Another piece of flash fiction from my files
Mick was getting impatient. Why was Robbo standing there like a plank, looking at the bundle on the ground?
‘She’s 'alf dead, can’t yuh see? Fuckin’ leave ‘er, mate.’
Robbo made no move. The globes on the park gates lit the scar on the side of his face.
‘She’s nothin’ to you,’ said Mick. ‘Just some old tart.’
Robbo said nothing.
‘Look, if we’re still ‘ere an’ someone comes. they’ll think we fuckin’ done it.’
Robbo turned his head. Mick had seen that look many times, in gang fights, in police cells, in the underpass where the two of them, empty handed, had faced the Mullen brothers and their baseball bats.
‘You don’t fuckin’ tell me what to do. You can piss off. I’m stayin’, alright?’
The bundle of clothes moved slightly. A whimper escaped from her tortured throat. Mick spat and moved away.
‘I’m out of ‘ere.’
‘Go, then! Go on, get aht of it!’ Robbo knelt beside the woman and took hold of her bloodied hand.
She was middle-aged and chubby, wearing heels and a skirt that was too short, for her and for this weather. She’d been badly beaten. In the dim light, her frightened eyes looked for his.
‘I’m here, okay? I’ll stay with you. No one’s gonna hurt you any more.’ He felt a movement in the hand he was holding. ‘Can you hear me? No one’s gonna hurt you any more.’
He felt for his phone. He’d never called 999 before.
Robert was 12 years old again, holding his sister’s hand.
‘I won’t leave you.’ He heard his father’s step on the stairs, heard the belt buckle being loosened. ‘I won’t run away this time. I won’t.’
Robbo was still sitting there, cradling the woman’s head, talking to her, when the ambulance lights turned in at the park gates and came bouncing over the grass towards them. A police car followed.
He didn’t move. Didn’t struggle when they cuffed his hands behind his back and shoved him into the car.
The sergeant sitting in the front seat turned and glared at him.
‘What did you say, scum-bag?’
Robbo said it again, almost to himself, ‘I didn’t run away this time.’