Thick as Thieves

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The light was harsh and bright. I quickly turned away, covering my face with my hands and pulling down the hood further.

“Robert.” It was Jim, my neighbor. I had stolen his golfing trophy last month. “This is for your own good. You need to stop.

I made some noncommittal noise and pawed at the window I had come through. I felt the hand of someone firmly holding it closed. “Dammit, Bob. Enough of this – we’re not letting you go.” Sharon sounded both irritated and tired. Guess she missed her fishing trophy.

“We’re trying to help you!” someone piped up. Jack, I think. I haven’t talked to him much; he was new to the neighborhood. He came from Colorado, bringing along a wife, two kids and shining skiing trophies. I made a mental note to stop by his place next week. At night.

More people started talking, but I kept myself turned away, slouched against the wall. I wondered how long I could keep doing this before someone lost their patience.

A couple of minutes was the answer. Rough hands wheeled me around. “Are you even listening to us, Robert!? You just broke into my house. Christ, do you want us to just call the cops or something?” Mac’s booming voice rang in my ears, and I violently shook my head.

“This is getting ridiculous,” he continued. Pulling down my hood, he shouted in my face: “you’re a good guy, but this–” He stopped talking and just stared. As did everyone else in the room. I grinned back.

It was Mildred who finally spoke up. “Um, George? What are you doing here? And why are you wearing Bob’s sweatshirt?”

I waved at her. “Oh, just helping out my brother. He thought this would be hilarious.”

Before anyone could fully digest this sentence, a series of noises rang out: footsteps upstairs, a window hastily sliding up, and the clang of the gutter pipe. We all glanced at the window I had climbed through and saw a dark figure run out across the lawn, Mac’s bowling trophy clutched in one hand.

A cacaphony of noise rang up, and everyone started shouting and running for the front door. I just stood next to the window, snickering and watching my crazy brother dance across the street, disappearing into the shadows.

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