Danger Part 4
Dan stared at the round black hole levelled at his forehead. His bowels turned to water. He’d never felt so afraid in his life. Thoughts rushed through his head too quickly to register—except that he didn’t want to die. Not here—like this. Not knowing why— or what was going on—knowing damn all about anything—
The man holding the gun was tall and thin. Dressed in black, his eyes glinted behind a black balaclava facemask. He jerked his head at his accomplice curled on the floor like a foetus. The gun wobbled. Making Dan even more nervous… He stepped in front of Shona. Not that it would do much good—
“What y’done to him, eh?” the newcomer asked. “He’s not gonna be best pleased.”
Dan couldn’t place the accent, but a talking thug was marginally less scary than a silent one.
“What’s going on?” he asked, trying to sound in control. “What do you want?”
“She’s not told you then? Just hand over the cash and we’ll be out of your hair…”
Dan felt a flood of relief. He’d been right to draw dosh from the cash machine. His silly cow of a sister was obviously at odds with a moneylender. Their scare ‘em silly collecting method was way over the top, though.
He reached for his inside pocket. The gun smashed across his knuckles, making them bleed.
“Hey!” he said, snatching his hand back to cradle it against his chest. “That fucking hurt!”
“Hands in sight at all times, boyo. No unexpected surprises that way.”
“I was getting the money out,” he said stiffly, eyes narrowed, trying to look menacing. “I think you’ve broken my fingers. You’ve not heard the last of this. ”
“Cant wait!” He reached forward and fumbled the fold of notes from Dan’s inner pocket. He looked at them in disbelief. Flicked through them, muttering under his breath.
“Aaaargh!” he yelled tossing them in the air. “This your idea of a joke? Where’s the rest?”
Dan watched the tens and twenties and a couple of fives flutter to rest by their feet.
“I don’t know what you mean,” he said.
“Twenty thou!” He pushed Dan aside so he could yell in Shona’s face. “You stupid or what?”
She cowered back, sobbing.
“Twenty—what?” Dan asked.
“Twenty thousand in used notes. Thems nowhere near enough—an’ they’re brand new!”
“Two hundred was my limit at the cash machine,” Dan said, wondering why he was explaining. “Not that there’s much left in my account,” he added in case the man had ideas. “About fifty quid.”
“Fifty quid!” he snarled, tapping the gun on Shona’s forehead. “Fifty —fucking— quid!”
“Don’t!” she wailed, hiding behind her hands, tousled hair swinging forward. “Please, don’t!”
“Leave her alone!” Dan shouted, knocking the gun barrel upwards.
The gunman spun round and jabbed it in his chest. Vicious jabs, which hurt. Dan prayed his finger wouldn’t tighten on the trigger.
“Let’s keep calm,” he said, which was hard, at the receiving end of a gun. “Talk things through. Twenty thousand…”
“I’m trying to be reasonable, here, mate.” Jab. Jab. “Twenty thou, we asked for. Twenty thou, we get. Okay?”
“We don’t have twenty thou.”
“Pull the other one! She’s loaded.” He waved the gun at Shona. “Twenty thou’s loose change.”
“Danny, he thinks I’m Katrina Proust,” Shona said. “The pop star.”
Head on one side, he studied his sister. In a good light, tarted up, a few layers of makeup…he could see the resemblance. Several people had remarked on it. Only she couldn’t sing.
“Give him a few bars of the latest record,” he suggested. “Convince him you’re not.”
“Let’s stop bullshitting about!” The black shrouded face almost touched his. “She’s Katrina Proust.”
“You’re barmy, know that?” He knew he’d said the wrong thing when the gun jabbed his chest again.
“Think this isn’t loaded?”
Swinging the gun round in an arc, he fired at random. Splinters flew up from the floor by the head of his fallen comrade. He jerked, cursed and sat up, looking round blearily. Bits of floorboard clung to his woollen facemask.
“Wozz going on? Why’d’ya shoot at me?”
He raised his hand to his head. Dan held his breath. Was he going to reveal his face? If he did—he and Shona were goners. They wouldn’t be left alive to describe him to the police.
“Stop! Leave it on!” the gunman said sharply. “He didn’t bring the cash. Say’s it’s not her….”
“She wozz on TV at that awards thing.” He got unsteadily to feet to peer at Shona. She shrank back. “It’s her, all right. Just needs a slinky red frock and a bit of slap to hide the bruises.”
“The awards thing was on tonight,” Dan said. “I was watching it when Shona rang.”
“I spotted her come out of the pizza shop. Couldn’t believe me luck. A chance to share the cash out a bit—”
Dan noticed he’d dropped his Bug’s Bunny voice. A bad sign. Or maybe he’d just forgotten to use it.
“The show was tonight. Live. From London. Two hundred miles away. So how could Katrina Proust be coming out of a pizza shop here?”
“Cut the bullshit! Them shows are always recorded.” The gunman waved the gun between Shona and Dan. “Come up with the twenty thou! Just to remind you to be quick!”
Another random shot shattered the microwave.
Shona screamed and the first man lunged forward and slapped her. “Shut the fuck up, bitch!”
“Leave her alone!” Dan grabbed the man’s arm.
The punch in his face knocked him backwards. He fell heavily, banging his head on the table.
Shona screamed again. The gun blasted again. Dan waited for the sting of the bullet.
When it didn’t come he cautiously sat up. He mopped the blood from his nose with his sleeve.
He was outnumbered. Guile was needed before this pair of psychos went completely of their rockers…
“I don’t have that amount of cash laying around the house,” he said. “Do you?”
Shona gaped at him. Behind their masks, he imagined the gunmen were doing the same.
“I’ll have to sell stocks and shares, instruct my broker. He needs both our signature, so we’ll be off. It’s out of hours, right now.” He consulted his off-the-market designer watch. “Tomorrow, do?”
“Bullshit again! The gunman fired two rapid shots at the ceiling. Plaster showered down. There was an unearthly yowl of pain.
“Y’said this place was empty!” the gunman said into the shocked silence.
Dan heard the approaching wail of a police siren.
“Coppers!” the gunman said. Within minutes both of them were gone.
“Police!” roared a voice outside. “Stop! Police.”
“Police!” called a second voice. “Coming in!” A head poked round the door. “The neighbours reported gunshots. You’re covered in blood, sir—”
“We’re both okay ,” Dan said. “Just shocked and a bit battered. But I think that little fella got hit.”
The officer turned to watch the grey tabby limp across the room. Blood dripped from it’s flank.
“Hey, puss,” he said, crouching. “I’ll get you to the vet!”