The way I figured, if these people were as wealthy as Rachel Lynn said they were, it could be a big score. It would certainly put me on the map in my new time of residence. Trailing the couple gave me my first look at the city. They sure had a lot of classic cars in 1940; good condition too. It wasn’t hard to keep up with James and Linda; the city moved at a more relaxed pace. I finally saw the two pull into what could only be described as a compound. There were brick walls with spiked rods on top surrounding the whole property, and a large, ornate gate at the driveway entrance. Looking past that, I could see a sprawling house with balconies and gables jutting out left and right, and there looked to be a guesthouse off in the back corner of the property.
“It’s like the Godfather house,” I muttered, “I bet no one ever tried to rob this place.”
I ducked behind some bushes across the street for a better look when a high-pitched voice pierced the cool air and spun me around like a top.
“Hey mister, what’cha doin’ in the bushes?”
I looked up in between the leaves and grass to see a boy staring at me with a dazed look.
“Get outta here, kid,” I scolded quietly, “Can’t you see I’m busy?”
I went back to hiding behind the shrub while the boy stared at me for a moment, then glanced at the house, then back at me.
“... Hey, you ain’t fixin’ to rob the Ferguson place, are ya?”
“What, are you stupid? That’s exactly what I’m doing!” I snapped, as I waved him off.
The boy knelt down next to me, wide-eyed.
“I bet no one ever tried to rob the Ferguson place,” he said softly.
“And why do you think that is, kid?”
“Ain’t no one ever come by that’s stupid enough, I suppose.”
“Wrong! It’s because no one had a foolproof plan like mine!” I pointed at myself with my thumb.
“Ohhhh, right… ” He said skeptically, rolling his eyes.
He walked right into that one.
“I could be your lookout,” he said in a hopeful tone.
That made me laugh, but it also gave me an idea.
“You can do more than that, kid! Here, grab a stick.”
I sent the boy to the front gate and told him to wait there while I snuck around the sidewall. I found a good spot to pull myself up and gave the boy the signal: two loud whistles in quick succession. Sure enough, just as we planned it, he started banging the front gate with a stick. I waited and listened for the right time to scale the wall. I could hear a door open and shut, along with the mumbling of an angered man.
Two more seconds, I thought, waiting for him to make his way far enough down the drive so as not to see me.
Then I whispered, “Go!”
I leaped up, grabbing the rods underneath the spikes. Next, I wall-walked to the top, took three breaths to stretch my hamstrings, and found stable footing before jumping over to successfully land on the other side.
I was in. I took a quick look to see the boy sticking his tongue out and poking his stick through the fence at a butler who was getting extremely agitated before making my way across the yard. I pressed myself flat against the house and peeked in a window. With no one inside, I checked to see if it was unlocked.
I went through the same routine, systematically checking all points of entry until I arrived at the rear end of the property. I could see the kitchen through the back door and checked the knob. It was open. My plan quickly went from simple reconnaissance to setting up the burglary as I gently slipped inside.
I stayed low, behind appliances and listened for anyone who might be coming this way. There was a hallway entrance pointing in the direction I was trying to go so I crept over and took a peak. Sunlight could be seen coming from rooms that the hallway gave entrance to. That was where I needed to be, but as I started toward the first room... footsteps.
I backed off; I could hear voices. Someone was coming; I needed to hide. Below the sink, there was a simple curtain instead of cabinet doors.
“That’s right,” I thought, “This is before anyone cared about their kids drinking dish soap.”
I quickly shoved the cleaning supplies over to make room, and tucked myself in, freezing myself in an extremely uncomfortable position as two people entered the kitchen.
“...But why do we need to make an appearance in the first place?” A woman’s voice asked, with a hint of a whine.
“He’s a friend of the family, it’ll mean a lot if we go,” a man answered.
It was James and Linda; the Fergusons, I presume. They were standing just on the other side of the curtain; I could hear plates being shifted about in the sink overhead. I looked around my little hideaway. If they were about to wash the dishes, they would need dish soap… and the bottle was lodged somewhere between my left inner thigh and right elbow. I began to sweat; if they glanced under here, I would be caught. But then…
“Where’s Linus? He was supposed to clean this up.”
I could hear a set of footsteps moving to the next room.
“He’s in the front yard… it looks like he’s harassing a little boy.” And the other footsteps followed.
I had an opening and made for the back door. Just as I was about to make a clean getaway I stopped.
“The window.” I thought.
I didn’t know how much time I had so I executed a somersault to speed things up. I scurried down the hall and into the first room, quickly flipping the window’s lock.
Of course, it didn’t go quick at all. Those things are always tricky. At first you think you’ll just flip the thing, but then it’s stuck so you grab it with three fingers, but you don’t want to get your fingernails caught, so you’re being careful at first, gradually pulling harder and harder. When that doesn’t work, you have to dig a knuckle in between the little metal hinge and the glass to pry it loose.
After what seemed like an eternity, my situation worsened.
“A little vagabond, that one is!” Linus said, slamming the front door.
I listened as the Fergusons and their butler walked through the house.
“What happened, Linus?” Asked Linda.
“A child. A brat is what he is, Mrs. Ferguson! Out there makin’ a ruckus with the front gate. I went out to settle the boy, and he started pokin’ at me with a stick.”
Linda and Linus were blocking my exit, but James… I could hear his footsteps moving all over the house. There was no telling what he was doing, he sounded like an undiagnosed case of restless leg syndrome. I wasn’t safe. I had to get out of there. Besides, Rachel Lynn would be wondering where I was.
I doubled back for the window and slowly began to push open the frame. It creaked a little. I stopped and listened.
“...Next time I be pokin’ him with a stick!”
They hadn’t noticed. Carefully, I swung my legs out and dropped down, closing the window behind me.
I skipped my way back to the time machine house, as one does in a state of joy. It had been a successful mission. When I arrived, I covered my tracks by telling Rachel Lynn I was out interviewing apiarists for a potential business venture.
“You don’t want to wind up hiring a bad apiarist.” I said.
Her bemused look told me she suspected nothing, and that I was in the clear. I would hydrate, and at a late hour of the night, would pay the Fergusons a visit… for six minutes.