Drafting–Colton and Sandy inspect Mildred’s van inside the detached garage

Colton and Sandy waited until 9:00 PM to walk to the detached garage and inspect Mildred’s van. Sandy new from his younger days that she was an early-to-bed, early-to rise woman. Pop had always said Mildred was like a chicken at night, taking to her roost fifteen to thirty minutes before sunset. But, in the mornings, she was up by 4:00 AM, a good two to three hours before sunrise, the normal chicken-rising time. Mildred no longer had chickens but Sandy and Colton doubted she’d changed her habits.

The dark gray, almost black, van was a 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 4×4. According to paperwork in the console, Mildred had purchased the like-new RV for $79,000 from a man named Angelo Danesi out of Marietta, Georgia. He had bought the Sanctuary model from Thor Motor Coach in Elkhart, Indiana.

To say the van was luxurious was a gross understatement. It had everything two people would need to comfortably travel year round, even off-road. Up front were two ergonomic captain chairs facing a high-tech dashboard. Behind them was the well-designed living quarters, accessible directly from the captain chairs or via the exterior sliding door located behind the passenger seat.

As Sandy walked around the van marveling the sleek design, Colton inspected the well-equipped rolling apartment. At dinner, while considering whether the van might provide a better option than Pop’s house, he’d inventoried what a mobile set-up should include. The van more than met his expectations: inside the living quarters was a two-burner stove and sink (outside, he’d noticed an attached grill toward the right rear side), a refrigerator, a microwave oven, a surprisingly large shower/commode bathroom combination, two couches that made into beds, and plenty of storage.

Sandy joined Colton in the other captain’s chair. “Sorry, but I’m still confused. Won’t getting rid of Mildred and stealing her van just put us more in the cross-hairs than getting rid of her and using Pop’s as our command center?”

It wasn’t a bad way to frame the central issue but Colton had a twist. “Here’s a third option. Before we get rid of Mildred we use her to eliminate us from the cross-hairs you mention, the one you think is based on her missing van.”

Sandy reached to the steering column and turned the key but stopped short of starting the engine. He then fiddled with the large computerized touch screen in the center of the dash. “Explain. What do you mean, ‘use her’?”

“We make her do the normal things she would otherwise do if she were about to take a trip. Things like withdraw money, pack her bags, maybe call a neighbor to collect her mail and watch the house.” Colton lowered his left hand and felt the seat controls. He activated each one, sequentially. “Unbelievable. My seat will do everything but make coffee.”

“That’s like a horse and wagon compared to this thing.” Sandy said, scrolling through FaceBook. “Mildred must have a data-plan.”

“Maybe it’s connected to WiFi.” Colton added. “Question. Does Mildred have children?” It was something he hadn’t considered until now.

“One, a son, Mason, but they’ve been estranged since I was a kid.”

“Why? What happened?” Colton knew that if the two reconciled, a problem for him and Sandy was certain to arise.

“Not sure. I’d guess it had to do with Mason’s father. I only met him a time or two but Pop said the man was crazy. Anyway, the son left after high school and probably never returned.”

Colton used his fingers to calculate Mason’s age. “Mildred is eighty-five. Son would be sixty-five. Seventy?”

“Sounds about right. I’d say he could care less what’s going on with his mother, but Alice is another matter.” Whether he knew it or not, Sandy was offering valuable assistance.

“Who’s Alice?” Colton hoped Mildred didn’t have a close friend.

“Best friend and neighbor. Lives right over there.” Sandy pointed diagonally to his left into the dark, and looked at Colton. “Don’t you dare say, she has to go.”
“No stupid, but Mildred will have to call her. And, convince her she’s taking a trip.”

“I can’t wait to see that. Plus watch her withdraw money from her bank.” Sandy turned up the volume on a YouTube he’d found tauting the benefits of an air-fryer.

Colton looked at the computer screen, saw it was 9:45, and wondered where Millie was and what her and Molly were doing. Damn, why hadn’t he installed the new GPS car tracker Thursday night. “Let’s get some rest. Tomorrow we need to nail down all the details to enable us to pull this off Monday morning.”

Sandy could be hopeless in his predictions. “So, we’re going to kidnap Mildred and take her along to God know’s where?”

Colton pushed a button on the dash to his left marked, ‘Reset seat.’ “You’re right about the kidnapping part, but her ride will only be as long as needed to find a secluded spot to dump her body.” He turned off the key and exited the van fully aware Sandy wasn’t convinced what they were about to do would help keep them out of prison.

“Shit, shit, shit.” Is all Sandy could say as they closed the garage door and trod back to Pop’s house.

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, meditating, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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