I was hoping he had a gun, a nice 6 shot revolver. The thing about guns was in close range they weren’t all that effective. At 20 feet someone with a knife could get up close and incapacitate a gunman before they took the weapon out of their holster, took the safety off, cocked it and could aim. Things weren’t so good if it was already cocked and shoved in a pocket though.
A six shot? Well, if you could grab the hand and pull the trigger at the floor a few times all he had was an awkwardly shaped piece of metal.
It was worse than a gun. He pulled out a kitchen knife and started waving it around at the till. I didn’t think the staff were under any particular threat, He’d have to leap over the counter to get to them. Still, the shop was full of customers.
“Open the till, give me all the money!”
I figured they have policies for things like this; they don’t waste any time handing over everything they have. One day of earnings will never reach the level of a personal injury claim. A shaken looking man typed a code in and took out a handful of notes.
“Is this all you got? It’s not even one K!”
“Sir, please stay calm.” That was no way to calm someone down… “Most of our payments are digital. Any money we put in the till goes down a chute into a vault in the basement.”
He was getting more desperate, he wasn’t in a good position here. I could see his eyes dart around in panic.
I looked around. Me and Beth were standing half way to the door which brought us closest to him. I should have stayed sat down and shut-up. The good news was he had his back to us most of the time, only turning when he was checking the window.
I hoped he wouldn’t start taking hostages.
A big guy stood up, he had that high-school footballer figure like he spent a lot of time with weights – a blond girl grabbed onto his to try pull him back down. Listen to your girlfriend you idiot. He didn’t.
“Sit the fuck back down!” The druggie was almost screaming. Just what we need, to threaten him some more. He backed off from the guy and turned to face me and Beth. Shit.
“Hey little girl, come here.” I shoved Beth behind me so he wouldn’t take her. He lunged out and grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards him, reaching out with his knife waving it erratically.
I glared at the guy who’d stood up. He’d better not make a move, I didn’t want to get knifed because he wanted to play hero. He looked me right in the eyes, then back to the druggie.
He lunged forward.
Whatever he was hoping to achieve it didn’t work. I watched as the druggie swung his knife around to meet the guy, wincing as it plunged into his side. It didn’t take long for him to hit the floor.
I had to do something now or this idiot was going to get killed if he wasn’t already, and who knows what this guy would do if that happened – he’d have no going back, nothing to lose. I couldn’t risk any harm coming to Beth.
As the knife came swinging back in my direction, flicking specs of blood onto me I carried out the plan that had formulated in my mind in the second it had taken for things to go from bad to worse. I grabbed the cup of steaming coffee from the table to my right and swing it round into the guy’s face, cup and all. Nothing like a bit of shock to relax a grip. I grabbed his hand holding the knife and pulled it towards me and up, arm outstretched. I was only about 5 foot tall, so it was easy to slip my shoulder under his elbow joint.
I jumped up and pulled down as hard as I could.
There was a sickening crack as the arm gave way – bending at an unnatural angle. I grabbed the knife in my right hand. I’d seen people high on drugs shrug away a broken arm like it was nothing and still fight like a demon – I had to remain in control so I turned still holding onto his wrist and shoved the blade point first into his armpit, just so it would prick him.
Then I noticed he was screaming. He still had the instinct to get on his tip-toes though, doing a little dance to try get his body away from the knife poking him under the arm. He couldn’t take a swing at me without impaling himself.
I let out a low breath. What now?
“Shut up or I’ll make you shut up.” I said to the guy, I wanted some space to think. “Anyone here know any first aid? This idiot could do with some help.” I nodded to the guy on the floor who was whimpering and clutching at his side. It didn’t look too bad to me, too low to hit the lung. He’d be showing his next girlfriend the scar.
“Has anyone called the police yet?”
* * *
It took a few minutes for the store security to barge in with their guns drawn and shout for me to drop my weapon. I guess it didn’t look too good, one body on the floor and me with a knife to another who had begun to sob. I figured he wasn’t going to be much more of a threat and gently lowered the knife so he could stand on the flats of his feet and let go of his arm. He almost fell over to get away from me.
I turned to the security, holding the knife out in-between two fingers and let if fall to the ground.
I’d been expecting it when the tackle came but that always makes it worse, ignorance and surprise can be as good anaesthetic at times. Two burly guards kitted out in some basic body armour slammed into me and carried me to the floor. One of them lay on top while the other yanked my arms together behind my back and slapped on a set of handcuffs. A couple of paramedics followed and were kneeling by the two casualties.
It took them a good ten minutes to interview half the shop before they took the handcuffs off. Beth was shouting at them the whole time, threatening all kind of legal action. She only shut up when they threatened her with a night in the cells for obstruction.
I rubbed my wrists and flexed my shoulder joints where they had been held in an unnatural position for so long. My ribs still hurt from their tackle but I was seemed ok.
“Alexis, you’re bleeding! let me look at your hand.” I looked down, I must have sliced my fingers when I’d grabbed the knife. As soon as I saw it the cuts started to sting. I held my hand out so she could take a look at it. It was probably better than it looked. I hadn’t even noticed it and with my hands in cuffs behind my back it had time to bleed for a bit and look all dramatic.
“It’s fine, I didn’t even notice.” She wasn’t listening, going to getting one of the paramedics who’d loaded the two others onto stretchers and handed them over to two people with “Ambulance” written on their jackets.
He took a look at my hand, turning it gently in his.
“It doesn’t look too deep, probably won’t even need stitches. I’ll put some glue on anyway. It’ll hold the skin together while it heals. You are very lucky.” He took out a little sachet out of his first aid kit and smeared it over my fingers and wrapped them in neat bandages.
The police came to take my statement. I gave them all the detail I could remember and they returned with a lecture on how I should have waited for the professionals.
Beth pointed out that he was in the process of stabbing someone to death and there were no professionals to hand and they started to look a bit annoyed with her again.
By this time my adrenaline had worn off and it left me shaking pretty violently. I always get the shakes after fights. Beth asked if we could leave, they said we could if we’d given them our contact details. Of course I’d given them the fake address. When they agreed to let us go Beth grabbed my good hand nearly making me jump out of my skin.
“Sorry!” She didn’t let go though.
There was quite a crowd by the time by we left the store. A few police were giving statements to some reporter who I guessed was shopping with his family because he had a very annoyed looking woman with him.
I must have looked a bit of a state, my hand bandaged and a spray of blood on my jumper, because he almost leaped on the chance for an interview with “Someone right in the thick of it”. Beth pushed him away with a threatening “Fuck off”.
I let her lead me through the crowd of people. She took me down and out of the mall through a smaller back entrance out into the street. Opposite was a small park.
“I used to come here with my dad” she said. “It’s quiet, I don’t think anyone will bother us.”
It was a crisp autumn day, the temperature must have been barely above freezing and my coat had been stolen at school. We found a bench by one of the smaller paths. I could feel the energy I’d had earlier almost drop out of me as I collapsed onto the bench.
I started shivering.