Wordsworth was having a good day. It was probably the finest day he’d ever experienced. Really, quite excellent. Well, as far as could be said for days spent in Tameside.
Wordy cursed the day he’d agreed to move to this small town, inhabited by small minds. Mossley, what a joke. Full of miserable faces and miserable weather.
It was raining. Of course, it was raining. But he wasn’t going to let it get him down. Not today. Certainly, today was the exception. Today was a good day.
It was an effort to open the door. Stiff old thing, but the bell still worked. The metallic clang announced his arrival to the grim, bushy-browed shopkeeper.
“Good morning,” the man said, though judging by his frown, the morning wasn’t at all what one would describe as good. And of course, this was no greeting, but a request to leave quickly.
Wordy beamed a merry smile at the miserable swine. Why did nobody around here smile? Well, Wordy would have his revenge. Wordy would take his time browsing the shop, loitering to his heart’s content. And the shopkeeper would be none the wiser. He’d presume Wordy was one of those old coots that hang around in shops all day because they’re bored out of their skulls.
Of course, Wordy wasn’t having a boring day. He was having a good day. Yes. He wanted to scream it from the highest hill. Today was a good day. As a matter of fact, today was the best day.
“Morning,” Wordy said belatedly, making his way to the fridges at the back of the shop. There he was faced with an array of hard and soft drinks in colourful cans.
The bell rang behind him, announcing the arrival or departure of another customer.
Wordy scratched his bristly chin, contemplating his next move. The yellow can looked nice, and the red-and-white one was also appealing. Damn, why could he never make his mind up? Often, he made the decision in advance, but by the time he got here he’d either forgotten his choice or changed his mind.
Why were minds such fickle things? He used to be in a better than this place. Why had his mind told him to give it all up? Had a good job, in the nice part of the city centre. Lived in a good town, in a safe, well-maintained borough. Oh, what cruel sleight of hand had forced him to live here of all places? If God was really up there, he was having fun messing around with the pointless lives of his pawns.
Wordy became aware of a cooing sound. Was strange, really. Brushed the tips of his ears, threatening to dig down to his drums.
Sound came again. Coo… coo…
Wordy turned, wondering if he’d gone mad. He was due a stroke. Dad and Grandad had suffered several strokes between them, and all when they were around the same age as Wordy.
The sound repeated. Noo… noo…
It was a voice. Praise the gods, he wasn’t mad. Not yet.
“No, no, no,” the voice said. Was coming from over by the till. “Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Please, just leave and I won’t mention this to the police. Please. You’re only young. Don’t throw your life away.”
Wordy was curious beyond measure. Was the shop being robbed? Creeping along the aisle filled with booze, he kept himself low. Out of sight.
“Empty the till. Now,” a second voice demanded. Sounded all blubbery, as if they were choking on their own spit. “Do it now. Don’t wanna hurt you, old man.”
“No, please… I mean, yes… Yes, of course. I will. It’s yours. All yours. Whatever you say.”
Wordy reached the end of the aisle. Peered around the end, just enough to see what was going on. A young lad dressed in black was holding a shiny knife to the shopkeeper’s face. The poor merchant had his hands up. And judging by the look on his face he must’ve pissed himself.
“Go on then!” the brigand hissed. Wordy tried to get a good look of him, but his face was covered by black fabric. “Empty it now or your sobbing’ll be the last thing you do.”
The shopkeeper nodded frantically, but his arms remained up in the air. He was a good man, despite fearing every customer was a potential shoplifter. And now, faced with a real shoplifter, in the most heinous form, the man proved himself entirely useless.
Wordy could have remained out of sight. As a matter of fact, he should have done. But today was a good day, and he wasn’t going to let some silly boy-robber ruin it. If Wordy didn’t end his day with his feet resting on the sofa, with Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on the telly, with a few cold ones in the fridge, he would scream.
“What’s all this, then?” Wordy asked, standing up straight and puffing out his chest. “Fancy yourself a highwayman, do you?”
Today was a good day. Didn’t matter what happened after that moment. The wife had passed away four days ago, and so his situation was win-win. If the robber knifed him and he died right there and then on the corner shop floor, he would soon be with his Miriam. If, spooked by his appearance, the robber fled, then Wordy would have the shopkeeper’s thanks, and perhaps a small column in the local newspaper. And when he got home that evening, he’d be able to put his feet up.
Didn’t matter which way it went, really. In either case, he’d see Miriam again. Fortune-teller told him so. And the lass hadn’t predicted an end to his life in a dingy corner shop. So, all in all, he couldn’t lose.