By Andy Betz
By morning they would come for me.
I stole the funds, in small quantities, over a long time. A little here. A little there. I have been careful over the years.
But, not careful enough.
Walter, my associate, caught me last week. It took him nearly as long to research the lost money as it took me to embezzle it.
“Bob, when are you going to give it back?”
I didn’t have an answer.
I still don’t.
I stole the money, originally, as a backup to my retirement. I invested wisely, diversifying among mutual funds, real estate trusts, government bonds, and blue chips stocks that I already owned. No noticeable increases in volume. No standouts against audits. Just small increases in a net worth that could easily be attributed to prudent fiscal management.
Walter had another plan.
“Bob”, he always started his sentences with Bob, “how about cutting me in on this pie you have been baking?”
I should have killed Walter right then and there. Instead, we spent last Thursday going over blackmail details. Walter wasn’t as greedy as I thought. He wanted 15% of the gross payable in 15 identical payments over 15 consecutive weeks.
Walter was a great accountant, but a pathetic thief.
Even so, I agreed to his terms and made the arrangements for the first of 15 transfers. We were to meet for lunch and I would pick up the check, drop it (with my cashier’s check), and Walter would grab both. His plan had a bit of drama. Perhaps even a semblance of espionage and it would have worked.
But Walter had a heart attack when reaching for the check. He died with the bill for $24.25 in his hand. In the confusion, someone else had the $1500 cashier’s check in theirs.
I departed the restaurant worried, but not frantic.
I should have been frantic.
The next day I received a phone call at work from “Oscar”. He wanted to take Walter’s place. I played ignorant, poorly. Oscar informed me he would not ask twice. How he knew was not as important as what he knew.
He gave me until noon to be at the same restaurant for another exchange.
Just not at the restaurant, but just before.
I had to kill Oscar.
And I did.
My military training and an old stiletto was all I required.
Oscar fell into my arms and I carried him into the alley. I fleeced him for ID and paperwork. He carried an envelope with a story about me the police would want to read.
They never did read this letter.
However, Oscar (real name Douglas Jones) might have more on my activities in his apartment.
I had to know.
It took thirty minutes to get there and less than an hour to ransack the place.
Oscar must have been partnered with Walter. He had everything on me. It was too much to remove unnoticed, but not too much to avoid burning.
Friday I went from thief to murderer to arsonist.
I walked out as I walked in. The residents focused on the flames. The fire department did likewise. I assumed the police did also.
I assumed too much.
So here I sit, at home, doors locked, waiting for either SWAT to kick in the door with guns drawn and flash bangs rolling or the phone to ring with a plan for a less violent alternative.
I sipped the last of my whiskey and smoked my last cigar.
The sun rises slowly this time of year. I view the crimsons and purples that precede the oranges and yellows. Its light meanders across my room, covering every nook and cranny. This light gave me hope for a better tomorrow.
The police detective told me if I surrender without incident by dawn, I may be able to walk out of prison before I die of old age.
The detective wanted me for arson and murder. He knew nothing of the thefts. At an average rate of return of 12.2%, I will indeed have a nice retirement upon parole.
And all I have to do is keep watching sunrises.
Starting with today.
Bio: The works of Andy Betz are found everywhere a search engine operates. Andy has written many great things that have been posted to The Yard: Crime Blog, including, “Water” with Jaysa Brown, “The Less You Have, the More It Hurts To Lose It”, “I Knew Her as Tigist“, “How My New Life Began“, “Et Tu“, “Senny” with Dounia Saunders, “Oleander“, “The Best Advice I Ever Got“, “If I Ask Your Opinion“, “As the Sun Sets“, Walter, “The Saddest Lies“, and “By Morning”.