A story told day by day. A man leaves Spain urgently with next to nothing. But he is resourceful.
The cab from Marbella had cost him fifty five euros. The flight ticket from Malaga to Gatwick was ninety eight euros. He counted his money. Nine euros left. This was all he had in the world, just nine euros, a passport and the clothes he was wearing.
But he was resourceful.
At Malaga airport he had nothing to check in. But he closely watched those that did. He spotted a family of four checking in a large blue suitcase with a red ribbon tied on the handle. Mum, dad and two kids. The guy was about his height and weight, roughly the same age maybe a year or two older, nearing forty. The kids were perhaps six and eight. Perfect.
His was the last Gatwick flight out of Malaga that day. The 22.35. Landing just after midnight. His eyes scanned the departure board. He saw what he was looking for. A Frankfurt flight departing fifteen minutes before his. He waited and took in everything. He carefully chose his victim. He liked to give names to his victims. This one he would call Bob.
The gate for Frankfurt was called an hour before departure. People started to shuffle about. This was the time old men went to the toilet. A voice would speak in their head “Go now or you’ll have to go on the plane.” No one wants to use the toilet on a plane. Bob was a man in his late sixties, travelling alone. He was carrying a very expensive overnight bag. He was dressed smartly in a cashmere sweater and light coloured trousers. He kept looking at his watch, an expensive item, possibly Rolex or Omega. Bob picked up his bag and made his way to the toilets. He followed.
He watched as Bob took a leak at the urinals, then went over to the basin to wash his hands. He followed and stood next to him. Bob put his bag on the floor beside him. The toilets were busy. He liked busy, it made his job much easier. He turned quickly, caught Bobs legs hard with his right foot. They left the floor and gravity took over. Bob fell. Hit his head hard on the marble work surface before crashing to the floor. Bob was out cold. He knelt beside him and pulled the bag towards him.
“Help me please someone, the man’s collapsed. I think he’s had a heart attack or something.”
A crowd gathered.
“I’ll put him in the recovery position.”
He did. Whilst carefully and skilfully relieving him of his wallet and watch. He looked at a nervous man standing over them.
“Stay with him, I’ll get help.”
He left the toilets with Bob’s bag.
The Gatwick flight was being called. He walked away and took the exit for his departure gate.
He knew there would be confusion. Bob would be out of it for quite a while. He would miss his flight, but no one would miss him. He would try to explain about his bag but by that time it would be in the overhead locker on its way to Gatwick.
He slept for most of the two and a half hour flight. He could see the family of four a few seats in front of him. He decided to call them the Thompson family. He smiled to himself, good name as they’d obviously just been on holiday.
At Gatwick he and his luxury overnight bag were quickly through passport control. He knew that the Thompson family would be slow. Two kids would hold them back. They were too old to have pushchairs and too large to be carried, they would have to walk. It was after midnight, they would be tired and grumpy. At least one of them would want to use the toilet. All these things would slow them down. He also figured that the bags would come off quickly. This was the last flight in and the baggage handlers would want to get home as quickly as possible.
He was first at the baggage carousel. Just as he thought, the bags had started coming off and were already going round on the conveyor belt. He kept his eyes alert for the Thompsons. He guessed they were maybe four or five minutes behind him. Then he saw it, coming straight at him, blue case, red ribbon. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the family at the bottom of the stairs, the kids were with mum. Dad was a few feet in front looking for the signs for the correct baggage area. He had to be quick. He took the case off, untied the ribbon and put it in his pocket. Then turned and walked past them towards the exit. He was through customs and in arrivals a few seconds later.
He took the exit and followed the signs for the nearest hotel. It was a ten minute walk. He made his way to reception.
“Excuse me, do you have any rooms available for tonight.”
The receptionist was attractive but was wearing far too much make up on her face. He thought it made her look like a toy doll.
“Yes sir we have rooms available.”
“Perfect, can I book a room for two nights, please?”
“Certainly sir, can I take some card details please.”
“I’m afraid my wallet is inside my suitcase.”
He leant forward and whispered to her.
“I also have to take my insulin quite urgently, is there an empty room I can use?”
“Of course sir, I understand, come with me.”
She led him to a spare room on the ground floor.
“Just come back to reception when you’re ready.”
“Thank you so much.”
He put the case on the bed and opened it. Inside were various clothes and toiletries. He found a casual shirt, a pair of jeans and black shoes. He changed clothes quickly and dumped his old clothes into the suitcase. He went into the bathroom collected up all the towels and put them in the case. He noticed there was a mini bar. He opened it and put the contents in the case
He took Bobs wallet from his pocket and looked at it for the first time. Three credit cards, a picture of some kids and over eight hundred euros in cash.
He was wearing Bobs watch. It was a Rolex Submariner. New, it was worth maybe six grand, he’d get two for it. But that would do.
He’d open the overnight bag later. He closed the door of the room and went back to main reception. He smiled at doll face.
“Thank you so much for that, the flight was running late and I was beginning to feel unwell.”
“I fully understand Sir; my brother is diabetic so I can appreciate your situation.”
“Can I change up euros into sterling here?”
“Yes sir, how many euros?”
Doll face did the calculation and handed him his cash.
“Thank you, I’ll be back in a moment. I just need to find my wife, god knows where she’s got to.”
He raised his eyebrows and smiled at doll face. She smiled back. He walked out of the hotel with his luggage and flagged down a black cab.
The cabbie laughed.
“Big place mate. Whereabouts?”
“Where’s best for you?”
“I’m heading for Croydon, finishing up now.”
“Croydon it is then.”
He jumped in the cab and the driver helped him with the bags.
“Is there a cheap Hotel in Croydon that I’d still be able to get into this late?”
“Loads mate, the Novatel will have plenty of rooms, and they’ve got twenty four hour reception. You want me to drop you there?”
It was almost half past one before he was settled in the Novatel. He paid the cabbie a ton and the room was forty quid. He sat down on the bed and opened up the suitcase. He put the booze from the mini bar on a small table in the corner of the room. He opened up two miniatures of whisky and drank them straight from the bottles.
He emptied the blue suitcase and tipped the contents onto the bed. The men’s clothes he put in a neat pile, anything else was thrown on the floor. In one of the internal pockets he found two pairs of gold earrings and a ladies watch. But, nothing much of any value. The only toiletries were an electric razor and some aftershave. He was pleased with the men’s clothes. There were enough to keep him going for a few days.
He opened up the expensive overnight bag. It was Louis Vuitton. This was no snide, this was the real thing. He emptied it carefully. Two shirts, a silk tie, a cashmere jumper and a pair of chinos. There was a mobile phone, an iPod, and a small leather toiletries bag. He unzipped the small bag. Usual stuff, razor, foam, deodorant, aftershave. The holdall had a pocket inside. He opened it. Jackpot. Two pairs of gold cufflinks, a gold tie pin and a very expensive looking pen.
He lay down on the bed and closed his eyes. Tomorrow would be a good day. He’d sell the gold for a few hundred quid but keep the watch for a while. Just a few hours ago he was in Spain and in a whole lot of trouble, with nothing but a plane ticket and nine euros. He wouldn’t be missed for another twelve hours. By that time he would be a completely different person.
Not bad for day one!