by John Yeo

   Saturday night, the stores in the mall put the shutters up for the night. The last shoppers made their way to the exits, joined by the last of the mall staff. The night security staff arrived and manned the CCTV cameras continuously filming the whole of the shopping area. Joe and Pete were night security men who did regular foot patrols outside the mall.
    The Saturday midnight patrol was always eventful, many a time they came across drunks arguing with each other or young lovers canoodling in the rear doorways and entrances to the mall. This Saturday was different, one Joe would remember for the rest of his life. The two men came upon, what looked like a bundle of rags heaped in a shop doorway.
    Pete, a large stocky man with a shaved head, and a tattoo on his right cheek  noticed it first.

       “Hey Joe, look at that! Someone has dumped a heap of rags in the doorway. No, wait, it’s moving, someone is asleep under there. We will have to wake them up, we aren’t allowed to let people sleep on the mall property.”

     “You’re right Pete, I will just shake the bundle with my foot, to get a response!” Then without thinking he kicked the edges of the rags gently. Joe was the shorter of the two men with dark, greasy hair, he was the most aggressive of the two.
    Both men stepped back, extremely wary, as the bundle of rags came to life with a squeal and a thin, unkempt woman, began furiously attacking them with a tatty umbrella.

    “Please leave me alone you ignorant sex-starved animals, I have no money and I am afflicted with an STD, that will infect you instantly.” The lady screamed.

   “Now hold on,” said Pete. “What are you doing here? You can’t sleep here, you should go home and sleep! We are security officers, doing our job. What’s your name?”

    “Mary,” said the lady, now noticeably calmer. “I have tried all the night shelters and hostels, even the Salvation Army hostel is full. I knocked and the duty security man just said.   “Sorry we have a full-house, there are no beds available.”

      Joe said, “You can’t sleep here, it is more than our jobs are worth to allow that!”
    Mary started sobbing uncontrollably. The two men were both taken aback at this turn of events.

       Pete turned to Joe and said, “We may be jobsworths, but we are not made of concrete.” Then he turned to Mary and said, “Come and have a cup of tea with us, we have a storeroom you can use, for tonight!”
      Photographs Mary carried, revealed she was Maria Popova, a famous ballerina who had been missing for weeks. Joe gained her confidence and informed the authorities. It turned out Maria had suffered memory loss, becoming isolated from her family.
  Joe and Pete became her personal security guards, both men were substantially better off for their kindness to a stranger in distress.

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~All rights reserved