Eddington Spilled The Beans

Otecko stood up, and with all the air of a showman pulled back the curtain that separated the two hospital beds. “May I introduce you Michael’s Bride To Be, and the other lady, you do not know.”

I barely heard their names, I was so confused at the time. Otecko paused, I think just to annoy me, then unraveled his story. “I told you that many have protected the artifacts from men like the Professor, and what we thought was true about Ambassador Rastilav, although he was a hero in disguise.”

“Many times, heroes work in the shadows, not because they have any darkness in them, but to illuminate the black around them, and reveal the truth. Early on, two things occurred to me. One was that if Rastilav was a candle in the middle of blackness, perhaps there was another.”

“Sam stated that there was not, and to his knowledge that was true. However, there was another. Would you be kind enough to join us?”

I promise you, my blood ran cold when I saw the face! “I believe you call her Grandma Assassin Tomás.” She smiled at me.

“I’m sorry for shooting you young man, but it was better than the group wanted to do. They wanted far worse, I rationed a bullet was better than what they would have done. You see, I convinced Rastilav, to let me be the attacker, to manage the danger.”

My head was spinning, and this time it wasn’t from the coffee. “You two were working together? I don’t understand.” She nodded for Otecko to continue.

“Rastilav was the only agent of the government, as Sam had stated. Grandma as you affectionately call her, was the young lady who stood across from me all those years ago as an alternate protector. Two are always assigned, one to guard, and the other to fight, if and when necessary.”

“She, it turns out, has fought many battles to keep the treasure, and our family safe over the years. Though at the time, I was unaware, as I was supposed to be. When you first showed me her face, I recognized her. I knew, I would receive a communication, now that we were in the same orbit, you might say.”

“When she did, we decided to allow events to play out, until we saw an opportunity. However, my precious Grandson, you almost ruined everything. At every turn when we were getting close to tightening the noose, you would accidentally create the slack the Professor would need.”

“At those points, we would postpone our attack. Finally, I realized that you were not an interruption to our plans, but a vital part of it. You see, all the while, my goal was to keep you children safe. I realized the only way for this to happen, was to allow you to play the hero.”

“When you went rogue and boarded the flight here, I contacted Sam and ‘Grandma’, and we hatched a plan. At the right point, you would be pointed towards the Professor’s doorstep, and while heavily guarded, you would be allowed to knock.”

Sam laughed, and so did Michael. “I’m sorry cousin. I just found all this out after lights went out for you, but Otecko’s pretty swift for an octogenarian. Sam and ‘Grandma’ aren’t too shabby either.” As he hugged his bride.

“Sadly, it was the Ambassador’s noble sacrifice that confirmed the second of my two thoughts. Much like Michael, and his young bride Nada, in every life, there is always a love story. For a good person, or a bad one, the heart looks for company. I knew that even the Professor must have someone in his life, or had someone in his life.”

“She showed up at the Ambassador’s funeral, the only person not seemingly connected to a group. She did not know him. Sam could tell by the look on her face when she viewed his picture from the pictures at the funeral home. This is Ruzena Kľúčiar.”

She was a tall willowy woman, no longer young like Michael’s fiancé, but there was beauty there. I wondered what she had been through, and without asking the question, Otecko proceeded to answer.

“For the last seventeen years, she has ran for her life. Afraid that the man she once loved, would kill her. He made promises that he would never harm her, and yet, allowed her to stand guilty for his crimes. Had it not been for her Father’s orchestration, she would have never escaped.”

“On the day of sentencing, he arranged for the jailer to disappear just long enough for her to walk outside. From there, a car took her to the airport. Though she never met the Ambassador, it was his work that secured her Father’s bribe went to an honest jailer.”

“A dishonest man would take the money, and not allow her to escape. An honest one would report the bribe and refuse it. The Ambassador persuaded the government to convince the man to go along with the scheme. Even then, there were men who knew the Professor was dangerous, but they could not prove anything.”

“So like a cat and a mouse, they played a long game. One that, much like ours, seemed to lead nowhere. Then, the woman who had been saved by the orchestrations of the Ambassador, now would repay the favor.”

“Why couldn’t she just testify about what happened seventeen years ago?” I asked, thinking this whole thing sounded a lot simpler than Otecko was making it seem. He smiled without making me feel naive, and kept talking.

“Her testimony would do no good, it was her word against his, now, as then, there was no proof. What we needed was someone to knock at the front door, while someone else unlocked the back. You Tomáš were our knock, and Ms Kľúčiar, who is appropriately named, was our key.”

“After the Ambassador’s death, we contacted her through Sam. She agreed to begin a series of threats to the Professor. Each time, more and more intense. At first by mail, then email, and then by phone. With every conversation, he was careful not to incriminate himself.”

“The day we allowed you to pull your little stunt, and had prepared the way to safely extract you, she was there. Ruzena confronted the Professor from the crowd, and threatened him. From her purse, she produced an old love note that the wicked man had once written, and with that he realized he had a problem.”

“She told him the note had been written at the very hotel he had claimed never to have stepped foot in. The scene of a robbery of artifacts where her prints had been found. She had always said the prints were planted, but she had no proof. Now she had a seventeen year old note that could result in a retrial.”

“He grabbed her arm, the wolf forgetting his smile, and threatened her. He ripped the note in to pieces, and told her that she would never prove a word of her accusation. On top of destroying evidence, he said one sentence that led to his unraveling.”

“The Professor said something very unscholarly. ‘I should have eliminated you a long time before the Milan job.’ He realized too late that the words slipped his mouth, as the smile came from hers. His eyes darted to see if anyone had heard the whispered phrase.”

“As he exited the building, he thought his momentary slip was safe. He relayed to his driver, in the privacy of his vehicle, of what he had not only said, but had almost said. As he chided himself for almost admitting to a myriad of crimes, that he detailed, I listened happily as he, you’ll forgive an obvious joke from an old man, spilled the beans.”

“When we arrived at his home, I turned from the driver’s seat, and took off my hat. Sam opened his door for him, as Interpol arrested him. By now, the entire conversation he had with his driver, has been replayed to him. He will miss his class on Monday. Now, who wants coffee?”

 

Eddington The Coffee Grinder

“What did he hit me with? How much blood did I lose?” I asked when I came too. Sam frowned and looked at me, then Otecko, “A Bag Of Coffee. You were right. I thought he’d put it together faster.”

Otecko laughed. “Growing up, He always mountain, and not the mole hill.” I looked down, but couldn’t see any bandages. Michael laughed too. “You weren’t shot cousin. You were outsmarted.”

“How did the Professor poison me? I took Sam’s suggestion and ate stuff I bought.” They all laughed. Otecko explained. “The professor didn’t poison you, we drugged you. Who do you think sent you to that market? Who do you think the person who ground your coffee works for?”

Why? We had a plan?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Sam explained. “No, you had a death wish, Otecko had a plan. He knew he couldn’t stop you from trying, unless you thought I was helping you. Drugging you kept you from getting killed the instant you walked passed the museum security, who are the Professor’s guys.”

“So you let me go to all this trouble for nothing? How did you know when the drugs would work? Now the Professor is still out there, and threatening our family. It never ends.”

Otecko sat on the edge of my bed. “Wrong, it’s over. The Professor is under arrest, and the treasure is safe, while a fake sits on display now, do not ask. All is resolved.”

I leaned up, with my head spinning in confusion? “How?” Otecko held up a finger. “You are still woozy, Rest. I’ll explain in the morning.” I protested that I couldn’t sleep not knowing, that I’d be up all night. They told me the next morning I was out in five minutes.

Next week, the conclusion of Eddington.

Eddington A Bad Brew

I had come up with a plan, it was crazy, and almost certainly suicidal. Two things I am not, and then I brewed up a variation of my idea. It was still risky, but I told myself I’d live. Of course I took precautions, I even called Sam, Otecko, and my Wife to say goodbye.

Three days later, the Professor was in a museum. The curator had ask him to be a guest lecturer to a group of business men who had important connections. I slipped in behind them, after changing out of the delivery disguise I used to get past the metal detectors.

At just the right moment of the Professor’s lecture my plan was to trick him into confessing in front of this group, out of fear. It was a good plan, the men were plants by Sam. I was wired, and the gun was fake so I wouldn’t accidentally shoot myself or anyone else.

I was gearing up my nerve when a shot rang out. Suddenly I hit the floor. We got in a vehicle I didn’t recognize and headed to the hospital. I hoped I would live, the doctors weren’t as convinced. I’m going in and out, so I hope I can get back to you.

Eddington Don’t Drink The Coffee

When Sam called me I didn’t ask how. “Did I do any permanent damage?” “No, I realized in time, though I wish you had given me a little more warning. I’m not as quick as I was. How’s the plan going?”

“Well, I’ve bought three guns, made a lot of noise, and there’s a guy following me. I drove near the university this morning and haven’t been alone since. So I’m scared out of my wits.”

“You haven’t been alone since you left Eddington. I got a call from Otecko when the police picked up the Professor’s assassin. He told me his grandson would pull something crazy after another run in.”

I was relieved more than I wanted to show, so I ignored the comment. After hitting him, he deserved to aggravate me a little, so I acted a little aggravated. Then I asked him if he could smuggle me a bulletproof vest. I didn’t care for his answer, and I wasn’t sure if he was still getting even or was serious.

“There’s no need. Somebody like the Professor won’t shoot you. He’d simply blow up the hotel. That’s why I booked a room across the street.” Then he laughed.

“I’m kidding, he can’t afford the bad publicity. He’d do something much less dramatic, like poisoning your room service. So don’t drink the coffee.”

This time he didn’t laugh, and I didn’t either. Like any good coffee shop owner, I had brought my own. Though I did run out to the local store, I needed to pick up whatever the local equivalent was to peanut butter and jelly.

Eddington Can”t Taste The Coffee For The Flavor

I was on a plane within two hours of them picking her up. I had grabbed a late flight, telling only my wife where I was going. I didn’t answer the in flight call that came through for me. It was not time to talk to Otecko.

I wasn’t terribly surprised to see Sam when I got off the plane. He was irritated. “You know it’s been years since I’ve had to ride a military transport to get somewhere. Thanks to you, I can’t say that anymore. What are you doing here?”

“I’m going to stop the Professor. He threatened my family. I won’t allow that. I don’t have time for your long term plan. I’m going to stop him, and no I’m not crazy. I don’t have a death wish, and I’m not a murderer. He will face justice, and it will be in court.”

Sam looked at me and sighed. “So you’re not suicidal, or insane, only naive. How can you stop him now, when all of us couldn’t together, even the US government?”

I stopped, and looked at him. “Concentration.” He didn’t get it, truthfully I wasn’t convinced either, but I continued. “The reason people like espresso is because it’s concentrated. It’s intense. Here’s the big thing, most people don’t know if they like the taste or not. It’s hidden by the flavors they like.”

He looked at me like I was crazy. I only had a small carry on, so we were already headed to grab a taxi. He fell in step beside me, and I kept talking. “They like the effect of the espresso, but they don’t know whether they like it or not, it’s camouflaged. I don’t have to be crazy, just make him think I am. That’s why I’m sorry Sam.”

He started to ask why, which distracted him enough not to notice my carry on hitting him. I prayed he wouldn’t get up, and he didn’t. I don’t know if I knocked him out, or he realized what I was doing.

I hoped it was the second, because I really would like backup, without having to ask. I was setting myself up as bait. I wanted the Professor to think I had snapped. That I was crazy enough to come at him head on, maybe with a gun.

Of course, that meant he would have his guys with bigger guns to try and stop me. I was trying to create an advantage. I wanted him to think I was a desperate mad man, instead of a sane man who was tired of playing games.

I had a plan, and it was crazy, but I wasn’t. I also wasn’t going to try going through his front door, or any door for that matter. Instead I was going to climb through the window of opportunity I hoped his anxiety would create for me.

Once I was in that opening, then I would shut him down. If I was quick enough. If not, then I would … I didn’t finish the thought, I had to get moving, but I did stop for coffee.

Eddington Don’t Make A Caffeinated Man Angry

It was good to be back inside the coffee shop. Even if the new building wasn’t the old one, it represented a never quit attitude. We Stefaniak run towards a battle, not from it.

I sipped a latte as I read a text from Michael. “Gardener won’t crack. I think the Professor has promised him more. Sam’s putting his other plan into action.”

The rest of the day was uneventful. I relished in the boredom, which is highly underrated. It was also a false sense of security. The fun started when I closed.

I offered to help a little lady help to cross the street, and a pistol peeked out at me from her handbag. “Remember me?” It was Grandma Assassin. She motioned, and I unlocked the store.

“Can you not burn down this one?” I said, my anger ebbing out my fear. “I just had it built. If you’re going to shoot me again, get it over with. I’m a little tired of seeing your face.”

“Well, you are more vocal than before. Usually people I shoot are more respectful afterwards. Sadly I’ve been instructed not to kill you. Only to bring you a message from my superior.”

“He’s tired of your family’s interference. Either stop it, or lose them. It’s that simple.”

I snapped, and I didn’t care if she did shoot. “You tell the Professor that no one, not you, not the entire army of a small nation, would get by with threatening them.”

“In our family, there’s a spy, a marine, and a wily old man. Out of them all, as dangerous as Otecko can be, I’m the one he needs to worry about.” I grabbed the gun out of her hand, resisted the urge to hit a woman, and ordered her to set down.

I called 911, told them to come get her, and didn’t say another word until the cruiser pulled up. I locked the door, went home, and hugged my family. No one was going to hurt them, but now the Professor had went to far. You don’t make a man who drinks as much caffeine as I do angry!

Eddington Mocha Espresso

“The question is, was the gardener double crossed, or did he know it was going to happen? If he did, what was he promised? What was good enough to go to jail for?”

Sam was outlining the line of thinking he was going to approach the gardener with. “I have a Grandfather’s face now, so I’ll take the good cop approach. Your grandson can be the not so nice guy that I control.”

Michael smiled. “Meaning I have to act like I would tear him apart without touching him. I can do that very well. Just ask my cousin here about the time he dented my truck.”

“I was 17, and it was dark, and…”. Like always I don’t get to finish, the laughter is too loud. I hit the grocery cart holder in an empty parking lot because I hit the gas when I thought I was hitting the brake. I had worked several hours, and was trying to go home, and it wasn’t a fun night.

They were still smiling when they laughed, though they had stopped laughing. Otecko mended my broken pride the same way he had that next day, some espresso and a story. Only this story held more than a smile at the end, and it wasn’t ancient history either.

Eddington Prune Coffee Cake

I hate prunes, and I love coffee. Why someone got the idea to put them together into a prune coffee cake I’ll never know. I don’t like when people get the bright idea to put good and bad things together. The same thing happens with news, it’s usually a mixture of good and bad.

At least it has been for us the last few months with this mess. Now, we had the good news that the Professor’s so called Gardener was caught trying to steal the artifacts. The bad news, it was the Professor who reported him before he was caught.

Apparently the Professor sold the authorities on the fact that he had overheard a conversation the gardener had with someone at his club. When the gardener and his crew made an attempt to steal the artifacts, the police were waiting.

“Why would he make an attempt and report it?” Sam frowned when he answered me. “He’s gloating. He’s letting us know that he is not only aware of what we were trying, but that he’s smarter. More importantly, he discredits the one connection that was a weakness for him.”

“So like always we have nothing. When are we going to either win, or lose? I’m tired of getting reminded that I’m not brilliant.”

Otecko had been patient, but he had enough of my whining. “Victory in war, is a series of battles, wins and losses. You don’t give up when a few battles go against you. Instead, if you are fighting for what is right, you fight, and you don’t stop to keep score. There isn’t time.”

He looked at Sam. “Where’s the next battle? What do we do now?” Sam scratched his head. “We use what he gave us to work with, his lieutenant, the gardener. Let’s see if we can give him some incentive to teach the Professor something.”

Eddington Java And Jewelry

Daylight doesn't suddenly happen, it's not like a light switch. You don't suddenly blink and it's day, it's gradual. Plus, light never completely goes away, the moon is a reflection of the sun, and the stars are there, even when you can't see them.

What does all this have to do with java and jewelry? It's a reminder that good always wins, light is better than darkness, and hope never gives up. I saw that over the next few days from my hospital bed. Otecko would spend the afternoons with me, and he would tell me the stories of how men and women made a difference, on both sides of the ocean.

He knew I didn't need daily updates on what Sam was doing, only to be reminded that he was doing something. "Consistency in coffee and life Tomàs, that produces lasting results." The day I checked out, was a little different.

Otecko came in almost bouncing, he was happy as could be. "Someone has attempted to put their hand in the cookie jar. The trouble is, no cookies, only prunes. The Professor has misstepped, and we will use the opportunity to knock him off his feet!"

Eddington Family, Justice, and Coffee

Sam started seeding the two stories for the groups that would form the "evidence" which would "convict" the Professor. At least in the eyes of the art world, because we didn't think we could stop him otherwise. This really bothered Michael, as the man was behind the murder of the Uncle of his fiancé.

Rather than focus on what we couldn't do, we did what we could, headed back home. It seemed uneventful, but the plan no longer needed us. All we had to do was protect the original artifacts that got us into this mess.

When you're so focused on your Plan, you forget something, having a plan doesn't mean your opponent gives up on his. Sam and Michael knew that, some how I lost sight of it. Until I ended up in a hospital from something more than food poisoning.

He tried it with Otecko too, but he's a much pickier eater. I know it sounds petty, but how did I become the punching bag of it all? I was contemplating this when Michael walked in.

"The Professor pulled something. The government was forced to force us to hand over the artifacts. Otherwise the Czech Republic would have withdrew their Ambassador."

"So we've lost? I get shot, I …" he held up his hand to stop me. "Relax, we actually won. The Professor thought he would get them home, away from us, and take them. We don't do things that way. We watch what we give up, and we put conditions on them."

"Not only are they on permanent display in the National Museum, they have to be authenticated every six months, by a rotating group of experts. Sam got that put in, to keep the Professor's hands off."

"So he won't try?" Michael winked. "No, so he will. On top of Sam's longer plans, we're adding some honey for the bear to try. If we can catch his hands in an attempt, we can arrest him for something. Then I can give my bride a really good wedding present, justice for her Uncle."

Family, justice, and coffee are important to the Stefaniak family. We would get the Professor, we had paid to high a price not to. The battle wasn't over, but we could see the light of day streaming in.