It was so easy to pick the briefcase up. Easier, in fact, than it would have been to explain why he was behind the bar at midnight. He couldn’t turn it into the cops. If the cops got involved, then his wife would know. And if his wife knew, she’d wonder why he was in town instead of at the conference he’d gone so far as to check in to his flight for.
If she found out he was in town, she’d find out about Ashley, and there’d be little solace in the fact that he was behind the bar only because he’d gotten shitfaced after Ashley dumped him, and the bathroom was locked when the alcohol decided to come back up.
That was when he saw the briefcase-one fist against the sticky brick wall, one hand holding his tie back while he vomited half-digested steak between his black leather wingtips.
He didn’t have to take the briefcase, except it seemed a shame not to. It was a nice briefcase, hidden behind the dumpster. Like as not he’d be sleeping in his car, hiding from his wife, dumped by his girlfriend, and it was a really nice briefcase. Tomorrow morning would be horrible regardless; maybe seeing it when he woke would ease his suffering some.
That moment came, too. He couldn’t have been asleep more than three hours but the sun was being a bit of a dick about letting him drift back off. It was the worst hangover he’d had since claiming he could handle his alcohol in high school and learning from the bush he woke up in that he really couldn’t. Barely getting the car door open in time, he hurled, not even surprised at the pile already outside his door. But when he rolled back into the car and groaned, there was the briefcase.
Mottled brown leather, gold accents so bright they hurt his eyes. Granted, everything hurt his eyes. All of him hurt. The memory of finding the briefcase, of getting it back to the car, was a bit blurry.
But if he was going to be awake, he might as well look inside. It sat heavy in his lap, the action of the latches smooth. Slowly, he lifted the lid.
Again he puked out the door, desperate to avoid the thick, messy piles of hundred dollar bills inside.
It was a lot of money. Maybe not fly-to-another-country-and-buy-a-villa kind of money, but enough to play secretly on for a while.
On a whim, once he felt steady enough to walk, he put the briefcase in his trunk and started back towards the bar. He looked like shit and smelled just as bad, and that was okay. It was early, the streets empty.
As he came around the corner he froze, guts churning worse than ever. Cop cars lined the streets, officers everywhere, and a white van was pulling up. Every instinct screamed to turn around yet with cops watching him, he had to keep walking.
The alley he’d found the briefcase in had been bisected by police tape. After a nod to the officers, he stole a glance. Though a white screen hid most of the body, errant locks of long, red hair stuck out around one edge. Mere feet away was the dumpster, and beside that, a pile of his vomit.
He stared, gap jawed, even as a cop approached him.
A car screeched around the corner, and the officer froze. The tires locked feet from a cruiser. Leaving the door wide open, the driver rushed towards the alley, officers running to intercept him. His suit was disheveled, undershirt pulled free, jacket missing.
“I paid them!” he screamed, straining against the hands holding him back. “I left the money! I paid them! Valerie? Valerie!”
When the sobs started was when he left, officers occupied holding the other man back, and slipped around the corner.
He could tell the cops but if the cops knew, then his wife would know, and it was so easy to just walk away.
Maybe he should rethink this.
Maybe it was enough money to leave the country.