“Hey, where is everyone?” “Out.” “Yeah, I kinda got that, thanks.” “I dunno. They said something on the way out but I wasn’t paying attention.” Grady shook her head, if you caught Brett within half an hour of his waking up, he was useless. “Any idea when they’ll be back?” “Nope. Probably soon though.” Grady sat down at the table and dropped her head into her arms. “Feeling ok?” “No.” “Me neither. I couldn’t really sleep. You?” “Eh. Amy gave me something.” “Damn. Shoulda asked her.” They dropped into silence. Grady stood up and started making herself a cereal. She was putting her bowl in the dishwasher when she heard the front door open, “Hello!” “In the kitchen.” Amy bounded in, “you’re in a good mood.” “Awesome morning. Got a good take.” “Where were you guys this time?” “The mall out by Glenwood.” “Wow, haven’t been there in a good while.” “Yeah, I think I was a brunette the last time I was there.” “I never really liked you with dark hair, red looks better.” “Thanks. I prefer red too, but it’s a pain in the ass to keep it this shade.” “Where are the others?” “Shouldn’t be too much longer.” “oh by the way, those pills you have me last night, yeah, they didn’t stop my dreams.” Amy frowned, “Are you sure? They should have, swear to god.” “Yeah, I’m sure.” “I’m really sorry about that, I really am.” “It’s ok. Just so you know for the next person.” Amy nodded, looking troubled. “So what’s the plan for the day?” “Well, big meeting, then I think we’re free to do whatever.”
When everyone returned they moved into the sitting room for the meeting. Grady zoned out as she normally did, there was nothing she really needed to pay attention to and if there was, they’d say her name at some point. She briefly started to pay attention when Dom detailed what had happened the night before, then quickly went back to her own little world. When it was over, Dom handed out the envelopes, which was ostensibly the only reason anyone actually attended the meetings. She tucked her envelope into her pocket, she didn’t need to count it, it was never short. Everyone moved to their rooms to store their money, then they drifted down to the kitchen. It was time to give Tom his send off.
Soon bottles of whiskey were sitting out on the table, a few people were drinking it straight, but Grady was mixing hers. She didn’t like whiskey and didn’t know how Tom could drink it, but drink it he did and in high quantities. Slowly she felt herself relax as the alcohol moved through her veins. It wasn’t long before they started to trade stories, everyone reminiscing. Most were pleasant, a few were not and all were laughed at heartily. She was comfortably buzzed when things started to die down, they’d probably watch a couple of movies, Tom was never that into movies, but it seemed to be what everyone wanted to do. Normally they’d listen to the music the deceased preferred, but no one felt like listening to techno-metal, a genre Grady didn’t know existed until she met Tom. Grady wandered into the sitting room, but after the first few minutes of the movie she became bored and, taking her drink, she went upstairs to her room. She wanted to be alone. She didn’t know Tom as well as most of the others did and before he died she didn’t really want to know him better, but now she felt guilty. They were not only a team here, they were like a family and Tom was the weird, irresponsible older brother. He was always nice enough to her and she had just ignored him. She finished off her drink, then looked at the empty glass, wanting more. She had never expected to end up in a place like this, but then who did. She was supposed to have a happy life, a safe life. Yet here she was. She wiped at her face distractedly, it felt vaguely sticky. She shivered, remembering the blood. She looked at the empty glass again. The alcohol betrayed her. It shouldn’t have brought these memories up, she wanted to forget, that’s what booze did. And there would be no pills tonight, Amy wouldn’t give her anything after she had been drinking. Even ones that were ok to take with a booze chaser. Amy had rules like that. Grady wasn’t looking forward to sleeping either. What was she thinking? Anytime she drank, no matter how much or how little, she slept badly afterwards, always tossing and turning and any dreams she did have would be fucked up. Not that they could be any worse than last nights. Grady stood from the bed and went downstairs again. She didn’t want to be alone, even if she had to watch shitty movies.
Brett hadn’t been drinking, he abstained from the story telling too, he never liked Tom and Tom’s death didn’t change that. He was a prick in life and he was still a prick after death. None of that weird hero worship for him thank you very much. He kept careful watch of how much Grady drank, he didn’t want her going down that road. Seeing something like that, whatever it was she saw, could screw with someone’s head, badly. He’d seen plenty of good people drink themselves to death over seeing less. She didn’t drink that much, though she was obviously tipsy, if not drunk. He could see it by her eyes and the way her words sped up. She only talked that fast when she was excited or drunk. He didn’t expect her to come back down after she went up to her room, he thought she’d stay there for the night. He himself wanted to go to bed early. He didn’t say it to Dom, or anyone else, but he kept seeing something out of the corner of his eye on the way back. No doubt it was just nerves, but it still freaked him out. That weird hulking shape that kept to the shadows, obviously it was just the shadows and his imagination, but it was still creepy. They had switched the cars this morning, but he expected no problems there. He saw no cops and no people, they got away clear. The robbery would just be blamed on Tom and Tom alone. There might be a cursory search for accomplices, but they wouldn’t care. Besides, there had been no reports in the papers, so the body might not have been found. It was a big house and a bigger garden, it might be a few days before the gardeners find it. Rich people like that always had gardeners. He’d feel better once he saw the story, they’d know for sure what had killed Tom, whether it was a person or an animal. Brett was convinced it was an animal, though he hadn’t seen whatever it was.
He kept an eye on Grady through the night and just before Amy went to bed he caught up with her and asked her for something to help him sleep. He didn’t want to spend all night tossing and turning. Amy had simply nodded and came back to him with two pills, he dry swallowed both and headed to bed. Grady was doing ok, he’d have to look out for her for a while, they all would, but she’d pull through. She was stronger than she looked. But still, it would do to be careful, yhey needed her, at least for another while.