Death by Parking - Chapter 24 - One Bank Isnít on Holiday in London
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With Paul Manning cooling his heels in Los Angeles, Rickie and the rest of the senior team headed for London. They had only a few days to set up a bank that would impress Smith and Cosner, even though they would see it for only about 15 minutes. St. John-Smythe would be sitting behind his desk and perhaps be a bit nicer to the pair, or perhaps not.
Rickie, Veronica, and Josh arrived at Heathrow Airport after the nine-hour flight over the pole. They whisked through customs and were met in a Daimler limo. St. John-Smythe would follow in a day or so.
The chauffeur loaded their bags into the ‘boot’ and rolled silently onto the M 25 then took the turn off to the A4 and Central London.
They would stay in Marylebone but needed to pick up one more person who lived in Chelsea. Her part in this two-act play was critical.
They turned on to Cheyne Row and stopped in front of a Queen Anne mansion. Marita came out and was met by Rickie who received a hug that meant that there was more than a casual acquaintance between the two.
He introduced Josh and Veronica and they proceeded to the mansion they were renting on Portland Place, just up the street from Smith and Cosner’s hotel, the Langham.
They were met at the door by the mansion’s owner, “Lord” Davenport. His rather interesting past made him a perfect member of the team, and the one to ensure that Smith and Co. were properly impressed on their first night in London.
Eddie Davenport and Marita were longtime friends and understood the con perfectly.
Marita had lived in Los Angeles for a number of years and partied with Rickie in her mansion in the Hollywood Hills. The term “partied” took on many meanings, and neither Rickie nor Marita was expanding on it.
Through Davenport’s banking contacts, Rickie and his team were able to literally take over a merchant bank for a few hours in “the city.”
Most people think London is a metropolis of “the Tower,” Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace, however the City of London is in fact a square mile which houses the financial center of Great Britian.
There are dozens of small to medium sized merchant banks located in the city. One was managed by a friend of Davenport’s who frequented many of the parties held at Portland Place.
We won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that the activities at many of these affairs made use of the jacuzzi, the 24 bedrooms, and specialized rooms in the basement.
Davenport’s banking friend was more than willing to help in our little scam and ensure his activities were kept quiet. Simply changing a couple of tasteful signs leading to the bank’s offices was sufficient.
Rickie had many contacts in the UK and was able to mount a staff of 40 for the bank, with special offices for Victoria, Josh, and of course its CEO, St. John-Smythe.
All was ready when Veronica met Smith and Cosner at Heathrow and chatted with them in the Daimler as they drove to the Langham.
She mentioned a party that was scheduled for that evening at one of the most elegant houses in London, just steps away from their hotel.
It was hosted by a “Lord” and she was able to get an invite for the four of them (Josh was included).
Just to ensure that nothing went wrong, the 40 or so ‘guests’ were the same 40 that were staffing the bank the next day.
Not to worry, Rickie was told, there was no way they would be recognized. He wasn’t worried.
Veronica told Smith and Cosner to check in and have a nap to prepare themselves for the upcoming festivities. She and Josh would meet them for an early dinner and then escort them to Davenport’s digs just a block away from the Langham on Portland Place.
They met at 7:30 PM in the bar at the Langham and polished off oysters with champagne, then had prime rib delivered to their table along with the finest red France had to offer.
By the time 9:30 PM rolled around, Smith and Cosner were feeling no pain.
They could hear music from the party as they walked out the from entrance of the Langham. There was no question where the event was taking place.
As they approached the door, it opened and Marita met them. She was wearing a revealing sheath that left little to the imagination. Smith was smitten. On her left was Stephania, “a dear friend,” who smiled at Cosner. Marita took Smith’s arm, Stephania held out a hand to Cosner.
The evening had begun.
Veronica and Josh simply stood back and let nature take its course. Our boys woke up the next morning with raging hangovers in two of the bedrooms at 33 Portland Place. What they remembered, they would never forget.
Two cups of coffee later they found their way back to the Langham, showered and dressed, and met Josh and Veronica in the lobby at 11 AM to head out to the city and their tour.
The crew considered blackmail, but neither of their guests had any particular concern with their reputations so that was a nonstarter.
Cosner did have one question. He had spent some time in London in the military and was familiar with their so called “Bank Holidays.”
How were they going to see a working bank if it was closed?
Josh and Veronica exchanged looks. Their first major problem had just presented itself.