The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 14

Obviously, Mom hadn’t been listening to a word I’d said the night before. The next day, I came home to find a police cruiser parked outside.

Has she gone completely mad?

I entered the house and found Mom sitting with a familiar-looking, fifty-something police officer. I’d probably seen him on patrol before. He was lounging on the couch more than anything else.

Mom had a tense look on her face—which had become her most familiar look by then.

“Ella, come and sit,” she said before turning to the officer, “This is my daughter, Ella,” then she turned back to me, “This is Officer Jones.”

Officer Jones gave me a curt nod. “Hello, Ella,” he said as he stroked his mustache as if he had nothing else to do.

I tried to figure out what was happening there although I honestly didn’t feel like dealing with it at all. It didn’t feel right—not only could we not enjoy the winnings, but we also had to deal with Mom’s paranoia. It seriously tarnished everything.

I shot her a look and murmured, “Mom, what’s going on now?”

“Can you please sit?” said Mom in a stern voice.

I sighed silently and sat down next to her on the couch.

“I found a note.”

“A note?” I asked.

Then she handed me a piece of paper, which trembled until I grabbed it.

On it was a typed message:

I’m watching you, bitch.

That sure seemed to justify her paranoia.

“Where did you find that?”

“On the nightstand. In my bedroom.”

Officer Jones looked at us, from one to the other.

“I was telling your mother that, unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do at this point. There was no sign of forced entry. Nothing has been stolen. No one is injured,” Officer Jones took a sip of coffee from his Yum-Yum Donuts to-go cup. Then he made a face. “I’m cutting back on sugar, but I tell ya, I don’t like it much without.”

I wasn’t sure if he was suggesting that we offer him sugar or he just felt like chit-chatting since there was nothing more to investigate.

“Okay,” I didn’t know what else to say. As much as he looked like a retired grandpa-next-door who came to have a cup of coffee with us, I had to admit, what Officer Jones said seemed to make sense. I watched a TV show, Forensic Factor, and learned a little about forensic science. They could get fingerprints or DNA evidence from just about any surface if they really tried, but I knew they wouldn’t really try unless someone were dead or the place were seriously vandalized, that sort of thing. Our house was spotlessly clean—no dead bodies, no broken items, nothing.

We sat there for a couple of minutes in silence before Officer Jones finally got up. He had finished his coffee.

“If this happens again, or there are any other concerns, you may call on us.” Officer Jones handed a card to Mom.

“Thank you for coming by, Officer…” said Mom, obviously dissatisfied.

After Officer Jones left, I sat with her.

“Someone knows we won that money…” said Mom, staring at one spot. “That’s for sure.”

Unfortunately, I no longer thought she was overreacting—now that I’d seen such an obvious threat. However, there were so many questions that needed answers.

“Why isn’t the alarm working? Did you call them?”

“Yes. They had me test it. It’s working properly.”

I couldn’t understand it. If anyone was after our money, why wouldn’t they just make a direct threat and demand it instead of conducting some kind of random harassment? And who could possibly know about our winning the lottery? We certainly didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t. Dad wouldn’t betray her trust no matter what.

Did Kyle…?

Then a crazy thought crept into my mind like a sudden gust of wind—what if he were the one who did it? Then, of course the alarm wouldn’t have gone off. But come on. Why would he even do that? What could be his motive? Hypothetically speaking, even if he wanted more money, writing Mom a harassing note wouldn’t achieve his goal. Besides, he was weird, but he wasn’t that weird. He’d probably just flat-out ask her if he wanted more money. I suddenly felt pretty bad for having such a thought against him. He was my brother after all. He embarrassed me and annoyed me to the core, but he’d never done anything malicious enough for me to think that way about him—well, except he liked my best friend.

However, when he came home, I did have a reason to think that way—he didn’t seem the least bit surprised or scared when we showed him the note. Although nothing ever really made him react. He never expressed his true feelings or emotions. He had only one facial expression. I often got scared wondering if he might become a serial killer one day. Serial killers had very limited facial expressions, statistically speaking.

According to the calendar on the fridge, Dad was supposed to be driving to and from California. I knew there was nothing he could do from hundreds of miles away, but I called him anyway.

He seemed to be worried sick to his stomach, but again, there was nothing he could do at that moment. He said he’d install security cameras around the house when he returned. He also promised he’d tell his boss to cut back his hours, so he could stay with us more often and make sure we were safe.

After all, he didn’t need to work anyway, did he?

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