by E. H. Jacobs
Hit the glass above the doorknob twice so the hole is wide and you don’t cut your arm. Sam rehearsed Bernie’s instructions in that one-two-three mental monotone that novices always use. It was dark, too dark—damn Bernie had picked the night with no moon for him to do this job. Why the hell did I let him talk me into this?
His hearing magnified by the darkness and the over-caffeinated feeling that made his skin crawl, he heard the glass shatter and the metallic click of the bolt as he turned it and opened the door and, just when he expected silence, he heard this sound, this sound like a small, wounded animal. Squirrel? Rats? Inside, his flashlight illuminated the far wall, next to the back door. Just above the floor, he saw the top of a head hanging between two knees and shoulders heaving like waves undulating with the tide. What the fuck? Bernie said the closer would be gone by now. He shifted his weight, left foot to right, as he saw the head slowly rise and reveal two doe eyes streaked with mascara looking at him.
“Don’t worry, please miss, don’t be afraid, I’m just going to take the cash from the storage room and get outta here,” Sam said rapidly. The girl, she must have been 17…16 maybe, looked at him.
“I’m not gonna hurt you, I have a daughter your…” Sam took a step toward the storage room.
The girl moved her mouth and out came a high pitched, barely audible whimper. “I…I’m not afraid…of you. I…I…oh god, I can’t go home. My father knows…he’ll kill me!” Her shoulders began moving up and down again like the ocean at night, her face wet with new tears.
Another two steps in the direction of the storage room, and Sam stopped. “He knows…?”
“My bratty sister. Must’ve been her. I’ll kill her! My dad’s brand new convertible…he won’t let anyone else drive it…I snuck out with it to see my boyfriend. His parents won’t let him see me. They want him to date Veronica, the pretty, stuck up girl in 10th grade. The one with the red hair and blue eyes. She’s like them,” and her voice lowered, “…rich.”
“I’m sure…I’m sure if you just explain it to him, he’ll under…Oh shit, it’s late, I’ve got to…” and Sam tilted his head in the direction of the storage closet. “Ok, miss…”
“Danielle…my name’s Danielle,” she said and cried fiercely, wetting her cheeks and her chin.
Sam froze. “Ok, Danielle. I’ll just…” and Sam sighed, walked over and sat against the wall next to her. He took her hand. “I’m sure your dad loves you; if you tell him why, he’ll understand.”
They sat against the wall, in silence, in the dark, listening to the sirens grow louder.
E. H. Jacobs is a licensed psychologist practicing in Londonderry, New Hampshire. He is the author of two books on parenting: Fathering the ADHD Child: A Book for Fathers, Mothers, and Professionals and ADHD: Helping Parents Help Their Children, as well as several professional papers and popular articles on psychology, parenting, ADHD, learning disabilities, family therapy, neurofeedback and chronic pain. He wrote the regular column “Life Talk” for the Derry News for six years. He has previously been published in Smoky Quartz. He is a graduate of Vassar College, earned his Ph.D. from Temple University, and completed a fellowship and served as a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School.