DO UNIT & NATO SPELL DISASTER?
By Margaret Price
It Begins With A Simple Clay Bowl
It was a bowl.
An ordinary clay bowl.
The intricate pattern decorated its contours with bright iridescent colors, yes. And it was old, that too was true. But it was still just a bowl. A bowl; on a small pedestal, under a bright overhead light, inside a specially designed glass case, in a display with other bowls.
These thoughts had gone through the security guard’s mind every night since the special exhibit opened in the upper mezzanine of the newly opened Salliari Corporate Headquarters in Naples.
Vittorio Salliari was a multi-millionaire with a penchant for works of art, preferably pottery and glass. The current exhibit was just one of a long line of exhibits, the purpose of which, as far as the guard could determine, was a way for Salliari to flaunt his wealth.
As far as the guard could see, it was still just a bowl. In fact, he was certain his five year old daughter could do a better job of it. Casting his gaze one last time over the exhibition, he gave a disgusted snort and moved to the escalator, going to the lower level for a quick bite. Perhaps even a nap. Why they needed a security detail in this place he had no idea.
The man had no sooner vanished from sight when a figure dressed completely in black stole up to the very display case that had annoyed him so much. The intruder put down the small satchel he was carrying and pulled out a suction cup and cutting tool. Within only a few minutes, he had cut a hole in the display case and was extracting the “bowl.”
Then all hell broke loose. Lights flashed, alarms sounded, various doors slammed shut and locked automatically.
The thief paid no attention to this cacophony of sounds as he carefully wrapped the object of his pains and placed it in the satchel. He placed a single red rose and a card in the case, and made for the lift station on the next level, pushing the buttons for down. Then he quickly hid himself.
Within minutes, the guard who had been on the mezzanine staring at the bowl arrived with two others to find it gone. “There!” someone called. “He’s taking the lift to the basement. We have him now!” He was on his radio, calling to the man in the basement car park, telling him a thief was on his way down.
The three men made for the stairs and started to thunder down the six flights of steps to the basement. The thief, in the meantime, came out of hiding and pushed the button for the express lift, which arrived within seconds. He stepped in and pushed the button for the roof where a helicopter was waiting to fly him to safety.
As the doors started to close, and being out of the range of the security cameras, he pulled the hood from his face, going on to pull a mop of blond curls out of his shirt, allowing them to tumble freely down his back. Amateurs, he thought as he ruffled his hair. There was no challenge in any of that.
When the police eventually arrived and began combing the area for clues, they discovered the single red rose in the display case and the card upon which was printed, “From Eroica with love.”
* * *