“Trouble in Store” – Short Stories my way: The end of the story

The stage is set for the big finale, though I’m not quite sure how ‘big’ it’s going to be.

Jack is ready to go having been given the green light by the girl with the gun.  It seems collateral damage is not on the agenda for her, though he does admit to himself she is between that proverbial rock and a hard place.

The storekeeper still has a plan, shaky at best, to regain hold of the situation, once the customer is out of the shop.  Nervy or not, he doesn’t think she had the capability to pull the trigger.  He knows what sort of person it takes to do that, and she isn’t one of them.

The policewoman is not sure what to expect but thinks that surprise is on her side, and whatever is going on, she will be able to resolve it.  She has her weapon drawn and ready to use.  She had yet to shoot anyone with it

The girl is at the point of no return, that point where she had nothing left to lose.  Anything she had before was gone, destroyed by the choices she’d made.  No one ever handed out a manual on how you should live your life, or provide a list of people you should avoid, and her father’s prophetic words the last time they men came home with a thud, ‘your life is defined by the choices you make’.

She was not going to jail so it was going to be death or glory.


Now read on:


Jack had heard there were moments where, in a split second, your whole life flashes before your eyes.  He did, and what he saw he didn’t like.

But, then, neither was he very happy about the fact he was nearly out the door before the policewoman on the other side crashed into him and sent him sprawling to the floor.

That was about the same fraction of a second he heard the gun go off, twice, or so he thought and knew he was a dead man, waiting for the bullet.

Another fraction of a second passed as the policewoman tried to unravel the mess they’d become, and at that moment in time felt the tugging at his sleeve and then, as if in slow motion, the sound of the glass door disintegrating behind him.


Annalisa was quite prepared to let the customer go.

She kept one eye on the shopkeeper and one on the customer, sidling towards the door.  The gun was ready to shoot the first person who made a wrong move.

Or so she told herself.  It was getting heavy in her hand, she was shaking almost uncontrollably now, and was getting more and more frightened of the consequences.  She didn’t think, if she aimed, she could hit the side of a barn let alone a person standing ten feet away from her.

The customer reached the door.

At exactly the moment he put his hand 0on the door handle to open the door, another person was pushing the door, trying to make their way in.

With force.

She saw the blue cap, guess it was the police, though she hadn’t heard the siren, but also guessed the shopkeeper might have a silent alarm.


A single shot, instantly in the direction of the door, not necessarily aimed at the two people now collapsing to the floor in a tangled mess, but at the door itself.

The impact, yet another guess, might shatter the glass and make it easier to escape.

After one more job.

The hell with Simmo.  He’d dragged her down the rabbit hole far enough.  Simmo knew her first name, that she had rich parents, but nothing else.  Besides, he was in such bad shape she didn’t think he’d recover.

The shopkeeper had no idea who she was, it was the first time she’d been to his shop, and now, after a few weeks with Simmo, not ever her mother would recognize her.

She swiveled the gun and aimed it at the shopkeeper and pulled the trigger.,  One less dealer in the city was good news not bad.

She saw it hit, not exactly where, but it caused him to twist and start falling to the ground, at the same time letting out a very loud scream.  Panic or anger?

She wasn’t waiting to find out.

A last glance at Simmo, now down for the count, she ran for the door, past the two on the floor, what she could now see was a policewoman with her weapon drawn, but unable to use it.

She crashed through the remainder of the glass shards put into the street and ran.

In the distance she could hear a police car coming, siren blaring.  A warning if there was ever one to run harder, up the road, down an alley, out into another street, then down into the subway.



It took fifteen seconds to disentangle herself from the customer, pushing him away, and getting to her feet, weapon aimed.

At nothing but air.

The girl had gone, and then she had the vague recollection of a shadow passing her as she was facing the other way getting to her feet.

And running out the door.

Five more valuable seconds as her brain processed this piece of information before it issued the command to go out the door and see which way she went.

Another ten seconds to get out the door, and see the police car coming from the same direction she had earlier, screeching to a halt outside the shop, a car door opening, and an officer getting out.

Margaret was guessing at the driver to drive down the road where she guessed the girl had run, managing to yell breathlessly at the office getting out, “She’s gone that way,” and pointing.

The officer relayed the message and closed the door as the car sped off.

“What happened?”

“Shots fired by a woman, more a girl, in the process of a robbery.”

She ran back inside the officer following.

The customer had moved to a corner and was standing, testing his limbs, with an expression that said he was amazed he was still alive.

“Over behind the counter.  She shopkeeper.  He was standing there.”

The policeman rounded the end of the counter and looked down.  “He’s here.  It’s not looking good.”

Margaret didn’t hear him.  She was calling an ambulance.


Next:  Perhaps some editing


© Charles Heath 2016-2020


Searching for locations: New York, again

After arriving latish from Toronto, and perhaps marginally disappointed that while in Toronto, the ice hockey didn’t go our way, we slept in.

Of course, the arrival was not without its own problems. The room we were allocated was on the 22nd floor and was quite smallish. Not a surprise, but we needed space for three, and with the fold-out bed, it was tight but livable.


We needed the internet to watch the Maple Leafs ice hockey game. We’d arrive just in time to stream it to the tv.


There was no internet. It was everywhere else in the hotel except our floor.

First, I went to the front desk and they directed me to call tech support.

Second, we called tech support and they told us that the 22nd-floor router had failed and would get someone to look at it.


It turns out it didn’t seem to be a priority. Maybe no one else on the floor had complained

Third, I went downstairs and discussed the lack of progress with the night duty manager, expressing disappointment with the lack of progress.

I also asked if they could not provide the full service that I would like a room rate reduction or a privilege in its place as compensation.

He said he would check it himself.

Fourth, after no further progress, we called the front desk to advise there was still no internet. This time we were asked if we wanted a room on another floor, where the internet is working. We accepted the offer.

The end result, a slightly larger, less cramped room, and the ability to watch the last third of the Maple Leaf’s game. I can’t remember if we won.

We all went to bed reasonably happy.

After all, we didn’t have to get up early to go up or down to breakfast because it was not included in the room rate, a bone of contention considering the cost.

I’ll be booking with them directly next time, at a somewhat cheaper rate, a thing I find after using a travel wholesaler to book it for me.

As always every morning while Rosemary gets ready, I go out for a walk and check out where we are.

It seems we are practically in the heart of theaterland New York. Walk one way or the other you arrive at 7th Avenue or Broadway.

Walk uptown and you reach 42nd Street and Times Square, little more than a 10-minute leisurely stroll. On the way down Broadway, you pass a number of theatres, some recognizable, some not.

Times Square is still a huge collection of giant television screens advertising everything from confectionary to TV shows on the cable networks.

A short walk along 42nd street takes you to the Avenue of the Americas and tucked away, The Rockefeller center and its winter ice rink.

A few more steps take you to 5th Avenue and the shops like Saks of Fifth Avenue, shops you could one day hope to afford to buy something.

In the opposite direction, over Broadway and crossing 8th Avenue is an entrance to Central Park. The approach is not far from what is called the Upper West Side, home to the rich and powerful.

Walk one way in the park, which we did in the afternoon, takes you towards the gift shop and back along a labyrinth of laneways to 5th Avenue. It was a cold, but pleasant, stroll looking for the rich and famous, but, discovering, they were not foolish enough to venture out into the cold.

Before going back to the room, we looked for somewhere to have dinner and ended up in Cassidy’s Irish pub. There was a dining room down the back and we were one of the first to arrive for dinner service.

The first surprise, our waitress was from New Zealand.

The second, the quality of the food.

I had a dish called Steak Lyonnaise which was, in plain words, a form of mince steak in an elongated patty. It was cooked rare as I like my steak and was perfect. It came with a baked potato.

As an entree, we had shrimp, which in our part of the world are prawns, and hot chicken wings, the sauce is hot and served on the side.

The beer wasn’t bad either. Overall given atmosphere, service, and food, it’s a nine out of ten.

It was an excellent way to end the day.

Searching for locations: Toronto, Canada

The touristy things

On the way to the Hall of Fame, we found an ice skating rink

The Hockey hall of fame

The hockey hall of fame is a very large exhibition which would take a whole day to see everything.  We sat through a very informative history of the game and the origins of the NHL, which for people who do not have hockey as a sport in their country, is saying something.

We follow the Maple Leafs, coincidentally Toronto’s franchise in the NHL, and we have been here before for a game, which they lost.  It didn’t matter, I was staggered by the energy and enthusiasm both the players and the fans put into making it a memorable experience.

I’m hoping for a repeat experience.
St Lawrence Market

We walked 1.8 km to the market and it was closed which is about right for us as we have a knack for turning up and the place is closed, for instance, the Canadian club distillery in Windsor, Canada.

Perhaps tomorrow, before or after the game.
Red Lobster

Ok, we’ve been here before and it was beyond any expectations anyone could have for a restaurant chain.

This was no different from the last.

What more could you want, scallops, shrimp, and a fried lobster tail all drowned in a superb garlic butter sauce.

Add a side of mash potatoes, and a 20oz glass of beer, and there is the definition of heaven on a plate.
St Lawrence Market, again

Snowing, but not heavily

St Lawrence market, everything is very expensive, crab legs $120 per kg, lobster, $50 to $80 per kg.  Oddly everything is quoted per pound, and it’s a good thing that we can convert lbs to kg.

It is, to say the least, a disappointment.
Ice Hockey at the Scotiabank Arena

There was a definite buzz in the air, and heading towards the stadium was both us, and many other Toronto supporters.  Blue Maple Leaf jerseys were in abundance.

We’ve been before, and the last time the Leafs lost.

What else is new?

They have had a very good season so far, and are second on the ladder overall, so it was not without the expectation that they might win this one.


Never have an expectation.

They lost.


It was an incredible game that was none stop action.  It seems to me that you require a lot of skill and skating talent to play this game.  I certainly couldn’t, and freely admit that I’d probably last about five minutes.

The score didn’t reflect the play, but in the end, the Leafs lost 4 – 3, at the end of the three periods.
Souvenir hunting and other stuff

I woke tired and exhausted, not looking forward to walking around Toronto.

Got up early to do the walking.

Oh, did I tell you, this hotel has a laundry and it is the bugbear of staying in major hotels, not being able to wash clothes?

Breakfast is included, but it is the main meal of the day so we feast.  The selection is incredible.

We had to go back to the Maple Leafs franchise shop to exchange a Maple Leafs Jersey, which was no trouble.

So near to the CN tower, we go in to shop for souvenirs, of which there were plenty.  I liked the stuffed mooses and beavers.

We’ve been up the tower so it’s back to the Union Station and a short stay at upstairs, a little bar overlooking the Toronto Pearson train line.

Time for tasting some Canadian ales, the first a Mill Street tank house ale, the second a Mill Street hopped and confused.  Seriously, that’s what they were called.

The drinking mood music was old hits like Queen and a little bit of country and western.

good view of the trains, too.

Union Station

Like all main stations very large very tall ceilings and openings that lead to the tracks of which there are about 24, and an underground system

Much the same as all large railway terminals and probably far busier in times gone by.
Dining, but not necessarily dinner

Not far from the station, and opposite to clock tower belonging to the old city hall was a restaurant called Bannock.

There I had a Moosehead Cracked Canoe lager, a light ale, and a house special since 1929, a chicken pot pie, and it was very good.

Conversations with my cat – 80


This is Chester. We’re back watching the Maple Leafs.

This isn’t going to be pretty. While they have won a few in the last week or so they have also lost, and by large numbers.

I know this is a mistake watching it with Chester, the eternal pessimist, because his initial statement, ‘You know Anderson’s going to let you down again’ even before the match started, is a sign of things to come.

Yep. There it is 21 seconds into the game the other side scores.


He turns his head and gives me the look, “I told you so.”

Double damn.

Nothing worse than a smart-ass cat is there, and especially when he’s right.

The game progresses, and then the internet dies on me, leaving a frozen screen. Bigger fish to fry now, with the internet provider, where we are, the NBN, which is little more than a joke. Try streaming anything…

It’s the same result.

Pixellation, blank screens, endless loading signs and then a seized screen.


For once I don’t mind because I don’t have to listen to the negativity.

Yes, they score again. And again. And yes, once again we’re looking down the barrel of another huge loss.

“Just what is wrong with your goalie,” Chester asks.

“Too many games and not enough faith in the backup, I guess.”

It’s hard to explain wat’s going wrong. I don’t know the ins and outs of the Toronto team because we’re not there. It’s the lot of a supporter whose 12,000 miles away.

Perhaps our year will be next year.

Chester doesn’t think so. Halfway through the third period, he walks off, the internet giving up the ghost. We all know how this end, don’t we, he says.

Yes. We do. The food you hate the most is in your tray.

Revenge doesn’t sound as good as it did in my head a few minutes ago.

Triple Damn.

Conversations with my cat – 69

This is Chester. He’s looking for a cool spot to lie down.

We’ve been having something of a heat wave for the last few days, temperatures soaring above the mid-thirties, and nearly as high as forty degrees centigrade.

So, this morning we watched the ice hockey, and even Chester stayed the distance, not so he could smirk when the Maple Leafs lost, but to channel the idea it was cold somewhere else in the world.

And it worked for a while. Having been to the ice hockey in Toronto in person, I know just how cold it was.

After that, it was a matter of leaving the doors opens to let what breeze there was flow through the house, so Chester first sat by the front door, then the back door, then came out to see me.

Time for the air conditioner.

Yes, we have air conditioning, and yes, the cost of electricity in this country is horrendous.  It was why we had solar panels put in.

I just leave it as long as possible before turning it on.

I thought about toying with him, but he’s sitting on the keyboard looking angry.

Now was the right time.

Conversations with my cat – 67

This is Chester. He’s come down from his bed in our bedroom to see what the commotion is about.

He stops at the top of the stairs down into the lounge room and sees the TV.

I might have guessed, the Maple Leafs are playing, he says.

Yep, I say, gleefully, and they’re winning.

Its not over until you know what…

Way to be a spoilsport. Stop complaining and take a seat. It’s a new day, a new coach, and a new invigoration in the team.

He sits and does that wrap around thing with his tail that indicates irritability.

Don’t get your hopes up, he says. And shouldn’t you be out in the office working on your NaNoWriMo project.

Under control I say. It’s practically writing itself.

Is that a shake of his head?

Conversations with my cat – 66

This is Chester. He’s feeling very smug.

Our focus has mainly centred on getting the NaNoWriMo project done each day, but in between all of this, a number of issues have arisen.

The first, the Maple Leads, and what Chester calls my obsession with ice hockey.

He doesn’t get it. No one plays ice hockey in this country at the same level, and you can never find it mentioned anywhere, so why bother.

Besides he adds in his most cutting tone, they’re a bunch of losers.

So they’ve lost six games in a row and sacked the 50 million dollar coach, but…

To him it’s but nothing. Chester now refuses to watch the ice hockey with me, not until they win again. That 6-1 drubbing two games back was the start of the slide.

I tell him that we’re missing key players and with the newish lineup it takes time to work as a team.


So we move to God Friended Me.

What the hell is going on there. Miles and Cara are stumbling, with doubts seeded, Rakesh has just had his heart torn to shreds and the incoming Bishop is at a crossroads.

So, for a little early advice…

What’s going to happen to Miles and Cara?

Chester: I’m cynical, their the heart of the show, they won’t be forced apart. It’s all about the ratings.

What’s going to happen to Rakesh?

Chester: Draw out the angst for another 14 episodes, we’ll have to keep tuning on to see what happens.

And the bishop and his girlfriend?

Chester: Send them to another parish, they’re just a distraction we don’t need.

I’m inclined to agree with him.

Except about the Maple Leafs. They’re in Pheonix tomorrow, maybe with a new head coach they might pull off a miracle.