Her mother told her no one had seen Mrs. Jenkins down the street for a week and asked her to check on the woman and her dog. She didn’t like Mrs. Jenkins but chose to keep her mom happy instead of listening to endless guilt trips about failing as a daughter. If her mother wasn’t confined to a wheelchair she’d have refused since she didn’t care much for the dog either.
She knocked but there was no answer. She decided to look around back in case the woman was working on her flower beds and hadn’t heard her at the door. She discovered that the back door was ajar, and as she approached it, the stench of rotting flesh assailed her nose. Her first thought was to leave and call the cops but put her handkerchief over her nose and mouth instead and pushed the door open with a trembling hand. Flies were everywhere. Buzzing, swirling, they were like a black cloud over the dead dog lying on the kitchen floor in a puddle of blood. Poor Thimble, she thought. Even though I didn’t like you, I didn’t want you dead. Now she was scared and almost ran but realized Mrs. Jenkins might be injured or dead as well and knew the right thing to do was investigate.
The first floor was a shambles. Drawers stood open with contents spilled, cushions were slashed, and lamps were overturned. No dead woman in sight but she could smell more rotting flesh and heard buzzing in the distance. The stairs creaked as she cautiously tiptoed her way to the second floor landing, clutching the rail so hard her knuckles were white. Her suspicions were confirmed when she entered the woman’s bedroom. Like the downstairs, the room had been ransacked. Jewelry boxes were empty and Mrs. Jenkins lie in a crumpled pile of clothing dumped from drawers and yanked from the closet. Whoever robbed her made sure they found everything of value before leaving her to bleed out. A glance into the bathroom revealed more frenzied pillaging. Realizing she couldn’t help the woman, she turned to leave but something lying in the debris caught her eye.
When she picked it up and examined its contents, she realized that whoever caused this mayhem was a rank amateur. The envelope was stuffed with bearer bonds which are as good as cash anywhere in the world. The thief or thieves must have tossed the envelope into the pile of papers on the floor because they weren’t currency and looked innocuous. However, she recognized their value right away and sat on the edge of the bed to count them after looking around guiltily and affirming she was still alone. She almost fainted when the total came to nearly four million dollars.
She was immediately conflicted. Call the cops and turn over the bonds? Keep them? She knew Mrs. Jenkins was a widow and had no immediate family, so the probability of someone placing a claim on them was remote. Did anyone know she had them in the house? Even if someone did, they could have been taken during the murderous home invasion. She decided that she would call the cops from home and hide the bonds under her bed until the dust settled.
The neighbors were shocked by her discovery and followed the ensuing investigation with keen interest. Three weeks went by and there was no mention of the bonds. No long-lost relative showed up either. The cops were convinced the robbery was committed by an opportunistic stranger who saw that Mrs. Jenkins lived alone and her dog was too small to protect her. After defiling her sanctuary they moved on and would hock the jewels and silverware down the road. As for her, no cloud of suspicion darkened her now sunny horizons. She could finally move out of her mom’s house and travel to far away exotic destinations. That opportunity came a month later when her mother’s request for a full-time caregiver was approved. She did send her mom some cash in the mail, but that was from New York where cashing some of the bonds was no reason to raise an eyebrow.