It would be a crime of opportunity, why rob one condo when the one next door was begging for it. No lights on, no car in the parking space. No ‘Beware of Dog’ sign, not even a hint of any electronic surveillance, or motion sensor lighting. The dead-end street was on the edge of a dark and dense canyon, perfect for a disappearing act if things went south.
A piece of cake, thought the punk as he walked to the rear of the second floor unit. It would mean a climb up to the back patio, but he was young, agile and made his way to the condo easily. Judging by the summer temps, he knew the glass slider would be open. The only thing needed was his box cutter for the screen door.
He wasn’t prepared for the small fountain in the corner of the deck, or the palm, or banana tree as he edged over the railing. One foot slipped on the moss growing on the side of the fountain, the other tangled in a pot of nasturtiums climbing up the banana tree. Worse of all, the slender flashlight he carried in his mouth sunk to the bottom of the bubbler.
Nothing fell over, except the interloper. He held his breath, and cursed his luck, waiting for a light to pierce the darkness. Nothing. Not a light, not a sound except something traveling through the canyon below. Must be a raccoon or a possum, he thought. No sweat. He rolled over, sat up and took off his soaking wet shoe and sock. He’d grab those on the way down.
One little cut into the screen door and his adrenaline was pumping. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the well-furnished living room. He would have to tread carefully, not knock anything over. He didn’t want to toss the place, that could take time he might not have.
He sensed the kitchen area to his right and opened the refrigerator door. There was just enough light to check the cabinets for prescription drugs. He was looking for items he could sell quickly for a tidy profit. Excedrin Migraine, Zyrtec and some baby aspirin wasn’t going to do it. He knew that some people were foolish enough to stash valuables in the freezer, all he found was a two-pound bag of shrimp, a boneless pork roast, a few containers of pasta sauce and a bag full of, not yet frozen meatballs. At least his victims ate well, he thought. He unzipped the baggie and stuffed a few meatballs in his pocket.
To his left was a bedroom being used as a den. There was an antique desk and a twin bed with a spider plant dangling over it. Which he discovered as he felt under the mattress and stood up too quickly. His foot touched on something soft, something that smelled . . . like dog. He hated dogs, cats any thing with fur. How big was this dog? The thief breathed a sigh of relief, it was only a dog bed. An empty dog bed. They must have the mutt with them, he mumbled to himself. The closet had been converted into a pantry, with a stock of cans and other nonperishables – just in case.
Down the hall might prove more interesting. He nudged the bathroom door open, a nightlight spread an erie green glow around the medicine cabinet. Toothpaste, toothbrush dental floss, a night creme, a day creme and something called, Callus Blaster. But no drugs.
The master bedroom was all that was left. Another nightlight, this one brighter. One he could unmount and use as a flashlight. Bingo. He made quick work of the drawers and cabinets under the counter. Cortaide, more toothpaste, dental sticks, a brush and comb in the drawers. The cabinets yielded nothing, unless you counted toilet bowl cleaner, and extra rolls of bathroom tissue. The medicine cabinet was full of old Band-Aids, out of date emergency stuff and nose spray. Who were these people?
Nothing in the nightstands or the computer desk in the corner. The PC was too old and too bulky to bother carrying off the deck. There was just one more dresser to check. He started at the bottom drawer. A tangle of extra cables, a Sennheiser headphone and who knew what else in that jumble. A sock drawer, a drawer for shirts, one for shorts and one for pajamas and then, the motherlode.
The crater-faced crook, with the pierced nose and inked body, almost shouted aloud. He opened a small, red tin box which held a number of gold chains, an envelope with a stash of bills. Only 20s, but who cared. And then, in the under-lovely’s drawer, two prescription bottles nestled among the lace. Oxycodone and Zanaflex. Score! He shook the full bottles and stuffed them in his other pocket. Time to leave before his luck ran out.
He closed all the drawers, put the nightlight back in its holder and headed for the balcony. It was still dark, but going out the front door was too risky. No time to put on that wet sock and shoe, over they went into the soft, red apple ground cover below. He was ravenous, he needed to eat. He could smell the meatballs in his pocket . . . so could the large pack of coyotes who were crouched below the deck.
The alpha male pulled the pouch of meatballs from the terrified punk’s pocket. He devoured one, and shared the others with the females. Some of the pups decided to check out the other punk’s pocket. Small yelps of pleasure could be heard as the pups shook the pill bottles in their mouths. Something good must be in there, they thought as they tumbled down into the darkened canyon.
There was nothing more to eat, certainly not that smelly human, or his stinky sock. Or shoe. The large alpha male gathered the females for their nocturnal hunt. They scurried off yipping and yelping into the blackness.