I always took a walk with my 14-month-old daughter in the afternoons after work. A single mom, I couldn’t afford to do much else.
It was the beginning of October in our small town in Kentucky. The leaves were barely browning, and a few crunched under the wheels of the stroller as I walked the quiet road near our house. Just a few homes dotted the way and all were owned by people long retired.
Upon making our second round, I see a crumbled and dirty paper laying under a rock in the middle of the street. As I neared and my eyes focused, I could see it was a worn and stained envelope; the corners of money bills peeking through the top. I looked around. I had not seen or heard anyone on the street.
I removed the rock and picked up the envelope. Again my eyes swiveled up and down the street. I suddenly felt exposed and vulnerable. I grabbed the stroller and headed to the safety of our home.
Once inside and behind locked doors, I opened the envelope. It contained $2,000 and a note. It read:
Go to the pharmacy and you’ll find more. Bring the envelope with you.
I looked at my shabby house. I glanced at the pile of bills on the table. My eyes moved further into the kitchen. The sink broke over the summer, and I could not afford to fix it, much less hire a plumber. I was tired of washing dishes in the bathroom. I looked down at my gorgeous sleeping baby. She needed new clothes and a toddler bed.
I left the baby with my neighbor who was happy to watch her when I picked up extra hours at the diner and drove to the pharmacy.
I realized I was still wearing my uniform dress and apron, and wondered if I should have changed so as to conceal where I worked.
Once parked, I scanned the lot. No one was around. The streets were dark, and the pharmacy closed in ten minutes. On top of a trash can with a heavy, metal lid sat a large, flat rock. I got out, heaved the rock to the ground and opened the large envelope that was underneath.
I pulled out a black ski mask, gun, more cash, and another note:
Take care of the pharmacist or we will take care of you and your daughter. When the job is done, put the first envelope with the cash under the rock at the corner of N. 2nd and E. Beall.
I sucked in breath and dropped the note. My thoughts raced.
“What am I doing? Oh God, what am I doing?”
The gun felt strange in my hand. I had never held one before.
I pictured my daughter’s tiny hands and thought of how she reaches to touch my face. I wiped my sweaty palms on my apron, slipped the mask on, and headed into the store.
A note from the author: Freaked out? I hope you enjoyed this work of fiction I penned to celebrate Halloween. The photos are, however, actual crime scene photos.