The Walls Have Eyes

The warmth from the patio heater is a nice relief but at the same time it’s pushing me closer and closer to the edge of sleep. I’m not sure how much longer it will be before I fall off. I open the binder with one hand and rub my eyes with the other while my jaw fakes a yawn in an attempt to abandon my face. Maybe we can just sleep here.

 The binder is filled with page after page of bank transactions, both deposits and withdrawals. These are followed by a dizzying compilation of serial numbers, the digits so close together that it just looks like one big number on each page.

“Well I think it’s safe to say Joel is keeping a very close eye on his money,” I tell Emma, who is still staring down to the street. I hope she’s not still thinking about Joel’s son.

“I bet some accountant could have a field day with that,” she says, sounding distant. I wave her back over and she slowly returns to sit beside me. She places her chin on my shoulder, I lean my head against hers, and we stay that way in silence, pretending to read.

Just as I begin to nod off Emma shifts her weight and my head snaps back to center. We need to get out of here and find a place to rest up before tonight. Who knows what will come of the trip to the mayor’s house and when we might have another chance like this. I reach out to close the binder when a reflection at the edge catches my eye. I flip to the back of the book and almost instantly regret it.

 “Well… that’s creepy,” I murmur more to myself than Emma but she hears anyway.
“What the bloody hell?” Emma snatches the topmost photo and holds it in trembling fingers. Her eyes bore into it, daring the image to change, but it remains the same. There’s Emma, in attractive business attire with a thick pile of documents pinned under one arm, standing next to a desk. “That’s my office! Why would Joel have this taken?”
“Keeping it on file in case he needed to keep you in check?” I offer before another, even more unpleasant thought occurs to me. “Or maybe he wasn’t responsible for it – maybe it was sent to him, as a warning. One not taken seriously enough, so the look-alike downstairs was required.”
Emma is silent as she studies the next picture in the binder, this one taken of her in the produce section of a grocery store. The following one shows her striding down a busy sidewalk, her hair tied back in a ponytail and her faced relaxed. I feel rage start to bubble up at this violation of her privacy, at the stripping away of any pretence of security.
And then I see the next picture.
“Son of a bi-“ Emma’s fingers on my lips cut off the curse but not the emotion behind it. I’m staring at a picture of me at work at the back of a lawyer’s office. I remember the piece vividly: a red, black, and white condemnation of the head of the firm. I had caught word that he was paying off judges so that his crooked clients could go free, so I left an image of him putting bloody bills on Lady Justice’s scales. The picture was taken when I was just adding the finishing touches on the drops of blood. “I did this maybe two months ago.”

“It makes you wonder how long we’ve been watched,” she whispers. We both look around the rooftop warily, expecting to see a photographer jump out of the evergreens or a video camera hidden in the snow. I force a laugh that fails to convince even me.
“Well the cops are gone but we still need to find a place to crash for the day, to get some sleep and prepare for tonight,” I tell her. “Our apartments are out of the question and after seeing these I don’t think anywhere we’ve been before would be safe. A hotel would be ideal but using credit cards would be asking for it and I’ve got maybe twenty bucks on me.”
“A hotel would do just the trick,” she says and pulls a thick wad of bills out of her jacket pocket. Before I can say anything she continues, “It’s on Joel – he should know better than to leave his money lying around his apartment like that.”
“Yeah, totally. I know I always tuck my money away in case my ex-girlfriend decides to break into my place and rob me. Got enough there to rent a car too?”
“Aw, no more ambulance? I think it suits you.”
“It’s a bit too… noticeable for my tastes. And I’d be shocked if it hasn’t been reported stolen by now. So maybe we can get a ride with a bit more… style.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Emma says with a small smile. She collects our stolen bounty, eases to her feet, and offers me a hand. “But first we need to find a nice hotel room to while away the day in.”
“Shouldn’t I take you for a dinner and movie first?”
“Oh please,” she says with a roll of her eyes. “I’d expect something much more creative than that from an artist. Now let’s get out of here.”

The End

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