There we were, laughing and chatting, when suddenly we realised we weren’t alone. This isn’t unusual in a public building, in our case the local library. I’d been put on a shift with Andrea and we were enjoying ourselves. I’d always found it easy to chat with Andrea, whose sense of silliness matched my own. She once appeared at a Christmas night out dressed as Bet Lynch from Coronation Street, though she didn’t know that until I helpfully pointed it out to everyone behind her back. Anyway, we’d been talking for a few hours when we finally made a move to close the building for the night. The Man In The Tweed Jacket was there before we even realised it. His jacket, tie, and waistcoat were tweed. A tidy, well-dressed gentleman. I was impressed by his sartorial flair. Andrea immediately asked if he needed help. She meant with finding a book, but he took her offer literally. He really did need help.
They’re up there and they’re killing her, he tells us. I smell booze on his breath. There’s a pub nearby, a glass tumbler in the face place. Despite his breath, we immediately got serious. Okay, tell me exactly what happened, Andrea said as calmly as possible. She was concerned, of course. We waited to hear what had happened. Had a murder been committed? I wouldn’t be surprised at all. There had been a strange escalation of events in the library over that period of time. A gang had recently walked into the building and hurled a flaming bag of shit at the Large Print shelf, which of course a member of staff had stamped on to put out, only to receive a nasty, smelly surprise.
They’re killing her, said The Man In The Tweed Jacket again. Andrea went to say something else, literally her mouth was open, ready to form some reassuring words, but she didn’t get the chance. Leaning over the desk, The Man In The Tweed Jacket looked at Andrea, smiled and said Someone’s going to die tonight in what could only be described as a stern voice. Oh, I said, reaching for my personal panic alarm.
Andrea asked The Man In The Tweed Jacket to wait and she’d go and see what was happening. I knew she was going to phone the main branch and tell them what was happening. This left me alone with the tweed loving old pensioner. A few seconds passed in silence. Then I said, don’t worry about it, we’re going to try and help you. Looking up at me, The Man In The Tweed Jacket had only one response to that:
Help yourself ya speccy prick.
What! I screeched, completely wounded that my wonderful designer spectacles could possibly be targeted by a tweed wearing OAP.
He stood up, I backed off, getting ready to try and survive a horror movie. Instead, he headed out of the building, back in the direction of the pub. The door to the back of the library opened and Andrea poked her head out. Is he gone yet? She didn’t wait for a reply. Immediately, she locked the door. We both breathed a sigh of relief.
It was short-lived. A voice started hissing from outside let me in let me in let me in. Well I took the one option available to me in that instant and phoned for a taxi. Uber didn’t exist, so it had to be TOA Taxis. God bless them. They’re still very efficient. The woman at the other end of the line informed me a cab was on route. Thank you for using TOA Taxis.
No, I told her. Thank you!
The taxi arrived and I fled the library, hurtling into the cab with a squeal of relief. Of course I slammed the door behind me, only feeling safe when I locked it. Looking up, I realised Andrea was still outside, looking completely astonished that she couldn’t get into the cab. Sheepishly, I let her in and pretended it was an accident.
Is everything okay? The cabbie asked.
Before I could say anything, The Man In The Tweed Jacket appeared, slowly advancing towards the taxi. I braced myself for more insults and terrifying threats. The cabbie rolled the window down and we all waited. The Man In The Tweed Jacket poked his head through the gap, stared at everyone and said…
Do you mind giving me a lift down the road?
The cabbie told him to get lost and started the engine. Shell-shocked, I sat there with Andrea, both of us not quite knowing what had just happened.