John had got up late and neglected to pack the night before, he had a restless night. His dreams were of him wandering through a dark and foreign house. His friend, Sam, was finally out of the Marines and was back in town for good. He was excited to see him as well as his brother who was back for a few weeks for his Summer break from school. The three of them were to go rock climbing and it was a perfect day for it. The sun had long been coming in through the windows and he sighed to himself. He still felt the heaviness under his eyes as he got out of bed and went to go shower. John was out of the house a bit after ten, he was supposed to have left at over a half hour earlier.
At Sam’s house John gave him a call and let him know he was outside waiting. He was outside a couple minutes later.
“Hey, man, good to see ya!” smiled John.
“Hey, what’s up?” responded Sam.
And the two of them had a short embrace, loaded up the car and left.
“Sorry about being so late, could you give my brother a call and let him know we should be there in about a half hour?” asked John.
Traffic was not too bad and they arrived in the neighborhood about when he predicted.
“Okay, we’re close. Wanna let me know which house?” and John handed his phone to Sam with the directions pulled up.
“You don’t know where is it?” asked Sam.
“No, I haven’t been here yet, he’s been house-sitting for a friend for the past week.”
“Ah,” and he looked down at the phone, “take a left here and it should be the house at the end of the block on the left.”
They drove slowly down the street, it was a nice neighborhood. Most all of the houses owned a newer model luxury SUV, John had felt a bit like a sore thumb in his scratched and dented Honda. All the houses looked to have been build within the last decade. The homes weren’t of the cookie-cutter type they had a sort of new age character to them.
“There,” Sam pointed, “that’s the house number.”
John backed the car in slowly next to a deep blue Mercedes SUV.
“God damn, finally, I’ll give him a call,” said John.
“Hey, Charles, were finally here. Sorry about being so damn late,” said John.
“Yeah, just come on in. The door’s open, I’ll be ready in a couple minutes,” his brother, replied sounding a little exasperated.
“Okay,” John hung up the phone. “He said just head in he’ll be a couple minutes.”
The two of them got out, went to the door and peered inside. It was dark and fairly sparse in furniture. John furrowed his brows and looked skeptically back in. He knew that his brother liked to play games with him. He always had since he was a little boy, always scaring him and finding little ways to goad him. He was a typical older brother.
“Should we go in?” asked Sam hesitantly.
“Yeah, I guess.”
The two stepped into the dimly lit house. The only items in the living roof were a large TV and a baby stroller sitting alone in the middle of the room. The house was quite nice with dark wood floors and a kitchen that was topped with warm colored granite, accentuated with modern appliances. A set of french doors gave way to a beautiful view of a deep sea of well manicured green.
“I bet this place cost a bit. Now where the hell is Charles,” mumbled John.
“Hey, come on let’s go!” shouted Sam in no particular direction trying to get Charles’ attention. There was no response.
“I hate how he always does this,” growled John, “come on, please let’s go we’re already running late and I know you have to be back early!” There was still no response.
“I don’t like this,” said Sam.
“Me either, let’s go.”
They both left the house and went back to the car, John called up his brother again.
“Hey, man, let’s go I know I’m running late but come on,” pleaded John. All he got back was a garbled response. He hung up his phone and called again and it went straight to voice mail.
“God damn it! I am so sick of this!” shouted John, “He just didn’t respond… Let’s just go back in and find him.”
They went back inside again to a silent house and started looking for Charles. Around the corner they found the bathroom.
“Hey isn’t this your brother’s Ipad?” asked Sam.
“Looks like it, it’s the same case,” John unlocked it and looked at the number pad, “I can’t remember the pin.”
“We should just steal it since he hiding from us,” said Sam.
“Yeah, hopefully he’ll notice it missing soon.”
Sam grabbed the Ipad and the two of them walked back into the living room. John knelt down next to the brand new LED TV that was sitting on the floor. He lifted up the TV slightly to test its weight.
“Man this is a nice TV and they are so ligh-” John froze and stared past Sam. Sam looked at him quizzically, shifted his eyes to the left and slowly turned round.
Through the french doors they could see a man crouched down gardening with his back to them. Without a word the friends left the house briskly and silently. They jumped into the car and drove away quickly, and pulled over a few blocks away. Laughter broke out between the two of them. John’s hands shook slightly from the rush of adrenaline. His phone buzzed, it was his brother.
“Where are you?” Charles asked severely.
“Oh, man, what kind of car is park outside the house?”
“I dunno some kind of older minivan.”
“Shit, uh, anyways can you send me the address again I think it’s wrong.”
“Hold on, I’ll check what I texted you.”
John waited while his brother confirmed the address to him.
“Wait it’s Street not Place? Are you sure?” demanded John.
“Oh my God, I’m right around the corner. I’ll be right there.” John looked over at Sam, shaking his head. Sam was shaking the Ipad back at him.
“Oh, fuck!” shouted John. “We have to put it back, ah hell!”
They drove back towards the house and parked around the corner from the scene of the crime.
“I’ll keep the engine running, leave the door open so we can be out of here quick,” instructed John.
“Am I putting it back in the house? Christ, I’m just gonna put it on his doorstep,” Sam mused.
Sam walked rapidly to the front door while whipping his head to any perceived movement or sound. As he bent over to set the Ipad down, the door opened. The man towered over him, his eyes were narrowed taking stock of the situation. Sam the stocky former Marine looked up meekly.
“Um, here,” handed the Ipad to the man and heel-toed away.
Sam swung himself into the car and said, “I gave it to him.”
John drove about a two-hundred feet and pulled into a driveway with a minivan.