The well rehearsed and coordinated schedule called for entering the gallery at twenty minutes past the hour. He wore a fedora he’d not worn before, and glasses he didn’t need, and a beard he’d learned how to put on in a theater class.
“We close in ten minutes,” the guard at the door told him as he passed through the metal detector which failed to expose the plastic handgun jammed in his pants; that detail had also been previously tested.
“Just need one quick thing at the gift shop,” he smiled broadly.
“Fine, hurry,” the guard told him, not really looking at him because his attention was on people leaving.
He turned at the bright hallway towards the giftshop and, instead, entered the bathroom. Hidden in a stall, he removed the hat, glasses, beard, reversed his reversible jacket to the black side, put on his gloves, ski mask, removed a small roll of duct tape and his gun. Ran out, down the other way towards the room set aside for special exhibits, rounded that corner, and held his gun five feet in front of another guard’s face. “Down,” he ordered, stern, but not too loud. The guard’s mind had been on a date he had that night with a mail carrier purported to be easy; he held his hands up and did exactly what he was told, face down on the ground, not noticing that the gun, designed to shoot plastic darts with little suction cups at the ends, had been purchased at Walmart and painted to resemble the real thing. The thief quicky pulled the guard’s hands behind his back, bound them with a zip tie and stretched a piece of duct tape over his mouth. “You move and I’ll blow your brains out,” he lied to him. By then he’d heard gasps from the exhibits room. “Down,” he told the few patrons still there, and except for a nerd sitting on a bench across from the Warhol he wanted, everybody did. The Warhol was the reason for the special exhibit. Crossing quickly to it he took a razor knife from his pocket and in a few rapid strokes he’d removed it from its restraints, rolled it up as he moved back towards the entry, noticed the nerdy guy still sitting on the bench, watching, stepped over the bound and silent guard, out and down the hallway towards an emergency exit. Wait, was the nerdy guy smirking at him? No time to think about that. Pushing through the exit, alarms sounded but he was through and into the waiting car, stolen just a few minutes before. His partner hit the gas; in five minutes they’d be in the alley where the second hidden car was waiting, twenty minutes after that at the farmhouse where a third car waited in the barn. In less than an hour he would unroll the Warhol to his Organization’s bosses, safely waiting in their townhouse, only a few blocks from the gallery itself. He would be paid handsomely, encouraged to stay in his apartment for a week and then to leave town for a while. And reminded of the consequences of opening his mouth.
The nerd sitting at the gallery tried to wipe the smirk off his face; people were in shock. Frivolity would not do. He looked back to the missing Warhol. The Warhol he knew was a fake. Knew it because he’d created it and substituted it two nights before.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.