16: Milo and Francesca- The Loot- Jerry

Please Go Here for the beginning of the story.

Francesca put on some water to boil, and when it was done she poured it into a pot and let the tea steep. Everyone sat quietly watching her as she went about her business. Tea done, she handed the pot around the table. Jerry filled his mug and then poured in some milk until the tea turned beige. He watched the others, as he warmed his chilled hands on the mug, mixing their teas with milk and honey and he felt oddly at home and grateful for a chance to stop and rest. Everyone sat without saying a word as they sipped their teas.

Francesca put her mug down and looked straight at Jerry. He felt a chill run down his spine. He felt like bolting. Francesca’s eyes switched to Milo’s and she asked in a matter-of-fact tone, “So, what is it that we are running away from anyway?”

All heads, even Uncle Barnaby’s, turned to Jerry. Jerry glanced wildly from one to the other, feeling trapped. “What?” he challenged them. “What’re you looking at me for?”

“Oh come on,” said Milo. “We can’t be running away for nothing.”

Jerry stared at Milo. “What? So you think I had something to do with it?”

“Well,” replied Milo, “Why else would those thugs be after us?”

“Ever think that maybe they had it in for me? They’re not exactly nice guys, you know.”

“Why would they have an interest in you, Jerry?” asked Francesca. “You don’t seem like someone with a load of cash. Maybe you owe them something?”

Jerry fingered the bundle in his jacket pocket and glanced nervously from Francesca to Milo to Uncle Barnaby. “I don’t owe them anything!” he blurted out.

“But Jerry, that’s crazy,” said Milo. “Why would they go to the trouble of chasing you through the streets if you didn’t have anything? Seems like an awful waste of energy for nothing. Besides that leader guy looked really mad!”

Jerry eyed each of them before relenting. “Oh, all right!” he moaned. “I guess I don’t have a choice.” He slouched down into his seat and stuck out his jaw. “I took something from them.”

They all stared at him, incredulous. Francesca was the first to recover. “You took something from them?”

“What?” asked Milo.

“This should be interesting,” murmured Uncle Barnaby.

“Something that they want real bad,” Jerry replied, still trying not give in.

“But what?” demanded Francesca. “I’m risking my life for this, you know.”

Jerry shook his head, reached into his pocket, pulled out the bundle. He set it on the table.

“This,” he said.

“What is it?” asked Milo.

Jerry paused, reluctant to go further. “Sabine made me do it,” he explained. “She said that if I got it she would go out with me. She seemed to really want it badly.”

“Never mind about Sabine right now, Jerry,” said Francesca. “Just open it.”

Jerry took the ends of the cord that wrapped around the bundle and pulled. The brown cloth fell away and there was a velvet case inside. Jerry placed his thumb on the case’s lid and flipped it up. Everyone jumped back in surprise.

It was a set of gold dentures. Each of the teeth glinted in the dim light of the bulb overhead. Jerry sat back and looked dejected.

“They belong to the gang leader’s mother,” said Jerry. I stole it out of her bathroom yesterday night when she was sleeping.”

“You must be out of your mind, Jerry,” said Milo. “We have to return these right away.”

“We can’t do that,” said Jerry. “They’ll kill me!”

“They’ll kill you anyway, if you don’t,” said Francesca.