Chuck Wendig returned to giving us prompts this week, and asked us to include on of a list of sentences. Bonus if we included two. Of course I’ve included two, in fact they are repeated (and they’re pretty obvious). I’ve probably cheated, though, as well as gone over the word count – it’s 1168 today.
This is the second part of my Friday the 13th celebration. If you missed the first part of this story, you need to go and read it here. Now read on…
Unlucky for Some, part 2
I was still on my conference call, concentrating on the different voices with closed eyes, when the front door crashed open. I swung round to wave at Louise, my assistant, to handle it, but stopped as I saw her wide eyes and the cup swinging by its handle from her finger. Brown liquid ran down her skirt and pooled on the floor, unnoticed.
“Sixty-Four comes asking for bread.” A muffled voice behind me yelled, if a muffled sound can be yelled. I swung around the other way, the headset yanking off my ears as I forgot my call.
“The shooter says goodbye to his love.” A second person; both with balaclavas over their heads, eyes staring at us down the barrels of two shotguns.
I was so shocked I just stared back. They waved their guns, one at me and the other at Louise, wanting us to move to the back. I stayed seated, God knows why.
“Who are you and what do you want? And what language are you speaking?”
“Sixty-Four comes asking for bread,” the first one repeated.
“Are you having a laugh? If so, it’s not funny. And put that gun down, you might hurt someone.”
I think my reaction caught them unawares. In the silence I could hear my colleague on the conference call saying “Ginny? Ginny? Is everything all right there?” It sparked an idea.
“Look,” I said. “I don’t know why you’ve burst in here with shotguns pointed at us, and trying to push us to the back of the office, but we’re just accountants. There’s no money here. Nothing. We don’t have cash. Go. Just go, will you?”
“The shooter says goodbye to his love,” the second one repeated.
“You’ve already said that. Are those the only two phrases you know?” I turned to Louise, amazed I could turn my back on these masked marauders.
“Louise, please would you make these gentlemen a nice cup of tea – and for ourselves, too.”
Louise moved back into the kitchen, eliciting angry yabbering from the intruders. I turned back to them, still swivelling on my chair. “She’s making tea,” I explained, in the sort of colonial voice that would repeat louder if not understood. “Why don’t you sit down?” I emphasised ‘sit’ and ‘down’, and pointed at our two reception chairs.
Amazingly, they sat. Shades of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they get to Bolivia. I wondered who had translated their phrases for them. Louise continued to clatter in the kitchen; she had picked up on the open call and my situation brief. Now she was time-wasting, as I thought she might, seeing as how the coffee was happily brewed. Shame. It would be disgusting once we could use it.
“Now gentlemen, how can I help? As you see, we are just a small office. No cash, but I have very good contacts at various tax havens, should you wish to discuss sheltering your wealth abroad. Russia, perhaps?”
They looked as blank as one could look in a balaclava.
The first one shifted uncomfortably in his seat and the other one nudged him. They still had their shotguns in hand, but I guessed they had little inclination to use them. This heist was not following the plan. They’d probably been hired, and given no back-up.
Louise brought the tea out on a tray. Genius. Mugs you can use one-handed. She offered them cups and saucers, and simply waited for them to take one. They did. Then she reached for the biscuit tin, slowly, giving them every chance to see what she was doing. The eyes followed her, and dwelled on the contents of the biscuit tin she offered them.
It’s a dilemma, isn’t it? Saucer held in one hand, the gun still in the other, and you are offered a plain chocolate digestive biscuit. They fell for it.
I started talking conversationally about my holiday in Romania and what a nice country it was. I’d visited Bulgaria some twenty years ago, and I hoped there were some similarities. Louise sat at her own desk, and kept her hands out in the open where they could see them.
I was rambling about a trip I’d taken up a windmill when a police car went quietly past. A pedestrian opposite turned to watch it. Her companion pointed up the road where it had come from. Good: all my training had paid off. Police car in position either side, but out of view. Let’s hope a casual entrance would work too.
Louise got up slowly and handed the biscuits around again, smiling and nodding at them as a newcomer appeared at the door.
Our guests whirled around, spilling tea (but not dropping biscuits), although one reached for his gun. Louise got there first, and I reached the second person in time to stop him remembering his gun too.
“Now, gentlemen, no need to get upset. Finish your biscuits, if you can.” It wasn’t easy stuffing them through the slit in the balaclava with one hand behind their backs, but they both managed it. The game was up and both appeared resigned to their failure. The newcomer signalled outside, and four uniformed officers, one carrying a taser, entered the office and took charge of our guests.
“Thank you,” I said, watching as they were frogmarched to the waiting police vehicles. “That was quick work on someone’s part.”
“It was quick thinking on your part, Ms. Barclay,” said the plain-clothes officer. “DSI Barnes passed on your message and we jumped to it.”
“Yes, lucky it was Alan Barnes on that call today. He was standing in for Carlisle, wasn’t he? I think the message would have taken much longer to get to you otherwise.”
“A long time indeed. Why did they try to rob you?”
“It’s always a possibility, although we try to make this place look as little like a bank as possible. But with my name, and being number 121, and the bank at 112 High Street, it wouldn’t take much for someone to make a mistake.”
“So, all in all, two Romanians, with little grasp of English, seeing Barclay Accountancy and Security Services on the fascia, well… it’s an easy mistake.”
“Yes,” I sighed. “Just unlucky, really. Treat them kindly, would you? I bet they’re being used.”
“Oh, I expect we’ll find they’re part of a chain we’ve been investigating. My lucky day, getting these two. Our Romanian translator will soon get all their details from them.”
I waved him off, and turned to Louise. “You’re a genius,” I said.
“Just my luck, wearing my cream skirt today,” she replied, gesturing at the coffee stains down the front.
“Get a new one. We’ll write it down as collateral damage.”
I tidied my desk, replacing all the things I’d knocked over, and righting the calendar. Friday the 13th. Again. Unlucky for some, I supposed. But not for me. Not so far…
(c) J M Pett 2015