Read Wyatt - 05 - Port Vila Blues Online

Authors: Garry Disher

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Hard-Boiled, #Bank Robberies, #Jewel Thieves, #Australia, #Australian Fiction

Wyatt - 05 - Port Vila Blues

BOOK: Wyatt - 05 - Port Vila Blues
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Port Vila Blues
Wyatt [5]
Garry Disher
(1995)
Rating:
*****
Tags:
Fiction, Mystery & Detective, General, Hard-Boiled, Bank Robberies, Jewel Thieves, Australia, Australian Fiction
Product Description

Wyatt snatches the cash easily enough. He bypasses the alarm system, eludes the cops, makes it safely back to his bolthole in Hobart. It's the diamond-studded Tiffany brooch - and perhaps the girl - that brings him undone. Now some very hard people want to put Wyatt and that brooch out of circulation. But this is Wyatt's game and Wyatt sets the rules - even if it means a reckoning somewhere far from home. Port Vila Blues is Wyatt's fifth heist. It's faster than ever, racing towrads the inevitable confrontation on a clifftop above the deceptively calm waters of Port Vila Bay. In a murky world where the cops are robbers, old-style crim Wyatt positively shines. Clear taut writing - not a word wasted. Marele Day ...tough, violent, relentless and thoroughly convincing Stuart Coupe

* * * *

Port Vila Blues

[Wyatt 05]

By Garry Disher

Scanned & Proofed By MadMaxAU

* * * *

One

Carlyle
Street, Double Bay, 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, the air clean and cool. Behind
closed doors in the big houses set back far from the street, people were
beginning to stir, brewing coffee or standing dazed under showers. Wyatt
imagined the smell of the coffee, the sound of the water gurgling in the pipes.

But not at 29 Carlyle Street. According
to Jardines briefing notes, the house would be empty for the next few days. It
was the home of Cassandra Wintergreen, MP, Labor member for the seat of
Broughton, currently in Dili on a fact-finding mission. Champagne Marxist and
ALP head-kicker from way back, Jardine had scrawled in his covering note. That
meant nothing to Wyatt. Hed never voted. If he read the newspapers at all it
was with an eye for a possible heist, not news about political tussles. His
only interest in Wintergreen lay in the fact that she had $50,000 in a floor
safe in her bedroom: a kickback, according to Jardine, from a grateful
developer whod asked her to intervene in a planning dispute regarding access
to a strip of shops he was building in her electorate.

Wyatt continued his surveillance.
Whenever he staked out a place he noticed everything, no matter how trivial,
knowing that something insignificant one day can be crucial the next; noticing
in stages, first the general picture, then the finer details; noticing routes
out, and obstacles like a rubbish bin or a crack in a footpath that could bring
an escape undone.

There were two gateways in the long
street frontage, indicating a driveway that curved up to the front door then
back down to the street. Shrubs and small trees screened the front of the house
from the footpath and from the houses on either side. It all spelt money and
conviction.

Conviction. Wyatt had grown up in
narrow back streets. His mother had never spoken about his father and Wyatt had
no memories of the man. Wyatt had earned himself broad convictions on those
narrow streets. Later hed read books, and looked and listened and acted,
refining his convictions.

Jardines floor plans revealed a
hallway at number 29, two large front rooms on either side of it, and a range
of other rooms at the back and on the upper level. Jardine had marked three
possible hitches for Wyatts attention. One, the house was patrolled by
HomeSecure once a day, usually around midnight; two, the alarm system was wired
to the local cop shop; three, hed not been able to supply the cancel codes for
the alarm system but the combination for Wintergreens safe was her birth date:
27-03-48. Jardine built his jobs on information supplied by claims assessors in
insurance companies, the tradesmen who installed security systems, surveillance
reports and bugged conversations collected by bent private detectives. A word
dropped here and there by real estate agents, chauffeurs, taxi drivers, bank
clerks, casino croupiers, clubland boasters.

Wyatt watched for another five
minutes. It was the variable in any situation that kept him on his toes.
Without the habit of permanent vigilance he knew that hed lose the edge, and
that might mean a final bullet or blade or at the least steel bands manacling
his wrists. There was always the unexpected change in layout or routine, the
traffic jam, the flat battery, the empty safe. But these were things you could
never fully prepare for, so you hoped theyd never happen. If they did, you
tried to absorb them as you encountered them and hoped they wouldnt trip you
up. The innocent bystander was often the worst that could happen. Man, woman or
child, they were unpredictable. Would they panic? Stand dumbly in the line of
fire? Try to be a hero? Wyatt hated it if they got hurt or killednot because
he cared personally but because it upset people, particularly the police.

Satisfied that the house was empty,
Wyatt crossed the street to number 29, a brisk shoe-leather snap to his
footsteps. Dressed in a dark, double-breasted coat over a collar and tie,
swinging a black briefcase, he might have been the first businessman up that
morning. Soon cars would be backing out of driveways, white exhaust gases
drifting in the air, but for the moment Wyatt was the only figure abroad on the
long, prosperous streets of Double Bay.

He paused at the driveway. A
rolled-up newspaper was lying in the gutter nearby. Wyatt had dropped it there
unseen in the dark hours of the morning, but anyone watching from a nearby
window now would have seen him bend down, pick up the newspaper and stand there
for a while, looking indecisively up the driveway at the house as if he were
asking himself whether or not he should take the paper in or leave it there
where it could be damaged or stolen. They would have seen him decide. They
would have seen him set off up the driveway, a kindly passerby, banging the
paper against his knee.

The front windows could not be seen
from the street or the houses on either side. Wyatt swung the briefcase,
smashing the sitting room window. At once the blue light above the front door
began to flash and Wyatt knew that bells would be ringing at the local police
station. He had a few minutes. He wouldnt rush it.

The newspaper was tightly rolled in
shrink-wrapped plastic. It had the stiffness and density of a small branch.
Wyatt dropped it under the window and walked unhurriedly back down the driveway
and onto the footpath again.

In the next street he took off the
coat and tie, revealing a navy blue reversible jacket. There was a cap in the
pocket. He put that on and immediately looked as though he belonged to the
little Mazda parked near the corner. Dark, slanting letters on each side
spelled out Rapido Couriers and hed stolen it from a service depot the night
before. Couriers were as common now as milk vans in the old days, so he wasnt
expecting questions and he wasnt expecting anyone to be looking for the car in
Double Bay. He climbed in and settled back to wait, a street directory propped
on the steering wheelan old ploy, one that worked.

He fine-tuned the police-band radio
on the seat next to him in time to hear the call go out. He heard the
dispatcher spell the address slowly and give street references.

Neighbour call it in? a voice
wanted to know.

Negative. The alarm system at the
premises is wired to the station.

A falling leaf, the patrol-car cop
predicted. Dew. Electrical fault. What do you bet me?

Another voice cut in: Get to it,
you two.

It was as though the patrol-car cop
had snapped to attention. Wyatt heard the man say, Right away, sarge, over and
out, and a minute later he saw the patrol car pass, lights flashing behind him
on Carlyle Street.

The toothache didnt creep into his
consciousness, it arrived in full, lancing savagery. Nerves twitched and Wyatt
felt his left eye flutter. He couldnt bear to move his head. It was the worst
attack yet, arriving unannounced, arriving when the job demanded his full
attention. He tapped the teeth on his upper left jaw, searching for the bad one
as though finding it would give him some comfort. It was there, all right.

He snapped two paracetamol tablets
out of a foil strip and washed them down with a bottle of apple juice. Then he
took out a tiny jar of clove oil, shook a drop on his finger, rubbed it into
his jaw and gently over the tooth. Hed been doing this for five days now. He
didnt know if the painkillers or the clove oil did much good. They didnt make
things worse, so that was something in their favour.

Wyatt blocked out the pain and
concentrated on the radio. It was good to be working alone, the appeal of the
planning and the executionand, if he cared to admit it, of the anticipated and
actual danger. He thought for a moment about these jobs Jardine was
blueprinting for him. In one instance, three months earlier, a millionaire had
hired them to get back the silverware collection hed lost to his ex-wife in
the divorce settlement. In another, a finance company had paid to have a
bankrupt property developer who owed them two million dollars relieved of two
undeclared Nolans and a Renoir.

The radio crackled. The patrol car
came on the line: False alarm.

Explain, please, the dispatcher
said.

The voice might have been writing a
formal report. Constable Wright and I approached the premises. We observed
that a front window had been broken. On closer examination, we discovered a
rolled-up newspaper lying on the ground under the window. Constable Wright
obtained entry to the premises through the broken window. The premises are
furnished but empty and intact. We await further instructions.

The sergeant came on the line. Knock
off the fancy talk. You reckon the paper boy got a bit vigorous?

Looks like it, sarge.

Okay, go back in, turn off the
alarm, and shoot over to the highway. Theres been a pile-up.

Right, sarge.

Meanwhile Ill give the security
firm a bell and get them over to seal the window.

Right, sarge.

Wyatt continued to wait. When he saw
the patrol car leave along Carlyle Street, he reversed into an alleyway, got
out, and pasted HomeSecure transfers over the Rapido name. Finally he pulled on
overalls stencilled with the name HomeSecure and drove around to number 29,
spinning into the driveway with a convincing show of urgency. Pulling up at the
front door, he got out, cleared the remaining shards of glass from the window
frame with his gloved hand and climbed over the sill and into the house.

He made straight for the main
bedroom. It was a curiously flattened room: a futon bedbase and mattress at
ankle height, low chest of drawers, squat cane chair in one corner, built-in
closet, no pictures on the walls. Only curtains existed above waist level and
they admitted the blurry light of early morning onto the bed. It was also an
asexual room, as though Wintergreen spent all of her passion brokering deals
somewhere else, for her profit or for the profit of those who might one day
help advance her career.

The safe was under a heavy Nepalese
rug at the foot of the bed. Wyatt lifted the floorboard panel, keyed in the
combination, heard a hum as the electronic lock disengaged.

He opened the door and looked in on
a cavity the size of a small television set. There were papers and files
stacked in there, but not the fifty grand that Jardine had promised. Wyatt
emptied the safe and knocked against the sides and base with his knuckles. He
snorted. The bottom was false.

Wyatt pushed experimentally at the
corners. The base lock was a simple push-pull spring-loaded catch. He swung it
open.

The fifty thousand was there all
right, bundled in twenties, fifties and hundreds. Wyatt stacked them into slits
in the lining of his overalls. Twenty-five for Jardine, twenty-five for
himself.

He paused. There was something else
down there in the darkness, a small, soft, black velvet bag. Wyatt reached
down, pulled it out.

The object that tumbled into his palm
gleamed softly in the light of his torch. It was a butterfly, 1930s Deco style,
with an eight-centimetre wingspan. The body consisted of 2-carat diamonds set
in gold. The wings were also gold, set with flowing rows of baguette diamonds
in channels alternating with rows of round diamonds. He turned it over. A thin
line stamped in the gold read Tiffany & Co.

Wyatt added the butterfly to the
fifty thousand dollars. Jardine would know someone whod know what to do with
itsell it overseas as it was or melt the gold setting and sell the stones
separately. A local buyer was out: the larger stones could be identified and
traced too easily-theyd be on record somewhere, able to be matched to an X-ray
or a photograph.

BOOK: Wyatt - 05 - Port Vila Blues
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