Able Walker settled into his favorite chair, facing the television he’d just purchased. He picked up the remote and turned on the game. Braves were playing the Marlins tonight. Should be a good one.
A few minutes later, after finishing off his beer, Able went into the kitchen to get another brew. He decided to make some snacks while he was there. The TV could be heard in the kitchen so he wouldn’t miss anything. Humming under his breath, Able opened the refrigerator and pulled out what he needed. Walking over to the table, he set everything down and proceeded to make his favorite sandwiches.
From the kitchen he heard, “Diamond signals the pitch. Mahoney winds up and delivers a fast ball over the plate.” Able heard the crack of the bat and the groan of the crowd as the announcer said, “Preston Wilson slams another one out of the park. That pulls the score to Marlins 6, Braves 2 in the top of the 9th. Looks like we might have another loss on our hands, folks.”
Able picked up the beer and the plate with the sandwiches on it and headed back to the game. Shaking his head, he settled into the chair and picked up a sandwich. “Sure hope my Braves pull it together and gets some runs,” he mumbled over the sandwich in his mouth.
Outside on the street, dried leaves rustled in the wind. Grinning Jack O’Lanterns resided on the porches of the neighborhood. Cars drove slowly with windows down, radios blaring. Just an ordinary October night in Marietta, Georgia.
The moon glinted through the clouds, with a few stars shimmering. A few chimneys sported wispy smoke trails. Other houses, without pumpkins or decorations, stood empty with For Sale signposts in the front yards.
2000 had been a pretty rough year for the economy. Able, inside his cozy home, had an ace in the hole for the future. He never trusted banks for the important things. Home safes, that was the way to go.
“Bottom of the 9th, two outs, bases loaded, Diamond comes to bat…Strike one…he didn’t like that one…Strike two…oh Diamond is not happy with that one at all. He turns to the Umpire and just glares. But Diamond is a pro. He sets his stance, grits his teeth…here comes the pitch…right over the plate.”
Able put his sandwich down. Stared at the TV. Didn’t breathe. Crack of the bat….
“That ones going, going, going…Wilson jumps…and makes the catch! Braves strand 3 and lose another one.”
Marlins fans cheered. Braves fans looked disgusted as the camera panned around the stadium. “Join us for the post-game interviews. This is the final game of a three game series. Braves are still in the playoffs. Marlins might have a chance at the Wild Card spot if the Phillies lose their game tomorrow. Good night, Braves fans. Keep the faith!”
Able slumped back into the chair, crumbs on his shirt. “Damnation,” he shouted. Then he smirked. “Oh well, at least we’re still in the running. Good luck, Marlins. Be nice to kick your ass in a playoff game.”
He changed the channel to Nash Bridges. Nothing like a little Don Johnson to cheer a guy up.
At eleven pm, Able turned off the TV. He never watched the local news. Too many yahoos and blondes telling him what he already knew, especially about the weather. It was October. It was cold. Rain possible. As if to prove his point, rain began pattering on the windows and the wind picked up, whistling around the house.
He pushed himself out of the chair. Taking the remains of the sandwiches and beer into the kitchen, he cleaned up after himself. “Sure wish Agnes still did for me,” he said. “I need a woman’s touch around here, I guess…Nah. I kinda like being alone now. Besides, I gotta take care of my stuff.”
Walking down the hallway toward his bedroom, Able heard a scratching sound coming from the back window of the kitchen behind him. He stopped moving and waited without turning around. The noise stopped. Probably a branch from the shrubbery, he thought.
Able went into the master suite and began his preparations for bed. Within 10 minutes, Able slept soundly, his snores reverberating across the house through his open doorway.
Outside, the rain had melted into a slow drizzle that wept down the window glass. A shadow moved behind the shrubbery. A gloved hand pushed up the window over the kitchen sink. The figure waited to see if anyone reacted to the slight creak of the wooden window. Nothing. Both hands came over the windowsill and levered the figure up and into the house.
Moving slowly and carefully, the shadow made its way over the sink and down to the floor, then pulled the window shut just as carefully. And waited again to see if the creak had been heard. Still nothing.
The figure stood to its full height and walked cat-footed through the room. Into the dark study, where the TV stood on its stand. A little moonlight trickled through the blinds and slatted across the floor. The light blotted and lit, blotted and lit, as the figure made its way across to the wall over the unused fireplace. The figure reached up and put hands on the right hand edge of a large abstract painting framed in mahogany.
Behind, a closed safe waited. Pulling a piece of paper from its pocket, the burglar mouthed numbers. Reaching for the combination dial, fingers slowly and carefully moved it according to the numbers on the paper. The final number caused a tiny slight clunk of sound.
The figure froze. Still no reaction that could be heard. The snores from down the hallway had never stuttered. Carefully opening the door of the safe, the figure reached into a pocket and removed a hemp bag. Inside the safe, a coin collection rested into small plastic sealed boxes.
Within minutes, the collection rested inside the hemp bag now tied to the burglar’s waist. Closing the safe door and spinning the tumblers, he had relaxed too soon.
“What the hell do you think you are doing!?” came a stentorian yell from behind him.
Startled, the burglar turned and without thinking, fired the silenced pistol that somehow appeared in his hand.
Across the room, Able gurgled and dropped face down on the floor, dropping a cell phone from his hand. Blood pooled underneath the now dying body of the coin collector.
The burglar pulled a poker from the fireplace set and placed it in the collector’s now flaccid hand. Shaking his head, the burglar removed his mask and stood looking down at Walker. “I’m sorry, Able. I have no choice.”
Making his way back to the kitchen, the burglar opened the back door and walked out into the darkness. A few minutes later, a motorcycle drove down the street, throwing leaves out of the roadway.
It would be sixteen hours before anyone found the body.