Chapter 31

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Ten Years Ago (Part 2)

The song above referenced in this chapter: "Jenny, Jenny," by Tommy Tutone

Being August, the weather was too warm for them to wear hoodies, so Howie Boy and Manty tried to appear as average and non-descript as possible wearing plain baseball caps and dark clothing. The convention center crowd for the closing day of the summer sports and outdoor show was overwhelming, everyone shuffling elbow-to-elbow through the unending aisles of displays, exhibits, and vendors.

The place had to have raked in a mountain of cash, Howie Boy figured. As he and Manty were carried along with the throng, neither of them was interested in the frenzied activity. Instead, they studied security camera placement, emergency exits, and tried to find the location of the vault within the complex.

As they neared the food court, Manty poked him and pointed to a kiosk. They broke away from the crowd to have a look. The kiosk displayed a floor map with a layout typical of the kind found in shopping malls with a "You Are Here" label and arrow. Doing a quick scan of the layout, they discovered a balcony overlooking the main floor. The balcony showed three locations labeled as Security, First Aid, and Lost-and-Found.

Manty looked up toward the balcony. "The vault has to be somewhere up there."

"Let's check it out," Howie Boy said.

They rode the elevator to the balcony level. When the elevator doors opened, the first aid station faced them. All around them on the balcony level, security personnel, convention center employees, and attendees milled around. It was a busy place with a lot of distractions. Nobody paid them any attention.

Walking past first aid, they came upon the lost-and-found station fronted by a long counter. A couple employees manned the counter. Behind the counter, tables were setup with various articles of clothing. A little girl screaming for her daddy was being soothed by a matronly lady who was trying to get the little girl to say her name so they could make an announcement.

"Hold up," Manty said. He walked to the counter. Howie Boy followed behind wondering what he was about to do and hoping whatever it was wouldn't draw attention to them.

As they approached, Manty got the attention of one of the employees. "I lost my iPhone in the men's room. I set it down to wash my hands and must've walked out forgetting to pick it up."

The employee, a plump, forty something guy wearing a sport coat with sleeves too short asked, "An iPhone?"

"Yeah, a gold one."

"Let me check." The guy walked to the rear of the room and punched a code into a five-digit keypad.

Manty scoffed. "Did you see that? The code he punched in was one-three-five. That's the factory default. They never bothered to change it."

"That back room must be where they keep the valuable stuff," Howie Boy said. "Why do we care?"

"It might prove useful later."

The plump guy returned shaking his head. "Sorry. There's a droid back there, but no iPhone."

Manty sighed. "Oh, well, thanks for looking. I'll check back later in case someone turns it in."

As they continued walking, Howie Boy chuckled and said, "You're a pretty good actor."

Manty ignored him and pointed to several thick orange cables trailing from the suspended ceiling into a large room. The room was fronted by a windowless door with a ten-digit keypad. "The security center. My guess is all the camera feeds go into that room via those fiber cables."

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