We only left the house an hour ago but it feels like we’ve been driving for a week. Another job out of town. Why can’t these rich people live closer into the city? Closer to my house? Maybe someday I’d know what it was like to live the life of the wealthy suburbanite. Know what it’s like to afford someone like me. I’d be one step closer by the end of today’s job.
My driver caught the song drifting from the door speakers and leaned over to turn up the radio station. “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. My face fell. It felt like a slap. Too kind. Too close a metaphor for my life. I leaned in to turn it back down and, out of habit, glanced at the clock.
The digital clock on the console stopped working at least a year ago. Something else broken in my strange life. I looked down at my watch. Fifteen minutes shy of five o clock. Just a few minutes out now. I ran a mental check of my list of tools in the trunk, trying to remember if I’d packed everything I’d need to successfully pull this thing off. The flashlight. Magnifying glass. Air pump. Everything accounted for.
With a sigh I reached into the backseat and retrieved my shoes. I leaned forward to put the shoes on my bare feet. I hated wearing such heavy shoes in the car but we were running late and I had no choice. I checked my appearance in the visor mirror. Honestly I had no idea why I even checked, things never changed. With a shrug I pushed the visor against the roof. But I still felt antsy. Unsettled.
Though I'd done jobs like this at least a thousand times, today I felt extra fidgety. I pulled the compass out of my pocket and ran a thumb across the warmed brass. Nana's compass. The only piece of equipment she had to get her out of there during the war. Now it was mine. And I never went anywhere without her good luck charm. The arrow pointed Northeast.
My driver leaned over to turn the radio back up and she started singing along with the chorus of some pop song I’d never even heard before. I sighed, rolled my eyes, and pulled out my cell phone to check on things for the final stage.
"Are we cleared for the escape route?"
I received a return text message of just 2 words - "all good" – in less than a minute. The time was near. The getaway was set. We entered the neighborhood. Another swath of beautiful land fallen victim to suburban sprawl. Plant a seed, sprout a house.
As we traversed the streets, I looked intently at each of the homes. Large. Varying shades of tan. Predictable for a developer’s neighborhood. No more than 3 floor plans. Some facades had an inset front door, others displayed a rounded front entrance. Built to look like a castle turret. Cookie cutter. Lame. Every house the same, every neighbor the same, every day the same. But not today. Today was sure to cause some excitement by the end of things.
We pulled over diagonally across the street from my target. A house built on the outskirts of the neighborhood. In the larger plots. It had a turret and at least an acre surrounded the property. Almost isolated. Neighbors would never even hear the screams.
As I got out of the passenger side I spotted the hot air balloon. Splayed out, ready for filling. About ready to carry me out of here. The operator and I nodded at each other as if to solidify the text messages we’d sent just five minutes before. My driver didn't get out but popped the trunk. I pulled out my duffle bag and made my way back around to the window on the driver’s side.
“Three hours. Max. See you at the meet point.”
My driver nodded and sped away leaving me alone in the street with only the hot air balloon to get me out. Everything planned to perfection. I nodded my resolve.
Walking to the front door proved a challenge in my large shoes but I made it, took a deep breath, adjusted my wig and nose then rang the bell. I plastered on my huge, makeup enhanced smile just as the door swung open.
Assaulted by a sea of wealthy nine-year-olds all I could ask was, "Okay, where's the birthday girl?!"
|Written above, Three Hours in Suburbia, inspired by this roll of Rory's Story Cubes.|
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