Nightwork

By Tamara Hunter

A lot of people found night-time intimidating. Not Klaus. To his mind, night-time was an opportunity waiting to happen. All those people with their backs turned – watching their TVs behind curtains, reading to their children, screaming at one another or tracing languorous fingers over recumbent limbs. Not a one of them aware that he was creeping around outside in the gathering dusk, watching and waiting for the cloak of darkness to enable him to begin.

Occasionally a child would spot him, mouth frozen into an O of fear and surprise and then loosening to uncertainty as he melted into the scenery. Sometimes a cat might spit and hiss – its back an arch of fear and its tail spiked in alarm.

When the coast was clear, Klaus would busy himself again. He’d pick the locks on sheds and take what tools he needed, knowing he’d never have to answer to the break-in. Within a few meagre hours, other events would eclipse this petty crime. Tools purloined, he’d begin digging – preparing the earth to receive what he would deposit in it near night’s end.

Every now and then he would pause, sweat making rivulets down the deep creases of his cheeks. Wiping his face, he would allow himself a few moments to contemplate the looks on their faces when they realised their fate. He grinned. None of them ever saw it coming.

Mostly, he chose poorer neighbourhoods – places where a man hunched in a frayed coat could blend in with ease. Head bent to the wind, nobody ever remarked his arrival or his departure. And afterwards, nobody ever thought to follow his boot prints to the lean-to under the bridge, where he’d sleep off his exertions and relive, via dreams, the more satisfying moments of his night’s work.

Sometimes it was a more upmarket area. It required more subterfuge – dodging of security systems, more invisibility – but the reward was just as great. People in upper class areas were victims, too. They were just better dressed.

Later that day Klaus might return to the scene, standing a discreet distance away to observe the fallout. Although he didn’t do it for that – the thrill of the act itself was reward enough – there was a certain pleasure in witnessing the reactions of those whose lives he had impacted so dramatically.

Sometimes there were shouts and screams, high drama – even ambulances. He hoped not, though. He preferred to do his job well enough that ambulances would not be required.

He liked it best when there was little to no fuss. Just a quiet hallelujah emanating from the house in question, the pall of poverty lifting – relief in the air.

He didn’t plant a money tree in just anyone’s yard. It took months of consideration. You didn’t grant someone unending wealth without knowing they were going to use it wisely – to relieve aching debt and then to help others.

Over the years, he found he had chosen well.

One Response to Nightwork

  1. Robin Rhyner says:

    Another surprise ending.

    Three cheers for fantasy! Such a relief when the menace at the beginning of the story turned to such celebration at the end.

    “tracing languorous fingers over recumbent limbs” is such a beautiful line.

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