Chapter 2- Leo’s Bored Life.

‘Hello,’ Carla said as she flipped his phone open. The flip was yet another reminder that he needed her to move in with him where he could get an upgrade from a flip phone to something more fancy schmancy. Leo could sure use her extra money, she thought.

‘Hi, umm, hello. This is Tim at Mid Coastal Savings and Loan, I was calling for Leo?’

‘Hi Tim, this is Carla. I’m answering Leos phone. He’s not here right now’ she said back into the flip and at that moment, Carla knew inside of herself that something was wrong.

‘Well, this is odd but we were just calling to make sure he was ok. Typically Leo is the last one out and locks the doors and checks the safe. But today, all of a sudden nobody knows where he went. He just sort of disappeared and we’re confused. I had to leave early after I got sick at lunch so I don’t really know first hand what’s going on’

‘He was fine when I talked to him at lunch. We were going to meet up here tonight and discuss plans for a beach trip this summer. He didn’t mention anything about leaving early. ‘

‘I’ve asked around and everyone said that he seemed fine this morning. But after lunch he seemed to want to stay to himself more than usual they said. Normally, Leo is roaming around and doing his job very well. He doesn’t’ always talk to everyone but most security guards don’t talk to people. They seem focused. So him not really talking to anyone didn’t seem that out place but Carmella said that he seemed more withdrawn and to himself than usual after lunch. She said he seemed even a little bit nervous.’

‘That’s odd. I guess he just had something on his mind. I know that I’ve been giving him crap about moving in with him, maybe that was too much pressure. I’m sure he’ll be home soon and I’ll ask him if its anything that I did. Or, well, I don’t know, just feel him out and see what’s eating at him. But I’ll tell him to call you as soon as he walks through the door.

‘Please do Carla, we all like Leo here and want him to keep his job. But first, we just want to make sure that he’s safe. Thanks and tell him to call or text me the second you hear from him.’

‘Will do, thanks again’ Carla said and flipped Leo’s phone closed as she thought about the possibilities of what happened to him and stared at her pizza circulating in the buzzing microwave.

Driving along the Florida coastline, the palm trees flipped past him. Leo didn’t know exactly what the best approach to an escape was. He had never had any reason to ‘escape’ anything because Leo had led a pretty boring life. Married at 21, no kids, divorced at 28 and broke at 29, the highlight of his week was watching the dart games on Saturday nights at Stubby’s while he drank beer with Carla and smelled cheap cologne in the bar.

Leo suddenly realized that Leo was bored, near broke and looking for something more than just an escape with the contents of that lockbox. The lockbox had somehow played into his future, good or bad.

Now suddenly he was thrown into something that he wasn’t prepared to deal with. He had to think differently and do more planning. Because right now he was thinking like a seagull; just land on whatever pier post became vacant first.

If he drove faster he might get pulled over for a ticket and his car might get searched. Or if he drove too slowly, he’d never get where he was going..

IF he knew where he was going.

He just knew that he was driving a puke green 2004 Chevy Malibu without an air conditioner on it and with over 200K miles on it. And in the trunk was a dark wooden box that was locked. He had no idea of the value of the box or the contents of the box. But he knew that whatever it was, he had it now and he’s was running from someone somewhere to someplace to sit down and figure out exactly what he needed to do next.  

The other thing that Leo knew was that the tall brunette with big dark sunglasses and long legs who drove a baby blue antique Jaguar and came back and forth to this lockbox was mesmerizing. Because she looked, walked and smelled like a mixed promise of fun, danger and a lot of money. 

Leo also knew that he wanted to get to know this dangerously attractive and rich woman better. 

Although he didn’t know it yet, very soon that was exactly what was about to happen.

 

Chapter 1-Leo Runs Away.

Audiobook version narrated by Alex McCommon.

Please click on the play button below to hear the audio version.


Written 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.