This is a selection from The Heist Broker, a novel based on a true story. It was not heavily researched on line. It is the fruit of primary sources, of friendships, of the whispering vine that seeps through South Brooklyn like the Mighty Gowanus . . .
Later that morning
World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan NYC
Three gunmen got off the subway at Wall Street. They wafted slowly into a light rain and through the morning crowd. They were dressed like electricians and carried false identification cards, which would let them pass through Security and into the restricted areas of Tower One, World Trade Center. Their equipment bags were loaded with items that had nothing to do with electricity; guns, ski masks, plastic handcuffs, gags, duct tape, and duffel bags.
The point man on this carefully planned campaign shared Nicky’s awe for the glittering and enormous Twin Towers. But he could not let the formidable enormity of the structures intimidate him now. He had work to do. “Time,” Robby Razors said briskly.
Donnie looked at his watch and said, “It’s 8:45. Should I get on the radio?”
“Damn, your ass is tight this morning, Robby,” Chippy observed. “Take it fuckin’ easy.”
Robby angrily flipped his cigarette. “I’m on point. I’ll tell y’when t’do somethin’. Gimme the radio.”
“It’s not okay.” Robby stopped their steps cold on the sidewalk and glared at his two associates. “No unnecessary talkin’ here. Button it! Just listen and do what you’re told.”
They were slightly ahead of schedule. The cash usually appeared between 9:00 and 9:30. So they settled on a bench in the bone garden of the oldest continuously functioning church in the New World. Saint Pauls. It was too cold for the usual gaggle of tourists so they were alone. Through a field of old graves they could see the heavily fortified Towers of the World Trade Center Complex jutting up one hundred and ten stories over the Harbor.
This was where the great city started. The Harbor. Gateway to the New World. Principles of the Dutch West India Company had read in Henry Hudson’s ship’s log that merely pulling into this natural harbor would trigger the local Indians to approach and offer to sell beaver pelts. The fur trade. The Dutch pulled into a pristine setting flush with oyster beds and cool clear waters. The Indians approached and whipped out beaver pelts. All in the script, until somebody held up a potato. The Dutch had never seen this particular type of potato. ‘Hey man, have a tobacco.’ The Dutch traders found themselves mesmerized by easily integrated commodities, many uncommon or unheard of in Europe. Being traders and navigators, familiar with the wind routes, the star routes, the Dutch knew exactly what to do next. Fill a ship, go back to Europe, create markets! Everywhere, new riches! The Dutch settled in and started to export. Importing soon followed. Growth was rapid.
New Amsterdam was international from Day One. The Dutch were not exclusionary. They came from a country that had been kissed by the Enlightenment, and were not in this new land for religious or political reasons. All they wanted to know about a new arrival boiled down to a few simple questions: ‘What are you buying or selling?’ ‘Are you skilled at something?’ The tone of the great city was compacted into those vital inquiries. And right from scratch, no one came here to relax.
Seventy years later British warships appeared in the Harbor and challenged the Dutch, who knew better than to wage war with Great Britain. They stepped aside. New Amsterdam became New York. The Dutch knew the Brits could take this island, but could not hold it. They would attempt to colonize. It would not work. The New Worlders would fight to the last drop of blood. So the Dutch kicked back and watched the American Revolution happen. In fact they made a nice profit on that war, and profit was nothing to be squeamish about. That was what they were here for. It was about money back in 1776, and it was about money on this cold morning in 1998.
Robby was waiting for a pre-arranged communication on the two-way radio. Just a few words and they would be on their way.
Their first challenge would be to filter through the veritable embroidery of law enforcement and security cameras and make it up to the eleventh floor: one of six floors housing the Bank Of America. Then they had to wait for the freight elevator with the Brinks guards and moneybags to arrive, and when the door opened draw iron and say something clever like ‘Stick’m up.’
Robby held the two-way radio in his hand, so he could respond quickly. A raw fear cut right through his morning fix and made him uneasy. He felt the pulse on his forehead and knew that they had hit that spot in a heist where there was no backing out. Now it was all or nothing, Heaven or Hell. Within the passing of this early morning their fates would be revealed. In an hour or so, they might be sitting before high stacks of cash in a Brooklyn safe house. Three neighborhood junkies magically reborn as newly minted men of means. Or they could be in a fucking holding tank under the federal courts, never to see free daylight again. The most nerve-shattering outcome would have them pumped full of lawmen’s bullets and lying on cold slabs in the morgue.
Just to tweak him further, Robby had to pull off the heist of his life with a less than perfect outfit. Anxiety made him think about how his regular crew, after hearing that Robby was sending them out to yaffle a Brinks cash delivery to Bank Of America in Tower One, World Trade Center, threw a nix. After doing their recon they returned with the astonishing news that they would not venture near this particular piece of insanity. Wasn’t he aware of the spectacular beefing-up of security since the bombing in the basement of Tower One by Islamic extremists back in ‘93? Didn’t he know that the Complex was dense with law enforcement? FBI, CIA, Federal Police Officers, Customs, ATF, New York’s Finest, New Jersey and New York Port Authority Police, all walked in and out, up and around, going about their daily tediums. No end to it! Didn’t he know that the whole joint was creeping with cameras, alarms, hi-tech implements of cop voodoo? His ace team had never turned down a campaign before. It worried Robby that they backed out of this one, because he had always trusted their instincts. They were pros. Not a word out of place. Not a move that did not need to be made. They had not only refused the gig, they tried to talk him out of it. Sure, hitting a Brinks cash delivery in one of the Twin Towers was a pregnant idea, good for daydreaming around the cooker while fixing on a cold night. But some capers are just not likely. Part of being a pro was to identify these flights of fantasy and turn them off before you make stupid moves. Robby had allowed them to back off gracefully. This gig sounded unlikely. He didn’t blame them at all.