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Eagle Chronicles 7: Eye of the Devil

Title: 7. Eye of the Devil
Series: The Eagle Chronicles
Word Count 1483
Summary Steven goes after a famous jewel at a New York City gala
Author's NoteA light piece written rather quickly so not much plot.




7. Eye of the Devil

February 1941

Steven Taylor glanced through the newspaper. He very rarely read the news, but he saw a headline that caught his attention. It was about the famous Eye of the Devil ruby necklace belonging to Lady van Dyne, visiting from England. It was composed of a large, priceless, cut ruby valued at over $2 million. It was probably one of the most famous pieces of jewelry next to the Crown Jewels of England and the Hapsburg Jewels of Austria.

Steven, known as the Eagle by police and criminals alike, was a well-rounded criminal himself, but best known as a jewel thief. At this point, only three people knew his real name and he meant to keep it that way. "Such a famous piece should not go untouched by thieving hands. I see that the mayor is having a soiree for this lady and her necklace. Maybe they'll need some help."

***********************************************************

The mayor of New York sat in his office waiting for the police detective that was in charge of security. "He's here, sir," said his secretary.

"Good. Send him in." The door opened and in walked the detective. "What is the situation, Johnson?"

Richard Johnson was a 27-year old New Yorker, and very young for such a position. "All is fine, sir. We have been extra-careful in hiring the kitchen help. We have reason to believe that there will be an attempt to steal the necklace. Rumor has it that the Eagle is in New York."

"You'd better be sure of all security and check it yourself. I've heard stories about the Eagle."

"Even though he is a crook, you have to admire him. To have pulled so many jobs and not get caught--and not one person has seen him."

"No one?"

"Even if someone had seen him, it would be of little use because he is a master of disguise."

"I want this to go smoothly tonight, no hang-ups."

"I'll do my best, sir."

"That's all I expect of you, Johnson."

Rick Johnson shut the door behind him. He had overseen the security himself and now he had to sit in on interviews for waiters, one of the last things he wanted to do at this point.

*****************************************************************

Steven decided to go about being hired the legal way, partially, anyway--he had forged references. While sitting in the waiting room, he saw a tall man enter and walk over to the receptionist. "My name's Johnson."

"Go right in, Mr. Johnson. He's expecting you."

Steven hid his face behind a magazine as the man walked by. "What's he goin' in for? I was here first," he said to the receptionist.

"He's working with security." The intercom buzzed. "He'll see you now, Mr. Townshend."

Steven walked into the office and presented his papers. The man Johnson was sitting in a corner, observing all his moves. He sat and waited for the barrage of questions. The man read over his papers then looked to Johnson, who nodded. "I'm satisfied with your qualifications, Mr. Townshend. Mr. Johnson will tell you where to report tonight. That's all I have to say."

"Report at 7:00 to the back door of Gracie Mansion. Wear black pants and a white button-down shirt. A white jacket will be provided. Any questions?"

"No, sir."

"Good. The head waiter will give you instructions for the night. Just one thing I want you to know: I'll have my eye on all the waiters, so keep in line."

****************************************************************************

Steven dressed as instructed, with a few additions to help his true purpose. Even if he didn't get the jewel tonight, he would at least know the floor plan. He was immediately put to work circulating drinks and hors d'oeuvres. He could have sworn he saw a Vanderbilt or a Rockefeller.

At 8:00, Lady van Dyne made her entrance wearing the Eye of the Devil. The mayor escorted her around and introduced her to some of the guests. After awhile, he excused himself and went over to Rick. "How are things going?"

"Fine, sir. No trouble at all. I make rounds of all the rooms every twenty minutes."

"That's good work. Keep it up. I have to go. Lady van Dyne is waiting for me." As he turned to go, the lights went out. "What the--" His sentence was interrupted by a scream from Lady van Dyne.

"My necklace is gone! It's been stolen!"

********************************************************************

When Steven saw that all eyes were turned to Lady van Dyne, he left the room, went to the cellar where the fuse box was located, and pulled the main switch. He returned to the room and groped his way towards Lady van Dyne on the pretense of being with security. He then gently released the clasp of the necklace, slipped it away, wrapped it in cloth, and then buried it in one of the many ficas plants. He washed his hands carefully and locked himself in the cellar as he turned on the main switch. He then sat down to wait, creating a story.

*********************************************************************

As soon as Lady van Dyne had screamed, Rick and the mayor ran to her side. About two minutes later, the lights were back on. "Lady van Dyne," said Rick, "please tell us what happened up to the time you realized the necklace was gone."

"If you think it best. I was waving at the mayor to come over when the lights went out. I heard a man say that he was with security and was on his way to me. When no one seemed to be coming, I reached for the necklace and it was gone."

"Would you recognize the voice if you heard it again?"

"I could have sworn it was you, Mr. Johnson. That is why I did not worry."

"Mr. Johnson was with me," said the mayor.

A knocking sound filled the room. "Sounds like it's coming from the kitchen."

"Someone's locked in the cellar!"

The door was opened and Steven came out, squinting. "Townshend, what happened?"

"I went down to fetch a bottle of wine when the lights went out. I didn't know my way around down there, so I bumped into a few things. I found the stairs, climbed 'em, and banged away at the door."

"No one heard you because Lady van Dyne's ruby necklace was stolen."

"Oh, my God! A real robbery!"

"What do you mean by that?"

"Well, I've always read about 'em, but never been there when one happened."

"Did you hear any sounds at all?"

"No, none. I must've been to preoccupied with gettin' out."

"Mr. Johnson," called one of the guards in the other room. "I've found something."

The crowd moved to the other room. Johnson walked over to the table where the guard was standing. An envelope with Rick's name was propped against the lamp. He opened it and removed a card with a feather attached. The note was brief: "The Eagle's Eye was lonely."

"What is it, Johnson?" asked the mayor.

"The Eagle was here. How he got in, I don't know." He looked at the gathered crowd. "Where's Townshend?"

"He was here before."

Johnson ran to the kitchen. "He's gone. Look, there's his jacket. I don't believe I actually hired him!"

The head waiter remarked, "He'll probably be the richest waiter around."

"He was no waiter, he was the Eagle!"

"Go after him, then," demanded the mayor. "Don't let him get away!"

"It won't be any good. He's got too much of a head start. He would have changed and driven away by now."

***************************************************************************

In his room, Steven looked at the Eye. He knew he had to give it back. He wouldn't be able to sell it without implicating himself. Keeping it would definitely be nice, but he wouldn't be able to show it or talk about it. Word would spread and he would be caught. The best thing to do would be to send it back.

*******************************************************

"A package for you, Det. Johnson."

"Great. Just what I need."

"It's marked 'Fragile'." The officer placed it on his desk and left.

Johnson lifted the package carefully in his hands and held it. He put it back on the desk and cut the string with scissors. Inside was ripped newspaper. Rick sifted through it, and, in the center, found the Eye of the Devil. He dug deeper and found a note.

~~Please pass this necklace and my soundest apologies to Lady van Dyne. I found the 'drill' most invigorating. When I first started, I did mean to keep it, but now I realize it would do me more harm than good. So, if you ask her to write a check for the reward and send it to P.O. Box 318 in Grand Central--I feel I can trust you not to set a watch on it--I will be very grateful.~~

It was signed with an eagle feather.

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