Wasty Presents: Death Is Near You


Silently Theo Mallory hushed through one of the dark alleys of New York's Manhattan district. After a few more steps he spotted his target, the fire escape on the back of an old brick building, in spite of the darkness and the slight fog that rolled in from the ocean. It was one of those houses that looked absolutely decent from the front but stank from dirt and trash on the back. He squeezed through between dumpsters and boxes. He had almost reached the first step of the fire escape as he stumbled over a banged-up tin can but at the last moment he grabbed on to the railing of the stairs. Frightened he pushed underneath the stairs and carefully looked around if no one had heard the noise. Probably though, the tenants were used to this as stray cats were abundant here. As he convinced himself that no dishes or other things came flying out of windows, he nicely and quietly deposited the tin can in the garbage bin that was the least full.
Now finally, though still slightly covered in fog, it became visible why such precaution was necessary: They Mallory wore and carried gloves, a black briefcase, a wool hat pulled over his face and dark clothes and he looked like one of those robbers that were secretly active in this neighborhood and that the police called "small fish" and only caught on occasion.
Mallory started climbing the stairs and avoided making any kind of noise. Halfway up at a platform he carefully picked up a cat that was in the way and put her down behind him on her soft paws. Oddly she didn't stay standing but dropped to the side. She had been dead. As he had reached the second floor he began breaking open a window to an office. Soon he was able to slide it up easily and without a sound. On the window sill was a thick layer of dust and Mallory left imprints in spite of his gloves. Since no traces were tolerable he wipe the whole window sill clean. He took a small flashlight out of the briefcase and examined the mid-sized room. He saw a wardrobe, file cabinets, a desk and a wall safe which immediately caught his attention.
Tip-toeing he approached the safe. As he almost fell over an office chair in the middle of the room he neatly pushed it over to the desk and arranged the pillow on it too. And on he snuck towards the safe. Nothing was in the way now. Thanks to his good hearing and the older safe model he was able to crack the metal door soon. He put several wads of money in his pocket, closed the door again, changed the combination and wiped the safe with a towel. Then he tip-toed back to the window, past the wardrobe where he couldn't refuse to hang a coat more properly, and climbed out the window. He closed it neatly and climb back down the stairs. He had to push a garbage can aside in order to get out of the narrow alley with his briefcase that now was 5000 dollars heavier. Unnoticed he disappeared in a run-down house just around the corner. After he had closed the shutters in his modest apartment and had cleaned up the living room somewhat, he opened the briefcase and cherished the loot.
The next robbery was farther away in a different district and he simply used his bicycle that was abandoned in front of the house a while ago without being picked up until he claimed it for himself. In order not to raise any suspicion, he wrapped his tools in a paper bag that he fastened on the cleanly polished rack. He rode in the evening traffic and reached his destination in half an hour; quickly he disappeared in a side-alley that again led to the back of the house. He leaned his vehicle against the house wall and looked around. It was quite a clean area as his skilled eyes could make out in the darkness. With his goal in mind he put his tools under his arm; he intended to climb in through the basement because there was no fire escape to get to the third floor.
He scooped the broken glass of the basement window onto a pile in the corner and searched for the stairs. He passed a leaning pile of newspapers that he quickly straightened out.
By the time he returned to the basement he pretty much had done most of the cleaning personnel's work.
He mounted his bicycle again and blended in with the traffic. He had to hold on to the paper bag so that it would not fall down.

"We must be dealing with a very evasive and tricky dude," Sergeant Lyne of the city crime police mumbled to his five available deputies, "that, however, seems to have a bit of a fad: He always cleans up the places he breaks in to. Not only does he put everything back where it was, he puts things in order that he didn't even touch. Sometimes he dusts or empties ashtrays and waste paper baskets. That way we - that is I - have come to the conclusion that a whole series of recent robberies has to be attributed to one and the same person. Gentlemen, we hope to solve and close this case soon."
The policemen walked out the door and sighed with relief: The meeting with their boss was over. He was one of these eager, straight-laced policemen that tried to climb the career ladder and usually vented their anger and frustrations at their subordinates.
The assigned policeman forwarded his boss' message via radio to the other police stations and informed the press. In less than an hour the "robber with the order fad" would be wanted all over New York. Now the word was to wait and eagerly get other work done.
The robber, unknowing of the situation, already prepared his next break-in. Regardless of the risk, this time he rented a car under a fake name. Maybe he had gotten a bit bold and had planned to steal a little more than usual. Thus he targeted a bank this time although it belonged to one of the smaller chains but nonetheless seemed promising and wasn't protected by the most expensive and modern security alarms. He started the car and drove at moderate speed so that no cop would stop him for speeding. The bank was located in one of the more populated outer districts close to the suburbs of the city and it required slightly more skills to break in there. But he was well prepared.
He parked away from the bank and slowly walked to the back of the building where there was a fire escape that appeared useful to him. Through a window, which he wiped with a towel first to see through better, he climbed into a room that wasn't secured by an alarm. He made it to a door. "Annoying how people open and close doors with their greasy hands," he thought and polished the door handle before he opened the door. He now stood in a hallway that was connected to the lower floors by a staircase. He cleaned the guard rail as he went downstairs.
The following hardly requires a detailed account: Sabotage the alarm system, break open the safe, clean out the money, close the safe as nothing had happened, bring everything in order, clear any tracks and disappear. Everything went without incident.
He put the loot in the trunk of the car and drove off at normal speed.
"Just act natural," he said to himself as he drove to an intersection that, in spite the late hour, was still controlled by a traffic policeman on duty. Slowly he passed him. "Just don't drive fast then he won't be allowed to do anything to you". He rolled on past the intersection. Sweat was on his forehead. He looked in the rear mirror: The policeman's shift was over as he removed his cap from his head and stoop down from the platform from which he directed traffic. The cop was in a good mood and walked over to his parked car. Theo could see how he got in the car and pulled into the street that he himself was driving along. Over his observations he forgot to drive on normally. The cop must have noticed Theo then. So, Theo put the city map in the glove compartment, emptied the contents of the ashtray out of the window, folded the driving gloves neatly...
The cop hit the pedal to the metal and passed Theo's car, stopped and signaled that he should pull over and get out of the car. The cop made an earnest face and asked the surprised robber: "Can I see your license, please? You don't quite look like this car belongs to you. Where are you from?"
Obviously the cop just wanted to have some fun after a long day's work.
But Theo had to obey regardless since the cop represented the law and could fine him.
"It's a rental car. Here are my papers."
After the cop had looked them over and Theo already thought he could drive on, the other said as seriously as possible: "Please come down to the station for an alcohol test."
Theo had no choice. Now he couldn't afford anything to go wrong. And afterwards they would let him go. He wasn't a party pooper. Hopefully they won't check the trunk.
At the station, a cop was half asleep in his office chair. The boss must have been out. The sleeper was shaken until he woke up and the other must have winked at him as he said cheerfully as he was shown the papers: "Well, Mr. Mallory, or whatever your name is, we are sorry but we have to keep you overnight. Would you please volunteer to go to one of our cells?" The two cops had difficulties suppressing their laughter. "You can't do that!" Theo didn't believe anymore that they would content themselves with letting him go now. They would take their prank further. "If you're supervisor knew about this! Aren't you afraid that I am going to tell him?"
"Shut up and sleep a round first, ha, ha!" Reluctantly he entered the prison. It was quite a mess in there and Theo started to clean up hastily. Although the cop was sleepy the words of his supervisor Sergeant Lyne still rang in his ears: "He has this fad. He cleans up everywhere." He reached for the telephone and dialed a number under which the sergeant could be reached: "Shht, hello Sergeant Lyne, I've made a great catch. It just so happened that..."
Theo didn't suspect anything about the discovery. Calmly he kept busy with the dusty plank bed.
"It takes a bit of luck every once in a while," the policeman said. He could now understand his moody sergeant much better when this one exclaimed with a baritone voice: "Order is a must!"


Copyright © November 1981, Wasty, Order
German title: Eine auffällige Gewohnheit
169 lines
Reading time: approx. 11 1/2 minutes


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Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com