“So, you gonna kill me now?”
“Man, I really don’t want to. But you’ve seen my face.”
“The longer we talk, the more I see your face.”
“Yeah, you’d definitely pick me out of a lineup now.”
“I’m near-sighted. So if the line is far away, then maybe not.”
“You probably have glasses though.”
“Old glasses. I need a new prescription.”
It was a real pickle. Donovan White had not planned on robbing Jesus Santos’s home while Jesus was still awake, and Jesus Santos had not planned on being awake while Donovan White robbed him. But there they were in the kitchen together. The cookie in Jesus’s hand had gone soggy from being dunked in milk and not getting eaten in a timely manner afterward. It was in mid-dunk that Jesus had first noticed Donovan.
Donovan had been in the adjacent room, sizing up Jesus’s living room furniture with visible disappointment. It looked like oak up close, which for a near-sighted person like Jesus was good enough, but Donovan could tell it was fake. Imitation oak did not pawn as well as actual oak. Donovan had pawned enough imitation oak to know that. One of these days, he was going to rob someone who could afford actual oak.
“Why did you pick my place to rob anyway?”
“Single guy, living alone. Figured it’d be a low-risk hit.”
“I could have a girlfriend that sleeps over a lot.”
“I hear that.”
It was a good bonding moment for them. Jesus was between women, and never in the way he wanted to be between them. Donovan was just looking for Miss Right, which was rough going since he was the proverbial Mr. Wrong. A guy could only take so many restraining orders before it started to affect his self-esteem.
“I think women just don’t get me, ya know? I’m like Robin Hood. I take from the people who have stuff, and I give it to me.”
“My problem is I’m not assertive enough. I find these pretty chicas and I buy them nice things and then I never hear from them again.”
“Man, you saying these women are just using you for material gain? That’s cold. I’d never do a brother like that.”
Although a Glock had been in his hand for most of the confrontation, he had never actually pointed it at Jesus. It just rested at his hip comfortably, unused, not unlike Jesus’s cookie.
“You gonna eat that or what?”
“It seemed rude, under the circumstances.”
“Well, I mean, it’s your house.”
Jesus ate the cookie. It tasted okay all things considered, in so much that a cookie eaten at 2 a.m. in front of a burglar could be enjoyed. And Jesus did know the difference between burglary and robbery, namely that robbery involved threatening another person, which Donovan had not really done yet. But “rob” was a much cooler word than “burglarize,” and Jesus tried to act cool whenever he could.
“What’re you doing up at two in the morning for milk and cookies, anyway?”
“I’m Santa Claus.”
“Ha! That’s a good one.”
“Yeah, thanks, I’m kind of surprised I thought of that on the fly.”
But being so clever, it was difficult to follow up. A long silence ensued. Now and then, Jesus would nod his head casually, as if one of them had said something really profound that deserved further thought. Donovan would tap his fingers on Jesus’s countertop and clear his throat in a variety of ways. They knew one of them had to say something soon or else risk the situation becoming awkward.
“I’ve got your PlayStation 4 in my bag. Do you want to play?”
“Do you have Madden?”
“Course I got Madden!”
Jesus helped Donovan hook his PlayStation 4 back up in the living room. They kicked back on the couch and Donovan put his feet on the table as the game started up.
“That’s a nice, sturdy table.”
“Looks like oak, doesn’t it?”
“It does look it, I’ll give you that much.”
“Are you seriously playing as the Steelers?”
Snacks were quickly brought into the equation, and they were soon sharing the milk and the cookies. The fun went on for hours, until cracks of light started seeping through the shades. Roethlisberger had proved to be a pretty reliable bet, and Donovan did a victory dance whenever he won, pretending to spike a football each time.
“Milk actually goes pretty good with the taste of victory. I can see why you drinking so much of it now.”
“Yeah, but I got a confession to make. I ain’t jolly Saint Nick.”
“No! Then why were you up in the middle of the night?”
“Because I find out if I have cancer today.”
Donovan put down his controller. His heart sunk too when he saw Jesus was not joking. Of all the marks in all the houses in town, Donovan had to go and pick the guy who might have cancer. That was like going to the county fair and trying to steal an off-duty cop’s wallet, a crime which it turns out carries a pretty light sentence if you have good behavior.
“Man, no wonder why you were so cool about being robbed.”
“You think I’m cool?”
“So cool, little buddy.”
Without making a show of it, Donovan emptied his bag of the remainder of its contents, letting it all spill quietly onto the couch. He rose to his feet with a long exhale.
“Guess I oughta get out of here.”
“It is about that time.”
“I don’t think I broke your window. Pretty sure it was just open when I got here.”
“You can use the front door if you want.”
“That might look less suspicious, thanks.”
Jesus walked him to the door. It was a much nicer house in daylight, Donovan decided. Some of that stuff would have looked really great in Donovan’s place. It was a shame on more than one level. As he left the house and started off down the street, Jesus took one step out the door to ask him one more thing.
“So, same time tomorrow?”
“Sure. Your house or mine?”