Dex was thinking of Claudia, his wife, when they pulled up to the house. He was thinking about how she was leaving him, not for another guy but for another life. A better one, she told him. He wondered what she would think of what he was doing right now. Dex hadn't had a job in over a year, legit or otherwise. Claudia was right to leave him.
Dex still couldn't get over the fact that Ryan had found this girl, that she was sixteen years old and that she wanted them to rob her parents' house. He couldn't believe that they had a week to do it and he couldn't believe that Ryan wanted to screw this girl and that he didn't understand the concept of statutory rape.
As he opened the door and slammed it shut, he watched the girl come bouncing (literally) from out of the house and jump into Ryan's arms, pushing his hair out of his face and french kissing him. Dex just rolled his eyes.
She grabbed Ryan by the hand and led them through the doorway and into a small foyer and then into the living room which was illuminated softly. A fire was going in the fireplace and that's when Dex saw them. The portraits.
There were dozens of them and Dex immediately thought them all unnecessary. And yet, he stood there, transfixed by the one above the fireplace. It was a man and a woman and a street scene behind them. They were oblivious to everything going on around them, enjoying this moment with each other.
For the second time, Dex thought about Claudia. Was it too late to stop her?
The girl led the both of them through the dining room, pointing to where the silverwear was and telling them that the vases on the upper shelf of the china cabinet were priceless. Through an arched doorway, they were now in the kitchen. She hopped up onto the counter, pulling a drawer open once she was seated. She swung her legs back and forth and told them to look inside the drawer.
A metal box sat in the center of the drawer, a keyhole on top of it.
She reached inside the collar of her shirt and produced a key on a chain. She took it off her neck, handed the chain to Dex. She told him to open the box. He fit the key, turned it and the box emitted a click noise. Ryan lifted the top and smiled at what he found inside.
Ryan lifted his hand and with it came a Rolex, a necklace and a pair of earrings. The girl told them that they were 24 Karat, probably worth a couple thousand dollars. Dex didn't know from gold and had no idea if what she said was true or not.
She opened a couple other drawers and the key Dex held opened the boxes inside, too, finding cash, finding jewels. The girl told him that there were furs upstairs, that there were suits that would look good on the both of them. She licked her lips in Ryan's direction.
Dex went back to the living room and his gaze fell once again upon the painting over the fireplace. He barely noticed when the girl and Ryan came tearing out of the kitchen and ran upstairs. He didn't want to know what was going to happen, though he had a good idea. He rolled his eyes for the second time this night.
Dex headed back for the kitchen and took a handful of cash and a handful of jewels. Again, he thought about Claudia. Would this do the trick? Could he keep her with this pile of cash and these stones? He heard a thump from the ceiling and he just shook his head. Two more thumps and he ran for the stairs. Ryan just didn't get it.
Dex opened the first door he came to and found nothingness. He reached around the side of the doorway and found the light switch on the side and found nothingness in the light.
He continued down the hallway, throwing open doors and finding nothing until finally, he found her. She was half-naked, her teenaged breasts uncovered. She was crying and Dex tried not to look at her. He asked where Ryan was and she gulped and looked at the side of the bed. Her shirt was on the floor, bloody and under Ryan's head. Ryan was staring at the ceiling. He had a hole in the middle of his forehead.
The girl sobbed uncontrollably and Dex asked her what happened. She mumbled that she didn't think it would go this far, that Ryan had shoved his hands up her shirt and down her shorts and that she had grabbed a gun and shot him in the head.
Dex felt this was going to be the dumbest thing he'd ever done. He grabbed the cash in his own pockets, grabbed the jewels and started to stuff them in Ryan's pockets. As he did this, he told the girl to go put a shirt on. Don't shower, he cautioned her. Call your parents, get them home now. Call the cops, get them here now.
Dex stood as he finished his task and was happy to see she had followed his orders about putting a new shirt on. She had her cell phone in her hand and was starting to dial. Dex told her again what she should tell her parents, tell the cops. She had taken a shower and was getting ready for bed when a man opened the door on her bedroom. He attacked her, she got away, got a gun and shot him.
Dex started to leave and she grabbed his arm, stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. Not the french kiss she'd given Ryan a little while ago. A kiss that said thank you for saving me.
And he left.
BIO: Christopher Grant is a writer of all kinds of fiction, not the least of which is the kind your reading right now, crime fiction. His blog is The-Not-So-Quiet American, where you can find links to other stories as well as his take on various other issues.