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often so I’d be ready for action when I needed to be quick. I

slipped the gun and spare cartridge under my left arm,

between the fat suit and the Santa coat. I opened a seam

and attached it with Velcro. I was used to do-it-yourself

repairs and sewing from a childhood spent on the remote

island of Hevonpersiinsaari, a backwoods locale whose very

name means Horse’s Ass Island, far removed from

department stores like Stockmann.

I pulled on thin red mittens edged with fur, because my

bare hands looked feminine even though I kept the nails

short and unpolished. I entered the elevator on the lowest

level of the parking garage. Bruun and I had agreed that I

would get into costume in the secret room. That way I

could best hide my identity.

“When the employees leave the building, they have to exit

through this well-lit corridor,” Bruun had explained to me

after the department store closed. The security measures

appeared sound: employees carrying anything from the

store would have to show a receipt. No system was 100

percent sure, but Bruun and the guards had been checking

the exits for over a month now and no one would have been

able to smuggle through the large amounts of expensive

goods that had been disappearing from the store: cameras,

phones, PDAs, expensive jewelry, as well as cosmetics

worth hundreds of euros. Design cutlery had been taken

from the housewares department. All together, the losses

had already climbed to nearly 30,000 euros.