Stealing A Million

Entry by: jaguar

3rd May 2018
When we were children we talked about ways of stealing a million. I had strict rules. No one should get hurt so the million couldn’t belong to somebody. That was impossible so maybe a very, bad person you said. We thought of the baddest person we knew. That person changed, bad seemed to get darker as we grew older. At the beginning it was a gruff teacher we called Mr. Gremlin but that was when we didn’t really understand how rich you had to be to have a million.

In our teens we turned our attention to Mrs. Davies. She and her ugly daughter lived alone in a big house with a long. thin strip of garden to the side. If you so much as played on the pavement in front of the house she shouted at you. She threw things too turning annoying her into more of a challenge. Several times a week we would dash to the bottom of her garden and back ducking the stones she lobbed. The daughter never left the house so we didn’t actually know she was ugly but why else would she sit inside with the curtains drawn and her face obscured by a hood?

The stones got sharper, more like flints and when one cut your cheek we began to plot in earnest. The daughter worried me but you said she would probably be glad to get out of that house, she was a prisoner there. Once we got the money we’d pay for her to have surgery, make herself beautiful. That made sense. Sometimes people have to be made to do things for their own good. That’s what Mum said when they took Dad away.

What I couldn’t work out was how to make Mrs. Davies give us her house. Whichever way I came at it she didn’t seem to be in the picture anymore. She wouldn’t do it voluntarily – she hated us. I thought we’d better check what her current will said so I broke into her house at night. I didn’t take you because someone always seemed to get hurt when you were around.

It was easier than I’d imagined. There was a spare key under a hideous frog plant-pot by the front door. You’d have thought she wanted to be burgled but I took nothing, just rifled through the papers in her desk, got lucky again and found her will. The next day I showed it to you. As we’d expected it left everything to her daughter. The witnesses could have been a problem but we knew both of them died last year. ‘So Ugly Daughter gets it all.’

‘Not for much longer,’ you said and got to work creating a will that favoured you and me. By the time you’d finished it was only the names that distinguished the genuine one. ‘Now,’ you said, ‘all we have to do is make her like us so people will believe she meant this.’

We never worked harder than we did that summer. We trimmed her overgrown hedges, did her shopping, washed her car but nothing softened her attitude towards us. It was your idea to try and befriend the daughter. I’d left school and was doing nothing so you sent me in. I waited for Mrs. Davies to go out and knocked on the door. There was a shuffling sound like something inhuman was creeping down the corridor.

She was nothing like I’d thought. Her hood covered a frail elf-like face but she was pretty. Too pale and thin but she gave no impression of illness. ‘Hi,” I started, ‘my name’s Jess. I’m doing door-to-door friendship.’

She didn’t reply but shrank even further back from the doorway to indicate I should enter. I went into the dark house. It smelt of cooked cabbage. I followed her into the front room. The curtains were drawn. She stopped and faced me. ‘I’m Ellen. This is my house.’

It felt as if she knew what we had planned. Her stare made me face the part of the scheme I hadn’t wanted to think about. In order for us to inherit Mrs. Davies would have to die. You were planning to kill her. All that rubbish about imprisoning her daughter was a fiction. I had no idea why Ellen was housebound. ‘Why do you never go out?’

To my surprise she laughed. ‘Have you made up stories about me? I used to do that when I was young. I can’t go out in daytime. I’m allergic to sunlight.’

‘But can’t they do something? Give you some drugs?’

‘They’ve tried but nothing’s worked so far. It’s awful for Mum always having to sit in the dark. She’s petrified kids like you might break a window or something, put me in danger. I’m sorry she shouts so much.’

‘That’s OK. We didn’t know. If we’d known we wouldn’t have.’ I meant it too but I didn’t think the same was true of you. As we got older you'd changed. Sometimes your intensity scared me. My friendship with Ellen took over from my hanging out with you. She and I started writing stories together. At first you did the illustrations but you soon got bored. By the time we were published you’d left town and we'd dropped your rubbish drawings.

I heard you were in prison for a while. I tried to get in contact but I was so busy at the time. Ellen couldn’t do any of the publicity because of her condition so I seemed to live in hotel rooms in big cities. I thought of you but I never made contact. Then last night Ellen called to say her mum had died.

Ellen and Mrs. Davies never moved despite all the money our books made. I wonder what happened to that forged will. I'm not too worried because I’d put the genuine will back in the desk ten years ago. If you turn up and try to make a claim I only have to confess to our childhood prank. There's no reason for me to feel this dry-mouthed panic.

Somebody is hammering on my door.