Rose sticks with her jeans but adds a snug, gray top with Aeropostle written down the arm. She puts her sweatshirt, a pair of plain white panties, and a clean bra – her size! – in the duffel bag and then on an impulse, she takes the green dress, too. She won’t want to wear it around the other Grims, but maybe sometime…
Downstairs it takes her a moment to find James in the laundry room, where he’s going through pockets and coming out with a little cash. He grins at her as she leans against the doorway, and he says, “House like this, the laundry room is like an ATM. Also, you see any cash just laying around – take it. Two kids in the house, all they’ll do is blame each other. Just don’t steal anything valuable, and don’t go for the bedroom stash.”
“The bedroom stash?”
“Yes, most parents keep some cash – and sometimes other things, liquor, drugs, porn – in a stash in their bedrooms. Number one spot is a shoebox or other small container, top shelf of the closet. Sometimes right there in the nightstand. Sometimes in the inside pockets of coats or suit jackets hanging up in the closet. Ah! Hello…”
James holds out a small wad of crumbled bills and some coins. Rose examines it and says, “Eight bucks!”
He shakes his hip and makes his pocket jingle. “Got another three fifty in change here, some of it from right on top of the dryer, some of it from the coffee table out in the living room. Again, you want to remember that people don’t suspect burglars of stealing little things like that. They suspect each other.”
Rose says, “Aren’t we pushing our luck here?”
James consults his phone and says, “Why, yes we are. Yeah, Lindsey will be home in like fifteen minutes.”
They hit the pantry, grab a couple of granola bars and bananas for the road, and then go out through the back door, Rose slinging the duffel bag over her shoulder like a backpack or a large purse. The gardening woman has gone inside and faint music plays somewhere in the sunny back yards.
They trudge around the side of the house. James keeps his voice low, cocking his head and says, “This is the most dangerous five seconds of the whole trip, for me. Getting out of the yard. Can you imagine Lindsey pulling up and here we are walking through her yard with you wearing her shirt?”
“What would we do?”
“Act like she’s crazy. Keep walking. Not come back for a month.”
But Lindsey doesn’t come home, and once they are a quarter mile down the sidewalk, Rose is filled with the exhilarating knowledge that there is pretty much no way to get busted now, for what they just did.
“Unless they have a nanny cam,” she mutters aloud.
“I really look for those,” James tells her, startling her since she hasn’t realized she’s spoken. “Also web cams. People turn on their web cams remotely, check on their kids. I go around closing lens caps on day one, every time. Pick up all the teddy bears and look up their butts for cameras.”
“Ever found one?”
“A nanny cam? No. But I had a guy come rushing home because he was positive he’d left the lens cap open. I’m lucky he didn’t call the cops.”
“Did he catch you?”
“No. The first thing he did was call the house, I guess thinking maybe his wife was home. I saw it was him – he called three times – and cleared out. Saw him barrelling down the road five minutes later when I was walking away. I think he thought his wife was cheating on him, and actually, I think he was right, just not that time.”
Rose realizes that she’s following him, off the sidewalk and down a path along a ravine. She says, “Where are we going?”
“I thought we’d pick up a little more cash down on campus,” he tells her. “I know a house full of waitresses, and hold on a second…”
He scrolls through his phone, beeping and frowning for a moment, and says, “And all three of them have to work tonight. Great thing about waitresses, they keep their tips in big milk jugs or cereal boxes, right there in their rooms. Pizza’s on them tonight.”
The path winds all the way down the river and hooks up with a paved jogging path; they stop to let a pair of serious runners – a black dude and a white dude, looking like scowling machines and smelling like a locker room – run past them, followed by a comically attractive Japanese girl in skin tight running shorts with the word “FINE” printed on her ass.
Rose says, “People live in different worlds, you know?”
“Yes,” James tells her. “I know.”