Windblown Saviour - Chapter 6 - A Reminder of the Present

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Chapter 6 – A Reminder of the Present

"Shit."

The man at the door of the shop swore, breaking into Joe's whispered tale of the past and startling them both with the vehement expletive. As they followed his gaze, it soon became apparent the man's agitation was due to a vehicle pulling alongside one of the new pumps that stood sentinel-like outside.

"It's Mr Carlsson," said Marie panic welling up inside her anew. "He always seems to stop in for gas just after Angus turns up with the wages."

"You," said the man by the door gesturing at her with his gun, "get rid of him."

"Just go out, serve him and tell him you'll put it on his tab," said Joe quietly. "Act natural, take your time and have a quick chat with him, do everything you'd normally do."

"For once, the old man is speaking sense, get rid of him quietly. If you don't, I'll shoot grandpa here, do I make myself clear?"

Marie gulped and scuttled over to the door, Joe giving her arm a quick reassuring squeeze on as she moved away.

The storm blasted in through the door momentarily, rattling the blinds and frantically tinkling the door bell as the gunman opened it to let her out. She moved over to the car, chatted briefly with the driver and filled the tank of the vehicle. There was utter silence inside as she did this, Joe shifting a couple of times, the robber watching him intently as the old man tried to get comfortable.

"Sit still old man, you squirm more than a child."

"There aren't many three year olds who get shot by idiots," retorted Joe, a slight smile on his face.

"Don't push me old man, I can still shoot you."

"You wouldn't be the first," responded Joe mildly. "Here she comes," he said blocking any further retort.

Marie had handed the keys back to the driver of the car and waved at Carlsson as he drove away. Once he was out of sight she moved swiftly back to the store.

As she came through the door, the gunman slammed it behind her, locking it quickly and then grabbed her roughly by the throat.

"What did you say to him?" he hissed through gritted teeth. "Did you tell him anything?."

"N...  No," stuttered Marie, wide eyed with terror as the man pressed the gun into her forehead. "He just asked why we were shut. I said trade had been slow and I'd only just turned the sign when he drove in so thought I'd better serve him. He seemed happy with the answer and drove off."

"You'd better not have said anything."

He pushed her away from him and then backhanded her across the face again. Joe, unable to lift himself from the floor in time to catch her, watched helplessly as she sprawled into the counter in a welter of crashing tins and packets of beef jerky.

As Joe moved to stand next to her, she started to cry, deep sobs shaking her body as the old man's arms encircled her. He looked up over her shoulder at the gunman, holding his gaze.

"You shouldn't hit women," he stated bluntly, his voice rising with anger.

"And who's going to stop me? You? Sit down old man and keep her out of the way."

"I warned you, you can't say I didn't warn you," he whispered.

He went back to watching the window as Joe helped Marie back to their former position on the floor, and for many moments Joe held her in his arms despite the pain of his wound, before smoothing back the hair from her forehead as her sobs began to subside.

"You look very much like your great grandfather you know, you have the same eyes."

"You knew him?"

"Aye, very well, he was a good man. He gave me a chance when no-one else but Henry seemed inclined to."

"Henry had a large impact on your life didn't he?"

"He did, and certainly a more positive impact than my father or step-father did."

Marie looked at the man by the door who was once again intent on the shadows that swirled through the storm outside.

"Perhaps it might help if you carried on from where we were interrupted?"

"Well ma'am, you certainly seem an appreciative audience to an old man's ramblings and I certainly never like to disappoint a lady."

Joe smiled and resumed his monologue, his eyes watching the man by the door.

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