Wordplay - August 2012
01 Aug 2012
by Michael Grey
Kate closed the door and leant against its inside.
Her cheeks looked flushed and Tom thought he detected a quiet sigh, although the moment was gone too quickly for him to judge. She saw him and seemed to recover from whatever she left outside. Then the flush was gone, replaced by a smile as she stepped from the door.
“Tommy, you can’t just go and make decisions like that behind my back.”
Tom stiffened at his pet name.
Now he saw how she held herself, the way she walked towards him and the coquettish smile; she wanted something. His mind was immediately with the pantry wall, the false partition and the money hidden there.
Hidden, and for how long?
The chances of it being a coincidence, the absolute mind-twisting odds that the money was not there on purpose, were just not worth considering.
So it meant the money was there because his father knew he would live here. As the apartments were being built and he and Kate filled out application form after form, crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, his father knew for certain they would own this apartment. And if he knew ...
“Kate.” He spoke in a way which brooked no argument, stopping her mid-step and wiping the smile from her lips. “Do you trust me?”
She blinked, looked confused … and something else. Concerned? Could he blame her? “Of course I do.”
He broke forward, took her hand, heading for the bedroom. “Then get dressed. Something comfortable. And do it quickly, I’ll answer any questions when we’re out.”
She allowed herself to be herded with only a look over her shoulder and then Tom ran to the kitchen, collecting a gym bag from the closet on the way. His elbow broke the damp plaster easily enough, and he reached in. And stopped.
He looked over the hoard. He could barely believe it was real.
The way his father spoke of it was like it was legend, a story conjured up to lull tired-boy-eyes over that last hill to sleep.
Only it was not a child’s story, either in its theme or as fact. The stories his father told of his grandfather and the war made him realise two things: that he did not want to hear any more and the amount of loathing his father held for Grandfather.
He had grown up thinking it was normal for a father to bear a seething hatred for a child’s grandparents.
It had puzzled Tom when he was younger. His developing mind couldn’t correlate the image of the old man with the kindly eyes above the grizzled beard bouncing him on his knee, to the man in his father’s stories.
There was a fear in his father’s words. A dread he assumed his father had for Grandfather. But now he looked at the money, perhaps it was not just that.
Tom had assumed there was some level of exaggeration in his father’s stories. But the money sat there, testament to his father’s tales and proof of the horrific acts he told Tom were his grandfather’s legacy.
It was easy to assume fear was only one driver for his father’s loathing. He did not think it would be hard to hate a monster.
He shook the thought free and reached to grab the bundles. As he took the first he saw a rectangle of plaster dust and grit where a brick of bound notes had been taken.
God dammit, Kate!
She half-ran into the kitchen as he finished filling the bag.
“Kate, I’m going to ask you something and I need you to be honest with me; we don’t have time for lies or games, okay?”
For a moment she looked as if she would object, but she bit her bottom lip and nodded.
“Where’s the missing money?”
“What’?” She caught his look and changed her mind. “Simon. I gave it to Simon.”
Tom was up in a moment, bag in one hand, taking Kate’s in his other. “I don’t care why, but we need it back. Now. He’s in a lot of danger if we don’t.”
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