The Mugging. Short Story

Winning photo Australia 2014 Outstanding Older Australian, Ron Shears,

At my age it’s time for most men to be thinking of putting one’s feet up, and taking it easy. Other luckier ones did so years ago. But knocking a white ball around fields trying to get it a small hole didn’t do much for me. Pat and I have always been a busy couple physically and mentally. It was clear that winter night when I decided to nip down to the shop overlooking the Paignton Harbour for a paper. As it’s only a ten-minute walk, I never thought of taking the car.

I just reached the end of the reasonably well-lit road when this man; he’d have been about 25 I suppose, stepped in front of me, his nose almost touching mine. His breath smelt of cigarettes or it could have been grass, but not knowing what that smells like. Anyway, his manner was both threatening and abusive. Immediately my heart rate doubled. I noted he hadn’t shaved for days, and he was a heavyset man, rough, with a Liverpool accent.

‘Don’t fuck me about. I want your money. So hand it over now’. He growled.

My first thought being is he alone. Or is there another Bastard nearby or even behind me. Should I be passive, or otherwise?

Now I’ve always been the type who trusts his ‘gut feelings’ and who flies by the seat of his pants. I took my hands out of my pockets and stepped back with my right foot.

‘Well, let us see.’ I began. ‘Today has not been one of my good days. My old banger failed the MOT, and the Mortgage company is repossessing the flat we rent. My dear wife is worried sick, together with it being Christmas week. We are feeling the pinch. So you’ll…. Then he interrupted.

‘I don’t give a stuff about you or your fucking wife. The money.’

That was when I took my glasses off. I felt his mate was somewhere behind me.

‘As I was saying, today has not been a good day, and there are her two cats. So if you’ll excuse me? I need to get on. Goodnight.’

 

Whilst I didn’t expect that to be the end of this nightmare. I prayed to God, which I rarely do. That would perhaps be the end of it. It was no good me running, as for the last twenty years I have suffered from Asthma. Some years ago when I applied for an invalid pension I was turned down in spite of the panel telling me I was a 60-80% invalid. So trying to outrun them was a none starter. Still, his mate had not shown himself.

 

My wife and I had just returned from Australia to help our youngest son over a trying divorce. By now the cold air was tugging at my chest, coupled with this confrontation my airways were getting very tight. Right now a spasm is the last thing I need. In these split seconds, I assumed he was not fit, therefore his reaction time was sluggish. His obvious advantage was his strength. But to overcome me he had to have hold of me, and right now he had not closed the extra few feet I’d deliberately put between us when I stepped back-this move also means my groin was not exposed to a kick or knee. But where was his mate? The other thing one is aware of nowadays. Does a mugger have a weapon, knife or gun?

‘As I was saying. I think the best for all of us is for you to get out of my way’.

‘You old Bastard. Grab him, Jim. We’ll sort this arsehole out.’

Jim or no Jim. I shouted fairly loud. Raised my hands across my face and clenched them into fists, keeping the elbows tucked into my ribs to protect them. At the same time bending and lifting my rear right leg whilst balancing on the ball of my left foot. With my right leg bent, and the knee tight against my chest, and my toes bent back and up. I aimed my heel at his right kneecap. Or rather twelve inches beyond it.

 

It was a cold still night broken only by his leg snapping cleanly in two, making a sound like a dry piece of wood breaking. Now my attention focussed for Jim. Retracting my right leg, again bent in front of my chest, I spun around to my left, as Jim lunged forward. In his right hand, I caught the flash of a knife blade. He was coming toward me intent; judging by its height and angle, on burying it in my chest. Swinging my right leg across my body my instep swung against his wrist, sending the knife off into the cold blackness. As I dropped my leg to the pavement, I jumped forward, lifting my right clenched fist above my head in a semi-circular swinging movement bringing my knuckles down on the bridge of his nose. The crack as it broke was audible but nothing like a leg snapping, more like a matchbox being squashed. He yelled, grabbed his nose, as his momentum knocked me off balance. I swung my clenched fist across in front of myself and caught him in the groin, as his head dropped forward, l lifted my elbow catching his jaw. Again the crack was slight. He slumped to the cold pavement. The knife fell into a hedge and is probably still there. The man on the ground was groaning and calling ‘Help me. Help me’.

I replaced my glasses and walked over to him.

‘What is it? I asked.

‘You broke my fucking leg. You Bastard. I’m gonna have you for assault’.

‘How on earth can I have done that? I’m 63 years old. You and Jim are fit and much stronger than me. I wonder just who a judge will believe’. Not forgetting, I’m a 60 to 80% invalid.

‘Call a fucking Ambulance.’

‘An Ambulance? What makes you think you deserve one?

‘The frost is already getting a grip, they forecast about ten below for the next few nights. I hope you are well wrapped up. But don’t worry, I am sure someone will find you in the morning, Oh dear me l forgot. The road is closed for two weeks while workman lays this new telephone cable. So no one will be coming through. What a predicament for you?

 

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