A Heist In Old Chicago

It is the early 1930's, and I am a young man who is helping an accomplished thief in his scheme to steal a very valuable painting from Chicago's central art museum. This is my first big job, and I'm a little nervous, despite several rehearsals and the bossman's reassurance that I'll do just fine.

We have a third accomplice in one of the security guards of the museum, who enables us to swipe the painting quite easily, and smuggle it out of the back of building into a waiting car. Unfortunately, the alarm goes up at that point, but the other two were prepared for this. The boss quickly puts a pair of handcuffs on the security guard, takes his gun, and pretends to hold him hostage as we make our way to the car. The police have not caught up with us, nor are there any visible passers-by, but the boss is a big one for versimilitude, and it'll help cover the third accomplice's butt, should we be apprehended.

Our getaway car - a fairly snazzy Ford - has one of those new-fangled car radios in it and, more importantly, it's tuned in to the police band, so we can listen to their progress as we wend our way out of the city.

A senior detective is dominating the air-waves, and apparently he and the boss have tangled before. The detective starts talking to us - he's gambling that we have a police-band radio - and tries to intimidate us with how much he already knows about our little heist - he claims he knew that the security guard was a shill, which the bossman declares is just a bluff.

The detective does startle my boss when he says "So why have you got the kid with you? That's not your style. Is it because he's the son of your old partner? I could see the resemblance." I knew that my father was a crook, too, but I didn't know that he knew the boss, and I wonder if I've only been taken along on this job as a favor to him. The bossman gruffly tells me that, yeah, he knew my dad, but that had nothing to do with my accompanying them today. I'm doubtful, but I know better than to push things just now.

Finally, we come to a very ritzy neighborhood, on the hilly outskirts of Chicago (I find these unlikely hills unsurprising) and we park in front of a lovely mansion that dominates one particular hilltop. A young woman, pretty and with bobbed blond hair, comes out to meet us, and quickly hustles us inside, while telling her butler to dispose of our car. The stolen painting is carried by the boss and put down in the mansion's entryway.

The view from the house is breathtaking. One face reveals the urban sprawl of Chicago in the middle-distance, and the other overlooks hundreds of carefully landscaped acres, including three small lakes, a nine-hole golf course and other wonders that boggle my criminal mind.

The young woman's father is an art collector with flexible morals, and we have made an arrangement with him to exchange our stolen canvas for one of his own of equivalent value, which we can discreetly sell outside of the city. As the woman and my boss talk - including plans to get married if it looks like the scheme is falling apart, which would prevent them from having to testify against each other - me and the security guard wander around the house and are thoroughly boggled by the wealth on display.

Idly, I'm a little annoyed that the woman and the boss are discussing a sham marriage, as I think she's rather attractive and she's much closer to my age than my boss's. However, I immediately dismiss that as a silly - and potentially dangerous - thought, and turn my mind back to wondering how we're going to get out of town if the butler has just shoved our car down a ravine...





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