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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

      Her pacing footsteps echoed through the empty house, a scolding reminder of the terrible predicament she found herself in.  The clacking of her shoes against the hardwood floors seemed to follow her like a shaking finger, smugly pronouncing that, yet again, she was shit out of luck. For the twentieth time in the last hour, Cassie tried dialing her cousin's cell phone.  Like the nineteen tries before it, the call went directly to voice mail. "Hi.  You've reached Elizabeth McKreedy.  I'm not free to take your call right now, but if you leave a message at the beep, I'll get back to you as soon as I can.  Chow!"   

      "Lizzie...damn it...Pick up!  I don't know what game you think you're playing here, but you can't do this!  I need that money!  I earned it!  You bring it back right now, do you hear me?  We've known each other too long, and if you think I'm just going to let..." BEEP!  The phone went dead, cutting off yet another tirade.

       Cassie flung the phone back in her purse, and pulled out her wallet.  Her hands shook in rage and frustration as she dumped out the contents on the bed.  Counting quickly, she figured she had only about $78 left in cash money, and of the dozen credit cards, most having her photograph attached to different names, only one had not expired, or been maxed out.  That little bit would not last her the rest of the week.  The rent was due the following Monday, and the electric bill a few days later.  She'd need to do something before then, on the chance that Elizabeth would not return. The bite of fear tingled up from her toes, and threatened to work it's way up.  The room suddenly felt smaller, stuffier...more prison like...than it had a few moments before.

        Tired of pacing, a nagging threat of choking building in her throat, she sat in front of her desk top Mac, thinking hard, and pinching her thigh until it bled.  The pain helped to clear her mind, and after a few seconds, she felt as if she could breathe normally again.  What she needed was a cash flow.  Enough to hold her over until she could pack up and get the hell out of this stink hole of a town, set up a few new identities, and start fresh.  Once she settled in the new place. she could work on tracking down that bitch cousin, and hopefully take back her money, one way or another.

         Cassie hated to go back into the accounts after so carefully covering her tracks days earlier, but at this point, she had little choice.  With shaking hands, the young woman scrolled through one after another, disregarding the ones that might send up red flags.  The Su Casa account had been a great money source for almost 18 months, but with both Riveras dead, the estate was sure to go into probate, thus making any with drawls impossible.  The Super Mart had a new boss, a micro manager who was likely to follow every cent, so playing games there was risky. Holy Family Church?  No...not enough capitol to make it worthwhile.

       "Shit!  This is going nowhere!"  Cassie squeezed the ever growing wound on her thigh until blood ran down her leg, and sucked in big gulps of air.  "You can do this, Cassie" she mumbled to the empty, shrinking room.  Think!"  Her fingers flew faster over the keyboard, passing on several possibilities, until she came across one she hadn't tapped before.  A memorial fund with a little over $80,000 sitting unused, unnoticed and begging to be spent.  Accounts like this one usually sat untouched until the money was needed, and from what Cassie could tell, there had been no activity in over six months.  $80,000 would get her out of Dollyville, and tie her over until other plans could be made.  Tapping in the correct password and social security number, the money was transferred from the memorial fund into the account of Cassandra A. McKreedy, almost like magic.  For the first time since she found the empty suitcase, she let herself smile.  "By the time anyone notices the money is missing, I will be long gone." she explained to no one in particular.

        The knowledge that she had a financial safety net made her feel better, but didn't solve the immediate problem of cash on hand.  She always paid her bills on line, but as she didn't use a checking account that left a tangible paper trail, cash money was a necessity for daily expenses and the 'what nots'.  Lizzie had always been the one who took care of the regular teller visits.  With her cousin off who knows where, Cassie would have to make the with drawl herself.  She thought about having Teddy do it for her, but decided it was much too risky.  She'd have to force herself outside, no matter the fear involved.  A quick cab ride to the bank, in and out with the cash, and she'd be home free.  The wolves could be kept from the door just long enough to finish up business.

        Having a plan of action made Cassie feel in control again.  She grabbed a sundress from the closet, and ran a brush through her dark curls.  A little blush, some lip gloss, and a pair of dark glasses, and she was set.  Once she was through the front door, she'd call for a cab, and be on her way.  It was those first few steps out the door that hung her up.  When she was with Dr. Patterson, the psychiatrist would give her a sedative first, and then help her with some hypnosis and relaxation techniques.  But it would be too hard to explain the desperate need for this sudden trip to the good doctor, and the less people she talked to before she disappeared, the better.  No, she was on her own for this one, she determined.

          She strolled down the stairs, her tongue heavy in her mouth, and her palms sweaty.  When she reached the front door, she hesitated a moment, and poked her head out.  Looking left and right down the quiet street, she attempted a few steps out on to the porch.  Immediately, her throat closed off in one single breath, and her head began to spin, lights shooting behind closed lids.  She grabbed for the door frame and forced herself back into the house with every bit of strength she had left,  throwing herself on the sofa,  and grabbing big gulps of air while she pinched and pinched until she could only focus on the pain.  After several minutes that felt like hours, her breathing and pulse returned to normal.  It was obvious.  Leaving the house today, being out in the open, was simply not going to work.  She'd have to think of someone else she could trust to get, and return, her money.

            Being trapped inside had not given her the opportunity to make many friends here, so there was no one she could easily call.  Except for Liz, Teddy, and several on line acquaintances, she had spoken to very few people in the past few months, and none of them were suitable, or available, to help her get the cash.  Spotting the church directory the young priest had left on the coffee table during his visit, an
 idea sprouted in the back of Cassie's mind.  He had graciously offered to help in any way he could, and if she had ever needed help, now was the time.  "Yes," she mumbled as her head raced with plans, "that Father whats-his-name just might do."



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