“No Mr Carson. I’m afraid I can’t help you with that noise,” Joni says from across the reception desk. Her calmness soothes across the agitated Bert. “If you have a seat I’m sure someone who can fix that for you will be in soon.”
Bert twitches in Joni’s direction before shuffling toward the row of plastic stools set up against the wall. Joni shakes her head. Bloody Monday, she thinks. Her face remains centred on the swelling of weekend emails downloading to her computer. Her side twists into a sudden pulsation of tenderness. That doesn’t feel good. That chicken must have been off. She loosens the thick waist high belt and wobbles on her chair to ease the aching up through her abdomen.
“There is goes again!” Bert jumps from his chair. “Did you hear that?”
Bert’s ragged clothes hang ungracefully off his bony frame.
“No Mr Carson. I didn’t hear anything,” Joni complains through the throbbing pressing against her spine. “Please have a seat. Someone will be with you shortly.”
Bert hobbles back to his lonesome seat. The scruff on his chin pokes further through the dirt on his face with each tick of his jaw. Joni cringes to block the scent of him from overpowering her. Her stomach howls again in protest.
A flash of light shoots across room from the window. Bert shoots up from his seat and points manically.
“I told you it was something,” he fingers outside. “It’s them. They’ve been making the buzzing. Bloody thugs.”
Joni pivots to face the window behind her. A small hole surrounded by fine cracks sucks in the cold air from outside. A police car eases to a stop in the middle of the street below. Its lights silently flash from the car roof. Joni gasps her fright. She slides back from the window, clutching her side at the sight of two men lying on the street. Their dark clothes and guns splay across the middle of the road.
Wetness leaks through Joni’s fingers. The heat of the moisture drags her view away from the road. She holds her hands up to reveal the sickly warmth. Red drips from her palm. She looks down. A trail of blood across the floor gushes up to the flood of red pumping out of her.
Joni collapses to the floor. Bert stares out the window engulfed in the scenes outside. Joni pleads silently against the growing darkness. Her voice fails her, leaving her to shrink behind her desk.