Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Harold jumped as a hand wove around his throat. He could feel the prick of a blade taut against the skin of his neck. Every nuance of the forest became pin-sharp in his senses: the smell of the fungi at his feet, the warm breath of the brigand behind him, the sound of a leaf falling from a high branch on the oak above.
He forced his breathing to slow. “What do you want?” he asked.
“Your money,” cane the low his, punctuated by the acrid stink of an abscessed tooth, “or your life. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to go?”
“Is it?” Harold gulped. He could feel his thyroid cartilage scrape against the man’s arm. “I though that archaic, myself. I think ‘Give us your dosh’ is the modern equivalent.”
“Give us your dosh then.”
“I could if you’d let go. My coin purse is in my top pocket and I can’t reach it with your arm there.” Harold felt the grip relax and he scraped his heel down the attacker’s skin. That gave him the leverage to take a half-step forward, twist a quarter-turn to the left and duck his head out of the man’s grip, holding the knife-wielding wrist and twisting it under and up behind his attacker’s back.
He kicked the would-be thief’s legs out and toppled him to the damp forest floor. “I should be more careful about who you attach in future,” he said. “I could have done you a mischief.”
He twisted the blade out of the man’s grip. “That’s a six inch blade,” he said. “Night black polymer handle, integral torch. £5.99 on e-bay.” He paused. “You know that’s illegal, don’t you? I could report you for having that.”
“Please don’t,” said the man, his voice muffled by fallen leaves. “I’m still on probation.”
Harold dug a plastic poop-bag out of his pocket and wrapped up the blade. “What did you want the money for?”
“My dentist,” said the man. “He’s putting the squeeze on me.”
Harold let go of the man’s arm and helped him up. “I’ll lend you the money,” he said, walking back toward the house. “At a decent rate of interest, naturally….”