It was Mrs. Backwood’s first time in London since her husband died, and if it wasn’t for niece Angela’s birthday present, she would never have returned. Such a big city is nothing for an old woman like herself, she thought. But Angela insisted on taking her to a show one more time, Billy Elliot, and she did want to keep in touch with her family. So there she was, back in London, after all these years.
They were supposed to meet at three in the Starbucks opposite Victoria Station, and because she was a bit early, Mrs. Backwood decided to help herself to a decaf cappuccino. Or a light one, as they called it here.
The waitress was typically a city girl, anorexically thin, pale and uninterested. She wouldn’t even smile back at Mrs. Backwood, and started flirting with another costumer while she was taking her order. I hope she doesn’t expect a tip, Mrs. Backwood thought while observing the skinny thing. Or actually, I hope she does. That will give me the opportunity to explain what I think of this service. Lack of service, rather!
The girl was not paying attention to what she was doing and knocked over a pint of milk. She started screaming, and suddenly the café was filled with mayhem. Someone dived at Mrs. Backwood and pushed her to the floor. She landed on her hip and noticed a vicious looking young man in the door opening.
“Get down! Get down!” He shouted and waved with his hands. Tattered jeans, leather jacket, very pale and hadn’t had a shave for days: a dangerous type. Thank God Angela’s not here yet, Mrs. Backwood thought, when she realized she was in the middle of a robbery. Her heart was beating like the train that took her to London and she wanted to cry. But the costumer the waitress had been flirting with wasn’t intimidated at all. He just stood still, in his crisp suit, and gave the crook a warning look.
“One… two… three…” he counted from the doorstep, as if to warn the costumers who weren’t on the floor yet, but he didn’t put his heart in it.
“Four… five… six…” he went on, and then he ran off. The young man in the black suit had scared him off, and now started laughing as if it was nothing. The hero! His laughter was clear and brave and instantly comforted everyone. And then he reached down to help Mrs. Backwood, who lay at his feet in admiration.
Oliver dropped by at the Starbucks opposite Victoria Station for a quick espresso. He wasn’t really a fan of Starbucks coffee, but he had a massive hangover and a job interview coming up, so he figured it would do him good. And he knew one of the girls that worked there.
“Hi Jude,” he nodded when he pushed open the glass door. “Are you alright?”
“Not bad.” She was helping an elderly woman and smiled over her shoulder when she turned to the coffee machine. “Yourself?”
“I can’t complain,” he said. “I had a great night out last night with a bunch of the guys, we went to Fabric, you know. But I haven’t quite recovered yet, and I’ve got an interview at…”
“Everybody get down!” someone interrupted him. Oliver turned around and faced a hyperactive kid.
“Get down get down get down now!” the troublemaker shouted.
There was a whole lot of fuss, people who were sitting at the window ducked to their knees and Jude started screaming behind the counter.
The fellow started counted how many people were lying on the floor, whooped and ran off.
“What the hell was that?” Jude asked. Oliver looked at the old tart she had been helping. She looked like a baby seal that was about to be battered to death, so helpless and scared that he couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“Urban skittles!” he said and held his hand out to help her to her feet. “The perfect way to clear a hangover!”