He leaves through the front-door, he closes the front-door behind him, he experiences a sudden quease of panic: his keys.

His pockets: it’s okay. His keys: they’re here.

He nips across the road avoiding the murderous glares of two lanes’ worth of traffic: he makes it to the other side. He walks along the pavement managing to simultaneously look down – in case he should step in anything – and up – in case anything should fall on him – and back – in case anyone or anything sneaks or rushes up to him – and to the left – the possibility that cars or other vehicles might come careening off the road – and to the right – germ-ridden and shifty shoppers incessantly into and out of shops – and forwards – forwards: oh no.

Four of them: teenagers. And they’re heading his way.

He’ll fight to the death, he will! if he has to. You just watch him. Try it, he mutters under his breath as the teenagers pass, try it! Go on: make my day, punks.

From somewhere: a police-siren. But he hasn’t done anything!

Another road: it tries its hardest but fails.

The shop. Oh God it’s packed. Maybe he should try again later: any one of these creeps in here could… No: the shop.

Milk and biscuits.

Queue. What a queue! He stands queuing.

Shuffling forwards. He scans the papers, the headlines: that big new Catastrophe hasn’t happened yet. He removes his wallet from his pocket, he removes his money from his wallet. It’s a shame he doesn’t have the correct change, things go much faster that way. All he’s got is a five-pound note. He… Oh no, look at that. The banknote: it’s been torn in half then sellotaped together again. He hadn’t noticed before.

But that’s okay. Isn’t it? There’s a tiny little fragment missing.

Shuffling forwards. Frantically checking: the serial numbers on the two halves seem to match. It should be okay. But… He looks, behind the counter, the woman there, it’ll be up to her: she could make a scene should she so choose, she could refuse to accept the money. But would she? Would she! He’ll insist, he’ll get angry if he has to, he’ll make her, after all she’s legally obliged to! Isn’t she? Well, it’s her shop. So, but, why wouldn’t she want his money? Trouble, that’s why: she could be out to cause him trouble, a lot of them are. But the banknote, he got it from here! (he could say; it could be true, he has no idea.) How dare she refuse his money, she was the one who palmed it off on him!

Milk and biscuits. The woman hands him his change, he pockets the money without looking at it but he keeps his hand wrapped tight around the coins, he exits the shop, back onto the pavement and he stands there edged against the shop-window, he removes his hand from his pocket and furtively – in case of snatchers –  counts his change. It seems to add up. The money: back into his pocket, he keeps his hand hovering protectively over that pocket: in case of snatchers.

Back, the pavement, men are shouting and he pretends not to know they’re shouting at him.

Back, the road: not today you bastard motorists, not today.

Back, filthy evil dogs.

Back, little children accusing him with their eyes. I’m doing all I can! he wants to shout at them but he doesn’t.

Back, managing not to notice the neighbours.

Back, the front-door, keys, his keys! At least he didn’t lose his keys. He gets on the proper side of the front-door and leans back and breathes deeply, smiles defiantly: he made it! He got away with it again.


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