[Novella – 17, 500 words approx]
The day John Russell became a Have a Go Hero, for accidentally foiling an armed bank robbery, was the day his life changed forever, and all he’d wanted was a nice cup of tea.
‘Can I have some money too, Daddy?’ Beth said.
John smiled down at her. ‘I suppose so. How much do you want?’
‘A million pounds.’
John was too stunned to reply for a moment. He looked down at Beth who seemed to be waiting patiently for her more than reasonable request to be granted. ‘What do you want with a millio…. What the f…!’
Suddenly, the doors burst open and two armed men rushed into the bank, both wearing ski masks, ex-army style clothing and leather gloves.
One – armed with a sawn-off shotgun – herded the stunned customers, including Debbie and Stan, up against the wall.
The other, armed with an automatic pistol, forced a large bag under the counter screen. ‘Fill it! Quick! My mate – Mr Blue – over there has a very nervous trigger finger. If you don’t want to spend the rest of the day wiping your customers off the walls of this nice little bank of yours, you’ll hurry up. And keep well away from that alarm button under the counter.’ He looked across at the other three members of staff cowering behind the counter. ‘The rest of you come out here and join your customers over by the wall where Mr Blue can look after you properly.’
The man with the shotgun turned to face the one at the counter. ‘Hang on! I’m Mr Green this time. We agreed – remember?’
‘What? Oh, right… whatever you say Chri… Mr Bl… Mr Green.’
Once the three members of staff had hurried to join the customers standing against the wall, Mr Green turned back and stood where all the staff and customers could see him clearly. ‘Hey, everyone! Just to make it clear, so that no-one is confused. I’m Mr Gree… Mr Blue, and To… he is Mr Green. Everyone understand?’ He looked around carefully, his finger stroking the trigger of his shotgun. ‘Well, do you?’
The assembled customers and staff stared back at him.
‘What? Oh, hang on…. No. I’m Mr Green.’ He pointed across towards his accomplice with his shotgun. ‘He is Mr….’
‘Hey Chris! Er… Mr Green, careful where you are pointing that!’
‘Sorry To… Mr Blue.’ He turned back to face the bewildered group. ‘Right, for the last time… I’m Mr Green and Tom…. He is Mr Blue. Right?’
There was a general muttering of assent from the assembled customers and staff.
‘Right, that’s that sorted. Let’s get on with it, Mr Bl… Green… Blue,’ said the bank robber at the counter.
‘Green!’ Mr Green yelled without turning to look at him.
‘Mr Green, right.’
‘Right! All of you – back against the wall and keep still. Put your hands on your heads!’ Mr Green pointed the shotgun at each of the adults in the queue until they complied.
Beth was too bewildered to move; looking from the bank robber to John and back again as tears formed in her eyes and her lips trembled.
‘Move little girl. Move!’ Mr Green yelled, pointing his shotgun at Beth, then trying to push her back with its barrel.
Beth stood still and burst into tears.
There was sudden anger on John’s face. He stepped forward. Debbie tried to pull him back, but John shrugged her off.
He stood a few inches from the gunman. ‘Don’t point that thing at my daughter you pathetic bastard!’ He grabbed the gun barrel and twisted it away from Beth and up towards the ceiling.
Mr Green was too stunned to react at first. But the sudden jerk of his gun made him pull the trigger. The gun fired up at the ceiling.
John and Mr Green were showered with shredded ceiling tiles, falling around them like feathers. Mr Green stood with his mouth as wide-open as the ski-mask would allow, staring up at the massive hole his gun had blown in the ceiling while snow flakes of former ceiling slowly fell down over and around him.
John stepped forward, forcing the gun butt back into Mr Green’s stomach with some force. The villain doubled over in pain as John struggled with him. John tightened his grip on the gun, trying to twist it out of the hands of the villain. He jerked it upwards, making the gun butt hit Mr Green in the face.
The bank robber groaned and crumpled to the floor. He let go of the gun, letting it fall to the floor. The shotgun slid across the polished tiles and underneath a table.
Over by the counter, Mr Blue saw his accomplice was down. He glanced at the teller, who dropped the half-filled bag on the floor on her side of the counter and pressed the alarm. He tried to point his pistol at the teller, but his panic made the gun wave around so he couldn’t aim it properly. The teller pressed a button and a steel shutter slammed down over the front of the counter.
Mr Blue turned and pointed his gun at John, in his nervousness he fumbled with his gun. The pistol was waving around erratically as he tried to pull the trigger, but the safety catch was still on. Mr Blue frantically tried to release the safety catch, but pressed the wrong switch, accidentally ejecting the magazine instead.
The magazine fell out of the gun and dropped onto his foot, causing the bullets to eject and scatter all over the floor.
Mr Blue looked around in panic before dropping to his knees and scrabbling around – trying to put the bullets back into the magazine – but his gloved hands made it impossible to pick up the bullets from the highly-polished floor. He looked up as he heard distant sirens and decided to run.
John turned – still stunned and covered in shredded roof tiles – to see Mr Blue bearing down on him. The bank robber swung his pistol at John’s head as he tried to get past, catching John on the temple. Mr Blue glanced back as he got to the door and saw John slowly sinking to the floor, unconscious.
The customers and staff in the bank stood against the wall with their hands half in the air, not knowing what to do as they stared at the slowly-closing bank door. Debbie was on her knees comforting Beth and Stan. The old woman was feebly dragging her unwilling son towards the stunned Mr Green, still lying on the floor and moaning softly, less than a foot from the unconscious John.
Mr Green was slowly recovering. He blinked twice then shook his head, but all he could see was the face of old woman gradually coming into focus as she leant over him.
‘Mother?’ he said with a tentative smile behind the ski mask.
The old woman’s face screwed up in anger. ‘You b… bas…! You basta….you… you…!’ She was still supported on one side by her son and the walking stick on the other, as she drew her leg back and delivered a powerful kick to the ribs of the prostrate Mr Green.
Mr Green writhed across the floor, trying to escape the old woman’s kicking. ‘Ow! Stop. Get her off me!’
The customers and staff, still against the wall with their hands up, began to smile and relax, slowly lowering their hands, as they watched the old woman.
Mr Green was scampering around the floor on all fours, trying to hide behind tables, chairs, plants and anything else he could find. The old woman, still supported on her son’s arm, tottered after him, trying to hit him with her walking stick.
‘Keep still!’ she yelled at him. ‘I’m going to give you the damn good thrashing you so obviously deserve… you… you… you…!’
‘Help! Get her off me! Stoppit. Ow, Christ! No. Help! Help!’ Mr Green yelled back.
Have a Go: A novella – by David Hadley: