Harry looked around, it felt like a dream. How had it come to this? The man lay bleeding, crying in pain, begging for help and Harry stood there frozen as if time had stopped, as if the world was paused for Harry to make his next move…
It was 3am, the back door has been breached and the other two were busy filling the bags with the loot. The other two were not phased by what they were doing and it was obvious that they had done something like this before. They were methodical and unflinching in their approach for this was their job, other people woke up in the morning, had their toast or cereal, rushed out the door not to return until at least 9 hours later.
As far as these two were concerned they worked hard, they planned, they kept under the police radar and they had the audacity to go out and break the law. Yes, as far as they were concerned, they worked hard for their money.
Harry stood uncomfortably, near the large retail glass windows of the shop sweating under the balaclava and shaking slightly. He was finding it difficult to contain himself with all the adrenaline running through his body. He could see a car pulling up in the car park and he could feel the tension in his body growing.
“Hey Dad, you alright? You look like you’re miles away”.
“Hhmm, what, yeah, yeah, I’m fine, how are you doing honey?”
“You should have been there at school today, Anna got roasted by Elle and …”
Harry couldn’t lift this burden, the weight that he had been carrying on his shoulders since the day the bank threatened repossession of his house. The innocent chatter of his 14 year old daughter fading into the background as Harry thought about what would happen to his family, how would they cope, if he didn’t do something, they would all be homeless.
It wasn’t fair. He and his wife had worked hard all their lives and a simple change in rates meant that over the last year they were fighting a losing battle. The arrears mounted and he and his wife struggled to deal with the situation, the children blissfully unaware of the dire situation.
The last year had slowly crept up on him, he never thought he would be here, he never thought…
A man dressed in a guards uniform got out of the car, locked the door and slowly began walking towards the shop. He pulled out his phone and began talking as he made his way, closer and closer to the shop.
At first Harry didn’t seem to know what to do, it felt like he had been watching the man approaching the shop for ever, time seemed to be moving slowly. In reality, it had only been about 30 seconds.
“There’s a guard coming!” Harry’s voice felt muffled, it sounded like someone afraid to speak. The other two didn’t hear him the first time and it took a couple of goes for Harry to alert them. The guard had already finished his phone conversation and was walking around to the back of the shop.
The mistake the guard made was to go into the shop to investigate further, why didn’t he just call it in, why did he have to be so diligent?
The sound of the gun was nothing like in the movies. The gun goes off and the guy goes down, that’s what happens in the movies, right? For Harry, the sight of the gun, the sound of it, the result of it was nothing like the movies. The sound was a piercing whistle that penetrated his soul. That sound signaled that life was about to change for Harry.
The other two fled. Harry stood watching the guard suffering desperately. He was holding the wound as if the flow of blood would simply stop with two hands placed over it. Harry was scared, it felt like the gut wrenching feeling when you know you’ve done something terribly wrong and you know a line has been crossed, a line that should never have been crossed.
He thought about running, he thought about his family, his children, the consequences of what he was now part of. The feeling of being trapped gripped him tightly, there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no one but him and the man opposite him struggling to breathe, confused, dazed, clutching his injury and pleading and crying for help.
Time suddenly resumed, the urgency of the situation hit Harry like an invisible force. He could run and hope the man would survive or help him and face going to jail, face leaving his wife and children alone while he bore the consequences of his actions.
The judge was fair in the sentencing and as an accomplice to the robbery, Harry was given a lenient sentence. Harry’s family ended up in a decent rented apartment after the house was sold off by the bank. They visited him in jail and forgave him for what he had done. His wife knew how desperate things had looked at the time but was able to come to terms with what he had done.
Half way through his incarceration, his wife had asked him, “what made you stay and help that guard?” Harry now more worldly wise had said with confidence, “I made a mistake, I was desperate, the house, the money, it was all I could think of. That mistake showed me who I was when it really mattered. That guard mattered, his life mattered, the choice I made mattered, who I am matters. Saving that guard showed me who I really am”.
We all make mistakes along the way in this thing called life. How we overcome and learn from those mistakes is who we really are. To all my readers, happy new year and here’s to another year of mistakes and learning who we really are.