SPEECH THERAPY

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
What if a family member discovers that you've committed a crime...? 2nd place winner in a writing competition. Character study.

Submitted: February 13, 2014

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Submitted: February 13, 2014

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Colin stood at the window and the blood ran cold through his veins. His heart beat faster. His fingers tightened on the shiny brass of the window handle. His body trembled from head to toe. Pellets of sweat slipped down his forehead as the truth of the moment hit him like a ton bricks.

A hole in the garden, the size of a dustbin lid, lay open for all the world to see, in the exact place he had buried the briefcase.

He thought of all the excuses; the lies he could tell to get out of it. Insurance money? Give one reason why anyone would bury insurance money. A gift? Name the person who had given such a generous gift. His family would reject him. Treat him like an outcast. He will have to face the full wrath of the law. No way would his mother harbour a criminal in her home. It couldn’t be his brother. Afraid-of-the-dark-Andrew. He would never have dug it out of the ground at night. 

A low knock on his bedroom door startled him. He opened it to find Andrew clutching the soiled briefcase close to his chest. 

“Wanna talk?’ Andrew said, with eyes wide open. 

“C....c....come in.” 

Andrew stepped inside and cautiously sat down on the edge of his bed. 

Colin clenched his fists and his blue eyes drilled into Andrew. His large hands itched. He wanted to throttle him; he possessed the strength to do just that. Huge arms and legs that could kick-start a Boeing. Andrew had no business digging the briefcase out of the ground. 

Colin pulled up a chair and sat opposite him, staring. Unblinking. 

‘I counted seventy-five thousand bucks.’ Andrew said. His urchin face twitched. ‘Is this a bad thing, Colin?’

Colin held his tongue for a moment. As big as he was, he had to think about each word before speaking. At school they called him Scatman. Laughed at him. At home they understood that a person who stuttered needed time to turn words into sentences. He wiped a strand of black hair away from his wet forehead. His hands trembled. He opened his mouth to speak but closed it to avoid embarrassing himself. 

‘Seventy-five thousand bucks is a lot of money. What did you do?’ Andrew clasped the briefcase closer to his chest. 

Colin buried his soccer ball face in his hands indicating that he had no words right now. Each muscle in his body hurt from the tension in the room. His vocal folds, tongue movement and lips, froze. Andrew got up and retrieved a notebook and pen from the desk close to the window. He opened the notebook on the first blank page and handed it to Colin. 

Colin held the notebook at an angle and wrote immediately with his left hand. The words slanted backwards but each letter, written in a slow, almost painstaking manner, screamed out at Andrew.

We robbed a bank. 275,000.

Andrew blinked. For a moment he was speechless.

‘Who exactly?’ He asked.

Steven, Gary and myself.  Steven and gary both claimed 100,000 each. They did most of the work.  I was just the driver.

‘Which bank?’

Does it matter?

‘Which bank, Colin?’

Can’t tell you. It doesn’t matter, does it? The deed is done. I’m not going to beg your forgiveness. 

Andrew fidgeted with the handle of the briefcase. He opened it just enough to peek inside to make sure that all of this wasn’t a bad joke. It was real enough, so real the air around him smelled like money.

‘Hell yes, it matters. You should take it back and hand yourself over. A bank has cameras. And what about the weapons?  Did you use guns?’ 
 

We wore balaclavas and Gary and Steven brandished toy guns.  I can’t take this money back. 

‘It’s not your money to keep.’

It is my money. I worked hard for it. 

Andrew laughed. 'You were supposed to be on holiday.  In the meantime you and your mates were planning this heist. You will never get away with it.'

 We planned it well. Steven cased the joint for several weeks before we came up with a plan.

'What about the people in the bank?  The staff?'

Colin fidgeted with the onyx dress-ring on his finger. Then wrote:  We decided to do it just before lunch when the bank wasn’t too busy.  We would not refer to each other by our real names. I would remain in the getaway car just behind the delivery gate of the bank. It was over in a few minutes. Anyway, how did you know about this? 

‘I lied,’ Andrew said. ‘I didn’t go with mom. You know I hate supermarkets. Yesterday I watched you bury it from my bedroom window and dug it up this morning just before dawn. You could have buried it last week on the day you came home from your so-called "holiday". I wasn't home then. You kept this briefcase in the house all this time?’

He nodded. It suddenly dawned on Colin that he didn’t have to answer any more questions. He had said enough. If Gary and Steven got wind of this, there’s no telling what they would do. They had promised to keep it a secret between themselves. Maybe he should just kill Andrew now, then he wouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of his accomplices. But how? He didn’t own a gun. A knife would do it, but he’d have to clean up the mess afterwards. He could cut him up and dump the pieces in remote areas where no-one would find them. He’d make sure mom understood that Andrew had run away. Easier said than done. He wasn’t a killer. But what alternative was there? Andrew knew too much.

‘I’ve seen that look in your eyes before, Colin. That glazed, hazy look. It’s the same look you had when mom and dad divorced. You never spoke a word for months after that. What are you thinking?’

Colin remained silent; he raised his chin and levelled his nose sighting down its length at Andrew with his hazy, blue eyes. 

‘I mean, look at you.’ Andrew said, ‘You look like a shipwreck. Huge brown bags under your eyes. Greasy hair. You need a haircut by the way. And when last did you shower? You stink. But I think I know what it is…You. Are. Scared. Shitless. You don’t know when the cops’ll come knocking. Take you away. Embarrass us as a family. You don’t know if you’ll spill the beans on your mates. You don’t know shit about the future, do you? You’re wondering whether I’m going to tell mom. Maybe the cops. Maybe the bank will give me a reward. A financial reward. You fear what you don’t know, Colin.’

Colin scribbled on the notepad: SHUTUP! SHUTUP!

Andrew opened the briefcase and turned the money onto the bed. The notes, fresh and crisp in their paper money holders. 

Colin spoke for the first time. ‘A…are…y…y….y…you going to t…t….tell?’

A stream of memories filled his mind: the soccer games in the garden. Splashing each other with water from the hosepipe on hot days. Fighting over ice-creams. Laughing during horror movies. All this had come to pass. During this last year of school, he and Andrew had drifted apart. Andrew had started his own business, selling books at markets on weekends, while Colin had nothing to fall back on. Jobs were scarce. The economy had taken its toll on the family since Dad had died. Mom struggled to support them and downscaled by selling their large house to rent this one. Times were tough. This money would help.

‘If you don't give me half, I will tell everybody.’

‘Half. N….n….n….no way. A kwa…kwa...kwa quarter’

‘A quarter? No, no. That will not do at all.  I expected you to say that. My silence is worth a lot more than just a quarter, brother.' Andrew took the pad and wrote the word HALF.

Colin drew a deep breathe.  How do I know you won't talk?

'Oh, it's called trust.  I'll keep my word, but I want half.

He wrote: If you break that trust, I'll kill you.  I mean it.

'I’ve told mom already.’

Colin scrambled for the notepad and pressed down so hard with the pen that it tore through the paper: What?!!!!!Why? I would have shared it with you. WHY?

Andrew smiled at him. A naughty smile. ‘I told her that I had dug a hole for a tree I want to plant.’

'Oh, just so you know, I’ve already taken out that half. So you’re left with the balance.  And one more thing.  If you want me to keep quiet about this, there's one more teeny weeny thing.'

The tenseness in Colin’s face retreated. He wrote: NO! We made a deal.  You get HALF.  That's it. NO MORE.

‘I don't want more money. I want to be in on the next heist.’


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