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Junkie watched his prey closely as they passed, each oblivious to his evil intent. A burning desire raged within him and these people had the means to satisfy it. A way to quell his need. Perched upon the dirty steps of a cathedral, the dark shadow of a cross cast over him, he felt like a predator. A primal creature surveying the lesser mammals on the hunting plains. Their sole purpose of existence to sate his appetite. 

His appearance didn’t match the way he felt. It wasn’t that of the king of the jungle. His shabby clothes and disagreeable odour indicated homeless soul rather than proud predator. Another refugee of society loitering places of worship seeking assistance from the wealth of organised religion and the guilt of those who failed to meet its puritanical demands. He didn’t technically own an abode but he didn’t consider himself homeless, just disenfranchised. He wasn’t after handouts either. That wasn’t his style. If he needed cash he would take it for himself, not have it given to him by some do gooder religious type. If he needed cash, like he did now, he would earn it of his own accord. Or rather take it. Some people might argue that stealing wasn’t technically earning something but it involved effort on his behalf, he reasoned, and therefore it was earned.

 This fleeting moment of self inflection made him reconsider his predatory viewpoint of the world. Perhaps he was more a parasite than a predator. A being designed to take what he could from his host without giving anything back, to drive his continued existence by sucking the life from his prey. Yes, that was a better comparison. He wasn’t a fearsome lion, he was a leach.

His pocket vibrated. Thrusting a hand into his soiled jeans he palmed the phone, a glance at the screen displaying a text from Rachel. Some of his acquaintances would call her his girlfriend. He would call her a girl he liked to fuck who let him engage in said activity on not nearly a frequent enough basis. 

Hurry up! im hangin out, the message read. He pushed the phone back into his pocket. He wasn’t going to reply. If she was so desperate to score she should be out herself trying to get some cash instead of lazing back at the warehouse. Waiting to be fed ice like some drug addled Cleopatra. He’d do what he had to do in his own sweet time and she could wait till he was done. That’s what he wanted to reply but the truth was he was getting a little antsy himself. It had been a couple of days since they’d finished the last of his stash and he was on edge, the cells of his body vibrating, aching to feel the sweet relief that a shot would provide. He wasn’t a predator. He wasn’t a parasite. He was just a junkie, eager to get his next hit.

Junkie cast his eye over the scurrying passersby. A man in a dark grey business suit loudly berated an invisible subordinate through a wireless headset lodged in the suit’s ear. His loud bellowing to the poor soul on the receiving end of the call over some error in his extensive stock portfolio failed to impress those unfortunate enough to be in his immediate vicinity, none of whom appeared to care less. He looked and sounded like he had money, enough to buy what Junkie so desperately needed, but his arrogant veneer went hand in hand with a healthy dose of vanity. His tailored suit clung to a well toned physique that would have been crafted and maintained by long hours in the gym, fuelled by his narcissistic nature. He looked fit, like he would be fast. He would be too much work, so no. Not him. 

A couple of teenage boys walked around the corner towards the church. Their black baggy pants hung low beneath their waists, dismally failing at the task of concealing their owner’s dirty underwear. The faded black t-shirts bearing the names of bands that Junkie was no longer cool enough to know vainly tried to hide the gap that the pants could not cover. The boys swore loudly in a prepubescent display of male bonding, each using profanity in an escalating arms race of curses trying to one up the other. Neither looked like he had much money and if the increasing violence of society had taught Junkie anything it was that adolescents would happily strike out at the smallest perceived grievance, preferably with a sharp boxcutter or knife. They weren’t worth the risk for such a small potential financial return, so no. Not them.

A young woman crossed the road towards the church pushing a pram, her attention focussed on making clucking baby sounds at the small vomitous mass wrapped up tightly in the stroller. She would probably have some money, maybe an allowance provided to her by a controlling husband, enough to get her out of the house so he could spend some time with his mistress but not enough for her to live her own life. She didn’t look strong. Junkie could easily overpower her and take her purse but the baby was a liability. While the woman probably wouldn’t give chase, if something went wrong and the baby got hurt… Junkie couldn’t live with that. ‘I may be a parasite’, he thought, ‘but I’m not a monster’. So no. Not her.

Then she walked his way. Like in love songs of old she graced his path and he knew instantly that she was the one for him. Not the gorgeous model type that sappy lyrics espoused but then it wasn’t love that he had been struck by, it was opportunity. Opportunity in the form of an old woman, the wrinkles painted across her face revealing the many years of life that she had borne witness to. She was old and would probably have a purse full of pension money that the government had given her to buy pointless old lady trinkets in her dying days. She was hunched and appeared frail so would likely be reluctant to give chase. Even if she found the will to pursue him and even if she possessed the functioning hips required to do so, she looked like she would be too slow for him. She was a low risk with a good chance of yielding a positive cash flow. She would do. Junkie felt his body tighten in anticipation of his newly acquired mark as she slowly continued to walk towards him.

The old woman grasped her handbag tightly, its smelly old brown leather bulging with the hidden promise of years of welfare checks stashed away. She would be weak, so procuring the handbag wouldn’t prove too difficult a task. As she was old and therefore, according to Junkie’s rationalisation, had no life, her purse was probably brimming full of money with nothing to spend it upon. She fit the trifecta. Weak, helpless, and old. Junkie was once again the predator and she was his prey. They were made for each other. She with her unspent pension, he with a yearning for money. Now, in his time of need all her years upon the planet had brought her to this place. Had brought her to him. From the corner of his eye he watched her approach and tried not to make direct eye contact with her.

The old woman’s gaze was already drawn in his direction, his dirty dishevelled image on the steps of the church had set off paranoid alarm bells in her head. She watched the evening news. She knew that young people couldn’t be trusted. All they wanted to do was stab and rape their way through society taking whatever they could for themselves. That was the problem with the current generation. They hadn’t fought through a good world war to get all of the aggression and homicidal rage out of them. Despite her distrust of the wasted mound of flesh on the church steps her lifetime of good manners and proper upbringing wouldn’t allow her to stop and turn around. That would be rude and she was not a rude person. She would continue on her way, she would not turn around and give some punk the satisfaction of thinking that he had frightened a little old lady into changing her intended course. Still, she tightened her grip on the handbag as she approached Junkie, maintaining her pace. Being careful not to speed up or slow down, she continued on until she reached the point where Junkie was squatting on the steps. As she approached his stationary form, unintentionally holding her breath, she took another step and… 

…nothing happened. The old woman walked right past Junkie, his dirty form motionless on the steps of the church. As she continued on her way past the scary man on the church steps she visibly relaxed, the breath that she had been holding escaped from between her lips, her shoulders dropped slightly, and her death grip on the handbag relaxed. That was the moment he had been waiting for.

Junkie rose and started to pace after the old woman, his long legs quickly allowing him to close the gap between his target, placing him within a metre of her, lingering an arms length behind. ‘I am quiet and smooth’, he thought to himself, holding his breath lest the noxious smell of coffee and cigarettes betray his position and intent. He was close enough now to smell her perfume. A generic old lady floral scent doused liberally upon the woman’s wrinkly skin, presumably to mask the stench of impending death Junkie thought. Despite the sickening sweetness of the smell it aided him in his stalking, the strength of the woman’s perfume masking his own unmistakable odour of the streets, helping to hide his position. Junkie closed the distance between himself and the old woman and reached out slowly yet surely with his left arm, preparing to strike. 

With a speed and dexterity that surprised even him, Junkie thrust his left arm inside of the straps of the old woman’s handbag which she still clutched by her side. Gripping the leather straps, Junkie used his free hand to grab hold of the other side of the handbag and charged past the old woman using his momentum to yank at the bag with both hands.

The force of his snatch caused the leather strap to cut into the woman’s hand forcing her to release her grip. Junkie twisted his body at the waist as he pulled away to give extra force to his attack, finding the bag now in his possession, its weight tantalising him with the treasures within his reach.

Junkie tucked the bag under his left arm, put his head down, and pumped his legs as fast as he could as he sprinted down the street away from his victim. Doing his best impression of an athlete he hurried towards an arcade that ran off the main street and would lead into a rear alleyway that would take him away from his victim’s line of sight. Blood pumped hard in his ears as his adrenaline skyrocketed from his snatch, drowning out the plaintive cries of the old woman behind him. As Junkie reached the arcade the other people on the street turned towards the commotion. Junkie barrelled past the gawkers as they craned their necks to look at the shouting woman, none of them even remotely aware of him as he slipped into the arcade and out of view from those on the street.

Junkie ran past the quiet row of run down shops towards the end of the shopping arcade. As he emerged into the laneway he was greeted by the view of the backyards of shops and designated smokers areas in which the workers of the local businesses could suck upon their cigarettes, the toxins within alleviating the stress of interacting with customers. Thankfully none of the customer service drones were utilising the various break areas dotting the laneway, allowing Junkie the opportunity to slip into one of the alcoves away from sight, to enjoy some protection from the peering eyes of the world so that he could purvey the spoils of his conquest.

The cries of the old woman were already a distant blur in his mind. Now that he had his hands on a source of funds for his next drug purchase the imminent high was all that he could think about. There were no sounds of aggrieved citizens or wannabe heroes looking to uphold the honour of the old woman by giving chase and no police sirens blaring. Junkie was thankful for this as he knelt within the darkened smoker’s alcove breathing heavily from his brief burst of exercise. His recent years of petty theft had conditioned him for short sprints as opposed to long haul runs that persons in better physical condition could undertake. His lifestyle choices had also degraded his level of fitness. Although his diet of coffee, cigarettes, and drugs kept the weight off him he was no longer the strong, fit, barrel chested man he once was. He could still hold his own in a brawl but his skinny frame no longer made him the imposing figure he was in his days before he found the joys of chasing the dragon. 

Peering around the corner of his alcove back towards the exit of the arcade Junkie checked again to ensure that he hadn’t been followed. Reassured, he sat on the ground, and placed the handbag in front of him. He opened the old musty handbag and rummaged through it searching for the spoils he longed for. Removing items from the top of the bag as he searched for a purse or hidden supplies of gold bullion, he removed several used tissues, a bag of hard boiled lollies all stuck together, some makeup, a container of various pills which he pocketed, the bottle of old lady perfume that had earlier almost caused him to gag, and finally a large brown purse. Pushing the other items aside Junkie grabbed the purse and pulled it from the handbag to examine its contents. It was black, old, and slightly sticky from where a sucked lolly had stuck to it but despite its poor condition it bulged broadly, teasingly alluding to fortunes inside.

Holding the purse in his hot sweaty hands Junkie failed to notice the movement behind him.  It wasn’t until the figure behind him blocked the light from entering the alcove that he turned around and caught sight of a person he never thought he’d see again. The little old lady whom he had just relieved of her hard earned cash stepped towards the alcove, her eyes fixed on Junkie as his dirty hands roamed across her belongings. Although she was just an old woman, her expression and intense stare frightened him.  Perhaps he’d mistakenly stereotyped this woman. Junkie skittered back into the alcove clutching the woman’s purse to his chest, trying vainly to shrink into the shadows. The midday sun refused to provide enough shadow for Junkie to hide and in any event it was already too late. The woman had seen him and was already stalking closer, an unmistakable fury emanating from her small frame.  

Seeing Junkie cower in the darkened smoker’s alcove gave the woman fortitude. She marched towards him her shoulders set, hurling obscenities in his direction. Junkie was at once impressed, disgusted, and terrified at the tirade of filth spewing from the old woman’s mouth. Some of the words he didn’t even recognise but from the vehemence with which she spat them he knew that they were the filthiest curse words of an older generation.

Junkie extended his leg from a curled position, cornered within the alcove, and kicked the handbag towards the old woman in an attempt to placate her, “I don’t want to hurt you lady. Just take your bag and go”.

The woman snatched up her bag as it landed at her feet but continued to advance on Junkie, a scowl plastered across her horrid mouth. She may have been old and fragile but Junkie’s lifestyle of illicit drug consumption hadn’t exactly made him a candidate for Mr Olympia. Once he had been a strong healthy man but since he had stopped going to the gym or living a healthy lifestyle his body had changed. It would have been generous to call his wiry, sinewy frame muscular. His broad shoulder still portrayed a solid frame but his sedentary life had degraded his level of fitness to abysmal. Sure he could have knocked her down, but that wasn’t something he could bring himself to do. He knew how fragile old people could be. His grandmother had once tripped in the kitchen and broken both her arm and leg. That had been a minor fall, what would happen to this old bird if he knocked her to the ground to get her out of his way. He may have done a lot of bad things and his morality may be a very flexible beast, but he wasn’t going to attack an old lady. If it came down to it he would rather let her slap him around and give him a couple of small bruises than raise a hand against her. He may not have respected her right to her possessions but he did respect her right to her health, what was left of it.

Junkie cast his eyes around the dead end in which he found himself trapped. The arch through which the woman had entered was the only way out of the darkened corner, the brick walls hemming them in. A loose brick laying nearby briefly conjured an image in his mind of crushing the old woman’s skull and walking away with her purse but he banished it from his mind. Sure he could beat her senseless and make his escape with her purse but despite his shortfalls in moral fibre he wasn’t the type of person to beat old ladies senseless for their handbags. Grabbing a bag and making a run was one thing but intentionally inflicting violence and injury was another. He reserved that kind of violence for other lowlifes such as himself. 

The old woman stopped stalking towards Junkie and paused to examine the contents of her handbag. Junkie took the pause in the woman’s advance to stand and slide to the side of the alcove. The old lady scanned through the contents of the bag and then raised her eyes towards Junkie, spying the black leather purse clutched in his right hand. Any defusing of her temper that had been achieved by returning her handbag was quickly lost as she saw Junkie with her purse and fired up again.

Her screams at Junkie started anew but this time she accompanied her verbal barrage with a swing of her handbag, the heavy bag connecting with force against the side of Junkie’s head. Junkie staggered towards the woman, pushing past her and finding himself falling out of the alcove and into the laneway. The old woman advanced on him again, the bag swinging around her head like a hammer of war. Junkie leapt to his feet and scurried away from the onslaught. He was too slow and another swing of the bag struck him in the head, the perfume bottle inside the bag clunking loudly against his skull. The pain from the blow called Junkie to action as he realised that it was time he vacated the scene.

Junkie’s need for money outweighed his desire to calm the woman by offering to return her purse so he took to his heels again, running through the laneway away from the arcade towards an exit to the street in front. The old woman’s screams trailed off as he reached the end of the laneway. Thinking that she must have given up her attack upon him Junkie paused at the corner of the laneway, risking a glance over his shoulder to check that his flee for freedom had been more successful the second time around. His brief moment of respite was dashed as the old woman charged towards him  quickly closing the distance between herself and Junkie. Groaning inwardly at how spritely the woman was for her age and his poor choice of victim, Junkie took to his heels and ran down the street as the woman recommenced swinging the handbag around her head like a medieval weapon.

Eager to avoid another blow to the head Junkie ducked around the corner out into a narrow one way street. He ran past a cafe and boutique clothing store, catching the reflection of his pursuer in the store window. Shoppers congregated upon the footpath drawn to sales promising savings from the usual exorbitant prices. Junkie weaved through the consumer hordes lining the street, the old woman behind him pushing her way through the crowd as she continued to curse wildly, hot on his heels.

Junkie spied a pub up front and he ducked through the doors, running through the beer garden, past the bar while dodging the midday alcoholics, attempting to put some distance between himself and his new nemesis. He pushed his way between a couple of lunch time drinkers, spilling beer over their neat jackets, and burst out of the doors of the pub onto another busier street. Junkie quickly crossed the road and tried to blend in with a group of young women, secretaries by the look of them, out to get their lunch. They looked curiously at the dishevelled, skinny, out of puff man   pretending to be a young secretary but carried on their way determined not to show any interest in the strange man. Junkie pushed deeper into their small crowd attempting to blend into the middle of the group, the women too polite to say anything to his face.

Turning back towards the pub Junkie glanced through his feminine cover to see the old woman forcing her way out of the doors of the drinking establishment. She looked up and down the street searching for him and not immediately seeing him she let out a piercing scream. The women in Junkie’s cover group stopped dead along with the other pedestrians on the street and spun around to see what the commotion was. Already knowing the source of the disturbance Junkie pushed on, making the fatal mistake of stepping out of his cover of secretaries. The old woman spied him emerging from the throng of women and converged on him, the chase back on.

Junkie had managed to edge out a lead from the old woman but he was tiring from the chase. ‘I was made for short dashes, not… long… runs’ Junkie puffed to himself, pushing on despite the old lady gaining ground on him. Although he’d long come to terms with the face that he wasn’t an athlete being run down by a little old lady was putting a strain on his ego. The old woman maintained a head of steam as she chased her quarry, her rage fuelling an act of super-old-lady strength. She continued to scream as she ran, her lungs seemingly unaware of the strain the chase was placing on them, but her verbal efforts drawing attention from passersby. A couple of men noticed the chase and lunged at Junkie as he ran past them, trying to grab the source of the woman’s discontent, but Junkie drew on his fading reserves of energy to duck and dodge their vain efforts. As the chase led further towards the crowded mall Junkie realised if more people decide to play hero he wouldn’t have the energy or the ability to dodge them all. 

Junkie spotted another alley up ahead and ducked into it to avoid the growing crowd, still a good twenty metres in the lead. If he could just find a good place to hide he could be home free, he thought to himself as his body screamed at him to rest. Junkie ran down the narrow winding alley bumping off walls as it twisted and turned around the back of the city’s main shopping area. As his hopes of escape began to rise he turned the corner and hit a dead end. A large metal gate blocked his path, a heavy chain hanging around the handles barring them shut. Junkie grabbed the chain and tried to shake it loose but it was tightly bolted to the metal frame. He tried in vain to squeeze between the two doors of the gate but despite his skinny frame he couldn’t fit between the small space. The sound of panting behind him made Junkie spin around as the old woman barrelled around the corners of the alley, driven by her desire to beat some justice into the man who had stolen and still held her purse. Junkie looked around in panic looking for a hiding spot before his nemesis turned the corner and bore down on his trapped scared self.

He thought briefly about throwing her the purse and begging her to let him go, but he needed the cash and he was pretty sure she would still want to put a beat down on him. If he couldn’t get away with that purse then he’d have gone through all this exercise and blows to the head for nothing, and he still wasn’t prepared to knock down a little old lady. At this point he was pretty sure she’d be the one knocking him down even if he tried to stand up to her. He may be scum but he was still scum with a conscience. 

Junkie glanced frantically around as the sound of her comfortable old lady shoes flip flopped towards him in double time. As the sickly sweet floral smell of old lady wafted towards him he saw his chance. A rusted old water drainpipe had broken away from the gutter running along the roof and was resting against a wall. A wall from where a rooftop was almost in reach. ‘If I can get up that pipe and onto the roof I might be able to get away’, Junkie thought to himself. He was tired, out of shape, and as unathletic as a person could be, but that drainpipe represented a chance for him to get away with his bones intact and cash in his pocket. Cash that would buy him his next fix.

The thought of an imminent purchase of nose candy or pincushion medicine was all the motivation he needed. Junkie moved towards the rotting pipe at the end of the short alley as the old lady rounded the corner behind him. The woman slowed as she saw Junkie but as he took advantage of her delay and picked up speed, she quickly recovered, seeing his plan, and did likewise in an attempt to stop his escape.

A metre from the wall Junkie used the last of his energy to push off his back foot leaping towards the pipe. The old lady reached out, her bony hands clawing at the air trying to grab hold of Junkie’s ankle as he left the ground. Her gnarled fingers closed on nothingness as Junkie stepped up onto the pipe and started to run up its sloping angle towards the roof his momentum keeping him upright. He hoped that the rotted pipe would support his weight and not crash to the ground taking him back down into the alley. The old metal held just long enough to allow Junkie to run up its length. As he reached the top of the pipe Junkie propelled himself upwards off the pipe and onto the roof overlooking the alleyway. It was a pitiful leap by anyones standards but it was enough to let him grasp the roof and swing his legs up onto it. The little old lady jumped as well, a much better leap than Junkie’s, grasping at his leg but she came away with nothing but air. As he caught hold of the edge of the roof and began to hoist himself up onto it, the pipe bent in on itself under the stress of Junkies weight, snapping in two and falling down to the alley below. Junkie looked down at the woman, her hands continuing to grab at the air beneath him hoping that he would fall back down to her. In her frustrated, howling state she looked like a zombie looking for its next meal.

Standing slowly, trying to catch his breath Junkie looked down at the little old lady standing in the alley beneath him still screaming.

‘Sorry Grandma, but I need this more than you,’ Junkie said, holding the purse up above his head.  He felt a little like Indiana Jones having escaped the native guardians of a sacred idol. The woman only responded with more profanity and name calling. Junkie slowly turned around and carefully treaded across the tiles of the roof towards an open window leading to the second storey of the building on which he had scrambled. ‘At least she took it well’ Junkie thought to himself as he climbed through the window. It was quieter inside the building. Junkie noticed that the old woman had stopped her tirade of filth. He couldn’t hear her ranting behind him and there was no way she’d be able to get onto the roof without the drainpipe to aid her.

Junkie took a moment to catch his breath and looked around the dark and grotty room that he now found himself in. It smelled of weed, sex and vomit. A mix of smells that were close to Junkie’s heart. Either he’d landed in a fellow users crib or he was in a backpackers hostel. A glance around the room confirmed the latter with a couple of crappy old beds, a few backpacks and a guitar the only decorations in the room. There wasn’t anything worth taking, but Junkie had already won his booty for the day. A snoring from the corner of the room alerted Junkie that he wasn’t alone and so he carefully crept through the room towards the door. 

Drunken backpackers being notoriously poor at detecting intruders in their midst, Junkie had no problem making his way out of the room and negotiating his way through the corridor and down the stairwell to the door leading out onto the street.

Stretching out his tired limbs that were fatigued from the uncommon physical exertion he had just experienced, Junkie took another moment to catch his breath as stepped out of the door onto the street. He took the purse out of his pocket and was about to look inside when a banshee like scream called out from off to his left. Turning towards the sound, he saw her. The little old lady, red faced, and still full of rage, seemingly not as exhausted by their little jog around the city as Junkie.

He couldn’t believe it. Who the hell was this woman? He had purposely waited to choose this particular mark and now it turned out she was some kind of super-granny? Junkie didn’t have time to dwell on his poor life decisions too long. Like a bull she charged, still screaming, her handbag doing revolutions around her head as she wound up to commence another beating upon Junkie. Like a reluctant marathon runner, or more like an out of shape exhausted man, Junkie turned and started running again. He had reclaimed a little energy but was fading fast and his pursuer appeared to be fuelled on rage that didn’t look like running out any time soon.

Taking a risk, Junkie ran across the road through busy traffic that had to brake hard to avoid hitting him. His gamble paid off as he crossed the road in one piece, his pursuer slowed by common sense as she waited for the traffic to stop before she crossed behind him. 

Junkie used his slight gain to run towards the entrance of the train station. The sounds of the vengeful beast pursing him distracted those that he ran past. Junkie took advantage of their distraction and vaulted over the turnstile without paying, the guard standing nearby craning his neck in the other direction towards the screaming woman. At the platform on the other side of the station Junkie saw passengers boarding the only train around while a mumbling voice on a loud speaker announced that the train would be departing shortly.

Junkie barrelled towards the escalator to the overpass that led to the other platform jumping the steps two at a time. The sounds of his pursuer had once again intensified and he spared a second to turn around just in time to see the little old lady vault over the turnstile and run towards the escalator. Again he felt a pang of shame seeing how expertly she had executed her vault as opposed to his hurried scramble. Her screams of ‘stop thief’ had crescendoed to a higher pitch and Junkie could feel her glare at him focussing the attention of bystanders in his direction.

Junkie turned and continued to run up the escalator as he heard the possessed woman’s steps behind  clattering in his direction. He reached the top of the escalator and ran across the overpass to the downwards escalator which would take him towards the other platform and to his getaway train. As he hustled onto the escalator he risked another glimpse back towards the overpass and saw the woman still chasing, now with two burly railway police with her. Great. Now he had to outrun an elderly wonder woman and a couple of cops.

His legs were screaming but he was so close to the train now. He leapt three stairs at a time careful not to lose his balance as he rushed down the escalator towards the train platform. He hit the platform hard but could hear the metallic ringing behind him of multiple falls of feet on the escalator.  

Junkie was only a few steps away from the train doors now. His pursuers were a few more metres behind him, and he was almost completely out of steam. His legs screamed and felt like collapsing but he had to press on. Even if he made it onto the train he would have to either run through the carriage and leap off or resign himself to being beaten by the lady and arrested by the police with her.

The sound of a bell rung out and the doors to the train started to close. Junkie couldn’t believe it. He was so close to the finishing line after the longest run of his adult life and now he was going to get caught short on the platform. This wasn’t fair. He had gone through so much for this purse. 

In a surge of desperate energy Junkie lunged forward, pushing with his last bit of will towards the closing train doors. His body tumbled through the entrance to the train and at the last second he pulled his leg into the carriage, narrowly avoiding the closing doors. The doors slammed shut behind him and he felt the lurch of the train as it started to move.

Suddenly there was a massive bang against the side of the train as the little old lady threw herself against the side of the carriage, her handbag colliding with the window causing the glass to crack. Her red face contorted with rage screamed at Junkie as he slowly stood up within the train, her fists banging the outside of the carriage as it trundled down the platform.

“I’ll kill you, you little shit”, she screamed as she hammered against the outside of the train, jogging slowly to keep up with it.

She banged the glass again, causing the crack to widen. Junkie jumped back in case her rage propelled her through the glass but as he stepped back the woman suddenly disappeared from view. Junkie leant against the glass, and as the train pulled away from the platform he could just make out the two railway police wrestling the woman to the ground, one forcing a hand behind her back, the other placing her in handcuffs. As the train moved away from the station he could just make out one of the police over the woman’s screams saying, “Crazy bird. Failure to pay and criminal damage? A woman of your age should know better than jumping turnstiles and damaging trains.”

Slowly Junkie collapsed into an empty seat sparing his legs a minute more of standing. They had done their job and now they deserved a rest. The excitement of the moment having passed, the other passengers returned to their own distractions, reading books, and playing games on their mobile phones.

Junkie reached into his pocket and removed the brown leather purse. Now to see what his efforts had yielded. He undid the clasp and looked inside. With as much energy as he could muster he reached in with a shaking hand and pulled out the fruits of his labour. A five dollar note and a packet of chewing gum. He delved deeper into the little purse but there was nothing else but lint and a sucked boiled lolly. Disgusted, Junkie threw the purse onto the empty seat next to him as he slid the money and gum into his pocket and slid down on the seat. All that for five dollars? Five dollars wasn’t going to be enough. The others wouldn’t be happy.

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