Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Stand and Deliver

For audio click here 
The trees were lost in the mist that turned to water on the pines and dripped down onto the men and women assembled below. The temporary traffic lights glared green on the road in front of them and an owl hooted somewhere in the forest behind. 
“It's on its way,” Jana said, tossing the mobile phone to David, and wiping damp hair out of her face. The headlights emerged from deep in the darkness, growing bigger and bigger as the coach approached. 
“Now!” Jana said and David pressed a button on the phone turning the lights red at both ends of the long, gently curving bend.
The coach was now looming out of the fog. For a moment Jana thought that it hadn't noticed the lights, but then it slowed and shuddered to a halt. 
“Patience,” Jana said to her troops. 
Three, four minutes passed. No one moved a muscle. Jana could see the driver look at his watch, next he’d flash his lights, then finally, he'd get out.
“Remember, no one gets hurt unless we have to,” Jana said.
Five, six, seven. The door opened and the driver waddled towards the traffic lights, trying to find someone to explain what was going on. 
“Now,” Jana said.
Big Tomas jumped out of the trees, took the driver by the arm and led him further down the road away from the coach.”
“Don't worry,” Jana heard Tomas say. “We're just going for a little walk.”  She smiled, Tomas, the gentlest of giants.  She signalled the rest of the crew who swarmed onto the bus. 
“Our man's got your driver,” Jana said. She didn't raise her voice; she didn't have to. 
She watched the passengers struggle for the phones, they all wanted to play the hero and call the cops. No chance, no signal here for miles around. She grabbed a pudgy arm and held it up. “If I see another of you try to text or call, I'll make sure you can't text for a few weeks until your fingers heel. Understand?”  
The passengers nodded and took thumbs away from screens. 
“If you want your driver to stay alive, do what we say. Put all phones, computers, iPads, wallets, cameras in these sacks, including leads and chargers. Oh, and if you have a necklace, watch or ring that's worth a few bob, drop that in too, if you please,” her English was getting better.  
The team walked down the bus with the sacks. Jana smiled as the bags filled up. She was pleased no one was trying to play the big guy, she hated breaking people's thumbs, the crack still made her a bit squeamish.
Outside the bus, Lucie and Honza had dismantled the temporary lights and taken them into the woods. The task was nearly over. 
“Let's go,” Jana said. The gang trooped off the bus with their bounty. 
“Remember, we still have the driver, and we have the bus keys, anyone thinks about playing the hero...” She let the words trail off, much better to let people use their imaginations than give specific threats. She clambered off the bus and nodded at David who pressed the button to turn the lights green at the other end of the bend. Lukas and Honza would soon be there to dismantle them, and then Tomas would let the driver go. 

“Thank you so much, Jana, ” Sister Hejova smiled. “Look at them.” 
They stood in silence watching the kids playing with their new digital equipment. 
“Sorry that they are secondhand,” Jana said. 
“Do they look like they care?” The nurse replied. They watched the kids play. “Hey did you hear about that attack on the American tourists?”
Jana shook her head. “What a world we live in.”
“But then there are angels like you. Thank you, Jana.” 
Jana grinned again, patted the nurse on the arm and wondered just how long it would take for her to put two and two together. 

No comments:

Post a Comment