The crash of thunder jolted Michael awake. Shit! I didn’t mean to fall asleep! He looked over at the mound on the other side of the bed. No movement. Good, he thought. As gently as possible, he pushed back the blankets and eased out of the bed. Of course, his clothes were scattered about the room. Too careless, he thought, chastising himself. He located his boxers, slid them on, then searched for his trousers.
Throughout his search, he kept one eye on the bed. Only the sound of slow, steady breathing could be heard. A sound sleeper. Finally, I’m catching a break. Once he’d gotten his socks and shirt on, he began his search for the real reason he was here.
What I had to do to get Elizabeth’s watch back! he thought, glancing down at the bed and shuttering at the memory. Would she forgive me if she ever found out? Surely the return of a family heirloom worth more than a hundred thousand pounds makes up for this single indiscretion. Let’s hope I never find out.
Out the window, he saw flashes of lightning in the sky, but they were not accompanied by any more thunder. Just stay quiet, he thought, sending the message out to the storm clouds overhead. Let’s not wake anyone else up. He needed time to find what he was after.
He pulled the picture from his wallet and studied it once again. The original black and white photograph this one had come from had been old and grainy, but he’d been able to scan it and digitally enhance it enough to get a proper image of the wristwatch. He had scrutinized this picture in such detail, there was no need to keep it with him, but he examined it one more time before beginning his search.
He slid the picture back into his pocket and began the task at hand. As quietly as possible, he began opening drawers around the room. Would it be as simple as finding a jewelry box? He doubted it. The value of this heirloom would make most people have it under lock and key, but that assumes they knew its full value. Would someone who stole it think of having it appraised?
The top dresser drawer produced a wooden box that looked promising. Lifting the lid, Michael examined the contents: rings, bracelets, necklaces – mostly cheap and gold- or silver-plated pieces with fake stones, nothing of note. Nothing in here looked even close to the value of what he was searching for. He placed the jewelry box quietly back in its drawer and continued his search.
The remaining drawers in the dresser yielded nothing. He moved into the living room to the small writing desk he’d noticed when he first arrived. None of the drawers were locked, so he didn’t expect to find anything here either. He quickly began rifling through old electric bills and other useless papers but found nothing. Maybe it isn’t here, he thought as he returned to the bedroom.
Another crack of thunder rattled the windows, causing Michael to freeze. The mass of covers shifted. He held his breath until everything was still once again. Exhaling, he thought, I need to hurry.
He crept across the room and opened the closet door. He rummaged through the shoes and boots on the floor and located a small foot locker pushed against the wall. Opening it, he found what looked to be a collection of mementos including old photographs. He flipped through them casually but stopped short when he saw his Elizabeth surrounded by a group of young women staring up at him. Well, that confirms I’m in the right house, he thought. He considered taking it with him, but decided it would be too obvious if the photograph was discovered missing after the watch was.
He put everything back where he found it and continued his search, moving on to examine the contents of the shelf at the top of the closet. He pushed aside a box of gloves and scarves and found a small wooden chest. Slipping it off the shelf, he eased it open. Inside, he found a collection of expensive jewelry: an elegant emerald and ruby ring, an expensive men’s watch encrusted with diamonds, a tennis bracelet probably worth more than the building he was standing in. There were easily a dozen or more pieces like these, and among them, Elizabeth’s watch.
Was all of this jewelry like Elizabeth’s watch? Was this a collection of tokens stolen from friends and ex-lovers? Well, your collection is one piece short today! thought Michael as he dropped the watch into his pocket.
He placed the chest back on the shelf and arranged the box of scarves and gloves back in its proper location. Hopefully, it wouldn’t look it had been disturbed. He quietly closed the closet door and made his way across the room. He gathered his remaining clothes and noiselessly picked up his shoes. He peered out the window. Looks like the storm passed us. Now if I can get out without being heard, I’m in good shape.
The deadbolt on the front door made a loud clang as he turned the knob, but no noise came from the bedroom. Michael gently opened the door, slipped outside, and ease it shut behind him. Mission accomplished! Now let’s hope for a clean getaway.