Heroes for Hire Offices
Scott Lang didn’t look like much to Chase. He appeared to be on the schlubby side and had bad posture. Although Chase had learned in the past not to judge a book by its cover too much, he couldn’t help but be… whemled by the man. But Misty gave him her seal of approval. Well, she gave motormouth Luis her seal of approval and he had given his to Lang. Luis, Lang, and Misty were all in Chase’s office. Chas had Gladys hold all his calls while the four of them got down to something Chase thought he would never do in his life: plan out a heist.
“Branford Wilmont,” he said as he held up a dated magazine photo of a thin, white man with shaggy hair from the late 80’s. He looked uneasily at the camera and underneath his photo were the words SULTAN OF SMELL.
“His family made their fortune when his great grandfather invented the scentstrip.”
“The what?” asked Lang.
“If you ever get a magazine and there’s that annoying little pieces of paper with cologne and perfume samples stuck inside of it, then you have the Wilmont Family to thank for that.”
Misty picked up the thread. “Branford’s family was already old money by the time he was born, so he had all the privilege you expect of a scion.“
“He was a car?” said Luis.
“What?” asked Chase. “No. A scion isn’t just a car. It’s a child of a prominent family.”
“So like Chase,” said Misty. “Silver spoon and all that.”
Chase held out a finger. “Except little Branford’s silver spoon came with a nasty catch. Everyone knew how his family made their money. The Rockefellers and Gettys of the world had oil, the Wilmont’s had perfumes. He grew up with the nickname ‘Stinky.’ With a nickname like that, makes sense what he did as soon as he got the chance.”
Misty held up a photo of a US soldier carrying an assault rifle. Stamped on the side were the words BBW. “Branford sold off all the family’s rights to scentstrips and the company that produced them. With the money he parlayed the family fortune into a new business: BW Weaponworks. It’s one of the big three contractors the US Department of Defense uses for all its needs.”
“This was right around the mid 90’s,” said Chase. “So weapons and defense were going cheap in the post-Cold War harmony of America.”
“And then 9/11,” said Lang. “And two wars later--”
“Branford’s hundreds of millions are now billions,” said Misty. “And he has it all hidden on his island.”
Chase and Misty looked out the window of his office. Lang and Luis followed suit. Even from the modest Midtown walk-up, they had a clear view of the man-made island that sat in the middle of the river.
“Wilmont Island,” Luis said wistfully. “Scotty and I know all about it.”
“It’s like a thief urban legend,” said Lang. “Everyone claims to know someone who once got on the island. Everything from Nazi Gold to Walt Disney’s frozen head is supposed to be stashed there.”
“What we do know is this,” said Chase. “Wilmont is a prolific arts and antiquities collector and Wilmont Island is considered an impregnable fortress. Every inch of it is under some kind of electronic surveillance, patrolled by an ever rotating series of security guards so that no one person can memorize the place and become a potential inside man.”
“What’s worth a crazy suicide attempt?” Lang asked, looking towards Misty and Chase.
“A painting by an artist named Junior Hallinan,” said Misty. “A client of ours recently had it stolen from him and he says that Wilmont stole it.”
“Is it Atlas’ Resolve
?” asked Luis. “It’s got like a buff guy flexing his muscles? A classic staple of the American Realist genre?”
“Yeah,” said Chase. “How did you know that?”
“Cause I stole it,” Luis said with a big smile.
“What?” asked Lang.
“Yeah. Kurt, and Dave and I stole it from Murray Sandoval.”
Lang looked hurt. “Why didn’t you cut me in?”
“You were working that job in Gotham, the one you won’t talk about.”
“Oh…" Lang cleared his throat. "Yeah.”
“Wait,” Chase held a hand up. “You were the one who stole the painting?”
“Yeah,” said Luis. “Someone emailed me about doing a job. They knew I had mad connects with Murray Sandoval. and this email was all like..."Twenty-Five Minutes Later
"So we stole the painting from Sandoval’s house and delivered it to a storage unit up in Brooklyn.”
“Back up,” said Chase. “Back way the hell up. How do you know Murray Sandoval?”
“He buys my recreations,” said Luis. “I paint copies of artwork, he buys them and sells them to other people.”
Chase, Misty, and Lang all exchanged looks.
“Luis,” said Misty. “That’s art fraud.”
“We all got our side hustle,” said Luis. “Scotty, you work at Baskin-Robbins on the side, some people drive Ubers, I got my own thing between jobs.”
“I'm going to pretend like I didn't hear you admit to committing a felony” said Chase. “Instead I'm going to ask how good you are with your forgeries.”
“They’re recreations,” said Luis. “Tributes to the work of the original artist, those old masters whose art I hope to one day surpass... and I’m good enough that I get paid and nobody has come back on Sandoval since I been doing it.”
“Good,” said Chase, a smile appearing on his face. “I think I have an idea.”