I'm not hugely fond of this. It was fun doing it though!
The door was begging, enticing. At the softest touch it swung open and a cacophony of smug, happy voices flew out. They were too content, each man and woman revelling in each other’s company and conversation. What could they have to talk about? What nonsense was passing from lips to ears, filling their brains with cotton wool? A waste of precious time.
There was a warm glow, and the stench of old beer and chip fat was sickening. It was not too late to turn back, to push through the doors and run back to the safety of the car. The knife was there. It needed to be checked, sharpened, checked again. Would it do the job? It was so effortless last time. It slipped in and out of her flesh so quickly, and so cleanly. She barely felt a thing.
But no. It was good to be here. They would all see, all remember. They could tell the detectives who was in the pub that night, at 7.03pm. And besides, a drink or two would help to fortify and calm nerves. Walking up to the bar, the floor was sticky with spilled pints, and each footstep could be heard peeling from the floor in quick succession. The bar was crowded, full of jostling men ordering three pints at a time with a wine spritzer for their girlfriends. There was no room, hands everywhere waving five-pound notes and huge backs and shoulders keeping the other predators away from the watering hole. A space.
A space! Quick! Move into the hole! Under that arm and dodging that elbow, sweaty backs and shoulders all around. Move into the hole, and emerge into the daylight, victorious, two pounds fifty in hand outstretched. But the barmaid was stupid and slow. Not seeing the most important outstretched hand, the one who had defeated all the others, who had arrived here by process of natural selection. She passed out pint after pint, here and there a vodka coke, a shot or two for the more fool-hardy. A shout, a wave, a loud complaint, but still the barmaid rattled on like clockwork, not noticing or caring. Finally, she noticed.
“A pint of Strongbow please”
And off she went. Her little cogs turning, ticking over as she reached for a glass and filled it to the brim, little bubbles flowing over the edge and covering back of her hand in a sugary film as she placed in on the counter.
“Two pound twenty”
The coins were handed over, reluctantly. Just thirty pence change and the ordeal would be over. There would be a quiet corner somewhere where thinking could be done, and planning. The little barmaid trotted over to the till, deposited the two pounds fifty, and closed it again. She looked up, and took the next order from vulture in front of her, waggling his five pound note.
“Excuse me, the change? I need 30p change”
“Yes, yes, gimme a minute will yer?”
She pulled three pints, measured out the wine spritzer, took the five pound note, opened the till, took out 10p change and handed it back to the ogre with the pints.
“Hey! Excuse me! My change?”
“Alright alright, keep yer socks on!”
She spun around, and took the order from the next waiting hand. It wasn’t difficult. All she had to do was take a little notice. She should know who she was dealing with, she should know better. Oh if only. Just a little prick, a little blood and she would understand. But the knife was in the car, waiting for another job, now was not the time. But then there was the gun. It felt cold and smooth, its ridges perfectly place, mathematically designed. It commanded respect, demanded attention.
I pulled myself onto the counter, one knee up and then feet, placed firmly and surely. Standing up above the crowd I could feel the cool air against my face and could breath again. I pulled out the gun and held it in an outstretched hand, pointing towards the barmaid. The gaggle of men went quiet, the women at their tables suddenly hushed. Everyone was watching, waiting.
“I require thirty pence in change”
The barmaid moved toward the till, her eyes beginning to tear and her hands shaking.
Now they understood me. Now they know who I am.