Through this letter, I hope to reach a man named Gary, who returned a woman’s red purse he found at the Price Chopper on Jan. 12. I would ask he please come back to this woman’s residence (buzz 202) any evening after 8 p.m. for a deserving reward.
Signed, J. Bothwell
Sitting at the kitchen table, The Herald open and his mug of coffee going cold, Gary Robichaud read the letter to the editor a fifth time. He was flabbergast. It’s gotta be me, he thought. My name’s Gary and I found the lady’s purse–the same sexy red Melinda used to wear for lipstick.
His wife peered at him over the top of the Price Chopper flyer. “Your ranch dressing’s on for a buck,” she said.
“It’s Dollar Daze at the supermarket.”
Gary took a sip of the coffee, ignoring its distasteful temperature. “I’ll pop over during my dinner break.”
“No, I’ll go,” Melinda said. “I’m feeling better today.” She had been home sick with gastroenteritis for the last several weeks.
“Well, the store’s open ‘til nine if you change your mind,” said Gary.
“Thanks, hon. You done with the front section yet?”
He smiled and casually turned the page. “Not just yet…”
Gary clipped out J. Bothwell’s letter and put it into the pocket of his blue uniform to consider it during his shift.
You know what the reward is, don’t you? he thought, grinning slyly. It ain’t cash. That purse held nothing of value except for a lighter and a wallet with ten bucks and the lady’s I.D.. Admit it, will ya, her picture was hot.
He wondered if he should show the letter to Carmichael, his shift route partner. While it would make for a good laugh, Gary knew that Carmichael would strongly discourage him from going back to the woman’s condominium. Gary kept the clipping to himself. Here, his honesty had provided him a delicious little win and he sure didn’t want that same integrity denying him of a deserved reward.
Melinda will never find out, he assured himself as he skipped over to Pavilion Tower during his hour-long dinner break. It’s a one-time thing.
He buzzed two-zero-two, nodding at the security guard with whom he had left the purse as he crossed the lobby. Snazzy building for a resident to be shopping at Price Chopper, he thought in the elevator.
A redhead in a skimpy negligee opened the door. “Good evening, Gary,” she said, taking his hand. “Come in.”
Nice place, full-on mood lighting, incense burning.
“I’ll fix you a tequila,” she said. “Go relax on the couch.”
Sinking into the leather, Gary felt great. He damn-well deserved what was coming to him!
Then, a man’s voice.
“Here for your reward, Gary?”
A rail-thin man with greasy hair and a crucifix stepped out, pointing a .38 at him.
Startled, Gary’s eyes shot open with alarm as he felt for his sidearm. “What the–who’re you?”
“Hands up and listen.” Candlelight illuminated the gruesome scorpion tattoo on the man’s neck. “I know everything, hear? Where you live, work–”
“Shop,” said the redhead.
“Whadda you want from me?” asked Gary, already knowing the answer. He’d been warned of scenarios like this in his Brinks armoured truck guard training, but he never imagined something would actually happen.
“The ninth stop on your route tonight is the ATM at the corner of Forbes and Sixteenth,” said Scorpion. “Once you collect the cash from the machine, I need you to throw the bag into the open window of the maroon P.T. Cruiser you see parked there.”
“I can’t do that,” Gary said. “You know I can’t.”
“Sure ya can, else I go to your house and wifey-poo sucks off the end of this gun.”
Gary’s bowels dropped and cramped.
“And while you’re at it,” said Scorpion, “grab us a couple more of them cash bags when you open up the back of that Brinks. Don’t say nothing about it to your driver until you’re a few blocks away.”
Gary winced. They had him. Here, his stupidity had walked him straight into a situation and he sure didn’t want that same stupidity getting his wife killed. He figured he could do it without Carmichael knowing he’d been compromised. He’d sell it. Anyway, what did it matter? The money was insured.
Gary said, “All right, seems I gotta go along, but do you mind cutting me in for a–”
“For a reward?” Scorpion jeered. “Fuck you, Gary.”
Jennifer Soosar was born and raised in Toronto, and has a degree in anthropology. Her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Her debut psychological suspense novel, PARENT TEACHER ASSOCIATION, is published by Black Opal Books. She is a member of CWC, ITW, and SinC.
Copyright © 2017 Jennifer Soosar. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.