The Legacy of Thieves
A young cybercriminal and her cat burglar grandfather join forces so he can pull off one final heist.
Family legacy is a funny thing. Some families pass down physical traits. The same dimpled chin showing up generation after generation. In my family, we pass down a vocation. We chose a rap sheet over a resume.
But like the variations of the depth of that dimple, I do my breaking and entering from behind a computer screen.
Gramps and I parked in front of the law firm of Funderburk, McClain and Lachlan. I pulled out my tablet to double-check the schematics for the office. My grandfather unrolled a handkerchief, his lock-picking tools jingling like pocket change.
He grunted as I hacked into the firm’s server. “That’s not pulling a job, it’s playing on the computer.”
I smirked, our old argument as familiar as a well-worn sweater. “Yeah, well I don’t have to worry about someone’s dog biting my butt.”
“You kids need a good kick in the ass, whether it’s my foot or a dog’s mouth.” He rolled up his tools and tugged tubes into his nose. Not that he needed oxygen, but it made lugging the fake tank more believable. “All clear?”
I swiped across a few screens. First the firm calendar and then the security cameras. “Lachlan still has a meeting. If all goes to plan, they’ll park us in the conference room with the target.” I hit record on the camera for the conference room. I didn’t need much. Just a few minutes of video to loop in. “You pick the lock; I’ll hack back into the security system.”
We traded affirmative nods and approached the law firm’s front door. From the corner of my eye, I saw my grandfather’s gaze fixate on the word ‘Lachlan’.
“You always said to never let a job be personal,” I whispered. “It’s when you make mistakes.”
“Or, it’s when you do your finest work.”
Entering the law firm was like walking onto a busy movie set. A receptionist spoke into a wireless headset, the clipped, no-nonsense words of someone so adept at trading barbs that her tongue had the strength of a circus strongman.
“May I help you?” The receptionist typed as she spoke.
“Hi, I’m Tessa Reid. My grandfather and I have an appointment with Charlie Lachlan.”
The woman’s nails clicked and clacked on the keyboard. She drew her brows together and pursed her bright red lips. “Ms. Reid, I see that we do have an appointment scheduled for you, but it’s tomorrow morning.”
Gramps unleashed the mother of all coughing fits. His face reddening, a wet, thick cough that could only announce impending death. Or, the start of his final heist.
“Oh dear,” the receptionist sprang from behind the desk. “Is he okay?”
“I’m afraid not.” I dragged my gaze from Gramps’s performance to meet the woman’s worried stare. “Lung failure. He could go any day now.” There was no greater motivation to be accommodating than the threat someone might drop dead in their office.
“Let me see if Mr. Lachlan can work you into his schedule.” She hurried down the hall.
As soon as her footsteps faded, Gramps cleared his throat. “Think she bought it?”
“Yeah, but you laid it on a bit thick.”
He waved aside my criticism. “Go big or go home, kiddo.” Gramps crossed the lobby and stood in front of the large portrait of one of the firm’s founders. Charlie Lachlan and my grandfather grew up in the same neighborhood. What started as a game of cops and robbers as young boys carried into real-life. Gramps continued his life of crime, mostly as a for-hire thief. And, Charlie went on to become a lawyer. It’d been decades since my grandfather had seen his old friend-turned-nemesis, but his face softened as he studied the man’s portrait.
“Mr. Lachlan can work you in,” the receptionist said.
This was my cue. “Thank you. Mind if we wait in a conference room? My grandfather would be more comfortable there.”
The receptionist led us to the one available room and closed the door behind her.
I quickly re-routed the camera feed. “We’ve got exactly five minutes.”
Gramps pulled his lock-picking tools from his back pocket. A bronze statue of a saluting little boy sat in a glassed-in bookcase. While he worked the lock, I unscrewed the top from the oxygen canister. The replacement statue sat waiting for its time in the spotlight.
“What is it with that statue anyway?”
It was only about eight inches tall. The boy was dressed in shorts and a jacket, a page boy hat topping his head.
Gramps didn’t answer me right away. His swollen knuckles fumbled with the lock.
“Here, let me.” I took the tools. After several seconds it clicked open. “See, I have skills outside hacking.”
“It was the first thing I ever stole. Belonged to Charlie’s parents.” My grandfather pulled the statue off the shelf, turning it over in his hands. “Would’ve gotten away with it, but he ratted me out.”
I held its replacement next to it. They were nearly identical. Nearly. “So, it becomes the last thing you steal. I can’t believe you remembered it so well.”
When my grandfather cooked up this last heist, he’d found an artist to cast a near replica. The only difference being this little boy wasn’t saluting. At least not in the traditional sense.
Voices in the hall drew my eyes back to the camera feed on my tablet. The tall figure of Charlie Lachlan strode in our direction. “We gotta go.”
We completed the switch, securing the real statue inside the oxygen tank. Gramps closed and locked the glass door, wiping away any fingerprints with the cuff of his sleeve.
He looked back at the replacement. A mischievous, youthful smile crossed his weathered face.
We passed the man in the hallway.
Recognition swept Lachlan’s gaze from my grandfather into the room we just vacated.
The bronze statue stood under a spotlight, proudly flipping the bird to the room.