“What? I’m not putting them back. I’m keeping them!”
“But what if you can’t spend them?”
“Then I’ll just throw them away!”
“No. It’ll be too tempting. You’ll spend one, then two, and before you know, it the cops jump out a bowl of Frosted Flakes. Put them back.”
“Your guy can’t… I don’t know—spread ‘em out or something?”
“My guy deals with valuables at a discounted price. Nobody’s gonna walk into a store and ask to try on a bond.”
“All right. Fine.” There was a sound from outside the bedroom. “Hold on.”
“I think I just heard something. Call you back.”
There it was again. It sounded like… like someone was clearing his throat. DeWayne took the few steps back to his pack and pulled out his sap. He silently extended it, hoping he wasn’t going to need it. Somebody was definitely out there.
DeWayne crouched as low as he could, his eyes as adjusted to the dark as they were going to get. He peeked into the hallway. Nobody there, but there was the sound again. It was close. Probably in the kitchen. He stepped out of the bedroom, holding up the sap. Once he was sure of where the sound was coming from he’d leap out and smack the guy in the head. Hopefully, that would put him out and DeWayne could get away.
He hadn’t heard the door open, though. The thought that somebody had been in here with him all along returned. His heart skipped when he looked up at the painting and saw those eyes locked onto him. He couldn’t hear the person around the corner and couldn’t concentrate.
He leapt into the opening to the kitchen and swung, the sap cleaving through air. The throat-clearing sound came again, but it was behind him! DeWayne spun around, swinging the sap into the frame of the bathroom doorway.
The bearded dude was looking at him still. Hell, it even looked like he’d turned his head some. He was somewhere on a beach, the sun setting. The waning light caught the side of his sandy brown hair.
DeWayne scratched his head. Was this some kind of trick?
He grabbed the painting by the frame and lifted it off the wall. There weren’t any electrical wires or anything else behind it. He felt the back of the painting and put his finger through the paper. Nothing underneath but canvas. DeWayne held it back up to the wall, trying to get the wire back on the hook.
And then the dude smiled at him.
DeWayne leapt back, tripping and falling onto the linoleum kitchen floor, sliding a few feet. The painting landed upright and yeah, the dude was smiling at him. It was just the lower teeth, or rather, all he could see were the lower teeth. The dude’s beard was too bushy to see the uppers.
“To hell with this!” DeWayne climbed to his feet, not wanting to approach the painting but not wanting to spend one second longer in this place. He’d grab his sack and his pack and hit the road. They could keep the bonds too.
He picked up everything in the master bathroom and walked out the bedroom. The dude’s eyes—at this angle—there was no mistaking that he was looking at DeWayne. He tried to walk past it, but felt a stiff hand press into his chest. There was nothing there, but he could feel something blocking him.