“I doubt there’s anyone left in either of those towns.” Terrence led his sister to one of the few remaining empty tables, pulled out a chair for her, and then sat down himself.
The two team captains joined the umpire on the pitch for the coin toss. It was determined that Ville Colonie would bat first and the players took their positions. The West Brumming bowler was getting his eye in as a heavyset blond batsman waited. At last the match started as the bowler sent a beautiful bouncer down the wicket, but a loud crack indicated a shot and the two batsmen, including the big chap, went running.
“Would you like something to drink?” Terrence asked.
“Is there a waiter?” wondered Iolanthe, looking around.
“No, there’s a snack kiosk over there.” He pointed to a small shed just beyond the visiting team hutch. “What would you like?”
“I don’t suppose they have any wine.”
“I doubt it.”
“A beer then.”
Terrence took his place in the queue, only occasionally looking back at the game. He wasn’t really that interested in cricket, even though he had played it at university. There was no point in telling Iolanthe though. Once she had her head set on something, it wasn’t likely to change. He purchased two bottles of beer, which came in tall brown bottles with cork stoppers.
Just as he turned around to leave, he was approached by a young woman with long red hair. She was dressed in a long brown skirt and a white blouse and looked as though she might have just come from a factory job. She was pretty, in a course sort of way, and she wore no makeup.
“Can you help me, sir?” she asked, and then turned and began to walk away before Terrence could answer.
He shrugged and followed her, a beer bottle in each hand, around the corner of the kiosk and between a pair of small sheds. As he made the second corner, Terrence came face to face with three men. Two of them were brandishing knives. For a second he didn’t recognize them. Then suddenly he did. They were three men outside Blackwood’s. The memory of the white opthalium made his eyes water slightly. What was it that Blackwood called the first fellow… Mickey, Mikey, Mika?
“Thanks luv. Hurry on your way,” said Mika to the girl, who quickly left. He then turned and smiled unpleasantly at Terrrence. “You’re so happy t’see me your eyes are waterin’ eh?”
“I’m sentimental,” Terrence replied.
The toughs had chosen their spot well. They were shielded from the street by a hedgerow and from the cricket game and the spectators by the sheds. Without conscious thought, Terrence’s mind ran through his options. He could drop one of the beers and go for the pistol in his pocket. He could simply bash the bottles into a couple of skulls. In either scenario, he’d probably take at least one knife blade. He could always yell for help. There were plenty of people within earshot, probably even a copper. Again, he’d probably get stabbed. Besides, he’d never yelled for help in his life.
“Care for a beer?” he asked.
“I’m goin’ t’enjoy lettin’ the air outa you.”
Suddenly there was a loud report followed by a wet smack and the man behind Mika, Mika’s brother Terrence suddenly remembered, dropped to the ground with a massive hole in his chest pouring out blood like a johnny pump. Before anyone had time to think or to move or to think about moving, three more shots rang out. The beer bottles in Terrence’s hands exploded and then a good portion of Mika’s jaw was ripped off his face. He dropped to the ground with a gurgled scream, while the third man in the group turned and ran. Terrence turned to his left, still holding the shattered remains of the bottles, to find Iolanthe in a cloud of gun smoke, a .45 caliber pistol pointed in his general direction. It was an exact match to the one in his pocket save only that hers had a pearl handle.
“Kafira’s tit, Iolanthe! You almost hit me!”
“You’re welcome,” she replied, closing her left eye and taking a bead on the fleeing man’s back.
“Let him go,” he said, and looked down at the sad remains of Mika, now whining pitifully.
A police constable came jogging up from behind Terrence, followed by a few cricket players, one carrying a bat, as well as a few stout fellows from the grandstand.
“These men were trying to rob my brother,” said Iolanthe, stepping forward.
“Oh, it’s you, Miss Dechantagne,” said the constable. “Are you injured?”
“No PC, thank you for asking, but I believe one or both of the men I shot may be in need of ambulance service.”
The constable knelt down and checked Mika’s brother for a pulse.
“This one doesn’t need an ambulance. He’s dead. What are these boys doing so far from the Bottom?”
“Not to belabor the point,” said Iolanthe. “But I believe they were practicing daylight robbery.”
“Even so. Will you be leaving now?”
“Of course not. The match is not over.” She flipped open the revolver and used her fingernail to pull out the spent cartridges. “Come along Terrence.”
The constable left for the police telegraph box to call for an ambulance, while a man from the grandstand rendered what aid there was to give. Everyone else, including the Dechantagne siblings wandered back toward the game. Terrence, who was still holding the spouts and necks of the broken bottles, dropped them in a dust bin as they rounded the corner to the snack kiosk.
“Where did you have that pistol?” he asked. “You don’t have a handbag.”
“I have plenty of room for it under my dress.”
He glanced at his sister’s form. While the top of her dress was very form-fitting indeed, the bottom half of her, thanks to her bustle and voluminous undergarments, blossomed out to such a degree that she could have hidden the arsenal for the good part of a rifle company within her skirts.