At Providence's Gate
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Chapter Seven

     John arrived at work the next morning at the usual time.  He was determined to keep his activities and schedule as normal as possible so neither Abe nor Ina would become suspicious.  There were some events that day that were out of the ordinary, however.  The arrival of the fabricating equipment was one.  The other was the two carpenters from Ace Remodeling who were converting the large room next to the vault room into the place Ina and her father along with two recently hired master jewelers would turn the artists designs into reality.

     So for at least the next two days John would be overseeing the work of the remodelers as well as putting the fabricating equipment together.  He also needed to reconfirm the security code and the combinations to the vault and safe before the following Tuesday.  He didnt believe Abe had changed them, but wasnt sure.  Since the deadbolt lock on the back door required a key, he also needed to make sure the one he had made months ago still worked.

     Other things were on Johns mind as well.  How would he block the cameras from recording his image on the videotape recorders in the old mans office when he was robbing the place was one.  Although the live monitoring system would be knocked out, John knew the recorder would still be working.  He had secretly harbored the hope he could erase or otherwise keep his image from appearing on the videotape.  That way, maybe, just maybe, he could continue to work for the old man.

     He even hoped he might be able to spread suspicion to the remodelers, but thought better of that idea.  He knew that once he cleaned the diamond exchange out suspicion would be directed towards him and him alone.  He had to get out of the country as soon as possible next Tuesday night.

     As the fateful night neared, John kept mulling over and over in his mind the preparations he needed to make as well as the things he must do next Tuesday before he was locked in the exchange.  He had to make sure that any supplies he needed were inside that day.

     Weeks before, the would-be master thief purchased an aluminum case about the size of the largest piece of carry-on luggage allowed on an airplane.  This is what he planned to put his stolen diamonds in.  He had been using it as an attaché case for more than a month now so it could be used to bring needed supplies in as well.

     Finally, as the last day of the workweek came to a close, Abe told John he had a surprise for him.  He took the young man to his office, had him sit across from his desk and then went to the safe and opened it.  John carefully watched the old man spin the dial and was relieved to see he had not changed the combination.

     The old man swung the safes door open and extracted an envelope and a small white box.  He closed the safe and handed the items to John.

     John, on this past Wednesday you had an anniversary that you completely forgot about, Abe announced.  Youve been here exactly a year and two days today. To commemorate that first year and show our appreciation for all the great work youve done, I have these gifts for you.  Open them. The old man ordered.

     Inside the envelope was a bonus check in the amount of five hundred dollars.  The box contained a diamond studded key chain that had the initials S.A.D.E. on it and a carat and a half of diamonds embedded in it.  John looked at the two gifts and didnt know what to say.  Any normal person would have had guilt feelings for what he planned to do the following Tuesday.  All John thought was, What a sucker!

     Then Abe had one more surprise for the young sociopath.  John effective Wednesday, you have a two dollar an hour raise, he announced.  The reason it is so high is youve been doing a great job and you never asked for a raise.

     Gee, Mr. Walstein, John said in a self-effacing manner, I dont deserve all of this.  Sure you do young man, Abe replied, You helped turn this business around.  The San Antonio Diamond Exchange is making more money than ever and next week, when we start fabricating Inas line of custom diamond jewelry the company should start doubling its revenue right away and perhaps tripling it by January.

John and Abe congratulated each other for a few minutes more then a phone call from Ina brought some welcomed normalcy to Johns day.

     As the week went by, John used his aluminum case to bring in all sorts of supplies he knew hed need on H-Day and some he just thought he may need: a penlight with extra batteries, extra cell phone batteries, spray paint, door alarm wedges, vinyl gloves, plastic zip lock bags in various sizes, trail mix, snack bars, energy drinks, a Swiss Army knife, even a jar of aspirin.

     He knew Abe never went into the large janitors closet so he equipped it with the spare swivel chair that had been in anther supply room.  He also hid all the other items he had brought in behind rolls of toilet paper.  The closet conveniently was out of range of any video camera so John knew he wouldnt have to worry about one of the security personnel watching the monitors wondering when he was going to come out of the closet.  He would be hiding in it until long after Walstein locked up for the evening on Tuesday.

     By Friday, John had mentally gone over every aspect of his plan for the following Tuesday.  S ready was he that he even began inventing situations that could occur to complicate matters and then possible solutions to those situations.  He contemplated the possibility that someone else may try to rob the exchange before he did, or wrse yet, while he was robbing it.  He worked out what he would do if the building caught on fire, what hed do if a drunk driver drove his car through the picture window out front, if the power went off at the exchange.  About te only thing John didnt devise a contingency plan was an earthquake and that was after he mulled the possibility over in his mind for two hours.

     On Saturday John used three different credit cards to purchase three round trip tickets to Mexico City on Mexicana Airlines for John Boucher, Jason Biggs and the identity he had in reserve, Jeff Begley.  He didnt believe hed be using the return ticket, but he knew one-way tickets would arouse suspicion.  The flight he was booked on would be leaving San Antonio International Airport, a mere six hours after he expected to be leaving the exchange.

     Sunday was spent with Mel, Frank and Al.  They went over every single step and substep of the plan over and over again until everyone knew the exact thing each other would be doing something and exactly what theyd be doing.  Every check and countercheck was presented. Possible setbacks and holdups were discussed, windows were developed during which events must be accomplished so future events could be set up.

     They rehearsed the routes and speeds several times with each man ding the other two mens jobs.  When Al started t complain, John grabbed him by the collar, pushed him up against a tree and said, By God dont yu be the man who fucks up because I will kill you if we arent successful.  And, if I get caught, youd better find a big rock to hide under, because I will hunt you down and make you wish you died.  John released Al, looked at Frank and Mel and said, that goes for you two jokers as well. The three of them just stared at their old friend.

     Monday was the slowest day he ever spent at the exchange.  It took all the discipline he could muster for John to act normal.  The same went for Tuesday morning and the afternoon was even worse.  John didnt know how he could keep Abe from realizing something was amiss.