Zeiss Schiller was a very old and established bank sitting in the Paradeplatz in downtown Zurich, a place synonymous with wealth and banking. The austere architecture of the square lent a certain weight to the surroundings, as did the bank itself. Its grey columns, beautiful stonework and ornamental balconies all very imposing as Jake, now dressed in a suit with his beard trimmed and hair tied back in a neat pony tail, stepped into the oak panelled foyer. With him he carried the leather bound briefcase containing the diamonds and the metal one he had been given by Hugo van Elst which contained the money. Had he been mugged on the way to the bank his attacker would have been extremely fortuitous indeed. But thankfully he had not.
He walked up to the pleasant looking young lady at the reception desk and asked to speak with Otto Drescher with whom he had made an appointment the day before.
Drescher appeared within minutes, impeccably dressed and military in bearing but smiley and professional in his manner. He led Jake through to a vast private office, again all oak-panelled with a heavy antique desk in the centre and two comfortable leather bound office chairs either side. Drescher ushered Jake to one of them then sat down opposite. “You wish to open a numbered account, I understand, Mister Sloane, is that correct?”
“It is,” Replied Jake, now using the name printed on one of his counterfeit passports. “If that is possible.”
“I would also like a safe deposit box, if I may, to store a few items of value. Would that be okay?”
“Certainly, Mister Sloane. Whatever you require, Zeiss Schiller will be more than happy to oblige.”
“Good. I would also like to make several one off payments to various recipients and set up one regular payment on a monthly basis.”
“Of course. I can certainly help you with that, it is very easy.” Said Drescher.
“Thank you. And these payments would be anonymous?”
“Yes, Mister Sloane, that is the benefit of a numbered account. The bank will not reveal your identity to anyone. It will be kept entirely secret. The account will be authorized by a code word known only to you and me, thus ensuring your privacy and our complete discretion.”
“That sounds ideal for my purposes, Mister Drescher. Thank you,” said Jake.
“Not at all,” said Drescher, “Once we have completed the paperwork I will lead you down to the vault where you will be able to access your safety deposit box in complete privacy.”
Forty minutes later, Jake had deposited one-hundred thousand euros into his newly opened account and had made anonymous payments to all his creditors, settling his debts in full. He had also set up a regular monthly payment to Angie and the kids.
Now he was three floors below ground level in the pristine bank vault of Zeiss Schiller. The white polished floor and bright white lighting seeming very modern and clinical in contrast to the more traditional surroundings of Drescher’s office. Drescher had escorted him down to the vault in the private elevator, leading him through two sets of thick iron gates each manned by a security guard and accessed via iris recognition. He had then been led into one of three large rooms within the vault, each one again with its own security guard. Down two of the walls were banks of white doored security boxes, all about eighteen inches square, all with two key slots and a small keypad on the front. At the far end of the room were four curtained booths each containing a small desk and a swivel chair.
Drescher guided Jake to box number 1301 and inserted his own guard key. He then instructed Jake on what to do next. When he was sure that Jake understood, he said, “I will be waiting for you outside. There is no rush. Please take as much time as you need.” With that, he gave a curt nod of his head and walked away.
Jake watched him leave then turned his own access key in the slot, which was given to him upon opening his account. After that, he pressed set on the keypad, punched in his unique pass code and then hit enter. The door clicked open and he pulled out the large plastic box it contained and carried it over to the first booth, drawing the curtain closed behind him. He then set the box on the desk and placed the leather bound briefcase alongside it.
Jake snapped open the case and took one last look at what it contained, randomly picking out a bag or two and studying the contents. He had parted with fourteen diamonds in total but the case still housed hundreds more. However, Jake had sold as many as he needed to and would not sell any more.
Sense and reason had at last caught up with him, the initial rush of adrenaline had passed and his previously fragile state of mind had been given enough time to recuperate. He had finally regained his sanity and his morality. And along with it his guilt.
However, the fact remained that he had stolen the diamonds and he could not alter that now. Yet he had done what he needed to; paid off his debts and set up a fund to help Angie and the kids. But enough was now enough and the madness of the last few weeks had to stop. He would take some time, a few months maybe, just to get his head completely straight – enjoy life without stress or worry for a while. Then, when the time was right, he would return home and face up to life again. Either with or without Angie.
Jake closed the case, placed it into the plastic box and returned it to the drawer. He then went to find Drescher who escorted him back upstairs. The receptionist gave Jake back the metal case of van Elst’s, which he had left with her whilst he was down in the vault. He thanked her and Drescher then left the bank.
Back in the Paradeplatz, Jake flagged down a taxi. “Airport please,” he said to the driver.
As the taxi moved into the flow of traffic leaving the bank and the diamonds far behind, Jake felt the burden of responsibility slip from his shoulders.
Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here