by Than Pence
I wake up late and Mrs. Beiderman's car alarm won't stop!
|I was home from work on a Wednesday. I rarely got Wednesdays off but my manager said they had it covered, so I just lounged around the house after rolling out of the bed at 9:00 or so. I turned on the TV but nothing was on. Nothing good, anyway.
I was still in my sleeping clothes – boxers and a holey T-shirt – when I went to start the shower. It took just over a minute for the water to heat up so I decided to use that time wisely and go start a fresh pot of coffee.
In the kitchen, I was just putting new grounds into the machine when I started hearing a car alarm go off. It was very close. That next door? I asked myself.
I went to the window and saw Mrs. Beiderman’s side lights blinking dimly in the daytime. Sure enough, the sound was coming from her car. I was confused because I didn’t see anyone messing with the car. Must’ve been that stupid cat of hers. Mrs. Beiderman’s cat, Ginger, was notorious with causing neighborhood mischief.
But the alarm didn’t turn off.
I decided to see if I could get Mrs. Beiderman to turn it off herself. I put on my paper-getting slippers and walked outside. I didn’t feel awkward with my wardrobe: everyone else in the neighborhood was at work and Mrs. Beiderman was half-blind.
Walking across the short distance to her house, the alarm got louder and I started having to cover my ears. I walked by it quickly and shuffled up the front steps. I knocked on the door but heard nothing. Old bat’s probably half-deaf too, now that I think about it. Must be if she can’t hear that friggin’ horn. I banged on it this time and heard something inside break. I pictured the elderly widow staggering around the house, knocking things over, just to come to the door. I immediately felt guilty and looked into the small window on the side of the door.
I saw a man inside.
He was young. Younger than me. And he looked panicked when he saw me through the glass. He ran around a corner in the house and I found myself shouting Mrs. Beiderman’s name and pressing the door handle with hopes of prying the door open. But it didn’t budge and my heart was racing.
I quickly ran around the other side of the house and saw the man sprinting out of the back door. He was dressed in black: black jeans, a leather jacket – Who wears leather in this heat? – but no mask. His blonde hair seemed to glisten in the sun and I could tell that he was scared. I didn’t chase him.
I ran into the house to find Mrs. Beiderman on the floor next to her coffee table. Her keys were in her hand and I realized that she had pressed the panic alarm on her key chain. I knelt down but didn’t want to touch her. I couldn’t tell if she was still alive or not.
Looking around the room, I saw it was a mess. I could only assume the rest of the house was in the same shape. I couldn’t fathom what the man could’ve been looking for.
Mrs. Beiderman stirred and I felt my breath catch. “Are you all right?”
“Where’s Jacob?” she slurred around a fat, bruised lip.
“My grandson. Where is he?”
I immediately began to panic at the idea that a baby was still in the house somewhere. It was a total wreck. I strained to listen but didn’t hear any crying.
“What room did you leave him in?” I asked while standing in preparation to dart to whatever room she blurted out.
Mrs. Beiderman sighed and turned onto her back to cradle her wrist against her chest. “Not any room. The man that was here. Where’d he go?”
“He ran away.”
She looked pained. “He asked for some money. I said I didn’t have any to give but I was lying.” She started crying and continued speaking around sobs. “I should’ve given it to him. His mother told me not to, but I should’ve. I should’ve.”
Mrs. Beiderman broke down and couldn’t say anymore. I swallowed hard and realized that the car alarm outside was still going. I reached for her keys and silenced it. The lack of honking horn was deafening in my ears and it felt like an eternity passed before I called the police with Mrs. Beiderman crying protests against my actions the entire time.
The police questioned me and kept me there for over an hour. When I got back home, the shower was still running. It was too cold to bathe so I turned it off and drank my coffee, despite how bitter it tasted.
Word Count: 803