At Providence's Gate
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Chapter Twelve

               Ina drove her own car to work as usual and told her father she would be five or ten minutes behind him because she wanted to drop some clothes off at SnowBrite Cleaners.  Abe arrived at exactly 8:55 am as had been his habit for nearly half a century.  He unlocked the back doors dead bolt first then put the key into the door knob and entered the building.

            A bit taken aback because he was not greeted with the usual multiple beeps signifying the alarm was on, he looked at the keypad and a green light and the word ready greeted him.  He knew he had set the alarm Friday night and it should have had a flashing red light and the word alarm showing.  A heavy feeling weighed on the old jewelers chest as he went briskly to his office.

            The office door was unlocked and ajar.  That heavy feeling was now accompanied by a mild but increasing pain.  Opening the door to the office, he turned to where the safe stood, its door wide open.  Abe felt a sharp twinge in the center of his chest.  He felt like he had been kicked. It took his breath away.

            He didnt attempt to go to the showroom or vault room, knowing the dizziness that now accompanied his chest pain would not allow it.  Perspiring heavily and full of pain, Abe barely made it to his chair and as he plopped into it, he lay back and tried to get control of his breathing and pain.

            At that moment, Abe heard the chime in the hallway, indicating the back door was opening.  Did he lock it when he came in, he wondered.  Then he heard Ina call out, Daddy, daddy where are you.  His mouth so dry he could not speak, Abe simply moved his arm and knocked a glass water pitcher off his desk.  It crashed to the tile floor with a loud report and Ina shouted, Daddy!

            Within second she was at the doorway to his office.  One look at his sweaty pale face told Ina she had to call 9-1-1.  After accomplishing that, Ina had her father lean back in his leather executive swivel chair and she put his feet on the desk.  Abe tried to talk but Ina wouldnt let him.  Finally she heard a knocking at the back door and she ran to let the emergency medical technicians in.

            Minutes later, Abe lay on their litter, head slightly elevated, an intravenous infusion in one arm and an oxygen mask on his face.  He felt better.  Before the technicians began to move him the old man grabbed Inas hand and squeezed. She looked at her fathers tortured face and saw him attempting to say something. 

Its okay Daddy, Im going with you in the ambulance, she said in a reassuring manner, she hoped. No, came her fathers weak but easily understood reply. 

Ina got close to his face and asked, Why not Daddy? and all he could reply was, Gone. Ina looked at him, puzzled. Gone, he repeated, All gone, call cops,

She then looked around for the first time since discovering her father incapacitated behind his desk and she immediately spied the open safe. Ill take care of it Daddy, she said as calmly as possible, Then Ill come see you.  The old man nodded slightly and closed his eyes.  One emergency medical technician checked his pulse, gave Ina the hi sign and then the two EMTs wheeled her father to the waiting ambulance.

As soon as she saw her father placed into the ambulance and watched it speed off, Ina entered the exchange, locking the deadbolt lock behind her.  She then went to the nearest desk, Johns, and called 9-1-1 again.

This is Ina Walstein, San Antonio Diamond Exchange. Weve been robbed. No, I dont think hes still here.  I think hes long gone. I dont know what he took.  The safe in my fathers office was emptied out. Yes.  Yes.  Tell them to knock at the back door and Ill let them in. Thank you.  She put the telephones receiver in its cradle and stared at Johns desk, wondering where he was.  Even now, she didnt suspect him.

A knock came to the back door.  Ina walked the 30 feet or so to it, unlocked it and opened it saying, That was quick, before noticing one of the new jewelers standing outside.  Come in, Jerry, Ina said in a low tone.  She told the jeweler about her father and the safe and asked if he would stay with her while she checked the vault room and showroom. 

Locking the door again, Ina and Jerry walked into the vault room.  The vault door  and most of the drawers inside were opened.  Jerry told Ina to stay in the hall and not to touch anything.  They then walked to the showroom and were greeted by six empty display cases.  Ina sat down and began to sob uncontrollably.  Jerry simply put his hand on the womans shoulder and said, There, there, it will work out. 

There was another knock at the back door, this one more forceful, more urgent.  Jerry told Ina to stay seated and he took the keyring from her hand and went to open the back door.  Two uniformed police officers and Randy, the second jeweler Ina hired, were standing in the doorway.

Jerry took the trio to where Ina was sitting.  Since they had never worked for the exchange and there were no diamonds to work with, Ina sent Jerry and Randy home, saying she would be in touch as soon as the diamonds were recovered or the insurance paid for them so they could buy more.

The two police officers accompanied Ina to her fathers office.  From there they looked at each area that was robbed, but like Jerry and Ina earlier, didnt touch anything.  During the interview, Ina admitted that John didnt show up for work today, immediately throwing suspicion his way.

One of the officers called in John Bouchers name and address from his personnel record and requested that the crime scene laboratory technicians be dispatched to the exchange.  He also called the Theft Division to alert the detectives to the robbery.

In less than five minutes there was a fury of knocks on the back door.  One of the officers took Inas key and went back to answer it.  Suddenly her fathers office filled with cops.  Uniform cops, plain clothes cops, laboratory technicians, a photographer, all entering and standing in the middle of the room.  There were 11 police officers and civilian police employees in all.  Ina was amazed.

Maam, my name is Detective Sergeant Matt Hammond, said a tall handsome black man with a deep tenor voice.  Ina immediately felt calmer because this man in his expensive blue three-piece had the kind of reassuring tone that her father would use whenever Ina was stressed out.

Do you have any photographs of Mr. Boucher, maam? Hammond asked her.  She shook her head no and he pulled one from a file and handed it to her, This is John Bouchers Department of Motor Vehicle photo.  Is that him? the detective asked.

Yes, yes it is. You got it so quickly. I didnt know Hammond interrupted Ina, Weve been looking for him for about six hours, Ms. Walstein.  Hes wanted for the murder of a police officer at about 3 am this morning.

Murder? John? was all Ina could manage to say.  Detective Hammond went on to tell her that it was believed John Boucher robbed the exchange early this morning.  Officer Jaime Bravo saw him leave and followed.  He was brutally attacked by Boucher during a foot chase.  Matt Hammond then turned to the police department team and started barking orders.  Ina could see he was accustomed to command and that each member of the team responded immediately to his orders.

Did you notify your insurance carrier, Ms. Walstein? the detective asked. No, I had not even thought about it, she replied.  Well you better do it now.  Here, Ive written the case number on this card, youll need to give it to them. As soon as you finish that I want to take you to the hospital to see if we can talk to your father,

Ill call Great Western right now, Ina said. Great Western, said the detective, then, Foley, Foley, over here.  A slightly rotund red-headed detective came bounding into the room.  Yeah, Matt, he said.  Your sister still work in the claims department up at Great Western in Dallas? Hammond asked.  Yeah, shes the senior claims manager, Foley replied.

Ms. Walstein, give Detective Foley here your policy.  Hes gonna watch the store while were at the hospital and hell get his sister on the case faster than you could get one of her flunkies. Hammond told her, Then lets get over to see your father.

Ina located the insurance papers in her fathers very orderly file cabinet and gave them to Detective Foley.  He glanced through them for a few seconds, sat at Abes desk and reached for the phone.  Foley then dialed a number he knew by heart and before Hammond and Ina were out the door, the Irish detective was reading numbers to his sister.

Matt held the passenger door to his white 2000 Chevrolet Lumina while Ina slid into the seat.  As he got in and started the engine, he said, Dont forget your belt, Ms. Walstein.  As Ina snapped her shoulder belt into place she said, Thanks, call me Ina, okay?  Well, Ina, when we arent in public that will be fine and you may call me Matt in public or private.  Why am I allowed to be informal? Ina asked.  Because I work for you, Matt replied simply.

The Nix Hospital was less than three blocks from the exchange and the Lumina got Ina and Matt there in less than three minutes.  He parked in a tow away zone and made sure the SAPD identification card was prominently displayed on the dashboard.

Arriving in the cardiac intensive care unit moments later, they checked in at the nurses station.  The doctor will be right down, the nurse said, You may wait for him here.  Matt and Ina took seats and before long a very young looking blonde headed resident who looked like hed be more at home riding waves on a surf board than listening to a heart with a stethoscope, entered the waiting area.

Before he had a chance to introduce himself, Ina blurted out, You are my fathers cardiologist?  Well, not exactly, Im a cardiology resident, third year, my boss is Dr. Levine. He and I both examined your father on admission and he is resting comfortably.  By the way, Im Dr. Smiley, the young MD said seemingly in a single breath.

Sounds like youve said that speech before, Matt said jovially. You said it.  No one believes Im 32 years old.  Thirty two! said Ina, I would have thought 22!

Well, thank you, Ms. Walstein, he replied, Now about your father. We see no evidence of a heart attack.  His electrocardiogram is normal for his age and not different from the one he had here a year ago.  We are waiting for some lab tests to come back and want to watch him overnight, but he should be released tomorrow.

So its okay to talk with Mr. Walstein, Matt said. You bet, Dr. Smiley replied.

            Ina walked in to her fathers room and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  She introduced Matt to him and Abe asked what all was stolen.  Ina simply replied, Everything. But were insured, Daddy.  Thank God, He said, It was John, right? Abe asked. Well get him, sir, Matt assured him.  The three talked a bit, Matt asking questions about John, but the answers only left him more confused, with more unanswered questions about this complicated young man.

            That night, all four local news shows had reports about the murder of Officer Bravo and the robbery of the exchange.  The only picture the police had was the driver license photo, but it appeared each time the story ran.  It was also in the Thursday morning Express-News with a quote from Matt saying, Boucher can run, but he cant hide.