Short Story 1 - (6) A first draft

This is basically a first draft of the story, with all manner of errors waiting to be fixed.  There is also lapses in plot continuity, problems with point of view and the narration, but essentially the story is there, waiting for the first edit.

I think it might need more at the end because it seems to just stop, leaving us hanging.

But isn't that typical of a first draft?


Jack was staring down the barrel of a gun.
He had gone down to the corner shop to get a pack of cigarettes.
He had to hustle because he knew the shopkeeper, Alphonse, liked to close at 11:00 pm sharp.  His momentum propelled him through the door, causing the customer warning bell to ring loudly as the door bashed into it, and before the sound had died away, he knew he was in trouble.
It took a second, perhaps three, to sum up the situation:  a young girl, about 16 or 17, scared, looking sideways at a man on the ground, Alphonse, and then Jack.  He recognized the gun, a Luger, German, relic of WW2, perhaps her father’s souvenir, now pointing at him then Alphonse, the back to him.
Another second or two to consider if he could disarm her.  No, the distance was too great.
 “Come in, close the door, and move towards the counter.”
Everything but her hand steady as a rock.  Only tell-tale sign of stress, the bead of perspiration on her brow.  It was 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the shop.
Jack shivered and then did as he was told.  He just put her in the unpredictable category.
 “What’s wrong with your friend?”  Jack thought he'd try the friendly approach first.
 “He’s an addict, looking for a score.  At the end of his tether, my guess, and came to the wrong place.”
Wrong place, Jack thought.  Wrong place for what?
 “Simmo said you sell shit.  You wanna live, ante up.”  She was glaring at Alphonse. 
The language was not her own, she had been to a better class of school, a good girl going through a bad boy phase.
She didn’t look like a user.  The boy on the ground, he did.  Going through the beginnings of withdrawal. 

The shopkeeper told them to get out.  Jerry started ranting waving the gun around, then collapsed.  A race for the gun which spilled out of his hand, she won.
He was getting the stuff when the customer burst into the shop.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, she thought.
Why had she agreed to go with Jerry?  It was her fault, Jerry said and made her feel responsible for his problems, much the same as her parents and everyone else in her life.
Her mother said she would never amount to anything, and here she was, with a drug addict coming apart because she had been cut off from her money, dragged into coming to this shop to pick up his score from his dealer at the end of a gun.
She heard a strange sound come from beside her and looked down.  Simmo was getting worse, like he had a fever, and was moaning.
The shopkeeper saw an opportunity.  “Listen to me, young lady, I have no idea what you are talking about.  Please, put the gun down before someone gets hurt.  Your friend needs medical help and I can call an ambulance."
The girl switched her attention back to him.  “Shut up, let me think.  Shit.”
The storekeeper glanced over at the customer.  He’s been in once or twice, probably lived in the neighborhood, but looked the sort who’d prefer to be anywhere but in his shop.  More so now.
If only he hadn't burst in when he did.  He would have the gun, called the police, and brazened his way out of trouble.  Who would the police believe a pair of addicts or a respectable shopkeeper?
Now he had to deal with the fallout, especially if the girl started talking.
It had been another long day at the office for Officer Margaret O'Donnell, or, out in the streets, coping with people who either didn't know or didn't care about the law.
People who couldn't cross the road where there were crossings and lights to protect them, silly girls shoplifting on a dare, and boys who thought they were men and could walk on water.

The one they scraped of the road would never get to grow up, and his mother, well, she was not doing another call on a family to give them bad news.
That was her day.  For now, she was glad to be getting home, putting her feet up, and forgetting about everything until the next morning when it would start all over again.
Coming around that last corner, the home stretch she called it, she was directly opposite the corner shop, usually closed at this hour of the night.  It was not.  The lights were still on.
She looked at her watch and saw it was ten minutes to midnight, and long past closing time.  She looked through the window but from the other side of the road and could only see three heads and little else.
She came around the corner into the street where she lived and saw the lights were on in the corner store.
She looked at her watch and saw it was ten minutes to midnight.  Long past closing time.  She looked through the window but from the other side of the road and could only see three heads and little else.
Damn, she thought, I'm going to have to check it out.  There were rumors, and she hoped they were not true.
The shopkeeper changed his expression to one more placatory, and said quietly to the girl, ‘Look, this is not this chap’s problem.’  He nodded in the direction of the customer.  ‘I'm sure he'd rather not be here, and you would glad of one less distraction.’
He could see she was wavering, she was not holding the gun so steadily, and the longer this dragged on, the more nervous and unpredictable she would become.
And in the longer game, the customer would sing his praises no matter what happened after he left.  The girl looked at Jack.  The shopkeeper was right.  If he wasn't here this could be over.  But there was another problem.  It didn't look like Jerry was in any shape to get away.  In fact, this was looking more like a suicide mission.
The girl looked at Jack.  The shopkeeper was right.  If he wasn't here this could be over.  But there was another problem.  It didn't look like Jerry was in any shape to get away.  In fact, this was looking more like a suicide mission.
She waved the gun in his direction.  ‘Get out now, before I change my mind.’
As the gun turned to the shopkeeper, Jack wasn't going to wait to be asked twice and started sidling towards the door.
The policewoman crouched below the window shelf line so the girl wouldn’t see her, and made it to the door before straightening.  She was in dark clothes so the chances were the girl would not see her against the dark street backdrop.
Her hand was on the door handle about to push it inwards when she could feel in being yanked hard from the other side, and the momentum and surprise of it caused her to lose balance and crash into the man who was trying to get out.
What the hell…
A second or two later both were on the floor in a tangled mess, her gun hand caught underneath her, and a glance in the direction of the girl with the gun told her the situation had gone from bad to worse.
The girl had swung the gun around and aimed it at her and squeezed the trigger twice.
The two bangs in the small room were almost deafening and definitely disorientating.
Behind her, the glass door disintegrated when the bullet hit it.
Neither she or the man beside her had been hit.
Yet.
She felt a kick in the back and the tickling of glass, then broke free as the man she’s run into rolled out of the way.
Quickly on her feet, she saw the girl had gone, and wasted precious seconds getting up off the floor, then out the door to find she had disappeared.
She could hear a siren in the distance.  They’d find her.
Jack had heard there were moments where, in a split second, your whole life flashes before your eyes.  His did, and what he saw he didn’t like.
But, then, neither was he very happy about the fact he was nearly out the door before the policewoman on the other side crashed into him and sent him sprawling to the floor.
That was about the same fraction of a second he heard the gun go off, twice, or so he thought and knew he was a dead man, waiting for the bullet.
Another fraction of a second passed as the policewoman tried to unravel the mess they’d become, and at that moment in time felt the tugging at his sleeve and then, as if in slow motion, the sound of the glass door disintegrating behind him.
Annalisa was quite prepared to let the customer go.
She kept one eye on the shopkeeper and one on the customer, sidling towards the door.  The gun was ready to shoot the first person who made a wrong move.
Or so she told herself.  It was getting heavy in her hand, she was shaking almost uncontrollably now, and was getting more and more frightened of the consequences.  She didn’t think, if she aimed, she could hit the side of a barn let alone a person standing ten feet away from her.
The customer reached the door.
At exactly the moment he put his hand on the door handle to open the door, another person was pushing the door, trying to make their way in.
With force.
She saw the blue cap, guess it was the police, though she hadn’t heard the siren, but also guessed the shopkeeper might have a silent alarm.
Damn.
One shot, instantly in the direction of the door, not necessarily ailed at the two people now collapsing to the floor in a tangled mess, but at the door itself.
The impact, yet another guess, might shatter the glass and make it easier to escape.
After one more job.
The hell with Jerry.  He’d dragged her down the rabbit hole far enough.  Jerry knew her first name, that she had rich parents, but nothing else.  Besides, he was in such bad shape she didn’t think he’d recover.
The shopkeeper had no idea who she was, it was the first time she’d been to his shop, and now, after a few weeks with Jerry, not ever her mother would recognize her.
She swiveled the gun and aimed it at the shopkeeper and pulled the trigger.,  One less dealer in the city was good news not bad.
She saw it hit, not exactly where, but it caused him to twist and start falling to the ground, at the same time letting out a very loud scream.  Panic or anger?
She wasn’t waiting to find out.
A last glance at Jerry, now down for the count, she ran for the door, past the two on the floor, what she could now see was a policewoman with her weapon drawn, but unable to use it.
She crashed through the remainder of the glass shards put into the street and ran.
In the distance she could hear a police car coming, siren blaring.  A warning if there was ever one to run harder, up the road, down an alley, out into another street, then down into the subway.
Gone.

It took fifteen seconds to disentangle herself from the customer, pushing him away, and getting to her feet, weapon aimed.
At nothing but air.
The girl had gone, and then she had the vague recollection of a shadow passing her as she was facing the other way getting to her feet.
And running out the door.
Five more valuable seconds as her brain processed this piece of information before it issued the command to go out the door and see which way she went.
Another ten seconds to get out the door, and see the police car coming from the same direction she had earlier, screeching to a halt outside the shop, a car door opening, and an officer getting out.
Margaret was guessing at the driver to drive down the road where she guessed the girl had run, managing to yell breathlessly at the office getting out, “She’s gone that way,” and pointing.
The officer relayed the message and closed the door as the car sped off.
 “What happened?”
 “Shots fired by a woman, more a girl, in the process of a robbery.”
She ran back inside the officer following.
The customer had moved to a corner and was standing, testing his limbs, with an expression that said he was amazed he was still alive.
 “Over behind the counter.  She shopkeeper.  He was standing there.”
The policeman rounded the end of the counter and looked down.  “He’s here.  It’s not looking good.”
Margaret didn’t hear him.  She was calling an ambulance.


© Charles Heath 2016-2018

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