I was not planning a short story for today, but that’s what is happening anyway. When you are jolted out of sleep at 3:28am to the sound of 5 quick gunshots, the brain juices start flowing, even if you’d rather fall back to sleep. We got up and checked our surveillance cameras. While the shots were certainly nearby, they weren’t close enough for us to capture any footage of what happened. For a long period of time after that I just laid there, thinking up scenarios that could result in middle of the night gunfire in a residential neighborhood…
“I’m telling you, there is a fortune in there.” Jesse whispered from his crouched position in the bushes outside of Mr. Butler’s home. “I saw where he kept it when he paid me to mow the lawn yesterday. Follow me.”
Thomas was skeptical. His older brother was always getting him into trouble. At just 17 years old, Jesse had already been in and out of juvenile detention centers more times than Thomas could count. He did not wish to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but he feared his brother. Jesse was 4 years older and had a temper to compliment his penchant for stealing.
Besides, Mr. Butler certainly did not life a lavish life. His home was old and dilapidated. He didn’t own a car. Jesse & Thomas’ mother often drove Mr. Butler to the store and to his appointments. Even if there was an actual treasure in there, he couldn’t imagine it was enough to justify what they were about to do. “Jesse, c’mon, lets just go home. I have a bad feeling about this.”
“He’s an old man, Thomas. Nothing is going to happen you little chicken.” Jesse teased. With that he crept around the corner of the home, still concealed by the thick shrubbery surrounding the house on 3 sides. Jesse sighed and reluctantly followed.
The rustling of leaves, the snapping of twigs beneath his feet, and his own heartbeat were the only things Thomas could hear as he followed his brother closely. It felt like a bad dream. Thomas was convinced that he would wake up, warm and snug in his own bed, at any moment.
“There! An open window.” Jesse reported. “Come here. I’ll give you a lift.”
“I’m not going in first!” Thomas objected.
“God you baby, you have to go in first. You can’t reach that window without help.”
Reluctantly Thomas conceded to his brother’s reasoning. He put his right shoe into his brother’s cupped hands and allowed himself to be hoisted up to the window. He quietly opened it wider and shimmied his way through. Once inside he turned and whispered nervously to Jesse, “Ok, your turn.”
“Relax, I’m coming. Is the coast clear?”
“I don’t know. I’m in the bathroom. The door is shut.” Thomas replied.
“Well open the door and check, idiot.” Jesse insisted.
Thomas felt like he could cry. He didn’t want to be there. His eyes began to well with tears.
“Thomas! IS THE COAST CLEAR?” By this time Jesse was almost through the window. Thomas knew better than to ignore his brother’s orders. He also knew not to let his brother see him cry. He inhaled deeply, closed his eyes and pushed the bathroom door open…
Eugene Butler was born during The Great Depression. A blue-collar man, he never learned to trust financial institutions with his hard-earned income. He did things the way his father did things. He kept his cash where he could see it; at home, locked in a vault. After witnessing a number of times what the desperate were willing to do for cash, he obtained a Glock .9mm to defend his keep.
Eugene lamented his decision to allow that hoodlum, Jesse, to see his hidden stash. It frustrated him that he suffered such a lapse in judgment. That kid was a neighborhood plague. His mother was a kind woman, but worked long hours outside the home. She could not keep tabs on the boy. Eugene thought by paying the kid to do odd jobs he could deter Jesse from finding further trouble. Unfortunately, the effect had been the opposite. The more money Jesse made, the greater his desire for material possessions became.
Eugene’s dissatisfaction with himself kept him awake most of the night. It was almost 3:30am when he got up to warm himself a glass of milk. He was in the kitchen when he heard the sounds of whispers in the adjacent bathroom. He moved swiftly and quietly. Without flipping on a light or making a sound, Eugene retrieved his Glock and returned to the kitchen. He stood in the darkness and waited.
Eugene lingered in the shadows holding his breath as the bathroom door slowly opened. He already regretted what he had to do. Jesse was dangerous. Not only that but he had at least 1 accomplice with him. Eugene was old. He could no longer defend himself with his bare hands. The gun shook in his trembling hands. Damn it, kid. Why did you have to prove me right this time? Eugene thought.
The door opened completely. Eugene aimed in the direction of the activity and squeezed the trigger.
As soon as Eugene heard the thud of a body hitting the floor, he turned on a light. He was mortified by what he saw. He immediately fled to call 9-1-1. Jesse began to wail.
“Thomas! Thomas!! No, no, no, no, Thomas, no,” Jesse pled as he cradled his brother’s head in his lap.
The 13-year-old began to cry. “Jesse, please can we go home now?” Thomas asked through gasped breaths. His little body then seized and began to shake. A few long seconds later, he was gone.
Jesse sat there, covered in blood, clutching his little brother’s body until police arrived. He readily offered his wrists to the officers without making eye contact. He continued to stare at his only sibling, lying there motionless. His desire to undo what he had put into motion consumed him. He longed to bring his brother back. As they placed handcuffs on him, Jesse finally fully understood what his mother had always told him, “He who is greedy is always in want.”
Remember, if you have a Greed post to share, comment on this post with a link so we can check it out.
Outstanding photo “Seven_Deadly_Sins__Greed” by the very talented stay_young on DeviantArt.com.
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