It ain’t easy being …
A smell of burnt toast pervaded the kitchen; random muzak streamed out of the digital radio.
‘Dad, why have you got a suit on?’
‘I have to go to work today.’
‘But you said you’d be working from home today,’ moaned Madeline.
‘I know, but I’ve got a meeting this morning. I’ll leave at lunchtime and be back home this afternoon.’
‘You’d better be! I’m fed up with you never turning up at my concerts … or anything!’
‘Leave your dad alone, Maddy,’ Jeanette added.
‘It’s not fair Mum, you always come, but he’s never been to anything yet. Always having to work late.’
‘I came to your carol concert last Christmas.’
‘And you were late! You only got there twenty minutes before the end.’
‘I know, but we had the Christmas accounts to sort out.’
‘Now, now you two,’ Jeanette tried to referee.
‘Someone has to earn a crust! Where do you think the money for your flute lessons comes from? And the horse riding lessons.’
‘Dad, get over it!’
‘Do you want a lift to school, Maddy?’
‘Please Dad, you’re a star.’
Maddy safely dropped off at school, Michael was in work early enough to prepare for his meeting. He was chairing it today as Paul was on holiday in Scotland.
‘No more than two hours, should be a piece of cake and home this afternoon,’ he thought.
One o’clock and the meeting had dragged on for two and a half hours now. Three more agenda items to cover.
‘Plenty of time, concert starts at five,’ he rationalised.
He managed to draw the meeting to a close just before two o’clock, nearly three and a half hours. Michael was just putting his ‘out of office’ on as Joseph, his boss came up to him.
‘How was the meeting? Thanks for chairing while Paul is away.’
‘Dragged on a bit, but got it wrapped up eventually.’
‘Well done, the Strategy Group can really go on at times.’
‘Thanks, I’m just on my way out.’
‘Have you got a minute? I just need to go over the New Projects report with you.’
‘Err, I need to be away soon, my daughter’s school concert this afternoon. Can it wait until Monday?’
‘It won’t take more than five minutes.’
Half an hour later Michael escaped from Joseph’s office. Dropping the file on his desk, he headed straight for the door. As he waited for the lift he realised he needed to get some cash out. There was always drinks and cakes after the concert and they didn’t accept cards.
‘There’s a cash machine at the bank round the corner,’ he remembered.
Fortunately there wasn’t a queue at the machine. He squinted at the screen in the bright sunlight.
This machine is out of order, other machines are located inside.
‘Damn, there’ll be a queue inside.’
It was busy inside the bank, Friday afternoon people sorting out their weekend finances. There was a queue, but only two people in front of him. Impatiently shuffling from foot to foot he remembered he needed the toilet. Should have gone before he left work.
‘Never mind, be home in half an hour.’
Finally it was his turn. He put his card in the machine and waited to punch in his PIN. There was a commotion behind him, but he was intent on getting his cash out.
‘Everyone on the floor! Then no one will get hurt!’ shouted the gunman.
Michael spun round to see two men, both dressed in black wearing bright green ski masks. One had a hand gun, the other a rifle. The banking lobby fell silent, customers and staff stared in disbelief.
‘Get down! Get Down!’ the guy with the rifle shouted waving the weapon in an arc.
‘Shit, this is all I need.’
There was an immediate rustling and chorus of disapproval. Everyone was on the floor.
‘Face down, face down! All of you,’ the rifle man shouted.
The other gunman threatened the cashier as the alarm sounded, panicking the robbers. They looked at each other, unsure what to do.
‘Give me the money,’ screamed rifle man.
The cashier ducked down behind the counter. The guy with the pistol aimed it at the ceiling and fired twice. Fear spread through the prone customers like a tidal wave. Michael could feel his heart pounding as though it was in his throat. Laying down was not helping his desperate need for the toilet.
‘Stay down, stay down! Nobody move or you’re dead!’
‘Go, go, go, let’s get out of here.’
Two more shots rang out cracking into the ceiling as both gunmen made for the door empty handed. Michael felt his bladder emptying, this was not going to be pretty! He laid perfectly still as the warm moisture filtered down his trousers. The alarm continued screeching, no one dare move. Eventually the cashier appeared above the counter and managed to cut the alarm.
‘Maddy and Jeanette are never going to believe this.’
‘OK, everyone it’s safe to get up. The Police will be here in a few minutes.’ The cashier advised.
Michael stood up and pulled out his mobile phone to text Jeanette.
‘running late, held up in bank robbery. love mick.’
Thirty seconds later his phone trilled.
‘WTF??? thats your worst excuse yet! jenx’
‘no excuse, wet myself, robbers fired guns. love mick.’