decadent_david: (Skeptical)
[personal profile] decadent_david
[Events follow this discussion with Bernard.]

David's lock picking tools were in their usual place, the slim rods of flexible metal easily tucked away in the stiff ribbon inside the brim of his favorite hat. He'd been keeping them atop his head since his college days, having learned through experience that no one ever checked a hat very carefully during a search.

The address on the brick building matched the one Bernard had written on the scrap of paper David held in his hand. Elizabeth Anne L’Ittere lived here, on the second floor. It was a few moments past sunset as David took a seat on a sidewalk bench across the street. There were lights in her windows, and now and then, the slim form of a woman flickered past, silhouetted on the window shades. An hour passed, yet David remained seated, relaxed, quiet. He had slipped into a state of mind that allowed him to pass the time restfully, yet fully alert. He had been in this position before, and knew that when the time was right, he would emerge from his reverie fully refreshed, hyperaware of his surrounds, and ready to accomplish the task at hand.



Elizabeth’s lights dimmed, wavered, and extinguished. David’s gaze fell to the main entrance door, expectantly. A pretty young blonde soon emerged, laughing, arm in arm with another woman, both dressed to the nines for a night on the town. They crossed the boulevard as quickly as their stylish but impractical shoes would allow, heading directly for David. As they veered towards his bench, both dissolved into giggles and began urging each other forward to speak to him. Finally, the brunette stumbled a few steps, wobbling and biting her lip to keep from bursting into more laughter. David could smell the champagne, and knew the source of their merriment. “Monsieur, you look so bored! Might you wish to take two ladies to dinner tonight? And perhaps dancing afterwards! Yes, please join us!” To his amusement, she grabbed his hand as she spoke, and tried her best to tug him to his feet. David wrestled his hand back from her grip, shaking his head firmly. “No, miss, I have a terrible allergy to all foods except parsnips. I am afraid I am terrible company. And ever since the war I have been unable to dance, more’s the pity. But I believe I noticed two fine looking chaps one block down, and if you hurry, perhaps they will still be busy trying to stuff those money clips into their wallets! Although I doubt they will succeed, they were so big, you know…” He let his voice trail off, his words replaced with laughter as the tipsy pair immediately turned away from him to serpentine their way down the sidewalk, their giggles fading as they rounded the corner.

Elizabeth would not return until the wee hours of the morning, David was certain. But, he would only need an hour to do what he had come for. Crossing the street, he entered the building easily, as the front door was unlocked. However, Elizabeth’s door boasted a rather new lock, the marks of its installation still fresh on the wood of the door. Her possessions mean much to her, he thought. But Bernard apparently meant nothing to her, he was merely a means to the acquisition of more nice things. No, David thought, that is not the way of it. Wealth is wonderful and desirable, but not the way you have gone about it. You do not deserve what you have taken, and you will be deprived of it, this night.

Using the pick from his hat, David slipped unnoticed into her apartment. It was an appalling mess of overindulgence. Elegant clothing was tossed over every chair, shoes were scattered about the floor, and he spotted a bulging closet so stuffed with evening gowns that the door was forced to gape open. David strode swiftly about the room, seeking the items Bernard had described to him. He found them tossed casually into a far corner of the room, much as a child might toss away a toy in which it had lost interest. He had carried a large satchel with him tonight, and swiftly loaded Bernard’s items into it. They were all here, a very lucky break.

Now then, as to Elizabeth. For what she had done to Bernard… it was time for a bit of paying the piper. Pulling a jackknife from his trouser pocket, David headed straight for the closet and methodically shredded each and every dress in it, letting soft piles of torn fabric collect on the closet floor. One particularly sumptuous silk dress was cut into larger pieces, and David saved many squares of the fabric, adding them to his satchel.

Finally, he searched the apartment, looking for those special hiding places in which people like to keep their cash. Everyone liked to think their hiding places was unique and original, but David knew better. He rolled his eyes as he plucked the roll of bills from beneath the candle in the wall sconce. "Very clever, Elizabeth. Next time, hollow out the candle and stuff them inside it, and you might fool me!"

It was well beyond midnight when David finally returned to the hotel and quietly slipped into the lobby, intent on the staircase to take him one flight up to his room. But halfway there a loud voice jolted him from his thoughts. The night desk clerk, apparently starved for company and conversation, began chattering incessantly about everything under the sun and a few things beyond it. David let him ramble, nodding occasionally but not volunteering much in the way of replies. “If I must run this gauntlet every night I come in late, I think I will soon go insane. Why can't he just leave me be!” he thought, impatience slowly turning to anger. After a time, David couldn't stand any more, and abruptly interrupted the man to bid him goodnight.

Finally in his room, he unbuckled the satchel and carefully removed the items he had acquired. Prying a floorboard loose where it met the wall, he tucked the small statue, silver sugar bowl, creamer and teapot, along with a comb and watch belonging to Bernard carefully into the open space, as well as a small cloth bag of coins. He frowned when he realized the silver tea tray would not fit, and then moved to slide it under the mattress of his bed. It would do for the short time he would be in possession of it. He would call upon Bernard tomorrow and arrange to have his possessions returned to him. The remaining items – a handful of sterling silver hair clasps, rings, necklaces, brooches and a gold lame clutch purse, David left these in the satchel for the time being.

It was late, but sleep would not come to David. He read for an hour, but could not relax. He did not wish trouble, and now worried about transferring Bernard’s possessions to him. If the day clerk was nosy too and shared gossip with the night clerk, it might soon be established by the hotel staff that David kept unusual hours and was a quiet, mysterious sort. He hated this situation, detested being in such an open, inquisitive place. But until he improved his financial situation more than tonight’s take would be able to do, he was stuck here. Now he knew he couldn’t sleep, not while he was this irritated. Night clerk or not, he needed to get out of this place for a few hours. And so he did, ignoring the insistent “It’s awfully late for a walk now, isn’t it Sir?” and passed by the man without a glace at his face, walking swiftly in the cool night air, no real destination in sight.

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August 2003

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