I stepped out of the lights and music of the Cash Cab, four hundred dollars richer. The frigid rain spat down at me, and the wind tried to throw my hair into my face. Shame and self-loathing were furrowing my brow and tying a knot in my stomach. I felt like I was going to be physically sick. I had never been so ashamed of myself.
I took out my phone to make a call and stopped for a second to look at the screen. My little girl looked back from the wallpaper, grinning brightly. She thought I was a hero. She loved her daddy.
Four hundred dollars. I could make rent. I’d be able to pay for her pills. I might have a few bucks left over for groceries. The briefcase in my hand, though, held over six thousand dollars. Several solid months of financial freedom. Time enough to find opportunity. Maybe even a job. Maybe a future.
After a minute of chasing those thoughts in circles, the phone’s screen winked out. That was what did it. Her adoring gaze, her shining admiration of her hero disappearing while I contemplated what I could spend it on. It wasn’t much, but the metaphor broke my spirit in a heartbeat.
I left the briefcase near the door of the bank. A suspicious man left a suitcase by a public thoroughfare. He had some wires in his pocket, he was acting nervous, maybe it was a bomb. Lies. But I watched from across the street until they got their money back.
I turned to walk to the bus stop . . . I was done with cabs tonight. I wrapped the gun into the ski mask, dropping them into a trash can. Then my phone rang. My daughter’s face was shining at me again, blinding in the darkness. I lifted the phone to my ear, feeling like my very soul dodged a bullet. “Hey, pumpkin. Yeah, I’m on my way. I got held up. Yeah, macaroni and cheese, I promise. Hey. I love you. I’ll be home soon.”