Lenny straightened his tie in the mirror. A couple was coming for dinner to talk about a business deal. Lenny had inherited his mom’s estate recently. Lacy thought it was a perfect fit, already hearing the pitch on a playdate.
The doorbell rang. He heard his daughters squeal to see their playmates again. Even as a thirty-three year old man, his stomach knotted. He ached for this to succeed, after all Lacy had told him.
Walking into the living room, he waded through five jumping girls to get to the door. Lacy excitedly introduced him. He looked up with his hand out.
It was him.
Images flashed through his mind. Sitting in his tree. Watching over the fence. The argument. The stabbing. So fast, brutal. Digging, burying. He couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. What had he witnessed? Only a kid, what could he do? If he squealed, he’d be under the ground too with that guy’s girlfriend.
All night, he threw up. His mom was keeping him home. No! Let me go to school! She was baffled. He hated school. Chip, what’s wrong? I’m fine, please, leave me alone.
He dashed down the driveway, escaping. But the guy called out to him. Chip, hey, come here.
He froze. What do I do? Should he run? Would that betray his secret?
Chip, feed my cat for me, will you? He handed him Puss and five bucks. I’m going to be gone a few days.
He never came back. Eventually, the police found the girl, but they never found the guy. Now he stood in Lenny’s living room. Lenny fought his impulse to yank back from the hand that had haunted him for twenty years. He couldn’t hear the conversation. He kept seeing him do it. His phone weighed heavily in his pocket. He should call the police.
Somehow Lenny sat down. He moved the food around his plate. They seemed so normal. Even happy. Their girls obviously loved him. His wife too. While he explained the deal, she cupped her hand over his and beamed. He acted like he wasn’t a monster, just an entrepreneur with a great idea.
And Lenny knew it was a great idea. This was a surefire success. He’d be rich. He could pay off the debt, make a new life for his family. Clearly the man was changed.
Who was Lenny to ruin their lives? Destroy another family? How could he deny Lacy this chance?
Lacy danced through putting the girls down, then doing the dishes. I was right? she asked in bed. You can’t pass this up. We can’t. She was counting on this.
The man called the next day, wanting to seal the deal. It’s your call, man he said. Don’t miss out. He had papers for Lenny and his lawyer.
Lenny was convinced. He knew what he’d do. Let me make a call.
He’d decided. He knew what to do. It was life changing. Dialing, his stomach knotted like he was thirteen again.
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