The last tumbler clicked into position. I wanted to turn the handle to see if it would swing the 90 degrees that would open the safe. If it barely moved that meant the alarm had been triggered and all the exits sealed. I’d be trapped in this vault till Monday morning when the armed guards would take me into custody then setting off the familiar string of events that would take me back to Folsom for 10 to 15 years.
My hand felt cold and clammy in the latex gloves I was wearing. I had learned the hard way that latex gloves kept finger prints on the inside. That lesson cost me 5-10. Yet here I was on the cusp of feast or famine and I hesitated. Hesitated because I didn’t have 10-15 years to give away any longer. The cancer would see to that. How desperately I wished that weren’t the case, not for my own sake mind you but for Jake’s sake, my grandson. It was because of him I hesitated.
I didn’t know I had a grandson until I got out of Folsom that last time. By then he was 7 and had never heard of who I was. I wasn’t dead to him. I simply didn’t exist – a nonperson. So ashamed of my career choices my son had disowned, me changed his name and turned his back on me as simply as closing a book and returning it to the library without a second thought. It was only through a blurb in the local paper that mentioned my grandson that I learned of him. He was, god help me, growing up in suburbia!
Before I put the paper down I knew he had to be rescued from the McDonald’s play land sterile bubble he was living in. He needed an eccentric old grandpa that would tell him wild tales of adventure and midnight train rides across the Rockies that would fuel his imagination and help him break free of manicured lawns and goodies bags at parties. Benny was ashamed of me, of what I did for a living that drove him to the stability and sameness of Accounting in Suburbia. Where the worst thing that can happen to someone is running out of propane for the outdoor grill or god forbid crabgrass. In suburbia Crabgrass is the dreaded C word. Not cancer.
So here I was on the cusp. I pulled the latex glove off my hands and rubbed them together to get the blood flowing. I wasn’t about to do this with cold fish hands. I slid on my Italian racing gloves. I thought about Jake, muttered ‘Whatever,’ to myself and twisted the handle as far as it would go.