03-01

“This is what we need you to find,” said Jonathan, pointing at the screen. He flipped tabs and brought up a map. “And this is where it should be, if all goes according to plan.”

“So why do you need me?” asked Rich, confused. “I mean, there are five of you. Surely one of you could do it?” But Alan shook his head, saying that it was impossible, and tried to explain to this ignorant stranger.

“We are too recognisable. You would be able to tell us from a mile off, no?” he began. “But that’s not the only thing. We need six for this operation. One to distract the owner of the house: that’s not too hard, we will give that job to Linda. Two to ensure entry, Matthew and Davide. One to make sure everything is unlocked for an escape and to watch the back of the house, in case of an ambush. And one to stand at the front, to warn those inside if someone is coming. Finally, there is the one who will steal the thing.”

“And you’ve chosen me, out of all the better qualified, more willing candidates out there. I don’t get it. Why am I so special? I’ve got grades, yeah, but they’re not really going to help; I was never taught to steal and I don’t intend to become a thief!” His voice was rising and Linda patted his arm, trying to calm him down.

“Shh, Rich,” she said quietly. “There are other people in this restaurant, don’t forget. We don’t want to jeopardise the whole thing right now, do we?” She laughed, so characteristic. “You know, I told them you would be difficult.”

“There you go again!” Rich exploded from his chair, pointing a shaking finger at Linda. “You seem to know so much about me, but how? I’ve never been famous or popular or in the papers at all. I was just a quiet kid who kept his head down at school and didn’t get into trouble. I used to go running, and I won a few races. Now ... now I’m being headhunted by some random organisation because apparently, I’m the best one to steal something I’ve never even heard of, even though I’ve not had any practice.”

“Shut up!” Jonathan was angry now. “Look, Rich, we can’t stay here if you’ll go shouting your head off at any minute, and how are we meant to explain anything when we have ordinary citizens coming and asking us if we’re burglars? Now be quiet, or I will get very annoyed.” Rich fell silent immediately, staring at the floor.

          “That’s better,” said Linda. “You know, your temperament was one of the things we chose you for, although it may have been a bad idea.” She giggled. “I’m only joking. We didn’t know you got angry easily.”

The End

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