The Burglar

A burglar is surprised and becomes a hero

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1. The Burglar

"Thanks for doing the breaking bird. Now I’ll do the entering!" The burglar chuckled softly to himself. A black ball cap pulled low on his forehead concealed his face as he studied the fractured sidelight. He was tall, slim and inconspicuous in blue jeans and a baggy hoodie. A dead bird with a broken neck was laying in the flowerbed beside the entry of a soon to be burgled house. The bird was a small falcon known as a Prairie Merlin. Fledgling fliers from the nearby countryside often made their way to parts of the city in the early summer. The well treed lots allowed some safety for practicing important skills like flying, swooping, and diving. When the young aviators’ talents began to exceed the available flight paths the noisy visitors would head back to their natural environment. The intruder could see an alarm system control panel through the sidelight. He was familiar with the system. He pulled his sleeve over his gloved hand and pushed against the cracked window with just enough force to finish the job the falcon had begun. In a matter of seconds, he had unlocked the door, entered the house and locked the door again. Next, he disengaged the alarm system and stood quietly calming his breathing, clearing his head, and listening for any sounds from the homeowners. The house was empty. After over three hundred successful burglaries Ivan had developed a sixth sense about empty houses.


Ivan began his career as a burglar at age ten when his size, flexibility and wit became advantageous to his stepdad Tom. Ivan’s mom Melva met and married Tom when Ivan was nine. When Tom realised the potential of having a young partner he asked Ivan to join him on a “security check”. It took a couple more excursions with Tom before Ivan figured out what was going on and that’s when he realized he was having fun! Tom considered himself a professional and he was happy to share the tricks of the trade with a young admirer who was small enough to enter a basement window, move quietly, keep secrets and open locked doors. While Ivan was not really an admirer of Tom his mom was and Tom was easy going and likeable even if he was not admirable or good dad material. Melva thought Tom was a security guard who worked midnights and changed jobs a lot. She worked part time as a server at Bridgeside Bingo and part time as a cleaner at Falcon City Hospital. When she wasn’t working the late shift, she was usually sleeping, or at bingo or the bar. Wife and mother duties were low priorities for her but she kept the rent paid. Ivan was an independent, resourceful kid and he didn’t seem to mind that she wasn’t home much. As far as she knew he had never had friends over after school but he seemed happy and passed all his classes. He was always busy and never gave her a minute of trouble from the day he gave up baby bottles and stopped wearing diapers! She was delighted when her two guys began to get along so well and she was glad to have Tom around during the day so Ivan wasn’t alone so much.


Ivan was able to come and go pretty much as he pleased simply by avoiding his mother. His main interest was making money and he adapted his days to maintain the identity of a decent hard- working boy. People felt they were being generous paying a kid ten dollars to mow the lawn of their double lot or shovel snow from their twenty-foot driveway. Of course, he provided his own equipment. Ivan considered it wage discrimination. He kept on cutting grass and shoveling snow because he actually liked the physical activity but more importantly it was a way to explain some of the income from his more lucrative occupation. Delivering flyers for a nickel each paid the worst and sometimes there were dogs to deal with, but it became a way to case houses. Ivan viewed it as an entrepreneurial activity that supported his career and generated enough income to buy McDonalds for supper when the cupboards and fridge were bare. Tom told Ivan he was still more of an apprentice than a partner so he was only paid 5% of the take. This was still a lot better return on the time invested than his other jobs. Sometimes Ivan didn't turn over the loose cash he found and Tom never knew the difference.
Tom often reminded Ivan their success as burglars was the result of strict adherence to his basic rules of burglary:
- Get in and out fast. (ignore locked safes, they take too long)
- Leave no marks. (wear gloves, travel light, if it fits in your backpack they won't miss it for awhile, never take your back pack off)
- Disable the alarm in less than a minute (or get out, better luck next time)
- Don't allow surprises. (Relock the door, be still as a rabbit, listen, carry treats in case there’s a dog and look for other exits)
Ivan added one more rule after Tom's theory about dog treats failed. They both got out of the house in one piece that time, but the family pet was a stealthy Doberman that kept Tom's wallet along with the back pocket of his jeans. Since age thirteen Ivan had been carrying on the business alone while Tom had been learning to cook and do laundry in prison.Ivan’s rule - If there is a dog in the house walk away. (don't run or you might look like prey)


With practiced efficiency Ivan started a methodical search of the living room. A quick sweep with his hand down the side of the couch netted crumbs, a dirty tissue, a fiver, and three quarters. He kept the cash and returned the rest to the to the refuge of the cushions. The first door off the living room opened to the garage. The car keys for an Audi were on a hook by the door. He grabbed them and found more change in the car as well as a thumb drive, a fresh package of gum, a road map, a flashlight and a camera. He took the cash and the gum. The camera was an old Pentax of little value but the thumb drive might have some music downloads so he pocketed it. The trunk held a sports bag with runners in his size, but they were a conspicuous shade of lime green so he just took the black shirt. It was smelly but fairly new and the right size. Back in the house he noticed another exit in the laundry room located off the kitchen. By the doorway to the kitchen there was a hallway and two more doorways with a phone on the wall between them. He found the stairwell and silently went up two steps at a time.
There were four rooms. The closest door opened to a girl’s bedroom. The mirror on the dresser was surrounded with pictures of young people who seemed to be enjoying themselves. One pretty face was in most of the photos. She had long dark hair and looked familiar. Maybe she went to his school? The room was neat but dusty and some of the drawers and the closet had empty spaces. It felt like the furniture and adornments were waiting for someone. There was no loose cash but he grabbed a handful of DVDs and pulled a couple of necklaces off the cat shaped jewelry holder on the dresser. The next room belonged to a young man Ivan could relate to. It was a wreck! He followed a pathway of carpet to a narrow bed in the corner while assessing the diverse array of clothing and sporting equipment littering the floor. He found a hockey stick on the headboard and used it to rescue dirty clothes, a couple of interesting magazines (Ivan bagged one of them), plates, cutlery, moldy food remains, and a wallet from under the bed. The wallet held a twenty and a condom. Ivan took the cash and shoved everything back under the bed. A baseball trophy cup held more coins, a bottle opener and a lighter. Ivan took the cash. The pockets of jeans on the floor were empty and the drawers and closet yielded only clean clothes but the hoodie hanging on a hook by the door had a bag of weed and another twenty. Ivan took the cash. There was nothing to see in the bathroom and the master bedroom was the last room upstairs. As usual the pickings were better here. A tray and jewellery box were on top of the dresser. The tray held cuff links, coins and a money clip holding $160. He left a ten in the money clip and took the rest of the bills. The lady’s jewelry box had nothing special but the drawer below had a pistol in a case nestled beside bras and other lingerie. Ivan thought about taking the pistol but located where it was meant someone was prepared for trouble. It would surely be missed so he left it. The jackpot was in the closet. On the top shelf near the back was a metal box with a key in the lock. The coins inside were in protective cases and labelled. He took them all and carefully put the case back as he found it. He checked his watch. He’d been in the house four minutes, time to go. He went down the stairs even quicker than he went up. He opened the first door by the laundry room and found a dog.


He didn’t find just any dog. This dog was SCARY! He was a huge pit bull, a male weighing in at eighty or ninety pounds. Just thinking the words pit bull made Ivan start to sweat but it got worse. The dog was muscle in tight fitting skin. His coat was white with a few grey markings. His belly was pink and his black eyes had an Asian slant with pink rims showing on the bottom eyelid. His head looked like a rock. His ears were clipped into sharp dangerous looking points like a portent of the bite he could inflict. He sat silently and alertly beside a small bed. Ivan stood still, the dog sat still. Ivan was too afraid to even check his watch, but he needed to get out of the house soon. Then something behind the dog moved! The dog quickly turned to look at the bed and that is when Ivan saw the baby. The baby was tiny and new looking, pink and helpless with big eyes and small fists waving in the dog’s face. Ivan’s breath caught. He tried to yell but a harsh, whispered, "No!” was all he could manage. He thought his legs would give out when the dog jumped onto the bed. In disbelief, he watched the dog lick one little fist and use his teeth to pick up a corner of the pink towel covering the baby. The dog tried to pull the towel over the baby's waving arms. As Ivan moved fearfully towards the bed the dog lay down beside the helpless infant. Ivan began to speak softly and reached out to touch the towel. "Hey big guy, whatcha got here? Is it cold? Let me help you." Slowly Ivan pulled the towel over the baby’s arms…


AND THE DOG JUMPED!


The dog jumped off the bed and raced out to the final unopened door. He barked, he whimpered, he whined, he cried. He lay down and snuffled at the bottom of the door. Ivan stepped toward the dog, slowly placing his hand on the doorknob he cautiously opened the door. The dog rushed into the room and Ivan's legs didn’t even try to hold him up any longer. The room was a bathroom and the girl from the photos upstairs was laying naked and pale in a tub half full of bloody looking water. Ivan remembered seeing her around at school, but not recently. Come to think of it he did overhear a group of her friends whispering about someone being pregnant. The dog began licking her face and she did not move. She was really pale, maybe even dead! Ivan crawled to the toilet and vomited and the dog came to him and licked his face. Finally, the spell of fear was broken. “Thanks.” Said Ivan as he awkwardly patted the dog’s head and reached out to touch the girl’s neck. She was very cold, but she was alive. He opened the plug so the tub would drain and flushed the toilet. He splashed water on his face and found towels and a blue blanket in a cupboard in the dog’s room. He didn’t have a cell phone so he went to the landline to call 911. There was no dial tone! What was that all about? He raced back to the dog’s bedroom. Nothing! Then he remembered a backpack he’d noticed on the floor in the laundry room. When he picked up the back pack he tipped over the dog dishes that had been hidden by it. The name on the water dish was Titan. There was a cell phone in the back pack and it belonged to Bella if the crystal encrusted case it wore was accurate. And the battery was dead! He kicked Titan’s water dish so hard it hit the back door and left a dent.


"Okay Ivan," he said out loud "calm down and listen." It took a few deep breaths before he began thinking like a professional again. He had the keys in his pocket and a car in the garage. Was there gas in the car? He raced back to the garage. The gas tank was full. He opened all the car doors and rushed back into the house. He tried to wrap the girl in the towels before he picked her up. She was not too heavy but she was dead weight. He grunted as he pulled her over his shoulder. He tossed the blanket over her the best he could and headed to the car. He tipped her onto the back seat, adjusted theblanket, and raced back. The baby was easy to wrap in the towel. It was a girl. She watched him curiously with her big dark eyes. She was so tiny and almost weightless! He carried her carefully and placed her on the front passenger seat. The dog followed silently and crawled into the foot space by the baby. He sat so his head was touching the towel. Ivan shut the passenger doors and climbed into the driver’s seat. He used the automatic door opener clipped to the visor to open the overhead door and backed the car out of the garage, popped the trunk and loaded up his bike. Then he remembered one more thing. Slamming the trunk closed he ran back into the house. In less than a minute he was tossing the girl’s backpack behind the driver’s seat. There might be things she needed in that back pack.


It was the middle of the night. The only vehicles on the road would be cops. He planned carefully. He could get the girl and the baby to the hospital without meeting anyone if he used the residential streets. Out of habit he kept his back pack on even though he was driving. He only had to drive about ten blocks. Each time he saw headlights ahead or in a mirror he turned at the next corner. He stopped in a driveway a block from the hospital where he could watch the ER doors. A quick check on his passengers confirmed the baby was sleeping with her guardian alert and prepared at her side. The girl hadn’t moved. There was a sheen of sweat on her forehead. Ivan quickly hid his bike in nearby shrubbery, jumped back into the driver’s seat and sped to the ER doors. He braked hard enough to toss the baby but the dog kept her steady. She started to whimper. When he hit the car alarm she started to cry desperately. This shook Ivan up for a second but he knew she would be okay and he took off running back to his bike to wait. He watched a man and woman in scrubs came running to the car. They hesitated when the dog stood up to look out the car window and approached the vehicle more slowly. The man was tall and muscular. He easily lifted the girl out of the back seat as if she was a child and ran into the hospital. The baby was crying almost as loudly as the car alarm. The woman gingerly opened the front passenger door. She held out her hand for the dog to sniff and calmly picked up the baby. The baby’s screams changed to hiccupping sobs. The woman shut the car doors trapping the dog in the Audi and walked briskly into the ER comforting the little bundle of pink towel as she went.


What a night! The sun was rising and the birds were getting noisy. Two of the little falcons swooped across the sky above Ivan. In the aftermath, he felt a little let down. There was nothing more to do so he started peddling towards home. He had an appointment for a driver's test on his sixteenth birthday next week. No one would be surprised that a hard-working kid like him would have saved over $5000 to buy his first car. He’d been getting bored with breaking and entering lately. With a car, he would find a proper job and burglary could become a sideline. He might invite a couple of the girls from school to go for a drive. The girl from the house was pretty. Her skin was silky. But a truck would be more practical. If he had a truck he could earn money hauling things. He stopped peddling. What would happen to the dog? A guard dog riding shotgun in his truck would be practical too. He could get the dog a studded collar! Ivan started peddling back toward the hospital. He had some beef jerky and he still had the car keys. Maybe, with the right motivation, the dog would follow him. He hoped so because Titan sure wouldn’t fit in his backpack. Maybe finding a stray needed a different set of rules. Ivan was looking forward to having a partner again.

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