The whole endeavour wasn’t very difficult to plan. Not technically anyway. Mr. Bennett, the septuagenarian, lived virtually alone, apart from the cleaning lady who came to his house every morning for laundry and housekeeping. Mr. Bennett had never married and didn’t have any children either. None that George could find out about anyway. For reasons known only to him, Mr. Bennett was always cautious in his demeanour, and at times, a bit jumpy. The tiny timber supply business that he had started when he was in his early twenties, had remained exactly that even after almost fifty years. Tiny. Maybe he didn’t really want to expand operations, or he didn’t know how to. In the seven years and three months that George had worked there as an accountant, he couldn’t really understand why. Neither did he care. The entire time that he had worked in that tiny office, his employer had always been apathetic towards him. The only times he did display any emotion towards George, was if the numbers in the books didn’t add up. At such times, Mr. Bennett, red in his face and visibly quivering, would display a sudden burst of energy, all anger, and make sure that not only George, but the entire office knew what was wrong with his calculations. George always thought that it was a bit excessive and uncalled for. There weren't many such instances; George was a good accountant. However, these heated, one sided interactions did take their toll on his frail nerves, and the quiet, timid accountant subsequently came to loath his meetings with his employer and developed a general feeling of hatred and disgust towards him.
This, however, wasn’t the reason for the aforementioned act of theft. Although it was true that George thoroughly disliked Mr. Bennett, he wasn’t the kind of person to steal from him. Or from anyone for that matter. George Wilkins was the kind of person who, as the saying goes, wouldn't hurt a fly. Definitely not steal from one. He had managed to convince himself that it wasn’t really a matter of choice anymore. He had tried other avenues to get the money. He tried borrowing money from some friends but couldn’t, approached his bank but failed. Even requesting some sort of an advance from his meagre salary didn’t work. Twenty thousand dollars wasn’t a small sum, and the fact that he was an accountant at a small time timber supply company didn’t help either.
His full time job with a small yet steady salary, did mean that he had been able to save some money earlier, despite getting married really young. He had eventually realised that it was a mistake to do so. The hopes, dreams and enthusiasm of the young couple fizzled out soon after his wife, Edith, had a miscarriage within the first year of marriage. A mourning wife, the huge mortgage on the house and the salary of a junior accountant seemed to weigh the thin, shy, yet sprightly young lad down. Happiness, however, did return to the household. In their third year of marriage the young couple had a baby girl, and in the next, a boy. They were ecstatic! Somehow, despite all their financial woes, life seemed better and beautiful. Edith had to be a full time home maker of course, which meant that George was the only one earning. His salary wasn’t enough, but they still managed to have a happy and fulfilling life. He did have some debts; the kids had to be given the best care that they could, but nothing so big that he couldn’t manage. Between his regular salary and some overtime at work, the family did manage to live well and save. It seemed that the worse was indeed behind them.
All that changed when one morning, Molly, their daughter, coughed. Once at first, then again, and then again rather violently, and spit blood.