Postcard Mysteries
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“Careful with that!” hissed the man with the elegantly slender fingers. “You don’t want to blow us up, do you?”
“Calm yourself. I am well aware of the dangers of nitroglycerin,” soothed the short dapper man walking at his elbow. He cradled the slim vial carefully in the palm of his gloved hand. In his other hand, he clutched a large black satchel that resembled a doctor’s bag.  

At the sound of a distant siren, the two men flattened themselves against the wall. When it had passed, the two men continued their furtive pace down the alley, keeping to the sides and the darkness as much as possible. The stillness of the night swallowed up the noise made by their footsteps.
“Are you sure he’ll have the door unlocked and the alarms off? I can’t cut into the box like this unless he has the alarms off.”

“I wouldn’t have thought you, a crack-man, would be so nervous,” said the dapper man with a slight scowl. “Don’t worry, he’s the best money can buy.”
“The electronic alarms on this building are the best money can buy too. So is the safe.”  
“Isn’t that why I hired you to blow the safe? Aren’t you the best?” He didn’t seem to require an answer.
One nervous, the other disgruntled, they skulked along a few more steps in silence. The shadows of the alley deepened as they neared the rear door of the center building. The dapper man smiled complacently upon seeing that both the alley light and the light over the door were extinguished. 

“Ah, here we are. Right on time,” he purred. He rapped twice, counted to three, and then knocked twice again. The door swung open and the two men stepped quickly inside.

“All set,” said a third man. Broad-shouldered and muscular, he moved lightly on his feet for a big man. “The alarm on this door has been by-passed. I’ve tricked the light beams in front of the gate like you asked. You’ve got a space only two feet wide, so be careful. Man, hiding in that cabinet was hard on my back. I barely fit.” He stretched and pointedly rubbed his back, clearly looking for validation of the importance of his role in this affair.

​“You did quite well,” said the dapper man, responding as required. “Let’s not waste time. Get the car and park at the end of the alley like we planned.” He quietly shut the door on the muscular man as he left the building.

The two men entered the sales floor, ducking below the display cabinets in order not to cast a shadow in the dim security light that weakly illuminated the store. Crouching, they made their way to a squat black shape sitting behind bars. Stepping gingerly between two mirrors set up to reflect the alarm beams, the man with the elegant fingers lovingly stroked the lock on the gate. Finally, he was in his element and calm. In the space of a minute, the lock gave way to his ministrations.  

The Zephyr                                                                                                                         Prologue