(Monday) Challenge Accepted
Partly because I can’t think of a good original post today, and partly because the chapter I’m trying to write is going downhill faster than a .. well faster than something going downhill really fast, I’ve decided to ransack a fellow blogger’s idea.
Vomit, chip wrappers and the stench of gasoline. Signs of an average night. September 27. 10.02 PM. According to the stacky television in the gas station anyway. They were showing the news. ‘Woman found dead in street 5 miles from home’. Blurry photo from a Christmas party. Nothing out of the ordinary. Harvey turned away. It was time.
He had spotted his prey with a sharp eye perfected through years of practice; female; probably 26; dolled up to the max. His kind of target. The taxi pulled away and she started off on foot. Harvey threw down the cinders of his makeshift cigarette and checked his pockets. All was prepared.
He started off, keeping to the shadows. He didn’t cover his face: it was far too obvious. Instead he made a point of walking with his head up, and his hood down. He fixed his eyes forward.
The woman passed under a streetlamp and he saw her feminine jewels in all their glory. His eyes lit up. He had chosen well. Passing under the same lamp he took the side path through the houses. He knew this area: the path she was on had no exit but the one at the far end. He would be waiting. Shooting a glance through a sparsely inhabited backyard he saw her. She passed under another light and her most valuable assets glowed for precious seconds. He had really chosen well.
He increased his pace. Harvey needed this to go right. Again he felt in his pocket. It was cold against his fingers. He was ready.
He exited the houses and made for the pathway’s only escape route. It would be easier tonight: she hadn’t spotted him once. He smiled at his good fortune. Turning up the path he saw her coming toward him. The time was near. He kept his face forward and impassive. Confidence was key. She practically shined. Approaching her on her left he made his move.
Peering off in the other direction he shifted his weight a shade too close and bumped into her. He immediately righted himself and took her arm. She almost fell but he held her up, reaching for the item, ready to strike. He slid it out and dropped it, pulling on her bag as he feigned losing his balance in the scuffle. As she dipped down to pick up his fallen item he in turn dipped his hand into her bag. She picked it up and handed it to him, cheeks red from the encounter.
“I believe this is yours,” she said, breathless. Harvey crouched to her level, took back the battered Nokia and replaced it in his pocket. He smiled at her. On standing his leg went from under him and he winced. She fell to help him and he wrapped his hand around her neck.
“You must have twisted your ankle. Here, let me help you.” He let her help him stand, fumbling his fingers at her neck as he did so. He fell again and let his free arm replace his other, dropping his hand to his jeans for an instant. He laughed as she stood him up. She laughed too.
“Are you okay now?” He still gripped her with one hand. The other now lifted to her face. He smiled again and stared into her eyes. The final move was in motion. He leaned in close and tightened his grip around her neck. His other hand slid around to cup the side of her face, his fingers momentarily intertwined in her hair. Her eyes widened but he held her still, his piercing gaze keeping her captive. She seemed to get lost in his eyes. He groped with his fingers and broadened his smile.
“I’m sorry. Thank you, ma’am.”
He released her and stepped away. The deed was done. He bowed a little and nodded politely to her. Then he walked away, up the path she had just come down. For a moment he felt her eyes upon his back. He put his hands in his pockets and returned to the gas station without turning back.
When he arrived he slid around the back of the building and took a seat next to a small child. The boy was no more than five. He cradled a stray cat to his chest. He was filthy.
Harvey emptied his pockets. On initial impact he had swiped her phone from her pocket. In dropping the ten year old shell of a Nokia he had been able to take her wallet from her bag. It contained £62.50, two credit cards and a driver’s license. Her name was Beverley. During the fake ‘twisted ankle’ fall he had initiated the more complex scheme. Wrapping his hand around her neck he had been able to unchain the string of pearls from her neck and put them in his pocket too while he recovered. The final maneuver, placing his hand over her face, had allowed him to loosen and remove a ruby earring. He thanked the stars that, though homeless and orphaned, he had been blessed with good looks. He seduced her with his burning eyes and let her drop her guard while he took his final loot.
He turned now to the boy. His name was Jacob.
“Big brother, can we keep her?” He indicated the underweight tabby. Harvey ruffled Jacob’s hair and nodded. He examined with a smile his spoils and turned back to the driver’s license. He held it to the light.
“I’m sorry. Thank you, ma’am. Thank you, Beverley.”
Well! That was a little more successful than I first thought. Kinda chuffed with this. Thankyou again, Bare Knuckle Writer for this challenge. Got a half-decent short story from it. And a blog post. Double win.