Jungle Drums and Grapevines by Kate Twitchin

Benny Jones is out and heading our way.

“Maybe he’s reformed; got himself an education or found Jesus,” my sister says.

Thankfully, she’s too young to remember Benny’s reign of terror over our little community, to bear any scars. The rest of us are under no illusions. If anything, we think prison will have made him worse. He’d have got in with the wrong crowd, honed his sadistic skills. Early release for good behaviour? A kick in the teeth for his victims. 

The bell above the shop door tinkles in that old-fashioned way the tourists love and we townsfolk are too fond of to change.

I wipe my hands on my overall and walk through from the back where I’ve been unpacking a delivery of veg from a local farm.

“Not much has changed I see.” The same curled lip and sneering voice; our tormentor is back. With luck, he won’t be bothering us for long. 

“Benny,” I say.

“Still stuck in the nineteen-fifties, Christ, that bloody bell should be in a museum.”

“What can I get you?”

“Haven’t you heard of self-service? Get some trolleys, click and collect, credit card machines, no wait, there’s probably still no internet in this god-forsaken hole, is there?”

I hold his gaze, my heart pounding, waiting for him to get fed up and move on. 

“Same old, same old,” he scoffs as he sends a display stand of Garibaldi biscuits crashing to the floor before swaggering out, leaving the door open and the bell jangling.

I pull my iPhone from my pocket, open WhatsApp, and find our Group, “Retribution”.

I type the message I’d hoped I would never have to send:

“I’ve seen him. Nothing has changed. We go ahead with the plan. Good luck guys.” 

Selected: Weekly Write #18

to be published in Issue #31

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