Audiobook version narrated by Alex McCommon.
Please click on the play button below to hear the audio version.
The sections of the concrete bumped regularly underneath his car as he crossed the long bridge. As he drove, Leo wondered if they had figured it out yet. Had they found his prints on the safe deposit box? Or had hey found his cellphone in his apartment? Had they asked his girlfriend if she knew of anyone that would have a bone to pick with Leopold? Had they reviewed the bank security cameras? Or did they even know that anything was missing yet?
Because on that Friday, after the bank manager went home early and nobody was left to watch the Tanker Street location of the MCL branch (Mid Coastal Savings and Loan) in Mobile Alabama, the bank security guard took a lot of things home with him. But these things weren’t his to take home.
The bank name tag that he left lying on his dresser said Leo because only his immediate family and close friends knew that his real name was Leopold Sinclair. It wasn’t that his name was an embarrassment, it was that it was so different and hard to spell. He understood that it was his grandfather’s name but at the same time, he grew tired of having to explain to everyone this was his grandfather’s name. Being different isn’t always a good thing.
His oldies radio station played Billie Holiday’s ‘Them There Eyes’ as he sailed across the Apalachicola bridge to somewhere; wherever he decided. His car air conditioning was broken, so he had his windows down and could feel the sticky warm Florida air on his face and his arm propped out the driver’s window as he drove.
Staring at the seagulls windsurfing around the waters like gliders, he wondered if they knew where they were going or did they simply plop down on the first available post. Because if that’s how they decided where to land, then Leo had found his spirit animal.
Leo had absolutely no idea where he would go, what he would do or how he would do it. All he knew is that it all started when he found a key to lockbox #773 in the parking lot at lunch that day and the rest just sort of, well, happened.
Back at the apartment, Carla let herself in with her key. Carla and Leo had argued a little bit about her moving in with him. They had dated for a few years, four to be exact. But Leo was skeptical of any commitment to anyone so he held off replying to her occasional hints dropped like ‘You know if you had a roommate to share in the cost of living here, you’d be able to afford some better shoes.’ Leo had taken a lot of flack about his tennis shoes that he wore with his security uniform. The uniform was supplied by MCL but he had to buy his own shoes. Money had been tight for several years after his ex-wife and her boy-toy cleaned out what little money that he had put back in the divorce.
MCL was such a small institution, the style and quality of Leo’s shoes were the least of things to be concerned with when it came to banking and financial matters.
Carla found it odd that Leo’s cellphone was left at home but he was nowhere to be found. His car was gone but those two things were the only things out of the ordinary. Maybe he just went down for a beer at Stumpys. Stumpys was the corner bar where a lot fo the local guys hang out. It was a typical corner bar that smelled of stale beer, cigarettes, and cheap perfume. And Hai Karate.
Stumpy owned the bar so he could wear whatever cologne that he wanted. Old Stumpy had never gotten a new brand of cologne since high school graduation. There was no reason to upgrade because it worked for him. Hai karate had woo’d Stephanie after his last senior football game, so he went with that. They did get married and have had a happy life actually. Five kids later, Stumpy and Stephanie are now both fat, middle-aged and happily smelling like prom 1977.
Carla decided that she’d wait awhile in the apartment and see what unfolded. If Leo didn’t show up she’d go down to Stumpy’s and see what he was up to. Maybe she needed to give Leo some space. Pushing too hard to take their relationship to the next level could back-fire and she’d be all alone. Worse, she’d lose something that she loved because Carla surely loved Leo.
Getting a piece of yesterday’s pizza out of the fridge for dinner, she shut the fridge door and was putting the pepperoni pizza slice on a plate when Leo’s cellphone rang. She quickly finished putting the pizza in the microwave and pushed the ‘pizza’ button and trotted across the apartment to the ringing phone.
Maybe it was Leo and he was calling her to come down to Stumpys for a beer or four.
And then they’d come back to his apartment and make calisthenic and sweaty love all night long.