Double Crossed  
Double Crossed

A Deuce Bigalow companion fic

"Global Manwhore Association, Mason McDaniel speaking," I say pleasantly, taking the tea infuser out of my teapot and laying it in a saucer. Like any good Englishman worth his salt, I like my tea and the day's selection was Darjeeling. No milk, please. 

There are a few seconds of silence and I now use this opportunity to straighten my desk blotter and to align a small pile of napkins with the blotter's edge. If anything, I am over-organized. 

"There's a slight problem," the husky male voice on the other end of the phone informs me. 

"What kind of problem?" I next inquire. I furrow my brow, trying to place the voice. Why did the voice sound so familiar?

"The kind of problem where we need...some discreet services."

"Then you've come to the right place," I pleasantly tell the voice. "GMA provides its members with any service, at any time anywhere in the world. We are here to serve," I said automatically, biting my lip before I began to recite the entire GMA benefits manual. 

The voice laughs nervously. The laughter rang clearly into my earpiece. I grimace at the unexpected clarity, cursing the earpiece's makers for such meticulous attention to the manufacture of their product. I pour myself a cup of tea. 

There was another pregnant pause. I fiddle with the wire leading to my earpiece, hoping I wouldn't unplug the phone in the process. 

A slight cough, then the voice informes me, "Matey, it's like this. Someone has kidnapped Deuce Bigalow."

"What?!" I stand up suddenly, banging my knees on the desk and upturning my tea pot. My teacup shudders but maintains its stance firmly in the middle of my desk. Only half the tea spills out, a testament perhaps, to the large size of the tea cup.

Fragrant, hot Darjeeling tea spills down the side of my desk to puddle on the carpet. "Who would want to kidnap Deuce?" I implore wildly as I grab a few napkins from the pile on the corner of my desk, and use them to mop the spill on the desk. 

"Don't know yet. Deuce was supposed to arrive at the Gala Barracuda Casino half past nine last evening."

"And he never showed."

"The limo showed."

Now I am confused. "The limo showed but Deuce didn't?"

"That's right. The limo he hired showed up at the Barracuda on time, but instead of carrying Deuce, the limo was carrying a note."

I take a step back. "What did the note say?"

"Pay the ransom and Deuce comes back alive. Don't pay, don't see him again. Wait for further instructions Tuesday at 2 pm near the Eye. Carry a pink umbrella for identification."

"Anything else?" I ask, glancing at a clock on the wall. 

"There was a lock of his hair inside the envelope. A long lock of his hair. Ripped out of his head."

I suck in my breath then let it out. "Seeing as how it's going on 1 pm and that today is Tuesday, I presume I am to pop on over to the Eye and see how things turn out." I try to make my voice cheerful but under the circumstances I think my voice sounds phony. 

"That would be very helpful. Usual rate?"

"Usual rate." 

"Agreed. Meet me at the Barracuda casino straight afterward."

The phone clicks off in my ear and I did the same. The napkins I was using to mop up my tea were sodden. Dropping them into the trash receptacle, I take off my earpiece and lay it on the desk. 

I wonder who kidnapped Deuce and who had phoned me. The voice is very familiar, but who? I shrug, knowing that I will see the owner of the voice soon enough. 

But for now, time is of the essence in these matters, so I drop the day's newspaper onto the wet tea stain then left my office. 

A few minutes later, I am merrily humming through London's crowded lunchtime streets on my Vespa. Truly an innovative machine, my pale blue Vespa can weave through the densest of London's worst traffic jams which seem to occur with frightening regularity. 

My name is Mason McDaniel, if you've forgotten that small fact since your shocking discovery that Deuce Bigalow has been kidnapped. I carry a minor title, being the third son of a nobleman. Much to my father's consternation, I rarely use my title.  My education consisted of university followed by legal training which resulted in my becoming a barrister. And in case you didn't catch my workplace, for the last three years, I have been employed by the Global Manwhore Association. 

As I've explained earlier, GMA performs any service required by its members. Mostly, the services provided by the London office relate to locating amenable private apartments here in London or on the Continent. GMA also arranges yacht rental, limos, ticket services...ah yes, you think I am describing a concierge service? 

That, and more. GMA also provides health and retirement benefits to its members. And in the years since the American stock market went bust, GMA has provided financial services and I'm happy to say that few GMA members lost more than twenty thousand quid. 

Legal advice on certain matters, usually pertaining to immigration, are where my skills are utilized. 

GMA provides me with a rather plush, though small office, located on Berkeley Street in Mayfair, just up the street from the Mayfair Hotel. My office is tastefully furnished with a mix of modern furniture and antiques that I purchased from the Edinburgh and London auction houses. 

I stop now at the cross between Berkeley and Piccadilly, right in front of the Ritz Hotel. "Must remember to stop off in their tea room," I mutter to myself before turning left on Piccadilly and head towards the urban landmark of Tower Records. As I ride, I watch tourists scratch their heads as they try to figure out the currency exchange rates for pounds versus euros and pounds versus dollars.

Where to purchase a pink umbrella? I slow the Vespa down, and look carefully at the street vendors hawking umbrellas at ten pounds each. Glancing quickly at their selections, I noted the umbrellas were mostly dreary colors in your everyday basic black. 

Sighing, I decide to detour so I veer left on Air Street and head towards Soho. There, amongst the artists' stalls, I might find a pink umbrella meeting the requirements of the ransom note. 

I pass the Cafe Royal and remember that my tea was a prelunch tea, as normally around two, I am lunching somewhere. My stomach grumbles but I ignore it for the time being. I cross Glasshouse Street, which forms kinds of an odd shaped oval on maps, and end up on Brewer Street. 

People crowd Soho’s sidewalks, jammed shoulder to shoulder as they move en masse towards their post-lunch destinations. They are moving rather slow, so I suspect they are on their way back to the office. I see more than a few of them with maps pulled out, indicating their tourist status and evidently hoping that a friendly native will point out the way. 

After crossing Wardour Street, I ride my Vespa slowly down Old Compton Street, looking at the umbrellas on sale. Here the umbrellas are also selling for ten pounds, but one has a better selection of color here in Soho. I spy my quarry and I pull the Vespa in front of the vendor. I don't get off. 

"Hullo!" the vendor, a teenage girl, says. She's about nineteen with short blond hair and icy blue eyes and dressed the way teens seem to prefer: jeans and a t-shirt. 

"Hullo. That pink umbrella, please," I indicate the umbrella and reach into my pocket. The girl retrieves my umbrella, hands it to me and I hand her a ten. 

"Thank you!" she tells me. I nod, place the umbrella in a small bag on the side of the Vespa and leave. 

Some twenty minutes later, I find a place to park my Vespa. Taking the pink umbrella, I meander around the banks of the Thames until I find a bench relatively near the Eye. I take notice of a little old lady wearing a saggy cardigan and speaking on her cell phone. She notices me and smiles. Absently, I smile back. I sit down and look at my watch. 

Ten to 2. 

"Two hundred fifty thousand quid and you get Deuce Bigalow back," a female voice says beside me. 

I start. The contact was more than punctual. I didn't even hear her walk up. I turn sideways to look at her. Right off, I notice she is quite leggy, dressed in a canary yellow short trench. I raise my eyebrows at her canary trench & knowing this fact about her, I am able to ascertain that Deuce Bigalow is alive, well and not likely to be in much danger. The only danger would be to GMA’s pocketbooks.

Quickly, I glance at her feet to confirm my suspicion. Sure enough, she is wearing black leather mid calf length boots with platform heels. A dead giveaway as to her professional affiliation. Her face is shaded by a large floppy hat. Oversize sunglasses shield her eyes and a large part of her face. 

I pause a moment. "When?" I ask.

"Edinburgh. The South Bridge Vaults. Tomorrow, 2 pm. Cash in a small carryall. You may bring one other person. No funny stuff or Deuce Bigalow takes a trip to Davy Jones' locker," the lovely lady tells me quite seriously. She was trying to clip her responses, perhaps so I would not be able to identify her voice or perhaps she wanted to refrain from giving away too much information. I felt like telling her that she needed to watch her wardrobe. 

I nod and the lady gets up and moves away. I take a small pair of field glasses out of my pocket and peer through them. I tsk softly. Lady, my love, you should never wear a canary yellow trench on a grey London day. You will be seen for quite some ways, especially by chaps like myself who carry field glasses. And especially when you are part of a well-known group of sticky-fingered youngsters. 

Far down the street, I notice the lady captor getting into a black Rolls. I peer intently at the plate and memorize the number: LJ51LZB. The LJ means Wimbledon, which narrows the possibilities of owners. I knew I could use the licence number to trace the car, presuming, of course, that Deuce’s captors haven't temporarily swapped license plates, something that particular group has been known to do to elude detection. 

The Rolls from Wimbeldon moves off and I return the field glasses to my pocket, exchanging them for a pen and paper. I jot down the license number. 

I stand up. The little old lady smiles at me and I notice that she is selling newspapers, coffee and candy. Again, I smile back at her. I return to the Vespa and head over to the Barracudacasino--a popular place with London gents. 

Finding another parking place and locking the Vespa, I enter Barracuda's and wander around, popping in a quid or two in the slots. In one slot machine, I win thirty pounds with a quid bet. I smile, remove the tokens and pocket them to cash in later.  

A lady approaches me. "Mason McDaniel?" she inquires. I nod and she beckons me to follow her. I do so, thinking that in earlier years, this particular lady would have been quite a looker. But sadly, time and gravity have taken their toll on her posterior. 

I am led to one of the private rooms in the back. My lady escort leaves me and I open the door. The room is dim. 

"Step in, and close the door," a husky male voice tells me. It is the same voice who talked with me earlier. I follow the instructions. When the door snicks shut, lights go on. There is a table, a few chairs. A small mini bar is laid out on the table and a man in white is seated with his back turned towards me. He swings around in the chair to face me. 

"Antoine!" I cry, glad to see my old friend. I take off my coat and fold it over the back of a chair. Antoine nods, but worry lines crease his face. I know what he is feeling about our mutual friend, Deuce. 

"What did you find out?" he asks me by way of greeting. He is nursing a whiskey. 

"The South Bridge vaults in Edinburgh. Tomorrow, 2 pm. Two hundred fifty thousand quid or Deuce is deep sixed," I bluntly tell Antoine. He sighs and I take a seat at the table. 

His expression is grave. "We can get the cash together," Antoine states flatly. And he is correct. GMA maintains investment jewelry which we can sell off to estate jewelers as the need arises. Truth be told, GMA has never had to sell off its jewelry. 

"I do have some further information on who kidnapped Deuce," I dutifully repeat the contact's words. Antoine looks at me, surprise showing on his face. 

He raises his arms, palms up. "But it's so soon after you met the contact!" he tells me. "Not even a half hour! How do you know more information about who kidnapped Deuce?" 

"It's the Modsters who kidnapped Deuce."

Antoine narrows his eyes and growls. "The Modsters? Who are they?” he pounds his fist on the table to demonstrate his agitation. His dark eyes look angrily at me. 

"A loosely based gang of cat burglars,” I calmly tell him. The fire in Antoine’s eyes dims and his demeanor grows calm. I continue my explanation. “The Modsters are well known to Scotland Yard. Mostly small time crimes, pickpockets, petty theft, purse lifting. Also liquor and cigarette runs. The contact was wearing a canary yellow trench with black mid-calf length boots. That’s the Modster ladies’ latest trademark outfit."

“Will they harm Deuce?” Antoine asks me, leaning to rest his elbows on the table. 

“Not the Modsters. Despite the deep six threat, they’re young, non-violent petty thieves. Mostly raised by the state.” 

"They must want something big time if they're resorting to kidnapping," Antoine says smoothly, understanding what is at stake. He pours himself another whiskey. "Want one?" he inquires. 

"That would be lovely," I reply. Antoine fixes me a whiskey and pushes the glass over to me. I sip. "Yes. They must want--or need--something big."

"Such as?" Antoine asks, refilling his whiskey. 

"That remains to be seen."

Upon rumination and a meeting with other high placed members of the GMA, it was decided that GMA would not bring in the Yard. After meeting with Antoine, I had conferred with other legal counsel, then taken a diamond and sapphire necklace, and a ruby and diamond necklace out of a safe deposit box and headed over to one of London’s reputable jewelers. I received a check for the jewels. 

Eyebrows had been raised at the bank when I requested two hundred fifty thousand quid in cash, but in a few hours I had obtained what I needed. Last evening, I had taken the liberty of arranging for some private protection and I hoped the bumbling duo would meet Antoine and myself near the rendevous point. 

This morning, Antoine and myself awoke with the dawn, traveled to Edinburgh by the early train. We arrived in time for lunch. Lunch was at a fish and chips shop. Now Antoine and myself are standing in the bleak vaults below the South Bridge. These vaults were built some two hundred years ago, abandoned, then closed up.

Although the vaults are supposed to be lit, as no natural light has ever reached the vaults, for some strange reason there is only a flicker of light, causing shadows to dance on the walls. I suspect the Modsters chose the Vaults for the exchange because the darkness will obscure their features and render them virtually unrecognizable in a line-up.

I stamp my foot in agitation. There is no sign of my private protection. Either they are detracted by the music festival, or they are seriously lost. 

Through the shadows, I see Antoine is pacing. Presently, we hear the sound of heels. A muffled ‘oomph!” sounds, and a harsh ‘shush, a bit longer and you’ll go home to mummy,” is heard in the murky darkness somewhere ahead of us. 

I strain to see through the murky darkness, wishing I had thought to bring night vision goggles. Antoine nudges my shoulder and I see three forms coming towards us. It looks to be Deuce and two women, judging from the sound of their high-heeled boots. 

“Got the cash?” the taller woman curtly asks. As the three get closer, I see that the two women were dragging Deuce along by his elbows. I try to place her accent--Manchester? Bristol? 

I nod, then frown. In the darkness, the women couldn’t see my movements. I clear my throat and say, “Here.” 

“On the floor. Kick it over. I want to look inside it. Then I’ll let Deuce go,” the taller woman tells me. Liverpudlian. She was from Liverpool trying to hide her accent by pretending she was from Bristol. Smart, but I am not fooled. 

I carefully place the small carry all on the floor and kick it toward the woman. She caught it with her foot, bent down, opened the bag. With a small penlight she looked at the stacks of 100 pound notes. 

“Good,” she says.

“It’s all there,” Antoine offers, his voice soft. Deuce turns his head towards the sound of Antoine’s voice. In the glare of the penlight, I see that Deuce is blindfolded, gagged and his hands are bound behind his back. Antoine sees Deuce’s condition as well and I nudge him to remain silent. 

Snapping shut the carry all and holding it in her right hand, the woman stands up. She nods to her silent partner and flicks off the light. “Two and three!” she calls. 

Deuce is pushed suddenly towards Antoine and myself. Being blindfolded, he stumbles into us, and the three of us tumble to the ground. Retreating footsteps tell me the two ladies have disappeared into the Vaults. Vaguely, I wonder how they're going to get out but put that worry aside.

Deuce is struggling to get free of his bonds. I manage to untie his hands and he removes his blindfold himself. 

“Antoine! Is that you?” he peers at Antoine. “Antoine, my friend! Am I glad to see you!” I frown, feeling a bit left out as Deuce ignores my presence. I notice that Deuce’s words are a bit slurry and I wonder--briefly. Then I take a deep breath and know what Deuce has been fed these last few days. 

“Yes,” Antoine replies gruffly. “It’s Antoine! I have come to your rescue! I have brought Mason as well.”

Deuce scrambles up and I see he is trying to hug Antoine, but Deuce keeps stumbling down. Something appears to be on the bottom of his shoe. Slime, most likely.

“Did you get a photo of them?” I now ask Antoine, hoping to distract Deuce. I help Deuce up and steady him by gripping his elbow. 

“I think so,” Antoine replies. He fumbles around in the dark and I realize he has lost his cell phone camera.

“Deuce, are you all right?” I now ask Deuce. 

“Yeah, man. Am I glad to see you, too! But it was the weirdest experience!” Deuce tells me. Antoine must have been really close to the cell phone for I hear a loud click. 

“Damn!” Antoine says. From my pocket, I pull out a small flashlight and the subterranean room lights up when I flick the on switch. 

“There it is!” Antoine says, going to retrieve his cell phone. He fiddles with it. “Yes. I have an image. Not very good but you can see part of one’s face.”

“Save the photo. We might need it later,” I say, replacing the flashlight and brushing my suit off. Antoine puts the phone into his pocket and brushes himself off. 

“Dirty down here,” Antoine tells us and Deuce nods. 

“Man, you two don’t know what happened!” a slightly dazed (and I suspect slightly drunk, judging from the overpowering whiskey smell) Deuce was now saying as we made our way up to the street level. I am trying to steady Deuce but he isn’t helping me much. 

Outside, the sounds of the music festival are going on. Antoine now peers at Deuce. “Are you all right?” 

Blinking against the sudden influx of sunlight, Deuce nods then wobbles on his feet. He giggles. “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!”

Antoine nods, understanding about Deuce’s involuntary condition.

I am a bit grumbly because the protection I hired has not yet shown their faces. We meld into the ongoing street festival. Music is playing, people are drinking and shouting merrily at each other. We retreat to an alley some ways down the street where I have a car ready. 

As we walk towards the alley, Antoine smiles at the people. He waves his hands around. “Some good women here, yes?” he asks me, smiling. “Good for business.”

I ignore him. We reach the alley. “You can get a bath and some dinner at the hotel,” I now tell Deuce, steering him towards the car. Footsteps sound behind us. I turn, see who it is, then plant my hands on my hips. 

“It’s about time you showed up!” And it was true, the private protection that I had arranged was a bit late for the festivities. I sigh. Although Colin and Sean are excellent protection when one can get their attention long enough, leave them at a festival and they are bound to get lost. Purposely.

Sean and Colin hurry towards me. “Sorry, mate. Crowd’s a bit thick with the festival,” Colin tells me. I glare at him. Sunlight glints off his red hair, burnishing it to a deep copper. I suddenly notice a bruise beginning to darken Colin’s cheek. I peer at Sean. His shirt is a bit torn but he is otherwise unhurt.

“You too?” I ask the blackhaired Sean. Brothers they are. Behind me in the car, Antoine and Deuce are talking softly so I can’t hear them. 

“Yeah,” Sean responds. 



“Get any cash?” I say.

“Nope. Too smart for them!” Sean tells me. He thumps his chest in sad imitation of Tarzan.

I have suspicions. “A Modster?” I now inquire. 

“Think so, mate,” Colin tells me. “Dressed all in black ‘e was, and ‘e ran towards a woman in a short canary yellow trench coat. If they’re ‘ere at festival, it’s a jolly good day for pickpockets,” Colin finishes, straightening his shirt. He grinned, rubbing his purpling cheek. “I gave ‘im a spot of trouble!” he told me now. ”Bet ‘e wasn’t counting on that!” Colin punches the air then grins at me. 

I make a mental note of this information on the injuries to one of the Modsters. 

“Trade went down all right?” Sean asks now, eyeing Deuce and Antoine in the car. “’e looks a bit under the weather,” Sean finishes. Inside the car, Antoine and Deuce smile at the three of us still standing on the cobbled street. Deuce gives a little wave. I ignore him for now. 

I nod at Sean. “Simple trade. Cash for Deuce, then off into the tunnels went the women.”

“We’ll see them again if they’re Modsters, I’ve no doubt,” Colin tells me. 

Seeing that my protection was pickpocketed, I can’t fault Colin and Sean for their lateness. I slip each man an envelope. Inside is the usual payment: cash, gift cards and lottery tickets.

Glancing about to see if they’re unobserved, the men slip their envelopes inside their shirts. I suspect each one is wearing a neck wallet and considering that members of the Modsters were in attendance today, it seemed a wise idea to use neck wallet. 

The two men nod at me and blend into the crowds. 

Back in London over dinner, Antoine, Deuce and myself were lingering over drinks. 

“Ready to tell us about it?” I ask of Deuce. For the last several hours, Deuce had been quiet. Even the masseuse reported that she couldn’t get him to talk. He’d gotten over his slight hangover but couldn’t tell us much about where he had been taken since being snatched in the limo Monday evening. 

He shakes his head. “There’s not much to tell. I was blindfolded and kept blindfolded until I was let go.” 

I was curious as to the finer details of the kidnapping but I kept my mouth shut. So I say, “Looks like they fed you whiskey.”

Deuce nods. “That’s all they fed me. A blended variety, they told me. For the grains,” he adds with a wan smile on his face.

Antoine snorts. “Whiskey diet. You need to eat, mate! You look thin!” He slaps Deuce on the back and Deuce grins. A lovely waitress comes into the private dining room laden with a tray of desserts. Antoine has chosen what has to be the world’s largest banana split. The waitress places the banana split in front of Antoine and he grins. 

“What? I like ice cream,” he tells us.

Ah! The weekend is here! It’s Friday morning, and I am not expected in my GMA office. You think I’ve forgotten that I’m the only employee in my office? I haven’t forgotten; I merely state fact. 

Up in my Thames riverside loft in a converted warehouse, I am having brekkie and watching the morning news. I hear an interesting item. “For an update, we now turn to Lana Sinclaire.” The lovely Lana! I always have time for the lovely Lana. I put down my tea cup and peer at the telly. 

The ever lovely Lana is standing in the shadow of the Eye, and she informs all of England that an “incredible gem heist went down in the early hours this morning at the Millenium Dome Gem Show. Reports are estimated that the thieves stole loose gems totaling pounds five million.”

I whistle through my teeth. Then my cell phone rings. Using the remote control, I mute Lana. The telly switches over to closed captioning so I can follow the lovely Lana. Fearful of brain cancer, I put in my earpiece and answer the phone.

“Hullo!” As I’m at home, I don’t answer with the GMA greeting.

“It’s Antoine.” Trust the man to get right to the point. I smile. 

“Top of the morning to you, Antoine! What may I do for you, mate?”

“Watch the news.”

“Already doing so, mate.” I pick a scone and spread it with jam. I take a bite. 


Chewing, then swallowing the bite of scone, I reply, “Yes.”

“You are watching Lana Sinclaire now?” Antoine repeats urgently. So that’s what this call is about. Antoine wants an introduction to Lana Sinclaire. Aside from the other things that GMA provides its members, personal introductions are the heart and soul of GMA.

“Through GMA, I can arrange for you to meet the lovely Lana,” I smoothly tell Antoine. Hell, I’d like to meet the lovely Lana and this would be a wonderful excuse to arrange for a lunch date with her. 


No? How can I be wrong? Who wouldn’t want to meet the lovely Lana and why wouldn't they want to meet her? Before I can run through a list of reasons, Antoine continues.

“Look closely at the screen. In the background, wadded there in the trash can behind Lana’s left, no, right, no, yes, her right shoulder, which is your left. What do you see there?”

I do as Antoine instructs me. Fortunately my telly is a large screen telly, one which completely dominates one side of my brekkie nook. I like big things. I scan the background behind lovely Lana Sinclaire. And there, in the background, I see the item to which Antoine is referring. 

“Is that what I think it is?” I ask Antoine. The rest of my scone falls to the floor and my jaw drops in disbelief. 

“Yes. A canary yellow trench coat,” Antoine confirms what my light grey eyes are telling me. At the bottom of my telly screen, the lovely Lana’s words are crawling across from right to left: “Police have no idea who is responsible for the gem heist, and Scotland Yard is perplexed as well.”

“Modsters,” I say. 

“They used the cash from Deuce’s kidnapping to get the equipment they needed to do the heist.”

I am in agreement. “I’m following you there, mate.” 

To carry off their heist, the Modsters would have needed some high priced equipment to get past the Millenium Dome security, coordinated by Scotland Yard itself. Such equipment would have cost more than the Modsters usually took in for any given month, which was generally enough to support themselves in quiet luxury. The reason for Deuce’s kidnapping became clear. 

“Shall I come around to knock you up?” I ask Antoine. 

“Meet me down at the Virgins,” Antoine instructs me. I try to hold back a snicker. What Antoine means is for me to meet him @ Virgin Radio's building in Golden Square. 

“Virgins it is. What say, an hour?”

“Now!” Antoine instructs. His end of the phone clicks off and I follow his example. Leaving my brekkie dishes on the table, I rummage through the closet in hopes of finding some shoes. 

Shortly, I arrive at Golden Square. Antoine is there, dressed in pale grey pants with a cream colored turtleneck that I have to admit looks good on him. I notice he has obtained the use of a convertible roadster, making me wish for my own family cars. But my father won't allow me use of the family cars unless I begin to regularly use my title.

Antoine is pacing agitatedly back and forth. “Morning,” he greets me. 

“Morning.” I decide to ask a question which popped into my head as I was heading out the door. “Does Deuce know?”

Antoine shakes his head. “I don’t think so. He’s still asleep. He was up gaming until the wee hours this morning.”

I sigh in relief. “What are we going to do?”

Antoine grins hugely. He stops pacing, spreads his arms. “My friend Mason,“ he says, “we go on a helicopter ride.”

I am perplexed. “A helicopter ride?”

Antoine nods. “I won a helicopter ride in a radio contest.”

Okaaayyy. This is news to me. I decide it’s best to go along with Antoine’s idea. “What do you plan to do?” I inquire gently. 

He looks at me. “We look down on London with field glasses and perhaps we see the canary yellow trench coats. The Modsters should be out in full force today, celebrating their successful heist.”

A lightbulb goes off in my head. Yes, Antoine is correct. Today would be a good day to celebrate. But personally, If I were a Modster, I would lay low for a few days, perhaps even leaving the country. I’d also change the dress code, just in case anyone like myself spotted the discarded yellow canary short trench wadded in the trash can behind the lovely Lana’s shoulder.

“Let's roll,” Antoine says and I nod.

“There!” Antoine calls over the thup thup thup of the helicopter blades. He lowers his pair of field glasses and points to his right. “Another one!” I look down in the direction Antoine indicates and raise my field glasses.

“Yes. I see a trencher,” I say and shake my head. Apparently, the Modsters are out in full force today, for this is the tenth lady Modster we’ve spotted. Or perhaps it is the same Modster member, gleefully shopping all over London.

“What do we do now?” I ask.

“We get even.” Antoine smiles at me, then goes back to his post with the field glasses. Beneath us, the Thames snakes through London in its peculiar shape. I see the rooftop garden of my converted warehouse loft.

Shortly thereafter, the helicopter deposits us on a helipad near Golden Square. I suggest lunch near the Eye and Antoine readily agrees. He heads off to his ride and I head for my Vespa. Once again, I thread my way through London’s lunchtime traffic towards the Eye. Soon I am parking my Vespa when I feel a tug on my sleeve.

I turn around, and for a moment, I am confused. Then reason dawns on me and I look down.

“I seen one of them, you know,” the little old lady from the newsstand tells me. I smile at her. She is quite tiny, no higher than my lower ribs but then again, I am quite tall. For some reason, I decide to feign ignorance.

“Seen who?” I ask innocently, sliding my hands into my pockets.

She tilts her head back and I see that her hair is rinsed with a very pale lavender. When my granny was alive, she used to rinse her hair blue.

“Eh, you know ‘oo I mean! I seen you the other day with one o’ the canaries!”

Now I decide that truth is the best option. “Ah, her! Yes, well, don’t know who she is, but she asked me to meet with her.”

“A likely story!” Granny tells me, snorting in displeasure. “More like she wanted something from you. I got ‘er picture, if you want it!”

Now this was a nice development in the case. “Yes, I would like her picture.”

Granny hands me a photo. I peer at it and see an attractive woman with the same legs as I had seen next to me on Tuesday.

“That’s her. I recognize her legs,” I say aloud.

Granny thrusts a tiny fist into the air. “I bet those canaries are behind the Dome gem ‘eist, too! Them and their fellas! The men refer to themselves as blackbirds, you know,” Granny says. I look at her sharply. “Don’t tell me ‘oo it ain’t!” she exhorts me. “That canary trencher in the trash can gave it away!”

I grimace. Who else saw the yellow trench jacket in the trash during the news broadcast?

Granny now eyes me quite seriously. Perhaps she is trying to decide if she can trust me. Running her finger down my custom-made suit, she nods once, making her decision.

“And I know where a few o’ the canaries like to cage themselves,” I am informed now. I try to hide my elation. This is truly information I can use. I raise my eyebrows to encourage Granny to continue. Her bright blue eyes twinkle and she rubs her hands together gleefully. “Several of them live on a boat at the Docklands.”

“Which one?”

Grinning, Granny holds out her hand. Smart woman. She must have been quite a woman in her youth. Builds up my expectations then hits me up for cash. I rummage around in my pockets and pull out a wad of bills. I begin to unfold the bills, then think better of it. Smiling, I place the wad into Granny’s hand. She smiles back.

London’s Joy is the name o’ the boat. An yer a good man!” Granny tells me. “That group o' canaries living there likes to ‘ave brekkie by nine. They’re out until ‘igh tea, when they come back. Then it’s out until all ‘ours o’ the night.”

I am impressed. Granny’s surveillance was proving to be much better than anything I can come up with on my own. I am seriously considering adding her to my roster of informants.

“Thank you,” I tell Granny.

“Eh,” was all she said. I watch her walk away, counting the wad of bills with what must have been sheer joy. Sheer joy for her. There was better than a thousand quid in that wad!

“Are you sure?” Deuce asks a little nervously, squinting his eyes at the setting sun. “I’ve never driven a power boat before.” He stands first on one foot then the other foot. He is dressed in black, like one of the Modsters.

"They did kidnap you," Antoine reminds Deuce.

"Don't remind me," Deuce says, a defeated tone slipping into his voice. Antoine must have guessed Deuce's feelings for Antoine acquired a sympathetic expression on his face.

“A power boat's like a car,” Antoine tells Deuce. “You’ll like it because now, we get even.” Antoine smiles. He too is dressed in black, but he will shed most of his clothes, leaving only a bathing suit. He is hoping there will be towels on London’s Joy.

Deuce looks at me pleadingly. I tell him, “I’m needed here on shore, to ensure no one returns to the boat.”

I can understand Deuce's misgivings. During my little chat with Granny, Deuce had woken up and learned about the gem heist on the lunchtime news. He was not too happy about this discovery. Being a smart fellow (and aided by a massage & a thick steak afterwards), Deuce figured out that the ransom paid to the Modsters was used to help pull off the gem heist from the Dome.

And Deuce wasn’t a happy man. Nervous, yes. Happy, no. “So you think that’s where they stashed the gems? On the boat?” Deuce now asks.

I nod. “Yeah.”

“Why don’t we just go aboard from shore?”

“Because they’ve got a top rate camera surveillance system for their boat,” I reply. And what a system they had! “Now we know that the cameras only focus on the stern of the boat, leaving the bow free of cameras. Antoine is going to swim to the bow then climb aboard.”

Deuce eyes me. He is clearly confused. "But how do you know where the gems are going to be?” Deuce asks as Antoine climbs into the power boat, ready for action.

“In the ice cube trays,” Antoine replies over his shoulder, causing Deuce to look at him with surprise.

“How do you know that?”

“Best place to hide ice is in ice,” Antoine replies cryptically, giving a smile. “Now, are you ready?”

Deuce nods and climbs into his place. “Ready! Let’s kick some bum!”

I stifle a snicker as Deuce powers up the boat and I watch the two of them head down the Thames, evening shadows already enveloping the two friends. I walk back along the docks. Imagine pulling this stunt in broad daylight. I look at the setting sun. Deuce and Antoine were going to have to wait until the ladies went out for the evening. By then, the sun will have gone down and provided cover for the two.

Sighing, I decide to test the headset equipment. “Mason to Antoine, come in.”

“Falcon to Rabbit,” came back Antoine’s voice. “Out.”

I nod to myself then wander back towards a restaurant I had spotted earlier. It was going to be several hours before Deuce and Antoine returned and I intended to wile away the hours in the company of good food.

“And that makes six hundred...fifty. Thousand. Quid,” Antoine says, placing the last bill down on the stack of cash. The table was covered with stacks of cash. A grin splits Antoine’s face. Placing his hands behind his head, he leans back in his chair, he was apparently content at last. “Not bad for an evening’s work.”

“GMA is claiming two hundred fifty thousand to repurchase our jewelry, plus another fifty thousand quid for surplus,” I remind everyone. GMA’s board of directors has decreed the remainder of the reward can be split amongst the three of us, so naturally we are giddy with happiness.

“Did we really earn this money?” Deuce asks, wonderment in his eyes.

"We were," Antoine reminds, "double crossed."

“Reward money is sweet, yes?” I ask Deuce, tipping a glass of whiskey at him. “Bottoms up!”

“Yes!” Antoine says, raising his own glass. “To the sweet life!”

The three of us, well, really Deuce and Antoine, okay, truthfully it was Antoine who retrieved the loose gems from the Modsters’ boat hideaway. Antoine was the one who risked detection on the boat and much to our later chagrin there was indeed a Modster left in attendance on the boat. But Antoine lucked out; the canary was dead drunk on one of the bunks, a empty bottle of whiskey by her side.

Concerned about alcohol poisoning, Antoine checked her for a pulse. She had moaned and wanted someone to rub her stomach. Antoine declined the unexpected offer. When he noticed a small pile of Victorian jewelry lying on the dining table, he had decided to search the entire boat, thus chancing upon a large cache of stolen jewelry and solving a series of puzzling jewel thefts which had been plaguing wealthy Londoners for the past few years.

Apparently, this particular subgroup of Modsters--three canaries and a blackbird--had been in stealth operation for several years. They lifted the antique jewelry, planning to stash it until the heat wore off in a few years. Then, sell! sell! sell! Preferably in the American antiques market. The quads also were the ones responsible for temporarily switching license plates in an attempt to confuse authorities; we also discovered they had lifted the Rolls.

All in all, Scotland Yard was most pleased with our investigation. It seems the Modsters refrain from high-value heists, and one Modster was so bold to state that their desires were only small time crime. "Bilking the tourists, like, a tourist tax. Small time," he told an Inspector.

Small time, meaning less than a year in prison should any Modster get caught. The four Modsters who were involved in the gem heists and the kidnapping of Deuce will be serving no less than nine years before being considered for parole. The remaining Modsters have disavowed all knowledge of the foursome.

In consideration of our trio’s discoveries, the Yard conveniently overlooked certain activities the three of us did in our attempt to exact justice for Deuce. And since we went to retrieve the gems in order to return the gems, it was decided that no charges were to be brought against the three of us, a most civilized decision, if you ask my opinion.

As you have noticed, we have been amply rewarded by the gems’ owners, not to mention Lloyd's of London, the insurers for the Dome's Gem Show. I hope to apprise you of our friendly trio's further adventures but for now, I'm off to a long Aegean holiday. As for Antoine and Deuce, you'll have to ask them what their plans are.

Provided you can catch them!