Chapter 7

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Powell’s mind raced but he casually leaned against the store room wall as if he had everything under control, a bunched fist the only sign he was agitated.

Miss Day pressed up against the far wall, eyes large and pupils dilated. For a moment, Miss Day stirred Powell’s emotions.

“There’s nothing here he’d want,” she observed.

"Maybe he just wants the attention," Powell mumbled.

The pug whimpered and, distracted, Powell frowned. The old woman had scooped up the cowering animal and placed it, lovingly, in the basket 'or was that casket,' he wondered. A cynical smile tweaked his lips.

“Do something about that,” Powell growled, pointing to the dog struggling to lick its wound.

The lady’s mouth set stubbornly. As if mesmerised, she watched the blood spread through the basket weave in a slow red tide. It dripped in tiny bloody drops on to her loose fitting summer print dress. Powell stared at it, remembering Africa. 

He shut his dry, gritty eyes. Blood, blood, blood…

When he opened them, each pupil fired angrily. 'How could the gun man have possibly beat him to the job? What was his motive?

Surely not the same as his boss' mission.

He drew himself up tall, eyes blazing. “Put that whinging bloody animal out of its misery. If you don’t, I will.”

“You will not,” came the lady’s spirited reply.

Everyone’s eyes grew huge as Powell snatched the yelping dog from the basket and put his hands around its neck. 

“Leave my Napoleon alone,” the old lady ordered. Her fury gave her usually thin voice an irrefutable authority that shocked everyone.

Powell dropped the dog to the floor. It yelped. Powell cast around for an escape, feeling trapped.

“Why the hell are we in here?” 

He banged on the store room door.

“You lot shut up,” the gunman yelled back. The clatter of coins filled the enclosed room. Far away, Powell’s heightened senses heard sirens.

Miss Day began earnestly praying…loudly…

“Lord Jesus, please accept me into your arms.”

“For Christ’s sake, shut up,” Powell shouted. 

The babble was becoming too much. He had listened to prayers like that in Africa. In fact, in the early days he prayed just like them but stopped when he found they did not work. A fresh surge of anger flowed through him. He wiped his arm over his eyes. 

Everyone had become a shadowed figure, distorted by the dim light. All that is, except Miss Day who seemed to catch a thin stream of light coming through the window. The man in the fluorescent jacket said, “Now look here, this lady’s…”

The sirens stopped. A deafening commotion followed. 

“Hold your hands where we can see them!”

Shuffling.

A key scraping against metal filled the store room, then came a shock of light as day filled the shadows.

Powell strode out. Police were dragging their aggressor away.  When the young man looked back. A burst of sunlight caught his face. A frisson of recognition pulsed through Powell.

Comments

You can really feel the tension building in there.Great characterisation, Suraya.
Thank you Linda. Much appreciated.