Ben gets onto the southbound turnpike, heading towards Homestead. His assignment tonight is going to be a delicate one. Shortly hell be in the Keys, where there’s only a single highway in and out. Left and right hand turns take you directly into the ocean. Without a boat, the chances for escape are significantly reduced. Even an inept police force can be trusted to monitor four lanes of traffic.
On his way south, Ben passes through Homestead, Florida. The southernmost city in mainland Florida. The streets, and the parking lots of the gas stations, are nearly empty. He drives on, destination: Islamorada, Florida. The home of expensive homes, even more expensive boats and some of the best restaurants in all of Florida. Although he’s headed for just such a restaurant, Ben hasn’t come for the food tonight.
Four minutes after crossing into Islamorada, Ben turns the wheel and makes a left into the parking lot of Lazy Days Restaurant. It’s a Monday night and there are more parking spaces available than normal. Ben shuts off the car, and then sunburned hands pull a well dressed body from the import. He shoulders a backpack, locks the doors and starts walking south along Highway One. Breathing lightly, Ben inhales the saltwater infused air, finding comfort in its familiarity.
Walking at a casual speed, Ben covers half a mile in seven minutes. He waits for a break in traffic, before making a left into an exclusive neighborhood. By dressing in a well-tailored suit, Ben hopes to discourage people from taking an interest in him. He doesn’t want to face any questions, especially those relating to the content of his bag. He passes ten houses before stopping in front of the eleventh. Another glance for traffic, then this well dressed thief slips down a path into the backyard.
Facing an in-ground pool and a set of expensive patio chairs, Ben takes off his backpack and sits down. If anyone has seen him, it will be better to be caught before starting his work. Cross legged and dressed in Brooks Brothers, Ben sits with his back to the garage and meditates for twenty minutes. During this time, he listens attentively, but hears nothing. No sirens, curious shouts or barking dogs. Everything is on schedule.
Uncrossing his legs and standing up, Ben unzips the backpack and takes out a few things. First a roll of duct tape and gloves. Then a glasscutter, which looks like a pizza cutter for a Barbie sized pie. Ben rips off a large chunk of duct-tape, tearing it with his gloved fingers. He flips the piece over and turns it into a loop, sticky side out. Putting his one-hundred and eighty pounds into it, he presses the duct tape onto the glass of the garage door window. Next, Ben applies the glass cutter to the window, using the moonlight to guide his hand. An outline of a circle appears as he cuts around the duct-tape.
Having etched the glass, Ben puts his left hand into the loop of duct-tape. With his right, he uses a small hammer to tap the glass. Following the circle, the thief taps the glass until it disconnects from the window. The duct-tape keeps it from falling and Ben leans the piece of glass against the garage. Only then does he reach through the defunct window to open the deadbolt.
Ben returns to tools to the bag, then steps into the black garage. He takes his phone from his pocket and switches on the flashlight app. A narrow cone of light brings the inside of the garage into focus. Parked two feet in front of Ben is an orange Lamborghini Aventador, fresh off the boat from Italy. Standing entirely below belt level, the styling on the Italian machine aggressive and charming. From bumper to bumper, a series of ridges and bisecting angles give the car the appearance of speed. The massive V12 engine is visible beneath a super-hardened layer of Plexiglas. Ben whistles as he walks around the car, admiring it from every angle.
Two minutes is enough time for him to come to his senses. Stepping around to the driver’s door, he tries the handle, but nothing happens. Ben takes off the backpack and opens the front pocket. From a small pouch he pulls out a black object the size of a pack of matches. On top of it are two silver buttons, and Ben clicks the bottom one. He tries the door and this time it shoots up vertically, inviting him to sit in the cockpit of the seven-hundred horsepower rocket.
The well prepared thief obliges, pulling the door shut behind him. He opens the glove compartment and pokes a beige button, animating the garage door. Working his way left, Ben thumbs the ignition switch and twelve massive cylinders jump into action. Eager to get on the road, he nudges the transmission into gear and pulls out of the garage. The door closes itself of its own accord and Ben twists the wheel right. It’s a short drive out to Highway One and a quick left onto the empty two-lane highway.
Stealing a Lamborghini had not been Ben’s own inspiration. Like previous assignments, the idea had come from Sean. After a quick phone call, they had agreed to meet in a cafe in South Beach. Ben arrived in sneakers, Ray Bans, jeans and a Dolphins t-shirt. At table close the exit, Sean was waiting with ramrod posture, eyes hidden behind dark glasses, and a suit that set him back more than a used Civic. They both ordered coffees and Sean started the conversation.
“I’ve got something big and I think you’re ready for it.”
“What’s the job?”
“It’s a football player in Islamorada. His wife is filing for divorce and really has him by the balls. His attorney has suggested that if the car is stolen, she will never see a dime of the insurance money.”
“Who’s his attorney?” Ben asked, not expecting to get an answer.
“Don’t ask me questions. Your only function is to nod and say yes or no. The car is insured for 400k and he’s willing to pay $50,000 for this job. The means twenty-five to me, twenty-five to you. $10,000 upfront, the rest when it’s done.”
The number installed a smile on Ben’s face. Its nearly double what the last job paid. If everything goes to plan, he won’t have to work until summer. “That’s a lot of cash. Is it really going to be that hard?”
Sean answered in a measured tone, such that a man sitting several tables away speculated he was speaking about the stock market. “I don’t know how hard it will be, that’s for you to decide. He’s willing to pay because it’s better than losing $200,000 to his wife.” Sean raised the coffee then dropped his eyes to meet Ben’s gaze. “I have other things to do today. Do you want the job?”
“What’s the car?”
“A month from now. You’ll have one night to pull it off. There is no plan B.”
In less time than it takes to swipe a credit card, Ben has decided. “Give me the details.”
Sean reached into a briefcase and pulled out a folder. “I’m not paying you to steal the car. Any gang-banger from Miami can do that. I’m paying you to get rid of it. Don’t fuck it up.” With that, Sean stood up, pulled his coat-tail over his belt and left the cafe.
Making the best of Miami weather, Ben read through the folder for half an hour. Everything Sean said is on point. Reaching the car will be the easiest part of the night. Losing it later on is going to be difficult. People tend to notice when an Lamborghini goes missing. Snapping out of his thoughts, Ben stood up and shifted the folder to his backpack.
“Where it all ends, I can’t fathom my friends. If I knew I might toss up my anchor” Ben hummed the Jimmy Buffet song as he walked to the register to pay. The drinks were expensive, ten dollars for two coffees. But they seem cheaper after Ben worked the math, ten dollars is 0.04% of his future paycheck. By the time he arrived home on his motorcycle, he had developed a plan.
Losing the Italian
After making a left onto highway one, Ben exerts will power to keep the powerful car at forty. Every detail of the car is engineered for maximum speed, to keep it complacent is an affront to the gods. However, equally difficult would be explaining to an officer why he was speeding in a stolen sports car.
Driving south, a few cars drive past in the opposite direction. Their drivers look back at the Lamborghini in their mirrors and passengers unbuckle seatbelts to get a better view. These onlookers will later speak with the police, offering no useful information on the subject. Lamborghini seen heading in the opposite direction. Driver could have been anyone, time: eleven at night.
During a break in traffic, Ben turns the calibrated wheel to the right, taking the Lamborghini onto a gravel shoulder. Tires the width of a microwave shoot gravel out from behind. Without mercy, Ben pushes the wheel even farther and there is a sound like wine bottle breaking, followed by a drawn out scrap like nails on the chalkboard. These disturbing sounds announce that the right side mirror, and a significant amount of orange paint, is now gone. The thief turned anarchist has left it on a marred palm tree by the side of the road.
Thirty seconds later, abiding by the laws governing speed, Ben nudges the front bumper into a row of street signs. The Lamborghini cuts them like a cleaver and twisted hunks of metal going flying. A stubborn speed limit sign comes over the grill onto the hood, covering half the windshield with two large numbers. Several seconds elapse before the dismembered sign dismounts, leaving a web of cracks in the glass.
Having disfigured the north-east portion of the car, Ben decides to keep the left intact. He hugs the right lane, hiding the disfigured bodywork from oncoming traffic. After an adrenaline nurturing four minutes, he navigates the car around a sweeping left turn and his destination comes into view. The two Seven Mile Bridges. The older of the two, the decommissioned bridges length has garnered it roles in several well known movies. Two thousand feet short of living up to its name, the bridge stretches across a beautiful expanse of ocean, only twenty feet above the water.
To the left, the newer bridge is the only one to receive traffic. After becoming obsolete, the State of Florida deemed the old bridge unsafe. With flourish they blew out a fifteen foot section at the beginning of the bridge, ensuring that no-one can set foot on the worn concrete. Military grade C4 created a perilous twenty-foot gap above the ocean. Since that explosion, the old bridge has not felt the abuse of another pair of tires.
Ben wants to create the illusion of having lost the car in a failed attempt to propel it onto the abandoned bridge. He’s pointed the borrowed Lamborghini towards the twenty foot gap separating the old bridge from the graveled end of the island. If successful, the Lamborghini will be the first car on the bridge in thirty years. Even though a stunt of that caliber would make national news, Ben prefers that the car doesn’t make the jump. Instead, he expects it to fall short, nose-diving into the ocean and it’s untimely death.
Fifty feet from where the bridge begins, Ben turns the Lamborghini onto a patch of gravel and puts it into park. He turns off the lights but leaves the engine to hum in the dark. Hidden behind a boulder is a cinder block, which Ben picks up and carries to the Lamborghini. He places it on the floor next to the pedals. From the front pocket of the backpack, he selects two wooden dowels, each with a piece of string tied around it.
Ben positions these so that they are sticking vertically out of the floor, directly above the gas pedal. Then he uses his right hand to ease the cinder block up onto the two sticks of wood. The final shape is a triangle, with two pieces of string creeping out from the dowels. Ben tosses the string out of the window, before exiting the car and pushing the vertical door back into the frame. Using three fingers, he flips the quasi-automatic gearbox into first. Without gas, the Lamborghini begins to creep forward at a walking rate. The speed violently changes when Ben jerks on the string, wrenching the dowels out of place. The cinder block falls onto the gas pedal and the obese rear tires spin furiously in the loose gravel.
Retiring to the left as the gravel flies, Ben marvels at the sound produced by the V12. With the heavy block demanding performance, the engine redlines before finding traction. An orange blur explodes towards the bridge, holding a true path towards the bridge. Ben figures the car is doing fifty at the moment when it leaves earth behind, propelling itself out over the ocean, reaching towards the jagged edge of the disused bridge.
For one fascinating second, four thousand pounds of untamed engineering hovers in the sky, and then gravity takes over. Ben sprints up to the edge of the island in time to see the rear end of the car sink into the jostled water. The engine screams, gurgles and then stops altogether. The sea floor is only ten feet and the car sinks in fifteen seconds. Bright orange and inconceivably expensive, the Lamborghini will be found tomorrow. A fact that Ben has already given considerable attention too, and deemed unimportant.
A Lonely Life
Being an assassin is laconic work. We live in a capitalist society and we like to keep a close eye on our possessions. We insure our cars and homes, and we keep our phones wrapped in cases. On the road we lament the poor bastard ensnared in an accident. Even though we go great lengths in the name of protection, every man has an animal urge to destroy. If it would be replaced the next day, few people wouldn’t love teach their computers a lesson with a baseball bat. Ben’s line of work is unique in that he gets to act on his instincts.
Walking away from the drowned Italian, Ben experiences a high that that would satiate a heroin junkie. It’s a vivid emotion that runs up his spine and into his brain, shooting endorphins into the cortexes. Like every stage of the night, leaving the scene has been rehearsed carefully. Seconds after he watches the car settle on the ocean floor, Ben walks down a path along the waterfront. Hurrying along next to the black water, he pitches the glass cutter and the small hammer in the ocean. The salt will corrode the steel, returning the tools to their elements before the season is out.
Veering away from the noisy waves, Ben walks up the bank towards a dumpster. It’s a remnant of the boarded over restaurant that it sits behind. Next to the steel container, his bike is waiting for him. Ben retrieves his helmet from behind the dumpster and positions it on his head. The backpack yields a key from the roomy second pocket. Decorated in blue and black, the seven year old Yamaha looks dated but from the driver’s seat, looks don’t matter.
Ben turns the key and lets the bike idle for two minutes, oil coursing through its veins. Only then does he kick it into first, giving the Yamaha just enough gas to keep it from stalling. Bike and rider crawl out of the parking lot, coming to a stop at the edge of Highway One. Glancing for traffic in both directions, Ben sees nothing. Satisfied the road is clear, he leans the bike left and begins driving north towards Miami.
Ninety minutes later and the unrepentant thief shuts his bike off in front of his apartment. After removing the helmet, Ben bounds up the stairs two at a time. Apartment 228 is at the back of the two story complex. The windows in Ben’s living room look out over the community swimming pool and further, onto the fifteen story apartment building being built down the street. Ben unlocks the door and sets the helmet down on his couch. He closes the door then takes off his shoes, gloves and jacket, leaving them by the couch. Only then does he flip on the switch, illuminating the living room.
Adjusting to the surge of artificial illumination, the first thing Ben notices is Sean. The underworld lawyer is sitting rigid, with his back lining up perfectly with the back of the chair. His cold eyes focus on Ben’s face, searching for a trace of stress. After scrutinizing Ben’s face for six long seconds, Sean takes his hand out of his pocket, leaving the pistol tucked away.
“What, did you forget where you live?” Ben says as sarcastically as he dares. Sean is dangerous, but Ben is cocky of his work and not afraid to push boundaries. Ignoring the challenge altogether, Sean speaks in a jovial tone.
“I’m here to congratulate you on success. There’s nothing on the police scanners so you must have done something right. Good job.”
Ben welcomes the news by smiling and snapping his fingers. Disposing $400,000 worth of sports car isn’t as easy as taking the dog for a walk in the park. The car would be found the next day but it would be too late for anyone to identify Ben. In fact, the successful assassin planned to spend the next day glued to the television, waiting for news shows to break the story.
Satisfied with how the night has played out, but ever the businessman, Sean interrupts Ben’s wandering mind. “Your money is on the counter by the microwave. If I ever hear you speak a word about this to anyone, especially in the business, you’ll never work again. Anywhere. There’s two people in Miami who know that you stole that car and I’d like to keep it that way. I’ll call you when something else comes up.”
Having said his peace, he walks past Ben and pulls the door open and shut. Ben watches him through the front window until he’s lost behind a corner. Then he remembers the money. Like a kid walking to the Christmas tree, Ben walks into the kitchen.