Sonny Brooks had worn the soles off his shoes revisiting the scene of the crime, again and again. He'd left Tommy's briefly, only long enough to hit the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru. He returned with a medium coffee, drank it so fast it nearly scalded his stomach, and rushed the cup back to Receiving.
He placed it on the desk of Cheryl Johnson, the receiving department's manager.
"Do not touch this," Sonny said, and Cheryl arched a brow at him.
"I'm doing an experiment," Sonny said, his explanation not satisfying the curious clerk.
"About what?" Cheryl asked.
"Just leave the cup where I place it," Sonny demanded, and Cheryl shrugged.
Sonny Brooks returned to his office, by way of the men's room, and directed his attention to the monitor streaming in activity from Receiving. He'd returned to the bay twelve separate times. Cheryl Johnson stopped asking questions by his sixth visit, and figured Sonny had lost his marbles.
Sonny's legs and feet were killing him, and his investigation had provided zero results. The cup never moved. He had also made another important discovery. Under no circumstances did the cup simply vanish.
What the heck was going on?
Sonny left the store at 4:00 PM, and headed home. He'd enjoyed dinner with his family, and retreated to the living room while his wife headed upstairs for bath time with the children. At 9:00 PM, Sonny's wife was tucked into bed with a Danielle Steel novel, and Sonny sat on the couch, with the TV dark, staring at the Dunkin Donuts cup. It had been on the coffee table since 5:00 PM. It had never moved.
"What secrets do you hold?" Sonny asked the cup.
The cup remained silent.
Two miles away, Miles Longworth sat in similar misery. He had spent four hours hiding in his man cave with the soiled envelope in his pocket. In the safety of the cave's bathroom, with the door locked, wearing his wife's pink flowered dish washing gloves, Miles had carefully removed the bills from the envelope. It held more money than Miles made in a year. Problem being - the money didn't belong to Miles.
"Dammit," Miles mumbled.
No matter how badly he needed it, he couldn't keep the money. It wasn't his. He had no idea why it had been where it had been, or who had left it there, but eventually, someone was likely to come looking for it, and Miles was pretty sure it wouldn't be a Boy Scout or someone peddling religious writings. It would be someone bad, and Miles began fearing for his safetly.
What the heck had he been thinking?
He had to take the money back to where he'd found it.
Miles tucked the money into the pocket of his robe, and tore up the stairs like a madman. He returned the flowered gloves to where he'd found them, and furiously wiped at the envelope with a paper towel to remove any prints he may have left behind.
The paper towel shredded beneath his fingers.
"Truth in advertising," Miles mumbled. The commercial showed one sheet of the world-famous towels cleaning up the mess of six toddlers. Plain and simple, the paper towels sucked.
Miles chucked the entire roll in the trash, and laid the envelope on the counter. He got the flowered gloves out of the cabinet again, slipped them on, grabbed the envelope, his car keys, and headed for the front door.
Sonny Brooks sat in his wife's Lincoln Town Car, outside the receiving bay of Tommy's Tool Town. The car was mammoth, and needed to go to car heaven, but his wife loved it, so Sonny kept pouring money into it. To justify the amount of money he'd spent on repairs, Sonny's wife would need to drive the car for twenty more years.
Sonny sat in the dark, and flipped his flashlight on and off. On and off. On and off.
No truck was due, and no freight was expected. No night crew was present. It was the perfect time to investigate, with one problem.
Sonny Brooks was scared out of his wits.
The world had gone mad for ghosts. Every channel had a ghost hunting show. Sonny wasn't wild about the paranormal. He owned no paranormal investigative equipment, and had no desire to. He didn't seek out haunted places. He avoided them. If Sonny saw a ghost, he was gonna need a clean pair of trousers.
"Please, let there be no ghosts," Sonny whispered. Something picked at his brain, and he chuckled. "I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks," Sonny said, then shivered. Sonny did believe in spooks, and suddenly the idea of investigating held no appeal. Sonny turned the flashlight off, shifted in his seat, and reached for the keys hanging from the ignition.
Before he could start the car, something caught his attention. Something in the dark. Something that shouldn't be where it was.
A shadow man emerged from behind the dumpster.
Sonny Brooks screamed like a nine-year-old girl.
Miles Longworth crouched behind the dumpster. He'd heard the scream, and he would swear, under oath, that his heart had stopped. Miles was pretty sure it had started on its own, as he felt it beating in his head. The sweatshirt he'd thrown on over the robe made him feel like he was being cooked, and he felt sweat beading beneath the hood he'd pulled over his head. The rubber gloves made his hands itch like hell. He couldn't imagine what he looked like.
Halloween gone bad. Halloween gone very, very bad.
A car roared to life, only a few feet from where Miles crouched. Against his better judgment, Miles peeked out from behind his hiding place. An enormous black car, the kind that transported bad, bad men, was parked in close proximity to the dumpster.
"Oh, God," Miles whispered. "I don't want to die." Miles feared death, but he also felt sick for his wife. She'd have to identify his body, and she'd be royally pissed about the gloves.
They were her favorite.
Be a man, were the words that ran through Miles' head. With more courage than he'd ever mustered in his life, Miles stepped from behind the dumpster. The wind caught his robe, and it flew out behind him. He raised his arms, and reached for the sky with his pink-flowered-glove covered hands. "The lord is my shepherd," Miles whispered.
Miles heard another scream, as the car lurched forward, then back, then foward. Throwing gravel, the car fled in the opposite direction.
Miles Longworth fainted.