Windchimes. So many people love them. So few know what they really are.
The ringing stings. No matter how many times I get called to a gig, it takes a couple seconds for the crap feeling to pass.
Eventually, I shake it off and look around. Big house. Suburban. Wealthy. But then, it usually is. The storm’s blowing in, but the rain hasn’t started. The chimes dance an unholy racket under the porch roof.
Wait. That’s way too much noise…
I turn the corner. Dammit. There’s another set round back! And, if you can effing believe it, a third—the creepy bamboo kind—hanging on a big-ass pool house. I grit my teeth. Just my sorry luck. I like working alone. No chance of that tonight.
Light flashes by the pool. Another burns on the deck. I stomp up the wooden stair to find Bart sitting on the biggest barbecue rig in all suburbia, a stupid expression on his stupid face.
He sees me and waves. “Hank! Holy baloney! Fancy meeting you here!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Bart’s a dim bulb, but at least I only dislike the guy. I squint at the figure climbing over the pool fence. Marv. Crap on a cracker. Him, I despise.
He knows it, too, and doesn’t give a crap. Asshole.
“Hank! Bart!” Marv leaps onto the deck, all giggles and shits. His face is so red it’s almost purple, with the hairiest wart you’ve ever seen bulging on his right cheek. He rubs his palms together.
“Well, boys, what’re we waiting for? Shipshape! Look lively! Job’s not gonna do itself, ya know.”
Bart leaps to attention. “Ready, sir!”
Me, I get in Marv’s face. “Who the eff died and left you in charge?”
He chortles. “You’re such a gas, Hank. Such a gas. Tell ya what, tell ha what. I’ll let you have the bedrooms.”
“You little fu—”
“And the master bath.”
I scowl. Marv grins. The offer is nuts. No self-respecting demon would turn it down. And doesn’t the bastard know it. The wind gusts, setting the deck chimes dinging.
“Fine,” I say, shoving past him.
The backdoor lock’s a joke. Inside, I trip over a dog. A tiny thing, more rat than canine. It yips up a fuss. I kick it and it shoots into the kitchen.
Marv gives Bart his assignment as I climb the stairs. Something about the refrigerator. Fun stuff. As for me, I creep down the hallway, opening bedroom doors. Big Brother on the right, Little Sister on the left. Mom and Dad straight ahead. Framed photos every two effing feet, all the people wearing stupid grins. Happy, crappy little family. Makes me sick, ya know?
Bedrooms are stuffed to the gills with expensive crapola. I do the brother’s room first. He’s on his back, snoring like a horny freight train. He’s got hockey posters on the wall. There’s a textbook and laptop on his desk, with the homework right on top. I rip it up and send a popping shock into the computer. Smoke rises from the keyboard. Oh, baby.
I’m just getting started. Kid’s got a shit ton of uniform shirts from some fancy prep school. I wipe the grime from my fingers, do a little ripping. Good times. There’s a lacrosse stick propped in the corner. I bend the shaft and shred the net.
On my way outta the room, I scoop up the confetti remains of Prep Boy’s term paper. I plunk it into Little Sister’s trash can. Her room’s godawful pink—even in the dark, it hurts my eyes. Princess and Barbie crap all over the place. So many stuffed animals I can’t even see her in the bed.
I locate a scissors. Thirty seconds later, Babs and Company are bald and wearing grunge. I toss the scissors through Big Brother’s door on my way to visit Mom and Dad.
Three families could live in the master suite without smelling each other’s farts. The happy couple’s lying back to back on opposite sides of a California king bed, a mile of emptiness in between. I sniff the air. Not a whiff of sex. The lingering aroma of a massive bedtime argument makes me laugh.
The walk-in closets are so big, they got their own windows. I split seams on Dad’s suit pants, grime up his shirts, knot up his ties. Mom’s got shoes out the wazoo. I spend a happy ten minutes scuffing and scraping. Then I tangle all her necklaces and snap her earrings.
You could hose down a freaking elephant in the master bath. In there, I clog the toilet and smear Dad’s toothpaste all over Mom’s sink. As I’m tiptoeing back through the bedroom, I catch a flash of light through the window. Thunder rolls and the wind whips up.
Chimes clang like bells on the Devil’s own ankles.
Mom jerks upright in bed, staring straight at me. I freeze. It’s not exactly forbidden, getting caught on a job. But it’s not great for your resume, either, if you know what I mean. I relax when I realize she’s not seeing me. She’s still asleep.
The sound of chimes fills the room. She tilts her head. “Pretty,” she murmurs, and settles back down on the pillow.
I shake my head. Pretty! Can you effing believe it? I swear, you can’t make this shit up.
Downstairs, something’s rancid in the kitchen. My partners are yukking it up in the home office. Room looks like a cyclone hit—papers and magazines and books all over the place. There’s a burned-out husk of a computer on the desk, with Marv perched on the monitor.
“Damn lightning, don’tcha know,” he chortles. “Good job, boys. Good job.”
“Seen better,” I say.
But I gotta admit, this one wasn’t bad. But the storm’s heading out and Home Sweet Hell is waiting for our return. We split up and head to our respective points of entry.
Windchimes. So many people love them. So few know what they are.