*I’ll be taking a few weeks off to finish Atlantis. Brock and company will be back soon!
Arena of Souls
Chapter 9: The Office
“I can’t believe you talked me into this,” Alex whispered. He and Stone sat in a diner just around the corner from the Bermuda Cab Company.
“I told you, you don’t have to come with me.” Stone took another sip of weak coffee and pushed his eggs around on his plate.
“And miss out on the fun? Not a chance.” Alex consulted his watch. “Midnight. Late enough for you?”
Stone nodded, tossed a few bills on the table, and stood.
“Leaving already, sugar?” The waitress, a curvy blonde in a too-tight uniform, stuck out her lower lip.
“We’ll have to drop in again some time,” Alex said.
Stone thought it unlikely. The food was lousy and, even if he was looking, the waitress wasn’t his type. He thanked her and waved to the cook, who peered out a tiny window from the kitchen area, and stepped outside.
“You are something else.” Alex shrugged his coat up around his neck and fell into step with Stone.
“What are you talking about?”
“She got one look at you and suddenly her top button stopped working. You can’t tell me you didn’t notice.”
Stone shrugged. He had noticed, but wasn’t interested. Besides, his attention had been focused on what they were about to do.
They approached the cab company from a back alley. When they reached the back entrance, Stone put a hand on Alex’s shoulder.
“Don’t bother with the back door.” With that, he clambered up the fire escape ladder to the second floor window. Peering inside, he saw that he had made the right call. It was an office. He scanned the window facing and spotted a metal box in the corner. “It’s alarmed.”
Alex moved in for a closer look. After a cursory inspection, he shook his head dismissively. “Child’s play. I clip the right wires and the bell won’t ring.” He took out a small pocketknife and cut the wires, grumbling all the while about the lack of a challenge. “Why do they even bother?”
Stone slid the window open and slipped inside the office. Alex followed, closing the window behind them. Taking out their penlights, they began searching through the drawers of the large desk that dominated the room. They were breaking the law, but, as far as Stone was concerned, all bets were off since they’d messed with Trinity.
The search turned up nothing of interest— only typical business records and correspondence. Finally, he looked at the “Out” basket on the corner of the desk. Inside was a single envelope, addressed to John Kane in New York City.
“Should we open it?” Alex asked.
“It won’t be the first crime I’ve committed tonight.” Stone opened the envelope and removed the folded papers it contained. He immediately recognized the contents.
“This is a transcript of my conversation with my attorney.”
“Let me see.” Alex examined the paper and a smile spread across his face. “Watch the door. I have an idea.” While Stone waited by the door, Alex sat down, took out a fresh sheet of paper, and began to write. When he’d finished, he folded the paper, tucked it back into the envelope addressed to John Kane, sealed it with rubber cement, and replaced it in the “Out” basket. “I’ve always had a knack for copying handwriting,” he explained. “When John Kane receives this letter, he’ll have the map coordinates leading to a spectacular treasure your grandfather left you.”
“Where do the coordinates lead?”
Alex shrugged. “Somewhere south of Greenland. I just made them up.” He made a face. “Once he checks them on a map, he’ll probably realize they’re useless.”
“Not necessarily,” Stone said. “If this John Kane is searching for the island, he’ll want to check the coordinates, just to be safe. In any case, it’s a good way of letting him know we’re on to him, and we won’t be intimidated.”
Something caught his attention— a sound somewhere out in the hallway. He raised a finger to his lips, and pressed his ear to the door. He’d always had a keen sense of hearing, and the unique training he’d received had taught him to filter out superfluous noises. Concentrating, he heard the gentle tread of someone trying to be stealthy. The footsteps were approaching the door.
He stepped back and waited, his emotions perfectly calm, but every nerve ending alive. He was coiled to strike.
The doorknob slowly turned, and then the door opened a crack. An armed man, probably the night watchman, peered inside.
Stone struck. In a lightning-fast movement, he slapped the man’s gun hand aside and struck the guard with his open palm hard on the temple. His blow was so strong, so precise, that the guard’s eyes rolled back in his head, his legs turned to jelly, and he crumpled to the floor.
While Alex straightened the desk, Stone heaved the guard’s limp form into the hallway. He took a moment to empty the cylinder of the guard’s revolver, pocket the bullets, wipe the weapon clean of prints, and replace it in the man’s holster. When he’d finished, they exited the office the way they’d come, wiped down the windowsill and alarm, and climbed down the fire escape.
“What’s next?” Alex asked as they exited the alley and headed for the corner where he’d parked his car.
“I’m going to ask Trinity to see what she can find out about John Kane. Perhaps she and her newspaper colleagues can dig up something useful. In the meantime, I’m going to locate my grandfather’s island.”