Chapter 5

Wanda helped Wyatt/Eddie with the kitchen clean up. He took two more beer bottles from the refrigerator and they adjourned to the living room.

"Thank you for telling me the truth," Wanda said once they were situated on the couch.

"It's hard telling someone I care about my story," he said.

"You care about me?" She asked with surprise.

"Why do you think I was in the bookstore so often?"

"I thought you liked books," she answered.

"I like you better."

She smiled. "Is it okay to call you Wyatt?"

"It's my new name in my new life," he said. "I'd like to think Eddie Martin of old is long gone."

"You have every right to move on with your life," Wanda said. "You did your time and the whole time I've known you, you've been hardworking, caring, kind, supportive, and generous. Who am I to judge?"

"Life is too short," Wyatt agreed. "Thank you for believing in me."

"Don't make me cry," Wanda said bravely.

Later, after they had made love and lay cuddling naked together under the covers of his bed, Wanda's head resting on his chest, she looked up into his face.

"How could you afford to buy the store?" She asked.

"I left one part of the story out," he admitted.

"Tell me," she said quietly.

"You may not approve," Wyatt worried.

"Too late now," she said. "I'm not going anywhere after this."

"Butch Leonard told me about a guy in Des Moines," Wyatt said carefully. "Some eccentric drug dealer who fronted as a real estate big cheese. He lived in this huge house out in the country and Butch said there was a safe full of cash in the house. It could be a big score for somebody brave enough to attempt a robbery because the guy would never report it."

"How long ago was this?" Wanda asked.

"Long before the last robbery that got me sent away," Wyatt said. "I was thinking it might be some added insurance in case things feel apart."

"You robbed the drug dealer?"

"I staked out the house," Wyatt said. "There were woods behind it and I that gave me cover to observe stuff with binoculars. The guy was alone a lot which was probably foolish on his part but I'm sure he wanted to keep appearances low key. He liked to garden and I figured out his routine so one day I came out of the woods wearing a ski mask and banishing a gun and the guy didn't even blink when he saw me approaching."

"You could have gotten yourself killed," Wanda said.

"He told me to take what I wanted as long as I didn't harm him," Wyatt recalled. "It was a walk in safe. He opened it without delay and we stepped inside. I couldn't believe all the drugs that were in there but all I cared about what the bricks of cash - hundred dollar bills in stacks.. I tied the guy up and took all the money. I went home and counted up the haul. Well over a million dollars."

Wanda let out a whistle.

"I sealed it all up in plastic and then duct-taped all the bundles, putting them in a couple of coolers packed in kitty litter. I sealed the coolers and buried them in my parents' backyard, underneath a stone bench they got for their 25th wedding anniversary."

"Nobody knew?"

Wyatt shook his head no.

"So why did you keep on robbing banks if you had all that money?" Wanda asked.

Wyatt shrugged. "I guess I didn't think it was enough," he said.

"Criminals sure are foolish, aren't they?" Wanda sighed.

"It wasn't until I went home for my father's funeral that I decided to dig up the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," Wyatt explained. "I figured by then enough time had passed. I was no longer under federal supervision. I just had to check in with my witness protection contact a couple of times a year. This time, however, I didn't spend the money lavishly or foolishly. I invested some of it and sat on most of it until I decided to splurge and buy Phil's store. Get out of my dump little apartment in the tenement down by the canal."

"So, this is your new life?" She asked.

"I hope so," he said with sincerity.

"And you promise no matter what happens, what goes wrong, you'll never go back to your previous life?"

"On my father's grave," he answered.

Wanda leaned up and kissed him. "I believe you," she said.

"It's not about the money anymore," Wyatt told her.

"What is it about?" She wanted to know.

"You," Wyatt replied.

"My felony love," Wanda said with a sigh.