For Your Eyes Only
The bills lay ominously on the coffee table, growing; reproducing every day to reveal new bills that had been added to the growing pile of unopened notices. Why bother opening them if I didn’t have the money to pay? The phone rang. I moved my eyes from the bills to the name that had lit up on the screen; my landlord. I let the phone ring. I didn’t have the money to pay him either. He had stuck a notice on my door yesterday. Next his kind letter, asking me to take my child and vacate his premises had been an envelope, one that I didn’t recognize. It was this envelope I now held in my hand.
I almost didn’t open it, throwing the yellowed paper on top of the pile of bills. I had assumed it was from one of the many people I owed. I had borrowed a lot since the factory closed and not from reputable creditors. No one legitimate would loan money to an out of work single mother who had no prospect of finding another job. These people didn’t care about my ability to pay them back, they just cared that I did. If I failed my obligation, they wouldn’t be taking me to court, I would have worse to worry about from them. However, at the time it had seemed my only option, having already maxed my credit cards and borrowed everything I could from family.
The envelope sat on top of the pile all day yesterday. It was there when I woke Meghan and helped her get ready for school. It was there when I came home after dropping Meghan off at the small school building a few blocks away. A yellow envelope among the sea of white bills, with words scrawled across the front in an unfamiliar handwriting, “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY,”
It sounded threatening. I sat down to drink my breakfast, vodka and orange juice, and read the words for what seemed like the hundredth time.
“FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.”
What could possibly be inside? I drank my glass down in just a few short gulps. I picked up the envelope and looked at it. The more I thought about it, the less likely it seemed that it could have come from one of my creditors. They would be more likely to leave any messages for me inside my apartment, say taped to a broken mirror or picture of my daughter, not on the front door.
“FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.”
Curiosity finally got the better of me and I ripped it open. I pulled out a white sheet of paper, the kind with no lines on it. When I pulled it out, something fell from the envelope, landing on the coffee table with a light clink. A small key. I picked it up, puzzled and then read the letter. When I was done I was even more confused.
It has come to my attention that you are in need of some financial assistance. I am in need of some assistance as well. This key will unlock P.O. Box at the post office. Inside you will find fifty thousand dollars along with another letter. Please read the letter before you take the money. If you agree with what I propose, then the money is yours. BUT, if you take the money and don’t carry out the task that is asked, I will request my money back and you can be sure, I will be less pleasant than the creditors you owe. Once you have completed the task I will contact you with another location where you will find an additional fifty thousand dollars, more than enough to satisfy your landlord and your creditors.
It wasn’t signed. My phone rang again. My landlords name flashed on the screen. I didn’t answer, but I did grab my purse and head out the door. What harm could it do to see if the money was really there?
Much to my surprise the P.O. Box did contain fifty thousand dollars, or at least a small brief case with a pile of hundreds inside that looked like they could add up to fifty thousand. I wasn’t going to count it there with everyone watching. There was an envelope inside as well. When I opened it I found several pictures and another letter, as well as a key.
The pictures were of an attractive woman I didn’t recognize, in a compromising position with a man that I did recognize. He was the owner of a local business and politically connected. Rumor had it that he was considering running for city council. Since it wasn’t his wife in the picture I assumed this evidence of adultery could ruin his career.
The woman is my wife. If anything were to happen to her, I would be the first one to be suspected. If anything were to happen to him, I am sure an investigation would reveal the affair and I would be the suspect. If anything were to happen to both, I might as well turn myself over to the authorities. That is unless I can provide an alibi.
The key is to a locker at the skating rink on Hillside Dr. Inside you will find a gun, along with instructions on where and when you are to use it. Yes, I am asking you to kill my wife and her lover. You may feel free to turn down the offer and leave the money and pictures where they are. I will not blame you. There are a few other prospects I have in mind that might be more willing to take the money. There is something about you though that I like.
If you turn down my offer do not call the police. You can be sure if I am willing to put a price on my wife’s head, I will have no qualms putting one on yours, or even your daughter’s. You can be sure there is someone out there desperate enough for money that they wouldn’t even think twice about it.
I looked around the post office to see if anyone was watching me. No one seemed to be paying attention. I read the letter again and then looked at the picture. Could I kill someone I didn’t know? I thought about the pile of bills on the table. I imagined what my creditors would do to me if I didn’t pay back all that I had borrowed, along with the high interest. I thought about having to move from the only home my daughter had ever known with no place to take her to. My family had already told me I couldn’t come to them. I looked at the envelope, filled with enough money to take care of all my bills today and leave me with spending money. And there was a promise of more to come. Closing the briefcase, I made my decision. I was taking Meghan skating.
Copyright© 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar. All rights reserved.