It all began on one of those ordinary grey mornings when it seems the sun will never appear from behind a dull, uniform blanket of grey cloud that wraps up the whole day in some kind of deadening dullness. When he stepped out of the doorway and into the street, Harry could feel, taste, the dampness in the air around him. It was the sort of day when the cold and damp seemed to seep into the bones, making them ache with weariness.
As he walked down the High Street, too early for the shops to be open, he could recall how the Travel Agent’s window used to mock days like this with its pictures of tropical beaches and women in white bikinis (always white bikinis, for some reason). Now, though, the Travel Agent had long since closed – replaced by a charity shop, of course.
The newsagent was the only beacon of light in the street, drawing everyone out on the street – the few that there were around at that time of day – into the bright sanctuary of its open doorway. It was the closest thing to a welcome anyone would get on a day like this.
Harry picked up his usual newspaper, said his usual good mornings to those he usually said good morning to and ignored those who usually did not say good morning to him. He had the usual desultory half-conversation with the newsagent, and then stepped back out into the dull, damp, grey morning.
He had long since given up any hope of anything any different happening on days like this.
When it did, it took him by so much surprise he found that he was unable to do anything, but stand and stare, as the burglar alarm broke the morning’s dull leaden silence.
A car screeched out of nowhere as three men, all carrying filled black bin bags and sawn-off shotguns, poured out of the smashed open door of the bank, shoving Harry out of the way, pointing their guns at him and throwing him to the damp ground, his newspaper scattering and wrapping its flapping pages around their feet.
The three men threw the bags through the open back doors of the van and two of them clambered in after them.
‘Wait!’ the last of the three yelled. He walked slowly back to where Harry was struggling to his knees.
‘Well… well… Well….’ The masked man said, pumping a round into his shotgun. ‘Good morning, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Clarke. Doesn’t look like it is going to be your day, does it?’