A Glimmer of Hope

This post is part of The Caper Challenge. Follow the link to read other's caper stories.

It mocked him, hanging there like a shining, unreachable star.

Glenn sighed and turned away. He shuffled on down the road. The road to nowhere, it seemed.

He was tired.

Tired of walking to work since they couldn't afford a second car. Tired of working the night shift as a custodian in a skyscraper stuffed with cubicles. Tired of never being able to buy Trixie anything nice. Tired of struggling.

Trixie. His dear, sweet Trixie. Trixie who didn't need anything fancy; who was content. Trixie who encouraged Glenn to have hope, to try harder, to laugh more. Trixie, the light at the end of his tunnel. She'd even made it a point to pick him up from work whenever it rained, just so he didn't have to walk.

She deserved better than living paycheck to paycheck, playing hide-and-seek with the landlord for a few days past their rent's due date every month. She deserved better than the shabby, leaky and smelly apartment a custodian's paycheck allowed.

Trixie always made the best of things. Glenn remembered sitting on the roof of their apartment building. Glenn had been on edge, but after just a few minutes of Trixie's smile, he was relaxed and enjoying himself. In fact, he had almost forgotten that they were on the roof in an effort to avoid the landlord's incessant pounding on the front door.

They had watched the stars.

He couldn't get the image of the necklace out of his head. It hung in the window of the jewelry shop day after day. Every day it shined for him to see, twinkled for him to wish. He wanted it for Trixie.

Glenn pulled his badge from his back pocket as he approached the doors to his skyscraper. He paused on the front steps.

He couldn't do it. Couldn't muck his way through another shift wiping toilets and dumping bins for ungrateful cubicle dwellers. Couldn't stand dusting around their smiling family pictures and Dilbert page-a-days. Tonight the ingrates were peacefully dreaming at home again and he couldn't stand it anymore.

The wind picked up and it started to rain. He pulled his hood over his head and groaned.

Just perfect.

He turned and marched back the way he had come. He didn't know he had a plan, and surprised himself when he hurled the rock without a moment's hesitation. The glass shattered, sparkling in the moonlight as it glittered to the ground around his feet. But it didn't sparkle nearly as stunningly as the necklace. His gaze wasn't even distracted by the blaring of the alarm.

He grabbed it quickly, snapping the fish line it dangled from. He held it close to his face, trying to examine it in the dark.

Fake. "Of course", he thought. It's in the window, easy to snag. He stepped up and in, glass crunching under his work boots.

It was too dark to hunt for the real one. Besides, he hadn't much time. He methodically began to smash every display case. He grabbed and he grabbed, discriminating against nothing. He filled his coat pockets and then his pant pockets. There was still more, but he couldn't fit it anywhere. Quickly, he pulled his socks up over his pant legs and began to fill the pant legs with more jewelry.

He heard the sirens, but couldn't run. He'd lose all the jewelry, and he had no idea where the necklace was stuffed, if he even had it at all. He walked as quickly as he could down the alley behind the jewelry store. He turned down another alley, thinking only of distance, no real plan in his mind.

He reached the chain link fence at the same time the police squad car reached the alley. He was trapped. The fence separating the alley from the junkyard was too tall to climb.

The squad car had its flood light on and was sweeping the alley. He crouched in the corner with nowhere to go. If he hadn't been seen yet, he would be very soon.


The voice immediately behind him startled him. He glanced back, through the fence. An old, skinny man stood there, beckoning. A scraggly beard pretended to cover his face.

Glenn stared dumbly at the fence.

The old man snapped, "Just push it!" He turned and began walking away.

Glenn pushed on the fence. It bent in at the bottom. He scrambled under and let it snap back in place. The flood light illuminated the spot he'd been in just two seconds earlier. He turned and followed the old man as fast he could without losing all his loot.

"Why did you help me?", Glenn asked.

"'Cause I ain't the cops! Plus, it'll cost you a cut of whatever you're packing. You look like the Michelin man!"

He led Glenn to a shack near the entrance to the junkyard.

"On the table."

Glenn hesitated for only a moment, but the old man did not. He was holding a dirty revolver in his hand.


Glenn started emptying pockets and pant legs. The old man's eyes grew wider and wider as the pile on the table grew taller and shinier.

"You can have it all", Glenn said. "Except this."

He gently pulled out the necklace. It glinted brighter inside the shack than the dim single bulb hanging eerily from the ceiling should have allowed.

The old man chuckled. "That's funny." He raised the revolver an inch or two. "Hand it over. Now."

Glenn gripped the necklace tighter. "Please. It's why I did it. It's for my girl. Trixie deserves something special. Please."

The old man squinted at Glenn. A long moment passed. He glanced longingly at the necklace one last time and shifted his gaze toward the sound of the sirens

"Take it and get out of my sight, or my bullet will find you faster than those cops."

Glenn shoved the necklace into his pocket and hurried from the shack. He sprinted home, not slowing the entire way. He took the stairs up to the apartment. Didn't want the ding of the shaky elevator to wake the landlord.

Eight stories up. It wasn't until he approached his apartment door that he began wondering what he'd say to Trixie. How would he explain why he wasn't at work? What would he tell her about the necklace?

He stopped at the door and took a deep breath. It didn't matter what he would say. Trixie would know what to do. She always did.

He pushed open the door, but instead of Trixie's warm smile, he found himself looking into a wolf-like sneer. Two detectives had a bewildered Glenn in handcuffs before he could say a word. They led him to a car.

"How did you find me so quick?", he asked from the backseat on the ride downtown.

"You're an idiot, Glenn. We found your badge in the middle of the jewelry store, right next to the rock you tossed through the window."

Glenn sighed. The badge must have fallen out of his pocket in his haste to pack in the jewelry. He was so focused on getting out of there he hadn't even thought about checking to see if he'd left any evidence.


Trixie stared at him through the glass, the phone against her ear.

"You stood me up, Glenn."

He stared back in surprise, and then realization washed over him.

"You came to pick me up."

"And saw everything!"

Glenn hung his head. "That figures," he thought.

"It was worth a shot, though," said Glenn despondently.

"Well, that's not how I would have planned it. I guess I'll have to teach you how to spot a real diamond from a fake. I'll wait for you, Glenn. We'll both be here when you get out."

Then, as sly as a fox, she brushed her hair back from her neck discreetly revealing an unmistakable glimmer. She hung up the phone, gave him that warm smile, stood and walked away.

Glenn smiled. Trixie, his love, shined as bright as hope itself.

Special thanks to Jana and Jane Anderson, who helped me immensely with this story.


What did you think?