The BurglareBook - 2019
PS3566.E718 B87 2019
From the critics
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People had no guns, or they had two dozen stored and a dozen more around to guard the others.
It was interesting to her how often men said they didn’t understand women. They were right that they didn’t, but it wasn’t because women were uncommunicative. Plenty of women she knew talked almost continuously. The problem was that men thought of themselves as being more similar to anything else on the planet — male horses or wildebeests or chipmunks — than to female human beings. Women were their opposite. To them, a thirty-two-year-old male physicist was more similar to a billy goat than to a thirty-two-year-old female physicist.
She was twenty-four and a burglar, a sneak thief. This wasn’t a fact that she ever brought up with men, so it hadn’t been a factor in her rejection, but it was an important part of her existence, since it was the part that paid the bills. So once again she was running. She was jogging along a beautiful road south of Sunset that wound around in Beverly Hills and offered the occasional view of the Los Angeles Basin, and her purpose wasn’t to burn the calories from her valedictory dinner. She was casing houses along the route, looking for her next score.
“A curse is being a person who believes in curses.” “Do you believe in bad luck?” “Only in the wrong-place-wrong-time sort of way.”
Rich people felt the humiliation and loss more keenly than poor people did, because all those possessions and luxuries were dear to them, in some cases were them. Poor people had already been ripped off a thousand times and knew their possessions were crap. They had never invested anything useful in them, like their self-esteem or their souls. By adulthood the poor had been beaten into wisdom and detachment.
The LAPD had every kind of toy: armored vehicles, choppers with night vision and infrared scopes. They were also testing drones, and what could the test be but using them to catch people like her? They could access surveillance cameras on the freeways, or go full southern sheriff and send dogs to sniff for burglars on foot.
There are ten million people in Los Angeles County. It’s got more people than any of the forty-two least populous states. It’s bigger than Sweden or Hungary or Austria or Switzerland.
She’d even spotted a couple of men who put their wedding rings in their pockets before coming over to chat. Not having a wedding ring didn’t make them attractive.
Most of the time when a person of interest called a lawyer, he got demoted to a person of no interest until the police had something to scare him with, and he got to go home until then.
A burglar didn’t see a building the same way other people did. Every building had ways in and out that a thief could find and exploit. Nothing was impenetrable or invincible. These buildings weren’t designed to be. She only had to look at a building closely and the barriers seemed to fall away.
Part of the problem with being a criminal was that eventually all of your normal friendships would dwindle until the only people you knew were also criminals. Criminals tended to be people who were selfish, greedy, and untrustworthy. That meant that few of them were above ratting out a friend to a police agency. They did it in exchange for getting minor charges dropped or major charges diminished. They even did it so the friend would be locked up and they could rob his apartment or seduce his girlfriend.
She had accepted that some people had no parents and that she was one of them. She also knew that living meant accepting conditions as they were.
Los Angeles, where the only people over seven who ever got sunburned were visitors from elsewhere.
If he really was just a nice Canadian cowboy about to fall into an acting career, that would be fine. But if he was a con man smart enough to fool her and attract her at the same time, he would be rarer and more interesting.
“Do you mind if I sit next to you instead of across?” and patted the place to his left. “Right here?” “It’s fine,” she said. “But if anything touches my thigh besides my napkin you’re a dead man.”
“I’m a huge success. I’m making plenty of money to eat , but I can’t , because I won’t be skinny anymore and I’ll stop making so much money . I should be a character in Greek mythology.” “Isn’t there a character like that?” “No, I checked. The Greeks didn’t think skinny was a good thing.”
“When it’s late at night and you’re with a pretty woman, a single malt is like having a second friend at the table who’s older and wiser and will disappear when you want him to.” She laughed. “Ancient Scottish wisdom?”
The dress was perfect. Most of it was black fabric, but as anyone knew, black wasn’t just black, an absence of light like the inside of a pocket. There were red blacks, blue blacks, and brown blacks. This one was gray black, which went with the small triangle of trim along the high neckline.
A mature male German shepherd was a big dog, so the doggie door would be the same. It would be closed while the family was gone, but the only potential intruder that couldn’t figure out how to get in a closed dog door was a dog.
She had been the one to find the camera in the triple murder, but she had turned it in already, and she’d seen nothing on the recording that the police hadn’t, except her own image. What threat could she represent to anyone now? She had thought about it many times since the morning she discovered the bodies and walked herself through everything she had seen. There was no clear picture of the killer with the silenced pistol.
Mother did come from there, and she always said nobody south of the Mason-Dixon line had a brain bigger than a cat’s.
Every monstrous wife-killer she’d ever seen in television documentaries was eager to get custody of his kids.
A four-sided building was actually a six-sided structure, because the roof and the underside were penetrable surfaces too. The impervious building had to have ventilators to keep the air circulating. It was in Southern California, where a windowless building with no air-conditioning was an oven. A building couldn’t serve as a business without bathrooms, which meant there were water pipes going in and sewer pipes going out. The place had electricity, which required insulated lines running from the nearest step-down transformer to the building and then inside.
Her experience of growing up was simply trying to be alive — helping to find enough so everybody in the house got to eat, and then remembering not to eat everything up before there was something in the house to replace it.
A building intended to store goods of any kind would have originally had big doors, like garage doors, so the merchandise could be brought in and out on pallets by forklifts. They would be in the back of the building, and if not, then they had been decommissioned, taken out, and maybe boarded over and covered with stucco. They could be another way in.
If a building was too hard to break into there were other ways. Often the easiest was to take advantage of common failings of human beings — carelessness, laziness, inattention, and impatience. Burglars sometimes came and went unseen because nobody had secured a door, fixed a latch, or gotten up and checked to see what had made a sound. Burglars had gotten into warehouses by climbing into loads that were to be driven inside.
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