“Good evening, welcome to Hot ‘n Cold Brew. My name is Jessica,” said the young waitress wiping her hands on her apron and indicating her badge with youthful enthusiasm. “Would you like to ask for something, or do you still want more time to decide? We have great fall specials today”. Her smile was bright, even though her eyes already showed some tiredness.
“We’re gonna place our order now,” said the slender man cutting off his youngest colleague with a hand signal. “However, my angel, just one question: it’s quite busy today. Is there any special promotion going on to attract this many people?” he asked with a look of curiosity and soft voice. The place was crowded, with people wearing trench coats to protect from strong winds.
“Yes, yes, sir. Today is the first day of the new autumn menu. We have a new line of bread, drinks, and pies that we only sell this season. The first days are very disputed. You know, how it is when a novelty appears,” she said in a mixture of pride and confession. “The exclusives of this season are on that wall over there,” she said, indicating a wall with a series of products and prices written in colored chalk. Several items, made with pumpkin, apple, and spices, were included as well as illustrations of falling leaves and bonfires.
“Excellent, you can bring two Irish Coffees and two slices of that special fire apple crumble pie,” said the older man after a brief look around seeing what the other customers at the tables were eating. Most seemed to enjoy pumpkin pies. “And please, also separate two more slices to go.”
“Two Irish and two fire apple pies for now and two more slices to go,” she said, marking the order on a tablet-like machine she pulled out of the front pocket of her apron. “Five minutes and I bring it to you,” she said with a new smile, turning towards another table.
“Why do you have to hit on every waitress, Pops?” said the young man when Jessica was beyond earshot. “At least this one is pretty.”
“Kindness is not the same as hitting on, Junior. If I was really hitting on her, you’d know because I’d be with her in the bathroom right now,” Pops said, giving a mischievous wink. “Oh, before you complain, I know you’re not a coffee fan, so I asked for the only alcoholic option in the house. You’ll like it.”
“You know me so well, old folk.” He said rolling his eyes, “Why did you bring me to a place that doesn’t sell booze? I don't have a sweet tooth,” he leaned back in his armchair, admiring the crowded environment.
“First for the environment, second for being extremely busy,” a hint of his roguish smile flashed on his face. “The best place to make plans is a busy one with a panoramic view. So many people talking about fashion and YouTube, nobody will notice two men, maybe father and son, enjoying the flavors of the lovely autumn”.
“Very poetic,” answered Junior with disdain. He looked again at his colleague. “I give it to you. You are smart. I think this is the cue to start talking about business. What is the target building?”
“The blue one with high punches and a guard. Entrance with a carpet of fallen leaves. Penthouse, the only apartment on the floor,” he said, looking distracted through the large windows next to the table. “Soon we’ll be able to see them arriving. They’re quite punctual with traditions.”
“Wow, you’ve chosen a fortress to invade,” said the young man, scratching his two-week beard with concern. “I take back what I said about you being smart. I hope the plan is solid. I'm not so sure about this.” Junior looked threateningly at his colleague.
“The plan is solid, I assure you, I wouldn’t risk our skins for something that wasn’t safe. But first…” he said, making a sign for his colleague to relax. “Jessica, you were very quick, barely gave me time to miss you,” he said to the waitress who brought the order skillfully walking her way. Everything had a delicious smell.
“I couldn’t keep my clients waiting,” she answered affectionately while serving the order. “The other slices are already packed. When you ask for the bill, I’ll bring it along. Anything else to go with it?” She said by placing the tray under her arm and arranging a lock of hair that covered one of her eyes.
“I'm good for the moment, my angel,” said the older man, nodding to his partner. “Thank you very much,” he answered, returning the smile he received. Jessica nodded and walked away towards the counter.
“Will you take the other slices to eat with your lady later?” Asked Junior tasting a piece of the pie. His face lit up in approval. The sweetness was balanced by a sour and spicy touch.
“I’m taking it to Louie and Dewey. One is taking care of how we get into the building, and another is checking the place we will deliver the orders,” said Pops, lightly stirring his drink. “They deserve a treat. They’re team members too.”
“Huey will be upset with you for forgetting him,” said the young man giving a generous bite in the pie. The filling had an appetizing glow.
“Huey needs to handle his sugar and is allergic to many things. I don’t want to lose him, only a week before action, because of cinnamon. Those fall specials would be like a minefield,” he said after tasting his drink and quickly moaning in appreciation. The first flavor was the coffee but soon came the heat of the whiskey. “Everybody has to be one hundred percent ready at showtime. The others already know the plan. All but you, since you couldn't come last week,” he said, with a hint of reprimand.
“My godson’s birthday. Family comes first, and work comes later. But I’m ready to be amazed by your genius plan.” He took a fearful sip of the drink. His expression was a mystery.
“Family first.” agreed Pops taking a sip of his drink. “You already know, but I'll resume: Four matriarchs of traditional and billionaire families gather in the penthouse to play a traditional card game. The apartment is owned by Mrs. P, the owner of a pharmaceutical laboratory. Her colleagues are Mrs. H, heiress to hotels, Widow N, owner of several magazines and newspapers, and Lady F, creator of a restaurant chain”. He took another sip.
“Yes, this part I already knew now tells me how to get the old ladies,” said the young man looking at the window.
“I told you this so you could learn to avoid dangerous words,” he said casually looking around. People seemed to be entertained in their world, talking about work, relationships, and the golden falling leaves. “Each one comes in an armored car with security guards who leave them at the door and then wait in a pharmacy parking lot five minutes away. The ladies go up alone. They leave between midnight and one in the morning. Our job is to drive them without alarm to a safe place two hours from here. Collect and deliver of fragile material”.
“Where will we get them?” The young asked.
“In Mrs. P.’s apartment, there will be only them and one companion of the hostess. She must be neutralized, without damage. We only want the four of them.” He faced his colleague. “Clean, do you hear? We will enter the building, the apartment with a copy of the key at 9 pm, and in an hour we will be out.”
“This is full of holes, man. How are we going to get into this fortress? And how do we already have the key?” said Junior restlessly in his chair.
“Three floors below the penthouse has an apartment being painted and receiving small renovations. The van of the painters is registered to stay in the parking lot of the building. We will steal the van and use it to get in with the excuse that the imbecile of the rookie forgot things in the apartment, and the bosses sent us to pick it up quickly so as not to give any problem. We’ll go up with a service car where we’ll bring the 'orders' without alarm. After the delivery, we will return the van to its place. Four security guards are taking turns. We won't cross with the same guard twice."
“Okay, I think this plan can get us into the building if there aren’t too many cameras in the elevators and corridors." Junior relaxed as he spoke. “Now this key, where did we get it? I can open a lock if it’s not one of those biometrics electronics connected to cell phones or very long passwords. Of course, it will take a while, and maybe it will make a noise.”
“Cameras only in the garage, entrance, service, and social elevators. Four of us will enter with overalls for painting and masks. I invested to get something similar to what the renovation company uses." Pops spoke with pride. “We’ll go down the painting floor, and from there we will take the stairs. As for the lock, it needs a key and a password. We have the password, this information comes with the request,” he brought a finger to his lips. “No questions. As for the key, Dewey stole the key from the housekeeper for a few moments. He made a very good copy. In case the key or password gives a problem, you go into action. "
“Okay, good. I like to have a plan B even if is me.” Junior’s remark brought a smile to the slender man’s face. “Okay, we’re inside, the housekeeper is hush, we meet the ladies, they take a scare, maybe cause some headache but…” he considers his words, “will we have ‘arguments’ to convince them to cooperate?"
“Louie’s family works in a zoo. One day, ask him to give you a special tour. Take your godson, you’ll like it,” he said with a smile. “He’ll supply us with four tranquilize guns to calm the beasts. We’ll have to be close, but I don’t think this will be anyone’s first rodeo. Besides, each one should bring his own iron. Nothing big.”
“I hope he calibrates these weapons right, I don’t want to lose a package because it’s too fragile. How old are these ladies?” he asked with a smile that showed a missing tooth on the side.
“They have between 55 and 65. But I guarantee that they will be very resistant. Speaking of them, the first one is coming, Lady F.” he said, indicating the latest generation black SUV that was approaching from across the street. Two strong men got out of the car and opened the door for a very elegant and haughty woman, who after some time, had her entrance admitted and dismissed her employees as she entered. “You can smell the old money from here, right?”
“I think I could feel it from a mile away. I won’t even need a photo.” The young man said, eyes shining. They stayed in silence for a while, both looking out the window as if they expected something to happen. Until the young broke the silence, “Cell phones! They must have those that just need a button to call an emergency. Or their security guards in case. How do we deal with that?”
“You think smart, Junior,” praised the older man, still looking through the window. “We receive information that they usually silence their phones while playing. I can’t confirm. It was a piece of information from the buyers. I’ve been thinking about it for a few nights, and I’m going to use a signal blocker. In the corridors of the building, there are emergency lights. I will replace it. The signal will drop for about 30 meters. The old foxes should panic after they find out, so we better run and prevent them from using the internet or landline phone. I suggest breaking any modem, repeater, or phone you see on the way." He opened a smile and started eating his pie “Another just arrived. The Widow."
“Boy, what a car!” A luxury white car, with vintage features, stopped like the other. A security guard talked to the doorman. The same man opened the door and helped a more delicate lady to get out of the car and enter the building. Once the car was gone, she seemed to rejuvenate a few years and pass the door in an imposing way. “Billionaires are another kind of living beings. Completely another kind,” he repeated thoughtfully while turning to his pie. “Entering the building, I trust it will work, entering the apartment, I think I can make it work, put the beasts to sleep, with the equipment it will be easy. Now, the prevent from call help part is our weakness, man. Can we cut the internet? Pull some wire, I don’t know.”
“I don’t have the wiring map of the building, but I’ll take equipment and try it anyway,” he said pondering. “One important thing: leave the least trace. Of course, what we break has no return, but let’s avoid making a fuss. Their cell phones we’ll leave in the apartment. We will make two trips to take the ladies, and we will make a cover in the back of the vehicle to avoid drawing too much attention. It will make a little fuss, but I have already prepared Huey to stay in the car and control the situation. We’re prepared to deal with emergencies, but they shouldn’t happen."
“I know the motto: expect the best but prepare for the worst.” He finished his pie and scraped the dish, trying to make the most of it. “ Does our work end with us delivering the order? Will the drugs last?” he looked to Pops, a little worried.
“Your job is over when we deliver the order. My work ends when Dewey leaves the van at the renovation company with the same tank and mileage as when he took it. I will take care of adjusting the van myself,” he said seriously. “You Louie and Huey will get down at the meeting point. The old workshop, 20h everyone there, Dewey will arrive, and we will change clothes and then to here. As for the drugs, we’ll give a second dose on the way, better to give two weaker ones than a strong that can react with whatever they use.”
“I agree, and I think the last guest is here.” A discreet but elegant car has arrived. Two clearly armed men left, and after talking to the doorman, a tall woman, who at some point seemed to have been a model, left. Junior was surprised by her beauty. She entered and the car left. He returned to his drink. “About our earnings, Pops?"
“For each one of them 750,000, the next day if no one is arrested or blow the whistle, another 500,000. The contractors know that we are professionals, and they expect this from us. The division is even. I’m cool with that” the man winked. He made a sign asking for the bill to Jessica. “Initial payment at the delivery. The second payment twice on the usual ‘company’ account'” Junior marked the quotes on the air when his colleague said. “It will be registered as a salary for you. We don’t need to know what will be done with them, nor will they tell us, do you hear?”
“Yes, I know how to be discreet and not to poke around. As you said, we are professionals,” he sighed, “The plan is really solid. As solid as a plan like this can be. It has an entrance, an exit, contingencies, and, above that, a good payment in the end." The waitress approached with the usual smile.
“Thanks, Jessica,” Pops took the slices for the trip, properly packed, and made a sign to his colleague. “Let me pay. My invitation, my pleasure to pay for the meal”. He checked the bill, taking out his wallet, put a note that covered the charge with ease. “You can keep the change, my angel.” The slender man rose from the chair. He was a head bigger than the waitress.
“Thanks, Jessica,” said the other one standing up and following his companion. Jessica followed them leaving with her eyes, happy for the great tip. Junior patted his partner on the back, “I’m in, old man."
“I’m glad I was able to convince you,” said the slender man opening the door to leave. “So tell me, did you like the food?” The wind was strong outside even though the temperature was mild.
“It wasn’t a bad coffee, but the pie, I must admit, I think I would even eat another slice. Maybe I’ll bring a girl here later. Girls like these coffee shops and autumn desserts. I think it bombs their Instagram. So, will you call me?”
“Of course, Junior. I need you, I'll keep you informed. It'll be a worthwhile service. And in the end, I make a point of giving a cider to each one, in celebration,” he said, saying goodbye and taking the opposed way, looking at the golden trees on the way and smiling. This season always reminded him of money, for some reason.