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Thursday, August 9, 2012

           The moonless night, and the overcast sky, was a sign from the cosmos that she was good with the universe.  Nothing would have felt right had it been one of those smooth, silky August evenings.  The kind that just beg for a libation and a porch sit.  Tonight the streets would be empty, the neighbors drawn to the hypnotic pull of summer reruns. It was a blessing of good will; the perfect night to take care of business.

          She tugged on some dark slacks, and pulled the black sweatshirt over her head, smelling the gasoline from the last time she had worn it.  It wouldn't do to think about that now. She needed to stay focused on the task at hand.  It was lack of attention to details that got people caught.  She allowed her rage to wrap around her like an invisible suit of armor, and let the humiliation and hurt of every perceived slight fortify her desire for vengeance.

          Without a sound, the woman slipped out the back door, carrying a black tote bag, and using the alley and empty backyards to make her way unnoticed.  Several minutes later, she arrived at her destination slightly winded, the pipe wrench in her bag weighing her down like a ship's anchor.  Tucking herself between the side hedges, she patiently watched the window on the second floor that she knew was the woman's bedroom.  Once the lights remained off for thirty minutes, she quietly made her way to the wooden door in back, the one that gave entrance to the house's basement.

          The lock gave her no trouble, an easy jimmy with the pick, and she was in.  It took a moment or two for her eyes to adjust to the blackness of the room, and she felt along the wall for the gas furnace.  As she stumbled around in the dark, her toe met the leg of a wooden rocker, knocking it in to the wall with a loud thump.  She held her breath, and moved to the staircase, waiting for the sounds of feet above her head.  Worse case scenario, she could always bash her head in with the pipe wrench.  Messy, but effective. When all remained quiet, she sighed heavily, and returned to the job she had come to do.

         Using the heavy pipe wrench, she turned the valve on the pipe behind the furnace with more force than necessary.  The knob came off in her hands, and she instantly smelled the pungent odor of natural gas spilling from the hole.  Satisfied, she turned to seek out the hot water heater, planning to  check the status of the pilot light, and quickly be on her way.  It was a shock to find that at some point, the Franklins had purchased a new hot water heater, one with a pilot-less ignition.  She swore to herself.  When had that cheap bastard Franklin replaced it?

      It meant that she'd have to wait until the water cooled off enough for the tank to automatically click on.  She laid her hand on the unit, and felt the heat of the metal.  Damn! It was still warm to her touch.  It would probably be at least another twenty or thirty minutes before the tank went back on.  She mentally did the math in her head.  For the house to blow, the gas saturation would need to be 5 to 15% when the water heater ignited.  Anymore or any less, and there would be no explosion, and no dead bitch.  It would be close.  If it took  the whole 30 minutes for the tank to click on, then the gas saturation might be over the 15%, and she'd have to go back and open the basement door and windows, causing the levels to drop.  It was risky, but couldn't be helped.  She'd need to open those damn things, and then run like hell.

       Picking up the tote bag, she made her way back out the door and across the yard.  She decided to settle herself behind the garage of the house three doors away.  It gave her the perfect view of the Franklin's large colonial.  If luck were on her side, it wouldn't be long before they'd be picking up the pieces of the late Cassie McKreedy.

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus


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