I was an amateur, and I was going to stay that way. They weren’t sending me off to any colleges with names like San Quentin or Folsom.
I had gotten the jewels. Now I had to turn it into money somehow. It wasn’t like I could ask a fellow thief for a reference to a fence who wouldn’t cheat me too much. I didn’t know any other thieves. So I did my homework and hoped for the best.
When I thought I was ready, I drove downtown to the Jewelry District. I parked the car and walked across Pershing Square to the establishment I had in mind. I couldn’t help smiling a little. It was funny, bringing diamonds in my pocket to a jewelry store.
I was wearing a gray wig for the sake of the CCTV cameras but they weren’t the only things watching me. The lady who owned the place spotted me right off even though she was chatting up a customer when I came in. I knew the owner’s name was Barb already from my research.
Barb went on talking to the customer and I did a slow parade around the store, trying to act as shifty as possible. I could hear her voice falter whenever I crouched down to pretend-tie my shoelaces. She knew something was going on, all right.
After the customer left, Barb didn’t waste time. She asked if I wanted to buy something. I smirked and told her no. Then she accused me of shoplifting and wanted me to turn out my pockets. I did what she asked but it didn’t ease her mind any. There was nothing in my pockets, not by then. I wasn’t even carrying a fake ID.
Barb wasn’t sure what to say or do next. I helped her out.
“I was sorry to hear about your father,” I said.
“You knew him?” Barb said.
“No,” I said. “Only by reputation, but what a reputation, huh?”
“What the fuck’s that supposed to mean?”
“When the museum was robbed all those years ago, the police suspected your father was acting as a fence for the thieves.”
“Bullshit. He was innocent.”
“He was innocent all the other times, too, right?”
“Yes, you son of a bitch. He was always innocent. The cops hounded that sweet man right into the grave. Who are you, anyway?”
“I’m not a cop.”
“Get the fuck out of my store.”
“Not yet. I have to tell you what I was doing since we both know I wasn’t shop-lifting.” “What?”
“Three diamonds from the museum heist – the recent one, not the old one your father had nothing to do with – are hidden somewhere in this room. It’d be a crying shame if the police heard that there was stolen property in your shop. It might give you a bad reputation.”
Barb shook her head as if she was feeling dizzy.
“What is happening?” she said.
“That’ll depend,” I said. “After I leave here, you’re going to search for the three diamonds. If you find them all, maybe you’ll be a good citizen and turn them over to the police and tell them everything you can remember about the creepy guy who hid them in your shop.”
“Sounds like that’s exactly what I’m going to fuckin’ do.”
“Well, I hope not. Meet me at Grand Central Market in two hours if you want to talk business.”
“What kind of business?”
“The business your father wasn’t in.”
“Wait,” Barb said.
“Yeah?” I said.
“Maybe I find the three diamonds and I keep them for myself. Did you think of that?”
I had. That’s why I had only hidden two diamonds in her store.
Barb never did get to like me all the time we did business together. But she always gave me a fair rate.