I have reworked the second part of the story though this part needed a few less changes than the first.
This is the new second section:
It had been another long day at the office for Officer Margaret O’Donnell, or, out in the streets, coping with people who either didn’t know or didn’t care about the law.
People who couldn’t cross the road where there were crossings and lights to protect them, silly girls shoplifting on a dare, and boys who thought they were men and could walk on water.
The one they scraped of the road would never get to grow up, and his mother, well, she was not doing another call on a family to give them bad news for a while. Someone else could deal with the problem next time.
That was her day.
At the end of the day she was glad to be getting home, putting her feet up, and forgetting about everything until the next morning when it would start all over again.
Coming around that last corner, the home stretch she called it, she was directly opposite the corner shop, usually closed at this hour of the night.
It was not. The lights were still on.
She looked at her watch and saw it was ten minutes to midnight, and long past closing time. She looked through the window, but from the other side of the street she could only see three heads and little else.
Damn, she thought, I’m going to have to check it out.
She was aware of the rumors, from her co-residents and also her colleagues down at the station, rumors she hoped were not true.
Jack exchanged a look with the shopkeeper, who in return gave him a slight shrug, as if to say he ‘we tried and failed’.
And she was clearly scared of something, and it looked to him like it might be the shopkeeper. He had no idea what happened before he burst into the shop, but from the tenseness in the air, it had nothing to do with the boy on the floor.
He could see the girl was not strung out on drugs, in fact she did not like a user at all. If she had been, Jack was positive they’d both be on the floor, dead, or almost dead.
Another rumor just coming back to him, this was apparently not the first time the store had been robbed, but by the time the police arrived, the would be robbers were gone.
What was different this time?
Was it the fact the girl was just the unfortunate partner of a boy who was on drugs, and had found herself in a dangerous position, one that couldn’t be dealt with or explained away to the advantage of the shopkeeper.
Beth, his wife, had told him she didn’t like nor trust the shopkeeper and that her friend in the same apartment block had told her he had been seen selling drugs to youths who hung around just before he closed. She had warned him it would not be safe, but he had ignored her.
It was a bit late to tell her she might be right.
He took a half step towards the door, judging the distance and time it would take to open the door and get out.
Too far, and he would be too slow, and that his reward for running would be a bullet in the back.
Perhaps another half step when she wasn’t looking.
The girl had long enough to think about her situation. This was only going to end one of two ways, and she knew it. No amount of ‘thinking’ was going to make it any better, only worse.
The shopkeeper changed his expression to a more placatory one, and said quietly to the girl, “Look, this is not this chap’s problem.” He nodded in the direction of the customer. “I’m sure he’d rather not be here, and you would glad of one less distraction.”
He could see she was wavering. She was not holding the gun so steadily, and the longer this dragged on, the more nervous and unpredictable she would become.
And in the longer game, the customer would sing his praises no matter what happened if he could get him out of the shop alive and well.
This could still be a win-win situation.
The girl looked at Jack. The shopkeeper was right. If he wasn’t here this could be over, one way or another.
But there was another problem. It didn’t look like Simmo was in any shape to get away. In fact this was looking more like a suicide mission.
She waved the gun in his direction. ‘Get out now, before I change my mind.’
As the gun turned to the shopkeeper, Jack wasn’t going to wait to be asked twice and started sidling towards the door.
Officer Margaret O’Donnell crossed the street from the corner instead of remaining on the same side of the street as she did every other night. When she reached the other sidewalk, she was about 20 yards from the nearest window of the store.
As she crossed, she got a better view of the three people in the store, and noticed the woman, or girl, was acting oddly, as if she had something in her hand, and, from time to time looked down beside her.
A yard or two from the window she stopped, took a deep breath, and then moved slowly forward, getting a better view of the scene with each step.
Then she saw the gun in the girl’s hand, and the two men, the shopkeeper and a customer, facing her, hands out where they could be seen.
It was a convenience store robbery in progress.
She reached for her radio, but it wasn’t there. She was off duty. Instead, she withdrew, and called the station on her mobile phone, and reported the robbery. The officer on the end of the phone said a car would be there in five minutes.
In five minutes there could be dead bodies.
She had to do something, and reached into her bag and pulled out a gun. Not her service weapon, but one she carried in case of personal danger.
The policewoman crouched below the window shelf line so the girl wouldn’t see her, and made it to the door before standing up. She was in dark clothes so the chances were the girl would not see her against the dark street backdrop.
Her hand was on the door handle about to push it inwards when she could feel it being yanked hard from the other side, and the momentum and surprise of it caused her to fall forward, losing balance, and crash into the man who was trying to get out.
What the hell…
A second or two later both were on the floor in a tangled mess, her gun hand caught underneath her, and a glance in the direction of the girl with the gun told her the situation had gone from bad to worse.
The girl had swung the gun around and aimed it at her and squeezed the trigger. It was the second of two successive shots, the mini explosions in the small room almost deafening, and definitely disorientating.
Behind her the glass door disintegrated when the bullet hit it.
Neither she or the man beside her had been hit.
She felt a kick in the back and the tickling of glass then broke free as the man she’s run into rolled out of the way.
Quickly on her feet, she saw the girl had gone, those precious few seconds taken to get up off the floor and get out the door was long enough for the girl to disappear, as if into thin air.
She could hear a siren in the distance.
© Charles Heath 2016