Megan couldn’t make up her mind about where to put the money. At the convenience store, they’d all agreed to stick to the letter of Mr. McAllister’s request. He’d told Megan to look after the money.
“I’m not the right person to handle this,” she’d told Rose, the assistant manager at the Shopaminit. “I mean, I have a grandson to look after.”
Rose looked her hard in the eye and then pointed at her own swollen belly.
“I got problems of my own. I think we ought to do what the man says and try not to piss him off.”
“We should have told the police,” she’d said.
“Should-a, could-a, would-a and no.”
The clerk again explained that none of the knew exactly who they were dealing with and while turning the money into the authorities might be the right, legal thing to do, it could be that the owners of the money were not all that impressed with right, legal things.
They might take it personal that the three of them hadn’t followed Skip McAllister’s very simple instructions.
“Besides,” Rose said. “The lock on the back door to my place has been broken for a couple of weeks, ever since I kicked my useless boyfriend out. I need to get that fixed. The briefcase will be safer with you. Just hide it someplace safe and don’t think about it.”
“It will be fine, Grandma,” Andy said. “There are lots of good places to hide stuff at your house.”
And there had been. She and Andy had spent the better part of three hours, moving the briefcase around her small house, hiding it under furniture, in the refrigerator, the attic before finally just deciding to stash it in the linen closet, underneath the bedsheets and blankets.
Neither of them could imagine any reason why anyone would want to look at their linen closet.
“How long do you think we’ll have to keep it?” She’d asked her grandson.
Andy shrugged. “If he gets better, probably just a couple of days. If something happens to him, I don’t know.”
“If he dies, do you think someone will come looking for him?”
“How would I know?” He’d asked.
Andy really would have no idea. He was 10, though Megan knew that he listened to a lot of that gangsta rap. Megan couldn’t stand it, didn’t like the vulgarity and sexual contact or the references to violence. She wished Katherine didn’t let Andy listen to that kind of thing, but she supposed they had to if they were going to fit in with those people.
Megan hated the way that sounded in her head. She watched “This Is Us” on television and voted for Barack Obama twice.
She smiled at her grandson and said, “Oh, don’t listen to me. I’m just tired. We should just lock up the house and call it a night, don’t you think? It’s late.”
Andy seemed to go along with that, but said he needed to get himself a snack before bed.
Megan thought he was starting to get a little chunky around the middle. If he kept eating the way he did, he was going to turn into a full-blown butterball.
Katherine needed to use a firmer hand with the boy.
“Just clean up your mess,” she’d told him.
It was after midnight by the time either of them got in bed. Megan couldn’t sleep. She watched the clock and the windows. The headlights of every car that passed promised doom and destruction. She was certain the mob or the FBI or drug lords or somebody was going to come crashing through the front door with guns blazing.
But there was nothing.
With a dull carving knife tightly in her hands, Megan laid flat on her back and stared at the ceiling above her bed. She halfway wished Richard was still here. He’d been a decent husband up until he decided he wanted throw away 35 years of marriage on a 24-year-old yoga instructor.
Megan hated him, but she also missed him. She missed the security of having a man around to deal with the day-to-day unpleasantness, like hauling off the garbage, crushing spiders in the kitchen and maybe taking the occasional bullet.
When they’d been married, Megan had never doubted that he’d jump in front of bus for her if she needed him to. He’d been willing to do almost anything she asked.
To herself, she acknowledged that she might have been a little more willing to reciprocate.
Megan regretted that Richard had taken his hunting rifles with him. He’d never actually been much of an outdoorsman, but he’d kept a couple of rifles around in case anyone asked him to tag along.
Back when they’d both gone to the Baptist Church up the road, he’d gone out every couple of years, not often enough to need to buy a new box of shells every year, but often enough that he had to keep his shotgun and rifle clean.
She wished she still had the guns. Maybe she could’ve even figured out how to use one of them, if it came down to it. She hoped it wouldn’t, but Andy was counting on her.
Then there was the money to worry about. What were they going to do with it if Mr. McAllister died?
In the best of possible worlds, they would split it three ways, just not three equal ways.
Rose had guessed there was about a million dollars in the briefcase, which was a good guess, but it was off by about another half. If they did end up splitting the money, it seemed perfectly fair to Megan that she and Andy should get the lion’s share. They’d been tasked with keeping the money. They were taking all the risk.
So, they would divide the million Rose knew about and keep the rest.
Megan would have to keep that extra half-a-million, of course. She would keep the money for both of them. Andy was only 10 and naïve. He’d think everybody getting an equal share was the right thing to do.
It just wasn’t.
If they got to keep the money, Megan imagined taking a couple of cruises. She and Richard had only done that once. They’d gotten a deal on a cruise to Alaska, which turned out to be a cruise for Gospel music.
She and Richard had been good Baptists. They’d gone to church together every Sunday for more than 35 years, but he complained that they locked up the liquor and she regretted that the casino had been shut down during the entire trip.
Of course, back then she didn’t gamble, not really. Back when she and Richard were married, the only gambling she did was to play purse bingo at the church or give a couple of dollars to a raffle.
She would like to try gambling on a boat. It sounded like fun.
They would put money aside for Andy’s college, of course. Maybe she could funnel a little money to her daughter, maybe pay for her to get a nursing degree or take a cosmetology course, something that could lead to a better life for her.
Megan would like to fly out to Vegas, too. She’d talked about going, back when she was part of that little club of women who took the bus to the casinos in the tri-state. They’d all talked about going, but Megan had never actually made the trip.
She would be reasonable and only take 10 or 15,000 dollars. She wouldn’t blow it all. She’d take the money around –play the tables at one place, play the slots at another, maybe go see a show.
That sounded like fun. Maybe she could try Atlantic City and if things went well, fly to Hong Kong.
She was actually breathing a little hard, just thinking about it.
“Just calm yourself,” she mumbled to herself and put the knife next to her alarm clock on the nightstand. “You’ll drive yourself crazy, if you keep it up.”
Finally, she sighed, closed her eyes and went to sleep.