Chapter 6: No Women, No Children, No Secret Agents

“Hi, my name is Amy,” Marlene thought quickly.

“Hi Amy,” the child replied easily. “What are you doing?”

“I’m your new babysitter.”

“No you’re not,” the child replied. “You’re dressed like a scary person. You’re bad.”

“If I was bad, would I be talking to you still?” Marlene asked, smiling. ‘Keep smiling. Smiling disarms everybody,’ she coached herself.

“No. The policemen would be here,” the child thought, smiling warmly in spite of her inquisition.

“Right. Anyways, I do work for your father. He gave me the keys to your house and the code to your alarm so I could check on something for him,” Marlene lied. “I was looking for the movie poster he bought the other day.”

“The Casha-blanco one?” the small child asked, picking up the cat and stroking it.

“Yes, the Casablanca one. Do you know where your daddy keeps it?”

“Yeah, he put it in his office,” the child replied turning on her heel. Marlene counted her lucky stars as the child led her to a room at the end of the hall. The child pointed a chubby finger at a movie poster for King Kong. “It’s in there.”

Marlene made her way to the other side of the room and touched the poster. It was on a hinge and she pushed it aside to reveal a ceiling-to-floor-length safe.

“This is not good,” Marlene mumbled. She smiled at the child, wondering how she would get the kid out of the room so she could pick the lock. “Your daddy didn’t give me the code for this.”

“It’s okay. I know it,” the child replied, placing the cat on the floor to walk towards her.

“How?”

“Daddy thinks I don’t see him open it up, but I do,” she said, dragging the rolling chair from the redwood desk. The child positioned it beneath the spinning dial and climbed on the seat to examine the wheel.

Marlene was impressed, steadying the moving chair. “You’re pretty smart for a little girl.”

“I know,” the child replied, very matter of factly. Expertly spinning the dial, she whispered the code, more to herself than Marlene. “47 to the right, 23 to the left, 92 to the right,” she said, as the tumblers fell into place and the child grabbed hold of the door knob and pulled it down.

The door opened on the first try and upset the chair slightly. Marlene grabbed hold of the child’s arm in one hand and the chair with another. She made sure the child was a safe enough distance away before stepping into the vault.

Leaning carefully against the far wall, the tall and fragile looking Casablanca poster stared at her in the face.

“I’m sorry Bogie,” she murmured before flipping it over.

“What are you doing?” the child asked, standing just outside the door of the vault.

“I’m making sure it’s the one your daddy bought,” Marlene lied, slicing through the backing with a Swiss army knife to open the back. “Your daddy bought it at an auction and sometimes those auctioneers can be bad people.” Visibly imprinted into the back was a series of codes. Taking out her cell phone, she snapped several pictures of it. Marlene put the frame back and double-checked to make sure the damage was invisible.

Pleased with her work, she stepped out of the vault and shoved her weight against the heavy door, re-locking it. Together she and the child pushed the King Kong poster into place. The thought crossed her mind that her that the child would shut her inside the vault to die or be caught by the police, but the child never figured it out.

“Okay little one,” Marlene sing-songed, taking the child’s small hand into hers, “time for bed.”

Author: Guilliean Pacheco

Filipina adjacent. Cinéphile. (Bad) Feminist. INFJ. Mélomaniacal. Polymath. Raconteuse. Tsundoku.

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