The Night it Rained Rembrandt – 3

The Night it Rained Rembrandt – 3

When he finally showed, Angel slid quickly and quietly onto a barstool next to Barry. He ordered a vodka martini, a cocktail that contrasted with his all-too-common appearance, and ran a hand atop his thinning auburn hair.

“Sorry, Blitz.,” he said. “Swing class ran long. Again.”

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternate Fridays, Angel and his wife, a charming woman of forty-one named Penelope, attended a swing dance class for beginners at the Combustible YMCA. Barry had seen the couple dance on two occasions. It was a sight he preferred to rinse from his memory. Angel lacked not only the heavenly grace that one might associate with his name but was, by Barry’s account, less agile than a roller-skating infant with impaired vision.

“So Blitz …” Angel began, but was abruptly cut off.

“What have I told you before?”

“Um …”

“About me. What have I told you about me?”

“Uh … lots of stuff.”

“My name is Barry. You call me Barry.” He lowered his voice. “You do not call me Blitz. Not in public.”

“Right,” Angel replied, nervously. “Sorry.”

“Relax. Drink. Talk to me. I want details and specifics. Lots of both.”

“One sec.” Angel removed a small vial from his jacket pocket, unscrewed the lid, and popped two blue pills into his mouth.

“You okay?

“Headache.”

Barry nodded. “Okay, let’s hear it.”

“The piece will arrive at 2:24 a.m. via a small convoy; international police escort and what not. By 3:00 a.m., all canvases should be unloaded and letters of transfer signed by the museum curators. Special forces units will be positioned on the museum grounds, atop adjacent roofs, and within the museum itself.”

“How solid is your intel on this?” Barry asked.

“It’s solid. Tungsten.”

Over the course of two additional vodka martinis, Angel continued to share details with Barry. Both men were aware that the recent theft of several high-profile masterpieces, most notably Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” had resulted in increased security at most major art museums. In many respects, security had become as costly as the works that were being secured.

“Twenty-four special forces officers will surround the museum’s outer perimeter.”

“That’s a lot of firepower to contain, even for us,” Barry said.

“Another twelve are gonna be dispatched inside the building. The convoy includes six black and whites plus six unmarked SUVs.”

“How many transport vehicles?”

“Four trucks total; one driver and one passenger per vehicle.” Angel paused. “Wait. It’s five. Five trucks.”

Barry turned to Angel, eyes black as 10W-40. “Five. You’re sure about that?”

Angel hesitated. He counted on one hand. “Five trucks.”

“You’re certain.”

“Yep. Anyway, isn’t the real concern getting inside the museum?”

“Not at all. Finish you’re drink. It’s time to go.”

Angel downed the liquor. He withdrew a Hamilton from his wallet and slid it onto the bar.

“Far too generous,” Barry said, swapping out the tenner with a Lincoln.. He glanced at the TV as it displayed the local forecast still showed cloudy with light northwesterly winds. “We’re never coming back to this shit stain.”

“Really? I kind of like it here. It’s … I dunno …  tropical.”

“Yeah, well, so’s malaria.”

The two left exited the bar and headed toward downtown Combustible in separate vehicles. There was much to do.

NEXT: Our story continues.

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