Colton finally relented. Since he’d gotten off the phone with Catherine and relayed the details, Sandy had badgered him about going to the grocery store. It was evident the soon-to-be-landowner was short-sighted. The last thing the pair needed was an accident accompanied by a police report. The least attention they could bring to themselves, the better.
The three-mile drive to the Elk Grove Walmart Supercenter should have taken six or seven minutes at most. This assumed a normal day with normal weather. Today was anything but. The blinding and rapidly accumulating snow, along with the slow-crawl of other drivers, entailed half-an-hour.
Inside, Sandy grabbed a buggy. “We need to plan for at least a week.” Colton trailed along as Sandy headed to the produce section.
“Too long. Think man. We got to stay flexible.” Colton was worried about Mildred Simmons.
“I am thinking, thinking of ways to be prepared if this snow continues. We don’t want to get trapped.” Sandy’s fear was irrational but real to him. His life as a construction worker meant he was one paycheck from starving. Sandy selected two heads of cabbage, a bag of carrots, two onions, and a bag of apples. “Remember, you said cooking was my responsibility.”
“Dinner on the table at 5:30, but that assumes we’re at Pop’s.” Colton liked that Sandy was easily manipulated but also feared his unpredictability.
In the meat department Sandy asked, “what happens if the judge orders us arrested?”
Colton had already explained this twice. “Again, it’s not a matter of if. We know this will happen on Monday. The judge will revoke our bonds and order us arrested. This is why I didn’t want to come here. We get in an accident, a simple fender-bender. The responding officer will enter our names into the database and see the outstanding warrants. Shazam, it’s over. The officer will cuff us and haul our asses in without question.”
“That means you need to drive carefully.” Sandy said as an elderly couple edged their cart beside Colton. He bit his lip to suppress his thoughts about his dumbass partner. As he considered the price of hamburger, he noticed Sandy, twenty-feet away inspecting ribeye, filet mignon, and T-bone steaks. As he approached, he decided to run a test, just to see what all Sandy would buy. If the result was the absence of self-control, Colton would know his drinking buddy was more trouble than he was worth.
“Just for tonight.” Sandy said like a kid asking mama for permission to stay up late to play with his new Christmas toys.
Colton nodded. “I’ll have the filet mignon.”
Sandy removed a pack of two, twelve ounce filets from the shelf and lay them in the buggy. Colton’s iphone emitted the ringing of a hand bell as he sauntered behind Sandy, now heading toward the cheese cooler.
The sound was a notification from the Spytec App he’d downloaded six months ago to monitor the tiny camera he’d installed in Maverick, Molly’s black llama. Out of fifty or more stuffed animals, Maverick was her favorite. And, the best one to hide the amazingly small camera. The stuffed llama stood erect on all fours, eighteen inches from the tip of its banana-shaped ears to the soles of its feet. Colton had made a quarter inch slit midway down its neck, inserted the camera, and secured the tiny plastic loops, one on each end, with a thin black thread to make sure it stayed put. A little creative brushing of the llama’s coarse neck-hair camouflaged the camera and left and left a clear path to what lay ahead.
The idea had originated at Matt’s house. It was this year’s annual July the 4th pool party for his employees and their families. The kids were allowed to invite a guest. Molly had invited Alisha. Colton still remembered the vast difference in the girls’ bikini-clad bodies. Alisha was plump with lots of flab, shaped more like an oblong bowling ball with rolls of fat. Molly was like an hourglass, one not fully developed but clearly exhibiting the signs of rapidly approaching womanhood: flat stomach, curvy ass, and long, contoured legs. Her body was more perfect than any of the fifteen and sixteen year olds present. No doubt, Molly was exceptional. Colton had worked hard not to get caught staring. The next week he’d ordered the camera and APP, and the fun had begun. Recently, he’d fought a strong urge to ravish the shapely pre-teen with emerging pubic hair, budding breasts, and puckered nipples who every morning and every night got naked in front of the lifeless Maverick. But, thankfully, Colton’s legal quandary had kept him contained, except for his eyes.
The setup had worked flawlessly until Friday morning when the camera stopped working. Out of habit, Colton always checked the APP on his way to work, although on Friday, Molly was at Alisha’s. Actually, the camera had kept working but produced only darkness. At first, he thought Millie had moved Maverick and four dozen other plush toys, maybe to dust the shelf, but that idea was doubtful; Millie hated cleaning, especially so early in the day. Another thought was she’d decided Molly was getting too old for stuffed animals. But, this too was silly, and rather remote since Millie herself had a couple from her own childhood.
Despite near-hourly checking, nothing had changed. Until now. There was a blond, curly-headed younger girl staring at Maverick. Actually, she was a child, five or six at the most, standing, alert and eager, in between the stuffed animal and a desk. Behind it, attached to a wall, was a white board with an assortment of words written with black, green, and red markers in equal size columns. The only words Colton could make out were Ray’s Service Center & Towing printed in larger letters across the top of the board.
He eased forward replaying the clip, oblivious to his surroundings. “Watch where you’re going.” A man shouted, nearly falling into an Oscar Myer sampling booth.
“Sorry. You okay?” The man regained his balance and stared, but didn’t respond.
Colton found Sandy in Beer & Spirits and handed him two, one-hundred dollar bills. “Buy what you want, I’ll be in the truck.” He left his partner, smiling and loading three six-packs of Bud Lite.