“We cannot do that Mary!” my mother exclaimed.
“It is one thing to steal something that belongs to us, but to steal something that was never ours. It would just be wrong.”
“Did you look around when they dragged us in here?” Mary calmly replied. “Did you not notice how this town looks completely untouched by all the troubles that are out there right now. No one in this town is innocent. I believe they prey on people like us trying to escape their hardships. They use us to stay thriving. Their bank is probably full of other people’s money they stole or procured somehow.”
This stunned my mother, but already fed up with what this town was doing, I asked her, “But how would we even pull it off? We got caught trying to steal horses. Our horses. We will never get away with robbing a bank.”
“We will if we give our kind and honest sheriff something to distract himself. Like hunting a few fugitives who escaped his town jail,” Mary said with the slightest smile on her face. “We just need to make him think we have left town so he will follow us with his band of merry outlaw townspeople. It will give one of us the opportunity to get in, steal the money and get out before he realizes we never left. He will never find us if we take a different route than the one we were planning.”
“You have really thought about this,” my mother said.
“Well, we have had a lot of time on our hands in this place,” Mary replied.
Finally waking after sleeping all day, the children joined us. “I want to rob a bank,” Harry said.
“Me too,” said Grace.
“Absolutely not!” my mother responded. “Not this time. I am not taking any chances. I am doing this alone!”
“No!” Mary and I say together. Although Mary seemed more disappointed than determined not to let my mother do this alone.
“Yes. It will be my pleasure to get the Sheriff back this time. For my family, and I think it is the right thing to do. Considering the situation of course,” my mother calmly replied. “The rest of you need to find some way to get some of our belongings back and a way to escape this place.”
So, the plan became that my mother would rob a bank, alone, while the rest of us stayed as far away and safe from the danger as possible. I wasn’t about to let that happen, but there was no use arguing about it now. I would simply join her once it was too late for her to argue with me over it. Mary would not fight against me going to help her. Before we can do anything, we have to get out of this jail cell.
Just then our soon to be duped sheriff walked in, and as always walked straight over to me. Mary pointed this out to me. It seems that Mr. Honest here may have a thing for me as so very twisted as that is. After all, not only did he arrest us after stealing our horses, but I am happily married. Unfortunately, using me seemed the only idea we could come up with to escape this place. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
I try smiling at him, but I can tell I am forcing it too much. Instead I stick with my usual scowl. It has worked so far, wouldn’t want to change now.
“Back from stealing someone else’s livelihood?” I ask. I could tell I shocked my mother and Mary. This is not what we had discussed, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be nice to him. He isn’t nice, and would not be attracted to nice. I ran with it.
The sheriff smiles at me. Honestly, he likes this? Our sarcastic banter is a turn-on for him? Ewwww. How do I get him to let me out of this cell to look around? I need to find a way out of here for my mother’s sake. For all our sakes.
The sheriff walks right up to me. We are standing face to face. So close, only the bars are between us. I don’t blink. I know this is a test. He wants to see if I am as tough as I talk. He is trying to intimidate me. I won’t give him the satisfaction.
I add with a voice just above a whisper to goad him a little “Are you avoiding me?” Leaving the rest of my family out of the statement. I want to make him focus on me, and forget about everyone else. In a way, I am protecting them. The same way that mother is trying to protect us. When had I become maternal? Something to think about, but maybe later. Right now, I needed to concentrate on the man right in front of me.
“Why would I avoid you?” the sheriff responded to my question speaking only for me to hear. My plan is working. “I like your smart mouth. In fact, there is a lot I like about you.” With that he pulled his gaze from mine and started to run it and up and down me.
I stand my ground, trying not to break our connection. Unsure of what to do next, but I know his attention needs to be on me. I can feel the others trying to make themselves as small and quiet as possible, but just then baby Hazel awoke with a small coo. It was time to eat. The sheriff’s gaze shifted and his expression changed. He once again realized we were not alone. Determined to get him back on track I begin to say something, but he cuts me off.
“Put your hands through the hole,” he demands still looking at my family. I begin to question him, but his eyes cut to me and I can see I have no choice. I put my hands through the hole. That is when he reaches for his hand cuffs. With no gentleness, he clanks them around my wrists. This time he speaks to my family. “Do not stand. Do not come toward the bars.”
He reaches for his keys. He breaks from my gaze to insert the key into the lock in the cell. I quickly look down trying to see which key would gain our freedom. Memorizing its shape and color to save us time when we needed it most. The bars swung open, and the sheriff ushered me out. I know this was the plan, but where was he taking me and what was he planning on doing to me? Questions I had not thought through enough. This plan could be more dangerous than stealing the horses was or even the plan to rob the bank. I was the object of desire here. What would he do to accomplish his goal? I already know he is not of good moral character.
In that brief instant, I thought about Robert. He is sacrificing for me and our family. He is a strong, kind and caring man, and I love him. Then a realization hits me. The sheriff closes the cell door and places his hand to cover the small of my back ushering me both forward in motion and out of my head, back into the moment I am in. With the new insight of myself, I know this cannot continue. This is too dangerous for me, especially now.
Hoping to catch him off guard, I scramble backward lodging him between the bars and myself. I know that I can only do this a few moments before he overpowers me, I quickly try to come up with a new plan. Before I had the chance, the pressure he was putting on me was lightened. I turn only to realize every one of in my family had a hold of something on the sheriff through the bars holding him in place.
My mother’s voice propelled me into action. “Hurry Anna!”
I quickly look around. I find the typewriter sitting on the lone desk in the room and swing it as hard as I can toward his head. With a thunk, the sheriff’s eyes rolled back in his head and his body went limp. Again. “Twice from the same family,” I say to his body now sunken to the floor. “You really should be more careful of your surroundings, sheriff.”
I quickly bend over, grab the keys and unlock the door. While my mother is unlocking my handcuffs, Mary rips a piece of her dress and shoves it into the sheriff’s mouth. Then she takes his belt wrapping it around his head to keep the piece of fabric in place. “Give me the cuffs,” she says.
My mother hands them to Mary who cuffs the sheriff this time. With only one hand cuffed, she says, “Harry, Grace, Anna. Get him into the cell, back against the bars. Catherine, make sure we have all the keys and anything else he could use to escape.”
We all did as she asked. As we propped the sheriff up against the bars, Mary grabbed his wrists and finish handcuffing him through the bars. We all look at her.
“It is so he cannot remove the gag. Now he is stuck in the cell, and cannot scream for help,” she says. “We don’t have to make him chase ghosts now. We do this before he can escape. We saw how often people come in here. It will be a while before anyone will check on him. We can rob the bank and get out of town before anyone knows he is missing.”
“Amazing,” I say to her.
“We have to hurry though,” she says.
“In a minute,” my mother says as she comes over to me. She grabs me by the arms.
“Are you ok?” she asks pulling me in for a hug.
“Yes,” I say. Lowering my voice into her ear, I whisper, “Mother, I’m pregnant.”
For a moment, we just stay in the embrace. She doesn’t say anything to me, but I know she heard me. I can tell by the love I feel between us. She pulls back, holding me at arm’s length and smiles so big at me. I feel myself begin to smile as well. Tears well up in both our eyes, but now is not the time or the place. We both simultaneously shake it off.
“No turning back. Time to do this,” my mother says with more determination than before. I have a feeling that is mostly because of me.
We close the cell door, taking the keys with us. Even if they find the sheriff, it will hopefully take them a while to get him out.
“While your mother is at the bank,” Mary says, “we will have very little time to find a way to ride out of here. We need to be in and out within an hour. Stay safe Catherine!”
With that we leave the sheriff’s office and go our separate ways. I will help Mary and my siblings find our horses again. Then I will head over to help mother. We can do this.
To Be Continued…