It was a slow night in the Eight Till Late. There had been a few guys buying cigarettes earlier on, and I’d also had the fun diversion of chasing off a group of spotty fifteen year olds with fake ID’s trying to buy bottles of cider. Since then, my attention had been taken up with deconstructing Henry James’s ‘Turn of the Screw’ for an essay I needed to finish. To make the task more bearable, I’d filched a couple of Mars Bars from the confectionery tray.
At ten o’clock the shop door opened. I looked up, half expecting to see the spotty teenagers wearing false beards, back for another futile cider raid. Instead, it was a middle-aged woman wearing a green tweed coat. As she busied herself at the vegetable rack, I got back to my essay. The next time I looked up, she was standing at the counter right in front of me. It seemed that after filling her basket with cucumber, carrots, potatoes and a leek, she had taken the time to tie a large white handkerchief around her lower face. Then I noticed the gun pointing directly at my chest.
‘Empty the till,’ she said in a very calm voice.
‘Erm…… are you really sure you want to be doing this? It’s been quiet in here tonight and the takings are pretty sparse.’
She was silent for a moment, giving me time to take in her appearance. Her tweed coat was buttoned up to the neck, hiding what she was wearing underneath, but it couldn’t disguise the distinct swell of a matronly bosom. Her hair was dark and swept back in an old fashioned style. I expected to see panic in her eyes, but they remained locked firmly on mine, showing not a hint of fear or uncertainty. This was a woman who’d made up her mind to do something and was seeing the job through.
Eventually she said, ‘Empty the till or I’ll blow your head off.’
I opened the till drawer and removed twenty six pounds. I held them out feeling almost embarrassed.
‘Put it in a bag. And don’t forget the loose change.’
I bundled the money into a carrier bag which she slipped into the pocket of her coat.
‘Now empty your pockets.’
I did as she asked. I had two pounds and thirty six pence. ‘Sorry, I’m a student. Wouldn’t be working here otherwise. But you’re welcome to it anyway.’
She hesitated, then her shoulders slumped beneath the fabric of the coat. ‘Keep it,’ she said. ‘What University are you attending?’
‘Strathclyde. Doing a degree in English Literature.’
‘Working hard, I hope?’
I thought it was a bizarre turn for the conversation to take, but held up my copy of Henry James. ‘Got my head stuck in the books even when I’m working here.’
‘That’s highly commendable. Nothing makes me more angry than children not appreciating the sacrifices their parents make to give them the opportunity of a decent education.’
‘Have you got kids at University yourself?’
She nodded her head. ‘Two daughters at St Andrews. It’s costing me a fortune paying for accommodation. That’s a lot of money for a single parent like me to find. I wouldn’t be doing this otherwise. Robbing you, I mean. I hope you won’t lose your job because of me.’
‘It’s fine,’ I said. ‘Hardly think they’re going to fire me over twenty six quid.’ I nodded at the basket full of vegetables. ‘You want me to bag those for you?’
‘Thank you. I’m making soup. It’s all I can afford to eat most days.’
‘Me too, if I wasn’t working here.’ I showed her my Mars Bar and took a bite.
‘That’s not very nutritional. If you’re going to steal food you should at least eat more fruit and vegetables.’
I laughed. ‘You sound just like my mum.’
That seemed to please her. Her eyes crinkled in that certain way that told me she was smiling beneath the handkerchief. She got even more mumsy when she tutted and pointed to my mouth. ‘You’ve got chocolate smeared, just there.’ She suddenly pulled the handkerchief away from her face, licked a corner of it and leaned across to clean the chocolate from the side of my mouth. When she stood back I got a good look at her face. Although she looked to be in her early fifties, she was extremely attractive. Her lips were red and full and extremely kiss-able.
She took a step back from the counter. The gun which she had lowered when cleaning my face was now pointed firmly at my heart. ‘Sorry, that was stupid of me. Now you’ve seen my face.’
She swiftly cocked the hammer and pulled on the trigger. Instead of flame and gun smoke and instant death, there was only a dry click. Before she could chamber another bullet, I grabbed the cucumber from her carrier bag and smacked her hard across the temple. She dropped silently to the ground.
I raced to the front door and locked it, before pulling down the shutter. I checked the woman’s breathing and found her to be alive. That was good. Then I dragged her into the back room and unbuttoned her coat. The promise of that matronly bosom beneath the tweed was fulfilled in every way I could have dreamed of. The money she’d stolen would be returned to the till. The gun I could sell in one of the rougher pubs in the area. No-one would ever know she’d been here.
After stuffing the handkerchief into her mouth, I began undressing her. I’d always had a thing about older women and this one was a real prize. Much tastier than the last few I’d raped and strangled. When I’d had my fun, her body would be dumped in a nearby skip.
I stroked the unconscious woman’s cheek and said, ‘Fruit and veg you say? Let’s check out those melons.’
Bio: I'm a writer of sorts. If I'm not writing, I'm playing music. Can't manage do both at the same time for some reason. I'm the author of four Kindle novels. Dreaming in the Snakepark, Carapace, The Garden of Remembrance, and 1-2-3-4. Also got a collection of weirdy short stories going up in a few weeks time. Play in a few bands - one of which is Hazey Jane II where I'm joined by crime and horror writer Phil Rickman. What else? I'm from Glasgow and currently in deep despair over the demise of my football team. Well, the despair isn't that deep. It's the most exciting thing to have happened to us this season.