Miles Longworth lumbered away from Customer Service with a sigh, thankful the drama had come to an end. "At least for the moment," Miles whispered. A young gal with a throaty voice, several hundred miles away, had miraculously brought Mr. Keller back from the dead. Miles wondered if he should have gotten her direct number. When his wife got through with him, Miles was gonna need some resuscitation himself.
He'd blown it. Completely blown it. He'd held the twenty, crisp, one-hundred dollar bills for less than twenty-four hours before blowing most of it on the ponies, and laying down the rest on fantasy football. He hadn't made the deposit on the cruise, as he'd been advised, or rather ordered, to do. He wasn't sure he understood the whole cruise idea anyway. He'd cruised once, only once. He'd spent a lot of time in the pub watching sports, while his wife had hit every boutique on the floating mall. She didn't need to be on the ocean to spend a fortune on handbags and shoes, and he didn't need to float around in a boat to enjoy a sporting event. Miles figured he could send her to TJ Maxx with a wad of cash, and he could hit the man cave in his basement, watch sports in his sweatsuit, spill chili on the microfiber sofa, rip one when he felt so inclined, and blame it on the dog.
No, the cruise idea made absolutely no sense. Then again, neither did his addiction.
Miles was a smart guy, a really smart guy. Smart enough to be an idiot. Rather like Kitty, without the ridiculous jewelry. He figured on the IQ scale, he and Kitty were pretty much equals. Brilliant enough to dazzle during Jeopardy, and dumb enough to qualify for the Darwin awards. Frankly, he and Kitty were both pretty much screwed. He wondered if Kitty gambled, too. Miles didn't think so. He figured Kitty was tied up trying to save the world, abolish animal abuse, and burning the midnight hours trying to figure out how to win the Pulitzer. Kitty was an open book. Miles was closed up like Fort Knox, with a heck of a lot less gold.
"I am effed," he complained, as he walked.
"What the hell have I done?" Miles muttered, sneaking out of the back entrance, a cigar tucked deeply into the inside pocket of his blazer. He hid behind the dumpster, released the cigar from its hiding place, fired up a Bic, and puffed away. His body relaxed as his mind raced. He had to get the two grand back. He had to. If he didn't, he had to confess, and he felt the early warning system go off in his colon at the thought.
"No way," Miles mumbled.
Maybe he could have a garage sale, sell off all the handbags and shoes. His wife was visiting her parents in two weeks. Maybe he could do it then. Sell everything off and tell his wife they'd been robbed. She'd never buy it.
Only thing she wouldn't buy, Miles thought.
Miles kicked up dirt and stones with his shoe, as he puffed away, contemplating a future without his family jewels. He'd lose his manhood for sure over this one. He kicked mindlessly, loosening something with his toe as he did, something buried beneath a pile of rocks, empty Amp Energy Drink cans, and discarded Tommy promotion posters.
"What the heck," Miles whispered, butting his cigar against the side of the dumpster. From the rubble, he extracted a very soiled and very fat padded envelope. His heart raced, as he slid his finger under the flap. Money, wads of it, a veritable fortune, was stuffed inside. Miles looked around, and saw nothing of interest, save the fortune he held in his hand. He was still alone.
Where had the money come from? Who'd left it there, forgotten beneath the pile of soiled trash?
An obvious explanation escaped Miles. It couldn't have been Tommy money. Tommy money was kept in a safe, with twenty carefully hidden surveillance cameras watching the money's every move.
Miles figured the envelope was a gift from God, and he looked to the sky and promised his savior he'd never bet again. For the first time since the morning, Miles imagined a future in which he was still alive. He had enough cash to send his wife cruising for a year.
And that didn't sound like a bad idea at all.