Jason sat in the back seat, his stomach in knots. His world spun madly around him.
“Hey, hand me another beer”, Kevin bellowed as he darted around the SUV.
“Dude … are you sure you should have another one?” Jason questioned while reaching for the 12-pack.
“What are you, my mom? Hand me another freakin’ beer!”
“You sure that family is gone?” asked Mark from the passenger seat.
“Yeah”, replied Kevin, yanking the bottle cap off with his teeth. “Their kids posted it all over the Internet. They took the boat to Tahoe for the week.”
Jason’s heart beat like an African drum as he wrestled with the events that lead to this moment. A year out of high school, he had only met Kevin and Mark a month ago when he started working at the body shop. After frothing at the mouth at the sight of Kevin’s souped up ’68 Dodge Charger, Kevin obliged Jason’s appetite for muscle cars and took him on a thrill ride. Along with Mark, the trio made a pit stop at the liquor store and headed to a lookout above the city. This was the usual M.O. for Kevin and Mark, and Jason quickly found himself an unofficial member of their motley crew. He didn’t even like the taste of the beer, but he was obsessed with that car and these guys seemed pretty cool.
“Jason, grab the crow bar”, Kevin ordered, pulling right up into the driveway like he owned the place.
Jason’s pulse spiked. Voices were shouting in his head to jump out of the car and ditch these losers, but he seemed to have no command of his own mind or body. It was as if Kevin owned him.
With crow bar in hand, he followed the guys around the side of the house. Kevin had a plan. He knew where to start, where to search for hidden valuables, what to grab and what to leave. They would be in and out in a much shorter time than most people realize.
Clearly this was not Kevin’s first rodeo. How Jason had chummed up to mere criminals, he did not know. Even more incomprehensible was the fact that he was about to smash a crowbar into a window.
And with that, they were in.
They hadn’t taken more than two steps when a medley of vicious growls and barks emerged from a few feet away.
Jason and Mark jerked back, but Kevin fearlessly crouched down to the Rottweiler’s level.
“Hey big guy! Wanna play?”
Jason stared wide-eyed as Kevin had the dog warming up to him and playing in a matter of seconds.
“I thought you said he’d be in a kennel,” said Mark.
“They must have a dog sitter or something. Come on. Let’s move upstairs so we can get out of here.”
Entering the master, Kevin barked at Jason to empty the jewelry cabinet while he and Mark dumped out drawers and pulled furniture away from the walls. Kevin had been right about valuables being hidden in the master. Within minutes they had found a wad of cash taped to the back of the armoire and more underneath the mattress.
“Check this out!” Mark beamed as he pulled a handgun out of the nightstand.
Jason’s heart almost burst out of his chest. “Oh man! … Guys – “
“Give me that”, said Kevin, grabbing the gun and shoving it in the waistband of his pants.
Just then, a door slammed downstairs.
“Someone’s here!” Jason blurted, stating the obvious.
“Hello Benson!” came the voice of a young woman. “Who’s a good boy?”
Jason could hear her walking to the back of the house, where she would inevitably find the shattered glass.
“Come on.” Kevin directed. “Go for the front door while she’s at the back.”
Grabbing the accumulated loot, they darted for the stairs when a scream came from the kitchen. As Jason leapt from the third step to the landing, the young woman came racing back from the kitchen …
She collapsed to the floor.
“What did you do!” Jason screamed at Kevin, gun still smoking.
Mark stooped over the woman and checked her pulse. “She’s dead.”
“Oh my God … oh my God!” Jason held his hands on either side of his head. “How did this happen?”
The sound of the cell door slamming shut behind him reverberated in Jason’s head like exploding thunder.
Jason would have ample time to grapple with the culmination of what lured him here.
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