Your first instinct, of course, will be to organize the meet in an underlit Walgreens parking lot. However, it is imperative you do not do this.
There are two things you do not want for this operation: (1) darkness, and (2) lack of pedestrian traffic.
Nikolai will want to meet you soon. He might even ask for a meeting within an hour of your first contact through Craigslist. Hold him off. Tell him work is chaos right now and you can meet tomorrow.
I. Choosing Your Location
Vladimir might suggest an abandoned warehouse a few miles west of the highway, in between that suspected meth lab and the worst rated public high school in the city. While this is tempting, tell him you have a more secure location that you use for these kinds of business transactions.
Subway, Jimmy John’s, and Starbucks are all good places to start. Make sure you do your reconnaissance first. Enter the establishment during its slowest time of day. Are there more employees than customers? Are the sandwich artists over-confident? Do they ask you too many questions? Do they show more interest than they should in your hip, navy blue pea coat that you bought at that hip thrift shop in Seattle?
Check all the exits. You need at least two ways of escape in case things go bad.
Don’t doubt it. Aleksandr will have an entourage. You may not see them, but they will be there, lurking in the shadows, armed with improvised weapons (mechanical pencils, pipe cleaners, piano wire, you get the idea). They may not even enter the establishment where the meet will take place, but they will be right around the corner, waiting for you to exit, starry eyed, counting your wad of twenties with an idiotic smile on your face.
Stop at the local jujitsu studio on your way to the meet. If you’re not sure of its location, just look for the unmarked storefront with floor-to-ceiling glass completed fogged up by man-sweat. Interrupt their “rolling” by coughing loudly and clearing your throat. Pull out a pair of Andrew Jacksons and wave them in the air. Introduce yourself with your favorite alias. Tell them you’ve got a job. It’s quick, and won’t require them getting their hands dirty. Several will approach. Choose the one with the most scars and the least amount of remaining teeth. Make sure and have him shower first and to put on something a little less conspicuous than a full judogi.
Have your babysitter follow along about a block or so behind. Refrain from turning back to make sure he is still following you — this is unprofessional, and makes you look like an amateurish asshole.
III. The Meet
Arrive early. Scout out the area. Have Pete hang around at one of the exits looking menacing. Stand across the street and lean against the corner building with a newspaper half in front of your face. Keep one eye on your location.
Dmitry will arrive late. He might call you or text you to that effect. Truly, he’s been here for over an hour, possibly watching you, or perhaps, walking through his exit strategy. Let him enter first. You will be able to see his reaction to your hired help as he enters the location. Look around for others taking an interest in his entrance. Size them up. Could they take Peter in a fight? Certainly, if they are packing. But once Pete gets them on the ground it’ll all be over.
After you’ve waited a good five to ten minutes, follow him in.
IV. The Transaction
Keep the iPhone in your pocket, buddy. Wait until you see the money. If Mikhail is inclined to toss the wad of cash on the table, stop him with a mean glance — you’re not in grade school, this is not summer camp. Under the table, Boris.
He will likely pay you in yuppy food stamps, since that is the easiest way to underpay. He’ll tell you he only has $120, will that do? The answer is NO. Stand up and make like you are leaving.
At this point, he’ll pause, and say something like, “Oh, wait, it’s in my other purse.” Eventually, he’ll come up with the money, but it will be either over by ten or under by ten. Don’t let him rip you off. Get change at the counter. When the sandwich artist makes small talk and asks how much you are getting for the iPhone and explains that he has an iPhone that he bought unlocked for $100 and this guy is getting ripped off, poor sod, tell him you just want the fucking sandwich so you can get change and that if he doesn’t shut the fuck up your friend Pete is going to turn him into a Bavarian pretzel.
When you return to the table with his change, you may finally take out the merchandise.
Take out the iPhone and let him play around with it for a few minutes. If you forgot to wipe the memory, passwords, and apps, you are a complete fool. Alex will have your bank account in five minutes and within the hour you’ll be eating candy wrappers in an alleyway in Hong Kong.
Allow him to talk. Don’t listen, but allow him to talk. He’ll tell you all about his baby sister in the Ukraine who needs the iPhone to feed her family of ten. Nod your head when it seems appropriate.
At a respectable interval, slide your chair back and exclaim, “It was good doing business with you,” or something equally classy.
Allow him to leave first. Take a long time putting on your coat or whatever. Look at the art on the walls. Once he’s gone, shove the money into your socks. Tell the sandwich artist to fuck off. Now you can leave.
By this time it is likely that Peter has left. But he has done his job. Sergei’s goons would have seen him and made him out as someone not to fuck with.
Keep your eyes peeled on the way home. Take an alternate route from the one you took to get there.
Now you’re home. Smell the bills, every one of them. That is the smell of success.