This is the third part of a fiction serial, in 960 words.
Rodney had a date in mind. Phil had told him when he was next due to spend the day cleaning the windows at the Calder house, and Rod decided they would do it on the Monday, the day before. That left just a couple of weeks to finalise the plans. Phil hoped it wouldn’t be enough time. Maybe Rod would get bored with the idea, realise how hard it would be, and just forget the plan completely. They would laugh about it over beers and pizza, next time they were watching their team.
But he had to give his friend credit for preparation. Rodney had bought some things already. An old laptop which he would use at wi-fi hotspots only, then burn or bury after the job. Cheap pay-and-go mobile phones which would be used to contact the family, then destroyed. Then most impressive of all, he told Phil about the old one-hand crossbow, recovered from a rubbish skip at the Zoo. They used to use it to dart animals with a sedative, but they had upgraded to a specialist rifle now, and had thrown the old crossbow away. Rodney would use it to sedate the girl, with animal sedative taken from work. Just tiny amounts at a time, which would go unnoticed. He had even estimated her weight for the correct dosage.
“It’s like this, Phil. Too much, and we might kill her, Not enough, and she will come round too soon. So I have worked out her weight, based on her height and overall size. I estimate she is something like fourteen stone, so eighty-nine kilos, or two hundred pounds, if you prefer. I sneaked a look at the charts at work, and got the dosage for a two-hundred pound animal. We will only get one shot as I only have the one dart, and it should be in her upper thigh for preference”. Phil adopted an expression of being impressed with his friend’s forethought, though inside he was beginning to realise that this thing was really going to happen. “We will need masks and overalls for the job, because of the CCTV at the house. I can get those from street markets, pay cash, not attract any attention. We will have to find a spot where I can park my car without it being seen. No good using your work van, as it is sign-written. Then we will have to carry the girl to it of course, and that won’t be easy. I will think of something”.
Phil thought for a while, pretending to be digesting the information. “How will you get her into the Zoo without being seen, Rod? His friend smiled. “That’s the easy bit. I can put her in the boot, and just drive into work. There is parking close to the closed-down section, and nobody will think anything of seeing my car there. And there are all sorts of hand-trucks and devices for moving weights around. I can easily get her into the old Lion cages unnoticed. Phil nodded, staring at his battered Converse. So what do I do? What is my part in this? It’s not as if I can help you out at the Zoo”. Rodney reached over and patted his friend’s arm. “I need you to help me get the girl to my car. Then I will need you to make the arrangements for the ransom, and do the pick-up too. I can’t chance being away from work for too long, as I have to keep an eye on the girl. I have even put down to work extra shifts. I told them I need more cash to get a better car. Anyway, none of this could have happened if you hadn’t told me about the Calders in the first place”.
Swigging some Pepsi from a can, Phil told himself he wished he had never said anything about that house. His life was about to change beyond all comprehension, and he was swept up in events without having the slightest idea what he was doing. But when Rodney had gone home, he went over it all in his mind, sitting in the dark. It might just work.
Rodney lay back in the bath, letting the hot soapy water remove the smell of the animal sheds. He was sure he could count on Phil. They had always been a pair, since meeting at school. They followed the same team, looked out for each other in the playground, and spent every weekend and holiday break together. Neither of them had done well academically, and when Phil had ended up working as a window cleaner, he had got the job at the Zoo to stay in the same town, and be close to his best friend. Though they had both met girls over time, none of them had been special enough to break the bond between the boys. They would do this, and it would work. Because they had total trust, and would never let each other down.
Marjorie had decided not to go to the shops with Marta. The woman returned with a box from the jeweller, and showed her the contents. A heavy gold chain, with a large ‘M’ hanging from the centre. She slid it across the breakfast bar, as Marjorie ate a snack. “You might as well have it now. He is not going to be here for your birthday, so there”s no point wrapping it.” When the girl just nodded, Marta raised her voice. “Its’s expensive, and will look really nice. You could at least be grateful!” Putting down her plate, Marjorie removed it from the box and hung it around her neck, snapping the clasp into place. Marta grinned.
“See, it looks lovely. What did I tell you?”