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The Phonograph

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7:00 pm. Uncle Charlie’s cabin. 1 day before robbery.

Pulling up to Uncle Charlie’s cabin was like a blast from the past for Cate. She hadn’t been there in 7 years. It looked as though the grass hadn’t been cut since then either. From the outside, the cabin looked as though it hadn’t been inhabited for the past 20 years. It was nestled between two big oak trees; a creek ran past the house just 50 feet away. Ever since Uncle Charlie retired from the family business, he had become a shut in. He hadn’t spoken to anyone in the family since 7 years ago, but that all changed when Cate received a call two days ago. At the time, she was in London stealing a particular Monet that didn’t belong to the Apsley Museum. Uncle Charlie explained his need to acquire a phonograph that had taken up residence in a local record store, in which it didn’t belong in. The second the painting was back in the right hands, Cate and her crew hopped on Asher’s private jet (his father owns the biggest cell phone company in North America).
“Piece of cake!” Nick exclaimed when Uncle Charlie showed him the map of Cambridge and Hershfeld Records and More. (Charlie had befriended the mayor of Cambridge).
“Good, good. I’m glad you think so. Cate what do you think?” Uncle Charlie turned towards Cate with expecting eyes. Up until that moment she had been looking at the blueprint of the store, which included the security system. It was nothing she and her crew couldn’t handle.
“Yup, piece of cake.” She said smiling at Nick. He smiled back, blue eyes shining the same as hers. That was the only characteristic she shared with her cousin. His dark black hair was opposite of her blonde hair.
“Oh good!” Uncle Charlie said pressing his hands together in excitement.
“How exactly do you know the owner of this store? Or how you know it’s yours?” Cate asked, pondering Uncle Charlie’s past life and jobs. She assumed they were similar some her father had told her when she was little.
“That….is a story for another day, my dear.” He stood up from the table and proceeded down the cellar stairs located on the other side of the room. Minutes later he reappeared with the picture of, what Cate assumed to be, the phonograph. He set the worn picture down in the middle of the table for everyone to see.
“It’s beautiful.” Asher said quietly, his blonde hair flopping into his eyes. Uncle Charlie nodded, a smile spreading across his face. The phonograph was very expensive, but Cate knew there was a greater significance to Uncle Charlie.
“Tomorrow night.” Cate said as Gabe unplugged his laptop. Asher and Nick stuffed all the blueprints and maps into a black backpack.
“What time?” Uncle Charlie asked, holding the picture against his chest.
“One o’clock in the morning. Nick will flash the van headlights. Then you can come out.” Cate said climbing into the white utility van they had “borrowed” from Asher’s father’s cell phone company.

12:35 AM Asher Fitzgerald’s Great-Great Grandfather’s farm house.

Cate pushed her long blonde hair into the black knit cap she always wore when stealing, or returning in this case. Asher’s face popped up in the mirror behind her. His floppy blond hair sticking out the sides of the cap.
“Let me help you.” Cate said, pulling the cap off his head. He kneeled down on the ground as she attempted to push his hair into the cap until each piece was tucked in perfectly. He thanked her and pulled the van keys from the pocket of his black jeans. Since no climbing was needed tonight, they didn’t need to dress in their usual clothing (which included leggings or tights- sometimes even for the boys).
“Everyone ready?” Gabe’s head popped up around the corner of the van. Cate nodded and climbed into the front seat, her heart racing just as it always did before a job.

It had been determined in the early hours of the day that this job was a simple grab n’ go. Gabe would hack into the security system and disarm the door alarm, along with the motion sensors. Since the exact whereabouts of the phonograph were known, Asher and Cate would carry it out through the back door. This left Nick in charge of the van and diversions, if they were needed. He would drive around the surrounding streets until Gabe called him. They were taking a risk by not having the van ready to jump into with the phonograph. A risk need though, in the event something went wrong. The police response time in the tiny town was extremely fast.

12:49 AM. Hershfeld Records and More.
There it is. The most expensive phonograph ever made. It was just as beautiful as Uncle Charlie had said it would be. Too bad this phonograph didn’t really belong to Hershfeld Records and More.
Beep Beep Beep Beep
An ear piercing alarm sounded. Cate felt Asher run past her and grab the phonograph from the gold pedestal it had been resting on.
“Cate, GO!” Asher yelled as they both ran towards the back

12:52 AM. Hershfeld Records and More.
When the police arrived, they found the security cameras had blacked out from 12:30 AM to 12:40 AM. Had they arrived 2 minutes earlier, they would have seen 3 teenagers running out the back door phonograph in hand, then jumping into a white van. The police were notified the second the alarm went off. But, coincidentally, there had been an over turned recycling bin that couldn’t be passed half a mile from the store causing them to take a detour. (Oddly enough, not caused by Nick)

Mr. Hamish arrived on the scene of the crime. He walked through the front door of the store, which had been left unharmed, and began investigating. Within minutes he knew this was no midnight pranking since the cameras and motion sensors had been disabled. The motion sensor that had been tripped was located just behind the cash register. There were no muddy footsteps, no fingerprints, and nothing was out of place. Whoever robbed this place was in search of only one thing, the phonograph.
“Did you check the surrounding buildings?” Mr. Hamish yelled over his shoulder to one of the many officers observing him.
“Yes, Sir, of course.” The officer paused for a moment, “Nothing was found, sir.” He was one of the newest cops on the force.
“Who owns this place? Mr. Hamish leaned against a shelf filled with vintage records.
“Mr.Hershfeld does sir.” The new cop answered, as if to say “duh the name of the shop is Hershelf Records and More.”
“No, he doesn’t gentlemen He sold this place to Mr. Roman in 1985. Do any of you know who Mr. Roman is?” Mr. Hamish was appalled by the crew’s lack of information.
No one answered.
“Mr. Roman was a thief. This,” He pointed to the surrounding shelves,” is part of his collection. This isn’t a matter of who stole the phonograph…..it’s a matter of finding who stole it back. And why.” And with that Mr. Hamish tipped his hat at the men and walked to his car.

12:53 AM. Highway 5. Somewhere between Camrbidge and Rockfield.
“What happened?” Cate yelled to Gabe as they flew down the highway away from the store. “I thought you said you disabled all the motion sensors!”
“I…I thought I did. He had more than we originally counted for. Sorry, Cate.” Gabe mumbled, a little embarrassed by his mistake. Cate was glad the phonograph was safely hidden in the back of the van under three blankets, 4 sleeping bags, and a tent (in case they got caught on the way to Uncle Charlie’s, they would say they had been camping). Asher held on to the back of Gabe’s seat as it took a sharp left turn onto a dirt road. He pulled himself up in between the two front seats as Gabe slid across the floor of the van as Nick pulled into Uncle Charlie’s gravel driveway. Nick flashed the headlights signaling that they were there and safe. Within seconds Uncle Charlie came running out of the front door in a robe and slippers. Asher pushed open the door of the van as Gabe pulled the phonograph from its hiding place secure in the back corner of the van.
“Oh, it’s even lovelier than the day it was taken from me!” Uncle Charlie exclaimed. Then as though he just remembered, “Everything go alright?”
“Well…. We had a minor issue.” Cate paused, about to spill the details, but instead decided it was best not to. “But we’ve got it covered.”

Asher carried the phonograph inside the cabin. Not wanting to leave it out in plain sight, Uncle Charlie decided it would be best kept in his cellar. Asher followed him down the dusty stairs while the others decided to stay upstairs and change, ditching their black clothing. Asher came up a few minutes after Uncle Charlie in jeans and a t-shirt, just like the others.
“All ready to go?” Gabe asked grabbing the van keys from Nick’s hand. Thunder rumbled in the distance. He quickly hurried into the van as though he would get struck by lightning if he didn’t.
“Move faster! I don’t like driving in the rain” He yelled out the window.
“I’ll drive, Gabe.” Asher said waltzing up to the driver side of the van, Gabe quickly climbed over into the passenger seat. Cate hugged Uncle Charlie and he thanked her once again.
“Be safe.” He yelled as they drove down the rough gravel driveway. Cate waved as he faded into the black of the night.
From the very back of the van she heard Nick ask what she had been pondering herself, “Where to next?”
“I heard there is a statue in India that needs stealing.” Asher said, smiling into the rearview mirror at Cate. She returned the smile just as he took a sharp left back onto the highway, throwing her into the side of the van.
“India it is!” Cate said triumphantly grabbing onto the back of Gabe’s seat. With Asher’s private jet at their disposal, their possibilities were endless.

Cambridge Police station. 2:09 PM. 2 days after the robbery of Hershfeld Records and More.
“Mr. Hamish, there is someone by the name of Mr. Roman who would like to talk to you.” Mr. Hamish’s secretary said slowly opening the door to his office.
“Send him in.” Mr. Hamish replied, righting himself and the clutter on his desk. A tall slender man came through the door wearing a dark charcoal suit and black fedora. He carried a black briefcase. This caused Mr. Hamish to become a bit apprehensive about Mr. Roman and his intentions today.
“Hello, Mr. Roman. Please, take a seat.” Mr. Hamish gestured to the red chairs set up on the opposite side of his desk. Mr. Roman slowly sank into a chair, never letting go of his briefcase.
“Hello…” Mr. Roman gazed at the name plate on the desk before continuing, “Mr. Hamish. I am sorry I could not come here earlier. I was on a business trip in France the night of the…robbery.” He said, choosing his words carefully.
“Ah, yes. Well, sir, it seems as though the phonograph has completely disappeared.” Mr. Hamish was about to continue with the details of investigation before Mr. Roman interjected.
“I am not concerned with the whereabouts of the item.” He pulled the briefcase onto his lap and spun the numbers on the lock, the lock clicked open. “I came to make a deal.”
“A deal?” Mr. Hamish asked quizzically.
“Yes, a deal. I need you to make it look as though nothing was ever reported stolen. It would be best if a few people never find out it had been in my possession.” Mr. Roman said, never breaking eye contact with Mr. Hamish.
“What do you mean?” Mr. Hamish said leaning his elbows on his desk intrigued.
“No one can know the phonograph was stolen from my store.” At that moment, He placed the briefcase on the desk revealing stacks of cold, hard cash. Mr. Hamish couldn’t help but gasp at Mr. Roman’s request.
“I see.” Mr. Hamish replied hesitantly. He had never been asked such a thing before.
“Can you make that happen?” Mr. Roman pulled his hat off, to reveal a jagged scar that ran from the top of his right ear to his left eye brow.
“I think I can.” Mr. Hamish pulled the briefcase onto his lap. “How much is here?”
“Enough to make you keep your mouth shut.” Mr. Roman released a cold laughed. Mr. Hamish pulled open the top right drawer of his desk. He pulled out the stack of papers from the investigation. He promptly turned on the paper shredder and placed each page in, the machine grinding the investigation papers.



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