“Now we just need to find where this goes,” Heath said. “Logically, if the key is here, then the thing it unlocks would be too.”
“Unless my dad wanted to keep them separate,” Brian said. “But it’s more logical your way,” he agreed with Heath. “So, what now?”
“We look for somewhere to shove it,” Jordan snarked.
Brian and her father gave her withering stares. Jordan took the key, twirling it by the ribbon.
“We’re burning daylight, gentlemen.” She sat in the desk chair, swiveling back and forth.
“Aren’t you helping anymore?” Brian asked.
“I found the key. It’s your job to find the lock. Should be easy. That’s if you’ve read the right books.”
“She’s a holy terror,” Brian said to Heath.
They made their way around the room. When they got to the area behind the desk, the stud finders went crazy, the readings dancing around erratically. Brian tried a couple times with both stud finders, but something was throwing off the readings. He tapped with his father’s heavy stainless steel letter opener and determined there was a large, square opening. The wall looked blank, making them wonder if the access was from another room.
“What’s behind this?” Heath asked, tapping the wall.
“It’s back to back with the dining room,” Brian said, heading for the door.
Jordan followed. Heath stayed behind to tap on the wall to help them locate the gap on the other side. They determined it was behind a large painting in the dining room. Brian and Heath had to lift the antique still life from the wall together, it was so large and heavy. The wall showed the fade of years.
“No one has redone this room for at least twenty years,” Brian said. “It was like this when I was little and my grandparents lived here.”
“I still don’t see any obvious—” Jordan stopped talking suddenly. She pointed to the wall.
At first, Brian and Heath didn’t see what had caught her eye. Where the edge of the painting had been, there was a narrow slit in the wall. It looked like part of the embossed metal wall covering had come loose. On closer inspection, they could see it was intentional.
Jordan handed Brian the key. He put it in and pushed. At first, nothing happened. Then, part of he wall moved in and back. The hole was roughly two feet square. Heath found a flashlight in the kitchen and shown it into the hole. Brian saw an old fashioned safe with a combination lock.
“Now what? I have no idea what the combination is.”
“Can the combination be reset?” Jordan asked.
“No idea. Why?”
“Because if it’s one that’s been the same since time immemorial, we may never figure it out. I don’t know about you guys, but my safe cracking skills are kinda rusty.”
“Try nonexistent,” Brian said.
“But if it can be reset, most people use a number they can remember, like their birthday, anniversary,” she mused.
“Or the date their only son was born,” Heath suggested.
Brian nodded, working the combination like he did his locker at school. He set the tumblers for his birthday and tried the handle. It didn’t work. His next try was his mother’s birthday, then his father’s and finally their anniversary.
“Try European style,” Jordan suggested.
Brian did, setting the day first, then the month. Still nothing.
Heath grinned, his dark eyes twinkling. “I have an idea. What’s your birthday?”
“May fifteenth, nineteen ninety-seven.”
Heath tried again. Instead of dialing the way Brian had been—5, 15, 9, 7 he tried 0, 5, 1, 5. Taking a deep breath, Brian tugged the handle. The lever turned with a click and the safe came open. Heath illuminated the contents with the flashlight. Brian reached into the opening, pulling out several items. One was a stack of money held with a sealed bank tape. There were several of these. He didn’t allow himself to be distracted by the money, setting it aside with irritation. He continued digging until he found a shoe box. It rattled slightly as he lifted it out. Opening the lid, they saw a row of neatly labeled video tapes.
“Jackpot,” he said.
Jordan had picked up the money, flipping through it. “There’s a lot of cash here, Brian. Thousands of dollars.”
“Put it back,” Brian said. “We got what we were after.”
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
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