A Victim of Circumstance
Sebastian Murphy winced as the zip tie was tightened around his wrist binding him to a wooden chair. A cry escaped his mouth, muffled by silver tape. He pulled against his bonds but only succeeded in rubbing deep gashes into his wrist. The pain lit him on fire.
“I’m sorry about this,” His captor strode around to Sebastian’s front, reading the stolen name tag as he pinned it to his chest. “Murphy? Heh, I have a cousin named Murphy. He’s a foot doctor or something like that.”
Sebastian gripped the chair he was fastened to and glared at the thief.
“Don’t look at me like that,” The thief started buttoning up the shirt, fumbling as he went. “I’m not a bad guy alright. I’m just a victim of circumstance.” He finished the buttons and tucked the shirt in the slacks before adjusting the belt and securing his disguise.
“I got into this life real young,” He continued. “I shoplifted from the cornerstone by my house when I was ten and just kept going from there. I never did it for the thrill or anything. I’m not some adrenalin junkie, getting high off crime. We were poor and just needed to eat.” He paused to fall back into a chair, letting a heaviness roll off his shoulders.
“I eventually met a girl in the business, you know the story. Two kids fall in love and all that fairy tale stuff, except this was real. We got married and kept on conning and stealing, enough to make a life ya know.”
The thief leaned forward putting his face close to Sebastian’s, a smile tugging on his lip. “Then one day she tells me she was late. Me being an intelligent fella says, ‘late for what’ and she just smiles and it takes me longer than it should’ve to figure it out. Once we found out for sure we decided to go legit. That life ain’t no way to raise a kid man. I got a job with a locksmith and she started working one of them telemarketing gigs, so we were still kinda doing what we were good at.” The thief chuckled softly and leaned back in the chair. Sebastian sat still now. He tried to jump on the silence to speak but his words were still stifled.
The thief paid him no mind as he continued. “Later that year, we have the most beautiful baby girl. I mean, when I looked in that nursery and saw this tiny person that was half me, I lost it. I started crying right there, with my face pressed against the glass.” He stood with a purpose and made his way to a desk in the corner and picked up a mug that said proudly #1 Dad “I guess you got kids so you know how it is.”
He placed the mug down and turned, leaning on the desk. “Now she’s seven and were playing tag in the park, having a fun family day, when she just falls over. I think she tripped but she doesn’t get up. That fear you feel when something like that happens. Ain’t nothing like it. I pick her up and I’m saying, ‘baby open your eyes, please’ and she’s just lying there barely breathing.” The thief stops for a moment a takes a deep breath. Sebastian listens having given up the struggle.
“Next day in the hospital we get told she has Leukemia, and my heart just drops so fast it craks the linoleum. The doctor gives us treatment options and we pour everything into saving our little girl. Radiation, chemo, everything we can afford. We see this quack for six months trying to save our little girl and he looks us in the eye and tells us nothings working. I get mad and get in his face, I mean I want to tear this guy apart who’s telling me my little girl ain’t gonna live to her next birthday.” He wipes a tear from his face on the sleeve of his shirt and exhales.
“We wind up leaving and take her around to find something, anything, to hold onto. You know you’d do anything for your kids, right?” The thief starts pacing, his feet grinding along the stone floor of the surveillance room. “Then we find this guy who works the cancer ward at Montgomery General and he tells us there’s a new study for cancer patients that ain’t responding to treatments. It was like a miracle man. You should have seen the hope in my wife’s eyes when we sat in his office as he explains it to us. We sign some forms and tell our little princess that everything is going to be alright. That we found someone who can help.”
The thief moved to Sebastian, placing his hands on the bound man’s shoulders. He looks through Sebastian at something only he can see. “Last week I get a call saying she got denied. Insurance won’t cover it because it’s too experimental. I still have the scars on my hand from busting a hole in the kitchen wall. I found out its fifty thousand dollars to get her into the program. We managed to scrounge up two grand selling practically everything we own but we aint gonna make it. This is the only thing I can do to make sure my little girl can see her eighth birthday.” Sebastian sat still. He had stopped struggling awhile ago. Sebastian watched the man wipe his eyes and stand up placing the security guard hat atop his head.
“I know you have a lot of assumptions about me but don’t think I’m doing this because I want to. I can’t sit around and watch my kid die man. No parent can.”
Sebastian watched him walk out locking the door behind him. He turned his head to the mug on his desk, blinking moisture from his eyes. There was no point in breaking free tonight.