A Character Study

At the far end of the queue stood a man in a weather-beaten anorak with a cap, which had seen better days, sitting on his greying and sparsely thatched head. He had a sad look on his face. Perhaps it was purely a look of resignation. An assessment that life was hard and people were mean and the only thing was to endure it. Just endure. Do your best to make it to the end of each day, each week, month, year, and so forth.

Or perhaps he was a miserable bastard. One of those mopey individuals who whinge about the rain until it becomes dry and fair, and then complain about that too. Too cold in winter, too hot in summer. Wants to be left alone to shop but becomes annoyed when no shop assistant is available. Thinks phone banking should be more convenient than it is, but demands to talk to a ‘real person’ when he does it. Feels lonely but wishes everyone would just leave him alone. Too much of everything, good and bad, all the time, forever, and ever.

He may well have been a private gentleman, unwilling to telegraph his emotions to the world at large. Buttoned down and contained. Assured of himself in his own skin, with a sense of confidence that he knew who he was and did not desire to be anyone else or pretend anything to anyone at all.

The line moved forward. He shuffled. Perhaps he was in pain. Arthritis or something. A constant reminder of mortality, and a constant reminder that it doesn’t just hurt to move, it hurts to not move as well. Maybe he had a weak heart or was suffering from a cancer. Who could know? He moved gingerly, with great care, at his own pace and rhythm. His hands remained in anorak pockets, and he moved forward with his legs, stiffly, joints not involved in the motion, which came entirely from the core of his body, as he twisted, above the hip, to make each incremental progression.

Of course, he could have been a millionaire who hides his wealth with a lack of ostentation and does normal things that normal people do, like queuing in a bank. But that didn’t seem likely.

When he got to the counter he said, with an actor’s loud, confident tone, “Get down! This is a robbery! Give me all of your fucking money!” As he said this he withdrew an automatic weapon, which had been concealed in one of the legs of his pants, and began pointing it at customers, to ensure they complied with his instructions. Then he trained it on a staff member until his bag had been filled.

And then he ran past me and out into the waiting car, which sped off. Once inside the vehicle I caught a glimpse of him removing his old man mask.

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Published in: on December 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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