Old Jared led a solitary life, keeping his home off-limits to others. One fateful night, however, a neighbour, alarmed by Jared’s screams and a loud commotion, rushed to his house and discovered the old man’s unfortunate demise. To his surprise, the neighbour stumbled upon something shocking in Jared’s basement, unaware that it would ultimately lead to his own imprisonment.
It was late at night when Chuck arrived home, exhausted after a long day at work. As he got out of his car, he noticed his neighbour, Jared, struggling to carry a heavy bag up to his house.
“Hey, Jared!” Chuck called as he locked his car door. “Hang on a second. Let me give you a hand!”
Jared, an older man, put the bag down and looked up, breathing heavily. “Did I ask for your help, boy? No need!” he insisted, resuming his efforts to drag the bag up the stairs.
Chuck shook his head, dismissive of Jared’s refusal, and rushed over to help. However, the bag proved to be much heavier than expected and Chuck could barely manage its weight.
When they reached Jared’s porch, the older man opened the door, intending for Chuck to enter. But just as Jared was about to take the bag back from Chuck, he was interrupted…
“Come on, Jared! Let me at least have a look inside, will you?” he laughed. “The whole neighbourhood probably knows that you might as well say no to the President if he wants to see your house. What’s in there that I can’t see, huh?”
“Billions, boy, billions!” joked Jared. “And I don’t want anyone touching my billions. So thanks for the help.”
“Well then, Jared, how about getting yourself a new car? Because you will soon be harnessing horses to drive this one!” laughed Chuck, pointing at Jared’s old car. “Anyway, good night!” Chuck added and went home.
A few hours later, Chuck came out for a smoke. He was in the front yard when he heard a loud crash and a scream coming from Jared’s bedroom window. Chuck ran to Jared’s front door and knocked several times, but no one answered.
“Hey, Jared! It’s me! Chuck! Open the door!” Chuck called. There was still no answer.
Chuck ran into the man’s backyard and noticed the open backyard window. “Jared! I’m here! Right under your window!” he called to Jared again, but the man did not answer.
Sensing something was wrong, Chuck sneaked into Jared’s house through the window. As he entered, he spotted an open hatch in the middle of Jared’s bedroom.
“Jared, are you in there?” he called as he knelt beside the hatch. Again, no answer.
Chuck finally climbed down the ladder that led him to Jared’s basement and was shocked to find the older man lying on the floor in a pool of blood.
“Oh no…Ja…Jared!” Chuck pulled out his phone with shaking hands and turned on the flashlight, illuminating the room. Within seconds Chuck’s eyes swept over the basement and he couldn’t believe his eyes. On one of the shelves was a collection of golden antiques.
Chuck’s eyes widened in disbelief. He had never seen anything like this before.
Chuck took one last look at the dead Jared and then, without hesitation, quickly grabbed a duffel bag that was lying in a corner and filled it with everything he had found in the basement. Then he climbed out of Jared’s window, ran to his garage and hid everything there, deciding not to mention the loot to his wife.
Jared spent the night searching the internet for antique shops. He found one in the neighbouring town and decided to pay it a visit.
The next morning, Chuck sat at the kitchen table, sipping his morning coffee. He looked at his wife who was busy in the kitchen.
“Honey, I’m going to work now. It’s going to be a busy day,” Chuck said as he grabbed his work bag.
“All right, have a good day, babe,” his wife replied.
Chuck forced a smile, hiding the nervousness he felt inside. He grabbed his car keys and headed for the garage. Once in his car, he dialled his partner’s number and asked him to cover for him. Then he ended the call and drove away from his house, taking the route that would lead him to the antique shop.
A bell on the door rang as Jared entered the antique shop, two bags in hand. He noticed a man, probably in his late 70s, standing behind the counter.
“Hey, hi. I, um, want to get my stuff appraised. I have quite a collection of old, vintage stuff,” he said as he approached the man.
“Sure, sir. That’s what I’m here for,” the man grinned, lowering his glasses. “May I have a look? Please have a seat. Would you like some coffee?”
“No, thank you. I’m in a bit of a hurry,” Chuck replied, his heart pounding. He was nervous and wanted to get rid of the antiques as quickly as possible. The man quickly noticed Chuck’s panicked expression.
“If I may ask, sir, where exactly did you get these?” the man asked, looking at the antiques with naked eyes. “Interesting exhibits, I must say!”
“Um, well,” Chuck stuttered. “Um… my, uh, grandfather… well, he was quite wealthy, you know, and this collection, it was passed down from him to my dad and then to me. It’s sort of a family heirloom, you know, a generational tradition.”
“You mean it’s an inheritance,” the man said, smiling as he pressed a security call button under the counter. A loud buzzing sound filled the room and all the doors and windows locked automatically.
“What… what just happened?” Chuck exclaimed, jumping to his feet in shock and looking around. “What have you done?! Open the door! I don’t want to stay here and have my belongings searched!”
“Well, sir, the doors will not be unlocked until the police arrive,” the man replied calmly, sitting on a chair with a cup of coffee. “While we wait, let me tell you the real story behind the collection you have brought with you.”
And so the antique dealer began to tell the tale of a fateful incident that occurred 38 years ago on the estate of a wealthy man named Arnold…
It was a bright, sunny day. Arnold smiled as he entered the kitchen of his vast estate on the outskirts of the city. “Good day, Jared,” he said to his servant.
Arnold was the son of a renowned antiquarian, and he was carrying on his father’s legacy by running his business. Jared, then 43, worked for Arnold’s family and had served them for nine years.
“Good day, sir,” Jared greeted his boss. “Catherine made you a cheese and jalapeño omelette for breakfast today. Your favourite, sir,” he added. “It’ll be ready in two minutes, and in the meantime you can read the news,” Jared said, handing the newspaper to his boss.
“Thank you, Jared,” Arnold smiled as he opened the paper to read. “By the way, did you hear any strange noises last night?”
“Sounds? No, sir,” Jared shook his head and set his boss’s breakfast on the table. “Perhaps it was the dogs? I’ll let them out tonight. I didn’t want the poor things to be out in the cold, so I brought them in last night.”
“Maybe I heard them,” Arnold frowned, nodding his head as he began to read the paper. “Oh, and Jared,” he added. “An old friend of mine is staying with us today. Please prepare the guest room for him. I’m not sure if he’ll be staying, but I want everything ready,” Arnold said as he started to eat breakfast.
That afternoon, Arnold’s 57-year-old friend Edward arrived at the villa after lunch. “Oh, look at you! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” Arnold beamed as he hugged his friend after all these years.
Edward had always been close to Arnold’s family – to the extent that even Arnold’s late father knew him. The two mates freshened up and sat down to dinner. As Jared served them, he overheard their conversation.
“You won’t believe what I got my hands on, mate,” Arnold chuckled as he cut into his steak. “I managed to find a collection of 18th century tableware on the black market. You may not know it, but that’s exactly what my father was looking for in his day!”
“How long have we known each other, Arnold?” Edward asked with a smile, taking a sip of his wine. “Since your childhood, right? But, my friend, I won’t believe what you tell me until I see it for myself!”
Arnold nodded, a smile on his face as he chewed his steak. “All right, all right, Edward,” he replied cheerfully, slicing his meat again. “Let’s go up to my room after dinner and you’ll see I’m not lying, mate.”
Jared was taken aback when Arnold suddenly looked up at him. “You’re still here, Jared?” he asked. “Please go to the kitchen and work with Catherine on tomorrow’s breakfast menu. I’ll let you know if I need you here.”
“Of course, sir! My apologies,” Jared understood that Arnold didn’t want him to know any more about the antique collection, but he couldn’t resist his curiosity. He nodded to his boss and headed for the kitchen. When no one was looking, he quickly made his way upstairs and sneaked into Arnold’s room, hiding in his boss’s wardrobe.
A few minutes later, Arnold entered the room alone. He hurried to his bed, knelt down and used a knife to remove a tile from beside it. After retrieving a key, Arnold put the tile back in place, stood up and called out to Edward. “You can come in, mate!” he called.
Edward looked around the room, his confusion obvious.
“Sorry, mate, but security can’t be compromised!” Arnold laughed.
“Well, you’re no different from your father, are you?” Edward chuckled.
“Now close the door,” Arnold whispered as he walked over to his safe and unlocked it.
Edward looked over Arnold’s shoulder and gasped. “Jesus Christ!” he exclaimed. “I… I don’t believe this! Son, I’m prepared to give you $800,000 tomorrow for this collection. What do you say, huh? Deal?”
“With all due respect, mate, my answer is no. You know how long it took my father to find this collection and how he dreamed of one day seeing his mother’s collection in a museum. So I can’t even discuss it,” Arnold said as he closed the safe.
Jared’s eyes widened in shock as he overheard the conversation. It was then that he came up with a plan for the perfect heist.
That evening, Jared asked his boss if he could go home for the night. “I haven’t cleaned my apartment in days, to be honest, sir. The rubbish needs to be taken out and I need to get rid of the dried leaves in the garden… burn them. It would be very kind of you to excuse me for just one night. I’ll be back in the morning.
“Of course, Jared. No problem,” Arnold smiled and agreed.
But Jared didn’t go home that night. Instead, he stopped at the local morgue, ready to carry out the first part of his plan.
He climbed over the fence and jumped into the building, breathing heavily, his heart racing. The shrill chirping of crickets broke the silence, and Jared looked around, trying to think of a way to enter the building quickly.
It was late at night, so he knew that all the morgue workers had already gone home. Suddenly, Jared’s gaze drifted to the half-closed window on the second floor of the building, and then to the tree growing right next to the wall of the building.
Placing one foot on the rough part of the trunk, Jared pushed himself up. When he reached the branch near the window, he swung one leg up and over the branch. Then he tiptoed carefully along the trunk to the window and finally jumped into the building.
Scanning the entire facility, Jared found a hall filled with rows of gurneys carrying dead bodies. He marched along one of the rows, reading out their labels. “Alfred…Nylon…Wait a minute!” He stopped at the gurney on the extreme end.
“John Doe. Homeless,” read the label dangling from the corpse’s toe. Nobody knew who this person was. This was it! Jared looked around the hall, thinking how he’d carry the body out of the building, and noticed a doctor’s uniform hanging on a wall hook.
He began to push the stretcher out of the building, disguised in his uniform. He took the back exit so he could quickly get to his car behind the fence.
Huffing and puffing, Jared dumped the body in the boot of his car and dashed to the driver’s seat. He disappeared down the road, unaware that he had stolen a corpse from the morgue.
When he got home, Jared carried the body upstairs to his bedroom and placed it on his bed. He then ran to the garage where he had stored petrol cans. Jared poured the flammable liquid into every nook and cranny of his house. Then he lit a matchstick, threw it on the gasoline-stained floor and rushed out the front door.
As Jared watched from a distance of 500 feet as his house was reduced to nothing but burnt remains, he smiled with satisfaction that the first part of his plan had been successfully completed. He had the best alibi for the upcoming robbery, as he was now a dead man in the eyes of the world.
Several weeks passed. Jared carefully planned his next move, perfecting his robbery. One night he stood outside Arnold’s mansion, disguised as a policeman and sporting a false moustache. He looked around, then marched over to the switchboard that supplied electricity to the entire district.
“Well, let’s get started,” he grinned to himself as he pushed the lever down, cutting off the power to the entire area. Then he walked over to Arnold’s estate.
The whole area was in darkness. Jared used a torch to find his way. He could hear the dogs barking in the backyard and the crunch of leaves under his feet as he crossed Arnold’s yard.
Standing on the porch, he knocked on the door several times, but there was no answer. He was about to knock again when the door flung open and a man who looked no younger than 35 appeared in the doorway.
Jared quickly shone the torch in his face, obscuring his own identity, and recognised the young man as Arnold’s new servant.
Jared knew his ex-boss wasn’t at home. In fact, Arnold flew out of state at this time of year to visit his sister. He never missed her birthday.
“Good evening, Officer. Can I help you with something?” the young man asked Arnold, shielding his eyes from the light and breaking the eerie silence between them. Jared lowered the torch a little, but made sure his own face was invisible.
“Good evening, sir. We received a call that someone had deliberately cut the power to this address,” he said. “My boss happens to be a good friend of your boss, and he asked me to stay here for the night. You know, it’s not entirely safe. It’s even odd that the power is cut off like that.”
“That’s very considerate of you, Officer…” The man looked at Jared’s uniform and could see his fake name tag. “Officer Graham. Thank you. My boss isn’t home right now, so I was a bit startled when the power went out. Can I get you some coffee?” he offered kindly.
“Yes sir, that would be great!” Jared said. “By the way, is there anyone else in the house with you? You know, uh, I need to update my boss on the whole situation.”
“Understandable, sir,” the man said in a friendly manner. “I’m the only one in the house at the moment. Catherine-the cook-lives in the servants’ quarters about a hundred yards away. Anyway, please come in.”
“Thank you,” Jared said, and as the man turned his back on him, Jared struck him hard on the head with his cane. As soon as the man fell to the floor, Jared gagged him and tied his hands and feet. Finally, Jared rushed upstairs to Arnold’s room.
He removed the tile near Arnold’s bed, got the key to the safe and stuffed the entire collection he had found in the safe into the bag he was carrying. Then Jared slipped out of the house, using the back door to avoid unwanted attention. He noticed the dogs outside as he came out, but was relieved that they didn’t bark when they recognised him.
Quickly, Jared made his way into the dense forest that surrounded the mansion. There he had stashed a rucksack with a change of clothes. With a sense of urgency, Jared retrieved the rucksack and changed his clothes, discarding the police uniform in a pit he had prepared before the robbery.
It was an elaborate hiding place where he had planned to dispose of any evidence that might link him to the crime. Now it served as the final resting place for the incriminating uniform.
So Jared stuffed the uniform into the pit and threw a burning log on top of it. As he stood there waiting for the cloth to be reduced to ashes, his eyes scanned the area and he felt a mixture of relief and fear. No one had seen him flee.
Then, with his belongings in tow, Jared began a journey through the depths of the forest, taking calculated and careful steps. He could hear the sounds of nature all around him – the shrill cries of crickets, the clicking of bats and the scurrying of tiny creatures as he made his way through the forest.
The forest seemed alive with its nocturnal inhabitants as he made his way through the dense foliage. Arriving at the edge of the forest, he got into his car, which was patiently waiting for him. The vehicle, carefully parked by Jared in a secluded spot, was his gateway to freedom.
He settled into the driver’s seat, feeling a surge of adrenaline coursing through his veins. The engine roared to life, drowning out the sounds of nature, and he drove off, gripping the wheel tightly. But as the miles stretched before him, Jared’s mind was filled with many thoughts.
He thought about the risks he had taken, the evidence he had disposed of and the other crimes he had committed just to get his hands on the collection. Lost in his thoughts, Jared drove along a deserted highway that night, the forest and its symphony of sounds fading into the distance. Fortunately, fate was on his side and he escaped the city that night, leaving no trace of his crime.
The next morning, as Catherine unlocked the front door and marched in, she screamed and put her hands to her mouth in shock. The new servant was bound and gagged. They called the police, but he couldn’t tell them anything because he hadn’t seen Jared’s face. And unfortunately, because of the blow to the head, he remembered little of the previous night.
Jared was happy with his life. He managed to get to another town. And for 14 months after the robbery, Jared lived a quiet life, making sure no one noticed him. Then one day he came into contact with a man who was an expert in the black market.
The man introduced himself as Harry. He was a thief and scammer who had offered Jared a substantial sum of money for the antique collection. They agreed to meet at a bar a couple of nights later. However, when Jared arrived at the bar, he couldn’t see anyone at the table Harry had mentioned.
Jared took his seat, cautiously looking around to make sure it wasn’t a trap after all this time. Suddenly, a man sat down across from him. It was Harry.
“Sorry, got held up with something. So, did you bring it?” he asked, leaning in closer to Jared.
“Yes, yes, I did,” Jared replied, clearing his throat and glancing around.
“Where is it?” the man asked impatiently, rubbing his palms together. “I don’t see it with you.”
“You think I’m stupid enough to carry it to some bar?” Jared fumed.
“Then what the hell was the point of your summoning me here?” Harry lost his cool. “Tell me what’s going on, or-”
“Keep your voice down, will you?” Jared hissed, getting to his feet. “Follow me!”
Jared and Harry walked out of the bar together, but Harry didn’t know that Jared had hidden his collection of valuable items in a secure hatch about a mile and a half away from the bar.
While they were on their way to retrieve the collection, Jared sensed something was wrong. He turned to his side and saw Arnold with a terrible look on his face. Their eyes met and Jared was overcome with fear. He quickly turned into an alley and started running to save himself.
Arnold was not alone. He was accompanied by a number of policemen who were now in relentless pursuit of Jared. The sound of Jared’s pounding footsteps echoed through the narrow corridor as he raced to escape the clutches of the approaching officers.
Jared had decided not to give in, and he had made a calculated decision. He had not taken the stolen collection of gold and antiques to the bar, knowing the risks.
Fortunately, fate was once again in Jared’s favour and the alley opened up into a bustling marketplace. The crowd swallowed him whole and he made a successful escape. The police spent hours searching for him, but Jared was nowhere to be found. They combed the market, desperately trying to locate him, but it was all in vain. It was as if he had vanished into thin air.
“This is how we lost track of him,” the antique dealer told Chuck.
Chuck knew he could no longer avoid what he had done. It seemed that the collection was cursed. Anyone who stole it and tried to get away with it would be out of luck. He sank to the floor and buried his face in his knees.
“How Jared’s fate turned out is unknown to all but one person… and that’s Jared himself,” the antiquarian continued as he looked out through the glass door of his shop and saw the police arriving. “Maybe he was able to sell the gold somewhere, and maybe he lived a miserable, unhappy life, hiding from the police and his past for years. We’ll find out as soon as the cops get here,” he added. “By the way, I forgot to introduce myself! I’m Arnold! Nice to meet you.”