The Value of Talent (Day 9)

It started small: a piece of candy from the open bin in the grocery store, a pen from the teacher’s desk, or a dirty magazine from his father’s secret stash. As he got older, the items that Daniel would steal increased in value and his schemes were more brazen. He enjoyed the challenge of thievery and considered it more of an art form rather than petty theft. Spending his teen years in a low-income neighborhood gave him ample opportunity to practice his craft.

Now, for his 21st birthday, Daniel had decided to get himself something much more valuable. He had spent the last few days riding his bike through the neighborhood at various times, always passing by the house at 584 Sycamore Way. He knew that every day, between 4:30pm and 5:15pm, the house was completely empty of humans thanks to afternoon Taekwon-Do classes which pulled Mom and the kids away for a while before Dad got home from the office.

He watched as the van pulled out of the driveway and headed down the street. He looked at his watch: 4:31pm. He pulled on his backpack and rode between the side of the house and the privacy fence till he reached the screened in pool area. He quickly lay his bike against the fence, opened the flimsy door, and headed towards the sliding glass doors that lead into the house. He slipped the gloves out of his back pocket and onto his hands before sliding open the door. “They never use that security bar,” he remarked to himself. As he entered, he heard the barking as their medium sized Labrador mutt strode up to him.

Daniel slid out of the left shoulder strap of his backpack, swinging it around to his side as he unzipped the top and pulled out a small steak, tossing it towards the kitchen area. The barking quickly ceased as the dog scurried over to the surprise treat. Daniel disappeared down the hallway, searching for the parent’s bedroom.

He found the door cracked and quickly pushed through, noting the position. 4:34pm. He headed to the dresser on the far side of the room, stepping over a pile of clothes destined for the laundry. He opened each drawer till he found the wife’s lingerie drawer, pulling it open wide. It was a mess of garments, thrown in carelessly. He dug around with his gloved hands until he found the box in the back corner, extracting it from its hiding place. A crown with 5 points was embossed on the top of the box with the word “Rolex” printed below. He shoved it into his bag, closed the drawer, and headed out of the bedroom, pulling the door back to the same position he had found it.

The dog was still finishing up his meal when Daniel exited the same way he came, getting back on his bicycle without removing his gloves and riding the 3 miles back to his apartment.

He got home feeling incredibly satisfied with his diligence, and pulled his birthday present out from the bag. He opened the box to find the glorious Explorer II watch, the light from his kitchen window reflecting off of the polished silver finish. He removed it from the box and turned it over in his hand and noticed the engraving on the back. It read, “To my rock, my love, and my best friend.” He slipped it on his wrist with ease as he leaned against the counter. This was the good life.

This is part of a 30 day series of 2-3 minute short stories written for the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2011. You can view all the stories in the Short Story A Day category.

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