Helen sat at the patio table staring at the stack of hundred dollar bills her husband just sat down in front of her. There was a large crack running down the center of the table, and the chairs were uneven. Helen looked into Bill’s weathered face. There were new wrinkles surrounding his bloodshot eyes, and gray hairs that hadn’t been there just two months earlier. She sighed and pushed the money back across the table to him.
“Where did you get it, Bill?” Helen asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” Bill said, “just take the money.”
“Bill, don’t do that. Tell me where you got the money.”
“I pawned a few things.”
“Pawned a few things?” Helen asked, “What do we have left to pawn? We’re living in a motel for God’s sake!”
“It was some of my mother’s old jewelry. Some necklaces and stuff like that.”
“Bill, don’t hand me that crap. You and I both know that every piece of jewelry your mother owned was rhinestone. If I go turn on the TV, what am I going to find? Convenience store robbery? Bank heist? What?”
“Helen, just don’t.”
Helen stood from the table and walked through the sliding glass door into the motel room. The maid had just been there and made the beds, but Helen put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door anyway. She walked over to the television, turned it on and began flipping channels. Bill sat on one of the beds and put his head in his hands.
“Helen,” he whispered, “please don’t.”
Helen continued flipping the channels until she came across a news report. She turned up the volume.
“The masked man claimed he had a bomb,” the reporter said, “and demanded all the money in the safe. He was caught by security camera’s driving away in this car.”
Helen turned the television off and threw the remote into the armchair. She sat down on the other bed and ran her hands nervously over the comforter. It felt course and uncomfortable under her skin. She took a deep breath and looked at Bill.
“That was our car, Bill.”
Bill remained silent with his face still in his hands. He was breathing heavily, and let out a sob. Helen stood and grabbed Bill’s shoulders.
“Bill! That was our car! What the hell were you thinking?”
“I did it for you” Bill shouted, he stood and stared Helen in the eyes. “I did it for you.”
Helen stared at him for moment and then reached into her pocket, pulling out her cellphone.
“It’s my mom,” she said, looking at the screen, “just give me a minute.”
Helen walked back out on the patio, closing the glass door behind her. Bill sat back down on the bed and stared at the blank television. Tears ran down his face and he began rocking back and forth. He looked out at Helen on the patio and could see her crying as she talked on the phone. Finally she hung up the phone and walked into the room. She closed the door behind her and leaned against it, staring at Bill.
“I did it for you,” he said.
“So you claim.”
“I know that this is all my fault, Helen. It’s my fault that we lost the house, it’s my fault that we’re here in this motel. I was just trying to make it right.”
“So you robbed a grocery store? How does that make it right?”
“I didn’t want you to know where the money came from.”
“Did you think I wouldn’t question it?” she asked, “you just show up here with hundreds of dollars and I’m not supposed to wonder where it came from? How dumb do you think I am.”
“It’s my job to support you!”
“Not like this! It isn’t right.”
“No, Bill. Don’t say anything. They’re coming.”
“What do you mean? Who’s coming?”
Bill walked to the patio door, opened it and heard sirens approaching. Blue and red flashing lights began to appear in the parking lot.
“I’m sorry,” Helen said, “I had to, it’s isn’t right.”
“I love you,” Helen said, as someone began banging on the door.
“Police, open up,” a voice boomed from the hall.
Bill nodded slowly and looked at Helen. He wiped the tears from his face and stood up, kissed her and walked to the door.
“I love you too,” he said, and he opened the door. “And I don’t regret it.”
© Copyright 2016 H Coffman. All rights reserved.