The heist was the easy part. It was the planning that took the time. Every detail had to be perfect. Every step had to be thought out as accurately as possible so not to allow for any mistakes. Esme and Sam were determined that this was to be the job to end all jobs. Something they could live off for years to come.
They each had their own tasks. As it was all Sam’s idea, she delegated the planning and conception between her and Esme. She was the one who would do the background work while it was up to Esme to collect the information for the job in hand.
“Wow it’s bigger than I thought,” Esme said one evening starring up at the Bridgeport Art Gallery.
“What did you expect? It is one of the biggest art galleries in the world.”
“How are we going to get round that in eight minutes? It’s impossible!”
“Well we’re not going to run around like headless chickens if that’s what you’re thinking,” Sam replied. “Your job is to investigate what are the most valuable items are so when its time we are in and out of there quick as a flash as we’ll know exactly what we are going for.”
“OK but how am I meant to know what’s valuable, I don’t know anything about art.”
“This is where the fun starts….”
The next day, after Sam and Esme had raided Anna’s closet, Esme sauntered into the Bridgeport Art Gallery, donned in shades and all the jewellery she could find. It was tricky walking in the high heels Sam had made her wear so she took every step slowly as not to fall over. That would have blown her whole cover!
“Yes mam, how can I help,” the cheery receptionist asked her as she approached the desk.
“Yes hello,” Esme begun putting on her snootiest voice. “My name is Esme Starr from the famous Starr family. I would like to speak to someone about investing in some of your fine artwork.”
“Err yes mam,” the receptionist stuttered jumping to attention. “Alfie,” she called at the top of her lungs.
“Coming,” came another voice. Esme spun around to see a man waltzing towards them. She took off her shades and stared at him. She hadn’t meant to stare but then again she had not expected someone so handsome to be working at an Art Gallery. He’s probably gay, she thought to herself.
“Yes Stacey,” Alfie said reaching the receptionist.
She pulled him towards her and starting whispering in his ear. Esme strained her ears to hear what they were saying but she knew it had something to do with the magic words she had said earlier – investing in art.
Eventually Alfie turned and looked straight at her. A smile spread across his face and he floated over to her grasping her hand in his. His touch made her shudder slightly.
“Mrs Starr, how wonderful to have you visit our Gallery. My name is Alfie Lakes and I am the Curator of the Gallery. My receptionist has told me that you are interested in some of our fine art?”
“Yes that’s right,” Esme replied re-applying her snooty voice. “I have a vast collection at home already but I am always on the lookout for other fabulous items. Maybe you could show me around and recommend such things?”
“I would be delighted to Mrs Starr.”
“Fabulous. Oh and by the way, it’s Miss Starr.” Esme had no idea why she said that, it had no relevance to her mission but for some reason she needed Alfie to know she was single.
“Great,” Alfie beamed back.
He led her across the room showing her item after item. “And how much is this,” Esme asked looking at a rather boring looking painting.
“Oh this one’s a bargain…..”
“Not interested,” she snapped cutting him off. “I only want to look at the really special exclusive items. I have expensive taste.”
“Very well,” Alfie said stifling a smile and leading her away.
“This is one of only six Faberge Eggs in the world,” Alfie said showing her a beautiful object sitting high on a pedestal. “Almost priceless.”
He carried on describing the item to Esme but she soon lost concentration. Instead she tuned out his voice and watched him as he spoke. There was so much passion in his eyes. He starred at each and every object he showed her like they were his children. She had never seen such fervency before.
“Well it was very nice to meet you Miss Starr,” Alfie said an hour later after he had shown her every piece of art there was. “Here’s my card. If you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to contact me.”
“Thank you so much Alfie,” Esme replied taking the card off him and placing it delicately in her pocket. “It’s been a pleasure.” She stared up into his eyes and he held her gaze. She pushed aside the fact that she was about to screw this man over and lost herself in his eyes.
What felt like hours but was probably only seconds, Alfie pulled away and said good day to Esme. After she had left he looked over at Stacey the receptionist who was trying to stifle her giggles. “I think she liked you,” she teased.
“Don’t be silly Stacey,” Alfie giggled back. “She’s an heiress for Christ sakes, what would she want with a lowly curator like me.” But even he could not deny the chemistry. Shame he was already married!
The heist took place the following week. Sam and Esme approached the Gallery at 01.00 exactly as planned, two black figures emerging from the darkness. They climbed up the side escape ladder of the building and up onto one of the balcony. It was Sam’s job to keep watch while Esme expertly picked the lock.
Once they were in they ran down the stairs and met at the bottom. The bleating from the alarm system was beeping vigorously which meant they only had seconds to disable it. Sam did this while Esme jumped high and immobilized the security cameras. Now it was just them and the Gallery, well for eight minutes anyway!
Both girls ran around the gallery targeting each and every item Esme had noted from her visit the following week. When they had gotten everything they ran to the door. “Laptop,” Sam shrieked in a loud whisper.
“What,” Esme rasped back.
“Get the laptop,” Sam hissed indicating to the desk behind her.
Esme spun around, saw the laptop and swiped it. Ten seconds later the girls were running up the road, disappearing back into the darkness they had emerged from just a few minutes ago.
The next day both girls slept all day due to the exhaustion of their nightly activity. By the following morning of the second day, they eventually emerged from their slumber to have breakfast with Carter and Anna.
“Well look at this,” Carter said reading his morning newspaper. “It says here that Bridgeport Art Gallery got broken into the other night.”
Mid –chew, Esme chocked on her food coughing up the pancakes that had suddenly lodged in her throat.
“Good heavens,” Anna said replying to her husband. “What happened?”
“Not sure. All it says is that they took lots of priceless items and were obviously professionals.”
“What is the world coming to,” Anna tutted going back to her pancakes.
Sam looked up at Esme only for a second and the two girls smiled back at each other – only they knew their secret.
The plan was for all the goods that they had stolen to be passed onto a contact of Sam’s who could launder it out of the country and sell it on for them. The hand over was not to take place for a few days, so the girls boxed everything up and kept it safe in Esme’s bedroom as it was the only room in the house that had a lock on it.
One evening, Esme went through the boxes noting down every item so as to know exactly what there was. That was when she came across the laptop she had stolen. She was in need of a new one so decided to fire it up to see if it was any good. She placed it on her desk, opened the lid and hit power. The laptop stuttered a bit and then sprung to life. An image suddenly emerged on the desk-top. It was of Alfie, a lady and a little girl – the laptop was Alfie’s!
Esme suddenly felt very ashamed and very guilty. She had stolen Alfie’s laptop, the man who had been so sweet and nice to her. And on it was all his photos of what appeared to be him and his family. They would now be lost to him forever, Esme had stolen his memories!
She did not know what to do. She spent the rest of the evening scrolling through album after album. His wedding day, the day his daughter was born their family holidays together. His whole life was here in front of Esme. She copied them all onto a memory stick and put it in her pocket, she had to get these photographs back to Alfie, somehow!
She pulled on her black disguise and headed back down to the gallery. It was almost midnight and she knew from her research that no one would be there at this time. She crept up to the door and slipped the memory stick underneath the door.
“YOU THERE! STOP!”
Esme froze, her heart pumping erratically through her chest. She’d been caught. Even though she wasn’t doing anything wrong per-say, she was still incriminating herself as the person who gave back the photos was obviously the person who had stolen them in the first place. She slowly turned and gazed at her confronter. It was Alfie. She locked eyes with him, just like she had done when she had last left his side. They gazed at each other for a second too long, both too shocked to move.
And then Esme did what any body would do in her position. She ran! She ran and ran and ran as fast as her legs would carry her. She knew Alfie had not followed her or if he had he had trailed off long ago as she knew how fast she was. She did not stop running until she got home.
She wiped of her cap and started pacing her room. “He saw me,” she said out loud. Did he know it was her? Did he recognise her? All these thoughts raced through her head until she almost made herself sick with them. She chewed on her nails ripping each one off her fingers frantically in panic. If he recognised me then the game is over, she thought freaking herself out.
Day after day she sat vigil at a window waiting for the cops to come for her. She had blown it and she was sure the game was over. After a few days her nails were bitten down so bad she hardly had any left.
“Hey girl,” Sam said coming up behind Esme.
Esme jumped round and held her heart. “Jesus Christ Sam, you nearly gave me a heart attack!”
“God what’s wrong with you at the moment, you’re so jumpy!”
Esme composed herself; she couldn’t let Sam know that she’d messed up. “I guess I’m just feeling bad about what we did,” she uttered not able to look Sam in the eye.
“Don’t feel bad dude. No one suspects a thing and we are set to make a small fortune once we off-load the goods. Now chill out, it will all be fine.”
Esme let out a weak smile. She wanted to believe Sam but Sam did not know what she had done!
As the days rolled by the paranoia got even worse. Did Alfie know it was her? If he did, then why had he not turned her in? She could not take the not knowing so one day she put back on her mother’s dress, encased herself in the jewels and headed back down to the Gallery. She knew she was putting herself in the lion’s den, but she just had to know.
When she walked in she instantly saw Alfie chatting to the receptionist. She noticed how bare the Gallery looked since her and Sam had robbed it, why had they not replaced things already?
She made a coughing sound announcing her arrival and Alfie spun around and looked straight at her, a knowing smile creasing the corners for his mouth. Esme knew at that moment without a shadow of a doubt that Alfie knew what she had done! And she was going to have to do anything in her power to stop him from turning her in! Anything!