12. And I still have no idea what happened.

“We’ll see,” George said. “I wish I knew for sure where the child is.”

“If the client’s as terrified of the husband as she acts, then the nanny and the kid are probably gone already.”

“Perhaps,” George said.  “I’m going to wait until Madam isn’t looking, though, and check.”

“I think we should mind our own business,” Jesse said.

“I think we should establish who it is we’re helping.  There’s something not right here.  Kid first, client next, staff next, husband last.”

“I hate to sound like a tired old leftie but I’d prefer it if the staff came before the client.”

“I hate to sound like a capitalist, especially when I’m not by nature, but I’m trying hard to remember who’s paying us,” George said. “I’m going to use the washroom,” George said, leaving Jesse to wrap and stack the chairs.  He walked around the house, which was very large and set on a steeply sloping lot, and came in through one of the doors that had been propped open.

He avoided being seen. The closer he got to the end of the hall of the west wing of the house the more overpowering the smell of blood became.

He found the nanny in a guest room closet. She had been stabbed in the arm and chest, incompetently bandaged, tied up tight and gagged. She made a strangled and fearful sound. George put his finger to his lips and said, “Do you want the cops to come?” Vehement head shake. “Do you want us to get you out of here?” Equally vehement nod. “I’m sorry, but until I can move you safely I’m not untying you.” Her eyes pleaded with him. Sadly, he shook his head.

The child was in a bassinet pushed up against the wall. From her breathing, George suspected she had been drugged. He scanned the colour of her lips and nails, checking his disgust for the people who would do such a thing, and saw with relief that she was probably fine.

To the terrified nanny, George said, “The child is okay. I’m going to go back and keep working, but we’re not leaving without you,” George said. He was careful not to say ‘both’. 

He heard Jesse yelling, put his finger to his lips again and slipped out of the room, putting his finger over his lips one last time and closing the closet door. He found an exit – the house seemed to have a million doors – and sprinted back to the truck, to find a Chinese man in his late thirties holding a gun on Jesse.

I see Daddy’s home, George thought. The suit the gunman was wearing would have made his cousin Michel exclaim with pleasure.

“Get down,” the man said.

Jesse swiftly complied.  George walked up, hands in the air, and said, ludicrously, “How can I help you, sir?”

“Unload the truck and get lost,” the man said. His eyes flickered to the front door.

“The nanny is tied up and bleeding in a closet, and the child she looks after has been drugged,” George said.

“Jesus,” said Jesse, taking his eyes from the gunman long enough to give George a wide-eyed stare.

“Shut up, both of you,” the man said furiously. “Don’t come back in the house,” he added over his shoulder, “Put everything on the ground and leave.”

“She owes us a thousand dollars,” Jesse called after him, not wanting to sound intimidated, and realizing too late what a bad idea it was. The front door slammed.

“A bit over the top,” George chided softly. “Okay, you unload the truck and I’ll go stand between him and the servants.”

“We’ve got to call the cops,” Jesse said.

“No, I don’t think so. If somebody who’s been stabbed and tied up in a closet doesn’t want the cops called, I’m inclined to go slow until I know more.  I suspect if we call the cops some of the staff are gonna end up in the CIC pokey,” George said, referring to the Immigration lockup.

“Fuck,” Jesse said.  He’d never had a gun drawn on him before and was now feeling rather hollow. “Fuck all rich people.”

“Not all rich people,” George said. “The man with the gun said, ‘Unload the truck!’,” George added. “Back in a minute.”

I’m not moving another fucking thing tonight, thought Jesse. Jam a gun in my face, you asshole, and see how fast I work once the gun is gone.

Thirty seconds later, the lights went out, including the yard lights. Jesse remembered his absent Maglite® and felt frightened and ill-prepared and uneasily relieved that it was George poking the bear, not him. There was more yelling, abruptly cut off, and Jesse developed a powerful urge to close the tailgate and start the truck, so he did.

The lights came back on.

After a moment the front door opened. George came out with the nanny and closed the door, and Jesse saw his brief thumbs-up. The nanny seemed dazed and the front and left arm of her white uniform was covered in blood.

“What about the kid?” Jesse called.

“Unharmed and not mine, so I’m leaving it with the parents. You can tell me I’m an idiot later, but the kid wasn’t bleeding… so. Anyway, there’s some good news. We can keep the contents of the truck for our troubles.”

“How the hell did you manage that?” Jesse said, almost squeaking. “I was expecting gunfire.”

“Gun jammed, as it does, when you spend all that time at the range and never clean the damned thing,” George said.

“Did it really,” Jesse said flatly. 

He and Jesse got the woman settled between them.

The nanny spoke for the first time. “My passport,” she said.

Jesse groaned. “Where is it?” George asked.

“It’s in the safe,” she said.  Her eyes were closed. She was sweating hard and panting.

“This should be fun,” George said.

Jesse never learned what George did to get into the safe, but after about five minutes he came back out to the truck with the passport – and the nanny’s BC Services Card, since the next stop was the hospital.

George gave the woman all the money he had on him, while Jesse scowled. They left her at the Lions Gate Hospital emergency department. The nanny said she intended to stay with a friend while she recovered, and that she would fly home the first chance she got. George and Jesse never saw the nanny, their unusual client, her unconscious child and her angry husband again.

Months later Jesse was still saying, “What the hell happened?” Sometimes he phrased it as, “So that Chinese guy took a shot at you and the gun jammed?” “How did you talk them into giving you the antiques?” “I wonder if we did the right thing, leaving the kid there. Who stabbed the nanny?”

George’s responses wandered around usefulness without ever arriving there, but the one that stuck with Jesse was, “Marriage is a highly variable human pastime.”

They unloaded their haul into George’s apartment. Jesse was late getting the truck back, and the rental guy angrily told him to find another supplier.

George didn’t get as good a price as he wanted for the antiques, mostly due to problems with provenance, but in the end, Jesse’s payday for getting a gun pushed in his face was thirty grand. He never told Raven, but she didn’t complain when he spent a little of it on her at Le Crocodile. He hadn’t even known it existed until he Googled “10 Best Vancouver Restaurants”.

When the food started to arrive, she once again wanted to know the occasion, and Jesse said, with an expression of brotherly indulgence, “Just because you’re you.”

“Bullshit,” Raven said, with quiet suspicion.

“Eat your carpaccio and shut the hell up,” Jesse said, and balance was restored to the universe.