A Little Gold, Manuel and Octavia is a free, fictional short story. The events and characters described herein are products of the author’s imagination.
His imagination couldn’t get any worse, Right?
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A Little Gold, Manuel and Octavia
Why would a chemistry professor keep valuable gold bars in a locker?
Manuel sat on the passenger side, ready to don his latex gloves. A pry bar laid across his lap. Octavia was in the driver’s seat periodically using a small pair of binoculars.
“You’re sure there’s no security alarm? I mean, your friend said there isn’t one?”
“We’ve been over this, Manuel. She told me there is absolutely no alarm. None.”
“Okay. Why isn’t she here? Huh? She doesn’t want a piece of this?” Manuel, nervous as alwys, beads of sweat on his forehead.
Octavia rolled her eyes. “I told you. She got called away. Her mom is on her last days.”
“If we’re caught, we’ll be on our last days.”
It was near dusk as they watched the two story, red brick mansion, four doors down from where they parked. A shiny, black Cadillac backed out of the driveway. Two gray-haired seniors in the front seat, the man driving.
“There they go…you ready for this, Manuel?”
“Soon as it’s dark. Maybe another twenty minutes.”
Manuel, nervously went over their plan. “Once we go in through the back, you go to the master bedroom, get the old lady’s jewelry.”
“Right. And you get into the guys office, get the portable lock box. My friend said he always keeps it in the closet. Lot’s of cash in there.”
“I hope so. I’d like to get out of this cold weather and take you South. Someplace warm.”
“Sounds nice, Mister Romantic.”
The big homes in the neighborhood were distant from one another. Once it was dark, Octavia drove the old Camry up the drive, around near the back entrance. Secluded enough not to look suspicious.
Manuel, with the pry bar, forced the door open. No alarm or signs of a security system. He whispered aloud, “Ya, baby!”
Octavia went past him, to the carpeted stairs leading to the master bedroom, not wasting a second. Once in the room, in the walk-in closet, was the ladies vanity. The jewelry box on top, left hand side. So far, so good.
Manuel found the old professor’s study. A large desk front and center. Behind it were shelves full of chemistry books, obscure authors Manuel never heard of. The professor was a chemist.
Octavia’s friend says he’s an eccentric, mean and devious. Manuel didn’t know what to make of the information, but the very sight of the office gave him pause.
It smelled like money. Lots of money.
The closet was in the far corner where the portable safe should be. A workbench to the left of this large room held test tubes, manuals, chemicals and instruments.
If only he had more time to snoop.
The portable safe was where it should be. Heavier than expected. What the hell is in here?
Octavia ran out of patience waiting. She re-entered the back door, just as Manuel got there. Together, they took the safe to the car, dropping it in the trunk, next to the two jewelry boxes.
They acted inconspicuous as possible leaving the driveway. Drove through the darkness under the speed limit, out of the rich neighborhood.
Fifteen miles away, Octavia steered the Camry onto a long gravel drive. Manuel’s parents owned a small hobby farm. The wet, muddy driveway lead to the old barn, where they’d have privacy.
Inside the barn, they stood admiring the two jewelry boxes Octavia stole. Gold necklaces, silver rings with diamonds, sapphires and more. One jewelry box held over two thousand dollars in small bills tucked into false bottom.
Opening the portable safe box was a small issue. Manuel’s experience using power tools took care of that. Twenty minutes later, they were perusing the safe’s contents.
Valuable legal papers were tossed aside into a pile to be destroyed later. The considerable amount of folding money drew their attention. Two more, small brown envelopes contained diamonds and sapphires.
“I wonder if Sapphire is the old lady’s birth stone,” Octavia commented.
“Who cares about that mystery? Look at all this shit. How much money did you count?”
“Twenty two thousand bucks, Manuel. Ohmygod! We have enough to go down to Florida!”
“It’d be nice if we could sell all this jewelry. But, we gotta be careful and find a person we trust.”
“Hey, look at this.”
Another small, brown envelope held a little gold bar. At least, it looked like gold to them.
“What’s that paper with it? It has some writing on it.”
A key fell from the folded paper, bouncing off Octavia’s shoe and onto the ground. If she hadn’t felt it hit, they never would have noticed.
Manuel read the note. Written in ink was an address and an indicated locker number.
“What does that mean?” Octavia said.
“Just what it says, I guess. We should check it out.”
Octavia punched the address into her smart phone and immediately had a result.
“It’s the country club. Just a few miles away from here,” Manuel said. “I’ve plaid golf there just two weeks ago with some friends. And I think I know where the locker room is.”
“Nice, but think about it. We can’t go there during the day. People are nosy. We’ll get caught.”
“They’ve seen me there before, Octavia. I think I can work my way in there, see where this locker is.”
Octavia looked at the note,”Locker thirteen? Doesn’t sound very lucky.”
“But, a little gold bar. Maybe the old man is keeping gold in that locker.”
“Why would a chemistry professor be stashing gold?”
“Dunno. But we should hit that locker before we head out of town. Soon as the old man discovers his house was broken into, he’ll be checking out other things.”
Octavia paced, looking at all their loot and unzipped her jacket. “Think I’m getting a panic attack, Manuel. Shit, it’s gotten warm.”
“Take a deep breath and sit down. Breathe, dammit. I’ll get you a bottle of water from the car.”
At the car, Manuel had an idea. “Here’s you water. Listen. I’ll wrap all this stuff in that tarp over there. Wrap it up tight and keep it hidden in the trunk. Then you can drive me over to the country club.”
“Aren’t they closed? It’s dark.”
Manuel looked at his watch. “Probably. I’ll have to break in. It’s gotta be tonight.”
* * *
So, why would a chemistry professor keep a little gold in a locker, in a country club men’s room? Manuel couldn’t shake the question.
By the time they arrived at the country club, it was two hours past closing. Not a soul around.
“Keep the car running. I’ve gotta get in there, then race the alarm before the cops get here. Got it?”
“Hurry. I got a bad feeling about this.”
Manuel was strong enough, using the pry bar, breaking open the double front door. No alarm, but it was probably sounding off at the police station.
He rushed to the locker room, damn near breaking his neck on a slippery floor.
Locker thirteen, in a row of lockers at eye level, hopefully held a little gold.
He hastily inserted the key and turned it.
The last thing Manuel saw was a pressurized stream of yellow mist driven into his face. His hands covered his face, struggling to wipe his eyes clear. He fell over a knee high bench onto the floor.
Manuel thought somebody had sent a needle through his skull. Fifteen seconds of agony before his world went dark.
Locker number thirteen was empty.