Reeve Stockwell felt the blood drain from his entire body. For the second time in a few hours, he was being arrested.
He thought back to a few weeks prior, back to when his biggest problems were misdemeanor theft, the fictional stories he got to defend an associate's absence, and the chronic mess in the men's room.
Those were some damn fine days.
He supposed he'd wanted this.
He'd wanted to work for the FBI. He'd wanted to be a part of something bigger than nuts and bolts, and neon-clad Tool Towners, some of whom were dumber than bricks.
He relaxed as best he could and felt the cool metal of handcuffs clasped to his wrists.
"Not so fast," a familiar voice said.
Stockwell could only hope.
"Release him," the voice said.
Stockwell turned. The voice belonged to Officer Lowell, the Snickers offering officer who'd arrested him the first time.
"Hello, sir," Stockwell said.
"What you up to this time, Sponge Bob?" the officer asked.
Stockwell grimaced, but said nothing.
"Open container and resisting arrest," the arresting officer stated.
"Resisting arrest!?!" Kitty yelled. "There was no resisting. That is absolute bullshit!"
"This your wife, Sponge Bob?" Officer Lowell asked.
"My assistant," Reeve Stockwell whispered.
"Boy oh boy, you got bigger problems than I ever thought. What you doin' messing around with your assistant? Do you know how cliché that is?" Lowell asked with a sharp tone.
"She bailed me out. I am not involved with her. Look at us. Does this look like a romantic encounter? Do you find the Hello Kitty business appealing? Would you be wearing Tinkerbell sweatpants if you were messing around with your assistant?" Stockwell nearly yelled.
His wrists were still cuffed, and his shoulders jerked as he tried to wave his arms unsuccessfully. He looked like he was having a seizure.
"Uncuff this man for crying out loud," Lowell barked.
"Yes, sir," the arresting officer replied. He did as asked, and Stockwell rubbed his wrists violently.
"Now, get lost, Dan. I got this," Lowell said. The arresting officer, now known as "Dan," slinked back to his police car as if he'd just been grounded by an angry father.
A newly free Reeve Stockwell shook his head and groaned.
"Get in my car," Lowell said.
"What? I thought you said I could go," Stockwell whined.
"You are going. You are going home. I am taking you there," Lowell insisted.
"I got this," Kitty said. "He's fine with me. I'll get him home."
"I won't sleep tonight knowing this guy is on the streets. I will take him home," Lowell persisted.
"Go home, Kitty. I'll see you tomorrow afternoon," Stockwell said softly. "Thank you for everything. I could never repay you for what you've done."
"You got cash, Sponge Bob?" Lowell asked.
"No, why? You charging me for the lift?" Reeve Stockwell asked.
"I'm taking you into WalMart for a shirt and a pair of jeans," Lowell said. "You've got a far better chance of ironing things out with your missus if you're not wearing the Tinkerbell get up."
"You make a valid point," Stockwell replied.
Kitty shrugged and walked to the Chevy. She returned a moment later.
"I thought you were leaving," Stockwell said.
"I wanted to give you this before I left."
Stockwell reached for Kitty's Visa and slid it into his left pocket.
"Thanks," Reeve Stockwell said. "I owe you."
"That's great, because I owe everybody else," Kitty said.
Miles Longworth slinked into his house like a cat burglar. His wife was asleep, and for this, he thanked every saint he could think of. He crept into the guest bathroom, flipped on the light, and dropped his pants. Money flew everywhere, and he dropped to sit on the closed toilet and lowered his face into his hands.
When had it gotten to this point?
How had he let it get so out of control?
He was a junkie, a glutton, a gambling fool, and not the cool kind, hanging out with Kenny Rogers, knowin' when to hold 'em, surrounded by pictures of cigar-smoking dogs, painted on velvet.
He wasn't that kind of guy.
He was a dick.
He scooped up the money and threw it into the empty bathroom garbage can. He tied up the bag and crept to his bedroom.
His wife lay supine, her arm above her head across the pillow.
She was lovely in sleep.
Her hair splayed over the pillow, and time had been kind to her. She looked only slightly different than when they'd met.
She was beautiful,
Miles looked like a thug.
He had a bruise on the side of his face where he'd hit the pile of ceiling tiles.
His hair looked like he'd just auditioned for a very bad, aging boy band.
His shirt was torn.
He was a mess.
He'd robbed her of the kind of life they could have had if he could have just stayed away from the damned horses.
He knew what he had to do, but he could barely face it.
He had to stop. He had to sit in a church basement that reeked of old lady perfume, and Pine Sol, on a cold metal chair, and tell his rotten story to a roomful of strangers. He had to, but there was one thing he needed to do first.
Actually, there were two, but at present, he chose to let sleeping dogs lie. He'd come clean to his wife in the morning.
He left the bedroom, the money still held in his left hand. It wasn't his. He needed to give it back.
He descended the stairs into his man cave.
He took the house phone from its base, and dialed the number.
His call was answered on the first ring.
"Sergeant's desk, Officer Lowell speaking."