HomeStories
Money under the floor | Source: Shutterstock
Money under the floor | Source: Shutterstock

I Notice Money Disappearing From Family Stash and Follow Culprit – Story of the Day

Anton Usatiuk
Apr 08, 2024
03:30 A.M.
Share this pen
FacebookFacebookTwitterTwitterLinkedInLinkedInEmailEmail

I am a truck driver and recently I brought home a significant sum of money earned from trips over the last six months. I hid it in my stash. However, I soon realized that the amount was dwindling. This made me investigate the culprit behind the disappearance and trace the destination of the funds.

Advertisement

As I took my seat at the familiar dinner table, the only sound in the room was the steady hum of the refrigerator. "Name's Nicholas Harrington, but most folks just call me Nick," I would say if you were riding shotgun in my rig. But after months on the road, sitting in this chair feels foreign to me. It's my second day back home, and I feel like a guest in my own house. My truck has become more familiar to me than this dining room where I used to share meals with my family.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

"Alex hasn't been himself lately," my wife blurts out, her words cutting through the silence before I can even take a bite of my meatloaf. She's got worry etched into her face, the kind that's been marinating longer than tonight's dinner.

"Talk to him, Nick. The fight at school? He tried to rob his classmate! It's getting serious."

Advertisement

I glance over at Alex—my boy—with his hair hanging like willow branches over his eyes, trying to hide from the conversation or maybe the world. I clear my throat. "Son, you know where this road leads, don't you?" I try to keep my voice steady, the way I handle my eighteen-wheeler on icy roads.

"Nothing's gonna happen, Dad." Alex doesn't look up, just pushes his peas around his plate, barricading them with his mashed potatoes.

"Nothing's gonna happen?" I repeat, feeling that frustration bubble up inside me. "You think I hauled my ass out of that life for kicks? For you to waltz back into it?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

He shrugs, and I feel the divide between us stretch wider than the miles of highway I cross every week. "It's different now," he mumbles, almost convincing himself.

Advertisement

"Different how, Alex? Laws change? Cops stop caring?" My voice rises, and I see it—the wall he's building, brick by stubborn brick."Listen, Alex," I lean forward, elbows on the table, trying to bridge the gap. "I know it's tough, with me gone all the time. But there's no future in what you're doing. Only dead ends."

"Maybe I want to make my own dead ends." His words hang heavy, and I realize then that this isn't just about rebellion. He's searching for something, and I've been too absent to help him find it.

"Life's not forgiving, son. You make a wrong turn, and it's hard as hell to get back on the right path." I pause, watching him, hoping some part of him understands.

He finally locks eyes with me, and there's a flicker of the kid I used to know. "I just want to make sure you're around long enough to see me try," he says quietly.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Advertisement

The weight of his words sits with me, heavy as a load on a steep grade. This is the longest haul yet, and I can't afford to lose my way—not with my boy's future on the line.The silence that followed was a living thing, thick and suffocating. I pushed my plate away, the remnants of Tara's meatloaf—a favorite that I missed on the road—now a cold lump on my fork.

"Alex," I started, the words feeling like boulders in my throat. "I've been where you are, thinking it's me against them. But it's a dead-end street."

He scoffed, pushing his chair back with a grating scrape against the linoleum. "You think you know everything 'cause you drove a getaway car once?"

"Nick," Tara warned again, her hazel eyes darting between us like she's watching a tennis match she never wanted tickets for.

"Alex," I insisted, "I turned it around because your mom—because we wanted better for you."

"Great job," he shot back, arms folded across his chest, a barricade I couldn't bulldoze through.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"Son—" My voice cracked, and I hated the tremor that betrayed me.

"Stop calling me that!" The chairs clattered as he bolted up, his eyes blazing trails I couldn't follow.

"Where do you think you're going?" I demanded, but he was already at the door, hand on the knob.

"Out," he tossed over his shoulder, and before I could stand, the door slammed shut behind him, leaving a void no truck could fill.

"Nick," Tara said quietly, reaching across the table to touch my hand. "We'll get through to him. We have to."

"Have to," I echoed, feeling the miles stretch out before me, this time not in asphalt, but in the space between a father and his son.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

The clink of silverware against the plates slowly faded, leaving a silence that seemed to echo off the kitchen walls. The scent of roasted chicken lingered, but Alex's chair was empty, his presence replaced by a half-eaten meal and a crumpled napkin. I rubbed my weary eyes, feeling the grit from the long hours on the road.

"Looks like he's turned in early tonight," my wife murmured, her voice carrying a trace of concern that she tried to mask with a smile.

"Uh-huh," I grunted, my mind already turning over the niggling suspicion that had been eating at me. The stash where I kept the substantial sum of cash from my last long haul trip was slowly dwindling—small amounts here and there, but enough to notice. Enough to worry. Pushing back from the table, I stood up, my joints protesting with a symphony of pops and cracks.

"Nick, you okay?" my wife asked, her brow furrowing as she took in my tense expression.

"Fine, just... gonna check on something in the garage," I said, forcing casualness into my voice as I sidestepped her concerned gaze.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

I made my way down the hallway with deliberate quietness, the familiar ache in my muscles reminding me of years spent loading and unloading cargo, of staying alert on the endless highways. My hand hovered over the doorknob to the room where I kept my stash—a little nook hidden behind the guise of cluttered shelves and old tools. It was a habit from my past life, one I couldn't shake.

The door was ajar, just a sliver, and through the crack, I saw him—Alex. My boy. He was hunched over my hiding spot, his fingers deftly flipping through the wad of cash.

"Damn it, Alex," I whispered under my breath, the words a punch to my own gut.

A surge of emotions washed over me—a father's shock at the betrayal, the sharp stab of disappointment. His shoulders were tense, his movements hurried and skittish. That was no ordinary sneakiness; it reeked of desperation. I recognized that look, had seen it in my own reflection years ago when I was knee-deep in trouble.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

I should've confronted him right then and there, demanded an explanation, but my feet were rooted to the floor, heavy as lead. I watched as he peeled off a significant number of bills, his hands shaking ever so slightly. My heart thudded painfully against my ribs.

"Alex," I muttered, though the word never made it past my lips.

He stuffed the money into his jacket, oblivious to my silent vigil, and snuck out of the room with the stealth of someone who had too much to hide. My son was slipping away, getting tangled up in shadows I knew all too well. Shadows I had hoped he'd never have to know.

I leaned against the wall, my mind racing, my pulse hammering. What was he mixed up in? And how had I missed the signs?

"Nick? Everything alright?" my wife called from the kitchen, her voice slicing through the thick fog of my thoughts.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"Everything's fine, love," I called back, the lie tasting like ash on my tongue.

But nothing was fine. Nothing at all.

I bit the inside of my cheek, a restless energy taking hold. The old me would've stormed in, consequences be damned. But this was Alex, my boy, and I had to know the why before I faced the what.

I waited until Alex left home, telling my wife I needed to run a quick errand at the store. As soon as the door clicked shut behind him, I slipped out too, determined to uncover where his stolen cash was headed.

The evening chill clung to my skin as I shadowed Alex from a safe distance. It had been 15 minutes since I'd left the idling rig on a side street, the dashboard clock's glow the last bit of warmth I felt before stepping into the night. My boots whispered against the concrete, but my boy didn't turn, didn't give any sign he knew his old man was tailing him.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

Across the dimly lit avenue, I saw him meet up with that group of guys – the kind I used to run with decades ago, the kind I'd hoped he'd never know. The sight stung; a raw reminder of paths you wish your kid would never walk down. They all huddled together for a moment, and there it was – my son, handing over a wad of cash he had stolen form my stash.

One of them reached into his bag and pulled out a baseball bat, the metal gleaming under the flicker of a distant streetlight. Another followed suite, and then another. As they strapped on masks, transforming from boys to faceless figures, a cold realization crept up my spine.

"Damn it, Alex," I muttered under my breath, feeling the old urge to intervene knotting my fists.

I should've yelled out, should've stopped him right there, but my feet rooted to the spot as they charged across the street like some twisted cavalry. Alex was among them, his slender frame swallowed by the mob.

They reached the hardware store, and without hesitation, the bats swung high and came crashing down on the large display windows. Glass shattered, the sound ripping through the silence of the evening, shards dancing like wicked stars across the pavement.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"Jesus..." I gasped, the noise anchoring the truth I couldn't dodge anymore.

My son, my own flesh and blood, was caught up in the same dirty life I'd clawed my way out of. A life I'd shielded him from with every mile I put between us, driving trucks through endless nights just to put food on the table. And here he was, mirroring the ghosts of my past.

The clang of metal against the shelving units stung my ears. The dim light inside the hardware store flickered as the man, broad-shouldered and bracing himself like a barricade, squared up to the intruders. "Get out!" he bellowed, his voice ricocheting off the concrete walls.

"Split up!" someone cried from the group. Their movements were erratic, like startled birds taking flight in all directions, but Alex... Alex was caught. The man's hands clamped around his arm with an iron grip.

"Let him go!" My voice sounded foreign, guttural. It ripped from my throat before I could think. I was moving, barreling across the street, jacket hoisted to cover my face. Every instinct I'd honed on the streets years ago surged back to life, propelling me forward.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

I slammed into the man with the full weight of a father's desperation. We stumbled, a tangle of limbs and curses. For a second, just one second, his grip loosened on Alex.

"Run, Alex! Run now!"

But then it happened—the moment that stretched and snapped like a rubber band. The man's hand shot out, quick as a snake, and yanked the mask from Alex's face. His eyes, wide and too much like his mother's, met mine. Fear lived there. Regret lived there.

"Go!" I growled, pushing Alex toward the shattered window, our only exit.

My legs burned as we sprinted into the night, the cold air biting my lungs. Our footsteps were a desperate drumbeat against the pavement, a rhythm that spelled out our escape or our end.

"Keep running," I panted to Alex, knowing the darkness was a blanket that could smother our sins—or a shroud for our downfall.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

We disappeared into the night, swallowed by shadows and silence, leaving behind the echo of our flight. My boy and I, bound by blood and bad decisions, raced through the dark, each step weaving us tighter into a web of secrets that clung with the persistence of the past.

The moment the front door slammed behind us, my voice was already clawing its way up my throat. "Alex! How could you be so damn reckless?"

He spun on me, his brown eyes flaring with a defiance that matched my own. "You're one to talk!" he shot back. "You used to steal cars, Dad! You were knee-deep in crime!"

My anger faltered, stumbling into guilt. "I was," I admitted, the words scraping out like gravel. "And I'm sorry for that. I've turned it all around. You don't know how lucky I am not to have ended up behind bars."

"Sorry doesn't cut it!" The volume of his voice rattled the hallway pictures. "You were never there! Always on the road, hauling loads while I was growing up without a dad!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

He didn’t wait for my response, just stormed off to his room, leaving the air thick with unsaid words and regret. The slam of his bedroom door echoed like a gavel, sentencing me all over again to a past I couldn't change and a present slipping through my fingers.

Next morning I jolted awake to the staccato rap of knuckles on wood, my heart bucking against my ribs. Squinting through the morning haze, I caught the glint of a cruiser's black and white through the gauzy curtains. No good news ever rode in on the back of those flashing reds.

"Alex," I hissed, crossing the creaky floorboards to my son's room with a quiet urgency that only years of less-than-legal exploits could hone. He was sprawled across the bed, a mess of limbs and tangled sheets. "Get up. Now. Basement. Cellar." My voice was a low rumble, barely above a whisper but carrying all the weight of impending danger.

He blinked up at me, confusion etched on his too-young face, but he knew better than to argue. With a nod, he slipped from the bed and vanished down the hallway, his footsteps a ghost's whisper.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

I took a steadying breath and ambled to the front door, pulling it open to reveal two uniformed figures. They stood rigid, badges gleaming like twin accusations under the sour morning light.

"Mr. Harrington?" The younger one had piercing blue eyes that scanned me as if he could peel back my skin and read the secrets etched on my bones.

"Officers," I said, keeping my tone even. "What brings you to my doorstep this early?"

"We're looking for a group of teens involved in a robbery last night down at Thompson's Hardware," the older cop explained, his eyes steady and assessing.

"Thompson's? And why exactly are you looking here?" I felt the old instincts kick in, a stone-faced calm that didn't reach the turmoil churning in my gut.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"Your boy, Alex... he's been seen with some unsavory types lately. Been in a couple of scraps, wound up at the station," the younger one piped up, his voice a careful blend of reproach and sympathy.

"Is that right?" I drawled, feigning surprise. "Well, officers, Alex hasn't been home for two nights. Haven't heard a peep from him."

The older cop nodded slowly, his gaze never leaving mine. "Store owner was there during the break-in. Got a glimpse of one of the robbers. Says he might recognize him."

"Can't help you there," I replied with a shrug that felt heavier than it should have. "Like I said, the kid's gone AWOL. But I'll let you know if he turns up."

"Please do, Mr. Harrington," the younger officer said, handing me a card. "We'd appreciate any information you can provide. It's better he comes to us now before things escalate."

"Understood." I nodded, watching them retreat to their car, the grim promise of their return hanging thick in the air.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

As their taillights faded into the distance, I closed the door, leaning against the solid wood as if it could hold back the tide of trouble coming our way.

The door clicked shut, and I felt the silence swell between the walls. Her footsteps were soft but deliberate, a counter-rhythm to my racing heart. She came up beside me, her presence a familiar comfort, yet in that moment, weighted with worry.

"Nick," she whispered, her voice threading through the quiet. "We can't keep doing this."

I turned to face her, her eyes searching mine for something I wasn't sure I could give.

"Maybe... maybe we should just tell them where he is. Let them take him," she said. The words hung heavy, suspended between us like a verdict.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"No." The refusal was out before I could taste the bitterness of it. "No, I won't let it come to that."

"Nick," she reached for my arm, her fingers pressing in with urgency, "if he keeps going like this, he'll end up dead. Or worse, he'll kill someone."

My jaw clenched, muscles tight as strung wire. "He's not past saving, Tara. Not yet."

"Look at what's happening! He's becoming someone we don't recognize. Someone dangerous."

"Because I wasn't here!" The admission tore from my throat, raw and jagged. I had been absent, chasing miles of road when I should have been guiding him. "But I can fix this. I have to."

"By lying to the police?" Her voice cracked like thin ice underfoot.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"By protecting our son." I pulled away gently, needing space to breathe, to think. "I've walked those streets, remember? I know what it's like to want out but not know how."

"Then help him find a way out that doesn't involve hiding in cellars or lying to authorities!"

"I will." My gaze held hers, steady despite the storm inside. "I'm going to see the shop owner. Talk to him."

"Nick—"

"Tara, I fixed myself once. I can fix Alex. I have to believe that." My hand found the doorknob, the cool metal a grounding point amidst the chaos.

"Promise me," she said, the plea wrapping around my heart, "promise me you'll bring our boy back."

"Promise," I echoed, stepping into the pale light of dawn, the path ahead uncertain but my resolve unshakable.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

The bell above the door jangled with a familiar chime as I stepped into the hardware store, my boots echoing on the worn linoleum floor.

I spotted him right away, standing behind the counter like he owned the place—which he did. "Hello," I said, my voice sounding rougher than I intended.

"Hello, Nicholas. I have been waiting for you for a long time." His reply made me freeze in my tracks. How in hell did he—

"How do you know my name?"

He leaned forward, his elbows resting on the counter casually, as if we were just two old friends catching up. "You probably don't remember, but we ran in the same circles once. And people talk, Nicholas. They talk about how you pulled off that car heist, vanished like a ghost before the cops could catch a whiff."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

My heart thudded against my chest. I hadn't thought about those days in a long time, not since I'd traded the rush of the getaway for the steady hum of a diesel engine.

"Word is you bought yourself a nice life with that score. A truck, a family..." He trailed off, his eyes narrowing slightly. "And now your boy's in trouble, and you need my silence."

I swallowed hard, feeling my past closing in around me. "Yes..."

"Nicholas," he began, his tone taking on a hint of steel, "nothing comes for free in this world."

"I know that," I cut in, desperation edging my voice. "I'll pay you. Anything you want. I'll sell my truck if I have to."

A smirk played on his lips, and he shook his head slowly. "Money isn't what I'm after."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

My hands clenched into fists at my sides. I felt cornered, the walls of my new life starting to crumble. I had come here ready to barter with every last cent to my name, but it seemed that the price of my son's future wouldn't be paid in dollars.

He slid a glossy photograph across the counter, and my eyes locked onto the image of a car that looked like it belonged on a showroom floor, not in this dusty hardware store. A limited edition tuned Ford Mustang, its sleek lines and polished finish practically taunting me.

"Where do I get this car?" I asked, though I already feared the answer.

"You will steal," he stated matter-of-factly.

The words hit me like a gut punch. "I can't—I won't do that." My voice was firm, but inside, panic clawed at my resolve.

Without missing a beat, Sam's fingers danced over his phone, pulling up a familiar number. The police station. "I'm calling them now."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"Wait. Please don't!" Desperation seeped into my plea. "Let me just pay you! You know I left that life behind."

He tilted his phone towards me—the numbers dialed but not yet called. It was a sinister promise hanging in the air.

"Okay, let me think!" I said, my mind racing.

"You don't have time to think." His voice was cold, implacable. "Three days, Nicholas. That's all you've got."

A scrap of paper appeared in his hand as if by magic, and he extended it towards me.

Taking the note felt like signing a deal with the devil. Owner's name, address, all there. I pocketed it, the weight of it burning against my thigh.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

I left the store in a daze, the bell above the door jangling mockingly in my wake. My truck welcomed me back with the familiarity of worn leather and the scent of motor oil—a stark contrast to the storm brewing inside me.

As I drove home, the road ahead blurred, my hands mechanically guiding the wheel while my mind spun with the impossible choice laid before me.

The front door closed with a soft click behind me, sealing off the outside world. I leaned back against it, the familiar scent of home wrapping around me like a worn blanket. Tara was in the kitchen, her back to me, humming softly as she chopped vegetables for dinner. She turned, her hazel eyes searching mine, and something in my expression must've given me away.

"Nick?" Her voice held that edge, the one she used when her intuition was prodding at her. "What happened?"

"He wants me to steal a car."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

Her eyes widened, disbelief etched across her face. "You refused, right?" The question hung between us, heavy and expectant.

I couldn't lie to her—not really. So I just stood there, silent, letting my silence fill the room louder than any confession.

Tara's hands flew to her mouth, her breath hitched in a gasp. "Nick..." It was a plea, a prayer, a curse—all wrapped up in two syllables of my name.

"I haven't said yes," I muttered, but the words felt hollow, even to my own ears.

But she knew. Tara always knew. She dropped her hands, her nails digging crescents into her palms. "You will take up the old again! I hate you! How could you agree to that?" The words erupted from her like a dam breaking, raw and uncontrollable.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"Baby, listen—"

"YOU will definitely go to prison, and after you our son!" She was shouting now, her voice straining with hysteria. Her hands struck out, hitting my chest with a thud, thud, thud. Each impact was a punctuation mark to her terror, her despair.

"Stop, Tara, please," I begged, trying to catch her wrists, to still the storm raging inside her. But she was beyond that now, her tears flowing freely, hot and fast down her cheeks.

"Alex... he needs you, Nick. We need you." Her voice broke, shattering the last of her composure.

I pulled her into my arms, her sobs muffled against my shirt. I felt each tremor that wracked her body, every pulse of pain that echoed my own. What had I done? What was I about to do?

"Shh, I'm here," I whispered, but the promise tasted bitter. Because even as I held her, I knew—I was already slipping away.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

The morning sun had barely crested the horizon when I started tailing the Mustang. It was a beauty, sleek lines and a paint job that shimmered like a mirage. Martin Gray, the kid behind the wheel, probably never had to work a day in his life for it. I knew the type - silver spoon in mouth from the get-go.

For three days, I shadowed him like a second shadow, only I kept to the blind spots. I memorized his routines, his stops, the way he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel to some tune on the radio. I learned his haunts, the back roads he took, the shortcuts and the longcuts. I got to know him without ever meeting him.

"Know your mark," Sam Thompson always said. And I did. Knew Martin Gray better than some of his own friends probably did. That rich boy liked to keep a schedule as predictable as clockwork, which made my job all too easy.

At forty, you'd think I'd have left this life far behind. But there I was, sitting in my car, cap pulled down low, watching Martin Gray laugh on his phone, oblivious to the world. The salt and pepper in my hair, the lines etched around my eyes – none of them mattered when the old skills kicked in.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"Nick, what are you doing?" Tara's voice echoed in my head, a whisper of worry that had been growing louder each day. But Alex... my boy needed me to pull this off. Needed me to step back into a world I'd sworn off, just one last time.

"Sorry, love," I muttered under my breath, as if she could hear the apology meant for her ears only.

I jotted down notes in my notebook - times, places, anything that might give me an edge. As I watched Martin steer the Mustang into his driveway, the engine purring down to silence, I felt a twinge of something. Regret? Excitement? Hard to tell anymore.

"Three days," I whispered, tucking the napkin into my jacket pocket. Three days of preparation, and I was ready to dance with the devil once more.

The streetlights flickered above, casting a sallow glow on the cracked pavement. I was tucked away in the shadows, watching. Martin’s Mustang rolled past, its rumble slicing through the stillness of the night. He didn't know it, but he had become my ticket out of this mess.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

"Every damn night," I mumbled to myself as I checked my watch. Right on schedule. Martin was off to see his girl, leaving behind the lavish comforts of his daddy’s wealth for a few hours. The irony wasn’t lost on me - a rich kid slumming it where folks like me were scraping by, where my Alex might end up if I didn’t do something fast.

The Mustang turned a corner, and I stepped out from my hiding spot. My boots crunched softly against gravel as I made my way down the alley. I knew the path now, every pothole, every stray cat that darted at the sound of footsteps.

I reached the edge of the alley, peering out to where the Mustang was now parked. A dim light shone from the second-story window of a tired apartment building; laughter spilled out into the night air. That was their world, a simple place where love trumped money. But mine? Mine was a world of hard choices and even harder consequences.

"Focus, Nick," I whispered, shaking off thoughts of anything but the task ahead. In the silence of the morning, when Martin would be wrapped up in whatever dreamland looked like for a guy like him, that's when I'd make my move.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

If you could steal back time, I'd have taken every moment I missed with Alex, every bedtime story I never told, every ball game I never saw. But all I could take was this car, this one chance to set things right.

I pulled the cap down tighter over my brow and retreated back to the darkness. Tomorrow, when that Mustang would purr its last under Martin's touch, that's when the real work would begin.

It was the evening when I was supposed to go on a carjacking spree. The chicken on my plate resembled a piece of desert sandpaper, dry and overcooked. I prodded it half-heartedly, more interested in its texture than actually consuming it. Sitting opposite me, Tara's gaze locked onto mine, her forehead creased with that familiar blend of concern and exasperation that seemed to shadow our every meal together.

"Nick, you can't do this," she said, voice low but insistent. "Let’s just call to the police station and tell them that Alex is at home. If we don't do something—"

"Tara," I cut in, my own voice a steady murmur under the hum of the kitchen fridge. "I know what I am doing. Believe me, I do."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

Her fork clinked against the plate as she set it down with more force than necessary. "Why can’t we call to cops? Why can’t we—"

"Because," I interrupted again, leaning back in my chair, feeling the weight of decisions made and yet to make pressing down on me. "Fate once cut me a break when I was young and stupid. The cops didn't catch me, and I got to turn things around."

She shook her head, lips pressed into a thin line. "But what if Alex doesn't get that chance?"

"He will," I said, though a part of me felt like I was trying to convince myself as much as her. "He's my son, Tara. I want to give him the same chance I had."

The silence that stretched between us was heavy, filled with unsaid words and fears for our boy. Outside, dusk smeared the sky with shades of deep blue and purple, the world quieting down for the night. Inside, I knew, our world was anything but quiet.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

The velvet blanket of nightfall had settled over the world, and with it came the cloak I needed for my task. The dial on my watch glowed faintly as I punched in the taxi number, my fingers steady despite the drumming in my chest. A soft voice on the other end confirmed my ride, and within minutes, headlights sliced through the darkness to fetch me.

"Where to?" the cabbie asked, his eyes meeting mine in the rearview mirror.

"Maplewood Drive," I muttered, "Drop me at the corner."

The taxi hummed along the quiet streets, the city's heartbeat slowing with the late hour. When we reached Maplewood Drive, I paid the man and slipped out into the night, my boots crunching on the gravel shoulder.

I found a thick cluster of bushes across from her house—Martin Gray's girl. The branches nipped at my jacket as I nestled into my hiding spot, eyes trained on the dimly lit window, waiting for Martin's arrival.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

Advertisement

Time trickled by, marked only by the occasional flicker of movement behind curtains until a familiar Ford growled its way down the street. It was unmistakable—the same model Sam Thompson had been going on about, the one I knew all too well. My pulse quickened as the car rolled to a stop, and Martin, oblivious to the world, stepped inside.

"Easy now, Nick," I whispered to myself, channeling the ghost of my former life. With practiced silence, I crept from the bushes, each step calculated and soft. The cans were where I left them, hidden in the shadows. I picked up the rope, the metal cans clinking together like a sinister wind chime. A deep breath steadied my nerves before I secured the makeshift alarm to the bumper, the cans dangling like a convict's chains.

Back in the shelter of the bushes, I crouched and waited. The game was set; all that remained was for Martin to make his move. The anticipation gnawed at me, but the stakes were too high to back down now.

My muscles tensed, poised for the impending moment. The anticipation hung heavy in the air, waiting for Martin to be lured out by the clatter of the metal cans tied to his car. As soon as confusion clouded his features and he ventured out to inspect the noise, that would be my cue. I'd swiftly slip into the driver's seat from my concealed spot in the bushes and make my escape.

Advertisement
For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

I could already hear the sound, the jarring noise of metal against asphalt, the call to action. And when it came, I'd be ready.

The chill of the night air bit at my skin as I watched Martin's silhouette emerge from the warm glow of the house. My heart hammered in anticipation; this was it, the turning point. I leaned forward, muscles tensed, ready to pounce.

Suddenly, a shadow darted from the darkness—a figure, masked and swift, charging at Martin with an alarming ferocity. The crack of a baseball bat against skull echoed through the still night, a sound so violent, so visceral, it froze me mid-breath. Martin crumpled to the ground, a lifeless heap.

"Hey!" My voice was a strangled shout as the assailant leapt into Martin's Ford. Tires screeched, the roar of an engine ripped through the calm, and then there was nothing but the distant hum of a car speeding away.

Advertisement

I sprinted to Martin, my own plan shattered by the unforeseen brutality. "Martin? Can you hear me?" I fumbled for my phone, hands shaking. No response. Blood pooled beneath his head, stark and dark against the pale concrete.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

"Dispatch, I need an ambulance at—" I rattled off the address, my voice barely steady.

"Stay with me, Martin," I pleaded, pressing my jacket against the wound. His chest rose and fell shallowly, too slow, too faint.

Each second dragged on like an eternity, taunting me with its excruciating slowness. My phone, a constant companion, suddenly buzzed and shook in my pocket, startling me out of my trance. A jolt of dread shot through me like lightning, spreading through every nerve in my body.

Advertisement

"Mr. Harrington? Here is Officer Greenwood," The voice on the other line was cold, detached from the tragedy it was about to deliver. "There's been an accident. A stolen Ford Mustang... It's your son."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

The world around me blurred into a disjointed mix of colors and shapes, sounds muffled as if I was underwater. The receiver slipped from my numb fingers, clattering against the pavement below. My knees gave way, and I crumpled beside Martin, my son's name a silent scream on my trembling lips. Tears streamed down my face in hot, relentless waves, mixing with the rain that had started to fall.

I mouthed apologies to the night sky above, begging for forgiveness for whatever sins had brought this devastation upon my family. "Alex..." His name echoed through the darkness, a desperate plea for his safety and well-being that fell on deaf ears in the face of reality.

Advertisement

Tell us what you think about this story, and share it with your friends. It might inspire them and brighten their day.

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one: Abby wakes up on the morning of her best friend's wedding with a hangover and discovers her friend and secret crush, John, in bed with her. As if being charmed into bed by a playboy isn't bad enough, John's mother walks in and delivers catastrophic news: the groom has gone missing, and it's up to John and Abby to find him. Read the full story here.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Related posts
Stories

'This Wedding is Canceled!' Groom Shouts After Learning the Truth About His Bride – Story of the Day

March 05, 2024

Stories

Man Mocks and Dumps Loyal Wife for Another Woman, Life Dumps Him Later – Story of the Day

March 28, 2024

Stories

Man Mocks and Dumps Loyal Wife for Another Woman, Life Dumps Him Later – Story of the Day

February 22, 2024

Stories

Man Mocks and Dumps Loyal Wife for Another Woman, Life Dumps Him Later – Story of the Day

February 13, 2024

Stories

Rich Parents Stole Millions From Their Daughter's Inheritance, but Karma Teaches Them a Lesson

March 05, 2024

Stories

Groom Hides The Truth From His Bride, But Karma Gets The Job Done – Story of the Day

March 05, 2024

Stories

Boy Comes Home from Camp to Find Parents Gone and His House Up for Sale – Story of the Day

April 08, 2024

Stories

Boy Comes Home from Camp to Find Parents Gone and His House Up for Sale – Story of the Day

March 28, 2024

Stories

Boy Comes Home from Camp to Find Parents Gone and His House Up for Sale – Story of the Day

March 28, 2024

Stories

Boy Comes Home from Camp to Find Parents Gone and His House Up for Sale – Story of the Day

February 13, 2024

Stories

Rich Man Spots Old Cross on Maid’s Neck and Turns Pale from a Sudden Memory – Story of the Day

April 08, 2024

Stories

Rich Man Spots Old Cross on Maid’s Neck and Turns Pale from a Sudden Memory – Story of the Day

March 28, 2024

Stories

My Boss Made Me Dance for a Rich Man, It Turned Out That I Already Knew Him – Story of the Day

February 22, 2024

College Lecturer Comes Home Earlier and Sees Husband with Her Student in Bedroom – Story of the Day

February 22, 2024