Burglar

Rex is a burglar who rob people's houses and sell items to antique shop. He has a girlfriend who is on benefits so he helps her out with the money. The girl has a child from another man who is a drug addict and he always pesters her for money.

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8. Chapter Eight

Maria stood there, legs apart and back straight, holding the knife out in front of her.  “Go on, go away or you’ll get this all the way up,” she shouted.

Now that the pain had eased a little, Francis got to his feet.  He stood there six feet from her looking at the knife.  “You wouldn’t stab me.”

“You try me,” she spat out.

“You’ll keep,” he said before leaving.

She heard him going down the stairs outside and suddenly realised what had just happened, she had been raped.  She bolted the door and went into her bedroom, flung herself on to the bed and cried her heart out.  She must have fallen asleep because she was awaken by the sound of knocking on the front door.

“Who is it?” she shouted.

“It’s me, Edgar.  Why haven’t you made our tea?  It’s six o’ clock.  Eddie and I are starving to death.”

She looked at the clock on the wall.  It was six.  She should have prepared their tea for five.  She’d been asleep for five hours.  “I’m sorry,” she shouted, just realising she was still naked as she lay on the bed.  “I’ll be down in a couple of minutes and cook you something.”  She heard him go down the stairs.

She quickly got dressed and went down to the kitchen.  As she went she looked about for Francis in the garden, but he had gone.  Edgar and Eddie were sat in the kitchen waiting for her to cook them something.

“So what would you like then?” she asked, putting on her apron.

“What do you suggest?” asked Edgar.

“Something quick, easy, how about beans on toast?”

“That will have to do then,” said Edgar, clearly not happy with it.

Eddie seemed to be more concerned about why she was late and looked at her enquiringly.  “Why are you late?” he asked.

It was all too much for her and she began to cry.  She put the bread in the toaster.

“Why are you crying?” asked Eddie.

“I think I know why,” said Edgar.  “What has he done?  I want the truth.”

Maria began wrestling with the can of beans and the can opener.  “He raped me.”

“Right,” said Edgar angrily.  “He’s sacked.  D’you want to tell the police?”

Eddie stared at her in disbelief not being able to comprehend such a thing.

“No police please,” she said.

“I’ll phone him now and tell him not to come in anymore,” said Edgar.  He got up and went to the nearest phone that was in the hall.  By the time he came back, Maria had the beans on toast on the table.  Eddie had just started his.  Eddie came back in and started to eat.

“He won’t be back again,” said Edgar.  “But I still need an assistant gardener.  Put the ad back in the post office window, Maria, tomorrow.”

“I will.”

“I’m very sorry that it happened to you, Maria.  I just can’t believe he’d do such a thing,” said Eddie.

“Maria came to me yesterday and told me he was getting fresh with her,” said Edgar.  They finished their beans on toast about the same time.  Maria gathered up the plates and cutlery and put them in the sink.

 

Bob Fitts was 85 and his wife, Ilean, 80.  They had lived in the same house, on the outskirts of town, since they’d retired at 65.  They were both frail and got about the house using a stick each.  They rarely went out, their shopping being bought and delivered to them by a local volunteer.

“I’m making a fresh pot of tea, do you want a cup?” asked Bob, from the kitchen.  Ilean was sat in her chair in the sitting room.  Though it was still summer, because the kitchen and sitting room faced north, it was still cold.  Ilean had a blanket over her legs because she wore a dress.  Bob never had a blanket because he wore trousers.

“Yes please, my dear,” she answered.  Her voice was low and gruff with age, but they were both used to it.  She turned a page of the newspaper she was reading.  They had one delivered each morning and Bob would read it until 1.00 p.m. and she the rest of the day.  They rarely cooked anything, depending on ready made meals heated in the microwave.  They were still proud of the fact that they could both still tackle the stairs each night to bed.

“Bob?” she called.

“Yes, my dear?”

“I’ll have a few custard creams with that tea, if you don’t mind?”

“Yes, my dear,” he replied.  “It’s nearly time for the afternoon radio play, d’you want to turn it on?”  They didn’t have a TV by choice; it was too modern for them.  They relied on the radio instead.  As for contact with the outside world, they had a phone, a landline set up in the sitting room.  Their nearest neighbour lived a mile away and they had phones and a car.

With a cup of tea and some custard creams they both settled down to listen to the afternoon play.  It was a play about an isolated old woman living in a flat on a housing estate.  She had been burgled five times in a matter of two years.  Each time she had lain in bed while the thief went about the house taking her valuables.  He even had the effrontery to go in her bedroom while she lay there, and steal her jewellery, whistling as he went.

Because the police had done hardly anything, she contacted an old friend of hers who was able to acquire a revolver.  Now she had a revolver with six shots.  She waited six months with the gun under her pillow, before the burglar struck again.  When he came into her bedroom, whistling as usual, she emptied the revolver into him.  He died and she was charged with murder.  She got life imprisonment and died in there.

When the play finished Bob and Ilean were quite depressed.  It took ten minutes before they even talked about the play.

“What did you think of that then?” he asked.

“I think the little devil deserved what he got.”

“What would we do if we were burgled?” he asked.

“The law is an ass.  I don’t know, what would you do?”

“I don’t know.”

That night they went to bed at the usual time of nine o’clock.  They still slept in the same double bed and wouldn’t think of sleeping any differently.  They said goodnight to each other, kissed and turned over and attempted to fall asleep.  They both listened to the lashing of the rain on the windows for a while.

Bob was in a strange dream.  He was climbing this huge tree, getting so high and stopping to feel like falling, in terror, hundreds of feet to the ground.  Then he would continue to climb only to stop and feel it all over again.  He was about to climb again when an unusual sound entered his dream.  He thought it sounded like breaking glass.  He immediately woke up and lay there, listening for any other sound, but all he could hear was the sound of Ilean breathing.  From that sound he could tell that she wasn’t asleep.

“Are you awake?” she whispered.

“Yes,” he whispered back.

“Did you hear it?”

“Breaking glass?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“What d’you think?”

 “Go down stairs and see what made the noise,” she continued to whisper.  “It might have been the wind smashing a bit of tree against the window.  Or it might be a burglar.”

Without a discussion he got out of bed and put on his night robe.  He crept out of the bedroom while Ilean sat up in bed watching him.  He crept along the landing until he came to the stairs.  Then he stood still and listened.  He heard nothing.  He flicked on the sitting room light switch, at the top of the stairs, but nothing happened.  Strange, he thought, what happened to the light?  He went down the stairs slowly and stopped half way down and looked over the banisters.  He could see the sitting room in the murky light that the full moon threw in through the windows.  There was an odd dark shape in the corner near the bookshelf, like someone was squatting there.  Then he heard a soft groan and could smell shit.  Bob was sure it was coming from that corner.  Then he saw the squatting figure stand up and pull up his trousers.

“Who are you and what are you doing?” said Bob.  He went down a couple more steps.

The man, it had to be a man, though Bob, then chuckled.  “I’m your friendly neighbourhood burglar and I’ve just taken a dump in your front room.”  With that he burst out laughing.  He made towards the open front door.  The sound of the splashing rain came into the room from outside.

“Oh no you don’t,” burst out Bob.  He hurried down the last few steps to cut the man off from getting out. 

“Fuck off, old man,” the man shouted, and punched Bob in the face.  Bob fell backwards and landed on the stairs.  The burglar was gone.

Bob managed to get to his feet with a struggle and went over to the phone.  The cord was pulled out of the wall.  He looked up and saw that the light bulb was gone.  A clever burglar, thought Bob.

There was nothing else for it, he would get help and contact the police from his neighbours house.  Because it was a mile to his neighbours and he wasn’t feeling too good on his feet, he decided to take a shortcut through the woods and across a stream.  There were stepping stones across the stream, so he would get across easily enough.  What would take him fifteen minutes by road would take a couple of minutes taking the shortcut.  In slippers and night robe he left the house.  The rain was a bully and hit his face furiously.  He suddenly realised that he wasn’t wearing his glasses.  He tottered along the dirt path, battling against the rain that was coming down in heavy sheets. 

When he came to the stream he failed to notice that the water had come up over the stepping stones.  He stepped on the first stone and felt the cold water come up to his ankle.  He made the second step and lost his footing.  He fell sideways into the stream, finally hitting his head on a rock.  The blow knocked him out and he drifted up stream, face down in the water.  He would have travelled further down stream, but his body got snagged in some tree roots.

“Bob, are you down there?” called Ilean from the top of the stairs.  She flicked the sitting room light switch, but no light came on.  “Bob?”  She slowly went down stairs.  The front door was open.  She couldn’t see anyone in the room so she climbed back upstairs and went into the bedroom, locked the door and waited for daylight to come.  Then she would venture downstairs and sort things out, she told herself.  She was worried for her Bob’s safety.

 

Rex was sat in the front room reading the local paper.  One article took his interest in particular; it was about a burglary at a house on the outskirts of town, where an old man and woman live.  The burglar took very little, but the house owner was found dead in the nearby stream.  Rex didn’t know who the burglar would have been, even though he knew some local burglars’.

 

Jake Evans parked his car outside the gates of Fleece House and pressed the buzzer.  Thirty seconds later Maria strode down the driveway.  She looked through the bars of the gate at a middle aged man dressed in jeans and a red T-shirt.  His hair was closely cropped and he had a heavily tanned face that emphasized his liquid blue eyes.

“You come about the gardener’s assistant job?” she asked.

“Yes.  I’m Jake.  Are you the gardener?”

She smiled and shook her head.  “No.  I’m the housekeeper.  It’s the owner, Edgar, who is gardener.  I take you to he, he in the kitchen with brother, Eddie.”  She unlocked the gate and he followed her to the kitchen back door.

“Edgar, this is Jake, he’s come for the job,” said Maria.  Jake stood in the doorway looking confident.

Edgar put his mug of coffee down on the table and took a good, long look at Jake.  “Is there anything wrong with you?” he asked.

“What d’you mean?” asked Jake.

“Have you any faults?”

“I smoke.”

“Nothing else?”

“No.”

“Good,” said Edgar, scratching his chin.  “You can start tomorrow.  Five days a week, nine till five.  Any questions?”

“The pay?”

“Two hundred pounds a week take it or leave it?” announced Edgar.

“I’ll take it.”

Maria had a good feeling about Jake, she didn’t know why, but it was a good feeling.

“Well, Maria, you can see Jake out now.  Tomorrow at nine,” said Edgar.

At nine the next morning Jake pressed the buzzer.  Just like Francis, Jake was invited into the kitchen at first to have a coffee.  Edgar explained to him that he would give him work instructions each morning for what he was to do each day.  He explained that he couldn’t do gardening himself at the moment.  Edgar told him what needed doing that day and then Jake left.  But he didn’t go far, for reasons of his own he hung around the kitchen.

Eddie and Edgar left the kitchen together and soon Maria left to tend to Eddie’s room.  Jake walked passed the kitchen windows and had a good look inside.  As there was nobody in there, he went in and hunted around for any money.  On the top shelf there was a small pot where they kept emergency cash – money for emergency coffee or milk etc. – there was never more than fifty pounds in there and Jake took the lot.  Then he saw Maria’s handbag on one of the seats.  He found her purse and took the money from it.  All in all he had ninety pounds or thereabouts.  He went back into the garden and sat in the greenhouse.  Not only was Jake a thief, but he was lazy with it.

Half an hour later Maria returned to the kitchen.  She saw straight away that the money pot was on the lower shelf and not on the top.  She checked it and saw the money was gone.  She immediately checked her purse and discovered the money gone there as well.  She looked through the kitchen window and saw Jake watching her from the greenhouse.  She decided then to have it out with him.  She went to the greenhouse and saw that he was already eating his packed lunch and it was only ten o’clock.

“Have you been in kitchen recently?” she asked him, walking down the greenhouse towards him.

“Yes, I had a coffee about an hour ago.  You were there.”

“Don’t get smart with me, you understand.”

“Why, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Some money is gone.”

“I don’t know anything about it.”

“I thought so.  I’ll just tell Edgar.”  She turned round and began to walk down the greenhouse towards the exit.  He bounded up to her and grabbed her wrist.

“You know what he’ll do, he’ll sack me.”

“You should not stolen the money then.”

She wrenched her arm free and continued down the greenhouse.  He saw an empty ceramic flower pot by his side and instinctively picked it up and bashed her over the head with it.

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