When I Grow Up

June 7, 2011

“I checked every room for 15 minutes Mr. Krantz. I opened every drawer, cupboard, and box I could find. It wasn’t there.” the sweaty man huffed for air. “I think our tip was from a bad source.”

“Yeah right. You said the same thing three hours ago and I found you sitting in the kitchen eating a box of Yum-Yums.” the man known as Krantz spat back at the other. “And I don’t care where our information comes from, I just do what I’m told to.”

“Well I wouldn’t have needed to eat something if we could take a break every now and then.” the now visibly upset fat man, named Reed, walked back into the living room. He put his hands on his hips in exasperation. “Let’s just let the boss know it ain’t here and we can move on with our lives.” He loosened his tie.

“The only way we’re going to be able to ‘move on with our lives'” Krantz mockingly used finger quotes. “Is if we are allowed to keep them. If we go back to the boss without what we’re here for, he’s going to shoot us, hang us, kill our pets, and then write mean letters about us to our families. And trust me on this, my grandmother couldn’t handle anything like that.” Krantz’s nasally voice hung in the air.

Reed reluctantly gave in. “I know, I know. But I get sleepy when my blood sugar is low, so if you want me to keep working-.”

“Shut up and grow a pair!” Krantz interrupted. “Just keep looking!” Krantz lit a cigarette out of frustration. “We will turn this place upside down if we need to. Remember it’s a small green box. It shouldn’t weigh much either. It’s just a jewel.” Small clouds of smoke filled the air around his head.

These two men were looking for the Jewel of Yamamoto, an ancient gem that had been discovered to be one of the largest found in the eastern hemisphere. Earlier that day, they had been assigned by the owner of the gen to guard it during a private display. Everything was fine until a child had ran in and took out most of the security. She also took the jewel. Since the display box was also taken, the tracking device hidden inside had signaled this house as being the location of the jewel. So they followed.

Across the street, in the second story of an abandoned house, sat a little girl in a window. In her possession was a Hello Kitty walkie talkie, a Girl Scout uniform, and a backpack with one small green box that didn’t weigh very much. The tracking device for the jewel lay hidden in the house where the two men were arguing.

Marla switched channels on her walkie talkie. “Come in Condor, this is Bumble Bee.” her childish voice sounded strangely mature.

“Go ahead Bumble Bee, this is Condor.” the voice broke through the static.

“I’ve got the package. Request new orders for delivery. The first drop point is hot. I repeat. First drop point is hot.”

“Wait, you’ve got the jewel? Already?” the voice sounded surprised.

“Yup.” Marla stated with a level of confidence that was similar to a car mechanic talking about transmissions.

“Okay, one minuet.” the man on the other end muted his channel. He was probably checking with the higher ups to make sure they understood the situation. They would also give her new orders.

The man came back on the line. “Alright, you drop point is Honeycomb. Repeat, Honeycomb.” That was the code word for the park near her house. Marla loved that park. That’s where the big swings were. Plus, that’s where her and her friends would play hide and go seek. But most importantly, it would make her trip home shorter. She didn’t have much time.

“Okay Condor. Honeycomb is go.” She was about to end the transmission when the other voice came through again.

“What did you do about the guys on your tail? If you leave in the open, they could find you again. HQ needs an answer.”

“Nothing. Yet.” She almost forgot to get rid of these bad guys.  She was almost certain one of them actually saw her steal the jewel. It would be necessary to make sure they didn’t follow her or find out who she was. That could make her job much harder. It would also mean she would have to skip school for a couple more days. But she had a spelling test on Friday, so that wasn’t an option.

Marla needed to think of a plan, and quick. If she wasn’t home before six her mother would get home, and then she would be in real trouble. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of them. See you at Honeycomb. Over and out.”

She clicked her walkie to the other station. This station was rigged to listen in on the bug she planted in the house across the street. She though it would be a good idea if she was going to leave the tracking device their as well. Every word that was spoken between the two men was heard clearly. She had the element of surprise.

“Fine, I’ll check the living room. Again.” Reed huffed.

Marla heard him move close to the hidden microphone she had planted. If he finds it, she thought, then they will be on to me. She needed to do something. As she looked around her bag she realized that she only had the equipment she used from the heist. She also had her Girl Scout uniform and a few boxes of cookies.

And just like that, she had her plan.

“The living room is clean Mr. Krantz.” Reed yelled to the still smoking Krantz. “Will you at least help me look around instead of just sitting there puffing away at your cigarettes?”

“No.” One could hear the simple joy in his voice when he said this.

“Why not?” Reed started to sound like a little kid.

“Cause I’m thinking, you lump. Just keep working -” he was cut off by a knock at the front door.

Knock, Knock, Knock.

They both froze.

“What do I do?” said Reed only standing a few feet away from the door. “Oh no. What do I do? What do I do? WhatdoIdo?” he was losing his composure.

“Just answer the door and lie to them. Tell them you’re a prospecitve buyer or something. Just get rid of them.”

Quietly Krantz slipped into the kitchen, hiding. Reed slowly approached the door. He took a deep calming breath.

“Uh,” he tried hiding the uncertainty in his voice. “Who is it?”

A muffled response came from the other side of the door. “Gril Scout cookies!” The voice was sweet and innocent. And it promised tasty delights, that seemed safe enough for Reed to open the door.

“H-Hello little girl, and what have we got here?” he started. He saw a young girl, no older than seven, looking up at him with a big smile that was missing an incisor and trying to hand him a box of Snickerdoodles.  “I don’t think I ordered any cookies. You have the wrong house.”

“Oh no, Mister, I have the right house, but my mommy told me that the people who used to live here ordered cookies. Since we don’t have their new address or anything I asked if I could give their cookies to our new neighbor. She said that would be very nice of me. So here I am!” Her little teeth were beaming.

“Oh, well, that’s so nice of you. But I’m sorry little girl, I don’t have any money to pay for these. So, you know, go away.” He didn’t know how to act around kids. He didn’t even really like them all that much.

“Oh that’s okay Mister. It’s free.” she nodded reassurance at Reed as she put the boxes in his hands. “I’m just doing my Scout Duty.” She even gave him a short stature salute.

He had to admit, this kid was cute. She was handing him free cookies. And Snickerdoodles were his favorite. Maybe if he took them he could solve two problems at the same time. He could get the kid to leave and he could satisfy his hunger that had been sticking with him all day. Why couldn’t all kids be this way? he wondered.

“Oh. Alright. If you insist.” He gave the little girl a crooked smile. ” Thanks.” He didn’t wait for her response, he quickly turned back inside and kicked the door shut with his foot. His hands were busy opening the first box of cookies. He was starving.

Reed walked back into the kitchen after taking a deeply satisfying bite of a freshly unpackaged cookie.

“Who was that? And what are those? Asked Krantz from his hiding place, underneath a table.

“These are snickerdoodles, and I am one happy fat man.” replied Reed. Cookie crumbs started hitting the floor.

“No, you slob, who was at the door?” Krantz asked this in a heavy whisper.

In a normal tone and volume Reed informed Krantz “It was just some gap-toothed girl scout. Nothing to be afraid of.” He continued to devour the cookies. “These are delicious.” he exclaimed delightfully.

“Girl Scout? Like with the sash and buttons and all that?”

“Yeah, the whole nine yards. I think she even had a missing tooth. Pretty cute kid.” Reed’s answer was muffled by the last of the cookies he shoved in his mouth. He started opening the second box.

“Did she have pigtails in her hair?”

“Yeah, but don’t they all?”

Krantz looked deep in thought, the only sounds that could be heard were the crunching sound emanating from Reed’s mouth and a slight beeping coming from the kitchen.”

Beeping? Krantz thought. That didn’t seem right.

“What’s that sound?”

Reed’s chewing stopped but the beeping continued. Now it was picking up in rhythm. Reed looked inside of his newly open box of cookies and pulled something out.

“Hey Mr. Krantz, what do you think this is?”Reed held it up, in Krantz’s face.

It was beeping.

A beeping block of C4.

“I don’t think that was a Girl Scout-”

The explosion was covered during the six o’clock news that night. Marla watched it from her living room couch. She even beat her mother home by half an hour. Marla greeted her mother at the door when she arrived home from work.

“Sorry I’m late honey. There were police blocking off some streets because of a house fire a few block from here.”

Marla’s mother put her car keys and purse on the side table by the entrance. “And what did my little Bumble Bee do today?”

Marla gave her mother a hug. “Nothing too much. I had a Girl Scout meeting after school.”

“Oh yeah? And what did you learn about?”

“Fire safety and cookie sales.” she smiled.

When I Grow Up    © D.A. Bancroft