At Providence's Gate
Home | Providence Gate Chat | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine | Chapter Ten | Chapter Eleven | Chapter Twelve | Chapter Thirteen | Chapter Fourteen | Chapter Fifteen | Chapter Sixteen | Chapter Seventeen | Chapter Eighteen | Chapter Nineteen | Chapter Twenty | Chapter Twenty One | Chapter Twenty Two | Chapter Twenty Three | Chapter Twenty Four | Chapter Twenty Five
Chapter Nine

        John turned on the light in his cramped hideaway.  It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the brightness.  Donning a ski mask, he quickly freed himself from the janitors closet and walked briskly to the back door.  He punched the pass code into the security system keypad by the door and then returned to his closet where he retrieved a can of spray paint.  Shaking it vigorously, John went to each of the three video cameras inside the exchange and sprayed there lenses.  Once that was accomplished, he removed his ski mask

            John then returned to the closet and opened the empty aluminum case.  He took the supplies he had smuggled into the exchange over the past week and placed them into the case.  The first thing he did was to place door wedge alarms against the front and back doors.  These devices would give him a warning if anyone entered the business while he was robbing it.

            Then he went to Walstein's office and opened the safe.  Inside, he found 50,000 dollars in cash that the Vietnamese jeweler from Houston had paid the old man the day before.  He put that and another 12,000 dollars he found in various other envelopes inside the safe.

            The huge diamond vault was Johns second objective.  He was already heady from collecting much more cash than he had expected that John had to verbally tell himself to calm down.  Inside the door of the vault were 360 four inch by four inch metal drawers, each one labeled with the size and quality of its contents.  The labels were easily removed and John meticulously put each one in a plastic zip-lock bag.  Then he would empty the drawers diamonds into the bag, seal it up and place it in his case.

            It was slow work, but well worth it when it came time to turn the diamonds over to whoever he chose to fence them with.  John knew next to nothing about diamonds so the labels would come in very handy.

            By 1:30 in the morning, John was ready for the most dangerous part of the actual robbery relieving the six display cases in the showroom of their contents.  Enclosed in virtually indestructible cases fashioned of lexan glass and hardened steel, the best diamonds in the exchange were kept in the showroom.  The only time they were placed in the vault was on weekends.

            John went into the old jewelers office, broke open the key box and extracted the six display case keys from it.  He then walked to the showroom door and turned all the lights off in the room.

            Once in the showroom, penlight in his mouth, John crouched behind the display cases and one at a time took their precious contents.  Completing this last task of the heist in less than five minutes, he went back into the vault room where e left his aluminum case and deposited those showroom diamonds into it and prepared to make his exit.

            Unknown to the would-be-master-thief, the first glitch in his caper was about to occur.  A 24-year-old police officer named Jaime Bravo had, minutes before pulled his San Antonio Police Department cruiser into the diamond exchanges back parking lot and maneuvered it t the back of the paved area.  It was almost 2 am and the young cop, who ad only been on the force a year, had just called in to the police dispatcher, requesting permission to take his lunch break.

            Jaime was a second generation San Antonio police officer.  He also was a newlywed, having married his childhood sweetheart the day after he completed his rookie training.  Julie had graduated from the nursing school at the University of the Incarnate Word just six months before and worked the second shift at University Hospitals emergency room.

            They made a cute couple, Jaime standing 5 feet 10 inches and his bride 5 feet 4.  His olive skin, dark eyes, jet black hair and muscular body complimented her lighter skin, bleached blonde hair and petite body structure.  They had been King and Queen of their senior homecoming dance at Highland High School and all of their friend knew they would marry but didnt know they would actually wait until Julie graduated from nursing school and Jaime had nearly completed his rookie training.

            Both initially attended The University of the Incarnate Word right out of high school, Jaime majoring in social work.  He only completed six semesters before he succumbed to boredom and decided to try out for the police department.  It was a proud day for Jaimes family, particularly his father when he entered the San Antonio Police Academy.

            Julie had worked her normal second shift this particular Tuesday night.  Jaime had been moonlighting for over a week at the stock show and rodeo and spent the hours Julie worked directing traffic in and out of the parking lot of Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum.  From there, he would report directly to roll call at the downtown police station on Buena Vista Street and work his normal graveyard shift.

            Jaime had not missed a shift at the rodeo. The paycheck from moonlighting for two weeks at coliseum would be bigger than the one he collected from the SAPD, and San Antonios finest were the highest paid policemen in the state of Texas.

            On this particular night Jaime was bone weary.  It had rained all evening and he was wet and cold.  He also was very tired.  As he sat in his patrol car, hidden in the shadows of some large live oak trees, he decided he needed to catch a nap more than he needed to eat his lunch.  Pulling his personal mobile phone from his belt, he depressed the speed-dial number that would connect him with Julie who he hoped had not gone to bed right after coming home from work.

            I didnt wake you, did I baby, he asked when Julie answered.  She told him, no, she was vaccuming the house and doing some dusting as she tried to wind down from another bloody evening at San Antonios public hospital.  In fact, she told Jaime sweetly, she was hoping hed call.

            Baby, I wish I could talk with you, but I am really beat.  This moonlighting is killing me.  Im on lunch break, but instead of eating Im going to take a nap.  Will you call me in 45 minutes? he asked.  Julie told him not to worry and get some rest.

            Just as the tired young officer was adjusting his seat back, John opened the back door of the exchange, bathing the parking area near the door with a bright light and startling Jaime.  He sat up and watched the unsuspecting thief walk to a red mustang parked on the street.  The young man looked suspicious to Jaime, leaving the diamond exchange so late at night and looking around in a furtive manner before throwing the case into his car and following it in himself.  As John started his engine and pulled into the street, Jaime started his and, without using his headlights yet, followed the mustang.  After John made a right hand turn onto Commerce Street, Jaime turned his headlights on and followed.

            He pulled up behind John at the corner of Commerce and Soledad.  Noticing the police cruiser in his rear view mirror, John felt a shiver of panic shoot from his head to his toes.  His body told him to run, but is mind said for him to be cool.  John turned right onto Soleda.  So did Jaime.  Still self-assured and thinking maybe he wasnt being followed, John took a quick left onto Martin.  Damn, the cop was still behind him.  He then turned right onto Flores and took a quick right into a funeral homes parking area, turned off his lights, made a quick right onto Main and his next left and then a right onto Soledad again.  The cop, although further behind him now, was making the same maneuvers.  Time to panic.

            The streets of San Antonio were empty this time of day except for the occasional lonely taxi cab.  John made a series of quick right and left turns, some down one-way streets in an attempt to lose his tail.  In the meantime, Jaime followed as best he could, but was getting further and further behind the desperate thief.  He called dispatch on the radio requesting assistance and backup.

            Finally John found himself at Navarro and St. Marys. A quick check in his rear view mirror revealed an empty street behind him.  He made a hard left hand turn onto St Marys and put the gas pedal to the floor as he put distance between him and his pursuer.

            John ignored the red traffic light at McCullough, not even slowing down.  He negotiated the turn near the television station on two wheels before Jaime made it to Navarro and St. Marys.  Acting on instinct more than anything else, the young police officer, wide awake with adrenalin pumping through his veins, made a hard turn onto St. Marys.

            Sounding his siren at the corner of McCullough, John was alerted that the cop was still behind him.  He made another hard turn, remaining on St. Marys.  When he did this, his right front tire blew out sending the red Mustang uncontrollably into a concrete abutment that was under Interstate 35.  His car came to an abrupt stop with a crash loud enough to wake the dead.

            John sat in his car a few moments while the airbag deflated.  Knowing the cop was closing in, he grabbed his aluminum case and ran toward the darkness under the interstate.  John threw his valuable case toward a dumpster about 20 yards away, hoping he could evade the police, but if he didnt, at least he wouldnt have the incriminating evidence on his person.

            As he started to disappear into the dark shadow about 75 yards from where his Mustang sat, Officer Bravo pulled up next to it.  Seeing John in the distance, Jaime radioed dispatch and reported his location.  Despite being told to wait for backup, Jaime gave chase on foot after his elusive quarry.

            I had been sleeping next to my dumpster when I heard the Mustangs tire blow.  It sounded like the report of a Saturday Night Special and I was instantly alert.  When the car crashed against the nearby bridge abutment, I cringed and pulled myself behind the big green box for protection.  But I peeked out and saw a young man get out of the car.  He was carrying a shiny silver box that he threw toward the dumpster, almost striking me in the head.  Then he kept running away as a police car arrived.  The policeman began chasing the boy, leaving me alone with the silver suitcase.