A green Ford Falcon parked on the street was the only car to be seen.

     No one noticing it would have dared to park nearby. In that time, 1980, and in that place, Buenos Aires, a green Falcon was the last car anyone wanted anything to do with. A yellow streetlight above it both pinpointed the car and gave it a sickly pallor. This made it even more notable and not in a good way. The Avenida del Libertador was a big street, an important street, but at 3:00 in the morning, after the curfew, it was empty. With no one strolling and no other cars around, the engine of the Falcon rumbling was the only sound echoing.

     On the other side of the wide boulevard sat the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the tall terra cotta columns a familiar sight for tourists. The museum had been closed for Christmas Eve and by now the two inept guards were no doubt asleep. The light rain falling on Buenos Aires that night turned the scene into one of those cheap city paintings they sold at the mercados. Of the three men sitting in the car, only the one in the back seat noticed this. He was the only one with an attentive eye; the other two were just thugs, waiting unplugged, unaware. Then, at a signal from the driver, they all pulled ski masks over their heads, stuck flashlights into their belts, and made sure that their pistols were secure, so that no one accidentally shot anyone else in the foot.

     Looking around to see that everyone was ready, the man in the driver’s seat turned off the engine, which rattled to a stop like a cough. He put his hand on the handle to open the door, but stopped to mutter a short prayer to San Nicolás. Not Saint Nicholas, the precursor to Santa, but to the patron saint of thieves.