The Present

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 04, 2017

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Submitted: May 04, 2017

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THE PRESENT

 

‘Put your hands above your head where I can see them,’ ordered Sergeant Oliver Hank of the Chicago Police Department. Despite his fifty nine odd years, his hands were as steady as a rock when he held his Glock. He had no intention of shooting the young man standing in front of him holding two thick wads of hundred dollar bills which he had just extracted from the cashier’s counter of the shop they stood in.

  ‘It’s strange, old man,’ said the twenty-six year old blonde in his leather jacket. ‘I was saying the same thing to that guy,’ he said as he cast a taunting glance at the obese owner who stood six paces to his left. Usually Hank’s steel rimmed glasses and white moustache were enough to convince an adversary that the man was serious. However, this, man was simply smiling even at the barrel of a fully loaded gun.

  ‘Hey,’ said the robber as he raised his hands above his head as the owner stared at him with an expression of utter disgust. ‘You got some Diet Coke?’ the shoplifter asked the owner who took two strides towards him merely as a warning.

  ‘No coke? My fridge is better stocked than this closet you call a shop.’ Hank was only too late to realise what the shoplifter had managed to pull off just when all his escape routes had been blocked. Uttering furious obscenities the owner briskly paced towards the young man taunting him, blocking Hank’s line of fire. Even before Hank could ask the owner to stop the twenty-six year old dashed to his right out of Sergeant Hank’s view, down the aisle of toiletries and straight out through the glass door.

  ‘Jesus Christ! What the hell is wrong with you?’ shouted the infuriated Sergeant. ‘You just gave him what he wanted. Oh and you also gave him your money.’ Holstering his gun Hank stormed out of the shop into the cold Christmas night. He had cornered his quarry and only at the last moment had he been baulked of his prey.

  There was light snow and with the languid snowflakes there seemed to descend a queer melancholy over the cop who had just lost his Christmas present.

________

 

‘We three Kings of Orient are,

Bearing gifts we traverse afar...’

The stereo of Mrs. Baker of the third floor was on full volume. Her front door was open as she straightened the mistletoe which she had managed to find after a gruelling task of visiting four shops, her arthritis making every step tougher than the last.

  ‘Merry Christmas, Mrs. Baker,’ said Billy Miller as he passed the sixty two year old widow on his way up the carpeted staircase.

  ‘Oh, Merry Christmas Billy,’ said Mrs. Baker flashing her usual wide smile which seemed to fade with every Christmas. She put an arm around Billy who dexterously tilted his torso to the left denying the lady a view of the two wads of bills in the pockets of his jacket.

  As Billy walked up the stairs to the fourth floor landing, the music slowly faded out and he was greeted by the familiar sight of the decorated Christmas tree of the Wilsons’. He reached the fifth floor taking two steps at a time to find the door open, through which he could see Marie sitting on the couch in the living room with her face buried in a fat book.

  ‘Expecting someone?’ asked Billy in a low voice. Marie dropped her book and dashed to the door and the couple stood speechless and entangled in a warm embrace.

  ‘Where’s your mom?’ asked Billy, dreading an answer which would compel him to leave immediately.

  ‘She’s out partying,’ replied Marie, the glee evident in her eyes. ‘She’ll probably drop in at some friend’s place- drunk as always.’

Marie’s parents had fallen out when she was only six and since then she had been living with her mother who was the polar opposite of the ideal guardian the court had judged her to be. She barely spoke to either of her parents who had long alienated her and were merely the ones who paid for her education and her rent. Her mother sometimes dropped by during Christmas as a gesture which Marie liked to call ‘imposed motherhood’.

  ‘Pulled off the last one,’ whispered Billy.

  ‘Another!’ exclaimed Marie looking up at Billy, her eyes wide with shock. Billy broke eye contact to give her a hint that he was in no mood to discuss his theft.

Half an hour later Billy and Marie sat at the dinner table having finished the last of their Chinese dinner. Billy had given Marie every last detail of the incident, leaving out the fact that he was held at gunpoint.

  ‘So, Virginia huh?’ Marie changed the topic.

  ‘Yeah, I spoke to Uncle Todd yesterday and he’s game enough to let us stay at the ranch.’ Billy had always wanted to run away with Marie, away from the din and bustle of the busy metropolis. Ever since the idea had germinated in his mind, Billy had fantasized every time he closed his eyes. He wanted to buy a farm, he wanted to learn how to manage one and above everything else, he wanted to leave behind his past that he was tethered to as long as he was in the city.

  ‘There’s an awful lot to plan,’ Marie reminded Billy, jolting him back from his reverie.

  ‘We’ll figure this out Marie. I love you.’

  ‘I love you too.’

________

 

Five storeys below on the street Sergeant Oliver Hank got out of his car and locked the door behind him. As he walked up the carpeted stairs he could hear Mrs. Baker’s stereo blare the tunes of Roger Whittaker’s ‘Country Christmas’. Suddenly the old Sergeant on the brink of retirement shed the skin of sadness that had engulfed him for the last few hours.

  In his right hand he carried a box wrapped in yellow paper with a red ribbon. As he walked past the Christmas tree on the fourth floor, he wondered what his daughter Marie would gift him this Christmas.

 

Rohit Roy.

 


© Copyright 2017 Rohit Roy. All rights reserved.

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