Friday. Summer. London. Spent the evening in canned air inside printers signing off the proof for our special offer ad on client’s internal magazine. Walked out on Marylebone Road to still bright sunshine at 7pm. Short walk to Baker Street to get on Jubilee Line tube. As usual popped into the bar right next to the station. My usual standing two large Absolut vodka’s with a can of Red Bull and into the underground depths of the tube.
Friday and everyone’s in high spirits, literally. Mostly suits like me, even the women. All hurrying home or on their way somewhere in readiness for Friday night. Finally on Jubilee Line, off at West Hampstead and short run to Train station that will take me to my part of the stix. Trains on time. Suns still out although evenings slightly cooler. A welcome relief. 15 centigrade and I am feeling pleasant. Couldn’t help but reflect on how over the past six years I have adapted slightly to the colder climates in old blighty. Train enters tunnel after Mill Hill and that tells me next stop is mine. Can’t help but scramble with others to the door to disembark. It’s become habit, I am part and parcel of the rat race, the moles who live three hours a day underground, no not the house music underground, actual tunnels and tunnels of Transport for London and the Thameslink.
The effect of the voddies are slightly waning, cross the street from the station and I am at the Crown, my local in the stix. Same ritual, two large Absolut, can of Red Bull, stand and deliver to the depths of my very soul. Meet my yardies from the stix, and they insist on a quick shot of the old Sambuca. Friday night is in effect, for them anyway. I am now looking forward to the home, bath, old Barefoot sarong, spliff and Indian takeaway, relax on couch chatting with the family. In that order. Kid’s got a couple of movies recorded for us on the sky box.
As I step out of the Crown I remember Ealing goddess temple early Saturday morning and the cleaners arrival to dust, mop, hoover and iron. Cash needed. Quick walk down High Street to retail park HSBC cashpoint. It’s past nine now and twilight has descended. Slightly chilly as I just do one button up on the old Kenzo suit. My favourite. When Lintas wiped the old SLIM’s the very suit I purchased at Odel that afternoon to wear that evening. I had called the then SLIM President and asked him one question. ‘I am about to go purchase the agency drinks for the night. Should I buy Red or Black label scotch?’ While he could not give me the result, all he did have to say was ‘Dhammika, go buy Royal Salute!’. That was all I needed to make a beeline to Odel from the then homestead on Kynsey Road. Oxford blue Kenzo suit, shirt, tie and CK black patent shoes! Reminiscing always reminiscing. The past, present and future, all blending into now.
Retail parks deserted. Shops all closed now. Take my wallet out and punch in numbers. Five crisp new 20’s cascade out and I slip them in wallet with card, drop wallet into back pocket and turn.
As I turn I see a blur of a blue t-shirt and denims. White male, 35 – 40, medium height and build, shaven head, tattoo on neck, cheap boots, stubble on face.
‘Alrite Bruv, handover the fricking wallet!’
His hand flashes towards me. I see the shining blade of the Filipino Visan Barong knife heading straight toward my chest. Years of challenge fights behind the Royal Junior School cricket pavilion, big match fights, stick fighting, boxercise at the gym, rough housing with my Indonesian black belt friend all reflex together and my body reacts as fast as my mind.
I grab and twist back the hand coming towards me and use my assailant’s momentum to slam back into his body. Surprise and shock in my mind as his own blade penetrates through his t-shirt and into his chest. Ever want to experience the feeling? Buy a shoulder of Lamb, take a kitchen knife and stab downwards into it. If the knife is sharp enough it will graze through the bone and sink into the flesh. Almost like jelly.
Pure instinct takes over and I throw my mugger to crash through the bank glass door. Mayhem of glass breaking and the loud ringing of the bank burglar alarm. I go into shock. The mugger lies inside the bank floor twitching. I see two pools of blood converging to one from his head and the other his chest. My hand is sticky with his blood. No blood is not red, its ruby black. The knife handle sticks out from the muggers chest.
I am in shock. I sit outside the pavement. It doesn’t come into my mind to dial 999. People from the Nando’s restaurant spill out for the commotion. Women scream. 30 seconds, an advertising TV commercial has passed. I wipe my sticky hand on my suit jacket and light up a cigarette.
Sirens scream as the cops arrive. Police quick reaction squads in two BMW’s. Heckler and Koch submachine guns gleaming as they cover me from behind their cars. They assess the situation in seconds. They go into execution mode. I am now face down in the pavement on cold concrete. My hands are clasped behind me. I am cuffed, both for their protection and mine.
From there onwards everything goes into slow motion. The ambulance arrives. I am shocked as I realise that the muggers dead.
You are captured on CCTV in England over 200 times a day. Something I have never ever been comfortable about. Suddenly I am very thankful. I am now in the back seat of a normal Police Vauxhall Corsa still cuffed. People are talking and I can’t help but notice admiring looks towards me. Police have pushed them right back but mobile phones are busy capturing the moment. Welcome to the Digital Age!
The Police Sargent un-cuffs me. They have been briefed about the situation by the CCTV operator sitting god knows where to what took place. They will also be able to get the HSBC ATM video recording of how events transpired. I have called home. The partner of the law firm I am a marketing consultant at screeches in to the parking lot in her gleaming Merc E320 which plates read W1LAW1. I finally remember to breath properly. A copper hands me a plastic cup of water.
Her Majesty the Queens well oiled system of justice efficiently rolls into motion.
I live to fight another day.
Where does reality stop, and fiction begin?