwell's 1984. Except for the coal black carpet which covered the entire room. He had always imagined the floor in Winston's room to be gray. Laura looked over at him knowing he must be bewildered. First the brothel, where he was forced to put on clothes even women found uncomfortable and now this stark steel room, unlike anything he had ever seen. She wondered if he would ever be able to process all of these seemingly disparate yet tangled bits of information into a coherent picture of the real world. She walked over to him and pulled his hands around her waist. Looking up at him she said, "Sweetheart, things are not usually this crazy. It won't be like this forever," she said, shaking her head. "I know," he said as he leaned down and kissed her.
Moments later Christine returned with a black pushcart. On the pushcart was a gray, two-foot square metal box with a black metal top. "Here is your box sir." "Thank you Christine" Laura said as she was walking over to the box. "I'll leave the two of you alone. If you need anything please press the buzzer" Christine said as she gestured towards the red buzzer left of the door as she closed it behind her. Laura immediately lifted the lid and let it flip over on its hinges. Inside was the familiar leather case she had deposited four years ago. It looked very much like a large doctor's bag. As she lifted it from the box it seemed heavier than she remembered. Placing it on the table in the middle of the room she unbuckled the top and pulled the sides apart to reveal the stacks of money just as she had left them. The bearer bonds were still in the 9X12 manila envelope standing on its side. Sticking out of an inside pocket was the smaller manila envelope Alexander had given her at the last moment. "Alexander said this was a 'will of sorts." She remembers thinking at the time "I wonder what that means?" She opened it. Inside were two standard white letter-sized envelopes, one with Alexander written on the outside, the other with Albert.
She looked up at Jonathan as she ripped open the first envelope, labeled Albert. In it was a handwritten letter on Alexander's personal stationary. She began to read it aloud: "Albert, thank you for your service, companionship and most of all, your friendship through these many years. Much of what I accomplished over the last thirty years would have been much more difficult, if not impossible if not for your steadfast support and assistance. By virtue of the fact that you are reading this letter, something has likely gone horribly awry. Not knowing the exact circumstances you find yourself in, I wanted to make sure you had the resources necessary to get through whatever difficulty you might encounter. Enclosed with this letter you will find $15 million in cash in various currencies and an equal amount of bearer bonds. I hope it is sufficient. If I have died by the time you are reading this, I would like to ask one last favor of you. I have attached a letter that describes our research over the last thirty years and everything that goes with it, good and bad. I do not want that research lost simply because I can no longer avail myself of it. Please read it. I would like copies of the letter delivered to the New York Times, the Times of London and Le Monde. I leave it up to you when you would like to release the information as it no doubt has the potential to cause problems for you. Please my friend, you have never let me down before and I beg of you not to do so now. I have put so much work into this project that even though I cannot benefit from it, perhaps someone can." Laura looked up at Jonathan as she flipped over the page and began to read: "To whom it may concern: My name is Alexander Cooke and by virtue of this letter being read, I'm most certainly dead. Now that I am gone I would like to set the record straight. I began Alexander Resources with the specific intent of finding a way to naturally extend the lives of people around the world, mine in particular. Along the way things changed, my goals evolved and somehow something went terribly wrong…" Laura was astonished at what she was reading. The letter went on to describe the entire history of his pursuit of immortality from the serendipitous discovery in the jungles of Bolivia to the experiments with monkeys to the cloning of humans. The letter ended with Alexander stating that he had succeeded in cloning humans and his wish that his work would be able to help science and benefit mankind. Laura was incredulous. She looked up at Jonathan. "Bullshit!" she said. "That son of a bitch is trying to whitewash the truth and turn himself into Albert Schweitzer rather than Joseph Mengele. Shaking her head she reached for the second letter. She opened it and it too held a letter on Alexander's personal stationary, but this one was typed. It started "My name is Alexander Cooke. Being of sound mind and body do hereby declare…" It was Alexander's will. It left everything he owned to his estranged son Jonathan. It stated that the while there had been rumors of his fathering children over the years with a number of women, it was Jonathan who would inherit all of his assets. It required that proof of identity would be required before the assets could be given to his son. The proof of identity could be established in only one manner, the matching of fingerprints and DNA on file with Alexander Resources. Under no circumstances was anyone who did not match the stored data to be allowed to take possession of any of Alexander's assets. The will was signed by Alexander, Albert as the witness and by Warren Benson, Alexander Resources senior counsel. Again Laura shook her head. "This was his way of transferring his assets from himself to himself when he returned as you! Bastard!"
Just as she was putting the second letter back into its envelope the door suddenly opened. Startled, the pair looked up just in time to see the three police from outside the bank coming through the door. Each had an automatic weapon in his hand; two aimed at Laura and one at Jonathan. As the police walked into the room and moved away from the door, Christine followed into the doorway. "May I have the letters please?" she said holding her hand out towards Laura. Laura looked at Christine and then over to Jonathan. "What is this?" she asked Christine. "What is going on here?" she said, keeping the letters firmly in her hand. "Please, if I may" Christine said as she walked over to Laura. She reached for the letters. Laura looked over at Jonathan, calculating all of the possibilities at this point. She looked over at the three men pointing weapons at them. She quickly deduced that there was nothing they could do under these circumstances so she let the letters be pulled from her hands. Christine immediately took a lighter from her coat pocket and set them ablaze, dropping the ball of flames into the empty metal trashcan sitting beside the door. Turning back to the pair Christine looked at Jonathan and then Laura. I thought it was you, but I could not be sure until you passed the protocol. "I'm not sure I understand what you mean," said Laura. "When Mr. Bouvier died, Mr. Cooke purchased the bank from his estate. His assistant Albert contacted us last night and suggested that someone matching your descriptions might attempt to access the account you just accessed. We were informed that the persons who might be seeking access were fugitives on an Interpol watch list. The police had pictures, but obviously you were able to gain entrance without alerting them. I could not be sure you were the fugitives until you we matched his fingerprints from those sent to the police by Mr. Cooke. These men will be taking you to a van in the garage and you will be transported to police headquarters. Now, please step away from the table" Jonathan and Laura stepped away from the table. Raul, the sergeant instructed Pascal to search them for weapons. He first patted down Laura rather gingerly as she raised her arms to her side and stared at him coldly. He then frisked Jonathan somewhat more briskly as he mimicked Laura by raising his arms. He found nothing but two cell phones. Jonathan looked over to Laura. She nodded her head as if to say "Everything will be all right." "Now, if you would not mind" Christine said as she stood aside and gestured towards the door. Laura looked around for anything they might be able to use to cause a diversion, but there was nothing. Slowly she started walking towards the door. Jonathan was simultaneously coming around the other side of the table and the two walked side by side through the door after Michael. Raul and Pascal followed with Christine behind, picking up the bag as she closed the door behind them. Michael headed towards the elevator to go up one floor to the reception and garage level. Before they arrived at the elevator Raul stopped the two of them. He quickly removed his handcuffs from his belt and placed them on Jonathan's wrists as they were pulled behind his back. Pascal followed suit and pulled Laura's arms behind her and placed his handcuffs on her. The elevator was an American made OTIS, which would hold 6 people or 1,500 lbs. Christine had taken the bag and returned to her office, which was on the same floor as the room they had just left. It used to be Mr. Bouvier's office. He had always wanted his office to be on the middle level as it afforded him the greatest amount of privacy yet still allowed him quick access via a staircase to the reception area if necessary. Raul decided to stay behind and go down the hall to chat with Christine, a tall brunette he found particularly attractive. Confident that his machine gun carrying subordinates could easily handle the handcuffed fugitives, Raul said: "You two take them up to the garage, the van will be there in a couple of minutes." The two junior officers nodded in unison at their superior. With the fugitives handcuffed, the two officers let their machine guns hang by their slings as they held the prisoners by the shoulders and gently guided them into the elevator. For a moment the prisoners stood facing the back of the elevator. Pascal looked at Michael and raised his hand in a circling motion as he said "Lets turn them around." The four now stood facing one another. Jonathan and Laura looked at one another. Laura gave Jonathan the subtlest nod she could and hoped that he understood that it was now or never. They had probably one chance to get out of this situation and this was about to be it. Pascal pushed the button for the reception/garage level. The two police stood facing the prisoners with one hand on their sidearms and the other on their slings holding their machine guns. It was a short ride, but it would certainly be a memorable one.
The moment the elevator started to move Laura turned to Jonathan and said "Sweetheart, I love you." He leaned over to kiss her and they careened their necks so that their lips might meet. Pascal and Michael looked at them and then at one another. As soon as the two police looked at one another it happened. Jonathan lifted his leg, ripping his dress as he did. As the sound of the ripping dress made a noise, it became mingled with the groaning sound Michael made as he was collapsing from being kicked in the groin. Before Pascal could react to his friend's collapse, he felt Laura's knee in his groin, which made it feel like it had been driven into his chest. At the same time she slammed her shoulder into his throat and pressed it against the wall of the elevator, instantaneously cutting off his oxygen supply and causing him to gasp desperately. As she let him slowly collapse she turned perpendicular to him, which allowed her to grab his sidearm which was holstered on his right hip. Even with her hands behind her back she expertly unsnapped the safety strap from the holster and removed the Browning 9-MM. Quickly she flipped off the safety and aimed the gun at his head. "Take off his handcuffs" she said to a wheezing Michael as he sat on the floor in front of Jonathan. Before he could move the elevator stopped and the doors opened into the empty, cavernous parking garage. The van had already arrived and there were three police standing at the door to meet them. They turned white as sheep when they saw the situation in front of them. "Drop your weapons" Laura shouted. The three looked at one another and at the gun resting steadily only two inches from Pascal's head as he struggled for breath. "Now" she commanded as she cocked back the hammer of the weapon. Seeing that she was deadly serious the three did exactly as they were instructed. "Now kick them under the van." Again they did exactly as they were instructed. Slowly Michael was able to regain his composure and said to Laura, "You will never get away with this." "We'll see," she said. "Now, remove those cuffs." He slowly reached into the top left pocket of his uniform's shirt and removed the set of keys. Jonathan turned around and leaned down so Michael, still sitting on the floor could unlock his cuffs. As soon as the cuffs were off he leaned down and grabbed Michael's gun. "Take the safety off" Laura instructed. Not sure what he was looking for, he turned the gun on its side. "There" she said, gesturing with her right thumb on the weapon in her hand that was identical to the one in Jonathan's. He quickly flipped it the only way it would go and held the weapon steadily at Michael. "Now, " he said glancing up at the three police outside the elevator before focusing again on Michael. "take them off her." Michael reached over and unlocked the cuffs from Laura's right hand. It was difficult to actually remove the cuff because her right wrist was pressed between her left arm and her back. After some maneuvering it finally came off. She stood and swung her right hand around to the front and held out the left for Michael to remove the remaining cuff as a slumping Pascal was finally regaining his breath. "You three, take off your clothes right now," she said. The three looked at one another and seemed disinclined to follow instructions until they realized that she had raised her weapon at them. "You too" she shouted to Michael and Pascal. "Now! Everything!" I want you wearing a smile and nothing else." Getting impatient, she shouted "Faster, damnit!" After watching Pascal and Michael slowly climb to their feet and begin to disrobe, Laura turned back to the three policemen outside of the elevator and asked "Who has the keys to the van?" "I do," said the somewhat portly sergeant on the right. "Give them to me" she demanded. He nervously reached into his pants pocket to pull out the keys. He handed them to her wearing only his white boxers. "Everything" she said to the five, all of whom were hoping to keep some sort of dignity about them. One by one they looked at each other and then back at her. Almost in unison they realized she was deadly serious and sheepishly complied. Having taken the keys she walked over to the Volvo van and opened the back door which presented an empty holding cell with two metal benches along both sides with a metal mesh grate at the front separating the holding compartment from the driver. "Inside" she commanded. In single file each naked man climbed into the back of the van and sat on the cold metal bench. Laura closed the door and locked it, and was going to put the keys in her pocket until she realized she did not have one. She looked at Jonathan, who was still standing in the elevator wearing a dress and holding the weapon. Pointing to the middle pile of clothes from the three officers who greeted them outside the elevator, she said "He looked about your size, try those on." Jonathan went over and quickly shed his dress and pulled on the trousers and the undershirt. The shoes were a little tight, but they were certainly better than what he had been wearing for the last hour. He looked up at Laura and she nodded, admiring for a second how good he looked in the tee shirt. "What now" asked Jonathan. "We're going back to get the money and we're leaving." "OK. What about Christine and the sergeant?" "That's what these are for" Laura said as she held the gun up in her hand. The two of them went back into the elevator and Laura pressed the button for the 2nd floor they had just come from. As the elevator opened she cautiously looked out both sides of the door. There was no one. As they exited the elevator they could hear laughing from what used to be Mr. Bouvier's office. Raul was turning on the charm and Christine seemed very receptive. She had always been fond of men in uniforms and Raul was certainly a good-looking man. As he was now sitting on the corner of her desk, a slight lull fell over the conversation, both smiling at one another. Suddenly as Raul was looking up at the ceiling in an attempt to find something witty to say, he realized he should check on his men. Standing, he reached out his hand to Christine. With both hands and something that was half way between a shake and a caress he said "I'm sorry, I must go check on my men. It has been lovely meeting you. You are an exceptional woman. We should have dinner sometime." For emphasis he added, "Soon." "Yes, I think I'd like that." He leaned and kissed her hand. Smiling he turned around and headed out the door. Once out the door he looked up and found himself staring down the barrel of Michael's Browning 9-MM. Although the barrel seemed to take up almost his entire field of vision, he was able to see Laura with her finger over her lips telling him to be quite. Once he grasped the situation, Laura beckoned him to approach her. She was standing about ten feet in front of him. Given that Christine had an alarm in her office, Laura did not want to risk her setting it off and attracting more police than might already be on their way. As Raul approached Laura, he realized that Jonathan was not wearing a dress and that his pants and shoes looked very much like his own. He immediately understood that things had likely gone badly in the garage. Looking at the weapon that Jonathan had pointed right at him, Raul heard every syllable uttered by Laura. "I need you to be very quite. If you do, no one will get hurt. Do you understand me." He quickly nodded his head. Whispering to him she said, "We are not going to hurt anyone unless you make us. We are going to take the money and leave. Now, I want you to call Christine out into the hallway." Trying to think, Raul asked "What am I supposed to say to her?" "I don't care. Tell her you love her. Tell her you're lost. Just tell her something. Flustered, Raul tried to think of something. Nothing. "Ask her what is wrong with the damn elevator!" said a frustrated Laura. Lifting her weapon and putting it against his throat. She added with unmistakably deadly seriousness, "Nothing funny." "Christine my dear, can you tell me what is wrong with this elevator? It does not seem to be working." A pleasantly surprised Christine answered "Pardon me?" not at all sure what he had said, but she found herself happy, but not particularly surprised that he had found an excuse to prolong their encounter. Rising and heading to the door she said "I'm sorry Raul, what did you?" As she stepped through the doorway and into the hallway, the y-sound just seemed to just taper off into oblivion as she too was now staring down the barrel of Jonathan's 9-MM. "Over here" Laura gestured to Christine, telling her to move close to Raul. Jonathan went into Christine's office and picked up the bag from the chair upon which she had set it. He quickly opened it to make sure she had not taken the money out. She had not. He walked out into the hallway and said "It's here. I've got it." "Did you check to see if the money is still in it?" Laura asked. After seeing Jonathan nod his head, she looked at Christine and Raul. "All right you two, into the elevator." As they filed into the elevator Jonathan told them to face the wall and stay there. Christine lost her footing somewhat as she tripped over Pascal's belt that was still laying on the elevator floor. She caught herself and was able to avoid stumbling into the wall in front of her. Once they reached the garage level Jonathan told the pair to get out. As they stood just outside the elevator doors Jonathan told Raul to strip. "Take your clothes off now." When he too stopped at his underwear, Jonathan simply pointed the gun at him and said "everything". Reluctantly he complied, feeling like a fool standing right next to Christine, about whom he had just moments ago dreamed of being naked next to, but certainly in a different context. "Christine" called Laura. "Strip" she said rather coldly. Christine began to protest but Laura's steely eyes let her know that it was going to be of no avail and therefore she shouldn't even try. When she was down to her slip and panties Laura said "Enough. That is fine" Now, tossing the van keys to Raul she said "Open the back", gesturing to the van. He was not particularly surprised to see his five officers sitting in the back. "Inside" she commanded. The men inside instinctively slid down to make room for the pair, although the van could comfortably sit ten detainees. Raul held his hand out to assist Christine as she climbed in first. The pair sat on the side with Pascal and Michael, with the three who had come in the van on the other side. "All of you, put your hands up, and keep them there." Laura said. Turning to Jonathan she said "Keep an eye on them Sweetheart." She then went rummaging through the piles of uniforms on the ground and in the elevator. She found a total of six pairs of handcuffs. She returned and gave Jonathan her gun. She did not want to take a chance of someone in the van taking it from her. As she began to climb into the van she turned to Jonathan and said, "If a single one of them moves shoot them all." Jonathan nodded. She didn't know if he would or could do it but that didn't really matter. What mattered was that the people in the van believed that he would. She then stepped to the front of the holding compartment. On the left side of the van was Pascal, closest to the front. Next to him was Michael, then Raul and finally Christine. Laura proceeded to put a handcuff on Michael's right hand and then pull him down and place the other cuff on Pascal's left leg. She continued criss crossing the cuffs in a similar pattern until everyone was completely incapacitated. She then jumped out of the van and turned to Christine. "Where are the keys to your car? No response. Again, she asked where the keys were only to get the same steely-eyed response. Laura leaned over to her and asked, "Is your car, which is no doubt covered by insurance and which is otherwise just a pile of metal, worth your life?" Christine, having been a Philosophy major at the University of Zurich, knew a rational argument when she heard one. "They are in the right pocket of my jacket which is lying right over there on the ground." Christine responded and as she unconsciously nodded her head towards her clothes as if Laura had no idea where she had left them. Laura walked over and quickly found the keys. She returned and locked the door to the van. She picked up the three weapons that had been kicked under the van and placed them in the bag. She then opened the driver's side door of the van, knowing it was difficult to come by in both Switzerland and France she was looking for any extra ammunition,. Luckily in a metal box secured between the seats were two boxes of 9-MM ammunition. She had no idea how much they would need but she was sure this would be enough. She put the ammunition into the bag and headed back around the van. Handing the bag to Jonathan saying "Let's go" they headed for Christine's car which had just chirped in response to the button Laura pushed on the key ring. Suddenly Laura stopped and looked around. She was evaluating whether she should go back and gag them. She looked around and realized that they were in the Bank's garage and the bank was empty. No one could get in the garage unless there was someone at the bank to OK their access so there was little chance of anyone walking by and hearing them even if the seven of them choose to scream for help. Besides she figured, they didn't have much time. The police who were watching the back of the bank would likely get suspicious pretty soon and enter on their own. Walking to the chirping car Laura thought Christine had good taste as she drove a brand new cherry red BMW 735i. It was a convertible with a standard transmission, everything Laura loved in a car. Rather wistfully she put the top up on the car with the touch of a button. The car started with a roar and she quickly headed for the exit. "Damn", she said, having forgotten to ask about the whereabouts of the garage card which was usually necessary to exit European garages. She looked in the visor and on the dash and in the glove compartment. Frustrated she smacked her hand on the wheel and started to put the car in reverse so she could go back and ask Christine where it was when she noticed Christine's keys were attached to a case about the size of a credit card. She opened the little case and there was the magnetic garage card she was looking for. She quickly took it out and passed it by the electronic scanner that controlled access to the garage exit. The gates slowly began to open away from her. Once they were open she slowly began to pull forward. She moved at a relatively slow pace, but not slow enough to raise suspicions amongst any police who might be watching the exit. As she pulled up the ramp the only car on the street was the dark sedan they had seen earlier that morning when they drove around the block in the taxi. Neither man inside was paying a great deal of attention to the exit as they knew that five well armed officers had been sent in to apprehend two suspects, one of which was a female. They were having a rather heated discussion about who was the most valuable soccer star, Beckham or Maradona. While the two were trying to get the better of one another with arguments about everything from the size of the player's respective shoe contracts to the number of goals scored, Laura turned the car left out of the garage exit and rounded the corner without either even realizing that the red BMW had exited where they were expecting a white van. As Laura approached the street where the bank entrance was located, she thought it a bit odd that there was not more of a police presence around the bank. Nonetheless she was not going to question fortune as she turned the corner and headed away from the bank. Unbeknownst to Laura, the reason that there was no backup was that while they were wanted by Iterpol, they had not been designated "Armed and Dangerous" which would have required a massive backup presence. Instead, the alert that had come over the wires from Peru simply said that they were wanted for theft and might be attempting to falsely gain access to a safety deposit box. They were therefore simply categorized as wanted.