A richard l wren mystery.., p.11
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       A Richard L. Wren Mystery-Adventure Sampler, p.11

           Richard Wren
 
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CHAPTER 20

  A couple of the guys with really old bikes had poked holes in the mufflers to make them even noisier. “With the mufflers holed out,” Smitty’d told me, “they’ll shake his whole house down.”

  Unless the whole household was deaf, there was no way they wouldn’t be at the front windows watching.

  “It’s time,” Smitty said and gave me a shove toward the fence.

  Turns out, it was a breeze. No one shot at me. One step up on a lower log and I could slide over the top of the fence. Nobody had told me exactly how to get across the lawn. I figured I’d crawl on my belly, but Smitty immediately stopped that. “Stand up and crouch down,” he stage whispered at me. “Walk really, really slow to the porch steps. Sudden movements are what people see when it’s really dark like this.”

  Against my better instincts, I followed his directions. It was the longest ten or fifteen yards I’ve ever walked, but I made it and threw myself into the welcoming arms of a shrub which, in retrospect, I’m happy to say was not a rose bush.

  One by one the others came, all without setting off any alarms, all disappearing into the landscaping except for Nips, who went directly up on the porch.

  In a few minutes Nips whispered for us to come on up. He had simply opened the screen door and walked right in. The back door was gonna be a snap, he assured us as we joined him on the porch.

  “Hold on. Wait a sec before you force the door,” Smitty stage whispered to Nips.

  “I just want you all to remember, there’re probably only two people home, and they’re probably in the front of the house watching all the ruckus. But we can’t be positive. One might still be in the kitchen.”

  “I’ve already cased the door and given the lock a good dose of WD 40, it ain’t gonna make a sound,” came from Nips.

  “Great. All I’m saying is, we’re not breaking in, we’re sneaking in. So, Nips, we need to open that door as quietly as possible. And we want to get ourselves inside as quietly as possible that way, if anyone’s there, we can still surprise ’em. Hopefully, they’re in the front and when they return to the kitchen, we can grab them without a struggle. And that’s the other thing. Remember – we grab these guys without hurting them. Throw a towel over their head or something, then tie ’em up and gag ’em.”

  In the dim light from the kitchen window, we could barely see each other.

  “Ready?” Smitty asked.

  Whispered okays.

  “Okay, Bandanas up.” I felt ridiculous. I hadn’t worn a bandana bad guy style since I was eight.

  With that, he signaled Nips to go ahead and open the door, and we tiptoed in. The kitchen was empty and almost dark. Just one light on over the sink.

  So far, so good.

  Just then we heard sirens in the distance. Smitty smiled with the satisfaction of a plan well executed. “Ah, you gotta love it,” he whispered. “Here come our cops, right on time!”

  The single light over the sink barely lit up the large kitchen. We came through the door from the porch. There were two other doors, both closed. Les quietly edged one door open, it led into a dining room, empty. The other, a swinging door, had to lead to the front of the house. Smitty inched the swinging door open a little, then closed it again.

  “A hall,” he reported. “Bet they come back here that way. That’s when we grab them. Find some towels. However many there are, as they come through the door, one of us’ll throw a towel over their heads and a rag in their mouths, so they can’t yell. They’ll never know what hit ’em.”

  Smitty stationed Dave and Les behind the swinging door with towels at the ready. He, Nips, and I lined up just out of sight of the door, each of us holding a towel in our hands. We were ready… I hoped.

 
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