by Brian Ellair
The hammer slams into the drywall like a hand across a face. Pulling back, the young man aims another blow and this time the tool punches through to the open air between the walls. Switching to the crowbar, he methodically peels the crumbling white sheathing away from the now visible wooden studs. After a few minutes of sweaty work in a white haze of gypsum dust, he finally reveals the metallic prize he seeks. The copper piping and wiring hidden in the bathroom of a very expensive, very empty, house on the edge of Ohio’s Bexley now lay exposed to his sight. A funky metallic beat bleats suddenly from his side. He reaches into his jacket and pulls out is cell phone. The telephone catches on something in his pocket, so he pulls harder until it comes free. A clatter on the ground lets him know something else has tumbled out of his jacket at the same time. He reaches down and picks up the brown bottle and checks the child-guard cap. The label says “Nationwide Children’s Hospital.” It’s empty but heavy in his hand.
“Yeah?” he answers.
“I have a little more work to do here; the boss wants me to clear a few more tables.”
“OK, yes, I said I’d stop by CVS to get the pills. I just have to run a quick errand before I go.”
“How is she doin’ tonight? Has she stopped coughing?
“I know the doctor wants to see her again but I don’t know if I can swing it. We’ll have to see how things go.”
“Yeah, I love you too.”
He places the phone and the bottle in his pocket, and with a sigh reaches down for the battery powered saws-all in his tool bag. He wraps some towels he found around the pipes to quiet their rattling and places the blade against the copper. The carbide blade bites into the soft metal and begins to chew its way through. The work isn’t hard but he begins to sweat and tries to keep an ear and an eye out for anyone coming into the building. The sunlight is fading, but the whites of his eyes are beacons as they dart around looking for intruders. He stops and wipes his hand across his forehead, changes his grip on the power tool and goes back to work.