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CAT BURGLARS:

Dane Martinez was a highly touted college quarterback in New Orleans.  He was also a ladies man with deep dimples, a cleft chin, wavy black hair and pearly white teeth; he resembled Antonio Sabato, Jr.

He had dreams of playing in the NFL.  He led his team to a Bowl appearance but he suffered a career-ending injury.  The victory was bittersweet.

After graduation, Dane continued living at home with his parents and he worked as a waiter.  Women patrons propositioned him constantly but he had not interest in becoming a gigolo.

One day, a distinguished man entered the restaurant, the man recognized Dane and complimented him on his last minute heroics, “I won a lot of money betting on you when you played college ball.”  My name is Tony Nichols.  Upon leaving, he gave Dane his business card and asked him to call if he needed anything.

Over the next few months, Dane became miserable working at the restaurant.  He came across Tony’s card and decided to call.  They met at a Mexican restaurant that evening.

Dane discussed his depression and unhappiness, Tony listened intently.  After a thoughtful pause, Tony said, “what if I told you that I know of a job opportunity that could net you hundreds of thousands?”

He had Dane’s attention, Dane asked, is it illegal?  Because I am not interested in any illegal activity.

Tony hesitated before answering, Dane, I'm a professional fence, I have clients and contacts all over the world.  I am currently in need of a cat burglar since my good friend Royce is retiring.  He can train you in the value of art, stamps, rare coins and jewelry.  Royce will also train you in disabling alarms, safecracking, lock picking and weapons.  If you agree to these terms, we can get your training underway immediately.  If you go to the authorities with this information, I will deny that this conversation ever took place.

Dane asked again, is this illegal?  Tony brushed off his concerns and told him to take some time to think it over.   Two days later, Dane returned home from the restaurant, the mail box was stuffed with overdue bills. His mind was made up; he called Tony and made an appointment, Tony set up a training session with Royce.

Dane was a quick study.  After a year, Dane went on his first job, a small job that netted two paintings.  Dane soon graduated to major heists.  His uniform consisted of: dark clothing, tennis shoes, gloves, rope and a backpack containing his toolbox and firearm.

Dane would disable alarm systems and rob mansions, estates and museums of art, antiques, sculptures, stamp collections, rare coins and jewelry.  He was in and out without a trace, leaving no clues.  He later became a genius with locks, combinations, safes and alarms.  Over the next few years he became the best in the business and demanded 40-50 percent of the heist value.  His services were booked a year in advance.

He stashed money in safety deposit boxes all over the world.  He began purchasing material objects, such as homes for himself and his parents.  He wore Kiton suits and custom-made shoes.  He spent $250 on designer ties.  He became a playboy and women flocked to him.  He soon developed an appetite for beauty and class.  He was currently dating a popular blonde centerfold.  Women found him gorgeous, intriguing and charming and they appreciated his captivating conversation.

He spent his spare time surfing the web.  He planned to attend the Computer Expo at the Superdome the following day.

The beauty gene ran in the Winters family and Simone was no exception.  Simone Winters was a green-eyed beauty of Creole descent who grew up in New Orleans.  She spoke English and French fluently.  She resembled the actress Vanessa Williams.  Her mother was a former model who had modeled in Paris.  Simone used to sit on her knee as her mother reminisced about her modeling days, Simone loved hearing stories about black models Donyale Luna and Pat Cleveland .

Simone currently worked at an IT company and she was well regarded in tech circles.  She had her share of male attention; she was a classy, articulate supermodel type who favored power skirt suits and designer outfits.  Her hobbies were singing and dancing, she performed a cabaret act at a friend’s nightclub in the evenings.

She had recently ended a relationship with a black millionaire.  Her life had become boring and stagnated.  On a whim, she decided to attend the Computer Expo the next day.

The Expo was packed, it was a virtual madhouse.  Simone received her usual share of male attention.  Suddenly, she felt someone staring at her, she turned around to face the most gorgeous man she had ever seen, the chemistry was instant, the electricity was overwhelming, her heart skipped a beat.  They slowly gravitated towards one another.  Dane was transfixed as he introduced himself, between stimulating lustful looks, Simone’s eye color changed, Dane was smitten.  They exchanged phone numbers and departed in separate directions.

Dane called later that evening, they talked for three hours and made a date for the following evening.  They ate at a romantic café in the French Quarter; they left hand in hand as a man blew a saxophone in the background.

They were a physically striking couple.  Simone garnered desirable looks from men and envious looks from women. 

One evening, Dane went to her cabaret performance; he sat proudly in the front row as Simone serenaded him.  Afterwards, they went dancing, he taught her salsa, she taught him hip-hop.  Their favorite times were spent taking mule-drawn carriage rides through the streets of New Orleans.

Dane spoiled her with expensive gifts, for her birthday he took her to the Olympics.  He treated her like a Queen and she was overwhelmed by his attention.  Simone loved to cook; she often shopped at the French Market where she bought ingredients for seafood Gumbo.

Dane appreciated Simone’s lack of curiosity but it was time to tell her his true occupation.  She reacted with shock and dismay but confessed her love for him no matter what. 

At that moment, Dane took out a velvet box, inside was a tycoon cut diamond ring.  He proposed marriage, Simone accepted through tears of joy.

They flew to Las Vegas and got married.  They took an extended honeymoon to Rio de Janeiro just in time for Carnival.  They returned to New Orleans totally exhausted.

Dane asked Simone to take a leave of absence.  Over time, he fascinated her with his stories of International Intrigue.  She wanted to share in the adventure, Dane resisted at first, she eventually wore him down. 

Tony and Royce welcomed her with open arms and began teaching her the tricks of the trade.  Dane accompanied her on her assignments.  Over the next year, they became a highly successful and skilled tag team.

Simone became an expert in disguises and accents; she also memorized combinations and other important details.  They robbed museums, chateaus and estates all over the world.  Interpol was baffled at the rash of robberies but figured it was an gang of organized thieves.

Their heists became daring escapades.  The work was exciting and dangerous and the money was unbelievable.  Their millionaire lifestyle enabled them to cruise Europe, fly to Vegas for championship fights, watch NFL games from luxury skyboxes and Dane traveled to Spain to run with the bulls. 

One day, after a long discussion, Dane and Simone decided, it was time to settle down and start a family; they were booked for one more heist.

They were assigned to rob an oil rich Texan who had an extensive Picasso and Rembrandt collection worth a fortune.  They flew to Texas a day early to case the home and decided to rob it later that evening.  They scaled the fence, drugged the dogs and caused a malfunction in the sophisticated alarm system.  They were in.

They began removing the paintings, as they departed, Dane accidentally tripped a silent alarm.  Within seconds, a gunman appeared with a semi-automatic.  Simone flinched nervously, the gunman mistook it for suspicious movement and shot her, Dane thrust himself over her body and moved her out of the line of fire.  Retrieving his gun, he returned fire, striking the gunman three times.  The gunman went down.

Dane grabbed Simone and cradled her in his arms.  Her last words were “I love you.”  Dane screamed, noooooooo!  With tears streaming down his face, he gently closed her eyes and kissed her tenderly. 

With sirens blaring in the background, Dane picked up the gun, placed it against his head and slowly pulled the trigger..

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