It was three a.m. The night sky was cloudy with the moon in quarter phase. A perfect night for b&e. Himey pulled his face mask down as he made his approach to the big, Georgian mansion. Supposedly he didn’t need precautions like a mask but he didn’t altogether trust the word of the inside man at Lincoln Security Services. Smarter not to trust anyone. That’s what had kept Himey out of prison and working the hot jobs.
And he was good at what he did. There was a code to living the criminal life: his code. Check your sources thoroughly, don’t use names (just numbers), have an out of state fence and, most importantly, go in alone. Tonight’s haul would be his last with this source and he’d paid him in advance. Five had no idea of how big the take would be and he didn’t need to. The back of his neck was starting to itch and that meant it was time to cut ties.
He’d been checking out the owner of this house for some time now, following him and listening in on his cell phone via a handy syncing device. The guy was a collector of coins and had just gotten his hands on a very rare 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. The last one sold at auction in 2002 had fetched an ice-cold seven million dollars. He was going to have to go overseas to sell this shiny, round sweetheart.
Keeping his eyes and ears open, staying within shadows provided by tall, spreading oaks, he donned his gloves and smiled at the keypad mounted on the gate. With one more look around, he extended his hand to punch in the code.
Himey looked down and to his left where the cat sound had come from. A very large black and white example of the feline species was staring at him. The flea collar it wore looked absurdly like a tuxedo collar, the white-furred bib below like a gleaming shirt. “What? No cummerbund?” he asked. The cat blinked lazily. “Why don’t you shoo? I work alone.”
Five was as good as his word. The code was correct and he swung the fence open with minimal noise. Closing it, but not all the way, behind him, he slipped up to the house. The cat followed. Swearing under his breath, Himey decided to ignore it. What was it going to do? Call the cops?
From the front of the house a motion-sensor light came on but that didn’t bother him. He was going to the side entry where Five had assured him he’d take care of the light there from his station at the security company. Again, he proved his worth. He, and the blasted cat, arrived at the door in the dark.
Himey checked his watch. The owner was at his mistress’ house and, according to all he knew, would stay there until some time around eight in the morning. The coin was due to be moved tomorrow to Mr. Fancy Pants’ safety deposit box in town until transferring it to his Swiss bank. The remaining time he had would be needed to get into his old-fashioned home safe. That wouldn’t be too much trouble. It had a combination lock and Himey had never met one he couldn’t crack.
As he reached toward the keypad the cat put himself between him and the door. Large, very pointed teeth showed in a pink mouth as it hissed at him. “Beat it, Tux!” he said, putting the side of his booted foot out to kick the cat away.
The moment he reached toward the keypad the cat screamed loudly and sprang onto his leg. A multitude of extremely sharp claws sank into his leg and he yelled out loud in surprise. The cat continued to yowl and rake. Before he could yank the cat away he heard, “Police! Stand where you are and raise your hands!”
He froze, dismayed, and raised his hands as four cops came from different directions, their weapons trained on him. The stinking cat turned around and sat, studying him from a few feet away. “I don’t believe this,” Himey muttered to himself.
Inside the house a man pumped his fist at the monitor screen, its picture provided by the cameras embedded as “eyes” in the robot cat. Thieves loathed dogs because they could raise hell barking. But who ever paid attention to a cat? “Mission a success. The perp is in custody.”
Catarina’s voice spoke from his earpiece. “Good work, Adam. Mr. Whitaker has been notified that his new security system worked perfectly.”
“Yep. High-end burglars just can’t resist a good St. Gaudens.”
“This guy is going to be pissed when he finds out the safe was empty. While you’re there, run the replay for me.” Catarina Stopinski watched as there was a brief flash of blue screen then the camera feed played out. She could even hear the patter of “paws” on the stone driveway. The robot had performed as programmed, remaining at enough distance to keep the thief in full view.
“Good kitty,” Catarina said, smiling as she watched the pants leg of the perp all but cover the lenses as the cat attacked the man. Its noisy, painful offense had perfectly covered the approach of the police. “So. Tonight we not only had another positive test result, we helped protect a home, exposed the mole in your security company and caught one of the country’s most notorious thieves.”
“You’re a genius,” Catarina’s boss said.
“I keep telling you,” she said smiling. “Pack it up and bring…what did the guy call him? Tux?”
“Yeah.” Adam put his equipment in the bag and re-armed the house with a different alarm code until they could get the new “cat” over here. Whitaker had chosen the long-haired tabby model. The motion sensoring device in the robot kicked in as he exited and the cat walked toward him, growling low in his throat. Adam grinned and said, “Stand down.”
Immediately the command caused the aggression software to close. The cat came forward and, incredibly, began to twine around his legs. “Hey! Are they supposed to be this friendly?” He reached down and lifted the hefty booger.
Catarina’s laugh sounded softly in his ear. “You’re the one that told me I should give them some personality.” Nestled in Adam’s armpit, Tux began to purr.