Mystery and Crime Fiction posted May 6, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level
2nd Place

Bound By Our Sins

by Douglas Goff

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
The author has placed a warning on this post for sexual content.


“I want you to listen closely. Tomorrow, Saturday, I need you to leave your home and not come back until Sunday morning.”

“What? Leave my home? Who is this?” Carl was confused about who was on the other end of the line. “Is this Jerry? You’re not funny.”

“Listen. My boss wants you out of that house all day Saturday. We’re not going to steal or damage anything. We just need to recover something in the basement that is our property. So tomorrow you leave your front door unlocked and you go get a hotel.”

The voice was low and stern.  

“Why would I do that? This is my house.  I can’t just lea—-“

“You can and you will. But, I’ll tell you what, how about I leave $2,000 on the counter for your troubles? Trust me, you don’t want to say no. That could get. . . complicated. Boss doesn’t like complicated."

"$2,000 dollars?” Carl needed the money. Work at his crappy job was slow and times were tight.  

“$2,000 just to vacate your house for one Saturday.”

“I . . . “ A click ended the call leaving Carl shaking his head. Is this a joke?  

An hour later Becky arrived home. He had been living with his girlfriend for the past two years. She wanted to marry, but he felt she was a little too bossy and high-strung.  

“So what did this guy say again?” She obviously didn’t believe him.  

“They would leave $2000 on the table if we left the house all day Saturday and we don’t return until Sunday morning.”

“Please. They’re going to rob us. Let’s just call the cops.”

“And say what? Some strange man called and wants to go in our basement to find something he left behind?”

“Wait, the basement? He left something in the basement? You didn’t mention that, dummy.” She was already heading for the door that led to dark places. 

“Becky, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Carl didn’t like the basement. It was a dark and creepy ‘Michigan’ style dank and dirty place. It just has a bad feel, like I’m not welcome there.  

“Seriously, Carl? Stop being such a pansy. This is our home. Let’s go see what they’re after.” 

“Let’s talk about this.”

Becky didn’t answer. She already had the door open, and after clicking on the light, headed down the steps.  

Carl reluctantly followed the excited woman. Once he reached the bottom of the steps, he could see Becky rummaging around in some old boxes. The only light came from a single dim bulb hanging in the center of the room.  

“Don’t just stand there, lazy ass. Help me.”  

“There’s nothing down here but the furnace and some old discarded junk. All of these boxes are my old crap.”

“The rafters!” Becky began pulling back insulation and looking behind it. 

“I’m not touching that stuff. It’s itchy. Besides, look at all those cobwebs.”

“Seriously, Carl, I swear you are such a sissy.”  

“What? I don’t like spiders.” The pair spent a half hour searching the basement and found nothing.  

“What’s that?” Becky pointed at the outline of a door in the far end of the basement.  

“It’s the old coal room. There’s nothing in there. It’s been mortared shut since way before I bought this place five years ago.“

Becky frowned, giving the door one last curious look. “See, I told you. They just want to rob the house. Don’t be an idiot. We aren’t going anywhere tomorrow.“

Carl and Becky argued about it all evening, until she silenced him with a pretty intense bout of sex, doing everything he liked. That is how she always got her way. She was very good in bed and it was the only reason Carl was still with her. 

Becky was skinny, but large-chested. Her face was average, but her body was great. She had shoulder length dirty blond hair that always carried a slight curl and she wore glasses.  

Carl was a different story. The word ‘average’ fit him perfectly. He was tall and lanky with short curly black hair. He also wore glasses. Both of them were in their mid-twenties. 

His dating record consisted of a few charity handjobs in high school, several visits to sleazy massage parlors in his early twenties, and a two-year relationship with his former girlfriend Sally, who was a rather large woman. 

Sally had been very rude to him, even slapping him a few times. Then one day, she was gone. 

Becky never hit him, although she did call him names. He could put up with that, for now, as long as she continued to fulfill his physical needs.  

Carl was nervous all morning, thinking they should have just left to a hotel, but Becky refused to go. Then the phone rang.  

“Answer it, Carl. Grow some balls and tell the guy to piss off.”

He frowned at the mouthy woman and picked up the phone.  “Hello?”

“I guess you didn’t understand the situation. You were supposed to leave this morning.” It was the same gravelly stern voice from yesterday. 

“We decided—-“

“You decided nothing, Carl. You’re making some unfortunate choices here. You’ve made the boss very anxious. So here’s what we’re going to do. You get one last chance. You leave first thing tomorrow morning or things are gonna get messy. The kinda messy you aren’t going to like.”

Carl whispered to Becky, “Shit, he knows my name.”

“What does he want?” Becky stood with her hands on her hips. 

“Same thing. He said it’s our last chance. We have to leave tomorrow.“

Becky held out her hand for the phone. When Carl hesitated, she grabbed it out of his hand and pushed him back with her other hand. 

“Listen here asshole, you want us to leave?”

Carl grimaced, unable to hear the man’s response.

“No. That’s just not going to work. Make it $5000 or we aren’t budging. Yes $5,000. That way if you steal all of Carl’s crappy cheap stuff, l can more than replace it with something that’s actually decent.”

Another reply that Carl couldn’t hear.  

“If you agree to leave $5000 on the counter, then we’ll go and never ever mention any of this to anyone.”

After another unheard answer Becky held the phone out to Carl. “He wants to talk to you.”

“Yes?” Carl wasn’t liking any of this. 

“We have come to an understanding, Carl. You just make sure you and that pushy broad are gone first thing tomorrow morning. Do not come back home until Monday morning. Are we clear?”


“Good boy, Carl. You and Becky are making some wise choices here.” Click.  

Carl leaned against the wall, a slight tremble in his hands. I don’t like this at all.  How do they know our names? He hadn’t even realized Becky had left the room, until she came back in holding a crowbar.  

“Oh, come on, Becky. I think these guys are serious. Let’s just take the $5,000 and leave this alone.”

His girlfriend looked at him with the same disgust he had often seen her show for street beggars. “Are you really that stupid? They’re going to come in here and take whatever they hid, and then leave without paying us. I mean, why would they leave money? We don’t even know who they are. Come down and help me.”

“It’s a bad idea. I don’t want any part of this.”  

“Are you sure about that?” Becky smiled like a cat looking at a canary and dropped to her knees in front of him. By the time she finished, Carl would have robbed a bank if she asked him to. 

They grabbed a big flashlight and headed down the stairs. The pair took turns prying at the mortar. It took them two hours to get through all of it, leaving them sweating in the cool dank basement. Whoever sealed the door had intended for it to stay that way.  

The door creaked open, sounding like the moan of a long passed ghost. Carl grabbed his flashlight and lit up the black hole gaping at them. A musty smell hit their nostrils. Why does it feel like we’re stepping into a bad-breathed ghoul’s mouth?

A step forward and the beam of his light revealed they weren’t looking at a coal room. They were looking at a tomb. Lying directly in front of them was a skeleton. 

“We shouldn’t be here.” Carl gulped hard, feeling a little gurgle in his stomach. 

Becky let out a disgusted sigh and grabbing his flashlight, brushed aside low hanging cobwebs as she entered the room. 

“Really, Carl. You’re such a pussy. It’s hard being the man and the woman in this relationship. And you wonder why I cheated on you with Phil, my co-worker, and that cable guy. I mean, if you acted like half a man even once in a while, then I wouldn’t have to go find a real one every so often.” 

Her words stung. He had known about the co-worker, and put an end to that, but this was the first he heard about the cable guy.  Now it makes sense why the guy came back three days in a row for a simple installation. We did end up with great television reception in the bedroom, though.  

Carl followed her into the dark cavity. They inspected the skeleton closely, seeing what looked like two bullet holes in the back of the skull.  

The dead person was wearing a Municipal Armored Services uniform. Next to the remains sat an iron box with a padlock on it. Becky handed him the crowbar. 

“Should we?” He hesitated. 

“Can’t undo what we’ve already done.”

Carl shrugged and gave the padlock a whack. 

“Nice try. This time hit it like a man.”  

Carl wished she would shut up. He struck the box two more times before the lock popped off.  

Both of them gasped when they opened the lid. Money bags! Six of them. Becky dropped to her knees and opened one of the bank sacks, revealing stacks of banded hundred dollar bills.

“This must be from that Savings and Loans heist that happened over in Lombeck ten years ago. The cops suspected the armored car guard had ran off with the money. Neither he nor the money was ever found.”

“There must be millions here, Carl! Do you know what this means? I’m rich! I can have everything I deserve. I’m getting a Porsche! A big house with a pool! Oh, and all the jewelry I want! We can run off together. Get married. We’ll be together forever!"

Becky never saw it coming. The crowbar struck her hard in the back of the head. “I really hope I hit like a man that time, Becky.” She responded with a slight moan. Another six or eight follow-up blows ended her life.

Carl went upstairs and penned a note, then brought it back down and dropped it on Becky’s still warm corpse. He grabbed two of the six money bags and headed towards the stairs.  

Carl glanced at two nondescript, barely noticeable concrete patches in the dirt floor nearly hidden behind the stairs. “Looks like you have some new company, Sally. You two should get along great. Becky’s another mouthy broad like you. Oh, and Phil, I guess you can have her back. I’m finished with her.” 

Several hours later a fat fingered criminal stood in the coal room staring at the piece of paper in his hand and chuckled. 


You can keep your $5,000. I’m not coming back. I took a third of the money. Consider it a finder’s fee.  Now we both have a secret hidden in this room. We are bound by our sins. You don’t tell on me and I don’t tell on you. Don’t come after me, because if you do, a letter is going to be sent to the FBI. I have a feeling if they know the secrets of our little room, they may be able to track you down through the previous owner of the house. Would be best if you just take your money and seal the coal room back up. Let’s make wise choices here and call this good. Are we clear? 

The Phone Call contest entry



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