Chapter Two

No Matter What

Chapter 2. 

It was a long flight home so Paul had plenty of time to think, there had to be a way out of this nightmare. As the hours slowly ticked by he came to the conclusion that Janet would never gain her freedom through the legal system and that he would have to take decisive action, in other words he would have to break her out of prison.

He had no experience or skills to take on such a task. He had never even had a fight so how could he think he could break someone out of prison. Well the first place to start with any endeavour is with a list so he started writing done everything needed as well as all the skills he would need. Before he could make that list he would need to know how he would do it. He remembered seeing a Russel Crowe movie about breaking his wife from prison. In that film he hacked the prison computer and faked his wife medical file to make it look like she was about to die so that the prison would move her to a hospital were it would be easier to break her out. But he dismissed this as in this country they would be unlikely to move her to hospital. Then there was the “Great Escape” where they dug a tunnel or “Chicken Run” where they build a plane but these were silly ideas but the thought of them brought a smile to his face. Then he remembered a film, may be a Charles Bronson film, where a helicopter was used to fly in and land in the prison exercise yard and then fly away which sparked a memory of that happening in real life so he settled on that as a working idea.

After thinking it through for a few hours Paul now had a working idea. He would fly a helicopter into the prison exercise yard using smoke bombs as a distraction. He would then land a few kilometres from the prison and transfer to a motorbike thereby blending in with the local population. They would ride the bike to a small commuter air field then fly a light plane at low level out over the ocean before climbing high enough to tandem sky dive to a yacht. Then all they would need to do would be to sail to the Western Australian coast and safety.

The list of things needed looked pretty big, helicopter, motorbike, light plane, yacht and cars. Now there’s a fair bit of money in that list. Then there’s the skills list, flying a helicopter and plane, riding a motorbike, sailing, sky diving. His thought processes were broken by the pilot coming on the intercom with the announcement that the plane would be landing in a few minutes and to fasten your seat belts. He put the scrap of paper he was writing on into his pocket and thought to himself, now that is a bit of, ‘a pie in the sky plan’.  

As the taxi pulled up outside Paul’s home the reality of what was happening struck him. The large real estate sign in his front yard had a sticker across in saying ‘sold’. As he sat at the dining room table staring into at the wall in front of him. He realised that he had to do something, so he took the piece of paper out of his pocket and wondered, maybe. He cleared every thing off the dining table, got some paper and masking tape and started writing down all the things needed on individual bits of paper. Then he did the same with skills needed as well as the costs. He placed each piece of paper around the table creating a time line as well as how each item or skill were linked together. After a few hours work the table was covered with bits of paper and masking tape linking everything together. This gave him an overview of the whole endeavour. He started to feel overwhelmed by it as there was so much to do and so much of it was well outside his skill set but he thought to himself, I can do this. Just about everything linked to one thing and that was money, he had a mortgage so the sale of the house would only go a small way toward covering the costs.

Paul’s brain was in melt down so he took a break from thinking about it for a while and went for a late night drive in his old Ford Escort, music turned up loud. He would do this when he needed to think. It always gave him a sense of freedom, escape, but not tonight. As he drove through the night, the exhaust echoing in the cool night air he pondered on where he could get such a large amount of money. While stopped at a red light he looked around at his surroundings, he was in a well to do neighbourhood. Large blocks of land, expensive houses, fancy cars and he thought maybe I should just take it from the rich, sort of like Robin Hood but he wouldn’t give it to the poor. This idea kept wheeling around in his head and by the time he got home he had decided that it was the way to go, even though it was another thing well outside his area of knowledge. Now everything was in place it was just a matter of making it all come together.

The next day Paul had to keep a promise he made to Janet and that was to go and get Colin, her cat, from the cat home but while eating breakfast there was a knock at the door, he answered it to find a very attractive woman with a younger man in tow who introduced herself as Detective Sergeant Elisabeth Bennet and Detective Constable John Young.

“Elisabeth Bennet! My goodness, I bet you cop a bit of stick,” said Paul.

She had a look of ‘not again’ on her face, so Paul continued, “what can I do for the constabulary, and particularly Elisabeth Bennet?”

“We are looking into a burglary,” replied the Detective Sergeant.

Paul thought to himself, my goodness is this an omen.

Paul then invited them in.

“I am just having breakfast. Would you like something? A cup of tea?” Paul said to be polite. Paul then sat down and continued with his breakfast.

“No thank you sir,” the Detective Sergeant replied somewhat gruffly.

“Can I ask you, where you were last night?”

“Yes of course you can,” said Paul pausing for a moment. “…You can ask me any thing. I’m an open book. Are you sure you don’t want something? Orange juice? toast?”

She looked at him with a degree of irritation. “Well, where were you last night?” She said with increasing irritation.

“Here,” he replied. And then added. “Sit down and make yourself at home.”

“What all night?” She said now with a degree of anger as she then looked at her colleague.

The Detective Constable took an A4 size photo out of a folder and handed it to Paul. It was a picture of his Ford Escort taken early that morning.

“Have anything to say now?” She continued.

“Nice picture. Its such a nice looking car,” said Paul with a bit of a grin. “I think you will find that photo was taken early this morning, not last night. Look its even time stamped. Sorry officers. I just could not resist that one. I knew what you meant. Yes I was out driving the Escort early this morning,” said Paul.

Elisabeth Bennet sat down at the dinner table in front of Paul and said,

in a somewhat accusing way. “What were you doing in that area at that time?”

“Just out driving. Life has not been all that kind to me over the last few weeks so I have not been sleeping all that well and last night or to be accurate early this morning I just went out for a drive. You know, it’s a wonderful thing, driving a classic car early in the morning when the air is crisp. There is a sort of freedom to it, the sound of the exhaust, Gordon Lightfoot turned up loud. It’s a great way to clear your head and get some perspective.” Paul said thoughtfully. And then went on to say, “sorry about pulling your leg, I just could not resist it. You two are so serious, and when faced with serious people I can’t help myself. You need to relax a bit.”

Elisabeth asked, “Did you see any other cars on the road?”

“A few, but they were just head lights in my eyes. What do people call you, Elisabeth, Liz or Lizzy, I think Lizzy?” Paul replied.

“Thank you for your co-operation,” Elisabeth said like its something she had said hundreds of times.

“Did some rich…” Paul paused, “person get themselves robbed last night?” 

She got up. “Thanks again sir,” she said as she and Detective Constable Young started to walk towards the door.

“That’s alright, it’s been fun. I’ve never been interrogated by the police before. Will I see you again?” Paul asked, while walking to the door with them.

“I don’t know,” she said while standing at the front door, implying that he was still on her list of suspects.

As she walked away Paul said, “I will look forward to our next meeting. I will be moving soon so here’s my new address and contact details. Just in case you feel like a chat,” and after a pause, “…or dinner.”

Paul handed her a card.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” she replied and walked away.

As they approach their car Detective Constable Young said to Detective Sergent Bennet. “What was all that about your name, and who is Gordon Lightfoot?” She just looked at him with a look that said, what has happened to our education system?

Paul closed the door and walked back to the dining table and cleaned away his breakfast, removed the table cloth, revealing the great escape plan laid out on the table. As he sat there, the seriousness of what he was about to do started to sink in. He would need to limit anything that could lead back to him, like using his own car. 

As luck would have it he already rented a garage where he had another old Ford Escort he was restoring. It wasn’t rented in an official way, no lease, just cash money. He rented it from an old lady who did not want her pension affected hence no lease and cash. Access was from a lane way so no one would see him come and go. This would make a great location to operate from.

On returning to the Police Station Detective Sergent Elisabeth Bennet reported her progress to her superior. His advice was to cross Paul of her list as he had no criminal record, and to move on to some of the more likely known criminals. Elisabeth said nothing but, she had a feeling about Paul, something about the way he interacted with her. She would keep him on her list. She searched the internet for Paul, a few things about him and his Ford Escort came up but nothing else. But something else could her eye, it was a news report about Janet’s arrest, she then check social media and discovered the connection between Paul and Janet. This in itself meant nothing but it added to her suspicions. 

Elisabeth did not fit in with her fellow Police Officers, she wasn’t disliked, she just had a different way of doing things that sometimes was at odds with her colleagues.     

Over next few days Paul moved to Janet’s house, sold many items he would not need and organised the garage. He set up his timeline, and things to do chart on the garage wall and generally organised the garage. He visited the old lady to pay the rent, he payed for the next year so he would not have any contact with her in that time. While there, with her out of the room making tea, he wrote down the internet access number from the back of her modem. This would give him internet access via wi-fi to his lap top computer in the garage. He could then search the internet on topics like security systems and how to break into safes without it being traced back to him. Everything that could incriminate him would be kept at the garage and hopefully no one would tie it to him but if it was to be found then he would be up that creek without that paddle.

Life for Janet was marginally better, she was in a cell with one other prisoner, a young English girl facing the same charge as Janet. They had nothing much in common other than their circumstances. Janet spent her time writing an account of her time in prison that expanded into the story of her holiday. One day blurred into the next and time passed very slowly with days passed into weeks. Janet received a letter from Paul every few days even though he didn’t have much to say but it did make her feel less alone.        

Paul thought about it and decided that he would need to get a number of false identities and to give himself even more protection he would form a company so things like cars or a plane could be in the company name and the company owners would be dead people with some of the false identities being employees of the company. He would keep one of the false identities completely separate just in case it all went wrong and he needed to disappear. All this could and would be unravelled during any investigation but it would take time and that time might make all the difference.

Paul spent a lot of time at the State Library looking though old newspapers, reading the Births, Deaths and Marriages. He was interested in the years around the year of his birth and was looking for people who died young, so he could take on their identities. Once he had a list of potential names he looked back further to discover their parent’s names, importantly the mother’s maiden name. Because with these he could obtain a birth certificate. He used the birth certificate to open bank accounts, with both of these he then obtained drivers licences so he now had a number of new identities, Mathew Johnson, Ronald Hughes, Glen Donnelly, Dennis Fisher and Graham Haines He needed to come up with a back story for them, just in case. Keeping it simple, he decided to make the back stories the same except for their jobs. They would be forty two years old, single, Ronald would be a mechanic, Glen a carpenter, Dennis an accountant and Graham a teacher. Mathew Johnson would be the identity he would use if things went bad and he needed to disappear and start a new life.

Setting up a company was a lot easier then he first thought, because it was all completed on line and so after filling out a few forms he had a company. He then opened a bank account in the company name which would help him hide money. He called the company Janet Investments.

He just about lived at the garage over the next few weeks, on the internet researching security systems, safes, flying, sailing and navigation but learning how to do something and actually doing it are two very different things. He purchased a number of security systems to use them as training tools. He then spent hours trying to by pass the systems till he could not only do it but do it under a time limit and in the dark with gloves on. But security systems were just a small part of what he needed to learn. Lock picking was another skill he would need to master. Like with security systems Paul spent hours perfecting the art of opening a door in the dark, wearing gloves. The final problem was how to open a safe. There would be two styles of safe he might come up against, old style with gears and tumblers or modern style electronic safes. The old style safes would require a lot of practise with a stethoscope, but the modern safes would need special electronic tool. Now these were not something Paul could just buy at the local electronics shop but he did find a ‘how to make one’ on the internet. The internet is a wonderful place he even found out how to make smoke bombs.

The next order of business was to buy a non-descript car. He bought a five year old Ford Falcon from a private seller and transferred it into the company name. This would be the car used while doing anything of an illegal nature. 

You can practise all you want but at some point, its time to do it. Paul had reached that point so he decided it was now or never or as a well known politician once said, ‘its time’. But before that he needed to pick a target or as there would say in the movies, ‘case the joint’.                     Copy right Jim Pope 2021