Chapter Five

No Matter What

Chapter 5.  

Today Paul would be starting to learn the art of flying a light plane. His first lesson would cover theory, navigation, and radio use, plus all the formalities that go along with doing a course like this. One thing he would not be doing today was any actual flying, that would start during his second lesson. This was his first step along a long road to learn so many things that sometimes overwhelmed him but he felt confident that once he started it would all fall into place.

He had also signed up for a course on motorbike riding, but to do this course he needed to own a motorbike so after the flying lesson he headed to a motorbike dealer. There was a bit of catch twenty two here as he needed a bike to do the course but how could he buy a bike if he did not know how to ride it. He decided to purchase a 125 trial bike as it would be easer to learn on and would be similar to the bike he will be using in the prison break. Paul had already spent time researching which bike to buy so he didn’t need all the sales banter from the salesman so he cut him short and just said, “I want that one.”

He organized the dealer to deliver the bike directly to the bike riding school.

Paul’s schedule was a full one with flying lessons on Mondays and Thursdays with bike riding lessons on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays he was learning to sail, he had joined a sailing club and on Wednesdays they ran sailing lessons. These took the form of acting as crew on yachts while they participated in races around the harbour. Paul’s sailing lesson mostly involved winding a winch but it was valuable experience. It did show him that even though he would gain experience from the sail club lessons, he would need to do a lot of study himself to learn everything he would need to know.

Like the flying lessons, Paul’s first bike riding lesson did not include any actual bike riding, he had to do a written test and fill out forms in order to get his learners permit. The rest of the lesson involved familiarising himself with motorbike operations. The bike riding course was only two weeks long, after that he would gain experience while riding on the street.

Once the bike riding course ended the sky diving course would be starting, with a tandem sky dive.

Paul’s second flying lesson did involve flying, just some basic flying straight and level. Over the coming weeks he would learn much more including the tricky bits of take off and landing.

His second bike riding lesson went well. Bike riding came to him naturally, and he found the whole process a bit of fun. He would have no problem getting his bike licence but he would have to use the bike a fair bit to be very good at it. The bike riding element of the prison break did not need him to ride fast and furious. In fact he would need to blend in with the local population so just staying on the bike would be enough. He would need to get some experience with having a pillion passenger as Janet would be on the bike during the escape.

After the first week of training Paul was feeling quietly confidant as he was finding everything fairly easy and it would just be a matter of time before he mastered the tasks ahead of him. He was still apprehensive at the prospect of jumping out of a plane, but he would give it a go.

Paul got home from his second bike riding lesson at around 3.30 to find Detective Sergeant Elisabeth Bennet and Detective Constable George Blake at his front door.

Paul drove into the driveway, got out of his car and walked towards them, and said.

“Hello Lizzy and George. That was good timing, another few minutes and I would have missed you. What can I do for you two today?” Said Paul. In a friendly manner.

“We would just like to ask you a few questions,” replied Lizzy.

Paul opened his front door.

“Come on in, would you like a cup of tea? Have a seat,” said Paul in a welcoming way.

“Where were you on the night of Thursday the 10th?” Asked Lizzy.

“Well, let me think”, said Paul, pretending he had to think about it. “Wasn’t that our date night or more like non date night?” Said Paul.

“Yes,” replied Lizzy, “but where were you after that.”

“I’m a bit hurt you don’t remember Lizzy,” said Paul while winking at George. George smiled and looked away. Paul continued. “You were sitting in your car out the front till around seven on the morning. You should of hung around so we could have had breakfast together.”

“What about the next two nights,” Lizzy asked.

Paul picked up a remote and pointed it at the sound system, Barry Manilow started singing, ‘All by myself’. He pressed it again and said, “I was here all night and morning. Come on Lizzy, you don’t really think I am a burglar do you?”

“Can anyone confirm that?” Asked Lizzy.

Colin was here but he can’t help, said Paul.

Lizzy was a bit surprised and asked “Can I speak to Colin?”  

“You can but you want get much out of him except the odd meow,” replied Paul, while pointing at Colin the cat who was sleeping in his basket.

Paul thought he saw a slight smile from Lizzy, where as George had a broad grin until Lizzy looked at him with disapproval. 

Lizzy turned back to Paul and just looked at him and said. “Thanks for your co-operation, sir.” She and George started to walk toward the front door.

“Hey Lizzy,” said Paul. “What are you doing next Wednesday? Would you like to come sailing with me.”

Lizzy turn and looked at him, more accurately, she glared at him.

“Now, now, Lizzy. Come on you know you want to,” said Paul.

Lizzy just turned and walked away with George a few paces behind her. Just as they were about to get into their car George said to Lizzy. “You have to give it to him, he doesn’t give up easily.”

Paul organized a bunch of flowers to be delivered to Lizzy at her work with a card that just read.

          ‘Come on you know you want to.’

Paul basically had the weekend off as his next burglary jobs were all but planned except for deciding which night. One of the houses was unoccupied so presented no problems but the other two were, both were occupied by men in the middle of divorces. Paul would have to keep a watch on these two in order to pick a night. One of them was getting divorced because he got caught out having an affair so with a bit of luck he might spend some nights away from the house with his mistress. The owner of the other house presented a bit more of a problem as apparently he hardly every goes out.

Paul decided to take it a bit easy and just take care of the necessities of life like, house work, shopping and cleaning. He also had a pile of home work to do in relation to, flying, motor bike riding and sky diving, so he had lots of reading to do.

After a relaxed sort of weekend Paul ventured out on another job. According to his information the house would be empty so it should be an easy job but he knew complacency would lead to mistakes so he went into it with the same preparation that he put into his other jobs. All was going well, he got through the front door without any problems and the alarm presented on challenge. He found his way to the study but could not find the safe, may be there wasn’t one.

After a bit more searching he found the safe in a bed room, it was very modern so he set the combination cracker running and had a bit more of a look around. On entering the main bed room he saw movement in the bed, the house was occupied, he backed quietly out of the room and went straight back to the second bed room. The cracker had done it job so he opened the safe only to find it empty so he closed it and made his way out. When he went to reactivate the alarm he saw that the silent alarm had activated. He tried to reactivate the alarm in the hope that by doing so the silent alarm would deactivate but instead the main alarm went off.

He quickly made his escape, but only as far as the end of the driveway when he heard a car approaching so he hid in a garden bed that followed the hedge line. A private security company pulled into the driveway and stopped near the front of the house. The place lit up like a Christmas tree as the owner opened the front door, the security guard and the owner went inside and a few moments later the alarm stopped. As soon as the alarm stopped all the lights went out so Paul made a run for it, he was only just out of the drive way when all the lights came back on again. Hemade his way along the road keeping to the shadows as best he could when he heard a car approaching so he ducted behind a parked car, as the car passed he saw it was a Police car.

Once the Police car was out of sight Paul ran as fast as he could back to his car, through his back pack in the boot and put a colourful shirt on over the black shirt he was wearing and pulled the fake number plates off, he then, ‘get out of there.’ His heart was pounding and he had to resist the temptation to drive fast as he drove along the street leading to the main road. As he turned out of the side street onto the main road a car came up behind him and blue flashing light lit up the night, so he pulled over. He sat in the car waiting for the Police officer thinking to himself, ‘this is it, I’m done like a dinner,’ the officer walked to the drivers side of his car and said. “Drivers licence please sir.”

Paul handed him his licence, which was in the name of Ronald Hughes and said. “How’s your night been so far officer?”

The officer replied with. “Is this your car Ronald?”

“Well, yes and no, it’s a company car, Janet Investments.” Said Paul.

“Are you aware one of your tail lights it out?” The office asked Paul.

“No, but I haven’t check them for a month or so, sorry about that chief.”

said Paul.

“You better have it fixed before driving at night again, Ronald.” replied the officer.

“I’ll take to an auto electrician as soon as I can.” said Paul.

The Police Officer handed Paul his licence and said, “Good night.”

“Good night Officer.” Said Paul.

Paul’s heart felt like it was pounding out of his chest like you see in a cartoon, but he managed to keep it together long enough to drive off. He headed back to the garage, changed his clothes and rode his bush bike home, getting there just as the sun was coming up.

He was in the shower trying to wash away the stress and tension when he heard the door bell ring, he put a towel around his waist and answered thedoor. On opening it Paul found Lizzy and George, Lizzy was looking a bit stern but George looked is usual affable self.

“Good morning Lizzy, George, you’re a bit early for breakfast I’m only just out of bed.” said Paul. And then, “come on in, make your self at home, what can I do for you on this beautiful morning.”

“Where have you been for the last few hours?” Asked Lizzy in her best official voice.

“Now, now, Lizzy, George, if you want to drop in for breakfast you don’t need to go through this pretext of me being a burglar, your welcome any time.” Said Paul in a teasing way.

Lizzy responded gruffly with. “You didn’t answer the question.”

“Oh Lizzy, you make me sad.” Said Paul and then. “Here, where else would I be, Lizzy, and before you ask.”

Paul pick up a remote and pointed it at the sound system but Lizzy stood in front of it. “Not a fan of Barry Menalow Lizzy that’s a good sign,” said Paul.

George smiled but Lizzy remain stern, Paul put the remote down and said. “Well how about breakfast?”

“No thanks, can we have a look around?” asked Lizzy.

“Of course you can, make your self at home.” said Paul. “I might have some breakfast, I’m starving.”

Paul started getting breakfast and then opened a tin of cat food and call Colin. Lizzy and George gave the house a brief look around and returned to the kitchen.

Lizzy said to Paul. “Your bed looks like it has not been slept in.”

Paul replied with. “There’s no law against been brought up well, Lizzy, I always make my bed as soon as I get up, I bet you do to.”

Colin rubbed up against Lizzy’s legs and Paul said. “I think he likes you Lizzy.”

“Thanks for your co operation, Sir.” Lissy said in a robotic way, as she and George walked towards the front door.

“Thanks for dropping in, call again any time, shut the door after you as I don’t want Colin to get out.” Paul call out to them.

Lizzy stopped in the door way, turned and looked back at Paul. She looked conflicted, Paul smiled at her and said. “Its all right Lizzy.”

Paul sat down on the lounge, Colin came over and sat on his lap and purred as if to reassure him that it was alright. Paul pondered on his close call but it all worked out and in an endeavour like this there is bound to be a few close calls.

Paul made his way to the garage and drove the Falcon to a car yard and traded it in for a Holden Commodore. He also destroyed the false ID of Ronald Hughes.                        

The start of a new week and a very busy week it would be. After Paul’s bike lesson he headed to the garage to prepare for a long night. As it was vital that the garage was not discovered he had to travel there by a very convoluted route each time he went there, this added quite a bit of time to the trip, but it was necessary. Once at the garage he went through the plan for the night over and over till it became instinct. In the early part of the night he would hide outside one of his targets.

Luckily this area was a very leafy suburb with lots of elaborate gardens, hedges, and trees so it was easy, if uncomfortable, to hide in the bushes once it got dark. If the owner of the house went out, Paul would burgle that house but if he didn’t he would move on to the second target house which was unoccupied. As luck would have it the owner of the first house did go out. So Paul quickly made his way around the back of the house and had no trouble getting through the back door and the alarm was very basic. It took him some time to feel his way around the house and locate the office.

The safe turned out to be in the floor under a fancy rug. It was a digital safe but quite old so the safe cracker made short work of coming up with the combination. When Paul opened it he could hardly believe his eyes, it was packed with gold bars, so many that it would be hard to carry them back to his car. He filled his back pack and was about to close the safe when he noticed the head line on the newspaper on the desk. It read, ‘what a sorry state of affairs,’ so he tore the word ‘sorry’ from the paper and put it in the safe. With the room now back the way it was Paul left making sure the alarm was reset and the back door was locked.

The weight of the back pack made the walk back to his car a bit of a struggle but he made it without being seen. It was just after two in the morning but Paul did not want go back to the garage at that time as he might be heard, so he needed to kill some time. He decided to not burgle the second house as going by the weight of the gold he would not have to do any more jobs so why press his luck.

He could not just sit in the car but driving around also had some risk as well, so he drove to the near by nature reserve and tried to sleep which he didn’t. It felt like days but at five thirty in the morning he headed back to the garage and as he would have trouble get back there for some days he just had to weigh the gold. It weighed in at five kg’s, which made it worth just over $250,000.

Paul headed home feeling on top of the world, he would not have to do any more burglaries. So with some luck he would get away with it but he still needed to sell it and with such a large amount that may be a problem. He tried to get some sleep as he had a flying lesson just after lunch, a great sense of relief came over him as one of elements that made up the great escape was now in place, well sort of. He also felt very relaxed as there was a good chance that the burglary would not be discovered for a while as there was nothing else in the safe so the only reason to open the safe was to remove gold. There is a good chance that this doesn’t happen very often but when it is discovered he is sure to get a visit from Detective Sergeant Elisabeth Bennet.

After his flying lesson Paul sent Lizzy a text message in the hope of persuading her to go sailing with him the next day.

The text read,

          ‘Cove sailing club, 10.00 am, Wed, Out door cloths, runners, see     you there, come on you know you want to.’

Paul had no expectations that Lizzy would show up to go sailing and if she did he would have to explain that she would have to work, so he was pleasantly surprised when he saw her car pull in to the driveway. He could not really work out why she kept showing up to these invitations. He concluded that she was working, keeping an eye on him but on the other hand maybe she just liked the attention.

“Well, Lizzy,” Paul said as she walked over “You decided to come.”

“It was my day off and I didn’t have anything else to do and, …” she paused, and then, … “I have never been sailing before. Which one is yours?” replied Lizzy.

“None of them” said Paul, “I’m learning to sail and what better way to learn than to act as crew.”

“What about me?” Lizzy replied.

“Yes you will be crew as well,” said Paul, then continued. “But don’t worry its not hard, you might have to turn a winch or two.”

Today’s sailing was just a pleasure sail-come lesson so it would be very relaxed. The yacht motored away from its moorings before setting the sails. Paul was involved in this but Lizzy just sat on the deck. Once into open water more sail was hoisted and the yacht really started to get along. It was sailing with the wind and all Lizzy and Paul had to do was sit on the side of the yacht acting as ballast.

As they sat there the spray misting across Lizzy, giving her a ghostly appearance, forming small drops of water on her face, the wind gently blowing her hair, Paul just sat there bewitched by her beauty. She turned her head and saw Paul looking at her. She leant over and said, “I wish you weren’t a burglar. Paul just smiled at her for a few moments, then leaned towards her and whispered to her. “How about a retired burglar?” Lizzy looked out toward the horizon for what seemed like minutes before saying. “Unfortunately it wouldn’t make any difference.” They sat there for a bit longer before things got very busy as the yacht needed to change course and Paul had to help with dropping the sails plus operating one of the winches. It was just on dusk as they got back to the sailing club, Paul invited Lizzy to dinner but she declined.

Of all the new skills Paul was learning sailing was his favourite. It was peaceful and made him a feel like everything would be fine. Flying, motor bike riding and sky diving were exciting and dangerous so didn’t make him feel securer, quite the opposite, they did make him feel alive but there is no substitute for feeling save.        

The next few days were taken up with more flying lesson as well as motor bike riding lesson. Paul now had the problem of what to do with the gold. He was concerned that it would look suspicious to try and sell such a large amount at once or even over a few months. He decided to use some of his other false identities. He would then get a prospecting licence in different names and sell the gold to different gold merchants in small amounts over a few months. This would mean a lot of work melting the gold down and making it look like gold nuggets. He would have to do some experimenting, maybe try a gas camping stove and a cast iron frypan or a blow torch like the ones Plumbers use. Whatever he used he would have to be careful not to draw attention to himself.                     Copy right Jim Pope 2021