Voices out of Time

Daytime. Mid-summer. A woman wearing a red dress and a black top is pushing a trolley full of shopping bags through a department store in the direction of the exit. The expensive watch which she wears on her right wrist reads 11.40. On either side of the trolley walk her young son and daughter. Twins, or maybe not.

Close behind the woman walks a tall man. He is wearing an Armani suit and crocodile skin shoes. Because his body is covered it is difficult to know whether or not he has any tattoos. An overcoat is draped over his right arm. The watch on his left wrist reads 9.40. Despite the low level lighting inside the store he is wearing sunglasses.

Woman wearing a red dress and a black top: “This guy’s following me, I can just sense it. He’s very close. If he gets any closer I’ll scream. He may be after the kids; he could be a pedophile, sick bastard. Or maybe he fancies me, wants to do things to me. If he follows me out I’ll turn around and challenge him, call for help.”

Tall man in Armani suit and crocodile skin shoes: “You’d think she’d move out of the way. Big trolley and two brats filling the aisle. So bloody insensitive. Downright rude. Perhaps I should say something. But it’s probably not worth the effort. She’s behaving as though she owns the place, queen of bloody shopping.”

A CCTV operator in his security office speaks to a colleague: “Look at this one, the guy in the fancy suit – he’s one, I reckon; overcoat over his arm – a dead giveaway. Zoom in, there, there, that’s him. Clock his face – dead anxious. He’s got something there. Bet you a fiver. If he goes out the door without paying we’ll nick him. This job is really worth it at times like this. The thieving bastard.”

Store worker tidying the displays: “Look there, look there, see that woman in the red dress and the black top and her husband just behind her, with the twins, well, maybe twins, not seen them before. Bet they’re foreign, immigrants maybe. Wonder what job he does. Not stacking shelves obviously. I mean look at her handbag. And all that shopping.”

The woman wearing a red dress and a black top exits the store and walks into the car park pushing her trolley. Her two children are still with her but have changed sides, the boy now on her left, the girl on her right. She approaches a large black people carrier with tinted windows. Someone in the driver’s seat gets out and opens the boot. The woman says something but apart from that immediate group, no-one is close enough to hear what she is saying or what language she is speaking. But they all turn their faces towards the store and laugh.

The tall man wearing the Armani suit and crocodile skin shoes approaches a pay point and places the overcoat on the counter. He removes his sunglasses and places them carefully onto the counter next to the overcoat. The shop assistant fumbles for the tag on the coat and scans in the price. The tall man reaches into his suit jacket’s inside pocket and brings out a slimline wallet. He removes a credit card and hands it over to the shop assistant. The shop assistant notices his watch and the time displayed. He says nothing. The tall man punches in his security code on the card reader, hesitates, and then presses the green confirm key.

The CCTV operator hands over a five pound note to his grinning colleague.

The store worker goes for her break. She really needs a smoke. She thinks it looks like rain.

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2 Responses to Voices out of Time

  1. Another good one, Patrick. I always feel like it’s the start of some film noir when I read your stories. You never know just how they’ll turn out and yet all the clues are there.

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