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One Good Turn…

Short Story

Anne Bealing Published: 02 March 2024

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Man with security written on back of black jacket

Mike buttoned up his overcoat. He had been standing outside the building site for most of his eight hour shift and today strong gales had arrived with a vengeance. He wished he was back in his office job with the police but he’d left that ten years ago and now worked for Tavern Security. Mike halted a delivery lorry, checked the driver’s paperwork and admitted him to the site. Soon it would be time to hand over to Steve who worked the evening shift.

Traffic was heavy and it had started raining. Mike watched as the school down the road discharged its pupils for the day. Shouts and laughter drifted towards him. Teenagers filled the pavement as they crossed the entrance of his protected empire.

‘Where’s Molly?’ he asked a group of giggling girls that he recognised as his daughter’s friends.

‘Drama club.’

He remembered it was Friday. He would be home before her. School buses crawled past and after 15 minutes the traffic gradually eased. He admitted another lorry to the site and then gladly handed over to his colleague.

At home, with a much-needed cup of tea, Mike was beginning to worry that Molly was later than he’d expected. He tried her mobile but it was switched off. By 5 o'clock, she still wasn’t home. He was about to ring the school when he heard a noise outside and could see a dirty, once white, Transit van pulling up outside the house. The driver, a man, was helping Molly from the passenger seat. Mike rushed out to see Molly and the man unloading a rather mangled bike from the rear of the van.

‘Molly?’ shouted Mike. ‘What’s going on?’ Then he noticed his daughter’s tear stained face and bloodied knees. ‘Molly what’s happened?’

Molly limped to her dad and buried her face in his chest.

‘She’s OK mate,’ said the man. ‘Wind knocked her off her bike back there, round the corner. The bike’s come off worse than she has. I was behind her. One minute she was riding along. Next minute she hit the road. Good job I stopped in time. Anyway, here she is, safely home.’ The man held out the bike and Mike disentangled himself from Molly’s embrace.

‘Thanks mate. Very good of you.’ He gestured to put the bike over by the garage.

‘Can you fix it Dad?’

‘I expect so. I might need to buy a few bits.’

‘Well,’ said the man, ‘a mate of mine, Sam, has a bike stall on the Saturday market up at the showground. He’ll be there tomorrow. Say Denny sent you and he’ll see you alright for a discount.’ He held out his hand and Mike shook it, thanking him for all he’d done.

The next day Molly and her Dad went in search of bike bits on the market and found exactly what was needed. Sam’s prices were generous at the mention of Denny’s name. They were just walking back along the stalls when Mike noticed the dirty Transit van behind a stall and Molly saw Denny.

‘Dad it’s the man who rescued me.’ She ran across to the stall.

‘Hello Molly. We meet again! Now can I interest you in some lovely perfume? Christian Dior – only the best. Dad’ll buy it for you.’

Mike looked more closely at the goods on offer.

‘Some bargains there,’ he observed.

‘I buy direct from the factory, no middleman.’

Mike knew from his police experience that he was, without a doubt, looking at counterfeit goods.

‘Not for us today, thank you. Come on Molly – we’ve got a bike to mend.’

‘Bye Molly. Go careful on that bike.’ Denny waved them off.

As they turned to walk away Mike could see in the distance two ex-colleagues who now worked for the Trading Standards Agency. They were making their way along the stalls on the far side of the market, talking to the stall holders and inspecting the goods on sale. He handed the car keys to Molly.

‘Go and get in the car. I forgot to tell Denny something. I won’t be long.’

He hurried back. Denny was surprised to see him.

‘Come back for the perfume? Present for Molly?’

‘Denny – you were good to Molly yesterday so I’m just warning you – the TSA guys are here today and I don’t expect you’ll want them examining your goods.’

With a string of expletives Denny threw himself into a flurry of activity. Mike watched fascinated as the perfumes were hidden away in the van and quantities of ordinary, cheap towels were replacing his suspect stock.

Breathless, Denny stopped. ‘Thanks mate. You’re a gent. One good turn and all that.’ He dived back into the van and then thrust a perfume bottle into Mike’s hand. ‘For Molly.’

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